The Wanderer

By Skye Silverwing

Chapter 2: A Ponyville Welcome

Things were busy in Ponyville that morning.

The mysterious explosion the previous evening in the Everfree Forest had the village ponies casting fearful glances at the sky, half expecting to see fiery death raining down upon them. In spite of assurances by both the Mayor and Twilight Sparkle that it was probably a one-time event, the fear was there, and no one wanted to end up like that poor, mysterious pony in the infirmary.

Only a few ponies seemed unaffected, but each was busy with their own issues surrounding the events of the previous evening. Twilight was deeply immersed in her studies, trying to determine the source of the ball of greenish light they had seen before the explosion.

Pinkie Pie was a flurry of action, having drafted Rarity and Rainbow Dash into assisting her as she made preparations for a party to welcome the new pony to the town and also break the air of fear that seemed to grip the town since her arrival. The Pink furred pony was certain that the burst of horrible depression she had felt at the moment of the explosion must have come from the newcomer, and in Pinkie's eyes, the only remedy was a great party. Rarity and Rainbow were tasked with decorations.

Applejack, feeling a kinship of sorts with the injured Earth Pony, was passing the time in the infirmary assisting the Nurse Ponies and keeping an eye on her. Since she was too busy to help with preparations for Pinkie's party, she had promised to bring the unknown pony to the party once she was able.

Fluttershy had her hands full with another matter.

The animals she took care of had been acting strangely and spooking easily since the explosion. It had taken almost everything the Pegasus Pony had in her to get them calmed down to sleep the previous night, and that morning was not much better. The entire forest seemed to be alive with creatures, great and small, moving as if they were nervous about something.

Fluttershy had just managed to get her chickens calm enough to eat their breakfast when she noticed something odd.

A lone blue jay was flying down to land on the small stick over the den of her favorite bunny, Angel. The bird perched just above the bunny and began chirping insistently. The bunny listened closely to the bird for a moment and nodded as Fluttershy approached.

Fluttershy looked from the bird to Angel and smile. "Did you make a new friend, Angel?" she asked sweetly, "Would the jay like to stay for breakfast? I am sure I have some…"

Suddenly, Angel was off like a rocket, charging directly into the Everfree Forest as fast as his little bunny-legs could carry him.

Fluttershy cried out in surprise. "Angel! Stop!" she cried, running in after him, "The forest is too dangerous! Come back!"

She unfurled her wings and took to the air, flying faster than she could run, staying low to avoid the tree branches as she followed her bunny deeper in the forest. So determined was the gentle-hearted pony to stop her friend from falling prey to the dangers of the forest that she did not think to be frightened for herself.

Angel knew that charging head-long into the forest was dangerous and foolhardy, but if what that bird had told him was true, there was no time to lose. He had to give the pony credit, though, in spite of dodging the trees and ducking the lower branches, Fluttershy had nearly caught up with him twice before he managed to reach the stream. He paused a moment, and that was all it took. The Pink-maned cream pony caught the bunny with a flying tackle of sorts, pinning the fluffy little critter to the ground by the water's edge.

Holding the bunny down, Fluttershy proceeded to berate him for doing something so reckless and stupid. "Why would you go charging off into the woods like that?" She cried, "You could have been hurt, or eaten or… or…"

She suddenly realized that her little friend was not struggling, but was staring out over the stream. Following his gaze, she saw what appeared to be a tree branch caught on some submerged algae. Looking harder, she realized that there was a shape draped limply over the branch. She was trying to make out what it was when another branch, drifting down from upstream, struck the first, unceremoniously dumping the creature into the stream.

Angel gave a startled cry and reached as if in desire to save the creature, but Fluttershy was already there, diving into the water and swimming down, using her wings like fins, she swam down to the small black creature and caught it with her hooves, before flapping her wings to return to the surface. Once she reached the surface, she struggled to drag herself to the shore, along with her precious cargo.

When she reached the shore, Angel greeted her, concern for the creature showing on his furry little face. With great care, Fluttershy placed the creature on the ground. It revealed itself to be a small black piglet with a cute little yellow-and- black bandanna wrapped around its neck.

Fluttershy looked from her bunny to the piglet. "Was this why you had to come so quickly, Angel?" she asked, awed at her bunny's selflessness.

Angel nodded and pantomimed indicating the bird telling him.

Fluttershy gave the bunny a hug. "That was very brave of you." She said, "But we need to get this little guy out of here. Do you know where his family is?"

The Bunny shook his head and shrugged. He just knew that the piglet was important somehow. Not that he could, or needed to, convey that importance to Fluttershy. The pony would do everything in her power to nurse the pig back to health.

All he needed to do was sit back and see if the birds were telling the truth.

"Freedom"? They would see.

.o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o.

The first thing Ukyo came aware of was the soft surface on which she lay, along with the self-generated warmth of a bed one had been in for several hours. It was when the scent reached her that she realized the bed was likely not her own: One of the perks of living over an Okonomiyaki shop was that its scent pervaded it. No, this place smelled more sterile, and the sheets were as clean as they could be against her skin.

As sound began to filter into her mind, she began to hear an odd clopping sound, and the occasional hushed conversation. As her conscious mind finally came to the fore once again, it was the curiosity that caused her to attempt to open her eyes. She immediately regretted it, squeezing her eyes shut again against the light that stabbed into her eyes like a white-hot spike. She stifled a groan of pain, causing the clopping sound to stop.

A strong, sure voice spoke, sounding something like a Western cowgirl. "Now hold on, there, sugar-cube," The voice said, "They told me you must have hit your head pretty bad. So I reckon you need a bit of rest before you kin expect to be moving around."

Ukyo had to agree. She felt like she had gone a few rounds against Shampoo, without the Amazon girl holding back. She always thought falling from a tornado would hurt like this. She started redirecting her ki in order to aid in her healing, and the pain from the bruises began to reduce and the throbbing in her head began to lessen.

As she waited for the slow process to work, memories began to drift back. A swirling vortex… Not wind, but some kind of energy… Someone launching a blast of energy into it, probably trying to dissipate it… Ran-chan? No… It was…

"Ryoga!" She cried suddenly, lurching into a seated position. A wave of dizziness and pain shot through her body, causing her to groan aloud.

This elicited a cry from the one that had warned her off of getting up before, who proceeded to push her back down on the bed. "Now, I told you once, Sugarcube, you gotta stay down 'til you get better." She said.

Ukyo let herself be pushed back down, not so much because of the pain or dizziness, but because as she felt the other gently yet firmly pushed her back down, she opened her eyes, about to protest that she did not have time to wait, and she found herself staring up into the biggest green eyes she had ever seen. She stared into those concerned eyes for a long moment before her mind caught up and saw the rest of the orange, furry face, as well as blond mane, topped with a western-style cowboy hat.

It took Ukyo another long moment to find the words. "Y- You're a… horse…" she said, stating the obvious.

The Orange Mare's eyes widened. "Excuse me?" she said indignantly, "I have you know I have been workin' hard to keep my figure trimmer than most ponies."

Ukyo looked at her and realized the orange mare she was probably smaller than the average horse. "I'm sorry," she said, "I didn't mean… I am just a bit surprised to wake up and see a talking… pony."

The Orange Pony raised an eyebrow. "Well, what were you expectin' darlin'?" she asked, "Buffalo?"

Ukyo smiled, and then realized that the pony was serious. "I guess I expected a human." She said.

The pony cocked her head. "What the hay is a human?" she asked.

Ukyo smiled. "A human is like…" she said, trailing off as she raised her hand to illustrate one of the primary differences between humans and ponies, staring in shock at the hoof that presented itself instead. "W-What!" She stared from her hoof to the pony, the edges of panic beginning to enter into her voice, and flung the sheets aside, revealing her brown fur coated chest and legs. "W... What happened to me?" she cried.

The Orange Pony looked even more concerned, trying to look over the newest pony in Ponyville for some serious injury that had somehow gone unnoticed. "What's wrong, Darlin'?" She asked.

Ukyo stared at the brown fur on her thigh, soft and brown, broken only by an odd image that looked like a Spatula flipping an okonomiyaki. "I am a pony!" she said, "I have been turned into a Pony!"

The orange pony's eyes widened. "You mean somepony turned you into a pony with magic?" she asked.

Ukyo nodded numbly. "I… I guess so…" she said.

The pony rubbed her chin with her hoof. "We'll have to ask my friend Twilight." She said, "She is the local expert on magic. She is also one of the first ones that found you."

Ukyo suddenly perked up. "What about my friend Ryoga?" she asked.

The orange pony's eyes widened. "Friend?" she asked, a deeper worry suddenly taking root. "Weren't nopony with you when they found you. Was he with you?"

Ukyo thought back to the Magic Vortex descending on her and Ryoga. Vaguely, she recalled suddenly being high above forested area, and Ryoga grabbing her arm and pulling her into a protective hug before the bright flash that was the last thing she could remember. "I think he tried to protect me," she said, "Then there was a bright flash."

The other pony just nodded, "Prob'ly the explosion." She said, "Was he a tough feller?"

Ukyo nodded. "Tough as I have seen." She replied.

The Pony pondered for a bit. "Could'a got caught in the blast worse than you, and been pitched further out. Cain't hurt to ask." She waved to a nurse pony that had been seeing to some medical supplies. "Nurse Tenderhoof, could you clear her for a wheelchair? We have a party to be gettin' to."

.o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o.

When Ryoga came to, he wasn't really sure where he was. This was not particularly unusual for the Lost Boy, though the soft cushion upon which he lay was new. His Porcine form did not come as a shock, since he awoke in this form almost as often as not when he was out in the wild. A cursory mental check, however, showed that he had been injured, and that was not something he was used to. Ever since his Bakusai Tenketsu training, even in pig form, it took a fight with a powerful Martial Artist, being hit by a train, or falling off a cliff or a tall building to deal him serious damage.

Fortunately, he had trained his ki to automatically heal him while he slept, so the injury was almost gone. It had, however, left him relatively depleted in terms of energy. He opened his eyes, and looked around.

The first thing he noticed was that he was indoors. It was a cute little cottage, with sunlight streaming in through the windows. The walls were lined with small cages, several with what appeared to be injured or sick animals inside. He himself had been placed on a cushion inside one such cage.

Nearby, there dozed a white bunny on a comfortable pillow outside the cage, and over by the fireplace was an oddly colored pony, who sat staring at a pot that was suspended to cook over the flames.

It was quickly apparent to Ryoga that he had been found in his pig form and delivered to this… he could only guess that it was some sort of rural, home-run Vet's office, or just someone that liked to help sick animals. He had been in this situation several times over the course of the time since he had been cursed. Fortunately, it did not look like the owner of the house was here at the moment, so he simply needed to get out of the cage and head for a window.

He inspected the latch on the cage for a moment, and then delivered a soft kick to the right spot, causing the cage to pop open with a loud clack. The pony by the fireplace turned and looked at him with large expressive eyes.

It spotted him now out of his cage, and gave a startled gasp. "Oh, no, Mr. Pig," the pony said, her soft, gentle voice filled with concern, "you should not be up and about. You were hurt and nearly drowned. Please get back in your cage, so you don't hurt yourself worse."

Ryoga was rather startled by the talking pony, so rather than doing as she asked, he threw himself at the nearest window with all of the force his porcine form could muster. The window, not being built to withstand such force, shattered, and Ryoga burst out into the sunlight.

Ryoga hit the ground running, and was nearly to the tree line when the gentle-voiced Pony burst through the door. "Wait!" she called after him, immediately giving chase. "The Forest is Dangerous!"

Ryoga plunged into the trees, charging through the undergrowth. He ran a short distance in, and then, hearing the Pony coming quickly behind him, he leapt into one of the lower branches of one of the nearby trees and let the pony fly past below. The pony had wings. Well, Ryoga supposed that a winged pony was not that much more unusual than a talking pony.

He sat on the tree limb and watched the pony fly past, deeper into the forest while he attempted to figure out what he was doing here.

Naturally this had to be all Ranma's fault. No matter how he sliced it, he could always count on the pigtailed boy to be responsible for everything bad that happened to him, and talking, flying ponies were right up his alley. After all, look at Pantyhose Taro. He was a winged minotaur with tentacles half the time. Yep, this was definitely Ranma's fault. Somehow.

Ryoga smiled. The best thing about blaming everything on Ranma as that there was no one that would refute it. Well, no one except Shampoo or Ukyo…!

Suddenly everything came rushing back. Ryoga recalled meeting Ukyo at her restaurant, and then hearing the rumbling, seeing the vortex, trying to hit it with his shi shi Hokodan, Ukyo trying to save him and then finding himself above a forest with Ukyo falling down almost directly atop his own energy blast as it was about to impact the ground below. He recalled wrapping his arms around the falling Chef to shield her from the blast. The blast had been bigger than he had expected, which made sense given the amount of depression he had built up.

No wonder he had been hurt.

Ryoga's heart suddenly dropped. If he had been injured this badly by the blast what had happened to Ukyo? Sure the Okonomiyaki Chef was strong, but she had not had the Bakusai Tenketsu training he had had, and likely was not as durable. It was a possibility that the girl had not survived. That was not a possibility Ryoga wanted to consider right now.

Ryoga silently cursed Ranma's name once more and prepared to go in search of the missing Okonomiyaki Chef.

He was stopped short by an ear-splitting scream.

.o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o.

Fluttershy lost sight of the Piglet after entering the edge of the forest. She gave a burst of speed, but instantly lost the small creature's trail. This worried her, as the poor little thing likely had no idea what lurked in the depths of the Forest. Fortunately, the really dangerous creatures stayed in the depths, and seldom ventured out without reason.

It was this reasoning that caused Fluttershy to be surprised when a low growl issued from the undergrowth nearby. She stopped in her tracks and stared into the shadows, seeing a pair of glowing yellow eyes glaring back at her.

Fluttershy began to back-paddle away from the shadowy beast as it stepped forward, revealing itself to be a solid-black wolf with its teeth bared, issuing a low, deadly growl.

The tan pony gave a nervous giggle. "I… I guess this is your hunting ground now, isn't it?" she said, terror showing in her voice as she slowly edged away from the advancing wolf.

Another growl behind her warned her that she was in a great deal more danger than she had initially thought. Glancing behind her she saw a half-dozen more wolves melt out of the shadows and underbrush around her. Terror locked her wings, and she did the only thing she had left to do. She screamed.

Suddenly the first wolf lunged at her, its teeth flashing for the kill. Desperate, Fluttershy hurled herself to the side, the wolf's jaws narrowly missing her soft, tender flank. Two more wolves lunched at her, but she made a diving lunge forward, rolling to avoid them and they crashed into each other.

Seizing on the perceived opening, Fluttershy rolled to her feet and made a dash into the gap the wolves had left in the line, only to skid to a stop as she came nose-to-nose with an old silver-furred wolf, its red eyes speaking more danger than any of the other wolves' eyes. Clearly, this grizzled old wolf was the pack leader; as the others deferred to it, and formed a ring to bar her escape while the silver-coated beast advanced slowly for the kill.

Fluttershy closed her eyes, waiting for the sound of the teeth biting into her flesh and the pain that would follow. She whimpered slightly and braced herself.

Suddenly there came a sharp cry of pain, but it was not her own, but that of the wolf.

Fluttershy opened her eyes surprised to see the piglet standing between her and the Pack Leader, who lay was now getting up after clearly taking a surprising blow to the head.

The Pack Leader issued a growl and a bark to the other wolves, and Four of them lunged at the Piglet while the others hung back to continue barring Fluttershy's escape. The piglet suddenly vaulted side performed a mid-air spin, whirling the wolves as they slammed into each other, and dumping them into an unconscious heap. The pig caught the eye of the pack leader again, and the two began circling each other as Fluttershy and the remaining wolves in the pack looked on.

The Silver wolf lunged at the piglet lashing out with vicious jaws, only to have its prey flicker from sight as it closed its teeth on it. Surprised at the after image, the wolf cast around, searching to the black little beast. At the last moment, the Silver-coated wolf cast its eyes skyward, just in time to spot the pig as it descended from a high leap.

Fluttershy saw that the pig now had what looked to be an umbrella clutched in its mouth as it came down like a strike of lightning, slamming the umbrella into the Pack Leader's back. The pig landed on the ground and glared defiantly at the remaining wolves, umbrella mysteriously gone once again.

Forgetting about Fluttershy, the wolves advanced on the piglet, determined to avenge their fallen leader. The wolves had taken losses, but they still had the piglet outnumbered, nearly twenty to one. The piglet was giving ground, backing itself away from them, clearly hoping to make a break for it.

Fluttershy realized what the pig was really doing, though, from the glances it shot her as it was moving. It was drawing the wolves away from her so she could escape. Not wanting to disappoint the little thing, Fluttershy scrambled behind a tree.

Sure enough as soon as she was clear, the piglet kicked a pair of rocks into the air with its hooves, lashing out with strikes so fast that Fluttershy could not even see them. The stones flew into the midst of two groupings of wolves and exploded in mid air. The shrapnel from the rocks tore into the wolves like a rain of blades, devastating their ranks and leaving none without injury. The beasts that could still maintain their feet fled, leaving their injured to lie in the dust.

Fluttershy suddenly found herself conflicted. The wolves had attempted to kill her, true, and it was unlikely that their opinion of her would change, but if they were left where they were, they would likely die. Fortunately, it was not a problem she had to worry herself with, as the pig approached the downed pack leader and gave him a swift kick in the snout.

The Silver Wolf roused and issued a growl, but then the pig motioned to the fallen wolves and gave him a look that offered an option. The wolf nodded, and awakened the four the pig had knocked out first. The five wolves began to gather their wounded, and they tended their injuries.

The piglet walked over to Fluttershy, who looked him up and down. It was her keen eye that saw the hint of exhaustion in his baring. "You are a surprising little fellow. I'm Fluttershy, by the way." She said softly, picking him up and placing him on her back. "Come on, let's get out of this forest so we can both get some rest."

.o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o.

Ryoga dropped thankfully onto the pony's back, his exhaustion from earlier overcoming him. As he did, he pondered what had just happened. He had gone from running from the pony girl to rescuing her. That was pretty much standard procedure for a Martial Artist, though. The odd thing had been the wolves.

-Flashback-

Ryoga charged through the underbrush to the aide of the Pony who had saved him. He barely noticed the blue flowers in the as he charged through a bed of them. It only took him a few moments to come to a stop in a tree overlooking the small clearing where more than two dozen wolves were bearing down on the terrified Pony. A large silver beast was poised to bring an end to the pegasus's life.

Ryoga did the only thing he could. He launched himself from the branches of the tree, arcing through the air at high speed, impacting the large wolf with a fair amount of force, causing it to stagger.

"What?" the lead wolf said, in a voice and language that Ryoga was surprised to find he could hear and understand. It took a moment, but the silver beast's eyes locked on to him, and it snarled. "Little Whelp! You dare get in the way of our hunt?" It demanded, then turned to its companions, "Kill this little Runt!"

Four of the wolves charged at Ryoga, and he knew that in his current form, they were probably stronger than he was. Fortunately, he had learned a few things from his battles with Ranma, so when they all leaped at him at the same moment, he knew how to leap, casting out a little ki, whipping the air currents around him, and spinning the four wolves into one another hard enough to drop them into a pile.

The lead wolf stepped forward snarling. "You're more skilled than I had thought, Whelp." It said, "I will have to deal with you myself. You will make a tasty little appetizer for the pony." With that, he charged, his teeth flashing with intent to kill.

Ryoga waited until the last instant and then leapt into the air, quick enough to leave an after-image as he leapt twenty feet in the air. He needed more mass to make this blow count, so he reached into his stuff-space, a trick he had learned from Mousse, and retrieved his umbrella. Catching the Umbrella in his mouth, he swung it around and brought it down on the Silver Wolf's head, eliciting a cry of pain from the beast as it slumped over, unconscious.

Ryoga stowed his umbrella once more, as the rest of the wolves began to shout wolfish curses at him and advance on him, intent on avenging their leader. Ryoga realized that he had a new trick that would work in this situation and looked at the Pony he had been protecting, hoping that she would get the picture and get out of his range while she had the chance, she seemed to realize what was going on as he backed away from the wolves luring them away from her.

As soon as she had gotten behind the tree, Ryoga acted. He kicked two stones into the air, and delivered a touch to the breaking points of each with his hooves, delivering each with sufficient force to send the stones flying into the midst of the wolves before the effect of the touch came to fruition. The stones exploded, sending tiny pieces of razor-sharp shrapnel in all directions.

The effect was even more devastating than Ryoga had predicted. The wolves closest to the blasts took the full force of the blasts, and the shrapnel shredded their thick fur like tissue paper, lacerating their skin, and wounding them badly before hurling them several feet into unconscious heaps. Further away, the wolves caught less shrapnel, but the sudden pain of what did hit them sent the cowardly wolves scurrying off into the woods, leaving their comrades to die.

A martial artist protects those who cannot protect themselves. Ryoga could not ignore that part of his oath, even if the wolves had been trying to kill him a few moments earlier. He stepped up to the lead wolf and kicked him awake.

The silver wolf glared at him. "You have some gall." he said with a growl.

Ryoga focused on the way he had heard the wolves speak to get his message across. "Your friends are injured." he said, "You can fight me and lose again, or you can save them. It is your choice, but you cannot beat me."

The wolf seemed taken aback at the pig speaking like a wolf, but covered it quickly. The two of them had an intense moment as the wolf made his decision. He woke the four wolves Ryoga had knocked out first, "You four get up and help Me." he said, "Our brothers need our aide. Leave the Pig alone. He is a brother."

The wolf looked at Ryoga as he said it, and the two nodded their understanding. The five wolves then turned to the care of their "brothers", and failed to notice as Ryoga wavered slightly.

His reserves of energy were dangerously low after healing his injuries and fighting the wolves. He pulled himself up and approached the Pony.

She smiled softly and picked him up and put him on her back. "You are a surprising little fellow." She said, "I'm Fluttershy, by the way."

-End Flashback-

Ryoga pondered his new found ability to speak with wolves as he rode on Fluttershy's back out of the woods. He wondered if it extended to other animals as well. As the tan pony entered her garden, he got his answer.

The bunny that Ryoga had seen earlier watched worriedly as they approached. "Oh, thank goodness you two are alright." he said, the manner of speaking at once similar and different from the wolves dialect. "I heard wolves, closer than I had ever heard them before."

Ryoga nodded. "Yeah, I had to save Fluttershy here from a whole pack of them." he replied.

The rabbit shot him a double-take. "You speak rabbit?" he asked in surprise.

Ryoga nodded. "Yes, and apparently wolf, too." he replied.

At that moment Fluttershy reached the house, and let the two animals inside. "Oh, my." Fluttershy said, putting the pig down and moving to make a bed for him. "We haven't found a name for you, yet have we, you cute little piggy? Oh! I know! We will call you Cutie P, because you are a cute pig."

Ryoga and the Rabbit both rolled their eyes. "Has a way with names, doesn't she?" the bunny said wryly. "My name is Elephiphalin, but that is a mouthful even in my tongue, so you may call me 'Angel' as she does."

Ryoga nodded. "My name is Ryoga, and if you call me 'Cutie P' I will give you to the wolves as a present." he said flatly. "Can you give me an idea where I am?"

Angel nodded. "You are in the Earth village of Ponyville, in the Kingdom of Equestria, where the Ponies Rule." he said, "Ponyville lies on the edge of the Everfree forest, where you were found."

Ryoga simply nodded, as this was not the first place he had been that he had never heard of before. "I lost a friend of mine, and I need some help finding her." he said, "I think she may be injured. Where would the ponies have taken her?"

Angel thought for a moment. "I suppose they would have taken her to the Vet's office, or the Infirmary, depending on what kind of creature she is."

Ryoga was about to ask where that was when suddenly the door burst open, admitting a blue, winged pony with a rainbow colored mane.

"Fluttershy!" the new arrival called, "The pony that Pinkie and Twilight found in the Everfree Forest is awake, and Applejack is bringing her to the party now."

Fluttershy gave a slight gasp. "Oh no, Rainbow Dash, I couldn't possibly go now." She said, "I just got Cutie P back here, and he needs to get settled in."

The Pony called Rainbow Dash flew to the tan pegasus's side and began to push her toward the door. "Come on, Fluttershy." She said, "You know how Pinkie Pie is. You don't want her replacing you with a sack of flour again, do you?"

Fluttershy barely had time to stutter as she was hustled out the door. "I… No…wait…" But she offered next to no resistance as the other pony pushed her out the door.

Ryoga looked at Angel and both of them sighed.

"I suppose we should both get some rest." Angel said, "In a few hours I will take you to talk with some of the other pets in town, so we can help you find your friend."

Feeling the shroud of exhaustion coming over him, Ryoga nodded and lay down to sleep.

.o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o.

Gummy the toothless alligator chewed ineffectively on his pink-coated owner's tail as she scurried around, doing her best to get everything in order for the party. Applejack was on her way to pick up the guest of honor, Rainbow was collecting the last of Pinkie's friends, and the cupcakes were almost done, and it had only taken four impromptu songs and a liberal dose of Pinkie's Trademark randomness to do.

Gummy was, of course, perfectly content to move to various locations on his pink owner when she needed to use her tail, he just liked how she tasted. It was not like he was really trying to eat her. After all, he needed her.

It was several minutes before Applejack was expected back when Rainbow Dash pushed a protesting Fluttershy through the door. Gummy liked Fluttershy, too. She was the caretaker of the edge of the Everfree forest. She was the one that saw to it that the animals too small to survive in the Wilds in the Forest itself were able to live at all. After all, only within the forest could an animal find its base instincts, to hunt, to get food, to survive without the aid of Pony magic, and that is why the most dangerous animals ruled it, and remained within.

Gummy noticed the gentle pony seemed unhappy. As was the case with most of the animals, an unhappy Fluttershy was not something that sat well with the alligator, so he let go of his owner and went to investigate.

As he neared, he heard the shy pony protesting to the Rainbow-maned Pegasus. "I really need to be back home, Rainbow Dash!" she said, "I just found this little piggy lost in the forest, and…" she was cut off by Rainbow covering her mouth with her hoof.

"Relax, Fluttershy," she said, "the animals will still be there when you get back. For now, you should try to have some fun. We are meeting the pony they found. Isn't it exiting?"

At the prospect of meeting someone new, Fluttershy's shyness reasserted itself and she shifted her bangs to hide her eyes and whimpered slightly.

Pinkie Pie suddenly looked around, a confused look on her face. "Hey, where's Gummy?"

On the other side of the counter, the Alligator rotated the knob on the cabinet, Right, Left, and Right again. There was a soft click, and the cabinet door suddenly fell away, pitching the Alligator onto a hidden slide that dropped him outside. Once here he cocked his head slightly, wondering where the fedora on his head had come from. Shrugging it off, he ditched the fedora and headed for Rarity's house. If he knew Angel, within the hour, he would want to introduce the new pet to the others. As Angels VP in the EHPC (Elements of Harmony Pets Club) it was Gummy's job to round up the other club members.

As he scampered along, he thought about the odd feeling he was getting, like something had changed. It was something about the feel of the wind blowing from the Everfree Forest. He wondered if Angel would be able to tell them more.

.o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o. .o0o.

A.N. A few things: First, yes, that was Poison Joke Ryoga charged through on his way to rescue Fluttershy. It will have certain effects on his Pony form.

Second, yes, that was a nod to Phineas and Ferb's Perry the Platypus, there at the end it is just a joke and is not intended to continue, but hey, anything can happen.

As always, I love constructive criticism.