Chapter 1:

It was summer in Equestria, and the air was hot and still beneath a brilliant blue sky devoid of any clouds. The sun had reached its high point over Ponyville and all had gone still and drowsy—even the birds had ceased singing as they fell under the soporific haze.

Just outside the town proper was a small stream of crystal blue water where a trio of young ponies lounged on the banks in the shade of a willow. One pony, a pale blue pegasus with a rainbow-colored mane and tail, lay stretched along the edge of the bank, idly watching minnows dart about the hoof she trailed in the water. A purple-maned unicorn sat on her haunches just behind the pegasus, her horn glowing with a pearly iridescence as she delicately levitated strands of her friend's mane and wove them into elaborate plaits. Nearby, a bright orange earth pony was peeling strips of bark off a willow branch and dropping them into the current.

The pegasus suddenly took in a deep breath and let it out in an anguished groan.

"So bored!" she complained. "Bored, bored, bored…there is absolutely nothing to do."

"Oh, I wouldn't say that, Rainbow Dash," the white unicorn said sweetly. "You have your weather duties later, don't you?"

Rainbow Dash snorted and jabbed a hoof at the sky. "It's high summer. The only weather we have is sunshine, sunshine, and more sunshine. The forecast for the next five days calls for clear blue skies—I don't even get to deliver any clouds until next week, and those are all going to be small cumulus and high cirrus—those take almost no effort at all." She groaned again and laid her head on her foreleg. "I hate summer. Give me autumn storms any day."

"We could always go and tidy up mah apple cellar to get it all ready for the comin' harvest," the orange earth pony suggested with a soft country accent. When the other two fixed her with withering stares, she chuckled and wiped a bead of sweat from her brow. "Well, it was just a thought. At least it's nice an' cool down in the cellar."

"And reeks of sour apples," the unicorn pointed out. She tied off a plait of entwined yellow, red, and orange hair, letting it fall down onto Rainbow Dash's forehead before selecting several strands of blue, green, and purple to start another braid. It was a sign of how utterly bored Rainbow Dash was that she tolerated this grooming without a snide comment and even turned her head to help her friend get the locks of green she needed.

"Well, Rarity, what do you think we oughta do?"

"I'm actually quite content right here. It's such a lovely day and I have spare time to just relax and unwind since I finished a really large order yesterday. Although I suppose we could all go for a walk or have some lunch together or…" She gasped in delight and looked at her two friends with large, sparkling blue eyes. "I know! Let's all go and get full treatments at the spa! It will be my treat."

"The spa?" Rainbow Dash said incredulously. "You mean, like, covering ourselves in mud and cucumber slices and sitting in a box full of hot steam?"

"Ah don't know…seems kinda hoity toity to me. Ah don't exactly fall in with the wrappin myself in seaweed if you get mah drift."

Rarity hmphed and lifted her nose in the air. "Well then, I'm out of ideas. Your turn, Rainbow…and no, I have no interest in trying to break the Running Around a Tree in One Direction record or whatever it is you find so fascinating."

"For your information, it was the ball bouncing record…and I finally beat it two weeks ago when Pinkie Pie had that cold and wasn't around to distract me. I just wish something interesting would happen—everyday is just the same boring routine." She sighed heavily as her stomach growled. "If it wasn't so hot, I'd say we should try to talk Pinkie into baking us some cupcakes and—"

"Did somepony say cupcakes!"

A bright pink pony suddenly dropped from the willow tree, landing only inches from Rainbow Dash's nose. The pegasus screeched, jumping a foot off the ground as her eyes bulged in shock.

"Pinkie Pie!" she shouted, scrambling backwards and pressing a hoof to her over her rapidly beating heart. "Don't do that! You almost gave me a heart attack!"

The orange pony laughed loudly. "Aw, c'mon, Rainbow, if anypony should know the effects of dropping out of the sky all sudden like, it should be you."

"How long were you up there, Pinkie Pie?" Rarity tilted her head back to look into the tree as Rainbow sulked.

"Oh, only a minute or two," Pinkie replied, making them all wonder how they had missed her. "Twilight was looking for all of us so, when she found me first, I told her I would help her find you and I did!" Pinkie Pie paused for a moment and tapped her chin. "Hmm, now I just have to find her again."

"It's okay, Pinkie! I'm right here!"

A lavender colored unicorn trotted down the bank towards them, followed by a pretty pale yellow pegasus with a pink mane. "Excellent! You found them all!"

"Found us? Why, we'd've come to you if we'd known you were lookin'," Applejack said. "We've been right here all morning, Sugarcube. Cain't figure out anything better to do."

"Oh, really? Well then, have I got news for—Rainbow, what happened to your hair?"

"Huh?" The pegasus put both forehooves to her head, feeling the numerous braids that Rarity had completed. "What? What's wrong with it?" She started to turn towards the river to check out her reflection, but Rarity caught her by the tail and tugged her back.

"Nothing, darling. Nothing at all. Don't listen to her. It looks just fine!" Putting a foreleg around Rainbow's shoulders so she couldn't pull away, the unicorn smiled brightly at Twilight Sparkle. "You have news, Twilight? What kind of news?"

Twilight opened her saddlebags with the magic of her horn and lifted out a tightly rolled scroll tied with a black-striped ribbon.

"I got this from Princess Celestia about an hour ago. The ribbon color means that the message is urgent and that she desperately needs our help. It seems there have been reports from the borders of Equestria that our neighbors in Saddellia have been encroaching on our land and forcing Equestrian ponies into work as unwilling slaves. One of these slaves managed to escape and made it here, even though trackers from Saddellia chased him far within our own borders."

"What in tarnation!" Applejack exclaimed. She exchanged looks with her friends, who were equally shocked.

Fluttershy nodded sadly, on the verge of tears. "It's so terrible. The poor pony. The letter says he was all worn out and tired and sick…and he had to leave his family behind him too."

"How terrible!" Rarity mourned.

"Yeah, awful…but what does this have to do with us?"

"I'm glad you asked, Rainbow Dash. Princess Celestia has tried before to communicate with the King in Saddellia, a stallion named Oak Bough, but he refuses to reply to any of her letters or summons to a royal meeting. She would like to visit him herself, but she can't abandon her duties of the sun and she's busy helping Princess Luna get back into the routine of raising and lowering the moon. She can't leave Canterlot…so she wants to send an official Equestrian envoy instead."

"Let me get this straight, Sugarcube…are you tryin' to tell us that Princess Celestia wants to send the six of us to this Saddellia place?"

"Exactly. She was a little worried about sending us because we're so young, but she decided the Elements of Harmony would have the best chance of working out a peace treaty with the king. She says here that we will travel officially under her banner to carry her terms to Saddellia." Rolling up the scroll, she stuck it back in her bags and faced her friends. "It means a long journey—Saddellia is on the northern border and several weeks from here, but…"

"But nothin'. If this king is takin' ponies from Equestria and holdin' them against their will, then we gotta stop him!"

"It's probably going to be dangerous," Fluttershy whispered. "Going all that way to treat with a king who has such little care or respect for other ponies, I mean."

"We've faced down danger before and never let it stop us!" Rainbow Dash leapt to her hooves. "I'm in! How cool that Princess Celestia trusts us with something like this? When do we leave?"

Twilight hesitated briefly before replying. "Actually, we would need to leave as soon as possible. Today in fact. If we're all in, I'll have Spike send a note to the princess and she can send us the documents we'll need. If we all go and pack what we'll need for the journey, we can meet back at the library in an hour."

"You can count on me!" Rainbow Dash stuck out her hoof. "I'll get Feathermay to take over weather patrol for me."

"And Big Macintosh can handle the farm easily this time of year. I'm in too!" Applejack clapped her own hoof over Rainbow's.

"This is going to be so super duper fun! I'll bet it's like that time we went into the Everfree Forest…do you remember that? That was fun, especially when we found all those scary trees and you were all "Aaahhh" and I was like "hahahaha"…"

Rainbow Dash sidled up to her chattering friend and, draping a leg companionably around her shoulders, clamped a hoof over Pinkie's muzzle. "Yes or no, Pinkie?"

Pinkie Pie giggled and placed her pink hoof on top of Applejack's.

"How 'bout you, Fluttershy?" Applejack asked.

The little yellow pegasus had ducked her head, hiding behind her think fall of pink hair. "Well…I don't really know. It sounds awfully scary and dangerous and it's such a long way—I would need to find somepony to watch over all my animals—but those ponies on the border obviously need our help, and I'll bet Saddellia has all kinds of new and interesting critters…" She paused to take in a deep, steadying breath. "Okay." Her yellow hoof dropped over Pinkie's, followed quickly by Twilight Sparkle's lavender one. The friends smiled at one another, then turned as one to Rarity, who was still holding back.

"It's alright if you want to stay here, Rarity," Twilight started to say. "You have the boutique and who knows how long we'll be gone."

"But we are going there to talk with a king," Rainbow Dash pointed out. Some of the doubt in Rarity's blue eyes vanished at that and she sat up.

"Well…I guess I could ask my parents and Sweetie Belle to watch Opal while we're gone…and it's for a good cause…oh, alright." She stacked her white hoof on top of Twilight Sparkle's. "I'm in!"

The others cheered and threw their hooves into the air, shouting, "Harmony!"

"Oh thank you, girls! I'll go tell Spike to send a message to the princess. I'll see you all back at the library in an hour!" Twilight turned and galloped away, her pink, purple, and blue mane streaming behind her.

"You got it, Sugarcube!" Applejack called after her, waving. "We'll all be there!"

"Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed, bouncing up and down with each word. "An adventure! We're going on another adventure! This is going to be so much fun, won't it, Fluttershy?"

"Oh yes, I guess…I'd better hurry. I'll need to talk somepony into watching over Angel Bunny and all the other critters while I'm gone. I'll see you soon!" She waved and raced off to her little home by the Everfree Forest.

"Ah'd better get a move on too," Applejack told them. "May not much work around the farm this time o' year with the apples just a'growin' and all, but Ah'll have to let Big Macintosh and Granny Smith and Apple Bloom know where Ah'm gonna be. See y'all at the library!" She cantered away to the orchard she ran with her family.

Rarity and Pinkie Pie both lived in Ponyville proper, so they trotted back together—or bounced in the case of Pinkie Pie—with Rainbow Dash winging just above them.

"Now remember to pack practically, Pinkie," Rarity told her friend as she and Rainbow Dash left her at the doorway to Sugarcube Corner. "While I'm sure the king of Saddellia would love all of your jokes and balloon animals, we will be carrying our supplies ourselves and should travel lightly."

"Oki doki loki!" Pinkie said brightly, hopping through the door and calling out to the baker couple who rented to her.

"I'll bet a bit she still brings a hoof buzzer and at least one pack of balloons," Rainbow Dash muttered. She performed a lazy backwards loop and landed lightly beside Rarity, walking the rest of the way to the Carousel Boutique. As luck would have it, Rarity's little sister, Sweetie Belle, was playing in the shade on the front lawn with her two best friends, Scootaloo and Apple Bloom.

"Hello girls!" Rarity called out. The fillies looked up from their board game and their eyes widened in mingled shock and horror.

"Whoa, Rainbow Dash!" exclaimed a little orange pegasus named Scootaloo. "What happened to—?"

Rarity hurriedly shook her head and cleared her throat, interrupting the filly. "Girls, we've just received a message from Princess Celestia herself asking us to go on a journey in the name of Equestria. Apple Bloom, darling, your sister has just run home to pack. You may want to hurry there and say goodbye to her…we don't know how long we'll be gone."

"Oh no!" the little yellow earth pony exclaimed. She jumped up, knocking over her pieces on the board. Her red and orange eyes narrowed. "She'd better not be plannin' on sneakin' out without sayin' goodbye! See y'all later! And don't listen to what anypony says, Rainbow Dash. Ah like your mane that way!"

"Huh?" Rainbow Dash turned after the filly. "What do you mean by that?" she called, but Apple Bloom was already racing down the street as fast as her stubby legs could carry her.

"What did she mean by that?" Dash asked again, turning back to look suspiciously at Rarity and the remaining fillies. Scootaloo opened her mouth to speak, but Sweetie Belle nudged her, green eyes wide and innocent, and the little pegasus subsided.

"Oh, nothing, darling," Rarity assured her friend. "You know little girls and how silly they can be." She tilted her head at the fillies, who exchanged looks and grinned toothily.

"Where are you all going? Can I watch the shop while you're gone?" Sweetie asked her sister. "Will I get to run the cash register?"

Rarity laughed. "Oh no, darling. I'll be closing the shop, of course. But do you think you could watch Opal for me?"

Sweetie Belle hesitated, her eyes shifting nervously towards a window of the boutique, where the cat in question was innocently licking a paw while she soaked up the warmth of the sun. "I…I guess I could. As long as she behaves herself."

"Oh, of course she will! She's just a darling, aren't you, Opal?" Rarity tapped the glass and blew a kiss to her cat, who responded by hissing and slashing her claws down the window with a high-pitched squeal. "Eh he, see?" Rarity grinned sheepishly, then caught sight of the town clock tower. "Goodness! We're wasting time! I need to pack and close up the shop and get Opal into her carrier."

"I'll help!" Sweetie piped eagerly.

"Ooh, me too!" offered Scootaloo. "I'm not afraid of a fluffy little cat."

"Uh, you might wanna think twice about this fluffy little cat, kiddo," Rainbow Dash said, rubbing the filly's head with a hoof before raising her wings. "But if I bring Tank down, do you think you could tortoise-sit him for me?"

Scootaloo gasped at the thought of taking care of her idol's pet and bobbed her head eagerly. "You can count on me, Rainbow Dash! I'll take good care of him, I promise!"

"Awesome! Well, I'd better go pack too. Just you remember what you said to Pinkie Pie, Rarity…no need to bring your whole wardrobe with you."

"Oh dear no, of course not. Why, half of my outfits are meant for indoor wear only. They would look utterly absurd in the wilderness."

Rainbow sighed and shook her head. "Bye Sweetie, seeya soon Squirt!" Scootaloo's purple eyes filled with admiration as her idol leapt into the air and soared effortlessly skyward, performing a loop de loop before winging to the cloud house she had recently pushed closer to Ponyville to avoid long flights in the summer heat. She was so close to the Carousel Boutique now that Rarity, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo clearly heard her scream of horror when the pegasus glanced into the rainbow pond by her front porch and finally caught sight of the multicolored braids spiraled in her mane like large cinnamon buns.

"Rarity! What did you do to my hair!"

Below, the unicorn chuckled nervously as she ushered the loudly laughing fillies into the boutique. "Let's hurry, girls! There's so much to do." With a quick glance upwards to assure no furious blue streak was heading her way, she darted inside and hurriedly slammed the door.

An hour later, Rarity arrived at the town library, which was built into a large, hollow tree. Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo came along to see the six ponies off and say goodbye.

They were greeted at the door by Twilight's assistant, Spike. The little purple dragon grinned foolishly as Rarity smiled at him and trotted into the main room to find Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash already gathered with their saddlebags. Rainbow Dash's mane was loose again, but still bore slight curls from the braids. She was busy petting a large green tortoise but glanced up as Rarity came in and wrinkled her nose.

"Not cool, Rarity."

Rarity pranced up to her friend and gave her an affectionate nuzzle. "Quite the contrary, darling. I thought you looked adorable."

Apple Bloom, who had followed her sister into town, joined Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo in laughing at what they considered a fabulous joke.

"Ah just wish we'd gotten pictures!" Apple Bloom said, grinning cheekily even when Rainbow Dash scowled at her.

"Oh Rarity, good! You're here!" Twilight trotted out of the archives with a stack of books levitating in the air before her. "Now all we just need is Fluttershy."

"She's on her way, Sugarcube…she's just finishin' off a few things with her critters and all."

As if on cue, the yellow pegasus trotted through the door wearing a pair of saddlebags and followed by her white rabbit, Angel. The bunny was scowling fiercely and holding onto Fluttershy's tail, desperately trying to pull her back outside.

"I'm so sorry, Angel," the pegasus was saying. "I really wish I could stay with you, but Princess Celestia and my friends need me. Please try to understand. You can stay here with Spike and help out in the library. I'm sure he'll like that."

"What!" Spike exclaimed, running up behind the pony with a look of terror on his face. "B-but why does he have to stay here?"

"Oh, Spike, I was able to get ponies to help out with all my other critters, but for some reason nopony had the space for Angel. I can't just leave him alone."

Spike paused to stare at the little white bunny, who stopped pulling on Fluttershy's tail, crossed his arms belligerently, and stuck his nose haughtily in the air.

"Nopony wanted him, huh? Gee, there's a big surprise."

"Spike, I'm sure you and Angel will get along just fine. He'll probably be a big help while we're away." Twilight transported her books to a table and set them down. "Well girls, I've been doing some research into Saddellia this last hour, and I must tell you, this is going to be, uh, an interesting trip. The country has always been ruled by a monarchy following a patriarchal line, which means the crown passes down to the first born son. According to my books, the kingdom still works on a serf and lord system and the people are heavily taxed on their labors to support the royal family and its court in Royal Oak Palace."

Applejack walked up to the table and selected a book with a stylized oak leaf on the cover. She opened it at random and read a few paragraphs, raising an eyebrow as she did. "Says here they're known for unique lumber and growin' pumpkins, of all things. Now that's just plain weird if'n you ask me."

"Why's that weird?" Rainbow Dash wanted to know. She started hovering over the earth pony, reading the book over her shoulder.

"Ah don't know…they're just so…so big…and orange…and they grow there all along the ground."

"Do you have any maps, Twilight?" Fluttershy asked. Angel had clamped onto her hind leg now and was rapidly shaking his head as Spike tried to pry him off. "I mean, if it's such a very long way…we wouldn't want to get lost."

"I've already thought of that. We're going to take the train to Manehattan Junction, but we'll head north on foot from there." She produced a large map and pointed to a wide patch of green and gray. "We'll have to go through these forested hills on our own…and then there's a small mountain ridge called the Saddlebacks that we'll have to cross. Saddellia is on the other side."

"That's a fair bit o' distance, Twi. We're not gonna be able to carry enough supplies all that way."

"We'll have to collect food along the way. Woods like that should be full of edible things this time of year."

"Yeah!" Pinkie said happily. "There'll be watercress and wild carrots, berries, grass, flowers, maybe crabapples…"

"Yuck!" Applejack grimaced.

"That sounds…very rustic."

"It sounds like fun, Rarity." Sweetie Belle had stepped up behind Spike to help him with Angel. Fluttershy had lifted her hoof off the ground, but the rabbit still clung tenaciously and refused to let go even though Spike had both arms wrapped around the little white waist. Sweetie wrapped her own arms around Spike and tugged, saying, "I wish I was going with you."

"Yeah! It sounds so amazing!" Scootaloo got behind Sweetie, joining the chain. Angel was now suspended in the air, stretched between Fluttershy and Spike and the two fillies. "Why can't we go too? We could help…Rainbow Dash, I could be your assistant!"

"Yeah, it doesn't seem fair that y'all get to go on all kinds of adventures and we always gotta stay here." Apple Bloom sidled up to Angel and delicately tickled the bunny under his arms. He wriggled and twisted, but finally lost his grip on Fluttershy. Still tugging from behind, Spike, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo went flying across the floor and crashed in a tangled heap against a bookshelf. Angel managed to slip free while they all groaned, shook a tiny fist at them, and shot up the stairs to Twilight's bedroom loft. They all flinched when they heard a cabinet door slam, but Fluttershy smiled.

"That's better. He's just finding the best place to sleep."

The Cutie Mark Crusaders and Spike managed to untangle themselves and looked incredulously at the yellow pony, who stared up at the balcony with adoring eyes.

"He's such a little angel. I'm going to miss him."

Shaking her head, Sweetie turned back to her sister. "Well?"

"Well what?" Rarity asked.

"Can't we go with you? We can help…and maybe something like this will be what we need to get our cutie marks."

"Yeah! That's right! We could be the Cutie Mark Ambassadors."

The three fillies lined up, looking at the six friends eagerly.

Twilight closed her book with a soft slam. "I'm sorry, girls. Princess Celestia just asked us to go…and things are pretty tense between Equestria and Saddellia right now. This isn't going to be a vacation. We're going to be treading some pretty delicate ground as it is and will have to be on our best behavior."

"But we can do that," Sweetie promised.

"Yeah…we'll be real good, we swear!"

"Now, Apple Bloom…" Applejack crossed the room to put a hoof around her little sister's shoulder. "You know nothin' would make me happier than ta bring you…but Ah need you to keep an eye on the farm while Ah'm gone. Big Mac depends on you."

"Does not," Apple Bloom said sulkily, ducking out from under the hoof. "And nothin's happenin' there right now anyway."

"Oh, but you girls have a really important job to do here," Fluttershy spoke up quietly. "You need to help Spike take care of Angel Bunny for me. I know I would feel so much better leaving him behind if I knew he had three friends to watch over him."

"That's a great idea!" Spike exclaimed. "You could be the Cutie Mark Crusader Bunny Sitters."

Scootaloo raised an eyebrow cynically. "Bunny sitters?"

The little dragon shrugged. "Hey, you never know until you've tried."

"I think that sounds like a fun idea!" Pinkie Pie bubbled. She had her face stuck in her saddlebags, rearranging her supplies. When she pulled her head free, a long, thin balloon dangled from her nose and there was confetti in her hair. Rainbow Dash put a hoof to her face and shook her head.

"Bunny sitters, balloons…this trip hasn't even started yet and it cannot get any weirder."

"I'm beginning to agree, Rainbow Dash." Rarity smiled amusedly. "Looks like you got your wish."

"Too right. Now let's stop wasting time." The blue pegasus landed and walked up to the three young fillies. Standing straight and sticking out her chest, she shouted, "Cutie Mark Crusaders, atteennshun!"

The fillies immediately lined up straight, saluting the young mare. Rainbow Dash nodded and began to pace back and forth before them.

"I hereby charge you three with the absolutely, positively, enormously important job of bunny sitting while Fluttershy is away. You will play with the bunny. You will feed the bunny. You will even sing the bunny a lullaby if he wants one. Is that understood!"

"Yes ma'am," the fillies muttered, all looking downtrodden.

Rainbow Dash snorted at the lackluster response and her magenta eyes narrowed as she leaned closer to the girls. "Perhaps you didn't hear me," she said, her voice deceptively soft. "So let's try that again. IS THAT UNDERSTOOD?"

The force of her shout blew the fillies' manes straight out behind them and nearly knocked Sweetie Belle over. Scrambling back into formation, they yelled, "YES MA'AM!"

"That's better! When you are not busy with the bunny, you will be helping Spike out as Cutie Mark Crusader Library Assistants and taking care of Tank too. Is that understood?"


"Good! Now, aaaabout face!" The fillies spun about, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo each turning in a different direction so their heads knocked together with an audible thunk. Groaning, they managed to line up again. "March up those stairs and find that AWOL rabbit. Ready? March…march…march!"

The three young ponies held their line until they reached the bottom of the stairs, and then a shoving match began over who got to go up first. Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom started racing, but fell backwards when Scootaloo tugged on their tails and leapt over their heads. The mares heard them banging around on the balcony as they searched for Angel.

"Wow, Rainbow!" Twilight Sparkle grinned at her friend, impressed. "Where did that come from?"

Rainbow Dash sat on her haunches and shrugged, her eyes wide with surprise. "I don't really know. But it worked." Tank trundled across the floor to her side and she swept him into a hug, laughing. "And it was kinda fun too!"

"Ah'll say. Y'all are gonna have to teach me that kinda talk…could be powerful handy when Ah need Apple Bloom ta do her chores."

"Well…we have the fillies set…Angel Bunny will be watched over…Spike won't be overwhelmed…the princess has sent me the peace treaty papers…I'd say we're all set to go." Twilight looked at the clock on her wall and grinned. "Perfect. The next train departs in twenty minutes." She quickly rolled up the map and stuck it in her saddlebags, then levitated the bags onto her back. Cinching them tight, she turned to her friends. "Are we all ready?"

"Almost!" Pinkie Pie had her head buried in her bags again. There was a sudden explosion of confetti and whistles, causing the pink pony to jump back and land on her haunches. She looked briefly startled, then began to laugh and hiccup simultaneously. "Oh well, hic! maybe the confetti bombs, hic! weren't such a good idea, hic! anyway." Jumping up, she wriggled into her saddlebags and bounced towards the door. "Saddellia here we, hic! come!"

Spike and the Cutie Mark Crusaders joined the six friends to the train depot to see them off. Leaning out the windows, Twilight called last minute instructions to Spike, while Fluttershy waved goodbye to Angel Bunny, who dangled limply in Sweetie Belle's arms. The little unicorn lifted the pouting rabbit's paw and waved back.

"Be good now, Angel!" Fluttershy called. "And thank you, girls! I know he'll be safe with you!"

"Bye Apple Bloom! Keep an eye on everyone for me! Ah know Ah can trust you!"

"Have fun with Opal, Sweetie! I'll see you soon!"

"Seeya Squirt! Bye Tank! Have fun!

The train gave a lurch as the eight stallions hooked to the harness took a preparatory step forward. The conductor blew the whistle sharply twice and the stallions stepped out, pulling the train away from the station at a fast canter. The six Elements of Harmony watched through the windows as Ponyville, and the prospect of a boring summer, quickly vanished behind them.

Hey everypony, this is a revised chapter one for your enjoyment. I updated it to include changes to the canon world that have cropped in the latest episodes since this was posted. Hope you enjoy!