When Apple Bloom finds a mysterious anomaly, she comes face to face with the strangest thing possible, herself as a pony! Combined with her fellow crusaders, they embark on a journey of discovery of the human world and Equestria.
When Apple Bloom discovers a strange phenomenon among the bushes outside of Canterlot High, she meets Apple Bloom, a talking pony no less, and together with their respective friends they venture out into the other world, exchanging places in an attempt to learn as much as they can about the strange new worlds without being found out as impostors.
But one such human has already begun to suspect, one who is a part of both worlds.
“Hey! Wait for us!” cried Scootaloo, catching up to Apple Bloom who was steaming on ahead.
Upon hearing the familiar voice, Apple Bloom decided to oblige her fellow crusaders and stop for a few moments to allow them to catch up with her. She hadn’t realised how fast she was going, most likely due to all the excitement surrounding the end of the school year. It was perhaps the most chaotic part of the school calendar with everyone rushing out of their classes to get out and make the most of the summer break.
“Heh, ah guess ah got a lil’ ahead of myself,” chuckled Apple Bloom, spinning round to meet her friends.
“We’ve got plenty of time to enjoy the summer; no need to hurry in case we hurt ourselves and spend the rest of it in hospital!” replied Sweetie Belle, a reassuring smile on her lips.
“Yeah, ah know,” said Apple Bloom, “Ah guess ah took Miss Cheerilee’s words a lil’ too literally.”
Apple Bloom remembered that before the last bell rang, their benevolent teacher had told them to “let every second count” while trying to hide the tears welling up in her eyes. She often got quite emotional at the finale of the school year since she knew that every year a few of her students would graduate but the fact that the majority of her students would continue on brought her comfort.
“O’ course, ma big brother’s a big help too,” Apple Bloom thought to herself, letting out a little chuckle.
The three crusaders started walking across the hall to the main entrance that led outside. Apple Bloom glanced around the hall, taking in the all too familiar scent of the place she came to every day for the last year. A sudden feeling of sorrow came over her. Of course, she knew that in three months’ time she would be back here bright and early to start a new academic year but the feeling nagged at her. Every year that went by she felt more and more sad that she won’t be able to experience the daily grind of school forever but Applejack always told her not to fret about that kind of stuff; so she quickly set it aside from her mind.
The sun boasted summer when they stepped outside, Apple Bloom could feel the welcoming warmth it gave out and felt Scootaloo’s arms around her shoulder.
“Man, this is going to be an awesome summer! I can feel it!” exclaimed Scootaloo, fired up as usual. “I’m just going to get my scooter.” And with that she jogged over towards the bike racks where her scooter was tied up.
“Wow! She’s certainly excited; then again Rainbow Dash is taking her to the Wondercolts Gala later tonight,” said Sweetie Belle. “You know that we need an adult to come with us and with my parents out on a business trip and Rarity busy with her clients’ dressers, I’m not able to attend but I can always help my sister instead.”
“Yeah, if she’ll let ya,” stated Apple Bloom. Apple Bloom had known about Rarity’s reluctance when it came to Sweetie Belle assisting her after a few incidents involving misuse of the fashionista’s fabrics; even if her intentions were good. However, she also knew that Rarity had a very generous heart and would hardly set aside an opportunity to spend time with her “innocent” sister, especially seeing as she wasn’t able to accompany Sweetie Belle to the Gala tonight.
“Applejack’s not going either and it’s not like Big Mac to go to big social thing,” Apple Bloom continued. “Besides, I think he’ll be with his special someone tonight,” giving a wink in the direction of Sweetie Belle. They both giggled harmoniously.
“I trust you two aren’t up to anything?” an accusative voice said from behind them. Apple Bloom spun around to see that Sunset Shimmer had overheard their small outburst and was walking towards them. “Is it dirt on your sisters, perchance?” she poked with a sly grin.
“Nothin’ that ya don’t already know, Sunset,” replied Apple Bloom, trying to calm herself down.
Despite her past actions, Sunset Shimmer was idolized by Apple Bloom and her friends because of her endless support in their crusaders efforts to discover their true talents. After the Battle of the Bands, everyone opened their hearts to Sunset and she started to become the most popular girl in school - for the right reasons this time. Most surprising of all though was that Sunset always found the time to assist Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo with whatever help they needed; sometimes she would even volunteer to watch over them in place of their sisters. The crusaders often wondered why Sunset devoted so much of her time to their cause and had once asked her about it, to which she said that she understood what it felt like to have an unknown destiny and that after her “reformation” she felt lost and unsure what to pursue until Twilight and her friends helped her see the light and made her destiny more clear. She emphasized that she didn’t want the three of them to feel the way she did and so would make every effort to help them find their destinies.
In fact, Sunset’s role was almost crucial in discovering their talent of helping others find their true talents. After helping Diamond Tiara see the good side of her talent, Sunset suggested that the three of them had their own individual talents but together they had an innate ability to discover other people’s true talents. The three crusaders had been overjoyed with this realization and now thought of her as another sister.
“Are you girls going to the party tonight then?” asked Sunset Shimmer with a happy tone.
“I sure am!” cried Scootaloo, stopping with precision that she lined up right next to Apple Bloom, helmet on and scooter ready for action. “Rainbow Dash is taking me; it will be so cool!”
“I’d love to but Rarity isn’t going so I thought I’d just help her,” said Sweetie Belle, a slight sadness in her voice.
“Yea, an’ since Applejack’s not going either, ah promised her ah’d help her with the evening chores,” stated Apple Bloom, her voice indicating no desire to go to the party.
“Well, the rules say that I could take one of you with me-
“Really?!!” questioned Sweetie Belle eagerly, cutting off Sunset before she could finish. “I mean, if that’s ok with you?”
“Of course it is, Sweetie Belle and I’d be glad for the company. Why don’t we go over to Rarity’s now and see if she’d be ok with it?” suggested Sunset Shimmer, a comforting smile on her face.
“Wow! Thanks Sunset! Are you coming Scoots?” said Sweetie Belle ecstatically.
“Yeah, let’s go!” agreed Scootaloo. “What about you, Apple Bloom?”
“Nah, ah’d better get on home ta ma big sis, she’ll be counting on me ta be there ta help her. I’ll see ya tomorrow though. Clubhouse at 10?”
“You know it!” agreed Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo in unison, giggling about it afterwards.
“See ya soon, Sunset,” said Apple Bloom, waving her hand at Sunset Shimmer as she began to walk away.
“Sooner than you think, Apple Bloom,” replied Sunset Shimmer, with a hearty chuckle. “Come on girls!”
Apple Bloom continued walking round the side of the school and noticed the recently ruined statue of the cantering horse. Apple Bloom and her friends had been away when the alleged incident happened and Applejack’s recollection of it made her even more confused, since she made out that it was Twilight’s fault which made no sense to Apple Bloom. Then again, she remembered that when Applejack mentioned Crystal Prep her interest in the story plummeted. Regardless, Principal Celestia announced the statue was scheduled to be repaired as soon as possible so the school would not be without their symbol for long.
Knowing her sister would be waiting for her, Apple Bloom began to walk at a faster pace towards home. After all, she didn’t want to hold up Applejack for too long since the quicker they got the chores done the sooner they could get to some relaxing in the summer evening; Applejack had even mentioned a campout. The thought gave Apple Bloom such a buzz of excitement that she hadn’t noticed the random branch jutting out of the nearby bushes and a few seconds later she had fallen onto her knees, sending her backpack that she had been carrying flying into the bushes. She grimaced in pain and stood up to check for injury on her knees. Luckily, there was a slight bruise but no blood was pouring out. Apple Bloom sighed and turned to the bushes, looking at the branch which tripped her up.
“That’s what ya git fer daydreamin’!” she thought to herself. She had yet to leave the school grounds and she had already found herself in a pickle. She pondered for a moment before resuming to search for her backpack. Rummaging through the bushes, Apple Bloom couldn’t find her backpack and thought that it must have flown further than she initially thought. Taking care not to snag her face on any other stray twigs or branches, Apple Bloom ventured into the big bush. It didn’t take long for her to catch sight of her bag nestled at the back of the bush, lying up rather snug beside the wall. As she moved closer to it however, her gaze was diverted by a huge crack in the wall, eerily emitting purple streaks along its edges. As the crack came into focus, she realised it wasn’t a crack but a large gaping hole although none like any she had previously seen.
For one thing, in the hole there was a picturesque countryside with lots of trees and what looked to be houses in the distance. Her first thought that came to mind was that it was a picture until she noticed a bird fly past and tweet a merry tune. Slightly taken aback, she turned her head back to see if this was a reflection but her eyes met endless twigs and leaves and there wasn’t a bird in sight. Her backpack didn’t seem to matter much to Apple Bloom now; even though she could see it lying underneath the mysterious hole. An idea occurred to her, although she appeared hesitant to go through with it. Curiously eyeing the portal and then her right hand, she transferred her gaze back and forth until it started to make her head spin. Finally, with one deep breath, she faced the hole, stretched out her right hand in front of her and pushed it into the hole.
The Frisbee had gone wide past Apple Bloom’s grasp and heard a thud as it landed on the other side of what was a large boulder. She grunted in annoyance but knew that there wasn’t that could be done about it now.
“Wha’ kind of throw was that?” she threw at Scootaloo, quite annoyed.
“Ooops, sorry AB,” said Scootaloo sheepishly. “I guess I overdid it a bit.”
That was an understatement, Apple Bloom thought. It hadn’t even been a throw. The young Pegasus decided to try one of her “trickshots”, darting up into the air – if for only a brief time – doing a full turn and kicking the Frisbee in mid-air with her hooves. She kicked the wrong way however and it went way over to the left; landing over the big rock behind Apple Bloom.
“Don’t you think it’s time we stopped now anyway? We need to get ready for the summer sun celebrations tonight,” argued Sweetie Belle. “We should go back to my house, Rarity will be waiting for us.”
“Yeah, ah suppose it’s gettin’ kinda late,” admitted Apple Bloom, glancing at the position of the sun in the sky. Of course, on this particular night most ponies stayed up until the sun was raised in the morning; those that could anyway. She remembered fondly about the many times that she had attempted to stay up but always fell asleep not long past the middle of the night. She often told Applejack to wake her up if she started nodding off but she, being the big sis that she was, said “Youngings need their sleep, ah can’t force ya ta stay awake, sugarcube.”
“This time, we’ll all stay up all night, won’t we crusaders?!” declared Scootaloo, reading Apple Bloom’s mind.
“Hay, yeah!” exclaimed Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle together, sharing a giggle afterwards.
“Let’s get going, then!” said Scootaloo, walking in the direction of Ponyville with Sweetie Belle close behind.
“Wait, y’all aren’t forgetting something?” protested Apple Bloom, pointing her hoof at the boulder.
“Oh yeah, the Frisbee,” laughed Sweetie Belle.
“Don’ worry girls, I’ll go git it an’ catch up with ya.”
“OK, we’ll see ya later then,” replied Scootaloo, trotting away with Sweetie Belle.
Apple Bloom began to canter around the boulder which turned out to be bigger than she originally thought. There was no rush however; it wouldn’t take long to get to Rarity’s as they had been playing in a grassy area just outside of Ponyville. She eventually came to a halt at the other side of the boulder; the Frisbee wasn’t there but what she saw instead completely astounded her.
It was as if a small part of the boulder had suddenly turned into water, ripples forming and breaking at the edges of the partition. The epicentre was what looked to be a yellow hoof, scarily resembling her own. She gasped in shock and quickly backed away, tripping over a stray branch and falling on her rear end quite hard. Apple Bloom let out a loud grunt of pain while trying to get back to her hooves. A muffled sound emanated from the boulder. Apple Bloom raised her gaze to it; the yellow hoof had gone and the ripples had started to fade. As the “water” became more transparent however, something else came into focus. Though it was unclear to tell for sure, the object had a head of sorts and a body extending to the bottom, well the bottom in her eyes, edge of the partition. Apple Bloom felt a tinge of fear down her spine as the water became still; then she saw the thing for what it really was.
Apple Bloom sat in silence, mouth ajar, eyes fixed on the creature in front of her. At first, she didn’t know what to make of whatever it was. It had two eyes like her, ears, mouth, all facial features and hair. It stood quite a bit taller than her and quite a bit smaller than her. It appeared to stand on just its forelegs and on all its legs as well. Apple Bloom hadn’t the faintest idea what was staring at her questionably but Apple Bloom however had a good idea what the creature was or at least looked like. A small smile slid onto Apple Bloom's lips, sparking a stroke of fear on her expression.
Bending down on to her knees, Apple Bloom leaned towards the hole and said, “Aww, what a cute lil’ horse!”
The creature’s sounds echoed through the water, ever so slightly distorted. Coupled with her newfound knowledge that the creature could speak, Apple Bloom found it difficult to make out what the creature had said but listening to the echoes bouncing off the water, she was able to distinguish the words “lil’ horse.” Apple Bloom tried to generate a response; her words catching in her mouth out of fear and was only able to manage, “Ah….Ah….Ah’m a pony, actually.”
“Oh, that’s right. Ah for-
Apple Bloom cut out of her thought and jumped back in amazement, startling Apple Bloom slightly. “Did that horse…ah mean pony just TALK?” she asked herself. She already knew the answer but was reluctant to believe it.
“Did ya just say something, just now?” she asked the yellow pony.
This time the sound was much easier to hear although it was not the response that she had anticipated. It seemed that the creature was surprised that Apple Bloom had given a reply. What’s more was that the voice sounded familiar.
“Yeah, ah did,” Apple Bloom gave as her reply.
Apple Bloom’s expression turned to fear as thoughts raced through her head. You’re talking to a pony! A pony! What the heck is going on? Noticing the fear on the creature’s face, Apple Bloom became slightly more at ease. Still, she was confused as to why something as simple as saying something to it would get the creature all worked up.
“Are ya doin’ alright?” a worried Apple Bloom asked the creature.
Apple Bloom’s mind was still buzzing with questions but upon hearing the little pony’s concern for her, she collected her thoughts, took a deep breath and sighed.
“Ah’m fine, thanks,” she admitted. “Ah just haven’t ever met a talkin’ pony before.”
“Really?” Apple Bloom was stunned. How in Celestia’s name did she think ponies couldn’t talk? “How so?”
“Cuz ponies can’t talk. At least the ones ah’ve heard of.”
“That’s silly!” argued Apple Bloom, feeling much more relaxed. “O’ course, ponies can talk!”
“No, they can’t!”
“Yes, they CAN!” cried Apple Bloom, getting annoyed.
Apple Bloom wasn’t sure what to think. For the moment, she decided it might be nice to get to know the yellow pony who had showed her concern.
“Ah’m sorry fer getting ya upset; my sis wouldn’a like me fer it if I insulted the first pony who talked ta me,” uttered a rather apologetic Apple Bloom, her eyes looking down. “Ya seem nice, what’s ur name?”
The yellow crusader hadn’t realised how annoyed she was sounding. She quickly changed her tone and said calmly, “Apple Bloom. Ma name is Apple Bloom.”
She couldn’t have heard that right. “Sorry, what was that?” she asked nervously.
She could ask a million more times and the answer wouldn’t change. This was not possible; she had to be dreaming! She started slapping herself on the face, much to the yellow filly’s confusion.
“Why are ya hittin’ yarself?” Apple Bloom asked, baffled.
Realising that her hands were doing nothing but giving her a sore cheek, Apple Bloom laid her arms down at her sides and thought about what to say to Apple Bloom.
“Cuz I don’t hardly believe this. Ma name is Apple Bloom too.”
Apple Bloom mirrored the creature’s expression. She could hardly believe it herself. She stood in silence for a while, observing the creature diligently.
“What are ya?” asked the perplexed filly. “Ah’ve never seen something like ya before.”
Apple Bloom threw the yellow filly a surprised look. “Ya mean ta tell me that ya’ve never seen a human before?”
“Nope,” Apple Bloom replied, her eyes still shifting all around the “human” whose name was her own. “Never.”
“That’s weird; ah’ve seen plenty o’ horses. Ma big sis, Applejack always-”
“AJ is your sister too?!” Apple Bloom interrupted, utterly gobsmacked. “You don’t have a brother called-”
“Big Macintosh? And…
“GRANNY SMITH?!” The two of them said together.
Neither said a word for some time, both striving to understand what been said in the last exchange. They had a similar expression on their faces, a mix of shock and awe with a tiny hint of excitement that grew ever more evident in the other’s mind.
“Ah still can’t believe this is really true!” Apple Bloom exclaimed, rather excited but with a hunt of doubt. “Ah mean, ah’d eat ma bow if-”
“You wear a bow in your hair too?” Apple Bloom turned around to reveal her pink bow largely proportionate to her red streams of hair reaching down to her shoulders.
Apple Bloom gasped excitedly and did the same making sure that human Apple Bloom had turned back around to see it. “Never leave home without it!” she admitted happily.
“Home? That wouldn’t be Sweet Apple Acres, would it?” questioned Apple Bloom, almost certain what the answer would be.
“Yup! How’d ya know?” she answered with a wide grin.
They both laughed, knowing exactly what the other was thinking.
“Ah guess ah know myself too well.”
And with that, the laughing ceased. Both of them came to the same realisation that the Apple Bloom in front of them had to be themselves. But how? There was only one more thing that would guarantee this and both of them knew exactly what it was.
“When yar a younger girl….” started Apple Bloom.
“And yar flank is very bare….” Apple Bloom continued, recognizing the song.
“Feels like the sun will never come when yar destinies aren’t there…”
“So the three of us fight the fight, there is nothing that we fear…”
“We’ll have to figure out what we’ll do next….”
“TIL AR CUTIE MARKS ARE HERE! WE ARE THE CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS!” “TIL AR DESTINIES ARE HERE! WE ARE THE CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS!”
It was official. There was no doubt about it.
“Yar me!” cried the two Apple Blooms with the upmost joy.
“So ar cutie marks must be the same?!” said Apple Bloom, pointing at her flank with her hoof.
“Ya mean, a cutie mark’s an actual thing? We just thought it sounded nice in ar name!” replied Apple Bloom.
“So then what’s yar special talent?” asked the pony crusader, feeling doubtful again.
“Well after helping a friend o’ ars, ah think ah’m good at finding other people’s special talents along with my fellow crusaders,” stated Apple Bloom confidently.
“Yeah, it was.” Apple Bloom smiled. There was no point talking to yourself like you would a complete stranger, she thought. “She was a meanie before, huh?”
“Eeeyup! As ar brother would say.” Apple Bloom still felt it strange to share so much in common with somepony else to the point that you’d use “ar” with almost everything. She blushed, turning her head to the right and on doing so she caught sight of the very thing that compelled her to come here.
“The Frisbee! Ah completely forgot about it. It landed near this here doo-hickey just before ah met ya!” explained Apple Bloom.
Remembering her own reason for being here, Apple Bloom replied, “Oh dang nabbit! Ah’m supposed to go and help AJ, she’ll be wondering where ah’ve gotten to!”
“And ah need ta get back ta ma friends before it gets too dark!”
An idea struck Apple Bloom and judging by the look on the other’s face, she asked, “Are ya thinking what ah’m thinking?”
There was a pause before they both erupted, “WE AF TO SHOW THIS TA SWEETIE BELLE AND SCOOTALOO!!”
“Let’s meet here again at midday, tomorrow! Ah’ll bring them with me!” announced Apple Bloom, standing up excitedly.
“Then ah’ll do the same. See ya tomorrow!” replied Apple Bloom joyfully, trotting out of view from the hole to collect the Frisbee.
“Bye, Apple Bloom!” That was something that Apple Bloom never thought she’d say and the thought made her laugh.
Spying Sweet Apple Acres in the distance, Apple Bloom contemplated what had just taken place a while ago; her sensitive knees reminding her ever so slightly. Ya talked to a pony! And it spoke back! Ah wonder if Winona would say something if ah asked her? No, that was silly. Or was it? After the conversation she had, Apple Bloom was willing to believe anything.
Putting the thought aside for a moment, Apple Bloom grabbed her backpack; thinking it a good idea to check if anything had fallen out. Naturally, she had zipped it shut but it would certainly be inconvenient if she had lost anything important that she might need when school started again. Still walking at a steady space, she rummaged around in her backpack with her hand, feeling the shape of her various items. Unsure that everything was accounted for, she stopped and took a look in the bag; using her hand to move items out of the way. Nope, everything was here.
“Well now there y’are! Thought ya got yersel lost or summin’!”
Apple Bloom looked up from her bag to see her sister, Applejack, waving at her from the edge of the fence encircling the farm. She had a smile on her face that said she was glad to see Apple Bloom but at the same time questioning what she had been doing. Apple Bloom grinned in return and, closing her bag, she jogged over to Applejack.
“Well? What was the hold-up?” questioned Applejack in a relaxed tone, her left arm leaning on the fence.
“Ya wouldn’t believe me if ah told ya, AJ,” answered Apple Bloom, excitement exuding from her words.
“Is that right? Well, try me,” said Applejack, leaning in towards Apple Bloom, eager to hear the story.
Apple Bloom hesitated and her smile subsided. As much as she trusted her honest sister, Apple Bloom wasn’t sure if telling her sister about the pony Apple Bloom was such a good idea, at least not now, since she would likely make a big deal out of it and forbid her from going to see herself again, if she believed it. Otherwise, her overprotective sister would likely make the same amount of fuss if she didn’t believe it and keep Apple Bloom cooped up in her room until her senses came back to her. However, she would have to tell her now intrigued sister something to get her off her back.
“Ah just had the most interestin’ conversation in ma whole life!” Apple Bloom said, thinking to herself why that was the best she could come up with.
“Oh yea? With who?”
“Uhhhh…with Sunset. She said she wants ta get back together with Flash Sentry or summin’. Ah thought it was interestin’ cuz…….she kinda…..likes you,” stated Apple Bloom, trying to conceal the guilt of lying about her mentor and telling it to her sister.
“Come again? Sunset likes me? As in…..wait, hold on, why’s she tellin’ ya this? You shouldn’t be getting involved with something like this, a girl your age!” said Applejack, her voice having changed from confusion to outright anger. “Ah’ll need to have a word with Sunset the next time ah see her ta sort this thing out!”
Apple Bloom’s heart teared at what her mouth had just uttered. How could she lie about her most faithful supporter? How could she lie to her sister? There was no going back now, though.
“Please don’t get mad, AJ. Ah was lookin’ forward to spendin’ the evening together,” said Apple Bloom, a tinge of fear and hint of guilt in her voice.
Applejack looked at the worried expression on her younger sister’s face. She composed herself and deeply sighed.
“Sorry bout’ that, sugarcube. Ya know ah get a little protective of ya from time ta time,” said Applejack softly, lifting Apple Bloom’s spirits a bit before they quickly sank down again. “Still, it ain’t right what Sunset’s doin’ and ah’ll talk to her about it but it’s nothing to fret about tonight. Ah can see why y’all thought it was interestin’.”
That won’t be the only thing, thought Apple Bloom thinking about the consequences of her substitute story. Though not all of it may have been untrue as on occasions, Apple Bloom had heard Sunset talk about Applejack in a certain way and she always appeared to act differently when AJ was around, at least the times that she’d been there. Nevertheless, she still felt awful but tried her best to hide it from her sister.
“Come on, help me with this here patch of trees and then we’ll get a campfire going,” continued Applejack, making her way over to the orchard and signalling Apple Bloom to follow.
Apple Bloom hastened to join her sister, all the while hoping that tomorrow would be worth her lie.
Apple Bloom opened the door to Rarity’s house to find Rarity beaming at her as she walked in.
“Ah, there you are, darling! I was afraid you had lost your way or something,” she said calmly, her voice slightly indicating that she had previously been anxious.
“Nah, ah just couldn’t find the dang Frisbee,” replied Apple Bloom, letting out a small chuckle.
Rarity’s beaming smile evaporated, telling Apple Bloom that she had not liked what she had just said. “Really, Apple Bloom! You must refrain from using the word “dang” it is unbecoming of a pony and one your age too!” said Rarity sternly, taking her normal disgusted posture; eyes closed and head lifted high.
“Ah guess…,” muttered Apple Bloom, in a tone of annoyance. Apple Bloom didn’t much care for Rarity’s opinion half the time because most often Applejack didn’t give a hoot about Rarity’s elite taste either. However that didn’t give her the excuse to challenge Rarity’s remarks when she made them, being a filly and all. Besides, aside from her refined taste, she was normally very nice to the yellow filly and her fellow crusaders, if they weren’t causing too much trouble.
“Good. Your friends are up in Sweetie’s room; I’ll let you girls know when it is time to go to Twilight’s Castle.”
“Thanks, Rarity,” Apple Bloom said gratefully. She then trotted over to the stairs and proceeded to Sweetie Belle’s room.
Apple Bloom found the two crusaders idly sitting beside each other when she came inside, both looking at her with puzzled looks.
“What took you so long?” demanded Scootaloo, looking a little perplexed and somewhat annoyed. “I thought you said you’d catch up to us.”
“Yea, ah got side-tracked…by the coolest thing ever!!” exclaimed Apple Bloom, taking her fellow crusaders completely by surprise.
“Well, what was it?” asked Sweetie Belle, her face lighting up with excitement. “We’re all ears!”
Apple Bloom sat down, forgetting about the thump she took on her rear end earlier, releasing a gasp of pain as she did so. “Oh, yea! Ah guess, ah’ll have to explain that too.”
The sun had already been awake for some time as Sweetie Belle started to stir. She could hear faint ringing music in remembrance of the party last night. She opened her eyes in the hope she might have just fallen asleep with the party still going on but alas she knew it wouldn’t be true. Sweetie Belle retained full memory of the events of last night and remembered well that Sunset Shimmer dropped her back at Rarity’s when the party began to disband. She had been so thrilled that Sunset agreed to take responsibility for her and gave a fond farewell to her when the two parted ways in front of her house, only to be met with a rather annoyed Rarity when she opened the door. She wore a lavish night dress and pointed to the clock hanging on the wall across the room; it was the middle of the night. Sweetie Belle just hadn’t noticed where all that time had went and shrugged at her ever so slightly enraged sister. Rarity didn’t utter a word and just continued to the stairs and up to her room. And very soon followed an exhausted Sweetie Belle, tired from dancing with Scoots and Sunset.
Looking at herself, it appeared she had collapsed onto the bed with her party clothes still on. She smiled, reminiscing about what a wonderful night it had been. She glanced at her alarm clock which of course hadn’t been set, and observed the time was about 9.30am. It was a rather late rise for her but considering the summer had just begun she could afford to get in the habit of doing it. Today though she had agreed to meet her fellow crusaders at the clubhouse at 10 and didn’t want to hold them up. She sat up, stretched and rubbed the sleep from her eyes before getting off the bed and walking to the bathroom.
After making sure she had washed herself thoroughly, Sweetie Belle put on her normal magenta jacket and yellow skirt. She then dried out her hair and adjusted her iconic hairband. In some ways, Sweetie Belle was a little bit like her sister, for she at times fussed about her appearance. Not to the extent of what she wore but rather how she’d come across visually. She might often spend at least ten minutes making adjustments here and there but she was hard pressed to get the clubhouse for 10am today so she couldn’t afford to waste any time. She stepped away from the mirror and left to go downstairs. She had barely spent one second on the bottommost step before her sister confronted her.
“You are late up this morning, aren’t you? Although…you did arrive very late last night!” said Rarity, her voice loudening as she went on.
“I’m sorry Rarity, I…I guess I lost track of time and so did Sunset,” she replied awkwardly.
“Be that as it may, you really should be home in better time Sweetie Belle. I’m not sure Mother and Father would agree with it either.” Rarity let out a deep sigh. “But it seems you had fun and Sunset took good care of you so I guess there’s no use crying over it. Just be a little more aware in future, alright?” Rarity said reassuringly.
“OK, I will,” stated Sweetie Belle, embracing her sister in a hug and taking Rarity by surprise but compelling her to do the same. Sweetie Belle knew their siblinghood was not the most harmonious but it made up for it with moments like these.
“Good. Now, I’ve made some breakfast-”
“Sorry sis, I have to go!” she exclaimed, picking up a piece of toast of the counter before dashing out the door and shouting “Thanks!” as it closed behind her.
Only Scootaloo was there when Sweetie Belle finally arrived at the clubhouse; it was unlike Apple Bloom to be late since she lived the closest by far.
“Hey Sweets, Apple Bloom’s not here yet,” Scootaloo said, stating the obvious. “Did you enjoy that AWESOME party last night?”
“Yeah, it was brilliant! The moment you and Rainbow Dash flew across the room was unbelievable!” responded Sweetie Belle, getting all excited again.
“You can say that again! I still don’t understand how she does it but it was too fun to question it!”
Sweetie Belle knew that almost everything Scootaloo did with her idol, Rainbow Dash, she found immensely interesting no matter what it was. She had once just gone to the bank with Rainbow and said it was fun. Still, the fact that Rainbow had the ability to fly at certain times left the crusaders dumbfounded. Although Rarity did give some explanation for her sudden burst of hair and glowing radiance that Sweetie Belle had caught happening on occasions, she still couldn’t get her head round it and had a funny suspicion that Rarity was somewhat clueless as well.
“But I bet it wasn’t as much fun that you had dancing with Button?” Scootaloo enquired, her voice slowing as she said it.
“Uh…uh…uh,” Sweetie Belle stammered, cheeks red as roses. “Yeah, we had….a pretty good time.”
Sweetie Belle had almost forgotten the embarrassing moment in the party where she accidentally spilt punch all over her friend, Button Mash. She had apologised greatly for it but he blew it off and instead offered Sweetie Belle a dance. She had to admit, it was one swell dance.
“A “pretty good” time. I’ll bet…Hey! You took your time!” said Scootaloo, now looking directly behind Sweetie Belle.
Sweetie Belle turned to see Apple Bloom in the doorway with her head tilted down and her left hand scratching the back of her head. It looked like she had just got out of bed.
“Ah kinda overslept, sorry guys!” Apple Bloom declared. “Ah had the strangest day yesterday…and ah need ta tell y’all about it.”
“Did something bad happen?” asked Sweetie Belle anxiously.
Apple Bloom didn’t waste any time. “Ah met a pony. Ah talking pony named Apple Bloom…..”
Scootaloo was sure that Apple Bloom had gone over the deep end after what she had told the two of them at Rarity’s last night. She felt rather reluctant to accompany Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle to see this “human” that Apple Bloom mentioned but wondered if that was just down to the bitterness she felt in not being able to stay up all night. They had stayed up to 2! Why did the night have to be so long?! She had wanted to be up to witness the rising of the sun with Rainbow Dash but instead was woken by Apple Bloom telling her that it was 11 the next morning and almost time for their meeting with the “human”. She had been so upset that she nearly lashed out at her best friend but her senses found her as soon as she had left them. Which was more than could be said for Apple Bloom, she thought.
“This trip had better be worth it,” Scootaloo grumbled, her anger still evident in her voice.
“Oh quit y’ar bellyachin’, Scoot! Ah know y’ar gonna like this!” retorted Apple Bloom, a little annoyed by her friend’s pessimistic tone.
Scootaloo groaned in reply. They were currently on their way to the patch of field where they had been playing yesterday. Scootaloo had her head hung low as she trotted alongside her friends, her legs feeling as though they didn’t have the energy to keep up with them. Scootaloo knew it was just her being sulky but she wasn’t really in a mood to be happy either so she was happier to be like this.
“Come on, Scootaloo!” encouraged Sweetie Belle, trying to lift her spirits and the overall mood of the conversation. “I’m sure whatever AB is showing us will be worth it!” She paused. “I hope,” she muttered softly, so as not alert Apple Bloom of her similar doubt.
The three fillies remained silent for the rest of the journey, to the delight of Scootaloo who had become a little more relaxed. They soon came to a halt near the large boulder where Apple Bloom had been yesterday while they were playing with the Frisbee.
“Well?! Where is it?!” asked Scootaloo impatiently.
“Hold y’ar horses! Not, literally o’ course,” joked Apple Bloom. “It’s on the other side, ah’ll check ta see if she’s there.”
“OK, we’ll wait here,” agreed Sweetie Belle.
She? What a ploy, thought Scootaloo. Apple Bloom probably just hit her head while trying to find the Frisbee and began hallucinating. She’ll return with the casual “Sorry y’all” and explain it was all in her head. It’s not that Scootaloo didn’t want to believe Apple Bloom but rather she wasn’t in the mood to.
A minute or two passed and Scootaloo grew ever more impatient.
“Pfft, why is she taking so long?” she threw at Sweetie Belle, her annoyance clear as day on her face.
“Maybe she…” Sweetie Belle was unable to finish as her attention had been distracted by the reappearance of Apple Bloom with a confident grin on her face.
“She’s here and she brought Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo too!” she exclaimed excitedly, to the surprise of Scootaloo. Still, she remained doubtful. “Follow me!”
The two did as they were told and followed Apple Bloom around to the other side of the boulder. When they stopped however, the mouths of both the fillies dropped. Scootaloo found no words to describe what was going through her head. For before her stood the “human” whose name was Apple Bloom flanked by her friends Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo.
Both Scootaloos and Sweetie Belles glanced at Apple Bloom who couldn’t keep a smile off their faces. Scootaloo eyed the human Apple Bloom, recognising her almost in an instant by the yellow skin she had and the bow in her hair. She felt ashamed about the way she acted.
“Oh Celestia, Apple Bloom! I’m so sorry!” admitted Scootaloo, almost oblivious to everything else at this point until her trance was broken by the immediate shrieking coming from what she thought was the human Sweetie Belle.
“You weren’t kidding about the talking, AB!” said a shocked Sweetie Belle, all of what she knew contradicting itself in her mind. She then turned to look at the white pony with the ajar expression on her face, observing the colour of its fur and mane before looking at her own skin and hair. The realisation must have caught her in the throat as she simply stuttered, “Are…are…are you me?”
Still taking in what was happening, Scootaloo observed the exchange between the two Sweetie Belles, not even having acknowledged the presence of human Scootaloo. Sweetie Belle, also unsure of herself, mirrored her accuser’s tone and replied, “I…I…I don’t know, am I?”
She had basically answered her question with the same question, Sweetie Belle thought anxiously. Raising her hands to her head and closing her eyes, she contemplated what she should say, half wanting her pony-self to be gone when she opened her eyes.
“Do you like singing?” she finally asked, trying to relax before another stressing answer came back to her.
“Y-y-yes,” said Sweetie Belle hesitantly. “But my sister Rarity doesn’t…”
Sweetie Belle’s gears started turning on the mention of her sister. “Like it when you sing while she works on her clients’ dresses?” she interrupted, a thrilling rush coming over her.
The white filly nodded in reply, her mouth seeming to be still stuck on trying to say “like” before her human-self had cut in. A similar thrill came over Sweetie Belle as she wanted to press deeper into it. “And when she catches me doing it, she goes….” Impersonating Rarity she continued.“Oh Sweetie Belle, of all the things in the world THIS! IS! THE! WORST! POSSIBLE! THING!”, “THE! WORST! POSSIBLE! THING!”
And both Sweetie Belles fainted, Rarity-style, realising that the other had copied them detail for detail. They both laughed and Sweetie Belle thought this felt amazing to finally meet someone, well pony in this case, who shares the hardships of having Rarity as a sister. When they both got up, Sweetie Belle then noticed something on her pony-self that made her question all this again.
“What’s that on your head?” she asked, pointing at the sharp object above the filly’s eyes.
From Sweetie Belle’s perception, the strange water-like mirror distorted the direction of the gesture but she could tell by the lack of a horn on her other’s face she knew what it was. “You mean my horn?” she answered.
“Don’t you get it, Sweetie Belle,” Apple Bloom stepped in. “She’s a unicorn.”
Of course, it all made sense. Unicorns were mythical horses that had a horn at the top of their head and were said to be blessed with magical powers. In fact, Miss Cheerilee had told them about it before the end of school but she declared them legends or otherwise NOT real. Sweetie Belle began wondering how much she was taught was actually true.
“Yeah, there are three kinds o’ pony,” explained Apple Bloom, gesturing to her friends either side of her. “Earth ponies like me, Unicorns like Sweetie and Pegasi like Scoot.”
Sweetie Belle considered the orange filly with purple mane for a moment and noticed the small set of wings on her back. “Wait, so you can fly?” she asked Scootaloo.
Scootaloo didn’t realise how long the human had been looking at her, her mind apparently elsewhere as she stared at human Sweetie Belle. Her mind returning when the human shot her a puzzled look, indicating to her that she was now the centre of the human’s attention. “Huh?” she said.
“Can you fly?” Sweetie Belle repeated.
“No…I can’t. But I will someday!” said Scootaloo, surprising herself at how confident she was with the reply. She was used to that question however, out of all the many times that Diamond Tiara and Silverspoon had teased her about it before they became friends with them.
Sweetie Belle then turned to human Scootaloo. “Don’t her wings remind you of Rainbow Dash’s wings?”
Scootaloo’s hearing perked up at the mention of her idol. “You know Rainbow Dash?!” she asked the orange-skinned human.
Having been silent for the most part of the exchange, Scootaloo made a very loud debut to the conversation. “Are you kidding?! YES! She is AWESOME!!!”
“Wait, so y’all have Pegasi where y’ar from too?” Apple Bloom interrupted.
“No, we don’t.” stated Sweetie Belle, now as relaxed as Apple Bloom. “Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy are the only people who can sprout wings but none of us are sure why.”
“There’s a Fluttershy too?” beamed Scootaloo, now an active member of the conversation. “Does she look after animals?”
“Yeah, she volunteers at the animal shelter all the time,” her human-self replied.
“Wow! It seems like this hole’s like a bridge between ar worlds!” cried Apple Bloom, in complete awe of her discovery of this fact.
“Ah was thinkin’ the exact same. Funny, huh?” agreed her pony-self in expression and tone.
“What do you mean “worlds”?” questioned Scootaloo.
“Ah can’t really explain it but didn’t Miss Cheerliee tell us that there’s only one of everyone in the world?” suggested Apple Bloom, sparking a few expected nods of understanding from the three ponies. “So if we’re the same then we must be from different worlds?”
“Yea, ah get it,” her pony-self agreed again, although it was half-expected now that she would agree with her human-self.
“I sort of see that,” said Sweetie Belle, nodding with her human-self in agreement.
“I guess I do, I’m not sure though,” stated Scootaloo, looking at her pony-self who was glad they both felt the same way too. “I want to get a closer look.”
Scootaloo edged closer to the eerie hole, intent on getting a better look.
“Scoots! Watch out for the-”
It was too late. Her foot had caught the inconveniently located rock and she went flying towards the hole, doing a forward roll and landing on her back.
“Ahhhh,” Scootaloo yelled, putting a hoof to her head. She couldn’t see the hole anymore just the sky above her and the sky did look different than when she last saw it. It had been mildly cloudy fifteen minutes ago and now there was not a cloud in sight. She realised she also couldn’t hear anyone either.
“Apple Bloom? Sweetie Belle?” Scootaloo called, looking to the left and right of her. Turning onto her front and standing up, she caught sight of the pair in front of her who were…..BEHIND the ponies!
“How’d you guys get there?” she asked.
There was no reply although reading the shocked faces of the nearby ponies told her that their attention was completely centred on her.
“What? Can someone please talk to me?!” cried Scootaloo, becoming fearful.
“Scoots! Is that really you?” Apple Bloom’s voice echoed through the hole.
“What do you mean?!” she answered, now quite scared. She glanced at the ponies whose expressions hadn’t changed but suddenly seemed bigger than before and eye level now. She felt a shiver down her legs as the wind swept passed them; feeling that more of her body was now touching the ground even though she was standing. She looked down and just as quickly looked back up, not wanting to believe what she had seen nor wanting to believe what she knew had happened. But after looking at her much bigger friends one final time, she had to believe it.
“I’M A PONY!! AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!” she shrieked, raising her hooves and glancing at her back where a set of wings had appeared. She spotted a nearby river and attempted to walk over to it, falling over her forelegs from time to time. When she reached it, she looked down to see her reflection in the water and shrieked even louder. Her once orange skin was now her fur and her purplish hair was now what made her mane. Her snub nose had been elongated slightly into a snout. Turning sideways, she saw she now had a pony’s body with a tail also resembling her purple hair. And lastly a symbol on both sides of her flank, of what looked to be a shield with a thunderbolt on it.
Scootaloo turned back to her front and stared at her now ponified appearance in the water. She then noticed another similar face in the water next to hers and looked up to her pony-self, now her clone, it could be said. She had a blank expression on her face and she too stared at the water. Their reflections soon both took on a wide smile. Although, Scootaloo had been initially frightened, the reality of being a pony was mind-blowing and she knew that her clone was thinking the same.
“THIS IS SO COOL!!” they shouted simultaneously, overjoyed when the other response came.
Scootaloo stood in awe of seeing the pony she had known everyday of her life without needing to look in a mirror. And the fact she could be her best friend now, made her happier than she had ever been. She embraced herself in a small cuddle, knowing it was mushy but she was so elated she just couldn’t help herself. For the first time though, she couldn’t tell what she herself was thinking but the look on her other’s face said it all, she was enjoying it just as much as her.
“This is amazing!” Sweetie Belle yelled from behind them.
Pulling out of their hug, the two spun around to see an ecstatic Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle ogling at the two identical ponies, unbeknownst to them that two rather similar figures were emerging from behind them. The two Scootaloos shot joyful looks at each other as they spotted the pair behind them and waved their hooves in unison at them, leading the pair directly in front to assume what was behind them. Spinning around, the ecstatic fillies gazed at their new selves and ran up to embrace them also.
“This is the best thing ever!” cried Apple Bloom, tears starting to well out of her eyes.
“Words can’t describe it!” replied Apple Bloom, tightening her grip on the familiar filly with her newly acquired hooves.
“It feels so good to meet myself!” exclaimed Sweetie Belle, her happiness overflowing.
“You…um I said it!” chuckled Sweetie Belle, sparking a rage of laughter as they hugged together.
Running up to meet them, with a few falls along the way, the two Scootaloos looked from one Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom to the other.
“WE ARE NOW SIX FRIENDS!!” they realized together.
And with that, they all came together in one enormous hug, tears of joy running down their cheeks; enough that a small puddle started to form around them. There were no words spoken; just feelings of bliss. For each of them felt that they had found the one pony who would always be there for them; for who else would always ALWAYS be there for them than themselves.
Apple Bloom gazed at the familiar hole in the rock, confident in her decision. Just moments ago, she had witnessed her new friend Apple Bloom, her human equivalent in every way possible, come through the exact same hole and embrace her as a pony. The feeling of finding…yourself was something that Apple Bloom had never understood before, let alone even contemplated. It had been the most joyous emotion she had ever experienced. And now she was back where she had been not five minutes ago, looking at her fellow human crusaders through the hole; seconds before the tumble of human Scootaloo.
The three friends beamed at the ponies with encouraging eyes, beckoning them onwards. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo needed no nudges; eyes narrowed and confident smiles on their faces. Sweetie Belle on the other hand - being Sweetie Belle - looked a bit uneasy. As the most cautious of the three crusaders, she rarely took new challenges head on and would usually think about the consequences before taking action. Of course, the fact that her human-self was able to go through with it did give her some confidence. Still she remained on edge.
“Ya ready, girls?” asked Apple Bloom eagerly, scratching the ground with her hoof as if ready to charge. She glanced at Scootaloo who gave her a keen and ready expression and then to Sweetie Belle, her face turning concerned at the sight of Sweetie Belle’s uneasy posture.
“Y’alright, Sweets?” Apple Bloom asked as she raised an eyebrow at her.
“Huh?” Sweetie Belle had been caught off guard. Breaking off from her trance of thought she said, “Yeah, I guess I just feel a bit nervous.” More like very nervous, she thought to herself. To make matters worse, everyone was now looking at her.
“If it helps,” her counterpart started, causing Sweetie Belle to look up at her, “I was scared to go through it at first as well, but AB was so certain we’d be alright. Plus, I thought that if I didn’t go then I’d be stuck on this end while you all had fun.” Sweetie Belle raised her fists. “And I certainly wasn’t going to let that happen.”
Unsurprisingly, her counterpart’s experience is precisely what she had been considering. And she was right, Sweetie Belle wasn’t about to miss out on this exciting opportunity.
Apple Bloom turned to Scootaloo. “Maybe we-”
“Woah!” exclaimed Scootaloo, pointing a hoof at the now in-motion Sweetie Belle. Apple Bloom turned to see where she had pointed but saw nothing but ripples as the hole became water-like once more. And an absent Sweetie Belle! She could hardly believe it! The most nervous pony had been the first to go through! She darted her head back to Scootaloo, her eyes not finding the orange Pegasus but instead a burst of more ripples and the last of her hind legs disappearing. Apple Bloom smirked and rolled her eyes before narrowing them and charging at the hole.
A white light enveloped Apple Bloom’s vision causing her to flinch but before long she found herself looking down at a mix of twigs and dirt. She didn’t feel much different; she could still tell that all her legs were on the ground. That was until she noticed that the tips of her forelegs had changed dramatically. Her once round hooves had somehow had five bulky lines added to them. She also could no longer see her snout but rather saw something in the corner of her eyes, not quite being able to make it out. Pushing her head further down, Apple Bloom observed that she had suddenly acquired clothes, knowing full well that she had been unclothed before entering the hole. She also spied her hind legs which seemed rather normal except they felt a lot different.
“Aren’t ya gonna stand up?” she heard a voice say. Lifting her head, the funny hoof with the five lines appeared again although it looked to belong to her human-self, who was just coming into focus.
“Thought ya could use a hand!” Apple Bloom stated happily.
“Hand?” she replied, puzzlement evident in her tone.
“Ya know, a hand?” Human Apple Bloom began waving her hand up and down frequently to get the human pony’s attention. She then chuckled awkwardly, remembering who she was talking to, “Hehe…ah guess ya wouldn’t!”
Although it still was slightly unclear, Apple Bloom had deduced that the motion she made on her funny hoof indicated that is what she meant by hand.
“Ya mean, that thing with five lines comin’ out in is called a hand?” she asked.
“Yup! And the lines are known as fingers!”
Hands and fingers. As much as Apple Bloom was glad to know what these things were, she still had no clue how they were used. So she did what anypony would do; find out! She began by attempting to move her right “hand” as she would her hooves. To her amazement, not only was she able to move her hand off the prickly ground but found that she also had free movement of the five “fingers” she had been given too. She replicated her movements with her left hand and the same result occurred. Apple Bloom smiled in satisfaction.
“Now are ya gonna get up?” her human-self asked again.
Apple Bloom had recalled her asking the question before but having been confused with the hand thing she didn’t pay any heed to it. With that out of the way, she still didn’t understand what she meant.
“But I am standing!” Apple Bloom declared.
“Oh right… in ar world, we stand on two legs; not four.”
That made a lot of sense, thought Apple Bloom. It hadn’t occurred to her that now that she was human she should be equal in size to human Apple Bloom but she still had to look up to meet her eyes. Still she failed to see how tall she would stand with her hind legs as small as they were.
“Come on, ah’ll help ya up!” encouraged the familiar crusader. “Grab my hand,” gesturing to her outstretched hand.
Grabbing? Apple Bloom was used to grabbing stuff with her hooves but grabbing with hands was another matter entirely. Nonetheless, she reached out to the point where her hand lay clasped on the helper’s hand and, as if natural to her, closed her fingers around the whole of it. She felt herself bring lifted up as human Apple Bloom tugged her hand to her eye level. To her astonishment, Apple Bloom found that her hind legs were indeed much bigger now almost doubling in size with the addition of a round edge jutting out from the very bottom of each leg; in a way quite similar to her hands. Bringing her gaze back up, she now saw eye to eye with herself and felt satisfied about having done just that.
When her counterpart let go, Apple Bloom began to waver. “Woah!” she exclaimed, trying to keep her balance.
“This is harder than it looks!” said a nearby Sweetie Belle, toppling a bit that she clung on to Apple Bloom’s left shoulder to keep herself up. She glanced at Sweetie Belle in surprise, for she had temporarily forgotten that her friends were right beside her. She gasped as she noticed something was amiss.
“Yar horn is gone, Sweets!” she told Sweetie Belle.
Sweetie Belle’s attention was quickly diverted to her forehead and her now missing horn. She shrieked in realisation that her concentration on her balance failed and she fell to the ground quite hard. It hadn’t hurt her too bad; most of it being numbed out by the thought of her horn being gone. She raised her hands to her forehead and began to feel around but to no avail.
“This keeps getting weirder!” Sweetie Belle cried, somewhat afraid.
“My wings are gone too!”
Both Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle looked towards the sound of Scootaloo before recoiling in shock of the human Pegasus’ bare back.
“Well duh!” Scootaloo’s human equivalent stated, with an obvious tone. “Humans don’t have wings or horns.”
The fact that they were humans now still hadn’t settled into the minds of the crusaders; their worried expressions becoming a bit embarrassed at the evident fact.
“Oh…right,” said Sweetie Belle nervously, pushing herself to her feet with some difficulty.
“It makes sense, right? Cuz when we went through, Sweetie Belle got a horn and Scoots got wings and now we don’t again,” explained Apple Bloom confidently.
“Ah guess yar right,” her pony-self agreed.
“I really like these new threads,” said Sweetie Belle, admiring her new outfit.
“But we weren’t wearing them before,” retorted Scootaloo.
“And we lost our clothes when we travelled through to your world,” continued human Sweetie Belle. “Are you normally naked?”
“Most of the time, yes!”
“Hmmm, ah guess the portal takes into account that humans are normally clothed and ponies aren’t,” summed up human Apple Bloom.
“Portal? What do you mean?” her human friend Scootaloo asked her.
“Ah think that’s what that thing is.” Apple Bloom pointed at the strange hole where the other world was still visible. “Ah’ve heard Sunset talk about it before; she said it was like a bridge between worlds or summin’.”
All of them turned to face the portal and took a long look at it. The nature of the world that the pony crusaders had just left remained unchanged. It seemed to everyone else that what Apple Bloom said might in fact be true and that it may just as be easily traversed the next time it was used. A smile began to form on the filly Apple Bloom’s lips as an idea came into her head that she half expected her human-self to have already thought of.
“Ah just got a brilliant idea!” she exclaimed excitedly.
“What is it?” inquired both Scootaloos in unison, turning to each other and then giggling.
Apple Bloom had spotted the look on her counterpart’s face and gave her a nod as to signal her to continue.
“If ar worlds are exactly the same, minus the racial difference and the horns and wings o’ course, wouldn’t it be totally fun if we-”
“SWAPPED PLACES?” the two of them said together enthusiastically.
“Swap places?” considered the non-winged Pegasus, throwing an unsure look at both Apple Blooms.
Human Apple Bloom let out a deep breath and elaborated. “Well, since we all have the same relations; y’all both have Rainbow Dash as yar sisters and,” pointing at the two Sweetie Belles, “y’all both have Rarity and,” gesturing to herself and Apple Bloom, “we have AJ, Big Mac and Granny Smith, wouldn’t it be fun if we swapped places ta see if they’d notice any difference?!”
“Hey! That COULD be fun actually!” agreed pony Scootaloo, glancing to her counterpart who mirrored her excitement in repeated nods. Almost on cue, both Sweetie Belles voiced their concerns about it.
“I don’t know…”
“It seems risky to me. I mean, what happens if our sisters do find out?”
“How are they gonna?” replied Apple Bloom. “We look exactly the same!”
Both of them knew that she had a point. It would be fun to play a practical joke on Rarity that she was unaware of; it had been some time since the last time the two attempted to outsmart their sisters only it had failed miserably. Half determined to successfully dupe her sister and half scared of the consequences, Sweetie Belle felt torn. However, she also relished the chance to explore the other world and listening to the eager chatter between the four certain crusaders made her even more wanting.
“I guess we could,” human Sweetie Belle, her voice picking up at the end of the sentence.
“Yeah, I agree!” said pony Sweetie Belle brightly, enthused by the confidence of her human counterpart.
“Great!” exclaimed Scootaloo.
“But I’ll bet that you’ll get found out and we won’t!” her human-self stated smugly.
“Oh yeah? I’ll bet that YOU’LL get found out and WE won’t!” Scootaloo replied competitively.
The orange skinned humans clashed with narrowed eyes and assertive grins. They stared each other down until one of them broke the silence.
“Fine. Ponies vs Humans. Whichever team goes one week without being figured as an impostor wins!” “You’re on!”
Human Scootaloo spat in her right hand and offered it to pony Scootaloo who by the look of her changed expression was unsure how to respond.
“It’s a spit-shake, means you’ll swear on it,” explained Scootaloo.
Scootaloo shrugged. She then raised her right hand and spat into it like her counterpart had done and reached out to grab her hand. The two hands met and both scrunched hard against the other. Pony Scootaloo couldn’t help thinking how gross it felt as the spit transferred between hands leaving it with a moist feel to it. Afterwards, she quickly wiped her moist hand on her shirt.
The Apple Blooms replicated the spit-shake, both with grim determination in their eyes.
“Do you mind if we just shake? I’d rather not spit,” Sweetie Belle asked her pony-self.
Pony Sweetie Belle didn’t need to be told twice. She didn’t like the idea nor was she familiar with it. She nodded in response and two shared a nice handshake without the spitting or the scrunching but did so with focused eyes.
“We’ve got a deal then! May the best pony win!” Apple Bloom chuckled, her comment met with a acknowledging smile from her human-self.
“But first, can we get some more lessons on how to be human?” said Sweetie Belle, trying to take a step without falling over.
“Hehe…sure,” assured human Apple Bloom.
Scootaloo studied her hooves diligently. She still couldn’t place the feeling that just a half hour ago she could have been doing the same with her hands. Thoughts about what had transpired since then went in and out of her head as she felt the softness of her orange fur. It seemed like a dream; it might well have been since Scootaloo never remembered being this close to the ground while standing. Nor was she born with a pair of cute wings that while unable to get her off the ground still made her question everything she knew about the world to date. Even if it was a dream, Scootaloo didn’t want it to end; it was the coolest thing she’d ever experienced. Even cooler than…Rainbow Dash? Yes. This was more awesome than even her idol.
The three crusaders were sitting in an open patch of grass near to where the portal was. They had been discussing what they should do first and went about practicing the basic motions such as walking and (if they were able) running.
“Alright, here’s how it goes. Front left, back right, front right, back left,” explained Apple Bloom, walking out the steps for herself doing her best not to tangle up her hooves.
“It’s not so bad once you get the hang of…iiiiiiiiiiittttt!” Scootaloo tumbled onto her rear end, grumbling in frustrating.
“What was that, Scootaloo?” asked Sweetie Belle trying hard to conceal her laughter.
“Yeah, like you could do any better!” challenged Scootaloo.
She was right. How could she do any better? Nonetheless, Sweetie Belle decided to try her best to copy the pattern that their pony-selves had taught them. Concentrating very hard, she began a small trek not seeing that her mass of concentration was causing something else to happen also.
“Woah! That’s so cool!” said Scootaloo.
“Wow, I must be better than I thought,” replied Sweetie Belle proudly.
“No, not yar walking! Yar horn!” stated Apple Bloom, pointing at Sweetie Belle’s forehead.
“Huh?” Sweetie Belle looked up to see that a strange greenish glow was encircling her horn. It soon evaporated however as the mass of concentration that she had been building in her head had vanished as soon as she took her attention off her walking. She was sad to see it go. “Aww, come back!”
Apple Bloom walked up behind Sweetie Belle, her walking rhythm beginning to improve.
“Don’ worry, Sweets! It’ll come back. Remember yar a unicorn now; ah’ll bet ya can do all sorts of magic tricks and stuff!” Apple Bloom then shifted her gaze to the symbol on Sweetie Belle’s white flank and remembering her own she studied hers intently. “Ah still can’t believe that cutie marks are real things! I was so sure that we made it up ourselves!”
Apple Bloom recalled fondly when the three of them first met at one of Diamond Tiara’s birthday party. She hadn’t been a friend of hers at the time but Diamond normally invited everyone just to show off how rich and privileged she was, along with her friend Silver Spoon. She didn’t remember as fondly the way the two had teased her for not having yet discovered anything that she was particularly good at, that was until her fellow soon to be crusaders stood up for her. They sat discussing between themselves after the festivities that they should team up to find what they were all good at. The name came to them when they asked Apple Bloom’s sister, Applejack for advice. They had said to her that they wished to find ways of aiming their mark in the world to which Applejack replied, “Aww, y’all are cuties for doing that! Hope y’all have fun on yar crusade to find them!” And then like a shot the name came to them, the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Only now she was absolutely dumbfounded to realise that they were something real.
Looking at her own, she noticed that her cutie mark resembled a shield with an apple on it. She had previously seen both Scootaloo’s and Sweetie Belle’s too. They both shared the same shield with a lightning bolt and a musical note respectively. The shield did indeed look a lot like their own symbol of the CMC - almost scarily so. She reflected on how accurate Sunset Shimmer now had been concerning their special talents since the three of them looked to have a talent in common as well as have individual talents. For instance, hers appeared to be apples which wasn’t surprising since she loved working the farm with her big brother and sister. She assumed Sweetie Belle’s was singing; again not a shock as she was perhaps the most talented singer at Canterlot High and Scootaloo’s might be her daredevil attitude like when she’s on her scooter.
“Yeah, it’s quite weird yet interesting how alike our two worlds are,” lamented Sweetie Belle, taking a glance at her own cutie mark. “Except for the fact we are…you know…ponies and all.”
Scootaloo had been looking at her cutie mark too before her eyes drifted towards her wings. “I’d really like to be able to fly if these wings could work properly!” said Scootaloo eagerly.
“Ya mean like that?”
The two of them looked up to where Apple Bloom was pointing and saw a blue pony racing across the sky as fast as an aeroplane perhaps even faster; their eyes could barely catch up with it as it darted from one edge of the sky to the other, kicking clouds as it went causing them to vanish into thin air, this time literally. The three crusaders watched in awe and gasped in unison as the blue Pegasus began a dive; plummeting it to the ground as fast as gravity could take it that its body began to glow fiery hot before emitting a huge explosion of a multi-coloured variety. It was almost as if a rainbow had been painted across the sky at that very instant. The Pegasus then shot up out of the dive and proceeded to execute some loop de loops.
“Amazing!” exasperated Scootaloo, her eyes filled with endless awe. The elegance of the blue Pegasus as it flew across the open sky was just the most beautiful thing she had ever seen, getting closer and closer all the time.
Waking up out of her trance, Scootaloo had only just begun to take heed of the blue Pegasus flying as if about to crash and more importantly coming right at her. She turned and started to run but felt a hard smack against her rear that sent her flying for a few metres to land on the luckily soft grass with a small thud.
Scootaloo opened her eyes to see the blue Pegasus looking down upon her with a worried expression. She had a rainbow coloured mane and tail which looked awfully familiar to Scootaloo.
“Oh my gosh Scoots, are you OK?” she asked for her sister’s wellbeing.
“R-R-Rainbow Dash?” answered Scootaloo, instantly recognizing the sound of her idol’s voice. Her eyes lit up at the sight of Pegasus’s smile and almost without knowing it she rushed up to embrace her awesome pony of a sister.
Rainbow Dash was taken a bit by surprise but simply rolled her eyes and lowered her head to nuzzle the orange filly before gently pushing her no.1 fan away.
“Don’t get too mushy on me, squirt!” she laughed a little awkwardly.
“Sorry Rainbow Dash, I’m just so glad to see you!” Scootaloo said happily.
“Yeah why wouldn’t you be? This is me we’re talking about after all!” Rainbow Dash poised confidently at the three crusaders before recalling something and returning to her normal stance. “By the way Scootaloo, Twilight asked me to remind you that you left your scooter at her castle.”
“Twilight? Who’s Twilight?”
Rainbow Dash laughed in reply. “Good one, squirt!” she said, catching her breath. Her outburst ceased when she realised the young Pegasus’s expression hadn’t changed. “Twilight Sparkle? My best friend and Princess of Friendship?”
Scootaloo’s memory clicked at the mention of the second name. “Oh Twilight Sparkle…I remember!” She didn’t know the name well enough to recognise it right off the bat. Twilight wasn’t exactly important in the crusaders’ lives as she was hardly around since she enrolled at Canterlot at the start of the year when she and Sunset had their explosive showdown. After that the crusaders hardly saw her as she kept going and mysteriously reappearing at certain events but only recently had she been spending more time at Canterlot High that they had started to take notice of her more often.
“I must have hit you harder than I thought, squirt,” the rainbow Pegasus declared with a chuckle, still slightly confused why the filly’s response hadn’t been quicker. “Come on, I’ll take you to Twilight’s Castle in case you’ve forgotten where that is too!”
Rainbow Dash began walking in the direction of Ponyville, compelling the fillies to follow. They huddled together as they walked.
“Seems like Twilight’s a bigger deal round these parts,” suggested Apple Bloom.
“Didn’t Rainbow mention she was a princess? Didn’t Twilight contest against Sunset for a crown or something?” continued Sweetie Belle, recollecting what Rarity told her about their victory over Sunset Shimmer.
Scootaloo leaned in closer. “Wait, you don’t think that Twilight could be from here, do you?”
The thought stayed with the three of them as they followed Rainbow into the nearby town.
Sweetie Belle walked precariously around the school. She hadn’t got the knack of balancing herself on two legs yet and she wasn’t alone; her fellow crusaders had also been finding walking like a biped to be tricky. Luckily, there didn’t seem to be anyone around to see them fail. Before their parting, their human-selves had given them a little more tuition about their new appearances. For instance, Sweetie Belle had been avoiding the tendency to say forelegs when referring to her arms and constantly moved her digits on her hands in order to learn how to get the most out of it. Since she was a unicorn in Equestria, she was able to use her magic to do everyday tasks and rarely used her bare hooves for anything. But with her useful horn now gone, Sweetie Belle thought as if she were a baby again; having to learn everything that should come naturally to her, but didn’t.
The three girls treaded around what looked to be a courtyard outside the main doors to the school. As their human friends had explained, it was the summer holidays and no-one would be wanting to hang around the school at this time. The three of them thought it would be the ideal place to practice walking some more before they headed on out to explore.
“How y’all doing with the walking?” Apple Bloom asked a few minutes later.
“Getting there…,” replied Sweetie Belle, hanging onto the wall as she trekked on.
“I think I’m starting to get the hang…woaah!” Scootaloo wobbled as she tried to keep herself balanced but ultimately ended up on the ground, cursing as she lifted her head.
Apple Bloom ran up to her, with little difficulty. “Are ya alright, Scoots?” she asked.
“I’m fine,” Scootaloo scowled, frustration evident in her tone. She became neutral again on sight of the outstretched hand that Apple Bloom was offering to her. She reached out her hand in acceptance but was distracted by the sound of a closing door and her gaze soon met a larger dark blue skinned human with darker still blue hair walking out of the main doors at the end of the courtyard.
She spoke with a solemn tone. “Are you girls quite alright?”
Apple Bloom had noticed her too. “Yeah, we’re fine,” Apple Bloom replied. “Our friend just tripped over something.”
“Oh, are you alright Scootaloo?”
The question came a shock to the three crusaders as they were quite unsure who the woman was and how she was familiar with them. Scootaloo didn’t think it mattered though as they would probably learn soon enough.
“I’m ok,” she said in reply, finally grabbing Apple Bloom’s offered hand and being hoisted up. “Thanks, Miss…”
The dark blue woman approached them with an astonished look. “We must say that we are surprised that you have forgotten us so quickly, Scootaloo, after all those many discussions in our office regarding that troublesome scooter of yours?”
Scootaloo couldn’t help but blush. Even if she had no idea who this pony…I mean person was, she did indeed recall how many times Miss Cheerilee had given her warnings about using her scooter on school grounds.
“But if we must remind thee who we are then we shall happily oblige,” the woman continued. “We are-”
The sudden outburst from Sweetie Belle was a shock to everyone and the words she had spoken made the other girls eyes light up in realisation of the identity of their stranger.
“Child, we are not quite sure where you got the name “Princess” Luna; we are merely your humble Vice Principal Luna, do you not recall?” Luna’s face began to look concerned with a hint of frustration.
“Y-Y-Yeah…of course, I’m sorry,” answered Sweetie Belle, finding it hard to say that with a true face.
“We are surprised to see you girls so early after the break for summer. Are you all that eager to get back to school?”
“Bleh! Of course not!” cried Scootaloo in disgust, remembering immediately after who she was addressing. “I mean…”
Luna chortled. “It is quite alright child. We understand what it is like for kids to enjoy the summer.”
The voice came from the doors that Luna had just come out of moments before. Another woman with white skin and streaking shades of green, blue and magenta in her hair was standing just outside.
“We have to be getting back to…oh, I didn’t realise you were already busy,” the woman said, smiling in notice of the three girls.
“Not at all, Tia. We’ll be right there,” replied Vice Principal Luna. She turned to face the girls. “We must get on. It was lovely to see you again. Do enjoy the rest of your summer, will you?”
“We will. Thank you Prin…Vice Principal Luna,” said Sweetie Belle, half-looking at the other woman. She actually had a funny suspicion who the unknown woman was.
Luna turned to join her sister and colleague but did not get very far when she heard another thud and looked back around to find Scootaloo on the ground again.
“Are you sure you girls don’t need any help?” She then beckoned her sister over to help.
“No…uhh…I’m ok,” growled Scootaloo, taking Apple Bloom’s hand for the second time.
“Do you want me to call your sisters, girls?” queried the principal who had come up beside Luna.
Apple Bloom perked up at that question. “Actually, that’d be mighty handy.”
Normally, the nature of that question suggested in Apple Bloom’s mind that people didn’t think that the crusaders could handle themselves. However despite her home-grown stubbornness, Apple Bloom was quite sure that this time they would have to make an exception.
“OK, come inside to my office and I’ll telephone your sisters,” the principal continued, gesturing towards the half-open doors at the school entrance.
“Thank you…Celestia,” said Sweetie Belle, muttering that last part but the subsequent smile on Principal Celestia’s face had told her she had said it too loud.
The spirit of summer was vivid all over the park it seemed. All over the park, people were flying kites, having picnics or simply dozing under the warm sun. This had surprisingly not deterred the wildlife from appearing and in abundance too.
There was never a silent moment that one couldn’t hear the chirp of the mockingbirds or the light scurrying of squirrels combined with the rustle of the bushes as they shot across to the nearest tree, avoiding the eyes of humans at all cost.
“Not fast enough, little ones!” exclaimed the artist at work.
The sketcher managed to pinpoint their new location atop one of the branches of the maple tree directly opposite her. She quickly went about sketching their shapes in parallel to the homely looking tree; she was unlikely to get a rare opportunity such as this.
“Just a little longer…” she pleaded, her gaze still switching from the perched squirrels to her sketchbook.
She felt herself getting sweaty as she concentrated on the pair and the artist soon realised that she was getting fatigued. But she couldn’t hurry. A bad sketch would be a waste of a chance like this. As she pencilled in the last curve, her back fell back onto the comfy bench and she gave her numbing wrist a much needed time-out.
“Phew…” the sketcher said, stretching her arms and relaxing in satisfaction of her work.
The intense heat made the sketch prove to be quite the workout. She sighed heavily as she admired her sketch of the chattering rodents in the tree. She was getting better - considering she had only recently taken it up. She flipped through the other pages to reveal her other works, stopping on one in particular for a time.
The sketch had been one of her first and so was rather sloppy in places. But the subject of the sketch meant so much more to the aspiring teen. It resembled a familiar face exuding pure happiness and honesty; not surprising since-
Her daydreaming came to halt as she felt the vibration of her phone in her back trouser pocket as well as hearing the sound of its more disruptive ringtone. She fumbled in her pocket for the phone and holding it out in her hand, she smirked upon reading the name before silencing it and placing it to her ear.
“Hey AJ,” she greeted happily.
“Hiya Sunset. How r ya?” said Applejack’s friendly voice.
“I’m fine, just outside enjoying the summer. It sure is a lovely day today.”
“Yeah, it sure as sugar is! Anyway Sunset, ah was kinda hoping ya cud do me a favour.”
Sunset perked up from her lax position.
“Sure Applejack, what do you need?”
“Ah got a call from Principal Celestia sayin’ that Apple Bloom and her friends seem t’ave wandered into some trouble over beside the school. Ah can’t imagine what they’d be doing over there in the first place seein’ as it’s the summer and all.”
“She asked me to come pick the girls up but ah got ma hands tied with this here doohicky that Big Mac says will help ar cider making. Ah know Rarity is out of town just now and Rainbow is at a soccer match so ah really don’ know who else to turn to.”
“Of course, AJ. I’m just five minutes away from the school so I will happily collect the girls for you.” Sunset confidently said.
“Oh thanks ever so much, Sunset! It means a lot. Bring’em back here and ah’ll watch’em after that.”
“Don’t mention it, AJ. See ya real soon!” she confirmed, standing up from the bench as she hung up.
She glanced at the sketchbook still lying on the bench and reached her hands out to grab it. It was still open to the page she had been studying before Applejack called. She chuckled warmly as she closed it and placed it back in her satchel.
“I’d do anything for that smile.”
Sunset Shimmer opened the doors into the great atrium of the school. It felt weird being be back here so early into the summer – just the first day in fact. As she had been a junior in the last year, it would be her final year when her senior journey came directly after summer’s end. She became both excited and sad at the same time.
She was excited of the new adventures she could embark on after graduating especially seeing as humans had the extra challenge of no magic in their lives; apart from the magic of friendship of course. Yet at the same time, she wouldn’t have the pleasure of being with her ever so valuable friends as much on the account of being a year ahead.
The timelines between the two worlds still perplexed her from time to time. In Equestria she was at least five years older than Twilight and her friends but in the human world she was only their elder by a year. She came to realise that the human calendar was a lot longer than the pony one – almost five times longer most likely.
But where does Celestia fit in all this then? Oh nevermind. It was a tendency for Sunset to think a lot about the divide between Equestria and the human world since it had been constantly on her mind when she first arrived here…when she was bent on domination that was; to gain as much knowledge as possible to best use it against her selfish mentor. Sunset cringed at the thought and soon brought her mind back to reality.
She knocked on the principal’s door and pushing the door open while still hanging onto the doorknob she stuck her head inside to see if anybody was there.
“Good afternoon, Sunset. What brings you here today?” Principal Celestia inquired almost immediately.
“Hello, Principal Celestia. I came to collect the girls on behalf of Applejack,” responded Sunset, letting go of the doorknob and closing the door behind her as he came into the room.
“Ah. Good of you to come, Sunset. Luna and I were quite surprised to find the girls playing outside the school. It’s not the safest place after all with no-one round to supervise them. Next time, I’d suggest the park.”
Celestia giggled that last part and addressed the crusaders sitting on the waiting chairs adjacent to her desk.
“Here we are, girls. Sunset Shimmer has come to take you back home.”
Sunset read the looks of the three friends but took a while to notice that they were each giving her a confused look – which made Sunset equally confused. To break the awkward silence that seemed to be forming, Sunset gestured an even more awkward wave to the girls in the hope that they would follow her. Luckily, it worked.
The crusaders got up from their seats and walked over towards Sunset but in complete silence and without their usual rush.
Something was up.
She smiled down at them as they approached, only to earn in return some very cautious eyes looking up at her. On top of that, she noticed Sweetie Belle fidgeting with her hands and Scootaloo eyeing the floor from time to time. She would have spoken up had it not been for the attentive principal being in the same room.
“Thanks, Principal Celestia. I can take it from here. Come on girls!” the smiling mentor said, beckoning the three of them to follow with her hand.
She held the door open as the crusaders filed out of the room, still hardly uttering a word. Her smile disappeared at the unchanged expression on their faces.
“I trust you’ll keep them out of trouble, Sunset?” chuckled Celestia.
“Heh, that’s rich coming from me!” joked Sunset in return, her absent smile returning.
Celesita laughed louder at that. “Haha…take care, Sunset. And enjoy the summer!”
“You too! Bye!” Sunset gave an affectionate wave and walked out the room.
“That was odd.”
The voice came from the adjoining room to Celestia’s office.
“We have never seen them like that before…”
“I understand what you mean, Lulu. But if anyone can figure out what’s going on, it’s Sunset.”
Sweetie Belle couldn’t do anything but remain awestruck at what she was witnessing as she continued following the familiar rainbow maned pegasus. Ponyville was full of other ponies of varying types matching that of her and her pony-fied friends. There were houses abundant too; all appearing to be made out of hay and wood which didn’t seem to surprise the educated unicorn as naturally horses on the whole liked hay.
What did shock the filly however was just how much activity there was in a town comprised of ponies. She spotted a restaurant and a furniture store…that only sold sofas and quills? There was also a town hall, a bakery and a market where she heard the vendors calling out their speciality items.
“Step right up and get your one of a kind Discord lamps. Made by Discord himself.”
“Be the first on your block to get some Flim Flam… (cough) Slim Slam one of a kind tonic.”
“Fresh apples! Get your apples here! Grown best by the finest Apple family.”
That last voice caused Sweetie Belle to stop completely and look at the orange mare at the nearby apple stand.
“Applejack?” she voiced.
The sound of her sibling’s name caused Apple Bloom to stop in turn and noticed that the white unicorn was no longer at her side but stopped a little further back her attention fixed on something.
“What ya say, Sweetie?” Apple Bloom asked.
Sweetie Belle twisted round with a horrified expression. “I said that out-”
“Well howdy Sweetie Belle. How are ya?”
The orange apple vendor had come out of her cosy stall and was walking over to the two of them. Distracted by the commotion, Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash both halted and began retracing their steps towards the source of the outbursts.
“Uh…Uh…I’m..,” Sweetie Belle stuttered nervously, caught off guard and unsure of what to say. She felt Apple Bloom come up behind her.
“AJ? Is that really you?!” Apple Bloom queried with a cheerful tone.
“Well who else would ah be, sis?” chuckled her content sister, trotting to Apple Bloom to give her a gentle noogie.
“Ah guess nobody,” she said happily, ecstatic about the feeling of receiving affection from her pony sister.
“Nobody? What’s that now?”
Scootaloo noticed Apple Bloom’s mistake. “I think you mean nopony, don’t ya AB?”
“Yeah…that,” she said hesitantly, rather embarrassed after forgetting the term which their pony selves had taught them. As luck would have it though, Applejack didn’t have time to push the matter further since her attention was diverted by Rainbow’s voice cutting in.
“Hey, AJ! How’s business?”
“Howdy Rainbow! Apples are flyin’ off my stand faster than ya can say “10 seconds flat”.” The apple vendor gave a knowing smirk to the rainbow pegasus.
“That fast, huh?” Rainbow narrowed her eyes at the witty comment. “Too bad you can’t make cider as fast!” she retorted with the same jovial tone.
“Touché, Rainbow! Course, cider season is comin’ up real soon and ah don’ think it best t’annoy the very pony who sells it.”
Rainbow Dash’s face squinted up in shock as she tried to come up with a comeback but the thought of no cider washed all her talking sense away and what came out instead was just some inaudible stuttering.
“Oh shucks Rainbow, ah’m just teasing! Course y’all will get yar cider. It does ma heart good ta know ya love it so much after all!”
Rainbow sighed in relief but as usual tried to pretend she knew all along. “Yeah AJ, I was just baiting you. Of course I knew ya wouldn’t do that to me, your best friend?!” She chuckled nervously to finish.
“Come ta think of it…,” Applejack’s eyes landed on her sister. “Don’ ya have chores ta do, sis? Ah’m sure Big Mac needs plenty help at the farm today,” the mare said softly but firmly.
No surprise there. “Uhh…course sis, ah’ll get right on it. Ah just wanted ta go with Scootaloo ta get her scooter and then ah’ll hop to it!” she replied confidently.
“Well alright then; see that you do!”
“OK…well we’d better get to Twilight’s Castle pronto in that case,” protested Rainbow, beginning to walk ahead.
Scootaloo moved to follow beside her. The two crusaders were close behind but not before Apple Bloom waved (or is it hoofed?) her sister goodbye.
“Ah guess ah’ll see ya at home, sis!” Wherever home is.
“Yep! See ya!” Applejack beamed a smile and waved in reply before turning back to her apple selling. “Get your apples! Howdy, sir, what-”
As the sound of her melodious southern voice faded, Apple Bloom turned to Sweetie Belle with an astonished expression.
“Ah don’ get it, Sweets. How'd ya know that was ma own sister?"
Sweetie Belle smiled proudly in a way quite similar to her sister. “I guess Big Mac was right when he said I was a perceptive pony.” She looked to her friend but found the earth pony was still confused.
“That day when he tried to impersonate a woman to do the Sisterhood social with you…”
Twilight Sparkle sat at the table as she heard the all too familiar sound get louder and louder. It was coming from the bed across the room and it was way too late in the day. She turned to see the sheets rise and fall and listened to the occasional muttering, “I’m not a baby, Twilight” or “Rarity, won’t you be mine?”
When she had promised her dragon assistant that he could have a lie in, she knew for sure that 2 o’clock was pushing it. Sighing, the alicorn pushed aside her daily paperwork and trotted over to the dozing dragon. Tugging a feather loose from her left wing, Twilight lighted her horn to levitate the feather so that it just hovered an inch above her assistant’s nose.
She proceeded to move to the next phase but to her surprise Spike stirred awake suddenly, yawning and stretching all over the place. Twilight quickly hid the feather out of sight and greeted the waking dragon.
“Good afternoon Spike,” she said, putting full emphasis on the middle word of that phrase.
The dragon must not have heard as he simply replied, “Morning, Twi.”
He let out a big yawn again which soon became a retch and then came fluttering out a scroll with the royal seal of the Princess.
Perhaps that’s why he got up in such a hurry. Spike grabbed the scroll lying stationary on the floor and read it aloud.
“Yawn…My dearest Twilight, I humbly request that you come to Canterlot whenever you find the time. No need to hurry! Yours faithfully, Princess Celestia.” Spike paused before reciting the words at the bottom. “Ahem…P.S. Spike, I-”
Twilight became a little anxious as Spike hesitated. “Yes, Spike?”
He cast the letter aside and made an annoyed grunt. “I apologise for waking you up…” he grumbled.
Twilight tried to conceal her amusement but a small giggle escaped her mouth. The dragon stubbornly folded his arms and turned away.
“Oh come on, Spike! It’s two in the afternoon and just how long were you up reading those comics last night?” countered the alicorn sternly.
Spike’s shoulders slumped and the dragon uttered a nervous chuckle. “Umm…maybe you’re right…”
Twilight nuzzled her faithful but always stubborn dragon assistant. “Well then if the princess needs me in Canterlot; I won’t keep her waiting long. Spike, pack a bag.”
“Sure Twilight, I’ll be back soon then.”
Her assistant scurried off to tend to the bag packing while Twilight went back to pondering over the papers on the desk. A couple of moments later, she heard the purple dragon return.
“Uhhh, Twilight? Just to let you know, Rainbow Dash and the crusaders are downstairs in the hall. They asked for you,” said Spike.
“Thanks, Spike. I’ll be right out!” confirmed Twilight with a grateful smile.
Having made a mental note of all the documentation, Twilight worked her way down to the hall. Or rather she readied her horn and concentrated hard to appear in front of a slightly spooked Rainbow Dash who wasn’t expecting her friend to appear out of thin air. Of course, her companions were especially shocked.
“How did you do that?” Scootaloo couldn’t help but say.
“Is that the first time you’ve seen me do that, Scootaloo?” questioned Twilight. It was surprising to say the least but she supposed that not everypony had seen her teleporting. “Well, it requires constant practice to get right.”
“Anyway…” started Rainbow, rather not wanting to hear a lecture from her egg head friend, “I thought I’d bring Scootaloo to collect her scooter. I think I screwed her up a little when I accidentally crashed into her while trying to practice for the Wonderbolts.” Rainbow made a gesture toward her head to help explain this. “She couldn’t even remember who you were or how to get here!”
“Oh!” Twilight looked down at the orange pegasus. “Are you alright, Scootaloo?”
“I’m fine!” The filly grinned to assert her point meanwhile inside half of her was still trying to process all the amazing things happening.
Twilight read the smile on Scootaloo’s face; it seemed pretty genuine. “OK, that’s good. Well, Scootaloo your scooter is still in the lounge, right where you left it.”
“Uhh…hehe…where DID I leave it?”
Twilight rolled her eyes and made a gesture with her right wing pointing it towards the room on their left while with the other she prodded the orange pegasus lightly indicating that she were to follow her. Scootaloo took her meaning and began to follow Twilight.
The pair moved into the lounge with the others coming up behind them. Twilight heard a loud thud proceeded by a squeal and jerked her head back to see what had happened. Sweetie Belle was lying face down on the floor, her hind legs trying to reposition to get herself back up again.
“No, I’m fine…sigh…” answered Sweetie Belle, bringing her fore hooves up to balance herself. “I just need to get used to that.”
“Used to what?”
Sweetie Belle stammered. Remembering the bet, she didn’t want to give their position away but she knew the purple pony would remain suspicious if she said nothing. She opened her mouth to speak.
“Is that it over there?” Scootaloo said eagerly, pointing her hoof at the object resembling a scooter in the corner of the room. Sweetie Belle sighed as Twilight’s attention became side-tracked towards the excited pegasus.
“Yes indeed it is, Scootaloo.”
Scootaloo cantered over to the scooter and reached out a hoof to grab the scooter intent on mounting it and riding it. But as she grabbed it, the thought occurred to her that she wouldn’t know how to ride it with her new body functions. Not wanting to either embarrass herself or get fingered for an impostor, she wheeled the scooter alongside her as she trotted back to the others.
“Aren’t ya going to ride it, squirt?” asked Rainbow Dash.
“I think I’d best wait until I get outside,” the purple-haired pegasus said sheepishly.
“Why how responsible, Scootaloo!” How very odd. “I’m glad some of us aren’t in such a hurry all the time.” Twilight’s gaze met the rainbow pegasus and cocked a sly smile at her.
“Yeah, yeah, I get it. I guess if you’re fine now Scoot, I’ll get back to doing a few more exercises before the sun goes down.” She spotted an open window above and focusing her gaze on it, she braced for a rapid take-off.
“See ya Twi! Catch you later, squirt! And bye girls!” And with that Rainbow shot out of the room leaving behind a rainbow trail.
That mare can’t sit still can she? Twilight turned to the girls. “I’d love to stay and catch up girls but I must go to Canterlot now. I hope you all enjoy the rest of the day.” She began to leave.
An idea suddenly popped into Sweetie Belle’s head. “Wait! Is that a library over there?” Sweetie Belle made a head motion towards the other room on the other side of the entrance hall. There was a hollow entrance but what from the unicorn could make out the back seemed lined with lots of books.
“Why yes, Sweetie Belle,” replied Twilight. “Why do you ask?”
“Do you happen to have any books about the history of the world?”
Apple Bloom nudged her friend and whispered “Equestria.”
“Like a comprehensive guide to Equestria?”
Twilight looked at the unicorn intently before answering. “Yes, in fact. There’s one that we give to other species not native to Equestria to allow them to know about ponies. But there’s nothing in it that you girls shouldn’t already know. Why do you want it?”
Sweetie Belle had prepared for it but still had doubts as to the reality of her answer. “Miss Cheerilee wants us to do a report on the history of Equestria.”
“During the summer?” Twilight pressed.
“Uhh…it’s homework and besides I thought it would be an interesting read.” The seemingly innocent unicorn attempted a small smile to confirm her enthusiasm.
“Well, I’d be more than happy to lend you it!” Twilight’s face lit up. “Let me just go and find it for you,” the alicorn said happily before flying towards the library.
For the first time in a while, the crusaders had been left alone prompting the perfect time for a discussion.
“What ya gettin’ the book for, Sweetie Belle?” asked Apple Bloom.
“Well guys we don’t know a lot about being ponies or other ponies for that matter. I mean look at Twilight!”
The alicorn was busy searching through the shelves with her horn alight and then disappeared out of their sight. “She is a unicorn and can fly; I don’t know what to make of her. Perhaps the book can tell us?”
“That’s actually pretty smart!” admitted Scootaloo, beaming happily at the cleverness of her friend.
“What are we going to do now?” she continued.
“Well ah need ta do those chores ma sis told me about,” answered Apple Bloom.
“And I need to-”
“Here you are, Sweetie Belle!” The fillies turned to see Twilight levitating a book in front of Sweetie Belle. “Please feel free to take it as long as you like!”
“Thanks, Twilight,” she said gratefully and reached for the book and almost dropping it as she grasped it in her hooves.
Twilight had in fact expected to use her magic to grab the book but she shrugged and addressed the girls once more.
“Well now, I really must go. Bye girls!” She turned to walk up the stairs to her room.
The crusaders faced each other. “Right, I’m gonna find a quiet place to read this. What are you two going to do?”
“I guess I better practice riding my scooter with THESE!” stated Scootaloo, emphasising her hooves when she spoke.
“And ah need ta get ta Sweet Apple Acres. But ah’ve no clue where…” Apple Bloom thought of the winged unicorn.
Something had to be wrong; of that Sunset was very certain.
Her normal chaotic threesome had not uttered a word since they left the school, save for saying thanks when Sunset opened the door and even then it was only Apple Bloom who spoke up. She had wanted to ask what was up but thought it wise not to pry.
Even after becoming their “idol” – often she would blush at that word – Sunset didn’t want to ruin the warm relationship she shared with her adorably troublesome gang. That said, she wasn’t completely free of her past yet and never wished to inflict any emotional harm – let alone physical – on the friendships that she had worked so hard to attain. Yet the feeling that her sisterly friends might be suffering inside never left her.
A wail from behind her however whizzed her mind back to the present and she quickly went to the aid of her falling friend. Sunset managed to catch her by the hand; Scootaloo narrowly avoiding injury.
“Is everything ok, Scootlaloo?” she asked anxiously, still holding on as the crusader calmed down from the shock.
Sunset pulled Scootaloo to her feet and still clung on as the wavering youngster found her balance. She sighed in relief and gave a weak smile to Sunset.
“Yeah…I’m fine,” Scootaloo replied awkwardly.
“Are you sure? Because you seem to have trouble walking.”
In fact, all three of them seemed to have difficulty walking today. What Sunset thought would be a simple leisurely walk to the apple farm ended up being a constant rhythm of misplaced feet as they scraped across the gritty asphalt of the pavement. The image sounded humorous in the mentor’s mind but she was determined not to let it show.
“Yeah, I know. I don’t know why though.” In fact, Scootaloo did know but knew better than to voice it. “But…it will get better,” Scootaloo said with a confident smile.
“Hmmm…well if you’re sure….”
Sunset turned back around and resumed walking, the crusaders yet again struggling to keep up.
No awkward silence this time. “So girls, how did you enjoy the party last night?”
How in the hay did she know that? Apple Bloom looked to her equally astounded friends.
“Has she seen through our ruse already?” Sweetie Belle whispered, her attention returning quickly to her mistimed stepping in order to stifle the subsequent wobble.
“Ah don’ think so,” Apple Bloom replied in a hushed tone.
Sunset grew worried. She had expected Scootaloo to at least enthuse about Rainbow Dash or something as per but no response came.
“It was great,” Apple Bloom spat out in desperation.
Sunset did not expect the country girl to answer.
“Uhh…Twilight took to the floor and… did an awesome dance with this orange stallion…uh…person with blue hair and…”
“Wait, Twilight? Twilight wasn’t at the dance,” Sunset protested, looking round to Apple Bloom while still moving. “Twilight was having a sleepover at Fluttershy’s.”
Apple Bloom craned her head at Sunset’s response. Fluttershy had been there too.
“And I didn’t see you there either Apple Bloom. I thought you said that you and AJ were going to do some chores. Did AJ change her mind?”
Sunset raised an eyebrow at the nervous country girl.
Then the realisation hit her. There must have been a party here.
Stupid! Now ah’ve gotta think o’ summin real fast! “Oh right, the dance…sorry ah thought you were talking bout’ summin else…sorry,” she uttered, trying to make it sound as casual as possible.
The questioning look that Sunset was giving Apple Bloom grew only deeper. There was something about Apple Bloom’s way of talking that was slightly off.
She may have just gotten mixed up, she thought optimistically. But going over the crusader’s words in her head she came across one that didn’t sound right. For a human anyway…
Sunset soon saw that the intensive stare that she was giving Apple Bloom was causing the crusader discomfort so she retreated her head back to her front.
Sunset felt about as awkward as Rainbow Dash getting a pedicure. She hastily moved the conversation forward.
“And how about you two? You girls have fun?”
Scootaloo grinned happily at the memory. “Rainbow and I did some wicked moves!” She then remembered the remorse she felt this morning and her tone turned annoyed. “But I wasn’t able to stay awake long enough to enjoy it…”
“Hehe, I noticed Rainbow slipping away earlier than expected.” For her, anyway, Sunset thought humorously. “And you, Sweetie Belle?”
“I had lots of fun! Too bad parties have to end though…” she replied, happy about how natural that sounded.
“Well you sure looked tuckered out when I dropped you off at home.”
Having witnessed Apple Bloom’s exchange with the unfamiliar teen, Sweetie Belle knew to accept that.
“Yeah, I guess…” she simply said in a happy tone.
Sunset smiled and grunted happily. She was delighted that her words between them were no longer hesitant and difficult.
“So…what were you three doing at the school anyway?”
“We were checking out this really cool thing that Apple Bloom found over by the school!” she said as if she had expected that question.
“Oh and what was this cool thing?”
There was a pause. The crusaders shared a glance at each other.
“Uh…” started Scootaloo.
“It was…,” continued Sweetie Belle.
“A bunny!” Apple Bloom finished.
The other two sighed and signalled Apple Bloom to continue. To their mutual amazement, they found they were able to do the same motion with their new hands as their old hooves.
“Yeah, a bunny!” repeated Apple Bloom confidently, attempting to get on Sunset’s good side again.
“Ah saw one the other day and ah thought it might still be there. But it wasn’t.” Apple Bloom faked a sad tone towards the end.
“Oh I’m sure there are plenty of bunnies to be seen at the farm if you look hard enough.” Hmm, I should start sketching there more often come to think of it.
“Speaking of which…” began Sunset as she saw the cosy homestead on the horizon. “We’re almost there.”
It was getting quite late when the four of them reached the fence encircling the apple farm. There was still plenty of sunlight to be had given it was the summer but the “beep-beep” as her digital watch struck sixteen hundred confirmed her assumption.
She spied Applejack working with some sort of contraption over towards the barn. That must be the “doo-hickey”.
It didn’t look as though the farmer had noticed the group assembled outside the fence with her attention solely fixed on her work.
Just as well.
The thought of being caught off guard by the honest farmer sent butterflies down Sunset’s stomach and before long she realised that she was blushing. Not wanting the girls to see her like this, she briefly shook her head and proceeded to the gate in front of her.
The metal hinges of the gate creaked as she pushed it open. She held the gate open while the crusaders walked in. This time she was greeted with more smiles and notes of appreciation which was very comforting to the once worried mentor. She closed the gate behind them, making sure to hear the clicking sound of the latch springing back in place.
The group walked up to the humble Apple homestead and Apple Bloom took a quick glance at her new home for the week. Technically, it wasn’t new as this was her home but aesthetically it looked slightly different. For instance, the barn had no windows nor did it feature anything that would make it look homely.
How do they live like this?
Her gaze then fell upon the building adjacent to the barn.
Sunset was surprised that Applejack hadn’t noticed them yet. Then again, the machine that she was using was letting out quite a racket.
“Hey AJ, we’re here!” she called out to her friend.
The farmer looked round and smiled then turned off her “doo-hickey”.
As the sound of the motor died away, Applejack walked over.
“Mighty thanks, Sunset!” She embraced her best friend in a hug. Sunset blushed as she heard a giggle from the girls.
When Applejack broke off, she realised that her oiled-up hands had covered her friend’s back torso in black.
“Aww, shucks! Ah’m sorry Sunset, shoulda washed these hands first,” she said apologetically.
“Don’t worry about it AJ,” she replied. “I’m sure it’ll come out.”
“Ah hope the girls weren’t a handful. Were they?” She turned to the girls. “Well, were ya?”
“Not at all, sis!” stated Apple Bloom proudly. The other crusaders nodded in agreement.
“Hmmm, I wouldn’t say that exactly…” started Sunset with a sly tone.
Her smile turned into a laugh at the sight of the open mouths that her companions shot at her.
Applejack shared in the laugh. “Ah’m sure it’s nothin’ to fret about then!”
“Well why don’ ya youngsters and go on upstairs while Sunset and ah have ourselves a chat?”
“OK!” said Apple Bloom confidently. The thought of her room was a relaxing one after the day she had just had. But then-
They hadn’t much practice when it came to climbing. Still, she knew not to question her sister. Besides, with no-one to see them fail perhaps they could be excused from embarrassment.
As the crusaders cautiously made their way into the house, Sunset couldn’t help but let out a big sigh of relief as she leaned back against the porch fence. The honest farmer picked up on that.
“Ya sure they weren’t a handful?” joked Applejack, leaning in a similar fashion beside Sunset.
“Nah, it’s just been a hell of day.”
Applejack straightened up from the fence and put on a more assertive tone.
“Listen Sunset, ah’ve got summin’ important ah need ta ask ya bout’.”
Sunset woke up out of her daydreaming; her face taking a more serious tone at the farmer’s statement. “Sure AJ, what is it?”
“Look, ah know yar like sisters with the girls now but ya really shouldn’t be tellin’ them bout’ yar lovelife!”
Sunset stood upright at the accusation. “Excuse me?”
“Apple Bloom told me that yesterday ya told them that ya were plannin’ on gettin’ back tagether with Flash Sentry. She’s too young fer that kind o’ stuff!”
“I’m not getting back with Flash!” retorted Sunset in a firm but calm tone. “I told you guys before that Flash isn’t the kind of guy for me and I certainly wouldn’t involve Apple Bloom in this!”
“That the honest truth?”
“Of course, AJ.” Sunset moved her lips to create a friendly smile.
Applejack sighed. She was good at reading the truth in people’s words and Sunset’s vocation seemed legit to her. She took the Stenson resting squarely off her hat and let it droop with her right arm.
“Ah’m sorry, Sunset. My stubborn streak can get the best o’ me sometimes. Can ya forgive me for speakin’ out o’ turn?” she asked quietly, eyes closed.
“There is nothing to forgive, AJ. You know I’m far worse, right?”
Applejack’s eyes opened and she giggled at the crack. But then her face turned irritated again as she put the Stenson back on her head.
“But that means that Apple Bloom straight up lied ta ma face! And spread horrible lies bout’ ya, Sunset!”
“Why did she tell you this, anyway?”
Applejack sighed to calm her down slightly before explaining.
“Apple Bloom came home yesterday sprouting off about this cool thing that she’d found in school that day.”
“Come ta think of it, after ah asked her bout’ it she became less excited; almost as if she didn’t want me to know about it…”
Sunset could relate to that – the girls seemed like they had been hiding something all morning.
“Well, I thought it was nothing but there was something strange about the girls’ behaviour today when I went to pick them up at the school.”
“For one, they were quiet.”
Both of them found the idea amusing yet at the same time scary.
“They hardly said a word to me until we neared the farm; nor did they speak with themselves. They also had difficulty walking which seems the most strange.”
Applejack craned her head at Sunset. “Trouble walking?”
“I know, I don’t understand it either. But I recommend keeping a closer eye on them…at least until we figure out what’s going on.”
Applejack nodded. “Will do.”
The two resumed their lax positions on the porch fence. They watched as the sun tiptoed into the last segment of the sky overlooking the horizon.
“So…” Applejack started. “What made ma sister think ya were gettin’ back with Flash?”
“I’m not sure. I certainly didn’t give her any signs. I don’t like Flash; I like-”
Sunset looked at the honest farmer with utter astonishment. How could she have possibly know that? She knew there was no way of lying herself out of this mess. All she could do was mutter incomprehensible gibberish and simply stand there as her cheeks turned rosy red.
Applejack chuckled as she moved closer to her embarrassed admirer.
“Ah guess not everything Apple Bloom told me was a lie…”
If somepony told Apple Bloom that one day she’d find herself in an exact replica of her house but in a different world; she would have mostly likely hit them on the nose. But here she was, truth as clear as daylight sitting on her human-sized bed next to her fellow amazed crusaders.
The stairs hadn’t proved to be that difficult actually; in fact if she had to go back learning everything from scratch again, she’d likely find that it was easier climbing stairs with just two legs instead of four. Then again, all three of them had been hanging onto the bannister precariously with their hands but Apple Bloom didn’t want it to diminish the feat of getting upstairs without falling down for a change.
By natural instinct after climbing the stairs, Apple Bloom supposed that her room would be in the same location in relation to her family on the landing as her house in Ponyville. It was! The first room as you came up the stairs! It had been so obvious because everything that made up her room in Ponyville had just been scaled up to meet human proportions. Her apple themed wallpaper was the same, her apple themed duvet was the same; everything had just been made a bit bigger. It was comforting to know that they shared cherished things as well as relatives with their human equivalents – who were no longer the humans, Apple Bloom thought.
And now the three friends were here sitting on the country girl’s bed chatting like old times in a whole new world.
“Ah can hardly believe how real this all is!” Apple Bloom cried with excitement.
“I know right!” Scootaloo strained as she tried to rapidly flap her absent wings. “Oops, I guess I forgot about that!”
She giggled nervously trying to hide the fact that she felt a teensy bit sad that an iconic part of her was gone.
“By the way, you girls have any idea who that bacon-haired Sunset woman was?”
“Bacon-haired?” giggled Sweetie Belle. “I suppose her hair does look like bacon, teehee!”
“No idea, Scoots. She seems nice though. Ah guess there are some minor changes in this world.”
“But I really can’t wait to see what other things we can do here!” Sweetie Belle added enthusiastically.
Scootaloo’s bottom started to vibrate violently as the sound of a humming buzz emanated from the girl’s tushie. It quickly faded.
“What in the hay was that?” Sweetie Belle asked, surprised but not scared.
“I don’t know…” replied Scootaloo, her hands feeling around her bottom. To her surprise, a part of it seemed to stick out from the rest and as she felt around the jut in her posterior she came to realise that the green shorts she wore had back pockets. Her left hand reached in and grabbed something solid and after pulling the object out she held it out for her friends to see as they studied it carefully.
“What do ya think it is?” Scootaloo asked her friends, hoping for an answer.
“Looks like some sort of brick…” Sweetie Belle said.
The brick lit up suddenly and a picture of a blue skinned woman with multi-coloured hair holding Scootaloo in her arms; both sticking their tongues out came into view of the girls.
“Who’s that?” Apple Bloom asked.
“I’m not sure…someone who’s close to me for sure…”
Scootaloo’s face lit up when she noticed the array of colours in the woman’s hair along with a symbol on her shirt which looked very familiar. A rainbow with…
“I think it’s Rainbow Dash!”
“Yeah I can see that!” Sweetie Belle agreed. “What’s that flashing thing at the top?”
Scootaloo hadn’t noticed. There was some text flashing green at the top of the picture. She moved her hand towards it but then quickly retracted it as the motion of her hand across the brick caused the picture to move with it.
“Whoa!” Apple Bloom exclaimed.
“Heh…maybe it responds to touch?” Sweetie Belle suggested.
Scootaloo touched the flashing text with her index finger and she watched as the picture disappeared completely to reveal some sort of message.
“What’s it say?”
Scootaloo cleared her throat.
“Hey Scoots, just finished up an awesome football match. We won, unsurprisingly. I’m not doing much tomorrow, u wanna hang? Dash.”
“Dash? Hah…Rainbow Dash! She wants to hang out tomorrow!”
“Really? That brick can tell you what she’s saying even though she isn’t here?” questioned Sweetie Belle.
“That’s amazing!” said Apple Bloom.
“Hmm…how do I give her a reply?”
Scootaloo looked all over the phone for a button that could give her idol a message. She looked under the phone and everything but to no avail.
“What about that?” Sweetie Belle’s finger pointed at a flashing line in a white box. Ever so faintly, Scootaloo could make out the words “Write your message here.”
Since most of her solutions involved touching the brick, Scootaloo did so again in the white box and a box full of the letters of the alphabet appeared magically before her.
“Ah, I get it. I write out the message by touching these letters here. One sec, girls I’ll be done soon.”
Scootaloo went about typing a message out slowly while making loads of mistakes. Meanwhile, Sweetie Belle spoke with Apple Bloom.
“Rainbow Dash said she played football…do you think that might be human hoofball?”
“Ah wouldn’t be surprised!” said Apple Bloom smugly adding a confident smile.
Apart from the brick, Apple Bloom was certain now that most things in Equestria had a human equivalent not just their friends and family.
“Ya know ah think the brick might be the humans’ source of magic,” she theorised.
“Well we don’t have it in Equestria and they don’t have magic here so yeah I guess you could say that.”
The girls continued chatting while Scootaloo put the finishing touches on her message.
“Done!” she exclaimed happily.
“Let’s see!” Scootaloo held it out in front of the pair.
It read “Sure, what ya want to do? Asdhfkhlpb.”
“What’s the bit at the end mean?” asked Sweetie Belle.
“What? Oh…oops I couldn’t figure out how to send it…”
At that the bedroom door swung open and Applejack entered laughing like a hyena. She stopped and blushed when she saw the girls looking at her.
“Y’all are welcome to stay the night if ya’d like,” she offered kindly.
“Really? Thanks, Applejack!” cried Scootaloo, glad that she didn’t have to find her house until the morning.
“Yeah! Thanks!” Sweetie Belle added, feeling the same.
“Ah’ll call yar parents then and ask them if it’s alright.” She left the room and giggled again. “Hold yar horses, Sunset ah’m a coming!”
She shut the door behind her leaving the three human ponies alone again.
“What do you think that was about?” said Sweetie Belle.
“Ah haven’t a clue…” replied Apple Bloom.
Apple Bloom was dumbfounded. Not long ago, the idea that you could teleport yourself somewhere didn’t even register itself in the filly’s mind but then neither was the idea that there was somehow a magical world with talking ponies alongside the world she knew. Still at least the country girl got to experience the thrill of being whisked away from some place to another in a matter of seconds.
That is before she was submitted to the gruelling task of her typical everyday chores; made even harder by her missing digits. Apple Bloom was really missing her opposable thumbs right now as she tirelessly tried her best to clean the house like Big Macintosh had instructed. Golly had her brother looked big compared with everybody…everypony she noticed in Ponyville; but his normal affirmation was spot on.
It was lucky that he wasn’t around to see her fail at holding the broom as she attempted to sweep the kitchen floor. Funnily enough, Apple Bloom had found walking around on her hind legs much easier than she first expected it to be. This made the job a whole lot easier even if the broom kept slipping from her grasp due to the difference in grip that her hooves offered rather than her hands.
She had still managed to cope with making the beds and tiding up the bedrooms so it seemed that Apple Bloom could get used to this new way of life. Yet some part of her thought that this was routine for her and actually passing off as pony Apple Bloom may be harder. Whatever she thought, she’d find out soon enough.
The creak of the front door reached Apple Bloom’s ear and she peered round into the hallway to see who had come in. The voice of her sister was apparent.
“How was the meet-up with Golden Delicious, Granny?”
No way is that-
“It was mighty fine youngin’. Golden Delicious gets pretty lonely ya see so she thought it was mighty fine for me ta come. Wait…did ah say that already?”
The voice of her elderly relative was crystal clear – well as far as Granny Smith’s croaky voice could be clear.
“Don’ worry about it, Granny. Ah’ve had plenty of customers repeatin’ word after word.”
Apple Bloom turned back to her work in case her sister came prying to check on her. And do that she did.
“Howdy, Apple Bloom! Just finishing up ah take it?”
“You got it, sis!” she exclaimed as she walked on over to the last bit of the kitchen.
Applejack hesitated but the reply came anyway from the filly who was traversing perfectly balanced on just her hind legs. She couldn’t help but stare and in fact had not heard what Apple Bloom had said to her.
“Eh…is something the matter, sis?”
Her sister had been staring at her for some time now causing Apple Bloom a teensy amount of distress. She still had to get used to the way of life in Equestria and perhaps supposed that this was natural. Still, she felt uneasy.
Applejack snapped out of her trance at the filly’s question and proceeded to stutter before uttering something clear.
“Eh…it’s nothing, sis. Thank ya fer cleaning and all. Ah’ll make a start on dinner.”
Dinner! The idea of food after a long day like this made Apple Bloom soar with joy.
“Oh! What are we havin’?”
“It’s yar hometime favourite! Hayburgers!”
“Don’t ya mean hamburgers, sis?”
Applejack threw the filly a puzzled look. “Hamburger? What’s that?”
What? No hamburgers! Apple Bloom was ready to cry out in woe if her mind hadn’t stopped her at the last second. The loud outburst manage to turn into a disappointed grunt.
Hayburgers! Who would have thought it! The explosion of taste as it had entered Apple Bloom’s mouth had been beyond belief. Perhaps it was because of her new equine anatomy that she found eating hay to be so good. She didn’t care really; only that she could live life here knowing her favourite food was edible.
Apple Bloom lay in her bed that night thinking just how life in this world could be. With every day there would be new adventures, new things to discover and best of all instead of one family she now had two! Two sisters to love and cherish, two strong brothers to look up to and two babbling old grannies.
The little filly couldn’t recall another time when she had felt so loved.
Sweetie Belle rolled around in the bed sheets. In mid-consciousness, she could feel that her hooves felt strange this morning. She shifted around some more. Her head swung to meet the warm breath of the crusader stirring next to her and she creaked her left eye open to look. It took a moment for her mind to adjust to her best friend’s new appearance.
Well…it could have been a dream…
Clear as day, Scootaloo’s humanised face sat upon the pillow; dozing away. She was somewhat glad she could still recognize her after their human transformation. After all, a human’s face wasn’t that dissimilar of a pony’s. They possessed two ears – much more rounded than pointy – two eyes, a mouth and a smaller version of a pony’s muzzle which she remembered was called a “nose”.
Opening her other eye, she yawned loudly and stretched her lengthened body out. It was still a strange feeling having all this extra height. Standing up, she would be taller than Rarity and perhaps even be eye level with Princess Twilight. The idea delighted her but she knew full well that this world’s Rarity was bound to be around equal in height to Applejack and Sunset.
She sat up and rested her back against the headboard. The bed creaked as she leant her weight against it and a few sleepy grunts made their way out of Scootaloo.
She yawned loudly before taking her hands to her eyes and rubbing them as she would if she still had hooves.
“Yawn…Wow! What a dream I had…”
“What dream was that?”
Scootaloo slid her eyes open at the unexpected response. Staring at her hands and then at Sweetie Belle, she blinked for a moment and then sighed.
Though she lacked certainty, Sweetie Belle thought it was obvious what Scootaloo’s dream had been about. She giggled. And then noticed that Apple Bloom was nowhere around.
“Huh, where’d Apple Bloom go?”
Scootaloo craned her head around at her friend’s inquiry. Having been initially foggy, the events of the last night came flooding back to her. After enthusing and playing with the magic brick, they continued to practice with their human bodies before they all collapsed onto the bed from exhaustion.
“I have no idea,” was Scootaloo’s reply.
“You don’t think anything happened to her, do you?”
“In her own home? You gotta be kidding!”
Scootaloo knew Sweetie was one to jump to conclusions, especially when she was scared. Though it hadn’t crossed her mind what Sweetie Belle’s first impression might’ve been when she found that one of her best friends had disappeared in a strange new world.
“Shall we go downstairs and see if everything’s alright?” she asked, a touch of concern in her voice.
“Yeah, l-let’s go.”
Scootaloo took her legs out from underneath the duvet and hopped off the bed. She was joined by Sweetie Belle and together they went out into the corridor. Something about the wooden floor felt different.
“Does the floor seem weird to you today?”
“Yeah it does!”
“Let’s keep going…”
The two of them came to the stairs. An uneasy grunt came from Sweetie Belle; Scootaloo knew the reason. Neither of them had tried walking down stairs before.
“Well, here goes…”
Scootaloo took the lead, using the bannister as a ballast like they did on the way up yesterday. She lowered her right foot onto the next step and put all her weight on it. The steps felt weird like the floor. She proceeded to lift her left foot but instead of putting it on the same step as she did previously, she laid it on the next step; distributing the weight like with the right. She continued on like this until she reached the bottom.
She turned back to Sweetie Belle. “Wow, Sweets! If ya do it like that, it’s much quicker. Uh….Sweets?”
Scootaloo looked up the stairs and saw her friend was still stuck on the first step; shaking like jelly.
“Uh…could you help me, please?”
Scootaloo sighed. “Sure…,” her expression creating a knowing smile.
The two crusaders walked into the kitchen and saw Applejack was fixing breakfast.
“Good mornin’, ya two sleepyheads! Y’all aren’t exactly early birds are ya?”
“You say that like it’s a surprise!” Sunset Shimmer came into the room from behind the two of them; chuckling all the while. Applejack joined in as Sunset walked over to her and placed an arm over her shoulder.
“Eeyup!” said an all too familiar voice. Big Macintosh was seated at the table in the middle of the room reading a newspaper as he chomped away on an apple.
Scootaloo looked around. “Where’s Apple Bloom?”
“Outside. She was helpin’ me with the mornin’ chores, said she’d be happy ta finish ‘em while ah make breakfast.”
An aroma wafted its way from the hob and hit Sweetie Belle’s palate; she didn’t recognise it but thought she’d find out soon.
“Speaking o’ which, it’s almost ready. Breakfast!”
“Nice! Looks yummy as usual, AJ. And it’s not the only thing….”
“Ahem!” Big Mac cleared his throat awful loudly. “Ah’ll go tell AB then.”
“Hehe…yeah ya go do that, big brother…”
Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle exchanged a look. It felt like they were missing something. Eventually, they shrugged it off; knowing they would likely find out sooner or later.
“Why don’ ya two git yourself sat down?”
The two obeyed and walked towards the kitchen table. They sat down on two adjacent unoccupied chairs facing the hob which Applejack was using.
Sweetie Belle observed that this kitchen was quite like the one Rarity used. There was an oven, a sink, a fridge, numerous mahogany counters and cupboards and that window which, quoting her sister, “sheds a bit of light to allow your creativity to shine when preparing meals.” However, she had expected some differences and got just that with the unknown silver box on the counter next to the fridge. The oven was different too; it didn’t have the typical look most ovens had in Equestria.
“Oh there you are, Apple Bloom!”
Sweetie Belle looked round at Scootaloo’s outburst. Apple Bloom had just come in from the hall with a vivid smile on her face.
“Hey girls! Good morning, Sunset!”
“Good morning, Apple Bloom. You seem quite happy today.”
Apple Bloom blushed and sat down next to her fellow crusaders.
“Where did you go, Apple Bloom?”
“When we woke up this morning, you weren’t there with us,” added Sweetie Belle.
“Oh! Ah got up early ta help Applejack with cleaning out the barn.” Apple Bloom switched to a hushed tone. “Ah figured that since we do it every Sunday morning in Equestria, they’d do it here too.”
Scootaloo nodded in understanding but something about Apple Bloom still yanked on her curiosity.
“But what’s got ya all excited? Getting up early isn’t exciting at all!”
Apple Bloom rolled her eyes. No wonder she and Rainbow Dash get on so well.
“Ya have no idea how easy everything is now that ah got these!” She flexed her fingers and thumbs on each hand. “It usually takes- Apple Bloom quietened her voice again. “It normally takes an hour ta clean the barn out from top ta bottom with ma hooves but these hands more than halved that time! They’re so useful for grabbing things and ah feel much stronger with them too!”
A thought suddenly came to Scootaloo. “Hey Apple Bloom, you have any idea why the floor feels different today?”
Apple Bloom took a glance at the floor under the table. She surveyed the entire area including the bits surrounding Sweetie Belle’s and Scootaloo’s “feet” and back to her own. She grunted in amusement.
“Y’all didn’t put yar shoes on did ya?”
Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo both looked down at their feet. They were bare and unclothed.
“Oh yeah…hard to remember when we’re so used to using bare hooves all the time.”
“But ya know summin’, ah could get used to living like this!”
“Living like what?” asked Sweetie Belle.
“Ya know, as a human.”
The statement came as bit of a shock to both Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo but their attention was soon diverted by the plate of food which landed in front of them.
“Dig in, everybody.”
While everyone else obliged Applejack’s suggestion, the three crusaders simply stared at the unknown food in front of them.
“What is it?” Scootaloo whispered to the other two.
“Ah’ve no idea…”
Apple Bloom did however recognise the fried egg next to the strange tube-like food. She started to poke it with her finger; it felt warm and squidgy.
“APPLE BLOOM! How many times do ah have ta tell ya not ta pick at yar food! Use yar fork an’ knife.”
The scolding came as a bit of a shock to Apple Bloom. What’s a fork an’ knife?
Sweetie Belle cleared her throat discreetly as to get her friends to look at her. Apple Bloom noticed she was holding up two silver sticks in each hand – one very sharp and the other jagged. She saw Sweetie Belle gesture her eyes towards the same two objects on either side of Apple Bloom’s own plate.
“What are we supposed to do with-
Apple Bloom caught sight of Applejack’s cutting motions using the very sharp stick with the egg to cut a piece off. She then used the jagged stick to pierce it and bring it up to her mouth.
Apple Bloom observed her own metal sticks. But which one’s the knife an’ which one’s the fork? She shrugged and slowly began to grind the sharp stick against the egg as Applejack had done. She found it hard to cut.
“Umm, Apple Bloom, you having trouble cutting your egg?” joked Sunset. “You might want to try holding the knife the other way.”
Apple Bloom flipped the knife over so that the rounded edge was now grinding through the egg. It was much easier now – she felt like such an idiot. After cutting a piece, she used the…fork to bring it up to her mouth. It tasted great.
She looked to Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo who seemed to have grasped the knack of it too.
Scootaloo poked the tube-like food with her fork; it was tough to pierce through. After cutting a bit like with the egg, she closed her mouth around the bit on her fork. She hummed at the sensational taste.
“Wow! That tastes amazing! What is that?!”
Applejack looked astonished. “Uhh…a sausage?”
Scootaloo didn’t expect a response; wolfing down another bit in no time at all. She beamed at the other two as to indicate that they try it too. Too curious, both Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle took a bit to their mouth. They uttered similar moans of pleasure. Hardly any time passed before all their plates were stark bare.
“What was in that?” asked Sweetie Belle.
“Uhhh…what’s normally in sausages. Pork. Ya know, from a pig?”
Sweetie Belle’s eyes shot back to the plate and dropping her fork, she gasped in horror.
“I just ate a pig! What the hay?!” cried Scootaloo.
The entire table was taken aback by Scootaloo’s yelling; Applejack’s expression was a mix of shock and confusion.
“Ah’m sorry Scootaloo…ah…ah didn’t realise ya were a vegetarian. Ah’ll… ah’ll promise ta do better next time.”
Apple Bloom could scarcely believe it.
Humans eat animals? They don’t eat…no…no they couldn’t. Could they?
She toyed with her thoughts. Regardless of whether it seemed wrong to her, it’s what humans did and she had to keep pretending. She beckoned her fellow crusaders to do the same.
The three of them continued to sit quietly, unbeknownst that Sunset Shimmer was eyeing them ponderously all the while.
Sweetie Belle followed behind her sister Rarity, a unicorn. She had been in Equestria for a day now and she still couldn’t get used to seeing everyone she knew and loved transformed into ponies. Not that she was complaining. She liked seeing the world from a new perspective – even if it wasn’t exactly her world. Or perhaps not the world she knew anyway.
She certainly knew it felt weird to be stark nude almost all the time. Sweetie Belle did in fact know that at times ponies would wear some garments should the need arise, having observed different ponies at work in careers quite similar to that of the human world. There were pony barbers, pony chefs and pony doctors. Though if her equine sister was a fashion designer just like her human counterpart then it could be safe to say that most types of work were replicated in this world.
“Oh Sweetie Belle, could you please keep up?” said Rarity, a little frustrated. “It’s bad enough I have to remind you where your clubhouse is when I have a lot of orders that need filling. Honestly, how could you even forget where it is? You go there almost every day, after all.”
“Hehe…I guess I’m a little forgetful today.”
This caused Rarity to stop and face Sweetie Belle. “You have been acting strange lately, dear sister.”
Her expression became anxious. “In fact, I’m a little worried about you. Are you sure that you’re ok?”
Honestly…no, but Sweetie Belle wasn’t about to let Rarity become suspicious of her. Well, at least more suspicious of her. “I’m fine, Rarity. Don’t worry.”
Rarity appeared unconvinced. “First, you have trouble walking around the house and then at dinner you asked for…what were those things again?”
“Fork, knife and spoon?”
“Yes, exactly. I’m not quite sure I can simply dismiss these things lightly, Sweetie Belle. Whether you say you’re fine or not.”
Sweetie Belle had learned that biting her tongue about human technology was the only way to avoid drawing suspicion. Though it seemed that their worlds were very alike, there would still be a lot of things either species couldn’t do that which the other can. The former problem however was somewhat untrue.
She was getting used to walking around; her hooves didn’t trip her up as much as they did initially and she started to be more aware of the horn protruding from her head. The book which the filly had been given by Twilight – or Princess Twilight for that matter – had helped immensely in understanding the way things worked in Equestria.
It detailed the different types of ponies, the way in which magic worked in this world, and there was some mention of other creatures that inhabited this land – Timberwolves, Gryphons and Zebras were just a few of them. Well, Sweetie Belle could recollect seeing the black and white striped horses at the zoo and in various children’s books she read when she was little. As for the other two, she was clueless. Of all of the creatures detailed though, one remained exceedingly hard to pronounce. It was called a dracone-
“HELLO SWEETIE BELLE AND RARITY!”
A puff of smoke appeared out of the air behind Rarity and the two of them jumped in surprise at the bellowed greeting. As it cleared, Sweetie Belle began to make out a snake-like creature whose face seemed to resemble a horse’s face while the rest of his body was unlike anything the human had ever seen, with parts of different animals making up his other bodily functions.
“Oh! It’s you, Discord. My, you’re awful for coming out of the blue like that,” said Rarity warmly.
“Oh I know, it’s just too fun surprising you,” chuckled the snake-like creature.
Sweetie Belle was a little shocked. She clearly didn’t know who this was as it didn’t sound like anyone she knew at CHS but whoever he (at least she thought it was a he) was he would have to know Rarity pretty well to not get a berating from her. She never liked being jumped like that; a few fights had even erupted between Pinkie Pie and her sister on occasions.
“Soooooooo, what are you two doing today?”
“Well, Discord, we’re on our way to Sweet Apple Acres since somepony can’t seem to remember where her clubhouse is.”
Sweetie Belle grinned sheepishly.
“Really? Oh how could that have happened?” The creature didn’t sound as concerned as the words he used made out.
“You know, I’m not quite sure. But it doesn’t matter. We need to hurry if I am to get back to complete my orders in time.”
“Oh! Well I can certainly assist with that!”
Sweetie Belle saw the beast snap his fingers and with one blink she found herself in an open field within a deeply forested area. Looking around, she discovered Rarity was no longer beside her but instead the rather welcome sight of the CMC treehouse was waiting for her across the field. It was quite amazing how recognizable it was.
She began to trot excitedly towards it but was halted by a voice pouring in and out of her head.
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell Rarity about you not being from this world…”
It sounded like the snake-like creature’s voice. Sweetie Belle’s face took a slide of panic.
How did it realise I was a human? Well, he didn’t actually say that but it was close enough!
“Hey, Sweetie Belle!”
Sweetie Belle focused herself at the sound of her friend’s voice. Apple Bloom had appeared on the platform at the treehouse and seemed to be beckoning her over. Sweetie Belle let out a sigh and smiled; happy that she could let down her façade a little. She continued her trot to the base of the treehouse and was met with a surprise.
Naturally, she had expected a ladder as their way of climbing up but she was met with a ramp. Figures. Just how could ponies climb ladders if they can’t grab things easily? She had read in the book that different species of ponies have varying levels of strength. Unicorns are generally the weakest but rely more on their magic than physical ability. And it was proving hard for the human turned pony to adjust to using her horn in place of her han…hooves.
Sweetie Belle trekked up the ramp with ease and stopped in front of Apple Bloom. She stretched her hooves awkwardly as if to give her friend a hug. Apple Bloom giggled.
“Yeah, ah haven’t got the hang of it neither…”
“Dunno. Ah was kinda surprised you showed up, seein’ as we don’ exactly know what to do here.”
“Well normally if we are unsure of what to do, we just meet here anyway. I thought it was best to come here and I’m guessing so did you.” Apple Bloom nodded. “So I think Scootaloo should be on her way too.”
“Yeah, yar probably right.”
As sound as her logic was, Sweetie Belle was still unsure. Like Apple Bloom, she had found the prospect of meeting her friends at the clubhouse a little farfetched. It wasn’t long though before the cream coloured unicorn was vindicated by the faint noise of panting approaching the clubhouse.
“Wow. I was right…”
Sweat ran down Scootaloo when she reached the summit of the ramp on her scooter; her exhausted expression prompting concern from both of her friends.
“Everything ok, Scoots?” asked Apple Bloom.
“Yeah…gasp…I’m just trying to get used to my new size. I can’t quite get the same power out of these hooves that I can out of my legs.” Scootaloo let out a deep sigh before continuing. “How is everyon…everypony anyway?”
“We’re fine. We can talk inside though.” Sweetie Belle gestured her friends to enter the clubhouse.
They filed in with Scootaloo propping her scooter just outside the door before entering. Apple Bloom took her regular position at the oratory stand while waiting for her friends to become seated.
“I hereby declare this the first PONY cutie mark crusader meeting!” Apple Bloom announced with obvious enthusiasm.
Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo cheered in unison before all three of them collapsed onto their backs in laughter. After about a full minute of amusement, the three crusaders recovered to a normal sitting position with Apple Bloom having sat back beside her friends.
“So how’d the farm chores go?” Scootaloo directed at Apple Bloom.
“They were alright; they were just like what we do on the farm back home unsurprisingly. Later we had “hayburgers” fer dinner. Ah asked Applejack bout’ hamburgers but she just gave me some funny looks. Guess they don’ have those here. This mornin’ though we had pancakes! Mhmm…just how Granny makes ‘em…”
“An’ what bout’ you two? What did y’all end up doing?”
“I went cruising around the town on my scooter,” began Scootaloo. “Got the hang of steering and braking easily…after stumbling into a few older ponies. Problem is I get tired very easily when I’m pushing with my hooves all the time. If only there was an easier way.”
“Well you’ve got wings now, have you tried using them?” added Sweetie Belle.
Scootaloo flexed her wings. “Yeah I have, can’t seem to fly for long though. I don’t think they’re big enough yet.”
“I meant have you tried using them when on your scooter?”
Scootaloo looked back towards Sweetie Belle. “Sorry?”
“Well instead of using your hooves all the time, why not try using the wind power from your wings? Like an aeroplane but just on the ground?”
Scootaloo considered her wings once more. “I suppose I could give it a shot.”
“By the way, Scootaloo,” added Apple Bloom. “How’d ya know where ta come?”
“Pfft, that’s easy, AB. My house is very close to your farm isn’t it?” Apple Bloom pondered on that and nodded. “Well I could make out that same barn right from my doorstep so I just followed the road to the farm and then came here!”
“An’ what bout’ yar parents? Were they just the same?”
“Yeah, they were exactly the same!” Scootaloo beamed. “It was a little weird though. It’s like I’m their daughter but they’re not really my real parents even though they are and…it’s…it’s a strange feeling. But it doesn’t seem like they suspect anything…yet.”
“Lucky for you. My sister is already on my case.”
Both crusaders turned to Sweetie Belle and stood up.
“Ya mean she’s already found out?”
“No, not like that. She just thinks there’s something wrong with me because I’ve been falling all over the place…which I am getting better at! She questioned me when I asked her about having a fork or knife when we ate dinner last night.”
“Oh come on, Sweetie Belle! AJ’s always yellin’ at me ta use my fork an’ knife but now that ah’m a pony, ah can use ma hands all ah want!”
“Hooves, I think you mean, AB.”
“Oh yeah right.”
Sweetie Belle’s memory then drifted to the creature she had been faced with earlier today. “Then just this morning! Some weird thing encountered me and Rarity as she was taking me here and said to me that he knew what I was!”
“What weird thing?”
“It was a…” As if by some magic, Sweetie Belle’s mind clicked into the passages she had been reading this morning.
“A dracon…dracone…” Sweetie Belle took a deep breath. “A DRACONEQUUS!”
Sunset Shimmer gazed through the window overlooking the kitchen sink and into the bright day that lay outside. Like the sun that was beating down, Sunset’s mind was ablaze with bickering thoughts about what had just taken place at breakfast. Taking after her overloaded brain, her hands began to scrub the plates more vigorously with the hot water soaked sponge. She plunged them into the basin for a rinse and placed them on the plate rack – only for them to be taken by her washing buddy.
“Well that was certainly somethin’,” admitted the farm girl as she worked the tea towel over the current plate. “Who knew Scootaloo was a vegetarian? Apple Bloom never mentioned it to me.”
“Because she isn’t,” replied Sunset. “Just last week when we visited the mall, she ate an entire XXL bacon double cheeseburger at Burger King and still had room left over for the fries and ice cream.”
Sunset continued to scrub the last few of the plates left in the soapy water. She smirked suddenly.
“And then later that night she gorged down on a steak; half of which had dropped onto the floor but she still ate the entire thing!”
Applejack chuckled. “Hoowhee! Scootaloo sure has some guts.”
After putting the last of the dishes on the rack, Sunset turned round and leaned on the sink. “Yeah, she’s certainly a carnivore and no mistake.”
“So why was she freakin’ out bout’ the bacon then?”
“Well, I doubt Scootaloo would have changed to vegetarianism in just a week. Then again, it shocked me for the first time when I-”
Sunset paused mid-sentence. The gears in her brain creaked as the arguing sides in her mind began to agree on one detail. She had reacted to the bacon in a similar fashion to Scootaloo before. But it couldn’t be what she thought it was. That was impossible!
Applejack moved closer to Sunset upon notice of her new stunned expression. “What is it?”
Sunset rolled her head towards Applejack. She looked deep into the eyes of her crush and thought to herself.
Do you think she can handle it? What might she think? And what if I’m wrong? Is there really any point in making her worry if it turns out it’s over nothing?
Sunset sighed deeply. She put her arms around Applejack’s shoulders. “I’m not sure. Something is definitely going on with those girls but I can’t say for sure. I need to look into it.”
Applejack pulled Sunset into an embrace. “Well ya know ah’m here ta help if ya need it, hun. Ah mean that’s what friends are for right?”
Sunset retreated her head back to rest it upon Applejack’s. She smiled coyly. “Just friends?”
Applejack blushed. “Well, umm…ah ya know what ah mean.”
Sunset hummed amusedly. She broke off from Applejack and thought for a moment. “Actually, AJ. Could you tell me more about what Apple Bloom said to you that Friday after school?”
The three crusaders ceased their excited chatter at the sound of Applejack’s voice. They stood up and walked over to the balcony. Apple Bloom spotted her sister waving at them below.
“Ah thought ah’d just tell ya that Sunset, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Twilight, Pinkie Pie an’ I...”
She coulda just said her friends, thought Apple Bloom amusedly.
“…are goin’ ta watch the summer world championships over at Sugarcube Corner. Seeing as Scootaloo loves sport an’ all, ah believed it best to ask y’all to join us. Ya wanna come with?”
The three of them exchanged a glance. Scootaloo had an excited smile on her face.
“I love the sound of that!” She switched to a hush tone. “And we’ll get to see what sports that humans play!”
“Count me in!” enthused Apple Bloom.
“Well then, I guess I’m in too!”
“Hear that, sis? We wanna come too!”
“Great! We’re leavin’ in bout’ a half hour. Ah’ll wait fer youse at the house, ok?”
Applejack left and the chatter once again resumed.
“Wow! We’ll get to see real humans in action as they play sport! This is going to be so amazing!” Scootaloo couldn’t contain her excitement and by instinct, jumped up high in the air. Her feet wobbled on landing as she focused on maintaining her balance. She smiled having managed to remain upright.
“That was a really high jump!” enthused Sweetie Belle.
“I know right! Humans can really jump up high! Though considering they can’t fly or use magic then I guess they have a handier build than us ponies.”
“Huh…ah wonder what sports they play then?"
A sudden thought came to Sweetie Belle. She would have dismissed it as it was too coincidental but then she remembered just how predictable this world was.
“You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if they played “foot” ball like hoofball back home?”
The other crusaders’ faces lit up. “That would be awesome!” Scootaloo exclaimed.
“Well, what are we waiting fer then? Let’s get back ta the house!”
By the time that the three of them managed to get back to the house, Applejack and Sunset were already waiting for them and were joined by another girl who Scootaloo instantly recognised as-
“Rainbow Dash!” Scootaloo couldn’t describe her excitement at seeing her idol in human form.
“Heya, squirt!” greeted Rainbow Dash; her attention turning to Scootaloo. “How’s it going?”
“I’m great! Thanks.”
“Heh, I hope so. Cuz that text you sent me the other day was a little weird. Thought you might be on the fritz or something.”
“Oh…uh no…” chuckled Scootaloo; a little unsure of what Rainbow was getting at.
“Looks like you girls happened by just in time,” continued Rainbow. “I was just about to suggest to AJ and Sunset that we hit the road. The championships will be starting soon!”
“No time ta waste then,” agreed Applejack.
“Yeah! I’m parked just outside the fence. Follow me!”
Everyone followed the rainbow haired teen. Applejack and Sunset filed in behind Rainbow, leaving the confused girls at the rear.
“What did she mean by “parked outside the fence”?” Sweetie Belle asked.
“No clue. But like everythang else here, we’ll just have ta wait an’ see,” replied Apple Bloom confidently.
And no sooner had Apple Bloom made that statement that the group had reached the fence.
“What is that?!” voiced Scootaloo.
Rainbow had come to a stop at some sort of…thing. Scootaloo wasn’t sure what to make of it; and her friends thought the same. A first glance revealed that it was some sort of huge brick. A brick with wheels – or at least they seemed to be wheels. Apple Bloom certainly thought they resembled some of the wheels that made up their carriages on the farm back home but these looked more metallic than wooden.
“AJ, you can ride shotgun with me. Sunset, I take it you’re fine with going in the back with the girls?”
“Of course, Rainbow.”
Up closer, the crusaders could clearly see that the brick looked like it had been cut in half with what looked to be seats filling the hole. There were two clearly marked seats at the front; one of which had another small wheel in front of it. Just beyond that was a slanted window, jutting out towards the seats.
Intrigued by the bigger wheels, Scootaloo went over to one of them and felt across the edge of its surface. The feel was familiar.
“Feels quite like rubber; like the balls we sometimes play with,” stated Scootaloo, aiming the observation at her friends.
“What’s the holdup?”
The crusader’s ceased their ogling and turned to Rainbow.
“Come on! Get in the car.” And with that, Rainbow Dash jumped right over into the seat with the small wheel.
“That must be what this thing is – a car,” whispered Sweetie Belle. The others nodded in understanding.
“So ah guess we jump over the side too?” supposed Apple Bloom, making a shrug gesture.
Scootaloo, being the closest to the “car”, decided to oblige the farm girl’s suggestion and rather clumsily placed her right foot over the side of the car while using all of her strength to get herself into the cream coloured seats. Her height however made things difficult as the side of the car was a little too high for her legs to maintain optimum balance.
Before long though, Scootaloo had made into the car – by falling onto her face all over the back seats.
“Are you ok, Scootaloo?” questioned a worried Sunset Shimmer. “You do know there are doors right?”
Shovelling her head out of the seats, she glanced back at her friends who had somehow managed to create an opening in the side of the car to allow them to enter it without jumping over it. Sweetie Belle simply waved awkwardly at the embarrassed Scootaloo. She turned to Sunset.
“Oh…right. I knew that.”
Scootaloo became fearful when Sunset’s expression remained unconvinced but a shadow of a smile began to make its way onto her face to the point where a small chuckle managed to escape.
“Well ok, Scoots. You two get yourselves seated too; we’ll be here for hours if this keeps up,” joked Sunset as she opened the door on her side and sat herself down next to Scootaloo.
The crusaders did as they were told and sat down on the two vacant spaces on the other side of Scootaloo.
“AB, close the door.”
“Oops, sorry,” said Apple Bloom, pulling the ajar door with enough force to close it.
“Sure took ya long enough!” Applejack said, taking her set as well. “Seatbelts, everyone!”
Unsurprisingly, the word didn’t strike a chord with any of the crusaders. Apple Bloom sighed softly.
Ugh…when will it end?!
Scootaloo was both thrilled and perplexed at the prospect of seeing Rainbow Dash in her first ever Wonderbolt air show since she became a Wonderbolt. Hanging out with Rainbow would have been enough to make the young human turned pony happy, but she had no idea what a Wonderbolt was. She would have asked Applejack, but naturally she didn’t want to give the earth pony any reason to suspect.
Though she could work out the obvious fact that an air show involved flying and since Equestria seemed to have a shortage of aircraft, it mostly likely meant that Rainbow Dash and a few others would be the ones flying. She too often forgot that she too was a pegasus now and didn’t always make use of her wings when the situation arose.
Scootaloo walked alongside her friends as they followed Applejack to the air show ground.
“So what do you expect to see?” she asked her friends softly.
“Ah guess they’d do things like in that military air show that Big Mac an’ I went ta see,” replied Apple Bloom. “Ya know, barrel rolls, loop de loops and some speedy fly-bys.”
“Though it will be interesting to see ponies flying in the place of aeroplanes,” added Scootaloo. “What do you think, Sweets?”
Scootaloo observed Sweetie Belle’s mind seemed elsewhere as the trio trotted along. Her head appeared to be locked into place as if all her focus was directed at just getting to her destination.
“Umm, Sweetie Belle?” the young pegasus poked a little louder.
Sweetie Belle twisted her head round, waking out of her trance. “Huh?”
“Are you alright?”
“Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?”
“I just asked you something and you didn’t reply.”
“You did?” Her face turned a little apologetic. “I’m sorry girls, I’ve just been thinking too much I guess.”
“What about, Sweetie Belle?” inquired Apple Bloom.
“I still don’t trust the way that dracon…oh no! I’ve forgotten it again.” She sighed. “I just fear that we’re going to get found out all because of my mistakes.”
“Hey, it’s not like it’s the end o’ the world if we do get found out.” Apple Bloom let out a nervous giggle. “Though, ah’m not entirely sure what would happen if our sister’s found out that we met ourselves as ponies an’ switched places with ‘em while lying ta their faces all the time.”
“But it’s not like we’d die or anything.” Scootaloo’s expression became unsure. “Right?”
Sweetie Belle felt even more worried and Apple Bloom shot an annoyed look at the pegasus.
“Listen, Sweetie Belle. We’re here to have fun! It may be a lil’ challenging but that’s what makes it worth it. And besides, we wouldn’t have agreed to this if we didn’t trust ourselves an’ ya know what ah mean when ah say that, don’ ya?”
Apple Bloom winked at Sweetie Belle, causing a smile to creep onto the unicorn’s face. Each of them looked away into the distance however, as the faint sound of roaring began to amplify through their eardrums.
“Well, looks like the show is bout’ ta start!” enthused Applejack. “Come on girls, double time!”
Applejack’s light trot turned into a gallop, scattering a dirt and dust trail behind her as she began to widen the distance between her and the fillies. The idea of using four legs to walk, however alien to them, was nothing compared to the prospect of running on four legs. The trio eyed each other uneasily, before they sucked down their courage and nodded knowingly.
“Three, two, o- SCOOTALOO!”
Before Apple Bloom could finish her countdown, Scootaloo was off like a shot. She got about ten metres away before her legs intertwined with each other and she fell to the ground. It didn’t tend to hurt much when it happened since she was now much closer to the ground when standing then if she was back to her biped self. As she got up, she saw the other two coming to her aid.
And then they whizzed by her.
“Bye, Scootaloo!” laughed Apple Bloom.
Scootaloo’s shock overwhelmed her; she couldn’t believe her friends were so heartless. But then I can. Grinding her teeth, she pursued the pair.
The noise of the crowd was far livelier by the time that the trio reached the site of the air show. Ponies high up in the erected stands were whistling and hollering in anticipation of the beginning of what would seem to be an exciting display. And Applejack was waiting for them at the bottom of one of the stands.
“You girls sure took yar time,” said Applejack.
“Yeah, we got delayed,” her sister responded, her attention wavering a little when a shadow zoomed over her head. It turned out to be a pegasus pony taking their seat in the stands.
“Well, we’re all sitting over there.”
Applejack gestured to a separate partition of the stands which looked to be carved in the same manner as Prinicpal Celestia’s box in the school auditorium. Twilight was already there along with Rarity and a pink pony who was scoffing down cotton candy. It didn’t take long for the crusaders to realise the party personality and sweetie gobbler that was Pinkie Pie.
The three of them followed Applejack up to the box in the stands and were greeted by the pink pony herself.
“Hi, everypony! Ready to cheer Dashie on in her first Wonderbolt AIR SHOW?!”
While the hyperactive attitude would have shocked most others, even in pony form, the human girls knew the pink party female all too well.
“Yeah, sure!” Sweetie Belle stated swiftly.
“Oooh, oooh, oooh! I even brought my PARTY CANNON!”
The cannon appeared out of nowhere and rocketed a blast of confetti all across the lower stands. The ponies below yelled even louder in excitement. Having shielded her eyes from the blast, Scootaloo lowered her hoof as she would her hand to find that Pinkie Pie was no longer there. Instead, she felt a pressure behind her and spun her head round to see Pinkie Pie stretching in front of them with an old-fashioned camera in her hoof.
“Say BEST AIR SHOW EVER!”
The crusaders repeated it nervously. “Best Air Show Ever!”
“Heehee, that’s a keeper. Ooooooooooh, more cotton candy!” Pinkie dashed away again to a vendor lower down in the stands. Twilight then approached them.
“You better sit down, girls. The show will begin shortly.”
The girls took their seats on the row just beneath their elder siblings. Apple Bloom had to admit that she found the process for a pony to sit down on something quite weird. Aside from the fact that horses in the human world didn’t talk; or fly; or use magic; the young farm girl wouldn’t have thought that ponies would have a need to sit down but rather just lie down. That said, Apple Bloom often found it hard to sit down in this body as when she was a human she only needed pop down whereas in pony form she had to jump up a little to get her rear on the seat.
Suddenly, a fanfare of trumpets filled the area and the crowd fell silent. A feedback noise echoed through the speaker and a female voice started to speak.
“Hello, everypony! It is certainly an exciting day, isn’t it? Welcome to the Ponyville Air Show. As mayor of our town, I’d like to wish everypony a great day out today. Now, without further due, I am pleased to present…THE WONDERBOLTS!”
As soon as the last syllable left the mayor’s mouth, a ferocious wind blew through the staging ground and in flew a number of pegasi and lightning speed. The noise from the crowd exploded and the trio found themselves caught up in the excitement. Scootaloo especially was transfixed in awe.
The daredevil pegasus watched as wind trails were etched across the sky by the skilled flyers while they performed death-defying stunts before the eyes of the crowd. She observed their garments; each flyer had goggles as well as a blue vest covering most of their body with a yellow lightning bolt sewed in.
Realisation hit Scootaloo; she had seen those colours before. Yellow and blue…that’s like CHS colours! Wait…Wonderbolts…Wondercolts…awesome!
Scootaloo continued to marvel at the air display going on in front of her, keeping a particular close eye on Rainbow Dash who was easily spotted by her rainbow coloured wind trail. The other crusaders were watching too, their eyes always on the flyers. Their attention was focused enough that they didn’t hear the conversation that was going on behind them.
Twilight, Rarity and Applejack were in a full conversation, occasionally adjusting their view.
“I do hope she doesn’t try anything too dangerous for her first air show,” said Rarity, a little anxious yet thrilled at the same time.
“If ah know Rainbow, she’ll wanna do just that!”
“I wouldn’t worry too much, Rarity. It’s a synchronised routine and the Wonderbolts all agree on it before they do a show.”
“I suppose you’re right, Twilight. Forgive me but I’ve been a bit worried as of late especially about Sweetie Belle.”
Twilight glanced down at Sweetie Belle, who was still admiring the show, and quietened her voice slightly. “Has something happened?”
“Well, not anything bad really but then again I can’t be sure. Sweetie Belle has just been acting a bit peculiar of late. Like for instance, yesterday evening she tried to carry her plate with her hooves when normally she would just use her magic and she said something odd about a…oh I’ve forgotten what it was.”
“I guess I’m just not used to her acting this way. She’s even been having trouble walking recently.”
“Really? That sure is strange,” Twilight remarked.
“Speakin’ o’ strange, Apple Bloom’s been acting a teensy out o’ character too. Kinda freaked me out when ah came home yesterday to see her able to walk on two legs perfectly. Ah can only do it fer so long without losin’ ma balance.”
“Maybe she’s been practicing?”
“Ah guess but ah dunno. Perhaps ah’m worrying over nothin’. Ah mean, we are sisters after all – it’s kinda our job.”
“Well, I don’t think these are causes for great concern but I’d recommend keeping an eye on them anyway.”
“Ah second that.” Applejack noticed the rest of the empty row. “Where’s Fluttershy at?”
“Oh, she’s sitting in the stands over there with Discord,” Twilight answered, propping a hoof at the pair’s location. “There they are.”
“Wait a minute, what are they doing?” asked Rarity, shock evident in her tone.
“Wow, I never knew Fluttershy had it in her!” beamed Twilight.
If the bow on Apple Bloom’s hair wasn’t as fixed as it had been, it may have been swept away by the wind blowing past her as the car drove through the city. They weren’t actually going too fast either; Apple Bloom could recall the Friendship Express going faster than this. It perhaps just felt like they were going fast with the constant sound the engine was making.
“Rainbow! Ya hear that noise that the engine's makin’? That means it wants turned up a gear!”
“Chillax, AJ! I like hearing my baby purr!”
“Glad ah don’ have your gas bill then!” retorted Applejack.
“The sound is getting quite deafening, Rainbow. Could you perhaps just put it up a gear already?” encouraged Sunset.
Scootaloo, being in the middle of the back of the car, noticed Rainbow’s hand touch the big stick directly in front of her. She sure played around with it a lot, her mind thought.
The car came to a stop outside the famed eatery. Everyone began to get out of the car; a much easier task for Scootaloo this time round. After exiting the car, the group ventured towards the window and peered in the store.
“Hey! Everyone else is here. Come on, let’s go!”
Everyone went towards the door, save for Sweetie Belle who was eyeing the bakery closely. It occurred to her that the Sugarcube Corner in Ponyville was a lot more iconic than the one here since it had the appearance of most other buildings on the street; with the exception of the striped awnings it featured. She was also surprised that the thought didn’t come to her sooner. Sugarcube Corner was not nearly the size for any tournament or championship; it was hardly even big enough for when Pinkie Pie threw one of her parties. So how could it be staging a sporting event?
Dismissing her thoughts for the moment, Sweetie Belle joined her friends in entering the bakery and they all were soon greeted by an unsurprisingly excited Pinkie Pie.
“Hey guys! Glad you could make it, hehe! I got off work for a while as I told the Cakes you guys were coming so let’s party!” Pinkie jumped high in the air.
“Woah, woah, woah! Pinkie, we’re just here to watch the championships. Nothing else,” stated Rainbow, gesturing for the pink party girl to calm down.
“I know! But whenever I’m around you girls it always feels like a party!”
“Aww shucks, Pinkie. That’s real sweet.”
“And speaking of sweet…” Sunset hinted, making Applejack blush for a moment. “Why don’t we sit down and order something already?! I could really go for a milkshake.”
“I hear that!” agreed Rainbow Dash.
Sunset and the girls proceeded to sit down on the nearest booth where Fluttershy and Twilight were already having a conversation; which abruptly ended as the two noticed the four of them joining their table.
“Oh hello, Sunset, Apple Bloom. Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo. You came to watch the games too?”
“Yes we have, Fluttershy. Has it started yet?”
“I don’t think so,” Twilight cut in. “It’s not supposed to start for another ten minutes but until they turn the TV on, we can’t know for sure.”
Just then, Pinkie Pie stood over the edge of the table. “Well, technically I’m not on duty but I figured it’d be easier if I handled the food, hehe! So what can I get ya?”
“I’ll take your finest vanilla milkshake, Pinkie,” said Sunset, patting her stomach.
“Me too,” added Apple Bloom.
“Me three,” finished Sweetie Belle. Both crusaders were stunned at how quickly they had responded.
“Heehee, look at you cuties. Fluttershy?”
“Oh can I just have a glass of water?” she said softly.
“I’ll take a chocolate milkshake, thanks.”
“Oh me too, please!” enthused Scootaloo.
“Great! I’ll be here with your drinks in a mo.” She started to dash off but Sunset called her in just the nick of time.
“Oh and Pinkie? Could you turn the TV on?”
“Oh, hehe. How silly of me!”
The girls watched as Pinkie went behind the counter and took out what looked like a black brick and pointed it at the corner of the room where a rectangular box of similar colour was hanging - it resembled a picture-less frame. However, the part where the picture would be suddenly burst into colour and a group of humans appeared on the screen. They were moving and talking in a way that suggested that they were doing this right now.
“And we are just moments away from the 800m World Series. The runners are taking up their starting positions.”
The ponies turned humans were astonished. The picture soon changed to other humans who looked dressed in sporty wear. It was like looking into another world; much like the portal for them. They could do nothing but continue to stare at it.
“Hey, Sunset? Could ya come ‘ere a moment?”
Sunset perked up at Applejack’s beckoning. She got up and walked over to the next booth along where Applejack, Rainbow Dash and Rarity were sat.
“What’s up, AJ?”
The farm girl wore a smirk on her face and Sunset was surprised when it wasn’t her that spoke first.
“Sunset, darling. Is what Applejack tells me true? Have you really…” She was unable to finish but rather the fashionista gave her a knowing look.
“Well, in a word, yes. Or should I say we did it.”
“Shush! Enough mushy talk. The race is about to start!”
“And they’re off!” came the announcement on the TV. “American born Wilson is off to a flying start but the Brit Watson is not far behind!”
“Go, Wilson, go!” encouraged Rainbow.
“That’s the ticket! Come on, Wilson!” Applejack said.
“You can do it, Watson!” Applejack and Rainbow shot Rarity a confused look. “What? Just because I live in America, doesn’t mean I won’t support my country of heritage. Sweetie Belle and I always cheer on Britain.”
“Just like I’d support Equestria if they were a team,” joked Sunset.
In the adjacent booth, Apple Bloom took her attention off the television for a moment when she heard Sunset’s gag. She couldn’t have heard that correctly.
Did she just say what ah thought she said? How could she know bout Equestria?
Apple Bloom searched her thoughts for what the human Apple Bloom had said to her about Sunset Shimmer.
“Oh an’ then there’s Sunset Shimmer. She did some crazy stuff way back when but she’s so nice now. She’s like a second sister to me! You’ll love her!”
“And Watson wins it by a hair!”
Groans and moans broke Apple Bloom out of her thoughts. “What?” She glanced at the box again. “Awww, ah missed it?!”
“Yeah, Watson won,” confirmed Twilight. “It was a close race though.”
“Did you not see it, Apple Bloom?!” asked Scootaloo, clearly thrilled by the action. “It was so tense! I can’t wait to see more!”
Then the picture on the box went back to black again.
“Hey! What gives?”
“Time for your drinks!” announced Pinkie Pie, coming along with a tray of varying refreshments.
“Aww, I wanted to see more.”
“Don’t worry, squirt,” said Rainbow, from across the other booth. “We can watch the rest at my house later. Sound cool?”
Scootaloo nodded excitedly. Meanwhile, Sunset grunted happily with a straw inside her mouth.
“Mmmm…this really does the trick. Drink up, girls!”
Other satisfied moans followed as everyone in the booth proceeded to drink. All except Apple Bloom, who thought deeply while she suck on her straw.
The week in the human world was shooting by like lightning and the pony crusaders had almost gotten used to the way of life…almost. For Apple Bloom, even the concept of the television was hard enough to understand. But over the course of the last three days, the young farm girl had been exposed to more whatchamacallits like a “computer”:
“So ya just push the letters here an’ then the words an’ moving things will come up…here?”
“That’s right! Gosh, Apple Bloom; it’s like you’ve never used a computer before!” Twilight had answered.
“Y’all don’ recognise a tractor when ya see one? Why, sis, we use the thing most every day ta plough the fields. Is yar memory on the fritz or summin’?”
And something Applejack called a “gun”:
“Now don’ tell me, ya don’ recognise Big Macintosh’s varmint gun? Ya practically want ta shoot it every time ya see it. Helps keep those coyotes an’ any would be varmints off our property. But o’ course, yar too young to operate summin’ like that!”
In addition to these new contraptions, all three crusaders had to learn some new skills; with one/two perhaps learning faster than the other two/one. For instance, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo took well to learning to write with hands – emphasising that it was much easier than using their teeth to hold the pencil – whereas Sweetie Belle who relied on her magic to levitate pencils or quills had to learn from scratch; earning some anxious looks from her older sibling.
Although it may have not been clear to Apple Bloom initially, she figured that Sweetie Belle was the pony…ahem person, that had been at the most disadvantage since coming into their new predicament. Without any of her unicorn magic, she was having to learn to do everything by hand; and even in Equestria, that would be some feat.
Unfortunately for the trio, they were in the human world. And none of them were quite aware of how much attention or suspicion they were attracting from their families. Apple Bloom however was determined to make the most of her time here, whatever the outcome. She had begun to like human life a lot and wasn’t ready to give up on it yet.
“There ya are…” reassured Apple Bloom as she emptied the bag of food into the trough. She had been surprised at just how much stronger she was; making tedious and repetitive tasks around the farm a lot quicker. Dressed in her farm dungarees, she quickly made short work of feeding Winona.
“Now your trough’s all full…Winona.” Apple Bloom listened as her pet dog neighed in front of her, elated by the offering of food. It was early in the afternoon, something Apple Bloom always knew to be home to lunchtime. Winona trotted up to the trough and began to gently put her nose into the feed, swishing her tail happily.
Apple Bloom still had trouble believing that the family dog in Equestria was the family horse in this world – her first equine contact after leaving her home world.
“How are ya?” she asked. The horse didn’t answer and kept on eating.
“Is that food good?” Still, Winona reminded silent.
“Can’t ya talk, Winona?”
“What ya talkin’ about, sis?”
Apple Bloom twisted her head to find Applejack carrying two light crates. She dropped them on the ground near the fence and then took a tissue from her pocket to wipe the sweat off her brow.
“Oh hey AJ, ah was just trying ta talk with Winona. Is she not in a mood for talkin’?”
“Nothin’ seemed out o’ the blue when ah last saw ta her,” Applejack answered as she approached the pair of them and reached her hand over to stroke Winona’s mane. “Isn’t that right, sugarplum?”
The horse whinnied at Applejack’s touch and the farm girl chuckled in her typical way.
“See? Now what did ah tell ya?”
“Ya mean, she doesn’t talk?” Apple Bloom burst out, without a second thought.
Applejack’s face scrunched up. “Well o’course not; animals don’ talk. Ah thought ya knew that, sis.” The farmer bit her tongue on her next sentence, thinking about it before saying the next part. “Ah mean, animals can talk in their own lil’ way but it’s just not summin’ we can understand. Has Miss Cheerilee not taught ya that already?”
Apple Bloom grinned sheepishly. “No…ah-ah guess not.” Her answer only increased the worry on her big sister’s expression.
Applejack bent down slightly to stand eye level with her younger sibling. “Apple Bloom? Is everythang alright? Ah’m getting a lil’ worried bout’ ya. The way ya’ve been acting around the farm and such; forgetting things all of o’ sudden. Yar not ill are ya?”
“No! Nothing like that, sis,” replied Apple Bloom, the guilt on her face becoming clearer and clearer.
Her elder sibling placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “Well if there is something going on, ya know ya can always tell yar big sis. Ya know better than anyone that ah don’ judge and it goes without saying that ah’ll support any decision ya make. We’re family after all.”
Tears were welling up in the corner of Apple Bloom’s eyes. Even if she wasn’t a pony, Applejack was still her sister and she couldn’t bear to keep on lying to her, or at least keep the truth hidden from her. She started to tense up as it became difficult to maintain her composure from the overwhelming guilt attempting to break out.
“Ah-ah know, sis, ah-” Apple Bloom paused. Was she really going to reveal to her sister of her true nature? That she was another version of Apple Bloom from a world of talking magical ponies? She knew her big sister wouldn’t dismiss any such idea, no matter how weird, just as long as she didn’t suppose that Apple Bloom was lying to her. And AJ had a pretty good built-in lie detector.
Apple Bloom sighed in defeat, her nerves simply buckling under the pressure. “Well, sis, ya see-”
“Hey, you two!”
Both of them turned to the surprise interjection from over near the barn. Sunset Shimmer could be seen waving at them from over near the barn with a greeting smile. Applejack took her attention off the relieved Apple Bloom and walked over to Sunset. The two met midway between the barn and the corral fence and embraced each other lovingly.
“Howdy, Sunset. What brings ya here? Ya need somethin’?” began the apple farmer.
“Acutally, AJ, I’m just here to return your phone. You left it at mine last night. Of course, I could completely understand why you’d forget it.” Sunset reached into the side pocket of her skirt an pulled out an iconic apple themed mobile which she handed to the apple farmer. “Found it under the bed sheets, wouldn’t ya know.”
Applejack’s cheeks turned a little red at that. “He-he, Apple Bloom, why don’ ya go…”
The sassy sibling was nowhere to be found. Sunset had no doubt in her mind that she spotted the two of them from a distance but the little farmer had scurried off somewhere. Concern filled her.
“Did something happen?”
Applejack placed her left arm on her side and scratched her head with the other. “Ah can’t rightly be sure.” She turned back to Sunset. “But ah reckon there’s really summin’ bothering her. She’s not happy or acting normal. I’m startin’ to get worried.”
Sunset laid a reassuring hand on the concerned farmer’s shoulder. “We will get to the bottom of this. So, what else has added to Apple Bloom’s weird behaviour?”
“Well, Sunset, ah’m not sure if this is me being a lil’ nosy about ma sister’s education but she’s been spoutin’ a lot o’ nonsense lately and ah dunno if Miss Cheerilee is teachin’ her this stuff. Crazy stuff like animals being able to talk; the clouds being controlled by people; the way that a-”
“Wait, backtrack! What was that?”
Applejack responded to the interruption swiftly. “She asked me yesterday who controlled the clouds an’ whether people were responsible fer makin’ it rain an’ such. T’was the strangest thang; Ah know fer sure that their teacher woulda taught them about the water cycle by now. Ah told her that the clouds moved on their own an’ she gave me a look – that kinda look where ya can’t quite believe summin’s real!”
“And then…” While Applejack continued to retell the events over the last few days, Sunset Shimmer’s neurons began to drum into deep thought. Were her most unlikely suspicions actually coming to light? Even now, her sense battled just as hard at the initial ideas she had had. It couldn’t be a coincidence; there was too much about this that reminded her of Equestria. But could have Apple Bloom and her friends really been there?
It’s not impossible…
As Sunset finished off her train of deep thought, the sound of Applejack calling her name began to seep into her conscious, gaining in frustration all the while.
“Huh? Oh sorry, AJ. I actually think I know what’s wrong with Apple Bloom.”
“Really? What ya thinkin’?”
Sunset Shimmer hesitated. “I hope you’ll forgive me, AJ, but I think it’s better if I talk to Apple Bloom about this first. I believe that she can tell you herself if I can confront her about it – assuming it is what I believe it to be.”
The farmer looked a little put out but soon warmed to the idea and smiled. “Sure, Sunset. Ah can respect that. Good luck.”
“Thanks for understanding, AJ. I know it’s hard for you to put your trust in me when it comes to your own family.”
Applejack chuckled. “You’re my family too now, remember?”
“Oh!” Sunset blushed. “Uhmm, yeah. I guess I am.”
Apple Bloom ran as fast as she could in no direction in particular; just anywhere that didn’t mean she was about to blurt out her true nature to her guilt-tripping sibling. Running off probably wouldn’t have helped matters though, she may have just made Applejack even more suspicious. And then there was Sunset.
Ever since that day in Sugarcube Corner, Apple Bloom was especially wary of Sunset Shimmer whenever she was close. It could have been something she misheard but if Sunset was truly from Equestria, she wasn’t going to take any chances.
What if she’s already found out?!!!!
Apple Bloom quickly glanced back to check the pair weren’t following her and grunted in pain as her entire body came to a halt after hitting something solid. The solid object wasn’t inanimate however and made a rather surprised grunt of her own.
“Woah! Watch where you’re going, Apple Bloom!”
The startled girl looked up to see Rainbow Dash directing some annoyed eyes at her.
“Oh s-sorry, Rainbow Dash! Ah didn’t see you.”
“Clearly.” The athletic teen rolled her eyes. “What are you running from anyway?”
“Oh hey Apple Bloom, are you alright?” Scootaloo appeared behind Rainbow, her face wide with interest.
“Yeah, ah’m fine, Scoots. Ah just shoulda watched where ah was goin’.”
“Heh, don’t sweat it, Apple Bloom,” replied Rainbow Dash, seeming to have forgotten about her earlier question. “I was just on my way to work with the weather team when Scootaloo asked if she could come with.”
But ah thought AJ told me that humans don’ control the weather?
“Ya mind if ah come too?” asked a suddenly intrigued Apple Bloom.
Rainbow tensed up a little. “Well, I…I dunno.”
“Oh that’s ok then,” the young farm girl replied, evidently quite dejected.
“Wait! Uh….you can come. But you need to promise that you won’t tell your sister or my friends about this? Ok?”
“Great! Good to have you tag along, Apple Bloom,” enthused Scootaloo. “It’s always good to have somepony near,” she whispered. Apple Bloom nodded in reply.
“Well, we best be getting a move on if your joining us, Apple Bloom. Come on!”
It took a while but the three of them managed to follow Rainbow Dash to a cellar door on the left side of CHS. Scootaloo looked confused at the lack of equipment needed for controlling the skies but blamed that on her lack of knowledge of the human world. She observed as Rainbow approached the cellar door and knocked twice on the wooden material.
“Password?” came a voice through the wooden cracks.
“Cumulonimbus!” answered the rainbow haired teen.
The cellar door opened with a wooden creak. A boy with a yellow shirt and nerdy looking glasses stood in the entryway.
“Hey Dash! Welcome! The guys will be glad you’re here.”
“Thanks. I’ve got some friends with me. That cool?”
“Whatever’s cool for you, is cool for us, Dash!”
The boy began to walk away, prompting Rainbow and the girls to follow him in.
Wait, why are we going inside? Shouldn’t weather stuff be done outside?
The three reached the bottom of the stairs, where Scootaloo alongside Apple Bloom could see the various instruments and computers that filled the room. Everyone was wearing white coats that went down beyond their waist and most had glasses on too – quite similar to that of the boy in the entryway. The machinery in the room was emitting soft beeping noises, some of them flashing red occasionally too.
It wasn’t long before a familiar face ran up and greeted them. “Hey Dash! And hey girls, fancy seeing you here.”
Twilight was dressed in the same fashion as the others, making a slight tune of her glasses with her hands. She then gave Rainbow a questioning look.
“But I thought you didn’t want people knowing?”
“I don’t, but they said they’d keep it a secret. Right, girls?” The girls nodded neutrally. “See? So what’s new, Twi?”
“Lots. There’s a new weather front coming in and we think we might have predicted a nearby tornado!”
“Woah! I need to see that!”
Rainbow shot off to the nearest terminal and Scootaloo could see her focusing hard as she worked the keys. She and Apple Bloom followed her and watched her at work. The computer she was using had various squares and lines crossing through each of them.
“Oh girls,” Rainbow started, getting Apple Bloom and Scootaloo’s attention. “Thanks for keeping my secret by the way. If the others found out about this, they might think I’m an egghead. Well except for Twilight, she’s already one and she keeps quiet about it.”
Scootaloo nodded in understanding but replied with a question. “What is this anyway?”
Rainbow looked surprised, giving Scootaloo her full attention. “I’m surprised you don’t remember, squirt. I’ve taken you here before.”
Scootaloo laughed sheepishly. “Oh…you did?”
“Yeah, though you were kinda bored by it. Meteorology isn’t for everyone.”
“Meteor…what?” asked Apple Bloom.
“Meteorology. The study of the weather. In this society, we can actually predict the likelihood of a hurricane occurring or the complexity of an occluded cold front and so much more. It’s so awesome!”
“So you can’t control the weather?” Scootaloo asked.
“Of course we can’t. No-one can! But we can predict what might happen. And that’s what makes meteorology the coolest thing ever!!!”
Scootaloo was dumbfounded. Wow, this world’s Rainbow Dash is a HUGE egghead.
Life in Equestria had proved difficult for the human crusaders to understand at first but in the short space of the last three days, they had almost mastered using their new forms.
For Apple Bloom, it had simply been an education in manipulating her new hooves to use the tools around the farm that were in no way different to those in her world. She was beginning to love the new way of farming – she found a real thrill out of using her hind legs to buck apple trees than just picking them with her hands.
Hands still had their uses in Equestria however. An earth pony trying to write a letter for instance was pretty challenging since they lacked either magic or movable digits to direct the pencil efficiently. Using one’s teeth wasn’t the best way to go about it; Apple Bloom recalled snapping a few pencils in her attempts to write a letter to Princess Celestia that Applejack had told her to do.
Scootaloo faired in much the same way. She discovered using her scooter to be less a strain on her legs, now that she had wings to propel her forward. Though that in turn had lead to some tuckered out wings.
And Sweetie Belle had come a long way in her spellcasting. After some rigorous study and concentration, the human turned pony was able to do the most basic of levitation spells – as was expected of a filly her age. In fact, the young unicorn now had the easiest time out of the crusaders at posing as a regular pony.
It came in handy today as Sweetie Belle levitated a teapot from the kitchen and onto the living room coffee table, followed closely by, “Sugar?”
“Yes please, Sweetie Belle,” Rarity replied, an appreciative smile on her face. “Two cubes, if you don’t mind.”
Sweetie Belle hastened to the task of levitating the lid off of the sugar jar and setting it aside before using her magic again to lift two sugar cubes into the air and plop them into her elder sister’s teacup.
“Much obliged, sister.” Rarity took a sip of her tea and giggled softly. “Ooooh, that really does hit the spot. Your spell ability is coming along well, Sweetie Belle. I really am proud of you.”
The young unicorn’s face lit up with joy. It was always pleasing to hear comments from her hard to impress sibling; even more so considering she wasn’t used to having a horn on her head.
“Thanks!” she said.
“You’re most welcome, Sweetie Belle. I feel so stupid for worrying about you a few days ago. I guess we all have days where we act out of sorts and say things we don’t mean, right?”
Sweetie Belle nodded. “Umm….yeah. I suppose we do.”
She propped herself comfortably on the living room couch next to Rarity and relaxed. However, as if on cue, a faint rumbling began to shake the walls of Carousel Boutique causing the young filly to flinch.
“What was that?”
“What was what?” Rarity queried. The building shook again, this time a lot more violent that Rarity’s coat rack toppled over. “What in Celestia?”
The front door jolted open, causing the two of them to jump. “Rarity! Something really really bad is heading towards Ponyville. I’m freaking out here!”
Even without sight, the pair could recognise the hyperactive behaviour of Pinkie Pie. “Ooh, and Twilight told me to tell you that we’re all gathering outside the Town Hall so that we can figure out what to do which is funny since it already sounds like Twilight knows what to do and we do this all the time and-
“Nevermind, just come real fast!” And with that, the pink pony dashed away.
Rarity turned to her frantic looking sister. “Oh gracious, I’d better see what’s going on. Stay safe, Sweetie Belle!” She made to leave, but felt a tugging of her fur by her sister.
“What’s happening, Rarity?!! Is it an earthquake?!”
“I’m not sure what it is but I don’t think an earthquake makes sounds like footsteps, darling! Now I’ll be back, please don’t worry, Sweetie Belle. I shan’t be long.”
Sweetie Belle reluctantly let go of the alabaster unicorn’s fur and watched as her sister ran towards the door and closed it abruptly behind her – leaving the younger sibling on her own in the boutique.
She felt alone and worried for the first time since first venturing into Equestria. Her eyes widened at even the smallest creaks and sounds coming from the boutique itself. The thundering pounds of the earth outside punched whimpers out of her. Grabbing her tail and stroking it, she closed her eyes as she eagerly anticipated the return of her sister or even the halt of the stomps coming from outside.
The unicorn screamed at the ferocious roar emanating from outside the shop. She was really frightened now. Wrapping herself up, the filly began to sob and whisper softly to herself.
“I-I-I want to go home…please…please just be a dream…”
Sweetie Belle continued to cry as the unknown terror persisted in shaking the ground and roaring fiercely. She didn’t want to hear anymore. Grabbing a nearby pillow, she buried her head into it; shutting out all other sounds than that of her weeping.
“Swe…Belle!” The filly heard a muffled cry of her name through the fabric of the pillow and loosened her grip on the pillow to open a bit of the airway to her ears.
“Sweetie Belle! Sweetie Belle!” The filly felt a touch of hooves against her, shaking her back and forth. The filly ceased her sobbing to sniffle while she hoisted her head out of the pillow to see what had been shaking her.
“Sweetie Belle! Are you ok?” Recognising the raspy voice, Sweetie Belle’s pupils refocused onto the body of Scootaloo. She whimpered at the sight of her and grabbed her in a tight hug, commencing her crying again.
Scootaloo, out of understanding of the situation, accepted the hug and attempted to comfort the desolate filly. “Don’t worry, Sweetie Belle! Me and Apple Bloom are here.”
“O’ course, Sweetie Belle. No need ta fret now.” Apple Bloom’s words came from behind her. Breaking the hug while still sniffling occasionally, she turned her head to find Apple Bloom there beside her like Scootaloo. She had a friendly yet concerned smile on her face, something which still hinted that she too was a little scared.
“Don’t you…g-guys know what’s happening?”
“Can’t miss it.” And on cue, the ground shook coupled with a faint roar in the distance.
“Well…whimper…aren’t you scared?”
“Well, yeah but…there’s no reason ta be scared now that ah have ma best friends with me, right?”
“Sniffle…no, I-I guess not…” Sweetie Belle admitted. Her sorrowful trembling died down and her sadness reduced to just a wide frown. “I’m glad you girls came to save me.”
“Well technically, we’re not saving you. I still don’t know what’s going on. Apple Bloom and I were hanging out with Rainbow Dash when it happened and then we rushed straight over here. We’re just helping each other out like friends do,” Scootaloo stated.
“Well, I’m still really grateful to both of you.”
“Don’t mention it, Sweets. Now, how bout’ we get r’selves out o’ here?” suggested Apple Bloom.
“WHAT?! You mean out there?” cried Sweetie Belle.
“Hey, ah’m scared too. But AJ, my human sister that is, always taught me ta never be inside in an emergency an’ that’s just what we gotta do!”
Sweetie Belle looked at Apple Bloom’s serious face intently; its significance not even slightly watered down considering it was a pony looking at her. “Ok, l-let’s go.”
“That’s the spirit, Sweetie Belle.” Scootaloo added.
The trio emerged from the boutique to find a rather big crowd gathered around the centre of town. Although the trembling of the ground hadn’t stopped, it was a lot less violent. They rushed up to see the ruckus and gawked at the scene in front of them.
The princess along with her friends, and Rarity noted by Sweetie Belle, were fighting hand to hand with a wild beast of enormous size. Sweetie Belle noticed it had scales and a big long neck with wings jutting out from its sides. Its talons could cut ponies in half with a single slash. From all of her fiction back at CHS, Sweetie Belle knew this to be a dragon.
And they’re winning? The little unicorn couldn’t believe what she was witnessing; that a monstrous dragon was losing against her sister and her friends. Rainbow Dash looked to be giving the beast a pummelling, diving into it from high above whereas Rarity was using her magic to manipulate the objects nearby to add to their victory effort.
After a few minutes of fight, the dragon let out a final roar which died down almost immediately as a talon was sliced off my a sonic rainbooming Rainbow Dash, causing it to squeal in pain and subsequently fly off in retreat. A huge cheer came from the crowd save for the crusaders who were still gobsmacked.
Eventually, the ponies dispersed and Sweetie Belle watched as the six heroes hugged and went their separate ways too. Rarity came over to her sister.
“Are you alright, Sweetie Belle? That dragon was rather fierce.” Rarity asked, her voice quite relaxed yet still anxious.
“Yeah…but how on earth did you defeat a dragon?”
Rarity smiled. “I sometimes don’t know myself. But when you have friendship, anything is possible. Besides, it’s happened before. Don’t you remember when Spike turned into a big dragon?”
“Ummm…sure, I remember.”
“Well, that’s quite enough excitement for one day anyway. Let’s go back to having tea, Sweetie Belle.”
Sweetie Belle was still froze with shock. What just happened?
The treehouse had a rather quaint feel to it as it entered the gaze of Sunset Shimmer. It was always a welcome sight to see one for Sunset – it reminded her of when she too was a filly in Equestria dreaming of learning all there was to know about the beauty of magic. A past long forgotten by the red haired teen, consumed by all the treacheries she had committed.
Approaching the ladder that led up to treehouse, Sunset grabbed hold of the rope and put her full weight on the ladder; causing it to swing slightly. It was able to hold her; she had been up several times after all. Pulling herself over the top and onto the landing, she walked towards the entrance.
“Hey, are you girls there?”
A moment went before she got a reply. “I’m here. But Apple Bloom and Scootaloo aren’t.”
It didn’t take a genius to work out that Sweetie Belle had been the one to answer her. “Can I come in, Sweetie Belle?”
“Sure!” confirmed Sweetie Belle, quite happy at the thought of company.
Sunset opened the door and smiled at Sweetie Belle who seemed to be sitting down at the back wall, writing something. Upon Sunset’s entry, she returned the teen’s gesture.
“What are you working on?” asked Sunset as she made to sit beside the crusader.
“Oh just writing stuff,” was the reply. She seemed pretty private about it, Sunset noted.
“Cool. So where are the others?”
Sweetie Belle stopped writing for a moment to answer Sunset’s question. “Scootaloo was here but then Rainbow Dash stopped by on her way to some event at the school she had on and Scoots went with her.”
At school during the summer? I’ll bet it's her meteorology club she tries to hide from us.
“I haven’t seen Apple Bloom today. Perhaps she’s with Rainbow and Scootaloo?”
“I’m not sure. But I wanted to talk with Apple Bloom.”
That raised Sweetie Belle’s attention. “Why?”
“Applejack is worried about her. And so am I. I believe there’s something that she’s not telling us and I wanted to confront her about it. Do you know anything, Sweetie Belle?”
The crusader hesitated. “No, I don’t, sorry.” She turned back to her writing, dropping the pencil a few times as she wrote.
Sunset peered closer to what Sweetie Belle was writing without making it seem that she was peeking at her work. She was a little shocked. Normally, Sweetie Belle was the best at handwriting out of her friends and Sunset recalled numerous times when her teacher had commended her for it. At the moment however, she was clearly having trouble holding the pencil and whatever she was writing was incomprehensible and illegible.
“You know, I was just thinking the other day. Things are much easier with your horn aren’t they?”
“Oh, Sunset, you don’t know the half of it. I can’t even write…” She trailed off as the realisation hit her of what she had just heard - and more importantly what she had just replied with. “Oh no…”
Sweetie Belle was horrified at the smirk that Sunset’s face now illustrated. She was at a complete loss for words. A little cautious about the new situation, the crusader shimmied away from Sunset; who noticed her anxiety.
“Sweetie Belle, please. You’re not in any trouble. I just wanted to be sure of the truth.”
The truth? It's a lot more than just the truth! “How…how did you know I was a unicorn?”
Sunset smiled. “Lucky guess. And for the most part, my writing was also terrible for my first few weeks here. Since I had to use my hands instead of unicorn magic.”
Sweetie Belle’s fear now turned to bewilderment. Unless Sunset had not meant to phrase it in that way, the teen sitting close to her was from Equestria too.
“You mean, you…you were a unicorn?”
“Yeah, I was. I still am. Changing into a human didn’t alter who I am underneath. I’m still a unicorn in Equestria.”
Mindblown. That word was all Sweetie Belle’s brain could process at this moment. It felt scary, to know that the person watching you from day one knew everything about where you come from and your way of life there. At the same time though, it was comforting as well as exciting; quite like when she had met her counterpart for the first time.
“So where did you live?”
Sunset smiled and closed the gap that Sweetie Belle had created. “I grew up in Canterlot. During my fillyhood, I enrolled in Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns and eventually went on to become Princess Celestia’s student.”
“Yeah, like Twilight. I was the princess’s student when Twilight was still a filly.”
Sweetie Belle nodded in comprehension. "But, in this world, Twilight's around your age so how does that work?"
"I think the simple answer is that humans age slower than ponies. The human year is a lot bigger than the Equestrian year."
"So why did you leave Equestria?”
Sunset sighed, her face taking on a sadder expression. “I got frustrated with how quickly I was learning about magic. I became impatient and wanted to be powerful like Celestia, but for the wrong reasons. When the princess wouldn’t allow me what I wanted, I fled.”
Sunset’s tone saddened again as she continued. “I fled into this world in the hope of planning my revenge out of Celestia’s reach. I became even crueller in my desire for power and then when I got the opportunity I tried to steal Twilight’s crown to enact my masterplan of taking over Equestria.”
Sunset looked briefly at Sweetie Belle, who was surprisingly un-phased by most of the story.
“After Princess Twilight and her friends defeated me, they gave me another chance and welcomed me in as one of their friends. And here I am now, trying to make amends for my mistakes. I couldn’t be more grateful to Twilight for showing me the magic of friendship.”
After Sunset concluded her story, Sweetie Belle smiled. “Wow, that’s quite a story.”
“Yeah, it’s a doozy,” Sunset admitted. Remembering her initial purpose in visiting, the teen soon perked up. “So…are you sure there’s nothing wrong with Apple Bloom?”
Sweetie Belle blushed, causing Sunset to swallow a giggle. “Well, I sup- wait! You’re not going to tell anyone are you?”
Sunset put an arm around Sweetie Belle. “Well that will depend on how cooperative you are. I’m really just worried about you three, really. If you don’t tell me what’s going on, I’ll have no choice but to tell your sisters. But if you do tell me, I can keep it a secret until I can be sure of whether this is safe or not. Sound fair?”
Sweetie Belle sighed. “I guess…”
“I came here with Apple Bloom and Scootaloo from Equestria, so I guess that answers your question.”
Sunset nodded and then interrogated the unmasked unicorn further. “So where are this world’s Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo?”
“They’re in Equestria.” Sweetie Belle blushed as she recounted the next part. “We sorta made a bet on whether we would get found out for being impostors if we switched places. Guess we didn’t fare so well, huh?”
Sunset laughed. “Well you had everyone else fooled. It was just dumb luck that you ran into an exiled unicorn like me. And I really must say I’m impressed by how well you’ve adjusted to the human world. If I were to guess, you switched places just when I picked you girls up from the school, right?”
Sweetie Belle’s face turned ever so slightly worried. “Yes?”
“Hmmm. Which means you must have used Twilight’s portal to get here?”
“Is that what that was? I didn’t know it belonged to Twilight.”
“Well you had to have stepped into a mirror-like gateway right? From Twilight’s Castle?”
Sweetie shook her head. “We were nowhere near Twilight’s. The portal was at the back of this great boulder in Equestria. And when we stepped through it, we wound up here.”
“Did you come out of the portal facing a statue? Like that Wondercolt statue in front of CHS?”
“Uh-uh. We saw it afterwards but we came out into this world in some thick bushes.”
Sunset pondered on that. Thick bushes?
A moment passed before Sweetie Belle’s anxiety kicked in. “W-What are you going to do, Sunset?”
Sunset turned her attention back to the worried pony. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell Rarity or anything. But I think I’m gonna take a look for that portal. Do you remember where it is?”
Sweetie Belle shook her head. “I honestly can’t.”
Sunset looked intently at her before standing up and walking to the door. Looking back, she saw Sweetie Belle’s wavering happiness.
“Trust me, Sweetie Belle. No matter who you are in Equestria, you’re a human now. And I’m not going to treat you any less kindly or more harshly than the Sweetie Belle I know…cuz it’s you! Anyway, I'd better go."
And that she did.
A rustling of leaves and a mucked up jacket. That was the reward for Sunset’s fruitless labour as she searched for this other portal to Equestria. The bushes around Canterlot High were dense and enshrouding; hardly anything could be seen within the jungles it possessed. Not to mention, the soil clinging to her shoes and the little bits of twig that had seeped into her clothes - poking her as she searched.
“Pfft, no wonder I’ve never seen this portal if it’s this hard to find!” she said aloud to herself.
Another few minutes of scrounging went by before Sunset got a fortunate surprise.
“Hey Sunset, whatcha doing?”
Sunset poked her head back out of the bushes and it happened upon Rainbow Dash and the girls; just like Sweetie Belle had told her. They both gave their mentor a greeting smile though Sunset caught a glimmer of worry in Apple Bloom.
“Hey, Rainbow! Sweetie Belle told me you guys were here. I was actually trying to find something.”
Rainbow’s smile grew larger. “Need any help?”
“It’s not a biggie. Though…I could use Apple Bloom’s help.”
Apple Bloom looked stunned. “Why me?” she asked abruptly.
“Because I think you would be very good at helping me. Won’t you please, Apple Bloom?” encouraged Sunset, who completely caught onto Apple Bloom’s anxiety.
Apple Bloom considered it. She was also considering all the eyes that were being directed at her, even from her equine in common, Scootaloo.
“Uhh…sure. Ah’ll help ya, Sunset.”
Sunset smiled. “Great! If you can stay here and help me then; I’m sure we can let Rainbow Dash get on with whatever she needs to do.”
“That is, if she has anything,” she added, looking over at her friend.
“Nah, not really. I was just gonna chill with Scoots at my house and play video games. Are you sure you don’t need any more help?”
“I should be fine with just Apple Bloom’s help,” she confirmed, as Apple Bloom walked over and stood next to her.
“Cool. I’ll catch ya later then, Sunset! Come on, squirt.”
“Bye, AB!” Scootaloo waved to her crusader friend, clearly happy about spending more time with her adopted big sister.
After the duo were out of sight, Apple Bloom noticed that the warm smile on Sunset’s face was now a rather large smirk. Her eyes were narrowed and she had her arms folded. She was clearly cross with her and she could understand why. But why is she smiling?
“Hey, Sunset, ah’m…ah’m awful sorry for runnin’ off like that earlier. Ah was uhhh…”
“I wouldn’t worry about it, Apple Bloom. I already know what’s going on.”
Apple Bloom’s face turned to shock faster than she could even say ‘horseapples’. She struggled to remain standing - in her mind, the little filly was cowering in fear.
“H-h-how did ya find out?”
“Sweetie Belle. She told me everything.”
Sweetie Belle? No…
Apple Bloom found herself subconsciously being backed into a corner; her legs beginning to do just that. Her head shook in disbelief as the farm girl created distance between herself and Sunset. She was about to set to run when Apple Bloom stumbled on a rock behind her and fell to her knees; leaving the seemingly menacing Sunset standing over her. She burst into tears and choked as she spoke.
“PLEASE, SUNSET!! PLEASE, DON’T BE MAD!! AH’M SORRY FER LYING TA YA AND…”
The last parts became incomprehensible as Apple Bloom continued to bawl her eyes out in front of Sunset; her pleads dying away into gibberish whimpering. To her utter surprise, Sunset bent down, grabbed Apple Bloom close and also began crying softly.
“I’m not angry at you. I’ll never be unfair to you. I’m sorry if what I said seemed unkind, that wasn’t my intention.”
Sunset let out a soft whimper. “I’m just glad that I know that nothing’s wrong with you. I’ve been so worried the last few days about you, Apple Bloom. And Applejack has too.”
As Apple Bloom took in Sunset’s words, her crying subsided - leaving her with a sense of confusion even if she felt more at ease. After the two parted, Apple Bloom looked questioningly at Sunset, who was still knelt at eye level with her.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re equine or not. You’re still Apple Bloom and I love you. I love all of you. I won’t ever let you guys down.”
Apple Bloom’s eyes filled again with tears, this time a wide smile crossing her lips. It was really strange that someone would ever say those words to her; particularly one who had only been known to her for less than week. The reality of living in a different world didn’t change the fact that her personality was the same to everyone, whether they were humans or ponies. And the crusader couldn’t deny the strong connection she felt between Sunset and herself. Someone she could depend on and put her utmost faith in. Just like Applejack. Just like another sister.
“Ah love ya too, Sunset.” Apple Bloom said softly, wiping away her tears to get a good look at Sunset’s appreciative smile. As the two of them stood up, Sunset looked ready to ask the humanised pony another question.
“Now, can you guess what I’m looking for? Do you know where it is?”
Apple Bloom didn’t look so surprised at that. “Yeah. It’s right over there.” She pointed to a place in the bushes much further down from where Sunset had been looking and began to walk towards it.
Sunset followed Apple Bloom, who didn’t look at all nervous about showing her the portal. She stayed back as the crusader ventured into the bushes alone before beckoning Sunset to follow her in. The spot did seem rather secluded, Sunset lamented; her face soon turning to face the portal and her eyes recognizing it instantly.
Unlike the portal below the statue, it was completely transparent – enabling any passer-by to poke their eyes in at the beauty of Equestria. She could clearly make out the landscape, after having seen it a few times from Canterlot. The style of the portal itself looked so familiar to that of the portals that Twilight had summoned during her and Sunset’s confrontation at the Friendship Games a while back. Sunset’s mind clicked at that thought.
I shut the portals with the magic that my friends gave me, right? I guess I must have missed this one.
Whatever the case, the portal looked harmless. Until someone OR somepony OR both happened to catch a glimpse of the other world and either freak out or in this scenario, change places.
Sunset approached the portal cautiously, sticking her hand into the portal to check for any abnormalities. Everything seemed ok.
“What are you going to do?” Apple Bloom asked.
“I’m going to check if the others are alright. I don’t think I’ll be long but I would head back to the farm in any case, Apple Bloom. AJ is worried about you and it would be good if you could tell her what’s going on. Can you do that?”
“Yeah, ah guess. Now that ya know, ah guess ah’m not so scared anymore.”
“That’s the spirit, Apple Bloom. Wish me luck!” Sunset was about to immerse her full body within the portal before the concerned crusaders tugged her back slightly.
“Wait! What if ya get lost? Bein’ a pony fer the first time can be difficult ta get the hang of, let alone bein’ a human!”
Sunset smiled. “Then, it’s lucky I was a unicorn once.”
She giggled at the newfound shock on Apple Bloom’s face and jumped through.
Another crimson sunset was on the horizon again it seemed. It would be gone in a matter of minutes; much shorter than the length of sunsets back home, thought Scootaloo. It had been quite a day of excitement seeing Rainbow Dash and the others fend off an invading dragon. The thought gave the young filly goosebumps just thinking about it.
Though she wouldn’t wish for it to happen again on her life. Still, the prospect didn’t seem as fearful to the ponies in Ponyville – seeing as they had crowded round the spectacle in the first place rather than hiding in their homes. Even in the early hours of the evening, she could see abundance of activity in the market as she scooted along past; with ponies packing their wares up for the day. It seemed strange to live in a town where everything was just so convenient. The human crusaders lived quite a bit away from each other; Scootaloo had to take a bus to visit Sweetie Belle and an even longer one to see Apple Bloom. Having the houses so close within the town felt a little strange but it was a welcome change.
Besides, she could fly now or at least have the potential to fly like Rainbow Dash at the Fall Formal. Funnily enough, she was beginning to miss her mentor. The time spent with Rainbow in Equestria was just as good as she would get back home but the face of the person who accepted her as a sister is what she truly missed. Life as pegasus was exciting and all but Scootaloo had to admit that the familiarity of human life was more compelling.
Well, it was only a couple more days before they would reconvene and go back to normal. Yet-
“Oooof!” Scootaloo exclaimed, a little startled by the sudden collision. She readjusted her helmet which had now flopped halfway onto her face. Looking up, her eyes fell upon the neutral and equally surprised red freckled face of Big Macintosh.
“Oops, sorry Big Mac!”
Big Mac simply rolled his eyes and turned his head back to the cart in front of him. Scootaloo blinked and readied herself to make an awkward and hasty retreat.
Scootaloo barely got ten feet before she stopped and looked round to see if the query was directed at her. Looking behind her, she could see an unfamiliar pony addressing Big Mac.
“I was wondering if you could help me.”
Scootaloo recognised the mare’s voice, it seemed oddly familiar to her. Scootaloo half-turned her head back to its original position so that her ears were still in hearing range of the conversation.
“Wait…are you Big Machintosh?”
“Oh, sorry. I’m a friend of Applejack.
Scootaloo’s mind clicked. That voice…
Scootaloo followed her mind’s first instinct and darted towards the nearest building, concealing herself from view yet still in hearing range of the conversation.
“I was hoping you might be able to help look for someone…I mean somepony…”
It can’t be… Scootaloo peered her head round the corner cautiously.
“Have you seen Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle or Scootaloo anywhere?”
Scootaloo gasped and quickly shot her head back to avoid the searching eyes of Apple Bloom’s brother. Her heart began to race as the reality of the situation caught up with her.
“Huh…ah coulda sworn…”
“What is it?”
“Uh…ah saw Scootaloo pass by not long ago. Ah dunno bout’ Sweetie Belle, but Apple Bloom should be home with AJ ah reckon.”
“Right. Umm…where is Sweet Apple Acres?”
Scootaloo risked peering round at the mention of her best friend’s home.
“Oh…ah guess ah can take ya with me. Just as soon as ah load this here cart.”
“Sure. Hey, do you want some help with that?”
The mare began to walk only to tumble down a little while after – it earned a concerned look from the farmer.
“Sorry, I lost my footing…I mean hoofing...I’m not from Ponyville.”
Scootaloo had seen enough. What that mare just said only confirmed the unreal suspicions she had. Scootaloo darted her head back and began to pant. She needed to get out of here.
And more importantly, warn Apple Bloom.
“WHAT?! Whadya mean she’s here?!”
“I just heard her talking to Big Machintosh saying that she was looking for us. And now she’s coming here to find you!”
Apple Bloom’s face held the same horror as that of a scary movie. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “S-she’s comin’ here?!”
“Yeah, we gotta split before she finds you!”
Apple Bloom shook her head frantically. “Ah can’t leave! AJ will know something’s up if ah do an’ that’ll make her mad when she finds out.”
“Well she’ll find out even if you stay!”
Apple Bloom was clueless.
“Look! She’s coming! I’d better go! Good luck!”
Scootaloo raced away from sight and left Apple Bloom to face their worst nightmare alone.
Sunset was very surprised at how well she was coping with being in Equestria again. The idea of returning had haunted her ever since Twilight had mentioned the prospect the last time they’d met. It set her on edge; the mere thought of stepping back through the portal only to be met with the eyes of her former mentor and the ponies whose lives she helped wreck. Even the casual conversations with everyday ponies quite like that of humans seemed daunting with the past she had had in the equine world.
Fortune had smiled on her though it seemed as her conversation with Big Macintosh went smoother than she could have hoped. And now she was accompanying the large earth pony to the alternate version of Applejack’s homestead that she had still yet to see. And hopefully, Apple Bloom would be there.
I have to know she’s alright. I just have to.
The walk to Sweet Apple Acres had been uneventful; Sunset was glad of that. The last thing she would want is her presence to cause a stir with the local populace and for the crusaders’ sakes, she wanted to keep this under as much wraps as possible.
Nearing the farm, Sunset appreciated the big similarities that the farm created. Other than the exception of the barn being inhabited by the family as well as serving as their storehouse, everything else was the same. Perhaps also that there was no livestock as eating meat was almost unheard of in Equestria. Still, it didn’t stop Sunset from savouring it in the human world – a flash of guilt came over the unicorn.
As Big Mac pulled up the cart, he unhooked himself and addressed Sunset.
“Well, yar welcome ta go on in. AJ should be in the kitchen.”
“Thank you, Big Mac. I appreciate you showing me the way.”
Big Mac smiled. “Eeyup.” The red stallion then turned and went back to his business with the cart. Sunset took this as her moment to enter the barn.
The interior of the barn was a vivid replication of human Applejack’s home. Sunset hadn’t had the country way upbringing in Canterlot that she guessed the citizens of Ponyville were used to. In fact, she was now rather much more used to the way of the human world than anything else and almost preferred it, she had to say.
Since Big Mac had informed her that Applejack was in the kitchen, Sunset thought this was a good opportunity to check in on Apple Bloom. The more discreet she could be about this, the better. If memory served her well, the unicorn knew the location of Apple Bloom’s bedroom to be on the first floor landing and proceeded to climb the stairs up to it. The first step creaked loudly, much to Sunset’s distress. Using her horn, she quickly casted a sound muffling charm which she recollected from her days as Celestia’s student. She could just have easily teleported into the filly’s room but Sunset didn’t want to scare her and alert everypony else.
Once at the top of the stairs, Sunset approached the door leading into Apple Bloom’s room. She hesitated before venturing in. It felt awful rude for somepony like her to walk into somepony’s bedroom without invitation. She would be as well greeting Applejack and telling her why she was here. The unicorn turned to go.
Sunset jumped back towards the door – recognising the muffled sound as Apple Bloom’s sassy accent.
I’m coming, Apple Bloom!
She pushed the door open.
“Applejack! Ah need ta tell ya…”
Sunset watched Apple Bloom freeze up as she looked dead at her. The pony beside her was….Applejack! The orange farm pony had yet to look round to face the unicorn but seeing her ears twitch at the sound of the door opening was probably enough.
Speak of the devil…
Applejack had now jerked her head round, her face displaying a phase of alarm at the unknown stranger who had somehow entered her sister’s bedroom. The rest of her body followed suit.
“Uhh…can ah help ya?”
Sunset tensed up. “Umm…hi Applejack. I was wondering if I might have a word with Apple Bloom.”
“Do ah know ya?”
“No, not really.”
Applejack looked dumbfounded, unsure of what to add. But her face soon turned to a shade of anger.
“Well, ah’m gonna have ta ask ya ta leave. Ah don’ exactly know how ya thought barging in on ma property without permission was a good idea. How in the hay did ya get in anyway?”
“Big Macintosh let me in, AJ. I wish I could tell you more about who I am but I really need to talk with Apple Bloom first.”
Applejack said nothing but just adjusted the Stetson on her head. “Well ah’m sorry, but ah can’ let anypony near ma sis without first knowin’ who they are. So ah’ll ask ya again, please leave.”
Sunset hesitated. “Please, AJ.”
“Look, ah won’ tell ya again. Unless yar goin’ ta tell meh who yar are, ya have ta leave!”
Sunset was about to respond when she heard the downstairs door shut. Before she could give Applejack a response, the earth pony was already heading towards her, eyes narrowed. Sunset backed away in fear. To her surprise however, Applejack went out into the landing. “Big Mac, y’all got some splainin’ to do!”
The shout was followed by hoofsteps going downstairs. Some loud conversation echoed its way up into the bedroom. Yet Sunset now remained alone with Apple Bloom. She rushed over to her.
“Apple Bloom, are you alright?” she questioned, bringing a hoof around the anxious looking farm filly. “I was so worried about you.”
Apple Bloom could distinguish her mentor’s voice anywhere. “Sunset, is that really you? And, ya are?”
“Yes!” Sunset smiled, and tightened her grip around Apple Bloom and pulling her in for a hug. “It’s me, Apple Bloom. And of course. I was frightened that something might have happened to you.”
“Really? Ah was kinda thinkin’ ya’d be-”
“GET AWAY FROM HER!”
Both Apple Bloom and Sunset looked round to see the petrified face of Applejack followed soon after by a rather annyoned Big Mac. The two split as Applejack drew on Sunset, causing the unicorn to back away.
“Didn’t ah tell ya to leave?! Why are y’all still here?”
“Eeyup!” came an irritated affirmation from her big brother.
“AJ, don’ ah-”
“Hush, Apple Bloom. Let the big ponies talk.”
“AJ, I’m sorry. I can leave if you want now.”
“Heh, ah’ll bet. So ya can just run off and come back when ah’m not around! Why are ya after ma sis?”
“AJ!” cried a desperate Apple Bloom.
“You a fillynapper? Ya been spyin’ on us, is that it?”
“No, AJ. I…”
Sunset was almost crying from the accusations being tossed her way. It was her nightmares about returning to Equestria made real. The horn on her head began to glow with an aura as her instinct to escape via teleportation became stronger.
The suspense of the situation evaporated, as did the accumulating aura around Sunset’s horn. Apple Bloom had stepped herself between Applejack and Sunset, tears running down her face.
“Back off, AJ! Her name's Sunset Shimmer and she's ma friend!” She dug herself into Sunset’s mane, letting her emotions out all at once. Silence resulted from the filly’s outburst. Applejack had a guilty expression on her face. After collecting herself, the orange farm pony decided to break the peace.
“That name does ring a bell, now. Aren’t ya Twilight’s friend from that other dimension?”
Applejack bowed her head in regret. “Shucks, ah’m awful sorry, Sunset. Ah can get very protective over ma family.”
Sunset risked putting a hoof on Applejack’s right cheek.
“Trust me, I know.”
Applejack’s face bore confusion but she smiled as the realisation kicked in. “Ah never could understand how that all worked.”
“Yeah, it’s kinda confusing.”
“But why are ya here?”
At that moment, Apple Bloom got up from crying into Sunset’s mane. Sunset smiled. “It doesn’t matter anymore. I have to see Twilight right away. It was nice meeting you at last, Applejack.”
And in a flash of light, the unicorn disappeared.
“Yeah…nice to meet ya too.”
“Well Starlight, I’m proud of you for making a new friend. I can understand why our meeting was put aside.”
“Thank you, Princess. And I’m sorry again.”
Princess Celestia smiled. “Do let me know if you want to have tea another time, Twilight.”
“Of course, Celestia. I’ll get Spike to send a letter if you can spare the time.”
“Well then. I bid you girls goodnight.”
“Goodnight, Princess!” the two of them said in unison as the white alicorn flew out of the castle.
Twilight sighed. “It still would have been nice to have tea with her. I can never seem to catch her at a free moment.”
“I like her,” Starlight Glimmer added. “Even though I wasted her time, she wasn’t angry. It’s nice to know I’ve been forgiven for almost changing the fate of Equestria and dooming everypony to a-”
Twilight rolled her eyes. “Starlight, enough. You don’t need to-”
KNOCK-KNOCK! The sound echoed all over the great entrance doors of the castle.
Twilight eyed the clock on the wall. “Who could that be at this time of the evening?” she said half aloud and half to herself.
“I got it, Twilight.” Spike yawned.
Walking up to the door, Spike grabbed the door knob specifically designed for him to reach. Pulling it with all his might, the door creaked open; prompting Spike to poke his head out. The visitor in front of him was a yellow coated unicorn with a red and yellow striped mane.
“Yes?” Spike asked the stranger.
“Hello, Spike. It’s nice to see you again. I was wondering if I might speak with Twilight.”
Spike scratched his chin. “That voice sounds familiar. Do I know you?”
“Hmm…” Sunset grinned. “Oh and I’d keep an eye of that mutt of yours. I’d hate for him to be…taken away from you…”
Spike gasped. “Sunset Shimmer?”
Sunset gave the young drake a small wink.
“Wow! What are you doing here? Come inside, Twilight will want to talk with you!”
“Much appreciated, Spike.”
As they rounded the corner, Twilight called to Spike. “Who is it, Spike?”
“Sunset Shimmer!” His voiced was filled with awe.
“Pfft, Spike. That’s impossible. Sunset lives at Canterlot High, how can she…whaaa?”
Twilight’s eyes fell upon the recognisable face of the pony who had stolen her crown a few moons back.
“Hey, Twilight. Long time, no see.”
“Definitely!” Her intial bewilderment aside, the alicorn ran up to her interdimensional friend and hugged her. “What are you doing here? Have you come back to Equestria to stay? You didn’t abandon your other friends did you? You know I-”
“Twilight, it’s nice to see you too. And hello to you.”
“Huh?” Twilight mirrored the direction of Sunset’s face and realised she had forgotten completely about her student’s presence. “Oh Starlight, this is Sunset Shimmer. She’s my friend from another world. And Sunset, this is Starlight Glimmer, my newest pupil.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” said Starlight, a warm smile confirming her greeting.
“Likewise. I hope Twilight hasn’t already driven you crazy with her organised ways.”
“Hey!” Twilight jumped in. The two mares giggled. The alicorn rolled her eyes. “So what are you doing here then, Sunset?”
“Yeah, that’s what I needed to talk to you about.” She looked over to Starlight Glimmer. “Do you mind? I need to keep this under wraps as much as possible.”
“Not at all. It’s quite late so I think I’ll do some magic practice and turn in. Goodnight, Sunset. Goodnight, Twilight!”
“Goodnight, Starlight.” Twilight replied.
“It was nice to meet you.”
Starlight smiled and left the two ponies to talk.
“Ok, this may sound a little weird, Twilight; I’m not sure if you have noticed.”
“What? Has something happened?”
“Nothing bad. Just worrisome.”
“Just start from the beginning.”
Sunset sighed. “At the beginning of the week, I noticed that there was something up with the cutie mark crusaders. I couldn’t place what it was before but having confronted them about, I know what’s going on.”
“That’s intriguing. The crusaders here had been acting strange earlier in the week too. Rarity was telling me how Sweetie Belle was having unexplained problems. What have you found out?”
“That the Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo from this world swapped places with the crusaders from CHS.”
Twilight’s mouth shot open in shock. “How? How is that possible? Wait a minute….”
Twilight’s eyes looked over to the Canterlot High portal in the corner of the room. “How did you get here? I would have seen you come through that portal.”
“Well that’s just it, Twilight. There’s another portal. Created by the demon which your human counterpart became during the Friendship Games. It’s somewhere on the outskirts of Ponyville – I made sure to remember where it was.”
“Another portal? It does seem likely that they might have found it and met their human-selves. But it’s still a little far-fetched. Are you positive?”
“Very. I met with Apple Bloom and she confessed to me what happened.”
Twilight pondered for a moment. “We need to do something about this.”
Apple Bloom lay in discomfort on her bed; the same in every way as it was in Equestria. Sleep was nagging at her but she found her efforts wasted. Having opened up about all that had happened to her sister Applejack by Sunset’s instruction, Apple Bloom had near tuckered herself out.
Yet, now that AJ and Sunset were aware of their little bet, she had to believe that tonight was her last night here.
And so did a little farm pony in a world beyond - lying in the same fashion as she would with feet and hands.
“Look at these hands,” “Look at these hooves,” “They’re so amazing; just look how they move!” “Wouldn’t ya think ah’m the girl; the girl who has everythang?”
“Just in this world,” “Ah can run on all fours,” “With hands like these; there’s no task that’s a chore!” “Lookin’ back there ya think, ‘Sure, she had everythang…’”
“Ah had fingers and toes there aplenty,” “Ah had magic and four legs galore!” “Do ah want hayburgers? Ah’ll take twenty!” “But who cares, no big deal, AH WANT MORE!!!!”
“Ah wanna stay where the ponies are, ah wanna see ‘em, wanna see ‘em flyin’,” “Learn all ‘bout how ta…whaddya call it? Oh! Text.” “Using yar hooves, ya can’ get too far; thumbs are required for grabbing, pulling.” “Using yar legs ta…what’s that word again? Buck!”
“Here where they trot,” “Here where they run,” “Here where nothing is never not fun!” “With upmost glee, wish ah could be, part of your woooooorld!”
A faint voice called out to Sweetie Belle. Though it was quite hard to hear over all the other millions of fans screaming her name out as she walked onto the stage. The stadium was lit to full luminescence and all eyes were now on her. Walking up to the microphone stand, she cleared her throat and lined up her practised posture. Taking a deep breath, Sweetie Belle readied herself for the ordeal; giving a smile to the rows of players on either side of her.
The announcement was made, the crowd stood up, and all the building excitement came to a standstill. The long silence before the plunge. This was it, her shining moment in the spotlight. Her heart pounded twice by the second, her mind only echoing the sound across her ears. On cue, the music ran the introduction. The stage was set, now all waited for the superstar singer, Sweetie Belle, to start.
“Gasp…OH SAY CAN YOU SEE?”
“BY THE DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT, WHAT SO PROUDLY WE HAILED AT THE TWILIGHT’S LAST GLEAMING. WHOSE…”
The song was perfect; the chords were struck on the mark and the musical crusader was having the time of her life.
“O’ER THE LAND OF THE FREE AND THE HOME OF THE...SWEETIE BELLE!”
In the blink of an eye, the stadium and crowd had vanished and Sweetie Belle was back in her Equestrian counterpart’s bedroom. She yawned loudly and twisted her body round in response to the loud noise which had woken her. It was Rarity. Figures.
“Ah, Sweetie Belle, so sorry to wake you but Twilight said she wanted to see you and your friends at her castle.”
The little unicorn rubbed her eyes. “What for?”
“I’m not quite sure. She didn’t say but I wouldn’t want to keep her waiting. I have some breakfast waiting downstairs so try not to dawdle, Sweetie Belle.” And with that, her elder sister took her leave.
Sweetie Belle sighed and dropped off of the bed. “But I was having a wonderful dream…”
“Yes, we thought it was rather interesting…”
“Huh? Vice Principal Luna?” Sweetie Belle spat out, oblivious to the sudden appearance of the pony behind her. Eventually, her darting eyes caught a glimpse of the princess of the night’s regal wings and turning her whole head round, she stood to alert at the complete sight of the dark alicorn.
“Hello, Sweetie Belle. If that is who you claim to be.”
“W-What? Of…of course, I am.”
Princess Luna smiled. “Don’t worry, Sweetie Belle. We know who you are. We have seen your dreams.”
Sweetie Belle was dumbstruck. “You saw my dreams? How?”
“Almost everyone in this land knows of our ability to enter dreams. Even Sweetie Belle knows this. To not know this clearly says to us you aren’t the Sweetie Belle known to this world. And not to mention that your dreams are unlike any of the dreams of the other ponies we visit. Save perhaps for Apple Bloom and Scootaloo who also have had similar dreams to yours.”
Sweetie Belle chuckled nervously. “You don’t say?”
“The creatures in your dream are unknown to us but match the description of Princess Twilight’s description of what she calls ‘humans’. Creatures that walk on two legs instead of four and cannot fly or do magic; but are quite capable in their own way. Observing you and your friends’ dreams over this week, we have kept a long vigil over the nature of your dreams.”
“Which is why we saw the need to visit personally without interrupting your dreams. As a princess, it is our responsibility to be a guardian to all our subjects.” Luna moved her head closer to the filly unicorn and gave her a coy look. “Whether or not they are visiting inter-dimensional beings.”
Sweetie Belle put on a face of guilt. “I’m sorry if I caused you any worry.”
“We were quite sure that you would be fine but we worry about the other Sweetie Belle. But Princess Twilight assures me that she is being taken care of. We just wanted to come meet with you before you go.”
The news of a departure from Equestria hit Sweetie Belle hard but it was to be expected. “Well, I appreciate your concern.”
“Think nothing of it. Now, we must get going as we must rest during this part of the day. But we have one more question.”
“What role does the Luna in your world have?”
Sweetie Belle smiled. “She’s the vice principal of my school. Celestia is the principal.”
“So how did you recognise us?”
Sweetie Belle smiled even harder. “She sounds exactly like you and uses “we” instead of “I” a lot too. Though I can’t understand why.” Sweetie Belle put a hoof to her chin.
Princess Luna blushed. “Yes, sometimes I forget that I must speak in modern times now that I no longer live in the past. But we rather like speaking this way.”
Sweetie Belle nodded.
“Well, we…I must depart. It was good to meet you, Sweetie Belle.”
“Thank you, Princess. The feeling is mutual.”
Luna smiled at the reciprocated comment and took off back out the window she had come in. Immediately after Sweetie Belle was left alone again, there was a knock on her bedroom door.
“Come on, Sweetie Belle. Twilight is waiting on you.” Rarity’s voice came through the door.
The screeching friction of wheel against pavement came into being as Scootaloo stopped her human version scooter abruptly in front of her friends.
“Hey guys! What’s the haps?” Scootaloo greeted her two best friends. She had received a text from Sunset that she wanted to meet them all at Sugarcube Corner to talk. She met the girls just outside the entrance on another sunny morning – however, it seemed that Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle were not in as high a spirits as Scootaloo.
“Hey Scoot, ah’m alright,” replied Apple Bloom, rather less enthusiastically.
“Me too. How have you been, Scootaloo?”
“Great! Rainbow and I had some super awesome time at her apartment yesterday. Then again, Rainbow is always awesome to hang with.”
“Oh come on, you always say that,” teased Sweetie Belle.
“She sure does.”
The three of them discovered Sunset had joined them. “I hope I’m almost as awesome.”
Scootaloo smiled. “Uhh…of course.”
“Mhm. Well girls, shall we go inside?”
“Cool,” answered Scootaloo. The other crusaders remained silent and followed Sunset into the confectionery. Scootaloo’s nostrils filled with those sweet aromas that remained mostly unchanged from the one in quaint Ponyville. As luck would have it, Pinkie Pie was on the counter assisting Mrs Cake with the day’s customers. The pink-skinned baker naturally greeted them with a hyper and exaggerated smile.
“Hey! I didn’t expect to see you guys here!”
“Isn’t that the fun of working in a store, Pinkie?” Sunset countered.
“Yup! It’s lots and lots of fun, heehee. So what can I get you?”
“Girls?” No-one spoke up immediately. Neither Apple Bloom nor Sweetie Belle made any effort to move their motionless lips. Scootaloo eventually broke the silence amongst the hubbub of people chatting at their tables.
“I think I’ll have a chocolate milkshake?”
“Chocolate milkshake. Are you two wanting anything?” Sunset looked at the girls enquiringly. The two silent crusaders shook their heads. Sunset frowned a little. “Ok, if you’re sure. I’ll take just one chocolate milkshake, Pinkie.” Sunset said, her attention focused back on Pinkie Pie.
Sunset fumbled around in her jacket pocket for her purse.
“Oh don’t worry about it, Sunset. Mrs Cake is really grateful for you helping me spread the word last week about the yummy stuff we have here. Since it’s only one silly milkshake, I’m sure she’d let you have it on the house, heehee!”
“Oh! Gee, thanks Pinkie. That’s very much appreciated.” Sunset said gleefully.
“Not a problem, Sunset. Just sit down and I’ll take it over, k?” Pinkie grinned in her usual fashion. Sunset placed a hand on Pinkie’s shoulder as a sign of thanks and proceeded to walk over to the nearest available booth.
Meanwhile, the behaviour of her friends was starting to rain over Scootaloo’s eager mood.
“Is everything ok? You guys seem a bit down.” Scootaloo asked with a concerned smile.
As the crusaders sat down on the booth with Sunset, Sweetie Belle tried to offer a hushed explanation. “She found out….”
“What?” whispered Scootaloo, clearly having difficulty hearing. But it came too late as Sunset had already begun making a much louder conversation.
“Are you girls alright? Did something happen?” Scootaloo supposed the question was directed at Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle.
Sweetie Belle sighed. “No, we’re just a bit sad is all.”
Scootaloo eyed her friends curiously. “I…”
A chocolate milkshake landed right in front of Scootaloo’s face; straw primed and ready for slurping.
“Have a nice time, everyone!” enthused Pinkie Pie. She had come and gone in the blink of an eye.
“Thanks, Pinkie!” called Sunset. Scootaloo smiled, forgetting about the troubled minds of her friends for a moment in her haste of getting her lips all over the straw. She hummed amusedly at the taste going up the straw.
Sunset quietened her voice and put on an emphatic face. “Please, don’t be sad. I’m not trying to be the bad guy. I’m just concerned for you, girls. Which is why I think you’d all be safer back in Equestria.”
Scootaloo dang near choked on the chocolatey liquid in her mouth and was no longer oblivious to the teenager’s words.
“Look, I understand that you girls like this world; but think of what you’re doing. You’re lying to your families and putting yourselves at risk. I mean what were to happen if an event occurred that was beyond your knowledge of this world to control? You may be quick learners but wandering a strange place without adult supervision is very dangerous. And I don’t think I can take responsibility for three fillies that have a reckless reputation quite like what you three have.”
Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle’s mouths took on sheepish grins. Scootaloo still remained shocked.
“H-how’d you find out?”
“Oh! I assumed the other two would have told you. Sweetie Belle told me about it yesterday.” Scootaloo shot an annoyed scowl at her fellow crusader. “But I wouldn’t go blaming her. I did force it out of her. Twilight might not have told you but I too am from Equestria.”
Scootaloo’s attention refocused on Sunset at those words. “You’re from Equestria?”
“Yeah, I used to live in Canterlot. Before I found my way into this world that is.”
“Ya know, ah wonder why they never told us y’all were from Equestria?” Apple Bloom suggested.
“You mean the human crusaders? A lot goes on at CHS which is beyond anyone’s understanding of. For the most part, I try to keep a tight lid on anything magical that crops up for the sake of this world’s stability. Heck, the magic only came here in the first place because of me. I should be the one to try to conceal it. The girls aren’t always around to witness the strange goings on and I’ve never fully explained to them about the existence of this alternate world where I’m a magical talking unicorn.”
“I mean it’s hard enough to convince anyone here that an animal can talk. All they do is eat them which I can’t complain is pretty good.”
Scootaloo tried to hide her disgust but then remembered the nice taste of that bacon she had had at Sweet Apple Acres earlier in the week. It wasn’t without merit but the idea still made her insides twist.
“So what happens now?” Sweetie Belle asked, trying to pretend she didn’t already know the answer.
Sunset sighed. “After Scootaloo finishes her shake, I’m taking you girls home. Your real home in Equestria.”
“What?! Please, Sunset. We’re having so much fun with you here!” urged Scootaloo.
“I understand you girls wish to stay but I can’t let you wander in a world that isn’t your own. And that’s why we’re going back to the portal as soon as we are finished here.”
The table went silent. The head of each crusader was drooped in sadness. A clever thought ran through Scootaloo’s mind.
Better milk this milkshake drinking for as long as possible then.
Well that could have gone better. The thought was evidently clear to Princess Twilight while accompanying the three saddened little fillies to the portal behind the boulder that Sunset claimed was the source of this ruse that the crusaders had put on. It had caught the alicorn princess completely out of the blue. She had suspected that something was out of the ordinary but not to such a scale as three humans posing as the filly versions of themselves!
After Sunset Shimmer’s visit, Twilight was left with her mind blown and a fixed agenda in mind for the following day. Now here she was coming through with that agenda, the intention of returning the disguised human girls home. She turned her head back to the quiet and desolate fillies.
“Girls, I know this is tough but you have to know that Sunset is very worried about you. If something happened to you three while you were here, it could upset the balance between the worlds of ponies and humans alike.”
Apple Bloom sighed. “Ah know, Princess. Ah guess ah am starting ta miss havin’ hands an' all but ah still woulda liked ta see more o’ Equestria.”
Twilight smiled. “I would still like to see more of the human world. From what I hear, it is a whole lot bigger than Equestria. I think Rarity mentioned she was from some island on another continent or something.”
“Oh you mean the British Isles?” Sweetie Belle added. “Yeah, our family is British.”
“It’s amazing to think that the humans are stretched far and wide across your world. Ponies here are often distrusting of foreign lands so they tend to keep to Equestria’s borders.”
“That’s…nice,” remarked a rather sad Scootaloo.
Twilight’s smile faded back into a faint frown and she fell silent once more. Alas, their destination was in sight and yet the purple alicorn saw no sign of the rumoured portal.
“Where is it? I thought Sunset said it was here.” Twilight turned to the crusaders looking for some response. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo had to stifle the momentary joy but Sweetie Belle had already accepted the inevitable.
“It’s on the other side of the bould- Ow!” exclaimed Sweetie Belle as a nudging hoof came into her side from the adjacent pegasus.
“Hmmm…” Twilight faced the boulder again and began to walk around the back slowly. The lack of hoofsteps behind her prompted her to dart her head back. “Stay behind me girls, don’t make this harder than it needs to be or I might tell everypony who you are.”
Her loud statement was met swiftly by the scuffle of hooves as the crusaders caught up to Twilight. Satisfied, the alicorn proceeded onwards towards the portal site. Clearly the portal was inconspicuous but Twilight had a good memory of the exact location of which Sunset had brought her to. Sunset had warned her to look out for any abnormal scenery as it was easy to spot from the human side but not the pony side. But all the foliage around the boulder didn’t not resemble anything that shouldn’t belong. Twilight grunted in annoyance, confusion striking her.
Suddenly, a ruffle in the nearby bushes made her twist her head round immediately. She readied her magic and braced herself for whatever it might be. Two hands emerged followed by a pushing motion, revealing the black leather jacket and the familiar sunset streaked torso of Sunset Shimmer. She approached her, now well aware of the portal’s existence. As she got closer, the bodies of the respective human crusaders came into view – they didn’t look particularly happy either. Twilight grimaced but smiled when Sunset addressed her.
“Hey, Twilight! Haven’t seen you in a while.” Sunset began with a tone of sarcasm.
Twilight giggled. “Well, I’m not so used to viewing you as human from the eyes of a pony.” Twilight noted the significant difference in height. “You’re almost a giant compared to me.”
“A giant with no magic, so you’re pretty safe. But yeah, I guess I’ve never had the opportunity to look down on you before, Twilight. It’s a little weird.” Sunset smiled. “Anyway I think we should press on with the reason we are here in the first place.”
“I agree. Girls? Can you come in front of me?”
The crusaders walked in front of Twilight and soon they were looking at their counterparts again and their sadness was replaced by excited grins.
“Hey! Scootaloo, how are you?” asked the pony Scootaloo.
“I’m great! How are you?” The human’s face was lit up at the sight of herself.
“I’m awesome! Well, despite being caught and stuff.”
“Yeah, that sucks.” Human Apple Bloom added. “But it was sure fun while it lasted.”
“Ah really wish ah could tell ya how much we’ve learned ‘bout Equestria but ah don’ thank there’s any time fer that…”
Sweetie Belle turned back to Twilight. “Can we please have one more day or two?”
Twilight solemnly shook her head. “I’m sorry, girls. But we must close this portal as soon as we can to prevent anypony else stumbling upon it. It is important to keep the identity of your world a secret. Otherwise, who knows what it could mean for either world.”
Sweetie Belle nodded in understanding, her head dropping lower with each slide of her head. She slowly faced the portal again.
“Now girls, come through the portal to me.” Sunset beckoned with a warm smile.
With a heavy sigh, all three pony crusaders traversed the portal and in the blink of a shining beam of light, their front hooves transformed back to their original five-fingered hands. The feeling of their knees replacing their hind legs and the familiar flexing of toes confirmed to the human crusaders that they were back home. With no difficulty, they rose onto their two feet and came to be eye level with themselves. Apple Bloom looked nowhere else but into the eyes of herself and simultaneously she wrapped her arms around herself in a warm hug. Sweetie Belle embraced herself too whereas Scootaloo predictably didn’t and simply fist-bumped herself.
“It’s so good to be with you again, even if only for a short while.” Sweetie Belle lamented, slightly tearful.
Empathising was no problem for her. “I know. And it’s so nice to hear someone else say what I’m thinking. And to know it’s myself is just beyond me.” They came together tighter while tears ran down their cheeks.
“An’ ta know all o’ us were able ta meet each other, makes it all the more special. Ah love ya all.”
The farm girl choked on whimpers and threw herself around the embracing Sweetie Belles. Her clone joined her and together their flooding tears soaked into their clothes and trickled through the littlest of gap between the tightly locked friends. Scootaloo couldn’t hold back the tears welling inside her and gave in to the sappiness. She grabbed hold of herself and bawled into her shoulder. Scootaloo did likewise.
“Oh come on! Why…why’d this have to be so sa-sappy?!” cried Scootaloo, gasping instead of breathing.
Sunset watched the heart-wrenching display unfold before her. As much as it was sad, Sunset had to make sure that the problem was resolved for the future.
“Right, girls. Are you ready to go back?”
The crusaders sniffled and stifled their last remaining whimpers as they all separated. The few residue tears stained and seeped into the soil below.
“Y-y-yeah, we are…” Apple Bloom confirmed.
Smiling once more at their counterparts, the trio turned away and faced the portal. Holding hands in unison, they stepped into the inter-dimensional pool and when the bright light faded, all three toppled to the ground; having come through on their hind legs and losing their balance. Getting to their hooves, they looked up to see Twilight smiling and walking towards them. The alicorn dropped her head to nuzzle each of the fillies.
“I’m so glad to see you all safe and sound.” Taking her head back up, she addressed her human ally one last time. “Thank you, Sunset. I don’t know what would have happened if it hadn’t been for your sharp thinking.”
“Don’t worry, Twilight. You think that spell will work?” Sunset countered.
“I won’t know unless I try. But in the case it works, I’ll say goodbye to you Sunset and the girls.”
“Bye, Twilight. I’ll message you soon.”
Apple Bloom edged closer to the portal with the intention of utilising every last second she would see her human-self again. Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo mirrored the apple filly’s movements. Water flowed down in perfect symmetry across the cheeks of the crusaders as the sound of charging magical power emanated from behind them.
“Bye…” They all said.
“Bye…” Came the reply.
And as a magical beam shot directly at the portal, the faint image of a human with a pink bow in her hair rippled in the vibrating contours of the liquid until Apple Bloom could see it no more. And then, the farm filly sobbed violently.
“Ah can’ believe ah won’ ever see her aga-ch-ain!!”
Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo rushed to Apple Bloom’s side to comfort her. Twilight giggled. “Oh don’t worry, Apple Bloom. You can still get to see her. You can use my portal in the castle.”
All three ceased any smidgen of sadness.
Twilight pondered for a moment. “We need to do something about this.”
“Agreed. We need to close that portal before anyone…or anypony else for that matter stumbles upon it.”
Taking to the air, Twilight hovered over the shelves containing her massive wealth of accumulated books. Her magic ensnared around one in particular and taking it within her magical grasp, the princess descended back down to Sunset.
“I have one spell here that might work but I can’t say for sure. It was written to control magic within Equestria but I have no idea if the magic which the other Twilight used to create it is the same as the one here.”
“It was the magic of friendship gone wrong, Twilight. Nothing more. And since I brought Equestrian magic to CHS, I’ve got a good feeling that a spell should overcome it.”
“Hmmm…” Twilight let her head stare off into a corner of the room. Sunset could see her ex-mentor was in some deep thought.
“I don’t know…it just doesn’t really seem possible that someone could come over to Equestria.” She turned to look Sunset directly in the eyes. “It’s not that I don’t trust you Sunset but I wish I had a little more evidence to bring this more to light.”
“Perhaps we can be of assistance?”
Twilight heard the voice and immediately recognised the eavesdropper. She didn’t have to move her head as Princess Luna lowered herself majestically in front of them. Sunset bowed at her arrival.
“Your Highness,” uttered Sunset. Luna acknowledged the courtesy.
“Good evening, Luna. Do you know something about this caper?”
“Yes. We…I mean, I have been watching the dreams of Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo more diligently this week. I have noticed that they are quite unusual compared with most other ponies’.”
“I think they are dreaming about humans, going by what you told my sister and I about the world beyond the mirror.”
Sunset nodded, unsurprised by the comment. Twilight on the other hand took some time to adjust to that unexpected answer. Eventually, she nodded to confirm her understanding.
“Is it clearer now, Twilight?” Sunset asked.
“Yes, I think I can trust both you and Luna’s judgement. I guess we should move on this as quickly as we can if we are to assure their safety.”
“Indeed, I think that would be best also,” Luna added with a gentle smile. “I only came to state my observations so I must depart before the night compels my subjects to sleep. I’ll keep watch over the fillies’ dreams again tonight.”
“Thanks, Luna. Always nice to see you.”
“Yes, it was nice to meet you at last.”
Luna studied the unicorn in front of her. “Hmm, who might you be?”
“Oh, I’m Sunset Shimmer. I used to be-" Luna flew straight at Sunset, and hovered slightly above her. “-the princess’s student?”
“You’re Sunset Shimmer?! Haha! I’m sorry if I startled you but I’ve been looking forward to making your acquaintance for some time. My sister talks endlessly of meeting you again and telling her about this is going to make her so jealous!”
Luna snapped out of her excitement, remembering her place as a princess. “Ahem, now I must go. Goodnight!” And the night alicorn teleported in a flash of light.
The two mares giggled but Twilight soon came back to business. “So, how should we resolve this?”
Sunset put a hoof to her chin, noting how surprising it felt not to have fingers to wrap over it. “Well, first matter is getting the crusaders to their respective homes and closing that portal. I’ll go back through the portal tonight and gather the girls together to take back to the portal; perhaps you could do likewise?”
“Yes, I agree. Though, it seems a shame really that we must spoil their fun. I remember what it was like being at CHS for the first time – it was scary at first but it came to be a lot of fun. Of course, I had to worry about getting my crown back from Sunset…oh uh, no offense.”
Sunset rolled her eyes. “None taken…though I gotta say. I didn’t expect to need to say that here.”
Twilight grinned guiltily. “Anyway, I really don’t want to force them apart.”
Sunset’s eyes caught hold of something that caused her to smile. “Maybe you won’t have to…” The unicorn began to walk across the room and Twilight’s eyes followed her. She stopped outside the portal and soon Twilight started to catch on to Sunset’s notion.
“What if we let them hang out in your castle? That way we won’t rouse the suspicion of anypony or cause trouble with the idea of there being two of every crusader. Could you imagine how much destruction they’d cause?”
Twilight laughed. “Yes! It would be the end of the world!”
“And should they want to visit the human world, I can always take them to my place where I can keep their secret nice and safe.” Sunset smiled and eagerly awaited Twilight’s opinion.
“That sounds like a great idea!” enthused Twilight, her wings flexing up with joy. “Now all that’s left is to prepare that spell and we’ll be ready!”
“Oh, and it might be useful to know where the portal is?”
Sunset deadpanned. “Of course! I should have mentioned it earlier. Come on, I’ll show you.”
“And we decided together that you should be allowed to visit your new pony friends in Equestria.”
Once Sunset had finished explaining herself, the crusaders simply stood for a moment before they all let out cheers of excitement. Scootaloo however quelled herself almost immediately. Her facial expression turned extremely sour and her fists clenched together tight.
“SO WHY DID U MAKE IT SEEM THAT WE WOULDN’T SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN?!! I MADE A SAPPY HUG BECAUSE OF THIS!!!”
Sunset put on a smirk about as exaggerated as Scootaloo’s annoyance. “BECAAAAUSE…we weren’t gonna let you get away with attempting to trick us without playing a trick of our own. And you should have seen your faces. It was a rather evil trick, I know.”
All the crusaders were stunned at Sunset’s revelation. But their initial astonishment soon degraded into bawls of laughter.
“Wow, Sunset. That was darn good. Ah…haha…ah really believed ya there.”
Even Scootaloo had been appeased. “Yeah, I…ha I guess that’s fair.”
Sunset joined in the laughter and soon she was being tackled by all three crusaders. Catching her off guard, she fell to the ground only to have her stomach crushed by the subsequent falling girls. Laughing it off despite her bruised stomach, she scooped up the three of them in her arms and increased the uproar of laughter.
“I’m just glad to have my favourite crusaders back here with me! I love you, girls!”
“Haha, we love you too, Sunset!” Sweetie Belle replied, before she fell victim to a rather hilarious tickling…
The sunlight burst into the great atrium of the harmony thrones, the golden rays bouncing off the abundant crystals littering the ceiling and walls. The clear struck voice of the Princess of Friendship echoed throughout the circular hall as she addressed her five best friends seated on the other thrones. A few morning yawns could be heard from the rainbow pegasus as her other friends continually debated the latest issues in Equestria that needed tackling.
“So far, nothing has disrupted the peace in Ponyville since the dragon attack. And Princess Celestia has announced that she will be monitoring the dragons’ migration patterns to prevent such an attack happening again.”
“Oh! That’s a relief,” said Fluttershy, in her typical gentle tone. “My animals will be glad to hear that they won’t have to worry about another scary dragon attack.”
“I hope so too. I can’t ever find time for delay now that I have two more branches in Canterlot and Manehattan. These disasters always leave me behind on my orders.” Rarity emphasised.
Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes and sighed at the fashionista’s predictable comment while sitting in her rather lax position on her element throne. Noting the break in conversation, the wonderbolt rookie closed her eyes and put her hooves behind her head.
“So Twilight, why'd yar friend Sunset Shimmer come visitin’?”
Princess Twilight screwed her face up at the question. She should have expected that question to arise but it hadn’t registered with her that that possibility could occur. By now, she knew that her silence was already evident to her friends and they were now all looking at her. Even Rainbow’s interest had been piqued.
“Sunset Shimmer? Isn’t she the one who you met in that alternate world who stole your crown, plotted to take over Equestria by summoning an army of zombies using your element of harmony, and has friends exactly similar to everypony here because that’s how that alternate world works, but you don’t exactly understand the magic there or how it works and keep in touch with her through that special book which sends one message in this world to that world?” Pinkie Pie squeaked, an extremely wide grin only worthy of her appearing on her face directly after.
Twilight stuttered nervously. “Uh…yes, Pinkie. Sunset came to see me in the castle.”
“Really, that’s awesome!” Rainbow suddenly cried. “Woulda been totally cool to meet her after all you’ve told us about her.”
Twilight smiled. “But…” The alicorn became anxious once more at Applejack’s continued enquiry.
“Why’d she come ta see Apple Bloom at Sweet Apple Acres? Apple Bloom made out that she knew Sunset as well. Seems mighty strange that my sis knows Sunset if ah’ve never met her. Do ya know anythang ‘bout that, Twi?”
Twilight tensed up, her equine brain begging for a decision. Should I tell them? They are my best friends after all and I know they will keep it quiet. But why make them worry more than they need to when everything is back to normal? It’s not like I’d be lying to them….much. But I did promise Sunset I would keep it between us….
“Anything wrong, Twilight?” asked Rarity.
“Huh? Oh I’m sorry, girls. I guess I am a little slow this morning. To answer your question, Applejack, Apple Bloom and her friends happened by while Sunset was visiting me at the castle. She’s like a big sister to them back at CHS. She wanted to drop by on Apple Bloom one more time before going that’s all.”
Applejack thought on that, her mouth imitating her occasional sucking on a wheat stick. “Ah suppose that would explain it, but why’d she have ta be so secretive ‘bout it?”
Twilight had an answer ready this time. “The secret of the world beyond the mirror is still very much a myth in Equestria. Sunset and I try to keep anything regarding it all hushed; even around the most trustworthy of ponies like you, Applejack.”
Applejack shrugged. “Ah guess ah can respect that. Ah feel mighty guilty that ah mighta spooked her. She was rather good lookin’ after all.”
“What did you say, dear?”
Applejack zipped her mouth shut. “Nothing.”
Twilight chuckled. “No, I don’t think Sunset would be too scared off by that encounter, AJ. She has much more to deal with on a daily basis.”
“Oh yeah? Like what?” Rainbow challenged.
“Like looking after those three girls for one…”
“Ya know after all the thangs we’ve put up with at Canterlot High, ah still can’ quite get my head around this…”
Sunset wrapped her arm around Applejack’s shoulder. She sat next to her on the soft sofa cushions of Sunset’s living room couch. The apple farmer looked round at Sunset’s touch.
“I can imagine. I’m still adjusting to it myself actually. It must have been a pretty big shock when Apple Bloom told you what was really going on.”
Applejack shrugged, gesturing it with her hands. “Ah mean, ah guess ah could live with the fact that fer a week ma sis was a pony from Equestria. That’s how we came to know Princess Twilight in the first place. But it’s a whole other thang ta thank that ma actual sis was in another dimension, gallivanting like she knew what she were doin’ – it’s the kinda thang ah’d worry over.”
Applejack continued. “Ah mean, ah can trust maself ta look after her but ah’ve never met this other Applejack an’ since ah fear summin’ might happen ta her then maybe ah don’t trust maself. But perhaps that’s only here…or…” She trailed off.
Sunset chuckled, tightening her grip around Applejack’s shoulder ever so slightly to get her attention again. “It’s best not to think about it that way, AJ. No one got hurt and everything is fine now. Well, things are a little less normal than they were before but that should almost becoming routine for us now.”
Applejack chuckled, her apprehension defeated. “Yeah, it should be.” She edged closer to Sunset. “At least some thangs have changed fer the better…”
Sunset cringed and blushed furiously, the implied flirt taking her a bit by surprise. But she soon smiled. “And I am incredibly thankful for that.” She scooched closer to the sweet smelling teenager.
A semi-long moment of amorous staring followed. Eventually, the gap between them began to diminish and pretty soon both of them understood what would happen next. Each of them moved in for the kill, their target edging ever closer…closer and…
Sunset spotted in the corner of her eye, a face smirking up at her. Twisting her head round with lips still puckered, the Equestrian now saw the twelve eyes watching the scene being portrayed in front of them. By now, Applejack had noticed the direction of which Sunset’s head was now facing and turned her head accordingly only to grimace at the smirking faces of all six crusaders.
“Uh…hey!” Applejack blurted, attempting to hide her evident embarrassment. “Y’all know its not polite to stare!”
The crusaders said nothing but just looked coyly at each other and then back at the duo. “AJ AND SUNSET SITTING IN A TREE, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!”
Sunset chortled slightly. “If you lot keep that up, I might just shorten your playtime…”
They all went silent and backed away from them. Applejack smiled at Sunset. “Ya sure have a way with words.”
“Yeah.” She immediately kissed the apple farmer on the cheek. “But I’m skilled at other things too.”
Applejack blushed and relaxed back onto the sofa with her girlfriend.
“Did ya get a load o’ them kissing like that?” asked Apple Bloom once they were out of sight.
“Yeah, totally gross!” replied Scootaloo.
“Don’t have to tell me twice!” said her twin.
“So what exactly happened between them while we were away?” Sweetie Belle asked herself.
“I’m not sure. I was more worried about learning about how to do stuff with hands instead of my magic. I almost got the hang of writing but it’s really tricky.”
“Yeah, you unicorns have got it easy,” stated Scootaloo. “It was cool watching Sweetie Belle do all those awesome levitating spells when we were in Equestria. We have to do everything by hand as humans and we don’t get to fly either which kinda sucks.”
“But you have all this cool stuff, like mobile phones and…texting!” Her clone added. “I love being able to chat with Rainbow Dash all the time from anywhere in the world!”
“Huh, that’s probably why I have a few texts from her saying “Hey, I know you like me and all Scoots but could you please stop texting me every single minute?”. And the proper term for stuff like this is ‘technology’.”
“Uh huh…” Scootaloo nodded her head in comprehension.
“Ya know summin’? Ah’d take livin’ in the human world any day to workin’ on the farm in Equestria.”
Everyone looked round to Apple Bloom in surprise. “Really?”
“Yeah. These things are amazing!” She flexed her thumbs vigourously. “Ah mean, ah can do thangs mighty fine with ma hooves. But thumbs make it even easier!”
“Yeah…ya could say ah struggled a lil’ without ‘em while ah was in Equestria.” The other Apple Bloom admitted. “But it was all worth it in the end!” The young apple rancher came between all her friends and attempted to grab them all in a hug.
“Alright girls, I think that’s all we have time for today.” Sunset announced.
“Come on, you’ll see each other soon, I promise. Now come on, girls.”
They all hung their heads in defeat. “Fine…”
It was advantageous that Sunset Shimmer only lived a couple of blocks away from Canterlot High as guiding six little girls, three of which were clones of the other three would no doubt have drawn some gawking eyes. Luckily, their trip went unnoticed and soon the six crusaders including Sunset and Applejack were standing opposite the portal.
“Well girls, time to go!”
Looking down the row of five girls beside her, a sneaky thought ran through Scootaloo’s mind. “Ok.” She approached the portal then stopped and turned to smirk at Sunset. “But which of us are the Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom of Equestria, I wonder?”
“Eh- I um….” Sunset stammered. Her eyes scanned the six of them, who were now all giving her similar smirks. Damm, have they got smarter over the last week too? She soon however wore a smirk of her own, causing the crusaders’ to disappear.
“Well perhaps you girls would like to tell me something that happened during this week then? Like perhaps what we were watching on the TV last night?”
The faces of the girls all grimaced in shock. Sunset chuckled.
“Gotcha! Now, come on. We’ll have a lot of other chances to hang out you know.”
Apple Bloom smiled. “Yeah, ah guess. Come on, girls!”
“Bye, Apple Bloom, Scoots and well myself.” Sweetie Belle waved.
As Apple Bloom stepped through the portal, the humanised unicorn followed her until only Scootaloo remained. “See ya, Sunset! Thanks so much for doing this!”
“My pleasure, Scootaloo. Now get out of here.”
Scootaloo smiled, walking towards the wall under the statue and materialising into liquid. Sunset turned to the crusaders remaining.
“So girls, we still have an evening together before your sisters come get you. Wanna go to the mall?”
“Count me in!” Apple Bloom agreed.
Scootaloo’s face lit up. “You know it! I could really go for a burger.”
“I’m not surprised. There wasn’t any meat back in Equestria.” Sweetie Belle joked.
Sunset smiled. “Let’s go then!”
Apple Bloom, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle hastily proceeded to follow Sunset. Sunset looked down at all their happy faces as they walked towards the city mall.
Yeah, things are going to be just alrigh-
The group of four stopped and spotted Diamond Tiara coming up to them. “Hey, Diamond Tiara. How are things?” greeted Sweetie Belle.
“Great! My mother and I were just discussing more plans for donating money to the school and how it could provide trips for all our class to enjoy!”
“Really?! That’s awesome!” Scootaloo enthused.
“And none of it would have been possible if you hadn’t shown me the good side of who I was. I just wanted to say thanks again.”
“Hey, it’s what we do.” Scootaloo typically took a boastful smile. “Wha-
“Hey! What’s going on?!” Apple Bloom found herself being lifted into the air. Soon, a sparkly aura started to envelop her.
“Girls!” Sunset cried. She watched as they all were levitated into the air by the magical aura. She recognised the glow. “Oh no…”
Sweetie Belle gasped as either side of her head were suddenly blessed with…pony ears! Her normally short hair extended further down to her lower back and she began to feel so full of positive energy. As the aura dissipated, she floated down back to the ground.
“Woah!” cried Sweetie Belle as she moved her hands up to feel her unbelievably real pony ears.
“What happened to you?!” shrieked Diamond Tiara. Sweetie Belle looked to her freaked out ex-enemy and then to her friends. Apple Bloom had grown pony ears as well as extended hair as well whereas Scootaloo had only grown pony ears.
“Wait, what’s THIS?” Scootaloo took of her sports jacket to reveal two petit wings on either side of her. “NO WAY!!”