The Wreck

by JohnPerry

Chapter 4: The Question

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Yearling trotted through the streets of Canterlot, a copy of Fair Wind’s “Star of the Sea” clutched under her wing beneath her travel cloak. Around her, the gleaming buildings of the capital city glinted with a pinkish hue in the light of the setting sun, but she paid her surroundings little mind, only staring down at the cobblestones in front of her hooves.

Her mind was racing, struggling to come to terms with what she had read. At the end of the book was a brief chapter on the loss of the Equestrian Star, but, as the librarian had suggested, there was no information on the location of the wreck.

“So where did I see it?” she thought. “And why can’t I stop thinking about it?”

Suddenly, a sharp pain went through her shoulder and she leapt back in alarm, her glasses falling on the cobblestone street with a clatter. She looked up to see the blurry form of another pony shoving past her. The pain quickly subsided, but the shock of being knocked out of her thoughts lingered.

“Hey, watch it!” Yearling snapped, leaning over to pick up her glasses.

“What a shock,” the other pony sneered as she passed out of Yearling’s sight. “The mare with the oversized glasses is near-sighted.”

Yearling briefly froze before gritting her teeth and shoving her glasses back on. She whirled around, preparing her retort. “I beg your par–”

The rest of her words died in her throat. Walking away from her was a pegasus mare with a mustard yellow coat and a green vest, a coil of rope held under one wing and a pith helmet on top of her head, her face hidden from Yearling’s view.

Yearling was rooted to the spot for a moment before her senses caught up with her. “Hey!” she yelled, raising her hoof, but immediately a carriage passed between the two of them, cutting off her view of the pony. Once it passed, Yearling looked to see that in place of the pegasus mare was now a dull-coated stallion in fancy dress, his eyes closed and nose held high in the typical fashion of Canterlot elite.

She blinked, remaining frozen in place as she watched the stallion continue down the street. Eventually, after another fleeting glance around the street, she fled the scene.

It wasn’t long before she was back at the door to her apartment, hurriedly throwing it open and slamming it shut behind her. Yearling leaned back against the door, breathing hard and her heart racing as she slowly slid down into a sitting position.

“Hey, hun!” First Sight’s voice called out. His head emerged from around the corner. “I was just working on dinner. Do you want… uh, are you okay?”

At the sight of her fiancé, Yearling immediately felt a calm pass over her. Her heart slowed to its normal rate and her breathing became easier. She stood up, giving him a small smile. “Yeah, I just… it’s silly, really, I gave myself a bit of a scare.”

First Sight walked up to her, wrapping a hoof around Yearling. At his touch, her body relaxed. “What happened?” he whispered, his breath tingling against her ear.

“Nothing, nothing,” she murmured, giving him a nuzzle. “It’s silly. I just saw something that spooked me, but it was really nothing.”

“Are you sure? You just seemed–”

“I’m fine, really! I’m…” The image of Daring Do walking down the street flashed through Yearling’s mind. She broke the hug and gave Sight a sheepish look. “I... guess I’ve been thinking about my writing too much.”

First Sight frowned slightly. “Well, if you’re sure… Hey, whatcha got there?”

Yearling looked down at where he was pointing to see the copy of “Star of the Sea” still clutched under her wing. She blinked, realizing she had completely forgotten about it.

“Oh, it’s, uh, just some light reading,” she said, showing him the book.

He took it and flipped it open, then gave Yearling a grin. “Ships, huh?”

“Shush, you,” she retorted, smiling as she pushed him lightly on the shoulder. “Come on, let’s see this dinner you were talking about.”

Daring Do stood upon the deck, maintaining her fierce stance despite the rolling of the ship. The storm raged outside, lashing rain against the portholes, but it was nothing compared to the bellowing monstrosity standing before the adventurer–

Yearling paused in her writing, frowning at what she wrote. After a moment, she reached for the sheet and tore it out of her notepad, crumbling it into a ball before tossing it into the corner, where it joined a pile of others just like it.

She sighed and took off her glasses, rubbing at her tired eyes. “It’s just not… right. How the hay did I do this before?”

Yearling slouched over her desk, planting her chin on her hooves. Her gaze traveled around the room, eventually settling on the blurry form of her bookshelf. Volume after volume of her Daring Do series had been arranged along one shelf, bound in hardcover with “Daring Do” printed in shining letters on the side, all of them unopened and collecting dust.

She put her glasses back on, giving the novels a more intent look. Maybe inspiration was to be found in her old works, she reasoned. She lifted herself off her chair and walked up to the bookshelf. “Heh, hard to believe I wrote all that,” she thought, looking at the couple of dozen or so novels presented on the shelf. She grabbed one of the books and flipped it open.

The first page had only a single sentence, written in small, neat text:

What is A.K. Yearling without Daring Do?

Yearling frowned, re-reading the sentence. “I never wrote that… who put that in?” She stared at it for a moment longer, then dismissed it and turned the pages of the book.

They were all blank.

She flipped through the pages, finding each one to be as blank as the last. She grabbed another Daring Do novel off the shelf and opened it, only to find it blank as well. A third and a fourth book produced the same result, each one empty save for a single line of text on the first page.

What is A.K. Yearling without Daring Do?

“Is this some kind of joke?” At this point, Yearling was ripping each book off the shelf and dropping it to the floor once she found them to be blank. “Maybe the publishing company made a mistake?”

After she had exhausted her collection, Yearling paused and looked down at the mess of books she had made on the floor. She sighed before restaking them, then begrudgingly returned to sitting at her desk, staring at her empty notepad.

But she still couldn’t focus, and took to staring out the window, admiring the Canterlot scenery. The skies were ablaze with color and the buildings had taken on a pinkish hue in the light of the setting sun. Pegasi flitted by over the streets of the city, including a mustard-coated mare in a green vest and pith helmet who was perched on the building opposite, waving at her…

Yearling nearly fell out of her chair when the realization of what she was seeing finally struck. She ran to the window and watched the pegasus mare, who was giving Yearling a cheeky grin. She tipped her pith helmet in mock salute and then spread her wings, leaping off the building and out of sight.

“Wait!” Yearling threw open the window and awkwardly clambered onto the windowsill. She cast a brief glance at the street a few floors down and considered taking the stairs, but quickly realized that she’d never catch the mysterious pegasus if she did so. She frantically flapped her wings, managing a brief hover before she leapt out of her apartment, managing an unsteady glide across the street to the roof of the building opposite. She landed, then stumbled across before flapping down into an alleyway on the other side of the building.

The alley was deserted, save for Yearling. Now that she was outside, she was distinctly aware of the fact that she had left her travel cloak in her apartment, and she felt vulnerable for it. She was also growing increasingly aware of the fact that she had just leapt out of her window in order to chase a strange pony whose intentions were unknown to her. “What am I, Daring Do?

“Well, you’re not too far off.” Yearling yelped and whipped around at the sound of the unfamiliar voice, finding somepony now standing in the middle of the alleyway.

The mare before her somehow seemed a poor approximation of the heroine of Yearling’s novels. The mustard yellow coat, the olive green vest, and the pith helmet were all perfect, but nowhere did she see that friendly, youthful expression that brimmed with curiosity and foolhardy confidence. Instead, her face was twisted into a smirk, her pith helmet casting dark shadows across her features. Her grayscale mane seemed to reflect a tiredness in her form; her hooves were cracked, her shoulders were slightly hunched, and her eyes were dulled yet still glinted in the dim light. Everything about her seemed cruder, older, more weary and weathered than the Daring Do of Yearling’s mind.

Yearling inhaled sharply, then pointed at the mare and said the only thing that came to mind.


Daring snorted, giving Yearling a bemused look. “‘Shoo’? What am I, a cat?”

“This has gone far enough! Who are you?”

“Well, that’s a stupid question. Obviously, I’m Daring Do.”

“Daring Do is a fictional character,” Yearling said through gritted teeth. “A fictional character that I created.”

“On the contrary, A.K. Yearling is a fictional character that I created.”

“I… what?!” Yearling sputtered. “You have some nerve! You pretend to be some impossible adventurer who goes on insane quests and saves the world, and you tell me that I’m fictional?!”

“Well, you’re pretending to be a young, mild-mannered mare who leads a perfect life with her perfect fiancé without a care whatsoever in her spotless existence,” Daring shot back. “You tell me which of those sounds too good to be true.”

“You…” Yearling sighed and pressed a hoof to her forehead. “You know what, I’ve wasted enough time on you. Just… just leave me alone.” She turned away from the adventurer and began trotting in the opposite direction, only to feel a hoof grab her shoulder and forcefully turn her around, so that her face was mere inches from Daring’s own.

“I’m not done talking,” Daring growled. “You’re going to have to hear me out.”

“Get your hooves off me!” Yearling yelped, shoving the adventurer away. “Who do you think you are?!”

“I told you, I’m Daring Do. And right now, I’m in danger and you’re the only one who can help me.”

“I’m not listening to this!” Yearling stomped a hoof on the ground. “If you touch me again, I’ll scream for help! I mean it!”

Daring paused for a moment and stared at Yearling, who was breathing heavily and stood tensed, wings spread so that she was ready to leap into the air at any second.

At last, the adventurer sighed. “Alright, Ms. Yearling, have it your way. But I will ask you a question. If I’m fictional and you’re real, then what does the ‘A.K.’ in your name stand for?”

Yearling cocked her eyebrow at Daring, and her stance relaxed slightly in her confusion. “What is that supposed to mean? And why should I even tell you?”

“It’s a simple question, Yearling. If you can answer it, then I’ll leave you alone.”

Yearling huffed. “Is this some sort of a joke?” She turned away from Daring and started marching out of the alley. “Look, I’ve really had enough of this. I’m leaving.”

“You still haven’t answered my question, A.K.”

Yearling groaned. “Fine. It stands for…”

She trailed off, her gait slowing until she came to a stop. Her mind was blank as she stared at her hooves. “Uh… it stands for… uh… for...”

“Who were your parents? Where were you born? What was your life before you started writing Daring Do novels?”

“I… that’s private,” Yearling mumbled.

“Is it private, or do you just not remember?”

Yearling looked back at Daring, who had a grim look on her face. “Daring Do is just a character to you. An idea. But she has to exist in your world, because A.K. Yearling can’t exist without Daring Do. But if Daring Do is fictional, then what could have possibly inspired you to write all those stories about her?”

Daring took a step closer to Yearling, who involuntarily backed away. “You don’t remember what happens in a single one of your own stories, do you?”

“I… uh…”

“So let me ask again,” Daring continued. “What is A.K. Yearling without Daring Do?”

Yearling struggled to find her voice, her whole body shaking for a moment before she turned and bolted out the alley. As she ran, she heard Daring’s voice calling after her, but Yearling refused to look back.

“We’re in danger, Yearling! You need to find the shipwreck!”

“Where is it, where is it?!” Yearling hissed, emptying another binder of documents onto the floor of her study. She frantically began rifling through the sheets of paper before shoving them aside when she failed to find what she was looking for.

“Honey?” First Sight called from the other room. He stepped through the doorway to see the room in disarray; paper littered the floor and various drawers had been yanked out, their contents emptied onto the carpet. “What are you doing?”

“I’m looking for my birth certificate!” Yearling yelled. Before Sight could formulate a response, she darted towards him and grabbed his shoulders in her forehooves. “Sight, what’s my name?!” she cried.

“Your… name?” he answered in a meek tone.

“Yes!” she screamed, shaking him vigorously. “Tell me my name!”

“Yearling! It’s Yearling!” he said quickly, trying to pry her clutching hooves off of his shoulders.

“No! A.K. Yearling! What does the A.K. stand for?!”

“I…” Yearling watched him falter, his expression going blank. “...I… don’t know. I don’t think you’ve ever told me. Uh, Yearling, what’s this about?”

She bit her lip, her vision becoming blurred as her gaze lowered to his chest. Her hooves wrapped around him tightly and Yearling buried herself into his form, choking out a sob as she felt the sting of tears. “I can’t remember my own name, I can’t remember my writing… I can’t remember anything!”

She pressed herself into him, staining his coat with her tears. “Sight... what’s wrong with me?”

Yearling felt his hooves reach around her back and his head nestle itself atop hers. His efforts to calm her were fruitless. She clung to him, her body shaking beneath his steady embrace.

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