My Little Pony Monthly Issue 73 (April 1, 2003)
My Little Pony Monthly
A publication of Nematode (Electronic) Publishing
Established June 1997
This Newsletter is Safe for All Ages
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1. Letters to the Editor
4. The Comeback of the Century? (by Rainbow Dash)
5. A Dream Come True (by Steamer)
6. Welcome to Ponyland Part 1 (by Skye)
7. Fate Stalks On (by Sugarberry)
8. Friends, Foes, and Secrets (by Barnacle)
9. Moonlite by Moon Part Two (by Emily)
10. Chapter #8: What Should We Do? (by Melody)
11. A New Wind a Blowin’ Part 2 (by Sugarberry)
Letters to the Editor
Keep up the great work with MLP monthly! I know you think the fan base is small, but I know there are a lot of us who just read it and aren’t inclined to write articles, letters, or contest entries. I think it’s great that there’s a way for MLP fans who are also talented writers to share their work, so hang in there!
p.s.- I hope you get more than 11 entries this time!
From the Editor
Life goes on in Ponyland, but each and every Little Pony hopes and prays for the safe return of the troops in Iraq to their homelands.
In other news, we’re happy to welcome some new writers to the newsletter! Be sure to read the first part of Skye’s story, “Welcome to Ponyland,” and Rainbow Dash’s fine article; and remember to send feedback! We’re also seeing a return by Steamer, Emily, Melody, and Barnacle. Hooray for them!
Clever Clover would like me to say that he won’t have a story in this time because his computer died and what he had written disappeared. Feel free to send him condolences: email@example.com
Oh my gosh! This is serious! Contest entries dropped by three last month! Let’s make it up this time, ‘kay? Thanks to everyone who participated last time:
Lil Whiskers (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Baby Jedi (email@example.com)
Baby Moondreamer (Nicholley@aol.com)
Baby Dibbles (Amsofct@aol.com)
Violet Star Shine (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Berry Brite (email@example.com)
Scorpan turned into a human prince at the end of Firefly’s Adventure. Personally, I sense a romantic interest for Megan! But then, I do so love inventing romantic interests...
Now for this month’s contest question!
Who was the first male pony in the ‘97 Friendship Gardens line?
Tell me the answer by e-mailing TabbyMLP@aol.com or entering through the form at
Yay! Tink-A-Tink-A-Too is very pleased by the outcome of last month’s survey and those that wrote in their opinions on her name and the newest ponies in general. Sure, it’s a strange name. But we’ll love her anyway, right, guys?
Pika-Chan (firstname.lastname@example.org) says...
“Remember Tinker Toys? Maybe something along those lines.
“As to what her parents were thinking... it could be worse! Her name could be Anita Miracle or Scarlett Butts (both real names–honest)!”
Melody (email@example.com) says...
“Tink-a-Tink-a-Too??? (That’s something to type!) I think her symbol might be a bell or a train. Don’t ask. ---* And when her parents named her I’m assuming they’d had too much juice or something. Or maybe they belonged to a mental institute. ;P Poor little Tink-a-Tink-a-Too. I feel for her!”
Berry Brite (firstname.lastname@example.org) says...
“All I can say is,
“My Little Pony, My Little Pony
Yes, they’re coming back again
My Little Pony, My Little Pony
What are we going to think of them?
Will they be ugly, will they be lovely
Or will they be just plain dumb?
My Little Pony, My Little Pony
Will we be happy or glum?
My Little Pony, My Little Pony
Hasbro needs to make up their mind
My Little Pony, My Little Pony
I’m sorry if it doesn’t sound really kind
But if they make a decision, made with precision
It’d be much easier on us MLP fans
My Little Pony, My Little Pony
I wish they’d quit changing their plans
My Little Pony, My Little Pony
I think they’re running out of pony names
My Little Pony, My Little Pony
It must be admitted, they’re getting quite lame
But still, I like these equines, I guess they’ll be just fine
Even if their names are really weird
My Little Pony, My Little Pony
I think that we needn’t be afeared
“Yes, I think that the new releases may be a bit silly, but I’m sure we can handle it. My biggest problem, however, is that the names keep getting stranger. Yup. Creativity is down at Hasbro. ‘Tink-A-Tink-A-Too’? Please.”
Let’s make it at least another three entries for this next survey question! There’s no right or wrong answer! And your thoughts will be included in the next issue where they could be read by potentially around three hundred people! What more could you want?
What’s your favorite type of pony fanfic to read and/or write– those that follow the original series, those the follow the MLP Tales series, those that create an original fantasy world, those that create an original real-life world, etc. etc.?
That URL is:
~ Finally a reply to our desperate calls came from world’s greatest fun provider. And the My Little Pony world changed... again... ~
THE COMEBACK OF THE CENTURY?
A VISION OF A MY LITTLE PONY COLLECTOR
by Rainbow Dash (email@example.com)
::Why did the first comeback didn’t work out?::
::Should we bring the traditional ponies back?::
::Will the new 2003 ponies be a success?::
::Will I buy the new 2003 line?::
::Did fakies inspire the 2003 line just as the 1997 line?::
<..writer adds: You should really read this text on my site! It’s more pleasant for eye and ear ^-^ “http://home.deds.nl/~rainbow/index.html” ..>
My Little Ponies. We all love them, we all take care of them, and we all want to live a life beside them. In the eighties, they were one of the cutest and most loved characters around. The eighties were a time of sweetness and imagination in the toy industry. Who of us can’t remember the Moon Dreamers, Strawberry Shortcake, Rainbow Brite, Lady Lovelylocks, Keypers, the Care Bears, and the Fairy Tails birds? People seemed to enjoy dreaming more back then than they do nowadays. Within a short ten years, the world changed; and profit, prestige, and beauty were concerned a higher status then a loving character with a pure nature. Barbie roamed in the girl’s toy shelves by 1988 and My Little Pony became less popular every year. This was clearly reflected in the toy line: the number of ponies from year 10’s pony collection was more declined then ever. The end of 1992 was marked as the D-date for the toy line and the sad news reached the pony collecting community. Hasbro’s European daughter companies wouldn’t kiss the lil’ ponies goodbye until 1995. In the UK and Germany, pony lovers could enjoy another year full of My Little Pony. By then, the sad news was given to all of us collectors that My Little Pony was over for good.
In the United States, pony collectors had picked up their daily lives and spent most of their collecting time on the internet. Online My Little Pony communities were founded and after Dream Valley, the mother of all pony sites, was founded, more collectors started to make a page of their own. In 1997, a rumor began circulating around the community boards on the internet. Hasbro was putting My Little Pony back in business ! Most of us were excited until the new design was revealed. Within a few years, the sudden unexpected comeback of the new style My Little Ponies changed our opinion about our collectors’ item forever. Collectors were divided, community boards uttered new pony hatred, and the skinny, small ponies were mocked and thrown out of our cyber dreamworld. Only a handful of people liked them and collected them, until the line was discontinued in most of the countries in 1999*.
No wonder the new 2003+ line doesn’t get overwhelmed with positive responses– people are afraid of another dissolution. What I would like to show in the article below is why the 1997 ponies became such a flop compared to the traditional ones, and why the new 2003 My Little Pony will possibly be as big one day as her ancestors in the eighties.
* || ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The line still continued in Belgium from 1999 until the end of 2002, and from 2000 until a quarter or so of 2002 in the UK by distributor Flair. In southern Europe, mainly France and Spain, the line continued until the end of 2002 and gave these two countries at least two exclusives, namely Magic Motion Romantica (Dainty Dove) and Magic Motion Présudimo (2nd version of Ivy). The 2002-2003 and 2003+ line was exclusively distributed in France and will be discontinued in September 2003, when the new ponies will be introduced. ||
::Why didn’t the first comeback work out?::
One will often hear complaints about the 1997 ponies’ images. Yet all offensive calls actually point to their looks and not to their overall being. I can understand a lot of people who grew up in the eighties and actually saw Barbie overgrowing the complete girl toys. They feel betrayed by Hasbro for altering the My Little Pony brand to the present standards of fashion and beauty. The new ponies are very skinny and ‘fashion model-like’, it’s true. A lot of the young children today, however, did not experience these changes and simply love the new style ponies because of their attractive theme and colours. We as older collectors make the comparison between them and the changing values– everybody has to be thin nowadays– now even My Little Ponies! It’s not the question of if we should or shouldn’t be bothered with the fact that Hasbro’s designers were more or less influenced by this; the really important question is why we as My Little Pony lovers should be concerned with the looks of My Little Pony in the first place?
Seen from the view of a pedagogue, the new ponies are great developmental toys: a lot of the larger blisters contain mechanisms inside and a lot of the items that come with the sets make things happen. This trains a lot of important things, like naming colours, identifying objects, mathematical insight (counting, surface, and volume), performing more difficult tasks with hands, and playing socially and emotionally orientated games with these ponies. The playsets make optimal play possible because of their wide range of variety. I compare them quite a lot with Playmobil when it comes to quality.
The new My Little Ponies aren’t as skinny as most collectors claim. When we clearly study their build, we can see the head is larger on scale to the body than the head of a Flutter Pony or a Sweetheart Sister pony. The body is quite like a Flutter Pony’s, but the legs of Flutters are a little longer and a slight bit thinner. The body is undoubtedly shorter compared to the Sweetheart Sisters, as well as the legs. This means that although they all seem very slim, both the Sweetheart Sister and the Flutter Pony of the old type are actually thinner then the new style ponies. Still, we as My Little Pony collectors accepted the former two without thinking. How can this be explained?
To me, it is a simple addition of things: the old MLP collection consisted of several types of ponies; and although some of us didn’t like the Sweetheart Sisters and the Flutter Ponies as much as the traditional ponies, there were plenty of other ponies to collect, so why bother about the few that stand out from the herd? This enhanced the tolerance against different types of ponies, because they were a minority in the whole collection.
Chubby, short creatures with big heads and big eyes are found to be more cute then tall, skinny creatures with a comparatively little head. The former one reminds us of babies, innocent creatures we want to take care of. So I understand that old pony collectors rejected the new ponies with the old, cuddly type in mind. The problem was that the market in 1997 didn’t ask for cute, chubby characters. Why are the new ponies more Barbie-like? To compete with them. And they lost it, because My Little Pony stayed My Little Pony, even when skinnier. They still had the >>same<< image, but for most little girls in a somewhat wrong body, although beautiful. They weren’t cuddly enough– this and some other factors I noticed and list below might have caused the abrupt end of the line.
Possible causes for the unpopularity and the abrupt end of the 1997 My Little Pony:
>> 1) Causes by the toy line herself <<
o There were a lot of remakes of ponies: not one authentic pony character, but like the Barbie brand a lot of remakes of one character.
o There was too little choice of ponies: in 1999 there were about 20 ponies available for a whole year, remakes included. The old ponies had more ponies available a year with all authentic characters.
o There was payed far too little attention to them by media: no cartoon show, hardly any commercials, hardly any merchandise, no official My Little Pony site.
o Little profit forced Hasbro to use cheap production techniques to lower the costs and since they didn’t gain more popularity, they had to distribute lesser and lesser ponies in just a few areas where they apparently sold better.
o There was no clear structure in the release of toys: unlike the traditional ones, there weren’t any groups with the same characteristic looks which made them belong to each other. This would have encourage the collecting spirit.
>> 2) Other determinants <<
o The need for an innocence, influential, and imaginable life brand toy, which My Little Pony of 1997-2003 could not turn herself out to be.
o The vision of the new designer team of the 1997 My Little Pony brand.
o The established position the old My Little Pony has in real ‘pony’ countries like Germany and the USA.
o The need for an alternative on a Barbie dominated market, especially since the latter’s position is starting to weaken as we speak. There’s a gap for another toy that might just appeal more to younger girls then the relative surficial world of a fashion doll does.
o The dangerous times, causing people to hide away in a softer dreamworld: in the eighties, when the economy was down and the Cold War was at hand, the thread of this caused ironically a softer world in the toy industry. This same process is developing as we speak (Iraq).
o The weakening of the tall and thin look in society and thus for girl’s toys. Fashion dolls are too woven with the catwalk. 1997 My Little Pony’s looks have certainly found some kind of influence in that. A good example of these changes are Mattel’s recent collectible My Scene Barbie, who has a bigger head and a shorter, rounder body*.
|| ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Compare the scale of these dolls with body lengths between 165 and 170 cm and the original Barbie doll, approximately between 185 and 190 cm. The Netherlands have taken place three or four on the world list of tallest people. The average length for women here is still a mere 171,4 cm, with half of all women beneath that length. Mattel’s My Scene Barbie is a far more realistic doll globally seen, even despite all the manga influences and especially when it comes to the head, which is still a “bobbing”. Yet it’s this big, heartshaped head that makes her look so cute. Compare this to the new My Little Ponies! || (2,35 CM = 1 INCH)
::Should we bring the traditional ponies back?::
~Traditional My Little Ponies are regarded as the original collectors item and are the most common collectable among collectors.~
Most pony people would love to see the originals back in retail. I have told those people then (1997) and I will tell those people now (2003): the old molds will never return. Why is Hasbro so stubborn? I think it’s a smart thing to do, believe it or not. What do you think will happen to all the MOCs and MIBs on eBay, if the traditional molds returned? They would be worth less. And what do you think would happen, as soon as a splendid, new line of traditional ones would be released, on the same scale as year 3-6, for more then 10 years ? Most people would buy these new ponies:
-- they are MIB and MOC and cheaper then those oldies on eBay
-- there are plenty in stores with no shipping costs or a risk to be outbid
-- the lust to collect the oldies will vanish a bit: there are plenty of new traditional ponies to come
-- it’s easier to walk into a toy shop two blocks from your house than watching auction pages all the time ^-^
What do you think most sellers would do? Since the main focus would be flowing away from the older ponies and the stores would be re-stocked with MOCs and MIBs, the demand would be lower for the older ones and the profit of the sellers would be much less. This means lot of yard sale sellers won’t buy MOCs or MIBs from the eighties any more, which means less ponies on global auction sites and even fewer old ponies in the future.
The other side of the story is a that a lot of parents will buy old lots of ponies, because they are cheaper then the new blisters and boxes in store, plus it’s the same thing their child demands (namely, old-type My Little Pony). This means loss in profit for Hasbro and a lot of concurrence for us collectors. The overall market would be satisfied– a few hard core collectors aren’t gonna influence the world market: it’s sad, but it’s true --- .
I know this might sound a bit harsh, but bringing back the old MLP isn’t the right thing for Hasbro, for us and the brand. There are too many risks. We all want the new ponies to hang out with us for at least another decade, so the best thing to do is to come up with a pony that looks a lot like the older type, but is quite easy to distinguish from the original one.
::Will the new 2003 ponies be a success?::
~The beauty of the Rainbow Celebration prototypes~
Let’s take another look at the possible causes for the 1997 My Little Pony to have come to an end so quickly. A few obvious things are said here; some of them might help Hasbro avoid certain mistakes with the newest line. To me personally, the remake of the characters was a rather odd experience. Back in the eighties, a pony was authentic, genuine, and unduplicated. Why all these Sky Skimmer and Sweet Berry variants? Was the inspiration really that low for Hasbro? Such a shame– I for one would have taken the 1997 ponies far beyond that point. Yet more authentic ponies and new lines cost money– money which wasn’t there. We musn’t forget the tremendous profits of brands like Pokémon and Disney. New money means new investments on future brands like the 2003 My Little Pony. With a considerable budget, these flaws– like more, authentic ponies and a lot of advertising– are helped in no time.
According to the article of License! magazine, Hasbro stated that there will be a system in Celebration Castle to identify ponies. I hope this counts for >>all the ponies to come<< and not just year 1 (2003-2004), as this forces the toy giant more or less to create authentic ponies without duplicates. What also will help to encourage the collecting spirit is the re-making of pony groups. When I was a kid, I always wanted all the ponies from a group. They were nicely displayed on the back of the card and shared more characteristic looks then the 1997 My Little Ponies did with each other in a group. Year 1 Sky Skimmer and Lady Sky Skimmer have so little they differ from, that an average child will regard them as ‘one pony’.
-- 1997 ponies in a group didn’t have an overall look which kept them more or less together
-- A lot of the 1997 pony characters were re-made in exactly the same molds.
To the child they are all My Little Pony: it doesn’t matter if (s)he will adopt 1 or 100 of them; they’re all the same thing. By making separations and dividing the line by groups, you’ll introduce ponies on a scale that is far more easy to recognize for the average child. With the upcoming Glitter Celebration and Rainbow Celebration ponies, Hasbro will have a stronger grasp on collectors both old and young.
The future looks extremely promising to me. Apart from all the arguments I have given you so far, I would like to express a feeling I have got about the new line. I feel that the people working now on the 2003 My Little Pony line are people who love the brand. This is required more than anything else for making it a success. Ever since I read the e-mails on Moon Shadow’s site, it is clear to me that the big boss at Hasbro feels so too.
>>Determinants for the success of the upcoming My Little Pony line:<<
o Chubby ponies with big eyes to awaken everybody’s ‘caring’ feelings.
o Authenticy in names, characters, and symbols.
o Playsets to support the new My Little Pony world: “Ponyville”.
o A lot of great, detailed artwork to reveal the My Little Pony world and the way ponies behave and live together (encourages play).
o Re-introduction of groups, mail-orders, and international variants to encourage collecting.
o A strong line of movies to introduce the new toy line and support character development of the ponies (encourages play).
o The need of an innocent girl toy to fill the market gap.
o The fact that My Little Pony is the only girl toy of its kind (fantasy) nowadays, which might create a monopoly for the brand ^.^
>>>Other cultural factors<<<
o The threat of war which makes people want to drift away into a softer, nicer dreamworld.
o The concurrence between softer girl brands like Strawberry Shortcake, the Care Bears, and My Little Pony determines the contents of the shelves in toy shops of the future. Concurrence isn’t all bad, especially when this can be put inside a same group of girl toys, namely so-called fantasy toys. If this group appeals to the majority of the public, all of these brands will eventually sell. The question is, which one will sell best and be the most popular.
o The changing of the pop-culture considering the beauty industry and thus the weakening of the position of fashion dolls and fashion inspired themes in girl toys.
::Will I buy the new 2003 line?::
Let me start by saying that to me every My Little Pony is equal, no matter how he or she looks. To me, the whole looks debate is too insignificant to waste my time with. I can imagine people didn’t like the new ponies, but to reject them and pretend they’re “not My Little Ponies”, that’s beyond my imagination. I am not blind to the flaws Hasbro made in the line, but this >>does not<< mean I >>hate<< them. For one, they’re toys and not to blame for the mistakes Hasbro made; for two, their image stayed the same. That’s why I collect My Little Pony– any My Little Ponies– because they are all about love, friendship, and magic. Their colours and symbols are more important to me then the way they look. This automatically means I will collect the 2003 line. Honestly, there >>were<< improvements in the 1997-2003 line, like the comprehensive playsets for example. The new 2003 My Little Pony will have her ups and down as well as any of the other lines, but to me the positive has always dominated the negative. When I don’t like something, I give feedback to Hasbro– they’re to blame, after all.
I love to see the more classic approach towards the My Little Pony brand, too, I’ll admit it. I want pegasi with real wings and more of them, so as for unicorns. The 2003 My Little Pony looks cuter then both her ancestors and has the same chubby charm of the first generation. I just hope everybody will be satisfied with the new look of the brand and I hope people will finally accept that their old nuzzles won’t come back. I hope this line can replace the emptiness and create a pony loving public worldwide for the upcoming decade(s)!
::Did fakies inspire the 2003 line just as the 1997 line?::
I think the 2003 line was inspired by the old My Little Pony and... a certain fakie. A fakie I have collected, because I thought they were the cutest after the genuine product. They are called “Pretty Pony” (note: do not mistake them for the recent Pretty Ponies in the old My Little Pony style!) and made by the Joy Toy Group in 1996. I believe they were only released in Europe, but I’m not sure about that. These Pretty Ponies are cute, chubby horses in earth tones with big, blue eyes and cute faces. They all came with a comb, ribbon, and collectors’ card and had several playsets, like a Gypsy Cart and a playpen with Baby Ponies and Mummie. The face of the Pretty Pony looks truly a lot like the face and body of some of the >>early<< character sketches of the 2003 line.
The ‘Turn Around Sketches’ show a chubby and plump body, and the pony seems a little bugeyed (a line underneath the eyes). These features, together with the overall look of the head and body, are really like Pretty Pony. Other pictures remind us more of the real My Little Pony, for example, the picture of the pink pony underneath the navigation of www.mylittlepony.com. The German prototypes seem to have lost nearly all of their Pretty Pony influence (which is a good thing, if you ask me).
~!~ See my site for pictures on this subject;
for the main page, click on the hyperlink “To the article” ~!~
Anyways, >>those particular sketches<< reveal a close relationship with them, especially the almond eyes, the bugeyed image, the ponies’ muzzle, and their ears. Pretty Pony’s head is smaller in comparison to the body of the new 2003 My Little Pony.
I would never collect a fakie unless they really felt “pony”. These fakies did remind me of the chubby charm and were the only ones I have ever seen who were well enough designed. I think they’re a good inspiration for the new 2003 line. After all, My Little Pony has to fit in the recent market. Pretty Pony in this form was released in 1996 and 1997. Maybe Hasbro was restyling the ponies a long time before we knew it ?*
|| ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Was this a plot, by releasing the Gen-2 hybrids on planet Earth as infiltrates for the top secret Big Smile cooperation? Anyways, I’m watching the X-Files to much... <.. writer adds: I had a weird moment there I guess... 0-o ..> ||
Since Hasbro is turning more attention to the brand at headquarters and on the world market, I truly have very high expectations of the comeback this time. I am not too skeptical, because for some odd reason I feel Hasbro has learned from her mistakes and has payed the price (good thing, too). First of all, there is the loveable, cuddly design with no trinkets, no beauty concepts, just a cute pony. Secondly, there are people working on the new line who have a heart for My Little Pony. People who have a certain belief in the brand. Shouldn’t this say enough for us collectors, that Hasbro is doing her utmost best for taking the brand as far as they’d ever gone with her before? Four to six My Little Pony movies? Merchandise galore and authenticity proof? They must have heard our thoughts whispering in the back of our minds all these years.
I have a feeling that this brand will be at least as big as the original one. I hope it will become more popular then ever, will stay for a long time (longer then 10 years), and will eventually become even more popular than any other girl toy. Hasbro will have to come through for us. In the meantime, I will keep a close eye on the brand and try to advise them as they venture. I hope everybody will do the same and love the designs as much as I do.
Maybe My Little Pony has a positive influence on the toy industry as a whole. What if more fantasy brands will arise in the future, like the Care Bears and Rainbow Brite in the eighties? I sure would feel more at home looking at the girl toy shelves in toy shops today. Nowadays beauty and make-up are about the only examples given to young girls. The world could use a changing turn. Perhaps this “sweetening” of the world is a sign for something bigger to come. If My Little Pony has a tiny little place in this, I would be even more proud of them. Let’s all hope that change is here to stay.
<.. writer adds: I’m not from an English speaking country. There must be mistakes in this text I’ve overlooked. I hope the text is still pleasant to read! ..>
Do you have something to share with me after reading this article?
Let me know! Mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org ^-^
A Dream Come True
by Steamer (email@example.com)
Baby Whirly Twirl had always dreamed of riding in a helicopter, but his family didn’t own one, nor did they know anyone who had one– or so Baby Whirly Twirl thought. His mommy, Up Up, and Away, happened to be friends with a D.J. at the radio station WPND, who in turn had a friend who did traffic reports for the station. Baby Whirly Twirl’s birthday was coming up, and Up, Up, and Away was thinking of asking her friend at the radio station if she could possibly arrange for Baby Whirly Twirl to ride in the station’s helicopter.
D.J. said she’d look into it when Up, Up, and Away asked her about the ride. But D.J. didn’t tell her about an idea she had. D.J. went to the station manager to talk to him about it and was delighted when the manager agreed. D.J. then called Up, Up, and Away to let her know. Up, Up, and Away tried not to show too much of her enthusiasm as Baby Whirly Twirl was in the same room right then. D.J. left out the little extra part that her traffic reporting friend was going to do.
Baby Whirly Twirl’s birthday soon arrived, and he wanted to have a party out in the back yard, which was fine with his mom. So he invited some friends over, and soon a helicopter flew overhead with a banner behind it that said ‘Happy Birthday Baby Whirly Twirl!”
“Mama, look!” exclaimed Baby Whirly Twirl, pointing skyward. His mommy looked up in the sky and smiled at what she saw. “It’s landing right in front of our house, “said Baby Whirly Twirl, so the whole party galloped in that direction.
The helicopter landed right on the front grass, and a pony got out. “I’m looking for a Baby Whirly Twirl,” said the pony.
“That’s me,” said Baby Whirly Twirl.
“I have come to take you on your birthday helicopter flight,” said the pony as he took the banner off the back of the helicopter and rolled it up.
Baby Whirly Twirl’s jaw dropped. “I get to ride in a helicopter?” he asked.
“Yup,” said the pony.
“Wow!” exclaimed Baby Whirly Twirl and hopped in. “I’ll be right back,” he told his friends.
The pony hopped into the pilot’s seat, and the helicopter took off. While they were in the air, the radio station called over the radio, “Base to Chopper One, calling Baby Whirly Twirl.”
The pilot, who said his name was Whirlwind, looked at Baby Whirly Twirl. “They’re calling you.”
“This is Baby Whirly Twirl,” said Baby Whirly Twirl. What he heard after that brought a smile to his face– the crew at the radio station all sang Happy Birthday to him. “Thank you all so much!” Baby Whirly Twirl exclaimed.
Soon, the helicopter landed back in front of Baby Whirly Twirl’s house, and Baby Whirly Twirl got out and went to hug his mommy. “Thank you for a most wonderful birthday,” he said, and then went to open the presents his friends had brought.
Up, Up, and Away smiled. “You’re welcome,” she said, and she went to watch her son open the rest of his presents.
***Now, just go to http://mlpmonthly.tripod.com/Contact.htm for an easy way to tell the author that you enjoyed their story!***
Welcome to Ponyland
by Skye (SkyeSpirit@aol.com)
Author’s Notes: This is my first story which will hopefully turn into a series. Let me know what you all think. You might notice a few changes, probably to the land or its characters. This is my ideal Ponyland, so I’ve done some things different from Hasbro to suit my own personal taste or to fit in with the storyline. Other questions that might arise will probably be answered in later stories. (Teaser) At this point in the story there are NO sea ponies, adult or babies. Ponies Featured: Can you guess? It’s not hard.
Warm rays of sunlight shone through large windows, illuminating the darkened room. The sun, particularly vibrant that morning, cast its heated glow upon the slumbering ponies within. Rays reached white, glimmering hair that twinkled as if containing its own natural light. The host of such splendor lay on a cold, stony floor with others at her side, joining her in dreaming.
A shuffle was heard; her ears twitched, but she did not awaken. A distant echo of a peaceful song was heard through the minds of the six, but they did not stir. Not yet.
The castle’s protective gate lowered, the sounds of its extending chains becoming a melodic song which added to the first. Metallic surface stretched over a gently moving river that encircled the enchanted castle. The water that swirled around steep banks was founded from a cascading waterfall which added to the existing river’s depth and intensity. The gate reached the embankment offering its guests access to lush lands beyond its own reach.
Past the gate was a gently worn road leading up a small hill. Upon this hill grew an ancient apple tree, its nightly drops offering delectable edibles to the six dreamers. Sips of dew could be drunk from the ancient fallen leaves that lay undisturbed upon the ground. Beneath the tree grew sweet grass favored differently than the rest upon the hill from years of apple-flavored mulch. All waited for their guests to delight in the offerings. When would they awaken?
Behind the apple tree and beyond the hill grew a Grove. Its mysteries waited for the new arrivals to discover. The river that surrounded the castle and divided the land called to the old apple tree which spoke to the grove trees. They sang to the animals who then learned of the arrivals within the castle enclosure and went to investigate for themselves.
Creatures, both bird and bug, flew to the newcomers. They swarmed around the castle before finding secure landings both outside and within to view the strangers. Peaceful creatures of the fields and forests neglected their daily chores to be among the first to greet the newcomers. Squirrels and chipmunks climbed high up into the room’s beams, securing a seat as the castle soon became flooded with spectators. Rabbits and deer also came to the event, but only a few were daring enough to cross the bridge. A grumpy badger was among the watchers; he hid in some bushes while frogs and fish poked their heads out of the water surrounding the gate. Who were these creatures? What were they? No creature, neither great nor small, could answer that question.
The wind, following the example of water and tree, also called to the ponies within to awaken; their time had just begun and the land was lonely from years of solitude. A bird zipped by the window, casting a reflection upon a light green face. She shuffled momentarily, disrupting her rhythmic breathing. This offered hope to the wind and it entered the castle, through the windows and across floor, ruffling fur and feather as it passed.
The small green female, baring marks of clover on her rump, stretched out, pushing her pink neighbor into another. The third, with hair like a darkened sun, awoke from the dazzle that reflected from the first’s white mane. Eyes flung open with a start, and the wind withdrew as did the animals. She squealed, startling the remaining five awake. Frightened at her unfamiliar surroundings, she charged deeper into the castle until tripping over a thick rug. Bounded as she was now tangled in the large rug, she screamed and kicked unmercifully.
The first, closest to the windows, backed away from the rest and smacked into the stony wall; her head pounded, and she could not hear the others. The pink tried to stand but stumbled and was afraid to try again. She lay upon the ground, shivering from fear and the pain that now swept through her knees. Confused by the noise and commotion around her, a deep purple screamed as well and tried to bolt to her hooves, but ended up rolling over her neighbor, a lavender. Dazed from bumping heads, they remained still, waiting for the room to stop spinning.
The last to react was the farthest from the first. She rose to her feet and charged toward the opened metal gate. She ran too fast for her stiff legs and then was blinded by the brilliant sun as she exited the castle. Set off course as she turned her head away from the pain-causing light she ran off the bridge and fell into the water below.
Her face contorted as piercing cold liquid penetrated down to her skin. She struggled to rise from the uncooperative surface but accomplished nothing more than flailing in the water. She gave a great effort to retreat from the water. Powerful legs kicked out in front and underneath, though with all her tiresome work she barely managed to stay above the water’s surface. She bellowed from fear and cold, screaming louder as her feeble attempts to rise above the steep embankment of the river denied her.
Frightened spectators, curious before, now returned to watch from the river bank as the newcomer fought for her life. Birds, bugs, and animals of all assortment called down to the pony in calming voices. Trees offered words of encouragement and advice, but she did not understand their language. The wind directed the water to assist and together they tried to push her up the bank, but only created more cold which caused the little pony to slow down. She began to float more than swim; her energy spent, she gave up trying to save herself. Her head bobbed just above the surface, her nose enlarged as she took deep panic-induced breaths. Her widened eyes looked to the creatures surrounding the bank, helpless to assist her. She turned her stiffening neck, looking for others that might help her, her heart reaching out to those that might save her. She screamed again, long and deafeningly, before being engulfed by the water.
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Fate Stalks On
by Sugarberry (Sugrbery@aol.com)
Spring was slowly spreading its blush over Woodlawn, but Chiffon barely noticed. Having agreed to proofread Nelly’s textbook pages before they went to the publisher, the mare had found herself short on time but yet pleasurably satisfied. She had so enjoyed the concept of producing educational materials, in fact, that after she had finished with Nelly’s manuscript and offered a number of good suggestions on how to improve the book, she had offered to put together a workbook to companion the text. The Monk/Fairfax publishing firm in Dream Valley had approved the idea and urged her to complete the project post haste.
If Chiffon had honestly examined the reasons behind this submersion into publication, she would have realized that she was trying to wipe away the memory of a certain handsome but arrogant stallion from Grayton who had caused her more uncertainty than she was willing to face. She was content with her life as a single mare in her hometown dedicating her life to forming the precious young lives of the foals she taught, but that contentment had been ruffled when Tribute had stepped into her life. Chiffon did not trust the unfamiliar emotions that the stallion could elicit in her with his very presence... let alone his devastating touch. Those emotions frightened her, and her only defense was to back away and distance herself from him.
The crux of the matter was that Chiffon was afraid of falling in love. Deeply aware that her response to Tribute must mean something, she was not yet ready to give up her independence to anyone. She was blatantly aware that if she let Tribute get too close, he would win her heart very easily. By the same measure, he could break her heart with the same facility. Without realizing it, she had made the decision to avoid that appalling possibility without even giving it a chance. Therefore, her current relationship with the newest doctor in town was one of simple acquaintance; when she came across him in the normal course of life lived in the same small town, she was polite but cool.
This did not mean that Chiffon knew nothing of the activities of Tribute, both professional and private. Woodlawn’s grapevine was alive and thriving, and Tribute’s proficiency as a physician with the local hospital and clinic was a favorite topic. Anyone under his care seemed to come away with a healthy respect for the doctor even if their physical woes remained. Dr. Tribute and Dr. Blake were both practically idolized by the citizens of Woodlawn for their efforts to improve the local health scene.
Tribute’s social life blossomed as well, especially after Arabella wiped her hooves of Chiffon in the romance department (she had felt sorry for Tribute after his failed attempt to gain Chiffon’s regard) and actively set out to match the admired doctor with likely prospects. He had dated several different mares about town through Arabella’s engineering, and Chiffon had listened– albeit discreetly– to their opinions of the stallion. She smugly remembered, however, the cold, tormenting, insolent stallion that she had faced when she had first come across Tribute in Dream Valley and Grayton and satisfyingly determined that she was the only one who knew his true colors, no matter what facade he had now donned for his new life in Woodlawn.
Word filtered down that Tribute had seemed to concentrate his attentions in the last couple of weeks on the capable and attractive hospital administrator; not only was it noted that Tribute was becoming more interested and involved in the management of the clinic and hospital’s internal functions, but was seen with frequent regularity in the administrator’s company after hours as well. He and Heart Blossom were becoming quite the couple to watch.
The new construction on the medical center was proceeding smoothly, much to Dr. Blake’s relief. His scouting-out Tribute for a position in Woodlawn had proved to be a double blessing, for not only had he obtained an excellent doctor but he had unknowingly garnered the support of the highly influential Dr. Andrew in New Pony and the attention of Tribute’s philanthropical mother. Doors that had remained firmly closed before Tribute’s connection to Woodlawn now magically opened and largess flowed forth. Dr. Blake was a happy stallion having learned that the old maxim– not what you know, but whom you know– was correct.
Life in Woodlawn in the springtime was good.
* * *
“Blake!” Tribute called out to his fellow doctor as he caught sight of the stallion leaving the clinic. “Got a minute?”
Blake glanced at his watch. “No, but I’ll give you forty-five seconds.”
Tribute grinned. “Prissy will be in town this weekend; how’d you like to join us for dinner Friday night?”
“Prissy?” queried Blake, his left eyebrow arching. “I thought she was a thing of the past.”
“She’s curious about conditions in such a primitive place as Woodlawn,” Tribute explained.
“Where are you eating?”
“Nothing but the best for Prissy, huh? Okay, let me know the time and I’ll be there.”
“You’re welcome to bring someone,” Tribute offered.
Snorting, Blake shook his head. “I don’t have a clue as to whom that might be.”
“Well, if you think of someone before Friday, bring her along.”
* * *
Friday morning found Dr. Blake in his office going over some paperwork, his disorderly desk sporting an accumulation of letters, files, reports, books, pharmaceutical samples, and an assorted x-ray or two. Energetic and roguish, this physician made a perfect foil to Dr. Tribute’s poised and perfect demeanor although he was no less dedicated to his patients and his responsibilities; he just had more fun in the effort.
Having hailed from a small town himself, Dr. Blake had been happy to escape the cold and pretentious city of Grayton and had jumped at the chance to cater to the ailments of the family-knit community of Woodlawn. Once established, it had become his legation to expand the offerings of medical service to the area; and he had thrown himself into the effort with his usual enthusiasm but had not neglected his main duty of ministering to the physical needs of the ponies under his care. His days had been very full, and he appreciated the arrival of Dr. Tribute to share the load.
Slouched in his chair wondering where to start on the mound of responsibilities facing him on the cluttered desk, Dr. Blake was relieved to hear a gentle rap on his office door. This beautiful morning was ripe for procrastination.
“Come!” he called out.
The door opened to reveal a blue mare with spring green mane who stood hesitantly in the doorway; her orchid eyes sparkled as she asked, “I’m not disturbing you, I hope?”
“Chiffon! Come on in. I’m buried under this...” His hoof swept across his desk. “... but you’re a welcome interruption.” He did not stand as the mare came in, but stretched out comfortably and grinned at the mare as if set to enjoy this encounter.
“I won’t keep you long. I’m simply delivering a thank you note from my class that the foals designed to express their appreciation for your edifying lecture last week.”
Each year, Chiffon’s third graders were honored with a physician’s visit to their classroom during their unit on health concerns. In the years that Dr. Blake had been in town, he had cheerfully undertaken this agreeable task, presenting things like organ functions, proper diet, and exercise in a manner that enthused the foals to respect their bodies and take good care of them.
Dr. Blake accepted the “note” which was actually a hoof-designed, oversized card decorated with rather gruesome renderings of internal body parts, colorful representations of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, and the distorted images of ponies exercising. Laughing, he said, “I’m saving each and every one of these, Chiffon. Someday, I’ll have them all published.”
“That’s not such a bad idea. They’d make a wonderful fund-raiser.”
“I’ll bring it before the board,” Blake grinned.
Chiffon, her eyes sweeping over the heavily piled desk, made her farewell. “I don’t want to keep you from your work any longer than necessary. Thanks once more for your interest in my students.”
“No problem. I learn as much from the foals as they learn from me.”
Smiling, Chiffon turned to go; but Dr. Blake was suddenly on his hooves. It had struck him that Tribute’s offer of a free meal should not be wasted on just himself. “Chiffon?” As the mare looked questioningly back at the stallion, Blake asked, “Would you be free for dinner tonight?”
The invitation caught Chiffon off guard, but Blake had such an engaging personality that she did not have to think twice. “As a matter of fact, I would be.”
“Great! It’s to be high style– Fernwood– and...”
Blake got no further as a nurse hurried into his office. “Dr. Blake, you’re needed in delivery, stat.”
As the doctor rushed by Chiffon, he called over his shoulder. “Eight o’clock! Meet me there!”
* * *
Feeling somewhat unsettled to be approaching Fernwood alone, Chiffon had the foreboding that something would be amiss... like Dr. Blake being unavoidably detained at the hospital; but as she had received no message from the good doctor, she had primped and fussed in preparation for an evening of vivifying conversation, finding herself looking forward to a carefree period of time away from her books and writings in the company of the good-natured yet sensible stallion. As she entered the eating establishment, she was disappointed to find that there was no sign of Blake; waiting off to the side, she watched as several other diners came into the establishment; but before she could become too nervous, the door opened once more and the stallion himself appeared.
“I hope I didn’t keep you waiting too long,” Blake smiled. “I should have warned you that I’m always late.”
“Not when it comes to medical emergencies, I hope,” Chiffon chided.
“I’m johnny-on-the-spot for those,” grinned the stallion. “Just ask Amelia; I arrived a good five minutes before her foal was delivered this morning.”
“And all went well?”
“Mother and daughter are doing great.”
Chiffon was impressed when the head waiter– Blackstone by name– bowed a welcome to Blake and immediately escorted the two of them to a waiting table; Chiffon was dismayed when she saw who was ensconced at that table, however. Her eyes, unbidden, flew to meet Tribute’s gaze; and she saw with some compensation of her distress that he appeared to be as surprised to see her there as she was to see him. Tribute stood, never taking his eyes from hers, and welcomed her, then Blake, as though he had not been caught off-stride. “And you both know Prissy,” he said as he settled a hoof lightly on the pink pegasus’ shoulder before reclaiming his chair.
Helping Chiffon to be seated, Blake nodded toward several empty glasses on the table. “You’ve been waiting awhile.”
“We ran into a slight problem,” Tribute said, a wry smile twisting his mouth.
“Slight problem?” Prissy retorted. “I would say that not having a motel room at my disposal is slightly more serious than that.”
“What’s this all about?” Blake asked, a cocked brow raised in Tribute’s direction.
“What it’s about,” hissed Prissy, “is that this poor excuse of a town can’t even keep its plumbing in line.”
“Plumbing?” voiced Chiffon, a twinkle in her eyes defying the consternation that she had first felt on her arrival. This evening might not be a total loss after all.
“The motel is having some problems with its plumbing,” explained Tribute. “The room reserved for Prissy, along with several others, are uninhabitable; and as that has created a shortage of rooms, there’s nothing else available.”
“How terrible,” sympathized Chiffon, sending a compassionate look Prissy’s way but unable to stifle a hint of a grin.
Blake, however, laughed outright. “I’m sure the plumber can solve the problem, Prissy.”
“That’s just it!” snapped the pegasus. “There’s only one plumber, and he’s out of town.”
“There are three plumbers in town,” Tribute corrected. “However, as they are all from the same family, they’ve gone to Frostmont for a wedding and won’t be home until Monday.”
The conversation was interrupted as the ponies gave their orders and Prissy pouted. When an opening came again, however, Blake brought the subject back to the front. “How are you going to solve the dilemma? Prissy has to stay somewhere.”
“That’s what we were discussing when you arrived. I was wondering, Blake, if I could bunk with you for a few days, leaving my apartment free for Prissy.”
“Hey, what are friends for? Sure, you can crash at my place, if you don’t mind sleeping on the couch.”
Chiffon, always the organizer– she had to be to control the planned and unplanned activities of a roomful of lively colts and fillies– had thought of a better plan. “It would be simpler and more convenient for everyone concerned if Prissy were to be a guest at my parents’ house for the weekend,” she offered. “The guest room is always prepared for just such an emergency.”
Tribute seemed amenable to the suggestion, but Prissy vetoed the idea. “I wouldn’t want to put you and your family out, Chiffon. It’s an unnecessary inconvenience.”
“Not at all,” Chiffon countered. “Tribute and Blake are the ones who will be inconvenienced if you don’t stay with us.” Remembering the unkept condition of Blake’s office, she envisioned a similar amount of disarray in his private lodging. “I’m sure Blake’s apartment is in no condition to harbor an unexpected guest.” She followed that statement with a wink in Blake’s direction.
Tribute saw the wink and came to the unwarranted conclusion that Chiffon must have been to Blake’s apartment already if she was privy to that information– he knew well enough that Blake’s housekeeping left something to be desired– and found himself frowning deeply across the table at both ponies. How long had Blake been keeping company with Chiffon, he moodily wondered.
Prissy, coming to the realization that a bedroom in a private home would undoubtedly be much more comfortable and amenable than Tribute’s spartan living quarters, grudgingly accepted Chiffon’s offer. With that business out of the way, Chiffon made a quick call home to forewarn her mother to expect a weekend guest; and the diners then settled down to enjoy their meal.
* * *
As Blake walked with Chiffon to her house– Tribute and Prissy having gone to fetch her luggage from Tribute’s apartment– Chiffon asked questions about Blake’s early life and learned some of his history, summarizing it for him as they reached the front porch of the home she still shared with her parents.
“From what I’ve been hearing, you’d be the colt in my classroom who is constantly instigating trouble of one sort or the other.”
“Correct,” Blake grinned. He looked at the porch swing longingly. “My grandparents have one of those, and I used to like nothing better than to sit in it while Grandpa told me stories in the gathering dusk. Shall we?” His hoof swept toward the swing.
When they were both seated and were gently swayed by the motion of the swing in the glow of the porch light, Chiffon turned their conversation to the growth of the clinic and the improvements that would be forthcoming as the physical layout expanded. Tribute’s and Heart Blossom’s names were mentioned in tandem with several projects being considered and Chiffon felt unexplainedly empty.
The evening was mild as Blake and Chiffon chatted and a caressing breeze brought the fragrance of early flowering hyacinths and nodding yellow daffodils to the ponies. The peace was disturbed, however, when a small but precipitous flying body swooped low over the porch coming directly toward Chiffon and Blake on the swing. Chiffon, recognizing the brown blur for what it was would not have been stricken under normal conditions, but the bat seemed to be coming straight toward her with no intention of using its ability to swerve out of the way. Following her instinct to avoid a confrontation with the flying mammal, she ducked sideways just as the bat swooped safely up over the ponies’ heads, literally thrusting herself into Blake’s forelegs.
“Why, Chiffon,” Blake drawled, “this couldn’t have turned out better if I’d planned it.” The stallion did not immediately release her.
Chiffon’s giggle was cut short when, from the porch steps, Tribute’s glacial voice asked, “Are we interrupting?”
Chuckling, Blake only slowly allowed Chiffon to extract herself from what must have appeared to be an embrace. Her cheeks, Chiffon knew for a fact, would be flaming; so she did not immediately look up at Prissy and Tribute but stalled for time so that the rosy glow could recede; she busied herself in retrieving the hair decoration that had dropped from her mane when she had flung herself onto Blake’s protection. As she picked it up and absently fiddled with it, she found that she was still unable to look into Tribute’s face; so she continued to concentrate her attention on the barrette as she listened to Blake merrily explain the startling appearance of the bat.
Tribute noted Chiffon’s every move and found his attention riveted on the barrette that Chiffon was besetting. It was not the loss of a hair clip that was bothering him, but the acute recollection of Chiffon’s resolute injunction to him to not touch her on the night he had walked her home from the hospital. Don’t touch me. Those words still haunted the stallion. Yet here tonight she had obviously allowed Blake to encircle her with his forelegs and had not found it distasteful. Why did she harbor this extreme dislike of him?
Tribute’s eyes raised from the hair ornament in Chiffon’s hooves to her face at the same time that Chiffon finally found the resolve to look at him; the mare was dismayed to note the glowering demeanor that Tribute presented. Realizing that the dislodged barrette seemed to indicate more than a simple recoil from the surprise at confronting an unexpected bat, Chiffon felt her cheeks flare red again and cursed her decision to wear an ornament that was known from past experience to have a defective clasp.
Chiffon stood up suddenly as Blake had finished his humorous and highly embroidered rendition of the bat and Prissy had giggled appreciatively, although sending cautious glances around her as if expecting another attack by the beast.
“Would you like to see your room, Prissy? I’m sure you must be exhausted after your journey today.”
The pink pegasus concurred and soon the two mares were alone on the porch, Tribute’s promise to come by early to show Prissy the sights of Woodlawn causing one mare to smile in anticipation and the other to frown in envy.
* * *
Arising early the next morning as was her habit, Chiffon was about to make her way downstairs when the guest room door opened.
“I thought I heard hoofsteps,” yawned Prissy, then sniffed the air, catching the aroma of something baking. “I’m starved; does breakfast come with the room?” She smiled at Chiffon, the first time that had ever happened.
“Good morning, Prissy; and yes, it does. Mom appreciates the opportunity to show off her culinary skills.”
“I’d better hurry then.” Prissy took off down the hall for the bathroom.
Chiffon watched as the pegasus withdrew and recalled their talk from the evening before as Chiffon had shown Prissy her room and the location of the amenities. Prissy had prattled on in apparent harmony with the situation, and Chiffon had been amazed that the two of them had actually exchanged words that were not barbed or venomous. She had found Prissy to be charming and even a bit witty, not at all unctuous as she had expected. They might even have been friends under different circumstances.
Breakfast proved to be lively affair with Prissy falling easily into friendly parley with Charger and with ready compliments for Velvet’s excellent morning repast. The conversation never lagged as Prissy shared the story of her life while also learning more about her hosts’ background. As Prissy’s own parents rarely entered her realm, too caught up in their own careers and socializing to bother with their daughter, she found the homey attention of Charger and Velvet a welcome indulgence.
When the doorbell rang while the foursome was laughing over tales shared, Charger went to admit Tribute, escorting him to the kitchen and offering him a cup of coffee. Uncomfortable being in Chiffon’s home with another mare caused Tribute to turn down the offer and instead turn his gaze to Prissy, asking if she was ready to begin her jaunt through Woodlawn. In no time at all, he had possessively guided the pegasus out of the house, leaving Chiffon to wonder if Heart Blossom might be in for a struggle to retain Tribute’s attention. She found herself favoring Prissy only because that mare would soon be back in Grayton, far removed from the supercilious regard of the stallion that was never far from Chiffon’s errant thoughts.
* * *
The evening brought a concert in celebration of spring to be presented in the high school auditorium. Chiffon and her parents attended in the company of their elderly neighbor, Painted Petals. Prissy, having returned to the house very late in the afternoon to freshen up, had departed again with Tribute, the two of them heading for Betty’s Buffet to experience a less sophisticated dining atmosphere with cuisine that may not have rivaled Fernwood’s gourmet menu but managed to entice a steady flow of satisfied customers. After enjoying a binge of foodstuffs with a local flavor, those two also headed to the high school for the musical extravaganza.
“Everyone’s staring,” complained Prissy as she and Tribute found seats in the already crowded gallery. Many eyes had indeed followed her entrance, the pink pegasus presenting a pleasing picture of poise and perfection. As she settled her wings becomingly over her back and sat down, she felt exceedingly uncomfortable with the attention paid her; even though she was used to such adulation back in Grayton, she felt out-of-place in Woodlawn, questioning just what these ponies saw in her.
Tribute gave Prissy a warm smile. “You are the most beautiful mare in the place, Prissy; who can blame them for staring?”
“Why, thank you, Tribute.” Prissy looked at the stallion in some surprise, her heart experiencing an unexpected flutter. She began to prattle in an uncharacteristic manner about a performance of the symphony orchestra she had heard at the concert hall in Grayton since his absence from that busting city.
Tribute, however, was not attending to her words; he was too occupied in scanning the other seats searching out a particular blue mare with spring green mane and orchid eyes, and he eventually found her off to his right and several rows ahead.
It was some minutes before Prissy realized that she had lost Tribute’s attention; it did not take her long to locate the source of his present preoccupation. The pegasus slumped more deeply back into her seat and sulked.
While overtly watching Chiffon, Tribute was treated with the sight of Blake approaching the mare with a smile upon his face; the stallion exchanged friendly greetings with Charger and Velvet and even Painted Petals. Tribute could not hear what was being said, but he could see that everyone in that select group was enjoying the conversation, if the laughter burbling from that direction was any indication.
All too clearly, Tribute noted that Chiffon extended her hoof to Blake– in quite a coquettish manner, he thought– and his eyes narrowed as he watched Blake help her from her seat, observing with barely disguised rancor that Blake did not release his hold on the smiling Chiffon even after the mare was steadily on her hooves.
Once again, Chiffon’s admonishing words, Don’t touch me, came back to haunt Tribute. He was at a loss to understand why she resented him so much, yet seemed perfectly comfortable with Blake. Tribute watched the two ponies disappear into the entry hall, then sank back sulkily into his seat as Prissy had done earlier.
* * *
To fathom Chiffon and Blake’s errand which had pulled them out of the auditorium so close to the starting of the concert, it is necessary to know that on the previous evening as the two ponies conversed on the porch swing, Chiffon had teased Blake that she knew everyone in Woodlawn and could name and give the background of any pony that he might point out to her.
As it turned out, Blake had spotted a mare working at the concession stand as he came into the high school this evening that he would like to get to know better. Feeling uncomfortable in simply introducing himself to the mare in question– and with Chiffon’s boast still fresh in his memory– Blake had sought Chiffon out, daring her to make good her rodomontade. Chiffon had been delighted to accept his challenge.
Giggling with unsuppressed glee, Chiffon smiled at Blake as he pointed out his target. “She’s my cousin.” Pertly taking the lead now, Chiffon led Blake to the counter where she greeted her relative. “Hi, Silver Frost; how’d you end up behind the counter?”
“All the student workers are involved in the concert, so they asked for volunteers from the staff. What could I say?” Silver Frost grinned at her cousin and looked curiously at Chiffon’s companion.
“Silver Frost, have you met Dr. Blake?”
“Dr. Blake.” Silver Frost flicked her gaze over the stallion; then, as if approving of what she saw, she extended her hoof. “I’m happy to say I’ve not needed your services at the clinic, but I’ve heard many glowing reports of your skill as a physician. It’s nice to meet you.”
“Be assured, the pleasure is all mine,” Blake drawled gallantly, a certain sparkle lighting his eye. “And just how are you and Chiffon related?”
“Chiffon’s mother, Velvet, and my father, Tribute, are brother and sister,” explained Silver Frost.
“So you have an uncle named Tribute?” queried a fascinated Blake of Chiffon.
“Yes, I do.”
“Did the two of you come out here to buy something?” prodded Silver Frost with a glance at the clock. “I’m allowed to close the stand once the concert starts.”
“Three sodas, please,” Blake stated smoothly.
Silver Frost delivered the order, then took off the jaunty white cap with the high school logo on it that she was wearing. “The refreshment stand is officially closed,” she remarked, coming around to join Chiffon and Blake.
Having offered one of the sodas to Chiffon, Blake now extended the other to Silver Frost and took the third for himself. “Chiffon has a seat with her parents, but I wasn’t so fortunate and the place seems to be packed. Do you have any helpful suggestions, Silver Frost?”
Chiffon rolled her eyes and left the two ponies to their own devices.
* * *
Regaining a certain amount of his good humor when he spotted Chiffon returning to her parents without Blake in tow and realizing with relief that she was not planning on spending the entire evening with that stallion, Tribute was able to submit a soothing smile in Prissy’s direction and even went so far as to pat her hoof where it rested on the support between them. As the concert began, Prissy, too, regained her pleasure in the evening as the colts and fillies presented a sometimes poignant, sometimes frolicsome, assortment of medleys that spoke of spring.
Tribute lost track of Chiffon as the auditorium emptied at the close of the performance. He escorted Prissy to Hood’s Place where they could have a snack before ending their day, and observed Blake’s entrance with a mare that Tribute was unacquainted with. Blake was so caught up in his conversation with the mare that he did not note Tribute and Prissy’s presence and sat himself and his companion at a corner table far removed from the spot occupied by that couple, but Tribute was pleased to see that the pending threat of Blake for Chiffon’s affections seemed to be less dangerous than he had been beginning to think.
After he had walked Prissy back to Chiffon’s house, and they had said their goodnights, and Tribute was again alone on his way back to his apartment, his spirits fell once more. Assuredly, it was a relief to know that Blake was not with Chiffon, but that did not help the loneliness that washed over the stallion over the brutal reality that neither was Chiffon with him.
* * *
Sunday was the day that Prissy was to return to Grayton, and business of his own in that city that needed his personal attention would have Tribute at her side for the journey. When the congregation left the church, Prissy fondly hugged Velvet and Charger, thanking them for their kind hospitality; and she and Chiffon made a quite amiable parting as well. Tribute was amazed at the friendship that now seemed to unite the two females who had begun their acquaintance with daggers drawn. He hung on to that scene in his mind; if Chiffon could overcome her dislike for the proud and priggish Prissy, then– presumably– she could eventually overcome her dislike for him as well. At least it offered a glimmer of hope.
* * *
Arriving in Grayton, Tribute first took Prissy straight to her apartment where they were met by a stallion with a rather censoring look upon his face. His angry eyes took in Tribute’s presence, but he did not seem to be subdued by the commanding demeanor of the stallion. Rather, the brunt of his indignation was delivered squarely to Prissy herself.
“And just where did you run off to without telling me?” the stallion demanded.
Prissy, at first shocked by the appearance before her, adapted an air of equanimity, shaking off the protective hoof Tribute placed on her shoulder.
“I didn’t realize that I needed to report my every move to you, Jason.”
Jason. Now Tribute remembered where he had seen the stallion. He was the conductor for the local orchestra. Come to think of it, hadn’t Prissy been enthusing over a recent performance by that group? Tribute tried to remember the details, but found them fuzzy in his mind.
Walking to her door, Prissy did not note the angry tensing of Jason. The flaxen-haired stallion glared, his cerise coloring deepening. “I had expected to accompany you to the theater Friday evening, but you weren’t at home. Nor were you home on Saturday... and only now do you come trailing in.”
Prissy turned round, innocent eyes on Jason. Tribute could only grin; if he was a betting stallion, he would put all his jangles on Prissy.
“Friday evening, Jason? Are you sure? I don’t remember... oh, yes! You did say something about a new play coming to town; but for the life of me, I don’t recall that you invited me.”
“Of course I invited you! I specifically remember mentioning it to you when you caught our symphony rehearsal last week.”
“In that one brief moment when you noticed my presence?” Prissy asked silkily, her eyes registering cold contempt. She had waited for Jason after the rehearsal, but he had been too busy to give her his attention. No one brushed off Prissy that presumptuously without a certain amount of pay-back.
Suddenly realizing that he was fast losing his control of this confrontation, Jason shot a glance at Tribute as if for backup, then approached Prissy with a more composed stature than before. “I thought you understood that by mentioned the play, I was inferring that we would attend together.”
“You assumed too much, Jason,” the pegasus cooly informed him. “Now, as I’m tired after my long trip, I’d like some peace and quiet.”
The stallion accepted his dismissal with as much honor as he could regroup under the circumstances. “Very well, Prissy... if that’s what you want.”
Bidding her a hasty good evening, Jason beat his retreat to the elevator. Tribute shook his head. “You’re playing with the fellow, Prissy.”
“He is amusing.”
“Someday, you’re going to get caught in your own web.”
Prissy shrugged. “But I’ll have had fun in the meantime. Which reminds me, thank you for a lovely weekend. I enjoyed my stay in Woodlawn much more than I thought I would.”
“Why, Prissy, you never cease to amaze me.”
“That doesn’t mean I’d ever want to live there.”
“But you will come to visit again?”
“If life in Grayton ever gets boring...”
* * *
Making his way now to a former colleague’s apartment, Tribute found Putter entrenched before his wide-screen television with a bowl of popcorn.
“Hey, your timing’s perfect. The credits just came on.” Putter clicked off the electronics and pounded his friend on the back. “How’d Prissy manage her stay in Woodlawn?”
“Surprisingly well, considering her motel reservation was cancelled.”
“So her impression of the hinterland proved correct. Did she convince you to return to your place here?”
“She didn’t even try.”
Putter looked surprised, but did not press the point. “How are things going for you in Woodlawn?”
“Quite well. The new construction is underway; the hospital has a competent administrator who isn’t afraid to plan for the future; and Blake, you will remember, is quite a go-getter in his own right.”
“And what of the social life?”
“There’s no time to be bored.”
“I find that hard to believe, after the life you lived here.”
“I enjoy my work, Putter, and I believe I’ve reached the point in my life where I want to settle down a bit.”
“Any potential leads on someone to settle down with?”
“I’ve met a number of talented and attractive mares, equal to what Grayton has to offer.”
Laughing, Putter observed, “It’s a good thing for you that they’re not all like that Satin, or Silk, or whatever her name was.”
“Chiffon,” corrected Tribute. He grew thoughtful. “Yes, it’s a good thing they aren’t all like her.”
* * *
His business in Grayton complete, Tribute made a side-trip to New Pony to spend some time with his parents before heading west once more. Andrew and Ribbons n’ Lace were delighted to see their son, even if for such a short duration. Both listened avidly to the recital of his life and times in Woodlawn, but Andrew noted with some concern that not a word was mentioned concerning Chiffon. Only when they had a moment alone did Tribute admit to his father that he had made no headway in securing Chiffon’s affection. Worried to note the depression this admission seemed to cause his son, Andrew watched him set out on the road to Woodlawn with a heavy heart. Only later, after some careful discernment, did Andrew approach his wife. “My dear, it’s time that we go to Woodlawn ourselves to see what our son is up to.”
Ribbons n’ Lace looked at her husband curiously, then sat back to hear his explanation.
***Now, just go to http://mlpmonthly.tripod.com/Contact.htm for an easy way to tell the author that you enjoyed their story!***
Friends, Foes, and Secrets
by Barnacle (KrazedRaptor@aol.com)
“And the winner is: the X-Crewwww!” Vic’s announcement blared forth from the portable speaker system set up around the end of the course.
Jet pulled his face out of the mud and managed to look up just as Outré rolled across the finish line. “Dude!” he exclaimed, turning the word into a curse as he pounded his fist on the ground. However, this just splattered more of the soft mud into his face; so instead of relieving any of his anger over the loss, it further dampened his spirits. “Dude…” he said again, more weakly this time, before lowering his head back to the ground. He couldn’t bear to see the X-Crew showered with all the glory after all he had put into this race.
“Jet! Jet, are you all right!?” Luge cried as she and the rest of the Xtreme Team came running out to him.
“I’m fine,” he said half-heartedly.
Mogul pulled the mountain bike off of his friend and untangled his legs from the frame.
“Well, on the plus side, that was one impressive crash,” Cliff said as he helped Jet up.
“Dude! What are you makin’ jokes for!? We just lost our second match in a row, and you know those X-Crew jerks cheated again to take it from us!” Mogul shouted.
“Easy now,” Cliff said calmly. “We don’t know that they cheated.”
“Really? Then how is it that they just happened to go around all those hidden logs and pits out there when we ended up in every one of them head first!?”
Cliff sighed. He knew that Mogul was probably correct in his assumptions. After all, the mysterious pony named Shard had warned them of similar dangers on the last course, but this time he had not made an appearance to offer any more advice. Regardless, they couldn’t risk a fight at this point. “Chill out,” their leader said. “We don’t have any proof, and you remember what Mr. Yanus said about fights.”
Mogul ground his teeth together, and those present could practically see the steam rising from his head.
“Dude, right now the only facts we have is that they won and we lost,” Jet muttered.
“It wasn’t for a lack of trying,” Luge added as she motioned to Blade and Bungee, who were both covered in nearly as much mud as Jet was, and were just as worn out.
“We obviously didn’t try hard enough,” Blade said. “Every time we’d get ahead, there’d always be something else in our way.”
“Now we’re the only team without a win,” Bungee said dejectedly.
Cliff suddenly threw up his hooves and stepped into the center of the group. “Look, everyone has just got to calm down and focus. Yeah, we might’ve lost in New Pony, and now here at Buffalo Bend, but tomorrow we’re moving out to Sweet Water Springs for the next round and we WILL win there! One way or another, we are not going to let this stuff get us down and take away our edge! Yeah, the X-Crew is probably rigging the courses, but that just shows you that they can’t beat us with their own skill! They have to cheat and they’re still just barely coming in ahead of us! Next time, we win, they loose, got it?”
“Yeah!” Bungee cried out.
The others were less enthusiastic but still murmured their consent and nodded in agreement.
“Now let’s go get cleaned up and get ready for tomorrow. We roll out at seven.”
“Wow,” Luge said jokingly to Cliff as the others moved off towards the trailers, “did you ever think of joining the Army?”
“Shut up,” Cliff replied and gave her a friendly shove.
* * *
Later, the six of them were all gathered in their ESL-supplied coach that had become their home-away-from-home and would continue to function in this capacity for the remainder of their time with the organization. The vehicle was a huge self-contained house on wheels with a small kitchen, dinning room/living room, six bunk rooms, a large bathroom, and even a storage area in the back for all of their gear. Each of the teams was given one of the vehicles to use as their base of operations during the tour.
As for the rest of the workers required to keep the games up and running, they were supplied with more modest accommodations while the sets and electrical equipment were dismantled and loaded into several trailers. This is what the technical crew was busy with at the moment because, in the morning, all of these vehicles would roll off to the next venue in a long winding caravan. If the ESL went over as well as planned, the tour schedule would take them all over the continent, meaning they would have to repeat this process every couple of days. While this arrangement might not have seemed like the most desirable one, everyone involved was still too excited to become disgruntled with it just yet. In fact, rumors were beginning to surface that they might even take a tour overseas!
“I say we go over to their trailer tonight and have a little chat with those X-Dorks,” Mogul was saying as he pounded his fist into his open hoof.
“What part of ‘get in a fight and get thrown off the tour’ don’t you understand?” Luge asked him.
“I didn’t say ‘start a fight’,” Mogul said. “I said ‘have a chat’.”
“Don’t they mean the same thing with you?” Bungee commented as she reached into the refrigerator for a drink. Jet began laughing from his seat at the round table in the corner but didn’t bother looking up from his hand-held video game.
Mogul was about to make some rude comment involving the game, but just then Cliff stepped into the room. “Even if you could hold your temper, Mogul, I doubt they would.”
“Great, so then we get them thrown out.”
“Dude!” Jet agreed. Luge just shook her head with a sigh.
“I also doubt Mr. Yanus would be so quick to punish them,” Cliff said. “You saw the way he treated them the last time; it was like WE were the ones at fault.”
“You think he’s playing favorites?” Luge asked.
“Oh, that sounds like fun,” Bungee said as she stared out the window. “What are the rules?”
Ignoring their strange companion, Cliff said, “Hey, you were all there. You saw it just as well as I did.”
“Yeah, and just the other day I bumped into X talkin’ to Yanus over at the supply trailer when I was– looking for wax for my board.”
Jet snickered again, “Yeah, ‘wax’. Dude, you were looking for the camera chick, Misty!”
“Dude, I’ve seen you lookin’ at her!”
“Makin’ googly eyes before the run today,” Bungee added.
“Shut up!” Mogul pounded his fist on the table. “And what about you and Kadin?”
“Oh, he’s cute,” Luge said.
“I know, isn’t he?” Bungee added.
“I was tryin’ to make a point here!”
“That you shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the X-Crew?” Blade asked as she tried to control her own laughter.
“No!” he snapped. “X was talkin’ to Yanus, and the punk started to pick a fight with me right there in front of that stiff suit. Then Yanus chews ME out and tells ME to take a hike.”
“Everybody. Everybody, just chill,” Cliff said in a serious tone. “So, Mogul,” Cliff paused and then continued, barely able to hold his own laugher in now. “Did you ever find any board wax?”