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December 24, 2010
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Because everyone is the main character of the right story.

I don't know how long I ran.  Back in Ponyville, I'd held it together long enough to patch up my image before I cut out.  Once my hooves hit the road, I lost it.  All the disasters came crashing in and I just pounded on, faster and harder, until I collapsed.

Dirt in my nose, dirt on my horn, my face pressed hard into a litter of decaying leaves and twigs.  Something with too many legs scrambled across my horntip and I heaved myself to my hooves, shaking.  Lungs still burning and legs rubbery, but safely away from the crazy marks and their damned town.

I gulped damp air and tried to settle myself.  Started to tick over my Questions, like Sparks had taught me.  I can almost hear his voice when I do that, clipped and rhythmic.  
"Where you at?"  
"What you got?"  
"What you need?"  
"What you want?"  
Not exactly soothing, but so comfortingly familiar...

Can't think about him now.  Focus on the Questions.  Where am I at?

I hardly need to look, but I do anyway. It's part of the Questions, and Sparks said that the routine is what holds us together.  Gnarled trees, random undergrowth, a spongy feel to the ground, and moist, earthy smelling air.  I'm pretty deep in the Everfree.  Good.

A couple of steps and a deep breath.  Still wobbly, but holding together.  I shake a twig loose from my mane and ponder for a moment.  I don't think I can pull off "Trixie" if any of the locals show.  Okay.  Illusion has always been my best trick.  A flicker from my horn and a pass with my mind.  White to tan, blue to yellow, and a pineapple for my mark.  A dumb, lost tourist.  Yeah, that's about my speed.

Enough self pity.  Questions.  What have I got?

A quick touch with my power confirms that I've still got my cash, tied up under my mane.  Nothing else, but that's a solvable problem.  "Never let 'em separate you from your take," Sparks would say.  I quirked a little grin to myself.  He'd have praised the way I pulled my stage face back together at the end.

I glanced at my surroundings.  I'd stopped in a small clear area, heavy bushes all around and a large tree overhanging.  I think I'd left any path pretty far behind me.  I'd crashed through a lot of underbrush and picked up a few stinging scratches toward the end of my rush, but I'd landed in a pretty safe place to pull it together and plan my next moves.

Good.  Keep my mind on my Questions.  What do I need?

Rest is at the top of the list.  I'm a little steadier, but still barely standing.  I hadn't been asleep an hour when those idiots came pounding at my door with a nightmare at their heels.  I've had shows go bad, even been chased by angry marks, but trying to save myself and the whole fool town from that ursa nearly got me killed.  Sparks warned me that it's the ones that love you that bring the hurt.  Always before I'd been able to talk my way out.  Even from the worst, that hormonal hulk of a colt who shouldered his way into my wagon.

/My wagon/...

I picked a spot near the base of the tree, checked overhead to make sure I couldn't be seen from the air,

/Sparks' wagon/...

Kicked the lumpiest of the litter away and thumped myself down, hooves tucked under, tail around.  

/Damnit, no/...

Not a problem, I'd slept rough in Everfree before.

/Gone, smashed, all of him I had left/...

...and it all rushed in.

I'd been hungry and desperate, alone in the forest.  I tried to steal his food, and he'd stunned me with a smoke bomb and hobbled me with his rope trick.  Laughed at my illusions when I tried to scare him into letting me go, then fed me and let me warm myself by his fire.

I'd followed him because I had nothing else, because he had helped me when I couldn't have stopped him from hurting me.  He'd let me travel with him because I made myself useful, and he taught me because he saw something in me.  From helping with props, to working the crowds, then to boosting his act with my power, finally to taking center stage myself.  It had been the best time of my life.

But Sparks was old when I met him.  He never complained, but I could see.  The shows drained him, and the road was hard.  One morning about a year ago, on our way to the next town, he simply didn't emerge from his wagon.

His wagon, that I took after I buried him, to carry on with the show because he had no family and I had no other life.

His wagon, that was my home, my stage, my safe place, and my reminder of him.

My wagon.  That was now a heap of rubble, probably on the way to some backwater dump.

I lay there for a long time.  Trembling, raging at the the hecklers, the crazy marks, the ursa, everything that had lined up to snatch the last bit of Sparks away from me.  

Then I swear I heard him speak.  

"What you /want/, filly?"

I drew a deep breath and listened hard.

He'd never explained it, but that was his blue skies and sunshine question.  It was what you aimed for, what kept your head up and hooves snapping when life was trying to crush you down.  He'd ask it, I'd clamp my jaw and wait.  He'd keep asking me, over and over, until I told him some kind of silly dream.

Another breath.  I was pretty sure I had imagined it, but this time I didn't want to wait him out.  Shaking my head at myself, I answered him aloud.

"I want to live free."

"I want to show the marks their dreams, make them beg me to take their money and pine for the day I'll be back."

"I want them to whisper that Celestia herself couldn't be more amazing than The Great and Powerful Trixie!"

I paused and listened again.  Nothing but wind and rustling leaves, but somehow that was enough.

"And I want you to be proud of me, Sparks."

I laid my head on my hooves and closed my eyes.  Tomorrow, a dumb tourist would wander into Ponyville, pick up a few supplies, listen in awe to the tale of the ursa attack, and pick a few choice souvenirs out of the rubble.
A lot of nonsense about a pony.
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:iconsfogg25:
sfogg25 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2011
This is great! I like the way you spun Trixie as a bit of a con artist here. The Questions seems like something she'd have, keeping her pragmatic and focused. The backstory helps make her more relatable, too. Nice work!
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:iconpodotepworth:
PodoTepworth Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2011
Thanks, I'm happy you like it! I'm glad the Questions and the little bit of backstory worked for you. :)
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:iconroygbiv-mlp:
RoyGBiv-MLP Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2011
THIS! THIS! THIS!

I love how you wrote Trixie! Grifter & entertainer to the end! I love it!
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:iconpodotepworth:
PodoTepworth Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2011
Thanks! I loved Trixie's character and wanted to explore a little of what made her tick. She's tough!

I'm glad you enjoyed it!
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