CHAPTER 12: Field Day Fiasco (First draft. Final version in the works)
Bucky, Orion, and Peach Cobbler were in a situation now. Not only had they inadvertently sent themselves and possibly their friends and family back in time, but now they were on the brink of erasing their own existences. Not only had they already run into the original Cutie Mark Crusaders, but now they had been invited to join them in the annual Ponyville Field Day. Bucky especially felt the pressure of secrecy thanks to his relation to Apple Bloom. Alone for the moment as Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle left to train for the event, the new CMC began to discuss just how deep in trouble they were.
"Of all the ponies in all the world," Bucky muttered, "I walk into mah aunt."
"We've got to be more careful, guys!" Peach added. "If we run into our moms the same way as we did with these guys..."
"We can kiss our flanks goodbye." Orion said, finishing her thought.
The three were in agreement. They could not risk another moment of blown cover. If they were to be discovered by their families, Celestia knows what would happen.
"Didn't Twilight or Andromeda ever write anything about this? Wasn't there any kind of warning?"
Orion shook his head with disappointing news.
"No. Most of my mother's work was focused on being able to use the spell multiple times and lengthening trip durations. My sister spent her time perfecting the safety and length. They never traveled nearly this far back in time. They always jumped just far back enough to learn about time travel without risking changing the future. Nopony really knows about it because they did it all in secret for years!"
"Great." Bucky said in a sarcastic tone. "So not only are we the first to travel over two decades into the past, but now we may be altering the future by creating a parallel timeline with our presence and interactions with friends and family members? I can only hope this possibility is just theoretical."
Peach Cobbler stared at the country colt for a while with a raised eyebrow.
"Could you repeat that in normal talk, braniac?"
"What ah'm sayin' is that our being here with our old friends and family is risking changing the future! Since you were the genius who told them our real names, we're already influencing this timeline."
"Oh." Peach said quietly, remembering her blunder from earlier. "My bad."
"It's too late to worry about it now." Orion reassured. "Right now we have to get this Field Day thing over with, take off, and find our families."
Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle arrived from their training and met up with the new CMC. They had no idea just who these new ponies were. Little did they know that they were talking to time-travelers. Each one walked up to a different newcomer and began to converse with them. Apple Bloom talked with Bucky, Sweetie Belle hung out with Peach Cobbler, and Scootaloo chilled with Orion. All three pairs split up and went their own ways around the Field Day ground. Peach Cobbler looked back at her friends walking off in the distance with the other crusaders while Sweetie Belle began asking her questions.
"So you guys are from Canterlot you said?" Sweetie asked the pink Pegasus filly. "What's it like living in the royal city?"
Peach Cobbler's hindsight burned with frustration. Things just kept getting worse for them. Hiding her inner thoughts, she smiled.
"It's very nice. Canterlot is very beautiful." she said.
Fortunately for Peach, Fluttershy had often taken her and her older sister Flora to Canterlot, but she never really had a taste for it. She preferred the outdoorsiness of Ponyville to the cobblestone and high society of much of Equestria's capital. This was beyond the point, though, as he had to find out how to alter the conversation.
"Ponyville looks nice too." she said, trying to act like she had never been. "Do you live here?"
"Yeah," Sweetie Belle replied in a somewhat dull response, "I live here. I'd rather live in Canterlot and go into fashion with my big sister, though!"
'Fashion?' Peach Cobbler wondered to herself. 'How in Equestria has she not realized her talent in music?'
Meanwhile, Apple Bloom and Bucky were relaxing, lying against a nearby tree. Bucky hoped she didn't ask anything about him, but Apple Bloom was growing more and more curious about his clear country looks and accent.
"It's not often that ah meet another country pony." she said with a smile. "Usually they're related to me."
Bucky's mind was spinning fast.
"Yeah," he said, "ah get that a lot."
"So what's a colt like you doin' in Canterlot? That seems kinda' fancy fer foals like us, dontcha think?"
"Yeah, ah've never liked it that much, but it's where ah've lived for a while now."
Apple Bloom thought a bit.
"Y'know," she said, inspecting his face from under his golden-yellow hood, "you look a lot like my cousin Braeburn. Do ya have any family from Appleloosa? Are they from there?"
"Umm...." Bucky vocalized, trying to buy his mind time to think, "ah've never asked where mah family is from originally."
Apple Bloom's sunset eyes scanned the yellow colt. His white grin seemed suspiciously wide like Applejack often did when telling a lie. There was not another pony she had ever met that had as much of an unconvincing poker face as her older sister until now. Tilting her head slightly, she narrowed her eyes a bit.
"So who are yer parents?"
'Ah hope the others are having an easier time than I am.' he thought.
Orion and Scootaloo walked around a bit and watched the final touches being done on the field where they would be competing. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle may have been oblivious to how odd it was that three foals would travel to Ponyville alone without parents was odd, but Scootaloo knew the feeling of traveling without parents. Despite this, she said nothing and decided to merely observe Orion. Orion felt her observing his every move and began to feel uncomfortable.
'She has been watching us since we ran into her.' Orion told himself in his head. 'Something about us has got her suspicious.'
He glanced back at her just in time for her eyes to dart in another direction, clearly trying to look like she wasn't staring. Orion continued to think.
'I better do something before she starts asking questions I can't answer. But what?'
At that moment, an idea hit him. Scootaloo was still a Cutie Mark Crusader.
'If I can get her talking about getting her mark, maybe I can avoid the other stuff.'
It was worth a shot. Orion cleared his throat a bit, trying to think of a good way to start the conversation. In the future, older Scootaloo used to tell him stories about how she was tomboyish yet very sensitive about her lack of a cutie mark and inability to truly fly. Orion knew he would have to be as careful as possible.
"So you're a blank flank too, huh?"
Scootaloo's head turned towards him in surprise, making Orion's inner voice scream 'why?' Her look was short, but Orion felt like an idiot regardless.
"I guess we both are blank flanks."
"Looks like." Orion replied, trying to find the right connection. "It's frustrating, isn't it?"
"Yeah. But today's the day, though. Today, I'm going to get my mark in athletics! I'm going to win all of the events."
Orion smiled. Young Scootaloo certainly didn't lack for confidence, just like her future counterpart. Seeing her this pumped up for a cutie mark (just like him) was amusing. Scootaloo saw his grin and grinned back.
"Oh, you think that's funny, huh?"
"Is that so?" she said.
"I think I can give you a run for your money." Orion replied, goading her into distracting herself with competition.
"Alright, new colt," she said with a happy smirk, "you're on!"
Just as they began to walk back, the shaky old voice of Granny Smith sounded around them.
"All foals, take yer positions on the startin' line! The race starts in five minutes!"
"I'll be waiting for you at the finish line." Scootaloo said before she met up with her friends.
At that moment, something burned in Orion that Twilight often blamed Shining Armor for giving him; the fire of competition. Adventure mode was beginning to kick in. Bucky and Peach Cobbler approached him moments before the race and whispered.
"How did you guys do? Did you get interrogated like I did?" Peach asked.
Bucky nodded his head "yes," but Orion's face looked triumphant.
"Okay," Bucky said, "how did you do it?"
Orion contained his cool and walked towards the starting line.
"Let's just say I can negotiate like my mom too."
Bucky and Peach looked at each other in confusion. Had Orion actually talked his way out of a situation instead of blundering through it? Both knew that their friend was infamous for his lack of foresight and the thought of him using strategic maneuvering over dependence on luck seemed foreign to them. With a shrug, the two followed their friend and stood by him at the starting line. Beside him was Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle, and Apple Bloom. Orion kept a war face on, both to convince Scootaloo that he was serious about the competition and also from his own personal play-to-win mentality. Scootaloo grinned at Orion's determination.
"So you think you can beat me, huh? I'm the fastest Pegasus runner in my school!"
"Is that a fact?" Orion replied, returning her look. "Too bad a unicorn is going to beat you."
"This is going to be good." Sweetie Belle whispered to Peach. "I've never seen anypony our age run like Scootaloo. She's really fast!"
Peach Cobbler smiled. She had a feeling from the start who would win.
"I think you'll be surprised." she said with a wink.
The loudspeakers blared again.
"The race is now startin! On mah say so, you will run to the finish line."
All the colts and fillies moved into starting positions at the line, awaiting the go.
"Ready? On yer mark!"
Scootaloo and Orion's eyes locked in competitive glares, ready to take off.
Bucky grinned silently with a curious Apple Bloom watching his actions. He had a familiar look to his grin.
"Go!" Granny Smith yelled into the loudspeakers, sending off the colts and fillies into a stampede of racers.
The contestants took off with speed, racing towards the distant finish line. Light puffs of hot breath could be seem blowing from the foals' mouths in the cool Autumn air. Though the race would be over in only a few short seconds, time slowed down as every breath, stride, and movement seemed to last an eternity. Scootaloo ran with all of her might, legs tense and moving in a quick 1-2-3-4 motion. Looking to her left, she could see Orion right beside her. The focus in his eyes was intense. Very rarely did they ever veer from the finish line. Scootaloo smirked as she ran and returned her sights to the goal.
'Nice try!' she thought to herself as she shifted into overdrive. Slowly but surely she began to overtake him for the lead. 'But this race is mine!'
Orion stayed close, but was caught off-guard.
'She never told us she was this fast of a runner!' he thought to himself.
Regardless, he was not going to quit. He was a competitor and there was no way he was going to lose a hoof-race to a Pegasus filly. With only a short distance remaining, he pushed his body even harder and inched up to her at the last second. Together, they crossed the finish line neck-and-neck. As soon as the line was crossed, time sped up once again and the cold wind, their exhaustion, and loss of breath returned. Orion collapsed on the ground, chest moving up and down rapidly from fatigue. Scootaloo fanned herself with her wings and tried her best to remain on her feet. Neither one could tell who had won, but that didn't stop them from poking at each other.
" Orion laughed with intermittent gasps of air interrupting him, "for a Pegasus."
Scootaloo smirked with a light manner.
..a colt." she replied.
Soon after, Bucky, Peach Cobbler, Apple Bloom, and Sweetie Belle caught up with them from other parts of the finish line. Events like these were always more fun with friends. Though she was one the last ponies to cross the finish line, Sweetie Belle seemed excited for both her new and old friends.
"You guys looked intense!" she said with a smile. "Good job Scoots! You too, Orion!"
"Who won?" Orion and Scootaloo asked together. "Did I win?"
The two looked at each other with confusion and back at Sweetie Belle.
"What?" Scootaloo said.
"Then who did?" Orion asked.
Big Macintosh approached the Crusaders with ribbons of blue, red, and yellow and motioned for them to join the other colts and fillies at the podium. On the stage, Granny Smith announced the winners of the race.
"Alright then," she said, clearing her throat and trying the read the card Big Macintosh had given her with great difficulty, "here are the winners of the first race."
Her eyes squinted narrowly as she tried to make out the lettering.
"Confarnit small lettering!" she muttered too loudly into the megaphone for everyone to hear. "Let's see
..third place ribbon goes to
The audience clapped for the pony for a while, but when nobody walked up to the stage, the applause subsided. All the children looked around for the mysterious winner until Big Macintosh whispered something into Granny Smith's ear.
"What?" she said aloud as he repeated himself. "Oh. Why didn't ya write that?"
She returned her face to the megaphone.
"Sorry 'bout the holdup. What ah meant to say was third place goes to
Orion's heart sank. Third place? He thought for sure that he had won it, but he didn't even know another had beaten him too. Who was it? Though disappointed, he hid his true feelings as he walked on stage and accepted the yellow ribbon from Big Macintosh. Orion grinned and accepted his prize, trying not to look suspicious.
"Congrats, son." Big Macintosh said in a cool manner.
"Thanks." Orion replied with a cracked voice before hurrying off stage.
Big Macintosh grinned and shook his head.
'Must be shy.' He thought.
"Alrighty," Granny Smith continued, "second place goes to
Looking around, she spotted the one she was looking for.
"That one over there!" she said. "The orange Pegasus filly. Come on up, dear!"
Scootaloo shot a triumphant wink at Orion as she made her way to the podium. Though she was disappointed that she didn't win, beating the in-town challenger made her feel a little better. After accepting her prize, she tapped Big Macintosh on the shoulder before he lowered his head to listen to her.
"So wait," she said with a confused look, "if Orion didn't win and I didn't win, then who did?"
"And the first place blue ribbon goes to
"Bucky?" The old Cutie Mark Crusaders all said aloud.
The group looked at the country colt, who was laying down in the grass. His green eyes looked up at his surprised friends and he shrugged.
"What? Are y'all seriously surprised that a country boy like me knows how ta run?"
Picking himself up, he made his way to collect his prize. Peach and Orion knew of his athleticism, but even they considered him more of the intelligent-type rather than the athlete-type. Bucky smiled to himself. Like his mother, he was constantly underrated. Applejack often said, "ah've been underestimated fer years and ah've done very well that way." Some ponies laughed when his older brother Bismarck decided he would be a rodeo star, too. Some things just ran in the family.
'Speakin' of family,' Bucky thought to himself as he drew closer to his uncle and great-grandmother, 'this was a bad idea.'
His heart beat harder with each approaching step he took towards the past versions of his closest relatives. Bucky never remembered Granny Smith. She had passed away when he was a baby and only from pictures did he recognize her. And yet, here she was, younger and alive for the first time in his life. Her green coat and white mane looked old, yet still very full of life, but not nearly as much as her eyes. Though baggy and drooped from age, they glimmered with a grandmother's warmth that he had only experienced from his father's parents. Every fiber of his being wanted to forget the whole secrecy plan, reveal himself, and hug his long-lost great-granny Smith tightly. From a distance, Peach Cobbler could see it in his expressions.
"Don't do it." She whispered to herself. "Don't do it."
In front of Bucky stood his Uncle Macintosh. It was quite amazing as he had barely aged a day in the future and looked strikingly similar now. He towered over the small yellow colt with the same power and confidence Bucky had always grown up to know, but his gaze was different as well. Macintosh was an emotional stallion with a big heart, traits Bucky no-doubt got from him, and Bucky half-expected him to scoop him up with his neck and run around Ponyville with him on his back like a big oversized colt. Alas, this was not the case as he did not recognize his own nephew. Despite this, the red country stallion was still happy for him and prepared to give him the blue ribbon. Bucky kept his cape/hood up on his head to prevent his uncle from looking at him too intently.
"Ya got a powerful stride, kid." He said with nod and a smile. "You'd make a good apple-bucker."
'You have no idea.' Bucky thought to himself, hoping he wouldn't notice his features.
Bucky said nothing, instead nodding with a smile. If he spoke, his thick country accent would give him away in an instant. He may have fooled a trusting Apple Bloom for the moment, but Uncle Macintosh was much smarter than his country appearances told other ponies. Peach Cobbler and Orion knew this too and the thought of a public discovery scared them.
." Peach whispered again, catching Orion's attention.
"What is it?" he asked her quietly so the other Crusaders couldn't hear them.
"Big Macintosh is looking at Bucky. I think he knows something is up."
Bucky gulped as he continued to observe the small colt's yellow skin, orange tail, and white freckles underneath the hood. As soon as he had taken the ribbon, the strange new colt was returning to his friends. As he made his way down the stage stairs, Big Macintosh's eyes followed him. There was something familiar to that foal, but he couldn't put his hoof on it. Granny Smith noticed his fixed attention and poked him with her cane.
"Whatcha starin' at, hon?" she asked.
Big Macintosh continued to stare for another moment before shaking his head and returning to his grandmother.
"Nothin', granny." He said calmly.
Granny huffed lightly.
"Ah may not be the sharpest brick in the tool box, but ah know when yer thinkin' about somethin.' Come on, tell me what's on her mind."
The mysterious yellow colt was now off to prepare for another event with his friends, but still within sight of Big Macintosh. He scratched the back of his head a bit and chewed his wheat a bit before speaking.
"There's something strange about that one named Bucky, granny. He looks like an Apple."
Granny Smith looked at him with a lost look.
"What? Son, even a pony as old as me can see that boy is not an apple. He's a colt."
Big Macintosh sighed.
The wind began to pick up again. Though his mind was searching through distant relatives, trying to find out whose foal he was, the drop in temperature and churning rain clouds above were demanding his attention even more. It was rare that a storm moved so quickly, but for the time being, it looked far enough not to be a factor in the events. Regardless, he knew he was going to be keeping an eye on it.
After the first race, the new CMC kept bringing the heat in most of the competitions they participated. First Peach Cobbler placed first in the Pegasus race in the skies and soon after, Orion won the unicorn magic contest. As a team they continued to do well by getting third in the five-legged race and second in the tug-of-war tournament. Scootaloo watched with aggravated jealousy as the new foals in town began placing in all of the events. This day was supposed to be her chance at getting a cutie mark, but now she could see it was all for nothing. Alone she sat, on the side away from everypony else. She was losing her bet and her inner rage burned until a familiar voice cooled it.
"Scootaloo," Sweetie Belle said worryingly, "what are you doing back here? Are you okay?"
Scootaloo glared angrily at her friend, but frustration was not directed at her. Something else was bothering her.
"What's wrong with me?" she exclaimed. "What's wrong with me? This was supposed to be our chance at getting our cutie marks, but now these new guys are winning all of the events! I thought I could get my mark in sports, but now it seems I can't even get that! I'll never get my mark!
Sweetie Belle sat down next to her and consoled her.
"At least you've won some ribbons. I haven't placed in any of the events except for the five-legged race, but I was with Apple Bloom. She carried our team."
"I didn't care about the ones I won." Scootaloo mumbled.
Sweetie Belle thought about it for a moment before she straightened up next to her friend.
"Ahhhh," she said aloud, looking out at the other colts and fillies without another word.
"You watched the flyer's race, didn't you."
"Yes you did. You disappeared earlier. You went to see Peach Cobbler compete."
Scootaloo said nothing while Sweetie Belle gave her a side-hug.
"You've got to stop doing this to yourself, Scoots. You'll learn to fly. Just you wait."
"Just shut up." Scootaloo yelled, voice muffled from having her head buried in her arms.
Sweetie Belle stood up and patted her friend on the back just as Apple Bloom arrived.
"Hey guys," she said, "what's up?"
Sweetie Belle motioned for her to leave, but Apple Bloom didn't get the message.
"What are you doin' with yer hooves, Sweetie Belle?" she asked. "And what's up with Scootaloo? You okay Scoots?"
Sweetie Belle looked ready to choke her friend before Scootaloo got up.
"I'm fine." She said quietly. "Where have you been?"
Apple Bloom said nothing for a moment from surprise of Scootaloo's sullenness, but shook it off and motioned to the new ponies.
"Have ya guys noticed they don't talk to any of the other ponies?"
"So?" Sweetie Belle said.
"So," Apple Bloom continued, "don't you think that's odd? Ah mean, they're real nice to talk to, but they only speak when we speak to them."
The other two thought a moment. That insight proved to be true. They never outright spoke to anypony, not even them.
"Maybe they're just shy." Sweetie Belle rationalized.
"Nah, they're not shy. Ah've been talkin' to them since we met them, especially that Bucky feller."
"And ah think they're not tellin' us somethin'."
Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle drew closer, their curiosity at peak intrigue.
"What makes you say that?" Scootaloo asked.
"Well, somethin' about him seemed awful familiar, so ah asked him who his family was."
"She did what?" Peach Cobbler exclaimed when Bucky told her about Apple Bloom's questioning. "What did you say?"
Bucky shook his head.
"When she asked me who mah parents were, mah brain couldn't think!"
"Darn it, Bucky!" Orion groaned as he paced back and forth. "We thought you prepared for this."
"Ah did! Ah had a whole story planned, but when she confronted me, ah panicked! Ah'm sorry."
"So what did he say?" Sweetie Belle asked.
"He didn't say anyhin' fer a while. He was actin' weird."
"Weird? What do you mean by weird?"
"He looked like a deer in the spotlight. He just froze!"
"So then what happened?" Scootaloo said with fervent interest.
"Ah coulnd't think of anything to say," Bucky explained to his friends, "so ah said ah had to go to the bathroom."
Orion and Peach groaned together.
"Are you serious?" they yelled simultaneously.
"He had to use the bathroom?" Sweetie Belle said with a thoughtful look. "Just then? That does sound suspicious."
"See?" Apple Bloom exclaimed. "Ah told you so! Ah think they're hidin' somethin'."
"But what? Why would he be nervous about telling you about his family?"
Scootaloo glanced at the three ponies in the distance.
"That's what we're going to find out."
The cool breeze began to grow even colder. The weather was not supposed to be this frigid, let alone filled with dark clouds so quickly. Above Ponyville, the first wave of bone-chilling rain descended from the sky. The droplets were large, soaking all the ponies below. Soon enough, a full onslaught of heavy rain showered the Field Day event, made worse by the increasing wind speed. The hurricane-like gales pushed the cold rain sideways, blinding the citizens. The megaphone blared once again.
"Attention all ponies," Granny Smith warned, "a big ol' storm is headed our way! Please seek shelter! The remainin' Field Day events will be held later! Ah repeat, get indoors!"
All around, parents and children ran panicked to find each other and make it to safety. Orion looked above him through the rain to see the ashy grey sky swirling above him, occasionally lit by flashes of distant lightning. The combination of high-pitched whistles of the blowing air and the echoing splashes of the rainy bombardment made hearing difficult. Pulling his friends close enough to hear him, Orion pointed at the town.
"We have to get out of here!" he yelled over the racket of the storm.
"Where?" Bucky yelled back.
"My mom's chicken coup!" Peach suggested. "Nopony will look for us there! We can wait out the storm and search for our family and friends afterwards!"
Bucky and Orion looked at each other and nodded.
"Chicken coop it is then!" Orion shouted. "Let's go! Stick close!"
They held onto each other's tail and slowly made their way to the coup, single file. Orion led, followed by Bucky and then Peach Cobbler. Though the blinding rain made visibility difficult, they could see that the town was now in pandemonium all around them. Pegasi were struggling to stay in the air while unicorns and earth ponies were trudging through the thick mud of the softening ground. On the other side of event field, the original Cutie Mark Crusaders were trying to make it to shelter as well.
"My house is closest!" Sweetie Belle said. "You guys can stay at my house!"
"Let's go!" Apple Bloom yelled.
Slowly walking to Rarity and Sweetie Belle's home through the wind and rain, Scootaloo stopped for a moment when she saw something blowing in the distance. Something about it looked familiar, compelling her to investigate.
"Where are you going?" her friends called.
Their cries were to no avail. A glint of curiosity sparkled in Scootaloo's eyes. Growing closer to the unknown object, she could see that it was a cloth of red color with the same golden color as the hoods the new ponies were wearing. The muddy cloth now clung to the side of a bush from the force of the wind. Little by little, the orange pegasus inched towards it until it was finally in her grasp. Holding it in her hooves, she could see that the cloth was a red cape, with a large chunk of its corner stitched on.
"It can't be!" Scootaloo said to herself, unheard by her friends.
"What is it?" they asked as they arrived behind her.
Scootaloo began to wipe the mud off of the cloth until a large blue and yellow pony logo appeared before her. Her mouth dropped in awe and her eyes grew wide from shock and confusion.
"It's..." she began, still dumbstruck, "my Crusader cape!"