Chapter 5: Barriers
"No no no," Scootaloo said. "You've got to do it gently. You're still over-correcting."
"Ugh, I'm trying, but—" Rainbow Dash was cut short as she again rolled unexpectedly on a poorly-positioned updraft and fell the couple of feet to the ground. The two had been flying and practicing together for several days, but Dash was still working hard to learn how to hover without using her wings.
Rainbow Dash picked herself up and shook the loose grass and dirt off her coat and wings. "I'm still not sure I'm understanding this."
"Sure you are," the filly assured her. "It just takes practice. You're just used to using your magic to go fast. You push and pull the air around you in big motions, and take care of the balance and subtle corrections using your wings. The trick is learning to balance by moving the airflow, rather than your wings."
"Right, I got that part, but..."
"Well then, see, you do understand it. You just have to try harder... or actually... less hard. Be subtle, gentle, patient."
Rainbow wasn't quite sure those words were even in her vocabulary, metaphorically speaking, but she couldn't let that stop her. After all, a filly had figured out how to do it... and from a book no less! If she had to put new words in her metaphorical vocabulary to master this, then so be it. She'd metaphorically read the metaphorical dictionary if she had to! Heck, she thought, she might even read the actual dictionary if it would help. With that in mind, she stretched her neck and wings, then dusted off again.
Okay, she thought to herself. Subtle. Gentle. Rainbow felt the air currents flowing around and under her as she hovered. She focused on the column of air that was keeping her aloft, feeling the higher pressures under her barrel, hooves, and wings. Like Scootaloo had instructed, Dash reduced the currents flowing beneath her wings, and strengthened the ones under her body to take the extra weight. Consciously, she resisted the instinct to keep flapping her wings, and brought them to a standstill. Both were still stretched out though, and each would twitch instinctually as she listed in one direction or another. She could also feel those same instincts pulling air currents to her wings with each twitch as well. Still though, she was halfway there. She just had to retrain those balancing instincts to shift the air under her body instead. The air had so much less effect that close to her center of mass though. She'd feel herself starting to tip slightly, try a corrective breeze like she'd use under a wing, then when it did nothing and she was leaning even further, she'd panic, overdo it and then find herself falling the opposite direction. It was a bit like balancing on top of a ball with only one hoof and no wings.
Dash was ready for it this time though. She'd fallen more times than she could count over the previous days, and she was going to get it right. She tried to relax, reminding herself not to overreact as she started to fold her wings. She felt a slight tilt to the left, and immediately shifted more pressure to that side of her body, resisting the urge to make it stronger when there was not an instant reaction. After a fractional second that seemed way longer in her mind, she realized the roll had stopped. Overjoyed at the progress, she forgot to balance things back out though, and was soon rolling the other way. Increasing pressure on the right was then done too quickly, so it wasn't equal between her head and tail, causing her to tilt backwards as well. Realizing she was losing it on two axes, Dash started to lose her focus on subtlety. While the lateral roll was corrected by a nearly-perfect differential, the rearward tilt was now rather exaggerated. She over-corrected by a fair margin, sending a strong—and quite shocking—puff of air underneath her tail and hind quarters.
At the unexpected sensation, Rainbow Dash's eyes went wide and her rear hooves slammed together, causing her to fall ignominiously to the ground yet again. Scootaloo, seeing the mare's tail blown high by the gust immediately before the fall, quickly put two and two together and fell to the ground laughing.
"Yeah yeah," Dash said, picking herself up. "Laugh it up, squirt!"
"Sorry Dash," Scootaloo said as she worked to control her laughter. "But if you'd seen the look on your face..."
Dash just rolled her eyes. She couldn't really be mad, as she knew she'd be laughing if the roles had been reversed. Still though, she figured that was enough hover practice for today. After waiting for Scootaloo to stop giggling, she suggested they go for some more "real" flying.
As they were soaring casually over the landscape a short time later, Scootaloo pulled up beside Dash. She'd been wanting to do this for several days now, but kept getting cold hooves every time she was about to ask.
"Hey, uh... Dash?" She said, trying to work up the courage.
"Yeah?" Rainbow said, turning to look at her as they both slowed a bit.
"Umm..." Scootaloo was about to back down again, but fought through the impulse and managed to finish. "Can we race?"
Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow. "Like, you and me?"
That's what Scootaloo had been afraid of. Dash wouldn't take her seriously, as there's no way she could be a real challenge for the speedster. Still though, she was determined to see this though, and said meekly, "Umm, yeah. You know, just for fun?"
For her part, Dash had been surprised because, over the past few days' flying with her young sister, she'd intentionally been going extra slow. She didn't want to risk humiliating or embarrassing the filly, especially with how new she was to flight. But a race though? She cared enough about the little pegasus that her ego wasn't an issue; she'd have no problem holding back and letting her win if that's what it took to let the youngster be happy. But Scootaloo wasn't dumb either, and had watched Dash practice for years. Would she know if her idol was holding back? Would that make it worse?
While Dash was pondering, Scootaloo added one simple word that broke the mental tie. "Please?"
"Yeah, sure thing, Scoots!" Rainbow said. "Name the course."
"Awesome! Okay, umm... straight line race, and let's finish at..." Scootaloo said, looking around for a good landmark. "How about that waterfall on the far shore of the lake?"
"That's pretty far," Rainbow said, realizing she could see the lake, but not the falls at this distance, though she knew it from memory of course. "You sure you're up for it?"
"Yeah, if nothing else, I'll get a lot of practice right? And I just want to go fast!"
"Heheh, I can appreciate that!"
Scootaloo gave a friendly but determined smile to her sister and friend.
"Okay, count down from 3!" Dash said, adjusting her speed to line up right beside the filly. "3... 2... 1... Go!"
The two pegasi put on massive bursts of speed, their former glide a virtual standstill by comparison. Dash slowed a tad after a few moments as she realized she had a slight lead. Scootaloo kept pushing harder though, and was soon catching up. As she did so, Rainbow accelerated, deciding that any thrown victory would look more realistic if she maintained a bit of a lead for now. She found herself soon having to pour on more speed though, as the filly was somehow still accelerating.
Scootaloo felt the air rushing through her fur, realizing that this was the sort of moment she'd dreamed of for years. She was determined not to let herself be distracted though. She knew Rainbow was certainly going to win a race like this, but wanted to push herself as much as she could, regardless. Like she'd just told Dash, at least it was good practice. More importantly, she'd get to see exactly what the other pegasus did from up close, and perhaps learn from that as well. The first thing she noticed was Dash's posture—head forward, neck in direct line with back and tail, forehooves out in front. It was of course, exactly what her reading in basic aerodynamics would suggest, but seeing it on another pony instead of abstract concepts made it a lot easier to imitate. As she concentrated on streamlining her form, she realized she could feel the turbulence reducing and her speed increasing.
As they raced faster and faster, Scootaloo began to notice other areas of turbulence around her body and limbs. Her mane and tail were big ones, the hair fluttering rapidly in the airflow. Her ears were also another big one, but after a couple of tries, she found a way to lay them down so they were mostly out of the way. There wasn't much she could do about her hindquarters, shoulders, and other joints though, and she was still trailing Dash by a fair bit. Scootaloo realized that a pony just physically couldn't fold into an ideal aerodynamic shape. But then inspiration struck. This wasn't about what a pony could do physically... this was magic! She couldn't move her body out of the way of the airflow, but she could move the air around her body!
With that in mind, Scootaloo started focusing on the air rushing past her, trying to map out in her mind how it would need to flow to minimize resistance. Once she figured that out, the trickier part was determining what magical adjustments she could make to achieve that. She started with the most obvious source of drag, directly in front of her. She concentrated on ripping the onrushing air apart before it reached her outstretched hooves, forming a cone of lower pressure directly around her hooves and head. It took her a couple of tries, as the sudden change in airflow kept throwing her off course. Once she got it though, she knew she was on to something. Suddenly it was much quieter, her ears, eyes, and cheeks no longer felt like they were being ripped away by the wind. She took the opportunity to glance briefly to the side, realizing that she'd actually just passed Rainbow Dash.
Rainbow realized she'd been daydreaming again. After the first minute or so of the race, she thought she'd paced the filly pretty well, maintaining her slight lead. But now, even though she knew she hadn't slowed, Scootaloo had just passed her. While she was still planning to let the filly win, she wanted to put on a good show, and picked up her pace again, aiming to slowly pass after a few moments. As she started to gain on the young flier, Dash saw her hit what looked like strong turbulence, the small pony being rocked side to side by unseen forces before recovering. Dash found this very odd, as she encountered nothing even resembling a crosswind or updraft herself. Dismissing it, she put on a bit more speed, finding she'd not been closing as quickly as she'd planned. Then she realized she was actually falling further behind, and really pushed it until she'd once again achieved a slight lead.
Scootaloo was feeling incredibly giddy as she looked down and saw the landscape flowing beneath her faster than she'd ever imagined. She'd had a couple more near-disasters as she'd refined the magically constrained airflow around her. The initial cone she'd formed kept things comfortable, but it had a larger frontal area than was ideal, as a pony wasn't exactly a cylinder. She'd narrowed the conic flow region down to just barely enclose her outstretched forelegs, flattening it slightly, and joined it with a partially elliptical dome which covered her head. As she'd made those adjustments though, the onrushing air had snagged her wings unexpectedly and almost thrown her out of her carefully constructed airflow. She'd managed to recover both times. Now, she was focusing on the wings themselves.
Initially, she'd found it easiest to fly with both wings out stretched and tilted so the undersides were mostly pointed behind her. This provided relatively large surfaces that she could bring a lot of air pressure against to use for thrust. At these higher speeds though, the added drag was causing problems. Quickly experimenting with a couple of different ideas, she discovered that sweeping them back while keeping them slightly away from her body formed pockets between her flank and wings where high pressure thrust could be focused, yet let the overall airflow from in front of her slide past with minimal resistance—provided, of course, she kept the rest of the currents in line with her plan. This part was becoming more and more difficult the further she refined the airflow. A blunt cone was pretty simple, taking more willpower than actual finesse. The more details she added to the streamlining though, the more concentration it required, and the harder it became to maintain all the subtle components in her mind and magic. Scootaloo was determined though, and the sheer thrill of speed drove her to keep pushing the envelope.
Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash was becoming increasingly confused. She'd once again fallen behind the filly, and was working really hard to catch up. She knew she still had a bit more speed she could bring out, but was pretty certain she could already beat at least a few of the Wonderbolts at the current pace. There was no way a filly—never mind one who only just learned how to fly—should be able to go anywhere near this speed. As she pulled up alongside Scootaloo again, she quickly glanced at the youngster, and even that tiny movement caused her to fall behind from the added drag. The orange filly didn't even seem to be trying however. While Dash felt her mane nearly being pulled out by the roots, and her entire face flapping like laundry in a hurricane, Scootaloo looked positively serene, only a brow furrowed in concentration suggesting otherwise. Then the filly accelerated again.
Scootaloo could barely spare a thought for how fast she was going. All her focus was on maintaining and improving the airflow around herself with hundreds of subtle magical adjustments to the natural aerodynamics. She'd narrowed the flow around her barrel and hindquarters fairly tight, and had a rough tail cone behind her, crudely rejoining the currents in her wake. That had given her a significant burst of speed, but she could sense there was still some major regions of turbulence behind her. Many of the paths the air took around her were different lengths, meaning they met up at different speeds and pressures. She tried adjusting the flow around her shoulders, finding that allowing slightly more drag there resulted in an improvement where that airflow rejoined behind her. Likewise, several adjustments that were possible around her rear hooves resulted in net gains when tried by themselves, but every time she tried to compound the improvements and use several at a time, it often made things worse instead of better. She eventually discovered several combinations that started to work though, gaining a small bit of speed with each one, and continued to search for more.
No way, Dash thought, seeing Scootaloo accelerate once more. That just... that can't be possible. She was falling behind yet again, and as she realized they were coming to the end of the race, her competitive nature started to kick in. She'd originally intended to let the filly win, but that was when she thought it wouldn't be a fair race. Now she realized that she might actually be racing the second fastest pegasus in Equestria. It didn't matter that it was a filly that'd just learned to fly a week or two ago, right? Blinking through the wind-induced tears, Rainbow Dash saw Scootaloo pulling away. Okay, she thought. That definitely means game on!
Scootaloo had successfully refined several more small bits of non-laminar airflow, when she'd been distracted by a strange new sensation. The cone in front of her hooves was sporadically becoming visible, a white mist or glow appearing at the boundaries. The bursts coincided with a loss of flow cohesion and subsequent drop in speed. At first she thought she'd merely lost focus in some small way, causing the failures, but a quick mental check let her sense everything was still holding together. There was actually some new phenomenon causing things to go awry each time she sped back up, something that wasn't there at lower speeds. Distracted from her refinements for a moment, she quickly noticed as Rainbow Dash passed her, and saw that the cyan pegasus had a similar white cone forming in front of her. It was then that she connected the dots. No way, she thought. Am I really going that fast?
Dumbfounded, Scootaloo gave up on trying to push through the new barrier, and instead just watched intently as Dash pushed past her. She'd seen this once before from the ground, but now she had a front row seat. It happened in a matter of seconds, but to the young pegasus, everything was in slow motion. Dash had tears being ripped from her eyes by the sheer speed, her mane, tail, and even lips rippling in the onrushing air. A cone of white condensation was forming in front of the pegasus, the angle narrowing as her speed increased, taking her a short way in front of the younger flier. Dash strained and fought, her outstretched hooves inching closer and closer to the barrier. Then it happened. The barrier was breached, the resulting discontinuity instantly condensing water vapor and excess thaumaturgical energy in an expanding torus of extreme pressure differential, which in turn refracted sunlight into its constituent spectrum.
Scootaloo's eyes were wide in awe as the Sonic Rainboom exploded right before her. In the fraction of a second it took for her to reach the edge of the shockwave, she spent most of it in pure wonder. Only in the last fraction of that fraction did she finally start to realize what kind of effect the phenomenon might have on her own trajectory.
"Scootaloo!" Dash yelled, circling above the lake. After she'd pulled off the rainboom, the pegasus had sailed under the destination waterfall, and then done a quick victory lap around the mountain as she bled off speed and the excess magic that went with it. It was only as she circled back that she realized Scootaloo was nowhere to be seen. "Scootaloo, where are you?" she yelled again, starting to panic. Why had she done that? She could've just let the filly win like she planned, but instead she'd gone and practically blasted her out of the sky with a point-blank rainboom! "Come on squirt, answer me!"
"Dash!" a faint voice called from somewhere below. Dash turned to track it.
"Down here!" This time she saw it. In the lake itself, just off shore, she saw the filly paddling in the water. She flew down and landed just as Scootaloo was slogging her way through some high cattails to the shore.
"Oh my gosh, Scootaloo! I'm so sorry!" Rainbow said, as the drenched filly pulled her last hoof from the mud with a loud squick.
"Wow Dash, that was awesome!" Scootaloo gushed. "I was right beside you when I realized what you were about to do, and I saw the air condensing in front of you then you were like, zoom! Right past me!" The filly mimed the flyby with her hooves. "Suddenly, there was this huge rainbow wave coming at me and before I could even think about it, it knocked me tumbling out of the sky. Next thing I know, I'm crashing in the lake!"
"I'm so, so sorry about that," Dash said, the panicked apologies tumbling out as fast as she could speak. "I don't know what I was thinking. I was going to let you win and everything!"
"Yeah it was..." the youngster began, before her brain caught up with her ears and brought a frown to her face. "Wait. You were going to letme win?"
Rainbow felt her cheeks flush. "Umm... Well, I was. Obviously I didn't, though."
"Obviously," Scootaloo deadpanned, before turning her head and trying to shake the lake water out of her ear.
"But you're okay?"
"Yeah," the filly said, turning to look at the bottom of one of her rear hooves. "But I think I've got a frog in my frog. Go on, shoo!" She said, shaking the hoof and dislodging a small amphibian. "Still though, I can't believe you were going to let me win."
"Yeah, sorry about that. I just didn't want you to feel bad."
"You know I was never expecting to actually win, right Dash?"
Of course that made sense, Rainbow knew that Scootaloo wasn't dumb, and knowing how amazingly fast Rainbow could go was pretty much gospel for the filly. "But then why race?"
"Just to say I'd raced Rainbow Dash." Scootaloo hung her head, a bit embarrassed by the admission. "How many ponies can say they got to even lose a race against the fastest pony in Equestria?"
"Heh, yeah, I guess that is a rare honor," Rainbow said, bringing her false ego out for a spin.
"So what made you change your mind... about losing I mean?"
"Yeah, really. Why?"
"I'm not quite sure. I think... I think it was easy enough to lose when I knew I could win. By the end though... I mean, for crying out loud squirt, you were pushing the sound barrier right there with me! Suddenly I didn't know if I could actually win or not."
"And you just had to win?"
"No! Well... not exactly. Okay, yeah, I mean, I wanted to win, but it was more like I needed to see if I even could. For all I knew, you were gonna find yet another burst of speed and beat me still! I could live with that, but not if I hadn't actually tried my hardest, you know?"
"Yeah, I do," Scootaloo admitted, knowing how many times her own failures were only assuaged because she knew she'd at least given it her all.
"So can you forgive me?"
The filly smiled, "Yeah, just don't do it again."
"Deal!" Rainbow said, stretching out her hoof to have it bumped by Scootaloo. With that behind them, Dash continued. "So what the hay happened back there anyway? You were matching my speed the whole way, but then you just lost it at the barrier."
"Yeah, I don't know," the filly said. "I figured out how to streamline the airflow around me, and was getting better and better at it. Then, blam! It's like everything I thought I'd figured out just changed. The air started behaving totally differently at that speed, and every little thing I tried nearly made me lose it."
"Heheh, yup! That's how the barrier is. Very few ponies can even get going that fast in the first place. Every one of them that did said kinda the same thing. It's totally different than flying at slower speeds."
"But how did you get through it then?"
"Ugh, you're not gonna like the answer."
"Come on, Dash, tell me."
"That's why you won't like it... Like I said that night at Twilight's, I don't know how I do it. I just try harder. Somehow I was able to push through."
"Yeah, you're right, that's not much help. What's it like once you get through, though?"
"Oh wow, squirt. It's awesome! Soon as you get through, everything smooths out again, and you can relax—just a bit, but still it feels amazing after the effort to punch through. Then you can keep going even faster, though it's hard to keep up for too long."
Scootaloo sighed. "That sounds amazing. I gotta figure out how to get there!"
"I'm sure you will."
"Yeah, if any other pony can get through it, it's definitely going to be you."
"How are you so sure?"
"How are you not? Look squirt, I'm being dead serious again. What you just pulled off up there was nothing short of incredible! You didn't even know how to fly two months ago, yet you went from 'Oh, not bad for a filly' to 'Faster than most of the Wonderbolts' in the course of a ten minute race. Never mind that wingless hover thing you figured out."
"Well, when you put it like that..."
"No, seriously, Scootaloo, listen to me." Rainbow Dash leaned down toward the filly, smiling warmly, despite the tears glistening in the corners of her eyes. "When you said you wanted to race me just to say you'd done it? Well, I think maybe it's a good thing I won today, because I honestly don't know that I'll be able to do it much longer. You're gonna crack the barrier, and I've no doubt that what's beyond will be even more of a cakewalk for you. When that happens, well... I won't be able to say I'm the fastest pony in Equestria anymore, but at least I'll still be the only pony that ever beat her in a race!"
Scootaloo was wide-eyed in shock at the realization she was destroying the dreams of the pony she'd idolized most. "Dash," She mumbled. "I never meant to... I mean, I'm not trying to..."
"Hey," Rainbow interrupted with a playful hoof to the shoulder. "Cheer up, squirt! It's a good thing! Just make sure you mention me a few times when you're accepting all the awards, okay?"
"Oh, Dash," The filly said, leaping to hug her sister again. "I'd never, ever forget you!"
"I know, Scoots. I know."
Later that evening, Twilight was startled from her light reading—a twelve-hundred page dissertation on second era griffon economics—by a loud knocking at her door. Opening it, she wasn't surprised to find Scootaloo, as the filly had been coming by for regular tutoring sessions in calculus, aerodynamics, and basic magic theory. The matted coat and mud-caked legs, on the other hoof, were slightly more of a shock, but by no means the worst she'd seen from members of the crusading trio. Before she could even say hello, the young pegasus stepped through the door.
"Twilight," Scootaloo said, her voice full of urgency. "I need books!"
"What kind of books?"
"Everything you've got on... I think Able Achievement called it 'supersonic' airflow."
Twilight thought for a moment. She'd been reading up on a lot of aerodynamics and related physics as she tutored Scootaloo. There wasn't much on supersonic flow, as it was still mostly theoretical. There'd been some lab experiments, and a fair bit of mathematical conjecture, but Rainbow Dash herself had been the first—and so far only—pony to actually fly at those speeds. Twilight did have a personal suspicion that the princesses may actually be able to fly that fast, but no pony had ever witnessed it, and the princesses sure weren't admitting to it. As such, she omitted that bit of speculation as she explained to the filly how little information there was on the subject.
"Well then," Scootaloo said. "I need everything you do have on it, and anything you can think of that's related. I'm just gonna have to figure it out myself."
"Now that's very admirable, Scootaloo, but—"
"Oh, not this again," Scootaloo said, rolling her eyes with a huff.
"What? No... Argh!" Twilight fumbled out. "No, I wasn't going to say you're too dumb or anything, but I don't want to see you set yourself up for disappointment either. You're not just talking about learning something, you're talking about trying to formulate new theories and study entirely new phenomena. That's almost impossible to do without research."
"Umm, okay," Scootaloo said. "So I'll have to do research then."
"No, I mean original research. Not looking stuff up, but studying things in the real world as they happen."
"Yeah, that's the plan."
Twilight sighed before trying again. "Scootaloo," she said. "What I'm saying is that, to study trans-sonic and supersonic aerodynamics, you'd have to actually be going pretty close to the sound barrier, and Rainbow Dash..."
"Yeah, I could almost touch it today."
"...is the only pony I know that can even get close to that speed, but she's not the most, well, 'scientifically minded' pony to rely on for observational data. As such... Wait, you what?"
Scootaloo smiled, starting to understand why Dash and Pinkie always loved to prank the librarian. Not only was she often several seconds behind, but the look on her face when she was surprised or confused was just priceless.
"I said, I was flying practically at the sound barrier today. I could almost reach out and touch it."
Yup, the filly thought. Priceless!
"Ya know, Scootaloo, it wouldn't hurt to put down the books at least for a few minutes, right?"
"No can do, AB. I'm on a roll."
Apple Bloom sighed. She was glad her friend had finally conquered her dream of flying, but the adventures of the Cutie Mark Crusaders were happening a lot less often now that their most adventurous member had her nose buried in a book all the time. The discovery they'd made about their collective nature seemed to be paying off a lot more for the pegasus, she thought. While, sure, it was cool to be able to grow flowers and connect with all the earth around her, the novelty was starting to wear off. She still practiced of course, especially in idle moments on the farm, and she'd even gotten some pretty amazing decorative trees and bushes out of it. Most recently, she'd managed to rapidly grow an apple, orange, and cherry tree at the same time, causing them to weave and braid through each other as they grew. The end result was a single "tree" with a braided trunk, bearing three kinds of fruit out on the edge of the farm. It was cool and all, but there wasn't much more she could think of to challenge her talent. Certainly nothing like what Scootaloo had in trying to crack the sound barrier.
"Hey Apple Bloom," Sweetie Belle said, idly juggling a dozen random objects from around the clubhouse with her magic while she lay on the floor. "Want to go to Sugarcube Corner? I could go for a milkshake right now."
Not exactly the adventure she'd been looking for, but a shake did sound pretty good. "Yeah!" Apple Bloom said. "What about you, Scoots? Wanna get a shake?"
Scootaloo looked up from her book, then shook her head. "No, you guys go on ahead. I think I'm pretty close to figuring this bit out."
Sweetie and Apple Bloom shared a look with each other, before shrugging. "Okay," Apple Bloom said. "Ya know where to find us if ya change yer mind."
With that, the two fillies trotted out the door, leaving the pegasus to her studies.
"Ya know," Apple Bloom said, turning to Sweetie as the two made their way across the farm. "I'm kinda worried about Scoots. I mean, she never puts down those books at all."
"Yeah," Sweetie said. "But I think maybe it's good for her. She's learning a lot, and that can't be a bad thing."
Apple Bloom sighed. "Yeah, I guess yer right. It's just... I kinda miss the old Scootaloo. I mean, we haven't crashed into nothin' or even destroyed anything in forever!"
"You really miss getting scraped up and bruised all the time?"
Apple Bloom laughed a bit at that. "Well, when ya put it that way. But it's just... I dunno. I think I'm just bored."
"Really?" Sweetie said, her tone of concern genuinely strong.
"Yeah, I mean... when we found out we were all special, well... it was scary at first, but then I thought this was gonna be awesome. And sure, I don't think I'd ever felt as good as that day I showed up Diamond and Silver by regrowin' those flowers. But since then, it just seems so... well, normal I guess. Every month that goes by just makes it feel like, so what, I can grow flowers and fancy trees and stuff. Not like that's exactly exciting, or much use save for farmin'. Ain't nothing else I can think of to do with it."
"I'm sorry, Bloom," Sweetie said, leaning over to nuzzle her friend as they walked. "I didn't know you were feeling sad."
"Well, it ain't exactly sad, just... Well what about you? I see ya juggling things and all those other tricks. Ya having fun with it still?"
"Yeah, some of it's still fun sometimes. For the most part, it's just something that's now a part of me though. I'm not quite sure how to explain it. Even the stuff that should really make me freak out, like when I first figured out I could unhinge my joints, or that I didn't need to breathe. That's big stuff, but it just somehow felt like it made sense. I'm still learning new things I can do all the time, but I don't think it's exciting for me in the same way it is for Scootaloo. I just decide to try something, and I can usually do it pretty easily."
"So Scootaloo is working really hard to do something, you can do anything without trying, and I have nothing left to do."
"Oh come on," Sweetie said, bumping her friend with a shoulder. "It's not that bad! What all did you have to do before you found out you were the most magical earth pony ever?"
Apple Bloom frowned at that. "I ain't even an earth pony."
"Close enough and you know it! All that's changed is that now you can do something extra you couldn't before, right? You won't have to worry about the farm so much, as you know you'll be the best at that, so you can spend extra time doing whatever else you want!"
Apple Bloom wasn't quite in a mood to smile, but she had to admit that Sweetie had a point. It wasn't like she'd lost anything by finding out she was a magical golem. Everything else in her life was still the same, so there's no reason she should be less happy than before the revelation. "But if that's true," she said. "Then why am I feelin' so down?"
"You know what will fix that?"
Sweetie grinned, and then there was a loud pop. Before she could blink, Apple Bloom found that Pinkie Pie was in her face with an answering cry of, "Milkshakes!" and slamming two of said answer onto the table.
Getting her bearings, Apple Bloom found that she was now seated in a booth in Sugarcube Corner, directly across the table from Sweetie Belle, and two milkshakes sat before them, delivered by the aforementioned pink mare. Looking up, Apple Bloom could see Sweetie still grinning, which caused her to frown once again.
"Sorry, please don't be mad," the unicorn said, her grin disappearing in a flush of shame. "Twilight taught me how to teleport yesterday, and I've been wanting to show it off."
Closing her eyes, Apple Bloom sighed and allowed herself to smile. It was hard to stay mad at Sweetie, and even harder when surrounded by the delicious smells of baked goods. She knew her friend only meant to cheer her up.
"Naw, it's okay," she said, taking a sip of milkshake before continuing. "I really was kinda tired of walkin' anyway."
Sweetie smiled and seemed to relax at this, and the two fillies spent the next hour fueling a sugar rush while chatting about much more mundane things before heading back to the clubhouse.
When they got there, they found Scootaloo was gone, but—at least as far as they could tell—all her beloved math and science books were still there.
Yeah, yeah yeah... you all saw this stuff coming, I know. Hopefully it was still a fun trip, even if you knew the destination. I promise it gets more exciting though, with "Chapter 6: Applied Research."
So, until then... be excellent to each other!