While Gallus' friends put together a surprise birthday party for him, Gallus struggles with feelings of abandonment.
After the events of their first Hearths Warming Eve together, and the revelation about Gallus' family, or lack there of, Silverstream comes to a shocking realization: Gallus has never had a birthday party! Silverstream decides to correct this as soon as possible, so she recruits the rest of the Young Six to put together a surprise birthday party for their griffon friend.
However, as all of his friends are busy planning this surprise, Gallus can't help but feel that his so called friends are avoiding him. Feeling alone and abandoned on this day, Gallus unknowingly finds himself in a vulnerable position ripe for manipulation.
The six young creatures were really enjoying themselves playing Buckball, or rather, their version of it. Seeing as only one of them could use magic, Smolder had to play the role of the "unicorn", holding the Buckball goal basket in her arms up over her head and flying around on one side of the field. Ocellus stood levitating her team's basket with her magic on the other side of the field.
"Heads up, Ocellus!" Sandbar said as he ran forward towards Ocellus, and he bucked the ball towards the basket.
"I don't think so!" Gallus said with a smirk as he deftly caught the ball and passed it down to Yona.
The yak laughed enthusiastically as she punted the ball towards the goal basket Smolder was carrying.
Silverstream made an attempt to snatch it out of the air, but her claws just missed it as it shot straight into the goal basket. However, it hit it with such force that Smolder was sent into a spin.
"Woah! Woah! Woah!" Smolder shouted as she righted herself. She shook off her dizziness and said, "Ugh. Yona! Would ya mind going a little easier for now on?"
Yona smiled sheepishly and said, "Aw. Sorry. Yona be more careful."
"Gallus!" a familiar voice called out.
Everyone focused their attention on the approaching Alicorn.
Gallus hovered close to the ground, and then landed when Princess Twilight approached him. "Uh, I didn't do it?" he said lamely with a shrug and an awkward smile.
Twilight rolled her eyes, then she said with a smile, "No, Gallus. You're not in trouble. There was just an issue with some of your school forms, and I just need you to help correct them. Don't worry, it shouldn't take long."
Gallus let out a long frustrate groan and said, "Ugggggh! This is a real drag!" He turned to his friends and said, "Sorry guys. Game over, I guess."
Sandbar, wanting to make things better, said, "Well, she said that it shouldn't take long."
"Hmph. Yeah right," Gallus said under his breath, and he turned to follow Twilight back into the School of Friendship.
As Ocellus set her basket down, and Smolder landed and put down her own basket, Silverstream hovered up in the air and intently watched the retreating figures of Gallus and Twilight. As the pair got further and further away, Silverstream's smile grew and grew, and she got more and more giggly.
Smolder eyed the hippogriff suspiciously and asked, "What are you so happy about?"
Once Gallus and Twilight entered he building, Silverstream laughed out loud and looped in mid air. Then she landed amongst her friends and said, "Okay everycreature! Now that Gallus isn't here, we can continue on with my ingenious plan!" She then laughed again as she rubbed her claws together mischievously.
Ocellus looked at Silverstream in confusion and asked, "What plan?"
Silverstream nodded and said, "Part one was getting help from Headmare Twilight, so she could distract Gallus while we planned things out."
"Wait, so there wasn't anything wrong with any forms?" Sandbar asked.
Silverstream laughed and said, "Oh, of course not. But Headmare Twilight will think of something to keep him busy. Now, everyone listen up, because I came up with a great idea!"
Yona frowned and said, "Yona don't think friends should leave out friend Gallus."
Silverstream nudged Yona playfully and said, "Oh, but this is about Gallus, silly!"
Just as confused as everyone else, Smolder folded her arms and said with an eyebrow raised quizzically, "What about him?"
Silverstream tapped the tips of her claws together and said, "Well, we all remember what Gallus told us back on Hearths Warming Eve, right? Well, a few days ago, I suddenly started to think about it. And I mean really think about it. . ." Silverstream's eyes went wide, and she said in abject horror, ". . . and then it hit me. . . Gallus has never had a birthday party!"
The rest of the group all exchanged glances as the truth of Silverstream's words sank in. When they considered Gallus' lack of a family, combined with the overall selfishness and unpleasantness of Griffonstone, it became obvious that Gallus' birthday was probably never a very happy day for him. This was quite a sad thought for the group. Even Smolder and Ocellus, whose races hadn't had a history of being happy and friendly, had memories of happy birthdays.
For dragons, it was an extra pile of delicious gems. Maybe even a Fire Ruby if they were lucky. There were also the standard dragon games loved by all young dragons. Tail wrestling, fire breathing contests (belching contests for the boys), king of the horde, and of course lava pool parties.
For changelings, who had always been born by the massive Queen-sized clutch, it was a day of free reign of the hive for the group, where all the other changelings were at their beck and call. They also got first pick of any love brought back to the hive. Of course, with Chrysalis gone, the changelings were beginning to adopt the pony style of birthday celebrations. Piñatas in the shape of Chrysalis were going to be in high demand very soon.
"So," Silverstream continued after waiting a moment for the revelation to sink in amongst her friends, "I talked to Headmare Twilight, and she gave me the okay to go through with my plan, not the mention Gallus' birthdate from his student file."
Sandbar grinned and said, "You're a genius, Silverstream! We'll give Gallus the best surprise party ever! All we gotta do is ask Professor Pinkie Pie to set up the party and-."
"No, no, no!" Silverstream said quickly while shaking her head, "We can't ask Professor Pinkie Pie for help! We have to do it ourselves."
"What?" Smolder asked, "Why can't we get the pony whose special talent is throwing parties to help us? Seems like a no brainer to me. It'd be a lot easier."
"If we do the work ourselves, it'll make the party more meaningful, ya know," Silverstream explained, "It'll show how much we care about him, cause it'll have a part of us in it. We'll be able to really personalize it and everything!"
Ocellus nodded and said, "You're right, Silverstream. Having Pinkie Pie do it for us wouldn't have the same impact as us throwing him a party that we set up for him ourselves. It'll be like. . .a symbol of our friendship he'll always remember!"
Yona was clearly on board with the idea, and she said gleefully, "Yona don't know what is more fun! Having party with friends or making party with friends!"
Smolder was smiling as she quickly warmed up to the idea, and she said, "Eh, I suppose this could be fun. Why not? So, when is Gallus' birthday?"
"Tomorrow," Silverstream said with a smile.
Everyone stared at Silverstream in shock; with exception of Yona, who just looked a bit confused.
"Uhm, Silverstream?" Smolder asked gently.
"Yup?" the hippogriff replied happily.
"HAVE YOU BEEN TAKING CRAZY PILLS!?" Smolder shouted as she threw her arms up into the air.
Silverstream blinked and said in confusion, "No. . ."
"Hang on, Smolder," Ocellus said as she raised a forehoof, "Maybe we can still pull this off."
"Oh no, the crazy is spreading!" Smolder said as she looked at Ocellus in disbelief.
"Ocellus is right," Sandbar chimed in, "I mean, we've still got time. The party's gonna be sometime after tomorrow afternoon, right? Let's just take it one step at a time. First of all, do we have a place for the party?"
Silverstream nodded and said, "Yup! Headmare Twilight has an empty classroom set aside for us."
Sandbar smiled and nodded, "Great. Now, all we need are some decorations, food, games, gifts, and a birthday cake; and we can get all of that stuff in Ponyville!"
Yona laughed heartily and said to Smolder, "See! Silverstream not crazy! Friends can do this, easy!"
"Hmmm," Smolder said thoughtfully, then she calmed down a bit more and started smiling once again, "Well, not easy, but it's do-able. As long as nocreature screws up."
Silverstream patted Smolder on her shoulder and said, "Stop worrying! It'll all work out perfectly! Trust me! Now, I've already figured out who's gonna do what! Sandbar can go get the cake and food from Sugarcube Corner-."
"Oh man, I better get moving!" Sandbar said urgently, "I need to order the cake now if it's gonna be ready by tomorrow!"
As Sandbar ran off, Silverstream continued addressing her friends, "Okay, right. So, Ocellus and Yona can be in charge of picking out some fun party games. Smolder and I will make the decorations, and we can all set up the classroom and turn it into a party room tomorrow. It's foolproof!"
Ocellus smiled and said, "Sandbar was right. You are a genius, Silverstream!"
Yona nodded enthusiastically and said, "Yes, yes! Gallus will be real happy! Real, real happy!"
Silverstream stood tall and proud as she said, "Uh-huh! This is gonna be great! I mean, with my perfect plan, what could possibly go wrong?"
"We're doomed," Smolder said with a deadpanned expression.
Gallus woke up in his bed, feeling what most creatures not in the know would call 'oddly unenthusiastic' considering what day it was. The griffon felt as blue as his feathers as he let out a sigh and lay in bed for a bit, not eager to get up right away. As he lay there, staring up at the ceiling, his mind drifted back to thoughts of Griffonstone, and the rather unpleasant memories he had of seeing young griffons being given a tasty treat by their mother, and a handful of coins by their father, all while receiving the begrudgingly cheerful tidings of "Happy Birthday 'so and so'!"
Gallus rolled over onto his side and shut his eyes tightly. The only day he hated more than his own birthday was the Blue Moon Festival, but even then it was at a close second. As he laid there, he considered his usual schedule for the day of his birth: sleep extra late, perhaps till noon if he got lucky. Skip lunch, as he never had much of an appetite on his birthday. Mope around for the rest of the day, avoiding the other griffons. Get something to eat and then go to bed.
He let out a groan as he recalled his miserable itinerary. It was bad enough that yesterday hadn't ended that well. After asking a bunch of lame and obvious questions that Twilight needed confirmation on to fix his paperwork, Gallus had come out to find that Sandbar needed to run off and do something or other in Ponyville, meaning that their Buckball game was over.
Gallus' eyes snapped open as a sudden realization came to him. "Wait. . . my friends," he thought to himself.
Gallus sat up in bed and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He realized that this birthday was very different from his previous ones, as this time he had friends. Of course, he hadn't told them when his birthday was. After what he had revealed to them during the whole "Hearths Warming Eve Goo Power Prank Incident," they'd probably just toss him a couple of gifts out of pity, and that was the last thing that Gallus wanted.
As Gallus got out of bed, a small smile grew on his face, something that had never happened on his birthday before. While he still had no intention on announcing what day it was, he was sure that it would be completely tolerable with his friends around him. Plus, it was Sunday, meaning that they could spend pretty much the whole day having fun.
He took a look at the clock, and saw that it was only a few minutes before 8 o'clock. He also realized that he actually had a bit of an appetite, much to his surprise.
Now wearing a full smile, Gallus made up his mind to splash some water on his face, give his feathers a quick preening, and head over to the cafeteria to join his friends for some breakfast.
"Heh. Maybe this day won't be so bad after all," Gallus mused to himself.
In the cafeteria, Gallus' friends were already gathered there, taking their time eating their breakfasts as they were in active discussion of how to set up their griffon friend's surprise party in time. In the middle of the table sat a small pile of Bits, along with a small ruby and a small sapphire.
Silverstream put her talons on the table and said eagerly, "Okay, so this should be enough to get all the food and games for the party."
Sandbar held up a forehoof and said, "What about the decorations?"
Silverstream just waved a claw and said, "Oh, Smolder and I can make those ourselves."
"Hold on," Smolder interjected with an unamused look on her face, "I've been thinking, and I'm not sure how we can make decorations that don't look really chintzy."
Silverstream held her claws up and said, "Chintzy? Me? Oh puh-lease! If anyone can make a room look beautiful with paper, balloons, table cloths, paint, and Luster Dust; it's Silverstream!"
Yona gulped down her glass of orange juice, let out a quick burp, and said, "Yona trust Silverstream! She make really nice decorations for party!"
Ocellus gently nudged the yak and said, "Focus, Yona. We're in charge of getting the games."
Yona's enthusiasm was bubbling over as she said, "Yes! We get Gallus a piñata, and Gallus smash it! Then we make big pile of balloons, and Gallus smash it!"
Smolder looked sideways at Yona as she picked up the cup of tea she was having with her biscuits. "I don't think griffons are as obsessed with smashing as yaks are, but that's none of my business," Smolder said, then she looked away as she casually took a sip of her tea.
"How about bobbing for apples?" Sandbar suggested.
Silverstream gasped and said, "Ooooh! I've always wanted to try that game! We didn't have that game back in Seaquestria, 'cause it's underwater, and you can't bob for apples underwater, because you're already underwater, so they're be no difference between sticking you're head in the tub of water and just being in the water around you, plus the apples wouldn't stay in the tub of water because there's water-."
"Meow-meow!" Smolder said urgently.
The conversation immediately stopped and everyone focused on their food. Out of the corner of her eye, Smolder had spotted Gallus approaching with a tray of syrup laden waffles and a cup of orange juice.
Gallus plopped his tray down next to Sandbar, who might've looked a little too interested in the remains of his French toast, and sat down rather cheerily and said, "Well, hey guys. Am I late for the party?"
It was a poor choice of words that elicited a strange series of reactions from the group. Smolder blew tea out of her nose, Yona got up so fast that she fell backwards and landed flat on her back, Ocellus let out a loud "eep" and shot straight up a few feet into the air and hovered there with her wings buzzing, Silverstream slammed the palms of her claws down on the table so hard that everything on it rattled, and Sandbar coughed as he choked on the French toast he was about to swallow.
Gallus pounded Sandbar on the back until the pony had recovered, and then the griffon said, "Okay. What was that all about?"
As Yona and Ocellus got back into their seats, and Smolder wiped her nose clean, Silverstream smiled widely at Gallus and said, "Oh that? That was nothing. Yeah, totally nothing."
Gallus frowned back, clearly unconvinced, and said, "So, all of you guys randomly freaking out is nothing?"
Silverstream kept smiling as a bead of sweat ran down the side of her head. "Ummmmmm. . ."
Ocellus came to her rescue and said, "Oh, you just surprised us, Gallus. That's all. We just didn't notice you until you spoke up."
Not sure how to take this, Gallus simply echoed, "You didn't notice me?"
Ocellus was about to clarify what she meant, but then Smolder cut in and said, "Yeah! We totally didn't even know you were there! It was like, 'yeah, Gallus isn't here, it's just us.' But then suddenly, 'Oh Tiamat, Gallus is here!' Seriously, how'd you do that?"
Gallus didn't look very cheerful as he replied, "Heh. I don't know. I guess I just. . ." His voice trailed off as he noticed the pile of Bits and gems on the table. "What's with the pile of money? Trying to make the world's smallest dragon horde?" he asked.
The other five exchanged panicked looks, and then four of them looked to Silverstream.
"Um, charity!" Silverstream said quickly.
Smolder face palmed hard at this. Thankfully, Gallus didn't notice.
"What charity?" Gallus asked.
"The Filly Guides!" Sandbar answered proudly.
Silverstream laughed in relief and said, "That's right! The Filly Guides! A perfectly noble and wonderful cause! Ya gotta love those Filly Guides! Always. . . guiding. . . and stuff. . . Yeah. . ."
Sandbar cleared his throat and said, "The Cutie Mark Crusaders are Filly Guides, you know. Members get to learn cool skills, they help other ponies- er, creatures. They volunteer a lot. It's a really important organization."
Gallus shrugged and said, "Well, okay, if you say so. I guess I'll throw in a few bits-."
"NO!" Sandbar said loudly.
Gallus stared back at Sandbar, wide eyed at the unexpected response.
"I mean, uh, we already wrote down how much our donation is, uh, ahead of time," Sandbar said as his eyes looked around at everything except for the blue griffon right next to him, "So, yeah, we've already got enough, so you don't have to worry yeah. Uh, Yona and Ocellus better go and take it to the, uh, donation box- er, place! Yeah. Better hurry!"
Ocellus nodded quickly as she used her magic to gather the Bits and gems into a pouch. "Good idea, Sandbar. Come on, Yona. Let's get going!"
"Yes. We go now," Yona said, avoiding Gallus' gaze as she got up.
As Yona and Ocellus left, Silverstream gasped and said, "OH! I just remembered! Smolder and I have an important project we need to do today!"
"Really?" Gallus said suspiciously as he gazed from the hippogriff to the dragon.
Smolder nodded defiantly and said, "Yeah, really."
Silverstream smiled encouragingly at Gallus and said, "Aw, don't worry, Gallus. I'm sure Sandbar will keep you bus- I mean you two will find something to do."
Sandbar nudged Gallus in the side and said with a sly grin, "Yeah. Maybe I'll finally beat you at Battlecloud."
Gallus grunted as he stared down at his food. "So, I guess Sandbar's the unlucky one who gets stuck having to associate with the griffon?" he thought to himself miserably.
Sandbar stared hard at his side of the game board. He licked his lips in concentration, and he said slowly, "Sky 5. . ."
"Miss," Gallus said very unenthusiastically, "Sky 8?"
Sandbar laughed and said, "Woah! You found my last cloud! You won again, Gallus!"
"Boring," Gallus remarked as he tapped his talons on the table, his eyes wandering around Sandbar's room.
Sandbar noticed Gallus' displeasure, and he thought, "Okay. He's bored. Now maybe I can get out of here and get to Ocellus and Yona."
Sandbar rubbed his chin in thought, trying to look as thoughtful as possible, and he said, "You know. . . I'll bet Silverstream and Smolder have gotten far enough along on their project for at least a break. . . maybe?"
Gallus just shrugged, "I don't know. Maybe?"
Sandbar stood up and said eagerly, "I'm sure they are! Why don't we go check up on them. It's better than just sitting in my room while you beat me at Battlecloud over and over again, right?"
"Heh. Can't argue with that," Gallus said with a small smile.
"Let's go!" Sandbar said as he quickly exited the room.
Gallus raised an eyebrow at Sandbar's eagerness, but nevertheless got up and followed him out of the room.
Sandbar was leading the way as the walked down one of hallways of the School of Friendship. However, the pony came to a sudden stopped and "hmmmed" loudly as he looked left and right.
"What's the holdup?" Gallus asked impatiently, desperate to see more of his friends.
Sandbar shrugged and said, "I forgot what room Silverstream and Smolder are in."
"Seriously?" Gallus groaned.
Sandbar smiled sheepishly and said, "Well, don't you worry, Gallus. We'll find the room. We can make it like a game! You check the east side and I'll check the west side. First one to find them wins!"
Gallus huffed and said, "Sandbar, look! I-."
"Are you scared that you'll lose?" Sandbar said with a grin.
Gallus opened his beak to say something, but then he stopped short of speaking and smiled. "Oh really? Is that what you think? Fat chance, Sandbar! Whenever you're ready!"
Sandbar turned and got ready to run. "Oh, I'm ready, Gallus. Riiiiiight NOW!"
Sandbar took off running in one direction, and Gallus flew off in the opposite direction. However, just when the griffon turned the corner, he stopped and peeked his head around the corner he had just rounded. He spotted Sandbar's short, green tail rounding the corner on the other end of the hall.
Gallus hovered quietly down the hall, saying softly to himself, "Nice try, Sandbar. You're not ditching me so easily."
Yona and Ocellus walked through Ponyville, each carrying a load of supplies they had purchased. Yona had paper bags hanging from both of her horns by their handles, while Ocellus simply levitated her bags with her magic.
Ocellus was wearing a big smile as she listed a few of the objects they had gathered, "Party poppers, silly string, the piñata!"
"Oh yay!" Yona cheered.
The sound of hoofbeats caught the attention of the girls, and they turned to see Sandbar running towards them. He skidded to a halt in front of them and panted a bit. "Okay. . ." he said as he motioned with his right forehoof as he tried to catch his breath, "Whew. . . just. . . just let me. . ."
"What's the rush?" Ocellus asked, then her eyes widened and she asked, "Is Gallus following you?"
Sandbar shook his head and said, "No. He should still be at the school. Look, I needed to catch up to you girls before you spent too much!" He then took out a sheet of paper and waved it around as he said, "I made a list of all the food we need for the party and figured out how much money we need for it, exactly!"
Yona chuckled a bit, which caused the bags hanging from her horns to shake comically. "Sandbar acting like Headmare Twilight!"
Ocellus took Sandbar's list with her magic, and the changeling said smartly, "There is nothing wrong with careful planning and itemizing what is needed." Ocellus checked Sandbar's figures and smiled, "This looks right, and the money we have left should be just enough for it all."
Ocellus magically handed both the list and the half full pouch of bits to Sandbar, who breathed a sigh of relief and said, "Whew! Thank goodness!" Then he blushed nervously and stammered out, "Uh, I m-mean, well, I, of course I trusted you Ocellus! I mean, to leave some money from the food. Sure, but, games might cost more than food, or less than, that is, I uh." Sandbar felt too nervous to look into Ocellus' shiny blue eyes, even though the changeling was smiling cutely at him, or perhaps it was because of the smile she was giving him. Either way, Sandbar continued to stumble over his own words, "I'm saying, we kinda had to split up in a hurry this morning. We couldn't plan it out, the shopping I mean, yeah. Plus I already ordered the cake yesterday, so I had to pay that-."
The very awkward moment of Sandbar's stammering and Ocellus' attempts to keep herself from laughing was broken when Yona suddenly called out, "Meow-meow!"
Both the pony and changeling turned with wide eyes to see the backside of Gallus a few yards away.
"Gah! He can't see me here!" Sandbar cried out fearfully, and he quickly turned and ran.
Yona and Ocellus also left the area in a different direction and at a slower pace. As they walked, Yona posed a question, "Why is signal for seeing Gallus 'meow-meow'?"
Ocellus answered the question simply, "Because griffons are half eagle and half lion, and a lion is a cat."
Yona shook her head, making the bags on her horns shudder again, and she said, "How is lion a kitty cat? Lion is big and strong. Cat is small and cute."
"They're still both cats, Yona. They're just different kinds of cats."
"Yona don't understand."
"It's all a very simple matter of domestication and genetics. You see it all started way back when. . ."
Sandbar ran through Ponyville, eager to put as much distance between him and Gallus as he could.
"Hayseed! I'm such an idiot! I should've known Gallus wouldn't have fallen for that trick! But it's fine. Once I've lost him, I'll sneak around and pick up the cake, but the food- oh! And the drinks! Then I'll sneak right back to- AHH!"
Sandbar skidded to a halt just as Gallus landed a few feet in front of him. Luckily, the griffon had his back to him. Sandbar looked around nervously, and saw that he was right by Sugarcube Corner. Sandbar looked at Gallus' back and gulped, right before he ran right into the bakery.
Mrs. Cake was behind the counter, and she looked over at Sandbar with a smile. "Oh, Sandbar! You must be here for-."
Sandbar ran right up to the counter and said urgently, "Mrs. Cake, you gotta help me! Gallus is coming! I can't let him find me here!"
Mrs. Cake nodded her head and said, "Ohh, I understand, dear. You can step right into the kitchen for a minute, if you'd like."
Sadbar nodded, and he ran into the kitchen with a quick yell of "Thanks!"
In the very next second, right after Sandbar was out of sight, Gallus walked into the bakery. His blue eyes sweeped around the room in search of the Earth Pony he was looking for. Gallus then walked right over to the counter and said, "Hey, Mrs. Cake. You seen Sandbar?"
Mrs. Cake looked inquisitively at Gallus and asked, "Oh? You're looking for Sandbar?"
Gallus nodded slowly and said, "Well. . . yeah! That's why I asked."
"Hmm. . ." Mrs. Cake said slowly as she looked around the room, "Well, I don't see him right now."
Gallus frowned impatiently and said, "Well, fine. I guess I'll just look around some more."
As Gallus turned and left, Sandbar peaked his head out of the kitchen and let out a sigh of relief.
Smolder and Silverstream were walking through Ponyville, both carrying a small load. Silverstream had a pair of filled saddlebags, while Smolder held a tote bag over her left shoulder.
"Oh! My! Gosh!" Silverstream said dramatically, "I cannot believe we forgot the Luster Dust!"
Smolder counted out on her claws as she added, "And the balloons, and extra paint brushes, and the blue paint. . ." Smolder then paused and came to a stop, putting her hands on her hips as she remarked sassily, "I mean. . . seriously? We're throwing a party for a blue griffon, and we forget to get blue paint. . ." She then shrugged her shoulders sarcastically and said, "Huh. Seems legit."
The pair were only a few feet away from Sugarcube Corner, and at that moment, Gallus walked out the door.
The dragon and hippogriff froze in place as Gallus walked out, looking out in front of him and to his right. He was completely unaware of the girls' presence to his left.
Smolder's brain went into overdrive at this, and she thought, "Okay, maybe if we carefully walk backwards towards one of the other buildings-."
"Meow-meow!" Silverstream whispered rather loudly.
Smolder's eyes spotted Gallus' left ear twitch.
"Dangit, go!" Smolder hissed right before zooming as fast as she could to a nearby farm stand, diving into a large bucket of apples to hide.
When Gallus, turned, he just missed seeing Smolder, but he did spot Silverstream flying off towards one of the nearby houses.
"Hey! HEY!" he shouted as he took off after her, just as she rounded the corner.
Gallus flew down the alley, looking left and right for any sign of the pink hippogriff. Suddenly, the familiar shade of pink appeared in the corner of his eye, and made a sharp turn to the right to chase after it.
"Hey! Silverstream! Where are you going!?" Gallus called out as he weaved in and out between houses, seemingly on an endless chase through the same alleyway. Every once in a while he'd catch a flash of pink turning a corner ahead of him, leading him to making a sharp turn and zooming back into the alley.
Eventually, Gallus had enough a came to a sudden stop, growling with frustration as he hovered in mid-air.
"Yipe!" a voice squeaked out from behind him, and he felt something gently touch his back.
"Gotcha!" Gallus said as he turned around fast, only to be greeting with the sight of nothing. "Huh?" Gallus said, struck by confusion for a moment, then he shook it off and flew off in the direction he was facing.
Slightly above, and flying hovering upside-down yet, Silverstream watched as Gallus left, and finally let out the breath she was holding when he had gotten far enough away. Silverstream had gotten a little too excited by the chase, and ended up flying all the way around one of the houses and nearly crashing right into Gallus, who had unexpectedly come to a sudden stop. To avoid being seen, Silverstream had flipped her body up and over him so that she was hovering upside-down a few feet above him, and had kept completely silent, mentally pleading for Gallus not to look up.
"Well, that was a close one! But it's fine! We'll just have to speed things up a bit. Smolder won't mind. She's probably already heading back to the school. I better head back too- Wait! Since when could I fly upside-down? AHH!"
Silverstream groaned as she rolled onto her side. "Oooh, what a headache!" she moaned as she rubbed her forehead. But then she smiled and said, "But Gallus is worth it."
"Yona still don't agree that big strong lion with big hairy mane is kitty cat," Yona argued.
The two of them still were carrying their loads, and were now on their way back to the School of Friendship. However, between having to take the long way due to going the opposite way Sandbar had, and the debate the yak and Changeling were having, they weren't exactly making good time.
Ocellus sighed and said, "Yona, I'm trying to explain it to you. The members of the biological family of Felidae, known commonly as felines, include domestic cats like Rarity's cat, Abyssinians, lynxes, and lions. They're all part of one big diverse family."
Yona wrinkled her nose and said, "That very weird family. They look nothing alike! They-."
Suddenly, Gallus flew right up to them, his eyes widening when he saw them. "What are you girls doing with all that stuff?"
Yona turned to Ocellus and said nervously, "Uh. . . meow-meow?"
Gallus frowned hard at this and said, "'Meow-meow' again? What's with all the meowing?"
Ocellus smiled nervously and said, "Oh, that. Well, um-."
"Is it code for, 'look out, here comes Gallus'?" the griffon asked seriously.
"Ye- I mean, no! Why would we- I mean- um. . ." Ocellus said nervously
"What's in the bags?" Gallus asked, although it sounded more like a demand.
"What bags?" Yona asked lamely, while Ocellus merely smiled as she quickly levitated her bags behind her back.
Gallus tapped his talons impatiently and replied, "The bags floating behind Ocellus' back. . oh, and, I don't know, maybe the bags hanging on your horns!"
Ocellus and Yona gave each other nervous glances.
Gallus narrowed his eyes at the pair and said, "You're not gonna tell me, are you? Don't answer that! It's fine! I'll just see for myself."
Just as Gallus took a step forward, Yona suddenly cried out and pointed, "Look out! Derpy and Gabby!"
Gallus sneered and said, "Ha! I'm not falling for that-."
When Gallus finally recovered, he was staring straight at Derpy's bubbly Cutie Mark.
"Um, Derpy?" said the voice of Gabby the mail griffon, "You're kinda sitting on Gallus' face."
Derpy Hooves the mail mare quickly got up quickly and hovered in front of Gallus. She had her forehooves behind her back and had a nervous smile and blush on her face. "Oops. My bad," she said awkwardly, although she did sound genuinely sorry.
"Our bad," Gabby admitted with a similarly embarrassed looking face as she came over to lend a talon. Derpy joined in as well.
With Gabby on the right and Derpy on the left, Gallus grabbed hold of talon and hoof and was pulled back up to his feet.
"We're really sorry, Gallus," Gabby said, "Me and Derpy were talking, and she mentioned how she competed in the Best Young Flier Competition a while back, and I wanted to see the moves she used. Then she kinda swooped down too low, and I flew in to stop the crash. . . and well, I kinda got caught up in it myself."
As Gabby smiled sheepishly, Gallus just sighed and shook his head. "Forget it, it was just an accident." He then looked around to find, unsurprisingly, Ocellus and Yona were nowhere to be seen.
"Muffin?" Derpy asked with a gentle smile as she held out a blueberry muffin to him.
Gallus took one look at the muffin and frowned. "I'm not hungry," he replied.
Lying on the grass on the School of Friendship's campus was an orange coated Earth Pony with a shaggy dark-red mane and a curled dark red tail. His Cutie Mark depicted a fox's tail, curled in a similar manner to his actual tail. The colt was mulling over a book in front of him when something happened to catch his eye. It was the distinctive blue color that pulled his attention away from his book, and when he saw who it was, he was quite surprised.
"It's that griffon," he said in amazement, his reddish-brown eyes focused on Gallus, "And he's. . . all by himself?"
Indeed, Gallus was walking rather somberly past the colt, his head hung low as he slowly moved in the direction of the student dormitories.
"Hmm. . ." the orange pony said to himself, as he did some careful thinking. Then, he quickly stowed his book away into his saddle bag and jumped up onto his hooves.
Gallus had been deeply considering the idea that his birthday had been somehow cursed when the sound of running hoofsteps broke though his thoughts.
"Hey! Hey! Gallus!"
The griffon's frown deepened, as he didn't feel much like socializing at the moment. Nevertheless, he turned to see the approaching colt as he quickly caught up to him.
"Alright, Gallus!" the colt said, smiling eagerly as he came to a stop just inches from the griffon, "So, yeah, I didn't expect to see you here. That is, not here without the rest of your Equestria saving friends. Nice job beating Cozy Glow, by the way." The colt then seemed to suddenly remember his manners, and he smiled extra widely and held out his right forehoof, "Oh, excuse me. I'm Rey. Rey Faux. But my friends call me Rey, so you can go ahead and call me Rey!"
Gallus looked at Rey with a look of utter annoyance, and he made a point to not shake the hoof being offered to him. "Do you want something from me?" Gallus said bitterly.
Then, something very peculiar started to happen. Rey's wide smile suddenly became a smaller, more gentler smile. Not only that, Rey began to slowly circle around Gallus as he spoke in a very smooth and subtle tone of voice.
Rey nodded his head and said, "Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah; that is definitely the kind of response a griffon would give, especially if they aren't in a very good mood. I've made an effort to learn quite a bit about other lands and the cultures of other races, especially after you and your friends made such a big name for yourselves." Rey then gave a sad sigh, and continued in a voice laced with sympathy, "So, yeah, I know about griffons and Griffonstone and how much selfishness and greed can be found there. It's such a same you had to deal with that for so long. Even after spending time in Twilight's school, you still can't help but feel that every new face is planning to take advantage of you in some way."
Gallus' eyes widened slightly, amazed at how this pony was putting into words exactly how he felt inside. However, Rey wasn't done yet.
"You know, when I saw you walking by, I just had to run up and talk to you," Rey explained in an apologetic manner, sounding almost embarrassed, "I mean, you're one of that admirable group of six heroic friends who saved Equestria from that little terror Cozy Glow, and yet now you're all sad-looking and alone, your friends nowhere in sight. You gotta admit that anyone who has spent any length of time in this school would find this odd."
Rey stopped circling once he was standing in front of Gallus, and he tilted his head innocent curiosity and asked, "So, did you have some kind of. . . I dunno. . . falling out or something?"
Gallus's blue eyes were locked into Rey's reddish-brown eyes from a moment. Then the griffon turned away and said, "Not a falling out, exactly. More like. . . I was kicked out."
Rey sucked in a breath loudly and said in shock, "What? What do you mean? Wha-wha- what happened?"
Gallus huffed, and he turned back to Rey and said, "I don't know. I guess they needed a break from me, or something."
Rey stomped his right forehoof down hard and dug it into the ground aggressively. "A break from a friend? That's is unacceptable! A friend should always have time for a friend! Isn't that what friendship is all about? I mean-!" Rey took a few deep breaths to calm himself down, and then said, "Alright, Gallus. Let's just calm down. Err. . ." Rey's eyes lit up suddenly, and he nudged Gallus playfully on the shoulder and said, "Hey! You ever had a chocolate blueberry cluster?"
"Uh, no?" Gallus replied, caught of guard by the sudden change in subject.
Rey smiled and said, "Well, you will soon. My mom and I would make them together every once and while, and she sent me a care package full of them just the other day. I've got a bunch left in my room. Come on, come on! It's a well known fact that a little chocolate makes you feel better, and I know from experience that adding blueberries to it will make you feel twice as better. Come on, come on!"
Rey walked backwards as he eagerly beckoned for Gallus to follow, and then he turned and galloped off towards the dormitories. Gallus found himself following behind the colt, reasoning that he didn't have anything better to do anyway, so he might as well get to know this pony a little better.
Meanwhile, in the designated party room, Smolder and Silverstream were busy making the room look like it was meant to host Gallus' first surprise birthday party. Silverstream was blowing up another blue balloon, and after giving one final puff, and tied it off and fell flat onto her side, completely out of breath. Nearby were two big piles of balloons, one blue and one yellow. Each pile was about twice the size as Yona.
"Huff. . . Puff. . .Oh. . ." she gasped out as she lay on the floor, her chest heaving.
Smolder, who was busy brushing stripe of golden Luster Dust on a length of wide, blue ribbon, winced slightly at the sight of the puffed-out hippogriff and said, "Sorry, Silverstream, but dragons don't blow up balloons, unless you want globs of molten rubber."
Silverstream managed to catch her breath, and she laughed a little as she replied, "Yeah, I don't think melted balloons would really fit the tone of Gallus' birthday party."
Suddenly, there were three loud knocks on the door, and a voice on the other side said, "Shame on Grampa Gruff!"
Silverstream got up and quickly went over to the door and opened it, revealing Sandbar with a cake box on his back and bags hanging off either side of him.
Sandbar smiled triumphantly and said as he walked in, "Sesame seed sticks, honey roasted peanuts, chips, cheese dip, salsa, lemon candies, chocolate chip cookies, sarsaparilla-."
"Knock it off, you're making me hungry!" Smolder demanded, although she couldn't help but smile.
Sandbar gave her a look of clearly fake amazement and said, "Whatever do you mean? I don't recall mentioning any gems?"
Smolder rolled her eyes, but continued smirking as she replied, "Ha-ha. You know that pony food has started growing on me. And to think, dragons back home think that pillows are the best things that ponies can make. Seriously, they need to know that ponies came up with sapphire cupcakes! How can you hate a species that invented sapphire cupcakes? More dragons need to come over here and try stuff like that!"
Silverstream chuckled at Smolder's antics, and she said, "Don't worry, Smolder. There'll be plenty of food for everyone."
As Sandbar placed his load on the table, he frowned and said, "I think I kinda screwed up. I tried to send Gallus on a wild goose chase, but he ended up following me to Ponyville-."
"We know," Smolder said, "He nearly caught us, and I had to dive into a basket of apples. Ugh! How does Professor Pinkie Pie do it!?"
Silverstream smiled nervously and said, "Heh-heh. Yeah, I'm pretty sure he saw me."
Sandbar immediately began to panic. "Oh no, oh no! He knows we're hiding something from him! Now what!" Sandbar prodded himself in the forehead with his right forehoof and said, "Ugh! I should've thought of a better way to distract him! I should've just asked Derpy or somepony to deliver the cake and stuff instead of ditching Gallus to get it myself! I should've kept the food money separate from the games money! I should've-!"
"Oh, in the name of Ember, shimmer down, Captain Should've!" Smolder said as she flew over to her pony friend and pulled his forehoof away from his forehead and back down to the ground. "Don't beat yourself, or more specifically, your head up about this," Smolder said.
Silverstream held a claw up and said, "Although, for the record, I don't think having Gallus go chase a wild goose was a very good idea."
Sandbar and Smolder simply stared at her with blank expressions on their faces.
"No offense! Just a little constructive criticism," Silverstream said innocently and with a smile.
". . . Anyway," Smolder said, "The party should be ready before too long. Once Yona and Ocellus get here, we can get everything set up, and it'll all be worth it. The guy really deserves a decent birthday party, even if it is a pony-style one."
Sandbar grinned and said, "Heh. I'm not sure if Gallus could digest a dragon-style birthday party."
Smolder folded her arms and said with a grin, "Very funny. But telling jokes won't get this room decorated. Now, listen close, 'cause I'm only gonna explain this to you once: If you want a room to look cute, or I suppose festive in this case, you gotta understand complementary colors. . ."
Within Rey Faux's dorm room, the orange pony and the blue griffon were sitting and laughing together as they enjoyed some of Rey's mother's chocolate blueberry clusters. The cheering-up effect of chocolate worked quite well on Gallus, at the very least it was enough to get him to open up a little.
"Seriously? They even had a code word for whenever you showed up?" Rey asked in amazement.
Gallus popped another cluster into his mouth and nodded his head as he chewed. He swallowed and said, "Believe or not, yeah they did! Whenever I show up they're all like 'meow-meow, here comes that lame bird-cat thingy! Run away! Run away!'." Gallus waved his forelegs and flapped his wings in a mock-frantic manner.
Rey chuckled in disbelief and said, "Man, that's just not right. But it kinda makes them look dumb, when you think about it."
Gallus shrugged and said, "Yeah, well, they're loss, right?"
Rey smiled and gave a nod, "You got that right. Now they miss out on the coolness of Gallus."
Gallus held out his right fist and said, "Thanks, Rey. That means a lot."
Rey's hoof bumped Gallus' fist, and the pony said, "Well, we're all out of clusters. How about we check out that arcade cabinet in Ponyville."
"The one that the brown colt with the propeller hat is always playing?" Gallus asked.
"Yep," Rey said confidently, "It's also the one that I have a high score on." Rey then leaned forward to the griffon and said, "And I'm gonna challenge a certain cool griffon I consider a friend to beat that high score. . . What do you think?"
Gallus smirked and said, "Oh, it is so on!"
Meanwhile, the rest of Gallus' friends were in the party room, admiring their handiwork. Streamers hung in arcs from the ceiling in threes, with a yellow one in between two blue ones. Blue and yellow balloons also hung from the ceiling, and were also on the floor in each of the four corners of the room. A length of tables were shoved together, and they were covered with a large blue tablecloth with a yellow table runner down the length of it all. The table was filled with plenty of food and drink, with Gallus' birthday cake in the center.
Smolder stepped towards the table, then turned to her friends and said with a smug look, "You're welcome."
The others rolled their eyes or otherwise expressed their amusement at Smolder's attitude.
"Well, I gotta admit, Smolder really did come through for us today," Silverstream said gleefully, "This place looks a-maz-ing!"
"It is almost Gallus birthday party time!" Yona cheered excitedly.
"He's gonna be so happy when he gets here," Ocellus said as she buzzed her wings excitedly.
Sandbar nodded and said, "Yep. He'll totally forget about what happened earlier with the ditching and chasing and avoiding him."
"Sure he will! It's his very first birthday party!" Silverstream cheered as she jumped up into the air and pumped her fist in the air victoriously, "He'll come in here, we'll all yell surprise, he'll blow out his birthday candles, he'll open up his presents-."
"Uh, what presents?" Smolder said nervously with wide eyes.
The entire room went silent enough to hear a feather drop.
". . .So. . ." Silverstream said nervously as she slowly landed on the floor, "Did any of us remember to get a birthday gift for Gallus?"
The room went completely silent once again.
"Friends need to hurry!" Yona shouted, and she rushed out of the room as fast as she had gone when Sandbar had brought cupcakes on the first day of school, "GO-GO-GO!"
Ocellus nodded and said, "Yona's right! We need to get moving!"
"I actually have the perfect idea for a gift! He'll love it!" Sandbar said as he followed Ocellus out the door.
"Let's get moving!" Silverstream said with purpose, "Last one out, close the door!"
As Silverstream flew out of the room, Smolder followed at a slightly slower pace and said, "Eh, why worry? From what I've seen, stuff seems to just always work out in Equestria. Just sayin'."
Rey Faux and Gallus had just made some distance between them and the student dorms when all of a sudden Gallus said, "Oh, hey. Mind waiting up a bit. I gotta go. Heh-heh. . ."
Ray gave him a nod and said, "Say no more. Go ahead a relieve yourself so that you may attempt to beat my high score with no distractions."
Gallus quickly set off towards the nearest bathroom, and Rey watched him go.
"Well-well, what are you up to now, my wily special somepony?" said a female voice.
Rey smiled with incredible warmness, and he turned to see an orange-red coated Earth Pony filly walking across the campus towards him. Her mane was snow-white and twisted into two braids that ran down her shoulders. Her tail was also snow-white, and it was styled in a fox-like manner, just like Rey's tail. Her eyes were a beautiful hazel color, and her Cutie Mark depicted a red shield in the shape of a heart.
When the filly got close enough, Rey boldly nuzzled her and said, "Ensuring a bright future, my lovely Lady."
Lady Earthshield giggled as Rey pulled away, and she said, "Oh really? It sounds like you have quite a little scheme brewing. Go on, tell me all about it."
Rey quickly took a look behind him to be sure that Gallus wasn't around, or anycreature else for that manner, then he turned back to Lady and said, "You remember how much I've regrettably annoyed you with my constant berating of Cozy Glow, right?"
Lady nodded her head, but smiled and said, "Oh, you know that I would gladly listen to your complaining. You're voice is just a pleasure for me to listen to!"
Rey chuckled at that, and he continued, "Your compliments nourish me. But anyway, the fact is that Cozy Glow's biggest flaw was her overblown ambition. She allowed her eyes to get too big. There she was, the personal favorite of the Princess of Friendship herself! She was literally on the path to getting nearly everything she could ever want with a connection like that! Cozy could've become the mayor of any town in Equestria if she continued to endear herself with Princess Twilight over the years. But no! She just had to take over all of Equestria like some wanna-be Nightmare Moon! So pathetic, so sad. Such a same, really. 'Friendship is power'? Heh! What a stupid notion!"
Rey then smiled a wide, cunning smile and said, "Clearly friendship is a tool."
Rey then grinned smugly and continued, "Now, as for me, and unlike Cozy Glow, I know how to clearly see possibilities for what they really are. I know how to gently nudge and shift the odds in my favor. And most importantly, I know when I've got my hooves on a good enough thing that I can just stop and enjoy the results."
Lady was trembling with excitement as she said, "Oh, oh, I know where this is going! Judging by how you were just with Gallus, this must have something to do with your theory that those five creatures are gonna become powerful and influential in their countries after they graduate!"
Rey gave a nod and short laugh of delight, and replied, "And you are correct, my Lady! It's obvious to anyone with a higher intellect that Princess Twilight is securing Equestria's political and cultural control over this world. What's more, I see Gallus as the most promising of the group. From what I've seen and heard of this Grampa Gruff idiot, he's not gonna last much longer. Between his old decrepit body being broken down by time, and his old decrepit ideals being broken down by those two griffons Professor Rainbow Dash has spoken of; I believe their names were Gilda and Gabby; anyway, once that old fool is gone, I have no doubt that Gallus will be made Griffonstone's new leader. Heck, Grampa Gruff technically isn't even it's leader right now! But I'm sure his passing might get the griffons thinking on some form of leadership. From what I've heard from Professor Dash, Gilda won't want to lead, and Gabby isn't the leading type. But with the education Gallus is getting here, I'm sure he'll feel that leading Griffonstone into a golden age of friendship and economic revival is his duty!"
Rey's wide, cunning smile returned ever bigger, and he continued as his reddish-brown eyes were twinkling with excitement, "And once I've cemented myself as Gallus best friend; the one who stuck with him when his other friends abandoned him, the one who helped him cut ties with those who weren't loyal to him; I'll be on the path to working alongside him as vice-leader of Griffonstone. Together, we will return Griffonstone to it's former glory. Using friendship as a tool, not as power as Cozy Glow incorrectly concluded, we will turn Griffonstone back into the wealthiest lands in the entire world! Gallus and I will live the rest of our lives in the lap of luxury; and long after we're gone, the whole world will forever remember our names, which will be carved in the rock of eternity!"
Lady Earthshield gazed at Rey with wonder and adoration as she said, "You truly are the most cunning pony to ever live!"
Rey Faux smoothly walked over to her side and whispered in her ear, "Yes. Yes I am. And I'm all yours. So, I suppose your name will be carved into the rock of eternity as well. Isn't that right, Lady Faux?"
Lady's cheeks turned red, and her whole body shook with delight as she smiled so hard that her cheeks began to hurt.
"Now, run along," Rey urged, "If this is to work, I need to work on Gallus alone so I can successfully upstage the rest of his little group in his heart and mind."
Still smiling, blushing, and trembling, Lady quickly nodded and took off towards the student dorms, leaving Rey to stand waiting until Gallus returned from his trip to the bathroom. After which, the pair made their way to Ponyville, and one of the pair had a mind that was running as wild as a locomotive.
"Hey, Rey? Tell me what you think of Professor Pinkie Pie?" Gallus asked as he and the pony continued on their way to Ponyville.
Rey raised an eyebrow at the question, and he gave a big smile in response and asked, "Well, how about I turn back that question on you: What do you think of Professor Pinkie Pie?"
"Hey, I asked you first!" Gallus protested.
Rey shrugged and said, "I just felt it was a strange question for you to suddenly ask. I didn't bring it up in any way, so I have no idea why you're asking it." Rey then smiled sheepishly, looking away bashfully as he said, "Yeah, call me weird, but I just prefer to know why am I being asked a question before I answer it. . . I'm sorry."
Gallus' grumpy expression softened, and he said, "Eh, make sense, I guess. So, you know how it took me a while to get back from the bathroom."
Rey held up his right forehoof and said, "Hey, that's none of my business. You take all the time you need."
"No!" Gallus shouted, his face turning red through his feathers.
Rey chuckled a bit and shook his head, "Aw, I'm just messing with you, Gallus. You ran into Professor Pinkie Pie, and she held you up, right?"
Gallus calmed down a bit, and he gave a nod and said, "Heh. Well, yeah. But it's kind of weird what she said to me. . ."
Gallus was walking down one of the hallways of the School of Friendship when one of the doors was flung open, and out popped a familiar pink Earth Pony.
"Hey, Gallus! I was just bringing in some stuff for tomorrows class when heard you walking along outside! So, how's the School of Friendship's most favorite griffon?" Pinkie Pie said cheerfully.
Gallus rolled his eyes and said, "Favorite griffon. . . yeah right. . ."
Pinkie Pie hopped over to him and put a foreleg around his shoulder. "Well, duh! Of course you are! Just ask your friends!" she said.
Gallus growled and said, "Yeah, no thanks. They'd much rather do their own things. . . without the griffon."
Pinkie blinked her eyes and said, "What are ya talking about, Gallus? Of course your best friends want you around!"
Gallus shook his head and pulled away from Pinkie. "Not today, I guess. Sandbar ditched me, and Silverstream actually flew away from me," Gallus said bitterly, but then he held his head up high and said confidently, "Not that I care! I've got somepony else to hang out with, so there!"
As Gallus walked away, Pinkie was stood lost in thought for a moment. Then, she hopped over to the griffon's side and asked with a suspicious look on her face, "Saaaaaaay. . .did you friends. . . I don't know. . . maybe. . . make up some excuses that sounded okay at first but then after thinking about them you realized that they were suspicious and really excuses and then split up and did everything they could to avoid you while some of them started sneaking around with boxes or bags or boxes and bags and even tried to run and hide from you when you tried to get the truth out of them."
Gallus slowly turned his head to look at Pinkie, and he answered slowly, "Um, yeah. . . that's what happened."
Pinkie peered closely at Gallus in a way that slightly creeped him out. Then Pinkie broke into a smile and said, "Okie dokie lokie! That's all I wanted to know! It'll all be just fine, Gallus. Just always expect the best from your friends, and never the worst. Trust me when I say that everything will all be fine sometime later today!"
Pinkie Pie then bounced off back up the hall, much to Gallus' confusion. He then shook his head, and turned to walk back down the hall, only to fine Pinkie Pie standing right in front of him.
"Oh yeah! One last thing! If you start talking to sacks of flour, piles of rocks, buckets of turnips, and clumps of lint; you let me know, okay! Byyyeeeeeeeeee!"
Pinkie Pie then shot down the hallway like a rocket, much to Gallus' further growing confusion. He let out an annoyed grunt, and continued to walk, and then quickly jog down the hall to meet up with Rey.
Rey let out a laugh and said, "Well, she sure isn't the bearer of the Element of Laughter for nothing. It's nice of her to try and make you laugh when you looked blue, no pun intended."
Gallus playfully shoved Rey in the shoulder and said with a grin, "Uh, yeah, that pun was totally intended, pal. But seriously, she's not that bad, but sometimes I swear she's nuts."
Rey nodded in an almost solemn manner and said, "Yeah, I totally agree with you on that." Rey then ran ahead a bit and turned around, walking backwards as he faced the griffon as he continued speaking, "But if you ask me, she's living proof the fact that you can't just have one of the Elements of Harmony. Laughter alone seems to cause you to. . ." Rey let out a loud scoff and said, "What? Just let your friends treat you bad and just laugh it off and wait for them to get interested in you again? Huh?! What about their Loyalty? Their Honesty?"
Gallus nodded, but he became slightly thoughtful as he replied, "You got that right. But you know, I can't help but feel that she knew something that I didn't know."
Rey shook his head and said, "Aw, don't yet it bug you. You probably just caught her off guard, and she tried doing something to make you laugh. She didn't have any funny material at the time. But don't get mad at her though. Nopony's perfect, after all. So she's got a one track mind when it comes to her Element? The other professors balance her out well enough."
Rey then jogged up to Gallus side and pivoted on his back hooves. He stood firm and pointed onwards with his right forehoof, and he declared, "Now, enough about silly ponies and fair weather friends! We've got an appointment with certain arcade cabinet."
Gallus looked quite eager as he nodded and sure, "Alright then. How about a race? I won't use my wings."
Rey put his forehoof down and dragged it across the ground as he said, "You might have to, 'cause I'm no slowpoke, and the race has already begun!"
Rey bolted off like a shot from a cannon, and Gallus kicked up dirt as he ran off after him.
The door to the party room swung open, and all of Gallus' closest friends entered, already in the midst of their conversation.
"Trust me, nothing beats a gift that you can use," Smolder said as she tapped the rectangular present she held under her right arm, "A sharpening stone for his talons is the ideal gift!"
Silverstream smiled, but waved her claw dismissively and said, "Well, yeah, you're not wrong about that; but what about gifts that make you feel something inside?" She then bobbed up and down like a buoy in the sea with excitement and said, "Like the extra special photo album I got him! It even already has a few pictures of us that I got from Headmare Twilight! There's pictures of us after we nearly got the school closed, and after we saved Equestria, and a couple of moments in between too. And there's lots of room for more!"
"Yona got Gallus metal armbands!" the yak declared proudly, "Yona would've gotten Gallus yak horn rings, but Gallus not have yak horns. But armbands still show off strength of creature who wears them, just like yak horn rings! Armbands also have nice engraved decoration on them too."
"What about the gift I got for him?" Ocellus said as she held up the wrapped present in question with her magic, "It's functional like Smolder's and Silverstream's, but also looks nice like Yona's. What strong flier doesn't need a pair of flight-googles? I even managed to find a color that matches his fur and feathers."
Sandbar nodded and smiled as he said, "Pretty cool! Pretty cool, Ocellus. But just wait until he see this!" Sandbar walked over the table, set down the present he was holding, and quickly untied the ribbon so he could lift off the lid. "Take a look at that!" he said eagerly as he motioned to the open box.
The other creatures all gathered round to see what Sandbar had chosen to give to Gallus.
Smolder looked the least impressed of the group. "A Power Ponies comic?"
Sandbar shook his head and said, "Not just anyPower Ponies comic. This issue focuses on a brand new superhero in Maretropolis: The Great Godric!" *
Sandbar pointed at the figure that dominated the cover. It was a strong looking griffon with feathers of pure gold, and silver fur. The griffon also wore a crimson vest with a large collar that was sticking outward, giving him a more imposing appearance. All around him, the other Power Ponies stared at him with expressions that ranged from amazement, to surprise, to utter awe.
"He was abducted by aliens when he was younger, and given superpowers to fight in their army," Sandbar explained, "But he escaped and came back to Maretropolis to use his powers for good! He likes to help out the Power Ponies whenever they get in trouble."
Silverstream nodded excitedly and said, "Oooh, that sounds really cool!"
Smolder smirked and said, "Heh. A story where an awesome griffon does awesome stuff. I guess I can see why Gallus would like something like that."
As Sandbar closed the box and retied the ribbon, Ocellus said, "Well, now that everything is finally ready, I think someone should hurry and bring Gallus over here."
"I'll go!" Silverstream said energetically, throwing her right claw into the air.
"Ahh, no," Sandbar said as he turned around to face Silverstream, "You're way too excited, Silverstream. Gallus will get too suspicious. Anyway, I think it would be best if I handled this."
Smolder nodded and said, "Yeah, it probably would be better to let the chill guy handle this. Just sayin'."
Silverstream relented and nodded understandingly as she brought her claw back down. "Oh, alright. But be quick! Gallus deserves plenty of time to party." Silverstream then began to visibly panic and said, "Oh no! What if we can't find him in time!?"
Sandbar winked and said, "No problem. I know exactly the kinds of places a guy like Gallus would hang out at. Hang tight! We'll be back before you know it!"
Just to be safe, Sandbar checked Gallus' dorm room first, and he wasn't surprised when he wasn't there. So, off he went to Ponyville. After he had checked the Hayburger restaurant and the bowling alley, Sandbar found the griffon he was searching for.
Sandbar zeroed in on the blue griffon playing the arcade cabinet, and quickly trotted over to him and said, "Hey, Gallus! I've been looking all over for you!"
"Uh-huh," Gallus said flatly, not at all looking away from the game he was playing.
Sandbar smiled and sheepishly rubbed the back of his head with his right forehoof. "Yeah, sorry for splitting up from you earlier. I had already looked around the entire school when I finally realized you'd probably given up and gone into Ponyville. Silly me, right?"
"Right, I don't know what I was thinking. Anyway, I finally did meet up with Silverstream and Smolder, and they're almost done with their project. They just need a little help from us."
Sandbar paused, and took a long look at Gallus, who still focused intently on the screen as his claws worked the joystick and clicked buttons. Sandbar frowned and said, "You're not listening to me, are you?"
Sandbar actually chuckled as he rolled his eyes at Gallus remark. "Okay, that time was totally on purpose! But seriously, Gallus come on! Your friends need you!"
Sandbar turned to see the pony that he been standing on the opposite side of Gallus, but had gone unnoticed by Sandbar due to his focus on the griffon.
"You know, I hardly think it friendly for somepony to annoy somecreature when they are focused on a task," the pony replied.
Sandbar cocked his head at him and asked, "Oh, um. . . do I know you? Like, maybe from the School of Friendship?"
"You might have seen me. Rey Faux is my name," the pony replied.
Suddenly, the arcade cabinet let out a victory fanfare, and Gallus laughed out loud as he turned to Rey and pointed triumphantly at the screen. "Aha! See! I beat your score! I really beat it!"
Indeed, Gallus name was displayed in the second place spot. Rey was now in third place, while Button Mash prominently remained in first place.
Rey's eyes went wide, and he said, "No way! I mean, I had felt that you had a chance, but to actually do it. . . woah. . ." Rey then smiled and held out his right forehoof "I am honored to have been bested by a worthy opponent."
Gallus smiled back and said, "Well, I'm glad you gave me a worthy challenge, pal."
The pair then solidly bumped hoof and fist like longtime friends, which actually brought a smile to Sandbar's face. "Well, it's good to see he wasn't all alone all day," he thought to himself.
Sandbar then said aloud, "This is great! You've made another friend, Gallus. Cool. How about all three of us go back and give Silverstream and Smolder a hand. Maybe Ocellus and Yona will be there too."
Gallus then narrowed his eyes at Smolder, and opened his beak to tell him exactly what he thought of Sandbar's request, when all of a sudden Rey wrapped a hoof around his foreleg and began to pull him back.
"Hold that thought, Sandbar," Rey said politely, "There's just a little something I'd like to clear up with Gallus. Just give us a minute."
Once the pair were out of Sandbar's earshot, Rey looked at Gallus and said softly, "Gallus, my friend, we have to go with him."
"What?" Gallus hissed, "Are you serious? They just want to use me to help them with some project after lying to me and avoiding me all day."
Rey smiled smugly and said, "Exactly. So, what better time to tell them all off all at once? Am I right?"
Gallus blinked his eyes, and then smiled a slightly less smug smile back and replied, "Oh, I like the way you think, Rey. With you on my side, I'll be able to really tell them what I think of 'em. They way they've been acting, it's almost like they think those friendship lessons don't apply to me or something. Well, just wait until I set them straight!"
"And cut ties with them completely," Rey thought to himself, all while smiling in a more friendly manner and saying, "You got that right, Gallus. I'm just glad I could be a better friend to you. Well then, let's get to it!"
The pair then turned and walked back over to Sandbar, who had been watching with a inquisitive look on his face, but all in all none the wiser.
"Okay then," Rey said cheerfully, "Turns out I've got time enough for this. Let's go!"
Rey, Gallus, and Sandbar approached the door to the classroom, and Sandbar said rather loudly, "Well, here we are!"
Gallus swallowed a lump in his throat. Strangely, he didn't feel as angry at his friends now as he was earlier. In fact, he wasn't exactly sure what he was going to say to them. However, he felt a nudge in the side by Rey, and turned to see the pony give him a dutiful nod, as if silently communicated that he'd be right there guiding him during the confrontation.
Slightly bolstered, but still feeling an uncomfortable weight in his stomach, Gallus looked forward to see Sandbar open the door halfway and then quickly slip inside. Gallus took a deep breath, and then walked right through the door as well.
Much to his confusion, Gallus found the room to be quite dark to the point that he could barely see. However, in the next moment, the room was fully lit in an instant.
Gallus was frozen solid, almost as if he had been turned to stone right then and there. His beak hung open slightly as he took in the amazing sight before him. The entire room bore his colors of blue and yellow, there were balloons and streamers, and a long table held various food and drink, a cake topped with candles, and a pile of wrapped presents. Around the room there were various party games and accoutrements; including a piñata, pin the tail on the pony, some ping pony balls and cups, and a phonograph with a record ready to be played.
By the time Gallus had finally taken everything in and regained most of his senses, his friends had already nearly finished singing "Happy Birthday" to him. He watched his friends cheering for him and smiling at him, and he blinked his eyes as tears of gratitude and joy obstructed his vision.
"I. . ." was all Gallus could manage to say, then he closed his eyes and wiped away his tears with his right wrist. He then, felt himself being hugged tightly. He opened his eyes and saw that it was Silverstream.
The hippogriff smiled and looked deep into Gallus' eyes and said, "What kind of friends would we be if we didn't celebrate your birthday, Gallus?"
Gallus sniffled, smiling in spite of his wet, shiny eyes. "You. . . all of you. . ." he said as he looked at all of his friends, "I'm so glad I met you. . ."
Yona and Ocellus found themselves tearing up at this, while Smolder just smiled and gave Gallus a thumbs-up.
Sandbar nodded and said, "Well, on that note, how about we all start celebrating the day that a creature very near and dear and important to all of us was born on!"
Gallus' smile grew as Silverstream lead him further into the room. However, something suddenly came to mind, and he turned back towards Rey, who had stopped in the doorway. The pony's eyes were wide, yet blinking; and his mouth was gaping like a fish out of water.
"Hey, Rey!" Gallus called out, "Come on in and join the fun!"
"Um. . ." Rey said, his eyes darting back and forth nervously. However, in his peripheral vision, Rey spotted none other than Pinkie Pie standing down the hall, eyeing him severely. The pink mare gestured towards the room, then slowly lifted a cupcake in her left forehoof and slowly took a bite out of it, all while staring directly into Rey's very soul.
Rey forced a smile, although a bead of sweat still ran down the side of his head, and he stepped further into the room and said, "Well, if you'll have me, why not? Happy birthday, Gallus."
And as the party truly began, Smolder smiled with the purest satisfaction and said, "It's like I said earlier: In the end, things always work out in Equestria."