It was a bright and shining day in the land of Ponyville, all sorts of colts and fillies going about their daily business.
And in a clubhouse out on the edge of the Apple property, three little ponies were plotting.
"No, no, no! There's no WAY we'd be good Cutie Mark Crusader Ballroom Dancers!" Scootaloo crossed out the concept with a vengeance, frowning over at Sweetie Belle.
The white filly winced at how fiercely her idea had been shot down. "It was just an idea..."
Scootaloo's frown deepened. "Well, your idea stinks. I know! We should be Cutie Mark Crusader Crimefighters!"
Now it was Sweetie Belle's turn to disapprove. "Criminals have clubs and stuff! We can't go fighting them!"
"Nonsense, we'll just dress up in cool costumes and they won't be able to hit us!"
"That doesn't work outta comics and you know it, Scootaloo!"
"Oh yeah?! Prove it!"
This argument continued for several minutes before Apple Bloom finally butted in, shoving her friends away from each other. "Girls, girls! We can't be fightin' like this all the time if we're gonna get our Cutie Marks!"
Scootaloo sighed. "I guess you're right...What we need is some new blood, someone to bring in some different ideas!"
Sweetie Belle blinked, soon nodding along. "Hey, yeah! But who's left that'd join up with us? All the other ponies in our classes have Cutie Marks or don't wanna force it..."
A tentative knock spooked them from their thoughts. "Now who could that be, Ah wonder..." Apple Bloom headed to the door, her comrades close behind, and opened it up...
To find a purple unicorn standing there, maybe a few weeks younger than them. Though she hadn't had her latest growth spurt jut yet, and thus was a bit small, mentally she was right there with them. "Um, hello...You're the Cutie Mark Crusaders, correct?"
Apple Bloom nodded, smiling happily. "Yep! What can we do for ya?"
The little unicorn blushed. "Well, I was hoping, maybe...I could join? If it isn't too much trouble..." She looked away, happening to miss the wide grins on the trio's faces.
It was Apple Bloom who took position as the face of the group, seeing as she was already in front. "It's no trouble! Now come on in, we'll show ya around!"
- - -
The next day, the newly expanded Cutie Mark Crusaders met again, mulling over their sheet of plans. It was, at the moment, a very blank sheet.
Sweetie Belle spoke up this time, looking over at their newest member; Dinky Doo. "The problem is, we've done just about everything we can think of!"
Apple Bloom nodded. "Sorry to putcha on the spot like this, but do ya have any ideas we could all try?"
Dinky rubbed her chin in thought. "I may have one or two I can think of..."
- - -
"Cutie Mark Crusader Librarians?" Scootaloo was...Incredulous, to say the least. Even if she was still standing in Twilight Sparkle's library with the others.
Dinky Doo smiled. "Don't worry, it will work out perfectly fine!" She looked to the wise unicorn who ran the library, trying to squish her nervousness under hoof. "Miss Sparkle, what would you like us to do first...?"
Twilight tried her best to actually look wise to the younger fillies, ignoring her momentary desire to have them and Spike do all the work while she went and read some new books the Princess had sent her. "Well, you could start by putting away those books over there...They're all labeled with their Dewdrop Decimal Number, so you just need to match the number to the gap on the shelves. Nice and easy!"
The Crusaders smiled, going towards the books to get to work! Twilight, figuring they couldn't get into THAT much trouble, soon headed off to a nice lunch.
- - -
When Twilight returned, the library was in chaos even by her standards. And she had some very lenient standards. "Wha...How...Sweetie Belle, why are you hanging from my chandelier?!!!"
The little white filly flailed a little. "I got stuck! We were trying to get up high to put away one of the books, so Scootaloo stacked some others up and I climbed on, but then they all fell!"
Looking downward, Twilight realized they had emptied an entire shelf of highly valuable books, and turned them into an impromptu ladder. All to try and put away a cheap romance novel. With a deep sigh, she hefted up the little filly using magic, setting her back safely on the ground. "Just...Go. I'll clean up the mess myself."
Apple Bloom frowned. "But Twilight, we wanna hel--"
Twilight put on an overly friendly smile, cutting Apple Bloom off. "Oh, don't worry about it! You go to your next adventure! Hurry, or you might miss it!" and she shoved the quartet out.
Dinky looked back, looking oh so guilty and embarrassed. "I'm oh so very sorry, Miss Sparkle..."
"Oh, this is nothing compared to last time... Now go, have fun with your friends! ...And tell Scootaloo to never pursue a career in books. Ever."
- - -
"Well, that sucked..." Scootaloo kicked the base of her scooter a little as she pulled her mini-comrades along.
Dinky looked down. "I'm sorry...I thought it was a good idea..."
Apple Bloom put a hoof on their newest member's shoulder. "It ain't yer fault...Now, what's next on the list?"
- - -
Scootaloo grinned widely as they came to a stop. "Cutie Mark Crusader Weatherponies? Oh heck yeah! I bet Rainbow Dash will thank us and everything!" She looked around. "...Um...There aren't any clouds."
Sweetie Belle pointed up. "There's one! But how're we gonna get to it..."
Now it was Dinky's turn to feel useful again. "I'll return in a moment, girls!" And she took off.
One awkward silence of a few minutes later, little Dinky came back, a small trampoline strapped to her back. "Now we just need to set it up!"
- - -
"Aaalmooost...." Scootaloo bounced again and again, her wings flapping rapidly to bring a little extra lift to her movements. She was only inches away from the cloud, it's fluffy surface seeming to mock her...
And finally, with a final flap, she got close enough, giving it a hard punch! The cloud puffed out of existence, revealing the open sky... And a sleeping Rainbow Dash.
"Oh no..." The color drained from Scootaloo's face as she started to fall.
Rainbow Dash, meanwhile, snapped awake, already hurtling towards the ground. "CrapcrapcrapcrapWORKWINGSWORK!" She slammed her wings against the air, fiercely trying to counter her momentum before she hit the ground.
As it was, she only managed to turn a body-shattering landing into a hard one that sent arcs of pain through her legs. "Ugh...What the hell happened?" She looked around, instantly coming face to face with Scootaloo.
Mostly because the little orange Pegasus was on her back knees, clinging to Rainbow Dash and looking pitifully into her eyes. "I'm so sorry Raindow Dash we never wanted to hurt you we ere just trying to get our Cutie Marks and Dinky thought maybe I'd be good as a weatherpony and there was just the one cloud and we had no idea you were sleeping on it please don't hate me--"
Rainbow Dash put a hoof to Scootaloo's mouth, silencing the filly. "Relax, squirt, no real harm done...But next time, watch what you're doing!" It was at this point that she noticed the trampoline under where her cloud had been. "...And don't go smacking clouds until you can actually fly up to them. Got it?"
Scootaloo started frantically nodding, continuing even as her friends hauled her away from Dash. One apology from Dinky later, the group was off again.
- - -
Apple Bloom frowned, looking over the list. "...Dinky, did you just write down what all mah sister's friends do for a livin'?"
Dinky blushed. "Well...It seemed like something that hadn't been attempted so far, and nobody disagreed at the meeting..."
Apple Bloom sighed. "Well, least it got us thinkin' some more...Ah don't think we're strong enough fer apple buckin', though."
Sweetie Belle butted into the conversation. "And my sister banned us from her workroom after last time..."
Scootaloo took a deep gulp from a juice box, piping up. "And trying to handle animals didn't work when we did it..."
The classic trio all gave off a shudder, memories of the cockatrice surging to the forefront for a moment.
Apple Bloom started crossing things off. "So looks like that only leaves..."
- - -
"Cutie Mark Crusader Party Planners!" Apple bloom smiled to herself, arranging the last streamer. She had to hoof it to herself, she had a real knack for makin' things look nice.
Pinkie Pie stepped into the Sugarcube Corner mere minutes later, gasping happily. "Ooh, a party! This'll be my best one yet! ...Wait a minute, I didn't plan a party! What the hay's goin' on here?"
Sweetie Belle popped up from behind a punch bowl, adding a few fruit slices to give it extra flavor. "We wanted to see if we could be party planners too!"
Pinkie Pie giggled, starting to pour herself some of the punch. "How fun! So, who did you invite?"
Sweetie Belle smiled. "That's the best part! We told Dinky Doo about your family, and she managed to get a hold of 'em!"
It was at this point, that Pinkie Pie did a spit-take all over the little filly. "She WHAT?! Oh no oh no oh no...." She started to brush at her hair with one hoof.
Scootaloo frowned, hopping down from having set up a piñata. "What's the matter? Didn't you say they liked parties after you showed 'em one?"
Pinkie gulped. "Uh...You see, girls, I miiiiight have exaggerated that a bit--"
She was cut off by the sound of her own mother in the front of the store. "Pinkamena Diane Pie, where are you?! Some little filly said you wanted to see us... this had better not be about one of your parties! We sent you here to grow out of those, young lady!"
If Pinkie had been worried before, now she was in a panic. "You've all gotta go! My mom hates kids!"
Sweetie Belle wiped punch off her face, looking confused. "But how could she hate kids? You said you had two siblings!"
"Exactly! Only two! Do you have any idea how small that is for a maneonite family?!" Pinkie's usual demeanor of bubbly madness was now firmly suppressed, and her hair all straightened out. "Now get everything out the back and just run, I'll hold her off!"
With that, Pinkie headed for the door, carefully controlling her tone to hide any hint of joy. "Coming, mother!"
- - -
Scootaloo grimaced, crossing out the last entry on the list. "Well that was a bust..."
Apple Bloom sighed, drinking some punch. "At least we got it all outta there in time...Maybe tamarrah'll go better."
Poor little Dinky frowned, thinking hard...Until she finally facehoofed. "I have a new idea! Oh, it was so obvious..."
Scootaloo looked up. Even with her faith in their new comrade's ideas tested to the limit, she was still easily excited, "What, what is it?"
Dinky smiled. "Well, we have to wait until tomorrow morning, but I have a perfect idea for what we can try!"
- - -
It was a lazy Sunday morning. Ditzy Doo let out a yawn as she trotted into her kitchen, putting a pot of water onto the stovetop to boil.
Several minutes later, she settled down at her table, a delicious set of muffins and a cup of steaming coffee awaiting immediate consumption. The mail didn't run until the afternoon on Sundays in Ponyville, giving their head mail pony a day to relax and sleep in a bit before doing her solemn duty.
Once she took a swig of the coffee, and got it's caffeinated magic into her system, Ditzy realized two things. First, her mailbag was most definitely not where she always left it. Second, she hadn't seen Dinky yet, and the filly almost always wanted to play with her mama before work... Ditzy forced her eye to quit sliding in its usual stress-reaction, going to Dinky's door. She found a note taped to its surface, and started to read.
I know you're always saying how I should just wait for my Cutie Mark to form, and I know you're almost always right. But I met the Cutie Mark Crusaders, and their confidence has convinced me that we can make it happen ourselves."
Ditzy had to force her eye to re-align again, the task proving more difficult this time, before she could keep reading.
"Despite my initial confidence, all our efforts yesterday failed. We were simply not meant to become librarians, weather controllers, or party planners. But I have a plan that I know will make you proud, mama!"
Ditzy just closed her eye at this point, the fear mounting as she reached the end.
"So I'm sorry that I had to go before you awoke, but I needed to be sure we could do this uninhibited. We borrowed your bag, and we're gonna run your route today, so you can sleep in and be proud of us!
At this point, Ditzy's eye was spinning like a slot machine. She finally just stuck her hoof into it to stop the motion, allowing herself a brief yelp of pain before she barreled through the door and outside. Her little Muffin could be in danger!
- - -
"Faster, Scootaloo, faster! She's hurt bad!" Sweetie Belle was kind of panicking in the wagon, and for good reason.
Lying in it and whimpering was Dinky Doo. One of her legs wasn't bending the right way. "It hurts..." Remarkably, she was still clinging tight to her mother's mail bag, refusing to risk it being lost.
Scootaloo flailed her little wings as fast as she possibly could, her eyes wide with terror. "I'm trying! Where do we go where do we go?!"
Apple Bloom took the lead, having seen enough injuries on the farm in her few years to not panic quite as badly. "We gotta get her to the doctor, Scootaloo!"
"That's on the other side of town we need somewhere closer HURRY THINK!" Scootaloo was rapidly going hyperactive from stress, one rear hoof fruitlessly kicking to try and add more speed.
Apple Bloom frowned, trying to think in the heat of the moment... "Ah got it! Get to the library, Twilight's gotta know somethin' about fixin' a broken leg!"
"Library got it hold on tiiiiight!" With an actual focus, Scootaloo was able to start blasting through the crowds. It was to her credit that she kept the wagon from jerking too much, sheer experience helping her counteract the natural forces that would try to send it flailing around behind her scooter.
Finally, Twilight's library came into view, and Scootaloo skidded her ride to a stop. She burst forward on her little wings, practically crashing into the door before she banged on it with all her might. "Twiliiiiiiight!!!!!"
- - -
Twilight sighed when she heard Scootaloo's voice through the door, putting aside a particularly juicy novel from Princess Celestia to go answer it. "What is it, I'm bu--"
Her answer died in her throat when she saw the injured Dinky Doo in the wagon.
Scootaloo was in her in an instant. "You gotta help us we were trying to be mail ponies and Dinky tried to deliver something to Rainbow Dash's and fell and broke her leg and the hospital's all the way on the other side of town and we don't know what to dooooo!!!!"
Twilight went into action immediately, shoving Scootaloo aside. "Everypony out of the wagon, I need to get her in as gently as possible!" The original Crusaders scattered, and with all her skill and control, Twilight ever so slowly lifted the wagon.
Bringing it inside with nary a jostle, she set the little red wagon down in the center of the main room. "Alright, I can't do this alone, and Spike's off shopping. So all of you are going to do exactly as I say, and do it CAREFULLY. Am I clear?"
Seeing their heads frantically nodding, Twilight gave a little smile. "Good. I need cold rags, to start, and my first aid kit. Apple Bloom, kitchen's to your left. Sweetie Belle, up the stairs. Scootaloo, you're on moral support."
Twilight stepped up to the wagon, suppressing a wince. "How're you doing, Dinky...?"
The little unicorn shuddered, still clutching the mail bag with her good foreleg. "I...I am in pain..."
Twilight winced openly now, Dinky's speech reminding her of her own at that age. "I know...But I'm going to do my best to fix it. Can you let go of the bag?"
Dinky immediately shook her head. "It's my mama's..."
"I understand... Just hold still, then, and keep it away from the injury." With a nod from Dinky, Twilight began the initial work. Memories of medical manuals and spell books surged forth, and she carefully started a simple spell. It was only the first step, but it numbed the poor girl's leg completely, giving Twilight room to work. "You might want to close your eyes...You shouldn't feel anything, but it might get ugly."
Before Dinky could respond, the girls got back with their respective supplies. Twilight allowed herself another small smile at their ability to work under pressure for once. "Alright, let's get started. I need one of those rags on Dinky's forehead, and the scalpel from that first aid kit...And I need all of you to look away. This is going to get bloody..."
- - -
It was a lot of long, hard work, but finally Twilight was able to finish wrapping up a cast around Dinky's leg. They'd managed to do things completely by the book, leaving Dinky with a leg that should heal within a few months.
Twilight sighed, settling down onto her haunches. "Whew... I'm glad THAT'S over. How do you feel, Dinky?"
Dinky sat up carefully, still a touch woozy. "Um...Sore, primarily..."
"No extra lightheadedness, or fatigue?" When she got a headshake from the filly, Twilight relaxed. "Good...We'll take you down to the hospital in a few minutes, let them look over you properly."
It was at this point, that Ditzy burst into the library. Her eyes were askew, and filled with fear and rage. "Where is my little Muffin?!"
Upon seeing Dinky, lying on a bloodied blanket with a cast on one leg, Ditzy practically teleported to her precious daughter. "Muffin! What did those little monsters do to you?!"
Dinky frowned. "They didn't do anything, mama...I got hurt trying to deliver mail, that's all."
Ditzy hugged her carefully, nonetheless clinging tight to Dinky. "Well that's over! You aren't playing with them anymore!"
Dinky's frown grew. "Mama...They're my friends!"
That managed to make Ditzy release her daughter, hesitating. "I...Honey, they'll only hurt you more...They can't do anything else."
Scootaloo butted in. "Hey!"
Twilight stepped in front of the speedy filly. "Now, Ditzy, I know you're upset..."
Ditzy turned, glaring at Twilight. "My Muffin got hurt playing with them!"
"And I understand! But they also got her HELP, and only left her side when I made them help me...Which they did a remarkable job at. I wouldn't have been able to work nearly as well without them there."
This left Ditzy taken aback...At which point, Dinky nudged her mother. "It's true, mama...They got me here all the way from Rainbow Dash's house...They really care about me!" She shifted over, revealing the mailbag she was still clinging to. It had a few new stains, and had clearly taken a hard impact with some packages in it, but it was in one piece. "Look, we even kept your mail bag. I didn't let it go, even for a second!"
Ditzy finally couldn't take it anymore, hugging Dinky all over again. "Oh, Muffin!"
- - -
Dear Princess Celestia,
Today I learned that even if they seem silly or unskilled, when the chips are down, true friends are there to help. No matter how young they are, or how different their friend is.
Your faithful student,