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In the Midst of a Dark Matter- WIP


Shazzlnet
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I've been developing this story since February and infrequently writing since April. I'd just like some honest feedback about errors, writing style, character portrayal, and readability.

Here's the first part of the first chapter

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Chapter 1

Part 1: A Piece of Peace

Books danced about in the air, suspended by an aura of magenta. Dozens of books and several scrolls filed around the room in this manner, lining themselves upon the shelves on the walls or a select few finding their way into an indigo saddle bag on the round table at the center of the room. A lavender unicorn pony that called the interior of the massive, hollowed out tree her home willed the objects around her, the effort made evident by a glow of light coming from the horn on her forehead.

It was not Re-shelving Day according to her schedule, but it was no less important that she took note of each and every book, as well as the numerous scrolls that ponies would check out. As the resident librarian of Ponyville, Twilight Sparkle took every measure to ensure that nothing went amiss. This was her domain after all, and order would be kept.

Another stack of books made its way down the stairs from the second floor, but not through the unicorn’s will or other magical properties. Walking on his hind legs and supporting his load with his arms, a tiny purple dragon with a pale green underbelly and spines of a more prominent green from the top of his head to the end of his tail hefted the books cautiously down each step. As he approached the last few steps, testing his footing before descending to the next, he spoke up to his caretaker and friend.

“Hey Twilight, I know you want this to go smoothly, but don’t you think you’re getting a bit over-prepared?” Even as he addressed his concern the young dragon continued to sort his pile of books, keeping an eye out for copies the unicorn wanted for tonight.

“Not this time, Spike,” she asserted in a matter-of-fact tone. “I know I was a bit carried away when Cheerilee first asked me, but I’m only planning this first lesson. I’ll take them one at a time like I should have in the first place.”

“I’m surprised she’s still cool with letting you plan the special night classes,” Spike thought aloud. “Especially after you nearly put her in the hospital.” The baby dragon watched the unicorn wince from behind as the memories of last week brought a regretful expression to her face.

“I know, I know, but she accepted my apology. Anyway! Cheerilee told me exactly what she wanted to go over and in what order, so I know everything I need to be ready for tonight.” Emphasising the point was an array of telescopes that flew to her side from an overhang on the upper floor.

“Hmm, there aren’t enough for all the children,” she noted after double-checking the list of students, “so they’ll probably have to pair up. Spike, Once you’re done with that stack, can you make sure there will be enough star charts and astrology books? I don’t want anypony feeling left out.”

“Alright, alright,” the young dragon replied, a share of exasperation evident in his voice. The main reason he hoped this would be over very soon was the fact it was almost an hour past noon, and they hadn’t done anything for lunch. He tried to keep his thoughts occupied with organizing the few remaining books so his hunger would slip his mind for just a few more minutes, but It wasn’t working very well.

Just as he finished putting away his stack, Spike discovered something that would no doubt postpone lunch even longer. He was tempted to just pretend he overlooked it, but that was no way for a Number One Assistant to act. So, despite the feel of his empty belly, he turned around and spoke up to get the unicorn’s attention. “Twilight! Hey, Twilight! The last copy of The Rookie’s Guide to Constellations is missing!”

Twilight was usually of a relaxed disposition, but she seized up after hearing that.

A missing book?

In her library?

The sound of a dragon hitting the bookshelf didn’t register right away to Twilight as she zipped over to examine the shelf herself. Neither did the sensation of a unicorn running into a dragon shortly before that.

After affirming Spike’s declaration, Twilight’s cupped ears folded back in apprehension. She trotted in place, looking around anxiously. “Oh no! I am short one copy!”

Twelve students, six telescopes, five books. Doing some quick math, there were a few options to make due with what she had, but she wanted this to be enjoyable and any amount of lopsided resource management could throw the children off. Of course, she also remembered once again that this was a library. The book in question could simply be checked out.

Trotting over to the table at the center of the main room, Twilight flipped open the in/out index, backtracking through the records to see if it had in fact been checked out. “Aha! Lickity Split checked it out two weeks ago. Agh! That means it’s supposed to be due today!”

Still rubbing the spot where he was knocked into the shelf, Spike found himself suddenly aglow with magenta, then hoisted through the air across the room. Twilight’s saddlebags met him just above the lavender unicorn and slipped onto her back before he himself was placed there as well.

Procuring the day’s checklist, she offered it and a quill to him. “What’s the schedule look like, Spike?” Twilight asked, hoping they had the time to spare to recover the missing book.

“We’ve got time. Those were the last of the books you wanted to sort through anyways. Also, you owe me lunch. We put it off this whole time to get everything ready.”

“Okay, okay. We’ll get lunch first thing after picking up the book.” Without further delay, Twilight galloped out of the library with Spike in tow. Using her magic, she closed the door, locked it, and adorned it with a sign that simply stated “Out to lunch” with an apologetic caricature of a pony in the corner.

It was late summer and the hints of autumn’s arrival were gradually creeping up on Ponyville. The pegasi would organize cloud cover more and more frequently, and the seasonal vegetation was becoming sparser with each passing day. Fall events such as the Running of the Leaves were still well off, but some ponies were looking forward to them already.

Ponyville was lively as could be for the relatively small town it was, with as many comers as there were goers. There were two earth ponies that caught Twilight’s immediate attention as they entered the middle of town, however.

Applejack was one of Twilight Sparkle’s best friends. She was the hardworking, level-headed owner and manager of Sweet Apple Acres, one of the most well known apple farms in Equestria. The orange pony was rustic and often frank to a fault, but if she set her green eyes on a goal of any sort she would make every legitimate effort possible to accomplish it. Unlike most other ponies, Applejack kept her blond mane and tail tied at the ends. She normally wore a charming light brown stetson hat, but Twilight was surprised not to see it as they drew closer to each other.

That brought her attention to Apple Bloom, the farm pony’s younger sister. Much more of a yellow coat, the young filly wore a rather large rose pink bow in her red mane. At the moment, though, the fact that her legs were covered in gauze and bandages was of more immediate concern.

“Oh my goodness! Apple Bloom, what happened? Are you alright?” Twilight knew the young filly had a knack for getting into trouble, but she didn’t usually get hurt like this. While she didn’t respond right away, her older sister spoke up.

“Y’know that grindstone we use to make our apple cider? Li’l Miss Crusader here thought it was a good idea to use it all on her own.”

Twilight was rather familiar with the club Apple Bloom and her friends had made for themselves. There were many in Ponyville that were well aware of the ‘Cutie Mark Crusaders’ and their desire to discover their own unique talents. Their efforts often involved running all over town doing all manner of crazy things as a means of earning their cutie marks, which would illustrate something special about them, and often considered a milestone to growing up.

Applejack however seemed to have found a reason to object to the filly’s latest solo endeavor, and her ornery tone only helped to exacerbate her already strong country accent. “She was usin’ the treadmill by herself, but it got away from her and by the time I heard her callin’ for help, it was all she could do to not get launched off the thing.

Tilting her head, Applejack’s green eyes glanced to her sister with a hint of exasperation. “But she did. Then took a nasty spill across the barn floor. We patched her up, but we just came from the doctor’s to make sure she’s fine.”

Apple Bloom took the opportunity to speak up defensively, her own accent as strong as her sisters, “I was jus’ tryin’ to catch yer hat!”

“If ya hadn’t a lost yer focus to keep runnin’ I coulda got ya off’a there!” Applejack responded, clearly frustrated.

“Hat? How does your hat come into this?” Twilight asked, still curious as to its absence from the farm pony’s head.

“Apple Bloom likes to take my hat sometimes for her games, or just to drive her sister crazy. This time though, it got caught in the grindstone and all kinds’a ripped up.” Applejack demonstrated by opening the saddlebag she’d been wearing and pulled out a piece of the hat with her mouth.

“Oh dear. She must have been going pretty fast for it to shred your hat like that.”

“Darn tootin’,” Applejack agreed irritably after putting the remains of the hat away. “She was gallopin’ like the timberwolves were after her. Before I could reach her my hat fell off her head and Apple Bloom went and tried to nab it before the grindstone caught it. That’s why she missed her hoofin’ and got all scuffed up.”

The younger of the sisters took a breath to start arguing, “But yer hat...!”

“Wasn’t worth the risk of windin’ up a batch of Sister Cider!” Applejack raised her voice only enough to establish an end to the subject.

An awkward silence came between the four of them, but Applejack quickly tried to move things along, “Ehh, so what was it y’all are out-’n-about fer?”

Twilight was hesitant to speak for a moment, but decided it might be better to do so. If only to get around the uncomfortableness. “Um, I was on my way to get a book that somepony checked out. It’s due today anyway and I need one extra copy so I can help Cheerilee teach her students about the night sky.”

“Oh! Well ain’t that right up yer alley? Come to think of it, I remember Apple Bloom mentionin’ you’d have somethin’ to do with those night-time classes.”

A haunting growl from behind Twilight elicited a disgruntled groan from the young dragon that had been too preoccupied imagining lunch to participate in the conversation. “Twilight! Can we please, please, please hurry? I’m starving back here!” To dramatize the point, Spike fell limp across her back, forked tongue hanging out as if he’d passed out from hunger.

The two mare friends shared a brief chuckle at that. “I’d better be going. I don’t want Spike to start chewing on my mane.”

“Don’t tempt me,” the dragon in question called out.

Ignoring Spike’s retort, Twilight lowered her head to speak at eye level with the downtrodden filly. “I hope you feel better soon, Apple Bloom. I don’t want you to miss out tonight.” Offering a small smile as a pair of copper eyes met her own violet pair.

“Can I still go, Sis?” Apple Bloom asked cautiously, glancing to Applejack..

“So long as Twilight promises t’keep an eye on ya, I’m fine with ya goin’.”

Twilight gave a curt nod, “You don’t have to worry about a thing, Applejack. Cheerilee and I will both be there, and we’ll actually be setting up on top of the hills between Ponyville and Sweet Apple Acres. So she won’t even be that far from home.”

“Well a’right. Since yer so confident ‘n all. Sorry to have kept ya, Twi. Good luck with yer book hunt.” Applejack stepped aside for her unicorn friend to get on by, waving with her right foreleg. With a brief sigh she nudged Apple Bloom to follow along with her.

Edited by Shazzlnet
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With no more distractions, the younger sister’s eyes strayed up to her elder’s head and the absence of a hat. The guilt was too much to hold back as Apple Bloom trotted backwards ahead of her sister to speak to her face-to-face.

“I’m really, really, really sorry, sis! I know how much yer hat meant to ya, but honest, I didn’t mean to rip it up!”

“Apple Bloom.” Applejack’s tone was curt, but softly spoken. However, her sister insisted on speaking her defense.

“I promise I’ll never take yer hat again! I’ll even wash it every day if it gets fixed. I mean...when it gets fixed!” The filly narrowly avoided running into a barrel in her reversed direction, something that only deepened the furrow of Applejack’s brow.

“Apple Bloom.” This time, the older sister tried adding a bit more edge to her voice, eyes looking ahead to watch out for everything her sister wasn’t paying attention to.

The little sister was adamant about apologizing, however. She began following Applejack’s eyes and hopping in whatever direction they were looking, putting herself at greater risk of running into things. “And I’ll make ya breakfast, and braid yer tail, and clean out the closet, and do your dish duties!”

Applejack came to an abrupt stop, stamping her forelegs as she raised her voice. “Apple Bloom!” she near-shouted, surprising the little one into a sitting position. The younger sister’s chin was tucked to her chest, shoulders raised defensively, with startled copper eyes looking up to her sister.

That outburst had managed to get the attention of most everypony on the road. Applejack met their collective gazes with a stern one of her own. “What’re y’all lookin’ at? This ain’t none of yer concern.” That seemed to get most of them to go about their business, but it was still a bit embarrassing for Applejack.

She let it go though and gave a taxed sigh, looking to her sister. Wanting Apple Bloom to relax, she softened her expression considerably before speaking. “Look, Sugarcube. I’m not mad at ya, and I’m not gonna punish ya. Ya don’t have go and do all those things, cause I know yer upset that my hat got messed up.

“But that’s not what I’m frustrated about. Ya didn’t do anything wrong, I’m upset that ya got hurt over my hat, and, well...” she contemplated briefly on how to put it in perspective for her sister. “How would you feel if I got hurt trying to save yer bow?”

Apple Bloom had eased to a more natural sitting position by this point. Thinking on her sister’s question, she would feel pretty crummy if Applejack was hurt trying to protect something as silly as a bow. She looked up to her big sister with a comprehending look in her eyes, “I guess I’d be pretty upset at myself...”

Smiling gently, Applejack lifted her hoof and gently rubbed her sister’s head. “That’s where I’m comin’ from. I ain’t mad at ya, I’m jus’ bein’ a sister.” They shared another smile and exchanged a brief hug as a temporary reparation. “Since that’s settled fer now, let’s get along ta Rarity’s.”

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