The Golden Crusade

by TheGreatEater

Chapter 3: The Sleepover

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Scootaloo couldn't remember a time in her life when she was this bored. After staring at the ceiling until the various swirls and bumps made pictures, and trying to for the fifth time to make a good story out of them, she heard a knock on the door.

"Scootaloo, I have a surprise for you," Raindrops called through the door.

"What is it?" Scootaloo asked, pulling the covers up around her as she rolled to face the door.

The door opened, and the Cutie Mark Crusaders came rushing in. "Now, it wouldn't be right to leave you girls alone in a room with a colt, so I got Sparkler to stay in with you all. Is that alright with you?"

"Sure, but what is all this?" Scoots asked, her left ear tilting downwards in confusion.

"Well, I thought you could do with some company. So I set you up a Cutie Mark Sleepover!" Raindrops replied with a smile.

"Awesome! You know, Raindrops, you're pretty cool. Not Rainbow Dash-cool, but a close second. Thanks!" Scootaloo commented as the other crusaders leapt on her in a ponypile. Their bodies crushing her with hugs and nuzzles.

"You're quite welcome, Scootaloo And thank you for helping out, Sparkler ."

"It's no problem. Mama Derps and Holly need some alone time and I'm happy to help." Sparkler replied as she watched the squirming mountain of foals enveloping Scootaloo.

"Just remember, if you need anything, don't be afraid to ask. I'm ordering pizza for dinner tonight at Griswold's, so let me know what you all would like before five." With that, Raindrops turned around and left.

"This is the first official Cutie Mark Crusaders' Sleepover since we got our newest member, so I'd like to call this meeting to order!" Sweetie Belle squeaked, leaning comfortably against Scootaloo. The other members sat at the foot of the bed as the meeting, and thus the sleepover came into effect.

"Alright, first things first. Apple Bloom is the first of us to get her cutie mark. Now, Scootaloo, we held an emergency meeting after she got it, and we decided that even though she got hers, she can still be a crusader."

"How does that work?" Scootaloo asked, tilting her head in confusion.

"I'll let Apple Bloom explain," Sweetie replied.

Clambering up onto the bed, Apple Bloom faced Scootaloo. "We thought, y’know, even though I got my cutie mark, we're all still friends. And since I got mine, I can be there to help out future crusaders with their journey. This way, every future crusader who gets theirs has to help the next ones get theirs, so the crusade never really ends!

That, and even though I got it, now I got to go on a crusade to find out what it means for me. So it's like it never ends! So we can be Cutie Mark Crusaders, Best Friends Forever, cutie mark or no cutie mark!"

Apple Bloom panted, feeling slightly winded from her long speech. Scootaloo rolled her eyes. "Sweetie wrote the speech, huh?"

"Twilight helped!" Sweetie indignantly huffed, eliciting a round of chuckles from her friends.

"I guess that sounds cool. I mean, just because we have something stamped on our butts doesn't mean we aren't friends anymore, and it's pretty cool that even if we do get them, we can help those who don't," Scootaloo responded, getting out from beneath her covers to wrap Apple Bloom in a hug.

"Ahem," Sparkler coughed, "What do you girls... And colt... Usually do on a crusader sleepover?"

"Well ..." Sweetie started.

"First we think of things to do to get our Cutie Marks!" Scootaloo said.

"Then we try out a few things till we get a little tired!" Apple Bloom continued.

"Then we rest up with a few games!"

"Chill out!"

"Definitely don’t cause of any explosions, invasions from alternate dimensions, or massive property damage!" At that, the crusaders’ faces were the perfect picture of innocence...

… Until Scootaloo ruined it. "At least nopony can prove it was us," She coughed into her forehoof.


Apple Bloom dug her elbow into Scootaloo's ribs. "Nothin', she wasn't implyin' anything. Eenope, not at all."

Sparkler looked at the fillies before her, and the other crusaders nearby, wondering what she had just agreed to do. "Well, at least try to keep the destruction to a minimum, please. I like Raindrops, and I don't want Dinks or Mango to get into trouble."

"Oh don't worry. We never really got into trouble before," Scootaloo assured her.

"You mean other than the time we almost got turned to stone by a Cocktrice?" Apple Bloom pointed out.

"Fluttershy saved us."

"Or the time we accidentally summoned Discord's uncle?" Sweetie asked.

"Discord said it was a blast to have a family reunion."

"Or the time we tried giving Rarity a Spa day, and accidentally buried her neck down in concrete?" Apple Bloom asked.

"Oh, she was so mad! I was grounded for a week!" Sweetie Belle groaned.

"She forgave us eventually, and admitted having quick-drying cement unlabeled, sitting next to her container of Home Spa Mud Bath, was a mistake on her part. Why'd she have mud at her house anyway, Sweets? She usually gets mad when we bring mud from outside when it's raining," Scootaloo asked. All three fillies ignored the look of dread passing over Sparkler's face, and the looks of awe from their fellow crusaders.

"She was experimenting with that little pool she built out back so she could try different things to help Aloe and Lotus get getter products. The cement was for the garden she was planning on making. Never happened though," Sweetie answered.

"Okay... So, yeah, almost nothing bad happens. And when it does, it's all on accident. Either way, it usually works out in the end," Scootaloo replied.

"Mmmhmm," the others answered.

"So Scoots, what exactly did you do?" Mango asked.

"Yeah, I heard you turned Discord into a turnip, and Twilight into a singing fish!" Pipsqueak chimed in.

"I didn't do that!" Scootaloo replied, "Although Discord was there. Honestly, I don't know what happened, really. I had a magic block in my wings, and Twilight undid it. The next thing I know, Discord is turning Spike and Raindrops back to normal from being a pair of squirrels, and then I passed out!"

"Wow..." Sweetie sighed in awe, "That's awesome magic! I hope I get that good someday!"

"It was probably a flute," Scootaloo replied.

"Fluke," Sweetie corrected without thinking, which drew a laugh from Scootaloo.

"Flute, fluke, flounder, it's all good. But yeah, I probably won't be doing stuff like that anytime soon. I just can't wait to get done with bed rest, then I'll really be able to do stuff!" As if demonstrating this, Scootaloo's wings glowed purple, and her blankets suddenly wrapped her in a tight cocoon eliciting a squawk of indignation from Scoots.

Minutes later, Scootaloo was unwrapped by a swarm of eager hooves as her friends freed her from her blankety prison. Out of breath, Scootaloo gasped, "I *huff* remember *pant* why *huff* I was *gasp* supposed *pant* to rest."

Scootaloo plopped back onto the pillow, looking completely worn out. Sparkler looked her over and tsked, "Maybe next time you'll listen when somepony tells you to get some rest."

"Ha!" A Scoots shouted half heartedly, raising a trembling, defiant hoof, "Rest is for the weak! Winners keep at it!"

"Well, this winner will end up sleeping through her sleepover if she doesn't rest her magic at least a little," Sparkler retorted, drawing a huff from Scootaloo and a laugh from the other Crusaders.

"So now what do you want to do?"

Twilight was deep in thought. She had talked to Spike early that morning, not long after reading his note saying he had left for Canterlot. And running through Ponyville directionless, torn between the want to teleport directly there and get her son, and the fear of doing something wrong and making things even worse.

Then there was the moment when she sent the secretary who caused Spike so much distress to the n-th dimension, until the Mayor talked to her for several minutes, calming her down enough to see that banishing citizens to the space between spaces wasn't the best of ideas.

Well, not best of ideas in terms of paperwork. Twilight never knew the paperwork that came with transporting ponies to abstract hyperspaces could generate. Or that such paperwork existed in the first place, for that matter, nor the taxes it incurred.

After unbanishing the mare, whose name turned out to be Paper Pusher, then talking to the mayor yet again about Spike's status as a citizen, which fell on deaf ears, she decided to do something productive to distract herself.

Which led her to her current problem: What to do about Scootaloo. Celestia had been vague, stating that she'd talk to Luna, and Twilight was running into a wall on how to train a pegasus in spell casting. She'd need it, especially if she was to help her to her utmost abilities.

Then she had that picnic with Discord and Fluttershy coming up.

Which created two conflicting emotions: She and the other bearers trusted Discord as far as they could throw him, aside from Fluttershy who would probably befriend a changeling and reform them if she had the chance. But he didn't have to help her or Scootaloo yesterday, nor did he have to lift a paw to undo the damage done. It was a pickle, that was for sure, and one on which she wasn't sure how to feel.

But one thing she did know: Some way, somehow, she was going to help Scootaloo. The thing with Discord was for Future Twilight to deal with.

The sun rose the next day to a warzone. Paper cups, empty pizza boxes, and toys littered the floor. The unfinished attempts of various arts and crafts projects tossed haphazardly around the floor in various states of disrepair were scattered like destroyed ramparts of some fantasy castle. The Crusaders themselves were deep in the thrall of an epic food coma, nestled together in a ponypile on Scootaloo’s bed.

Sparkler stretched out her kinked muscles, still aching from being both subject to and judge of the Cutie Mark Crusaders' various endeavors, which included everything from eating contests, which resulted in two-thirds of the Crusaders passing out from enough sugar and heavy foods to put down a rampaging Pinkie Pie, to various artistic pursuits which resulted in the majority of the remainder of the Crusaders to pass out, leaving only Scootaloo, Apple Bloom, and Sparkler to remain awake.

They took turns telling random stories with toys as both characters and as props. When one stopped, and the next pony would pick it up, weaving an epic tale of Dashing Rainbows the Magnificent, and her faithful sidekick Knat, the flying tortoise, and their epic fight against the evil Boogeymare, who was trying to banish all the fillies and colts in Equestria into Eternal Bedtime.

It was only after the two fillies fell asleep that Sparkler could call it a day and pull out her sleeping bag. Sparkler was proud that she didn’t go insane, and that she prevented no less than five cutie mark attempts that could have leveled the house, including one that, for some undisclosed reason, needed fifty pounds of pudding, several industrial sized bottle rockets, and a five gallon drum of luster dust.

But now, it was time to clean before everypony else woke up. After all, as a role model to her sister, she needed to set a good example. Even if that meant cleaning up a massive amount of clutter that wasn’t her mess.

It was later in the day, and the Crusaders had all left for their respective homes. Raindrops and Scootaloo were sitting together on the filly's bed. “So, did you have fun last night?”

“Yeah, thank you for letting them come over, Raindrops. It was fun to finally have a ‘my place’ for them to come over to,” Scootaloo responded, blushing.

“It was my pleasure. You know, I wouldn’t mind letting you have more of those, just as long as you keep your grades up, and clean your room while you live here. Then I have no problem letting you have friends over. Sounds fair?”

“No probs,” Scoots replied, scooting herself into a more comfortable sitting position.

“So, I guess since you’ll be here a while, I should lay some ground rules. First, before you go crusading for your cutie mark, you need to finish your homework. Second, I need you home before eight at night, and if you’re going to be late, I need to know where you’ll be. Alright?”

“That’s fair. What about chores and stuff?” Scootaloo asked.

“As long as you keep your room clean, I can deal with the rest. I’ll pay you a set amount each week for any additional chores you do. Also, if you can earn a C or higher grade on tests, I’ll give you an extra 2 bits per letter grade. Double on report cards ” Raindrops explained with a smile, “Now then, from what Princess Twilight told me, you’ll need one more day of rest to fully recuperate. But you should be alright to walk about, just no magic. Which for you means no using your wings or pegasus abilities.”

“Awwww!” Scootaloo moaned, “Why?”

“Because your body is still recovering its magic reserves. If you stress it, you could do even more damage, especially after you just got one problem fixed. You wouldn’t want to be worse off, would you?”

“No, not really. I promise not to be awesome today. But tomorrow, I’ll be kicking so much flank!” Scootaloo shouted, hoof pumping.

“Scootaloo, you are by far the most awesome filly I have ever had the joy of taking under my wing. You don’t need to force yourself when you’re healing just to prove you're as awesome as everypony knows you are,” Raindrops assured her.

Scootaloo nuzzled her, and replied, “Thanks, you know, you’re a pretty cool pony. I know if you ever become a mom, you’d be great at it.”

Now that the first hurdle in securing a good future for Scootaloo was over, Raindrops left for the market. All that was left was the hard part: Getting her adopted by somepony that’d treat her as the wonderful little filly she was. She smiled as she felt the morning sun warm her coat. She fluffed her wings, getting ready to fly off and enjoy the good weather, when Cloud Kicker and her foal-sized older sister Alula dropped out of the sky.

Alula’s horn was something everypony glanced at when they first met her, similar to Ditzy’s eyes, but unlike Ditzy, Alula was still self-conscious about her horn. Especially, if rumors she heard on the grapevine were true, with her treatment in Canterlot. Her treatment at their old hometown was one of the reasons she moved to Ponyville to live with her sister for awhile.

“Hi, Alula! Cloud Kicker! How are you two doing this morning?” Raindrops greeted enthusiastically.

“Wow, somepony’s awfully chipper this early in the morning,” Alula snarked sleepily.

“‘Lula!” Cloud Kicker shouted.

“It’s alright. I was just pleasantly surprised to see you today, that’s all, and it’s good to see you too, Alula. You haven’t had your coffee yet, have you?” Raindrops commented.

Cloud Kicker blushed, and her sister pawed the ground self-consciously. “Not yet. Kicky says it’ll make me a midget. Then I’ll have to live the rest of my life as a carny,” Alula replied.

“That’s not an excuse, ‘Lula, I taught you better than to snark at people unless they have it coming. Anyways, Dropsy, are you still up for this Wednesday?” Cloud Kicker said with an adorably cheesy grin.

“I wouldn’t miss it for anything in the world,” Raindrops replied, quickly sneaking an affectionate nuzzle.

“Gag me with a spoon,” Alula commented, making a gagging gesture with her right forehoof, “Sorry… But you’re acting like you’ve never dated before.”

“I haven’t,” Raindrops replied sullenly.

“Wait!” Alula shouted, gaining a glare from her sister, “Like never, never?”

“Never, ever, ever.”

“Wow… That’s kinda sad,” Alula mused.

“Alula… You know I love you, right?” Cloud Kicker said through gritted teeth.

“Yep. I’m adorable. It’s how I was allowed to live to see the age twenty five,” Alula commented.

Twenty five? Raindrops mouthed.

“Yeah, it’s a weird alicorn thing. They develop slower than normal ponies. Alula’s technically my older sister, but she didn’t hit puberty till four years ago. It’s one of the reasons she was getting flak in Canterlot. I mean, she shared Magic Kindergarten with Twilight Sparkle, and she hasn’t aged a day,” Cloud Kicker explained, “Heck, the princesses come and talk to her every few years to catch up on things and give her alicorn-y help.

“Still, ‘Lula you know better than that. I mean, you’re almost thirty, and you’re one to talk You didn’t start liking ponies till four years ago.”

“Kicky! I told you not to tell anypony my age. It makes ponies call me a freak,” Alula snapped, damp spots appearing in the corners of her eyes.

“Hey, I don’t think you’re a freak! You’re an adorable little filly, although this is a good time to ask... Are you alright with me dating your sister?” Raindrops asked, wrapping a teary eyed Alula in a winghug.

“I guess... You seem nice, and Kicky won’t stop talking about you, which is rare for her, at least in one sitting. So yeah, I’m okay with it,” Alula said, sniffling.

Taking a step back, Raindrops looked Cloud Kicker in the eye, smiling. “Well, I’ve gotta get going. I’ll see you around seven on Wednesday, right?”

“Yep. Seven.”

Author's Notes:

So this is a bit of a long chapter. I was told that my chapters seem to go to quickly. So I'm going to see if making longer chapters will make things flow smoother for a bit. If they seem to drag on though [my worries about longer chapters] then let me know and I'll work to find a common medium.

Alula: Alula was originally much older in the first story that eventually evolved into Golden Wings [which is technically a re-write of a fic I deleted when I decided to remake it into a more cohesive / proper fic. Rather than a group of short stories in chronological order]. Where she aged 6 years to every year for a pony. Now as a foal, she's aging at 1 per 2.5 normal years.

Next Chapter: Reflections I Estimated time remaining: 21 Minutes
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