Life's Cruel, Unfair, and Needs More Cookies

by overlord-flinx

First published

Tell me with a straight face that I'm wrong.

The Filly Guides believe in three basic tenets:

Love your fellow mare.

Do onto others as you would have them do to you.

No filly left behind.

And somewhere between those three would be the rule that any Filly Guide must have all their basic merit badges by the end of their first year. Then again, that rule may be written between the lines of the welcome pamphlet they hand out at orientation. Who can say?

What can be said is that out of all the little fillies of Troop Two-Oh-One, Tag-A-Long has just one scout short of just one simple badge. Easy-peasy.

Edited by: Chaotic Note, AlicornPriest

Chapter One of One.

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The Filly Guides. Founded in a time long past, it stands today as the absolute pinnacle of discipline, grace, charity, and humility for all young fillies. Parents eagerly sign their little fillies up into the super elite that are the Filly Guides; they send them in as untested babes and expect them to leave as well-respected mares. Yet nopony ever truly leaves the sacred order of the Filly Guides. Truly, all mares young and old carry with them for all their lives the lessons they learned from their time as a Filly Guide for the rest of their days. These skills range from knowing how to carve a boat out of balsa wood, to how to negotiate your way through a live bomb defusal while wearing a blindfold.

But before any filly learns how to recite every precaution when dealing with every single kind of snake venom, they must start with their very first set of merit badges. These basic badges are one of the very few requisites that every single Filly Guide must acquire to progress through the ranks before the end of their first year. Much like the three basic tenets of being a Filly Guide—"Love your fellow mare," "Do onto others as you would have them do onto you", "No filly left behind"—the basic badges are vital to the very structure of the Guides.

Fire-making in a controlled environment.

Making a vehicle out of balsa wood. A boat, car, airplane, or board will do.

First aid: preferably on someone who does not need to be sent to the emergency room before or after.

Nature Hiking anywhere that has a tree within twenty feet.

Camping for a full twenty-four hours outside of hospitable living.

And, of course, the entrepreneur badge. Or as it's better known, the Filly Guide Cookie badge.

With these six badges sewn to your sash, you can truly call yourself a Filly Guide. Yet missing even one by the end of your first year after initiation, there can be no other option but to discharge you from the Guides without a refund. (Which is unfortunate, because those Guide uniforms and outings are not cheap.) But outside of the parents having to suffer for their filly failing to be a Guide, the Troop Leader is left disgraced by the failure. No self respecting leader allows even a single Guide-prospect to drop out due to not collecting their basic badges.

After all, there will always be tenet three:

No filly left behind.

"All you have to do is knock on the door, show them the wagon, and say, 'Hello, sir-or-madam, I'm going door to door selling Filly Guide cookies. Would you like to buy some to support Troop Two-Oh-One?'." Tag-A-Long recited the usual sales-pitch with a practiced ease to her fellow Filly Guide.

Like a proud Guide, Scootaloo shot her Troop Leader a firm salute, tapped a hoof to her visor to adjust it for 'serious-business', and marched herself up to the door of the house they stationed themselves at for this most critical mission. For the briefest of moments, the young pegasi fussed with her neckerchief so it looked as straight as straight could be; just in case whoever answered the door had some problem with crooked neck-wear. She wasn’t going to repeat that mistake again today.

With a tip-tap of her hoof against the wooden face of the door, Scootaloo let herself be known to her would-be buyers. Hearing the muffled scuffles of hooves against hardwood, Scootaloo shot a hopefully optimistic look over her shoulder to Tag-a-Long, who welcomed the look with an approving hoofs-up. Scootaloo returned her sight to the front door when she heard it open, welcoming her to the fresh sight of an older mare looking down at her with a warm smile.

"Why, hello," the mare chirped.

Little pegasus wings beat against Scootaloo's sides as pride filled her heart. With a simple waving gesture of her hoof, she pointed out the wagon of Filly Guide cookies rolled up right next to Tag-a-Long, who was also doing her part to wave her hooves at the trove of cookies with all of the theatrics of somepony showing off a 'glamorous prize'. The older mare couldn't help but snicker at just how adorable the two were being, but this was by no means adorable for them. This was serious business. Scootaloo cleared her throat as she fixed her stature, ushering the mare to focus back on her so she could deliver her pitch.

"'Hello, sir-or-madam, I'm going door to door selling Cookie Guide fillies. Would you like to buy some to support Troop... One-Two-Oh'?" The practiced ease that Tag-a-Long delivered as well as the words themselves was lost in translation as Scootaloo recited the pitch 'word-for-word' with the smoothness of a rock going through a wood-chipper.

The mare smiled through it while she tried to hold back the laugh bubbling up inside of her to spare Scootaloo's feelings. Luckily, Tag-a-Long saved the older mare the trouble as she was quickly at Scootaloo's side, box of cookies balanced on her hoof.

"Here you go, ma'am. On the house. Sorry for the trouble." Tag-a-Long could not have rushed Scootaloo out of the mare's yard faster if she wanted to, leaving the box of 'sorry' cookies behind to cover their tracks.

Back at it again, Tag-a-Long returned to trudging the wagon behind her while Scootaloo walked beside her with a rather defeated look. "So... I messed that up, right?" Scootaloo asked with a dawning frown.

Yes. Yes she most certainly did. However... "No..." Tag-a-Long relented, releasing the handle of the wagon from her mouth in favor of using one of her hooves so she could talk, "I messed up. I should have said 'if it's a stallion, say sir; if it's a mare, say ma'am'. Also, it's not the best thing to do forgetting what Troop we are on the spot or getting the name of the Guides wrong. But---know what?---I threw you in blind knowing you learn better with more direction." As troop leader, it was Tag-a-Long's duty to know each filly under her command inside and out.

"Guess you're right. Remember the firemaking mess?" Scootaloo chuckled.


"Get on the ground!"

"It's gonna blow!"

"I try to forget..." Tag-a-Long replied with a dead, thousand yard stare off into the distance.

"But no problem. I'm sure we'll nail the next one!" Scootaloo's little wings fluttered at her sides in enthusiasm.

"Yeah... You know... Scootaloo? I never really asked you... Do you want to pass your first year?" An honest question.

"Sure. I mean, it'd be real cool, right? We get to defuse bombs and stuff later! You don't get to do that in Summer school," Scootaloo scoffed at the idea.

Tag-a-Long looked off into the distance again, the sound of crackling fire and half of Everfree burning to the ground still fresh in her eyes. "Uhhh... Because you saved the cookie badge for last. I mean... Normally it's the first badge Guides get." Tag-a-Long buried her pain yet again.

"Well, yeah... But I always thought it was sooooo hard. Can't we just set up shop somewhere? I mean, why we gotta do it like this?"

"Why do it like this?" Now that wasn't a question she expected. But, it was one that could set up for a life-changing answer. "We just go at it knowing that even one little box makes all the difference. That one box is everything. It funds our uniforms, our trips, our-our-our balsa wood supply. The entire Guide establishment is built on these cookies! And every time we sell a box, we're adding another brick to that foundation for generations and troops to come! That's how we do it, Scootaloo! We do it because we know we have to! Not only for the future Guides—no! But for the buyers. Because-because, shucks! The world—life!—is so mean and nasty. It kicks you when you're down and steals your hat for the umpteenth time even though it knows you have to replace it every single time and your piggy-bank is almost empty! Because at the end of the day, life needs more cookies because cookies make it all better! So we are slamming cookies in life's face and giving other ponies the power to stand up with that one box!"

Scootaloo simply looked at Tag-a-Long in awe once she finished her grandiose speech. Truth be told, Tag-a-Long was quickly embarrassed with herself once her mind caught up with her mouth. "Oh, but, you know... That's just my take on it." Still, Scootaloo looked at Tag-a-Long as if she had said the secret to life, "W-what? Why're you looking at me like that? D-Did my speech training pay off? Do you think I can apply for my 'Speaking to the Ponies' badge?"

"No, it's not that."


"I'm just surprised! I only have to sell one box?" Scootaloo nearly gasped at her own realization.

"What? Of course! Did you think we had to sell the entire wagon at once?" If silence had a face it would have been the blank stare Scootaloo was giving to Tag-a-Long in that moment. "Oh... You thought you had to sell the entire wagon to one person..."

"Weeeeeell... Yeah," Scootaloo snorted a little laugh, "But! If I only have to sell one to one pony... I think I can manage that."

"Are you sure? Because before that last house, you tried to sell cookies to Sugarcube Corner," Tag-a-Long reminded with a skeptical tone.

"And she almost bought 'em! Except... She tried to pay in jelly beans." In Scootaloo's mind it seemed like a fair trade even at the time.

"Rule Number Two: Accept only checks, cash, credit, or gold doubloons," Tag-a-Long did not miss a beat with reciting from the Filly Guide's Guidebook in response to Scootaloo.

"Anyway, like I said, I think I can manage selling one box of cookies!" Scootaloo was nearly boasting at this point, her chest popped out to show off all of her merit badges, one of which still had char marks on it.

"Oh yeah? How do you know?"

In a matter of fact tone, Scootaloo said, "because I sold one to Rainbow Dash while you were talking about how cookies were bricks and how life stole your hat."

"Wait, what? How did you sell one? Until just now, you thought you had to sell them all in bulk."

"I was gonna hope you didn't count them at the end of the day," Scootaloo answered with a flat frankness.

Disbelief shot across Tag-a-Long's face and she looked at Scootaloo to see that she had in fact a few spare bits in hoof jingling about for Tag-a-Long to see. Stuck in a state of shock, Tag-a-Long's hoofhold on the wagon handle faded and she allowed it to fall. Gleefully Scootaloo scooped up the reins and started to tug the wagon along behind her with new-found ambition.

"If I can just sell one box to everyone I meet, I'll have this wagon empty in no time!" Her fluttering wings aided in kicking the little pegasus off down the road in a blur, leaving Tag-a-Long still dumbstruck in the dust.

In the end, no matter how it was pulled off or by who, Scootaloo was going to get that last badge now. Which would save Scootaloo from being booted out of the Guides, spared Tag-a-Long the shame of losing a Guide to the initiation test, and fund a little bit more into the Filly Guide system. Tag-a-Long released a tired sigh and looked off down the road at the ecstatic Scootaloo bounding up to every pony she could find to dump some of her cookie supplies on. She did look happy. Which, in the end, was all Tag-a-Long was really—

"Scootaloo, watch out for that ga—!"


"Step away from the cart!"

"Why are they still burning?!"

It was going to be charred... again. But, Scootaloo would still be getting that badge and Tag-a-Long would still be spared the humiliation. But the Guides would be putting a lot of cookie sale profits to paying off for the gas-line Scootaloo ran her wagon into. Not to mention all the lost cookies caught in the blaze. All in all...

It was a repeat of the firemaking...

...Which was a repeat of the camping trip.

Surely, the life of a Guide is strange, hectic, and just a little flammable. But, if nothing else, it goes great with cookies.