• Published 29th Nov 2012
  • 4,794 Views, 107 Comments

Polarity: A Tale of Two Sisters - Shinzakura

Prequel to All-American Girl. Derpy Hooves must face a number of sudden important life decisions

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Chapter One: The Better Mare

The spell didn’t lie. How could it? It was reliable, normal, perfectly accurate.

Derpy was pregnant. And she wasn’t supposed to be. After all, she was a single mare, pretty much kept to herself, didn’t date and was, if anything, married to her job and calling.

But that didn’t mean she didn’t have desires. She was, after all, a grown mare. And a grown mare in love, truth be told. And that love had just backfired in the most stupendous way possible.

She looked at the crystal she’d purchased for…for a “friend”, she lied to the doctor when she asked for a pregnancy test spell. The doctor, firm in the belief that Derpy was telling the truth and the fact that Derpy was single – after all, who would date the town klutz? – gave it over without question. After all, she and the doctor had talked plenty of times about Derpy’s past, so it was pretty clear who the friend probably was – that was just another “fact of life” no different than Derpy never needing it for herself.

After all, it was so much easier to believe that Derpy’s twin, Ditzy Doo, had forced the older sister to do so. After all, everypony who knew the Hooves sisters knew that Ditzy had been the one with the looks if not the brains, and as a result used those looks for her own devices, lifting her tail so much that she may as well not have one. It caused no end of pain to Ditzy’s husband or her family, and frankly, the younger twin didn’t care.

How brutal was the truth, then: Derpy, freed of her constraints and letting her heart run free, was no better. Had she been born with normal eyes, would she be the pony her sister was? Had Ditzy the strabismus that had made Derpy so ungainly and ugly, would she have been the better mare? Would it be Derpy sleeping around and cheating on her husband while Ditzy watched from afar, nurturing a secret love until it exploded at the worst possible time?

And yet…

Derpy’s thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the door. Feeling dizzy and filled with self-loathing, she went to go answer the door, only to find herself staring at the face she least wanted to see.

“So, big sister,” Ditzy Doo said, “are you going to let me in, or should I just go through you?” The look on Ditzy’s face was angry, sullen. Did she find out?

“S-so…what’re you doing here?” Derpy asked.

Ditzy’s perfectly matched eyes narrowed. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” she seethed. Derpy flinched, and to her surprise, Ditzy rolled her eyes and softened her attitude. “Look, I came to take you out to lunch.”

That wasn’t something Derpy had been expecting. “Y-you d-did?”

“What, you developing a stutter along with your lazy eye? Figures, you brain dama….” Ditzy closed her eyes and sighed, muttering to herself, “Just be patient Ditzy; this will all be over soon.” She then looked at her older twin, saying, “Look, I owe you, sis. I know Autumn would have left me for my, uh…indiscretions…had you not intervened. Mom and Dad told me everything, about how you took him and spent time talking him out of it.

“Uh, yeah…talking.” Derpy tried to keep a straight face, but all the knowledge in her mind failed her. She was supposed to be the better mare of the two, but here she was, failing and failing hard. She could still feel Autumn’s lips on hers, feel the caress of his hooves, his warm strength…. She inwardly tried to banish the thoughts, but it was hard, so damn hard – especially since she knew Autumn loved her just as much as she him. But that love was forbidden: Autumn and Ditzy had two children together, even if Autumn wasn’t likely the actual father. For the foals’ Aunt Derpy to ruin the family, well…. Shame welled up in her and she tamped it down, hoping her sister wouldn’t notice.

Meanwhile, Ditzy paid no attention to her sister and instead headed into the nearest bathroom. A half-second later, she raced out, holding a white spherical gem that was strobing red. “Derpy, what the buck is this?”

It took every bit of Derpy’s mindset to not fall apart right then and there. “It’s a…it’s a home pregnancy test crystal.”

“No kidding, genius,” the younger pegasus said, voice dripping with sarcasm. “Wanna tell me why it’s red? Or are you….” A second later, she laughed. “Yeah, what am I talking about? Somepony would have to actually find you attractive in order to, well, you know.”

That pushed Derpy’s buttons. “Let’s get something straight, Ditziduella – with the exception of my eyes, you and I look the same! And my eyes don’t always do this! I bet I could pass for you in a heartbeat!”

“Oh, spare me, Derpelle; big deal, so you’re smarter than me.” Ditzy’s eyes narrowed. “Like I care, since what has your brain got you? Oh, yeah – graduate degree from MIT…and a lousy dead-end job, because life’s all about the looks! Sure, I’ll admit that from a distance, you don’t look half-bad, and we might be supposedly identical twins, but we don’t look alike! It’s the eyes, retard! Anypony just has to take one look at your stupid-flank face and they know that you’re worthless!” She paused again, and muttered something incomprehensible.

“Always have to get the last word in, don’t you,” Derpy accused.

“Look, sis, fact of life: you don’t like me and I don’t like you. It’s just how it works. Now, I’m here, trying to be nice and thank you for helping save my marriage. So at least pretend like you care, okay? For just one day?” Ditzy pointed a hoof back to the bathroom. “So what’s with the crystal? It’s showing a positive.”

“Oh, that. Well…I, er, know the town doctor; we’re old friends from MIT. He was telling me about a bunch of crystals that had failures and were showing, um, false positives…uh, due to cracks in the inner core,” she said, her voice finding strength as she started to focus on something far more comfortable; namely, her calling of science. “I told him to give me a few of the ones that had false positives and I’d see if I could come up with something to fix them without magic, which is what apparently caused the cracks in the first place. There’s a device I’ve been working on in my spare time – I call it a pressurizer – tha—”

“Blahblahblah…lemme guess, another one of your ‘inventions’, right? Those weird things that don’t run on magic, supposedly? Name one pony that uses an invention! Magic is the normal way of things, and all you’re doing with that kooky not-magic—”


“—what-ever. You’re going to freak somepony out. No wonder nopony wants to deal with you; you’re such a freak.”

Derpy had enough. “You know what? I think I’ve had enough of your insults, Ditzy. You can leave now.”

Ditzy’s face was somewhere between mollified and furious. “But I just made reservations at The Golden Stable! Do you know how hard it is to get reservations there? I had to practically sle—”

“Don’t let the door hit your flank on the way out.” Derpy had nothing more to say, and turned around, pointedly ignoring her sister.

Ditzy snarled, then nickered before grumbling “Ungrateful harridelle” under her breath and stormed out, leaving Derpy in her own home. The self-termed “prettier pegasus” slowed down just enough to slam the door closed with an exaggerated motion making it clear just how little she cared about her older sister.

Derpy looked at the space her sister had been a few minutes ago and wondered, just for a second: what would life have been if she was a single child, if the zygote never split? Would she be beautiful and smart, or ugly and dumb? Derpy didn’t finish the thought; she might not have liked her sister much, but she was family and such thoughts were distasteful.

She was pulled out of her reverie by the grumbling of her stomach. She hadn’t gotten the chance to go to market today; between her sudden revelation, the workday and her newest project (a pressurizer intended to improve indoor plumbing), she’d completely lost track of time. Well, thankfully, it was early enough that all the small restaurants in Berryville were still open. Maybe she could swing by Sandwich Harry’s and get a dandelion-and-gouda baguette, her favorite food outside of muffins.

She paused long enough to grab a scarf, since it was mid-autumn, and then headed out the front door. As she did, she noted the fall sun obscured behind the clouds hanging in the sky; completely untouchable to other ponies and yet somehow something that she could touch with ease due to her pegasus nature. Her mind wandered for a bit and wondered what it would be like on a world where nature let its own self run free, much like the weather systems over the dreaded Everfree Forest. In truth, the forest, way in the distance, wasn’t that bad. It was just nature at work, untamed, uncontrolled. But ponies didn’t care for that.

Her thoughts were suddenly stopped as she heard a familiar voice call out, “Hey, Derpy, be careful. Don’t want to see you get hurt, okay?” She focused her eyes and found herself just mere inches away from painfully walking into an oak tree. Behind the tree was a familiar face, looking at her with the concern not of dealing with the town idiot, but a friend looking out for another.

She grinned and waved. “Thanks, Shining. I appreciate you looking out for me.”

Lieutenant Shining Armor, assistant commander of the local garrison, grinned. “Hey, gotta take care of the garrison’s mailmare, or else we won’t get our CARE packages from home.”

She mock-pouted. “But I don’t carry the CARE packages! Usually Speedy Delivery or one of the other carriers issues the delicate stuff!”

Shining Armor laughed gently. “Yes, but you bring me the most important letters of all: the ones from my LSBFF and my fillyfriend. Those are worth a dozen boxes of cookies from Mom and Dad.” As always, she relaxed in the presence of a close friend. She and Shining were the same age and had even attended school together before he went off to train in the Guard and she off to MIT. They were close enough friends that Shining had shared with her one of his biggest secrets: he was dating none other than Princess Mi Amore Cadenza (or Cadance, as he called her), the Crown Princess of Equestria and Celestia’s heir. She understood why he’d never made it public; he was a rising star in the guard and didn’t want anypony to think he’d got the position by dating the younger of the only two alicorns in existence.

Furthermore, another point they bonded over was his younger sister, Twilight Sparkle. She was just a teenager, but had a grasp on magic that was well above and beyond that of ponies twice her age. Seeing as how Shining mentioned how often he had been perplexed by his sister’s intuitive grasp of spells he’d agonized over learning, it seemed that calling her a prodigy was an understatement, and small wonder she was Celestia’s protégé – which was another reason why Shining rarely mentioned his ties to the Royal Family.

“Wasn’t expecting to run into you here.” Her ears drooped as she realized she might have screwed up the mail again. “I hope I didn’t….”

“Actually, it did get screwed up, but it wasn’t your fault. Parcel Post came by an hour later and mentioned he gave you the wrong bag. So definitely nothing you did. Besides, Derpy, you’re slightly clumsy, but not stupid – you don’t make those kinds of mistakes.”

She breathed a sigh of relief. “Thanks. So what brings you downtown?”

“Actually, I was coming to see you. I, uh, needed a bit of advice from a friend and figured that you wouldn’t steer me wrong.”

“Well, I was just headed out for lunch, so care to join me? We could talk, and…well, to be honest, I could use a bit of advice, too.”

“Well, it’s my day off, so…sure.” The stallion fell into line with the mare and the pair walked off, chatting away breezily as a pair of friends did naturally. As the two passed through town, the usual happened: ponies who didn’t know either looked at her and him, and the thoughts on their face was as clear as day: an ugly mare like her is wasted on a stallion like that! But as was his nature, Shining Armor gave them all his most irritated stare, always willing to protect a mare’s dignity. Derpy thought it sweet of him to always do so and was always just a tiny bit envious of Princess Mi Amore Cadenza for that.

“Wow, so…she tried to come here and make up with you saving her marriage and was still insulting you?” Shining Armor said between bites of his egg salad sandwich. “You know, even at the times when Twily and I were fighting – and that was rare – I never treated her as anything less than my little sister. Honestly, I can’t tell you how to deal with your family, Derpy, but you don’t deserve that from anypony, much less your sister.”

“I know, I know,” she replied, her tone down. Bad enough that she’d opened up to Shining about the one thing she didn’t want to talk about, but it was made worse by the fact that Sandwich Harry’s was out of both dandelions and baguettes, so she ended up ordering a couple of spinach, mushroom and feta croissants. It was, admittedly, more than she usually ordered, but she had to admit to herself she was now eating for two. When Shining asked about it, she replied blandly that she forgot to eat breakfast because she was busy. She regretted every syllable of that lie as it left her mouth. She had little compunction about lying to her sister, though she should feel bad about it; to Shining, who was somepony who cared about her, well, it was a betrayal upon another betrayal.

“Well, I hope you take better care of yourself, because I won’t be around here much longer,” Shining Armor said.

As she heard the words, she felt a kick in the pit of her stomach – too early to be the thrust of a foal, but instead her heart dropping out. “Y-you’re leaving?”

He nodded. “Yeah. Just got selected as commander of the Appaloosa garrison.” He sighed. “Look, Old Soldier…like his name, he’s getting up there in years, and he won’t be captain of the guard forever. So they’re grooming several of us – me, Bright Flame over in Manehattan, and a few other lieutenants – and we’re being given commands to see who may replace him someday. Personally, I don’t care for it: Appaloosa’s several days away, I’ll be that much farther away from Twily and Cadance, and friends like you. But I’m a career stallion, and if this is my chance to someday be the captain of the guard, I have to do it. I can’t ride on Cadance’s coattails, nor would I.”

“I know,” she said, smiling. “It’s what I like about you. You’re so honest.”

She remembered the words she’d told him as she walked home that night. You’re so honest. One of her closest friends, and when he was there for her…she couldn’t tell the truth. After all, how could she? She was pregnant with her brother-in-law’s child; forget that Ditzy was an expert at infidelity, because that didn’t matter at all when it came to Derpy. Derpy was supposed to be the better one, the one that could rise above her sister’s stupidity.

What would Shining think? Or any of her other friends – Raspberry Scone, who owned the berry orchards on the far end of town? Or Castor Oil – she wasn’t kidding when she told Ditzy she’d known him since their days in college, and she’d have to see him when she was getting closer to showing. Or Parcel Post, her boss – this could have a negative effect on any raises or promotions she might want in the future. She could lose everything…all because she gave into her desi—

“Oh, hey, Derpy, glad to see ya.” She looked up and noticed Bottlerocket, her neighbor from across the street. He and his wife Oriental Blossom were pyromancers with a specialty in fireworks, and the two unicorns were both very mercurial, personalitywise. The brick-red stallion with the blazing white mane looked at her and said, “You…haven’t seen Sparkler, have you?”

“Uh, no. Just came from downtown. Why, is she missing?”

“Um…not really. Blossom, well… never mind. Look, Blossom and I have to be out of town for a couple of days – Royal Fireworks Tournament over in Las Pegasas – so wouldja mind watching Sparkler? She gets along with you and Blossom and I don’t have time to swing by our families to dump her off, so….” He trailed off.

Derpy smiled; she loved having the little filly around. “Sure, I’d be delighted.”

“Perfect, thanks. I’ll drop off some stuff for her before we go. Thanks again!” Not bothering to wait for an answer, the red unicorn raced back towards his home. She already knew what was on his mind: fireworks. He was born for it, as was his wife; someday Sparkler would probably be as well if she followed in her parents’ hoofsteps. And she couldn’t blame either of them for that: she could be just as single-minded when it came to her own pursuits. And besides, who didn’t like fireworks?

She headed back towards her own home when she saw a face that made her heart skip a beat: standing on the doorstep was Autumn Mist, her brother-in-law…and her lover. Part of her felt giddy when she saw him and at the same time shame welled in her once more.

“Hello, Derpy,” Autumn said, softly. The pegasus stallion stood there, strong and handsome. Olive coat, gray-and-white mane and eyes of the softest shade of pink, what he called “dawn pink”, a contrast with the dark clouds of his cutie mark that made him a weather specialist. The three of them had met when Derpy had been home from college one year, and volunteered to help with the fog patrol, something she could do without too much disaster due to her strabismus. It was she who had met him and dated him originally, but that fell through when he met Ditzy. From there, he had been lost, and a rupture between the sisters had become terminal. But all along, he still carried a torch for the mare he’d loved earlier, and it was clear now even years after.

“Hello, Autumn,” she said. She wanted to be in his forelegs right now, to be pressed into his warmth, but…that was how this all began in the first place. She saw a flicker of something in his eye before it disappeared; she wanted it to happen as much as he did, but….

“Could I…come in?”

“Uh, sure. Would you care for a cup of coffee? You, ah, just missed your wife by an hour.” The moment she said that, both of them seemed to deflate; it was both the wrong thing to say and the right thing at the same time, dampening both before they made yet another mistake.

He sighed, then turned towards the distance. “Look, I should go and….”

“Autumn, don’t. We…we need to talk. But nothing else. I’m…I’m foalsitting tonight, and, well…I’m sure you understand.”

“Sure, then,” he said as Oriental Blossom and Sparkler came up. Oriental Blossom was a contrast with her husband, with a coat that seemed to practically glow in its neon-yellow hue, while the near sooty black of her mane gave the image of a bonfire sending smoke into the sky. She held her head proud and scornful, and to Derpy she felt a kindred soul to Ditzy.

The same couldn’t be said about the very young filly at her side. Sparkler was just out of diapers, a sweet little ball of lilac and purple fluff with a whole life ahead of her. She seemed nervous, fragile. Maybe it was because Autumn was present and he was large for most ponies. Maybe it was just nervous energy over staying with Derpy for a few days.

Blossom set the small suitcase down by the gray pegasus. “Thank you for watching her, Derpy. We’re hoping that our performance at the Tournament will get us some new contracts. Our business is faltering, and….” Blossom trailed off, not sure she should discuss it in front of strangers.

Derpy nodded in understanding. “Take all the time you need. Sparkler and I will be fine, won’t we?”

The sudden change in the filly’s temperament was like the boundary between night and day. “Absolutely, Miss Derpy!” she cheered, moving over to the pegasus’ side in an instant. Derpy noted a flicker of emotion in Oriental Blossom’s eyes, but wasn’t sure what it meant and it was gone before she could inquire further. However, her curiosity was piqued when Blossom sighed sadly and walked off with no further words.

“Miss Derpy, are you going to work on your secret project?” Sparkler asked, eyes full of interest.

“Maybe…if I can get the right assistant,” she replied with a smile.

“Maybe it’ll help me get my cutie mark!” Sparkler bounced up and down, her enthusiasm completely unbridled now that she’d been enticed with a treasure beyond compare.

Autumn looked at the filly with a smile. “Aren’t you a little young to be worried about your cutie mark just yet?” And then to Derpy: “What’s this about a secret project?”

“Hey, are you a spy or something?” Sparkler moved inbetween the two adults as if to protect Derpy. “We don’t want any spies coming here and taking Miss Derpy’s ideas!”

Derpy laughed, reaching out with a hoof to muss Sparkler’s mane. “It’s okay. This is my brother-in-law, Autumn. He’s married to my sister.”

Sparkler looked at the stallion critically, then back at her foalsitter. “You sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Tell you what: go ahead and put your suitcase in the spare bedroom and we’ll get started after dinner, okay?” The unicorn filly nodded, picking up her suitcase handle by her mouth and trotting into Derpy’s home.

Autumn watched as the filly moved off before saying, “She reminds me a lot of both Flutterwonder and Orange Box.”

Derpy nodded. “Your daughters. The ones you have with my sister.”

“I…didn’t have them with your sister. You know that. But I love them regardless and so to me they are my daughters.”

“Where are they? I don’t see them here. Or are Fluttsy and Orange already baking something in the house?” Flutterwonder, just a few years older than Sparkler, already had her cutie mark in art but loved baking; the younger Orange was also accomplished at it, hoping cooking would be her special talent. Every time they visited Derpy, they were sure to commandeer the kitchen…with mouth-watering results.

“Left them with my parents for a couple of days; told Mom and Pop that I’d be headed off to a business conference in Salt Lick City. I couldn’t leave them with your parents again; they’re already worried about Ditzy and I, and I don’t want them thinking things have gotten worse.”

That admission made Derpy wonder. “Has it?”

Autumn nodded. “Family has given me a lot to think about.” He paused, as if to gather his thoughts. “Listen…I was wrong. I…thought I loved your sister, when all along it was you. I was stupid, I fell into her perfect looks when I should have went for the perfect heart.” He shrugged. “Maybe this is just stating the obvious, but Derpy….”

She screwed her eyes tightly shut, reminding herself that she had a filly in the house and that she didn’t need to make things any worse.

“So…what’s this secret project?” he asked again, clearly an attempt to back down from what he was going to say.

“Let’s go in and I’ll show you.”


“It looks…like an art sculpture,” Autumn said, looking at the contraption.

“No it’s not, Mister Autumn,” Sparkler said with a note of foalish exuberance in her voice: “It’s Miss Derpy’s Secret Project!”

Taking up the majority of the space in the living room was an object that could be best described as a Hearths Warming Eve tree made out of nothing but bronze, save for the various magically-embued crystals set into its “branches” and the wires jutting out of the bottom, attached to some bizarre piece of machinery. Attached to the machinery at the top were two antennae, with a rainbow arc of power cascading up the two; Autumn recognized it as a high-voltage travelling arc, but…that was usually a result of electricity, something that wasn’t exactly common in the house of the average pony. Lastly attached to the whole thing were two giant speakers not unlike that found in nightclubs and concert halls. Autumn had to wonder how she got her hands on those.

“Uh, Derpy…what is this?” he asked.

“It’s a fractal vibrations oscillograph, silly,” she said with playful authority. “I call it the Derpy Hooves Stereolab. How much do you know about fractal vibrations?”

“Fractal vibrations,” he said, dully, shaking his head. “You can’t be serious.” Fractal vibrations were a part of the so-called Paries Quartum theory, which stated that there were “four walls of dimensional reality” to the universe – height, width, depth, and continuity – and that fractal vibrations were the signs of other dimensions of reality, similar to someone knocking on the wall separating two rooms. However, the concepts of other realities were suspect at best, and so fractal vibrations were considered as legitimate science as phlogiston and heliocentrism – in other words, not at all.

“Uh-huh, she’s real super serious, Mister Autumn! She’s smart!” Sparkler countered.

“I’ve read Dr. Pitch Perfect’s notes on fractal vibrations and for the most part he’s completely off, I agree…except that he was looking in the wrong place.”

“How do you look in the wrong place for something that doesn’t exist?” Autumn said, looking at her with confusion. Granted, he wasn’t a genius at science the way she was and half of anything she knew was already well above what he did, but even he knew that fractal vibrations was just a discredited theory.

Derpy picked up Sparkler to demonstrate; she hit a ticklish spot and the filly giggled in excitement, happy to be a part of the demonstration. Holding the foal aloft, Derpy continued. “Pitch Perfect thought that other realities could be found if one just dug deep enough, like they were buried treasure to be found. A very poetic statement, but not correct. He forgot that dimensions are all around us. The four walls of the universe aren’t just the four walls. My hooves went through countless dimensions just to reach Sparkler and dozens more to lift her up where she is now.”

“So I’m a dinesomal traveler!” Sparkler cooed, glad to be in the act.

“Of course, Sparkler,” Derpy said with a smile. Turning back to Autumn, she added, “So that’s the fundament of the whole thing: he was looking at some far off location, when it could be right here, next to us. And my machine here can prove it.”

“Derpy, I don’t want to squelch your enthusiasm, I really don’t, but…is this safe? Are you going to be okay?” he asked.

She set down Sparkler as a crestfallen look came over her face. “You don’t trust me, do you?” It was her one greatest weakness: because of her eyes, she would fly into buildings or trees and walk into buildings, all of which painted her as a helpless klutz. Nevermind that up close and personal she was extremely dexterous with her hooves; it was her public appearances that set others’ opinions of her, notwithstanding those who knew her closest.

He shook his head. “Derpy, I know you. You’re not the klutzy pony others say you are, so that’s not it. I’m just wondering if it’s…you know, safe. What if you tap into Celestia’s sun? Or one of the stars in space? Or bring the moon down on us? Even you can’t calculate all the variables.”

She smiled at that; he did trust her after all. “Let’s find out,” she said, flipping a switch on the machine as it came to life. Giving a mock-serious look to Sparkler, she said, “Well, trusty assistant, turn that knob right there and let’s see what we find out!”

Sparkler beamed with joy, grabbing the knob with both hooves and turning. As she did, mostly static and humming came out of the machine while a giant meter on the wall measured the vibrational frequency. As the numbers climbed higher, voices could actually be heard through the noise, possible signs of life from beyond their world:

“—Pinkie, I hope this works. I have faith in you, but you gotta admit: this is a huge longshot—”

“—“You’ve just won a few hours with DJ Pon3. Wherever you want to go, a restaurant would be nice though, I’m not looking forwards to the salad that Opal’s probably got prepared for me back at the hotel—”

“—My Pinkie Squink! That’s it! I’ll think a squink! First I squish, then I wink, and then I think! I’ll show you! —”

“—But Megan, if we’re going to save Dream Valley from the Fire Orcs, the Moochick will have the best idea! Now if we can just find where Baby Ribbon went—”

The voices slowly died off again and for a few more minutes there was more of the static and humming before voices started up again. The needle was well into the higher range of its limit, approaching the red zone:

“—Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father—”

“—I’m the Batman—”

“—Higher and higher in the great dome of the sky, filling it with sound—”

“—The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity—”

“—Don’t worry, hon. We’ll have a kid someday. We’re still young and have plenty of years—”

At this point, the machine suddenly sparked and smoldered, blue wisps of acrid smoke reaching into the sky. Sparkler suddenly shivered with fright, running behind Derpy for protection. Derpy looked down and smiled at the frightened filly, trying to calm her but wondering why a foal who lived in a home with pyromancers was afraid of smoke and sparks.

Autumn, meanwhile, looked at the smoking machine. “Uh, should I go get a raincloud?”

Derpy shook her head. “It’s okay. There’s something in the overflow stack buffer that’s preventing me from staying in the upper reaches. I can’t really prove the theory until I get hard evidence. I won’t make the same mistake that Pitch Perfect made.” She went over to another machine, punching on a flat board that looked like the keys of a typewriter. It took Autumn to realize that it was a computer of some kind, but nothing like the types he normally saw.

“But Derpy, don’t you think this is important enough to mention now?”

She sighed. “People don’t think of me as some sort of scientific expert and inventor. They see just the clumsy pony who walks into walls. The coffeemaker I made, I know you use it at home, right?” Autumn nodded; Derpy’s autobrewing machine was nothing less than a wonder. “Well, I’ve only sold six, all to restaurants on the other side of the country. And why? Because they’ve never met me. Any potential buyer who has, well, all they need to see is me walk into a wall or fly into the side of a building and all that is. They never see me working up close with tiny, delicate parts, they never see me working with objects that normal ponies have hard times with. All they see is this!” she snarled, pointing at her eyes. Derpy got flustered enough that Sparkler hugged Derpy, which calmed her down.

Autumn hung his head in anger, for Derpy’s sake and shame at his own self. He’d bought the same lie from Ditzy, allowed himself to fall for her at the expense of the relationship with his first fillyfriend, Ditzy’s own sister. And now here he was, years later, facing that very same mare, the one he should have been with all along, the one he probably would have been happy and had a normal family with. Granted, he loved his daughters with Ditzy very much, but Flutterwonder’s yellow coat and pink and blue mane and Orange Box’s orange mane and lavender-gray coat were just reminders that they weren’t of his blood.

“Derpy, I….” he began, but was stopped by Sparkler’s yawn. Whatever he had to say would have to wait until Derpy put the foal to bed.


That damn harridelle! Ditzy fumed as she winged her way home. After all the things that Ditzy had endured by being the “lesser” of the two sisters, and Derpy had to go throw that in her face! The pony snarled to herself as she beat her wings furiously, picking up speed. One of the few things that proved Ditzy to be superior was that because she could actually see straight, she could pick up speed easily without fear of crashing into the blatantly obvious obstacle in her way while her moron of an older sister was a slow flyer due to her cautiousness. While she wasn’t exactly Wonderbolts material, she could pick up a fair clip of speed when she wanted to, and moments like this were tailor made for that.

Derpy didn’t understand. Nopony did, really. Ditzy just wanted the best out of life, and if that meant doing some things that helped her climb the corporate ladder, so be it. After all, she was young and beautiful and deserved to be at the pinnacle of success, and if her boss found her flanks attractive and other parts inviting, well, that’s just the way things went and Ditzy was all too willing to please – it was fun, most of the time anyway, and she got a lot of things out of it in return for just a romp in the hay.

Like right now she was enjoying an extra month off free with pay. Her boss at the weather factory was trying to keep his relationship with Ditzy on the downlow, so he put her “on special assignment.” She knew she got looks and scorn from other mares, but hey, their fault they weren’t as gorgeous. She had the looks and she knew what it took, and that’s why she was the rising star.

As she approached the clouds of the town in which she lived, she suddenly banked, heading south. She had a friend down in Norflank who always wanted to party and Ditzy could use the stress off her mind. Her husband had the kids, so they were fine and the sooner she washed the memories of Derpy out of her mind the better.

The gray pegasus picked up speed, rocketing into the fading sunset.


“She’s a sweet kid. Kinda nervous, though,” Autumn said later that night after Derpy had put Sparkler to bed. She’d made coffee – with a little bit of cider poured in for taste – and at the moment they were sitting in the living room, the stench of burnt wiring still filling the room.

“Yeah,” Derpy said, looking into her cup. She knew this was going to come up again. It was only a matter of time. “Autumn, I—”

“I’m thinking about leaving her, Derpy. Ditzy. It’s been on my mind a lot in the past month, especially after that time we spent together,” he began. “She doesn’t love me; I’m not sure if she ever did.”

“How do you feel about her?” the mare asked.

“Conflicted.” He set down the coffee cup, then went over to her and kissed her. She gave in at first, joining in before breaking it off.

“We can’t, Autumn! You’re my brother-in-law!”

“I’d rather be your husband. I should have been, Derpy. I was stupid. Now I want it right. I want to be with the mare that loves me, that I love.”

“But what about Fluttsy and Orange? What will they think? Aunt Derpy ruined their parents’ marriage? They may not truly be yours, Autumn, but you are their father. You have to think about them, too.” She looked deep into his eyes and could only see love, could only feel that. And it burned within her to respond. But she couldn’t. She’d lost him long ago, even if neither one wanted to admit it.

“Maybe I should start a family that I know is mine,” he responded. “And they’re young. They’ll understand someday, I’m sure. And Celestia knows you’d make a better mother than your sister – I see you how you’re with a filly you’re just babysitting! I mean, give me one good reason why you’d be a lousy mother.”

She let him have it with both barrels. “Because I’m pregnant. And you’re the father.”

The room got a lot more silent after that. Finally, after downing the whole mug of coffee, he spoke: “I’m…you’re…we’re?” She nodded. “Derpy…if I left your sister, would you marry me?”

“I can’t. You know that. I love you more than you’ll ever know, Autumn. But I won’t destroy your family or my sister, or my nieces. You need to think of them, first, more than anypony else.”

“More than anypony else?” he said, his tone harder than he’d intended. Pointing at her stomach, he asked, “What about the life building in there, Derpy? That’s my foal. And what will you do? A single mother isn’t a bad thing in big cities, but Berryville isn’t the biggest town around and small towns make for bad gossip.”

“Maybe I’ll move to another one of the local towns, like Forest Edge, or Hayfield, maybe as far as Ponyville. I don’t know. Or maybe I’ll put the foal up for adopt….” She couldn’t finish the word as she said it. The foal wasn’t to blame and was a part of her and him; she could no more abandon her eventually-to-be-born foal than he could. Finally, she said, “So what will we do?”

“I don’t know. But you already know what I want, Derpy.” He kissed her again, but this time she pulled away quicker. If she gave in once more…she’d never break free and she would be no better than her sister. For his sake – for all their sakes – she had to be the better mare…even if she loathed every second of it.

“I think you need to go, Autumn.”

“I think I need to stay with the mare I love. For good, this time.” The look in his eyes was pleading. “Derpy, I need you.”

“Your daughters need you more, Autumn. And perhaps, someday this foal will. But we won’t know until that day comes. But Fluttsy and Orange need you now. Please go, before I do something I’ll regret.” He looked at her, hurt and betrayed, and at that moment, she knew she did something she regretted already.

As he left from the front door, she wanted to pull him back, to tell him she changed her mind and that she would marry him. That they could raise his daughters and their foal in a family at last and to Tartarus with Ditzy. That she would be forever his. But she didn’t. And as he became a dot against the moonlight and then no more, all she could do was cry to herself for the wound in her heart that she ripped open herself.

She was the better mare, after all.

But what good did that do?