MLP Chapter 26: Raising More Questions (First draft. Will fix up later)
Rainbow Dash followed as Flora helped take Tempest for a walk through the forest. This young stallion was cocky, stubborn, and from what she had already seen for herself, he had a bit of a mouth too. Maybe he really was her son.
“How are you feeling, Tempest?” Flora asked.
The blue pegasus’ walking pattern seemed a bit more wobbly than usual, but he refused help and continued to trek beside her.
“Cherry says I should rest, but sleeping only makes me feel worse. As long as I stay somewhat active, I feel better.”
“She might be right, you know. You’ve already gone through enough.”
“I’m okay,” he replied. “Really. I don’t need more doctors. The twins have already been doting on me enough. I don’t mind Cherry playing nurse, but Berry? Let’s just say that for somepony trying to make me feel better, he seems to go out of his way to make me feel as uncomfortable as possible.”
Flora giggled at the thought of the pink stallion’s joking around.
“That’s Berry for you. He’s a lot like you, you know,” Flora replied. “He also uses humor to deflect pain. Both of you use it as a defense mechanism.”
“Is that so?” Tempest asked as they turned around and started walking back to the hut. “Then what’s yours?”
“Painting,” Flora replied, closing her eyes and inhaling the scent of the forest. “Usually I like to just get away from ponies. Find some alone time, you know? I’d often come here to sketch.”
“I remember that. You always were the nature-loving artist, weren’t you, Flora? I’m sure it didn’t hurt that you were given a nature name. That and having Fluttershy as your mom.”
‘Fluttershy!’ Rainbow Dash thought to herself. ‘Of course! She’s Fluttershy’s daughter! And Berry must be Pinkie’s son! I just know he is!”
“Yeah,” Flora said, “mom always loved taking us on walks like these. Sometimes we’d spend a whole day, just swimming in the lake and listening to the birds. Those were fun days.”
“You sound like you’ll never get to do it again,” he said.
Flora picked a flower from the ground and inspected it. It’s silky petals almost glistened in the small, dim spotlights of the forest.
“I don’t know what to think,” she admitted. “I guess I wish I could just spend time with my mom without having to worry. Do you know what I mean?”
“Yeah,” Tempest nodded. “I get what you’re saying.”
“What about you? What was it like?”
“What was what like?”
“You know… meeting up with your mom. I heard that everypony has chewed you out for challenging her.”
“It was…” Tempest began, thinking of what to say.
Rainbow Dash began to listen carefully. Was she really spying on her future child and the daughter of her best friend? It all felt so unreal, like a dream sequence.
“It was really nice. I felt like a kid again, taking on my mom in a one-on-one race, although this time I won. Sort of. Maybe.”
“And you realize that Andromeda is not going to let it go, right?” Flora smirked.
“Of course she won’t. She’s got a running tab on my mistakes right now it would take a lot for anyone else to get on her bad side like I have. Even if Bismarck were to walk right up to Applejack and say ‘Howdy, maw! Ah’m yer son!’ she’d never get as mad at him as she does me.”
‘I had a feeling Bismarck was her kid,’ RD thought. ‘The freckles and accent were dead giveaways.”
“Maybe it’s because you just don’t learn your lesson and he does,” Flora suggested.
“I guess,” Tempest groaned. “I don’t know. I’m just going to have to find a way to get her trust back.”
“The best way right now,” Flora joked, “is to just stay out of her way.”
“I guess you’re right.”
For a moment, the two did not say anything and continued to make their way back to the hut, but that was all Rainbow Dash needed to hear. With a sudden stop, he halted high above them, turned around, and sped back towards Ponyville without Tempest or Flora ever knowing she was there.
Meanwhile, at the hut, Bismarck and Radiance took a moment to talk in private while Andromeda and Zecora prepped another brew and Cherry took a much-needed nap.
“It’s all wrong right now,” Bismarck whispered to Radiance as they sat together. “Now’s not the time.”
“But what is the right time?” Radiance asked impatiently. “I’m getting tired of waiting.”
“Soon. Maybe when Andromeda has calmed down and isn’t in such a bad mood.”
“I like to whisper too!” Berry added, suddenly sticking his head between them. “What are we talking about?”
“How to sense when you’re sneaking on us,” Radiance smirked. “Seriously, how do you do that? I didn’t even hear you.”
“Family secret,” Berry winked. “But I’m serious, too. What’s with the secrecy? You two have been acting pretty odd lately, and that’s not even including Radiance’s little breakfast charade.”
Radiance raised an eyebrow at her magenta friend.
“Who said it wasn’t Flora’s idea?” she asked.
“This very reliable source named Flora,” Berry said playfully. “And somehow I don’t see her as the rebellious type, just wandering off like that, eh Radiance? And to think that everyone calls me the sneaky one!”
Bismarck shook his head.
“That’s because you are the…”
He stopped in mid-sentence as Andromeda entered the living room, back in her red and black disguise. The three ponies could see that her sunset eyes looked focused and her demeanor stoic. She seemed to have calmed down now, but instead of being loose as they expected, her rigid response was now the exact opposite.
“Leavin’ already?” Bismarck asked. “You just got here. Radiance needs to tell you something.”
Andromeda glanced at her friends.
“It’s going to have to wait. I’ve got to get back to my mom’s house before she wonders where I’ve gone off to. We’ve barely even started our work and already everything is getting complicated, inside the lab and out of it.”
“Then can I at least apologize?” Radiance inquired. “I didn’t mean to make things harder on you.”
Andromeda looked at her for a while.
“Just, please,” she said coldly, “don’t do anything else while I’m gone. Okay?”
Radiance’s pearl cheeks burned at the tone.
“Yeah. Fine. See you later.”
Without another word, Andromeda began to walk into the forest towards Twilight’s house. Once she knew that the purple unicorn was out of hearing distance, Radiance let out a loud, irritated growl.
“Can you believe her? What was that?” she snarled. “Did you guys hear the attitude in her voice?”
“Yeah,” Berry said softly. “I did, and that’s what confuses me. Andi’s not usually like this. She’s normally so…”
“Composed,” Bismarck finished. “Ah don’t think it’s you, Radiance. Ah think there’s a much deeper issue goin’ on that you’ve just gotten in the middle of.”
“What’s that?” she asked. “Is it working with her mother?”
“Ah don’t know. Maybe.”
“It makes sense,” Berry added. “She’s always felt inferior to Twilight and now she’s at her mom’s mercy, having to ask for help and supplies to work on the time travel spell. It’s probably hard for her to put up with.”
“But I don’t get it!” Radiance said. “She loves her mother and Twilight loves her! How could she be so bitter?”
Bismarck put on his hat and shrugged.
“Ah guess some things are hard to believe.”
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
“It really is hard to believe,” Apple Bloom said as she and Bucky sat together on top of Fluttershy’s chicken coop, enjoying the morning sun while their friends went for a little walk together.
Though both sides acknowledged that the discovery of the new CMC’s identities was unfortunate, they also made a pact of secrecy. For the time being, Bucky and his friends had no other choice but to trust them, though they also felt relieved to have it all off their chests.
Until things were resolved, Bucky and his aunt Apple Bloom were happy enough to have a family moment alone.
“To think,” Apple Bloom continued, “mah sister is a mom now! Ah mean, in the future she is.”
“Yeah,” Bucky replied.
“And ah’m an aunt to a pony who looks like he’s mah age!”
“You sound just like Big Macintosh when you talk like that,” Apple Bloom giggled. “It’s really stange.”
There was a slight breeze in the air that played with their autumn colored manes. Apple Bloom pushed her bangs out of her eyes as they sat side-by-side.
“So can ah ask you a question?” she said, glancing at her new friend.
Her amber eyes gleamed.
“What’s mah special talent?”
“Ah can’t tell you that! You need to figure it our fer yerself!”
Apple Bloom huffed at him and gave him a light shove.
“Oh come on!” she shouted lightheartedly. “Just a hint!”
“Nope! Ain’t gonna do it!”
“So you’re going to be like that, huh?” Apple Bloom grinned. “Then it looks like ah’m gonna have to pull the aunt card on you. Now you have to tell me.”
“Wrong,” Bucky teased. “Ah’m probably older than you right now, so you have no authority over me, aunt or not.”
Apple Bloom crossed her arms in defeat.
“Yer no fun,” she sighed. “Fine. Then what can you tell about me as a grownup?”
Bucky thought a moment. For a moment, he had almost forgotten about her grown self.
“Well, ah’ve always gotten to spend a lot of time with you, so that’s pretty cool. Ah have to admit that it’s really weird seein’ you be a little shorter than me. Ah’m used to looking up at you.”
“Ah’m tall?” Apple Bloom asked excitedly. “Yes! What else?”
“Well, sometimes you’d take me to Sugar Cube Corner to get caramel so we could make caramel apples. After we’d make them, we’d sit on the tallest hill in the orchard and eat them together.”
“That sound like fun! So ah’m a good aunt?”
Apple Bloom pondered it a bit. It came to little surprise to her that Applejack would eventually have a family of her own, but one question remained unanswered in her mind.
“Hey Bucky,” she started, “can ah ask you another thing?”
Apple Bloom blushed a bit.
“In the future…. do ah…. umm… do ah have foals of mah own?”
Bucky’s eyes grew wide as he turned his head towards her.
“Why do you want to know that?” he asked.
“Ah don’t know,” she shrugged. “Ah’m just curious, that’s all.”
Aside from not expecting a question like that, Bucky didn’t know what to say. Would telling her, in any detail, risk changing the future, or was it just an insignificant fact? He couldn’t pick which one.
“Ah don’t know if ah can tell you,” he replied regretfully. “Mah friends and ah have already done enough damage with letting you figure out who we are. Ah shouldn’t make it any worse.”
Apple Bloom hung her head a bit. Her eyes looked… disappointed.
“Oh,” she whispered. “Okay.”
The air grew silent as Bucky winced at her expression. He knew better than to keep secrets from his aunt, but this case was different. Though he fully trusted in her to keep his identity safe, he did not feel the same way about Scootaloo or Sweetie Belle, who were, as Crusaders, Apple Bloom’s closest confidants. But at the same time, she was younger now, innocent and fragile in comparison to the mare he grew up knowing, and he more he thought about it, the more he realized that this was his only chance to spend time with her like this. So what if she found out she’d become a mom herself as long as he didn’t give away any major details? After a moment of inner turmoil, Bucky sighed.
“A girl,” he mumbled.
“What?” Apple Bloom asked, tilting her head slightly.
“You have a filly of yer own. She’s a little younger than ah am,” he answered without looking at her before a light grin rose on the side of his face. “Ah shouldn’t tell you her name, but ah can say that she’s mah favorite cousin.”
Soon after he spoke, Bucky could feel Apple Bloom’s head lean on his shoulder, catching him by surprise.
“Ah know that yer tryin’ to keep these things secret,” she said as she leaned on him, “but thank you. Ah won’t ask any more questions.”
“Thank you. Fer understadin’.”
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Not far away, Peach and Orion were spending some time with Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle, who were enjoying a game of figuring out who Orion’s mother was as they walked.
“I told you already,” Orion smirked, “I’m not giving you guys any hints.”
“Well you’re a real stick in the mud,” Scootaloo scoffed lightly. “First you won’t let us know what our special talents are and now you’re being stubborn about your parents?”
“Speaking of which,” Sweetie Belle added, “what about your dad? Is he from here?”
Peach Cobbler laughed.
“Oh we’re totally not giving you any hints at our dads. It’s bad enough that you figured out who my mom is, but you guys better give up on that, because I’d like to still exist when we get back to our own time, thank you very much.”
“Fine, fine,” Scootaloo replied as she continued to think about it. “What do you think, Sweetie Belle?”
Sweetie glanced Orion over again.
“We’ve already ruled out my sister for several reasons. For one, there’s no way she’d ever name her son something as silly as Orion.”
“Hey!” Orion objected.
Peach Cobbler laughed even harder.
“It’s funny because it’s so true!” she cried.
“Or maybe because it’s too smart of a name for Rarity to come up with,” Orion grumbled.
“Hey!” Sweetie Belle responded. “That’s…. not too far from the truth, actually.”
“But yeah,” Scootaloo continued, “he does look a lot like Amethyst Star, doesn’t he? I mean, he’s more of a bluish version of her, but his eyes aren’t that different.”
“But Apple Star is magenta, and she has red eyes like him,” Sweetie added. “Still, Ballad’s coat looks more like his than hers does.”
“All very good points,” Orion answered. “But whoever could it be?”
“What about Twilight?” Sweetie Belle asked. “He kind of looks like her, I guess.”
“What, Twilight?” Scootaloo asked incredulously. “I’m not so sure. She’s good with foals, sure, but I don’t really…”
“Peach!” a voice called out from the house. “Orion! Bucky! Could you all come in for a moment?”
‘Oh thank goodness,’ Orion thought to himself as he and Peach took off towards Fluttershy’s voice with Bucky not far behind. ‘That was a little too close.’
“What is it, Fluttershy?” Orion asked as they turned the corner.
As soon as he made it to the front of the house, every muscle in Orion’s legs grew numb. In front of him, right next to Fluttershy, stood Rainbow Dash. Where normally he would do better to keep his cool, something seemed very odd about her. Her magenta eyes seemed to peer deep into him, analyzing him with robotic movements. Rarity and Pinkie Pie did not look at him this way, nor did Fluttershy. He couldn’t prove it, but something deep within him sensed that she knew something.
“So these are the kids, huh?” she said, still talking to Fluttershy. “Cute little rascals, aren’t they?”
“Is something wrong, Fluttershy?” Bucky asked, just as panicked as his unicorn friend.
Fluttershy smiled at them sweetly.
“Rainbow Dash said that my friend Twilight is holding a very important meeting, so I’m going to be gone for a while. Can you three be alone for a short while?”
“Meeting?” Orion asked. “What kind of meeting?”
“Sorry kid, but that’s private information,” Rainbow Dash said before turning her attention back at Fluttershy.
“So I still have to tell Applejack, but I’ll meet you there soon, alright?”
Fluttershy nodded and began to flap her wings until she hovered in the air. Turning back to the kids, she gave them a little wave.
“I’m sorry I have to leave like this,” she apologized, “but I’ll be back as soon as I can. I already made breakfast, so it’s waiting for you inside.”
The three crusaders nodded before the yellow pegasus mare took off into the sky. Before she also left, Rainbow Dash lingered a while, and looked down at Orion and Bucky.”
“See you later, kids. I’ll make sure to tell your moms you said ‘hi,’” she smirked before rocketing into the air towards Sweet Apple Acres.
Orion, Peach, and Bucky were speechless, and as Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, and Apple Bloom slowly approached them, they could see that they had been paralyzed by something that they saw Rainbow Dash say.
“What is it?” Scootaloo asked. “What’s going on?”
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
“You tell me, dahling,” Rarity told Twilight as she entered the house. “Rainbow Dash just appeared at my door not ten minutes ago, banging away at it like a brute! She said that there was an important meeting at your place and that I should get here as soon as possible.”
“I never called a meeting,” Twilight said with both a hint of confusion and frustration. “I didn’t even know about this! Who else is she inviting?”
“Fluttershy, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie. She had already told Pinkie when I…”
The door sounded three times as she spoke, announcing the arrival of the newest guest. Twilight smirked as she opened it to see Pinkie Pie and Applejack.”
“We came as fast as we could!” Pinkie exclaimed. “What’s the emergency? Another villain? More parasprites?”
Her eyes grew wide as she gasped.
“Is it a national cupcake shortage?!?”
Grabbing Twilight, she began to shake the purple unicorn violently.
“Please for the love of Equestria tell me it’s not a cupcake shortage!”
Applejack rolled her eyes and began to peel the pink mare off of their unsuspecting friend.
“Pinkie,” she groaned, “please leave Twilight be. Ah’m pretty sure she’s not in the mood fer yer craziness. And speaking of crazy, what’s all this about, Twi?”
“I don't know,” Twilight answered. “I guess we’re just going to have to wait on Rainbow Dash. She’ll explain what’s going on.”
“I shouldn’t be surprised, really,” Rarity sighed as sat down. “It seems like this whole day has been one unusual event after another.”
“Why is that?” Applejack asked.
“Well, this morning I had my mother’s necklace stolen from me by a black bird, but then these two mares swooped in and took it back for me. I offered them breakfast at my place as a reward, but the two of them seemed very… odd.”
“Who were they?” Pinkie inquired genuinely. “What did they look like?”
“There was a white unicorn with a blue mane and a greenish pegasus with a green mane. The first was named, oh, what was it? Radiance! And the second one’s name was Flora.”
Twilight’s ears twitched slightly at the sound of their familiar names. This was the second time in a day that she had heard of them.
“What was so odd about these two?” she asked.
Rarity shrugged her shoulders.
“I’m not quite sure if I can put my hoof on it. They seemed very polite and friendly, but they seemed distant as well. When I asked things about them, they seemed hesitant. They said that they traveled together from Canterlot, but I learned little else about where they were from. Why? Do you know them?”
Twilight thought a moment.
‘I promised Andromeda I would not tell anypony else about her friends. I should keep this a secret.’
“No,” she said. “I thought the names sounded familiar, but I guess I was wrong.”
The door sounded again, this time to reveal Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy.
“Finally,” Applejack said.
Rainbow Dash entered and looked around, taking a mental inventory of her friends.
“Good,” she said, “everypony’s here.”
“So what’s up, Dashie?” Pinkie Pie asked. “Is something the matter?”
Rainbow Dash looked at her with a humorous grin.
“You have no idea.”