My Past Is Today

by Hawker Hurricane

First published

There's a new student at CHS and the girls are eager to welcome the new arrival.

There's a new student at CHS and the girls are eager to welcome the new arrival.

He refuses to disclose any personal information about himself and shuns any attempt at making friends with 'bloody teenagers'.

What, if anything, is he hiding?

Chapter - 1 - The New Arrival

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"If there's nothing else, then I welcome you to Canterlot High School."

"Thank you, Principal Celestia."

The new student, after shaking her hand, left the principal's office and headed for his first class of the day.

Physics.

Not that he minded, seeing as he could do it.

Looking at the map of the school, he quickly made his way to the science labs. Along the way he attracted the attention of the other students, many of whom began whispering amongst themselves at the sight of him; immediately recognising him as a new student.

Finally finding the room, he saw that the rest of the class were waiting outside. Rather than mingle with them, he instead leant against a wall and tried to mind his own business.

Tried, being a key word.

"Hey there! My Pinkie Sense sensed there was a new guy in school! My name is Pinkie Pie! What's your name?!"

"Pinkie Pie!"

The new student looked to see another student, a girl with white skin and purple hair, pull her away.

"What have we said about scaring new students?"

Pinkie groaned, "You said not to do it."

"Correct."

"But how would I introduce myself and welcome them to CHS?!"

"You can do that without jumping in front of them and yelling in their face."

The purple haired girl walked over and extended her hand, "Please forgive Pinkie, she just gets excited at meeting new people. I'm Rarity."

The new student shook Rarity's hand, "Axle Rod."

"Pleasure, darling. You must be new around town, I don't recall ever seeing you."

"I'm from out of town, I'd rather not go into detail. It's not important."

"Fair enough. Would you like to meet my other friends?"

"I'd rather to keep myself to myself. I prefer being alone."

"Oh," Rarity replied, stunned at the rebuttal.

"Don't misunderstand," Axle replied, "I'd just prefer to settle in first."

Rarity seemed to brighten a bit,"I suppose that's understandable. You are new here, after all."

She began to rummage around in her bag and soon pulled out a blue plastic headband with what looked like yellow cat ears.

"Errr, what are they?" Axle asked.

"Pony ears," Rarity replied, "The school mascot is a horse and these are sometimes worn by students, every student owns a pair. It's sort of like an identity of sorts, something that identifies is as Canterlot Wondercolts."

Rarity noticed the hesitation in Axle's behaviour and was quick to reassure him, "You don't have to wear them darling, but no one will mock you if you do."

To prove the point, Rarity donned the pair she had in her hands, and got another out of her bag, "Take them darling, consider them a welcoming gift."

Well, I suppose there's no need to be rude, Axle thought.

"Thank you," he replied, taking them from her.

"You're welcome darling."

The door to the lab opened revealing a bearded man in a tweed mustard jacket, red tie, beige trousers and brown shoes.

"Enter into my realm of chaos, little children."

The students filed into the lab, with Axle trailing behind. As he passed the lab professor though, he eyed Axle with a curious, suspicious look.

Axle tried to ignore it and walked into the lab, quickly finding a seat next on his own while the teacher left in the opposite direction.

Getting out a notebook, Axle became very aware of many pairs of eyes looking at him and whispering things amongst themselves. He could make most of it out but the bits he did hear where nothing beyond 'Must be the new kid'.

Everyone quietly sat down just in time for the teacher to walk in.

"Good morning, everyone."

"Good morning, Professor Discord," they chorused back.

Discord looked at his papers and remembered the memo from Celestia informing him of the new student. Discord looked around the room and it didn't take long to spot him. The pony ears on the desk signalled him out.

"As you can see we have a new student," he began as everyone looked at Axle, "And as I'm sure all of us welcome our new Wondercolt to CHS."

The students in the room cheered and Axle could hear things like 'You rock!' and 'CHS RULE!'.

"Yes Miss Heartstrings?" said Discord as he noticed her hand in the air.

"I just thought that CHS's newest Wondercolt should introduce himself."

I'd rather shave my pubes off with a rusty razor blade than stand up and speak in front of people.

Discord seemed to realise Axle's reluctance and pounced, "What a wonderful idea Miss Heartstrings. Do come on up young man. Indulge us with your life story."

Axle hesitated.

"Come on now, don't be shy," Discord added.

Axle hesitantly got up and walked to the front of the class, consciously aware of the many pairs of eyes watching him. He stood in front of the whiteboard and turned around and was about to introduce himself when the classroom door burst open.

"Sorry we're late."

Axle watched as a blue skinned girl with rainbow hair, and another girl with light amber skin and bacon hair burst in.

"Late again Miss Dash, Miss Shimmer," said Discord, unamused at their tardiness.

"Sorry Professor," the bacon haired girl replied.

Axle watched as Rainbow went to sit down next to Rarity while the bacon haired one went and sat at the table he was at.

"Axle?"

Axle looked to his right and noticed Discord motioning for him to start talking.

"Errr yyyes. Hi people. My name is Axle Rod and as you can probably guess, I'm new here. I've been told this school is a friendly and welcoming place."

The students clapped a small bit including Discord. Axle felt a mix of embarrassment and relief. Embarrassment at having to stand up in front of people and speak but relief at not making a tit of himself.

"Wonderful Axle, wonderful," clapped Discord, "Though I must ask, since your accent is noticeably different,.....you are not actually a Prenchman, are you; and disguising your accent?

"Err, no. I'm definitely not a Fr-Prenchman."

"Oh good," Discord replied with a sigh of relief, "I do hate Prenchman, particularly bald ones with a penchant for giving speeches on how superior they think they are."

Axle ignored the odd remark and went back to his seat, next to the bacon haired girl, unaware how lucky he was to sit next to one of the most desirable and well liked girls in school.

"Hi, I'm Sunset Shimmer," she said, extending a hand.

Axle took the hand and shook it, "Pleasure."

Now sitting next to Sunset, Axle got out pen and paper like the other students did. Discord approached with a science textbook that is given to each student at the start of the year. A brand new copy as well with no rips, scuff marks or anything. It was in pristine condition. He wrote his name in the cover in the allocated space and waited for the lesson to begin.

"Today the topic of the lesson is space, the final frontier."

There was a murmur of excitement at the topic. The students knew that while Professor Discord was a highly respected theoretical physicist and cosmologist, his true passion was teaching and Discord had his own unique way of doing it. Professor Discord's lessons were never boring.

"Axle, what is space?" asked Discord.

Axle shrugged, "An area that isn't full?"

Axle felt a little tense at seeing the Professor's stern expression.

Which then morphed into a hearty belly laugh.

"I like you Mr Axle Rod. I foresee you doing well in my classes."

Discord left the room momentarily leaving the students alone. As he went outside however, he stopped as as thought crossed his mind.

Why do I feel like I've done this before? he wondered, Oh well, it's probably nothing.

Meanwhile, back in the classroom, Axle looked around the room expecting blood curdling glares due to seemingly becoming teachers pet; but as he looked around he saw everyone giving him the thumbs up and smiling at him.

"Way to go Axle," some of the students said enthusiastically.

Axle looked at them confused, "You're not all angry at me at getting praise from the teacher?"

The students looked at each other and shook their heads.

"What made you think we'd be angry at you?" asked Lyra.

"Well at my old school if a student got praise from a teacher they usually got their shins kicked or hit with a hockey stick in P.E."

"Well that's totally not cool," replied Rainbow Dash, "Besides, Professor Discord is the coolest teacher in school."

"Really?" asked Axle.

"Yeah, totally," Rainbow replied coolly.

"So I'm worrying over nothing?"

The students nodded and murmured affirmatives. Discord re-entered the room with what appeared to be a DVD in his hand.

"To start off with," he began, "We'll be watching a short documentary on the Universe, specifically black holes. Afterwards there'll be a worksheet with a few questions for you to answer."

Discord switched on the TV and put the DVD in the player. The whole class watched with keen interest as the documentary played, even Rainbow Dash showed an interest. The documentary was quite informative and well put together, if a little short at forty five minutes. During the documentary Discord went around the room putting a worksheet in front of each student.

The documentary finished and the students began filling in the worksheet. The questions weren't too difficult, not for Axle anyway. Questions included 'How large must a star be to become a Black Hole?' and 'What is the Electron Degeneracy Pressure?'

Discord allowed the students to talk to their desk partner, he didn't mind it so long as the students completed their work to a satisfactory standard. Axle and Sunset decided to help each other out to which she was grateful, even calling Axle 'egghead'.

Every student finished the worksheet in time for the bell sounding for morning break. The students packed their bags and made their way out of the room, handing in their worksheets on the way out.

As they headed out, Pinkie, Rainbow and Rarity caught up with Sunset and Axle.

"So did you enjoy your first lesson at CHS?" asked Sunset.

"Yeah it was good," he replied modestly.

"Good?" repeated Pinkie, "Professor Discord was really impressed with you, he has an odd sense of humour and it's really rare he laughs at another person's jokes."

"So what you're saying is that on my first day, I've got myself in the good books of the coolest teacher in school?"

"Yeah, that's pretty much it," summed up Sunset.

"So, where to now?" asked Axle.

"Next is break, then third period then lunch."


Lunchtime came fairly quickly and Axle was stood in line in the canteen, eyeing up what was on the menu. There was a reasonable amount to choose from but Axle settled on a simple choice of sausages and chips with a glass of water. Paying for his meal he quickly found an empty table, preferring to keep his own company rather than mingle with the students.

It wasn't long before his blissful peace and solitude was disturbed.

"Mind if we join you?"

Axle looked up to see the girls from earlier, as well as some newcomers. Despite being asked, he didn't get a chance to answer before the six girls sat down anyway.

"Go ahead," Axle replied. "Make yourselves comfortable."

"So, Axle" Rarity started, "How are you finding CHS so far?"

"Well enough. Who are you lot anyway?" he asked, motioning to the others.

"My other friend," replied Rarity, "Applejack and Fluttershy."

Axle looked to the girls, "Hi."

"Howdy partner," Applejack replied, extending a hand.

Axle took the hand but wasn't expecting the iron grip of the farm girl. His hand felt like it was being crushed in a vice.

"Pleasure," Axle replied, trying not to show signs of pain, "And you must be Fluttershy."

"Erm, yes.....it's nice to meet you," she replied timidly.

"Likewise."

"What are your plans after school?" asked Sunset.

"Going home."

"Why?"

"I live there."

Axle looked up to see the girls all giving him unamused, deadpan expressions.

"What?" he asked, not sure what had gotten them miffed.

"There's no need to be like that," Sunset replied, "I was just asking what you were doing after school, you didn't have to be all snarky with me!"

"I wasn't, I was just being straight to the point."

"I was going to ask if you wanted to join my friends and I as we're going to the cinema after school but if you're going to be a jerk you can forget it!"

Sunset grabbed her tray and stormed off, soon followed by her friends; most of whom were giving him stern glares also.

Axle could only watch in bafflement as the girls found another table to sit at, leaving him alone once more.

"Bloody teenagers."


The end of the school day finally came, much to Axle's relief. Word had gotten around about his spat with Sunset and the others and several other students were giving him the cold shoulder or 'accidentally' bumping into him. It was nothing he couldn't handle though, and he guessed by that by the end of the week they'd have forgotten all about it and moved on.

Walking outside of the school and into the courtyard, he passed the Wondercolt statue and onto the pavement leading into town.

Students were still giving him cold glares and muttering probably unpleasant things about him, but he paid them no attention as he had business to attend to in town.

He hadn't seen the girls though since fourth period, as his final lesson P.E. was a boys only group; where he met Flash Sentry.

Jumped up little prick, thought Axle, thinking back to meeting him and being accused of being rude to Sunset.

Before he could get far however, he heard a distinctively familiar voice.

"AXLE ROD!"

Axle turned around to see a fuming Sunset approach, her face as red as her hair and clenching her fists, "Why did you hurt Flash in football?!"

"I didn't."

"He says you deliberately tackled him hard on the shins!"

"He had shin pads on."

Sunset was almost beside herself in fury, her face becoming almost as red as her hair, "What difference does that make?!"

"If he didn't have them then his legs would have been severely bruised rather than quite bruised, so wearing shin pads made that difference."

"You're a jerk! I don't know why we bothered trying to be friends!"

Before Axle could respond, Sunset stormed off back to her friends who had heard the commotion. Amongst the things he heard from the girls included 'arsehole' and 'uncouth brute'.

Unfortunately, they were headed in the same direction as him.

As he walked into town, he could feel the eyes of the girls burning into his back; no doubt they were thinking all manner of unpleasantries about him.

The journey into town felt like it took longer than it did, no doubt to the girls following him, but once they reached the shopping district he could easily lose them in the maze of roads and alleyways. He just hoped that he wouldn't run into them again, at least not until school again tomorrow.

His destination was a supermarket to get some more food for the week, having not done a proper shopping trip, only recurring visits to the corner shop. Grabbing a trolley, he went inside and quickly worked his way around the store filling up the trolley with various foodstuffs including chicken breast, bacon, beef steak, chips, beef burgers, ice cream, crisps, biscuits, crackers, cheese, chocolate, ham, pasta, bread, milk, pizza, toilet roll, tea bags, assortments of vegetables and fruit amongst other things.

Pity I can't buy booze again.

As he was going around the store however, he caught a glimpse of red and yellow hair from behind some bakery shelves.

The creepy fuckers are following me!

Rather than confront them, he decided to feign ignorance and continue his shopping, deciding to grab a copy of a Blu-ray film that had peaked his curiosity.

"Daring Do and the Quest For The Sapphire Stone: Extended Edition. Sounds like Indiana Jones."

He put it in his trolley along with a copy of The Equestrian Times, a broadsheet newspaper, and a TV guide magazine.

Deciding his shopping was done, he headed for the checkouts and once again spotted one of the girls, this time Rainbow, hiding behind a display shelf.

Those girls must think I was born yesterday if they think I don't know they're following me.

He once more decided to feign ignorance and headed for the most empty checkout he could find and quickly unloaded his shopping onto the conveyor bet, eager to get home and get out of sight of the creepy stalker girls.

Paying for his shopping and bagging it up, he checked to see if the coast was clear before heading out.

Not seeing them he made his way to the exit, heading for home. The girls stalking having unnerved him and out him off wanting to look around a little more.

What he saw next though quickly turned annoyance into delight.

Rainbow, Sunset and Applejack were being spoken to by store security guards just beside the reception desk. Fortunately for him, the girls had their back to him allowing him a clean escape. He didn't know where the others were and didn't care, he just wanted to get home and have his tea.

"Tomorrow is going to be interesting."


Half an hour later, he was finally home having walked all the way. He unlocked the door to his apartment and went inside, locking the door behind him. His apartment was in a newly built block and featured a combined kitchen and living room, two bedrooms and bathroom. The living room also had access to a small balcony with views of the city centre and its towering skyscrapers, all lit up in their illuminated glory.

Now to put this shit away, he thought, looking down at his shopping.

Within a few minutes though, the shopping was put away and a quick shower later he began making his tea. A jacket potato loaded with grated cheese. Simple but tasty.

Before he could start though, his phone rang.

"Hello?" he said, answering it.

"Hi Axle, it's Shining."

"Hey Shining, how's things at the station?"

"Things are going OK. How about you? Are you settling in well?"

"Well enough."

"I'm sensing something is bothering you."

"Just some teenage girls. Nothing I can't handle."

"Well if they keep causing problems then just give me a call and we'll sort it out."

"Sure."

"What else is troubling you? You sound aggravated."

Axle sighed, "I'm just not used to being in this situation again, dependant on others, having less control over my life."

"I understand, I'd feel the same way. But be rest assured that we will do everything we can to help you, but for obvious reasons you need to play your part."

"Yeah, I guess. Anyway, how's Twilight?"

"She's OK."

"That translates to she panicking over Everton."

"Pretty much, you know how she is."

"Yeah, she a nice girl is Twilight."

"You interested?"

"Nah, she's too young for me."

Uproarious laughter could be heard down the phone, "Only I and a few others would get that joke."

"A privileged few, though I get the feeling that the girls I mentioned are going to start poking their noses in. They were following me around earlier after I left CHS."

"Where did they follow you to?"

"The supermarket, and they followed me around inside but as I left they'd been collared by security."

"Good, you think they'll give you stick for it tomorrow?"

"If they had any intelligence they wouldn't bring it up, but that Rainbow Dash strikes me as someone who acts before she thinks, and that Sunset Shimmer I've discovered has somewhat of an interesting history herself."

"You're telling me, certain reports about that school have been sealed by people on a far higher salary than me."

"I take it you know nothing then, or can't tell me."

"I've only heard rumours, but I'd rather not discuss it given my job."

"Fair enough."

"Well, if there's nothing else, I'll leave you to settle for the night. Goodnight Axle."

"Night, Shining."

Shining hung up and Axle put the phone back in his pocket.

At least I have some allies here. Tomorrow is going to be fun though.

Chapter - 2 - Dawn Of The Second Day

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As he expected, Axle was still being given stern glares as he walked into his form room at CHS. Upon his entry into the room, the room went so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Taking his seat, Axle could still feel the glares burning into his back.

"Morning people," he said with a smug smile, "How are we all today?"

"Shut up, Axle!"

Axle turned to who was speaking.

One on the 'cool' kids. Damn teenagers, don't realise how pathetic they can be at times.

"Something the matter?" he asked.

"Stop pretending you haven't done anything wrong!" the student yelled back.

"I don't know what you're talking about, I only said good morning."

"You know what you did!"

"Then please enlighten me because I do not know what I've done that would warrant this hostile environment."

"There was no need to speak to Sunset like you did yesterday! She and her friends were only trying to be friendly!"

"True, and I answered a question with a straightforward answer and that, for some reason, upset them."

"You were rude," a different student answered, a girl this time, "We were there, we saw what happened."

"How was I rude? I just stated that I'd be going home because I live there, they were the ones that stormed off in a huff."

"Because you were rude!"

"No, they just acted like the silly little girls that they are!"

"Don't call them-"

"WHAT IS ALL THIS SHOUTING?!"

"Miss Harshwhinny!" the same female student yelped in fear.

Everyone looked over to see the form tutor walk in, considered the strictest teacher in the school by students and teachers alike; even more strict than Vice-Principal Luna. Striding over to the group with an air of authority exuberating around her, she stopped in front of the group instilling a small sense of fear in them. To Axle however, she reminded him of his old geography teacher. Someone you messed with at your own peril.

"I asked a question," Miss Harshwhinny repeated sternly.

"We were having a difference of opinion regarding an incident yesterday in the canteen," Axle replied.

Miss Harshwhinny walked up to Axle and eyed him for several seconds before speaking again, "You must be Axle Rod."

"Yes ma'am," Axle replied, "I started yesterday, but only at second period. Vice-Principal Luna gave me a tour of the school during registration and first period."

"Yes, Principal Celestia informed me of the situation. As much as I admire your manners and courtesy, I do not like however, shouting in my classroom. If you have want to have an argument, save it for the playing fields, not in here. Understood?"

"Yes ma'am."

The admonishment of Axle, a new student, brought a small amount of glee to the other students who watched on stifling giggles.

"And that goes for yourselves also," Miss Harshwhinny said sternly, directing her attention to the arguing group, immediately wiping the smiles off of their faces, "Is that clear?"

"Yes Miss Harshwhinny," the chorused fearfully.

"Good, now take your seats; registration will be starting shortly and I have some important things to get through and I will not tolerate delays."

The students grumbled as they took their seats, as Miss Harshwhinny walked out of the room. As she approached the door, it opened.

"Good morning Miss Harshwhinny."

"Good morning Sunset."

Fuck no. Don't tell me we're in the same form group.

As the door closed, Sunset came to a dead stop and the bright, warm smile on her face disappeared when she saw Axle. In its place was a cold, hard glare colder than a Crystal Mountain blizzard.

"You're sitting in my chair."

"Good morning to you too."

"Don't start being rude again."

"Says the one who greeted me this fine morning with 'you're sitting in my chair'."

"But you are sitting in my place!" she replied, scowling.

"If you want me to move, all you have to do is ask."

"You should have asked if anyone was already sitting there before you sat down."

"These lot could have said something," Axle replied, pointing at the other students.

"You could have asked them!"

"Look! It's clear that we're not going to see eye-to-eye on this, and it's clear you're too pig ignorant and bad mannered to ask politely, so I'll save you the painful task of asking and I'll just move."

Axle stood up, grabbing his bag, and moved to find another seat.

"Is there any seat here that isn't taken?"

Everyone immediately pointed to one seat in particular.

My spidey sense tells me there's a different reason they've pointed to this seat.

Despite his suspicions, he went over to the seat and sat down, noting the snickers coming from the other students, including Sunset.

"Something amusing?"

"Oh nothing," replied Sunset.

Axle ignored the continuing snickers from the other students and waited for registration to begin. The form room slowly began filling up which included the return of Miss Harshwhinny who was now sat at her desk sorting out papers. From Axle's position, they had the familiar look of consent forms, though what for he had no idea. There was idle chatter amongst the class as they waited for the bell to ring, and as they did the door opened once more to reveal another student.

"On time this morning, Miss Lulamoon?"

"Trixie endeavoured to be on time today."

As Trixie walked towards her seat, she noted Axle sitting in the seat besides hers. As she approached her seat, she could hear the snickering and stifled giggles of the other students.

Trixie bets that they have tried to set him up.

She sat down and immediately stunned the room into silence when she extended her hand.

"Trixie welcomes you to CHS."

"Pleasure, I'm Axle," he replied, taking her hand and shaking it.

"Trixie heard you had an encounter with some rude students yesterday," she said, glancing a harsh scowl in Sunset's direction.

"You could say that."

"Well, Trixie is sure she won't make the same mistake."

Before the conversation could continue, the bell rang signalling the start of registration. Once it finished ringing, Miss Harshwhinny got straight to business and went through the register.

"A full house today," she said, "Good, it saves me from having to explain it again or getting one of you to only relay half of the message."

She picked up a stack of papers from her desk and began placing them on the desks in front of each student.

"These are consent forms the IT department have asked to be handed out to each student in your year. Apparently doing it themselves is too much to ask, but anyway, you need to get these signed by your parents or guardians if you wish to visit the new Simulator World just prior to Hearth's Warming Break."

As she approached Trixie and a unsettled looking Axle, Miss Harshwhinny spoke again.

"Mr Axle Rod, I'm aware of your situation and I've been told you are exempt from requiring consent on this occasion."

"What kind of situation?" the same girl student from before demanded to know.

"A special kind of situation called 'Mind Your Own Damn Business'."

"Why you-"

"ENOUGH!" bellowed Miss Harshwhinny, her short fuse blown, "Any more arguments and the entire class will be in detention!"

Nothing like the threat of detention to get students to behave.

Miss Harshwhinny went back to her desk and sat down, "Moving onto the next issue, on the last day of term there will be a Hearth's Warming Party where all students are invited to attend. There will also be a performance by the Rainbooms and festive attire is strongly encouraged."

Cheers erupted around the room much to Miss Harshwhinny's annoyance, though she did nothing to stop it. As the cheering died down however, one student voiced a different opinion.

"Sounds rather boring actually, and who would call themselves 'The Rainboom's'? Sounds like some Gay Pride Band."

Everyone looked to Axle and there was no shortage of annoyed looks, the only exceptions being Miss Harshwhinny, who looked mildly amused; and Trixie who looked positively delighted.

"Excuse me?!" Sunset spat incredulously.

"Save the arguments for later Miss Shimmer," Miss Harshwhinny said.

Sunset reluctantly complied, but stared daggers at Axle along with the rest of the class, except for Trixie.


"He called our band WHAT?!" an incredulous Rainbow screamed.

"He said it sounded like a Gay Pride band," Sunset answered, "I swear he's just asking for trouble."

"Well when I see him at lunch I'm gonna pound his face!"

"That's not very nice," Fluttershy timidly added, "We might have gotten off on the wrong foot but that doesn't mean we should hurt him or be mean ourselves."

"Fluttershy's right," Rarity added, "Maybe we did overreact a little and certain individuals did themselves no favours following him when he did his shopping."

"You followed him too," Rainbow Dash replied, "We all did."

"We all walked into town which just happened to be where he was going," Rarity replied, "But three certain individuals, who shall not be named, then followed him around a supermarket and watched him doing his shopping from behind shelves and displays."

"Yeah that was kinda dumb," Sunset replied, rubbing the back of her neck, "Good thing I don't shop there."

"My parents do," Rainbow replied, "It's gonna be awkward when I'll have to tell them when I can't go in with them on Saturday."

"Will they ground you?"

"Ground me? Hah! More like they'll celebrate my 'First Ban From a Supermarket!'"

"Yer kiddin'?"

"Nope. Deadly serious."

"We're getting off topic," Sunset said, "We need to decide on what to do with Axle."

"Maybe we should force him to accept our friendship?" suggested Rainbow firmly.

"We kinda tried that," Sunset replied, "Look how that turned out."

"Maybe I should throw him a party and guilt trip him into accepting our friendship?"

"Maybe we should just leave him alone?"

At that suggestion everyone looked to Fluttershy who soon began feeling herself grow smaller as many pairs of eyes looked down upon her.

"Whatd'ya mean 'Shy?"

"We'll, maybe he just doesn't want to be friends with us. We didn't exactly have a good introduction."

"Fluttershy's right," replied Sunset, slamming her fist into her other palm, "We should let him be and if he does become our friend, then he becomes our friend; and if he's not interested.....then fine."

"But why wouldn't he want to be our friend?" Pinkie screamed.

"It could be any number of reasons. Maybe Princess Twilight would know?"

"You could always write to her darling, if anyone help then she can."

"And what if she can't?" asked Rainbow.

"Then Axle's a lost cause."

Everyone looked to Sunset with a mix of shock and horror, prompting Sunset to flail her arms in the air, "Oh, come on! It's a joke! If the Princess of FRIENDSHIP can't help him then who can?!"

"We can," replied Fluttershy, "We helped you, didn't we?"


Lunch time once again rolled around and Forte, having the foresight to bring his own lunch today to avoid running into the girls. Rather than go to the canteen, he went to the auditorium to have his lunch in peace and quiet. Unfortunately, the room wasn't as vacant as he anticipated as he saw the very people he had hoped to avoid.

"For fuck's sake," he muttered.

Unfortunately for him again, the acoustics of the hall made him quite audible to the girls.

"Such uncouth language!"

"Oh, piss off Madame Almighty! I came here in the hopes I'd avoid you girls but it seems I can't even have that!"

Before the girls could answer, Axle began to leave.

"Axle, wait!"

He turned around to see Fluttershy running at him.

"Please don't leave."

"Why not?"

"We were about to start band practice, you can watch if you want to."

"You mean your band that, by the name alone I would avoid like I would a bullet?"

"There's nothing wrong with my band's name!"

"OUR BAND!"

Fluttershy turned back to Axle, "Please don't leave, it would be nice if you could give us your opinion."

"Why do you want my opinion?"

"We know the other students like our songs, but we don't know if you do."

"Does it matter?"

"I suppose not, but would it really hurt to listen? Just once?"

"Fine," Axle huffed, "But if I don't like it you can't hound me for it, I'm entitled to my opinion."

"That's OK, thank you anyway," Fluttershy replied giving Axle a sweet smile and a hug, surprising him.

Axle returned the hug, "OK, OK, just keep this mushy stuff to the minimum."

"Now you're talking sense," Rainbow said aloud, "Come on girls, let's do, 'Perfect Day For Fun'."

The girls took their positions on stage whilst Axle took a seat from the side, making himself comfortable a few feet in front of the stage. Within a few moments they began playing.

Oh, aw aw oh, oh, oh, aw oh uh
Oh, aw aw oh, oh, oh

Looking forward to some fun
Knowing all our friends will come
'Cause we're here to spend the day
Everybody come and play

Let's all pick a meeting place
And we're gonna have to race
Everybody follow me
This is where we're gonna be!

With my best friends, though we're different
We feel like we still belong
And every day it makes our friendship strong

Let's go find some games to win
Everybody's joining in
'Cause we're having such a blast

Doesn't matter win or lose
When we always are amused
My friends stand out in a crowd
Having fun and laughing loud!

With my best friends, we can depend
They will always follow through
It's a perfect day for fun when I spend it with you

Oh, aw aw oh, oh, oh, aw oh uh
Oh, aw aw oh, oh, oh

Taking photos with my friends
Never want this day to end
But the time is going fast
So come on and make it last

Get the band up on the stage
Doesn't matter what your age
Hear the music, now's your chance
Everybody start to dance!

With my best friends, though we're different
We feel like we still belong
And every day it makes our friendship strong

With my best friends, we can depend
They will always follow through
There's a guarantee for fun when I spend it with you

Whilst the girls cheered at the end of their song, Axle just remained seated and motionless, showing no sign of emotion as he finished eating his sandwich. Their playing though had drawn a crowd of passing students who had entered the auditorium and began watching the girls. Once the song had ended they erupted into cheers.

"Rainbooms Rule!"

Feeling energised by the applause, Rainbow took the mike off of Sunset, "Hey there CHS! Are you ready to rock?!"

The students all began cheering and hollering, filling the auditorium with a cacophony of teenage wailing, much to Axle's displeasure.

Fucking kids these days.

"'Friendship Through The Ages' guys!" Rainbow bellowed.

Nothing stays the same for long
But when it changes doesn't mean it's gone
Time will always get away
As it leaves behind another day

Things may come and things may go
Some go fast and some go slow
Few things last, that's all I know
But friendship carries on through the ages

Things may come and things may go
Some go fast and some go slow
Few things last, that's all I know
But friendship carries on through the ages

Been around for a long time
Rocking out hard 'cause I'm in my prime
Maybe it'll change further down the line
But my friendship carries on through the ages

Every single style has something
Different it can say
There's nothing wrong with being unique
And special in your own way

Maybe you wanna be a pop star
Get your fifteen minutes of fame, wha, ah! Ah, oh!
That won't last forever
But friendship remains the same, ah-oh, oh!

Things may come and things may go
Some go fast and some go slow
Few things last, that's all I know
But friendship carries on through the ages

But friendship carries on

Things may come and things may go
Some go fast and some go slow
Few things last, that's all I know
But friendship carries on through the ages

But friendship carries on
Ohhh-oh, carries on...

Once more the girls cheered, oblivious to the lack of applause coming from Axle

"Come on guys," Rainbow called out enthusiastically, "Let's do 'Shake Your Tail'!"

We've just got the day to get ready
And there's only so much time to lose
Because tonight, yeah, we're here to party
So let's think of something fun to do

We don't know (we don't know) what's gonna happen
We just know (we just know) it's gonna feel right
All our friends are here
And it's time to ignite the lights!

Shake your tail 'cause we're here to have a party tonight
Shake your tail, shake your tail
Shake your tail 'cause we're here to have a party tonight
Shake your tail, shake your tail

So what you didn't get it right the first time

Laugh it off, no one said it is a crime

Do your thing, you know you're an original

Your ideas are so funny that they're criminal

Ohhh-ahh!
We've just got the day to get ready
And there's only so much time to lose
Because tonight, yeah, we're here to party
So let's think of something fun to do

We don't know (we don't know) what's gonna happen
We just know (we just know) it's gonna feel right
All our friends are here
And it's time to ignite the lights!

Shake your tail 'cause we're here to have a party tonight
Shake your tail, shake your tail
Shake your tail 'cause we're here to have a party tonight
Shake your tail, shake your tail
Shake your tail 'cause we're here to have a party tonight
Shake your tail, shake your tail
Shake your tail 'cause we're here to have a party tonight
Shake your tail, shake your tail

Shake your tail 'cause we're here to have a party tonight!

Once more the auditorium filled with teenage wailing and cries of joy that lasted for several seconds until dying down. Once it did, Fluttershy walked to the edge of the stage and looked down to Axle, who had still not moved form his seat.

"So, Axle?" Fluttershy started to ask with a hopeful smile, "What did you think?"

Axle looked around at all the happy faces, eagerly awaiting his answer. Axle stood up and approached the stage, standing in the centre, just in front of Sunset.

"That....was fucking dreadful."


"I don't know what to say, other than that I am sorely disappointed in the both of you."

Sunset and Axle looked at one another, blooded tissues sticking out of their noses and glaring daggers at one another.

"I honestly expected better from both of you. You're both behaving like little children squabbling over toys, not the young adults that you are."

"I'm older than I look," quipped Axle.

"I did not give you permission to speak, young man!"

Ouch.

"Now, I'm prepared to let you both off with a warning but if I hear any more reports of you fighting one another, then further action will have to be taken. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes Principal Celestia," Axle and Sunset chorused in unison.

"Good. Now, you're both excused."

They both left the office and the moment the door closed they turned to one another, their tempers flaring to boiling point almost immediately.

"You just have to be a jerk, don't you?"

"It's not my fault you can't accept differing opinions."

"You described our music as 'ear-bleedingly awful' and an 'insult to anyone blessed with the gift of hearing'."

"So?" Axle replied with a shrug of his shoulders.

An irate Sunset pointed a finger right into Axle's face, almost poking him, "You have a serious attitude problem."

"That's rich, coming from you."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Sunset snarled.

"Weren't you a bitch for several years before the Fall Formal?"

"A bitch?!" Sunset repeated with gritted teeth.

"Yeah, that would be an accurate description considering the things you've done."

"Why you little-"

Sunset raised her hand ready to smack Axle, only for the door beside them to suddenly open, revealing Principal Celestia.

"Is there a problem?" she asked.

"Problem?"

"You have your hand in the air, Miss Shimmer."

Sunset looked to her hand, "Oh that, it's nothing."

"Nothing?"

"Well, I was...we were thinking about what you said and we decided to hug and make up."

"It doesn't look like you were going to give each other a hug."

"We were just about to," Axle replied.

"Yeah," Sunset added, "We were just about to."

"Then what are you waiting for?" asked Principal Celestia.

Sunset and Axle looked at one another awkwardly and moved closer to each other. With great reluctance, with forced movements on both sides they embraced each other in a hug that lasted several agonising seconds.

After they let go, they stood slightly apart and put on a fake smile each.

"I feel so much better," Sunset said, "I'm glad we put all of that nasty business behind us."

"Me too," added Axle, "I'm sure we'll become the best of friends."

"I'm delighted that you have both very quickly put your differences aside," Celestia replied with a smile, "I'm sure Princess Twilight would be delighted."

Twilight? Princess? This could be what Shining meant when he referred to those sealed reports. I might have to do some digging around.

"Now," Celestia continued, "Off to lessons before you're late."

"Yes, Principal Celestia," they chorused again.

Once Celestia went back into her office and shut the door, they two squabbling teens once more glared at each other.


I just had to have food tech with Sunbitch last, didn't I? Couldn't make it through the rest of the day without seeing her.

Axle and Sunset stood at the workstation next to each other with their arms folded and scowling at one another.

"I don't know why we had to be paired with you of all people," she whispered venomously.

"The feeling is mutual," Axle whispered back.

"And all because you had to be rude."

"I wasn't rude, I was straightforward. You asked me what I thought about your crappy band and you hit me on the nose with a symbol."

"You deserved it for causing Fluttershy to cry."

"Did you enjoy your trip to the supermarket last night?"

Sunset suddenly went quiet and her eyes reduced to pinpricks, "What?"

"Had a run in with store security, didn't you? Along with Applejack and Rainbow Dash. As I understand it, the three of you now have a twenty eight day ban from the store."

"How did you know about that?!"

Axle smugly tapped the side of his nose.

Before Sunset could continue the conversation, or smack Axle in the face, Granny Smith called for attention. Everyone watched with interest as she gave a demonstration in how to make chocolate cake, made to look easy with her experienced hands. Granny Smith was a brilliant teacher who had been teaching at CHS for a long time. She even taught Mr and Mrs Cake.

After the demonstration was over she sent the students to their workstation to make their own chocolate cake. Each pair were given enough ingredients to make a 8 inch cake.

Axle and Sunset about starting making their chocolate cake, and only because circumstance forced them too. They measured out the correct ingredients and got to work. Whilst Sunset was buttering a round cake tin, Axle was breaking dark chocolate into a pan to melt down followed by butter and cold water.

Whilst Axle was overseeing the chocolate melting and beating eggs and buttermilk together in a bowl, Sunset mixed self-raising flour, plain flour, baking powder, light muscovado sugar, golden caster sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl, and began mixing it with her hands to get rid of any lumps.

Once the chocolate mix had melted and the egg mix was mixed, they poured them in with the flour mixture and began to mix until the mixture was well blended with a small runny consistency. Once this was done they poured the mix into the cake tin and placed it into the oven to bake.

Whilst everyone's cakes were baking, Granny Smith had the class do some questions out of their food tech textbooks in which Axle proved utterly hopeless whereas Sunset excelled.

"Struggling with the questions, Axle?"

"Stop implying I'm stupid! Just because I'm no good at this doesn't mean I lack intelligence."

Looking up to Sunset, he was expecting a smug smirk but instead saw she was genuine in her question.

"I was being serious; if you're struggling, I don't mind helping."

"I'll be fine, but thank you anyway."

A momentary look of concern crossed Sunset's face. Axle's behaviour, his facial expressions familiar to one who has experienced hardships like herself. As much as she would have liked to know more, the classroom was neither the time or place; and Axle didn't seem to be in a very talkative mood at the moment, especially to her and her friends.

Before the cakes had fully baked, they still needed to make the ganache.

Sunset this time broke some more dark chocolate into a pan, poured in some double cream and added some golden castor sugar. Whilst Sunset was doing this, Axle carefully cut the baked cake horizontally into three layers.

The chocolate ganache now mixed, Sunset sandwiched the layers together with a little of the ganache and, with a devilish grin, poured the rest of the it over the cake. Axle and Sunset watched with delight as the chocolate mix fall down the sides complete covering the cake. Sunset spread the mix evenly with a palette knife, and with immense satisfaction sprinkled a generous amount of large chocolate curls to finish the cake off.

Axle and Sunset looked at their chocolate masterpiece. Just looking at it would cause anyone to salivate.

"You've done this before, haven't you?" asked Axle.

"I....had someone teach me."

"Your mother?"

Sunset didn't immediately respond.

"I suppose you could say that," she finally replied after a few seconds.

Axle didn't need to be an expert in psychology to realise it was a sensitive issue for Sunset and decided to hold off from probing further.

I know I could do without nosy people asking unwanted questions.

The practical session had finally finished and everyone's cakes were now on display for all to see. Looking around the room they saw the cakes of everyone else, Granny Smith going around the room giving an assessment on each pair's cake and was so far satisfied with what she saw. But when she saw Axle's and Sunset's her eyes almost bulged out.

"Oh my, that is without doubt one of the best lookin' cake ah have ever seen. You two make a sweet couple together."

"Sunset did most of it," Axle replied, "She knows what's she's doing, I don't."

"Well that's mighty honest of yer."

"I won't claim credit for something I did little to contribute to."

"Ah appreciate that young'un, ah'll be sure to tell Principal Celestia."

The sudden ringing of the bell signalling the end of the school day was met with quiet cheers from the class.

"Well anyway, y'all have done excellent work today. Ah'll be sure to tell Principal Celestia about yer hard work. Now, cut yer cakes into halves put them into tins to take home. I'll see y'all again on Thursday."

Sunset and Axle did as Granny Smith said and after taking off their aprons and putting their coats on, walked out together with the other girls.

"That was definitely an enjoyable lesson," Sunset said with a smile on her face.

"For you, maybe."

The pair walked out of the room and to the school main entrance and saw the rain was now falling and walked outside, stopping just in front of the statue.

"Well it's been another good day but I must be going, I have my tea to cook."

"Don't your parents cook it for you?" Sunset asked confused.

"I'll see you tomorrow Sunset," Axle replied, walking away.

"Wait! You didn't answer my question!"

Rather than chase Axle down the street and demand an answer, Sunset decided get out of the rain and head off home instead, which was located in the opposite direction.

"I could really do with a raincoat. I'll have to ask Rarity if she can make one."


After a twenty minute walk, she approached her home. An abandoned Sugar Mill on the outskirts of Canterlot. The area is relatively safe but still not the sort of place you'd want to be alone on a night. Sunset however, had no other choice. Despite all she had been through with her friends, they were still unaware of her living conditions.

She couldn't afford her own place and for reasons she's still not sure, when she passed through the portal her pony ID also changed into human ID. After running a few checks she found out there wasn't a human version of her in this world. One less problem to deal with she thought at the time. Having a human version of her could have caused problems. She did expect a lot of questions from the authorities though when her details weren't on the computer database. Fortunately, a computer glitch occurred shortly before her arrival and her details were 'reapplied'.

Why they didn't question where she lived surprised her though. She just gave them the correspondence address, and surprisingly yet again it was enough.

She made her way into the abandoned building to some old office rooms. There was no heating or running water available. The only water she had was in bottles with the water taken from school, and whenever she had to shower she had to use the showers in the school gym. Her only way to keep warm was to wrap herself in several blankets and her sleeping bag. But at times even that wasn't enough. With winter fast approaching, she had already started to feel the cold night air.

Despite feeling sad and alone again, she was still in the mood for the cake she baked earlier with Axle.

It was a damn good cake.

She didn't eat it all though. She decided to save the rest for another night. She managed to get some homework done before it became too cold to concentrate before getting to sleep. She made herself as comfortable and warm as possible and despite the pounding rain, managed to get to sleep fairly quickly.

Clutched in her grasp close to her chest was a photo frame. The photo inside was of a young Sunset with Princess Celestia on her first birthday as Celestia's student. The young filly had a beaming smile as she unwrapped a present containing a large, heavy looking spell book with a smiling Celestia looking on.

As Sunset slept, a single tear rolled down her face.

"Why does everyone have a family but me?"

Chapter - 3 - New Discoveries

View Online

Flash and Axle stood in Luna's office, their sports gear covered in mud, bruises on their face and blood dripping from their noses, having had an altercation in football practice. The pair continued to give sideways glares at each other as a stern faced Luna looked at the pair from behind her desk, her arms folded.

"Why have I been told by Mr Head Wind that you two have been fighting?"

"Fighting?" queried Axle, "We weren't fighting."

"No," added Flash, "Definitely not."

"We were just recreating the scenes of the match last weekend when Golden Shot chipped the ball over the Shadowbolt goalkeeper to win the game in the 94th minute."

"I don't recall Safe Hands smashing the face of Golden Shot with a freshman's lunch box," Vice Principal Luna quipped.

"He would have if he had one," Axle replied, only to receive a stern glare from Luna.

"You have only been here one week Mr Rod, and yet you have been in more fights in that one week than many students have in their entire school lives."

"But we weren't fighting," Axle insisted, "And we don't hate each other, honest."

Luna raised an eyebrow sceptically.

"Look, we'll prove it," Axle said, turning to Flash, "Manechester United are a dreadful club and only ever won trophies because the refs were on their payroll."

Flash looked at Axle with no emotion, albeit there was the smallest of twitches from his right eye, "I can see why you think that, in all honestly we have been fortunate on many occasions."

The pair looked back to Luna.

"See?" Axle said, "We don't hate each other."

"I'm in two minds as to what to do to them Mr Wind," Luna said, looking over to the former footballer turned teacher, "I don't know whether to put them both in detention, or congratulate them on their relationship."

"It was a most viscous and unprovoked attack," the middle aged and soft spoken Head Wind stated.

"Alright, fair enough," Axle replied, raising his hands, "I'll concede that our re-enactment may have gotten out of hand but-"

"But nothing Mr Rod," Luna said, "You both could have been seriously injured. I'll be informing my sister of this incident and if I hear any more problems between the two of you, I will be writing home to your parents."

Flash recoiled in fear, while Axle showed no obvious response.

"Now, both of you leave."

Flash and Axle both quickly left and made their way to the canteen, given that it was almost dinner time.

"Could have gotten off worse," Axle said.

"If I get a bad report home, my parents will ground me indefinitely."

"Then you just need to make sure your parents don't see it."

"I don't lie to my parents."

"Hmm," Axle muttered.

"What do you mean 'hmm'? Do you lie to your parents?"

"I used to, a lot of the time."

"Used to?"

"It's not important."

They entered the canteen together but quickly separated upon Flash seeing his friends over at their usual table. On his own again, Axle joined the small queue at the food counters and began piling his plate with bacon, sausages, chips and some toast. After paying for his dinner he went to sit down at an empty table and was just about to start eating when he was joined by an unwanted presence.

"What do you want?" Axle snapped.

"Look," replied Sunset, "I know we got off on the wrong foot, but do you think maybe we could start over?"

"Why would I want to do that? I'm not the one who began being hostile."

"I'll admit that maybe we overreacted; but must we continue to be at each other's throats?"

"Why not? I'm no stranger to hostile environments."

Sunset held herself back from enquiring further, as much as Axle's reply intrigued her, and was about to reply with another question until Axle cut her off.

"And how long before my honest opinion hurts your fragile feelings again?"

"Look," Sunset said firmly, clenching her fists, "Do you at least want to try and get along cordially?"

"If we must," Axle lazily replied, "If it means having fewer headaches caused by annoying teenagers who think they know everything."

Yet another odd remark further intrigued Sunset and she was about to ask what he meant until she was cut off, again.

"Hey Sunset," Rainbow yelled, "Who are you talking-...oh, it's you."

"Fuck you too, bitch."

"Hey!/Axle!" Rainbow and Sunset yelled respectively simultaneously.

"If she's going to greet me like that, don't expect me to be a gentleman in my response."

"You still shouldn't call her a bitch," Sunset replied.

"What do you want? Are you just going to stand there or do you have something you wanted to ask?"

"I was going to ask you if you wanted to watch us during band practice after school?"

"What?!" Axle and Rainbow replied in unison.

"Do you want to hang out with us during band practice after school?" Sunset repeated.

"Why would I want to hang out with people who hate me?"

"We don't hate you," Sunset replied, "We just...got off on the wrong foot."

"And stalked me around a supermarket."

Sunset groaned and rolled her eyes, "Yeees, and that was stupid of us. But must we be at each other's throats all the time?"

"I'm not the one looking for problems."

"So why did you fight Flash in football practice?" asked Rainbow.

"What?!" Sunset shrieked, "You fought Flash?"

"No."

"You hit him in the face with a freshman's lunch box because he chipped a shot over you, scoring a last minute goal to win the game," Rainbow replied.

Axle sighed tiredly, "You're grossly exaggerating the situation."

"I saw what happened!"

"The goal should never have stood!" Axle replied, gesticulating with his hands aggressively, "That blue haired toss pot was offside by a country mile!"

"Maybe, but getting into a fight and then sent off doesn't exactly help us in our school league games or you getting into the team."

"What?" Axle replied, confused by the latter part of the Rainbow's reply.

"Coach wants you to be in the school team, as a goalkeeper. Despite conceding three goals today, he said you're quite good and we could do with someone like you between the sticks."

"Well," Axle began to reply, feeling a sense of pride and satisfaction, "I suppose I could give it a try."

"Good. I happen to be the school team captain, and a good word from me will help wonders."

"What are you saying?"

"Join us in band practice after school, and it will improve your currently low standing in CHS."

"I'm not interested in what other students think of me," Axle replied dismissively, "I couldn't care less what my social standing is in this school."

"Maybe not, but if you want to play in the school team you need to have the coaches think well of you. And by hanging out with us, you can achieve that more easily."

"Well, you girls do seem to be the darlings of CHS......fine, I'll join you after school, but only to watch."

"That's fine with us," Sunset replied, "Wanna join us at our table?"

"Sure," Axle replied reluctantly, "May as well get used to spending time with you."

Axle stood up and walked with Rainbow and Sunset to where their other friends were sat near the windows overlooking the playing fields. Whilst the girls gave their friends a welcoming smile, they looked at Axle like one would dog dirt on shoes.

"Ladies," Axle said, "How are you all?"

"We invited Axle to join us," Sunset replied, wanting to avoid another scene, "We persuaded him to watch us in band practice after school."

"Well," Rarity huffed, folding her arms, "If he's going to be like he was before then he needn't bother."

"Yeah!" Pinkie added, "We don't need a Meanie McMeaniepants ruining our vibes!"

"I'm just going to watch," Axle replied sternly, trying to keep a lid on his emotions, "Nothing more."

"Can you play?" asked Fluttershy.

"You mean an instrument?"

Fluttershy nodded.

"Not really. I've tried guitar but couldn't get the hang of it."

A faint snort could be heard from Rainbow, an act not gone unnoticed by Axle.

"I much prefer the piano."

Another, louder snort left Rainbow, prompting a disapproving glare from Rarity.

"How long have you been playing, darling?" Rarity asked, cutting off any chance for Rainbow to make a snide remark.

"A few years."

"You must play something for us sometime, why not later?"

"Maybe."

"Afraid to look bad?" asked Rainbow.

"No."

"Then why not play us something?"

"Maybe I just don't want to."

"Rainbow!" Fluttershy said slightly sternly, "If Axle doesn't want to play us something, then he doesn't have to."

"But I wasn't- fine!"

The trio finally sat themselves down with Axle sandwiched between Rarity and Sunset, and directly facing Rainbow.

"Didn't you think to change before getting lunch?" Rainbow asked, looking at Axle's still dirty P.E. kit.

"I'll go after I've finished this. I haven't eaten all day."

"Didn't you have any breakfast?" asked Fluttershy.

Axle shook his head, "Didn't have time and I only got away with being late to registration because Harshwhinny was late too."

"The other students didn't rat you out?" asked Rainbow.

"No. Why would they? While we may have...differences, there's still us and them. I don't know about you lot, but I'm no snitch."

"Were there snitches at your old school?"

"Yep."

"What happened to them?"

"They got the shit beaten out of them when no one was looking."

The girls looked at Axle with stunned expressions, not only at what he said happens, but also at the calm manner in which he told it.

"That doesn't bother you?" asked Sunset.

"No. If you're going to snitch to the 'enemy', you should expect there to be consequences. 'Snitches get stitches'."

"That's a bit gruesome," Sunset grimaced, "Not even I sank that low."

"Let's just say that I grew up in a rather rough area and snitching was dealt with severely."

"Where did you grown up?" asked Fluttershy, "It isn't that long since you were in that horrible place, was it?"

Axle paused momentarily, looking vacant if only for a brief moment, but a long enough pause to not have gone unnoticed by the girls, and for Sunset to look at Axle with more suspicion, "I grew up in an place called Toxteth."

"Where-"

"That's as much detail as I'm giving right now."

"Why?"

"I barely know any of you. Would you tell people you barely know everything about you?"

"I guess not," Sunset replied, looking up to the girls, "I know I kept quiet about my background when I first came to CHS."

"Where are you from?"

"Canterlot. And that's as much detail as you are getting. I wouldn't want to tell someone I barely know everything about me now, would I?" Sunset asked, winking at Axle.

"Nope," Axle replied, "That would be foolish."

"Why did you leave home?" asked Fluttershy.

"Reasons," replied Axle cryptically, "I'm not so bothered by it though. It's not the worst part of it."

"What is the worst part of you leaving home then?!

"I lost my scouse accent."

"Your what accent?" Rainbow asked, her face a sea of confusion.

Axle tapped the side of his nose.

Rainbow groaned, "Of course, you don't want to tell us because you barely know us."

"Good thing probably, you probably wouldn't have been able to understand me otherwise."

"How did you lose it?" asked Sunset.

"Moved away from home. That's it now though, no more probing for info. I just want to have my dinner."

"Fine," Sunset groaned, "You're just like Rainbow, always thinking about food."

"I need to eat to keep my energy levels up," Rainbow replied, defending herself.

"And I eat because I like to," Axle added.

"Maybe you're not so bad after all," Rainbow replied, looking satisfied, "Put one here Axle."

Rainbow held up her fist, inviting Axle to bump it. After a moments hesitation, he did so, much to Rainbow's satisfaction.

"I know some pretty good places, if you're interested?"

"Sure. Fried chicken is my usual."

"There's plenty of places like that."

"Speaking of visiting places," Axle continued, "What's this 'simulator world' trip we're apparently going on about?"

"You've never heard of it?" asked Rainbow, "It's been in the news a fair bit over the past few weeks."

"As I said, never heard of it."

"Well," Sunset began, "Basically it's a theme park but instead of roller coasters and such, you have simulators which allow you to experience what it would be like to be in control of various types of vehicles and the like."

"You mean like trains, planes and boats?"

"Yep. Interested?"

"Mostly in the trains. What's the point in the trip anyway?"

"A mix of education and fun, according to Principle Celestia," Sunset replied, "We learn how to work and communicate together, while having fun doing so. If you're not interested in driving, you can be a railway or air traffic controller."

"So it's like online gaming?"

"More or less. You like gaming?" Sunset asked, a glint of desperate hope in her eyes.

"Love it. I game quite regularly, though I do prefer the older consoles from yesteryear."

"You're telling us all this?" Sunset queried, despite being pleased with the new info and prospect of a gaming buddy, "What happened to having to wait?"

"This is about gaming. It's an exception."

Sunset couldn't help but agree.

"What about music?"

"I doubt you'd like what I do."

"What do you like?"

"Not telling."

"Well we know you don't like what we do," Sunset replied, a slight scowl etched across her face, "I don't see how though."

"At least you can sing," Axle commented, much to Sunset's pleasant surprise, "Which is far more than I can do."

"You can't sing?"

Axle shook his head, "It's never interested me."

"Maybe we'll change your mind on the matter?"

"Unlikely. I'm rather set in my ways."


The rest of dinnertime went by without incident, with Axle and the girls managing to make it to fourth period without wanting to throttle each other. School was now over however, and Axle was making his way to the auditorium to meet the girls as he said he would.

"So long as it's not like before," he muttered to himself, "Thank fuck I saw Freddie Mercury when I did."

He approached the auditorium door and pushed it open, going inside. Up on stage where the girls, already set up and waiting and wearing to his surprise, spandex outfits clearly to be worn during a concert. No-one on their right mind would wear those kind of clothes for everyday use. Sunset, holding her own guitar and in front of the mic, was centre stage.

"Axle!" she yelled, a smile on her face, "You made it!"

"Yeah, I said I'd come," Axle replied, surprised at Sunset's good mood.

"Well," Sunset continued, "Wanna join in? Or just watch?"

"I'll just watch."

"Sure thing. pull up a seat."

"I'm gonna do 'My Past Is Not Today', if that's OK?" asked Sunset, looking back to the girls.

"Go ahead, sister," Rainbow replied, "It's your song."

Sunset grabbed a mic and placed it in the slot on the stand, giving it a test tap. She gave Rainbow and the girls the thumbs up and the band began to play one of their signirute tunes. Sunset, had her eyes closed and was bobbing her head slightly in tune to the music, waiting for her cue.

Right on time, she began to sing.

Power
Was all I desired
But all that grew inside of me
Was the darkness I acquired

When I began to fall
And I lost the path ahead
That's when your friendship found me
And it lifted me instead

Like a phoenix burning bright
In the sky
I'll show there's another side to me
You can't deny

I may not know what the future holds
But hear me when I say
That my past does not define me
'Cause my past is not today

Ambition
Is what I believed
Would be the only way
To set me free

But when it disappeared
And I found myself alone
That's when you came and got me
And it felt like I was home

Like a phoenix burning bright
In the sky
I'll show there's another side to me
You can't deny

I may not know what the future holds
But hear me when I say
That my past does not define me

'Cause my past is not today

Axle continued to watch as the music faded away, somewhat impressed by what he saw. Particularly in Sunset.

She's not so bad, to be honest.

"Good show," he said aloud.

"Did you just compliment us?" Sunset giggled, "Are you feeling well?"

"Yes and Yes."

Axle went up the steps at the side of the stage to join the girls, "So, any more hits you want to entertain me with?"

"Several. If you're interested."

"Well, I may as well stay a while then."

"One day we may invite you to join in for a dress rehearsal."

"Not likely," Axle scoffed.

"What's wrong Axle?" Rainbow asked in a mocking tone, "Afraid to wear spandex leggings?"

"Afraid is the wrong word. Besides, I'd look ridiculous."

"I'll be the judge of that darling, thank you very much."

Axle looked over to Rarity, "I take it you designed them then?"

"Of course I did. Do you like them?"

"Well they're certainly...eye catching."

"I'll take that as a compliment," Rarity replied, rolling her eyes at Axle's half arsed answer.

"Hey, Axle!"

"Yes, Pinkie?"

"Wanna see photos of us rocking on stage?!"

"Not partic-"

He was cut off as Pinkie shoved her phone in his face.

"-ularly."

Axle reluctantly looked at the photos on Pinkie's phone. There were multiple photos of the girls, all sporting cool outfits for their rock concert which, from the look of things had every student at CHS attending.

"Looks like you girls have had a good time," he said to them flatly, "I know I've never performed at a rock concert in my teens."

"Why?" questioned Sunset.

"Because he sucks at music."

"Rainbow!" Rarity scolded.

"Well to be fair she's not entirely wrong," Axle began to reply, much to Rainbow's smug delight, "Considering I spent a lot of my early teen years smacking coppers."

"Coppers?" questioned Pinkie, "You hit coins together?"

"Noooo," Axle replied, "I mean I hit pigs in the face."

"You hit poor defenceless pigs?!" Fluttershy scolded, getting right into Axle's personal space, "How could you do that to a defenceless animal?!"

"What are you..." Axle began to respond, looking confused and backing away slightly from an angry animal lover, "For crying out loud, have you people seriously not heard of those terms for the police?"

"The police?" Sunset replied, "Why would...."

It was then that the penny dropped for the girls.

"You're a criminal!" Rainbow yelled in a feeling of shock and fear.

"You hit police officers?!" Pinkie shouted, "People who protect you?!"

Axle shrugged his shoulders, "Where I grew up, the police were not at all interested in 'protecting' us. The dirty pigs deserved all they got, they get no sympathy from me."

"How can you say that?!" Sunset asked, at a loss to Axle's disposition, "Police officers are good people who do a very difficult job!"

"Maybe here in the squeaky clean city of Canterlot, but not where I'm from."

"You mean Toxteth?"

Axle nodded, "Tough times. Anyway, I have to go, things to do."

"Like what?" Rainbow snapped.

"Go home and cook some food to eat."

"Can you ever answer a question without being a smart arse?" asked Sunset.

"Goodnight girls."

Axle left without another word, watched on by the girls. He shut the door behind him and headed for the school entrance, desperate to get to his next, and unexpected destination. Primarily to ask a question to someone he recently become friends with. Before seeing a picture, he could have put it down to simply having the same name, but a picture speaks a thousand words.

Twilight has never been to CHS. So who the fuck was that impersonating her?

Chapter - 4 - Stop The Presses

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Another couple of weeks had passed since Axle agreed to be in Sunset's circle of friends. For the most part, it was peaceful, though some arguments did crop up now and again. Now though, he was in Media Studies along with Sunset, Rarity and Fluttershy, waiting for the arrival of the teacher.

"Any idea what J Jonah Jameson has planned today?" asked Axle.

"Who?" asked Sunset, looking at Axle in confusion, along with Fluttershy and Rarity.

"Never mind."

"Good morning class," Printing Press said as he walked into the room.

The class replied back, except for Axle, eager to hear what he had planned for the lesson, only being told in the previous lesson that it would involve the entire class.

"I assume you are all wondering what I have planned for today?" he asked the class who eagerly nodded in excitement.

"Well," Printing Press continued, "Today we will be making our own newspaper, with the hope it will be a regular publication here at CHS. The other Media Studies group are doing the same thing, so you have competition to get the readers you need."

Excited cheers erupted through the room. Axle merely rolled his eyes tiredly, unamused the his fellow students enthusiasm.

"First," Printing Press continued again, "We will go through what everyone enjoys and what they would enjoy writing about and assign positions accordingly. For starters, I will start as Editor in Chief, and delegate that role once I have an idea of who would be best suited. Firstly, we should discuss what topics our newspaper should include. Any suggestions?"

"Sports!"

"Fashion!"

"Animals!"

"Botany!"

"Music!"

The suggestions where thick and fast, much to the delight of Printing Press, though he noted one student in particular wasn't as enthusiastic as the others.

"Do you have any suggestions, Axle?"

"No," came the blunt reply.

"Nothing?"

Axle shook his head.

"Surely there must be something that you wish to talk about."

"I seriously doubt my fellow students share my interests."

"Then why not tell us what they are? You may be surprised."

Against his better judgement, Axle decided to. If only to prove his point should anyone mock it.

"Railways."

A snort could be heard from the rear of the room.

"My point proven," he said.

"Now class," Printing Press said, giving a brief, stern look to the rear of the room where the snort originated, "We will not laugh at what interests Axle, it may be the case he finds your own interests amusing. How would you feel if he ridiculed you for it?"

The was a momentary silence as the class contemplated his words.

"Which gives me an idea for content. Everyone, will write an article on anything that interests them, and then they will read it to the class. After everyone as read their article, there will be a vote and the six highest scoring articles will get put in the paper. The article should be no more than 1,000 words in length and you have 30 minutes to do it. Begin."


After everyone had finished their articles, they were invited up to the front of the class to read them out. Half of the class had already gone up, Rarity and Sunset included. Rarity unsurprisingly talking about fashion, and Sunset talking about computer games. Much to Axle's surprise. He'd have never have guessed she was a hardcore gamer.

Now though, it was Axle's turn.

He stood up and made his way to the front of the room.

"Choo choo!"

Axle turned around to see who yelled, and quickly deduced it was one of the three morons that followed Gilda around like obedient lapdogs they are.

"Boys, enough," Printing Press stated firmly, before turning back to Axle, "Carry on lad."

Axle nodded and continued to the front of the room and turned around to face the class.

"So, the topic I decided to discuss is railways, specifically the dangers of trespassing onto the tracks."

"Boring!"

"Lads! Be quiet or you will be thrown out."

The boy's antics were also beginning to irk the rest of the students too. Despite not particularly liking Axle, they loathed Gilda and her lapdog chums far more. With a nod from the teacher, Axle began his piece.

"Now, as I said, I am going to talk about the dangers of trespassing on railway lines. In Tererria alone last year, 190 people were killed due to trespassing, with the cause of death either being hit by a train or coming into contact with overhead power lines."

Looking around the room, Axle could see some of his fellow students were quite shocked at the statistic, he nonetheless continued, determined to drive home a serious point.

"These incidents more commonly occur during the summer months, particularly when schools are shut and students have nothing else to do. Now, take Canterlot for instance. The city has two major stations and numerous smaller stations, with Canterlot Piccadilly alone has 32 platforms with trains departing and arriving every minute meaning very busy and congested junctions. Even professional workmen in high vis safety PPE need to exercise extreme caution. Now, whilst trains moving in and out of a station are moving relatively slowly, the same can't be said for trains on the main lines. On the Canterlot - Manehatten route, the class 260 express trains can reach 200mph. At that speed it can take the train up to 2 miles to come to a complete stop."

"Two miles?" called out a student.

"Yes. Now just imagine the driver. He's travelling at full speed and sees an obstruction or trespassers further down the line. He instinctively applies the emergency brakes but he can't do any more. He can't swerve out of the way like he could in a car, and if the trespassers don't see or hear the train, or don't get out of the way in time...the driver's going to hit them."

Every other student in the room looked a little pale at having heard to grim reality of the potential consequences of trespassing on the railways. Even Gilda's lapdogs.

"Then you have the aftermath of the driver being in shock. Even if a hit is avoided, there is still the shock of a near miss which can have an adverse effect on the driver, potentially to the point that the driver may be psychologically unable to drive again, putting his livelihood of himself and his family in jeopardy. And as stated earlier, you don't even need to be hit by a train. Should you come into direct or indirect contact with an electrified line, the human body won't react well to 25,000 volts surging through it."

Axle paused momentarily.

"Have any of you experienced the smell of burning flesh?"


Axle soon finished his piece, some of the students losing their appetite for lunch in the process, and was once again sat with the girls.

"So Axle," Rarity said, "That was a most...interesting piece."

"I loathe railway trespassers. Despise them with every fibre of my being."

"Why do you hate them so much?" asked Sunset.

"They put themselves and others in danger with their foolish actions, and as I said, it's not only them who can be affected by it."

"Did you know someone who was hit by a train?" asked Sunset, genuinely concerned.

"Not exactly, but I have witnessed such an incident and let me tell you....witnessing it unfold and being powerless to stop it is harrowing and terrifying."

Rarity, Fluttershy and Sunset looked at one another with deep concern. Gone was the usual arrogance and confrontational Axle, instead he was far more vulnerable looking, and his eyes told more than what he said.

"OK class, time now to vote on whose articles make it to the paper, you can vote for as many as you like except your own, and you may also abstain from every vote if you wish. Also, as editor...and your teacher, I reserve the right to add any article I want and I decide what makes the front page. Now, who votes for Fluttershy's piece on animals?"

Just over half the hands in the room went up, including Axle's, much to Fluttershy's pleasant surprise.

"OK, who votes for Hoop's piece on basketball."

Two hands went up...from his fellow lapdogs, which Printing Press noted down, "OK, next is Sunset Shimmer's gaming piece."

Every hand except those for Gilda's lapdogs went up.

"Well there's one we know that's going in, potentially a front page. Excellent work Sunset. OK, now is Axle's piece on railway trespassing and the dangers it poses."

Only three hands went up.

Sunset's, Fluttershy's and Rarity's.

"Too bad train boy," Dumbbell said, bringing out laughter from the class, except for the three girls.

Though he said nothing, Axle noted that Printing Press was taking longer than usual to write something in his notebook before speaking again, "Alright Dumbell, you're next. Who votes for Dumbbell's article on the joys of kickboxing?"

Like his friend, only his friends voted for him.

Grunting loudly, the grumpily folded his arms and stared daggers at Axle, who could only just hold back bursting out with laughter.


Fairly soon, voting had finished and the class waited eagerly to hear who would have their articles in the new newspaper, whilst chatting quietly amongst themselves. Unlike the teenagers in the room, he couldn't give a hoot if his piece didn't make it.

"Alright class, if I could have your attention."

Everyone quietened down and looked up to Printing Press.

"In sixth place, Fluttershy."

A small round of applause caused Fluttershy to blush and try to hide behind her plentiful pink hair, though she was soon brought out of it by the comforting hands of Rarity and Sunset.

"In fifth place, Star Cross."

More applause.

"In fourth place, Rarity."

"Well done Rarity," Sunset said, hugging her.

"Thank you darling."

"In third place," Printing Press continued, "Roseluck."

Printing Press again allowed a little time for applause and congratulations from friends.

"In second place, Brick Dust."

Cue a longer applause, which again to his credit, Printing Press permitted.

"And in first place, Sunset Shimmer."

The room erupted into applause and cheering, much to the delight of Sunset who seemed to basque in the glow of the limelight. Printing Press allowed for everyone to calm down before continuing, pleased that everyone, or mostly everyone was enjoying themselves and the lesson.

"Now, as I said, as editor I reserve the right to add any article I please, regardless of how it was voted on. As such, as editor, I am including Axle's piece on-"

"That's not fair!" Dumbbell yelled, much to Printing Press's annoyance.

"Out!" he bellowed, "Now!"

Dumbbell promptly left, giving Axle and Printing Press looks of pure death as he did so.

"Now," Printing Press continued, "As I was saying, I am including Axle's piece as I believe, that while it received only three votes, it is a piece of great importance and relevance with lessons to be learned from it. Well done Axle."

"Thank you sir," Axle replied.

Looking up, Axle could see the girls giving him the thumbs up, as did a few other students, though others merely rolled their eyes.

"Now, we need to move onto a name for our paper. The name should reflect what the paper stands for. Any suggestions?"

A student put their hand up.

"Yes?" Printing Press replied pointing to the student.

"How about 'The Student Chronicle'?"

Murmurs of approvement could easily be heard as Printing Press wrote it on the blackboard.

"Any other suggestions?"

Another student raised their hand.

"Yes, Star Cross? What's your suggestion?"

"The Student Star."

Printing Press wrote that too on the blackboard, "When we have enough suggestions, we will do several rounds of votes until we have two left, the a final vote with the majority being the name chosen. Any more suggestions?"

Another student raised their hand.

"Yes, Roseluck?"

"I was thinking, that maybe, because Sunset is truly reformed now," Roseluck began, looking over to Sunset who had a look of surprise on her face, "And having got the highest number of votes for her article, that maybe, we should name it after her, or a name similar."

"What did you have in mind?" asked Printing Press, noting the looks of approval from the rest of the class.

"The Sun."

"Excellent sugges-"

"NO!"

Everyone looked to the source of the voice.

"Axle?" Printing Press said, "Is something-"

"NO! CHOOSE SOMETHING ELSE!"

"It's a valid suggestion, Axle," Sunset replied, "I don't know why-"

"I SAID NO! NO! NO! NO!" he bellowed furiously, slamming a fist down on the table with each 'no'.

Whilst he had shown aggression before, this was aggression on another level. Fluttershy was beginning to quiver on fear and holding on tightly to Rarity's arm, fearful of what Axle might do. Axle however, was beyond incensed to the point his face was red, his fists were shaking and he was beginning to froth at the mouth.

"CHOOSE SOMETHING ELSE! I WILL NEVER BE PART OF ANYTHING THAT EVER GOES BY THAT NAME!"

"It's as valid a suggestion as any other, Axle," Printing Press said, writing the suggestion on the blackboard, "Now, unless you calm down I'll have to ask you to leave."

"FUCK YOU!"

To the stunned gasps of Printing Press and the rest of the students, Axle walk angrily over to the blackboard, wiped away 'The Sun' and wrote something else in its place.

"FUCK ALL OF YOU!!"

Without another word, he grabbed his bags and stormed out of the room, slamming the door shut in the process.

Several seconds past where no words were spoken as the students looked around at each other, barely believing what they had just witnessed.

"I'll have to report this to Principal Celestia," Printing Press said, sighing and sitting down at his desk, "I'll also have to change my decision on adding his article to the paper."

"Sir?"

"Yes, Sunset?"

"What does 'JFT96' stand for?"


*SEVERAL HOURS LATER*

Axle was sitting on the sofa, eating a meat feast pizza takeaway and watching TV. After the incident in Media Studies, he immediately left CHS and returned to his apartment. He had multiple calls, all of them ignored, from the girls, and even Twilight and Shining. Once more his phone rang. He picked it up and groaned loudly in annoyance at the caller. This time though, he decided to answer.

"What do you want?" he snapped.

"Do not take that tone with me, Mr Rod."

"Fuck off Celestia, you have no damn authority over me. You might think you do, but you don't."

"I am your school principal, I do-"

"YOU DO NOT! I am fifty two years old! Older even than you!"

"Maybe you were once, but-"

"But nothing! You have no idea what it's like going through my situation! How would you feel if one day you ended up in a world not your own and and over thirty years younger?"

There was a long pause as both sides collected their thoughts and calmed themselves, Axle's TV being the only source of noise.

"You're right," Celestia replied, "I couldn't imagine what you're going through, but you have been given a chance to get what most could only dream of."

"My first childhood was shit. Why would this be any different?"

Celestia didn't immediately answer, prompting Axle to continue speaking, "You weren't there, that day Celestia. You weren't there to witness the aftermath. You, and all others, have no right whatsoever to tell me how to feel or act. If you were there, you would feel the very same."

Without giving her chance to answer, he ended the call.

"Fucking bitch."


*MEANWHILE, AT RARITY'S HOUSE*

"Find anything yet?" asked Applejack, looking over to a pyjama clad Sunset, sitting on Rarity's bed, laptop in front of her.

"Nothing," Sunset replied, "I can't find anything that would indicate what JFT96 stands for."

"Have you checked if it has anything to do with 'The Sun'?" asked Fluttershy.

"I have, but I can't find a thing."

"Is he still not answering his phone?" asked Rarity.

"No," replied Sunset, "And I'm worried about him."

"What's the big deal?" asked Rainbow, "Sounds to me like he just threw a tantrum."

"No," replied Sunset, "It was far more than that. Whatever the reason, just mentioning 'The Sun' sent him into a furious rage of genuine anger."

"What did Principal Celestia say about it?"

"I don't know. But she is aware of the situation."

*PRNG*

Sunset looked down at her phone and picked it up.

"It's from Principal Celestia," she said, "She said she's spoken to Axle, but he's still very angry and not in a talking mood. She also said he's still welcome to return to school tomorrow, but he's not to be pressured into giving answers."

Rainbow scoffed, "Why is he getting this protection? What makes him so special?"

"Maybe he's from another world like Twilight?" Pinkie suggested.

"I doubt it," Rainbow replied, "For starters, nothing we have seems alien to him nor does he have a talking dog."

"That we know of," Pinkie added.

"I'm inclined to agree with Rainbow," Sunset added, "When Twilight and I first came here we hadn't a clue what anything was or how it was used. Axle seems to have a natural understanding human technology not to mention in depth knowledge of railways."

"My Pinkie sense still tells me there's something different about him."

"In what way?" asked Sunset, taking 'Pinkie Sense' with increasing seriousness.

"Like....he knows more than he's letting on."

"I get the same feeling," Rarity added, "Some of the things he's said have sounded odd. Like the other day, in the canteen when he said, 'bloody teenagers'."

"I didn't hear that," Rainbow said.

"I don't think he intended for any of us to hear it," Rarity replied, "He muttered it as we were walking away."

"That doesn't mean he's from another world," Sunset replied.

"No, but it is an odd thing to say, considering he's a teenager himself. Or at least....looks like one."

The other girls looked at Rarity like she'd grown another head.

"What?" Rarity asked, "Is it really so hard to believe? Sunset here is actually in her late twenties so it's not entirely implausible a theory."

Chapter - 5 - School Trip

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Axle was stood outside the school with other students waiting for the coach to take them on their organised trip to the new Simulator World and hours drive outside Canterlot. Something Axle was genuinely looking forward to. Hopefully, the other students wouldn't pester him like they have been doing for the past couple of weeks, demanding to know where he comes from and what school he used to go to.

Annoyingly, some still hadn't got the message and were making suggestions deliberately in ear shot of Axle.

"Maybe he's from Baltimare," suggested one student.

"Or Chicacolt," suggested another.

Axle ignored them and moved closer to Sunset and the others. Since agreeing to be more cordial, things have improved between him and the girls to the point he can at least refrain from constantly criticising their band and songs and enjoying lunch together.

"You OK Axle?" asked Sunset.

"Fine, just some idiots making wild guesses as to my origins," he replied, motioning to the students in question, "Considering they've only a handful of braincells between them, they'll be guessing for quite a while."

The girls giggled.

"Yeah, Gilda's chums are known for being a bit dim," Rainbow replied, "Gilda too isn't as smart as she thinks she is."

"Wheren't you friends with her once?" asked Applejack.

"Once, years ago. She changed though, and not for the better. She started to see herself as better than others, and she decided I was too 'lame' when I defended Fluttershy from her."

"Just another bully," Axle said, "They usually get what's coming to them."

"Didn't you bully people at your old school?" asked Rainbow.

"No, I only beat the snot out of snitches. That's different."

"No it's not."

"Yes it is."

"It really isn't," added Fluttershy.

"Well it really is," Axle replied, "And there's nothing more to it."

"Let's not argue," Sunset said, "Let's just enjoy the day for what it is."

"I call dibs on the jet fighter!"

"It's just a simulator, Rainbow," Sunset said, "You won't actually be flying one."

"I know that, but it's still the coolest simulator they have!"

"Yer do know we're goin' not jus' fer fun, right?"

Rainbow groaned loudly, "Yeah yeah, some have to pretend to be air traffic controllers and we have to communicate and yadda yadda."

"Twilight would give you a stern lecture in the importance of education if she heard you say that," Sunset said.

"Twilight will never know."

"Oh, really?" Pinkie asked with a big cheesy grin, and holding her phone.

Rainbow suddenly looked like a rabbit in headlights and nervously began rubbing the back of her neck, "I...I was just joking. I'm sure I'll learn a lot today."

A toot of a horn caught the attention of the students.

"About time," Axle said, observing the coach pull into the street.

The coach stopped at the side of the road and the students soon got inside, the 'cool' students making a beeline for the rear seats. Axle sat himself down nearer the front next to the window, as did the girls.

"Mind if I sit next to you?" asked Sunset.

"Go ahead."

Sunset sat down and immediately pulled out her phone and put some headphones on from out of her bag.

"Nice headphones."

"Thanks. You should get a pair."

"Nah thanks. I'd look like a bit of a prat with cat ear headphones."

Sunset turned her head to Axle and looked him up and down, "Yeah, you're probably right."

Axle pulled out his own phone with attached ear phones and put them in, quickly choosing music to listen too.

"Nice phone," Sunset commented, "It's the new XF model, isn't it?"

"Yeah, the larger version."

Thank fuck it plays the songs from my old phone.

"Listening to anything good?" she asked.

"That's one way of putting it."

"You'll have to let me hear some songs from wherever you come form some time."

"Maybe."

Sunset's smile faltered slightly as she sighed, "I'm disturbing you, aren't I?"

"To put is politely, yes."

"Sorry," she replied, rubbing the back of her neck awkwardly, "I'll leave you alone."

Axle sighed and took his earphones out, "Look, it's not that I don't want to talk, I'm just used to travelling alone."

"....OK," Sunset replied, still looking a little hurt.


Twenty minutes into the journey, Principal Celestia handed out booklets containing information on the various simulators available. Removing her cat-ear headphones, letting them hang around her neck and giving Axle a remind of the dreadful music she listened too, turned her attention to him.

"Which one are you interested in?" she asked, "I'm itching to try the race simulator."

"The train simulator is the one that interests me the most," Axle said.

"Have you liked trains for long?"

"As long as I can remember."

Watching trains arrive and depart Lime Street station, occasionally spotting the last remaining steam locos.

"What about you?" asked Axle, "Why racing?"

Sunset rolled her eyes and playfully jabbed Axle in his side with her elbow, "What's wrong Axle? Scared of a girl who could beat you at motorpsort?"

"You wish."

"Wanna race later then?"

"Sure. If they let us. Loser has to do whatever the winner says for the whole of the weekend."

"Deal," replied Sunset, "I already know what you'll be doing."

"What will I be doing?"

Sunset tapped the side of her nose.

"In that case, I'm not telling you what you'll be doing."

"Doesn't matter, not like I'll be doing it."

"Confident much?"

"A fact."

"Well we'll see, won't we?"

"I guess we will. Back to trains though, you seem to know a lot about it."

"Like you've said, I'm interested in them."

"Yeah but you seem to know how it works rather than just recite a few facts."

"There's more to running a railway than people realise and I just find it fascinating."

"Can you give me a few pointers for when I go in a simulator? Knowledge is power, right?"

"I suppose so. What would you like to know first?"

"What's DRA?" asked Sunset, "I've heard of it before but never got around to finding out."

"The DRA is the driver's reminder appliance," Axle stated, "It prevents the driver from applying power when set."

"Why would you need to do that?"

"Well, if you're on a driver only operated train and you're stopped at a station, your station duties could cause you to forget that the next signal is at danger. So by having the DRA set prevents a potential SPAD."

"SPAD?"

"Signal Passed At Danger."

Sunset's eyes narrowed to pinpricks, realising the potential consequences of such an incident, "Has it ever happened before?"

"It has. Where I come from a high speed passenger train collided with a freight train moving across the main lines into a goods yard. Put simply, rules weren't followed and two people were killed and 139 injured. And then there's the Ladbroke Grove crash which killed 31 and injured over 400. Again caused by a commuter DMU colliding with a HST due to a SPAD."

"Where's Ladbroke Grove?" Sunset asked, looking confused.

"It's...."

Shit. My big mouth has once again landed me in it.

"It's a place I visited often. I'm not from around here remember?"

Sunset squinted suspiciously at Axle, recalling the conversation with the girls about the possibility of Axle being from a different world like her, but decided against probing for more information, "OK. Do you want to be a train driver?"

I was one.

"Yes. Despite the some of the shifts you'd have to work and masses of rules and regulations to remember, it pays well. Even trainee drivers can earn E$30,000 per year. Fully qualified drivers can earn around E$70,000 per year."

"That's quite a bit for sitting down all day."

Axle's head turned instant to shoot Sunset a fierce glare.

"Kidding!" Sunset replied, laughing slightly, putting her hands up defensively.


The students eventually arrived at the centre and wasted no time, once they were booked in, in going straight to the simulators. The first being Axle's preference.

As the trip was as much an educational trip as a recreational one, they did each simualtion as a group. Axle, along with Flash, Rainbow, Soarin, Applejack, Rarity and Fluttershy amongst others, took control of trains, while Sunset, Spitfire, Pinkie and Vinyl took on the roll of signallers.

Axle took his seat in the cab of a class 260 and began setting the train up for its journey, similar to riding a bike again. It just comes back to you. The scenario Axle would be doing is taking an eleven car HST EMU from Canterlot Piccadilly as far as Baltimare, where another driver would take over.

Similar to the 390's, Axle observed.

As he finished setting up the train, he checked his watch and it was almost time for departure so he took the radio telephone off of the hook, and contacted the signaller.

"Hello signaller, this is the driver of One Hotel Three Four Two requesting permission to depart Canterlot Piccadilly platform four."

"Driver of One Hotel Three Four Two, this is the signaller of Canterlot Crossway, permission to depart refused; Three Echo Five Seven Nine will be passing through on the Down Slow in two minutes and Five Delta Two Two Four is on approach on the Up Fast. Hold permission and await further instructions."

Even in simulators, there's delays.

"Signaller, this is the driver of One Hotel Three Four Two, permission to depart refused;" Axle repeated back, being certain he heard the information correctly, "Three Echo Five Seven Nine will be passing through on the Down Slow in two minutes and Five Delta Two Two Four is on approach on the Up Fast. I am to hold permission and await further instructions."

"Affirmative One Hotel Three Four Two, signaller out."

Axle hung the radio phone back on the hook and waited for the cal back.

Sunset makes a good signaller.

Axle continued to watch the screens of the simulator, impressed at the sheer visual quality of the graphics. All the more impressive when Three Echo Five Seven Nine passed by. A freight train carrying around three dozen HTA coal hoppers.

Flash is driving that if I'm not mistaken.

After it had finished passing, and the signals changed to red, Axle saw Five Delta Two Two Four stopped just before a signal. A smaller four car DMU, being driven by Rainbow. He could almost hear her complaints from his own simulator. She didn't seem to pleased about being told to stop before the station and let me leave first.

Someone should explain to her that I need to leave first before she can occupy the platform.

About two minutes later, he heard the radio phone buzz and picked up the handset.

"Driver of One Hotel Three Four Two, this is the signaller of Canterlot Crossway, you are now cleared to depart. Due to maintenance work on the line, speed restrictions are in place between Malton and Wharferdale."

"Signaller this is the driver of One Hotel Three Four Two, I am now cleared to depart. Due to maintenance work on the line, speed restrictions are in place between Malton and Wharferdale."

"Affirmative, signaller out."

Axle put the phone back on the hook and, after setting the brakes to running, applied power to about one half. The train slowly left the station; passing Rainbow's train on the opposite line.

"Stupid Axle, being given priority over me!"

"Heh heh heh," Axle chuckled.

Soon enough though, Axle was at a steady 50mph, the maximum permitted until he reached Malton where he would have to slow to 40mph.

*BRRRRNG*

Recognising the alarm, Axle pressed the AWS and passed through the two yellow aspect. As a precaution, Axle lowered his speed to 40mph.

"Chasing aspects is a bad habit I refuse to go into."

Soon enough, Axle passed through Malton station where the speed restriction began. After about ten minutes of mundane travel, Axle approached Wharferdale, which as it turned out happened to be his next scheduled stop.

At least after this I can go at full line speed.

About two minutes later, the signal changed to green and Axle had the all clear to proceed, but way behind schedule due to circumstances out of his control. About a minute later though, he was well under way on the Down Fast with his speed increasing to over 100mph and green lights all the way.

"Do I spot a freight train ahead?" he asked with a grin.

Sure enough, on the down slow, was Flash's freight train.

"I am so going to enjoy passing him."

Very soon and speed still increasing, Axle flew past the thirty or so coal hoppers, and the locomotive itself.

Still not quite on par with the real thing.

In his own simulator, Flash could only wash as Axle zoomed past.

Back in Axle's cab however, fond memories of hurtling up and down the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly, came back to him. The gentle sweeping curves, the long straights, the views of the Trent Valley line...

Good times.

Half an hour later travelling at 200mph, Axle was on approach to his next stop, Dodge City.

Slowing down considerably to 40mph, Axle's train wound it's way around the sharp curves, staying very alert for signals and other hazards. Due to the tight curves, signal visibility was fairly limited and there was increased risk of reading across, increasing the risk of a SPAD.

Fortunately for Axle, he read his signals correctly and came to a stop at a red signal with the station just ahead. Seeing no activity, he picked up the radio phone.

"Signaller, this is the driver of One Hotel Three Four Two stopped at signal Delta One Eight, requesting to pass signal at danger to allocated platform."

"Driver of One Hotel Three Four Two this is the signaller of Baltimare, request denied. Platform not yet allocated and Seven Jericho One One Seven is on approach on the Up Slow. Hold position and await further instructions."

"Signaller this is the driver of One Hotel Three Four Two, request to pass signal at danger denied. Platform not yet allocated and Seven Jericho One One Seven is on approach on the Up Slow. I am to hold position and await further instructions."

"Affirmative driver, signaller out."

Fluttershy is surprisingly confident as a signaller.

Two minutes of waiting and eventually the train in question approached, passing right by Axle's train. The train in question was the same as Axle's, being driven by Soarin.

A minute later the radio phone buzzed and upon answering it, Axle was given the all clear to proceed. His train moved in slowly before coming to a halt, the platform only just big enough to fit his eleven carriage train.

After coming to a full stop and applying the DRA and setting the train to neutral, as well as all other necessary requirements, he stood up and walked oput of the simulator and ran straight into Principal Celestia.

"Principal Celestia," he said with almost no emotion.

"Mr Rod."

There was an awkward silence as the two avoided eye contact.

"Did you enjoy yourself today, Mr Rod?"

"Very much so," he replied with almost no emotion, the events of that outburst and that phone call still fresh in his mind, "I think I could be a train driver."

"A challenging career choice. I could arrange a meeting with the school careers adviser."

"That would be appreciated."

"I shall try to arrange one as soon as possible."

"Thank you."


After a short break, the students moved onto then next simulation.

"I call dibs on the fighter!"

"Calm down Rainbow," Applejack said, "It's not for us to decide, remember?"

As it turned out, much to Rainbow's dislike, all but a few students would be paired together in commercial jets. The ones that weren't were Air Traffic Controllers, with all of them supervised by qualified personnel to guide them through the tasks required. Axle and Sunset had been paired together to fly a copycat of an Airbus A380 and Applejack and Rarity had been paired together in a copy of a Boeing 777.

"So, Captain," Axle said through gritted teeth, "What are your first orders?"

"First things first, First Officer, you should smile more."

"Stop saying first."

"You can't tell me what to do."

"Yes I can. I'm the Pilot In Command."

"Only because you're a girl and it would be sexist to put me in charge."

"Keep telling yourself that, train boy."

"Female privilege."

"Sunset, Axle, please concentrate on the task."

"Sorry, Principal Celestia," Sunset replied sheepishly, a slight blush to her cheeks. A small grin on Axle's.


"What did you think?" asked Sunset as they walked out of the simulator.

"I prefer trains."

"Imagine my shock. Come on train boy," Sunset replied, hooking her arm around Axle's arm, "Let's go and get some lunch."

She seems a bit playful today. If I was at least thirty years younger then maybe...

...who am I kidding. Even with this 'second chance' I'd still be single.

"Yeah, lets," Axle replied, allowing Sunset to take him.

A few minutes later and the rest of the girls joined Sunset and Axle. Rainbow made a beeline for Sunset, feeling irritated.

"I can't believe you would give Axle priority over me!"

"He had to go first to make room for your train," countered Sunset, "And the fully qualified signaller with more than forty years of experience agreed with my decision."

"Yeah well....did it have to be Axle?"

"Come on, Axle doesn't see it like that."

"Sure he won't."

"I don't."

"Shut up Axle!" Rainbow snapped, "You didn't even have an instructor with you and you had your simulation on expert difficulty. "

"I like a challenge and I play the Train Simulator games frequently."

"There's playing games and then there's doing it like a pro. You were doing the latter. Did you drive trains where you're from?"

What?

Though he tried no show it, considerable panic flooded Axle. So far, only those who need top know, know.

Teenage girls are definitely not those who need to know. And if they do, who told them or how did they work it out?

"I've done some yard work," Axle replied, "Off the record of course."

"Sure," Rainbow scoffed, not convinced.

"Let's not argue little children."

The students looked over to see the one and only approach.

"Professor Discord," Axle replied.

"Forte."

"Forte?"

Discord blinked and shook his head, "Axle Rod. I meant you."

"Who's Forte?"

"It's not important. Are you all enjoying yourselves today?"

The students nodded.

"Excellent.Then I'm sure you'll thoroughly enjoy what is planned for later."

"What's that?"

"You'll just have to wait and see, Mr Rod."


"RACERS, START! YOUR! ENGINES!"

THIS! IS! AWESOME! Axle and Rainbow thought simultaneously.

The students were now each in a racing simulator, Axle and the girls were the second group to take part, given there were a maximum of twenty simulators. After doing some qualifying laps, Axle was last on the grid, penalised for cutting corners, which he disputed most profusely. Sunset was in pole position. Axle had settled on a car similar to the Lamborghini LP700-4 Roadster . Other students had picked their own cars, all from the same class to make it as fair as possible race. Sunset, by coincidence, had chosen the same as Axle.

The course was similar in shape to Silverstone, and would be a 56 lap race. Altogether, the race would last approximately ninety minutes.

"Stupid race officials," muttered Axle, "I didn't cut any fucking corners."

Looking up to the lights, one by one the red lights lit up, when at the fifth light...

"GO! GO! GO!"

Axle, and the other racers, floored it. Axle, already having thirty five years of legal driving experience, already had an upper hand in how to control a car, even if it was a simulator. On approached to the first corner there was the inevitable crash and four racers spun out, allowing Axle to pass easily and climb up a few places.

Sunset was still in pole position, followed closely by Rainbow and Fluttershy.

Using his thirty five years of legal driving and five years of joy riding around the back streets of Liverpool, Axle quickly moved up many more places over the course of the race. About half way through he had moved up to 6th place where the more serious racers (and obvious gamers) were. Sunset and Rainbow had established a significant lead and were well ahead, twelve seconds ahead of third placed Flash.

I'd be up at the front had the pillocks behind me not held me up! Axle seethed.

The race wore on, and Axle had finally managed to pass Soarin and Spitfire, in 4th and 5th place respectively. Knowing they wouldn't win, they raced against each other and in doing so they unknowingly held up Axle behind them, much to his ire.

Next time in football training I'll be sure to accidentally kick the ball in their faces.

Now in 4th place himself, Flash was in the distance. According to his data screen, he was six seconds behind Flash and twenty seconds behind 2nd placed Rainbow.

Another five laps of chasing Flash didn't close the gap, but on the flip side he had increased his distance ahead of those behind him.

Come on Edward, you can't let a load of pushy teenagers beat you.

A couple of laps later, Axle began to notice Flash wasn't going as fast as before, nor accelerating as quickly.

Maybe his tires are worn.

As luck would have it, Flash pulled into the pit lane and Axle flew on by, pedal to the metal more determine than ever to catch Sunset and Rainbow. His focus and clarity had evolved to such a degree, he was now in 'the zone'. Every break, every turn, every acceleration all seemed to be perfect. He his the apexes of corner and maxed it on the straights. He wasn't thinking so much about what to do, but just 'doing it'.

With ten laps to go, he saw them in the distance as he entered the longest straight of the course.

Now or never!

Hundreds of virtual horsepower had to be used like never before.

To his relief, it seemed as though Sunset and Rainbow were so concerned with racing each other that they failed to notice Axle approaching fast.

I still need to pit.

They don't.

Stupid tyre change rules.

As he turned another corner, his eyes almost boggled out of his skull.

Sunset and Rainbow had spun out.

He flew past just as they rejoined the circuit, now in the lead by several seconds.

If I pit now, I can get it over with. They'll go ahead again but if it's quick enough I should be able to rejoin close behind them.

His decision made, he flew into the pit lane as soon as he could for a new set of tyres, keeping and eye on the track data. Sunset and Rainbow were closing in fast.

Time seemed to slow to a crawl as he entered his pit zone and the tyres changed, keeping an eye on the track data.

Come on! For fuck's sake!

Axle was given the green light to go again just as Sunset and Rainbow were turning onto the grid lane. Axle, still under a speed restriction, had to watch as his two rivals quickly closed the gap more. As soon as he left the restricted speed section, he gunned it; just as the girls passed him.

Come around the corner and just two seconds behind, the race was truly on.


Where did Axle come from?


No way am I letting that train loving jerk beat me!


Five laps to go.

Axle was now in 2nd place. Rainbow approached a sharp corner too sharp and too fast due to trying to block Axle from passing and ended up locking the brakes and going off of the track. Axle roared passed with only Sunset in his way.

And she was proving to be quite the player.

With two laps to go, he had closed the gap due to Sunset approaching a corner to fast, losing her precious seconds.

Axle, was now right on her pony tail.

You're NOT getting past me, train boy!

The final lap.

Half way through the lap, Sunset once more took a corner at the wrong angle.

Acting quickly, Axle gunned it and roared past Sunset.

Only to approach the next corner, only just ahead, too fast and at the wrong approach. Breaking hard, he locked the brakes and went into the gravel. Sunset once more took the lead, quickly putting a fair distance between herself and Axle.

"SHIT! SHIT! FUCKING! FUCK! SHIT! TWAT! SHIT! FUCK! PISSING! SHIT! SHIT! FUCK! FUCK! SHIT! SHIT! FUCK! SHIT!"


The race finished with Sunset as winner and Axle runner up, despite being given a five second penalty for repeated strong language. Rainbow finished third, much to her annoyance at finishing behind Axle. Outside the simulator room and back in the lobby, the students began talking to one another about the race. Most in jovial spirits.

"Good race," Sunset said, approaching Axle.

"Yeah. I haven't had this much fun since the Toxteth Riots."

"The what riots?" queried Sunset.

"Oh nothing. Just thinking aloud."

"Whatever. Oh and by the way," Sunset replied with a devilish smirk forming on her face, "Did you forget our little bet?"

Axle sighed deeply, "No."

"I won," Sunset smugly stated.

Axle looked on, clenching his jaw, "You only won because I locked the breaks on that corner. Had it not been for that I would have won!"

"But. You. Didn't," Sunset replied, playfully booping Axle's nose with each word, "Which means you have to do what I say at the weekend."

"Fine," Axle huffed, "What is it? Be Rainbow's punching bag? Applejack's apple picking slave? A mannequin for Rarity? Pinkie's next cupcake victim?"

"As fantastic as those ideas are," Sunset replied with a satisfied smile, "I had something else in mind."

"Oh goody."

"Though it involves all of us," she replied looking over to the girls who moved over to encircle them.

Axle felt a cold chill up his spine. A sense of dread he hadn't felt since the police took him home to his Grandparents after getting caught shoplifting at a newsagents.

Two of the very few people who he respected as a child.

"What will I be doing?" he asked.

"A little bit of this and little bit of that."

"Sunset!"

"Calm down, train boy," she replied playfully, "Or I'll ask Rarity to make your outfits girly."

"Outfits?"

"You're going to join us for band practice."

Axle's jaw began to slowly drop.

"And you ARE going to join in."

Axle gave Sunset a death glare that if weaponised, would have vaporised her on the spot.

"Or else."

Axle continued to glare as Discord approached.

"Come along little children. The next simulation awaits."

"What is it, Professor?" asked Sunset.

"I'll give you a clue, it's every student for themselves and the last one remaining will be crowned Top Gun of Canterlot High!" he bellowed raising a fist into the air.

"You mean-" Rainbow began, her eyes lighting up with glee.

"Yes Miss Dash, it's a free for all deathmatch in the skies above!"

Discord bent forward slightly and put on an unusually serious expression, "And there can only be ONE winner. ONE Top Gun. ONE Angel of Death. ONE-"

"They get the idea, Professor Discord," Vice-Principal Luna said, pulling him away.

"Are you joining us, Vice-Principal Luna?" asked Sunset.

"Of course I am. I am The Night Maiden."

The student's eyes reduced to pinpricks.

"Y-y-y-you-"

"Yes, Miss Shimmer?"

"You're the legendary, the one and only The Night Maiden?"

"Of course. But be warned, you may be my students, but NO mercy will be shown."