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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Issue 73
April 2003


1. Letters to the Editor

2. Contest!

3. Survey!

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!

-Baby Moondreamer

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:



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 (

Baby Jedi (

Pika-Chan (

Melody (

Baby Moondreamer (

Baby Dibbles (

Violet Star Shine (

Berry Brite (

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 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( says...

“All I can say is,

“‘Theeey’re baaaaaack...’

“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... ~



by Rainbow Dash (



::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 ^-^ “” ..>



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:<<

>>>The design<<<

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 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.

Best Regards,

Rainbow Dash


<.. 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: ^-^



A Dream Come True
by Steamer (

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 for an easy way to tell the author that you enjoyed their story!***


Welcome to Ponyland
Part 1
by Skye (

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.

***Now, just go to for an easy way to tell the author that you enjoyed their story!***


Fate Stalks On
by Sugarberry (

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?”

“At Fernwood.”

“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.”

“It is.”

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...”

“Goodnight, Prissy.”

* * *
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 for an easy way to tell the author that you enjoyed their story!***


Friends, Foes, and Secrets
by Barnacle (

“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!”

“Shut up.”

“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?”

“No, I swiped Jet’s.”

Jet suddenly stopped playing his game and looked at Mogul with a look of shock on his face. “Dude, I was looking everywhere for that.”

The banter and laugher continued for a little while longer before they settled down enough so that they could address the matter at hoof.

“Back to the matter at hoof,” Cliff said, still stifling a chuckle.

“Right, the X-Crew is cheating and we have no proof,” Luge said

“Um, do we even know that it is the X-Crew?” Blade asked timidly.

Mogul replied in a gruff tone, “What, you think it’s the Blade Runners?”

“Well…they did win the first match, and they came in second this time. Since neither us or the X-Crew finished the first race, that does put them in the lead.” Everyone was silenced by this new revelation as they let it sink in. They had never considered this possibility before, but the ramifications of it were dire indeed. None of them wanted to believe it, but what it now implied was that they couldn’t trust anyone.

“Let’s stop this line of reasoning right now,” Cliff said. “If we keep it up, we’re not even going to be able to count on each other.”

“Dude, Mogul did steal my board wax.”

“Stop your cryin’,” Mogul said. “I’ll get you some more. Maybe.”

Luge spoke up next. “What we know is that X knew about the pit on the first race, and the X-Crew didn’t hit a single trap on today’s. The Blade Runners were in the same boat as us today, and the first time they just got lucky because Cliff and X were in the pit already.”

“Plus that Shard guy told us about the X-Crew cheating,” Bungee added.

“And just who is Shard anyways?” Mogul asked. “Some nut job sneakin’ around in the shadows talkin’ about traps and conspiracies? I beat ya’ he’s the one who’s riggin’ it.”

“Why?” Luge asked.

Cliff agreed, “Yeah, what’s his motivation? Set traps on the courses and then tell the X-Crew AND us about them the first time and then only the X-Crew the second time? That doesn’t make any sense.”

“Then it HAS to be the X-Crew,” Mogul said. “Let’s go over there and bust some heads.”

“No head busting,” Cliff said firmly. “I’ll go talk to Mr. Yanus and see if he can do anything about it. They may be his favorite team, but even he can’t overlook cheating.”

“I’ll come with you,” Luge added.

On his way out the door, Cliff paused and turned to the others. “Keep an eye on Mogul and make sure he stays out of trouble.”

“Dude! You can count on us,” Jet said with a salute.

“Yeah, definitely the Army,” Luge said under her breath.

Cliff heard her, however, and stuck an accusing hoof at Jet. “Stop that!” Meekly, Jet lowered his hoof as Cliff left the coach with Luge behind him, giggling softly.

Once they had gone, Bungee stepped forward and said, “Oooo, spooky. All these conspiracies and mysteries and stuff; it’s just like who killed JFK... except without the motorcade... or the snipers...” She trailed off at that point, lost in her own thoughts.

“Or even a clue what’s going on,” Mogul muttered.

Blade slumped down in her chair, “Now I’m bored. Do we have anything to do?”

“We put away all the gear and everything’s ready for tomorrow,” Mogul replied. “It’s our own time to kill now.”

“Hey, I know!” Bungee suddenly jumped up. “I’ve gotta go over to the Blade Runners’ bus.”


“Kadin invited me over; he said something about a song or something.”

“Kadin,” Mogul chuckled.

“Hey, why don’t you go find that camera girl you like?” Blade said with a grin.

“Shut up.”

“Dude, Mogul wouldn’t want to go see her,” Jet said.

“Thank you,” Mogul replied.

“Yeah, she’s too busy putting all her camera stuff away; he wouldn’t want to disturb her.”

“You little–“ Mogul jumped out of his chair and lunged at Jet, but the wise-cracking pony was already well out of range.

“Why don’t you guys come along and hang out?” Bungee asked. “It would be fun.”

Mogul scoffed at the idea. “I don’t want to hang out with the competition.”

“Dude, I’m almost at level twenty-five!” Jet replied, holding up his video game. “I can’t stop now!”


“Oh, I don’t know…”

“I’ll be fun!”

“I don’t really–“

Grabbing Blade’s hoof, Bungee pulled her out the door. “You need to get out more and meet new ponies.”

Once the two girls were gone, Mogul and Jet were left on opposite sides of the table. All of Jet’s attention was directed at the video game in his hooves while Mogul slouched down in his chair and stared at the wall. He just couldn’t put the events of the last few days out of his head and the anger down inside was beginning to boil up again. Across the table, as Jet got further and further into the game, he was squirming around more and more in his seat as he pushed the buttons intensely. The soft but rapid tapping, along with the incessant beeps coming from the game, filled the quiet cabin. Mogul began drumming his hooves on the table top as he stared more fiercely at the wall.

Finally, he couldn’t take it any longer and slammed his fist down. Jet nearly jumped out of his seat. “Dude!” he cried out as his game began to play taps on its tiny speaker.

Mogul jumped out of his chair and began pacing back and forth across the small room. “Argh! I can’t take it any more!”

Jet sank back into his chair, eyes fixed on the game screen. “Dude,” he said, close to tears, “I was that close, level twenty-five, I almost made it.”

“I’m going over to find out what those X-Jerks think they’re doing!” Mogul cried as he leaned on the table with both hooves.

Jet looked up. “But Cliff said we had to keep you out of trouble…” He quickly glanced around the room, only now realizing he was alone with Mogul. “I have to keep you out of trouble,” Jet clarified.

“Then you better come along, cuz I’m goin’ over there one way or another!” Mogul replied and stormed out of the coach.

For a moment, Jet stayed planted in his chair, not entirely sure what to do. Eyes fixed to the table top, he was frozen in place. “Dude!” he cursed and then ran out of the coach after Mogul.

He caught up with his hot-headed companion not at all far away and hurried to get in front of him. Size to size, Jet was no match for Mogul; but he wasn’t going to let something bad happen if he could help it. “Dude,” he said, “think, you’re gonna get in trouble.”

“I’m not gonna start a fight; I just want to talk,” Mogul said without even breaking his stride. “Just gonna talk.”

“But I don’t think they’re gonna wanna talk,” Jet pleaded with him.

“Then they get to listen.”

Seeing how successful he was so far, Jet decided to change tactics. “Dude, you’re outnumbered. Six to one. They’ll rip you apart…”

“I’m not gonna fight,” Mogul said again, “but if THEY wanna fight, you got my back, right?”

Jet stopped in his tracks and Mogul went right past him. “Me!? I don’t wanna fight!”

“A little late to back out now,” Mogul muttered over his shoulder. “We’re here.”


They had, in fact, arrived at the X-Crew’s coach. Smiley and Alex were outside of the vehicle, loading up some of their gear in a box. At first they did not notice the two ponies from the Xtreme Team, but that changed soon enough.

“Hey,” Mogul said as he walked right up to the two X-Crew members, “I wanna have a little chat with you guys.”

Smiley looked up from his work where he was crouched down next to the box and slowly straightened up to his full height. Jet stayed well behind Mogul, much like Alex did behind Smiley.

“Well, look what we have here,” Smiley said with an evil grin. “If it isn’t two of the Losers. Tell me, how does it feel to be a loser?”

Mogul did not back off one bit; in fact, he stood his ground all the more firmly as a result.

“Funny, I was gonna ask you how it felt to be a cheater,” Mogul replied.

A bit of Smiley’s cockiness slipped from his face at that, but only a bit. “Cheater? You think I was cheating out there? I’d never need to cheat to beat an amateur like you,” Smiley said.

“Really? Then how is it that your team just happened to know where every obstacle was out there today?”

“I’d have to chalk it up to skill, but I’m sure you wouldn’t know anything about that,” Smiley said. Then, without turning his head, he spoke to Alex, saying, “Why don’t you bring the others out here? I think X might like to talk with this guy.” Then, back to Mogul, he added, “Seriously, it’s just bad form to blame your own failures on someone else.”

“We know your game; we’re on to you. You might as well just admit it now and save yourself the trouble later.”

“Dude, I think we should go…” Jet was saying from behind his comrade.

“Chill out, Jet,” Mogul said and motioned to the door of the coach as the other members of the X-Crew came filing out. “I want to have a chat with the head man himself.”

“Dude…” Jet muttered but his protest fell on deaf ears.

In short order Dragon, Alex, Outré, Max, Smiley, and X had all formed a ring around the two Xtreme Team ponies. “So,” X said with his sadistic smile plastered firmly on his face, “I hear you want to have a little chat with us. You claim we’ve been cheating?”

“Claim nothing, I know for a fact that you guys are up to some seriously underhanded stuff,” Mogul boasted.

“Oh, really?” Dragon asked. “And what kind of proof do you have?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” Mogul chuckled.

“I knew I should have gone with Bungee…” Jet muttered to himself as the X-Crew closed in around them.

* * *
The obvious first choice to look for Mr. Yanus was his office; but Cliff and Luge quickly discovered that this was not necessarily the case, as he was not there. Even his annoying assistant was not lurking in the shadows, so they were forced to wander around the grounds looking for him. Everyone they asked seemed to have seen him no more than five minuets before and that he had just left. When they went to the next place he had supposedly just gone, they were again presented with the same beliefs as to Mr. Yanus’ whereabouts. Eventually, without having seen so much as a glance of the stallion, they ended up back at his office trailer in a confrontation with his assistant who was now there.

“We’re here to see Mr. Yanus,” Cliff said to the gray pony sitting at the desk before him.

“Do you have an appointment?” she asked as she adjusted her glasses and looked down at her planner.

“No,” Cliff replied. “I don’t have the time to mess around with that; we just need to talk with him.”

“Mr. Yanus is a very important pony; you can’t just barge into his office whenever you want.”

“We don’t want to ‘barge in,’ we just want to talk,” Luge said.

“I’m sorry, but he’s in a meeting right now and won’t be finished for some time.”

“We can wait,” Cliff said sternly.

“Mr. Yanus has other matters to– ” she stopped short as the door to Mr. Yanus’ office swung open. Backing out of the room was Vic, the announcer, who was, as always, sharply dressed.

“–all I’m sayin’ is that I don’t get it. Now baseball, football, those are sports; this stuff is like a carnival complete with its own freak show,” Vic was saying but had finally turned around and caught sight of the two athletes. “Oh, hi,” he added with an insincere smile.

Mr. Yanus, who was coming through the door right behind Vic, had noticed Cliff and Luge a moment earlier and perhaps saved himself from an equally embarrassing moment. “We’ll finish this later,” Yanus said to Vic, who quickly disappeared out the door.

“Shadie, what are they doing here?”

The mare behind the desk stood up and said, “I was just about to send them away. They wanted to talk to you.”


“The X-Crew,” Cliff replied before Shadie could, even though they had never gotten the chance to tell her why they were there.

“What about the X-Crew?” Yanus asked as he stepped out of the doorway and a few steps closer to the two.

Both Cliff and Luge glanced over at Shadie; but she was standing her ground, and Mr. Yanus didn’t seem to even notice her presence.

“We think they might be cheating,” Luge said.

Yanus’ eyebrows raised in a reserved sort of surprise. “Really?” he asked. “And what led you to this conclusion? I hope you’re not so upset over today’s outcome that you’re trying to blame them for your own failings.”

“Far from it,” Cliff said. He could already feel his collar beginning to warm up. “We simply have reason to believe they might have rigged today’s course.”

“What sort of reason?”

“We were told by a– ” Luge started to say, but Cliff spoke up and cut her off.

“–by an anonymous source. And frankly, after today’s run, we were more than a little curious as to whether or not it was true.”

“Interesting,” Yanus replied as he stroked his chin thoughtfully. “I’ll have to look into this. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.”

“We’re… glad to help,” Luge said with a meek smile.

“Well, good; now if you’ll excuse me, I have a lot of work to do before we head out tomorrow.” With that, Yanus turned around and headed back into his office, closing the door behind him.

“And I believe you two should be running along, as well,” Shadie said sternly.

“Yeah,” Cliff said. “Oh and look at that, the sun’s already going down; we better hit the sack early tonight; good bye, see you later, have a nice evening.”
Luge waved to the scowling mare as Cliff pulled her from the trailer that acted as Mr. Yanus’s mobile office while on the road. Outside, the sun was indeed beginning to set as the two ponies made their way across the grounds. They took their time as they made their way around the trailers and roadies who were still scurrying about on various tasks.

“So what was all that about?” Luge asked. “Why didn’t we tell him about Shard?”

Cliff shook his head slowly back and forth. “I don’t know, but there is something about that guy that I do not trust.”

“Yanus? Or Shard?”

“Either. Both. Take your pick. We have to sort through this before we tell him everything. I just have a bad feeling that something sinister is going on here.”

“Sinister, huh? THAT bad?”

“Yeah, THAT bad.”

“And remember how hard we had to work to get here in the first place?”

“I know; ain’t it great?”

“So what’s the plan now?”

“I guess we’ll have to hope that Mr. Yanus finds something.”

“And if not?”

“If not, we’ll just have to play that much harder.”

“And here I thought we were going to be having fun.”

“You’re not having fun?” Cliff asked. “I’m having fun. This is fun.”

“Now you shut up,” Luge replied with a shove of her own.

“Well, here we are, home sweet home,” Cliff said, stopping outside of their coach.

“It sure sounds like they’re having fun in there,” Luge said. Even on the outside with the door closed, they could hear the music playing loudly on the inside.

“I just hope that means they managed to stay out of trouble,” Cliff said. Sweeping the door open and giving a mock bow, he said, “After you.”

“Why thank–“ Luge began to say but never finished her statement. They stood frozen in the doorway– the sight that greeted them was not quite the one they had been expecting. Inside the coach’s living room were gathered ten ponies in various stages of recline. As soon as the door had been swung open, all of them stopped talking and looked towards the door, leaving as the only noise that was heard the music blaring from the stereo.

“What’s going on here?” Cliff stammered.

Bungee jumped up from her seat amongst the group and stumbled forward. “Don’t worry about it, boss; we just invited the Blade Runners over for a little party!”

“Yeah,” Mogul added. “It was the least we could do after they saved my butt back there.”

Both Luge and Cliff were dumbstruck. Too much information was being thrown at them too quickly. Instead of clearing up the situation, it only made understanding that much worse. Mogul, sitting in the corner, looked as though he had just been through a war. His eye was blackened and the rest of him was a mess; but yet he was smiling broadly and raising a toast with Gryphon, who was sitting next to him.

Gryphon, who was quite possibly the largest pony Cliff had ever seen, smashed his own glass into Mogul’s, spilling most of the contents of both glasses onto the table. Laughing heartily, he said, “Yes, my little friends here got themselves into a bit of a scrape, but we pulled them out!” Putting his foreleg around Jet, sitting on the other side of him, the massive pony nearly strangled him.

“Wha-what do you mean, a bit of a scrape?” Cliff asked.

Pushing himself out of Gryphon’s grip, Jet exclaimed, “Dude! Stupid here thought he’d go pick a fight with the whole X-Crew!”

“You what!?”

“I was just gonna talk,” Mogul said in reply, “but then those two laughing hyenas of theirs, Alex and Max, grab Jet and hold him down while the other four pound the crap out of me.”

“Yeah, but then we heard all the commotion from the Blade Runners’ coach and went to check it out!” Bungee exclaimed.

“And then we busted their heads!” Gryphon added.

“Once they let go of Mogul and Jet, the X-Crew weren’t willing to throw down with all ten of us,” Nikita said. “They’re really just a bunch of chickens when the rubber hits the road.”

“Mogul! You’re gonna get us thrown out!” Luge exclaimed. “You can’t go doing stuff like that!”

“I would not worry about getting thrown out,” Valentina spoke up with her thick accent.

“Yeah,” Trajan added. “They had the nerve to threaten us with that one during our little stand off– until we pointed out that it was ten against six and it would be their word against ours.”

“So what, we’re just going to pretend it never happened and forget about it?” Cliff asked.

“Well, Mr. Yanus never has to know about it,” Nikita said. “But I kind of doubt the X-Crew will ever forget.”

“I can’t believe this,” Cliff muttered. “I told you guys to stay out of trouble and what do you do? You get into trouble. You know, Mogul, if we didn’t need you in this competition, I’d be tempted to throw you off our team anyway!”

“You’d never get rid of me,” Mogul said with a smile. “Without me, you don’t have a chance of beating the X-Crew out on the field!”

“You just keep telling yourself that,” Cliff said, finally allowing himself a smile of his own. “But now what are we supposed to do?”

“Oh, I think that’s pretty clear,” Luge said as she pulled him into the room with the others.

Standing up in the back and holding his guitar aloft, Kadin finished her thought. “PARTY!”

Next: “Victory or Bust”

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Moonlite by Moon
Part Two
by Emily (

Previously... Starshine predicted a dire fate for her fellow ponies if they did not leave their home immediately.

Meanwhile, back at the baby’s cottage, Sundance and Starshine were helping the baby ponies pack for the journey. “Come on now, hurry up,” Sundance said encouragingly.

“Okay, okay, okay, we’re coming,” Baby Lickety Split said.

The sun rose high in the sky, and time passed; it was now noon. All the ponies gathered together at the big main cottage. Wind Whistler flew up high in the sky above all the rest and made sure everyone and everything was there. It was time; it was time to leave.

“As you all know,” Wind Whistler began, “we will be leaving for Dream Valley shortly. Please make sure you’ve packed everything you had here; we don’t want to leave anything behind now. Dream Valley is about ten days away, and we have to travel at least twenty miles a day, or it’s going to be a long time before we get there,” she warned. “Do you all understand that if we don’t travel two miles by midnight, we will be trapped in this valley forever, and that evil spirits might be released as a punishment for not making it out in time?”

All the ponies nodded their heads slowly. Everyone was scared.

Two hours later the ponies had started the journey, and had already traveled half a mile. Everyone was tired, the sun beamed over them. The grass was starting to turn brown and dry, which made it taste very bad.

Everyone was curious as to what Cascade, living in the heart of Cascade Falls, would say to all this. When they had crossed a tree with a sign on it pointing to the right to get to Cascade Falls, the ponies turned onto that road. When they had traveled one and a half miles, Beachball suddenly winked out and winked in outside of Cascade’s waterfall (in which Cascade lived).

Beachball started trotting slowly up to the waterfall and nickered to alert Cascade she had company. Cascade galloped out in full speed and whinnied to Beachball. She was very joyful and reared and bucked, as she was glad Beachball had come to visit her.

Beachball was also smiling happily, until she remembered why she had come here. Her smile quickly turned into a sad frown; and all of a sudden Cascade stopped and looked at her seriously, knowing that something was wrong. Beachball was hardly ever serious; and when she was, there was something seriously wrong.

“What is it, Beachball?” Cascade asked curiously.

“We need to leave this valley; otherwise we will be trapped here forever, and evil spirits will be unleashed and haunt us forever as a punishment for staying,” Beachball said sadly, her purple eyes deepening with sadness.

“No!!” Cascade cried.

“Yes,” Beachball said. “We’ll be arriving in about an hour; you had better be ready then...” She turned away from Cascade and winked out.

Cascade looked down at the ground as tears ran down her muzzle; she turned around towards her home and went into her waterfall cottage.

Beachball winked back in to where the rest of the herd was, a quarter of a mile away from Cascade’s home. Wind Whistler and everybody else did not even bother to ask where Beachball had been, as they would soon find out what had happened.

The herd had stopped for a rest and were grazing on the grass that was still green and eating other stuff they had brought with them, like carrots. All the baby ponies were playing, except for Baby Gusty, who was sitting by a tree, studying the grass and thinking.

What’s going to happened to us? thought Baby Gusty. She sighed deeply and went off to play with the other baby ponies; or at least she tried to play, but she didn’t really feel like being frivolous during such a serious situation.

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Chapter #8:
What Should We Do?
by Melody (

“Bright Eyes wasn’t at school today. Do you think something’s wrong?” asked Patch.

“I don’t know,” said Melody.

“Maybe she’s sick,” suggested Sweetheart.

“I hope not,” sighed Clover.

“I haven’t seen her much over the last week,” Bon Bon told them.

“I saw her yesterday. She’s got a cat!” said Starlight.

“Really? Are you sure?” asked Melody.

“Yes. Its name’s Amber. She’d just taken it to the vet. It’s a really nice cat. It’s got these big yellow eyes. I guess that’s why she calls it Amber,” replied Starlight.

“Boo!” shouted a voice behind Sweetheart.

Sweetheart leapt out of her chair at the Ice Cream Shoppe and turned around. “Teddy!” she cried.

“You were expecting someone else?” he grinned.

“I should’ve known…” Sweetheart shook her head.

“Anyhoo, what’s up?” asked Teddy, settling into a booth.

“We’re just talking about how Bright Eyes wasn’t at school today,” Clover told him.

“Wasn’t she? I never noticed!” Teddy said, folding his forelegs. Melody rolled her eyes.

“That’s weird. Especially considering the fact that she sits right in front of you!” cried Bon Bon.

Teddy smiled slyly. “Bright Eyes never misses school, does she? She’s a work-a-holic,” he said.

The girls stood up. “We’ll talk to you later, Teddy. We have to see Bright Eyes,” said Starlight.

Patch nodded and led the girls to Bright Eyes’ house. She rang the doorbell and waited. Classy answered the door. “Could we please see Bright Eyes?” asked Melody.

Classy sighed and shook his head. “I’m really sorry, girls. She’s in her room and I don’t think she needs visitors,” he said.

“Not even friends?” asked Sweetheart, a little hurt.

Classy shook his head. “Look, I’ll tell her you came. She’s got a bad headache right now and needs rest. She’s stressed out about missing some meeting at school today; and this morning that cat of hers wrecked her room and ruined her homework, market crafts, and posters for that environmental group she goes to,” said Classy. “See you later,” he concluded, as he shut the door.

“This calls for an emergency meeting,” concluded Melody. Glumly, the other girls nodded and began walking to the teahouse. When they reached it, no one felt like saying much.

“What should we do?” asked Bon Bon.

Clover sighed. “It doesn’t look like we can do anything, does it? I mean, she doesn’t exactly want to give up any of the projects she’s working on,” she said.

Starlight opened up a notebook for ideas and Sweetheart stared at the blank sheet of paper, thinking with all her might what a group of six ten-year-old ponies could do to help their friend.

Meanwhile, Patch and Melody had been whispering excitedly together. Finally, after minutes of silence, the two stood up confidently. “We figured it out!” announced Patch.

The other girls listened intently while Patch and Melody described their plan to the others. “That’s a brilliant idea!” shouted Clover and the girls smiled happily. All they needed to do was wait for Saturday to put their plan into action.

* * *
Across town in a huge mansion, Lancer sat on his king-size canopy bed. His mind was thinking of one thing– Bright Eyes. Lancer didn’t know if she liked him or not. Besides, lately he hadn’t seen her much at all, except in class. She even disappeared at lunchtimes. Lancer felt he simply couldn’t talk to Ace and Teddy about this. They’d just laugh. Anyway, the last time he’d asked them for help with Bright Eyes had turned out terribly. There had to be a way to make a girl like you. Roses? Diamonds? Dinner at a fancy restaurant? Lancer shook his head. That wasn’t Bright Eyes at all. Bright Eyes was an avid reader who enjoyed hanging out with her friends, usually at their teahouse or the Ice Cream Shoppe. She liked most of all to have fun, even if she was quiet.

Lancer frowned. There were two possible solutions to his ‘Bright Eyes Problem’. 1. Avoid her for the rest of his life, so he wouldn’t feel embarrassed. 2. Talk to her and share his feelings about her. Both sounded pretty bad, but Lancer decided he liked the second option better. So, with that, he pulled on his coat and set off to Bright Eyes’ house. But halfway there, Lancer chickened out. How stupid could I get? he asked himself. Lancer was confused. He just didn’t get it. He shook his head and turned around to go back home. Bright Eyes was in some way a puzzle. Girls were a mystery to him.

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A New Wind a Blowin’
Part 2
by Sugarberry (

“But don’t you see?” wheedled Bittersweet as she and Wigwam sat on a shelf of rock overlooking the valley near the site of the Native Pony cave. Below them, Teepee, Clever Clover, Buttercrunch, and a number of Pony Pride students were carefully unearthing several areas of the Native Pony village. A soft, spring-fresh breeze played through the mare’s mane, curling tendrils around her unicorn horn.

Watching the fluttering of tangerine hair over mocha coloring, Wigwam was lost temporarily to the beauty of the mare beside him. She was wearing a scent that was as light and sweet as the first flowers of spring that were beginning to peep out on the warm southern slopes of the hillside. Her periwinkle blue eyes echoed the canopy of sky overhead. She’s a fetching little thing, his father would say if he saw her. She’s a vixen, his mother would probably counter.

“Wigwam? Wigwam! You can’t just avoid answering me!” Sparks flew from the periwinkle eyes as the mare assumed that the stallion’s silence was due to his disagreement of her argument rather than to the silent adoration he was actually offering. “As a business pony, you’ve got to agree with me!”

“Wh... what did you say?” queried the stallion as his mind endeavored to recall the exact point of conversation they had been engaged in before he had been caught in his mental flight.

Looking at him with such a look of disbelief on her face that Wigwam could only chuckle, Bittersweet ranted. “I was discussing the future of Native Dreams. You, obviously, have no interest in promoting the shop.” The unicorn got to her hooves and started down the hill to where the other ponies were working.

Wigwam watched her depart, her fluid motion nothing short of mesmerizing. He grinned at the angry flicks of her tail that spoke volumes as to what her mood was. The mare had been pestering him for weeks to consider lending a helping hoof to her sister’s Native Pony craft shop which existed as a kiosk business at the mall. Bittersweet, ready and willing to put her business degree to work, envisioned an expansion of Dreamcatcher’s modest enterprise; she knew the size, the design, and the location of the prospective building that would best house a new format of Native Dreams that would allow the space to expand inventory and thereby increase sales; all she needed was a financial backer for the project. That was where Wigwam came into her plans.

Although Dreamcatcher’s shop was solvent, there were not enough funds available to warrant the construction of the type of building that Bittersweet was imagining. Therefore, Bittersweet was trying to drum up Wigwam’s support for her venture, seeing a location near the casino as a logical setting to open a Native Pony outlet for the varied crafts of the talented artisans.

Sighing, Wigwam got to his hooves and followed the path of the unicorn. When he caught up to her, he tried to make up for his lapse of concentration on the hill. “I fail to understand your reasoning for putting a shop near the casino after what the city has announced as its plans for the land east of it.”

“If you had listened,” said Bittersweet, “I explained all that. Once the city has its new art center up and running, it will draw in the same sort of clientele that will be interested in Native Dreams.” The mare stopped to face the stallion. “It will bring a whole new set of customers... over and above the ponies who already count on the shop to supply the kind of unique items we provide from our outlet at the mall.”

“But won’t the art center draw customers away from the craft shop?”

“It’s true that the Native Pony crafts are art in themselves, but the two facilities will complement one another. The art displays at the center will be constantly changing, bringing a wide variety of creativeness before the public while our shop would be offering the best of the Native Pony culture on a regular basis.” Bittersweet reached out her foreleg to touch Wigwam’s. “Please think about it... and promise that you won’t mention it to Dreamcatcher or anyone else until we have a plan worked out.”

Wigwam cringed. “Until we have a plan worked out? I think it’s your plan all the way.”

“But it’s a good one... right?”

Unable to resist the pleading eyes that held him in their power, Wigwam relented. “Bring me some facts and figures, and I’ll consider it.”

“Oh! You’re the greatest, Wigwam!” With that said, Bittersweet kissed Wigwam’s cheek and gave him a hug.

Teepee, approaching them with a trowel in hoof, growled, “I thought you two were going to come out to help, not stand around... talkin’.”

“You’re always such a bear, Teepee.” Bittersweet waved her hoof through the air. “Of course, we’re here to help.” She smiled at him so sweetly as she walked past him that Teepee could only smile in return. Both stallions stood gazing after her as she went to Buttercrunch for instructions on where she could best help.

“She’s so pretty,” stated Teepee to his brother.

“Yeah,” agreed Wigwam. “I’ve noticed.”

“She kissed you.”

Putting a hoof to his cheek, Wigwam murmured, “I noticed that, too.” He went off in Clever Clover’s direction to assist with the screening of buckets of dirt.

Teepee’s attention stayed riveted on Bittersweet. He silently raked himself over the coals for being attracted to the same mares that appealed to Wigwam, first Chocolate Chip, now Bittersweet. There was enough potential in Dream Valley that there should be no need for the two of them to concentrate on the same ponies. What really irked him was that Chocolate Chip had intimated that her heart was still tied to Wigwam, and Wigwam had admitted the same was true for him. Then why did Wigwam cultivate this deepening friendship with Bittersweet? And what did they have to talk about that had them so often cloistered in conversation, anyway?

Teepee had several regrets. First of all, having been dismissed by Chocolate Chip, he had allowed all his time to be taken up with his work for the Native Pony site; having discovered that his CeeCee and Wigwam’s Chocolate Chip were one and the same mare, he had decided to become more familiar with the current population of Dream Valley before he made any further attempts to garner another mare’s interest.

That plan had one serious drawback, however. By the time he realized that Bittersweet was as personable a mare as he could hope to find– and beautiful to boot– she had already set her snare for Wigwam. Having thought that Wigwam’s obsession with Chocolate Chip would prevent him from falling for Bittersweet’s wiles, Teepee had not been concerned... at first. Now, however, it appeared that Wigwam’s feelings for the studious chocolate-colored earth pony were being set aside in favor of the industrious unicorn.

The other thing that ate at his mind like a dog worrying a bone was the fact that he had been gruff toward Bittersweet when she had first wormed her way into the affairs of the Native Pony site. After all, it was his job to make the decisions and oversee the management of the site; but Bittersweet’s bubbling personality made it impossible for her to withhold any thoughts or ideas of her own and to impart all kinds of unwanted advice... even though she at times came up with some novel insights that could lighten even the most mundane discussion. Teepee had to grin as he remembered some of her twisted ideas which she delivered with a toss of her head as if daring him to contradict her.

Yet the fact remained that Teepee had never been comfortable around mares who tended to express opinions when none were sought. Why couldn’t Bittersweet be more practical like her sister, Dreamcatcher? That mare did her thinking silently and only expressed an idea that was already well defined and practical.

Bittersweet had been correct in calling him a bear. It was not by design, yet he always seemed to growl at her when in truth he would much rather... Teepee shook his head. That kiss the unicorn had given Wigwam irked him to no end. What was left for him if the mare had decided to settle her claim on his brother?

Realizing that he was absently pounding the metal trowel into his hoof rather painfully, Teepee sighed and went back to work.

* * *
It was several weeks later that the two stallions made their way out of Dream Valley to attend a family dinner. The April air was mild, offering a pleasing aura of spring that put the ponies in a congenial mood as they walked to the gently rolling farmland where their parents, Calumet and Beaded Braid, lived.

“It will be great to see Whispering Birch again,” commented Teepee. “She was just a filly when I took off on my travels.”

“I rarely see her myself,” noted Wigwam. “Our baby sister is quite content living in Southfork.”

“I never made it to that area of Ponyland,” Teepee confessed.

“Whispering Birch claims it’s the perfect spot to live.”

“So how did Whispie determine that? She always had her head stuck in a book.”

“Which the two of us could have done more of,” chuckled Wigwam. “Her research not only brings benefits to ponies, it also has made her quite comfortably situated.”

“Well, as to that, she hasn’t become too highbrow for us, has she?”

“Whispie? Never!”

“Good. I’m looking forward to a laid-back family get-together.”

* * *
“Why didn’t Mom tell us that she’d invited the entire neighborhood?” grumbled Teepee as he and Wigwam returned to Dream Valley after spending a long afternoon and evening visiting with ponies that even Wigwam had lost track of. “Her intentions were so obvious.”

Laughing, Wigwam noted, “Mom’s never been known to be discreet. And you have to admit that you and Wild Rose were quite a pair at one time.”

“You only lucked out because White Dove got herself engaged a week ago,” Teepee countered.

Still chuckling, Wigwam managed to say, “Mom may have hit it right with Whispering Birch, however. She and Singing Arrow seemed to fall right back into the carefree friendship they shared when we were all growing up.”

Calumet and Beaded Braid had been neighbors and best friends with Snowsnake and Water Spirit since Calumet had moved his family into the area when Wigwam had been five years old. Their closest neighbors, who had taken the new family under their guidance, had been blessed with two daughters at comparative ages to Wigwam and Teepee and a son only a year older than Whispering Birch. This had afforded a convenient batch of playmates for both families, and the ensuing years had been filled with the entwining of their lives through the innocent days of youth as they ran wild over the wooded hillsides and labored beside their parents in the fields, only to part when they each in turn reached the age to decide on their own destiny. Every one of them had opted to make their way off the farm except for Singing Arrow who still farmed in conjunction with his parents’ acreage to this day.

“Our little sister isn’t one to defer her dreams to a commoner,” Teepee stated.

“What did you think of Wild Rose after all these years?”

“She’s changed.”

“I’m sure she found the same is true about you.”

“She’s going to stay with her folks for a week before heading back to Hayton.”

Curiously, Wigwam asked, “Are you going to see her again?”

Teepee grinned. “Mom mentioned the theater production that’s coming up and suggested that Wild Rose might enjoy attending with me for old time’s sake. Wild Rose was courteous enough to agree.”

“Bittersweet and I are going to the Friday night performance.”

“Yeah. Us too. Maybe we could double up.”

Wigwam frowned. “The problem with that is I promised Bittersweet a late supper at the Estate Manor afterwards.”

“Hey, I’m good for half the tab!”

“It’s just that Bittersweet and I need some time to discuss... some things... privately.” Wigwam grew pensive.

Sending a sideways glance at his brother, Teepee’s heart dropped. Had things moved so quicky that Wigwam and Bittersweet were already willing to commit themselves to a future together? Claiming Bittersweet as a sister-in-law was not what Teepee wanted, yet he knew that he would never stand in the way of his brother in such a matter. It hurt, but he would not interfere.

* * *
The performance at The Tableau on Friday night was well attended; Wigwam and Bittersweet had the chance to converse with Teepee and Wild Rose at the intermission; after the mares’ introduction, Bittersweet found Wild Rose’s sweet disposition and pleasant smile somehow unnerving. She also looked with disfavor on the single-minded manner in which Teepee hovered about the cream colored pony, anticipating her every need.

Additionally, Bittersweet was dismayed to learn that Wild Rose had grown up in almost daily contact with Teepee and his siblings, and that Teepee and Wild Rose had reveled in an ardent romance during their high school days, ending only when Teepee had graduated and struck out on his own to explore the opportunities of Ponyland. An unwarranted jealousy toward the mare fired in Bittersweet’s veins, and she was unable to enjoy the remainder of the evening at the theater.

It was with a certain amount of relief that Bittersweet accompanied Wigwam to the Estate Manor where a table had been reserved for them in a quiet corner where they could talk uninterruptedly and without being overheard. Since their conversation at the pony site, Bittersweet had garnered all the information she could ferret out concerning the pros and cons of establishing an enlarged Native Pony crafts shop in Dream Valley to present to Wigwam for his perusal, and tonight she would find out his decision on the matter. It was with a certain amount of nervousness that she sat down at the table.

By the time the main course was served, Bittersweet had fretted with her napkin so much that the pristine smooth cloth had been reduced to a veritable wrinkled rag. Wigwam obviously was not going to open discussion on her projected business venture until they would be guaranteed a stretch of time without a waiter’s hovering service to interfere. When they were finally left to themselves to enjoy their meal, Bittersweet could not bring herself to take a bite of the delectable dishes before her. She looked at Wigwam and croaked, “Well?”

“The food is delicious,” the stallion said. “Try some.”

“Forget the food! What have you decided about Pony Dreams?”

With a provocative smile, Wigwam took a sip of his wine before answering. “I haven’t decided anything.”

“Then why...” Bittersweet began to wail, but Wigwam interrupted her.

“We’re here to discuss the facts and figures you gave me; I’m in no position to make a decision yet.” With a glance at her untouched plate, he added, “Your food’s getting cold. Eat.”

Taking a small bite, Bittersweet forced herself to savor the culinary delight. Finding the flavor to be excellent, she allowed herself to be comforted by the food for a few minutes before she approached the problem at hoof. She answered all of Wigwam’s questions intelligently and explained succinctly any points that he wanted clarified.

“There’s every reason to believe that Native Dreams would be a successful venture even if it left the support of the mall. The statistics prove that there is a demand for the kind of presence that such a specialty shop would elicit,” Bittersweet ended.

“So the numbers would seem to indicate,” agreed Wigwam. “However, there’s one problem all your information failed to address, and it’s crucial to the outcome.”

“What’s that?” queried a dismayed Bittersweet. To her knowledge, she had covered every aspect of the business proposition she was attempting to sell to Wigwam.

“Dreamcatcher doesn’t approve of me, which makes it unlikely...”

“That’s not true! She has never indicated to me by word or action that she has anything against you.”

“I’ll rephrase my concern. Your sister doesn’t approve of the casino; I cannot imagine her endorsing a plan that would put her shop not only in the physical proximity of the casino but also under the casino’s financial umbrella.”

“Once I convince her that it’s the best way to guarantee the growth and the profits of Native Dreams, she’ll have to amend her notions accordingly.”

Raising a questioning eyebrow, Wigwam expressed his doubt. “Dreamcatcher is not the kind who would sacrifice her convictions simply to accrue more jangles.”

“She also understands that the limited space at her kiosk severely restricts her choice of merchandise to display; she’s constantly lamenting the items she has to forego. Yet she and Fetish alone don’t have the capital to strike out on their own.”

The stallion was not easy to persuade. “She’s your sister, so you should know best; but from what I’ve learned of Dreamcatcher, I’d say that she’d consider any help from me as paramount to selling her soul to the devil.”

For the first time since they sat down at the table, Bittersweet’s eyes sparkled with the hope of success. “Well then. I guess it’s up to me to play the part of Daniel Webster.”

Wigwam eyed her doubtfully. “You have your work cut out for you. In the meantime, there are a few more aspects of this venture that I need to check into before I make a final decision.”

Only temporarily subdued by that last hint of uncertainty as to whether or not he would fully embrace her plan for the future of Native Dreams, Bittersweet smiled happily.

* * *
“So, Wild Rose, how does it feel to be back home?” Teepee asked of his companion as he walked her home after the theater and a pleasant couple of hours at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe.

“Well, the town hasn’t changed that much... but so many new faces! And old classmates that we ran into with their photos of kids and pets and homes!” The mare giggled. “I’m still not ready to settle down... probably never will be.”

“That means you’re happy with your life in Hayton?”

“I’m very content, which doesn’t mean that I’m in a rut. My job is onerous in its responsibilities; but, Teepee, I revel in the power! And as an added bonus, it takes me all over Ponyland and beyond. Yes, I’m very happy.”

Teepee grinned. “Who would have thought that the little filly who loved climbing trees would end up climbing the corporate ladder?”

“We had fun, didn’t we?” Wild Rose returned the stallion’s grin. “Running free as we did went a long way to prepare me for my career. We had to assess information and make spur of the moment decisions daily just to stay ahead of our siblings.”

“Remember when Wigwam and White Dove stumbled over that nest of goslings and the mother goose came after them with wings spread wide, honking those horrible sounds?”

“And when Whispering Birch climbed up in a tree only to be threatened by an irate squirrel? She was literally trapped on that skinny little branch. I can still hear that squirrel’s chattering voice scolding her, and that bushy tail punctuating the entire tirade like an exclamation point!”

Laughing, Teepee shook his head. “If our parents had known just how many close calls– with disaster looming– that we experienced, they wouldn’t have looked so beneficently on our neighborly friendship.”

The two ponies walked in silence through the mild spring evening for several minutes before Wild Rose asked, “Why did you decide to return to Dream Valley, Teepee? I thought the nomadic life suited you.”

“It did, but not anymore. Unlike you, I’m ready to settle down with a like-minded mare and start a family.”

“Anyone in mind?” queried Wild Rose, looking sideways at the stallion through the falling darkness.

“There are several possibilities,” hedged Teepee.

“I can name one,” Wild Rose teased.

Teepee glanced at the mare with misgivings. Surely there was no future for the two of them! “You were my first love, but we both know that ended a long time ago.”

“And rightly so,” agreed Wild Rose. “We went from being best friends to an infatuated twosome; but fortunately for both of us, we realized in time that friends is what we were meant to be. But I read something in your eyes tonight when you looked at Bittersweet that spoke of deep feelings; I was confused, however, by the fact that she was in your brother’s escort.”

“He met her first.”

“Oh,” was all Wild Rose could say.

* * *
On this sun-filled Saturday near the end of April, the secluded valley and hillside that harbored the Native Pony site being excavated under the auspices of the historical society held a day of discovery for anyone interested in learning more about the fascinating past of those early inhabitants of Ponyland, the Native Ponies. Stoneware, tools, jewelry, and weapons indigenous to the period were on display; demonstrations of flint-knapping and stone-carving were under way, period games were being played, and native foodstuffs were being offered. Tours of the cave ran every half hour and the preliminary finds from the village were on display.

The highlight of the day was to be the erection of an authentic Native Pony teepee donated by Fetish and Dreamcatcher to serve not only as a visual demonstration for those interested but also to remain on the site as a shelter for the ponies who were involved with the excavating of the area to determine the extent of the use of this valley as a stopping-place for the Native Ponies.

The turnout for the event was impressive considering the distance of the site from Dream Valley. The interest in the Native Pony culture was apparent in the enthusiasm everyone showed to participate in the hooves-on activities and to partake of the buffet-style food offerings. Sugarberry, Vanguard, and Banderol were three of those present, just now emerging from the cool interior of the cave in the hillside.

“I get goosebumps just being here,” breathed Sugarberry as she looked out over the hillside. “It’s as if... as if...” The strawberry-patterned mare closed her eyes as elusive memories danced at the edge of her consciousness. She sighed deeply as those memories flitted away, leaving only a deep tingling sensation that spoke of pain and anguish. “It’s as if there’s a reality here that I can’t quite penetrate.”

Vanguard seemed to be faring no better than his wife as he stood engulfed by some forgotten past. He shook his head and shivered. “I know what you mean. I experience such a feeling of... loss... when I’m here.” His gaze held Sugarberry’s as he felt a frisson of terror at the thought of losing her; he drew her close to verify that she was safe and sound and kissed her tenderly.

Banderol chose this moment in time to register his complaint on being ignored, and his cry brought both of his parents out of their reverie. “Come on, sweetheart,” cooed Sugarberry, appropriating the foal from Vanguard’s forelegs. “Let’s go find Calla.”

If one had been given, the prize for the group that had traveled the furthest to attend the day’s activities would have gone to the ponies from Vulcanopolis. Enrica, who had lost her chance to visit the Native Pony site several years earlier when she and her family had been called back suddenly to their own city across the ocean, had convinced her busy husband that this would be an excellent opportunity for her to broaden her knowledge of the ponies who so fascinated her since receiving Wigwam’s hoof-signed copy of Native Pony Tales as a gift from Sugarberry. Along with Enrica and Giorgio, Sr., was their son, Giorgio; his wife, Clare; and their little daughter, Calla, who had been born the previous November in Dream Valley while her family had been in town for a benefit fashion show. The tiny filly was half a day younger than Banderol.

Spotting the orchid mare and her deep green husband at a pont down the hill near the spot where the teepee would be assembled, Sugarberry and Vanguard set off in that direction, exchanging greetings with other friends who were also visiting the site. By the time they reached the ponies from Vulcanopolis, Banderol had fallen asleep; but as Calla was involved in that same occupation, Sugarberry and Clare found a sheltered spot where they could spread a blanket and nestle the two sleepyheads for a comfortable nap.

“Is your Mother enjoying herself?” queried Sugarberry of Giorgio as that stallion and Vanguard came to sit with their wives.

“Dreamcatcher has her weaving a mat even as we speak,” Giorgio grinned. “She’s having the time of her life.”

“I noticed your dad chipping an arrow point,” remarked Vanguard.

Clare giggled. “I’ve never seen him quite that rustic before.” Giorgio’s father had been a university professor in the past and was now a politician in Vulcanopolis, neither career allowing him much time to enjoy more crude pastimes. “I can just imagine the stories he’ll have to tell when he gets back home. He’ll have everyone believing that he subsisted on roots and dried berries while fighting off rabid skunks and hungry bears.”

“This has been a fantastic experience,” Giorgio observed. “Whoever set it up was a master at planning.”

“Domino, the head of the historical society, did the paper layout; countless others followed through on the groundwork– Wigwam, Teepee, Clever Clover, Dreamcatcher, Fetish– you get the picture,” Sugarberry revealed.

“Who’s the unicorn with Wigwam?” asked a curious Clare.

All heads turned to follow Clare’s gaze. “That’s Dreamcatcher’s sister, Bittersweet. She’s new to Dream Valley; she graduated from college and came to help at Native Dreams,” supplied Sugarberry.

“Ahh... sisters; I thought there was something familiar about her.” Clare watched Wigwam and Bittersweet for a moment longer, then asked, “Where’s Chocolate Chip?”

Vanguard and Sugarberry shared a glance before Vanguard answered. “She’ll be here soon; she had to work this morning.”

“Chocolate Chip will be graduating soon, won’t she?” probed Giorgio.

“In three weeks. She’s already accepted a job in New Pony.”

“New Pony!” echoed Clare in surprise. “How are she and Wigwam going to handle that?”

Sugarberry only shook her head, leaving Vanguard to answer the question.

“Chocolate Chip refused Wigwam’s proposal.”

“No!” Clare exclaimed, her gaze going back to where Wigwam and Bittersweet were deep in conversation. “I can’t believe it.”

* * *
Taking a breather from his duties, Teepee also watched his brother and Bittersweet. The stallion had noted that since their supper at the Estate Manor, the two ponies had seemed closer than ever. Bittersweet had taken on a new sparkle since that evening, and she and Wigwam were often caught in deliberations that ended promptly when they were interrupted. Although neither had said anything to hint at an understanding between them, it seemed obvious to Teepee that Wigwam and Bittersweet had begun to make plans for a future together.

Standing as he was with his jaws clenched and his eyes hooded, Teepee was joined by Wild Rose and her brother, Singing Arrow.

“Some of your plans go awry?” Wild Rose asked. Then noting at whom the stallion was glaring, she amended her assessment. “You find the scenario a bitter-sweet pill to swallow.”

“Never in my entire life have I so longed to gift my brother with...” Teepee grated quietly, his clenched hoof revealing his intent.

Glancing at her own brother, Wild Rose conveyed with a sweep of her eyes her desire for a moment alone with Teepee; Singing Arrow promptly made himself scarce.

“Why her, Teepee? There certainly are enough mares in Dream Valley to go around.”

“Wasn’t it you that always said Wigwam and I were made from the same mold?” the stallion countered gruffly.

“Use your head!” the mare admonished. Flinging her hoof in a panoramic gesture, she drew Teepee’s attention to the valley filled with ponies. “Surely there is someone else to take your fancy!”

Almost against his will, Teepee followed the direction of Wild Rose’s waggling hoof, bringing to his sight the arrival of Chocolate Chip as she approached Sugarberry and her friends and was met with hugs and delighted words of welcome. His search stopped there as he remembered their midnight encounter in the park; the idiocy of his attraction to two mares that were more interested in Wigwam than him caused the stallion to groan.

Wild Rose followed the distressed gaze of Teepee to the chocolate brown pony, then her eyes were drawn further to where Wigwam stood. That stallion, too, was intently staring at the same brown mare. Wild Rose’s eyes opened wide as the full import of her discovery hit her. “Teepee! What kind of tangled web have you and your brother managed to weave?”

“A hopeless one,” Teepee confessed. “Neither of them gave a second glance to me.”

Always cool whether in the boardroom or when commiserating with a friend, Wild Rose made her determination. “Then put them both out of your mind and turn your attention elsewhere.”

Her words were no sooner spoken when Buttercrunch appeared; she cast a sassy look in Wild Rose’s direction, then concentrated on Teepee. “I’m on my way to the food tables... care to join me?”

Teepee turned to include Wild Rose in the invitation. “What do you say?”

“You two go on; I’ve got to hunt up Singing Arrow.”

“He’s right...”

Wild Rose did not allow the stallion to finish. “Go on!” she admonished with a wink. “We’ll catch up to you later.”

Feeling as if he had just lost all control of his life, Teepee contemplated stalking off, leaving all his problems behind and never looking back; but his sense of duty came to his rescue and he simply smiled at Wild Rose, albeit with a threat of revenge glinting in his eyes, and nodded his acceptance of her suggestion. He then offered Buttercrunch his foreleg as if escorting her to a formal banquet, and the two of them set off for the luncheon.

Teepee only cringed slightly when he heard Wild Rose’s giggle lilt up behind him.

* * *
Finding herself alone at the fringe of the crowd watching the framework of the teepee going into place, Chocolate Chip took advantage of the opportunity to melt away from the conversation and activities that she suddenly found suffocating. She had truly wanted to be in the midst of the ponies on this day, seeing it as a good opportunity to make contact, maybe for the last time, with many of her friends and acquaintances before she cut her ties with Dream Valley and its inhabitants; but now, being here, she felt somehow like she did not belong, that she had already passed over a line from which there was no return. Her future lay in New Pony now.

She climbed up the hillside to a tumbled depository of hefty rocks that had at one time broken off the rough outcroppings of granite and found a suitable stone on which to sit from which she could watch the activity below her without being fully involved. For once she was grateful for her drab coloring so that she would blend in with the dreary-hued rocks about her and remain sequestered in her desired solitude.

The scene before her was a kaleidoscope of bright ponies gathered around the emerging shape of the teepee, now being covered in its protective skins. Chocolate Chip, listening to the babble of voices drifting up to her position on the hillside, allowed herself to relax and view the proceedings as an uninterested spectator, separating herself from the emotional upheaval that was involved in breaking with all that was familiar to her as represented by her friends on the valley floor below.

She saw Ages, Frilly Flower, Digger, Gene, Spring Song, and Rocky with whom she had shared classes at Pony Pride; Roland, Poeticus, Memoria, Gauntlet, and Vanguard who had taught some of those classes; Sugarberry and Tabby who had been her first friends in Dream Valley; Wishbone, her brother, and her soon-to-be sister-in-law, Garnet; Dreamcatcher, Lemon Treats, and Brandon, ponies she saw at the mall during her working hours; Teepee, distant and aloof as he lived out his promise not to acknowledge their brief friendship; and Wigwam...

Her eyes searched the scene before her intently, but she could not locate the orange body of the one pony who had the power to scatter her well-laid plans and turn them to dust. There were times when she wished with all her heart that he would come to her and demand that she give up her lofty ideals that centered on New Pony and marry him instead, yet she knew that she would always then wonder if she could have accomplished her dreams apart from him. This, she knew, would only lead to unhappiness and resentment for both of them. She knew he would not try to influence her at this stage of the game for he had bowed to her desire to make a life for herself. Even though he did not approve of her notions, he would not stop her.

Suddenly aware of eyes watching her, Chocolate Chip turned swiftly around to find the wolf, Manitou, and his mate, Halona, watching her with intelligent yellow eyes as they sat camouflaged amidst the rocks not more than ten feet away. She was not concerned by their nearness for they had occasionally accompanied her and Wigwam on a loitering walk through the countryside.

Speaking softly, Chocolate Chip extended her greetings. “Hello there, Manitou, Halona. Are you enjoying the party?” The two wolves only stared at her, but Chocolate Chip caught the brief wag of Manitou’s tail and smiled. “I welcome your company.”

“And how about mine?” a voice behind her asked, and Chocolate Chip whirled around to find Wigwam within a pace of her.

“Can you be as quiet and undemanding as Manitou?” the mare asked.

“If that’s what you want,” Wigwam agreed. “May I sit down?”

The rock on which Chocolate Chip was sitting had room for two, barely. She sidled over, however, making way for the stallion to sit next to her. He made himself comfortable, if that is possible on a rock, and maintained his silence as he had promised. Keenly aware of the nearness of him, Chocolate Chip could not help looking his way, only to find that he was watching her closely. As her eyes met his and held his gaze for long seconds, she was nearly undone by the look she saw in his eyes, a look that told her that one word from her would be all it would take to make him the happiest stallion in Ponyland. For a moment, she though of uttering it; but her rational self held firm. She broke off the look between them and returned her attention to the field once more, holding her peace.

“I’ll never forget how beautiful you are; but while I have the chance, I want to store up more memories just to be on the safe side,” Wigwam softly said.

“I’ll never forget you, either,” Chocolate Chip murmured without looking at the stallion, knowing that she would not be strong enough to avoid throwing herself into his forelegs if she was caught in that gaze once more.

And so the mare and the stallion sat, side by side, both miserable but stoic– one determined to break free of nagging self-doubts and one compelled to honor that effort.

* * *
Wigwam, frustrated and unhappy after Chocolate Chip had abandoned him to return to Dream Valley early with several of her friends from campus, attempted to get his mind off his personal troubles by participating in an archery contest which was holding the attention of a large group of ponies; by imagining the target to represent his dissatisfaction, he was able to outdo all the other contestants. The prize meant nothing to him, but he did find after the contest that he could look upon the world again with a little less discontent than he had before he participated.

Fetish, itching to have a chance in the archery contest but currently tied down with the care of Tamarack, convinced Wigwam to take over the care of the foal temporarily. As he stood at the edge of the assembly conversing in baby talk with the nearly year-old colt, Dreamcatcher materialized beside him.

“My husband abdicated his responsibility to you, I see,” she said, smiling only when her son turned his head to grin at her.

“Fetish felt the need to prove that he’s at least as good an archer as I am,” Wigwam stated. “If he wins this round, we’ll go up against one another.” He eyed the mare doubtfully; the two had never enjoyed a harmonious friendship, although they had learned to respect one another in spite of their differences of opinion.

“I’ll have to stick around to see the outcome.” After a moment’s silence, the unicorn added, “I saw Chocolate Chip earlier; I was hoping to get a chance to talk with her.”

“She left with some of the Pony Pride groupies.”

“I’m surprised she showed up at all... with the way she’s been so immersed in work and studies.”

“I think she realizes it may be harder to break her ties here with all her friends than she had originally calculated,” Wigwam ground out.

“She is determined, however, to make this move.”

“Yes, she is.”

“You’re okay with her leaving?” Dreamcatcher asked. She had become aware that Bittersweet had been singing this stallion’s praises with increasing regularity as of late.

“It’s not what I want, but I have to respect her decision. She knows I’ll be here waiting if she ever decides to change her course.”

The mare turned to the stallion then with a nod of approval. “It’s the only way. To win her, you have to set her free.”

Wigwam stared at Dreamcatcher, remembering in that instant that her unicorn magic involved glimpses of the future. “This will work out?”

The unicorn shrugged slightly. “I cannot truly say, but...”

“But what?” prompted the stallion as Dreamcatcher stood in thought.

“It’s only a feeling, really. Chocolate Chip’s dreams and her realities are destined to collide; she’ll know her heart then.”


In answer, Dreamcatcher almost imperceptibly shook her head. “I can’t say with any certainty.” She stopped and gazed at him intently. “But I will advise you to remain patient.”

Wigwam sighed. “Isn’t that what I’ve been doing... forever?”

* * *
Having been defeated by Fetish in the final match with bows and arrows, Wigwam submitted with good-nature to the twitting and teasing of his friends. When Teepee– beaming over his good fortune in having located Bittersweet unattended and in gaining her company– approached his brother with a barbed share of banter, Wigwam extracted himself from the situation by whispering something to Bittersweet which caused her to smile smashingly at him and then pull him away from the crush to a place where they could talk privately. Neither pony noticed the aggravated frown that crossed Teepee’s face as he lost the companionship of the unicorn.

“Are you serious?” bubbled Bittersweet when they were out of hearing range of the others. “You’ve made up your mind?”

“Find out a night when Dreamcatcher and Fetish are free to meet with us, and we’ll broach the subject of a new Native Dreams with them.”

The mocha unicorn was so excited that she squealed and hugged Wigwam enthusiastically, throwing them both off balance. Wigwam chivalrously put his forelegs around the mare to save her from falling, laughing over her zealous response to his decision to go ahead with her proposed business venture for Native Dreams.

Their shared levity, however, was looked upon askance by a number of curious spectators whose attention they had drawn, among them Teepee, Dreamcatcher, and Sugarberry. Could it be, they all wondered, that Wigwam’s heart had already been lost to another even before Chocolate Chip had left for New Pony?

Sugarberry remembered with stunning clarity the account of Wigwam’s dream quest. He had envisioned a brown mare; and upon meeting Chocolate Chip, he had found her the answer to that dream. But now in his forelegs he held a mocha-colored unicorn that seemed not to displease him. Chocolate and coffee– they were both brown, were they not? Sugarberry shook her head sadly; had Chocolate Chip been the wrong choice all along?

***Now, just go to for an easy way to tell the author that you enjoyed their story!***


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