• Published 28th Mar 2013
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Between Chaos and Creation - Donnys Boy

The sun is big and beautiful and bright. It warms you up, and it makes you smile. But the sun can also exhaust you. And if you stare directly into the sun, if you get all caught up in its beauty and forget to look away, it can blind you.

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Chapter 1

“Between Chaos and Creation”
by Donny’s Boy

“There is a long way between chaos and creation
If you don't say which one of these you're going to choose.
It's a long way, and if every contradiction seems the same,
It's a game that you're bound to lose.”
--Paul McCartney, “Fine Line’”

Chapter 1

The sun--it was big and beautiful and bright. It warmed you up, and it made you smile. It gave life. It made the plants grow. That was what most ponies thought of, when they thought about the sun.

But the sun could also exhaust you, could make you shaky and weak, if you stayed outside for too long on a hot summer’s day. And if you stared directly into the sun, if you got all caught up in its beauty and forgot to look away, it would blind you. It wasn’t the sun’s fault, of course, if any of that happened. The sun couldn’t help what it was or what it did. It would just keep on shining, lovely and lethal, no matter what the consequences might be.

Pinkie Pie was Fluttershy’s sun.

As the party raged throughout Sugarcube Corner, Fluttershy sat hunched in a dark corner and kept her eyes trained on the hypnotizing blur of pink that dashed here and there. The pegasus’ fillyfriend truly was a sight to behold--one moment the earth mare was over by the refreshments table, refilling punch, then across the room a half-second later, flipping over the record on the phonograph. And smiling all the while, of course, just beaming, beaming, beaming. Fluttershy felt tired just looking at her. Happy, too, of course, but ... tired.

Fluttershy sipped at her drink and tried to ignore how the thumping bassline of the music made her teeth rattle in her skull.

She tried. She always tried. She tried to ignore how the music jangled her nerves, and she tried to keep a smile on her face. She tried to see what Pinkie saw in these parties, and she tried to have fun. But Pinkie Pie had always been more observant than at first she seemed. When the pink pony glanced over, immediately she frowned, and there was a glint of disappointment in her eye.

Fluttershy allowed her smile to drop away, then. There wasn’t any point in continuing to pretend.

She sighed, but the sound was lost underneath the rumbling bass and drums of the music speakers. She knew exactly what came next. Pinkie would mope for the rest of the party, all the while denying that she was moping. Fluttershy would try even harder to enjoy herself, to convince Pinkie she was having fun, and the harder she would try, the more tired she’d get. And then the night would end the way that they always ended. Fluttershy would finally reach a point of such exhaustion and frustration that she would snap, would say things she’d immediately regret, and that terrible, terrible hurt would surface in Pinkie’s eyes.

She winced just thinking about that look, which she knew so very well. She had so many memories--too many memories--of those soft blue eyes turning dark and watery, cracking apart like a mirror shattering on the floor. If she never saw that look again, it’d be too soon.

“No,” Fluttershy whispered. “Not again.”

With sudden determination, the pegasus stood up, and she began threading her way through the crowded bakery. She ignored Rarity’s smile, and she ignored Rainbow Dash’s wave, keeping her eyes firmly on her goal. Pinkie was by the punch bowl, and the earth pony cocked her head as Fluttershy approached.

After a moment’s hesitation, Fluttershy leaned forward and gave Pinkie a soft peck on the cheek. Then she lifted her mouth to Pinkie’s ear, so she could be heard over the music. “I’m going to go up to your apartment and rest for a bit. Um, if that’s okay?”

Instantly Pinkie Pie nodded in reply, but her smile was too wide, too anxious. Fluttershy had to quickly look away, for fear that she’d change her mind, that she’d stay and try to provide reassurances she couldn’t provide. Instead, she quickly trotted off toward the stairs and felt her shoulders slump in relief once she successfully made her way to the apartment that sat atop the bakery.

It was much quieter here, although she could still hear and feel the thumping bass from the party below. Gummy came waddling over, and Fluttershy leant down to give him an affection nuzzle.

As Gummy wandered off after his greeting, Fluttershy glanced around the apartment. Her eyes greedily drank in every nook and cranny despite the fact she knew this place almost as well as she knew her very own cottage. She loved this apartment. She loved how warm and bright it was. She loved how it almost always smelled of freshly baking bread. She loved how it perfectly matched the personality and appearance of the pony who lived here, almost as much as she loved that pony herself.

And she did love Pinkie Pie. She loved Pinkie Pie so much that she was going to do the only loving thing she could do, at this point. She was going to break up with her.

Ten years ago, almost to the exact day, Fluttershy was having the worst day of her entire life.

All that afternoon, she’d battled her way through the enormous crowds of ponies that teemed along the streets of Manehattan. The pegasus had never been a fan of crowds, but growing up in Cloudsdale had acclimated her to them. A little, anyway. Sort of. Even so, Manehattan’s size and population made Cloudsdale look like a tiny village by comparison.

Eventually, though, Fluttershy had managed to slip through the throngs of ponies to reach her goal--the Manehattan Weather Control Bureau. That had been an ordeal in and of itself, too. Just working up the nerve to walk through the front doors of the massive and imposing building had taken ten minutes, and then it’d taken another ten for her to finally approach the bored-looking clerk who sat at the reception desk.

Only to be told that he’d never heard of a pony named Rainbow Dash nor seen a pony matching her description.

Fluttershy’s shoulders had slumped even lower than they had before. After quietly thanking the clerk, she’d reached into her saddlebags, taken out a tattered and much-folded piece of paper, and crossed Manehattan off the list of names written there.

After that, Fluttershy hadn’t had the energy or inclination to do much in Equestria’s largest city. Now, she slunk past all of the street vendors and food carts with her head down, ignoring the rumbling of her empty stomach as she made her way back to the train station. She paid for a ticket to Los Pegasus, the next city on her list, and then trudged over to the train platform to wait.

She tried hard not to think about how Los Pegasus was nearly as big as Manehattan was or how unlikely it was that she’d find Rainbow Dash in that city either. Mostly she failed.

“All aboard! All aboard, train #909 to Los Pegasus!”

As the crowd on the platform surged forward, Fluttershy found herself pulled along towards the train’s doors. She didn’t even bother to resist. Once inside, she managed to find an empty seat on a bench, and she leaned tiredly against the wall of the train car. As the car continued to fill up with ponies, chatting and laughing and jostling and shouting, Fluttershy shut her eyes.

There were days that she wished she’d never left Cloudsdale. Days that she wondered why she ever had. Then she remembered the whistle in her saddlebags.

It had been a present from Rainbow Dash--the only present ever given to her by her fellow pegasus, in fact. Years and years ago, during the worst of the bullying, Rainbow had shown up at school one day with the whistle held between her teeth.

“Here, take this,” she’d said, while unceremoniously tossing the cord of the whistle around Fluttershy’s neck. “You’re pretty quiet, ‘Shy, and I might not hear if you yell for me. So if you ever need my help, you can just whistle, okay? Then I’ll hear it, and you know I’ll be there in ten seconds flat.”

And Rainbow always, always had.

Cracking open her eyes, Fluttershy leaned over to unbuckle her saddlebags and take a peek inside. It was silly, and it was superstitious, but she always felt a little better, a little less frightened, whenever she held Rainbow’s whistle between her hooves. But as she poked her snout around in the saddlebags, she found that Rainbow Dash’s whistle was nowhere to be seen.

Her first instinct, as always, was to panic. And she did, for the first fifteen seconds or so--her mind went dark and fuzzy, her heart sped up, and the sounds in the train car roared like thunder in her ears. But then she took a deep breath. She had to control herself. She had to be strong, like Rainbow Dash.

After a second breath and then a third, she felt a little better. Enough that the screaming in her mind quieted down just enough that she could actually think again. Okay. The whistle had been there earlier in the day. She had checked. Which meant the whistle had to be somewhere in Manehattan. Immediately she blanched at the very idea of trying to search such a huge, sprawling metropolis as Manehattan. It was a struggle to swallow down that surge of fear, that sickening jolt of adrenaline, but as she did so, she remembered. She remembered that, during her entire day in the city, she’d only opened her saddlebags once.

“The weather control office,” she whispered to herself.

Just then, the train gave a jolt, as it began rolling along the tracks. Quickly Fluttershy jumped up and and rushed to the door of the train car. The conductor pony stationed there seemed surprised to see the yellow pegasus heading directly for her, to say the least, but Fluttershy knew there wasn’t any time to stop and explain. Instead, she simply dashed past the conductor and headed directly for the still-open door. Her heart was beating wildly in her chest again, so fast and so out of control that she almost feared it might explode.

But she ignored that. She ignored everything except the fact that Rainbow’s whistle was gone. Rainbow’s whistle was gone--Rainbow Dash was gone--and she had to get them back.

As soon as she reached the train car’s door, Fluttershy squeezed shut her eyes and jumped. She tried to extend her wings, to glide safely to the platform, but her wings had other plans. They stayed stubbornly glued to her sides, and she hit the train platform hard, rolling head over hooves until she finally slammed to a stop. Once the ringing in her ears had subsided a bit, she gingerly lifted her head and flexed each of her six limbs to check for breaks or other injuries. Fortunately, although there were some aches and pains, everything seemed mostly fine.

Fluttershy was just pulling herself back onto her hooves when the train station’s large clock began tolling the hour. Glancing up, she saw, much to her horror, that it was now four o’clock in the afternoon.

The weather control office, like most government agencies in the city, closed at four thirty.

She flew faster than she’d ever flown before, desperate to make it across town in time to reach the office before it shut its doors for the day. She weaved in between the other pegasi who crowded the airspace above Manehattan’s gridwork of streets, and she tossed out quiet apologies right and left as she bumped into ponies along the way. Finally, five minutes before the half-hour, Fluttershy found herself back outside the Manehattan Weather Control Bureau.

There was no hesitation this time, because there was no time for hesitation. Fluttershy burst through the doors of the building and rushed right up to the counter--only to find that the reception desk clerk’s attention was already occupied, by a bright pink earth pony.

“Ma’am, as I’ve already explained,” the clerk was saying, sounding almost as exhausted as Fluttershy felt, “I’m afraid we can’t hire you.”

“Well, how come? I promise to work super, super hard and to do my very best and not eat the snowflakes even a little bit! Well, I won’t eat many of the snowflakes …”

The clerk’s wings drooped as he peered over his wire-rimmed glasses at the pony in front of him. “Ma’am. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but … but you’re not a pegasus.”

The earth pony gasped loudly. “You take that back!”

Fluttershy shuffled her hooves and stared down at the linoleum floor of the building lobby, feeling awkward. There was an unbearable tightness pulling in her chest, making it hard to breathe, hard to keep herself together, all but demanding that she ask the clerk about her missing whistle. But interrupting would be rude and mean and just awful.

She bit her lip and, despite her best efforts, a low, keening whine escaped her lips.

Meanwhile, the pink pony in front of her stomped a hoof on the floor. “Well, fine! If you’re gonna be a big old meany-pants about it and accuse me of things like not being a pegasus, I’ll just leave!”

Fluttershy’s head popped up, and she took a step forward, ready to approach the desk clerk next. But as the earth pony whirled around, her nose lifted disdainfully into the air, Fluttershy suddenly came face to face with the other pony. The very first thing Fluttershy noticed was the bright, bright blue of the other pony’s eyes, almost exactly the same shade of blue as she remembered Rainbow Dash’s coat being.

The second thing Fluttershy noticed was the rainbow-colored whistle that hung on a cord around the pink pony’s neck.

Fluttershy froze stock-still, for the slightest of moments. And then, with a mighty shout, she lunged forward and tackled the pink pony to the floor.