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Gray Day, White Night

by Pandora

Chapter 1: Gray Day

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It looked like rain.

Fluttershy gazed out the window towards the floating city of Cloudsdale, one hoof pressed into her cheek and another lightly tapping on the windowsill. She closed her eyes and sighed, thinking of how this day would go. She would give breakfast to Angel and her other animal friends, maybe go to the market for some more carrots, and finish preparations for this years Winter Wrap Up, where everypony in Ponyville chipped in to help clear out winter and make way for spring.

She opened her eyes again, letting her deep aquamarine eyes focus on the city once again, the glistening rainbows and waterfalls throwing sunlight in all directions. The branches on the trees outside rustled and a small breeze rattled the windowpane against the mullions. The sound was foreign, a slightly lighter tapping sound over Fluttershy’s hoof.

The yellow pegasus rubbed her eyes and stood up, her hooves making the floorboards creak ever so slightly. She lightly padded over the planks towards the kitchen, where she grabbed a bowl and filled it with all sorts of vegetables, from bell peppers to romaine lettuce. Fluttershy took a wooden handled spoon from over the counter and slowly stirred the mixture, allowing them to mingle into a colorful mixture of greens, yellows and oranges.

The mare loved yellow. It was always her favorite color.

Angel stirred from his slumber at the light, almost inaudible sound of wood against pottery. The bunny opened his eyes and threw the covers off his chest, rubbing his eyes and cracking his neck. Then he turned his gaze out the window to the sky beyond, a deep gray color.

It looked like rain, the bunny commented to himself. But now to address the noise that woke him up in the first place. Angel peeked around the corner into the main room where Fluttershy was preparing his breakfast. He smiled and hopped onto the table, making the mare turn towards him and give him a big hug.

“Good morning, Angel,” she said in a soft, yet clear, voice, “did you sleep well?”

The bunny nodded and gestured to the bowl, smiling. “You like it?” Angel nodded again, grinning even more than before. Fluttershy chuckled to herself and set the bowl in front of him. “It’s all yours. I made it just for you.”

Without missing a beat, Angel jumped into the bowl headfirst, attempting to consume the large quantity of vegetables in one go. This, however, only made Fluttershy smile and pat Angel on the back with a wing. “Now now, Angel, no need to rush. You’ve got a whole day ahead of you.” He didn’t respond.

Fluttershy rolled her eyes and stepped over to the window once again, gazing out towards Cloudsdale. The schedule had said that the rain was supposed to hit Ponyville at noon, meaning she only had a few hours to get everything she needed from the market. But first, feeding her friends.

Rainbow Dash tapped her hooves on the desk in her Cloudsdale office, looking out towards Ponyville. Towards her friends, her life.

But of course she couldn’t be there right now. She needed to work to make a living. Which was totally the most uncool thing ever. The deep gray of the cloud cover had only just begun to obscure the view of the town from Cloudsdale, nearly blocking the library. Where her friends would meet. Twilight was probably there now, reading a book, maybe helping a customer. Maybe Applejack or Rarity would walk in and they would hug, greet each other, swap stories…

No, Rainbow, you need to focus.” The rainbow maned pegasus shook her head to clear it, looking down at the stack of papers in front of her. “You’ve already called in sick two times this week. Now you’re two days behind. Get to work.” Rainbow ran a hoof down her face, sighing loudly. She grabbed the paper at the top of the stack and brought it to her eyes, beginning to read.


Weather Change Notice
City: Fillydelphia
Change notices: Rainstorm to hit city at 2:00 AM, Saturday. Without rain for
3 weeks.
Notes: The city has been moving some heavy cargo recently, and the streets
will be very dangerous for carriages for the next couple of days. A request
to put notices around the city warning the inhabitants has been put in.
Request two: A new pegasus by the name of Golden Bow has been put
in charge of development fo-

Rainbow’s reading was interrupted by a knock on the door. She put the notice to the side and positioned her hooves so that they were holding up her chin. She then shifted the stack of papers over to the side so a line of sight to the door appeared. The cyan pegasus cleared her throat.

“Come in,” she curtly said.

At once, the door swung open to reveal a very flustered looking tan pegasus. She threw a lock of brown mane to the side with a hoof and cleared her throat, presenting a small stack of papers to Rainbow. The cyan pegasus motioned with a hoof for her assistant to place the papers on top of the larger stack to her left.

“Ms. Dash, these all need to be in the boss’s office by Tuesday.” The pegasus’s voice was lower than Rainbow’s, but had a more melodious tone, almost like a bell. Standing nearly half a head shorter than Rainbow, her assistant’s wings were not built for flying, as she had been working as Weather Manager’s Assistant for nearly two years now, a sedentary job. Her cutie mark was a simple scroll with a cloud print, which blended nicely with her light brown, almost yellow, coat.

Rainbow straightened up in her seat.

“All of them?” the pegasus asked, her voice much higher than she meant.

“All of them,” her assistant replied, raising an eyebrow. “Is that a problem?”

“No, no, not at all.” Rainbow slumped down in her seat. “I better get started…”

“Great. Call for me if you need anything.” And with that, the tan pegasus turned on her hoof and walked towards the door, flicking her brown mane behind her as she went. Rainbow watched her go, a hint of sadness creeping onto her face.

“Wait, Nimbus, I do need something.”

Nimbus stopped at the sound of her boss’s voice and turned around. Rainbow sighed and looked up at her assistant, her saddened look speaking more than she let on.

“Can you fly down to Ponyville for me? Tell my friend Twilight that I might not be there tonight.” The tan pegasus nodded and turned around to leave again. “And take the rest of the day off.”

This made Nimbus stop and turn around once again, staring at the rainbow maned pegasus, yet this time with more of a surprised expression.

“Are you sure, Ms. Dash?”

“Yeah, I don’t need help today.”

“If you insist.” Nimbus could barely contain her excitement. She could get to spend an entire day with her family down in Manehattan. It was a quick flight that she couldn’t make on her own free time. But first, to visit her boss’s friend and tell her that she probably wouldn’t be coming. To what, Nimbus didn’t care. It was her ticket out.

Rainbow looked back down at the stack of papers and pulled the one she had already been looking at to her face. Grabbing a stamp from her desk, she dabbed it into a pot of green ink and smacked it onto the middle of the paper. Once the stamp had come off, a deep green “CONFIRMED” had appeared on the page. Rainbow gave a sad smile.

“One down,” she gazed at the pile before her, “a lot to go.”

She pushed the stamped paper to the side in the “out” box and pulled the next paper off the stack and towards her face.

Weather Change Notice
City: Manehattan
Change notes: Final snowstorm to hit…

Twilight Sparkle picked up the next book off the floor and looked at the title. She had already read Basic Magic: On Levitation, which meant that it was going back on the shelf. Her horn lit up in a light purple aura, and the book levitated off the floor. The alicorn’s first thought was that the redundancy was funny, levitating a book about levitation, but her second thought was that she had nowhere to put this one. The “filly’s” shelf in the library was already way beyond full, and this book had no other place to go.

With a heavy sigh that could only come from a princess with OCD, she placed the book on top of her desk to be dealt with later, making sure the corners were perfectly perpendicular with the edges of the table. It was the least she could do, given the scenario. She grimaced at the thought of having to put off work until another time. That was the worst thing that could ever happen.

“Twilight, this is only the sixth time you’ve ever procrastinated,” she thought to herself, closing her eyes. “Don’t make a habit out of it.”

However, the princess’s thoughts were interrupted by a heavy padding coming down the stairs. Which could only mean one thing, and if it was this early in the morning this would not be a happy conversation.

“Hello Spike!” Twilight brightly said, placing her thoughts on procrastination at the back of her mind, making a smile appear upon her face. She pushed the books out of the way with her magical aura and stood up. “Did you sleep well?”

The purple dragon was still rubbing sleep from his eyes and yawning at the bottom of the stairs.

“Morning. Nopony told me it was going to be a rainy day.” Spike removed his hands from his eyes and stared at Twilight, expecting an answer. However, Twilight just rolled her eyes and raised an eyebrow.

“Spike, I told you last night. I guess you were just too tired to remember.”

Spike kept looking at Twilight, as if his tired mind was still trying to process the information. The princess could hear the gears clunking around. Spike looked away.

“I guess. Kind of ruins all my plans. Speaking of tired, it’s only eight in the morning.”

Twilight switched eyebrows.

“Your point?”

“How can you be awake at a time like this?” Twilight turned away, chuckling. She pulled the books back over towards her and lay down, making herself as comfortable as possible on the wooden floor.

“Most ponies have already been working for a while, Spike. You’re just a late sleeper.” Twilight once again began sorting books into their respective shelves, starting with Ponies and You: A Brief History of Social Norms and Universal Laws of Magics. She looked back at spike, a grin on her face. “Besides, you need to get out a little bit anyway before the storm.”

Spike nodded. He made his way over to the small kitchen and reached into the fridge, grabbing a bottle of soda. Popping the top off, he drank all of it in one big gulp, then threw it on the counter.

“Right. Seeya later, Twi.”

“Bye, Spike,” Twilight replied without taking her eyes off the books in front of her. She heard the door open before looking up. “Spike! Take a scarf or something!”

A purple claw reached around the door and grabbed a red plaid scarf off a rack. Then it and the scarf disappeared around the door, which promptly shut. Twilight shivered as the cold air hit her, which prompted her to magically increase the fire in the fireplace slightly. The newfound warmth crawled over her skin, and she sank lower to the ground in comfort, her wings folding nicely at her sides.

THUMP.

Twilight jumped up and her horn flared on instinct, creating a defensive aura around her. Realizing it was coming from outside, she trotted over to the door and magically pulled it open to reveal a very tired looking tan pegasus. The light dusting of frost on the ground had been disturbed by some sort of heavy landing, which the princess assumed was the loud crash she heard. But as soon as the tan mare looked up at Twilight, the pegasus gasped, covering her mouth with her hooves.

“Um,” Twilight started, looking quizzically at the pegasus, “can I help you?”

“Oh. My. Celestia. IshouldhaveknownyouwerewhatRainbowsaidwhenshesaid’tellTwilightSparkle’Imeanyou’reaprincesshowcouldIhaveforgott-”

The mare’s barely intelligible string of garbled information was cut off by Twilight’s hoof covering her mouth. She gasped again at the touch and recoiled away from her. The alicorn rolled her eyes.

“Can I help you?” Twilight said again, raising an eyebrow. It wasn’t a question this time, more of a statement.

“Oh! Um, yeah. Imean… yes, Princess.” Nimbus looked down at her hooves sheepishly, the saddlebags on her back clinking was nearly inaudible at the slight movement. Twilight gestured for her to come inside, but when all the mare did was look at her hooves Twilight had to tap her on the shoulder, which made her jump again.

“Come inside. It’s really cold,” the alicorn said, gesturing with her head. The tan mare nodded and followed her inside the library, Twilight closing the door behind them. They both stretched out their wings in front of the fire.

Twilight was the first one to break the silence. “So, what’s your name?”

The pegasus smiled and straightened up.

“My name’s Nimbus. I work for your friend, Rainbow Dash?”

“Oh, that’s right,” Twilight said looking over Nimbus. “Rainbow has mentioned you a few times.” Immediately Twilight knew that was the wrong thing to say.

“Really? She’s mentioned me? To a princess?! This is like the cooles-”

Again, a purple hoof was pressed onto the tan pegasus’s mouth, stopping her from going any further. Twilight’s eyebrow was raised again. She was doing a lot of that today, and it was only 8:05. The princess removed her hoof from over Nimbus’s mouth, allowing her to speak again.

“Right, sorry. She’s kind of bogged down with work right now.” Nimbus looked down at the floor again. “It’s kind of worrying me. It’s all she’s able to do, with the sick days she has been taking.”

Twilight’s look of surprise caught Nimbus off guard.

“Rainbow has been taking sick days?”

Nimbus nodded.

“She’s so held down with work these days that she can’t get out and do anything fun. So she uses her sick days as her ‘relief’ days. Where she doesn’t work and just de-stresses.” Nimbus looked back at Twilight, concern evident in her eyes. “I don’t think it’s working. And I’ve had so much work of my own I haven’t been able to help her much, if any.”

Twilight nodded, listening to the pegasus speak. If Rainbow was so bogged down with work, was she going to be able to make it tonight? The two of them had been planning this night for a while. Just to spend some time together.

“Is that the purpose of this visit?” The princess asked. “Concern?”

Nimbus’s ears perked up out of her droopy state.

“Not really. Rainbow told me to tell you that she might not ‘make it tonight,’ whatever that means.”

Twilight’s ears sagged and her eyes drooped down. She let out a long sigh before replying.

“Thanks for telling me, Nimbus.”

“No problem, Princess.” Nimbus looked at the princess before her, a concerned expression crossing her face. “Is… is there anything I could do to help?”

“No, but thank you,” Twilight replied, giving a sad smile to her visitor.

“A… alright.”

The pegasus made her way to the door again, opening it. The wind was picking up, and the ends of her brown mane floated away from her. She sighed as she stepped out of the door and it closed behind her, enveloped by a violet aura of magic. She shivered at the cold and scratched at the frost on the ground with a hoof, causing it to detach from the grass and melt on the stones. And with one swift motion, her wings beat and she took off into the sky, bound for Manehattan.

But once out of the Ponyville city limit, she had a realization. She was being selfish.

The least she could do with her day off was help her boss get her work done so she could have fun with her friend. Two conflicting emotions tugged at Nimbus’s heart, but within seconds she had made her decision.

Her family could wait. She had a job to do.

Applejack bucked her legs out from under her, tightening her thigh muscles so her hooves slammed into the apple tree at their maximum velocity. The sounds around her confirmed her job had been done as the crabapples fell from the branches and into the woven baskets around the trunk. She tossed a strand of blonde mane out of her hair and turned around to observe the fruits of her labor. Seeing as the tree was stripped of its fruit, she threw the baskets onto her back and made her way off towards the barn, mane whipping around in the wind. The breeze was picking up all around her, scattering leaves off of trees.

Her emerald eyes gazed into the darkening sky, and her face fell. It was nearing noon, and her work day looked as though it was going to be cut short. She readjusted the Stetson on top of her head and quickened her pace, hooves clopping on the ground.

The inside of the barn was just as dark and dusty as ever, with hay piled high in one corner and a large pile of apples in another. Applejack tipped the baskets over and the apples rolled out onto the large pile, adding to the base size. She ran a hoof across her brow, wiping a few beads of sweat off. Even though it was cold, she had been working hard. The last of the crabapples had been harvested, and now the trees were ready for the new season, starting after the year’s Winter Wrap Up.

She and Big Mac still had to trim the excess branches off of the trees to prevent them from flying away in the wind, but it seemed as though that wasn’t going to happen, as the wind was already picking up and she only had an hour until the rain started to fall. Applejack grimaced at the missed work opportunity and the obvious amount of work it would take to clean it up later. But even if she was able to get through to Rainbow Dash, there was no way her superiors would allow the rain to not fall today. It was already too far along.

The orange mare retrieved the baskets and ran for the farmhouse, wind blowing hard now. A stray branch hit the ground beside Applejack, who easily moved around the obstacle and landed on the wooden porch, which had already begun groaning from the force of the gusts. Heaving the door open, she punted the baskets into the safety of indoors before running in herself, fighting against the wind to shut and lock down the door.

Big Mac and Granny Smith were already in the living room waiting for her.

“Alright, everypony!” Applejack’s voice normally carried easily through the house, but the deafening wind was nearly drowning it out. “Buckle down the hatches, we’re gonna ride out this storm!”

Big Mac gave an “Eeyup” of agreement before galloping upstairs to tackle the job. Meanwhile, Applejack took roll call.

“A’ight, so Big Mac’s here, same with Granny…”

They were missing somepony.

“Where in the hay is Apple Bloom?!” Applejack yelled through the house, her voice booming over the storm. Upstairs, Big Mac jumped.

“Apple Bloom?” Granny Smith repeated. “She went into town a couple’a ‘ours ago. With them friends of hers.”

“For the love of Celestia… there’s no way she’ll be safe in this storm!” Applejack turned around to the door and threw back on her Stetson, which had blown off her head during her fight with the wind..

“Now now, Applejack, I’m sure ya sis’ll be fine. She’s with them friends, remember?” Granny Smith’s consolation did nothing for Applejack’s mood, and she threw open the door letting the storm in. Pictures rattled on the wall and leaves blew through the newfound opening in the edifice.

“That’s exactly what I’m afraid of,” were the orange farmmare’s last words before she darted into the storm, pulling the door shut behind her.

Granny Smith watched as the mare galloped full speed down towards Ponyville, away from the farm. She sighed and closed the shutters on the window, locking them in place. Turning around, she noticed Big Mac standing behind her, a worried look on his face.

“Mac, you heard ‘er. Shut them windows!” she commanded. Mac nodded again, galloping towards the kitchen.

“Please be okay, Applejack,” Mac thought as he closed all the shutters. Pulling the bolts across each one sent a pang of dread through his heart, knowing that they were, in all intents and purposes, locking Applejack and Apple Bloom out if she tried to come back.

She’d have to find shelter somewhere else.

The sound of the storm was making it difficult for Rarity to concentrate on her latest design, as the incessant rattling of the doors and windows were drowning out her own thoughts.

“I knew I should have finished this yesterday,” she thought to herself, turning her attention away from the ponyquin and towards the door. However, her scrutiny was short lived, as she heard a sound that made her heart sink even further.

*plip*

*plat*

*pitter* *pat*

In just a few minutes a full blown rain storm was raging over Carousel Boutique, merely adding to the already far-beyond obnoxious distractions of the many rattling noises going on around Rarity. Her tension grew until it snapped.

“FINE! FINE! I WON’T WORK ON IT! GOOD CELESTIA!”

Rarity threw the fabric and scissors in her magical grasp across the room, fabric landing harmlessly on the ground whereas the scissors impaled the desk to her right. She kicked the ponyquin back into it’s storage area in the corner of the room and sank down to the ground, head in her hooves. Her stomach rumbled. Rarity couldn’t hear it, but she could definitely feel it. She was hungry.

She was so engrossed in her work that she had forgotten to eat breakfast, and now it was half past noon. The white unicorn trotted down the stairs into the kitchen and seated herself at the dining table, levitating a teapot, teacup and saucer over to her. Pouring herself a glass, she leaned back in the chair and listened to the storm. It wasn’t annoying if you weren't working on anything important. In fact, it was rather beautiful.

“Huh,” she wondered to herself, “The pegasi must be working awfully hard up there. I wonder if they are getting help from the unicorns.”

At the mention of unicorns, she realized she had forgotten something - or somepony - else.

“Sweetie Belle, dear, would you be ever so kind as to come down for lunch?” she called up the stairs. Realizing that this was a futile attempt at communicating over the gale outside, she set down her teacup and trotted up the stairs into Sweetie Belle’s room, knocking on the door loudly.

No answer.



“Oh Celestia.”

Rarity released her grip on both the teapot and cup, having them shatter on the floor as she bolted upstairs to the main room. She fished out a heavy duty raincoat from one of the many closets surrounding the edges of the room and opened the door, letting in a torrent of water and wind. Creating a small magical barrier to make it easier to move around in, Rarity pushed herself out the door and shut the door behind her, shivering in the gathering storm.

“Oh dear, I hope my mane is alright. Oh, and Sweetie Belle. More important.”

“SWEETIE BELLE! WHERE ARE YOU?!” the unicorn screamed as she galloped full speed towards the town center. The trees were bent back at nearly 45 degree angles, the force of the wind was near hurricane speed. Rarity forced herself to continue, even as the wind blew off the hood from over her head, exposing her neck and sending cold shivers down her spine. A stray branch filled with dead twigs came bouncing along towards her, gaining momentum from the wind. Rarity managed to grab it just in time before it smashed into her legs, flinging it to the side. And she continued onwards towards the town center, with one objective.

To find her sister.

Applejack had already checked the Quills and Sofas Shop, the diner, the bar, and even - strangely - Diamond Tiara’s mansion. Which meant she had to get to the town hall, where there were bound to be a few ponies caught out when the storm started. It was a logical place for Apple Bloom and her friends to be.

The farmmare crossed the bridge to the town center, finding the river had risen at least a few feet, if not more.

“Tarnation, if this keeps up we’ll flood for sure,” Applejack thought to herself as she ran into the town center, forcing the door open. But a voice stopped her short of going inside.

“Applejack!”

The voice barely made it over the din of the storm, but it was clear in the earth pony’s ears. She turned her head around and was surprised to see Rarity, in all of her fashionista glory, galloping towards the open door as fast as she could. And Applejack was even more surprised to see Fluttershy galloping after the white unicorn, the yellow pegasus trying hard to keep up with Rarity’s fast pace. But Fluttershy it was, and the orange farmmare was glad to see two of her friends out in this storm.

“Hurry and get inside!” Applejack called back, groaning at how much of her strength it took to keep the door open against the storm. Rarity dodged around the earth pony’s body and bolted inside, getting out of the way. But to her confusion, Applejack kept the door open, staring into the direction that Rarity had just come from.

“Applejack, darling, close the door!” the white unicorn called out, cowering in the corner. But Rarity was even more confused when a very out of breath Fluttershy came bounding inside, trying in vain to keep standing before laying down on the floor in the fetal position. Fluttershy heard the door slam, heard the noise of the storm go from being in her ears to being outside, and saw Applejack and Rarity both come to her side.

“Hey, Fluttershy,” Applejack started, placing a hoof on her shoulder. “You alright, sugarcube?” Fluttershy was still trying to catch her breath, but nodded anyway, knowing that the storm was no longer all around her. “It’s just a little storm,” Applejack continued, smiling.

Rarity lifted the yellow mare’s head out from between her hooves and placed it on her lap, speaking softly and comforting the pegasus.

“I never even knew she was behind me,” Rarity commented, looking into Fluttershy’s deep blue eyes. She was beginning to catch her breath and started to cough, sitting upright. Once she was done, she cleared her throat and spoke.

“I was stuck outside when the storm started. I was at the market, buying some supplies for the coming week or so. Since Winter Wrap Up is right around the corner I needed some new bells, too. I tried to get home, but I couldn’t bring myself to come out from under the tree I was hiding under.” Fluttershy took a deep breath and looked around to find both Applejack and Rarity staring at her, waiting for her to continue. She closed her eyes and sighed, then continued. “And so I saw Rarity run past and I ran after her. She threw a stick towards me and it almost hit me. And I kept running and saw you so now here we are.”

Fluttershy finished her monologue and Rarity was speechless. Fluttershy giggled.

“Really, darling?” the white unicorn started, staring at Fluttershy. “I never even knew you were behind me. I’m so sorry!”

“Oh, don’t be. Really, it’s fine,” Fluttershy replied, smiling weakly at the white mare, who smiled back and started to rub Fluttershy’s mane. Applejack stood back up and went to the window, closing and locking the shutters. Then she looked around the interior of the hall for the first time.

“Tarnation, Apple Bloom ain't here,” she said, a worried look crossing her face.

“Nor Sweetie Belle,” Rarity commented, but stopped. “Nopony at all is here. We’re completely alone.”

Fluttershy looked around and nodded in confirmation. The wide open floor was currently home to a scrap of trash or two, but nopony else was in the building. Applejack bit her lip and looked at Rarity, whose eyes were wide with a mixture of worry and fear. The door continued its incessant rattling against the frame, and the windows rapped against the mullions, giving the acoustic space unnatural echoes.

Applejack sighed. She trotted up to the stage and peered under desks and in back rooms. But when she came back into view she was empty handed.

“Nope. Nopony.”

Fluttershy flapped her wings and flew up towards the top balcony, looking down through the curtain. “Oh, don’t bother, Fluttershy. Not even Scootaloo could get up there, much less Apple Bloom or Sweetie Belle.” Fluttershy nodded and came back down to the floor, concerned for her friend’s sisters and their friends. But it was getting very hard to think with all the sound and commotion going on in the storm outside. The windows and doors were rattling harder against their frames, threatening to break open at any moment. The yellow pegasus retreated away and covered her head with her hooves. Rarity trotted over to comfort her.

The door rattled harder. And harder.

The orange farmmare turned around and faced the door with confusion.

“That wasn’t the storm,” she commented, making her way over to the door. She turned back around and saw Fluttershy and Rarity next to the stage looking back at her.

“Well, what are you waiting for, darling?”

Applejack nodded. With one swift kick the orange earth pony bucked the door open to reveal a very rain-drenched - yet smiling - Pinkie Pie, who quickly bounced inside, shaking off water onto everypony.

“Hello everypony!” Pinkie shouted over the storm outside as Applejack continued to wrestle with the door, attempting to pull it back into its locked position. The storm raged through the door, blowing the ponies manes back and chilling their coats.

“Pinkie Pie?” Rarity croaked, looking at the perfectly dry earth pony and then down at her damp coat. The spray marks from where Pinkie had shook off the water radiated off in all directions from her body, coating the walls in a thin layer of dampness.

Finally, Applejack got the door closed, and with a whimper she dropped to the ground, exhausted.

“Where did you come from, Pinkie?” Applejack wondered aloud.

“Oh! That one’s easy!” Pinkie sat down on the ground and relayed her story. “I was in Sugarcube Corner with the Cakes! We had put down the shutters over the windows, but the door window was still open, and I was bored, so I was looking out there so I saw you and Rarity and Fluttershy run into the town hall and I was like ‘WHAAAT’ so I ran out and told the Cakes where I was going and knocked on the door for a while until you let me in and then I dried off and started telling a story about when I was in Sugarcube Corner and I sa-”

“Yes, Pinkie,” Rarity assured, cutting off Pinkie’s repetitive rant, “we get it.”

“So what are you all doing here, huh?” Pinkie said, standing bolt upright. “Playing a game? I love games! We could ge-”

“No, Pinkie,” Applejack asserted, “we’re trying to find Scootaloo, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle.”

“Well why didn’t you just SAY so, silly filly!” Pinkie laughed. “I saw Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle go into Twilight’s library!”

“Ugh, more walking through this storm?” Rarity protested, throwing herself down on the ground.

“Rarity, we have to find your sister… i-if that’s alright…” Fluttershy said, trailing off at the end. Rarity thought for a moment and then nodded in agreement, standing up and readjusting her raincoat on her body.

“Alright,” Applejack said, turning the doorknob. “Y’all ready?”

Fluttershy and Rarity nodded, while Pinkie jumped up and down in excitement.

“Here we go!”

Applejack thrust the door open with all her might, the storm rushing in to meet them. Then the four friends were off, Rarity slamming the door shut with her magic right after Pinkie had bounced out. They crossed over the bridge and ran straight up to the library, the wind deafening in their ears. The library itself was groaning farther to one side than was healthy, and leaves littered the road. Applejack held onto her Stetson with one hoof as she banged on the door with the other. The door opened to reveal a very confused princess with two fillies which were both very easily recognised.

“Sweetie Belle!”

“Applejack!”

“Apple Bloom!”

“Rarity!”

“You’re alright!” all four of them screamed in unison. Fluttershy slammed the door behind her and locked it while Pinkie shook water everywhere, however Twilight was fast enough to catch most of it with her magic.

Twilight smiled as she watched the reuniting of her friends, but her heart sank when she realised the one pony she was going to spend her night with was still missing. And she wouldn’t come.

The city of Cloudsdale, high above the cloud line, was completely unaffected by the storm raging over Ponyville. Rainbow Dash sat on the cloud floor with Nimbus, stamping forms, signing documents, and reading letters hurriedly, attempting to get all the work done.

Nimbus placed another paper on top of the pile for Rainbow to sign and stamped a green “CONFIRMED” on the latest weather development in Seaddle. Rain, as per usual.

Rainbow was signing forms as fast as she could and making sure everything was getting to where it needed to go. The pile was only half as big as it was nearly five hours ago, meaning that if the two kept it at this pace they would be finished around seven. It was later than she had hoped, but Rainbow knew that this was the best way for it to go, given the circumstances. She smiled and picked up the pace, signing two letters in a flash.

Nimbus stood up and stretched out her wings, cracking her neck in the process.

“Hey, Ms. Dash,” Nimbus declared, “I’m going to go grab a drink. Want anything?”

Rainbow scratched at the back of her neck, looking up at Nimbus. She smiled.

“Sure, a vanilla Cloud Soda, please.”

“Got it,” Nimbus affirmed, trotting out the door and closing it behind her. Now that Rainbow was alone she could catch up on the pile that Nimbus had already placed in front of her. The cyan pegasus quickly glanced over a couple of the letters, allowing the words to sink in before jotting down a quick “R. Dash” at the bottom. She brushed the two over to the side into the “finished” pile, allowing herself a couple seconds of rest before tackling any more. She stamped a couple of the notices with the green stamp, and denied another that had stated that it would make the storm over Seattle half a day shorter. The seaside city needed the rain more than anywhere else, since the surrounding rural neighborhoods were a vital asset to the ecosystem.

The door swung open once again, announcing the arrival of Nimbus. Rainbow stood up and gratefully took the bottle from the tan pony with a wing, twisting off the top and taking a swig. It was just as she had remembered, the vanilla undertones overlaid with the sweetness of the clouds from the Rainbow Factory. Rainbow hated the stories of the factory, as she had visited there many times and there were absolutely no reports of killings. It was a very simple process that used a patented pegasi device, the Spectra Converter, to spread apart the spectrum of white light into each individual color. Then a special cloud-based fluid was mixed in to make the rainbows liquidise, turning them tangible but not able to be felt. It was amazing what technology could do.

“Wow, Ms. Dash, we’re making some excellent progress,” Nimbus remarked, staring at what was left of the once massive and overbearing pile that they had begun the day with.

“You said it,” was Rainbow’s reply. “And please, Nimbus, call me Rainbow.”

“Alright then, Rainbow,” Nimbus laughed, “let’s get back to work.”

“Sounds great.”

The two sat back down on the floor and resumed stamping, signing, and organizing files. Rainbow pushed a strand of hair out of her eyes and smiled.

“... and now we’re here,” Applejack finished, wrapping up the story of how they all got to the library for Twilight. The princess smiled at each of the four ponies in turn.

“Well, now you’re all here. And that’s all that matters,” she affirmed, her nearly singsong voice resonating in their ears and lifting their spirits. The alicorn’s horn became encased in a violet aura and a cabinet behind Rarity opened up, four wool blankets floating out at each of them. Fluttershy and Applejack looked thankfully at their friend, who grinned back, while Rarity was too busy drying her hair to pay much attention and Pinkie Pie was already fast asleep in front of the fire, snoring loudly. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle sat in the corner and spoke in hushed voices, too quiet for any of the other ponies to hear.

“Twilight?” Fluttershy’s soft voice carried into Twilight’s ears easily with the help of her noise-cancelling magics surrounding the library.

“Yes, Fluttershy?”

“Where’s Scootaloo?”

Twilight froze. Rarity stopped what she was doing and stared at Fluttershy and Twilight, fear once again apparent in her eyes. Applejack’s countenance showed a worried expression, and Pinkie hadn’t moved at all. Twilight turned towards the two fillies, who had noticed the silence and turned to face the group.

“A… Apple Bloom?” Applejack stammered, walking up to her sister. “Where’s Scootaloo?”

“Um…” Apple Bloom began, looking anywhere but at Applejack. “Well, you… you see…”

“We don’t know,” Sweetie Belle bluntly said for her friend, looking straight at Applejack.

“You don’t know?” Rarity quietly said, looking into the fireplace. If they didn’t know where Scootaloo was, and this storm was going on…

“How can you not know?!” Twilight wailed, stepping towards the two fillies who had shrunk back as small as possible into the corner. “She is your friend! You just left her out there?”

“No! I mean… no, Ms. Twilight, we didn’t,” Sweetie Belle started. Apple Bloom cut in with a “we would never do anything like that!” and the small white filly nodded again.

“Well then how in the wide world of Equestria can you not know?!” Applejack bellowed, stepping back and looking at her friends. Confusion and worry was evident in her emerald eyes, and Twilight sensed it.

“Just hear them out, AJ,” the purple alicorn stated, turning back to the fillies. “Tell us what happened.”

Apple Bloom was the first to speak up.

“I left the farm to go play with Sweetie and Scoot. We were hanging around the market for a while and we saw the storm comin’ in.”

“We thought we had more time than we actually did,” Sweetie Belle interjected, making all the eyes in the room turn to her. She continued. “So we thought it would be fun to try and get our cutie marks in mountaineering.”

“Where in Ponyville can you climb a mountain?” Fluttershy wondered aloud.

“Well…” Apple Bloom started, “we couldn’t. So we went to that big one over in the forest.”

“The one you girls climbed up with the dragon and all,” Sweetie Belle went on.

The five grown mares were speechless. One more than most, considering she was out for the night. Applejack’s eyes narrowed.

“You mean to tell me,” she began, inching closer to the younger fillies, “that you went into the Everfree Forest. To climb a mountain. Without telling me or Rarity?!” The orange earth pony’s calm demeanor was threatening to break down around her. She visibly shook and her eyes were livid.

“That still doesn’t answer the question of where Scootaloo is,” Twilight added, her eyes discolored. As a princess, she had to remain calm when facing her subjects. But even this was too much for her. “So Scootaloo is…” she prompted, waiting for one of the fillies to finish. Sweetie Belle obliged.

“The storm caught us as we were starting to head back, so Scootaloo, Apple Bloom and I ran off towards Ponyville again. There was no rain yet, but the wind was pretty crazy.” The small white filly stopped and took a breath before continuing. “Scootaloo said something about staying at the clubhouse, so we followed her through the forest, off the path. But…”

“We lost her,” Apple Bloom solemnly stated.

“You WHAT?!” her sister shrieked, disbelief flooding her face.

“By the time we got out of the forest, she was nowhere in sight. We checked the clubhouse but she wasn’t there. So we ran here. It started raining just as Twilight let us in.”

Applejack had already shed the blanket and was standing in front of the door, attempting to get it open.

“Applejack!” Twilight shouted, noticing her friend’s fevered motions. “What are you doing?”

“Going to go get Scootaloo.” The farmmare managed to get the door open, but it was immediately shut by Twilight’s magic.

“No, Applejack. You can’t go out there. It’s only going to get worse-” Applejack cut off Twilight’s train of thought.

“So let’s just have Scootaloo die out there, Twilight? Is that what you want?”

“NO!” The Royal Canterlot Voice shook the walls of the library, causing shockwaves to course through the ponies within. Echoes bounced off the walls but eventually dissipated. Even Applejack stopped grappling with the door long enough to turn around and face Twilight. “I mean… no, Applejack. If you go out there, you might not be able to find your way back. Two ponies hurt is worse than one.”

“No, Twilight. I’m not going to have a pony be hurt out there or even die when I was able to help.”

“She’s right, Applejack,” Rarity’s voice carried over the two arguing ponies’. They turned around and faced the white unicorn, who blushed. “Scootaloo is a smart filly. She may be reckless, but that doesn’t mean that she is stupid.” Fluttershy nodded her head behind Rarity’s shoulder. Pinkie, disturbed from her slumber by Twilight’s loud voice, didn’t have an opinion on the subject.

“Applejack, please. We’ll look for her in the morning. I’m sure she’ll be fine,” Fluttershy softly pleaded, “i-if that’s alright.” The two fillies in the corner of the room looked at Applejack, expecting her to disagree, to say anything that would let her go out and find their friend. But no such thing came.

“I guess you’re right,” Applejack solemnly agreed, turning away from the door and walking back over to the fireplace, putting out her hooves in front of it.

“Applejack! We have to go look for her! She co-”

“No, Apple Bloom,” the orange farmmare stated. “They have good points. Your friend is a smart filly. She can take care o’ herself.”

“B-but-”

“No buts. Now let’s relax. What time is it, Twilight?” The purple alicorn looked at a clock on the wall, then glanced back to Applejack.

“It’s nearly three.”

“We’ve got lots of time to relax before this storm blows over, girls,” Rarity added. “Why don’t we make some hot chocolate and talk?” Nods of agreement went around the small gathering, and the two fillies slowly trotted up to the rest of the ponies. Twilight busied herself in the kitchen, grabbing seven mugs and filling each of them with warm water, heated via magic from her horn. As she added in the mixture of coca, the assembled ponies started talking about their day so far and what they had planned to do if the storm hadn’t come.

Twilight walked out of the kitchen and into the main room, levitating the seven mugs behind her. She floated one over to each pony in turn, saving one for herself. Apple Bloom grabbed hers in her hooves and took a small sip, but then drank half of the mug in one motion. Noticing her friend’s enthusiasm, Sweetie Belle grabbed the mug with her magic and pulled it close, tasting it.

Words and grunts of approval went around the circle. Twilight smiled, yet thought of the one friend who wasn’t present. Her smile fell and her ears drooped. Sighing, she took a sip of hot chocolate, feeling the warm, rich fluid drip down her throat and into her stomach. She smiled.

“How can hot coca NOT lift your spirits?” she surmised, taking another sip and listening to her friend’s voices. Twilight reclined and set her cup down, closing her eyes.

Scootaloo ran. Where, she didn’t know. All she knew was that she needed to get out of this damn forest, and her sense of direction had been screwed up by the deep cloud cover overhead. Rain pelted down on the canopy, and wind blew through the forest, winding around trunks and blasting through clearings. Scootaloo’s purple hair was caught up by one of the gusts, and she closed her eyes. Her mane was damp and her hooves were drenched in muddy water. Small cuts and scrapes on her sides hadn’t drawn blood, but they were painful. Lasting reminders of her mistakes.

The small pegasus shivered as another gust blew through the forest, slowing down her progress. She folded her small wings to her sides and pushed harder as the gale became weaker, allowing her to run towards a large tree for an impromptu shelter from the storm. Looking around below the tree, Scootaloo tried to see any sort of landmark that would tell her what time it was or where she was. However, no such opportunity presented itself. The filly gave a heavy sighed, tears filling her eyes. She shut them fast, but a few salty droplets had fallen from her eyes and rolled down her cheek. Another gust of wind blew them away.

Scootaloo opened her eyes again and stared at the imposing tree she was hiding underneath. It was about three feet wide and more than thirty feet tall, towering above the other trees in the Everfree Forest. She smiled, even though her cheeks were caked with tears and dirt, and grabbed the lowest branch, swinging herself up to her feet. From there she kicked off the trunk and grabbed at another branch. Her hooves missed, but she was able to hover for long enough to grab it again, this time succeeding.

She reached the top of the tree and peeked out of the leaves, looking over the forest. There was fog everywhere and it was hard to see at all, but the dense cloud cover and darkening light told her enough. It was at least five in the evening, and it was winter time. Which meant it was getting dark, fast. The pegasus scowled, but reaffirmed her grip on the trunk just in time for another gust of wind to bend the top of the tree over, leaving Scootaloo hanging at a near thirty degree angle, nearly thirty feet above the forest floor. She gulped loudly, but used her wings to minimize the effect her weight was having on the tree, preventing it from snapping in two.

The wind stopped quickly enough, but it had felt like an eternity for the small filly, as her wings were not nearly as powerful as the other pegasi, giving her lots of disadvantages. She slid down the slippery trunk, stopping at another branch ten feet from the ground to look around again, hoping that the fog was only near the canopy of the forest. It was a little easier to see, but not much. Scootaloo felt helpless, but grabbed the trunk again to slide down the rest of the way. Her feet left the branch.

She slipped and fell ten feet to the ground, landing hard on her front left hoof.

“AAHUGH!”

The cry echoed through the forest, bouncing off trees and returning to her ears multiple times before dissipating into thin air. At least two things were broken - her hoof and her pride. Scootaloo gingerly lifted her injured hoof, wincing at the pain and the sight. The ankle area was deeply bruised a purple color, most likely broken or sprained. She tried to put weight on it but only found it buckled under any pressure.

The small pegasus laid on her back. And the tears came.

A rainbow blur tore through the skies, bound for the storm clouds over Ponyville. Rainbow Dash exploded through the cloud cover in a shower of water droplets, but the other side she was not expecting.

The storm was much worse than she had thought, and the wind sent her spiraling down in a tight corkscrew. The pegasus fought to regain her positioning and flight pattern, and succeeded, but not before clipping the top of a tree. She was soaked to the bone, flying through a veritable tsunami, bound for the one object she could spot in the distance - Twilight’s library. She was earlier than she thought she was going to be. Wet, but early. She smiled.

Twilight laughed along with her four friends as Pinkie finished telling a story of her rock farm days. She smiled and held up a hoof, motioning for everyone to be quiet.

“Alright, everypony, I think that’s enough for the night.” Groans and pleas were heard all around the gathering, from the fillies especially. “Oh, come on. We’re all tired, and nice warm beds will do wonders for our spirits.” The ponies reluctantly agreed and stood up, shuffling around with their heads down. Twilight rolled her eyes. “Okay, fine, one more story.”

Instantly the heads shot up and started talking, trying to decide who would tell it, what it would be about, or who else would be able to tell it. However, the purple alicorn spoke again.

“One condition.”

The room was silent once again. Twilight cleared her throat.

“I get to tell it.” If the room was silent before, this was at least two times silent. No sound at all filled the room. “Oh come on, I can do good stories…”

There was a shuffling of hooves.

“I think it’s only fair, girls,” Rarity piped up from her seat in a leather armchair next to the fire. She set down her teacup and cleared her throat again. “After all, we have all been telling stories but Twilight hasn’t given her two cents even once!” There were nods of agreement all around. Twilight gave the white unicorn a look that could only mean “thank you” and coughed.

“Well then, let’s see. Once upon a time, there was a young stallion named Adri-”

Twilight was cut off by a loud banging at the door.

“Oh come on! That was a good one!” she exclaimed as she pushed herself off the chair and trotted over to the door, throwing it open with magic. And her jaw hit the floor. A very drenched cyan pegasus stood on the other side, mane sticking to her neck, and her coat was clinging to her body in a very unfitting way. But she was smiling.

“Can I come in?” Rainbow Dash asked, grinning at Twilight.

“Oh! Of course! Come i-” The princess stopped herself at seeing Rainbow’s expression as she looked off into the center of the room. Four of her friends stared back at her along with two fillies, who smiled at her. She didn’t smile back.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Rainbow,” Twilight said, surmising what Rainbow’s problem was. After all, they had said that they wanted to spend the night just swapping stories between the two of them, drinking hot chocolate, laughing. “They needed a place to stay. So I-”

“Don’t sweat it, Twi. I get it,” the cyan pegasus said, still staring into the center of the room. “But where’s Scoot?”

The ponies exchanged nervous glances. Applejack nudged Apple Bloom with a hoof, gesturing for her to explain. The filly grimaced and faced Rainbow Dash.

“Ah… we don’t exactly know,” Apple Bloom said, shifting from one hoof to another.

“Well, when did you last see her?” Rainbow asked, raising an eyebrow.

Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom exchanged pained expressions. Apple Bloom opened her mouth, but no sound came out. She closed it immediately, allowing the white filly to answer.

“Probably five or so hours ago. In the…” she gulped. “Everfree.”

A silence fell over the group, save for the - now deafening - tapping of rain on the ground and trunk. Rainbow’s eyes widened. Her wings extended, and she shot off the ground, spraying water into the library. Twilight rubbed the water out of her eyes and ran out the door.

“RAINBOW! NO! COME BACK!”

But she was gone.

“SCOOTALOO!”

Rainbow Dash’s booming voice was drowned out by the storm raging around her in every direction. Night was falling, and sight was becoming even more of a problem than before. She fought worry from her expression and pushed herself to go faster, exploding past the Everfree boundary in a streak of blue. “SCOOTALOO! WHERE ARE YOU?!” she screamed again, eyes scanning through the fog for any slight hint of orange or purple. Finding none, she angled her trajectory closer to the canopy level, gusts threatening to blow her off course at every conceivable opportunity. She fought to regain her direction as the side of her body slammed into a trunk, bruising just above her cutie mark. Rainbow yelped in pain, but willed herself on, gaining altitude slightly.

RREEAHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Even over the deafening storm, the sound was unmistakable. Rainbow’s heart dropped into her stomach, and willed herself to go even faster, shifting direction to go towards where she heard the roar. That noise level could have only come from one thing that lived in the Everfree, and it definitely wasn’t Scootaloo. Rainbow’s face contorted.

“Please let me get there before the wolves do.”

Pushing her limits was dangerous. Pushing her limits in a storm was even more dangerous. But this? All around her were gusts of wind, rain flying at all angles, buffering her small body as she attempted to fly faster, work harder. She dove to begin searching again, only to find another tree in her path, which she quickly swerved around to avoid. However, changing direction got her out of the wind tunnel she had located herself in, and sent her spiraling a few times before the pegasus righted herself, slowing down enough to catch her breath. She cupped her hooves around her mouth.

“SCOOTALOO!” she screamed out again, her voice cracking. Only a dim echo reached her ears through the storm. She pushed onwards, flapping her wings with a renewed vigor, keeping the same direction as before. She heard the roar again, louder this time. Peering down through the whipping rain and fog she noticed a pack of four Timber Wolves running in a straight line parallel to the direction Dash was already flying. She angled her body down and descended, angling up when she was directly above the wolves.

The cyan pegasus looked off into the distance in the same line the wolves were going and noticed a clearing in the forest. Her hope rejuvenated, she accelerated, dropping down towards ground level. She was nearly there, just a little further…

A gust of wind took her by surprise and launched her sideways, slamming her right wing into a formidable tree. Her cry of anguish and pain radiated through the forest, unmistakable in one filly’s ears.

Scootaloo picked her head off the ground, wiping her tear streaked eyes on her leg. Looking around, she saw nothing friendly, but definitely had heard somepony yell.

“HELLO?!” she cautioned, picking herself off the ground and walking towards the big tree.

“Scootaloo!” a voice from inside the forest shouted. It sounded just like…

“Rainbow?” the small filly yelled towards the sound as a drenched, cyan pegasus exploded out of the trees. Her wing was bent back at a terrible angle, but it was Rainbow. And she was smiling. “RAINBOW!” the laughing filly screeched, her voice shaking. Rainbow galloped forward and scooped the filly up into a tight embrace, their sopping coats sticking together as they pulled apart.

“Scootaloo! You’re okay!” the cyan pegasus said, a hoof on Scootaloo’s shoulder. The filly beamed and smiled, but then frowned when she looked at Rainbow’s right wing.

“What happened to your wing?” the filly asked. “Are you hurt?”

“Yeah, a little. But it’s fine. We’ll just have to run.”

“From what?”

Rainbow looked away, prodding at the sodden ground with a hoof.

“Get on my back. Ponyville is only twenty minutes away if we run.” Scootaloo nodded and jumped onto Rainbow’s back, hugging the larger mare tightly, but grimacing when she put pressure on her hoof.

“Rainbow, I think my ankle’s broken…”

“That’s… uh… fine. We’ll be back soon, don’t worry. I’d never leave my friends hanging,” the larger mare replied. Patting the filly on her back with a hoof, she turned and faced towards Ponyville. Another roar exploded through the forest, much too close for Rainbow’s comfort. “Time to go!”

Twilight paced around the living room with seven sets of eyes on her. Every once in a while, seemingly at random, she would stop and turn around, sighing. Spike sighed, pushing away his blanket and standing up, walking over to where Twilight was walking.

“Twi… Rainbow probably just got a little lost. It’s nothing to get worri-”

“Nothing?” Twilight interjected, a glare on her face. She turned towards the dragon, making him step backwards in surprise. “Nothing to get worried over? The life of my friends isn’t something to get worried over?”

“Twilight,” Spike added, trying to calm her down, “you know that’s not what I-”

“I don’t care!” Twilight yelled, making the entire assembly jump. She looked around the room sheepishly while glares were thrown her way, shaking her head. “Sorry. I just… it should have been a 5 minute flight into the Everfree, maybe 10 minutes searching for Scootaloo, and then a 5 minute flight back. 20 minutes!” Twilight stammered, her eyes returning to their worried state. “But it’s been 40. Two times as long!”

“Twilight, dear, Rainbow is fine. She always is,” Rarity interrupted, a bored look crossing her face. “If anything, she may have taken her back to Cloudsdale.”

“She would have stopped in,” Twilight mused, “to tell us. But she didn’t. She’s loyal, she wouldn’t have blown us off without a reason.” The gathering simultaneously looked at their hooves in thought, trying to surmise where in the wide world of Equestria Rainbow and Scootaloo could be. Spike sighed.

“Maybe it’s time for you to get some sleep, Twi.” Spike walked up to the alicorn and touched her on the shoulder. “We’ll look for her in the mo-”

“No.” Twilight and Applejack looked at each other sheepishly. They had spoken at the same time. Applejack motioned for Twilight to continue.

“We’ve been waiting too long. We need to find them. Scootaloo could be hurt bad. Rainbow might be hurt, too.” Applejack nodded while Rarity and Fluttershy both shook their heads forcefully.

“I don’t think that’s a very good idea, darling,” Rarity said, adjusting the blankets around her and scooting closer to the fireplace, a feeble attempt at warmth. “I say we wait until the storm dies down, and then go look.”

None of the ponies noticed the door open during their discussions until it slammed shut with a loud bang. Spike ran over to the window near the door and peered out to see a purple figure running away from the library towards the Everfree forest.

“Dammit, Twi…”

Rainbow Dash limped through the forest, holding her injured wing close to her side. She winced in pain at every step of her right side. The jolts of walking through the forest were too much for the fragile bones in her wing, and trying to balance Scootaloo on her back was getting to be too difficult. She groaned and pushed onwards, shoving herself off a tree to keep her momentum. Wind whistled through the trees again, a strong gust that would have taken the small pegasus right off her back if the dense undergrowth hadn’t been in the way. She tried raising her head to the sky to see what time it was, but the filly on her back made that impossible.

Scootaloo was gingerly testing her hoof, feeling for a broken point. Every now and again she would give a small whimper of pain when she would tap the break. The roars from behind them were becoming more and more infrequent, but Rainbow wasn’t comforted by the loss of sound. Passing through a clearing, rain pelted at Scootaloo’s back, finding paths through the sparse foliage to smash into the two ponies below. The filly shivered and gripped Rainbow’s barrel with her hooves even tighter, causing the larger mare to let out a breath quickly.

Lightning flashed in the distance and threw shadows around the forest floor.

“H… how far do you think we are from Ponyville?” Scootaloo asked quietly, not knowing if Rainbow would even respond. She was surprised when the cyan pegasus shook her head slowly and glanced around at their surroundings once again. Back inside the forest, gloom had settled back around them, flanking them from each side.

“Um, I’m sure we’ll be there soon!” Rainbow said in mock cheerfulness, something that Scootaloo caught on to quickly.

“I know when someone is only acting happy,” Scootaloo said, sadly. She patted the matted fur on Rainbow’s back with an uninjured hoof. “My parents did it all the time.” The two traveled in silence for a while, not caring to break the fragile silence. Scootaloo was worried that if she spoke more Rainbow would be upset. Rainbow was worried she would start to cry. She hoped the small filly couldn’t notice.

“Sc… Scoot…” the mare said, keeping her eyes on the ground and attempting to keep her shaking voice under control. “Can you… tell me more about your parents?” Scootaloo, reassured that Rainbow wouldn’t be angry if she spoke, lay down on the mare’s back and loosened her grip on her barrel. Rainbow took in a deep breath, an attempt at keeping her feelings under control. Scootaloo thought it was because she was gripping too tightly, and lay her cheek down on Rainbow.

“When I was born,” Scootaloo began, looking deep into the woods aimlessly. Rainbow’s jolts were making her tired, and it was nearly like being rocked to sleep. “My parents lived in Seaddle. My dad was a pegasus and my mom was an earth pony.”

Rainbow nodded, putting two and two together.

“The doctor said that’s why my wings are so short.”

Rainbow nearly gasped, but she caught herself just in time. A tear rolled down her cheek, unbeknownst to Scootaloo. It dripped off her soaking face and fell to the ground, mixing in with the brown, dirty puddles below. The filly sighed and relaxed her muscles, making her limp. She took a breath.

“My dad, according to my mom, left after I was born. But since my mother was such a lying b… mare, I don’t know if she was telling the truth. Then one day my mother left and never came back. I made my own way for a week or so, but then I was taken to an orphanage near the center of town. It was awful there. There were fights and tantrums and everything. And it smelled.

“So one day I left. Just walked right out. No goodbyes or anything. They wouldn’t have let me leave if I had asked. I walked until I found that old clubhouse near Sweet Apple Acres. So I fixed it up and am living there now. Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom don’t know that I actually live there. They just think I fixed it up to be their clubhouse.”

Scootaloo sighed and buried her face in Rainbow’s fur, beginning to sob quietly. Tears were cascading down Rainbow’s cheeks as she fought to keep her composure. Her faux persona began to melt around her as her lip quivered, and the pain in her wing was temporarily forgotten. She opened her mouth to speak, but only a croak came out, the last defense against the wave of water from her eyelids.

“Scoot… we’re going… we’re going to be okay… go… got it?”

She could feel Scootaloo nodding into her fur, still crying silently.

But they both looked up towards the sky when the flapping of wings over the deafening storm grabbed their attention.

Author's Notes:

Hello all! This will be a two-hit fic, and I'll be posting the second half as soon as I finish it.

Currently I'm exploring my options, since I have been doing an Action/Adventure fic, and I just wanted to make a Sad/SoL fic for a change. If I like this kind of fic, I'll continue doing stuff like this. Right now I really love writing stuff like this.

So yeah, UH is on hiatus until this is finished, and the maybe another fic before I pick that back up again. But maybe I'll pass it onto a reader to continue. :D

Hope you enjoy Gray Day, White Night!

Edit: Woah, what happened to the formatting? Eh, whatever.

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