Scootaloo, Applebloom, and Sweetybelle climbed down excitedly from their tree house after finishing their weekly Cutiemark Crusaders meet. They had created a long list of random activities they could try in order to gain their cutie marks.
"We're sure to get our cutie marks is one of these!" Scootaloo said examining their list of activities as Applebloom and Sweetybelle showed their support through a chorus of, "yeah!"s and "yay!"s . "Hey," Scootaloo said as if suddenly struck with an idea. "Instead of waiting until next time we meet, why don't we have a super awesome Cutie Mark Crusaders sleepover and do them all tonight!" Scootaloo declared shooting her hoof in the air with delight.
"Yeah!" Sweetybelle said jumping up and down like a pogo stick. "That way we can have more time together and get our cutie marks!"
"Yeah!" The three yelled putting their hooves together in a high five.
"So whose house are we going to?" Scootaloo asked. Maybe they'd visit Sweetybelle's home with Rarity. It was so much fun last time! Or Applebloom's house on Sweet Apple Acres! Applejack is always so nice.
"How about yours Scootaloo? We've never been to your house." Applebloom said thoughtfully. Scootaloo's happy expression suddenly dropped as she averted her eyes and began pawing the ground nervously.
"I don't think that's such a good idea…" Scootaloo stuttered.
"What's wrong?" Sweetybelle asked approaching her sympathetically. Scootaloo's face contorted into one of anxious concentration. She bit her lip, unsure of how to approach the subject.
Finally she sighed deciding she couldn't hide the fact any longer. It had always been a threat, always in the back of her mind and she knew that someday she would have to tell her friends the bitter truth no matter how many times she had changed the subject at the last second or pretended she didn't hear. Though today she was caught off guard thoroughly unprepared for what she was about to say.
"Well, it's just, I don't really… have a house." She said quietly meeting Sweetybelle's eyes.
"Wait, what? You don''t have a..? You don't have a house?" Sweetybelle asked and Scootaloo nodded lowering her head ashamed.
"But, why don't you just live with your sister? Or your parents?" Applebloom asked.
"I don't have a sister or any parents." Scootaloo said suddenly lifting her head up in a moment of exasperation. "I don't have a brother, a cousin, and aunt, or an uncle." She said, her voice shaking, on the brink on tears.
"Grandparents?" Sweetybelle asked quietly. Scootaloo shook her head swiftly and lowered it again.
"So, you don't have anywhere to live? Nowhere to go after school?" Applebloom asked shocked.
"Well, I never said that." Scootaloo said getting up silently beckoning for the two to follow. The three friends walked for what seemed like hours. Nopony asked any questions, and barely said anything aside from the occasional cough or "This way."
They traveled past Sweet Apple Acers, trotted through the town, and finally arrived to large grassy meadow just in time for a glorious red and gold sunset. The field was mostly empty a long narrow river with a bridge, several trees, and dense forestry along the east border.
"Where are we going?" Applebloom whispered as the three crossed over the bridge.
"Over there." Scootaloo murmured pointing to a distant patch of land home to a large willow tree. The picture became clearer as the crusaders approached and they saw that surrounding the land was a shallow flowing river, cold as ice. "It only goes up to your shoulders." Scootaloo said as they approached the water.
"Up to our shoulders? But it's almost night time, and if we're soaking wet, we're sure to get sick!" Sweetybelle said glancing at the sunset.
"That's just a risk we have to take. Besides, I have a couple blankets and pillows stashed in the tree trunk over there." Scootaloo said entering the water boldly. Applebloom went next treading across with a grimace while Sweetybelle simply dipped her hoof in.
"It's so cold!" she said shivering.
"Come on Sweetybelle! It's not so bad, and it's warmer over here!" Applebloom said from across the stream.
Sweetybelle took a deep breath and reluctantly slid into the water. She gasped at the freezing cold and swam across as fast as her numb hooves would take her. She pulled herself out of the water and shook herself off along with Applebloom and Scootaloo.
"Here you go." Apple bloom said handing her a blanket and taking one for herself.
"Scootaloo, you sure you don't want one?" Applebloom asked the dripping wet filly.
"It's fine, I've gone without blankets before. I'm sort of immune to colds now." She said waving a shivering hoof. Applebloom stepped over to Scootaloo and wrapped half of her blanket around her.
"Thanks." Scootaloo said enjoying the bit of warmth.
"How long have you lived here Scootaloo?" Sweetybelle asked examining the tiny island.
Scootaloo tapped her hoof to her chin. "Hmm, about three and a half years."
"Three and a half years!" The two said simultaneously.
"And nopony ever found out?" Applebloom asked and Scootaloo shook her head.
"Why did you come here in the first place?" Sweetybelle asked.
"Well, it's kind of a long story, you sure you wanna hear it?" Scootaloo asked and Applebloom and Sweetybelle nodded.
Scootaloo sighed. "Take a seat."
FOUR YEARS EARLIER
"Scootaloo! Get in here right now!" Big Mama screamed from the kitchen.
"Now you're in for it Scooty." Snootyhooves said snootily.
"Shut up, and don't call me Scooty!" Scootaloo muttered on her way to the kitchen.
Scootaloo stepped nervously into the kitchen where Big Mama was waiting tapping her hoof impatiently, with a stern look on her face. Big mama wasn't really her mother, it's just what all the orphans there called her because she was rather large, and like a mother to them. Well, not to Scootaloo.
Scootaloo didn't like it here, not one bit. Here was the Ponyville Orphanage. She had been abandoned here when she was just a year old. She didn't remember her real mother much, just her face.
Her coat was a pretty orange, like a tulip, just a tad brighter than Scootaloo's, and her mane was cherry red. All she recalled was her mother smiling, not talking, not really doing anything, just smiling. That memory was like a teddy bear to Scootaloo. Whenever she was sad, she'd think of her mother and she'd feel a little better. She'd feel less alone. It was a bittersweet comfort.
"Scootaloo, did you do this?" Big mama asked pointing to a couple cracked eggs on the floor.
"Mabey…" Scootaloo whispered putting on her best puppy eyes. It had no effect on Big Mama.
"Scootaloo! I'm very disappointed in you! You can't just waste all those eggs like that! When I told you to make dinner tonight, I didn't mention anything about throwing these eggs on the floor did I?" Big Mama said with a menacing scowl.
"No, but, it was an accident! I'm sorry I didn't do it on purpose…"Scootaloo murmured.
"I don't care Scootaloo, now clean up this mess! And if you do something like this again you'll be cleaning floors for a week!" Big mama scolded and left the room flicking her pink tail across Scootaloo's face. Scootaloo rubbed her cheek bitterly glaring at the ground. She grabbed a nearby rag, spat on it, and began scrubbing furiously picturing the egg as Big Mama's face.
"Why does she have a happy sunshine as a cutie mark?" She mumbled to herself before being interrupted by a familiar snooty voice
"Hay Scooty! How's our favorite little shrimp?"
Scootaloo didn't turn around.
"Just ignore them Scootaloo." She thought. Suddenly, she felt a sharp pain in the back of her head as Snootyhooves swatted her.
"Don't you have any manners Scooty? Look at ponies when they're talking to you." Snooty said.
Snooty was a tall, slightly overweight filly with a well groomed black mane and a grey coat. Snooty had her own gang of four or five fillies, many of which were larger and stronger than most fillies their age. Snooty was obviously the leader of the gang and respected among the Orphanage for being a total jerk.
"Don't you have anything better to do?" Scootaloo asked going back to work.
"Well now that you mention it…" Snooty said spinning Scootaloo around roughly. "No!" She spat in Scootaloo's face. Scootaloo wiped the spit off her face as Snooty and her gang laughed arrogantly.
"Just leave me alone will ya?" She said angrily and went back to cleaning the floor.
"Aw, come on Scooty lighten up. We're just messin around." Snooty said and reached her back leg out to the countertop kicking a glass bowl off the counter.
"No!" Scootaloo shrieked as the bowl fell almost in slow motion and shattered against the floor with a loud smack.
"Scootaloo! Look what you did!" Snooty said dramatically pointing at the broken bowl as if it were worth a million bits.
"Scootaloo!" Big Mama screamed like a dying cat and trotted into the room practically fuming.
"Look what Scootaloo did!" Snooty said again pointing to the bowl.
"No, I didn't! I swear I didn't!" Scootaloo pleaded.
"Scootaloo, you clumsy, useless little…!" Big mama screeched looking like she wanted to strangle her.
"But, I didn't!" Scootaloo implored while Snooty and her gang snickered with delight.
"Don't you lie to me!" she yelled mercilessly.
Scootaloo spent the next ten minutes being shouted at by Big Mama while Snooty and her gang watched maliciously.
"Now clean up this mess, again! And you're cleaning this floor till its spotless!"
Scootaloo was just humiliated, and tiered of being bullied in her own home as well as school. She had had enough.
That night under the ceasing light of the moon, Scootaloo snuck out of the Orphanage to her prized position, her scooter. She had done this before, just to get out of the house and away from her prison, but this time was different. This time, she wasn't coming back. Scootaloo strapped her helmet on and pushed it above her eyes for it was a bit big for her.
Big Mama had told her the night she was abandoned; her mother left her inside the helmet, like a basket, on top of the scooter. Scootaloo had always wondered why, but she loved her scooter like a brother and used it every chance she got.
Now she would use it to take her away from her hell. She would ride away, like a noble knight to somewhere better, somewhere peaceful and happy. She would ride to her new home, wherever that may be.
Suddenly there was an abrupt crack of thunder loud as a whip sounded the clouded night sky started pouring rain.
Scootaloo turned to see Big Mama running down the porch steps toward her followed by none other than Snootyhooves.
"Uh oh… C'mon scooter, don't fail me now." Scootaloo whispered and began flapping her wings fast as a hummingbird to propel her scooter.
"Don't you dare!" Big Mama screeched just as Scootaloo gained speed.
"I'll be out of here. I'll be free," She thought. That one thought compelled her like fuel for a rocket.
She drove her scooter as fast as she could, but Snooty was right on her tail yelling,
"Don't go Scooty! *pant pant* you'd miss us!" Suddenly Snooty grabbed on to Scootaloo's tail with a sharp bite and pulled her off her scooter. Scootaloo hit the muddy ground and Snooty quickly pinned her down with a vile smirk. That horrible smile that always said, "I win and you lose again Scooty!" in the nastiest way possible.
"Not this time." Scootaloo said just loud enough for Snooty to hear. With a roar of effort, Scootaloo kicked her back legs up with all her might sending Snooty tumbling backwards. Scootaloo scrambled to her hooves while Snooty was still dazed and jumped on her scooter.
"No!" Big mama screamed trotting as fast as her flabby legs would go.
"Not, this time!" Scootaloo yelled again flapped her tiny buzzing wings faster than she ever had before. Big Mama lunged, red faced at the scooter, but missed by a mere few inches and collapsed in the mud.
"Scootaloooooooooooooooo!" she howled.
Scootaloo relished in the thought of her defeated enemies and let out a joyous laugh.
Scootaloo rode for a while, relaxing a bit more every minute from the adrenalin rush of not only showing Big Mama she didn't need her or the stupid orphanage, but Snooty as well. She had showed Snooty that she wasn't going to take it. Not any more, not ever again.
"Hmm…" Scootaloo thought as she began approaching the town, "I wonder where I'm going to go. Will someone take me in? Maybe I'll live on my own. I'll beg for food. I have before. You know, hindsight, maybe it would've been better if I'd thought about this beforehoof. Oh well. I'll think of something. I always do."
Scootaloo had never been this far out of the orphanage before. She stared awestruck at the many surrounding buildings. There was a bakery, homes, shops, even a library.
"Whoa. Now this is cool." She said with a smile.
This life was sure to be better than at the orphanage.
"Alright, well I suppose can start with some food." Scootaloo thought eyeing the bakery.
She parked her scooter in front of the bakery, walked up the porch, and knocked on the door. Inside she heard a crabby voice and stomping hooves. The door swung open revealing a long legged yellow pony. He had bags under his eyes and a stern glare on his face.
"What do you want kid? Do you know what time it is?" He said in an annoyed tone.
"Oh, sorry about that…" Scootaloo muttered. She forgot most ponies weren't awake at this time. Well, since she was here, "I was just wanted to know if you might have some spare, um, bread that I could have? Maybe?" She asked hopefully.
"Spare bread? Get outta here kid!" He said swinging his hoof forward. It hit unprepared Scootaloo in the chest and she tumbled backward off the edge of the porch. She heard a sickening crack and sudden horrid pain, like a dagger in her front leg as she hit the stairs of the porch. She landed with a cry in a muddy puddle, bruised, injured, and very dazed.
"And don't come back!" He yelled slamming the door.
Scootaloo lie still for a moment, wanting to cry. She ached everywhere, especially her leg. She lifted her front hooves, trying to regain her footing, but hurt as she was she just couldn't stand. She collapsed again into the mud with a moan of pain.
"I thought I told you to get outta here!" The yellow male shouted from inside his bakery.
Scootaloo fearfully lifted her head and started to crawl away, dragging her scooter with her.
Each time she lifted her hoof it hurt, even more to pull her weight along with her scooter forward through the thick mud and relentless rain.
Once out of range of the bakery, she stopped, too exhausted to go on. She inhaled deeply, and then winced in pain from the kick to her chest.
"I can't go on crawling like this, maybe if I can board my scooter…" She thought. She took hold of her scooter, now coated in mud, and set it upright. She grabbed the handle and used it as a cane to push herself up. Finally through persistent effort she stood upright leaning heavily against her scooter, praying it wouldn't fall over. She rested only a moment before stepping onto her reliable companion. She let out a muffled moan of relief as she began flapping her miniature wings and impelling her scooter forward, still heavily leaning on the handles with one hoof.
She rode, shakily steering with her good hoof trying with all her might to keep her scooter steady, but it wasn't enough.
Her handicapped steering led her to hitting a rock and she fell sideways on her broken leg.
"Ahh!" She cried, tears running down her cheeks.
"How cruel… all I wanted a bit of bread… maybe a place to stay for the night." Scootaloo thought now limping through the puddles and thick, sloppy mud. The agonizing pain was almost overwhelming, and she yearned for relief. The pummeling rain was suddenly much easier to feel against her unprotected body.
Eventually Scootaloo made her way through the storm to a large open field with a small river and bridge. She wandered helplessly into the field hoping desperately for some shelter, and then she spotted it. A willow tree, just perfect for protection from the rain. It was a distance off, just far enough out of sight of anypony. Scootaloo move toward the welcoming tree, examining its long drooping moss and wide solid trunk.
"Finally, somepony who will keep me! Who will care for me, A home… at least for the night." Scootaloo thought smiling in rleif making her way step by step determinedly to her destination.
Suddenly Scootaloo awoke from her relaxing daydream with a quiver as her hoof stepped in a pool of icy water.
"Huh? Oh no..." Scootaloo said. She didn't realize the patch of land with the tree was surrounded by a river. How would she get across injured like this? But she wanted some shelter so badly! Scootaloo left her scooter and helmet and stepped further into the water hesitantly. She was on the edge of a drop off, small, but big enough to go to her neck. She grimaced, took a deep breath, and plunged into the torrent of glacial water. She gasped at the intensity of the cold and paddled instinctively to the edge despite the struggle to swim with three legs and the constant pain of the flow hitting her damaged leg.
She let out a wail as she used the last of her energy to heave herself onto the land sputtering and dripping wet.
She gazed dreamily through glazed eyes up at the tree. It looked as if it were looking down at Scootaloo saying, "Why don't you stay here for a while?"
She trudged finally satisfied to the trunk, and winced as she lie down. The rain that had pounded down on her coat for so long suddenly stopped under the willow tree.
Scootaloo snuggled close to the tree she now thought of as her only family, the only one who loved her. She closed her eyes.
That night, she dreamed that she nestled close to, not the tree, but her mother.
"Mother…." She murmured burrowing her face deep in her mother's warm, gentle fur.
"Wow." Sweetybelle finally said after moments of stricken silence.
Scootaloo nodded. After a few moments she spoke,
"Do you know why I look up to Rainbow dash so much?" and without waiting for an answer, she said, "Its because, she can stick up for herself. Shes strong, and doesn't let anypony push her around. Best of all, she sticks up for other ponies, like a hero. She cares about her friends, and, she's just everything I want to be. She's everything I wish I had…" Scootaloo said her eyes swimming.
"Scootaloo, you always have us!" Applebloom said wrapping an arm around Scootaloo.
"Yeah! If you ever feel lonely or sad, you come get us us!" Sweetybelle said enfolding Scootaloo in another hug. Scootaloo grinned, glad not to be alone.