Twilight couldn’t help but stare at the shivering Fluttershy, who’d retreated to a corner, mouth agape and twitching, eyes narrowed and focused on the screen. “F-Fluttershy?” She paused the movie for a moment and ran over to her cornered friend.
“That pony...” Fluttershy’s quivering voice was barely above a whisper. “Did... Did Starlight just...?”
“Oh Fluttershy!” Twilight kept her voice soft as well, not wanting to make her friend any more nervous. She should have known! “I’m so sorr-”
“It... It was awful!” Fluttershy murmured, shaking her head.
“I’m so sorry, Fluttershy!” Twilight was beside herself with remorse now. How could she have thought bringing Fluttershy of all ponies along would be a good idea? “If you’d like, we could turn it off and put on-”
“Oh no!” Fluttershy’s head suddenly snapped up as she vigorously shook her head.
“Something less...” Twilight blinked a few times. “Wha?” Now she was just confused. The two mares stared at eachother for a moment, as though they had egg on their faces.
“Well, I”m not mad, really,” Fluttershy looked more contemplative than anything. “Well, mad’s such a strong word and I... Okay, Fluttershy, try to assert yourself...” Fluttershy looked at Twilight meekly, but not with any of the fear or sadness that Twilight had expected. “I’m so, so sorry if you don’t agree, this is just my opinion, but...”
Twilight let out an unintelligible gargle. Where were the tears? Why wasn’t Fluttershy begging for this to be turned off? At this point, the rest of the group was looking at them, finding the scene before them quite the bit more entertaining at the moment.
“Oh all right, the scene was absolutely dreadful!” Fluttershy declared with uncharacteristic confidence, nodding to herself. A moment later, she let out a little squeak before trying to hide behind her long, pink mane. “That is, um, if you don’t mind my saying so.”
“Of course it was dreadful! A pony died gruesomely!” Twilight could feel her left eye twitching again. Was Fluttershy even watching the same movie as the rest of them?
The lemon yellow pegasus peeked out from behind her mane and smiles softly. “No, I mean it was really bad.”
The inflection on the word ‘bad’ was troubling to Twilight, to say the least. “Are you saying a pony dying should be a good thing?” She instinctively shuffled a bit away from Fluttershy, who was now beginning to scare her. “I mean, we’ve all seen the scribbles Rarity writes in her margins about Blueblood, especially that one with the cider mug and the broom, but--”
Rarity stood up on all four hooves, glaring furiously at the back of Twilight’s head. When Twilight failed to spontaneously combust like a lady, Rarity jumped off the cushion and proceeded to futz about with the offending mare’s mane.
Twilight tried not to think about the hours upon hours it would take for her to get her hair back to the perfect, angular look that she insisted upon and instead kept her focus on Fluttershy. It was proving difficult, as her well-kept mane was now carelessly matted and frazzled. Did Rarity even understand how long it would take her to get the hair surrounding her horn back at a proper pi-degree angle? And the length exactly to Ponythagoras's Golden Ratio with the width? “Still,” she spoke through gritted teeth, “it’s not like any of us would say that a pony dying isn’t a bad thing! Especially in such a horrible way as that!”
Anyone else would have mistaken the little noise Fluttershy made for a sneeze. Her friends, however, knew that it was about as close to an indignant huff as Fluttershy would get. “Of course that’s sad,” she said, “but the scene was absolutely wrong!”
At this moment, both Rarity and Twilight froze, the war crimes committed against Twilight’s mane completely forgotten as the two tried to digest what they’d both heard, Twilight letting out a very dignified “huh?” in response.
“A pony wouldn’t just flop after being slashed like that!” Fluttershy’s tone was analytical, gazing at the paused image on the screen as she tore into the scene in question. “There would be at least some spasm or other reflex action! And the blood spray? Way too even, like someone was spraying it with a hose. It’s like Starlight didn’t even have a heartbeat, and the viscosity is just far too low for aortic blood. Has the director ever seen a severed aorta? And while I’m on the subject, how can I expect to take this seriously when there’s no evidence of trauma to her vital organs with a cut that deep? Honestly, any pony with a basic understanding of pony anatomy could see how fake this is!”
By the end of her rant, everyone else in the room was staring at her, quite thankful that she wasn’t still under Iron Will’s training regimen. Noticing everyone’s stares, Fluttershy let out a gasp and hid behind her mane once more. “Oh, um, sorry, I didn’t mean to brag.”
Twilight was actually rather impressed, and made it a point to say so, a smile creeping on her face. “Wow, Fluttershy! Didn’t think you’d have such a keen eye!”
Rarity’s eyes sparkled as she disengaged from Twilight’s mane. “Wow, a supermodel and a doctor! So, what do they call you? Surgeon Shy? Physician Flutter? Doctor... who?”
Somewhere in Equestria, a brown-coated stallion with an hourglass cutie mark felt a shiver run down his spine. A lopsided grin lit up his face.
Back in the barn, Fluttershy shook her head and smiled warmly. “Oh no, it’s just ‘doctor’ to my patients. Well, some of the regulars just call me Fluttershy.” Feeling much more comfortable, Fluttershy stood up on her hooves, stretching them out a bit. “Usually it’s just sprained knees and twisted ankles, but some animals, and I’m not going to name names, can get a bit aggressive. They aren’t all herbivores, after all, no matter how much I ask them to try my tofu.”
“Define a bit aggressive, darling,” Rarity asked with a raised eyebrow, trying to ignore the sinking feeling in the back of her stomach.
“Well, most of the time, Mr. Grizzles-” Fluttershy gasped and blushed, covering her mouth with her fore hooves for a moment. “Oh, bad Fluttershy! You weren’t supposed to name names!” She put her hooves down and sighed, clearly upset with herself. “Well, he’s just a giant, soft, teddy-weddy bear most of the time, but, well, if he can’t find enough berries, he might get a little hungry and start looking at a tender, plump, slow-moving little fawn....”
“Oh dear, Fluttershy! Owlowiscious is bad enough with mice!” The discussion was enough to keep Twilight’s thoughts off of her plans to curve and crinkle Rarity’s hair in sweet, glorious vengeance. For the moment, this was far more important. “Next you’re going to say you’ve seen something eat a pony and....”
The entire room feel deathly silent as Fluttershy looked down in guilt. Rainbow Dash gulped slightly. That was not what she wanted to hear after seeing what happened to Starlight on-screen just now.
“W-well, only once....” Fluttershy stammered, feeling the gaze of the other five ponies on her. “N-none of my babies, of course! They know full well what happens if they try to hurt a pony!”
“Fluttershy,” Rarity whispered softly, her voice carrying a decidedly scandalized tone. “You honestly haven’t-”
“Oh yes!” Fluttershy’s eyes flashed with pure, spine-chilling wickedness as she spoke. “Any of my babies tries to hurt another pony... Doesn’t get dessert for a month!”
“Fluttershy!” Pinkie Pie’s mournful voice echoed throughout the barn as she suddenly appeared behind the pink-maned medic, again showing off her uncanny teleportation ability. “How could you be so amazingly, incredibly, atrociously, unimaginably cruel!?”
For her part, Fluttershy remained resolute, shaking her head and folding her fore hooves over her chest. “You have to be strict! No dessert, even if they finish all their leafy greens!”
Pinkie’s shocked gasp was an interesting contrast to the bewilderment of every other pony in the room, to say nothing of Fluttershy’s relatively neutral expression. It wasn’t exactly the most comforting thought to the rest of them that the most dangerous animals in Ponyville and the surrounding environs were being kept in check only by threat of a temporary lack of sugar.
Taking the silence as her cue to continue, Fluttershy did just that. “It was late one night, and some strange blue unicorn I’ve never seen before wandered into Mr. Grizzle’s pen.” Fluttershy shook her head ruefully. “You can... You can probably guess what happened.”
Every pony else shuddered in terror at the thought. Giant, fearsome grizzly bear versus tiny blue unicorn, that couldn’t have ended well. It was then that Twilight tilted her head curiously. “Blue unicorn,” she thought aloud. “Why would a blue unicorn run away from Ponyville?”
“Yeah!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed as she made her way to Twilight’s group. “And why didn’t any pony try to stop her?” Twilight and Rarity both stared at Rainbow Dash for a moment before shrugging, which Rainbow Dash took as a cue to keep going. “Guess she wasn’t important to any pon-OW!” She suddenly found herself on the receiving end of a rather heavy history text that had been telekinetically launched at the back of her head. “What?” she wondered aloud, rubbing her neck with a fore hoof.
Twilight made a mental note. She was going to have to send a letter to the Princess requesting a full security detail for the town. She would just hate it if a certain rainbow-maned pony were to accidentally wander into Mr. Grizzle’s pen.
That would have to wait until later, however, a horrible death was such a petty excuse to ruin such a lovely night with her friends. Gem Lance's flanks also might have been a contributing factor to her decision, not that Twilight would admit that to herself.
At the same time, Rarity snatched up a rather large lollipop from Pinkie’s Altar of Diabetes with her magic, whisking it across the room until it violently plopped into Rainbow Dash’s mouth. For her part, Rainbow Dash raised a free hoof to protest, but quickly lost herself in ecstasy as she began sucking softly on the candy lodged in her mouth. It was at that moment that everyone in the room came to appreciate the magical power of sugar. Perhaps Fluttershy’s method of keeping the animals in line wasn’t a bad one after all.
Roam gazed helplessly at the pale, bloodless slab of mangled fur and meat that had once been his beloved Starlight. He wasn’t exactly keen on medical science, so he didn’t make some educated assessment based on Starlight’s lack of pulse, or the fact that the generous amount of blood plastered seemingly everywhere was no longer feeding her vital organs. No, he just couldn’t bring himself to imagine how Starlight could possibly still be alive in such a messed up, mangled state.
“Oh fu-!” Roam let out a long series of expletives under his breath, causing all but Pinkie, who didn't understand what any of those words meant, to blush or wince, the full breadth of the situation coming down upon him. “They’re going to think I did it!” He could hear the sound of a clunking tumbler, which only served to make his mind wander even faster. “Luna’s dusty womb, they’re going to turn me into glue if I stick around, I just know it!”
Pinkie Pie giggle-snorted at that line, which effectively killed the mood. Seriously, who made glue out of ponies?
Roam’s eyes glistened with tears before he screwed them shut as he planted a kiss on his beloved Starlight’s cheek. He wanted so badly for this not to be the last he saw of her. With that, he turned to the window and jumped through it, a violent crash shattering the silence as his wiry frame flew out of the room and into the night.
“Woah!” Rainbow Dash and Applejack chorused.
Twilight couldn’t help but roll her eyes at her friends’ amazement. Some ponies were impressed by anything. “You two do realize they use sugar glass for these kinds of stunts, right?”
Pinkie’s eyes glazed over. “The... The possibilities...” she gasped, as if entranced.
“Pinkie?” Twilight could just feel a headache coming on.
“Imagine a greenhouse, made of sugar glass, that grows sugar... Where the light has been sweetened first!”
“Pinkie, that’s not-”
“And then, using the sugar-sugarcane, you make even more sugary-sugar glass out of that!”
“The light spectrum doesn’t even have fl-”
“Then, you use that glass to make a sugar glass prism to split up a rainbow – no wait, a rainboom, separating all the flavors!”
“Okay, that’s actually pretty clever, but-”
“And then, using the sugar rainbow, you could have a sugar rush that gives you so much energy you could stop time itself!”
Rarity whispered softly to Twilight curiously. “I may not know much about quantum physics,” she admitted, “but I have read a few books on string theory – very misleading name, by the way – and... Is she seriously referring to the theory of relativity?”
Twilight cradled her head in her fore hooves, her headache in full swing now. “I don’t even know anymore, Rarity.”
Rarity gave the bewildered scholar a soft grin before turning her attention to Pinkie. “Oh Pinkie~” she melodically called to her hyperactive pink friend. “I see a flaw in your plan!”
“J-Just one?” Twilight stammered in disbelief.
“Hush dear!” Rarity scolded before turning her attention back to Pinkie Pie. “Wouldn’t a sugar rush that gave you infinite energy also give you-”
“Infinite... Mass...” Pinkie Pie finished, her hair deflating and falling downward, suddenly lifeless. “Aw, even with all the time time in the universe, I’d never be able to exercise that much!”
Twilight gazed at Rarity in equal parts gratitude and bewilderment. “How did you... How?” Twilight’s left eye again twitched as she looked at her white-coated friend.
“Oh it’s quite simple, really! In the science of fabulosity, fat trumps all!” Rarity nodded firmly to signify the end of the discussion before turning to watch the movie, leaving Twilight to simply sit there and move her lips impotently, unable to make sense of what just happened.
Finally, Twilight simply sighed and slumped her shoulders, rejoining the other ponies on the couch. “Whatever. Just... Pinkie, stop messing with the laws of physics.”
Pinke stood on her hind hooves and gave Twilight a proper Army salute, while her shadow, cast by the projection, mimed the actions of a Pinkie PromiseTM. The pink bundle of energy completely failed to realize that ‘irony’ was not just a descriptive term for one of the many, many large, heavy objects that Twilight had to refrain herself from smacking her with.
Meanwhile, Johnny had finally burst into the room, splintering the door with a well-placed shoulder tackle. His shades were undisturbed by the impact, but not even they could shield his revulsion at the sight before him. He tried to block the door with his large frame, but still, Feather managed to enter and see what had become of Starlight.
“By Celestia!” Feather broke into uncontrollable sobs, clutching onto Johnny as best she could while he surveyed the scene.
“Sweetie,” Johnny whispered in horror. “I don’t think Celestia had anything to do with...” He couldn’t come up with the right term for what was laid out before him. “This...”
Feather looked up to Johnny, then back at the remains of Starlight. “You... I know you don’t like Roam and all, but... This?”
“I don’t know, but I don’t think any of this blood is his.” He paused for a moment, unable to tear himself away from the sight, even as Feather dislodged herself from him and dry-heaved. He noticed the window and trotted over to it, looking at the damage to the glass. “We’d better call the guards.”
Feather nodded, thankful to have something to keep her mind off the sheer horror that she’d just witnessed, something to hold off the inevitable crushing, hollow emptiness that would surely come over her when the shoch wore off.
Alone, Johnny further analyzed the glass, kneeling by the pane. The glass had all shattered outwardly, and the door was locked, meaning the only ponies here had been Starlight and Roam.
The evidence was beyond damning. However, Johnny’s eyes caught sight of a trail of blood leading across the bed and up the wall, leading to... He fell flat on his flanks as he surveyed the ceiling. It was coated in sticky, red blood, but there was something else that completely shattered his previous assessment. Marked and blood and torn plaster were four long, jagged gouges, perfectly parallel to each other, about a the length of a particularly large hoof between the first and last of the four lines of each gouge.
His glasses fell to the floor and shattered.
Hearing Feather’s voice, Jhonny snapped out of his reverie and looked out the windowsill, where a breathless Feather hovered before him. Even in this terrified state, she was so gorgeous, a precious bit of beauty in the maelstrom of carnage that surrounded him. His own gorgeous angel...
“Johnny! My eyes are up here!”
Johnny finally blinked and snapped out of his reverie. Those wings did funny things to a stallion.
“Oh,” sighed Rarity wistfully, “what I wouldn’t give to have Gem Lance gaze at me like that!” That brought on an awkward cough from Twilight, who tried her best to be really small and inconspicuous now.
“I talked to the guards, but-” Feather seemed somewhat panicked, not looking particularly satisfied at relaying that info.
“Thank Celestia, what-”
“They got my father involved.”
“That’s just great!” Johnny hissed. That was the last thing he needed, right now.
“I’m so sorry, Johnny, but-” Before Feather could finish, an entire squad of white-coated guards led by a charcoal-coated, barrel-chested officer barged into the room. Before he even knew it, Johnny was being rather crudely shoved out of the room.
“This here’s a crime scene, boy!” the officer snapped. “Now you get your clumsy hooves off my daughter – I mean outta this room right now! You’re tampering with evidence I could use to finally convice that smug little-”
Johnny cleared his throat and glared at the object of his ire intently. “It’s innocent until proven guilty, Lieutenant,” he snarled.
“Oh, I intend to,” Feather’s dad’s voice sounded vaguely like a threat as he slammed the door in Johnny’s face with undeniable finalty.
Rarity let out a gasp. “The plot thickens!”
“Hey!” Twilight whined from behind the snack table.