A long overdue illustration. Nothing more to say in regards to that.
This scene occurs the night following the Season One episode "Applebuck Season". In the context of Survivor Shy
this is a memory Fluttershy recalls shortly after it begins to sink in that her friends are gone. In the fanfic, Fluttershy remembers finding Applejack outside at night while a celebratory party for the successful harvest is going on indoors. In the fanfic, this is when Fluttershy learnt about Applejack's parents, and how their eldest daughter felt obligated to fulfil one last thing her parents would've wanted to be done - have the farm succeed and support the family.
With this memory in her mind, the lone survivor, Fluttershy, takes on one last obligation for her friends; recover and reunite the Elements of Harmony. Hopefully in doing this, the daffodil-hued Pegasus would find some closure, like what Applejack was searching for herself.
Read Survivor Shy over on FimFiction: [link]
View the Survivor Shy Gallery (full of every illustration ever made, including unused and non-canon ones): [link]
Follow my Tumblr for all of my artwork!: [link]
Because the chapter this belongs to only has TWO illustrations, and the previous upload only had a 700-word excerpt out of a near 5k of words, the following excerpt will be massive. It is my intention to at least provide every word from FimFiction here on Deviantart, because the fanfic originally began here. If you do not wish to hurt your scrolling finger, I advise you to either use the scroll bar or click that middle mouse button of yours!
The winds pushed me far away from the sight of the burning city of Canterlot. The cold chill in the air ran through me, gradually taking the edge off of my adrenaline and seeping in through my cuts and weeping eyes. I clamped my eyes shut and grit my teeth, not out of the returning pain, but because of the shudders and sobs I couldn’t hold back anymore.
I glided in the cold night sky, being carried by the strong current, and cried. I did not care for my course, altitude, or attitude. I could be unwittingly diving straight into the hard ground for all I knew, but it didn’t matter. What mattered were my friends. Every single one of them were special to me, and in a flash they had been taken away in a terrible boom. All the ponies in Equestria had disappeared, too, and now I was starting to register that they were gone,
not simply missing or hiding. Gone.
A sharp breath rushed into my lungs and I held it there. All those fillies and colts were gone, their parents, teachers, friends - entire families completely gone from Equestria. Why? Why did this happen? What could have caused this? Why was I the only one still be here?
What was I supposed to do now?
My eyelids slowly lifted, and my gaze hovered over the sleepy landscape. I had dropped down pretty far, long since leaving the icy current behind and gradually falling to less than a hundred feet above the ground. Grassy hills and plentiful trees touched by the moonlight looked up at me, with full rivers snaking among them and feeding several lakes and ponds. With the exception of the distant roars of Dragons and echoes of battle coming from the massive mountain behind me, Equestria was still and silent. I caught glimpses of wild Owls and other nocturnal critters hiding in the shadows where other ponies and creatures wouldn’t think to look. Some of them would stop for a moment, and their eyes would follow me with wonder and surprise. I didn’t need to guess why they seemed to feel that way.
Tears pinched at my cheeks, their warmth and moisture being stolen by the cold, dry air. My wounds were closing up now, but I could still feel the fire raging inside them with every tiny movement I made. My thoughts seized the opportunity to escape what I had learnt in Canterlot, and instead focused on my own health. Did I get all the glass out? Were they infected? Did I just need a painkiller? Could I be coming down with something?
Twisted trees and dozens of threatening cries rushed underneath me. My body jerked at the sudden change. I was gliding over the Everfree Forest, which meant that I was close to Ponyville too. I turned my head to the right, catching tiny flames bobbing around the dark outline of Ponyville. Images of burly hounds and dogs chasing me flashed through my mind. I nearly fell out of the sky. It was too dangerous to go near the towns, now. I had to hide where the Diamond Dogs wouldn’t want to go, and the only place I knew about like that was the dangerous forest beneath my hooves. I adjusted my course with a few gentle flaps and a slight twist, and winced as my scabs tugged and pulled. The heat in me built up, blazing up to my ears.That’s not a good sign.
I frowned. My hooves reached up and adjusted the headband I was wearing, letting the sweat building up underneath it feel the breeze. Both of my forelegs had been hurt, so I pressed the better leg above my brow, wiping the clammy residue off. Less than a minute later I could feel more sweat building up. The wind began to feel colder.I have cough medicine, maybe it can bring the fever down too?
I glanced back at my saddlebags, noticing a hole had formed in one of them, letting the golden shine of Celestia’s crown catch the light from her sister’s moon.
My wings stopped moving, they couldn’t take the weight that fell on my back.
The Everfree Forest had a thick canopy, but was too eager to let me slip through and meet the branches just beneath the sea of leaves. It was a blur, and it wasn’t until a few moments later that I realised that I had been snagged on vines. Dazed and spinning around wildly above the ground,I tried to shake myself free, bringing rampaging waves of pain searing up my nerves.
The vines cruelly let me drop onto the forest floor with a thud, and I whimpered and cried on the dirt. I rolled over, groaning and gasping, and carefully stood up. I extended my wings, feeling bruises but no breaks, and then chanced looking at the rest of me. I wished I hadn’t.
I snapped my eyes shut, trying to ignore the state I was in, and counted down from ten. I needed to calm down. Panicking was getting me hurt. Continuing to panic in the Everfree Forest was going to do much worse. I took a deep breath, and wiped my brow of sweat and sap. My eyelids flicked open and my gaze whirled around me, making sure it was safe to stay for a while longer. I slid off my saddlebags and quickly searched them, finding the small bottle of pain pills I had and the cough medicine. I took two pills, and measured two full caps of cough medicine to follow it. Taking care of a wide range of animals meant learning the labels off by-heart. Whether the medicine was strong enough against the fever didn’t make me feel very confident.Maybe the amount I took would be enough.
I assured myself. An uneven sigh escaped me as I packed my bags up and carefully hoisted them back on – trying to avoid the cuts. Treatment, again, would have to wait until I had a safer place to work.
I couldn’t fly between the bushes and branches, and I couldn’t fly back up through the canopy. The forest didn’t like letting ponies out so easily. With a quiet grunt, I chose a direction to head in and began to amble through the dense foliage.Was it always this warm in the Everfree Forest?
I stopped and leant against a tree, fanning my face and scanning the tree line. I didn’t want to stop. Not here. I needed to find the Old Castle, or a place to fly out of, or…Is that?
I lurched forward, squinting into the dark woods. There was a glimmer, a silvery reflection of moonlight catching my eye. Tentatively, I crept up towards it, keeping quiet and moving slowly. The reflection became circular, and soon I could see that it was embedded in a large tree’s trunk. A cross made of sticks covered it, apparently holding the reflector in place. My eyes drifted over the rest of the tree, and my heart began to race, drowning out the sounds of wildlife.Zecora’s home! She knows more about medicine than I do! She can help me!
I stumbled over tree roots and broke out into the beaten path to the zebra’s hut, moving as quickly as I could. My hoof reached up to knock on the door, but instead planted itself on it with a bang. I steadied myself, managing a few tiny knocks before dropping my hoof to the ground. I stood there for a moment for a response, hoping and hoping that there would be one. None came.
I limped over to one of the windows and peeked inside. “Zecora?” I whispered harshly, starting to cough. “Zecora, wake up! Please!” I couldn’t see anything inside. It was pitch darkness. I went back to the door, kicking my hoof against the bottom. “I need your help!”
“Zecora?” I tried the door, and the latch opened, revealing the dark and cold interior of the hollowed-out tree. I thought of my own home. My head drooped.
I slowly walked inside, looking around, trying to see in the darkness. “Are you home? It’s Fluttershy. Um, I need… I need…”I need my friends back. I need Equestria back. I need this nightmare to end.
“…You’re gone, too.” I whispered, defeated.
The deadness of the room said ‘yes’.
I closed the door behind me, sliding the large deadbolt into place. Blindly, I fumbled over to a lantern and began rummaging through my saddlebags for my matches. I dropped a few, but finally managed to strike one and quickly light the oily wick, bathing the room in a gentle, orange glow.
Gripping the handle in my mouth, I carried the lantern over to the center of the room, where Zecora’s iron cauldron sat atop a pile of ash. I brushed a hoof against the large pot; feeling how cold the cauldron was. With my ‘better’ foreleg, I dug around in the ash around the base, hoping to find some smoldering coals to rekindle the flames, but it had completely burnt out. My heart ached at the thought of how long this meant the home had been abandoned, and extinguished any hope I had of Zecora coming back home.
I shakily stood up and quickly dried my eyes. With a tiny sniffle, I glanced around the little home with the lantern. Zecora had to have had some wood stored indoors. I spotted a few logs stood near the door, and dragged them over to the fire pit. The firewood was too big to start a fire with, and I gulped at the thought of going back outside. I glanced out the window, listening to the wildlife, straining my ears for the sound of anything dangerous nearby. Maybe I could go without a fire – just for tonight.
My body shuddered uncontrollably, chills quickly following. Was the room always this small and cold? I blinked. The room warped sickeningly, and I closed my eyes with a groan, covering my eyelids with my better foreleg. I needed that fire. I needed warmth.
Sweat covered me like a thin skin, my legs becoming heavier the longer I stood still. Just grab some twigs and a clump of grass, I won’t be long. It’ll be safe.
I ambled over to my saddlebags and sluggishly tipped them over, scattering their contents on the floor. One last time, I strapped the bags back on, and turned for the door. A moment later, the bolt slid away with a clack, and the latch hopped up and released the door. I paused to hold my head steady, and then slowly pulled the door open. I peeked out through the gap, shining the lantern outside into the forest. A lump lodged itself in my throat. It was scarier outside now.
For a minute I leant in the doorway, staring into the dark. My ears twitched and swiveled at every sound, and my gaze hopped from bush to bush. There were no foreboding growls and hisses, no hungry eyes staring at me, just the gloomy forest and the sounds of crickets and toads - and my heartbeat.
It was as safe as it was going to be, and it was getting harder to stay focused through the dull throbs in my head.One, two…
My eyes darted from side to side one last time. Three!
My legs groggily stumbled forwards, and I trotted to the edges of the path, quickly picking up twigs and stashing them in my saddlebags. Soon I had loosely filled one of my bags with twigs and dry leaves.
The crickets and toads fell silent. With a jolt I stood up straight, quickly looking around and listening intently. A putrid smell surrounded me, and every muscle in my body froze.
A twig snapped. My legs took that as a cue to run, and was I thankful that they did! Snarls and growls chased after me, powerful legs pounding the ground in a precise and determined rhythm. I didn’t dare to look back. I didn’t take my eyes off the doorway to Zecora’s.
Desperately, I tried to unfurl my wings. They wouldn’t budge. My tail was yanked, and my heart leapt in my chest. I dug my hooves in the ground and pulled, biting down on the lantern’s handle so hard that it bent in my grip. I broke free from the beast’s grip and bumbled forwards, scrambling for the door. I leapt into Zecora’s home and slammed the door shut behind me. I jammed the deadbolt in place. In a split second, the door lurched inwards with a crunch, and I screamed at the thought of the door giving in – the lantern in my mouth dropping onto the floor and spilling oil on the floor. The monster clawed and barked at the door, trying to close the last few inches between us. The oil caught alight.
“No! No! No!” The puddle of oil quickly bathed the room in a fiery orange light. I popped the cap off of my canteen and poured the last of my water on the flames. The fire grew enraged and flared up, the flash almost dazzling me. I heard the beast sniff under the door and yelp, retreating in the forest with a whine. I leaped over the flames and grabbed a blanket from Zecora’s bed, backpedaling and throwing the cover over the fire, stamping them out before they could spread any further in the hollow tree. As the last ember was snuffed, I slumped onto my haunches, exhausted and shivering.
Hesitantly, I felt my way across the room for my matches. Holding them in my mouth, I dug a pile of white ash out from under the cauldron, and slotted some logs in its place. I took a bundle of twigs and leaves and stuffed them among the logs, ready to be lit.
I sat motionless for a few moments, considering lighting another match. I brushed my hoof through my mane, trying to clear my thoughts. I wiped the sweat from my forehead.
The match hissed as it flared up, and carefully I fed the flame the tinder I had prepared. In a few minutes a small, controlled fire was heating the room. I stared into the orange flames, and settled down close to them. I was safe now, locked inside a little house far, far away from any Dragons or Diamond Dogs. I breathed deeply, shedding tension I didn’t even know I had. A detached numbness washed over me, letting my wings and legs grow limp and relaxed as the medicine took hold.
Groggily, I focused my eyes on my cuts and bruises, and reached for the medical kit I had dropped on floor among the rest of my saddlebags’ contents. My hoof bumped into Princess Luna’s crown, and my eyes locked on the two pieces of royal headwear.
Equestria was in a terrible state. Horrible fighting raged throughout Canterlot, Diamond Dogs were looting from the dead villages and cities, and the weather and seasons were rapidly changing. Winter weather was already moving in, prompting Philomena to migrate and leave me behind not long after meeting her. If that phoenix was that concerned about the weather, then what did it mean to all the other animals? What about the animals that I took care of? Would the birds migrate safely? Would there be enough food for hibernation? Angel could be in danger, and I had no way of protecting him!
A hot wetness stung my eyes, and this time I did nothing to hold it back. I bowed my head down to the floor, hiding my face from the lifeless crowns staring at me. I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t have been spared. If there was ever a chance of saving Equestria, then it was wasted on me. I had tried to keep my head up and tried to do what was right, but in the end it was useless. I wasn’t strong enough, not brave enough; I couldn’t even protect the Elements of Harmony when they were right at my hooves. The only things left that symbolized who my friends were and our friendship together had been split up in the chaos that riddled Canterlot.
I rolled onto my back and stared up at the ceiling, my chest being racked by quiet sobs. My heart ached, and my breaths were shallow. I’d lost all of my friends; the girls, Spike, Discord, and Angel. They had been stolen away from me one way or another. A part of me felt that I was never going to see them again. This was my life now. Living in the remains of the land I called home, hiding from anything that wanted to catch me, and somehow finding a purpose and a reason to keep going on. Twilight would want me to go on. Rainbow Dash wouldn’t accept anything less, and would push me if she could. Pinkie Pie would sing a song to me to cheer me up while Rarity implored me to never lose hope. Applejack would come to me last; tipping her hat and keeping her voice low as she whispered her own words of encouragement. Applejack knew what loss was, and she honestly didn’t wish it upon anypony.
I rolled to my side, looking at the two crowns, but seeing something else entirely. Two stars streaking in the sky, and the thoughtful look on Applejack’s face the night after we all helped her with Applebuck season. The harvest had been finished, and there was no more work to be done. Pinkie had thrown a party in the barn to celebrate, and when everypony was busy having fun, Applejack slipped outside. I had followed her out, finding her staring up at the stars and talking to herself. My ears twitched at how sad her words were, and I couldn’t turn away without making sure my friend was okay.
She was embarrassed to see me, pulling her hat over her eyes and forcing a smile. “Gettin’ some fresh air too, huh? It gets a mite bit stuffy in that barn sometimes.”
I nodded, sitting beside the farmer and looking up at the sky. I could hear her shifting uncomfortably, but I didn’t know what to say first, or how to say it. I knew in my heart that something was on her mind, and I could feel her nervous glances watching me. She was having a private moment, and I had walked in on it and hadn’t left her alone.
“I’m sorry.” I whispered.
“What for, Fluttershy?” Applejack tried to catch a stray tear, but it fell down her cheek in plain sight.
I tipped my head away from her, pretending I didn’t see anything, wishing I hadn’t invaded her space like this. My mane fell forwards, hiding my friend from view. “I’m sorry for bothering you…”
A short sigh of relief escaped Applejack’s mouth. “No harm done, partner. Just needed a moment on my own is all.”
Even now, I don’t know how I had the nerve to ask, how I even had the courage to press a little further. Applejack was hiding something, and I could see it eating her inside out. The sight tugged at my strings, begging for to me to say something.
“I heard you talking to the stars, Applejack, are you…” I murmured and turned to face her, and my heart leapt in my throat – she was as pale as a sheet. “Are you okay?”
The dam broke, and I felt so awful for doing it. I didn’t mean to make her cry. She needed it, but by Celestia I wish it wasn’t me who had to make it happen. Applejack dipped her head down and wept openly. In seconds I pulled her into a hug, stammering and crying too. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to! Please don’t be sad!”
I was the last one to stop crying. I felt ashamed of myself; never had I made anypony cry in my life, and it was horrible. Applejack gave an assuring smile – a real smile – and convinced me that it was okay. She started to tell me everything on her mind; she told me about her parents.
It was something she didn’t like to talk about, but Applejack needed somepony to listen, and I happened to be that pony. “I didn’t have to push myself,” she explained, “Nopony expected me to after what happened – that’s why Granny let me go to Manehatten when I was just a lil’ filly. But leavin’ the farm for good wouldn’t have been fair. It wouldn’t have been fair to Granny Smith and Big Macintosh; it wouldn’t have been fair to Applebloom, and it sure as sugar wouldn’t have been fair to my parents. When I got my Cutie Mark, I knew that I wanted to make my Ma and Pa proud, and to make Sweet Apple Acres a farm that will last for generations.”
“Do you think they’re proud of you?” I hesitantly asked, worried that I’d open another wound.
Applejack looked at me, her face blank. She quickly cast a glance into the sky, and my eyes followed just in time to see two shooting stars race in the night sky. “I hope so.” Applejack sighed. “I don’t work so hard just for Big Macintosh, Granny, and lil’ Applebloom. I do it for them, too.”
She turned back to me, her green eyes shimmering. “They wanted this farm to prosper through not only their own labor, but through the whole family’s efforts. As long as we all did our best, we did our part.” Applejack turned around to look over the vast grove of harvested apple trees. “When it was just Mac and I working out here, we picked up the slack – doing the work of four ponies every day. It was the only way the farm was going to thrive, and it was the only way to make our parent’s wishes come true. Now that we’re so close to that dream, I’m hoping Ma and Pa are looking down on us, full of pride.”
Applejack fell silent, but this time she had a smile on her face. Fresh tears began forming in her eyes, threatening to burst and shatter her expression. Carefully, I leant over and wrapped my wing around her. “Go on,” I whispered, “I’m listening.”
Her eyes drifted downwards, but her smile remained. She was silent for few minutes, and I stayed beside her patiently, letting her think in peace. The Earth pony’s eyes gradually shut, and she took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. “The best thing we all can do is keep the memories of others alive. It’s been years now, but it’s like they never left, because my folks have been in here, always.” She tapped the side of her head, and adjusted her hat. She sniffed and rubbed her nose. “Once we’ve done what our folks set out to do, it won’t be them who can rest. Nah, they’re already at ease. It’ll be the rest of us. We can put our minds to rest knowin’ that we all did good an’ did our best. That’ll take a load off my mind.”
In a blink I was back in Zecora’s hut, still staring at the crowns on the floor. The gears in my head spun and whirred, working through the headache and fever. I had a reason to go on, I had a purpose. The Elements of Harmony had to be reunited. It could take my whole life to do, but I could bring my friends back together – by finding each of our Elements. Recovering the entire set would keep my friends together, not scattered apart like we were before everything changed. My eyes fell to the floor. I knew I couldn’t bring them back, but doing this would help me. I hoped it would.
My head bobbed, agreeing with the task I was setting myself. With a long and draining yawn, I closed my heavy eyelids, and settled down to sleep. The muffled sounds of the forest buzzed outdoors, and inside the comforting crackle of the fire filled my ears. At last there was peace, comfort, and safety.One day,
I thought, my friends and I will be together again.