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Dear Scootaloo

by Jade Ring

Chapter 1: The Last Letter


For Clint and Kaitlyn. And for my original 130 Followers. Luna knows I made you all wait long enough.

Scootaloo crashed through the house’s front door and skidded to a stop just shy of hitting the wall.

“Mom! Dad! I’m home!”

“We heard.” Her mother called from the next room. “You got a letter today. It’s on your bed.”

“A letter?” Scootaloo questioned, folding up her scooter. “From who?”

“It looks like it’s from Rainbow Dash.”

Scootaloo blazed upstairs so fast there was almost a trail a fire where she’d run past. She shut her door and bolted it shut, then dove onto her bed and caught the letter as it floated down. It was definitely Rainbow Dash’s writing.

With shaking hooves, wondering what her idol had written her about, Scootaloo opened the envelope and began to read.

/////////////////////////////////////////////

Dear Scootaloo,

How’ve you been, squirt? Sorry that we haven’t talked in a while. I’ve been real busy with a lot of projects up in Cloudsale. Did you hear about the new museum about the great pegasi of history? Or how about the fact that the Wonderbolts are moving their training camp right here next year? How cool is that?!

Anyway… look, I’m not really sure how to start something like this, so I’ll just jump into it. Rarity and Applejack wrote Sweetie Belle and Applebloom letters telling them about their pasts. For Applebloom, Applejack just told her about the day her parents died. Nothing major or earth-shattering there. And Rarity told Sweetie Belle that she wasn’t really her sister and she’s actually her daughter.

I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in. Celestia knows that I needed one when I heard it. Now that I know, it’s kind of amazing I never noticed it before…

Anyway, I was talking to AJ and we both decided that since those two now know the deep, dark secrets from their pasts, maybe it’s time for you to know yours too.

And don’t get your hopes up, squirt. I’m not your mom.

Even so, I bet you’ve noticed that there’s always been this weird kinship between us, and now it’s time you found out why.

A few years ago, I got a letter from an old friend asking me to come back to the place where I was raised for something really important. The message seemed urgent, so I headed over right away. For the first time in way too long, I found myself at the Cloudsdale Home for Wayward Pegasi…

“Have no fear, kids! Rainbow Dash is here!”

The collected group of young pegasi beat their hooves on the ground and cheered as the electric blue pegasus landed in the play-yard and struck a dramatic pose. They rushed forward and crowded in, holding scraps of paper that begged to be signed. For the next few minutes, Dash happily signed the autographs. She was used to it. For some reason, the kids at the Home looked up to her as some kind of role model. Every time she came by for a visit, there was always this bum rush of adoring children.

She loved it.

The line eventually diminished until there were maybe one or two left. Dash was relieved; her jaw was getting sore.

“You can never under-estimate how much light you bring into their lives, Dash.” A wrinkled, old, but still dignified pegasus mare observed as she approached. Her coat had lost it’s pink luster over the years, but now it seemed a more comforting, creamy color. Her mane had not grayed so much as become silver.

Dash smiled warmly at the closest pony that she’d ever had to a mother. “Hi Firefly.”

The two pegasi embraced. After they parted, Firefly appraised her former ward. “You’re looking svelte. Enjoying the new job, I take it?”

Dash grinned. “Hay yeah! All that time in the air has given me crazy time to practice my new moves for the next Wonderbolts try-outs. Check this one out…” Dash bent her knees, braced herself for launch, aimed her gaze skyward…

…and found Firefly’s hoof in her face. “Later, Dash. I called you here for something, remember?”

Dash exited flight mode and blushed. “Uh, yeah. Right. I remember. So, what’s up?”

“There’s not much time before we have to get lunch served, so I hope you don’t mind if we walk and talk.”

Dash raised a disbelieving eyebrow. “’Walk’ and talk? Finally letting old age catch up to you, I see.”

Firefly laughed and flexed her own wings. “Okay, you got me. On three then?”

“Wait. On three, at the count of three?”

“On three. We always…” But Dash, her distraction ploy successful, was already gone. Sounding like a mare twenty years younger, Firefly took off after her young friend, laughing all the way.

Firefly was a Wonderbolt, one of the very best ever. She hoof-trained the Cloud Twins, Cirrus and Cumulus, arguably the best flying duo ever. She got more medals, awards, and trophies than any other Wonderbolt in history. When she retired, she could’ve done anything, gone anywhere…

Instead, she opened the Cloudsdale Home for Wayward Pegasi. See, there’s always been this ‘survival of the strongest’ mentality in pegasi culture. It dates back to when we were a race of warriors, so every weak link had to be severed. Most of us have left that idea behind, but there are still a few out there who abandon a foal because it looks too weak or sickly.

Don’t tell anypony, but that’s what happened to Fluttershy. She doesn’t like to talk about it…

Firefly never agreed with the old cultures and traditions, so she devoted all she had to build the Home and give the little lost ponies a place to grow up.

The Home had been open for nearly twenty years when, on one rainy night, there was a knock at the door. Firefly answered it and found a little blue filly in a basket, wrapped in a turquoise blanket made of some material nopony had ever seen before.

That filly just happened to be this rainbow-maned piece of awesome right here.

The Home was fully staffed by some of the kindest pegasi you could ever ask for, but Firefly pretty much raised me herself, just like all the other orphans. She taught us to read and write and even taught us to fly when the time was right. Those of us she saw potential in she paid for to go to Summer Flight School.

There was always this strange kinship between Firefly and I, almost like that strange kinship between us I was talking about. All the orphans looked up to her as a guardian, a teacher, and stuff like that.

I always saw her as my mother. I never told her that, but I’m pretty sure she knew.

So of course I came running when she called me that day. I knew if she said it was urgent, it really was urgent.

Oh boy, I really had no idea how long that day would become…

“Well? What do you think?”

Dash looked away from the crib at her mentor. “Think about what? It’s just a foal.”

Firefly rolled her eyes and gestured at the snoozing infant. “Look closer.”

Dash sighed and looked back into the crib. Of all the things she’d been expecting to see today, the gently kicking bundle before her had not been very high on the list, if even on the list at all. Season passes to the Wonderbolts maybe. Or a new pair of goggles.

But not this.

The pegasus foal couldn’t have been more than a few weeks old at most. Her coat was a muted, almost dull shade of orange. Her head was capped with a scrap of violet mane. She slept with a strange almost-smile on her face, as though she were having a pleasant dream.

“Who dropped her off?”

“Nopony knows. We found her in a basket out front in the midst of the Great Storm.”

Dash felt goosebumps ripple on her wings, like somepony had just walked over her grave. “What’s her name?”

“The note on her basket called her ‘Uhanet Na Zachod’.” Noting the confused expression on her ward’s face, she rolled her eyes. “It’s ancient pegasus.”

“Don’t most ponies your age speak ancient pegasus fluently? You had to learn it in school, right?”

“Ha ha ha.” Firefly responded sarcastically, playfully punching her in the arm. “I’m researching the name in my office. I’m close.” She paused and stroked the child’s mane. “Very close.”

Rainbow Dash saw in an instant what she had been meant to see all along. “Wait just a second. You gave her my blanket?!” She gasped. She leaned down and inhaled. She looked back at Firefly in disgust. “And you washed it?!”

“Shh!” Firefly admonished. They waited until they were sure the foal was still sleeping before continuing. “First off, I washed that blanket of yours the day you gave it to me for safe-keeping. It was filthy. Second, if you look closer, you can plainly see it’s not your blanket. It’s newer.”

Dash touched the blanket’s hem with her hoof, feeling the familiar lighter than air fabric that nopony could ever recognize or replicate. “What are you saying?”

“Come on, Rainbow. You’re not that dense.” Firefly admonished her. “The blanket, the basket, the storm... there’s a very distinct possibility that this foal could be your…”

“My what?” Dash cut her off with a harsh whisper. “My sister? That’s impossible. That would mean my parents would have to be…” She trailed off, recognition finally dawning in her brain. “My parents would have to be…”

“It would mean that your parents are alive, Rainbow Dash.”

The wheels in the electric blue mare’s head began to spin faster and faster the more she thought about the possibility. Her parents? Alive? But that would mean that…

“No.”

Firefly started at the tone in Rainbow Dash’s voice. “What was that?”

“I said ‘no.’ It’s not possible.” She looked coldly at the foal. “My parents are dead.”

“Dash…” Firefly said gently, reaching a hoof out.

“NO!” Dash slapped the hoof away.

The foal woke from the yell and began to cry lustily. Firefly reached down to pick her up and comfort her, shushing her and patting her back. When she turned back around, Rainbow Dash was gone.

You have to understand how I was feeling at that moment, Scoots. I’d always had kind of a hang-up about my folks. Over the years, I had been able to convince myself that they had died, and that ensuring that I’d have a home in Cloudsdale had been their last act of kindness.

The very idea that the foal was my sister… Well, that would mean that my parents hadn’t cared about me as much as I’d always thought.

As bad as it sounds… I kinda needed my parents to be dead. If they were, then I wasn’t just some abandoned foal. I was somepony special. My parents had recognized this and ensured my safety even at the cost of their own lives.

If my parents were alive, it meant that I wasn’t special. It meant I had been a burden. Remember what I said earlier? About abandoning a foal because it looked weak? Or sickly?

I ran away so I could think. I flew around Cloudsdale a bit, checked in with a few folks I hadn’t talked to in a while… I was just killing time. I knew in the end that I would have to go back and hash things out with Firefly.

I knew there was trouble when I started getting nearer to the building.

I saw the smoke.

Rainbow Dash landed in the center of the courtyard. All around her were young pegasi of various ages, some coated in soot and all of them coughing violently. Various emergency pegasi moved about hurriedly, trying to comfort the children and tend to the wounded. She grabbed a passing nurse. “What happened here?” She demanded.

The nurse shook her off and gestured at the blackened husk that had been the Home for Wayward Pegasi. “Some maniac hit it with some kind of chemical I’ve never even heard of. Turned all the clouds into smoke.”

Dash looked at the children. “Is everypony alright?”

The nurse shook her head. “We’ve lost three of the youngest to smoke inhalation already. Two of the staff died trying to empty the nursery.” She pointed at a nearby tent. “The head of the place is in there.”

“Firefly?!” Dash took off towards the tent, yelling back at the nurse. “Is she okay?!”

“She breathed in a lot of smoke!” The nurse yelled after her. “She couldn’t get out because the same pony that did this worked her over pretty good beforehand!”

Dash landed and pushed her way into the tent, stopping just short of the bed in front of her. It took all of her inner strength not to fall to her knees at the sight before her.

Firefly, the strongest and bravest pony she’d ever met, looked like she’d been through Tartarus and back. Her coat had been ripped off in patches and Dash could see deep gouges that were bleeding through the hastily applied bandages. One of her eyes was swollen shut and she coughed wetly, as though she were breathing underwater.

“Firefly?” Dash whispered, placing a hoof on her mentor’s forehead.

Firefly’s good eye shot open and she looked to Dash. “Rainbow Dash! You have to hurry!” Dash could see that most of her teeth had been knocked out. “They won’t listen to me. He took her!”

“Who took who? Firefly, who did this?”

“I’ve never seen him before in my life. He kept demanding to know where you were and he wouldn’t listen when I told him I didn’t know.” Firefly looked away, a tear streaking down her ravaged face. “He found my notes. He… he took her.”

Rainbow Dash knew in an instant who she was talking about. The foal… “Where’s he gone?”

“He said he was going ‘to the site of your greatest failure.’ I don’t know what he… Dash? Rainbow Dash? Are you alright?”

Dash wasn’t listening. There was a distant pounding in her ears as her anger grew. “Feather Duster…” She hissed through clenched teeth. Dash turned towards the tent’s entrance and spared a look back at her broken mother-figure. “I’ll get her back. I promise.”

She blasted off, the concussive force of her speed dissipating the last of the ambient smoke and clearing the air around what had once been the Cloudsdale Home for Wayward Pegasi.

If Firefly was my mother-figure, the mare that I strove to be the most like, then Feather Duster was the opposite number. I knew I would do whatever I had to in order to ensure that I never became anything like him.

Feather Duster was my drill instructor when I joined the weather team and had been the captain for what seemed like forever. He was, if you’ll pardon the phrase, a complete horse’s ass. He was already an old blow-hard by the time I joined the team, and for whatever reason he decided to single me out from the others and make my life miserable. I got the worst assignments, the hardest exercise drills… He was doing his best to try and make me quit.

Too bad for him that I never quit at anything.

Despite Feather Duster’s best efforts, I graduated top of my class and became his right wing pony. I hated working so close to him, but I gritted my teeth and went with it. I knew, in the end, my perseverance would gain me something.

I was right… but not in the way I was expecting.

Winter Wrap Up came along one year and Feather Duster had been out drinking the night before. He drank like a seapony and came to work with the mother of all hangovers. His orders were sloppy and his attention was dulled. As a result, his well-trained team of pegasi (used to following his expert orders without a second thought) busted the clouds in front of the sun too early. The earth ponies hadn’t moved nearly enough of the snow yet, and of course it started melting.

The bunny holes flooded. Nearly a hundred drowned, but the Critter Crew managed to save most of the others.

Feather Duster was fired soon after and I was named the new captain. Back then, I thought he was taking things pretty well. He even pinned my new insignia on and shook my hoof. Everypony figured he’d just go quietly into retirement.

Everypony figured wrong.

Feather Duster was secretly furious about the whole thing and, after drinking one night, decided that I needed a proper test before I could actually be the captain.

Unbeknownst to anypony, Feather Duster had made himself a key to the Storm-Cloud Production Facility. In the dead of night, he let himself in and created the biggest storm in Ponyville history. He probably would’ve gotten away without anypony ever knowing it was him… if he hadn’t passed out drunk in the hall.

That storm nearly leveled Ponyville. It took me and my team hours to break the storm’s formation, but by then it was too late. That storm claimed two lives that night; Applebloom’s parents, Jack and Beatrice.

When we finally finished dissipating the storm, the whole town was calling for my head, thinking I had caused the storm with some juvenile accident or something.

I don’t know what would’ve happened to me if Flitter hadn’t found Feather Duster and carried his stinking carcass to the town proper.

Once the truth was out, Big Mac nearly killed Dust-For-Brains, but relented at the last minute. In place of jail for his crimes, he was instead banished and warned never to return to Ponyville or Cloudsdale ever again.

Secretly, I always wondered if that old feather-brain still had it out for me.

I really had no idea how deep his hatred of me truly went.

“Stop that bawling, you little cuss!” Feather Duster growled at the struggling infant dangling from his patched and grey foreleg. The orange foal was wailing, her little wings buzzing in desperation to escape. Feather Duster held tight, waiting for…

“FEATHER DUSTER!”

“There’s my favorite student!” He grinned maliciously as Rainbow Dash slowed to a halt a few feet from his position. They were outside Cloudsdale proper and near the Weather Production Facilities. Beneath them, only a thin layer of clouds blocked the image of the ground far below.

“Give me the foal!” Dash demanded.

Feather Duster laughed. “You must understand, all I was planning on doing was roughing up that old Wonderbolt to entice you here, but see how providence rewards me in the end!” He held up the foal who reached pathetically out to Dash for help, her purple eyes pleading. “Your sister, eh? How… touching.”

Dash narrowed her eyes. “She’s not my sister.”

Feather Duster shrugged. “Ah, well, I suppose that matters very little at this point. Sister or no, I doubt you’d let this little one fall to her death.”

“You wouldn’t dare…”

“It’s time for your final exam, Rainbow Dash.” Feather Duster gestured towards the Weather Production Facilities. “As you know, over there is the Storm Cloud Production room.”

Dash nodded, not taking her eyes away from the pleading ones of the foal. “What about it? Are you planning to start another storm?”

“In a way… yes.”

“Killing the Apples wasn’t enough blood on your hooves?”

“A regrettable accident, I assure you.” Feather Duster shifted the foal to his other foreleg. His strength wasn’t what it used to be. “You see, in my younger days I discovered a way to overload the machinery in that room. Do you know what happens when the machinery overloads?”

Dash shook her head.

“Of course you wouldn’t. You were always a bit dim.” He laughed again at the rage in her eyes. “If that machinery overloads, the entire complex becomes one giant unbreakable storm.”

Dash’s eyes widened in shock. “But… a storm that size could flood all of central Equestria.”

Feather Duster moaned in exultation. “Just think of all the misery and pain… all of it laid at your hooves.”

“What are you talking about? I’d never let you do something like that.”

“That’s the very reason this little ball of joy becomes so useful. Like I said, you’d never let her fall to her demise, would you?”

“Of course n…”

“I wonder how everypony will feel knowing that countless lives were lost… all because Rainbow Dash had to save one… little… foal.”

Dash looked away from the foal and focused her glare on Feather Duster. “I’m faster than you think, old man.”

“You weren’t fast enough to break the storm apart before the Apples died, were you?” Without warning, Feather Duster reared back and hurled the panicking infant towards the ground with all his strength.

On pure instinct, Dash dove after her. She was vaguely aware of the sound of Feather Duster’s mocking laughter, but she ignored it. The clouds whipped past her face as she blew through them towards the foal. Gravity aided her descent, but for some reason she couldn’t match the falling baby’s speed. The ground was rapidly rushing up to meet them.

‘He’s thrown her too hard… I’ll never catch her in time…’

“NO!” Dash cried, flattening her wings against her body and literally becoming an airborne torpedo. She closed her eyes, felt her forelegs wrap against something small and warm, popped her wings to slow her descent…

Silence. She was still.

Slowly, Rainbow Dash opened an eye to find the giggling infant clutched tightly to her chest.

They had stopped several inches from the soft grass.

Dash exhaled and started to relax. The other danger struck her like lightning. “Feather Duster!” She set the infant down and looked at her. She’d never felt this way before, even when she and Fluttershy had been at Flight Camp. This overwhelming need to protect somepony…

Maybe she was more than just another foal after all.

“I’ll be back for you. Okay?”

The foal laughed and rolled onto her back, reveling in the cool grass, completely oblivious to her near death experience.

Dash shook her head and blasted skywards.

It was time to finish things once and for all.

/////////////////////////////////////////////

Feather Duster was only slightly aware at first of his ribs breaking from the impact beneath him. He had enough time before pain took over to conclude that if felt like he’d been struck by a tree. The breath gushed from his lungs and he found himself spiraling backwards. Recovering quickly, he shook his head to clear the stars in his vision to see Rainbow Dash floating in front of him, her body tensed for battle. “Rain…Rainbow Dash?” He whispered painfully, trying desperately to draw air without puncturing his lungs. “But how?”

“I told you I was faster than you gave me credit for, old man.” She smirked.

Feather Duster could feel his rage building and building until it finally just broke. He blasted towards Rainbow Dash with a cry of rage and a speed that caught them both off guard. His body’s impact bent her wing the wrong way and she cried out in pain. Pressing his advantage, Feather Duster grabbed her other wing in his teeth and spun, hurling her away. Not letting her recover, he blasted at her again, tackling her through the cloud walls of the rainbow factory. He floated back slightly and charged again.

This time, she was ready.

She performed a mid-air backflip and felt some satisfaction as she felt her hoof connect with his jaw. She completed the flip and blasted at his ribs again, pushing them both back into open sky.

The combatants drew back and circled each other warily, ready to react to the slightest feather twitch.

A thin trail of blood running from his mouth, Feather Duster forced a smile. “You were always such a disappointment, Rainbow Dash. Poor little orphan with no future and no purpose in life…”

Dash smiled back, no humor in her voice. “Funny you should talk about having a purpose, Feather Duster. You haven’t had one in decades.”

The two pegasi blasted at each other with every bit of strength they had left, colliding with such force that several nearby clouds evaporated into nothing from the impact.

Dash floated backwards, shaking her head to clear her vision. She was defiantly going to have the mother of all head-aches tomorrow.

Feather Duster’s wings were barely keeping him afloat. That last impact had finished the job and punctured his lungs. It was getting harder and harder to breathe.

“It’s over, old man. Let’s get you to a doctor. Then you’re going to jail.”

Despite the agony in his old body, Feather Duster found the defiant strength to laugh. “You think that matters? Dash, I’ll get out. Somehow, some way, and when I do, I’ll come for you again. You… and that sister of yours.”

“She’s not…” But Dash cut herself off as Feather Duster’s words sank in. Whether the foal was her sister or not, he meant every word he was saying. They would lock him up for what he did and he’d be gone for years. But his horrible will would keep him alive, and eventually they’d let him out. Then he’d be back. He was never going to stop…

Not unless she stopped him.

Her decision made in an instant, Dash blasted forward and shot downward at a forty-five degree angle, using gravity to slingshot herself and gain more speed.

For the first time, Feather Duster looked worried. “What in Equestria’s name do you think you’re doing?!” He looked at her with panic in his eyes. “You’re not going to…”

“Slam you into the ground? No. Way too messy.” She was approaching the right speed. She could feel the familiar rush in her tired limbs. She forced a devil-may-care grin. “Remember when I told you about the Sonic Rainboom?”

Feather Duster’s eyes darted back and forth between her and the rapidly dissipating clouds around them. “A lie! Such things are impossible!”

“Not impossible at all.” The velocity was making her eyes hurt. She shut them, hoping it was the last time they beheld the twisted and evil pony held in front of her. “In fact, I’ve kind of always wanted to try it again.”

She felt him stiffen as the implications became clear. “You don’t mean…”

“Actually, so long as you’re along for the ride, why don’t we answer another little question.” She dropped the grin as they broke the sound barrier. “What happens if I make a Sonic Rainboom with somepony held out in front of me?”

He began to struggle in earnest, using his wings to beat her about the head. He pleaded and begged with her, but at this point there was no turning back.

She felt the crackle in the air, imagined she could see the lightning through her closed eyelids.

His begs became weeping sobs and pleas for mercy.

She felt the barrier, the final push before…

“I’LL COME BACK FOR HER, DASH! I SWEAR IT! SO HELP ME, I’LL MAKE YOU ALL PAY! I SWEAR…!” His venomous tirade faded into a prolonged scream, not of pain but of fear.

BOOM.

She felt the colorful energy pulsate as she broke through the final wall and accomplished a Sonic Rainboom for the second time in her life. The weight of Feather Duster pushing against her faded into nothing and for a moment she just enjoyed the pure speed and adrenaline that rushed through her system.

She flared her wings out, reducing her speed until she finally came to a dead stop in mid-air. Slowly, she opened her eyes.

Feather Duster was gone.

She felt her shoulders slump in exhaustion and wiped the sweat from her brow. All she wanted to do now was rest.

There were still a couple important things to take care of first, though.

With calm resolution, the cyan lightning bolt turned towards the Home.

I’m still not sure what happened to Feather Duster. I never saw him again, and I’m being more honest than Applejack when I say that I’m glad. Equestria’s way better off without him.

I probably should’ve gone and checked on the foal, but somehow I knew she would be okay.

Something else told me that Firefly wouldn’t be.

Rainbow Dash landed outside the medical tent and peeked inside. Spying a doctor, she cleared her throat. “How is she?”

The doctor shook his head. “The damage was too great.” He looked over at the old pegasus, her breathing labored. “It’s a miracle she’s lasted this long.”

Dash stepped in and crossed to the bed. She heard the doctor leave and put a hoof on her mentor’s. “Hey Firefly.”

Slowly, as though the action was taking all her strength, Firefly opened her good eye. A ghost of a smile crossed her face. “Rainbow…” She coughed violently and waved off Dash’s offer of help. “The foal?”

“Safe.” Rainbow Dash whispered.

Firefly nodded and put her hoof on top of Dash’s. “Take care of her. Whether you believe she’s your sister or not… take care of her. Watch over her and protect her. Please. For me?”

Tears leaking from her eyes, Dash nodded. “I will. I swear.” She looked outside the tent at the other young ponies being tended too. “What about them?”

That faint smile appeared again. “Don’t you worry about them. I’ve left plenty of funds and such. They’ll be well taken care of. That foal is something special, Rainbow Dash. I can… I can feel it. Just like I knew you were going to be something great. She’s going to need someone there for her like I was there for you. She’s going to need a big sister.”

Dash sniffed and kissed the old hoof on top of hers. “You weren’t my sister, Firefly. You were my mother.”

The hoof left hers and caressed the top of her head as it had done so many times in her youth. “I love you, Rainbow Dash.”

Dash snuggled closer and listened to Firefly’s beating heart. “I love you too… Mom.”

They didn’t speak anymore. All too soon, Firefly’s breathing became shallow. Her heart slowed.

She was still.

Rainbow Dash wept into her mother’s side, hiding her tears from the world in the cheap medical blanket.

Once I calmed down, I left to check on the foal. When I got to where I’d left her, I found that she’d already been found by a young earth pony couple from Ponyville, Bubble Burst and Pepperdance. I explained the situation to them and was actually kind of stunned at how quickly the couple and the foal had bonded.

I saw how she interacted with them and knew she would be safe in their care.

I returned to Cloudsdale for a few days to put Firefly’s affairs in order. Just like she’d said, she’d left behind enough to build a whole new Home, but the old one would have to be destroyed to make room for it. I was packing up her office when I found the name in her personal journals. Firefly had apparently cracked the foal’s name right before Feather Duster’s arrival.

Uhanet Na Zachod.

Scoot A Loo.

When I came back to Ponyville, the Bubble Burst and Pepperdance told me they wanted to adopt you. They said that you’d been sent to them, and I couldn’t disagree. Luckily for you, they loved your pegasus name.

They had almost named you Violet.

So that’s what happened. They adopted you and I made sure to stick close by and keep an eye on you, just like I promised. I’ve watched you grow into an incredible little pegasus, and I think I know what Firefly was talking about all those years ago, you’re something special, kiddo.

Look, it took me years to admit it to myself, but I’m ninety-nine point nine percent sure of it at this point.

You’re my sister, Scootaloo.

You have no idea how happy I was on that camping trip when you finally worked up the courage to ask me to be your mentor. That was the first moment I really felt like a big sister.

And your big sister is always gonna be here to watch over you.

Now turn around.

Rainbow Dash

Scootaloo, tears in her eyes, turned in confusion to find Rainbow Dash floating outside her open window.

“Mind if I come in?”

Scootaloo shook her head and wiped her eyes as the older pegasus flew in and landed on the bed. “Before that trip, I had always hoped that one day you’d take me under your wing, that you’d be my surrogate big sister.” She laughed. “I never once dreamed that you would turn out to be my actual big sister.”

Dash chuckled and put a wing over the small filly.

Scootaloo snuggled up to her big sister and sighed contentedly. “So… what happens now?” She looked up, worry etched on her face. “I don’t have to come live with you, do I?”

Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow. “Would that be so bad?”

Scootaloo shook her head hurriedly. “No no no that’s not what I meant at all. It’s just… my parents…” She saw that Dash’s stomach was shaking with barely controlled laughter. “Oh, ha ha. Very funny.”

“Sorry, squirt. Couldn’t help it.” Dash ruffled her violet mane. “Of course you’re not moving in with me. My place is kind of a mess right now, plus having a kid around my apartment would kill any chances of romance I might have.” Dash paused and muttered something that sounded like “doesn’t matter anyway since earth ponies can’t even walk on clouds…”

“What was that?”

“Nothing. Anyway… those ponies downstairs love you way too much to let you go. They are absolutely terrified of the moment when you eventually learn to fly.”

“I know.” Scootaloo said. “That’s why I’ve been keeping my practices secret.”

“I know you have. I’ve been watching. You’re good, but you could use a decent teacher. Care for a few tips?”

Scootaloo beamed up at her idol and nodded enthusiastically. As one, the pegasi sisters stood and looked out the window. Doubt flooded the smaller pony as she looked up at the mare she understood so much better now. “Rainbow Dash… did you ever… y’know…?”

“What?”

“Did you ever find our real parents?”

Dash pulled Scootaloo’s face around and stared into her eyes. “You listen to me very careful when I say this and never EVER forget it.”

Scootaloo nodded confusedly.

“My mom died thirteen years ago trying to protect me. Your mom and dad are just down those stairs.” Dash’s eyes showed absolute certainty. “Sometimes, biology means jack. It’s about who raised you, and THAT is what makes you who you are.” She smiled. “Got it?”

Scootaloo mirrored the elder pegasus’ smile and looked back out the window. A thought occurred to her, and she bolted for the door. “Be right back. I just have to do one last thing.”

Dash just nodded approvingly.

Scootaloo raced downstairs to find her parents standing side by side in the kitchen preparing dinner.

Pepperdance saw her enter and offered a gentle smile. “Everything alright, Scootaloo?”

Before they could react, Scootaloo raced over and hugged them both as tightly as she could.

At first taken aback, they quickly returned the hug with equal warmth. “You okay, butterfly?” Bubble Burst asked.

Scootaloo nodded against his coat and wiped her tears on his side. “I’m fine, daddy. It’s just… I don’t think I tell you guys how much you mean to me sometimes.” She craned her neck up and kissed her mother’s cheek. “I love you both.”

They beamed and each kissed a side of her face. “We love you too, our little Scootaloo.” Her mother whispered, using an old rhyme she’d often used in Scootaloo’s early years.

Scootaloo sniffed and stepped away. “Is it okay if I go flying with Rainbow Dash for a while?”

Her mother nodded. “Dinner’s in an hour.”

With one last hug, Scootaloo blazed back upstairs.

Her father shook his head and resumed preparing the salad. “What do you suppose that was all about?”

Pepperdance looked up at the ceiling. “I think maybe Rainbow Dash finally told her about where she came from.”

Her husband snorted. “About time. Looks like she’s taking it well.”

“Agreed.”

They resumed preparing the evening meal for a few seconds longer before the same realization struck them at the same time. They looked at each other in mild panic.

“GO FLYING?!”

In Scootaloo’s bedroom, two pairs of wings spread.

Two shadows crossed the ground.

Two pegasi took to the sky.

Two sisters found one another at last.

///////////////////////////////////////////////////

“Okay, let’s go over this one more time.”

Applebloom and Scootaloo groaned in frustration as Sweetie Belle levitated the pointer at the giant board she’d erected in the Cutie Mark Crusaders Club House. Pinned all over it were excerpts of the three letters the fillies had received, each strategically placed with an excerpt from the Ponyville Express in an attempt to place them in chronological order.

“I just don’t see why this is so derned important.” Applebloom sighed, picking at a splinter in the wooden floor.

“It’s just an excuse for her to show off that levitation spell Rarity taught her.” Scootaloo rolled her eyes.

Sweetie Belle rapped the pointer against the wall. “First off, what my mom is or isn’t teaching me about magic is neither here nor there.” She grinned and made the glowing pointer do several flips in mid-air. “No matter how incredibly cool it is.” She forced herself to again be serious and motioned at the board. “We need to find out exactly when these major events happened.”

“But why?” Scootaloo and Applebloom asked in unison.

Sweetie Belle face-hoofed. “So we can find out which one of us is the oldest, of course.”

“Is that all?” Applebloom laughed and stood, stretching her squat legs. “That’s easy. I’m the oldest.”

“How do you figure?”

The yellow earth pony walked over to the board and pointed at a headline. “I was born during the Great Storm.”

Sweetie Belle looked non-plussed. “That doesn’t prove anything.”

“It proves I’m at least older than you.”

“How so?”

“’Cause Applejack’s letter says that yer grand-parents tried to adopt me.”

Sweetie Belle’s next retort was cut off as her mouth snapped shut. She re-examined the board and pointed at an excerpt from Rarity’s letter. “But look here! Rarity doesn’t even mention the Great Storm in her letter. I was probably already born and she was probably already back in Fillydelphia.”

“Then why would they want to adopt me?”

“Couples can want more than one foal sometimes, y’know.”

“Girls, stop fighting!” Scootaloo stood and examined the board as Sweetie Belle and Applebloom started an impromptu staring contest. “I’m obviously the oldest.”

“How do you figure?” Applebloom asked, not moving her eyes from Sweetie Belle’s.

“I just know.”

Sweetie Belle lost the contest and turned to stare incredulously at her friend as Applebloom did a little celebration jig. “You can’t ‘just know!’ There’s nothing in any of the evidence that…”

“Sweetie Belle!”

“Applebloom!”

Rarity and Applejack’s voices sounded from beneath the tree-house. The three Crusaders poked their heads from port-holes in the walls to find the two mares standing outside. “What’s up, sis?” Applebloom asked.

“Time to come on home, little bit. Granny needs yer help making the next batch of tarts.”

Rarity smiled at her young daughter. “And you and I have dinner with Spike and Twilight tonight.”

The Crusaders closed the port-holes and looked at the board again. Sweetie Belle broke the silence. “I guess it’s not really all that important…”

Applebloom patted her shoulder. “Right. It doesn’t matter which of us is oldest.”

Scootaloo put a hoof out. “All that matters is that we’re friends.”

Applebloom put her hoof on Scootaloo’s. “Best friends.”

Sweetie Belle finished by putting her own hoof in the mix. “Best friends forever.”

They raised their heads and proclaimed to the ceiling as one. “CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS BEST FRIENDS FOREVER!” Laughing, they headed for the stairs that lead to the bottom. Sweetie Belle stopped and looked back at the board one last time.

Scootaloo noticed and stopped as well. “You okay, Sweetie Belle?”

Sweetie Belle shook her head as though clearing her thoughts and let a look of grim determination settle on her face. “I’m going to find him.”

“Him?”

“My father. I don’t know when or how, but I’ll find him. One day.” Without another word, she headed down the stairs and joined her mother. With a wave, the two unicorns headed back for Ponyville.

Applejack watched them go then stamped the earth as something occurred to her. “Ah horsefeathers! Can’t believe I nearly forgot.” She reached into her saddlebag and pulled out a wrapped package. “Rainbow Dash left this for you at the farm. Said she’d picked it up in Cloudsdale the other day. Also said check in with you when she got done with tonight’s assignments.” She tossed the package at the young pegasus’ hooves.

After bidding good-bye to the Apples, Scootaloo carried the package back into the club-house and carefully unwrapped it. Inside was a blanket made of some lighter than air material Scootaloo had never encountered before. It smelled familiar, like some memory from when she was a foal. There was no note, no letter.

There was no need of one.

Scootaloo snuggled the blanket for a few minutes, then tied it around her neck and looked towards Ponyville. She spread her wings and lifted off.

Siloquetted against the setting sun, her baby blanket flowing from her shoulders like a cape, Scootaloo flew home to her warm house and loving parents.

From high above, perched on and hidden by a cloud, her older sister looked on, filled with pride. She looked up into the sky and imagined she could feel her mother’s approval. Rainbow Dash breathed deep as a strong breeze approached. She spread her wings to catch it and lifted off, as light and carefree on the wind as a leaf. Checking on Scootaloo one more time, she turned to head back to Cloudsdale.

A gust of wind from the breeze blew into an open window of the wooden club-house. It lifted three pages from three letters off the small table in the corner and spun them around the room before settling them neatly on the floor, almost supernaturally setting them so that their corners touched, forming a triangle of revealed truths.

Dear Scootaloo…

Dear Applebloom…

Dear Sweetie Belle…

The wind died, the window swung shut…

…and life went on.

THE END

Return to Story Description

Other Titles in this Series:

  1. Dear Sweetie Belle

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