The lights in the barn dimmed and the smell of hot, salted, buttery popcorn wafted over from a rustling cushion.
A whirring click, a spark and a solid shaft of light shot out of the crystal delicately balanced on a pile of farm crates and science textbooks.
The dark walls of the surrounding barn sighed and moaned under the shifting weight of the cooling night-time air.
Six ponies shifted and hushed as the screen flickered to life in front of them.
The movie was starting.
Light glinted off the snow-globe like objects littering the shelves of Block Buster’s video rental shop in Canterlot. The store was silent, save for the hoof-steps of a lone unicorn mare who wandered the aisled, browsing the brightly-polished stock.
“How much longer is this going to take? We’ve been indoors for a whole fifty-three seconds. That’s like… five minutes or something!”
Of course, the blue pegasus mare hanging upside-down off a ceiling fan wasn’t exactly helping in the silence department.
“Oh come on, Dash!” the purple mare sighed. “I’m sure there’s a movie here you’d like if you’d just keep your hooves on the ground and look!” As if to prove her point, she picked up one of the orbs and gave the back a look. “Ooo, they have Daring Do 3: The Search for Celestia’s Cider Mug! Let’s see... Ah! Here we go! ‘Daring Do finds her long lost mother, bucks many ponies, and together they search for the legendary Cider Mug that is said to turn normal ponies into Alicorns. The finale of the thrilling trilogy, starring Mareison Fjord!’”
The blue pegasus, Rainbow Dash, swooped off her perch and snatched the bauble from the unicorn’s telekinetic grasp and examined it for a moment. Interest in the orb, however, waned as she noticed her companion conspicuously standing in front of an orb in the same section, whistling a soft tune with a forced nonchalance that only served to stoke Rainbow Dash’s curiosity.
“Twilight,” Rainbow deadpanned, “what are you hiding?”
“Nothing, nothing,” the purple mare, Twilight, looked at her friend with a smile, trying to act as though all were normal in the world. “I’m not hiding Daring Do 4 from you! Why would I hide that from you of all ponies? They only made three, so obviously I’m just, uh," A single bead of sweat dropped down her cheek. "Feeling the air currents here for you? Because you’re a pegasus. It's a safety thing."
Twilight was clearly not the best liar in Equestria. Even Rainbow Dash saw through this one.
“Oh come on, Twilight! It’s not like it has humans in it or anything, right?”
The store was suddenly engulfed in a deafening silence. It was as though the store had bore witness to an inversion of the Royal Canterlot Voice. Sound itself was sucked into some nebulous vortex as Twilight shifted her hooves awkwardly.
After what felt like an eternity, Rainbow Dash broke the silence with a groan, rubbing a hoof against her face in clear agitation before placing Daring Do 3 back in its spot on the aisle. “Nice try, Twilight, but you’re not convincing me about this whole movie thing.” She sighed and shook her head. “How could they do that to Daring Do!? It’s like some terrible fic on fanfiction.canter!”
That brought an impish grin on Twilight’s face, and a sparkle in her eye. “You’d know that better than I, DashingDo.”
“Don’t you mention that!” Dash snapped back, though the attempt at righteous indignation was undermined as her voice cracked, forcing her to reduce her tone to a pathetic little squeak. “That’s supposed to be a secret!”
With a snicker, Twilight trotted over to the horror section of the store, Rainbow Dash now following rather closely, trying to hide the blush forming on her face. It was then that she spotted an orb that caught her eye.
“Look at this, Rainbow! This looks amazing!” Twilight picked the orb in question and glanced at it for a moment before having it rudely snatched away by her ill-mannered companion.
“Twilight,” said companion nervously whispered. “You sure about this one? ‘A Nightmare Moon on Elm Street. Not suitable for any ponies of any age. Features scenes of intense violence and gore.’” Rainbow Dash gulped softly at that bit before moving on to the interesting quote printed under the description. “’A most unflattering depiction of our waistline!’ -Princess Luna of the Canterlot Royal Family.” It took a moment for Rainbow Dash to collect her thoughts. “I don’t care about the whole waistline thing, but um, you sure this isn’t a bit too harsh?”
The sudden wicked grin on Twilight’s face made Rainbow Dash regret saying that. “You’re not chicken, are you?” Twilight managed a soft chuckle, clearly trying to provoke the self-proclaimed bravest pony in all of Equestria.
“I’m not Scootaloo,” Rainbow deadpanned in reply. “I’m so much more mature than some silly filly!”
The remark only served to widen Twilight’s grin to the point where Rainbow Dash was certain it would crack the unicorn’s face. “The same Scootaloo who I saw reading Hairy Trotter without worry about being branded an egghead?”
“Well, if they made a Daring Do movie, I’d-” Rainbow Dash was cut off as Twilight cleared her throat and pointed over at where they’d just been, Daring Do 4 now clearly visible. Rainbow Dash could only manage a defeated sigh at the thought of humans in a Daring Do movie.
Unfazed by her friend’s sudden loss for words, Twilight continued her barrage. “Still,” she quipped, “that doesn’t explain why Rainbow Dash looks white as a sheet at the thought of watching a horror movie.”
“I’m not scared!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed, sounding suspiciously like she was trying to prove it to herself as much as Twilight. She gazed at the orb again, looking at the director’s name. “Really, how scary can this Les Raven be?”
The mention of that name caused Twilight to stop grinning and instead let out a gasp of sheer, unbridled excitement as she snatched the orb from Rainbow Dash and levitated it less than an inch from her suddenly wide eyes.
“!” Twilight somehow pronounced grammar as she was suddenly smiling and bouncing around, full of energy. “I can’t believe it! I thought he retired after Bog Thing! ‘Les Raven’s best!’ eh? I don’t see how it could be better than Last Cottage on the Left or The Hills Have Teeth, but now I’m most definitely watching this!”
For her part, Rainbow Dash simply groaned and rubbed her head with a hoof again, flabbergasted at the sight of her friend going googly-eyed over this director. “So, I take it you’re into this sorta thing, egghead?”
The look in Twilight’s eyes as she gazed into those of her friend’s could best be described as radiant. There was a strange, ethereal glow in Twilight’s gaze, as though fueled by a deeply-hidden fire inside the unicorn’s heart.
“You know, you might just be right,” Twilight cooed in a melodic voice at her friend. “This is obviously way, way too scary for a pony like you. I’m not sure even Pinkie could laugh at this one. Yeah, I think I’ll watch this one on my own. That’s the ticket.” The way Rainbow Dash’s teeth gritted only served to further fuel Twilight’s soft-spoken mockery. “I’d just hate to think how a pegasus pony totally uninitiated to scary movies would react if she started with a Raven film. Oh no, even in a sleepover with her five best friends, that would simply be the. Worst.Possible. Thing!” Twilight batted her eyelashes and sighed dramatically, putting the cap on an act that would have surely made Rarity proud.
“Oh that is it!” Rainbow Dash puffed her chest as she spoke, full of the sort of bravo usually reserved for stallions trying to impress mares at a bar. “I’ll show you! I’ll show all of you! Pinkie, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash! Especially Rainbow Dash, which is me, because I’m just that awesome!”
Snatching the orb from Twilight, Rainbow Dash made a beeline, or more specifically a rainbow-colored line, toward the counter, her speed knocking down all the cardboard cutouts in the large store and ripping several movie posters off the walls. “Ring this up for me, Block!” She slammed some bits on the counter, knocking over a small display holding several chocolate bars.
Block Buster, the gray-maned blue earth stallion at the counter rang up the order, suddenly looking rather scared as the receipt printed out. He put the orb in a paper bag along with the receipt and handed it to the eager pegasus. “Okay, that’ll be due back in-”
“Keep the change!” Rainbow suddenly shouted as she snatched the bag and dashed out the store, knocking over several snack displays.
“Seven days...” Block whimpered as he looked upon the ruins of his store.
Twilight bounced out of the store after her friend, leaving poor Block to clean everything up. She had to make preparations, after all.
Now alone, Block trotted out from behind the counter to try and clean up his mangled store. As he worked, he reminisced about his younger days, when ponies would fill his store. Nice, courteous ponies who didn’t knock over and try to destroy absolutely everything. Those were the best days of his life. Now, his only customers were the occasional barely-legal wrecking balls like the two that had just left.
Luna curse Canternetflix! He thought bitterly as he worked, wondering if he’d have another customer the rest of the day.
The party had fallen together quite nicely, thanks to the contributions of each of the six ponies.
Applejack had supplied the venue; a large, spooky old barn that provided plenty of room for every pony to watch the film comfortably. She also tossed in some of that heavenly late-night cider, enough to keep them all properly hydrated. And buzzed. That was important too.
Rarity had supplied a gigantic rectangle of white linen, creating a screen big enough to rival the most luxurious theaters in Canterlot, and some crimson curtains to add some class to the proceedings. At least as much class as could be added to an old barn, at any rate.
Fluttershy had enlisted her larger animal friends to bring over some large, comfy cushions packed with gentle, soft goose down. Granted, the butter-yellow pegasus would have to find some way to make it up to the poor geese she’d had plucked for said down. She supposed a hot chicken dinner was out of the question. Some other way then.
Rainbow Dash had of course gotten everyone ready – still eager to prove to everyone that she was the bravest pony in all Equestria. She’d also helped set the screen and curtains up, once more adding to the impressive look of the venue, and brought the actual movie, which was also important.
Twilight, naturally, set up the magical projector. She’d have done a bit more, of course, but Rainbow Dash – her supposed ride home – had completely forgotten her in her excitement. The Element of Loyalty she might be, but Rainbow Dash had some serious attention span issues. At least Twilight got in more than a bit of practice in long-range teleportation today.
Lastly, there was Pinkie Pie, who was in a league of her own. Indeed, she might very well be in an entire sport of her own, where only she knew the rules of and all the spectators were forced to wear silly hats for no reason.
A small misunderstanding had Pinkie dressed in fishnet stockings and ruby-red lipstick, so Twilight had to explain that it wasn’t that kind of horror show. After pointing out how Big Mac would have made a perfect Rocky, she jumped behind a cushion before jumping into view from behind a hay bale – how she did that was anyone’s guess – wearing a skimpy cheerleader outfit. And a fake axe sticking out of her mane. At least Twilight thought it was a fake axe.
That wasn’t the only part of Pinkie’s preparations that Twilight had trouble with, however.
“Pinkie?” Twilight asked as she gazed, wide-eyed, at the elaborate contraption just outside the barn. “Why is there an enormous siege engine set up in the middle of the orchard?”
“Oh this?” The sincere innocence in Pinkie’s voice actually made Twilight worry a bit. “This is my Party Trébuchet! Oh yeah, we’re gonna party like it’s 1499! We’re getting medieval up in this place! Aw yeah!”
Suppressing a groan and shaking her head, Twilight looked upon the insane device with a mixture of horror and awe, wondering how Pinkie could have possibly prepared this monstrosity in such a short time. “Okay, the Party Cannon was bad enough, but-” She was interrupted by the sight of what appeared to be three fillies preparing the device. “Wait, is that-?”
“Cutie Mark Crusaders, Crusaders!”
The unified scream of the three fillies left Twilight speechless, her left eye twitching violently. Words betrayed her for a moment as she wondered how anyone could have thought this was a good idea. She sputtered and coughed for a few moments, trying to think of something to say that would adequately express her indignation. “Are you crazy, Pinkie?!” That was a fine start, even if the answer to that one was perhaps obvious to anyone not named Pinkie Pie. “First off, why the hay are we launching things!? Secondly, how are you going to aim that monstrosity!? Oh, and while we’re at it, I’m quite certain fillies aren’t supposed to be operating heavy weaponry!” By the end of her rant, both Twilight’s eyes were twitching and her mane was frazzled as she gazed back and forth between the siege engine and its owner.
“Oh don’t you worry, Twi-Pie!” Pinkie chirped with her usual psychotically innocent happiness. “I’m the responsible adult... Supervisor... Pony... Thing! They’ll be fine!” She then pulled out an instrument that looked not unlike a telescope attached to a sixty-degree curved ruler by a complex system of steel and glass. “Besides, I borrowed this here doohickey from your astronomy stuff, so I’m sure to hit! Really, Twilight, I’m hitting the broad side of a barn! How hard can this be!?”
Twilight’s eye-twitching only became more pronounced. “Pinkie, that’s a sextant. My sextant.” Her voice quivered now as she tried to keep from exploding twice in front of the fillies. “Seriously, give me my sextant back. And while we’re at it, this is not what I meant! When I said I needed your help to throw a party, I didn’t mean to actually pick up the party and throw it! Seriously, I didn’t think I’d need to explain that!”
Eventually, Twilight was able to get the children to bed in Applejack’s house, and convinced Pinkie to disarm the weapon of mass destruction. Just as well, as Pinkie Pie was already classified as one herself. Twilight had had seen the official document in Canterlot recording the royal decree. Signed by both princesses, even! Twice!
At the very least, Pinkie had contributed something other than the near-destruction of the barn. Weathered and frayed black banners bearing the phrase “Horror Movie Night!” in a convincing dripping-blood font hung from the roof of the barn, and a buffet table set up with an orgy of Nightmare Night-themed sweets had been set up seemingly out of thin air. One of the many mysteries of Pinkie Pie.
Faced with enough desserts to feed several starving nations, Rarity let out a dramatic huff and flicked her mane out from in front of her face. “Goodness, Pinkie Pie, I think I’ve gained a pound just being in the same room as that table!”
Applejack joined the discussion. “Sugarcube, I reckon I know more ‘bout apples than any pony else in this here room, but Celestia as my witness, I have never, in all my days, seen a deep-fried caramel-coated toffee apple until tonight.”
“All right, cherrychangas!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed as she moved over to the table to grab one, her mouth watering at the sight.
“Isn’t it called a chimicherry?” Fluttershy asked softly as she wandered over to the table, demurely reaching out for one as well.
“Dunno,” Rainbow Dash admitted. “I just like how cherrychanga rolls of the tongue, you know?”
Fluttershy nodded weakly as she listened politely, taking a dainty bite of the sweet treat. “True, but chimicherry sounds so much softer. I think that makes it so much nicer.Um, if you don’t mind my saying so.”
Rainbow Dash practically swallowed the whole thing in one gulp and contemplated the name. “Hm... chimicherry... cherrychanga... Hey, how about chimicherry-ow!” Before she knew it, she was on the receiving end of an expertly delivered kick to the back of the head that would have brought smiles to the faces of legendary martial arts masters Buck Choy and Ju Ditzy!
Neither pony had seen Rarity fuming in the background as their conversation reminded her of an unfortunate, er, 'accident'.
“You finish that word, punk, and I will style your hair. I mean it.” Rarity grabbed Rainbow Dash by the shoulders and forcibly turned her around, gazing with murderous intent in her target’s eyes. “I will make you beautiful! There will be curling irons involved. When I am done, I am going to wash that mane of yours, and condition it. It will be silky-smoothe for weeks. Do I make myself clear?”
That was enough to silence Rainbow Dash. The white hoof in her mouth helped, certainly, but even without it, the very thought of living through what Rarity threatened was enough to silence her. Victorious, Rarity pulled her hoof back and trotted off past Fluttershy, who was well on her way to being a tree, if the complete stillness and shade of green were any indication.
Seeing the rapidly deteriorating mood among the trio, Twilight snatched up several bags of the only thing on the table that wasn’t sweet – popcorn. “Hey girls!” she cried out cheerfully. “How about we get this show started!”
Every pony gave a cheer at that, save for Rainbow Dash, who simply nodded as she recovered from Rarity’s intimidation tactics. With that, Twilight levitated a bag to each pony before setting up the projection crystal. While that was going on, Applejack was whispering to Pinkie Pie between bites of the saccharine atrocity that had once been an apple.
“Say, Pinkie,” Applejack wondered, “What were you doing with Twilight’s astronomy books anyway?”
“Luna’s icy nipples, she creased the spine!”
The ponies all winced, with the exception of Pinkie Pie, who was completely oblivious to Twilight’s protest. “Well, I was trying to figure out this sextant thingie. Well, at least I think that’s what Twilight calls it.”
“Uh, Pinkie?” Applejack blushed a bit and started looking around with shifty eyes.
“Well, I couldn’t figure it out. It’s really complicated, you know! Maybe my hooves are just too big?”
The farm pony’s blush intensified as she shook her head nervously. “P-Pinkie, Ah’ll thank ya not to go into such det-”
“So, turns out a lot of instructions on them in some of those books Twilight hides under her bed! With really cool pictures! Here, lemmie show you! There's just a special way I gotta grab it with my mouth, see?"
A thud could be heard throughout the barn, one that every pony there was intimately familiar with – another pony falling. That it wasn’t Rainbow Dash who had made the thud was shocking enough, particularly to Rainbow Dash, who had become accustomed to being the one to make thudding noises.
In the middle of the group, Pinkie Pie stood over the fallen Applejack, who was now hyperventilating. For some reason the party-pony had the looking portion of Twilight’s sextant in her mouth. Deep in her mouth.
Pinkie just shrugged as the other Ponies stared at her, wondering what the big deal was.
The movie started dramatically with a dramatic “swoosh” as Rarity dramatically opened the curtains, her magic dramatically pushing them aside so they wouldn’t dramatically interfere with any of the dramatic drama on screen.
After a few logos that none of them paid attention to, because no pony ever does, the film finally began. The opening scene was peaceful enough; a small town, not unlike Ponyville, came into view with cheerful scenes of happy ponies going about their daily lives. Rarity and Fluttershy both tensed and whimpered in fright, leaving Rainbow Dash to wonder what they found so scary.
Maybe I’m better at this whole horror thing than Twilight thought, Rainbow Dash inwardly gloated as she relaxed in her plush cushion, sneaking in a few glances at the others.
“I can’t believe I was so colourblind!” Rarity fumed. “I should have used maroon, not red curtains for this piece of cinematography! It just clashes terribly with the walls!”
Okay, that explains Rarity. Rainbow rolled her eyes, wondering how one pony could be so vain. Yes, irony was lost on the rainbow-maned one. But Fluttershy? What’s got her all--
“Eep!” Fluttershy dove behind the cushion, leaving behind a yellow trail that actually impressed Rainbow Dash a bit. Only a little bit, though.
Twilight looked back at Fluttershy, a soft, comforting smile on her face. “Sorry Fluttershy, I forgot to warn you. The projection sometimes plays some crazy tricks with the lighting.” Demonstrating Twilight's point, Pinkie Pie made a weird motion with her hooves resulting in a shadow bunny. Twilight would have used her hooves, but, well, they were hooves. “See? Nothing to be afraid of.”
Oh. Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes again. She made a mental note to just dress up in all black and just pretend to be a shadow around Fluttershy’s house next Nightmare Night.
The opening credits breezed through, with names of various ponies that were apparently a big deal. At least, that’s what Rainbow Dash figured from Rarity’s periodic squeals and gasps. She’d never heard of any of them. One name, however, caught her eye.
“Hey, Rarity.” She pointed at the name as it scrolled up to the top of the screen. “What’s a Wonderbolt doing in some silly movie?”
“Goodness!” Rarity looked at her athlete friend as though she’d just swallowed a kitten. “Any movie role is good for ponies trying to get noticed by Cherry-wood!” She lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper as she leaned over to Rainbow Dash. “I hear some ponies will do absolutely anything!”
“So, being a movie star is bigger than being a Wonderbolt?” The jock of the group was having trouble wrapping her head around the idea.
“To many ponies, most certainly! Think about the lesser-known Wonderbolts. What wouldn’t they give to get out from under Spitfire’s or Soarin’s shadow?”
"Not a literal shadow Fluttershy."
"Oh, nevermind, then, sorry."
Rarity gave a grin and a harrumph as she continued. “Dear, unless you’re the superstar, you’ll only ever be seen once in an athletic show, which can only happen in one venue at a time. One good movie, and you’re the toast of all Equestria! You can become a superstar overnight!”
“Wow, seriously?” Rainbow Dash was actually impressed for a moment. “Well, with a Wonderbolt in this movie, that monster doesn’t stand a chance!” She smiled and nodded assuredly to herself, unknowingly showing her total ignorance as to how movies work.
It didn’t help that Pinkie was there to egg her on, of course. “Yeah!” she squealed in excitement. “Hey, remember that one time those Wonderbolts saved Rarity from falling off Cloudsdale?”
Rainbow couldn’t help but flinch, noticing Rarity starting to grind her teeth as she very poignantly kept her eyes on the screen, shoving a hoof-full of popcorn from Pinkie’s seemingly bottomless bag to keep from shouting.
Pinkie Pie, being Pinkie Pie, didn’t seem to notice. “Oh! Or how about that time the Wonderbolts took on Spike! And then totally saved Rarity again!”
Rarity swallowed the popcorn in her mouth with a loud gulp and reached for some more, as if thinking it would hurt her waistline less if she didn’t take from her own bag. Seeing Rarity, Rainbow couldn’t help but smirk slightly at her. “Hey, Rari--”
“Finish that sentence!” Rarity dared, glaring daggers at Rainbow. “By Fancy's Pants, if you make a lame pun about me falling for you, head over hooves or otherwise, I will take you shoe shopping! And then I’ll get you a nice, bright, fancy dress! With sequinsAre we clear?!”
Rainbow gulped nervously and nodded softly. “C-Crystal.”
The film cut to a sleeping unicorn mare, safely tucked in bed. As she slept, the picture slowly faded into what was apparently a dream, taking place in the old Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters.
“Ooooo!” Pinkie squealed, bouncing in place with uncontrollable energy. “We’ve totally been there!” Rarity wondered for a moment if Pinkie wouldn’t be a perfect candidate for Fillies Gone Wild. She certainly had that ‘party filly’ personality.
The camera panned behind the mare as she skulked about the old castle, revealing none other than Nightmare Moon standing behind her stealthily, just waiting for the right moment to strike. The slither of moonlight glinted off her foreboding plate armor, flaring off gryphon-like falons firmly affixed to her right fore hoof. It was a startlingly faithful rendition, if not somewhat taller and darker.
“She was there too!” The other ponies couldn’t help but twitch at Pinkie’s remarkable grasp of the obvious. “Though, I don’t remember that shiny hoof thingie! Hey, is she going to cut some cake?!” Every pony else just looked over at Pinkie in shock for a moment, wondering if she’d forgotten what kind of movie this was. “Ooooo, I bet you can cut so much cake with that thing, like enough for three ponies at once!”
In cue with a quickening of the music, Nightmare Moon let out an emphatic, piercing laugh, causing the hapless mare to quicken to a full-on run. But it was no use; Nightmare Moon was right in front of her as soon as she turned a corner, as if appearing out of thin air, clawed hoof raised and ready to strike!
With a wicked, cruel, tooth-bearing smirk, Nightmare moon brought her hoof down in a violent slash across her victim’s chest, the mare screaming in agony and terror. The ponies in the room all jumped at the sudden fright! They all reacted simultaneously.
“Ow! Hit my head on the ceiling.... I uh, guess I needed to stretch my wings...” Rainbow Dash moaned, trying to look like she hadn’t just shot up into the air in paralyzing fear. She had an image to uphold.
Applejack wasn’t so much talking as gagging on the ‘apple’ treat she’d been eating, suddenly finding that it was taking some work to keep it down.
“Koolie-Doolies!” Pinkie Pie shouted gleefully.
“Gah!” was Twilight’s nuanced, researched contribution.
Fluttershy, meanwhile, seemed relieved as she let out a sigh. “The cut can’t be too deep, at least. She’ll be fine.”
Rarity stared at the pink-maned pegasus as though she had grown a second head. “Fine!?” She shrieked. “Could you imagine the stains that would have caused! I’m feeling light-headed just thinking about it!”
Pinkie shrugged. “Waste of a good cake knife if you ask me,” she murmured.
Twilight could barely contain her glee. “Ooooo, this is so exciting!” Her voice was tense as she stared in awe at the screen, ready to absorb absolutely everything this scene had to offer.
Suddenly, the scene changed again. The mare was back in her bed, panting and sweating as she bolted into a sitting position, but safe. All but Twilight breathed a sigh of relief. The purple unicorn just cocked a skeptical eyebrow. There had to be more. Waking up from a bad dream isn’t scary enough.
And more was revealed as the mare tossed aside her covers, revealing a set of long, jagged, bleeding cuts across her shoulder, leading down her chest. The same cut she’d suffered in the dream. Twilight simply nodded and clapped her fore hooves in appreciation as her friends gasped in shock, clearly not having expected that turn of events.
Applejack squinted at the screen, licking her lips as she tried to figure something out. The unicorn mare on screen looked about her own age, but was walking up to what appeared to be a high school.
Unable to get over the apparent contradiction, she decided to bring it up to the apparent movie expert of the group. “Rarity, y’all know all ‘bout this here movie stuff...” Applejack began, sounding bewildered. “What in tarnation are adult ponies doin’ in a high-school!?”
Rarity rolled her eyes at her cowpony friend. “Oh puh-leaze! it’s simply more appealing to have adult ponies in these roles!”
“Wha?” Applejack was even more confused now, which was obviously not the intention when she asked the question.
“Teenage ponies look absolutely dreadful on camera!” Rarity continued, waving a hoof dismissively. “So few of them understand how acting works! They need to hire more... Mature actors, ponies who can deliver their roles while catching the audience’s eye!”
“C’mon!” Applejack was in disbelief, shaking her head at the idea. “Now that’s just some cow patties from where I’m sit--”
“It’s him! It’s the Wonderbolt!” Dash squealed gleefully, drowning out Applejack’s protests as she proceeded to fangirl all over her idol.
Leaning against a pole was a dashing, dark-brown coated stallion with a golden lightning cutie mark and the sort of muscled, toned build that only top professional athletes could ever hope to achieve. The petite mare he had a foreleg wrapped around wasn’t exactly a slouch either. Her lithe, white coat, hued with the slightest hint of pale green rippled with hidden muscle and gave a fluid, graceful quality to even the slightest movement. She might not be as strong as her co-star, but she was very attractive, especially in that cheerleader outfit which, were it not for the lack of a giant axe, would have looked just like Pinkie Pie’s getup.
It couldn’t be more obvious that he two were dating.
“Wow, look at that swag! That pony’s so awesome!” Rainbow Dash continued to swoon, even as Twilight looked uncertainly at the couple.
The jock tripped over a somewhat nerdy-looking art-student mare that was passing by. The cheerleader tittered her approval.
That brought a disgusted groan from Rainbow, who was suddenly conflicted. “Okay, that’s so not awesome. But... Wonderbolt, right? Maybe that pony totally deserved it?”
The art student scrambled to pick up all her papers and books, looking at the jock with teary eyes. “Why do you have to be so mean, Flash?”
“Because you’re dorking up my airspace, dweeb,” Flash replied coldly. “Now scram, before I change my mind!”
“He’s a jerk!” Rainbow twisted in her spot, suddenly uncomfortable as she turned to face Twilight. “But... But he’s a Wonderbolt, so he’s gotta learn his lesson, right? You know, learn his lesson, become a better pony, and totally save that day? Right? Right?”
Twilight didn’t even pay attention to Rainbow’s petty hero worship, seeing far too much of herself in that innocent, nerdy art student. Fluttershy shivered a bit as well, murmuring something about flight camp and hiding behind her mane.
Rainbow just nodded slowly. “Ooooooookay....”
The mare from before walked on camera, opening her locker next to the jock and his cheerleader girlfriend. Yep, Twilight mused. Stereotypical high-school angst. For a brief moment, she thought back to Applejack’s observation, wondering why actual teenagers couldn’t act like actual teenagers. Seemed like such a fit to her.
“Ah, Starlight!” Flash sounded especially full of himself now. “I see you trotted over to my airspace too, eh?”
“Yeah, what of it, Flash?” Starlight sounded more confident, clearly not willing to put up with Flash’s nonsense.
“Didn’t think bookworms had legs,” Flash barbed. “Thought you’d be crawling instead. Maybe flushing those textbooks of yours did you some good, nerd.”
Rarity, Applejack and Pinkie Pie made it a point to put some distance between themselves and Twilight. Flash had just made it a point to brag about his love of destroying non-fiction literature. The sight of Twilight’s bag of popcorn erupting into an inferno and the burnt smell that erupted from the bag convinced Rainbow Dash distance herself further still. For her part, Fluttershy raced over to Twilight, trying to calm the enraged unicorn before she took her fury out on the screen and, by proxy, the barn. The highly fragile, flammable, wooden barn.
“Hey, plothole,” Starlight spat as she pulled a large textbook from her locker using her telekinesis before waving it in front of Flash and, with a quick jerk of magic, shredded the book into festive confetti.
Flash grinned triumphantly, while the ashes that were once Twilight’s popcorn caught fire. Again. Applejack started writing on the back of the paper plate. Everything goes to Big Mac, ‘cause it’s lookin’ like my buddies are all dyin’ with me!
Applejack sighed when she realized how flammable the paper plate was.
Pinkie, for her part, was thinking about how the mass-funeral would go. Oooooh, it’d be like a birthday party. Only we’d be dead, so a death day party? And there’d have to be black balloons instead. Oooo, sounds fun! Wish I could be there! Well, I’d be there, but... Could Rarity still manage to arrive fashionably late?
The shredded remains of Starlight’s book were enveloped in a magical aura, however, as they melded back together into one cohesive whole.
“Fixing a book’s pretty easy there, Flash,” Starlight resumed, gazing straight into Flash’s eyes. “But your face? Celestia would probably have an easier time turning the earth into another sun. Can’t imagine what she’d be able to do about that personality either, come to think of it.” She put the book back and slammed the locker shut forcefully. “Piss off, and take those self-esteem issues out with you, not out on her.” She calmly nodded her head towards the pony Flash had just abused.
Twilight raised a triumphant hoof and let out a joyful cry that sent birds throughout the orchard flying in a panic. The other ponies, for their part, slumped back down and let out sighs of relief. There would be no death day party just yet!
“Oh that’s it, nerd!” Flash drew his hoof off the cheerleader’s shoulder and glared venomously at Starlight. “You’re gonna get it now!”
Fluttershy stoically dove at Twilight as one might martyr themselves on a live grenade, only that comparison seems rather inadequate, as a grenade can at worst grant something as pedestrian as death, and can only cause it once. Twilight Sparkle faced neither of these limitations. Fluttershy slammed her eyes shut and hoped it would be over soon as Twilight's eyes started glowing, literally glowing, with a furious passion to draw her vengeance out as long as possible. Just then, a large, muscle-bound stallion with a gorgeous, perhaps because of rather than despite its shaggy and unkempt state, mane stepped forward and caught Flash’s hoof mid-swing. The other foreleg reached around Flashes shoulders to give him an unjustifiable punishment to atone for his sins, a horror that should never befall a stallion,
The dreaded noogie.
Rarity swooned at the display of chivalry, while Fluttershy swooned as her life flashed before her eyes, bringing with it the memory of every scary moment of her entire existence at the exact same moment. It was quite dreadful. Like that one time she fell off her stool in the kitchen. Goodness, were she not a pegasus, she might have broken a bone! Or worse: one of her animal friends! Maybe even a bunny! The horror! Oh, and then there was that whole thing with Nightmare Moon, Discord, the Manticore... But still! Fluttershy had priorities!
Twilight was suddenly pulled from her immersion as she finally registered the crushing weight of a twitching yellow pegasus pony unconscious on her lap. The rest of the group just gazed at her in shock.
“Yeah, sorry about that.” Twilight rubbed the back of her head and grinned sheepishly. “I just really lose myself in these movies, you know? I’ll try to, uh, be a bit more self-aware from now on.”
“Seriously, Twilight,” Rainbow Dash sighed. “You had me worried we were going to end up getting involved with the moon!”
Elsewhere, in the Royal Palace....
“Luna, did you hear that?”
The rustling of a busy abacus ceased as Luna looked up at her sister. “No, sister, we did not. What didst thou think she heard?”
“I’m not entirely sure,” Celestia admitted, “but suddenly, I’ve the strangest urge to have a banana...”
Back in the intact, fortunately not on fire, barn, the movie continued rather smoothly, with Twilight deconstructing and analyzing the scenes. Knowing the director, she was aware of the subtle subtext and foreshadowing that could be placed anywhere, right when no one expected it.
The other ponies settled back into their initial positions, save for Rainbow, who had edged a bit closer to the screen with Pinkie Pie to be closer to the action. Being closer to Pinkie Pie’s popcorn also had something to do with the decision.
Yep. Foreshadowing right when no-pony expected it.
The main cast was eventually introduced. Clearly Flash and his fillyfriend Floozy wouldn’t have had such character development unless they were part of the main cast.
Starlight’s hero was a stallion simply named Johnny, at least according to Flash’s distressed cries. Rainbow Dash found herself enthralled by this oh-so-cool customer, mimicking his every action. It vexed her that he was so much more dashing than THE Dash! Even his shades were bigger and darker than hers!
The last main character to be introduced in the scene was Starlight’s best friend, Feather, who was described as a plain looking pegasus pony. That description once again had Applejack confused.
“Plain?!” Applejack exclaimed. “That there pegasus mare’s lookin’ hotter than a stack of fresh apple pancakes on a cold winter’s mornin’. How in the heck is she ‘plain’!?”
Rarity shook her head and gazed at Applejack, taking pity on her poor, ignorant friend. “Oh dear, don’t you understand? Ponies in the movies are all...” Rarity went a bit teary-eyed before bursting out the last word. “Gorgeous!” She squealed and fanned herself, grinning and giggling like maniac. Or a Pinkie Pie. The two were pretty much interchangeable.
Noticing a smile from Twilight “Learn From My Mistakes” Sparkle, Rarity forced herself to rein in her enthusiasm, returning to her usual exposure. “The point, Applejack, is that you just can’t hire plain looking mares to act in a movie! Now, looking at perfection, that’s just...” Applejack couldn’t help but notice a thin bead of drool escaping Rarity’s lips, tracing the ‘cultured’ pony’s eyes to Johnny’s swaying flank on screen. “Simply marvelous!” Rarity caught herself and wiped her chin, trying again to compose herself. “So therein we have a compromise. The gorgeous ponies play the pretty ponies and the pretty ponies play the plain ponies. It’s much like casting older actors, really.”
“Now that’s just a heap o’ bull shi-!” Applejack was interrupted by Rarity once more as Starlight and Johnny trotted over to Feather at a school lunch table, greeted by a large bowl of hay fries.
“See, Applejack?” Rarity muttered. “Only in the movies can a pony eat like that and still look so svelte!”
Johnny eyed the bowl of fries before, in a single smooth motion, flicking the edge of the bowl and sending one flying off above their heads. The shot cut to a close-up of Johnny lowering his glasses so his eyes were visible. He winked at Feather and uttered, a single, drawn out word, a lazy drawl rolling it around in his mouth as much as possible.
Feather raised an eyebrow and stuck her tongue out, only to find the fry hitting the offending appendage. As she munched down on the snack, she offered her own reply, talking as she chewed. “Show-off.”
“And that’s why you love me,” Johnny quipped.
“News to me,” she replied sarcastically.
“Well, here's today's headline, then,” Johnny whispered with a smirk before stealing a kiss. Feather’s eyes bulged slightly as she audibly swallowed the last of the fry.
“Oh come on!” Rainbow blurted out. “This guy’s awesome! He’s got fillies falling at his hooves!” She looked over at Fluttershy, who was trying to see how much of herself she could hide in her mane. “Why couldn’t they ave gotten a Wonderbolt to play him!?”
“Because,” Rarity butted in, eyes shimmering and awe in her voice, “that’s Gem Lance. Gem Lance! What’s he doing in this movie!?”
“Wait, did you say Gem Lance!?” Twilight squinted at the screen before her eyes bulged, recognition hitting her full force. “I know him!” She leaned forward on the cushion, gazing at the star intently.
“Of course you do,” Rarity quipped. “Every pony knows Gem Lance!”
“No, I mean I actually know him!” Twilight reiterated. “He’s a friend of Shining’s... And, um, a very good friend of mine as well.”
Rarity was delighted at this news, clopping her hooves together giddily. Twilight, by contrast, looked embarrassed by her own revelation. If she didn’t know better, Rarity could swear that Twilight was blushing! But Twilight wouldn't be blushing unless...
"Are you seriously telling moi that you and Gem Lance?! Rarity gasped.
“Yeah, we soooorta dated back when we were teens,” Twilight admitted, shrinking back in an admirable imitation of Fluttershy. “He has a thing for nerdy mares.”
Fluttershy’s jaw dropped so fast it nearly popped out of place, leaving her staring at Twilight with her mouth agape.
"Get. Out." Rarity hissed.
“It’s true,” Twilight meekly insisted.
“Details! I, er, I mean WE demand details” By this point, every pony was thinking what Rarity said, every eye on Twilight, making the unicorn somewhat nervous.
“Well, he was really sweet. Shy too; I’ve got no idea how he got in front of a camera the way he was!” She giggled softly and rested her head in her hooves. “You should have seen him when we first kissed. Neither of us had kissed before, so we were really nervous.”
“You were... You were Gem Lance’s first... Kiss?” Fluttershy managed to ask, trying to close her mouth with a hoof.
“I guess so...” Twilight noticed the stares she was getting. “Wait, why are you all staring like that? Sure, I wasn’t exactly a party girl, but come on, what would any of you do in that situation?”
The room paused in thought for a moment, wondering what they would do when presented with a handsome, dreamy colt like Gem Lance asking to go out with them. Fluttershy was suddenly swaying side to side as she tried not to pass out.
Pinkie Pie, of course, said the first thing that came to her mind, with a stunning level of confidence in her voice. “Big, wet, sloppy make-outs?”
“Pinkie Pie!” Rarity chided. “One does not simply have ‘big, wet, sloppy make-outs’ with a pony like Gem Lance!”
“Yeah, Pinkie!” Rainbow interjected. “They do so much more than that!”
Twilight, for her part, gave a sheepish grin. “Well,” she mused, “we were young, and pretty shy.” Her grin turned devilish for a moment. “But yeah, I so totally made out with a movie star.” She blushed and giggled timidly as she absorbed the stares from every pony in the room.
It was Pinkie Pie, of course, who broke the silence with a bout of raucous laughter. “Ha ha! Snogging Starlight Sparkle!”
“Pinkie, you goofball!” Rainbow laughed along, taking advantage of the party pony’s distracted state to steal some more of her popcorn. “Starlight’s the girl in the movie.”
“Then where’s her special some pony?” Pinkie asked.
“Hey Starlight,” Feather spoke, as if knowing what the viewers in the barn were talking about, “where’s that loser colt-friend of yours? Uh, Roam, was it?”
“He’s not a loser!” Starlight bitterly protested.
“He doesn’t even have a cutie mark yet!” Feather pointed out.
“Hey, it’s cool that he doesn’t have one.” Starlight seemed like she was trying to convince herself as well. “He says he doesn’t want to be tied down by some mark on his flank. Wants to keep his possibilities open.”
“Or maybe he really does suck at everything?” Feather offered with a grin.
“Well, that’s not entirely a bad thing....” Starlight winked as she said that, causing Johnny to choke on his hay fry. Starlight continued regardless, her tone becoming decidedly more somber. “Hey guys, can I ask you something?”
“What?” Feather didn’t seem to notice Johnny’s gagging, and Starlight was content not to bring it up.
“I had this dream last night,” Starlight sighed, looking down ruefully. “There was this unicorn following me, but she was a pegasus too, like Princess Celestia, only... Dark. Like the night.”
“Wait, you dreamed that too!? Feather’s statement only served to shock Starlight.
“Wait, you had the same dream? Mine was in this old castle...”
Feather shook her head. “Not quite, though, mine was at school. Creepy as Tartarus, too, there were these fillies singing some weird nursery rhyme....” Feather laughed nervously, then softened her voice, singing in an eerie high-pitched tone.
“One, Two, It’s Nightmare Moon,
Three, Four, the other Alicorn,
Five, Six, Clever lies and tricks,
Seven, eight, She’s a creature of hate,
Nine, Ten, Find the elements.”
She then burst out laughing. “My subconscious is a genius! Even came up with this wicked sick hoof blade thing for her to wear.”
Starlight’s eyes shot wide open at that last remark. “That was in my dream too!” She glanced around, self-consciously before lowering her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “When I woke up...” She shifted her admittedly garish scarf to reveal the gruesome cuts.
Feather grimaced, letting out a nervous, forced laugh. “You probably just cut yourself on the edge of your bed and dreamed about it.”
“I don’t think I could cut myself three times in a row like that,” Starlight pouted as she protested. “Look, I just don’t wanna be alone tonight, so I was wondering if you guys could, um, have a sleepover at my place? Just for tonight?”
Pinkie Pie gasped hard and fast, inflating like a balloon, the walls of the barn creaking inward in protest. “Oh, that would be so totally awesome, guys! We should so have a late-night party, with candies, oh, oh, and popcorn and a mov-”
Rainbow Dash cut her off with a tap on her shoulder, her other hoof drawing attention to the barn around them. A party banner clattered noisily down from the roof, dislodged from Pinkie’s rapid inhale. Pinkie, for her part, just stared at the other ponies in wonder.
“Hey, how’d you guys set this party up so fast? I only just had the idea!”
Every pony else just face-hoofed.
“Hard cider?!” Feather gasped. “But Starlight, we’re underage!”
Feather, Johnny and Starlight were at the latter’s house for the sleepover. Starlight’s mother was revealed to be out of town for the week, and Starlight didn’t want to be home alone. To compensate, she was tossing a bit of a party for her friends, and since there weren’t any responsible adults to get in the way, Starlight decided to break out what was, apparently, a very hard cider.
Pinkie, for her part, was vigorously taking notes, which had to be difficult with the axe sticking out of her head. That thing was proving to be incredibly heavy, but Pinkie didn’t seem to care. A neck cramp was just part of the price she paid for being in the cut-throat party industry. Partying isn't all fun and games, after all.
Meanwhile, Applejack was grumbling darkly, raising an eyebrow in suspicion. “Underage my plot! I’d sell ‘er some hootch and wouldn’t even check her I.D!”
“Hey!” Rainbow Dash interjected, glaring wickedly at Applejack. “You always check my I.D and you know me!”
“Well,” Applejack replied, with one of the best poker faces she’d pulled off in a long time, “your age changes every year. Can’t be too careful ‘round ya, can I?” Seriously, why couldn’t she have this good a poker face during the weekly Apple Family Appleloosa Hold’Em night? Applebloom had come awfully close to winning her gambling cutie mark at the last one.
Rainbow did some quick calculations in her head before nodding slowly. “Wow, I didn’t think of that...”
Now, it would be very unfair to call Rainbow Dash an unintelligent pony. Contrary to popular opinion, intelligence wasn’t anywhere near the issue with her. Her attention span was akin to that of the Cutie Mark Crusaders trying to get their cutie marks in sugar rushing. Thus, she came to quick answers and was quickly distracted. Immediately upon figuring out that she did indeed have a different age every year, her mind was occupied by the smell of a sugary, fruity smell wafting from the table.
Pinkie had brought Skittles! Rainbow dashed to the snack table and back to her seat, though the rainbow trail that returned was significantly chunkier than the one that had left.
Twilight leaned closer to Applejack, who at this point was starting to show cracks in the facade as she struggled not to laugh.
“What’s the real reason, Applejack?” Twilight whispered in the cow pony’s ear, not wanting any pony else hearing her call the ponies bluff. “Seriously.”
“Well, Twilight, ain’t you ever seen R.D when she’s... Naw, guess that was before your time.” Applejack spared a glance over Rainbow Dash’s direction, satisfied that she was too distracted with her Skittles to notice the two of them.
“What, is there some alcoholic changeling of Rainbow Dash running around getting plastered and feeding off Scootaloo’s hero worship or something?” Twilight’s brow creased at idea. “That’s crazy, Applejack, how could you jump to a conclusion like that?”
“Wha?” Now it was Applejack’s turn to crease her brow. “Where in the Everfree did you come up with that!? Naw, that there girl just holds her liquor ‘bout as well as a thimble. I just have Applebloom hide the hard stuff while Dah’s busy fiddlin’ for that silly card of hers.”
Twilight blinked and gazed at Applejack, completely flabbergasted. “W-wait,” she stammered, looking over at Rainbow Dash, then back at Applejack. “You’re telling me that you, of all ponies, are being dishonest? And that you’re doing it so that you don’t make a sale?”
Applejack sighed and grinned. “Well, lemme tell ya a story here, Twilight. Wasn’t too long before y’all come down from Canterlot...”
The week before Twilight arrived in Canterlot, Rainbow Dash and Applejack were just entering the orchard, and Rainbow Dash just had to try some of that fine, hard cider she’d heard so much about...
“You know, A.J, you’re my beshtest bud!” Rainbow Dash let out a hiccup and leaned on the orange cow pony, her words heavily slurred and her hooves digging into the dirt as she lazily tried to walk through her friend. “I’d take a pie to the face you you, girl! Plate and... all!”
“You’re drunk,” Applejack deadpanned. It was actually quite the surprise. “Ain’t no way I’m lettin’ you fly home! You can stay here tonight if you’d like, but you’re fxin’ to kill yourself in that condition!”
“I can’t be – hic! - drunk! I only had one mug!” Rainbow fell on her side, trying to figure out why she suddenly had seven different coloured hooves. If they would all just hold still she might be able to count them better but, hey, who was she to ask herself to slow down?
“Eeyup. And now Big Mack owes me ten bits, ya lightweight!” Applejack huffed and helped her friend up. She looked sideways, hoping no pony would see this ridiculous spectacle. “Now c’mon, let’s get you in the guest room ‘fore ya start flyin' into mah barns. Again.”
“Nuh-uh!” Rainbow Dash shook her head, a cute little smile on her face. “You just want to take advantage of me!”
“Beg pardon!?” Applejack couldn’t help but do a double take. Did she just hear what she thought she just heard!?
“Yeah,” Rainbow exclaimed as she stumbled around, wobbling to and fro and not making anywhere near a straight line. “You think I’m drunk, so you’re totally just trying to seduce the most awesomest pony in Ponyville! Which is me. I’m more awesome than even Rainbow Dash.” She leaned forward, trying to balance herself against a tree, but instead fell through said tree and onto the ground. She didn’t remember Applejack having quite this many trees....
Applejack’s left eye twitched. “Sugar cube, ya can’t seriously-”
“Well you know what, A.J,” Rainbow stumbled up and gazed intently at her orange friend, fluttering her eyes in what would have been a seductive manner had they both fluttered instead of the left eye waiting for the right eye to finish. “It’s working.
Applejack just stared at her best friend, trying to put on her best poker face. “You know, on second thought Rainbow, I guess you can fly on home.” She hoped she could pull a better pokerface for her Apple family poker game later. Hopefully Applebloom would be as convinced as the incredibly sozzled pegasus wobbling unsteadily in front of her. “Why don’t ya run along now?”
Rainbow Dash, however, was so off her face that it totally worked. “Aw, you tease! Why wouldn’t you want a piece of this here hot flank, huh?” As if to try and show her point, Rainbow Dash turned around and shook said flank. At a tree. A dead tree. “I’m the fastest pony in Equestria!”
Applejack couldn’t help but chuckle in spite of herself. Rainbow winced her slightly-bloodshot eyes shut as she realized what she had just said.
Still, Rainbow Dash was able to take off, leaving a slightly wobbly rainbow trail in her wake. Applejack had to hand it to her; she was actually impressed at how well Rainbow was flying, seeing as she couldn't even stand straight.
Then, after gaining a high enough speed to shake loose apples off the trees below her, the rainbow-maned pegasus pulled into a tight corkscrew. Applejack’s eyes widened in terror. “Sugar cube, no!”
Back in the present...
“Twilight, you ever seen a pegasus hork up for twenty seconds straight while barrel rollin’ at, oh, half the speed of sound? I thank Celestia every night that I harvested them there trees that day instead of doin’ the west field like I normally do ‘round that time of season?”
Twilight chuckled softly. “She seems to crash through my bedroom window well enough sober...”
“Yeah, now picture that, only she’s tossin’ up all over the place an’ trying to get her mack on with ya.” Applejack shuddered as the words left her mouth.
Twilight’s face expression hardened into something far more serious. “Applejack, I will personally reimburse you for every sale you lose. I haven’t had to clean puke off a book since university, and I would like to keep it that way. By Celestia, I’d make her eat a Daring Do novel if she came to the library like that, if only because she might try to, er, mack with the front cover long enough for me to drag Spike out.”
Neither of them noticed Pinkie’s barely concealed grin as she continued her fervent note-taking.
Meanwhile on screen, Starlight’s window was wrapped in a neutral silver aura as magic slowly opened it. A lean, lanky iron grey unicorn crawled through it, rear first, showing off a blank flank. The wiry unicorn finally got the rest of his narrow frame through the window, revealing a devil-may-care smirk and a floating bottle of unopened Applejack Daniels.
“Hey!” Pinkine paused her note-taking, carefully examining the bottle. “Applejack... Daniels? Wait, isn’t that...?”
“Sugar cube,” Applejack huffed, shaking her head, “there’s a reason we ain’t never talked ‘bout my parents before, and I ain’t reckon we’re gonna start now. I’m just glad Granny Smith talked ‘em outta callin’ Applebloom Appleschnapps, really.”
Rarity gave out an uncharacteristically un-ladylike giggle-snort at that.
“Oh, and just what’s so darned funny, Rarity!?” Applejack was fuming at Rarity’s continued laughter.
“Oh dear! I’m so sorry, Applejack.” Rarity fanned herself with one of her hooves while speaking through the occasional giggle. “I don’t mean to laugh at your misfortune, but could you imagine if Granny Smith hadn’t intervened? Sweetie Belle having late nights with Appleschnapps, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle trying carpentry at Fluttershy’s college under the influence of Appleschnapps, the Cutie Mark Crusaders trying their best to get their cutie marks with AppleSchnapps.” She gave a moment for that bit to sink in before moving in for the coup de grace. “Why, could you imagine the roll call Cherrilee giving every morning at school? ‘Has anyone seen Appleschnapps? Appleschnapps is usually here by now. Goodness, I don’t know how we could possibly get through the day without Appleschnapps!”
Applejack tried her best to look angry. She really did. However, seeing Pinkie, Rainbow and Twilight laughing their plots off and rolling around on the floor, she couldn’t help but join them. She couldn’t deny that the idea of having a sister named Appleschnapps was pretty funny indeed.
“Um, girls,” Fluttershy timidly whimpered. Every other pony stopped laughing, wondering just how Fluttershy managed to cut through the noise with such a soft, wispy voice. “If you don’t mind, um, I’m trying to watch the movie. Um, could you all be a bit quieter? I mean, if you don’t mind...”
On screen, Starlight face-hoofed. “Roam!” she cried out in shock. “What are you doing here!?”
“Hey, babe!” Roam replied, his silly grin just plastered all over his face. “Heard you were throwing a late-night shindig and thought I’d just mosey on over. Brought your favorite, too.” He waved the bottle between them.
“Roam! I...” Starlight’s mood lightened up slightly. “Hey, if I stay mad at you, can I have some of that Applejack Daniels anyway?”
“Nope!” Roam smirked and winked.
“Oh all right! I can’t stay mad at you!” Sticking her tongue out, Starlight used her own magic to snatch the bottle, opening it and taking a nice, hefty swig. They say you could lead a horse to water, but Roam could sure as hey get one to drink too, it seemed. “Not that I could anyway, even when I really, really want to.”
“Hey,” Feather pointed out as she opened the door, “you were standing up for him earlier. What gives?”
Starlight stopped drinking mid-gulp and let out a loud gasp and a soft shiver. “Yeah, well, he might be a complete moron sometimes-”
“Hey!” Roam protested half-heartedly.
“-But no pony, and I mean no pony except me gets to insult his gorgeous little flank!”
“Love you too, babe,” Roam replied graciously.
‘Oh hush, I haven’t completely forgiven you yet.” Starlight tried to look angry, but the cute little grin on her lips spoiled it.
Rather than replying, Roam scrunched his eyes shut tight. His horn glowed with a soft hum and a silver aura. With a gentle clink, four ice cubes solidified inside the bottle.
Strlight looked down at the cube. Starlight slowly raised her head, a single tear forming below her right eye as her mouth formed a tight grimace. “You know, Feather, I think I just learned the true meaning of love.”
Taking one last swig of the chilled whiskey, Starlight and Roam began to make out. It was quite sloppy, Pinkie affirmed. All was apparently forgiven.
After a while, Starlight looked up at Feather and Johnny, the latter of whom had walked in while she and Roam were... Distracted. “Can he stay guys?” She was in full-on puppy-dog-eye mode, her cute little eyes sparkling innocently as she whimpered softly.
“Star-” Feather sighed.
“Light-” Feather pushed on courageaously.
Starlight, it seemed, wouldn’t be denied. She pulled out the argumentative skills only available to small children and the mildly-to-moderately inebriated. “Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease?”
“Your house, your rules,” Feather finally relinquished.
With that, Starlight’s face split into a huge, maniacal grin as she started bouncing up and down on the bed. “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!”
With that, she tackled Roam and started another big, wet, sloppy make-out session, poor Roam suddenly going cross-eyed. Johnny lowered his shades, which he was peculiarly wearing indoors at night. Perhaps he was trying to keep track of visions in his eyes. “Feather, honey,” he sighed. “No matter how much I adore you, I don’t think we’ll ever be quite as perfect for each other as those two.”
Feather chuckled and sighed. “Johnny dearest,” she mused with a grin. “I think I can die happily knowing that.”
Johnny simply lifted his shades up in response, eyebrow raised.
Twilight stared at the screen, Feather’s statement ringing in her ears.
‘I can die happily knowing that.’
Twilight narrowed her eyes as she tried to digest those words. Was it foreshadowing, or a red herring? Was it a jab at the script, or just a clever side-track. Would she live or die? Should Twilight get attached to this character or not?
What does it mean!? Her mind screamed at her. Is Feather going to live or-
A yellow hoof came across Twilight’s face, smacking her forcefully and forcing her out of her trance. “Thanks, Fluttershy,” she murmured.
“I’m happy to help,” Fluttershy whispered in response.
Johnny grinned and coughed politely. “So, ladies and Starlight,” Johnny looked pointedly at Roam and Starlight, waiting for them to get the slight. “I think it’s been a pretty long day. Now I don’t normally think, I just do. In this case, however, what I think we should do is get some sleep, which is what Starlight called us for, rather than getting hammered and waking up hung over and more miserable than we started. Agreed?” The force of his tone left little room for dissent, for which Feather was grateful. She nodded her agreement.
“Fine, fine,” Starlight waved a defeated hoof. “There’s a bed in the room across the hall from mine. You can sleep there.”
Johnny and Feather nuzzled affectionately and made their way for said room. As they dissapeared around a corner, Starlight lifted the bottle, waiting a good ten seconds to make absolutely sure Johnny and Feather were out of earshot, counting ten Maresissipis, before bringing the bottle to her lips.
“Don’t even think about it,” Johnny’s stern command echoed down the hall.
Grumbling, Starlight put the bottle away and dragged Roam up by the scruff of his neck, ignoring the stallion’s flailing hooves the whole way.
“Uh-huh,” Rainbow Dash deadpanned. “This is fun and all, but wasn’t this supposed to be scary? I mean, all I’m seeing is a bunch of cool teens you’d totally wanna hang out with. I mean, it started pretty cool, but... Is that it?” The cyan pegasus actually sounded dissapointed.
“Ugh, this isn’t some B-movie slasher, Rainbow!” Twilight couldn’t believe she was having to explain this. “It’s not like every pony’s going to die right when you see them!”
“Yeah,” Rainbow protested, “but no pony’s died yet! Only one of them is even hurt!”
“Okay then,” Twilight turned the conversation around, gazing intently at Rainbow Dash as she took over the role of inquisitor, “who do you think is going to die?”
“Well, no pony here, that’s for sure!” Rainbow decreed confidently, ignoring the shocked look from the other ponies in the room. “They’re the heroes, and heroes never die! That’s the rule isn’t it?”
The others blinked as they stared at Rainbow, honestly dumbfounded. Twilight simply shook her head and sighed.
Rainbow took the general lack of response as a cue to turn back toward the screen, beating back the less-than-confident feeling she was suddenly having.
Onscreen, the bedroom door clicked shut behind Roam as Starlight dragged him to the bed.
“So,” Starlight purred, “you want to get your hooves Roaming already?” She couldn’t help but giggle at her own horrid pun.
Rarity’s eyes bulged in shock. “Polite ponies, avert your gazes!” She dramatically covered an eye with one hoof, watching as the other ponies stiffened up and put a foreleg over their eyes, lowered ever so slightly so as to see what was on screen anyway. What they weren’t seeing, however, was Rarity’s telekinetic hand snatching up another hoof full of Pinkie Pie’s popcorn as she gazed at the screen, licking her lips in anticipation.
Roam gave his girlfriend a sweet little smile. “I guess Johnny’s right,” he chuckled. “You’ve obviously had way too much to drink. How about I get you some water and we call it a night, huh babe?”
“Spoilsport,” Starlight pouted.
There was a collective, rather forced-sounding sigh of relief in the barn as the other ponies lowered their arms, trying to look as though they hadn’t been sneaking glances from the corners of their eyes. Appearances were important, after all.
Twilight couldn’t help but notice Rarity’s expression. “Why do you look so... Disappointed, Rarity?” she asked curiously.
“I’m just, um, embarrassed!” Rarity squeaked. “Yes, I’m very sorry to have called a false alarm! So very sorry indeed.”
Fluttershy smiled knowingly at Rarity. Rainbow Dash and Applejack were far less discreet, laughing rather loudly at Rarity’s expense. It was hard to hide an embarrassed blush under such a well-groomed white coat.
Pinkie and Twilight, not quite understanding what had just happened, simply looked at each other and shrugged.
Roam had returned with the water, only to find Starlight fast asleep. Still smiling softly, he curled up into bed next to her and nuzzled her goodnight, looking rather sweet and innocent for the first time in the whole movie.
Fluttershy and Twilight gave out a perfectly synchronized “d’aww” at the sight. Twilight, however, quickly realized something, her body stiffening, her eyes becoming more intent as she focused on the screen.
“Oh no,” She murmured softly.
Starlight stirred from her slumber, rolling over and grinning mischieviously at Roam. “Hey handsome,” she cooed, “I’m still awake. You sure you don’t wanna get all multicultural on me? I’d love it if that silver tongue of yours got to Roamin, maybe do a bit of Rushin’, if you catch my drift.”
Twilight sighed in acceptance, her heart pounding.
Roam turned toward her, but the voice that replied wasn’t his gruff, masculine tone, but a resonating, cold female voice, hauntingly similar to Starlight. “My dear, that sounds lovely,” the voice replied, a wicked undertone in each and every word. “A true creature of the night would be mad to pass up on your offer.”
Suddenly, Roam’s fore hooves grew jagged, four-bladed claws, connected by leather straps at the wrists. The ponies watching gulped nervously at the implication of where that leather might have come from.
The monstrous Roam scraped the tip of one of his claws gently down Starlight’s muzzle, the other pony far too scared to move. “Then again,” the female voice continued, “I guess that’s exactly what I am!”
Fluttershy turned white and froze at the sight. Worried, Twilight checked to make sure the poor thing was still breathing. Quickly checking, Twilight found that Fluttershy was hyperventilating, and her heart rate had gone through the roof. Twilight wasn’t quite sure whether to be happy about that or not.
Rainbow Dash, however, smirked, once more demonstrating her lack of understanding. “Yep, go straight for the hero, Nightmare Moon,” she chuckled. “Man, this is gonna be a short movie.”
Starlight didn’t seem to share Dash’s confidence, it seemed, as she jumped out of bed with a high-pitched, panicked scream.
Roam’s skin nd coat began to darken as his stomach narrowed. He didn’t clamber out of bed; his hooves rested over the edge as his legs grew until he was standing. His eyes took on a slitted, serpentine appearance as his mane lengthened past his shoulders and blew through an unseen wind.
Nightmare Moon stepped toward her prey. “For what you ponies did to me,” she hissed, “I promis this won’t be quick. Unlike Roam here, I can live up to that promise.”
Starlight glared angrily at Nightmare Moon, anger fueling her movements now. “What did you say about my coltfriend!?” she spat defiantly at her tormenter. “No pony but me gets to say hay about Roam!”
Uncoiling like a spring, Starlight leapt, spinning around as she did. The element of surprise on her side, she jumped on the surprised Nightmare Moon’s face, using her as a springboard as she jumped out the window. Tucking into a roll as she hit the ground, Starlight ran as fast as her hooves would carry her into an alley, not once looking back. Strangely, it seemed as though the alley were growing, as though stretching to keep her from reaching the end. Bewildered, Starlight skidded to a halt and turned to see Nightmare Moon just behind her, grinning with a mouth full of sharp, imposing teeth.
Nightmare Moon spread her ghastly, demonic wings, encompassing the entire width of the alley as they parted to their full glory, blocking Starlight’s escape. Again, Starlight tried to charge head-on, but one forceful flap of those enormous wings sent forth a gust of wind so strong as to launch Starlight off her feet, spinning the mare onto her back. Blearily gazing at the stars, the unicorn realized they were moving. Tossing her hair aside, Nightmare Moon revealed her face and raised her talons.
“I promise you, my little pony,” Nightmare Moon whispered, her voice hauntingly seductive, “this night shall last forever!” With that, she brought her talons down with great fury, causing every pony in the barn but Rainbow Dash to gasp in shock.
“It’s just a dream, I bet,” Rainbow boasted. “Look, see!?”
Rather than show the impact, the movie cut to Starlight, screaming in bed as Roam shook her violently, yelling at her to wake up.
“Called it!” At this point, Rainbow Dash was rather proud of herself, nodding her head triumphantly. “Told ya, nothing to-”
Starlight’s chest suddenly erupted in a misty spray of blood. Roam let out a panicked yell as he scrambled off the bed, staring in shock at the blood fountain that had been his marefriend.
“Keep it down in there, you two!” Feather called out from down the hall. She clearly had no clue what was going on.
Starlight’s body was dragged off the bed by an unseen force. No aura of magic was visible as it slid up the wall and onto the roof, leaving a trail of blood as it moved. Roam whimpered helplessly, powerless to do anything but stare in horror.
“Oh...” Muttered a markedly less confident Rainbow Dash as the color drained from her body.
One final slash tore open Starlight’s throat as her body fell from the ceiling, leaving her lifeless body on the bed.
Twilight couldn’t have hoped for a better horror movie. She looked over at her friends to see their reactions. A high-pitched squeal came from Rarity, while Applejack and Rainbow Dash seemed to be having something of a heated discussion.
“Rarity,” Twilight tried to get the fashionista’s attention. “Is it about the bedsheets?”
“The bedsheets!?” Rarity hissed, still gazing at the screen with wide eyes, her pupils shrunken down to little dots. “Fabric is replaceable! Who cares about some silly, stupid cotton bedsheets? Starlight was just ripped apart!”
Twilight couldn’t help but stare. “W-wait,” she stammered, “did you honestly say ‘who cares’ about cotton bedsheets?”
Rarity blinked a few times, biting her lower lip and looking around suspiciously. “I’m so sorry, dear,” she whimpered. “That was utterly vulgar of me. I don’t know what came over me.” She didn’t seem entirely convinced about that herself.
Twilight then turned over to Pinkie Pie, who seemed to be half-heartedly mumbling ‘Giggle at the Ghosties’ to herself.
“Pinkie?” Twilight was concerned about her pink party friend. “You all right there?”
Pinkie, her mane a bit grey and flattened, turned slowly to Twilight. “Yeah,” she spoke softly, her voice uncharacteristically aloof and distant. “That was...”
Twilight braced herself for the worst.
“Awesome!” Pinke’s hair fluffed up and turned bright pink as she bounced up and down uncontrollably on the cushion. “Did you see that!? That was so wicked! Starlight was all ‘boom, pew!’ and Nightmare was like ‘nuh-uh, and then Starlight was like ‘aaaaaaaaaaaaargh!’ Bit it was a dream! But it wasn’t, because she can get you in your sleep! I bet no pony here’s gonna sleep tonight! They turned her into a meat pinata! Woooooo!!”
Twilight couldn’t help but laugh in relief. Leave it to Pinkie Pie to look through the shock and see it for the harmless bit of fiction it was. Though she was going to have to check the pinatas the party pony made for the next few weeks, make sure they weren’t made of – eww – meat.
“I bet I’m less stared than you are, R.D,” Applejack valiently whispered.
“Nuh-uh, you’re not nearly as brave as The Dash,” Rainbow replied through clenched, chattering teeth.
“Scootaloo?” Applejack tilted her head curiously.
“Hey, cut me some slack!” Rainbow snapped back. “It’s hard to think when you’re this terrified!”
“Ah-ha! I knew it!” Applejack tried to boast, though it came out more like a whimper. “I knew you had the heebie-jeebies as much as I do!”
Rarity, Twilight and Pinkie looked at the two arguing ponies, wondering whether the way they clung to each other for dear life as they argued and shivered was cute or creepy.
Finally, after several moments of silence, A.J broke the stalemate. “I think Big Mac’s still got Smarty Pants hidin’ behind the plow over yonder, where he don’t think I’ve noticed it yet. You want me to, er-”
“Yes, please!” Rainbow nodded as she exclaimed. “Dear Celestia yes!”
Applejack pried herself away from Rainbow Dash long enough to snatch up Smarty Pants, then came back to Rainbow Dash, whereupon the two ponies desperately clung to the doll like castaways with a life preserver. The sight pleased Twilight greatly, and she couldn’t help but grin.
“Oh Dashie!” Pinkie chided jokingly. “Don’t be silly! You don’t need to huggle a doll!”
Rainbow Dash looked up from her mutual death-grip on the toy with Applejack and stared at Pinke Pie in bewilderment. “I don’t?” she whimpered.
“Nope!” Pinkie chirped as she grabbed Rainbow Dash around the ribs and yanked her over, drawing her closer to her chest in a bone-crushing bear-hug. “You got me instead, silly!”
Rainbow opened her mouth to protest, but the words died on her lips as she realized that not only was hugging Pinkie Pie marginally less embarrassing than sharing the doll with Applejack, but it also put her about face-height with the party pony’s seemingly endless supply of popcorn. Suddenly liking her position, Rainbow Dash went to snatch up some popcorn, but when she bit on it, she felt something hard. It definitely wasn’t an unpopped kernal.
“Aieeeeeeeeeeeeee!!” Rairity screamed in terror as she flailed her hooves about in apparent panic, using her magic to throw the bag of popcorn with enough force to dent one of the hardwood walls with a splintering thud!
“Nightmare moon is in the popcorn!” she shrieked. “She’s in the bloody popcorn! Run for your lives!”
Rainbow Dash tried to do just that, flying full-force into the other side of the barn. As this wasn’t quite as decrepit as that one barn she destroyed, she ended up smacking her head firmly against the wall, sliding down with a groan as she tried to shake the stars out of her eyes.
Twilight let out a polite cough as Rarity calmed down and lowered herself onto her four hooves once more.
“Oh dear!” Rarity exclaimed. “I’m so sorry, Rainbow Dash!” Despite her words, no pony truly believed she was all that sorry. The way Rarity batted her eyes certainly didn’t help.
That gave Applejack, Pinkie Pie and Twilight a good laugh, which lasted until they noticed Fluttershy, who was being suspiciously quiet, even by Fluttershy standards.
Twilight approached the her yellow friend cautiously. “Um, Fluttershy?” Twilight tried to sound as sweet and friendly as possible. “You all right?”
Fluttershy offered no response. Instead, she simply stared blankly at the screen, her mouth lowered into a tight ‘o’ and her body noticably shivering.
Meanwhile, in Canterlot...
“Oh dearest sister,” Celestia cooed. “I got us a delightful little film I thought you’d enjoy.”
Luna looked over to her sister curiously. She still hadn’t gotten used to the whole idea of ‘movies.’ “Pray tell,” Luna began suspiciously, “What is this movie you have aquired for Us?”
“Oh, you’ll love it!” Celestia exclaimed. “Apparently you’re in it!”
Luna sighed and shook her head. “Oh, that one.” She turned her head away, placing her Call of Cutie game in her console, ready for another long night of fragging ponies. “No thank you, dearest Tia. We are not fond of the constant reminders of the magnitude of Our girth.”
“Pardon?” Celestia was genuinely confused by that statement.
“Nevermind.” Luna suddenly grinned mischieviously. “Watch it without Us. We think thou shalt truly enjoy it thyself.”
“Well, if you’re sure...” Celestia put on her best pout.
“We are positive, Tia.” Luna simply whistled innocently as she adjusted her headset. “Oh, and one final thing.”
“Oh?” Celestia smiled sweetly at her sister. “And that is?”
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.
"Why hello there, Cutie Markers three, it appears that tonight you'll be staying with me."
"Looks like it, Zecora." Scootaloo grumbled. Zecora was a pretty rockin' pony, even if she was a zebra and not actually a pony. That just made her being a rockin' pony even more rockin'. The problem was how they had arrived.
"Greetings, dearest Applejack, what have you in that sack? It appears unstill, and I'll have you know that I shalt not kill. Just because I am not squeamish does not mean that I'm fiendish."
"What? Kill? Heavens to Betsy, no!" Applejack blinked at Zecora, wondering where the zebra had gotten that from.
"Sorry, Applejack, I meant no offense, but I hear untruth 'bout my self-defense." Zecora smiled warmly at Applejack, glad not every pony had accepted those untruths at face value.
"That's fine, Zecora, ya'-” Applejack paused and considered what she'd just heard. “Wait, what kinda self defense are we talkin' about here?"
"Why, in fact, just over there, I was set upon by a grizzly bear.” Zecora pointed at a spot just off to the side of her home. “Curse my luck and all to heck, I accidentally snapped its neck..."
Applejack whistled softly, impressed. "Yer telling me that you could, single-hoofedly, take on a brute like that, win, and still do better?"
Zecora sighed and looked at the ground ruefully. "Indeed I can, I am afraid, but the results cannot be unmade..."
"Tha's all ah need to hear!" With that, Applejack threw down the sack slung across her shoulders and turned for the door, bolting at a speed only achieved by professional athletes in a life-threatening situation, like being chased by a lion...
Or escaping the Cutie Mark Crusaders.
Inside the bag, as the writhing finally achieved some semblance of co-ordination, three fillies gradually emerged. Inside the sack was a reasonable sum of bits and a note with a piece of simple advice: "In case of emergency, just leg it!"
"So, Zecora," Applebloom jumped forward from the three, "What can we get our cutie marks in 'round here? Potion brewin'? Findin' herbs? Speakin' in rhymes?"
"Hey," Sweetie raised an eyebrow skeptically, "What would a rhyming cutie mark look like anyway?"
"I 'unno, only one way to find out, we better get started, no muckin' about!" Applebloom grinned and shrugged her shoulders.
Scootaloo just deadpanned. "No. No way. Sweetie Belle is already close enough to getting one of the dictionary for my tastes."
Sweetie Belle's eyes widened in shock as she imagined life with that as her super special talent. It wasn't a pleasant mental image. "Alright, ladies, listen up!” Sweetie Belle's face crunched up with determination. “I am not, I repeat, not going to risk getting a book for a cutie mark. Not even Twilight mother-bucking Sparkle got one that lame. You keep her distracted whilst I think of a way to get us off the premises!"
"Premises?” Scootaloo growled. “I thought your sisters were the ones that got us here in the first place!"
"No, premises, it's a noun that means area of property-" Sweetie's eyes widened in shock as she clamped a hoof over her mouth.
Applebloom recognized the dire implications. A really lame cutie mark was at stake, here! As Sweetie stood, stock still, and Scootaloo poked her immobile form, the third crusader sprung into action, though perhaps springing would be a bad description for the polite way Applebloom trotted up to Zecora.
"Hey, Zecora,” she asked softly, “how'd you get your cutie mark? I can't tell what it is!"
Zecora smiled warmly at the girl's curiosity, trying to hide her concern that her house might be obliterated by the three Crusaders as she replied, as always, in rhyme.
"That's a good question, little filly, but the story is somewhat silly. My cutie mark is in medicine, in Zebra lands where I begin, I was collecting herbs and spices, but our land holds so many surprises, I was ravaged by an angry beast, but I did not make an easy feast, I took my forage to the apothecary, near to a great monastery, It was there that I learned to brew potions and salves that can help you, A kind man taught me how to make the potions with the plants I'd take And when he fell ill I finally made the elixir with his life I saved and on that day I got my mark, so to Equestria I did embark So that I may find plants so rare that in my homeland won't grow there and I make my home in the Everfree and send my work to family."
"Wow, Zecora, that's so cool!" Scootaloo stopped poking and prodding her unicorn friend.
"Weren't you disappointed when you didn't get your mark in wrastlin' animals?" Applebloom asked. She had to admit, that would be a pretty awesome cutie mark.
"I prefer to work some good than to hurt things that think me food." Zecora replied sagely.
Scootaloo stared at Zecora's flank, admiring the cutie mark.
"So, what does that mean anyway? I mean, it's a swirly sun, that's not really potion-y at all!"
Sweetie Belle finally blinked and shook her head, snapped out of her daydreaming nightmare.
"I think it's a swirl because you stir right? It's mixing! And... And the sun motif-" Scootaloo stared again getting a good look at it.
"is because the sun represents life and rejuvenation, like your medicine does!" Sweetie Belle butted in.
Zecora beamed with pride, nodding softly. "That's exactly right, Sweetie Belle, how you guessed, I'll never tell."
"Oh, it's easy! It was as obvious to me as the colour of my mane is to you! Pink and, er, something."
Zecora raised an eyebrow in confusion. "Sweetie Belle your mane is purple, how you forgot this-" Zecora stopped as if someone had just flicked a convenient self destruct switch in her brain. Her eyes crossed, her mouth silently opened and closed a few times as she gaped like a fish out of water. A few occasional gasping wheezes were the only sound she made.
Applebloom and Scootaloo stared in confusion until a little white blur shot past and yanked them both out the door with a bang.
"What did you just do Sweetie?" Applebloom stammered in amazement.
"I just tricked her into saying purple. There isn't a single word that rhymes with purple or orange!" Sweetie beamed with pride, "Now we can go get our cutie marks in something cool like-"
Sweetie bit her tongue. She was cut short by the look of horror on the sprinting Applebloom's face and Scootaloo's raucous laughter.
Sweetie turned as she ran, twisting her neck.
On her flank was a leather bound book with a single word title.
"Oh, dear me!"
A screen far away from Ponyville displayed the same images in almost perfect synchronization for its royal audience of one.
Its royal audience of one mare, all alone, in the big, dark, empty Canterlot castle.
"G-g-guards?" Celestia managed to force out between the chattering of her teeth.
There was no reply, save for the echoing down the dim marble corridors.
"Sergeant... Sargent Steadfast?"
Maybe... Maybe he's just out playing with his Privates...
Private Parts, Private Places and Private Time all at the same time? No... Something is amiss...
The almighty Alicorn had good reason to be nervous. Despite rumors of her power, her immense solar system moving, artisan grilled cheese sandwich making, can-stare-directly-at-the-sun-forever levels of power, Celestia seemed to get trumped on nearly a daily basis now.
First was her own little sister, as embarrassing as a foal, far more so as rulers of the sky domain itself as well as the lands below. Ponies tend to notice that sort of thing.
Then there was Discord. She had lasted a whole, what, three seconds under his influence before sending for the bearers of the elements, mere children before her.
Hey, they were sort of expendable at least.
Thoughts like that are probably why they don't respond to us anymore, Celly!
Gasp! Conscience! Celestia's mind squealed. I thought I drowned you out with cake years ago!
Fool! You've been on a diet for at least a week, now, and I have risen from- What are you doing?
A loud, high-pitched popping sound marked Celestia's answer to this latest emotional conflict.
A loud, high-pitched popping sound emanated out from under the snack table, as though the table itself was summoning more treats, which was entirely possible given how it never seemed to empty.
"Girls... Who just went to the snack table?" Rainbow murmured.
The five other ponies in the room, and one plush toy, turned to see the still-immensely packed snack table before them. It was still packed, sure, but it was no longer bowing under the weight of all the sugar. Then, fast enough to give Applejack whiplash, they snapped their heads back towards Rarity.
"Wha'? Wha' you aw 'ookin' ah me fer?" Rarity attempted to enunciate through a mouthful of deep-fried-cookie-dough-eclair.
DIE! DIE! DIE! Celestia thought, quite viciously, as she scarfed down 2.2 giggle joules worth of caloric energy, all from confectionery stolen from a party at Sweet Apple Acres.
Having dealt with her repressed emotions by gorging herself on an unmentionable amount of sugary delights once more(*), she went back to musing.
Then there was Chrysalis. That Changeling Queen was the equivalent of a bug, and Celestia a giant magnifying glass. How could she have lost to that?! How did the bug squash HER?!
That cocoon thing was a little too kinky for her tastes, too.
All in all, if something big and mean came around the corner, Celestia was usually the first casualty.
Celestia took a deep breath, counted to ten, and called upon her dignified royal nature and legendary composure for this crisis.
(*This is also the reason Nightmare Night was started. When Celestia began feeling the most guilty about banishing her sister, on the anniversary of the 'incident', she turned to an excuse to have the entire kingdom bring her candy. Costumes were not enough to hide her shame. A mountain of lollipops deep enough to swim in, though, was rather sufficient.)
Sargent Steadfast looked up from his Monopony game with the Princess.
"Hey, Princess, you hear something? That sounded like Celestia!"
"Do not worry, my little pony, she is merely wound up. She deserves some rest, and relaxation, for all that she has given me." Luna smiled benevolently. Nopony heard her mutter "Like the thousand year vacation she gave me." under her breath, fortunately.
"Well, that might be so,” the Sargent replied, “but are you sure she doesn't just need some Private Time?"
Luna cocked her eyebrow.
"Isn't that what we are giving her now, guard stallion?"
"Err... No, he meant me." Private Time replied as he thought his next move.
Luna glared in response.
"No, soldier, you are not going anywhere, come Tartarus or chocolate milk flooding, until you sell me that railroad of yours."
"No." The little unicorn said with finality.
"Wha' do you mean no?" The yellow earth filly replied.
"I said no. I am not getting a dictionary for a cutie mark! You hear me?!"
"Looks like you're stuck with it though." Scootaloo chuckled, earning her a buck to the shoulder from Applebloom.
"No, carpal rhymes with purple. I was wrong! You hear me, cutie mark, I didn't earn you, I was wrong!" She snatched up some bleach and began to rub the offending cutie mark vigorously, hoping that would be enough to wipe away her shame.
“Carpal isn't a word though!" Scootaloo moaned, disappointed.
"Yes it is, it's a noun for a bone part of a wrist, like those things Spike has for his claws. It's derived from-"
Her two friends proceeded to giggle under their breaths, trying not to look too obvious as they reveled in Sweetie Belle's misfortune.
Sweetie Belle let out a defeated sigh. Applebloom was a good friend and gave Sweetie a sympathetic hug.
"Hey, you can still crusade with us for our cutie marks,” the yellow earth pony offered, “maybe we can get you a better one."
Scootaloo, who was not as good a friend, fell to the ground rolling in laughter.
The six bearers of the elements of harmony were enjoying the movie so far, a movie that was the physical embodiment of all that was not harmonious in the world.
"Oh, I've been there!" Twilight pointed a hoof at the screen, "There's a great library ri-"
Twilight suddenly vanished, leaving every pony to wonder what she was about to say. It actually sounded interesting.
Twilight was engulfed in a sea of white plumage, muffling her.. Strangely, the movie was still on.
Great. Looks like I fell into a wormhole to a parallel dimension, again. I really thought last time we took care of that... Better talk to Time Turner again.
"Twilight!" Oh, that explained so much yet raised so, so many more questions, "Defend your princess!"
"Dnnt- Ptui - Don't you have guards for that, Princess?” Twilight asked. “Like, all of them?"
"Err, not at the moment I don't, no. I can't go look for some either, it's the night shift..." Celestia trailed off.
"What does the night shift have to do with any- Oh. Luna. Right." Twilight simply shook her head and rolled her eyes.
Celestia nodded slowly, gravely.
"So, what am I defending you from, exactly, princess? You can count on me!" Twilight put on her war face from inside the larger Alicorn's engulfing snuggle.
Celestia, in response, raised a single, trembling hoof to point at the screen.
"Err, Princess? Why do you want me to protect you from Gem Lance?” Now Twilight was just confused. “I thought you liked him?"
Celestia snapped her head down to Twilight. Then up to the movie. Then down to Twilight. Back to the movie. This took about a second to accomplish. She would have made a great chess player.
"Wait, wait, that's Gem?” Celestia squealed girlishly. “He was so sweet! What's he doing in... This?!"
"I think it's sort of a cool movie, but Rarity said the same thing..." Twilight mumbled.
"You- you watched this movie? For pleasure? With your friends?" Celestia blurted out with the flawless royal grace that came so naturally to her.
"Actually, we were all watching it right then, before you err... Whatever it is you're doing, Princess." Twilight responded humbly, twiddling her hooves uncomfortably under the Princess's bewildered gaze.
"By my flaming nipples!" Celestia blurted out, "Your friends must need you now more than I do!"
With that, Celestia popped Twilight back to where she had been. She then glanced left, then right, then left again. Nodding to herself in thanks that she was alone, she made herself comfortable and started ogling Gem Lance's gorgeous flanks.
Twilight's so precious... She deserves a special somepony like- Thin bead of drool escaped her lips - that. A special somepony exactly like that...
Her scheming was interrupted, however, by the latest gruesome murder on screen.
Arrghh, kill it with fire! Her mind screamed. I'LL DROP THE SUN ON IT, I SWEAR TO ME!
You read that right, I've been racking my brain thinking of how to continue this when I realized this is exactly where I wanted to end it, which is probably why it took me so long. I was trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.
Don't fret, though, I'm writing other stuff, too!
Also, because I'll probably be writing a lot more for the next few months, you might want to track me. I assume if you've read this far and waited this patiently you are enjoying this so far!
"Sorry about that girls." Twilight said momentarily after re-appearing in her comfy, comfy bean-bag.
"What was all that about? Didja freak out from being away from a book for more than fifteen minutes?" Rainbow Dash snapped out of her apprehensive state just long enough to deliver a 'witty' barb.
"No." Twilight spoke dryly, "Princess Celestia seems to have promoted me from 'Faithful Student' to 'Security Blanket'".
Rarity's eyes widened with sudden inspiration as she turned to Twilight, mouth opening as if to say-
"No, Rarity," Twilight struck first, "I do not think that Princess Celestia would appreciate a gem-encrusted teddy-bear."
"Nor a blanket, nor an overly elaborate night gown."
Rarity harrumphed but didn't respond otherwise.
Twilight turned back to the movie, unsatisfied. "Okay, then."
Maybe, then, Rarity mused, If it were neither a gown, nor a blanket...
"I can tell I obviously haven't changed your mind," Twilight didn't look away from the screen, "just, make one for Luna too, then, okay?"
Oh, how wonderful indeed, I won't let you down, Twilight. Rarity thought calmly as she burst out of her seat and ran around the room hoof-pumping yelling 'Wooooo!' in a display that made even Pinkie Pie uncomfortable.
"Oh- Oh dear... I just did the out loud thing and the in-my-head thing mixed around, again, didn't I?"
"Sugarcube, if I have anything to say about this, you'll never live this down." Applejack smirked.
"Oh, dear" Rarity said in faux-horror as she fell back into her chair, "it's almost as if you want me to tell all our friends about some of the special orders you've made the past few-"
"But, Rarity!" Twilight protested, "You can't just-"
"Dress measurements." Came the fashionista's response, spoken in a tone that could only possibly be described as 'bored'.
"Hey!" Rainbow Dash flared her wings indignantly.
"Might I remind you, Dash, who you have come to in the past about your as-yet-unrequited love, hmm?" Rarity idly took a sip from her iced tea.
"I- Touché." Rainbow's wings sunk in defeat.
"Ooh! Ooh!" Pinkie bounced excitedly in her own bag, "What dirt have you got on me, huh?"
"I swear, this is even worse than Gabby Gums." Twilight muttered to Applejack, who nodded in reply, making sure Rarity didn't overhear them.
"Pinkie... I'll give you three." Rarity's eyes glinted in the light of the projector. Rainbow would later swear this was the scariest part of the movie, although she never got to see most of the rest.
"Three? Huh, I don't-"
"April 21st. August 29th. September 7th."
"Wow, you're good..." Pinkie sunk lower into her chair.
Everyone slowly turned to face Fluttershy, the only one left standing. Err, sitting.
"What? I haven't done anything-"
"Fluttershy just knows that I could tell Angel about what happened to his parents."
"I thought you knew taxidermy!" Fluttershy hissed, "I didn't think you'd make them into slippers!"
Everyone stared at Rarity in shock.
"Do I look like Rainbow Dash? I should hope not!" "Hey!" "Because you cannot believe me to be that gullible darling. If that were true why do you still wear them so often, hmm?"
Now everyone stared at Fluttershy in horror.
"I... I... Okay, I admit it," Fluttershy hung her head, "They're really, really, really comfy and snuggly..."
"Twilight?" Applejack whispered, shellshocked.
"If you ever see me get on Rarity's bad side, shoot me first, it'll be quicker that way."
"That's impossible, darling," Rarity's sudden intrusion to the conversation caused Twilight and Applejack to jump, hearts in their throats.
"I don't have a bad side!" Rarity smiled innocently.
The five other friends in the room shuddered and went back to watching the movie.
"I swear, I didn't do it!"
Johnny slammed the accused Roam against his locker.
"Why'd you run, then?! Why'd you leave me with Feather's dad to deal with-"
"Oh, buck me in the horseapples t'ill I sing like a songbird, it'd be easier to deal with" Roam cried out, "He's involved in this now?!"
"You murdered her, what did you-"
Roam growled and, despite the massive size advantage Johnny had on him, forced the stallion away. The locker behind him dented from the sheer force of it.
"I did not kill Star!." his face was streaked with shimmering tears.
Johnny's expression softened. "You know what? I think I believe you."
Feather sighed with relief, letting out the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. One brutal killing was enough for her lifetime, let alone 24 hours.
"It was her wasn't it? That pony from our dreams?" She murmurred. Though she asked it like a question it was clear she already knew her answer.
"I... I don't know what else it could have-"
"Freeze, you son-of-a-whore!"
"Dad?!" Feather shrieked.
"I knew he'd try to meet up with you kids, I ju-"
"You used us as bait? I'd call you a pig, Lieutenant, but I don't believe feeding them slop is too good for them."
It was just as the Lieutenant took a swing at the insolent earth pony stallion that the barn exploded.
Rainbow jumped into Pinkie Pie's arms, who embraced the opportunity for a good snuggle even in a situation as dire as 'The entire building you're in falling apart in a hail of splinters'.
"TWILIGHT!" Rainbow screamed, "YOU DIDN'T TELL ME YOU GOT THE THREE DEE VERSION?!"
Twilight's eyes remain shut closed, holding up the protective barrier around them, just as her older brother had taught her to do. The defensive response was almost ingrained in her-
"Because I TOTALLY MEANT FOR THIS TO HAPPEN, FEATHER-BRAIN!"
-as her tendency to use sarcasm as a coping device.
"Where's Fluttershy?!" Rarity called out, scrabbling furiously around for the yellow pegasus. It immediately struck Twilight that Rarity's first reaction was to put her friend's safety above her own, it was a calming thought.
"I-I-I'm under h-h-here... I'm sorry, I didn't think it'd be an issue..." A soft voice was muffled under Fluttershy's cushion. It was amazing the spaces she'd fit into when she was terrified enough.
"Wha' in the whole, wide world of Equestria was that?!" Applejack yelled over the ruckus. "Wha' mangy varmint would go about smashin' my barn like that? Who would be able to smash mah barn like that?!"
"Don't look at me!" Rainbow snapped.
"Cutie Mark Crusaders, Siege Engineers!"
"Bullseye! See, I told you we could hit it without Pinkie's help!" Scootaloo cheered.
"Dead on target, Sweetie Belle, you've got a real good eye for detail!" Applebloom congratulated.
"Yeah, well, couldn't have done it without you putting it all back up together, Applebloom." Sweetie nodded.
"Hey! I found the boulder!"
"Yeah, Scootaloo, you did, it was a totally wicked boulder too! Where'd you find it?"
"Oh, it was just outside Rarity's boutique!"
"What do we do now?" Pinkie asked, pretty much oblivious to the carnage around her. Carnage was probably Pinkie's baseline average, after all.
"Well, I guess I could-" Twilight started as the door to the barn fell out of its shattered door frame.
Standing there was... Was...
"Loudest of gasps!" Pinkie yelled, "The movie's escaped into the real world!"
"Hey, Twilight Sparkle," a bashful young stallion holding a bouqet of roses nodded in response. Applejack found it odd, at first, that he seemed to be more nervous about seeing Twilight than seeing a building explode in front of him, but then she realized where his train of logic must have sent him. Heck, if AJ and Twilight weren't in her line of sight when it happened she might have already been hoofing them the bill!
"G-Gem?! Is that you?" The shield faltered with Twilight's concentration.
"It's been a long time..." He murmurred, looking up from the floor to meet her watery gaze.
Twilight walked slowly over to him, caressing his face slowly with a hoof, reaching out, as if to confirm he was actually real.
"Far too long..." She agreed, her voice weak and faltering.
"Oh, just kiss already!" Rarity screamed, "The tension is killing me! I have not just had a building explode around me for you two to just be friends! I need some conflict resolution already!"
Twilight and Gem stared at Rarity in shock, mouths open. Gem Lance, Cherry-Wood celebrity, famous movie star, one of the most beautiful stallions alive... Blushed furiously and looked away, glancing down in the general direction of Twilight's feet.
Twilight sighed and sported a devilish grin.
"You always made me take the initiative, didn't you?"
And with that, they snogged. The kiss was drawn out, long, only stopping when they were interrupted by Rarity's clapping and girlish giggling. She was the only one in the room who was not completely frozen in sensory overload.
"Now!" She declared, "Run off into the sunset!"
"But, Rarity, it's already night-"
Gem stared at where Twilight had been mere seconds ago.
"Does... Does that happen often?"
Then the sun rose... In the west.
"Celestia owed me. We have five minutes."
"I... I am okay with this."
Gem scooped her up, gingerly dumping Twilight across his broad, muscular but totally timid shoulders, and rode off into the sunset in the general direction of Ponyville.
"Did... Did that actually just happen?" Rainbow screamed out in confusion from Pinkie's lap.
"Well, I- Argh, what is that awful glare?!"
"It's coming from over there, Rarity..." Fluttershy observed from her hiding place.
"Weren't you the one who wanted us never to speak of this again, sugarcube?"
"But he's a diamond!" Rarity squealed.
"No, he's not, we already went over this, he's just-" Rarity clamped her hooves on Applejack's head and turned the farmers head to see the giant rock which had crushed the barn.
The impact had split it directly down the middle, causing it to fall into three equal pieces. Inside each piece, embedded in the stone, was a daimond about the size of a pony. They had fractured along the lines where the diamond turned back to rock...
"Like my cutie mark..." She whispered, breathless.
"Well, roll me in flour and call me Celestia, Discord was tellin' the truth after all?!"
"Well, sure!" Pinkie's chirp was muffled by Rainbow's flank in her face, "He was the god of chaos after all! If you lie all the time you become predictable, and predictable is the opposite of chaotic!"
"That makes a lot of sense, actually, Pinkie..." Rarity nodded.
"Oh my gosh, did you see that?! That was- Oh, crud, they were inside..."
"We had absolutely everything to do with that! I found the rock, too!" Scootaloo nodded firmly.
"Sorry, sis, usually I'd lie or make excuses, but that was just way too cool for me to lie about it."
Rainbow Dash nodded as if this was the most reasonable thing in the world.
"Okay, Applejack. Since this is Sweetie's fault, here's one third of the diamond."
"That's very kind of you, Rarity."
"Hey!" Scootaloo stomped a hoof, "I want a third, if it weren't for me you wouldn't even-"
"Quite right, Scootaloo," Rarity interjected, "You get a third as well, finders fee."
"Now, how will you be paying me?"
"Yes. You stole my boulder. I would like it back!"
"I... Broke it?" Scootaloo's head hurt. So... Confused...
"Well, how will you be replacing it then?"
"All I have is this chunk of diamond and- Oh. Right."
"Very good. I'm going to make these into something fabulous to decorate the boutique's facade with, ta-ta girls!"
Rarity skipped, skipped, out of the ruins of the barn levitating two chunks of giant diamond behind her.
"See that glint in my sister's eye?"
"It means run. Now."
"Yes, Sweetie Belle?"
"My legs are frozen in fear."
"Mine too. Scootaloo?"
Scootaloo sighed as Applejack calmly advanced towards the three in the manner that ponies have when they are, in fact, already destroying you so hard in their mental fantasies that they have no time to dedicate spare brain function to something as trivial as displaying their irate rage.
"Go, go gadget, Scootamoscooter!"
Applejack chased the three fillies on the Scooter into the fading sunset, too, leaving just Fluttershy, Pinkie and Dash alone in the ruined barn.
"Ah... IneedotalktoTwilightaboutsomethingbye!" Fluttershy blushed and exploded out of the barn.
"That was... Weird." Rainbow muttered.
"Hey, Dashie." Pinkie waggled her eyebrows at the pegasus on her lap.
"Ah, Pinkie, why are you giving me your bedroom eyes?"
"Hey, Rainbow, you've got a massive blush on your face."
"Your voice says no, but your wings say 'I want to have a special party with you, right now, in my-'"
"I get it, I get it..." Rainbow murmurred weakly.
"You liiiiiiiiike me. Rarity told me."
"I do no- Wait, Rarity told you? That traitor! When?!"
"When we were left alone together for hours on a railcart back to Ponyville and she was really, really mad at you and thinking of ways she could get back at you."
Just because she knew what she was in for doesn't mean *I* knew...
"So... You li-"
And then Pinkie and Dash pashed and all was right in the world.
The Next Morning
Eughh... Why am I in Pinkie's bedroo- Oh. Right. We should totally watch more movies if this is what happens.
"Hey, Pinks, I-"
"Oh, hey Dashie! Sorry, I gotta work now, but I was waiting for you to wake up, but I didn't want to wake you up, because you look so adorable when you sleep!"
"Oh, er, okay..."
"Oh, don't be disappointed Dashie! I'll spend the rest of the day with you later, promise, why don't you go out for a quick stretch of your wings, huh?"
"Yeah! Sweet! First awesome flying, then more awesome stuff and things."
She zoomed out the nearby window.
Well, she zoomed at the nearby window, worked out she needed to open it first, then zoomed out the window.
She soon passed over a familiar purple pony. She descended with a smirk, prepping her mental inventory of "Librarian insults 101".
"Hey, Twilight, I thought you'd still be shacked up with that boyfriend of you-"
Rainbow Dash was sprayed with warm sticky blood as the librarian before her was ripped apart, explosively, bits of brain and gore stuck in her head.
A kidney chose this moment to land on her head. It was not pleasant.
Rainbow screamed wordlessly, so terrified was she she had forgotten how to breath. She hit the ground with a soft 'thud'.
Twilight and Fluttershy removed the tight fitting safety goggles and walked out of the shrub they were hiding in.
"See, Twilight, that's how it looks like anatomically."
"Huh, I see. Thanks, Fluttershy, that was very interesting. Though, I have to ask, why do you have a meat-model of me lying around?"
"Oh, don't worry Twilight, I have one of all our friends, just in case."
Twilight sighed in relief.
"Oh, that's okay then, I thought it was something creepy for a moment there. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a date!"
"So, Sister, look what arrived in the mail!" Luna cried cheerfully, "The Element of Generosity has sent us blankets! With Sleeves! They are most comfortable indeed!"
She opened the door to Princess Celestia's dark chambers wearing the cowled Snuggie.
"Never again, no sleep, never again, no sleep, never again..."
"Sister, art you alright?"
Celestia turned to see Luna, silhouetted in the doorway, wearing the cowled, ghostly blanket.
"NIGHTMARE MOON! ARRGHHH!" Her horn flashed furiously.
"Oh, buck, not again..."