Normal? Are You Crazy?!
~ ~ ~
Ponyville was in danger!
A humongous dragon was rampaging through the streets, smashing houses and gouging huge claw marks in the earth. Towering above the terrified citizens, its black hide shined dully in the sun, and its eyes burned with a fiery hatred for all things pony. Raising a massive fist it smashed Sugar Cube Corner to bits, as Twilight and Pinkie Pie watched on in horror.
“NOOOOOOOO!! NOT THE CAKES!!” Pinkie screamed, bursting into tears.
“Don’t worry Pinkie,” Twilight reassured. “Mr and Mrs Cake were evacuated before the...”
Twilight trailed off as Pinkie began crying over the remains of one of her chocolate sponge cakes, taking turns between sobs to take bites out of the flattened dessert.
Slapping a hoof to her forehead, the unicorn turned her attention back to the dragon. Her expression became sombre as she wondered how they were supposed to stop the destructive beast. It was much too large for her magic, and by the time they got word to Princess Celestia the town would be reduced to rubble. Twilight was just about to lose all hope, when suddenly a multi-coloured blur came speeding down from the sky.
“Rainbow Dash!” shouted Twilight in awe, as the coolest pegasus in all of Equestria streaked through the air to confront the dastardly monster.
Screeching to a halt right in front of the dragon’s scaly snout, Rainbow Dash flicked the mane from her eyes and stared right at the fearsome beast.
“Listen up, Scaly,” Rainbow Dash jeered. “This is my town, and if you want to destroy it you’re gonna have to go through me!”
The dragon, momentarily startled by the obnoxious pony before him, proceeded to hold up a tiny pair of spectacles to his eyes and peer closely at Rainbow Dash.
“Oh dear, sweet heavens, it really is you!” the dragon exclaimed. “I had no absolutely no idea that I was destroying your town, how despicably rude of me!” The dragon clutched his heart in mock horror, and then laughed evilly as he brought the back of his hand smashing into Rainbow Dash, sending her spiralling into a nearby building with a loud crash.
Wincing in pain, Rainbow Dash shook herself clean of dust and scowled at the beast, who was now laughing so heartily that he had to lean on the town hall for support.
“Alright then, you want to do it the hard way? Let’s do it the hard way.”
Flying up level to the dragon’s head, Rainbow Dash placed her forehoofs together and concentrated. A magical rainbow aura materialized around the blue pegasus, and she slowly drew her forehoofs back behind her waist as she prepared to unleash her ultimate attack.
“Soooooooonic,” she cried, stretching the syllable as her aura grew brighter, and a small ball of light appeared between her hoofs.
“Raaaaaaaaain,” she yelled, the aura turning blindingly bright, and the light in her hoof growing huge. The dragon had finally stopped laughing, and was now looking worriedly at the pegasus.
“Er, I was just kidding about the whole ‘destroying Ponyville’ thing,” he laughed nervously. “There’s no need to fly off the han-”
“BOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!” shrieked Rainbow Dash, flinging her hoofs forward. With a deafening blast that knocked Twilight and Pinkie off their feet, a humongous prismatic laser blasted forth from Rainbow Dash and collided with the stunned dragon. Snarling in rage, the dragon pushed against the immense blast, taking a step towards Rainbow Dash, and then another. The pegasus gritted her teeth, and pushed harder, forcing another wave of energy through the beam, and with that last push the dragon finally lost his footing and was flung sailing into the distance, howling in terror.
Rainbow Dash kept the attack going until the beast was completely out of sight, and then let it slowly fizzle out. With a sigh of relief, the blue pegasus gently lowered herself to the ground and came to a rest in front of Twilight and Pinkie, who was struggling to extricate herself from a large cheesecake.
Twilight was still staring in shock at the spot the dragon had occupied until moments ago, when she suddenly noticed Rainbow Dash and a huge smile broke across her face.
“Rainbow, that was amazing!” Twilight said. “I knew you were awesome, but I had no idea that you were that awesome!”
“Of course not,” Rainbow remarked, smirking confidently. “It’s something you have to see to believe.”
Twilight regarded this revelation with complete amazement, her eyes shining with adoration for her multi-coloured hero, as Pinkie watched happily from within the cake she was now devouring.
“Well, you saved the town. I’d say that entitles you to a reward.” Twilight stared at Rainbow Dash, her look growing lustful. “And I can think of the perfect thing.” Rainbow Dash smiled contently, as the unicorn sauntered over to her side.
“What did you have in mind?” Rainbow Dash asked, winking cheekily, when suddenly a loud voice pierced her thoughts.
“Not now Pinkie, go back to eating your cake,” Rainbow Dash muttered, not even bothering to break her gaze from Twilight.
“Hey, hey Rainbow Dash!”
“Seriously Pinkie, not now!” Rainbow Dash pursed her lips, and slowly leaned in to-
“Hey, Rainbow, WAKE UP!!”
Gasping in surprise, Rainbow Dash jolted awake from her slumber. Looking down she realized she had been smooching a clump of cloud in her sleep and gagged in surprise. After carefully scraping the bits of cloud off of her lips, the pegasus scowled, annoyed at the interruption. Darn it, that dream was just getting good! She hadn’t even seen the Wonderbolts yet, and her dreams always had the Wonderbolts in them. Silently seething, Rainbow Dash began to wonder what had woke her up in the first place, when a familiar voice rang up from the ground below.
“Rainbow Dash, hey! Are you awake? I’ve got the day off from baking, do you want to hang out?”
Taking a quick peak over the side of her makeshift bed, Rainbow Dash grimaced. Oh great, it was the real Pinkie Pie. Sure, hanging out and pranking with her was fun, but didn’t she ever run out of energy? The pegasus gritted her teeth in frustration, and then sighed, resigned to her fate. After all, if Pinkie wanted to hang out there wasn’t really anything she could do about it. There was nowhere you could run, nowhere that you could hide from Ponyville’s premier party pony. Sighing again, Rainbow Dash decided to give it one last shot and then give up on her sleep completely.
“Uh, yeah Pinkie, I’m awake now. But can you come back later? I kind of want to keep sleeping.”
“Oh, sure Rainbow Dash! No problem, see you later.”
There was the sound of hooves clopping on the ground, and then getting quieter as they moved away. Rainbow Dash smiled, and snuggled deeper into her cloud, when she suddenly realized what had just happened.
“Wait, what!?” she yelled, propelling herself off of the cloud and soaring towards the retreating earth pony. Swooping down, Rainbow Dash crashed bawdily to the ground in front of Pinkie, causing her to leap back in surprise.
“Woah, are you alright Rainbow?” she asked worriedly.
“Am I alright? Are you alright? You just gave up!” Rainbow gasped, untangling her limbs from one another as she clambered to her hooves.
“Well, what was I supposed to do?” Pinkie inquired, looking thoroughly confused. “You wanted to sleep, and it’s not like I could reach you all the way up there.”
Rainbow Dash stared at her as if she had just spoken zebra.
“But... but you’re Pinkie!” she exclaimed. “It’s never stopped you before! Why didn’t you use a trampoline, or a jetpack, or just randomly appear on top of me or something?”
“What? Appear? You mean like teleporting?” Pinkie asked, giggling slightly. “Silly Dashie, only unicorns can teleport! I really should have let you keep sleeping, it seems like you’re still dreaming! Don’t worry about it, we can hang out later like you said.”
Humming to herself happily, the pink pony left Rainbow Dash to ponder what had just transpired, the look of confusion on Rainbow’s face only growing as she watched Pinkie trot instead of bouncing or skipping. Rainbow Dash just stared as Pinkie left, completely dumbstruck, and didn’t move an inch until she was gone.
What… What just happened? That was completely un... Pinkie-ish of Pinkie. The way she spoke, it was... she just seemed...
She puzzled over the right word for a moment.
Shuddering at the thought, Rainbow dashed off to find some help. She needed to get to the bottom of this mystery.
~ ~ ~
With a hefty kick, Applejack knocked the apples off of the tree she was bucking, letting them fall into the waiting buckets. She appraised her work proudly, until she noticed several loose apples lying about the trunk of the tree.
“Well dang, that tree had lots more apples than usual,” she exclaimed. “Ah bet it has to do with that ‘special fertilizer’ Big Macintosh was talkin’ about…”
Bending down to collect the apples, it wasn’t until she had carefully slotted them into the buckets that Applejack noticed a familiar pink pony making her way down the path.
“Howdy Sugarcube!” called Applejack. “What brings you to Sweet Apple Acres?”
“Hey Applejack!” Pinkie cheerfully replied. “I’ve got the day off, and was wondering if you wanted to hang out.”
Applejack doffed her hat thoughtfully. She was getting kind of lonely out here, what with Apple Bloom off crusading, and her brother out on a ‘date’. She snickered internally at that; the day Big Mac actually gets the courage to ask out a mare would be the day she stopped liking apples.
“Well shucks Pinkie, Ah’ve got applebucking to do, but if you’re fine with just chatting Ah would love the company.” She gave the pink pony a grateful smile, who returned it tenfold, and went back to picking up the fallen apples.
“That’s great! Oh, but wait,” she said, her smile dimming slightly. “I wouldn’t feel right just standing her while you worked your flank off! Is there any way I can help?”
Applejack froze, halfway through balancing an apple on the top of one of the piles. The cowpony cringed inwardly, remembering the last time Pinkie Pie had ‘helped’ out at the farm. She still had no idea how Pinkie had uprooted and flipped so many trees… Distracted from her task Applejack accidentally knocked over the pile, sending red fruit rolling in every direction.
“Aw shoot.” Scowling, she was about to retrieve her wayward apples, when Pinkie cantered past.
“I’ve got it!” she called over her shoulder. Applejack watched in amazement as the pink pony grabbed an empty bucket, scooped as many apples into it as she could, and then carefully placed the remaining fruit on top one by one.
“All done!” cried Pinkie cheerfully, dragging the now loaded bucket back to where the orange earth pony stood scratching her head in confusion.
“Wait, that’s it?” Applejack asked quizzically. “No nets, no balloons, no cannons? No crazy games usin’ apples as balls? Not even a silly apple related song?”
“Nope!” Pinkie replied. “What sort of song would you sing about apples anyway? I can’t even think of a word that rhymes with apple.”
“What about… Uh…” Dang, she couldn’t think of one either.
“Do you need any more help?” the pink pony asked, still as cheerful as ever.
“You know what Pinkie? Ah’m actually really busy, Ah just remembered a lot of other work Ah needed done. Maybe you can come ‘round some other day.” Applejack had no idea why she was turning away free labor, but Pinkie was really starting to unnerve her. This wasn’t the Pinkie she knew, and sure as hay wasn’t the Pinkie she was used to. She half expected another Pinkie to leap out of nowhere and tackle the imposter. Looking around hopefully, Applejack realized that Pinkie was staring at her dejectedly.
“Oh, okay. That’s too bad…” Pinkie said sadly.
“Don’t worry Sugarcube, Ah’m sure Rarity would be glad to see ya, she’s never too busy for her friends.” This was a total lie, and Applejack was thoroughly disturbed by the mixture of ‘aw, she’s sad’ and ‘get her the hay out of here!’ that resulted in her lack of honesty.
Pinkie on the other hand immediately perked up at the idea. “Yeah! First Rainbow Dash, then you, I almost forgot that I still had three friends left.” She gave Applejack a sheepish look. “Don’t tell them I said that.”
“Mah lips are sealed. You run along now and have fun, ya hear?”
Pinkie nodded emphatically, and then began the long trot back to the Carousal Boutique. Applejack watched her leave, scratching her head again in confusion. She thought getting rid of her would make this odd feeling go away, but now it was coming on twice as strong. Something about the way she was moving… Applejack gave up trying to figure it out, and went back to bucking.
At least these trees will never freak me out...
~ ~ ~
“But Fluttershy! I need you!” Rarity wailed. “You can’t just leave me now, not after promising to be here today!”
Fluttershy looked down guiltily. “I’m… I’m sorry, Rarity, but I can’t abandon Angel just after he hurt himself… he’s so helpless…”
Standing outside the boutique, they both looked down at the rabbit, who was sitting in a miniature wheelchair with a tiny cast around one leg. He glared at Rarity and stuck out his tongue, which turned her look of disappointment into a disapproving scowl. Rarity had no idea how the cretin had hurt himself, but she wouldn’t have been surprised if he did it just to mess up her day. Sticking her tongue out as well, Rarity didn’t notice a frizzy pink mane bob into view until it was right in front of her.
“Oh! Pinkie dear, what are you doing here?” worried that the pink pony had seen her un-ladylike behaviour.
“I’ve got no more work today, and I wanted to spend some time with my friends,” she replied, completely oblivious. “And I most definitely didn’t come to you guys last or anything.”
Rarity raised an eyebrow, but didn’t comment. “Well, I was planning on working all day today, and Fluttershy was supposed to model for me, but now she has to take care of that stupid rabbit of hers instead.”
“Rarity!” Fluttershy exclaimed, although she barely raised her voice at all. “Angel is not stupid. He just had a bit of a tumble, that’s all…” She cooed affectionately and stroked his ears, only for the rabbit to bat her hoof away in annoyance. He folded his arms with a huff, looking somehow simultaneously aggravated that he was reduced to this and yet still craving attention. Rarity simply narrowed her eyes at the bunny.
“Yes, of course not darling… Oh, iiiiideeeeaaaa!” Rarity suddenly cried, startling everypony else. “What if Pinkie Pie watched Angel for you?”
Pinkie frowned, not really wanting to spend the rest of the day with the bunny, but before she could refuse Fluttershy did it for her.
“Um, no offense Rarity, it was a good idea, but… uh… I’d rather Angel not get hurt any more than he already is…” She looked apologetically at Pinkie, who just smiled and shrugged as if to say ‘well, you got me there’.
“Oh, but I was so looking forward to this day!” Rarity whined. “I had so many new designs I wanted to try out, and now I can’t!”
Rarity burst into tears and collapsed onto Fluttershy, who gingerly started patting her on the back in an attempt to console the distraught unicorn.
“Um, Rarity? What if I modeled for you?”
Rarity and Fluttershy both looked up in surprise, the unicorn’s tears drying in an instant.
“Darling,” she said tentatively. “You do realize that the whole time you’re modelling you can’t eat anything messy?”
“Well duh,” Pinkie giggled.
“And,” cut in Fluttershy. “You can’t break into any impromptu dance solos…”
“No playing with glitter or glue or any kind of paint.”
“No seeing how high up the rafters you can climb…”
“No shooting yourself out of a cannon.”
“Okay, that’s enough,” Pinkie laughed. “When have I ever shot myself out of a cannon? That’s just ridiculous. I want to help, alright? I promise I won’t ruin any of your dresses, Rarity.”
Fluttershy looked at Rarity sceptically, but the unicorn was already deep in thought, too excited to at the opportunity to save her plans to notice anything off.
“Well, if that’s the case…” Rarity pondered. “Hmm, you do have an alright figure, not as dainty as Fluttershy, but still, quite nice considering all the junk food you eat… I could try out some of my more manestream designs, maybe show you how to make a nice salad while you’re here…” She suddenly clapped her hooves. “It’s settled then! Fluttershy, you can run along and take care of your injured friend, while Pinkie and I make some fashion!”
“Well, if you’re sure…” Fluttershy said. She was still uncertain about the whole ordeal, but wheeled Angel around to leave anyway. “Bye Rarity, bye Pinkie.”
“Bye darling!” Rarity cried, while Pinkie just waved. They watched the pegasus and rabbit recede into the distance, and then Rarity spoke. “Alright, come inside and we’ll get started right away. I’m absolutely positive that this is going to be a spectacular afternoon!”
“Yeah, this is gonna be fun!” Pinkie said gleefully, making her way into the boutique.
Fun? Rarity thought quizzically. I think Pinkie still doesn’t quite grasp the concept of modelling if she thinks that it will be fun.
Shrugging, Rarity followed the pink pony inside, and immediately set out arranging hastily scribbled sketches, strips of material and half-finished dresses with her magic.
“Stand over here darling, next to the mirrors.” She said, nudging Pinkie here and there until she was positioned just right. “Now, some ponies will tell you that you can make dresses entirely on mannequins, but that’s not true at all. You need to see how a pony moves in your dress, how the dress breathes.” Pinkie waited for her to go on, but Rarity had become completely enraptured by her creative efforts. She carefully levitated pieces onto Pinkie, inter-twining ribbons, stitching together different patches of fabric. She stuck her tongue out the side of her mouth, frowning in concentration, until finally…
“There, done! Trot around Pinkie, see how it feels.”
The pink pony looked down at the dress that had magically formed around her. A deep, midnight blue, when she shook herself it shimmered beautifully. She took one step forward, then another, and soon enough was confidently strutting around the room, testing the feel of Rarity’s creation.
“Wow Rarity, this looks great! And it doesn’t feel restricting or anything, you were right about it breathing. How do I look? Does it suit me?” She looked back at the unicorn expectantly, but Rarity was frowning, her hoof placed on her chin in thought.
“No… that won’t do…” she muttered. “The designs I had prepared were for Fluttershy... I need to start again…” She made her way to the back room, but stopped at the door and turned back to the pink pony. “Wait here, alright? I need to plan out something new.” Pinkie nodded, and the unicorn went through the door, her head swimming with new ideas, when a sudden realization crashed her thought train completely, causing her to stop mid-trot.
I just left Pinkie Pie alone in a room containing several fragile mirrors, lot’s of important sketches, almost half of my fabric and a couple of very sharp scissors.
Slowly turning around, her face completely blank in horror, Rarity opened the door. Pinkie was exactly where she had left her, staring at herself in the mirrors, oblivious to the spying unicorn. Sighing in relief, Rarity was about to call the pink pony into the back room with her, when she noticed something odd. Or rather, the lack of anything odd; Pinkie was just standing there, completely frozen. No, not frozen, she was humming, and tapping her hoof to the beat. In fact, it seemed as if she was bored, and yet still intended to follow Rarity’s dictum and stay put. She almost seemed… normal.
For some reason this thought sent a chill down the unicorn’s spine. After a moment’s reflection, Rarity thought she knew why.
Pinkie’s never acted normal before, not once the entire time I’ve known her. Weird is normal for her, and normal is… weird.
Rarity shook her head in annoyance.
Well, she doesn’t have to be normal, or weird, or whatever, to model for me.
With a smile of determination, Rarity let go of the door and made her way back to her desk. But on reaching it, she turned back and caught one last glimpse of Pinkie through the door before it swung shut. She was still just standing there.
Another chill ran down Rarity’s spine, but she resolutely ignored it. I mean, come on, it’s not like she couldn’t handle a little awkwardness… right?
~ ~ ~
Fluttershy had just made it to back to her cottage, her injured rabbit in tow, when she suddenly heard an impossibly loud shout emanate from back where she had come.
Fluttershy jumped in fear, almost knocking over Angel’s wheelchair, who slapped her hoof in annoyance. Still quivering slightly, she turned her head back to town.
Weird… that almost sounded like Rarity…
Fluttershy sighed. Pinkie must have done something, just like the pegasus had thought she would. If there’s one thing you can rely on in this world, it’s that Pinkie will always be Pinkie, and Pinkie was definitely not cut out to be a model. Wheeling Angel into her cottage, Fluttershy pondered what the pink pony could have done, but there were so many possibilities that she gave up, and turned her attention back to her mangled friend.
“Okay Angel, you just stay there and relax… I'm going to make you some healthy, carrot soup to help you feel better, okay?” Angel rolled his eyes, but Fluttershy didn’t notice. Making her way into the kitchen, the pegasus had just set up the bowl and ingredients when there was a knock on the door. Popping her head out of the kitchen, Fluttershy looked at Angel apprehensively.
“I wonder who that could be, Angel…” Fluttershy said. Angel just shrugged as if to say ‘why don’t you answer it and see’. Fluttershy quietly sneaked up to the door and opened it just a tiny bit.
Pinkie Pie was standing outside. “Hi Flutter-!”
After a moment the pegasus slowly opened the door again. “Oh, um, hi Pinkie, I’m sorry about that…”
“No problem Fluttershy, I shouldn’t have surprised you,” Pinkie replied apologetically. “Rarity flipped out and said something about me ‘ruining her mojo’, so I came here. I thought you’d want the company since you’re stuck with that bunny all day.”
Fluttershy frowned slightly, but nodded. “Okay Pinkie, you can come inside… But I don’t know why everypony is so quick to judge Angel, he’s such a sweet, little… angel, after all.” Pinkie raised an eyebrow at this, because she could clearly see the irate rabbit through the door behind the pegasus, and he was making a very un-angelic gesture towards her. When Fluttershy turned to head back inside, he quickly stuffed his hands behind his back and began whistling innocently.
“So what do you wanna do?” Pinkie asked.
“Well, I was just about to make Angel some soup…”
“Oh, I know! When you’re done with the soup, we can make cupcakes!”
Fluttershy hesitated for a moment, but then smiled. “Um, that sounds lovely, Pinkie… you always make the best cupcakes…” Fluttershy knew that the pink pony would no doubt make a huge mess, but she decided it would be worth cleaning up afterwards to get such a nice treat. Excited at the prospective reward, the pegasus immediately set to work on Angel’s soup, chopping up the carrots and assorted other vegetables, carefully seasoning the mixture and then placing it on the stove. When it was done, she carefully poured the steaming mixture into a bowl and placed it on a tray, and then carried the whole thing out to the waiting rabbit, who was tapping his uninjured foot impatiently.
When the pegasus had finally placed the tray down in front of him, Angel took one look at the soup and turned his nose up at it. “Oh, Angel’s being difficult… do you mind starting without me?” Fluttershy asked.
“Sure thing, boss!” Pinkie replied, saluting playfully.
Fluttershy smiled gratefully, and then turned her attention back to the stubborn rabbit. “Now come on Angel… if you let yourself starve you won’t get any better…” Carefully dipping the spoon in the soup, the pegasus coaxed the rabbit with it, but he still refused, instead slapping the spoon away. Picking up the spoon again, a determined look on her face, Fluttershy went back in for another try.
Several stains on the floor and burns on her face later, Fluttershy finally got Angel to finish the soup. Sighing with relief, she stroked Angel affectionately, and then made her way back to the kitchen.
“Now Pinkie, I hope you didn’t make too much-” Fluttershy suddenly stopped, staring at the kitchen in awe.
The kitchen was absolutely spotless, not a single thing out of place. In fact, Fluttershy could have sworn it was cleaner than how she had left it. Pinkie Pie was just spooning the last of the batter into some cupcake tins, and when she finished she carefully placed the tray into the oven.
“There!” Pinkie exclaimed happily. Caught up in her work, she hadn’t noticing Fluttershy near the doorway. “Now I just have to get the icing ready!”
Fluttershy blinked. Without thinking she found herself inching backwards, until she suddenly bolted around the corner, carefully peeking back around to spy on the pink pony. Something was definitely off, and she at least intended to find out what it was.
Pinkie Pie was searching around the kitchen for the ingredients, eventually settling on icing sugar and lemon juice. “A simple lemon icing should do,” she said to herself thoughtfully. Fluttershy couldn’t believe she was hearing the word ‘simple’ used by Pinkie in regards to baking. She watched in growing horror as Pinkie made just enough icing for the cupcakes, and didn’t eat any of it except for a small taste test after she was finished mixing. She then retrieved the finished cupcakes from the oven and then using a spatula carefully spread the icing on top of each one, making a dozen perfectly smooth, yellow cupcakes.
The straw that finally broke the camel’s back was when Pinkie was finished. She daintily began to lick the icing off of the spatula, instead of shoving her face into the bowl in a desperate attempt to get every last bit of leftover icing. Fluttershy, now in full panic mode, dashed to the door, karate kicked it open, and flew as fast as she could away from her cottage, her brain screaming in terror.
Something is horribly wrong with Pinkie! I- I need to warn everypony!
Meanwhile, back in the cottage, Pinkie had left the kitchen to find Angel alone in the living room, pouting angrily at being left behind. “Hello? Fluttershy? I finished the cupcakes…” She looked around in confusion, and then finally huffed, making the exact same pouty expression as Angel.
“What the hay, Angel? Why is everypony acting so crazy today?”
Angel just shrugged, and went back to quietly sulking.
~ ~ ~
Twilight Sparkle, finally finished sorting through a collection of newly released books, made her way to the door. “Alright Spike, I’m heading off for lunch! Take good care of the library, okay?”
Standing near the top of the stairs, Spike saluted through the gap in the banister. “You got it, Twilight!” he replied sharply.
Twilight nodded, and was just about to open the door when it was flung open, knocking her to the ground. Before she had time to complain a familiar yellow blur leaped on top of her and started to cry.
“Twilight!!” Fluttershy bawled. “I was going to dress up today but there was a sprained ankle and I stayed at home but Pinkie was there but it’s not really Pinkie and now she’s making cupcakes and I can’t find Rainbow Dash!!”
“Fluttershy, what? Slow down.” Twilight gingerly slid out of the pegasus’ grip, but Fluttershy immediately snapped back onto her like a magnet.
“Twilight, what’s wrong with Fluttershy?” Spike asked, a worried look on his face, and made his way down the stairs. The pegasus was a gibbering wreck, her eyes wide and crazed, her teeth chattering in terror.
“I don’t know Spike, but you can you help get her off of me?” Twilight said in exasperation.
After a few moments of tense struggle, Twilight and Spike finally managed to force the distraught pegasus onto a seat, where she immediately started to hyperventilate. Spike quickly grabbed her a paper bag to breathe into, but with a sudden extra hard gasp Fluttershy swallowed it and choked, rolling off of the seat and spitting it up onto the floor, spluttering for air. Rolling her eyes, Twilight gently patted the pegasus on the back as she regained use of her lungs.
“Alright Fluttershy, calm down and tell us what happened.”
After a couple more coughs, Fluttershy turned to look up at Twilight, who almost had a heart attack. Her eyes were wide and brimming with tears, her lips quivering, and Twilight couldn’t believe how unbearably cute her friend was when on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
“Twilight, it’s… it’s horrible!” Fluttershy cried, barely able to get the words out. “I- I think Pinkie has been… been replaced b- by a ch- ch… by a changeling!”
Twilight gasped, her demeanour swapping from annoyed to anxious in a heartbeat. Spike cried out “What?!” and immediately charged for the door, a look of determination on her face. “We have to save the real Pinkie!”
“Hold up Spike,” Twilight said, snagging him with her magic. “We’re all a little edgy since the Canterlot incident. Fluttershy, what exactly did Pinkie do to make you suspect her?”
Taking a couple more deep breathes, Fluttershy began recount everything that had happened. “Um… I- I was supposed to help Rarity m- model today… but A- Angel hurt his foot, and… oh no! I left Angel with that thing!!” She began to sob profusely at the thought of her precious rabbit trapped with the evil shape-shifter.
“It’s alright Fluttershy,” Twilight said consolably. “Changeling’s feed on love, so it wouldn’t want to hurt Angel or it would miss out on such a rich meal from you.” At this Fluttershy smiled gratefully. “Keep telling me what happened, that’s the best thing you can do to help him.”
“Okay Twilight,” she sniffed. “Um… Pinkie offered to model for me, so I headed home with Angel…” Twilight raised an eyebrow. Pinkie modelling? That was certainly odd, but why would a changeling offer to model? “Something happened though, because Pinkie turned up at my door instead. When I told her I was making Angel soup, she said she wanted to make cupcakes, and I agreed, but when I came back to the kitchen…” An involuntary sob escaped her lips.
“Yes, go on.”
“She… hadn’t made any mess at all!” For the third time in a row the pegasus burst into tears.
Twillight’s look of taut attention suddenly dropped. “That’s it? She cleans up after herself and she’s a changeling?” Twilight put a hoof to her forehead and sighed. “Seriously Fluttershy, I knew you were a little nervous, but freaking out over that? That’s… ugh, forget about it, I’m going out for lunch…” Still shaking her head sadly, Twilight made her way to the front door, Fluttershy oblivious to her friend’s condescension. Spike simply looked back and forth between the two ponies, unsure of who to believe.
Twilight had just made it to the door again, when she stopped and turned around. “Wait, you said Pinkie was with Rarity first?”
The door suddenly flew open as the unicorn in question arrived, smacking Twilight in the rump and sending her rolling across the room, crashing into a bookcase. Shaking her head dizzily, Twilight stood up just in time for an avalanche of books to knock her back down, burying her.
“Oh, Twilight!” Rarity cried melodramatically. “Something absolutely dreadful has happened… Er, why are you covered in books?”
Twilight emerged from the book pile, swatting away various tombs angrily. “Oh, no reason,” she quipped. “Something terrible… let me guess, Pinkie Pie is a changeling?”
Rarity looked bemused. “What? No. Who told you Pinkie was a changeling?”
Twilight pointed at Fluttershy. She was still crying profusely, but had somehow got a hold of Spike and was squeezing him like a teddy bear. When he noticed Rarity looking at them, Spike blushed and doubled his efforts to escape, but to no effect.
“Okay…” Rarity said, slowly tearing her gaze from the strange sight, all melodrama forgotten. “No, Pinkie’s acting strangely, but I don’t think she’s a changeling. I was going to say that our dear friend had been cursed.”
Twilight sighed. “Didn’t I explain that there was no such thing as curses?”
“You know what I mean, tampered with magically. Isn’t there a spell that can affect the way a pony acts?”
Twilight tilted her head in thought. “Well, actually, there are several… That ‘want it, need it’ spell I used a while back caused drastic changes in personality…” She suddenly shook her head, bringing her attention back to Rarity. “But I think you girls are overacting. Just because Pinkie Pie has calmed down for once doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with her. Did you stop to think maybe she just got tired of being silly all the time?” Rarity opened her mouth to argue, but Twilight cut in. “Seriously Rarity, stop worrying. Can you just stay here and take care of Fluttershy? I want to finally go get something to eat in peace.”
Making her way to the door once again, Twilight didn’t even get a chance to lift her hoof before it swung open again, smashing her right in the snout and knocking her to the side. Rarity and Spike winced, but the pony responsible hadn’t seen the injured unicorn.
“Hey, Rare, hey Spike, where’s Twilight?” Applejack asked. Her look became quizzical. “And why in the hay is Fluttershy so upset?”
Rarity and Spike exchanged a look, but before they could answer an outraged voice called out from near the doorway.
“Oh, don’t mind me! It’s not like I broke my nose or anything…”
Applejack turned around in surprise. “Twi! What are you doin’ behind the door?”
Twilight scowled, wiggling her snout in pain. “I’ll tell you what I’m doing. I’m installing a doorbell so that crazy ponies stop hitting me!”
Applejack frowned. “Well that’s great Twi, but we’ve got bigger things to worry about.”
“I don’t care!” Twilight exclaimed. “I don’t care how weird Pinkie is acting, okay?” Applejack mouthed ‘how did she know’, but Twilight was in full rant mode. “I don’t care how much she’s modelling, or how many cupcakes she’s making, or even where Rainbow Dash is! I don’t care about any of this! I just want to finally get myself a nice lunch, and relax…” Once again Twilight turned towards the door, but then she muttered “Rainbow Dash…” and made her way to the window instead. Her friend’s watched in amazement as she opened it, put a hoof on the sill and started to heave herself up, when suddenly the blue pegasus came crashing through, the pair tumbling into a heap on the floor.
“Guys!” Rainbow Dash cried. “I’m glad I found you!” Picking herself up the floor, oblivious to the flattened Twilight, the pegasus began handing everypony and dragon in the room a salt shaker from her saddlebags. When she had gone full circle she made her way back to Twilight, but the unicorn was still lying resolutely on the floor, a look of resignation on her face. She looked at the salt shaker in a bored kind of way, struggling internally for a moment, but she couldn’t stop herself from asking.
“Rainbow Dash,” she sighed. “What is the salt shaker for?”
The blue pegasus grinned fiercely. “Okay everypony, brace yourselves, because what I’m about to tell you will be so shocking that you won’t believe it.” The group of friends leaned in curiously, except for Twilight. “We are about to be invaded… by the Pod Ponies!”
Applejack scratched her head. “The who in the what now?”
“Pod Ponies!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed. “Like in ‘Daring Do and the Mystery of the UFO’! They send down a scout, disguised as someone everpony knows… They gather info about us, figuring out our strengths and weaknesses… and then, right at the worst possible moment, bam!” Fluttershy yelped, clutching Spike again. “They send in the flying saucers, and take over Equestria!”
“Uh, no offense darling,” Rarity said. “But that’s just a book.”
“So? Nightmare Moon was just a book, until she kidnapped Celestia and tried to take over.” Rainbow Dash trotted up to Rarity and shook her by the shoulders. “I’m telling you, we’re about to be invaded by Pod Ponies! We need to do something!” Rarity shoved the frantic pegasus away, her eyes spinning dizzily.
Suddenly Twilight piped up from the floor. “You still haven’t told us what the salt is for.”
Rainbow Dash grinned wickedly. “That’s not salt. The only way to stop the invasion is by taking out the scout. And the only way to kill a Pod Pony is by spraying ground oregano in its eyes.”
Twilight moaned. “What?”
“Oh, but not their regular pony eyes. Every Pod Pony wears a wig, because they can’t copy manes, and underneath the wig are a couple antennas! With another pair of eyes!” The pegasus smiled mischievously. “And… I know just who the scout is pretending to be.”
“Pinkie Pie,” everypony chorused. Rainbow Dash deflated slightly, but then picked right up again. “Yes, of course, it’s Pinkie! We need to find her, and oregano her! Wait… Oregano her? What’s the doing word for oregano?”
With a snarl of frustration, Twilight finally hauled herself up off of the ground. “Alright, that’s it! You girls have been coming in here, flinging accusations, but you don’t even have any proof! Pinkie is our friend!”
“Twi’s right,” said Applejack. Twilight smiled; at least one of her friends was rational. “We need to go spy on Pinkie and see if we can catch her doing somethin’ suspicious.” Twilight groaned, but the orange earth pony didn’t notice. “We need to spread out and find her, then report back here.” Rarity and Rainbow Dash nodded in agreement, but Fluttershy had sidled up to the window and was now peering outside.
“Um, girls…” Fluttershy piped up. “I don’t think we need to find Pinkie…”
“Why’s that?” Rarity asked.
“Because she’s headed this way!!”
Rarity and Applejack gasped, but Rainbow Dash immediately leaped into action. “We can’t let her know we’ve been meeting in secret, if she suspects something she’ll call in the invasion early! Everypony hide!” She shot up the stairs, while the others dived behind various things in the room. There was a knock on the door, eliciting a squeak from wherever Fluttershy was hiding.
Twilight couldn’t believe the day she was having. Normally she wouldn’t be able to stand the idea of being alone with Pinkie Pie, but now nothing else held greater appeal. She cautiously made her way to the door, but when it didn’t attack her she opened it to reveal the waiting pink pony.
“Hi Twilight!” Pinkie beamed.
“Hi Pinkie,” Twilight smiled in relief.
Pinkie’s own smile dropped. “Boy, you don’t look so good. What happened?”
“Oh don’t worry,” she replied, waving a hoof nonchalantly. “It’s nothing a good meal with a good friend can’t fix. Do you want to go get some lunch with me?”
Pinkie’s smile returned full force. “I thought you’d never ask.”
As she trotted out the door, Twilight turned her attention back to the ‘empty’ room. “And Spike? Make sure you clean up those books while I’m gone.”
A claw popped out of the pile of books, giving a thumbs up. “Sure thing Twilight!”
~ ~ ~
Pinkie lead Twilight back to Sugarcube Corner, the two happily chatting about the day they had. Twilight refrained from mentioning their friend’s suspicions, but after listening to Pinkie’s tales of abandonment she had no idea why she was protecting them. When they finally reached the pink pony’s place of residence, Pinkie swivelled to face Twilight.
“I was thinking,” Pinkie proffered. “That instead of going to a café or diner, how about I quickly throw some stuff together and we can have a picnic? I had cupcakes, but Angel stole them.”
“That sounds lovely Pinkie,” Twilight said. “I am really hungry though, so nothing that takes as long to make as cupcakes, please.”
Pinkie nodded cheerfully and went inside, heading for the kitchen. Twilight was just about to follow, when she heard some familiar voices from around the side of the building. Her curiosity piqued, the unicorn trotted towards the sound, the voices slowly coming into focus; it sounded like they were arguing.
“… I’m telling you dear, Pod Ponies aren’t real!”
“And I’m telling you that Pod Ponies are real, and you need to stop wasting the oregano I gave you!”
“Honestly, it’s like talking to a brick wall! However out of sorts she is, Pinkie is our friend, and I will not have you fling herbs in her face!”
“… You know what? That sounds like Pod Pony talk to me… Hey Rarity, let me have a look at your mane.”
“What in Equestria are you babbling on abou- hey, get off me! Stop it- NOBODY TOUCHES MY MANE!!”
Twilight finally rounded the corner, to find Rarity giving Rainbow Dash a generous helping of pain, a look of unfathomable rage on her face. Using one forehoof she had pinned the pegasus’ behind her back, while the other was wrapped tightly around Rainbow Dash’s neck, turning her face bluer than usual. Applejack was oblivious, staring in through the back window of Sugarcube corner, while Fluttershy watched from the side-lines, quietly chastising the fighting ponies.
“Um, Rarity, I don’t think it’s very nice of you to choke Rainbow Dash like that…” Fluttershy said anxiously.
Twilight cleared her throat loudly, causing Rarity to release Rainbow Dash in surprise. The pegasus collapsed to the ground, coughing heavily.
“Well…” the pegasus weezed. “At least you’re not a Pod Pony…”
Rarity pulled a mirror out of no-where and fussed over her mane. “You’re just lucky the damage you did wasn’t irreparable… A touch here… A stroke there… Good as new!” Putting away the mirror, Rarity turned her attention back to Twilight. “So darling, you’ve been conversing with our dear friend Pinkie, she didn’t seem… off to you?”
Twilight shook her head. “No, she wasn’t as hyperactive as usual, but she seemed perfectly pleasant. Unlike all of you, who have been ignoring her all day when all she wanted was to spend time with her friends!” Fluttershy looked down guiltily, but Rarity shook her head.
“No offence Twilight, but you haven’t known Pinkie Pie as long as we have, and she’s never acted like this. In fact, I’d say that we are being the better friends by trying to figure out what’s wrong!”
Twilight gawked. “What?! But… but I… Ugh!” She threw her hooves up in exasperation. “Okay, maybe something is different, but why does that have to be a bad thing? In what universe does making less noise and causing fewer accidents seem sinister?”
Rarity was just about to argue, when suddenly Applejack cut in. “Er, I hate to interrupt you two havin’ words, but Pinkie’s doin’ somethin’.”
Everypony clambered around the window. Inside the kitchen Pinkie had set up several sandwiches for the picnic, and was now making hot chocolate to go in a couple of thermoses. But when she started mixing the ingredients in to the boiling water, instead of using sugar she used a tablespoon from a bag labelled ‘artificial sweetener’. Twilight backed up from the window, a smug look on her face.
“There, you see? The reason Pinkie is acting differently is because she isn’t hyped up on loads of sugar anymore. Nothing horrid or evil at all.”
“But… she made cupcakes… with regular sugar…” Fluttershy said.
“Because she was at your house, and didn’t have access to a replacement. Think about it, Pinkie eats nothing but desserts all day! Don’t you think she would act different if she suddenly cut out the sugar from most of it? I wouldn’t be surprised if she was going through a tough time, maybe even withdrawal!”
The three ponies looked down dejectedly. “Gee, Ah’m mighty sorry Twi,” Applejack said ashamedly. “Ah feel awful now, treating Pinkie like she was some kind of monster.”
“Yes, we all over-reacted, and in doing so neglected one of our closest friends.” Rarity said sadly.
“We’re really sorry, Twilight… to you and to Pinkie…” Fluttershy apologized meekly.
Twilight had a stern look on her face. “I’m glad to hear it. I want you to apologize to Pinkie too,” Twilight smiled “And then you can all come on the picnic with us.”
“Here here!” Applejack cheered, and the three ponies made their way around to the front of the building. Rainbow Dash, on the other hand, was still looking through the window sceptically.
“I still think she’s a Pod Pony, and I’m going to prove it somehow…” the pegasus muttered.
Twilight just sighed. “Alright Rainbow Dash, I guess you miss out then.” Trotting off, Twilight gave one last look at the grumpy pegasus. She was carefully attempting to scoop a small pile of oregano back into one of the salt shakers. Twilight shook her head sadly, and went to join the rest of her friends.
~ ~ ~
Twilight grinned. After such a horrid start she had been doubtful, but today had finally turned out alright. All of her friends – well, most of her friends – were happily arranged on a big quilt in the park. After finding out that more ponies would be joining her instead of just Twilight, Pinkie had almost had a fit of joy, and hurriedly prepared enough food and drink for everyone. Now they were all munching away happily, content in each other’s company.
“So Pinkie,” Applejack said, after taking a swig of hot chocolate. “How come you didn’t tell us that you we’re on a ‘diet’?”
Pinkie Pie blanched. “Huh? Diet?”
Applejack winked. “We saw you using fancy fake sweetener in these drinks, Sugarcube.”
“Oh, you saw that?” Pinkie smiled awkwardly. “I don’t know, it was Mr and Mrs Cake’s idea, but I was still kind of embarrassed.”
“Oh Pinkie,” Fluttershy piped in. “We all love you no matter what you eat, so there’s no need to keep secrets.”
There was a chorus of agreement, and Pinkie beamed.
“Thanks you guys, you’re the best friends ever.” She scratched her head in relief, but there was a sudden popping sound and everyone’s eyes went wide. They watched in shock as the wig Pinkie had been wearing floated to the ground, and a pair of antenna was revealed on the top of her head. Pinkie looked around at her friend’s quizzically, each of them looking completely dumbfounded.
“Hey, what’s up with you guys? Oh… wait…” Two eyes opened on the top of the antenna, blinking sleepily, and then swivelled around to stare at each pony present. Fluttershy squealed in fright and dived behind Twilight, while Rarity swayed back and forth before fainting into Applejack’s hooves.
“Oh buttons,” scowled the fake Pinkie. “The wig fell off.” With a pleading look in her eyes, she shook her hoofs imploringly at the gobsmacked ponies. “Please don’t tell anypony, okay? I didn’t mean any harm, Pinkie and I just thought it would be fun to swap places for the day, I swear! She told me everything about her and you so I could blend in, I swapped out the sugar because I’m allergic, and we were just going to hang out because she said you were the coolest friends ever. So please, don’t send me to pony prison!”
The imposter burst into tears, but after a moment of silence she stopped, her fear replaced by annoyance. Trotting up to the speechless ponies, she waved her hoof in front of them. “Um, hello? Anypony home?”
Applejack and Twilight were completely stunned, but the earth pony finally spoke up.
“Y- You’re a Pod Pony…”
“Well, if that’s your name for us, then yeah.” Pinkie Pod said, shrugging. “We have our own name for ourselves, but for you it’s unpronounceable. Same with my planet, coming out of your mouth it would sound like ‘Clarfarflebloogen’, but that’s not even close to the real name.” She giggled at her joke, and Applejack laughed nervously as well, easing the tension slightly.
Twilight on the other hand was completely flabbergasted. Of all the things that could’ve happened today, of all the possible eventualities, this was the one result that she never could have predicted. Her eyes were wide and off focus, her mouth dry and hung open in shock. Dazed, she found herself sitting without realizing it, still staring at nothing. Finally, with a single blink, her brain booted back up and found the words to express her utter astonishment.
“… I can’t believe… that Rainbow Dash was right!”