Fun & Games
Running. Running. Pinkie's sides heaved with exhaustion as she navigated the even terrain as the forest stretched out ahead of her. Each step took her further away from her friends and closer to her home, but there was no other way with her cargo clutched firmly in her teeth. She could still hear their calls behind her, beckoning for her to slow down, to stop right there, to not go this far for something like that. But after everything that had happened, there was no possibility of turning around. Not anymore.
Rain started falling from the dark clouds as the trees around her became more dense. At the outset of her run, at the edge of the forest, there had only only been a slight drizzle, but now the towering trees echoed the large drops falling from the heavens. Pinkie ignored the downpour just as she ignored her friend's pleas, both falling on deaf ears. Looking back quickly, she could no longer see them through the haze, even as the foliage protected her from getting wet. Darting to the side, Pinkie left the road she had been following and hid in the brush a few meters away. From behind a tree, she saw Rainbow Dash fly overhead. She would have been caught if she had waited just a few seconds. No, she couldn't be caught yet! It was too early for that!
Her cyan friend called her name as she passed by, somehow not seeing the bright pink blob, before she rushed onward. Most of town would be after her, and she would have precious few allies in this. She felt excited and scared and saddened all at the same time, knowing she could not count her closest companions among those allies. Pinkie held herself still for a few seconds, then pushed herself off deeper into the brush to lose her followers. Allowing herself to slow down-just for the moment-she trudged through the thick weeds and trees. Only the sound of the rain impacting the canopy accompanied her as she made her way through the stinging thorns of the underbrush.
The sudden sound of a twig snapping, then, filled her ears like she had stuck her head into her signature party-cannon.
Darting forward, Pinkie dived head first into a nearly-dry creek bed to escape the betraying twig, and readied herself to sprint in any direction as her hunters would pounce on her. A few moments passed, dragging on into minutes as she felt no twitches, itches or stitches to tell they where they would come from, and she decided to look up from her trench. Above was a lone doe, staring at Pinkie like she had just screamed and jumped into a ditch. They held their contest for a few more fleeting moments. The doe blinked. Pinkie blinked. The dear shrugged her shoulders and continued on, leaving behind the pink mess of adrenaline, scrapes and mud.
The mare lowered herself back into the creek bed and chose to go downstream, the same direction she was headed earlier on the road. Picking up her hooves with determination, she continued on, her cargo in hoof and utterly alone. No longer covered by foliage, the rain was able to bring it's full power against the mare. And as it slowly soaked her sinking mane, another sinking sensation told her it wasn't going to stop.
Pinkie sat beneath the bridge watching the worst of the storm. She hadn't seen any of the ponies she needed to hand the package off to when she arrived. Were they just late? Was she late? Or perhaps they had all been captured? No! They would do this, and then... then she could throw them the largest party they had ever seen! If she felt merciful, she might even invite her friends.... No, she would not invite them. They were the enemy, and the enemy does not get parties.
The rain continued to mock her planning, only getting heavier as she wished it would lighten up. The clip of the wood above her signaled that somepony was with her. She listened intently for the signal that signified an ally, but none came. Another set of hooves struck from the other side of the bridge, telling her there were two ponies, both this close to discovering her.
“Were you able to find anypony?”
It was Twilight. Why did she have to be at this spot? It was bad enough she was running behind schedule, but now Twilight was hot on her trail?
“No, but I did find... Lyra. I was able to sneak up on her and.... Buck it! Why did she have to side with them?”
Bon Bon. Pinkie smiled at the memory of her sweets. They rivaled Pinkie's cupcakes in terms of flavor, not that either of them would ever admit that.
“It's not her fault, Bon Bon. None of us was wanted to be turned against each other like this, it was just... I dunno, fate? We all agreed it had to be like this, and it's too late to change anything now. Just.... Keep looking, Bon Bon, it'll all be over soon.”
“Okay, Twilight. We just can't let them get back into town. Keeping trying to find Miss Pie, though. She's the biggest threat.”
“I know, I know. If you see her just let somepony else know, don't even bother giving chase. You know Pinkie is-”
“I know. We all know Pinkie is... Pinkie.”
They sounded so secure in their musings, but she supposed they were right to fear her. They could just look over the edge and it would all be over, but instead she heard one pair of hooves trot away, then another in the opposite direction.
Lyra was gone now though. She would have to make the final leg of her journey on her own. But Lyra was the only one who knew the trails well enough to guide her back to town without being seen. She would have to take the creek further on to the river. The rain was already starting to fill up her current route, so the river would be swelled. All the better for her stealth, in case there was a scout on that path.
Gathering up her burden once more, she wallowed into the water, determined not to leave a trail.
Running again. The river roared to her side, and Pinkie's flat mane and tail were a dull pink contrail, flailing behind her. The rain was heavier still, which startled her, as it was supposed to end soon. Applejack was only a few lengths back, Fluttershy a few more, now grounded from the intense downpour most other pegasi reveled in. She would need as much distance between them if she wanted to safely get down the cliff in her path.
Applejack was slowly gaining on her flanks, pushing as hard as ever. Luckily for her, the cliff was straight ahead. Any second now, Ditzy Doo would pop out, ready to catch her. Any second now.... The cliff was fast approaching, but still the gray mare did not appear. Where was she? Oh well, time for plan C.
Pinkie skidded to a halt right at the edge of the bluff, then turned around to face pursuers. They had stopped as well, not wanting to get too close to a fall in the slick grass.
“There's nowhere left ta go, Pinkie Pie. Just get away from the cliff an' we can ah'l be done wit this silly nonsense.”
The farmer edged closer to Pinkie, prompting her to take a step back towards the edge.
“Stay back! And it's not nonsense! You said you were going to have fun doing this. And I bet you are!”
A grin split Pinkie's face in half, her eyes wide with glee, even as her slick mane framed her in the gloom. Applejack froze, seeing her twitch toward the edge.
“We're all having fun! Isn't that right Fluttershy?”
The grin somehow grew wider, leaving her face entirely.
“I said, isn't that right Fluttershy?!”
“Please, Pinkie stop this!”
Fluttershy was crying, sending more liquid down her muzzle than any of the others.
“Get away from the edge, you could get hurt! You've already separated all of us like this, so please, just give up and lets all get back together!”
The grin had vanished, in its place a solemn vigilance.
“I can't end it now. You'll have to wait like everypony else. Just... try to have fun, okay? For me?”
Pinkie turned and wound herself like a spring, aiming herself off the side for a long fall.
Applejack attempted a tackle, falling on the spot where the now airborne Pinkie Pie had been standing a second prior. Pinkie fell through the air before her friend's horrified eyes, joining the waterfall in its descent. She quickly vanished from the two mare's sight, the large pool underneath devouring all visibility below in its thundering mist.
“After her! She might be hurt!”
Applejack's statement was late as Fluttershy was already hopping down the side to get to her possibly injured friend. Applejack followed suit, dreading how far her pink pal would go in this sick game of hers.
Pinkie watched through the spray as the two mares combed the sides of the pool, gradually working their way down the river. They would find no signs of her. She was safely ensconced behind the water, in a cave she had scouted for this very purpose. The sound was unbearable and the footing treacherous, but she was invisible from the outside world in all regards.
When she was sure they were gone, Pinkie swam out and took to the woods once more. The rain was finally letting up, and she was closer than ever to Ponyville with her package in tow. The sun threatened to break through, but it's bluff was called by the clouds, still plump with potential. There would be no ponies guarding this way into town. Finding a dear trail, Pinkie knew she was in the proper place. Looking back up to the cliff, she saw a blue streak with a cone of white air. Dashie wouldn't see her from up there. She was safe for now.
Pinkie worked her way along the rough trail until it crossed a main road. Making sure there were no scouts out this way, she bended off towards town at a faster rate. She was on the home stretch, and the package would arrive. She could end it all. This final “delivery” would be the last, and nopony could challenge her might ever again! Even the Princess would never be able to stand up to her. She would rule them all, and they would bow before her. And Dashie... she would show her friend what a real winner looked like. Pinkie's maniacal grin greeted only the trees, and it was to her they grinned back in gleeful delight, even as they scratched her stinging hide.
The first building finally came into sight, and she leapt off the trail once more to approach the town with more subtlety. There weren't any ponies in sight, however, until she reached the very edge of the foliage. Sitting there on the edge of town was a group of twenty or so fallen ponies, all silent, each of them with their own collection of scrapes or bruises. Standing tall over them was a small group of unicorns, marking the area for the prison it was with a dull red glow. The Mayor stood with them, acting as final Arbiter for those of Pinkie's comrades who passed into the red field. They each seemed to have a restraining enchantment, but this was to be expected from the unicorns defending the town.
Unfortunately for Pinkie, those guards would spot her if she tried to pass directly into Ponyville. She doubted she could outrun that many, so she needed to pass where nopony would suspect. Maybe... they would think of watching for anypony to break into the guard camp, would they? They were all watching the imprisoned ponies to keep them from breaking out to the forest, so it might work.
Pinkie circled around using brush to hide herself until she was as close as she could get. Watching for make sure she was right about where the guards were looking, she darted into the crowd. A few ponies gasped quietly as she hid behind them, but then they smiled darkly as they saw what she was doing: using the guards own detection methods against them. The red glow made the entire ensemble appear pink, and none of the guards seemed to notice her mad dive either, so she could make her way camouflaged through the crowd. She slowly crawled, using the ponies around her as cover.
Just as she neared the edge, her movements betrayed her as one of the guards noticed her movement. She left the shout behind as she sprinted the last few ponylengths into town, the guards in hot pursuit. Leaving behind the imprisoned, the guards quickly realized their mistake, just in time for a few of the ponies on the edges to make a break for it. The chaos that ensued alerted other ponies in town just where the disruption occurred, leaving Pinkie only a few seconds of solitude before the chase would be on once more. She dived into an alley as she saw Rainbow Dash come around the corner, swiftly making her way into darkness.
When she felt nopony had seen her, she poked her head out into the empty street. Dashie must have continued on.... She put one hoof out, then the other, each careful step ready to be taken back at a moments notice. Now sure of herself, Pinkie darted to the next building, then the next. Every minute or so a patrolling pony would appear before her, but each time her Pinkie Sense let her dart into an alley before she was seen. The sun was finally fighting it's way out, breaking the gloom around her into chunks. The glory of her victory would be hailed by the return of the sun.
But the sun was not her ally either, and a stray ray highlighted the pink mare, drawing the high-flying Rainbow Dash to her, even as Pinkie Pie saw the blue mare angle toward her. Panicked now, she raced down the street as fast as her four hooves could move, no longer pacing herself. Ahead, she saw her goal: Books & Branches. Each magical tome in that house was precious to their owner, but to Pinkie it was the one place she could finally rest her head. If she could just reach that door, there would be nothing Dashie, or anypony, could ever do to spoil her plans.
Rainbow Dash, though, had other ideas. She didn't want to hurt her friend, but at the same time she could never allow her to touch that door. Putting on a final burst of speed, she tried to reach out and touch the pink flank. The sun had a third idea in mind. Warmed over and drying in the light and wind, Pinkie's mane decided to revert to its usual fluffy self, pulling back Pinkie like a pastel parachute.
“Tag! You're out!”
Rainbow sat on Pinkie, victorious. In her mouth hung her friend's precious cargo: a flag on a stick.
“Awwww! Dashie, I was just about the win the world cup! Now I'll have to wait a whole year to try again!”
The baker pouted, and Rainbow hovered into the air, setting her friend free.
“You set up this crazy tournament, Pinks, but it's only fitting that the one and only Rainbow Dash win! All hail the Capture the Flag Queen!”
She soared into the twirling with the flag in hoof, doing a midair victory dance. Beside Pinkie, now brightening at her friends delight, Rarity cantered alongside with an umbrella on her back.
“I'll never understand how you can play those filthy games of yours, darling. You even managed to rope in Canterlot and Fillydelphia! And each time your mane and coat end up just as filthy. Tsk.”
The unicorn continued on after prodding the pink mare along, pushing her toward her boutique and a good brushing. Rainbow came down from her high to cruise alongside the two.
“I can’t believe how epic this game was! Who knew flag hoofball could be such an awesome sport?! But... what was with your mane? You seem perfectly fine now, and I've only ever seen you like that when....”
Rainbow trailed off, not wanting to bring up that memory. Pinkie took a second to to realize what she talking about, before realization flashed in her eyes.
“Oh that! No, I'm fine, it was just the weather. I was really wet. Dashie, did you put Everfree clouds in the forecast again? That and the author thought my straight mane would help with making it look like I'd gone crazy, but it was only the rain after all! But oh jeez Rarity you missed out on the best chase scenes. I was on the cliff, and Applejack was all 'stop' and I was all 'but its fun' and then I jumped off and she was all 'nooooooo' and then I got to use my super-special-ultra-secret hiding spot like where I store all my rubber duckies for duck emergencies. I hope we don't have any of those soon, cause I think I replaced most of those with cool sunglasses for coolness emergencies. But I gotta say right now I'm not too sure I ever want to play that game again. I'm all scratched up now, and I don't think the ponies in time-out had much fun either. They were even worse off than I am! And I hope I didn't scare Fluttershy too much, what do you think?”
Blank looks from her friends brought on a giggle from the pink pony. They both shook their heads and ignored her as she babbled on, the same Pinkie that threw parties and made them laugh. And definitely not the Pinkie who shunned ponies in favor of inanimate objects.
No, definitely not that Pinkie.