“You girls ready?” Scootaloo asked. Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom looked at each other nervously.
Then Apple Bloom looked at Scootaloo and asked her, “Are you sure that there’s a cutie mark for… What was it you said this was called again?”
The Cutie Mark Crusaders were all sitting in their wagon at the top of the highest and steepest hill in Ponyville. They each wore a helmet and had a couple of pillows tied around their front and backs. Scootaloo sighed.
“I told you,” she said with annoyance, “that we are trying to get our cutie marks for extreme super downhill wagon riding!”
“Yes, well are you sure that there’s a cutie mark for that?” Apple Bloom asked. Scootaloo gave a jerking nod.
“Of course I’m sure! And besides, even if there isn’t one, maybe we’ll be the first to get them!”
Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle looked at each other again. Sweetie Belle just shrugged her shoulders.
“Alright then,” Apple Bloom said, still nervous, “let’s give it a go.”
“Sweet!” Scootaloo said, pumping her hoof. She set her wings whirring and grabbed the wagon’s handle. They slowly inched forward until the front wheels made it onto the downward slope of the hill. Then gravity took over and started rolling the wagon down the hill, getting steadily faster.
Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom grabbed onto each other and started screaming. Scootaloo didn’t notice and was whooping with excitement. She also didn’t take notice of the rock towards the bottom of the hill.
The front right wheel of the wagon hit the rock at top speed, causing it to buck hard and send the three friends flying through the air. They all screamed.
For a few seconds, the Crusaders floated. But then the forces of gravity took over yet again. They came down and, with a great woomph, landed in a small pile at the bottom of the hill.
Sweetie Belle moaned.
“Did we get our cutie marks?” she asked. They untangled themselves and checked each other’s flanks. But, aside from a few grass stains and some dirt, there was still nothing there.
“Darn!” Scootaloo said, stamping her hoof in disappointment, “I thought for sure we’d get them this time.”
Sweetie Belle dusted herself off.
“Maybe it was for the best,” she whispered to Apple Bloom.
“Hey! Are you guys okay?” called a nasally voice.
Looking behind her, Apple Bloom spotted one of her classmates running towards them. “Twist!” she shouted, waving the foal over. Twist ran to them as fast as she could, her glasses almost bouncing off of her nose. She soon got to her friends and proceeded to help dust them off.
“What are you doing out here, Twist?” asked Apple Bloom.
“I saw you guys crash, and so I came to make sure that everyone was okay,” she explained.
“Well, we’re all just fine. Thanks for coming to check up on us, though,” Apple Bloom looked closer at Twist, “What on earth is that you’re wearing?”
On Twist’s head was a light-brown beret with a symbol that had the silhouette of two ponies facing each other and smiling with their mouths open. There was a matching sash around her shoulders that was coated with pictured squares that had been sewn on.
“Oh, this? It’s my Pony Scouts uniform,” she answered.
“Pony what?” Scootaloo asked. She was helping Sweetie Belle to untie the pillows from around her.
“Pony Scouts. You see, we do all sorts of neat stuff. Sometimes we learn how to cook. Or do some sciencey stuff. We even get to go camping occasionally!”
Sweetie Belle, who was returning the favor to Scootaloo and untying her pillows, asked, “What are those square things on your sash?”
Twist thrust her chest out, showing off the ‘squares’ that Sweetie Belle had mentioned.
“These are badges. I earned them by learning to do all the stuff I mentioned earlier,” she looked at the sun’s position in the sky, then said to the Crusaders, “I have to go right now, guys. I don’t want to be late for the Pony Scouts meeting at Sugar Cube Corner!”
“Thanks again, Twist, for coming to check on us,” Apple Bloom said, “Have fun at your meeting!”
Twist saluted. “Will do!” she declared. She ran off, waving goodbye to the three Crusaders who waved back. When she was out of sight, Apple Bloom sat down and began to think. Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo, however, argued about what they should try and do next to get their cutie marks.
“I think we should try dumpster diving!” declared Scootaloo.
“Eewww! No way! And besides, it’s my turn to pick what we try and do next to get our marks.”
“Then what do you suggest?”
“Hmmm. I know! We can try and get knitting cutie marks!”
“Boooriiing. Try and think of something more exciting!”
“That’s it!” exclaimed Apple Bloom, leaping up.
“What’s it? The knitting cutie mark?” asked Sweetie Belle.
“Or is it the fact that we should do something more exciting?” suggested Scootaloo. Apple Bloom shook her head to both of their questions.
“Then what is it?” asked Sweetie Belle. apple bloom pointed in the direction that Twist had gone.
“I think we should join the Pony Scouts!”
Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo looked at Apple Bloom with confused expressions.
“Look, they do all sorts of stuff, right?”
“Yeah, so?” said Scootaloo.
“So, we should join them. Maybe one of those things they do to earn badges could just so happen to be our special talents that will help us get our cutie marks!” Apple Bloom explained.
Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo continued to look at their friend, still confused. But then their eyes widened as they began to understand her reasoning.
“That’s a great idea, Apple Bloom!” Scootaloo declared.
“Yeah!” agreed Sweetie Belle.
“Come on guys! Let’s catch up with Twist!” Apple Bloom said.
So all three friends galloped off in the same direction that Twist had. As they ran, they each thought about how close they felt to getting their cutie marks.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders caught up to Twist right outside of Sugar Cube Corner. When they told her they wanted to be Pony Scouts, she squealed with glee.
“This is great you guys!” she exclaimed, “Come on, I’ll introduce you to everyone.”
She took them in and introduced them to the many troop members, some of whom were fellow students from their school. There was Snips and Snails, even Featherweight. And they were all wearing Pony Scout uniforms, although the colts’ were different from the fillies’. Then Twist pointed out the troop’s leader.
He was a dark grey stallion with deep navy blue hair. He wore a uniform that was a lot like the ones that the boys wore. It was made up of a light brown button up shirt that had a few very important looking medals and pins and a yellow bandana tied around his neck. When he saw Twist and her friends, he came over to them.
“There you are Twist! You made it just in the nick of time, we almost started without you! If you can continue to get here on time for the next few weeks, that attendance badge will be yours for sure,” he said. He looked at the Crusaders. “And who are these young fillies you have here?”
“Hi Mr. Eagle! My friends followed me here ‘cause they want to be Pony Scouts,” Twist explained excitedly. Mr. Eagle held out his hoof.
“Well, howdy doo you three. I’m Golden Eagle, Pony Scout troop 403’s leader,” he said. Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle all introduced themselves to Mr. Eagle, each shaking his hoof that he offered. “So, you want to be Pony Scouts, huh?” They nodded their heads. “That’s great! Come on, then, we’re about to start our meeting.”
Mr. Eagle led them to the center of the room and had them stand next to him. “Gather around, Scouts, it’s time to start our meeting,” he called to everyone. They all stopped what they were doing and formed a circle around him. A couple waved at the Crusaders. “Okay, Scouts, welcome to this week’s Pony Scout meeting. Now, this one is very special because we have three new recruits!” Everypony tapped their hooves against the floor in applause. “Since they’re new, who wants to show them how we start our meeting?”
Several of the young ponies raised their hoof into the air and started waving it around. Some were even going “Oooh! Oooh” as they did so. Mr. Eagle looked at all the scouts around him.
“Hmmm. Snips, Snails. Would you two please come to the center and show us?” he asked them. They stood up and each took a place on either side of Mr. Eagle as he sent Apple Bloom and her friends to find places in the circle.
“Ahem!” Snips cleared his throat, “First thing we always do is say the Pony Scout promise. And to do that, we must raise our right hooves in the air,” he and all of the other ponies did so, “and then we say the first part and you guys repeat after me and Snails.”
They took a deep breath, and then launched into the promise, everypony repeating as they paused between each line. “On my honor, I will try, to serve all, and Equestria, to help any pony at all times, and to live by the Pony Scout law!”
When the promise was finished and Snips and Snails took their place back in the circle, Mr. Eagle spoke. “Excellent job, everypony!” he said, “Now let’s get to business. Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, I don’t have any uniforms at the moment, but next week I will. I do however have a few extra guides on hand, so you can take those home today. Also, I’ll assign a Pony Scout to help you all, and teach you the ropes of being a Pony Scout. Hmmm. How about you, Twist? Since they followed you here, how would you like to be their scout helper?”
“I’d love that Mr. Eagle,” Twist answered.
“Alright, then. I’ll leave you to it. Meanwhile, everypony else over here to finish working on our latest badge!” Mr. Eagle led the other scouts off to one side. Twist turned to her three friends.
“Let’s get started on teaching you all about being Pony Scouts, guys.”
“Dinner’s ready y’all!” Apple jack yelled from the dining room.
“It’s about time,” said Granny Smith, shuffling in with Big Macintosh helping to support her , “I’m too old to be kept a waitin’ fer mah dinner, I ain’t got much time left!”
“Eeeyup!” Big Macintosh said, nodding his head.
“Then have a seat and I’ll get you yer grub,” Apple Jack said, waving her hoof at the table. She made sure that everyone else was seated comfortably, and then sat herself down. But as she looked around the table, she realized that Apple Bloom wasn’t there.
“Where’s Apple Bloom?” Apple Jack asked.
“She came home and went upstairs,” Big Macintosh answered, pointing in the general direction of the young foal’s room, “I don’t think she’s been come outa there at all since then.”
Apple Jack sighed. “Y’all stay here an’ eat. I’ll go get her,” she said. Granny Smith and Big Macintosh immediately started to serve themselves. Apple Jack meanwhile made her way to her sister’s room. As she stood outside Apple Bloom’s door, she heard her sister muttering something under her breath.
Apple Jack raised her hoof and knocked it against the door. “Apple Bloom, you alright in there? It’s time to come and eat.”
She heard Apple Bloom shift around in her room, then the door opened just wide enough so that Apple Bloom’s face could be seen.
“I’ll be down in just a sec,” she said.
“Well, you need to come down now, or else you ain’t gettin’ any supper tonight,” replied Apple Jack.
“Look, just one more minute, ‘k?”
“Alright, what are you up to in there?” Apple Jack started pushing on the door, opening it wider.
“I ain’t doin’ anything!” Apple Bloom tried to push the door back, but was no match for her older sister. Apple Jack managed to get the door open enough to force her way into Apple Blooms room.
“If you got another poor critter locked up in here…” Apple Jack looked around. She didn’t notice anything out of place, but she did see the book that was wide open on Apple Bloom’s desk.
“What’s this?” Apple Jack asked. She picked it up and began to flip through it. Then she realized what it was. “Is this a Pony Scout guide?” she asked Apple Bloom.
“Yes,” replied Apple Bloom, her head hanging down.
“Why do you have one? Are you wantin’ to be a Pony Scout?”
“That’s great, Apple Bloom!”
Apple Bloom lifted her head up in surprise. “What?”
“What do you mean ‘What?’? I said that that’s great! I was a Pony Scout when I was your age, even Big Macintosh was.”
“Really?” Apple Bloom’s head was now tilted to one side in confusion.
“Mmmhmm. I was actually thinkin’ about signing you up, but I couldn’t think of how to get you interested in it.”
“Well, Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo and I are all becoming Pony Scouts.”
“Even better! I know that you three will have a ton of fun. But why would you want to hide it all from me?” Apple Jack watched her sister scuff her hoof on the floor.
“I was kind of afraid you’d laugh at me,” she mumbled. Apple Jack shook her head, smiling.
“I wouldn’t have laughed at you, Apple Bloom. I think that becoming a scout is a great thing you can do at your age, and plus, I’m your big sister.”
“I know,” replied Apple Bloom sadly.
Apple Jack waved for Apple Bloom to come closer. She did, and Apple Jack gave her a big squeezing hug.
“Now come on. Let’s go get some supper in us before it gets cold. That, or Big Macintosh and Granny Smith eat it all!”