• Published 28th Jun 2012
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A New Hero - Alex The Lone Wolf



What if there was another pony who joined the pony gang? (Look at longer description...)

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One Bad Apple

Episode 56 – One Bad Apple

I shifted around in bed for a few moments, believing I had some weird dream. All I could see were rapid images flashing in my mind, all of them seeming to look dark. After they flashed through my mind, they suddenly stopped, and I found myself waking much slower than usual. This was all bizarre. It felt as if my body was waking itself up without me doing anything. It seemed to take a good five seconds for my eyes to slowly open and realize that I was awake. My body felt as it was shaking fiercely for a moment, but it quickly died down as I woke. When my eyes were fully open, I was just shaking slightly, but after a few seconds, it was gone.

Despite what had just happened, I noticed that it seemed to be a sunny day outside. I sighed and sat myself up, rubbing my head over the thought of what just happened.

I feel really weird… What was that all about? It's probably just one of those strange things that happen and after maybe a few hours, it becomes normal… Well, forget about it… I have to get ready to get that job…

I continued sitting on the edge of my bed, planning out my day.

Alright…so what am I going to do? Maybe I can go to Twilight's, send a letter to Princess Celestia about the situation, and then find Mayor Mare to ask her for the job. That sounds legit…

I hopped off my bed and walked down the stairs, fixing my mane a little. After, I walked out the front door and headed towards Twilight's library.

Arriving at the location, I lightly knocked on her door, seeing her friendly face after a few seconds.

"Oh, hey, Alex." She answered with a delicate smile. "What brings you here?"

"Do you mind if I send a letter to Princess Celestia?" I asked.

"Not at all." She responded, inviting me in. "Spike?" She called towards the upper floor as I walked in. "Can you come down here?"

After she closed the door, I heard small dragon steps rush downstairs. "Sure! Whatcha need, Twilight?"

"It's not what I need." Twilight corrected. "Alex wants to send a letter to the Princess."

"Okay!" Spike quickly pulled out a quill and empty scroll. "I'm ready when you are!"

I thought for a moment, thinking on how to put the words together. When I felt ready, I opened my mouth and began speaking. "Dear Princess Celestia, It's come to my attention that I haven't been doing exactly much in the community. I feel as if I've just been sitting around like a bum doing nothing." As I spoke these words, Twilight seemed to return confused faces, and I understood why. "I mean… every one of my friends have their own job to do…so what's mine? That's something I never even thought about… However, I had this epiphany during a visit at my girlfriend's house. I realized my true passion, which I also found that I could put to good use here in Ponyville. Sorry, for mooching off your—

"…uh… How do you spell 'mooching'?" Spike asked.

"M-O-O-C-H-I-N-G". I spelled out. Once he continued writing, I resumed my letter. "…off your bits that you gave to me when I was young. I feel like a loser and a bad pony for doing so. So, my decision is to become an artist here in Ponyville. I don't have much to worry about. I pretty much only need the money for food, supplies, and other few things. It's nothing major. I'll also place some bits on the side to repay you back. Um…" I rubbed my chin. "I think that's pretty much it… Well then, thanks for everything Princess. Love, Alex."

When Spike finished writing it, he immediately sent it while I looked over to Twilight to see that confused expression remain planted on her face. "…You're going to become an Artist…?" She questioned.

"Yeah…" I responded, beginning to feel a little worried on what she was thinking about that decision. "There's nothing wrong with that, is there?"

Her expression shifted into an understanding and soft joyful one. "No…" She walked over to me and placed her hooves around me, bringing her body closer to where our cheeks were touching each other. "I think it's great that you've found something you're very passionate about!" After a moment, she pulled away and continued to look at me. "Besides, I never knew you were an artist."

"Heh…yeah… I've never truly embraced that skill. It's like having a special talent, but never realizing it until now."

"So what are you planning on doing as an artist?"

I shrugged. "I'm not sure exactly." I thought for a moment. "I've noticed things, such as banners, in Ponyville could use just a little few touch-ups. I'll just have to see what Mayor Mare would like or need."

Before Twilight could respond, we heard a belch near us. Spike grabbed ahold of another letter and read it. "This one's for you, Alex." He announced, bringing it towards me. He opened it up and held it towards me so I could read it.

"Dear Alex," I read. "I am proud to see that you are interested in helping your community with a talent that has interested you and which you seem to have a passion for. You don't know how happy I am to see how you'd love to help out everypony in every way you can. Don't worry about repaying those bits back to me. Those were for you. Knowing you, you'd probably tell me that you were going to pay them back anyway. For that, just think of it this way: You've repaid me back more than enough for all of the favors you've done for every pony. You've all defeated Nightmare Moon. You've all defeated Discord. You placed your life on the line during the encounter with Queen Chrysalis. And you all saved the Crystal Empire. I think that's more than enough for those bits, don't you think? Anyway, I'm glad to hear that you are doing great, and I hope I can see you soon. Princess Luna has also been thinking about you and feels the same way. Your adoptive mother, Princess Celestia. *wink*" I figured she was joking about that last part in a way. After all, she was technically my adoptive mother for a day. I smiled and chuckled at it.

Twilight followed in my example as well. "'adoptive mother'?" She questioned.

I reacted with a friendly shaking of my head and decided to send one more. "Spike, can you just send one more?" He nodded and pulled out another empty letter. With his quill ready. "Dear Princess Celestia, thanks for understanding. I suppose you're right on the 'repayment' situation. I'd still love to help you or Luna out in anyway, so ask me for anything whenever you want. Tell Princess Luna that I said hello and that I hope she's doing well. Talk to you later. Your adoptive son, Alex." I smiled as I continued with the joke. After, Spike sent it. "Thanks, Spike." I turned around to face Twilight. "Well, I better go find the mayor so I can see if I can that job."

Twilight returned another warm smile. "Good luck, Alex. I'm sure you'll be the best artist ever."

"Thank you, sis." My heart jumped when that slipped out. I felt the same way when I was falling in love with Fluttershy, only it was a brother-sister relationship in this case. Fortunately, Twilight didn't find this weird, but instead continued to smile contently and offer one last hug before I left for my job hunt.

As I began walking through town, I decided to check out Town Hall to see if the mayor was there. I reached the area and looked around. It took me a while until I was able to see her studying the area that was now repainted. She seemed to be observing how the paint job was done as she rubbed a hoof on her chin.

I walked next to her, hoping not to startle her. "Mrs. Mayor?" I questioned.

She faced me, only becoming slightly startled. "Oh, hello there…Alex, is it?"

"Yes, ma'am. I wondering if I could apply for a job here in Ponyville."

"A job? What job?" She inquired.

"I'd like to be an Artist."

"An Artist…? Wow…" She responded in such a way that seemed to depict her surprise and shock in the subject of the matter.

"What is it?" I asked, becoming worried of the possibility that I may not achieve this occupation.

"Oh, it's nothing. It's just that… I don't think I've ever heard or seen a pony applying to be an Artist here in Ponyville…"

"Really…?" I questioned, becoming surprised myself.

"Yes. In fact, all of the artwork created here in Ponyville is done by volunteers."

"Wow…" I turned my head away and faced the ground for the moment. Then, I faced the mayor once again. "So…does that mean…I have a good chance of obtaining the job…?"

"Good chance? Hah." The mayor laughed in a positive way. "You have it with no question. We could really use an actual Artist in Ponyville. Although…" She paused.

"Hm?"

"I'd like to see some of your work before we get started. Is that okay?"

"Yeah, yeah, of course." I replied quickly. "What exactly do you want to see?"

She faced the ground and placed a hoof on her chin in thought. "Oh!" She looked up with an idea. "There is a Summer Harvest Parade in a few days. You could make some work for it. Perhaps some banners or decorations?"

"That sounds like a great idea, ma'am. So you basically want me to make some decorations involving harvesting food? Such as apples, carrots, lettuce, and others?"

"Sure, if that's alright with you."

"Of course. I'll start getting the necessary supplies."

"Alright then. Good luck, Alex."

"Thank you, Mayor Mare."

With my objectives clearly in sight, and with the conversation finished, I raced back home to retrieve my saddle bag and bits.

I had looked throughout the whole marketplace for the art supplies I needed. I wasn't sure if there was an art shop in Ponyville, but I ended up managing to retrieve these supplies from different shops in the marketplace. I bought top quality pencils, a variety of brushes, sketching paper, acrylic and watercolor paints, paper specifically used for those of paints, some plastic cups, and finally, some large banners for the final draft of my work. All these supplies practically filled my saddlebags.

I trotted home happily, feeling excited for this new type of work. I entered through my front door and looked around, once I was in the hallway. I thought for a short moment.

Hm… Where am I going to put all these things?

I mentally slapped myself for missing the complete obvious.

The living room, of course. I have nothing in there but a couch and some other casual objects.

I walked into the living room to see how mainly dull and boring it was, to be honest. Spotting a shelf nearby, I took some time to organize the supplies I had neatly onto it. Once I did, I placed my saddlebag back on a counter nearby and then walked back to look at the fairly filled shelf. I looked around the room.

Maybe, when I have the time, I can paint the entire house…most likely when I retrieve my horn and wings back… It'll be much easier…

I made sure to put the banners in the very back to where they wouldn't get in the way. I sat down and looked over the new materials I now contained in my household. I took in a deep breath and grinned. "Alright… Let's get to work."

I spent the days remaining before the Summer Harvest Parade on working on the work I would present to Mayor Mare. During the first part of the time allotted, I grabbed my pieces of sketch paper and just drew and drew like no tomorrow. A few times, I would come up with something that looked great, but in the end, I screwed it up and the outcome was throwing it in the trash.

Nonetheless, the sketching was to be of simple fruit. I only wanted to create something with more dynamic appeal; something that would show that I just didn't do it in ten minutes or even an hour.

By the next day, I had finally finished all the sketches I needed. I was ready to transfer it into the banner. I placed the sketches to where I could see them easily and readied my paints. I filled up a plastic cup with water and created a plate of different colors to use, leaving some space to blend them easily. I began working on painting my sketches onto the banner, which I had taped onto the wall. Honestly, all of this would have been much easier if I had magic to work with…

I spent all of this work time in silence. I was surprised I had the patience to withstand this loneliness as I worked. But this was all…somehow…keeping me busy in a good way… Somehow, I just liked working on this, that I couldn't be pried away. It's something that you just don't want to stop until you finish it…

Finally, by the last day before the Summer Harvest Parade, I had finally finished.

As I observed my work, I chuckled and shook my head. Good thing it was only sketching and painting into a few banners. At least I didn't have to stay up all night…

I sighed, cleaning up any messes I had, which involved rinsing out the cup and brushes and tidying up the living room a bit. After I was finished with that task, I decided I could go outside for some fresh air and spend time with my friends as the paint on the banners dried carefully.

I yawned as I trotted outside. I was thinking aimlessly, stumbling on thoughts of my friends.

Oh no… I hope they aren't worried about me. I pretty much didn't come out at all during the time I was working. I'm sorry, Fluttershy… Well, I'm sure I'll see them at the Summer Harvest Parade. When I finally present my work to the Mayor, I'll spend as much time as I can with all of them. Yeah…

The mere thought of being with the ponies I love placed a smile upon my face. However, this unfortunately also caused me to literally bump into somepony.

"Ouch." The pony expressed.

When I was able to analyze who the pony was, I found it to be a very familiar friend. She was wearing a black stylish vest with light green fabric underneath on the upper part of her body. On her waist, she wore a brownish belt that held her scarlet skirt securely to the upper part of her back legs. She was also wearing a necklace with an oval ruby in the middle.

"Oh, I'm really sorry…Vinyl?" I expressed, becoming slightly surprised by her appearance.

Once Vinyl retrieved her balance, she looked towards me and smiled when she recognized me. "Oh, Alex! Hey, man! How are you doing?" This smile shifted into a curious one when she noticed my different appearance as well. "Hey… Didn't you have both a horn and wings?" She asked.

"Yeah…" I rubbed the back of my head. "A friend of mine just startled me and I suppose I lost them that way. I know it doesn't make sense but…" I shrugged.

"Oh, no worries. I totally understand."

I observed her for a moment, presenting a curious expression. She noticed this and smirked playfully. "Hey, Vinyl… Why are you dressed up like that? If you don't mind me asking."

"You know how I'm a DJ?" She asked.

"Yeah."

"Well, I'm going to be a DJ at this party while I enjoy the party myself! I can already tell it's going to be a load of fun! A DJ has to look her best, you know?" She grinned cheerfully.

"Oh, that sounds nice. When's the party?"

"Tonight. Want to come?"

"Mmm… No thanks…" I declined, mainly on the thought of knowing nopony there besides Vinyl. "May I ask why you're dressed up so early though?"

"I decided I could get ready and watch a movie." She gasped in obtaining an idea. "Dude! We should totally watch a movie together!"

"A movie?" I questioned. "There's a movie theater here?"

"Yeah! You didn't know that?"

I chuckled slightly. "Not really… I've never really paid much attention to things around here, I guess… In fact… I don't think I've ever been to the movie theater before."

She gasped in surprised now. "Then you really need to come watch a movie with me."

"Hm…" I placed a hoof on my chin, thinking if I had the time to. Well, I did finish my work. I think I deserve a little break… I suppose I could go see a movie with Vinyl… "Alright, why not?"

"Awesome!" She exclaimed and began leading me towards the theater as I walked by her side. "So anything interesting you've been doing lately?" She asked.

"Well, I recently just applied to be an Artist here in Ponyville. Right now, I'm pretty much working on the banner for the Summer Harvest Parade as a…piece of work I can show the mayor. I just finished it a while ago. It would have gone much quicker if I had my horn…"

She chuckled. "I feel you man. That's great though. An Artist? Maybe we can work together somehow! Like, you can probably design decorations for the parties I DJ, I don't know."

"Heh… Maybe…" We began nearing the movie theater as I stumbled upon new thoughts. Vinyl was a new friend I met. What about Derpy? I haven't seen her around… I wonder if she's busy… Then, a terrible thought caused unbalance in my mind. Oh… I hope not… "Hey… Vinyl…"

"Hm?" She faced me.

"This isn't…like…a…how do I put this…like…date or anything, right?"

This caused her to slightly blush, but she shook her head and laughed. "No! Just a friendly thing, dude. Why would you ask me something like that? I don't mean to sound negative or anything…but just curious."

"Oh sorry… It's just that…not too long ago, I was at Sugarcube Corner with my friend. We were both eating muffins. She has these…crossed eyes and I wanted to get a closer look, so of course, I moved closer to her. However, another pony had bumped into me, causing me to be pushed forward and…you know… It sparked this whole thing between my friends, girlfriend, and me. I mean, it wasn't bad, but it's just something I wouldn't want to go through again, you know?"

She released a soft and comforting smile. "Don't worry, I completely understand. It's nothing like that. It's just two friends hanging out with each other."

I sighed in relief. "Alright."

We reached the movie theater and were about to enter through the main door, but all of a sudden and unexpectedly, we spotted Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo running out of the theater, causing us to move to the side and out of their way. I could only stare in confusion, wondering why they were in such a rush. Then, after a few seconds, we noticed another filly walking out of the theater with a soft drink wrapped by her right hoof. She closed her eyes and smirked deviously as she walked past us. She wore a dark orangish coat with three freckles on each side of her face, just like Applejack. I also noticed that there was a bang across her face…just like Starlight… except it was more cut to a pointy end, like a square. She didn't have a cutie mark, and she continued to walk away, heading towards where the girls were running as she continuously blew the bang out of her face.

Vinyl chuckled lightly from this scene. "Fillies these days, huh?"

However, I remained silent for a moment, continuing to think about what just happened. "Y-yeah…" I responded. Something was bothering me. I just couldn't help but feel something wrong with what just happened.

Nonetheless, Vinyl and I entered the movie theater.

Before heading to the movie, Vinyl stopped by the concession stands, producing me to wait by her. As she was ordering, she looked towards me. "You want anything?" She asked.

"Oh…" I was caught off-guard as I continued to be surrounded by the thoughts of the girls running off like that. "No thanks, I'm fine."

"You sure?" She questioned, adding that playful smirk once again.

"I'm sure, Vinyl. Thanks for the offer, though."

Vinyl retrieved her popcorn and drink. She held them up with her horn and led me towards the movie we were going to watch. I had no idea what we were going to watch, especially since I don't remember ever stepping hoof onto a theater before.

We entered in a fairly large room. Immediately in front of us, there was a huge projected screen, where the movie would be displayed. I looked around the room. It was practically empty; there were only a few ponies inside. Some were sitting with no snacks. Others were leaning forwards happily and taking a seat in the front row as they held their popcorn excitedly.

Vinyl and I took a seat in the middle of the room. As we waited for the movie to start, I began talking to her. "I've noticed you seem a little different from the last time I saw you." I mentioned.

"What do you mean?" She asked.

"You're livelier, I guess."

"Well, I was up at two in the morning last time." She giggled.

"Oh, right." I placed a hoof on my forehead and shook it.

"You alright?" She questioned.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I'm just starting to think about stuff now."

"Well, you better stop thinking because the movie is about to start!" She joked and faced the screen, using her right hoof to hold both the popcorn and drink to her chest as she rested her other hoof. She began taking a sip of her soda through the straw as she stared up towards the movie screen.

However, I looked up towards the screen as well, but I seemed to be more distracted by the scene again. I just couldn't stop thinking about them running off like that…

Vinyl lightly startled me when she tapped me on the shoulder and whispered. "Are you sure you don't want any?" She asked, directing it towards her popcorn and drink.

Her generosity caused me to smile. "You're too kind, Vinyl…"

Vinyl and I continued watching the movie. Sometimes I couldn't understand the motion picture…but I didn't really pay attention anyway. As stated earlier, I was thinking more about the girls.

When it ended, Vinyl stretched out her forelegs and groaned. "Eh, it was alright." She turned to me. "What did you think?"

"Oh…Um…Nothing much." I pretty much could only respond with.

Nevertheless, Vinyl giggled a little and began getting up, holding the empty cup and bag of popcorn with her horn. "Ready to go?" She asked.

"Sure." I replied and followed her out of the theater.

She stopped for a moment to throw away the trash. Once we were outside, the sunlight was really bright. I covered my eyes with my right hoof. "Whoa…"

Vinyl chuckled. "Yeah, that happens. It'll go away after a few seconds." She looked around and inhaled the fresh air outside. "Well, I guess I should be going now. It's been fun hanging with you, Alex. Another time?"

"Yeah, sure." I answered, still waiting for my eyes to adjust to the light.

She chuckled a little and waved. "See ya, Alex. Good luck with your art."

I smiled softly and waved back. "Good luck with your party."

"Thanks." She expressed and began walking away.

After a few more seconds, there was no more bright light, and I was able to see clearly now. Well… I guess can go check if the banner is ready. I began walking towards my home, yawning a bit.

Arriving back, I opened the door and walked inside. I headed towards the living room, turning right to view the work I left. The banner was still hanging there. I raised my hoof and lightly wiped it on the banner. It felt clean. I looked at my hoof. There were no marks of any paint whatsoever. Alright. Seems my work here is done. I guess all I need to do is wait for the Summer Harvest Parade.

As soon as I turned around, I was immediately tackled to the ground, hearing the word "Surprise!". When I was able to see who this mysterious pony was, I observed her bright yellow coat, her warm pink mane, and her soft blue-green eyes.

"Fluttershy…" I responded, being captured in her captivating gaze and releasing a loving smile.

She kissed me for a moment and then allowed me to get up. "I missed you. The girls and I haven't seen you in days, so I decided to check up on you."

"I know, Fluttershy. I'm sorry about that. I've just been working on my art." I answered.

"Twilight told me that you were getting a job as an Artist." She embraced me proudly. "I'm so proud of you!" I slightly chuckled and patted her back. She left her forelegs around me but pulled her face back so she could see my eyes. "How about we go and eat? You deserve it."

"Sure, Fluttershy. That sounds great."

She pulled away, and we both began walking towards the outside, holding each other's hoof.

Sweetie Belle:

I was lying down on the bed with my hooves in front of my face. I just couldn't stop crying. Babs Seed was just so mean! Meaner than Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon! Meanwhile, I could hear Applebloom pacing around my room.

"That Babs has really gone too far this time!" Applebloom exclaimed.

"Kicked out of our clubhouse...!" Scootaloo stretched her forelegs out and threw them on the bed in front of me.

"And my own bed!" Applebloom added, surprising both Scootaloo and me.

"Seriously?" Scootaloo asked in an unbelievable tone.

"Super-seriously." Applebloom walked over to the side of the bed and laid herself down on the ground sadly.

I didn't care what would happen; I just wanted this to end! I'm so sick of being bullied by Applebloom's cousin! "We need to talk to Applejack." I offered.

"No!" Applebloom and Scootaloo suddenly screamed out in fear.

"Rarity?"

"No!"

I placed a hoof on my cheek, thinking for a short while. "Twilight?"

"No, no, no!" Applebloom shook her head with each word, emphasizing her need to express her feelings. "We can't talk to anypony! Don't you understand that, Sweetie Belle?"

"Well…" I began feeling my eyes water again as my voice shook. "I…I…I just don't want to keep being bullied like this Applebloom… I'm sick of it… I really am…" I dug my head in my hooves again, trying to keep the tears from falling out.

She sighed, walking away from the bed. "I'm sorry, Sweetie Belle, but we talking to somepony is not an option. Not with the risk of being snitches and babies."

I lifted my head to look at Applebloom. "Applebloom! What's worse? Being called a 'snitch' and 'baby' or being treated like a 'snitch' and 'baby'?" Applebloom could only remain silent, keeping her back away from me. I sighed sadly and looked at the covers on my bed, rubbing my hoof on them. "If there was only somepony who could help us out of this…" I mumbled softly. However, saying this made me think. Then, I suddenly came up with the answer that could save us! "Applebloom…" I spoke towards her. She turned her head towards me. "There is somepony we could talk to…"

"Hmph." She looked away, becoming mad. "Like who?"

I remained silent for a moment. "Alex…"

"Alex?" Applebloom now turned her whole body around to see me.

"Remember when Diamond Tiara was going to publish those embarrassing photos of us because we wouldn't publish the gossip that we hated?" I asked. Applebloom responded by looking towards the ground in silence. "We talked to Alex and he fixed it. Things didn't become worse than they already were! They became better! If anypony can help us and understand what we're going through, it's Alex!"

"Sweetie Belle does have a point…" Scootaloo agreed with me.

Applebloom sighed. "Fine… Let's go talk to Alex…" She turned around and began heading towards the door slowly. "…I guess it's better than doing nothing…"

She walked out, making Scootaloo and me look at each other for a moment and follow her. As we began our journey to find my big brother, we hoped we wouldn't bump into Babs Seed along the way…

Alex:

Fluttershy and I had walked over to the café and settled down there. We were just finished eating our meals full of a variety of hay, oats, and flowers. I looked at Fluttershy to see her with her eyes closed and smiling as she rubbed her tummy in such an adorable way.

I gazed at her lovingly for a moment, and then decided to speak to her. "Hey, Fluttershy…"

"Hm?" She opened her eyes and placed her sight on mine.

"Do you know a pony named Vinyl Scratch?" I asked.

She thought for a moment. "I don't think so… I only know the girls and Derpy."

"Hm… Well, I just met her a while ago, after we came back from the Crystal Empire. I should introduce you to her. She's a real nice pony."

Fluttershy looked away shyly and blushed. "Not nicer than me…right…?" She asked in a joking manner, but was slightly embarrassed to say it.

I chuckled at her comment and shook my head lightly. "Oh, Fluttershy…"

"Alex?" I heard a filly voice say behind me.

I widened my eyes in surprised and looked back. I saw Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle there behind me. Their manes appeared to be dripping wet as they were draining water towards the grass. "Girls…?" I questioned, becoming concerned.

"…C…can we talk…? In private…?" Sweetie Belle's voice sounded very fragile, concerning me greatly.

"Uh…sure…" I looked back at Fluttershy. "I'll be back." Then, I quickly sat up from the hay I was sitting on and walked over to the girls. They led me away from the public area of the café and to somewhere more distant from anypony else. They stopped and turned around. Applebloom and Scootaloo looked at Sweetie Belle as if she was going to talk, but Sweetie Belle kept her eyes glued to the ground.

"Um…A…Alex…we…uh…we…" Sweetie Belle continued to pause in hesitation. She lifted her head to where I could see her eyes, but she didn't make eye contact. I was very shocked to see her eyes watering up quickly. "You see…we…um…we…h-have…a" Sweetie Belle's voice was now breaking terribly. Applebloom and Scootaloo frowned as they knew this. "We…have…a…" Sweetie Belle paused and immediately began crying.

I furrowed my eyebrows in a very concerned matter. Seeing Sweetie Belle cry like this truly pierced my heart. I just couldn't take observing her like this… "Hey, hey…" I quickly expressed softly, placing my hoof on Sweetie Belle and bringing her closer to me. She wrapped her little hooves around my chest tightly, burying her face on my coat and soaking it with her brittle tears.

The two other girls continued to look at Sweetie Belle sadly as the three of their manes were still soaked and drenched somehow. Scootaloo lowered her head to the ground and looked at me. "What she's trying to say is… We have a bully…"

"A bully?" I questioned, wanting to know what they meant. "Do you mean Diamond Tiara?" I inquired while patting Sweetie Belle's back softly with my hoof.

Scootaloo shook her head sadly.

Applebloom now looked like she wanted to say something. She hesitated for a moment and then finally spoke up. "It's my cousin… Babs Seed."

"…Your cousin…?" I questioned, confused.

Applebloom nodded her head. "She's been botherin' us the whole time she's been here. I didn't want to talk to anypony about it, but Sweetie Belle wanted to talk to you…since you saved us with the whole gossip thing…

"You came to the right pony, girls…" I announced, truly knowing on the painful impacts a bully can make on a pony. I looked at the floor for a moment, thinking about what I should do. Of course, I should tell them on what to do, but is it a good time here…? No… I managed to release a small smile as I looked at all of them. "Why don't I buy you three some floats?" I asked.

"Really?" Applebloom asked.

"Yeah." I nodded my head and looked at Sweetie Belle, who seemed to ease up a little on her crying. "What do you think about that, Sweetie Belle?"

She pulled her head away from my coat and sniffled, wiping the tears away from her face. She was able to form a light smile and look at me with lightly watered eyes. "That sounds nice…"

"Yeah." Scootaloo agreed. "Especially after that dumb bully stole our floats this morning…"

"Not to mention our own clubhouse…" Sweetie Belle added.

"Your clubhouse too?" I almost exclaimed.

They nodded their heads.

I sighed and gently placed Sweetie Belle back on the ground. "Come on. I'll let you know what to do…"

I walked the girls over to Fluttershy, who was concerned on the matter. I didn't tell her at the moment, but suggested we take the girls over to Sugarcube Corner. She agreed and walked with me as I led the three young fillies.

Once we arrived at Sugarcube Corner, I bought the girls their own floats. Sweetie Belle retrieved a vanilla float. Applebloom retrieved a strawberry one. Lastly, Scootaloo retrieved a chocolate one. Then, we all took a seat at a table near the window.

The moods of the three girls seemed to increase significantly as they drank their floats, bringing a smile to my face.

"Thanks for gettin' us these floats, Alex." Applebloom expressed.

"Yeah, thank you, big brother." Sweetie Belle quickly hugged me and then continued to drink her float adorably.

I slightly chuckled, still remembering the time Sweetie Belle declared me as her "big brother". Anyways… now's the time to get serious…

"So, tell me about this 'Babs Seed', girls…" I began.

"She's my cousin." Applebloom responded. "She came to town a few days ago. We tried initiating her to the Cutie Mark Crusaders, since she didn't have a cutie mark of her own, but she didn't seem impressed."

"When we showed her our float for the Summer Harvest Parade," Scootaloo added. "Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon started calling her the new 'blank flank'. Applebloom was defending Babs Seed, but she just joined the bullies' side and bullied us! Ever since then, she's never left us alone! We tried avoiding her, but we ended up getting our clubhouse stolen! We don't know what to do!"

I sighed and stared at the table for a moment. Then, I shifted my attention towards them. "Let me tell you something, girls… Bullies only bully others because they feel insecure about themselves. What this means is that they tease others to feel good about themselves."

"Why would they feel bad about themselves in the first place?" Sweetie Belle asked as she continued to drink her treat.

"Well, most of the time, bullies are going through personal problems of their own, such as their families fighting or being bullied themselves by other ponies. So, when they bully others, they feel better, like if they're putting the weight of their own problems to other innocent ponies."

"How do you know about this, Alex?" Applebloom inquired.

"Well… I know I haven't mentioned this to you girls yet…but I've been bullied myself."

"Really?" They all questioned in union, highly surprised.

"Yes…by mostly everypony when I was young."

"But why?" Scootaloo added to their large amount of questions. "You're like a super awesome pony. Why would anypony want to bully you?"

I shrugged. "I don't know. I'll probably never know. I've always asked that questioned to myself actually…" I paused for a moment. "But… I know how to get rid of a bully."

"Do we stop them by talking to another pony? Like Applejack?" Sweetie Belle asked, now finishing her float.

"Usually, Sweetie Belle, adults don't do anything. Based on my experience, the adults usually just give bullies a slap on the hoof. In fact, most of the time, they would always make things worse. They would either not care or just give a slap on the hoof. Then, the bullies would hate you even more and opt to make your life worse."

"What's 'opt'?"

"It means to make a choice from a range of possibilities… So they'd basically try thinking up of anything to make your life worse and choose from that list. Then, they just keep choosing from that list until the break you… So… The only real way to stop a bully would be to stand up to him/her."

"Stand up?" Scootaloo inquired with a confused face.

"Show them that you're not going to stand to be bullied anymore." I answered. "Fight if necessary. Bullies only pick on you because they see you as an easy target. They won't stop until you show them that you won't stand around to be picked on. Honestly, telling an adult every single time will just tell them that you're weak and that you can't fight your battles on your own, which angers them. I don't know why, but… that's just the way it is."

"So…you're saying that we have to fight back?" Applebloom asked.

I nodded. "In most cases, yes. However, in your case, I would—

"Thanks, Alex!" They all exclaimed and dashed out of the building.

Well…I was going to say to speak with Applejack…but then again…I'm not sure if she might make things worse… I don't know… I sighed. Maybe they'll resolve things? I placed my hooves on the table and then laid my face on them. I don't know…

"Alex, are you alright…?" Fluttershy asked, placing her hoof delicately on me.

"Oh." I lifted myself up. "Yeah… I guess I'm just tired. I guess I could some sleep." We began hearing polka music outside of Sugarcube Corner. We looked out the window to see ponies readying their floats that they were going to use. "Oh right…" I mentioned. "I almost forgot about that."

"Well, you better get some rest for the parade tomorrow then." Fluttershy advised.

"Okay." I sat up, and we began walking outside, hearing the music louder. I faced Fluttershy. "Want me to walk you home?" I asked.

She shook her head lightly. "No thank you. It's alright. You should get your rest, Mr. Artist." Fluttershy adorably joked once again.

I managed to slip out a smile and kiss her gently. "Right… I'll see you tomorrow Fluttershy."

She nodded and embraced me with a tender smile. "I'll see you too."

Afterwards, we pulled away and waved each other goodbye. I began walking towards my home, feeling exhausted.

Once I was inside, I fell on my bed and covered myself with the blankets. I closed my eyes and began breathing softly, feeling the fatigue fade away. At least I'll be able to wake up early tomorrow to hang up my banners…

When I awoke, it seemed to be as if the sun was just rising. The sky was filled with a light orange instead of a light blue. I yawned and stretched out my hooves. I better go hang up my banners before the event starts…

I trotted down the stairs and towards my finished banners on the wall. I removed the tape and grabbed the banners with my teeth. I placed them in my saddlebag and began heading out the door.

Once I was outside, I looked around. There didn't seem to be many ponies out, but it seemed that they took care of everything the day before. I walked over to the main area where all the floats were going to pass through.

Okay... Where am I going to put these…? I looked up and noticed perfect spots to place across buildings. However, I looked at the sides of my body and sighed. Why now? I looked to the right at several buildings and spotted a ladder. I better get started…

It took me a long while to finally finish placing the banners across the buildings. Trying to stay still on the ladder while attempting to remove the banners from my saddle bag and wrap the corners perfectly wasn't exactly as easy as it would have been having my wings or a horn… I'm beginning to complain too much…

After I had finally placed the last corner of my last banner, I released a breath of relief and wiped my forehead. I looked upwards to notice that the sky had transformed into a more sunny color with a strong blue coverage. Wow…did I really take that long? I shrugged and jumped off the ladder. The same polka music from yesterday caused me to pay attention towards the street, just noticing that the area was now filled with ponies as well! I rubbed my eyes and shook my head. Wow… I really must have been busy with the banners to not notice this…

As I began walking on the side by the crowd, I heard my name being called. "Alex! Alex!" This caused me to turn in the direction that the sound was originating from. Immediately, I saw Twilight looking at me and waving her hoof. I formed a smile and began walking towards her.

"Hot carrot crêpes! Get 'em here, get 'em hot!" I heard this announcement as I reached Twilight and the other girls who were all together.

I could smell the sweet aroma of these carrot crepes, but Spike was really intrigued but it, his nose held upwards towards the sky. He dropped the little flag he was carrying and began to somehow levitate in the air, initiating me to return a confused expression on my face. Pinkie Pie noticed this and quickly waved her hoof in front him, causing him to stop and fall back towards the floor. At first, I thought Pinkie Pie was trying to save him from somehow floating away. Instead, she stuck her tongue out towards Spike and took his spot in the levitation. All the girls placed their attention towards Spike when he fell. Spike looked up to see Pinkie taking the aroma for herself, causing him to raise a fist in anger, along with an irritated look. Nonetheless, he licked his lips and ran off after her.

This scene produced a bright grin on Twilight's face. She turned her attention back towards me. "How'd the whole art work thing go?" She asked.

I released a breath of relief. "I finished in time, but it was pretty hard getting these banners up…"

"You could've asked me to help. I would've finished in a snap!" She replied confidently.

I lightly chuckled. "I'm sure you would have…"

She returned another warm smile and looked across the parade with her hoof on top of her eyes to see well. Rarity joined her as she held one of those binoculars with some sort of stick below to be able to hold them with a single hoof… I'm not that well with sophisticated things…

"So those are your banners, Alex?" Twilight asked.

"Yep."

"Oh, I must say they are amazingly done!" Rarity complimented, moving the binoculars away from her eyes to look at me.

I lowered my head in slight embarrassment. "Thanks, Rarity."

"Well, I'ma get some balloons for those Cutie Mark Crusaders! They really did a great job with that float!" Applejack pointed to the way start of the parade, allowing me to turn my head and view those three little fillies. As Applejack walked away, I placed a hoof above my eyes and saw them speaking with some other filly that I recognized. It was the same filly that was walking out of the theater with that same smirk that Starlight usually wore. That must have been Babs Seed… Should I go over there and make sure everything is alright…? I don't think I need to… Applejack is already headed over there…

I felt a hoof being placed on my shoulder. I turned my head to see that it was Fluttershy. "So you're not going to tell Applejack about what's really going on?" She whispered.

I thought about it for a moment, but I couldn't really decide on what was best to do. "…For right now… No… I know Applejack is a great pony, and that she'd most likely be able to handle this…but… I don't know… I guess I'll just see what the Cutie Mark Crusaders come up with, and if it deescalates from there, I'll handle it."

Fluttershy nodded. "Okay." Then, she wrapped her hoof around mine as we began to watch the Parade.

Soon enough, Applejack returned with a smile on her face.

"What happened?" I asked, curious to know what was going on with the girls and the bully.

"Aw, the girls are so sweet and nice. They let Babs Seed ride in their float. Isn't that just the nicest and most special thing ever?" She questioned, clearly proud of those three.

"Yeah… Yeah, it is…" I answered, turning my head back towards the floats. I don't get it… Are these girls trying to make friends with Babs?

The floats were now beginning to pass us, all representing a fruit from the harvest. As the band marched, each playing their own instrument, their music and notes flowed throughout the whole area loudly, making everything but their sounds inaudible.

Unexpectedly, I heard my name being called out. "Alex!" I turned my attention to the front of me, seeing Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle. They appeared to be highly in distress. "Quick, you have to—

However, the band passing us was clearly making their voices so inferior in volume, and I could barely hear a word they were saying.

"What?" I asked, trying to allow my ears to grasp their sounds clearly.

"Quick, you have to help us—

"What?" I repeated, due to the horns and pounding of the drums drowning the sounds of their voices.

Applebloom looked very annoyed by the band blocking her voice, so she jumped into the air and screamed out loud. "We booby-trapped it!"

However, the band had already finished passing the area, so Applebloom's statement was audible by everypony around us, causing them to all look at her. There was an immediate awkward pause.

"Babs, bully, payback!" Scootaloo quickly shuffled her hooves. "No time to explain!" They all ran off towards the direction of the floats.

Fluttershy and I exchanged a look with each other.

"You don't think…" She began.

I continued to look at her for a few seconds. Then, I furrowed my eyebrows and gently removed my hoof from her. "I'll be back." I began trotting on the side of the crowd, trying to keep my eyes on those three little fillies. But the crowd was blocking most of my view.

I was able to see them quickly maneuver past floats that were moving slowly. They had to stop, due to another float blocking their path. This made them cut through the crowd and begin running. I spotted them and quickly began to run after them. As they moved, they were bumping into the crowd, dropping their popcorn and other snacks they were holding.

"Oof, My popcorn!"

"Sorry!"

"'Scuse me! Ah, whoops."

I heard these voices exclaim in the crowd.

By the time I was able to cut through the crowd as well, slowing down so I didn't hurt any of them, I saw them chasing after a lettuce float. What are those three doing? I didn't want to go down the parade area, so I decided to go around instead.

By the time I reached the side of the parade where there were not as many ponies, I noticed the lettuce float had gained much more distance. The apple float, which Babs Seed was in, was headed towards the corner where the floats were supposed to turn. However, the lettuce float gained enough distance to be side to side with Babs.

At this moment, I honestly didn't know what to do. What had Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle done? I couldn't think. What am I supposed to do?

Nonetheless, I shook my head and decided to follow those floats, chasing after them. As I was sprinting after them, the float Babs Seed was suddenly thrusted towards the side, impacting the lettuce float and throwing it off course.

I gasped and quickly ran over to the runaway lettuce, assuming the girls were inside.

"Veggie salad!" I suddenly heard Pinkie's voice cry out. "Veggie salad!" The lettuce bumped onto a stack of hay and lost complete control. The entire float was broken, only revealing many lettuce leaves on the grass. I immediately began sprinting as much as I could, desperately wanting to know if they were okay.

I halted, reaching the crash site. "Girls!" I exclaimed. Pinkie, Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle all popped up from under the lettuce. I was surprised. "…Are you all alright…?"

"Veggie salad." Pinkie announced cheerfully, presenting the lettuce in front of her. Afterwards, she began chomping on the lettuce.

"Seriously?" Applebloom commented.

Then, they all dashed away, seeming to not notice me.

I quickly turned towards the direction they were running off, chasing after them. "Wait! Girls!"

"Hey! Don't leave me!" I heard Pinkie announce behind me, but I didn't have time to stop. Soon enough, Pinkie began laughing. "Leaf me!" She continued.

Just as the apple float was not arriving at the turn site, it itself began swerving out of control, knocking bales of hay away from the course.

"Babs! Babs!" Applebloom cried out.

The float now completely missed the turn and jumped off course, heading down the steep cliff, shocking me. Arriving, but not stopping, at the cliff, I noticed the girls push Babs Seed out of the float. She was knocked onto a bush, landing safely. However, the girls were the ones in deep trouble now.

"No!" I exclaimed and immediately jumped off the ground. I headed towards them at an incredible speed. I had no idea why, but I didn't have time to figure it out. I was too busy trying to remove those girls away from the trouble!

"Oooh sweet applesauce!" I heard Applebloom yell out, commencing a significant increase in my speed.

I only realized that I was actually off the ground, but due to the pressure and high tension, I didn't stop to see why. I narrowed my eyes and focused on the float. Amazingly, I reached the door just before the float was about to crash. I saw the girls as they could only brace for the impact. I dashed inside and pushed them out towards a bush, where they landed safely.

However, due to the significant amount momentum on my speed, saving the girls caused me to land on the dirt roughly and roll over to the mud, where I joined the pigs. When I was able to move, I groaned, feeling drenched in mud. I raised my hoof, feeling a piece of land. I placed my left hoof on there, as well as my right hoof. Then, I slowly pulled myself up, feeling completely exhausted. Then, I heard a snap of a camera and a couple of flashes.

I looked up to see the girls arriving at the top of the cliff. "Alex!" They all exclaimed, noticing my condition. Applejack offered to come, seeing as there was not enough space for all of them to come help me. She hopped over the bale of hay and began trotting towards me. Behind her, I could see Babs Seed walk with a saddened expression.

Applejack reached me and grabbed my muddy hoof to help me up. "Are you okay?" She inquired with a worried expression.

"Yeah… I'm fine…" I answered and looked to my side to see the girls. "Are you three alright?" I asked them.

"Yeah... we're fine." Sweetie Belle answered.

"No sweat." Scootaloo added.

Babs Seed walked over to them. "After I'd been so mean to ya... you saved me!" She mentioned, clearly astonished.

Applejack could only reveal an expression of confusion as she didn't know what was going on.

Applebloom sighed. "About that…"

"Hold on, y'all." Applejack interrupted. "I want to know what all this was about, but first we gotta get Alex here tidied up."

Her statement caused the conversation to be held off.

After the whole mess, Applejack led me to Sweet Apple Acres where I would wash off all this mud I had on me. Twilight, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash joined us to make sure I was alright. I had no idea where Pinkie was.

Applejack brought out a huge wooden tub and filled it water and soap. I jumped in and began cleansing myself of the leftover mud. Applejack left to retrieve some towels for me. As I washed myself in the tub, the three girls were continuing their conversation with their former bully.

"I don't get it! I saw it all happen! You pushed me out just when the float was about to head into the lake!" Babs Seed exclaimed.

"Except... we were the reason it was headed into the lake." Scootaloo explained.

I heard some hoofsteps. It was Applejack. She held a towel in her mouth as she brought it to me.

"We booby trapped the float." Sweetie Belle added.

Once I finished scrubbing my body and being rid of the mud, Applejack placed a towel over me, allowing me to get out.

"Y'see Babs, we were tryin' to get you back for bein' a big bully.." Applebloom held Babs hoof in an apologetic manner. This caused her to look away sadly.

"But then Applejack told us about how you were being bullied back in Manehatten." Scootaloo joined. Babs Seed then covered her flank with her tail in shame.

"And we figured out you were just doing it to avoid getting picked on in Ponyville." Sweetie Belle combined her sentence with theirs. "But, by then... we were the ones being bullies. And..." She placed her hooves to her head in frustration. "Oh, why does life have to be so ironic?!" She yelled out loud, pounding her hooves to the ground.

"Guess what we're trying to say is..." Applebloom began.

"We're sorry." The Cutie Mark Crusaders apologized all together.

Babs blew the mane away from her face. "I'm sorry too."

Applejack sighed and trotted over to them. "Y'know this all could've been avoided if y'all just came to me in the very beginning."

"It's my fault too." I announced, joining her by her side. "They came to me and spoke with me. They didn't know what to do and they were so clueless…" I looked over to them to see them lowering their heads in sadness. "I told them that most of the time, you have to fight and stand up for yourself, because usually adults don't do anything or only give the bully a slap on the hoof. I don't mean to say that you wouldn't have done anything Applejack…" I looked at the ground as well. "It's just that… It's the way I'm used to…"

Applejack placed a hoof on my shoulder in an understanding manner. "I understand, Alex. You're right. In most cases, that is true… But…" She looked over to the little ones. "Now you all know what to do if this happens again, right?"

The three little girls nodded their heads.

"So... can we... start over?" Babs Seed offered.

"Defintely." Applebloom accepted, placing a hoof on her shoulder.

"Yeah!" Scootaloo raised her hoof for all of them to place together.

Sweetie Belle and Applebloom joined, but Babs Seed looked hesitant. The three fillies looked over to her, waiting for her to join in as well. Babs Seed was surprised, placing a hoof on herself. The girls nodded, allowing Babs to place her hoof in the bond as well.

"Wait!" Applebloom exclaimed. "Does that mean you'll join the Cutie Mark Crusaders?"

Babs Seed only responded with a light nod and smile.

"YAY!" The three of them exclaimed together. "Cutie Mark Crusaders Initiation!"

They were about to rush to their clubhouse, but they stopped and turned to see me. Sweetie Belle took a step closer to me and smiled brightly. "Thanks for everything, Alex, especially for saving us back there."

"It's no problem, Sweetie Belle." I returned, lifting my hoof up to remove the towel from my head. "Anything for my family." I removed the towel, which Sweetie Belle, including the other girls, gasped at for some reason.

"A horn?" Sweetie Belle exclaimed, causing me to look up to see my horn right there. I turned my head to view the sides of my body and remove the towel on my back as well. And…there were my wings…

The sight of this caused all of the fillies to drop their jaw. "Huh… Would you look at that…" I mentioned.

"I AM looking!" Sweetie Belle cried out in surprise. "You have both a horn and wings!"

Rarity walked to my side to help me out. "It's a long story, Sweetie. Let's just say Alex discovered his true power, but he's still the same pony we all know and love."

Rarity's comment caused me to blush a little in embarrassment.

"Ooh!" Sweetie Belle gazed at me for a while. She looked back to see the other girls waiting for her, removing the shocked expressions from their faces. I'm sure they had a lot of questions they wanted to ask me, but right now, they wanted to start their first ever initiation. "Well, I guess I better go!" Sweetie Belle hugged me for a short moment and then ran off. "Bye, big brother!"

"Big brother?" Rarity questioned, glancing at me.

I chuckled. "Remember? She adopted me as her 'big brother'?"

"Oh right… She didn't replace you with me, right?"

"No, of course not." I placed my eyesight towards where the other girls were running off. "It's just her way of viewing and appreciating me…"

"Oh, okay. I see your point. Well then." She looked over to the other girls. "Anypony want to do something?"

"Let's go see what Pinkie's up to." Rainbow Dash offered.

"Yeah." Twilight agreed. "Whatever did happen to Pinkie?" She asked, joining Rainbow Dash as they began exiting out of the farm.

Before leaving, Fluttershy walked over to me. "Are you coming with us, sweetie?" She asked.

"Actually." Applejack spoke. "I wanted to talk to Alex about somethin', if he doesn't mind."

"Uh, sure, I guess not." I answered.

"Mmk. Well you go do whatever you want, Alex. Have fun." She released a smile with closed eyes.

"Don't you want me to come be with you later on?"

"You don't have to come see me or be with me every day, Alex. I love spending time with you, but I want you to do whatever you want to do. I don't want you to feel forced that you have to be with me just because I'm your girlfriend. I'm fine spending time with the others as well."

"I don't feel forced to, Fluttershy. It's just…you know…"

She lightly giggled and continued to smile. "I understand. You can spend time with the other girls. I don't want them to feel as if you're ignoring them."

"Ah don't mean to interrupt… but we, or at least I, don't feel Alex is ignorin' us. But I guess we could do things together like old times!" Applejack added.

I chuckled. "Alright…alright… I suppose so, as long as you're alright with it." Fluttershy nodded. "Then, I'll guess I'll see you tomorrow, maybe?"

"Whenever you want." Fluttershy assured.

"Alright." I placed a small adoring kiss on her lips and hugged her. "Until then, Fluttershy."

"Until then." She repeated.

She softly pulled away and began walking, leaving me love-struck for a moment.

Applejack noticed this and chuckled. "Anyways, I remembered about that campout we were supposed to have until the whole thing between Rarity and Sweetie Belle happened. I was wonderin' if you wanted to have it with Applebloom and me?"

"Sure." I responded, placing a hoof on my chin and thinking. "That sounds really nice actually. Hm… I don't remember if I've ever had one before… I don't think so…"

"Well great! You're gonna love it! I promise!"

"Okay, but before doing that, can I go see the mayor really quick?"

"Sure! You can come with us to drop Babs Seed off at the train station and see her when we get to town. Speakin' of that… I better go tell those Cutie Mark Crusaders to get ready to come to the train station…"

Thus, we began walking towards their clubhouse.

Applejack and I walked up the steps to their clubhouse, just in time to see them finish the initiation.

"Babs?" Applejack called. She looked back, wearing one of the Cutie Mark Crusaders cloak as well. "Go get your things. We have to be at the train station to take you back to Manehattan."

"Aww." The other girls expressed.

"Don't worry." Babs assured. "I'll continue the Cutie Mark Crusaders back in Manehattan. It'll feel good to have friends that I can relate to instead of going through stuff alone."

"That sounds amazin'!" Applebloom exclaimed.

As they continued talk excitedly about the idea, I smiled and looked at Applejack. "Actually, I'll head over to the mayor right now, and then meet you at the train station, okay?"

"Sure thing, Alex."

After, I turned around and was about to begin walking, but then I remembered I retrieved my Alicorn form back. So, I decided I could practice and fly back to town. I opened my wings and traveled by flight.

I scanned the area near where the parade took place. I happened to see the mayor observing my banners. I landed on the ground and walked over to her. "What do you think?" I asked.

"Oh, Alex." She turned around, breaking her analysis on the banners. She seemed to stare at me for a moment.

That's when I remembered that not everypony knew that I was actually an Alicorn. "Oh, sorry…" I quickly stated. "I forgot to tell you that I'm…"

"It's alright." She answered. "Princess Celestia had sent me a message about it not too long ago. She told me that you wanted to be treated just as you were before, am I correct?"

"Yes, ma'am."

She formed a calm smile. "I should get started on announcing it to the everypony, don't you think?"

"That would be nice. I don't really want anypony freaking out to try to treat me as a Prince or anything…"

"I understand." She turned her head back to view the banners. "You've done an excellent job." She faced me again. "We'll be glad to have you as an Artist here in Ponyville."

"That sounds great, Mayor Mare! Thanks!"

"You're very welcome. I'll send a letter if I have anything for you to do. If you want, you can visit Miss Cheerilee and see if she has any work you can do as well. Until then, I'll be glad to see you spread your creativity around Ponyville and maybe even Equestria."

"Thank you Mayor. I'll keep that in mind."

"Good luck, Alex." She then began walking away.

I was left with a bit of excite in me, but for now I had to go meet Applejack back at the train station. Spreading my wings, I started my way by flight once again.

"So you promise you're gonna start our Manehatten branch of the Cutie Mark Crusaders, right?" I heard Applebloom ask when I landed by the train station.

"Yeah, and I promise to keep talking to my big sis about the teasing back home." Bab Seed responded as she stood by her suitcase in front of the train.

"Good." Applejack stated as I walked towards them. "And if you have any problems, we've got your back too, y'hear?" Applejack placed her forelegs around the fillies.

"That's right." I announced, surprising them a bit. "Let me just share a piece of advice with you…" I directed towards Babs Seed. I stopped in front of her. "It's good to talk to your big sister about the bullying, so you don't feel alone. But next time somepony tries to put you down, stand up for yourself. Show them that you're not going to take any more of their teasing. Use the strength you used for bullying and place it into defending yourself this time. When the bullies know that you're not going to stand around to be messed with, they'll leave you alone. I promise. Worst thing they can do is get somepony else to do their dirty work for them, but I'm sure you'll make it through anything they come out with. Understand?"

"Yes." She nodded, forming a soft smile. "Thank you."

I returned a smile as well, but it was interrupted by a familiar voice behind us.

"So you're leaving, huh?" We looked back to see that it was Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon on the other side. "Great! Now we're stuck here with these lame blank flanks."

The three girls formed negative responses, especially Sweetie Belle who was looking teary once again as the symbol on her cloak fell off. Of course, I would have dealt with this myself, but I realized it could be a test for Babs. I sent her a look, more of a smirk. She looked back at me, noticing this. I tilted my head and bumped it against those mean fillies, signaling her to try my advice out. She received the message I was sending and returned another look of annoyance towards Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon.

"Hey! That's not how you talk to my friends!" She exclaimed confidently as she walked towards them.

"F-friends?" Silver Spoon stuttered.

"Yeah, you got a problem with that?"

"Well, what if I do? What are you gonna do about it?" Diamond Tiara tried to counterattack, but Babs kept a straight face.

She glanced over to me. I nodded my head for her to continue on. She faced them and grinned mischievously. "Tell your mothers about your bad attitudes!" She moved a few steps towards them, causing them to back away.

Diamond Tiara shook her head as Silver Spoon pleaded with shaky hooves, surprisingly. Babs Seed leaned her head forward, scaring them into tripping over the platform and into a mud puddle. Babs trotted back over to us and knocked her hooves with Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle, climbing aboard the train after.

"Not exactly my choice of dialogue for standing up to bullies...but hey... It works..." I mumbled.

"I'm sure gonna miss that bad seed." Sweetie Belle mentioned, confusing Applejack.

"Bad seed? I thought y'all were friends now?" Applejack questioned as they waved to Babs on the train.

"No, see, first we called her 'bad seed' as in actually a bad seed, but now she's bad as in good." Sweetie Belle explained. "Get it?"

"Yea- no." Applejack's sustained answer caused the Cutie Mark Crusaders to laugh as the train now left Ponyville.

Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo eventually went home, as it was growing late. Applejack had mentioned the campout to Applebloom, who very well liked the idea of it. When we were at Sweet Apple Acres, we each carried items for the event, such as a tent, firewood, marshmallows, and sleeping bags.

We traveled to a private part of the farm, where the area was surrounded by trees. Honestly, if Applejack and Applebloom left me here, I would be forever lost… Well… with my wings, I could just fly up and scout the area.

"Alright, let's get started." Applejack announced after we placed all of the materials on the floor.

"Allow me." I offered and began working my magic.

First, I stretched out the tent and managed to stick the stakes firmly on the ground, attaching the rope on after. Next, I held up the firewood and placed them in the middle of the campsite. I grabbed a few smaller sticks and rubbed them together fast enough to create friction and start a fire. Finally, I released a breath and rested my horn, already feeling exhausted.

"Whoa." Applejack commented. "You seem to be gettin' better with your magic, Alex."

I chuckled a little through small pants. "I guess… Although, Twilight would have had this running in a second."

"You'll get there. Don't worry." Applejack assured.

"Thanks." I expressed with a light smile.

We began sitting around the fire in a triangle style. We placed marshmallows on our sticks and roasted them in fire. We blew on our marshmallows and took a bite. They tasted amazing with their melted goodness.

"Say…" Applejack began, swallowing her marshmallow and capturing our attention. "Why don't we tell some spooky stories?"

"I…uh… I don't know, Applejack." Applebloom responded, beginning to sound frightened as we sat under the dark sky and lit moon.

"Aw, come on, Applebloom. It's fun, besides they ain't real. I thought you weren't a baby anymore."

"I-I'm not!" Applebloom crossed her forelegs, trying to present a signal of courage.

"Well then, get ready for a spooky story." She cleared her throat. "This one is called… Night Terror."

I raised an eyebrow. "Night Terror?"

Applejack nodded. "It's about this dark and mysterious pony called Night Terror. It was this legend I found in one of Twilight's books. I thought right now would be the best time to share it with you ponies."

"Um…" I looked over to Applebloom, who seemed to be shaking a little in fear. "Alright…"

"Well then… Long ago, this pony named Night Terror used to terrorize Equestria. If he caught you… You'd have a high chance of never falling asleep again… He'd roam the lands like a sly shadow, haunting every pony that happened to be wandering around in the middle of the night. Apparently, this took place before Princess Luna's heart became corrupted and turned into Nightmare Moon. This became such a big problem that Princess Celestia and Princess Luna had to fix right away. Using the Elements of Harmony, they eventually confronted Night Terror and defeated him. It was said that he turned to a normal pony, and was banished to the moon to make sure that he would never roam the lands again, so there would be no danger of his terrible powers at all. However… Rumor has it that he managed to escape his banishment somehow and still stalks around Equestria." Applejack was now talking in a creepier tone, starting to make me feel uncomfortable. "There was once a group of friends that was having a campout, just like this one." Applebloom was now beginning to feel uncomfortable and frightened. "The friends first felt something weird around them…but they just shrugged it off. Little did they know, Night Terror was right…behind…them… To this day, they still can't sleep, having to relive it over and over. So…" Applejack stood up and began walking around eerily. "You best be careful when you're out here in parts like these…because…" She paused for a moment, growing closer to Applebloom. "You never know when he can come…get… YOU!" She exclaimed right behind Applebloom, causing her to scream and jump in fear. Applejack began laughing out loud, holding her own stomach.

"Applejack! That's not funny!" Applebloom exclaimed as Applejack continued pounding the floor with her hooves.

"It is to me!"

"But…what if he really is here, Applejack…?" Applebloom's fear was growing.

"Hehe." Applejack chuckled, recovering from her laugh. "Don't worry, Applebloom. The whole story is fake! It was just in some dumb urban legend book. Usually one of those books that sound like they're real, but they actually aren't."

Applebloom released a breath of relief. "It better…"

"Come on." Applejack offered, beginning to kick sand on the fire so it would go out. "We best get some sleep. You don't want Night Terror to come get you, do you?" Applejack brought up, once again.

"Stop it, Applejack!" Applebloom reacted, walking inside the tent.

Applejack continued chuckling, but then stopped to look at me, noticing on how I was just staring at the floor in silence. "You comin' in, Alex?" She asked.

"Oh, yeah." I stood up and began walking towards the tent.

"You don't believe that story, do you?"

"N…No… I don't think so…" I shrugged. "I'll probably just forget about it tomorrow." I entered the tent. Applebloom was already making herself comfortable in the sleeping bag.

"I hope I didn't scare you as much as Applebloom." Applejack mentioned, being the last one to enter the tent. Applebloom rolled her eyes and turned to her side. Applejack closed the tent entrance and yawned. Using my magic, I unrolled Applejack's and my sleeping bag. "Thank ya, kindly." She expressed and began lying comfortably in her sleeping bag. I did the same to mine. "Goodnight, you two."

"Goodnight…" Applebloom mumbled.

"Night…" I added softly…

Afterwards, there was only silence.

I tried closing my eyes and getting sleep, but I just couldn't get any. I fumbled around in bed. That story just stuck to my mind. Finally, I just stared at the ceiling for a moment. Then, I looked towards the entrance, almost actually believing that dumb story. I sighed and placed the cover of the sleeping bag over my face.

Just forget about it… Think about Fluttershy…

Eventually, when I finally managed to fall asleep, it seemed as if I was woken a second after. I felt a hoof on my body shaking me lightly and calling my name.

"Alex…Alex…"

"H…Hm…?" I opened my eyes and looked at who was shaking me. Once my eyes adjusted, I saw that it was Applejack. "W…What is it Applejack?" I asked tiredly.

"Are you okay…?" She asked, seeming to be a little worried.

"Yeah, why?"

She released a breath relief. "I was so worried. Scared, actually."

"Why? What happened?"

"Well…I heard something, so I woke up. When I did, I saw you weren't in your sleepin' bag. I was callin' your name but you didn't answer. I walked outside to look for you but then there you were. You were just outside lookin' at the moon. I called you, but you didn't budge. I wanted to go see what you were doin' but I decided it'd be best to not bother you, or I might scare or startle you, so I went back inside and hoped that you'd come back in. Otherwise, I would go see what you were doin'. However, I was lying in my sleeping bag, waiting, and you came back in. You didn't say anything. You just got in your sleeping bag and I guessed that you fell asleep."

"…what…?" I questioned, unable to understand what she was saying. "I wasn't outside looking at the moon… I don't remember any of that."

"Hm…" Applejack thought. "Either you were sleepwalkin' or I was dreamin'."

I sighed. "I don't know… I don't even remember ever sleepwalking in my life… I don't know if that would be a dream for you either."

"I probably was dreaming… That was too weird… Anyway, sorry for waking you up, Alex. I was just worried."

"It's okay, Applejack." I yawned. "You were just looking out for me."

I managed to see her smile through the darkness. "Hehe… Yeah… Goodnight."

"Goodnight."

Afterwards, she crawled back to her sleeping bag and began to rest her eyes. I closed my eyes as well. However, what Applejack told me was starting to bother me now.

What did she mean that I was out there staring at the moon? Was I really? I don't think I'd be sleepwalking… I don't remember ever sleepwalking… Maybe Applejack was dreaming… That seems to make more sense… Still… I just can't help but find this really disturbing…

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