The kitchen in the back of Sugarcube Corner was a special kind of messy that came only from a constant flow of pastries and sweets. The counter tops all had a permanent dusting of white flour. Sugar rested in bags and bowls and pots of every size and shape spread through every corner of the room, looking as though the sugar was rain water and the bowls were arranged to catch a particularly leaky roof. Smears of chocolate stained the walls at irregular intervals. Baskets and bowls of fruit lay out on the counter tops, ready to be made into delicious filling.
“What kind of pie should we bake today?” asked Pinkie Pie. She reached for the bin of apples as she spoke because she already knew the answer. In all the time she had known her, Applejack’s preference had been reliably constant: make it with apples.
Applejack put her hoof thoughtfully to her chin. “How's about banana cream?”
The bin of apples dropped to the floor as Pinkie drew a gasp of disbelief. “Not apple?” She put her forehooves on either side of her friend's face, stretching her freckled orange cheeks. “What have you done with the real Applejack?”
Applejack chuckled and tipped her hat forward so that it covered her eyes. “Looks like ya discovered my terrible secret, sugarcube...”
Pinkie's eyes widened. “What's that?”
“I've been brainwarshed by the evil Nightmare Chryscord!” The orange pony reared up on her hind legs, waving her forehooves above her head. “Friendship is dumb! Apples are gross! Rahr!”
The baker giggled as Applejack made a playful lunge for her. “Nightmare who?”
“Niiightmare Chryscorrrd!” Applejack warbled. “The unwholesome fusion a' all our greatest enemies!”
Pinkie squealed as her friend rolled her onto the floor. A measuring cup fell off the table, sending a puffy cloud of flour into the air. “What—he hee—what evil plan does Nightmare Chryscord have?” she asked, pinned beneath a pair of orange hooves.
Applejack frowned. “Ya mean hypnomatizin’ yer best friend ain't evil enough?” Her eyes darted around the kitchen, finally settling on a tray of cupcakes. “I mean uh, aha! Nightmare Chryscord's got a wicked, diabolical plan, all right!” She grabbed the tray from its place on the counter. “They plan ta rid Equestria of all cupcakes!” Applejack gulped one of the treats in a single, messy bite. “By means a' eatin' em all.” Crumbs spilled out of her mouth as she grinned.
Pinkie Pie gasped loudly, her eyes going wide. “Oh no, don't do that! If all the cupcakes are gone, what will I have to serve at parties?”
“Hah! Ain’t it so diabolical? With the cupcakes gone, parties’ll get all bland an’ boring. Ponies’ll stop showing up to ‘em, on account a’ how cupcake-less the parties all are. Ponies’ll stop havin’ birthday parties, an’ forget how old they are!” Applejack waved the tray in the air, sending a dab of frosting flying towards Pinkie. “It’s the perfect plan!”
The pink pastry chef licked the frosting off of her muzzle. “It won’t work! You'll get a tummy ache if you eat every cupcake in Equestria! I know, I’ve tried!”
The apple farmer laughed. “Bwa ha ha! A tummy ache ain't gonna stop pure evil!” She stuffed another cupcake into her mouth.
A steely look of determination set into Pinkie's expression as she scrambled to her hooves. “If that won't stop you, then it's up to Pinkamena Diane 'Responsibility' Pie!” She galloped to the other side of the room, reaching into a red box labeled 'IN CASE OF EMERGENCIES.'
“Oh? An' how exactly does Pinkamena Diane ‘Responsibility’ Pie plan on stoppin' me?”
“With this!” From the box Pinkie produced a cupcake so large it may as well have been a cake. The mid-afternoon sunlight sparkled off of the colorful sprinkles and the creamy icing. The sweet scent that drifted off of it spoke of rich, moist batter.
Applejack gulped. “With another cupcake?”
“Not just another cupcake, silly!” the pink baker said. “This is the cupcake! Sweetened with sugar grown in a greenhouse made from sugar glass. The flour is made from a special type of wheat called 'Swheat.' The eggs come from chickens who were raised on candy and sugary breakfast cereals. This is the embodiment of everything a cupcake can ever be!” She took a deep breath. “Want a bite?”
Applejack's mouth watered.
Pinkie grinned. “Being brainwashed to eat all the cupcakes, you can't resist it.”
The orange pony stepped forward. “The uh, the consumption of such a powerful cupcake'll surely please Nightmare Chryscord.”
“Go on, have some.” Pinkie held the plate out to Applejack.
The farm pony hesitantly took a bite from the treat. Her eyes went wide as the sugary frosting touched her tongue. “Aaah!” she shouted. “The sweetness is too much! All the sugar's burnin' away the mind-control!”
Pinkie Pie shoved another mouthful of the cupcake in her friend's face. “You can do it, Applejack! Come back to the light, where we have cookies and friends and apples and sunny afternoons! Fight it off!”
A gurgle leapt from Applejack's throat. She twisted around in the air and collapsed dramatically on the floor. Her hat covered up her face. For a while the mare laid motionless.
“Applejack?” Pinkie prodded her friend with her hoof.
The orange pony twitched. Then she twitched again. Pinkie lifted Applejack's hat to find that she was laughing. Applejack grinned wide as her belly shook with a deep, throaty chuckle.
The pink mare joined in the laughter, collapsing in a heap on top of Applejack as the two giggled uncontrollably. A full two minutes passed by as the two earth ponies rolled on the floor.
Finally Pinkie wiped a mirthful tear from her eye. Somehow the farm pony's hat had ended up on her head. “He hee... So, now that you've been un-brainwashed, what kind of pie do you wanna make?”
Applejack sniffed, gathering her hooves beneath herself. “Well Pinkie, I reckon I'm partial ta apple pie.”