It was another perfect day in Ponyville. The sun was shining, the birds were singing in the distance and one particular pink Earth pony was bouncing up and down, giddy with excitement. Pinkie Pie couldn’t contain herself. In just a matter of hours, her and her friends will be attending the prestigious Grand Galloping Gala! Well, Pinkie tried to act excited. In reality, this would be the 39th or so time that Pinkie and her friends would be going to the gala. Pinkie remembered groaning a bit that morning when she received the prompt from HQ that tonight would once again be the ‘Best Night Ever’.
Of course, they all ended the same way, a complete and utter disaster for her and her friends. Nevertheless, the story was one of the more popular ones of the 50 some odd stories they had done so far, and the public demanded to see more of it while they waited impatiently for the third season to begin later that fall. Such was the monotony of doing these summer repeats. Pinkie sighed. Better give the public what they want. It was the better option than the alternative, Pinkie had decided. With that in mind, the party pony began to hop up and down to begin the story.
“I can’t believe that the Grand Galloping Gala is tonight!” she shouted in her usual bubbly tone. She kept her ear out for Twilight's next line, telling her to stop shouting so she could concentrate on the spell to create the carriage that would take them to the gala.
The line never came.
Right off the bat, Pinkie knew something was wrong. She took a look to her friend and she saw Twilight just staring ahead forcing out a big grin. Her fellow unicorn friend, Rarity, stood beside them, seemingly uninterested with the entire scenario. Spike, the baby dragon and Twilight’s assistant, was just sleepy. He yawned as he tried to stay awake.
“That’s right Pinkie! Tonight’s the big night!” Twilight forced out “And we’re gonna have sooo much fun!!! Right Rarity?”
“Oh I suppose,” Rarity agreed meekly. “I simply cannot wait to meet the *ugh* stallion of my dreams.” It took her all her might to not throw up after saying that sentence.
Pinkie Pie panicked inwardly. We’re not even 10 seconds in and we're already off-script! This isn't good, she thought.
“Yes! The Grand Galloping Gala!” Pinkie said, desperately trying to keep the scene on track. “I just can’t wait until...” Pinkie had noticed that the librarian wasn’t practicing her spell, like she was supposed to.
“Um, aren’t you supposed to be getting ready to cast that spell, Twilight?” the pink earth pony asked.
“That silly old spell?” Twilight waved a hoof in amusement “Please! I can cast it in my sleep!”
“You can?" Rarity asked, now noticing that the story was going in an unexpected direction. "But I thought it was a complicated and you needed to concentrate.”
“Well it was at first,” Twilight explained, “But the fact is that I’ve done this SO many times now that, frankly, I don’t even need that stupid apple anymore! Heck, I can even use this rock on the ground. Watch!”
Twilight focused her horn on a set of rocks laying besides them and with a flash, the rocks had turned into a spectacular white carriage.
“See? Piece of cake!” Twilight said, a few hair of her mane popping out of place.
“Um girls? This isn't how the episode usually goes,” Pinkie whispered to her two friends.
“I know! After all, this is only, what? The umpteenth time we’ve gone to this gala?” Twilight asked hypothetically. “I think we ALL know how this story goes by now!”
It was at this time when Rainbow Dash and Applejack made their regularly scheduled entrance into the story.
“Hold your horses, girls! We’re…” Applejack dropped her apple when she noticed the carriage was already on the scene. “Wait, why is the carriage here already?”
“Twilight cast the spell early on some rocks,” Spike shrugged.
Rainbow Dash scratched her head in confusion. “But weren’t we supposed to use….”
“Who cares!” Twilight shouted. “We have our carriage! Let’s just go inside and get dressed, even though we don’t normally wear clothes anyway!”
“Ah was supposed to say that,” Applejack muttered to herself.
Pinkie, meanwhile, looked on to the entire scene in disbelief. The ‘Best Night Ever’ was already turning into a disaster, and they hadn’t even reached the opening credits yet! Pinkie approached the unhinged librarian.
“Um, Twilight? Are you sure you’re all right?” she asked.
Twilight’s forced grin got even wider in response. “I’M FINE! This is the Best Night Ever after all! And we’re all going to have the time of our lives! Now let’s get dressed and get on our way so Fluttershy can start the song and… wait a minute. Where’s Fluttershy?” Twilight asked, finally noticing her regular group of friends was currently short one yellow pegasus.
Rainbow Dash began to offer a sheepish laugh as she knew the missing pony’s current whereabouts. “She’s still in her cottage. She said she’s not coming this time.”
“She what?!?” Twilight yelled.
“She can’t just sit out a story, can she?” Rarity wondered.
“Nopony’s ever did that before,” Applejack noted.
Applejack was right. In all the episodes and all the repeats they had done, they had never dealt with a no-show before. That is until now. However despite the huge ramifications she thought might arise from this development, Pinkie couldn’t help but to feel worried about Fluttershy’s well-being. “Is she ok, Dashie?”
“Everything’s fine,” Rainbow admitted. “But she’s had enough of the repeat stories. She said she was really sorry, but she decided to sit this one out.”
Twilight took in the news with an eerie calmness. She then abruptly trotted away. “Excuse me everypony. I’ll be right back,” Twilight said as she exited the scene.
“Twilight, wait!” Pinkie shouted to the departing unicorn. “We still have to do the boutique scene!” The unicorn never listened as she disappeared from the scene.
Rainbow Dash threw her hooves up in frustration. “Well, this is going well!”
“Man! I don’t think Twilight can take any more of these repeats,” Spike said.
“Can’t say that ah blame her, though,” Applejack shrugged. “Ah swear, if Ah have to go through one more Applebuck Season by mahself, Ah might just go ahead and quit farmin’ altogether!”
“At least you don’t have to deal with Blueblood again,” Rarity countered. “Just having to pretend that I’m still enraptured by that stallion for one second makes my stomach queasy.”
“I can’t believe this!” Rainbow Dash groaned in frustration. “The same stories over and over again for an ENTIRE SUMMER! What have we done to deserve this torture?”
“Come on girls. You know the rules. It’s not time to do new stories yet,” Pinkie said, trying to calm down the group’s frustrations.
“But can’t we just, you know, switch things up a bit?” Applejack wondered.
Pinkie’s eyes lit up in horror. “We can’t! Remember what happened with Derpy the last time we did the scene from ‘The Last Roundup’?”
“She was bored, so she tried to do the scene differently! Was that so bad?” Rainbow recalled.
“Did you see how the fans reacted to that?” Pinkie shouted. “They nearly started a riot!”
“Uh, girls?” Spike tried to say.
“Well if you ask me, we should just forget even doing these reruns in the first place!” Rarity stomped her front hooves in defiance. “Having us do the same stories over and over again is just cruel and unusual punishment.”
Applejack nodded. “Ah’m with Rarity. Ah say we call mutiny.”
Pinkie gasped. “We can't do that! The fans will think we abandoned them!”
“Our fans are smarter than that, Pinkie,” Rainbow Dash said. “We’d never leave the bronies and pegasisters hanging.”
“Um, speaking of the fans…” Spike tried to interrupt.
“I don’t mean to sound rude, but I really hope they appreciate what us ponies do in order to get this show on the air,” Rarity said, fixing up her mane a bit.
“Seriously, Pinkie. A few days without reruns ain’t gonna destroy our fans.” Applejack argued.
Pinkie let out a sad sigh. “Girls," she began. "I know these summer reruns are tough for everypony, but we wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for our fans. We have to get through this stretch, for them! Trust me, this is just as rough for the bronies as it is for us.”
“Yeah, about those bronies, Pinkie?” Spike said, finally able to get his word in.
“Yeah, Spike?” Pinkie asked.
“We’re still on the air right now.” Spike pointed to the camera.
Pinkie’s eyes went wide. “What?”
She looked up. Sure enough, the camera that recorded their exploits to the masses was still in record mode. All four ponies present stood shocked.
“Oh shoot!” Pinkie swore. “Um… *ahem* My Little Pony, My Little Pony…” she began to sing nervously. Pinkie leaned over to her friends and whispered. “A little help here?”
The three startled ponies, plus one baby dragon, began to sing different parts of the show’s title tune.
“Um… I used to wonder what friendship could be…”
“Big Adventure! Tons of Fun…”
“My Little Pony. Ah~”
“Magic makes it all… CUT TO COMMERCIAL!!!”
Away from the cameras, away from the chaos, Fluttershy sat in her cottage, quietly preparing a cup of tea. She didn’t want to do it. She didn’t want to leave her friends in a spot like this. But despite her best efforts, Fluttershy found herself unwilling to go through another Grand Galloping Gala. In fact, she had just about enough of repeats all together. So when Rainbow Dash came over to get her earlier that morning, she told her fellow pegasus companion that she would be sitting this gala out, and as much as she could try, Rainbow Dash was unable to change Fluttershy’s mind. It wasn’t as if the timid pegasus wanted to abandon her friends, or her wonderful fans, she had told Dash. It was just that a shy pony like her, she reasoned, can only be pushed so far in the number of times she had to be enraged for the episode.
Fluttershy began to feel really guilty over putting her friends in a rough spot. So before Rainbow Dash left, she asked her to fetch two of her other friends over and invite them over to her cottage for some tea. She thought it would be helpful if she had some company over for some tea to help calm her down and cheer her up. Fluttershy knew that her fellow elements of harmony would be busy destroying the gala, so instead she called upon a couple of other good friends to help her out.
It was about an hour since Rainbow departed. Fluttershy was busy setting the table when a knock came at her front door. The yellow pegasus glided over to the front door and opened it, thrilled to see her two friends standing outside.
“Gilda! Trixie!” Fluttershy shouted. “I’m glad you came over. Come in!”
“No problem, Fluttershy!" Trixie said. "Rainbow Dash said you were feeling a little down, so the least we could do is keep you company.”
Gilda nodded in agreement. "By the way, I wanted to apologize again for hurting your feelings" the griffon added.
"Gilda, you don't have to keep apologizing for that," Fluttershy smiled. "I already forgave you after the first time. Anyway, I had some tea on and it's just about ready now."
The guests made their way inside her cottage, making themselves comfortable on her sofa as she began to serve the tea. Fluttershy smiled as she remembered how the three of them became friends, despite the fact that they still had to act like antagonists on the show.
Trixie never really talked to anypony else the first few times she showed up for the 'Boast Busters' story. However, to help break the monotony of repeating the story, Trixie began to engage in some small talk with some of the other ponies, including her supposed nemesis, Twilight Sparkle. As it turned out, the two unicorns had a lot to talk about since they both shared magic as their special talent. After befriending Twilight, it was only a matter of time before Trixie was accepted by the rest of the group, although Trixie did have to endure a revenge roping by Applejack before she came around herself.
In Gilda's case, it all went back to the very first run-through of 'Griffon the Brush Off', specifically the scene where she roared at Fluttershy. Gilda wanted to make a good impression on the scene, so she held nothing back at the roar which had, of course, left Fluttershy running away in tears. As she saw her fleeing, Gilda wondered if she had gone too far. During the following break, she sought out Fluttershy in order to explain herself and apologized to her and everypony else for the way she acted. Even though the apologies were accepted, Gilda still felt a twinge of guilt every time she had to play her part. After all, it's not easy to keep being the one to make Fluttershy cry. She could understand the urge to sit a story out, but Gilda would have never guessed that the normally shy pony would be the one to actually go through with it first.
“So you really are sitting out the story.” Gilda the Griffin chuckled. “I couldn’t believe it when Dash told me. What, are you playing hooky, or something? I never thought you were the rebellious type.”
“Oh, I’m not rebelling, Gilda.” Fluttershy explained. “I just need to take a break from the reruns.”
“Well, I guess that makes sense. Everypony needs to take a break once in a while.” Trixie said, taking a sip of her tea. “What story were you supposed to do today, anyway? Was it the one with Iron Will?”
Fluttershy shook her head. “We’re supposed to do the Grand Galloping Gala again today.”
Gilda groaned. “Not the 'You’re going to love me' episode again. No wonder you’re skipping!”
“I know I really should go through with it, but I simply can’t put myself in that situation again!” Fluttershy admitted as her mind replayed scenes not just from 'The Best Night Ever', but from 'Putting Your Hoof Down', 'Griffon the Brush Off', 'Ponyville Confidential', and 'Hurricane Fluttershy'. The scenes that pushed the meek pegasus to her mental and emotional limit. Anymore pushing like that, then I might crack for good, Fluttershy thought to herself,
Fluttershy sighed. “I don’t have the energy to put up with all this anymore. Oh, I hope the girls understand that I just need to get away from it all.”
“I know what you mean, Fluttershy” Gilda said. “I mean, I’m having trouble trying to pretend I really hate you guys in my story.”
Trixie nodded in agreement. “And trust me when I say that the 'Great and Powerful Trixie' is close to being all boasted out. Besides," Trixie sighed, "I’ve seen enough Ursas to last me a lifetime.”
“Well if you want my opinion, Fluttershy, I think we all deserve a little R&R from doing these repeats,” Gilda said, putting her teacup down.
“You do remember what Pinkie Pie said about why we’re doing it in the first place, right?” Trixie pointed out.
Gilda rolled her eyes. “It’s all for the fans. We owe it to them. Without them, we wouldn’t be here. Yeah, I know what she said!”
“Which brings up the 25,000 bit question. How are you going to break it to Pinkie that you want to take a break from the repeats, Fluttershy?” Trixie asked.
“I don’t know yet.” Fluttershy sadly admitted. “I’ll try to figure out something though.”
The conversation continued for a while, as the three friends continued to enjoy the tea, as well as each other’s company. Their peace came to a crashing halt when Fluttershy’s door suddenly broke open. The noise startled Fluttershy as she nearly dropped her tea cup to the floor. She turned to her front door to see who made the sudden entrance.
Standing at her door were the Cutie Mark Crusaders. They were not alone however. Standing right beside them were two other fillies. One of which was Silver Spoon, and she was trying to comfort her friend, Diamond Tiara who was crying hysterically, her head buried in her hooves.
“We have a problem, Fluttershy.” Sweetie Belle reported.
“What’s going on, girls?” Fluttershy asked.
Diamond Tiara lowered her hooves to display the sore red spot on her right cheek. “Applebloom hit me!” the filly sobbed.
“Ah did not!” Applebloom shouted.
“You did so! We all saw it!” Scootaloo argued.
Fluttershy went into referee mode as she tried to break up the argument. “Now hold on girls. Don't fight!" She turned to the fifth filly in the group. "Silver Spoon? What happened?” she asked.
“Well, you know how long it takes for Diamond to get back into acting like a bully?” Silver Spoon explained. “Well, she was practicing for our next story, when Applebloom came in. She thought Diamond wasn’t acting so she started yelling. Diamond tried to apologize, but Applebloom said ‘I don’t believe you’ and she hit her.”
Fluttershy turned to the accused filly.
“Is that true, Applebloom?” Fluttershy asked.
“But… she was still calling me ‘blank flank’!” Applebloom said, desperately trying to defend her actions.
“I was only pretending!” Diamond Tiara sobbed.
Sweetie Belle turned to her accused friend. “Come on, Applebloom. Diamond would never really act like that with us!”
“But Ah…Ah thought she was gonna....” Applebloom said softly, lowering her head in shame.
Diamond Tiara approached the remorseful filly. “Applebloom, I know I have to act like a jerk, but you need to know that you are the best friend a filly could ever dream of!” she sniffed. "I even Pinkie Promised that I'd never really hurt you like that! Remember?"
Applebloom nodded. “Ah know, Diamond. Ah’m sorry I hit ya. It’s just that for a second back there, ah thought you were becoming a bully.”
“Why would I even want to be a bully anyway!” Diamond Tiara shouted. “This isn’t fair! I know Pinkie says we still have to be enemies on the show, but you guys are all my friends!” She cast a glance at the three crusaders through tear-filled eyes. “Applebloom? Sweetie Belle? Scootaloo? I don’t want to fight with you guys anymore! I don’t want to be a bully anymore! I... I don’t want anypony to hate me anymore!!!”
Diamond Tiara collapsed to the ground, sobbing uncontrollably. Silver Spoon did her best to try to comfort her, but couldn’t find any words to do so. The three crusaders looked to one another, silently asking if any one of the three had any ideas to try to cheer Diamond up. Fluttershy was on the verge of tears herself, while Trixie stood stunned, unable to offer anything in an attempt to help. It was the one non-pony in the room who speak up first.
“Hey listen, kid” Gilda began. “From one 'bully' to another, I know it’s hard to act like you hate your friends. But if you let yourself worry about what they think Diamond, it’ll only make you sad.”
“I guess you’re right.” Diamond Tiara sniffed, wiping her tears away from her eyes.
Trixie walked up to the filly, offering a small smile in reassurance. “But you know what?” The unicorn said. “It really doesn’t matter what anypony else thinks of you. In the end, it matters what your friends think of you.”
Gilda nodded. “Exactly. Take me and Fluttershy, for example. You know how mean I have to act to her in my story right? But despite that, we're still friends. She knows that I never mean to really hurt her. Right, Fluttershy?”
“Right, Gilda,” Fluttershy smiled. “And Diamond? Let me let you in on a little secret. You know how Nightmare Moon keeps showing up?”
Silver Spoon scratched her head. “I was wondering why she keeps showing up. I thought you helped her turn back into Princess Luna that first time.”
“We did,” Fluttershy said. “But those other times she’s appeared since then was't really Nightmare Moon. It was just Luna, playing pretend.”
Diamond Tiara’s eyes grew wide. “Really?"
"Yes, really." Fluttershy confirmed. Despite the fact that Nightmare Moon had long been vanquished and Princess Luna was back to normal, the schedule of repeats meant that Nightmare Moon needed to eventually reappear. In these situations, Princess Luna voluntarily became Nightmare Moon again, but it was only for the show.
"But why would she keep doing that if she’s not Nightmare Moon, anymore?” Scootaloo asked.
Trixie smirked in response. “Well, a lot of ponies won’t admit it, Diamond. But sometimes, it’s fun to pretend to be the bad guy.”
Diamond Tiara let out a small laugh. “Well, I do admit it was a little fun, but I still feel guilty about it.”
Diamond Tiara yelped in surprise as she was suddenly embraced by Silver Spoon. “Listen, Diamond. It’s just a story. Pure make believe. The Cutie Mark Crusaders wouldn’t really hate you!” she told her tiara-clad friend.
Sweetie Belle joined in on the hug. “Of course we wouldn’t! We know you don’t really mean any of that stuff.”
“Yeah! Who cares what they think!” Scootaloo said as she joined in the hug as well. “If they’ve got a problem with you, they’ll have to answer to us!”
Finally, Applebloom joined the other fillies in the group hug. “No matter what, you’re still our friend, Diamond. Ah’m sorry if ah though otherwise. Ah have ta’ say though, that you really do an awesome job being a pretend bully.”
The fillies broke up the hug after a few seconds, leaving Diamond Tiara by herself, looking down at the floor, away from everypony in the room.
“Um.. Diamond?” asked a concerned Silver Spoon.
Diamond Tiara’s head suddenly jerked back up, her face now sporting a snobbish grin.
“Well, of course! That’s why they picked me! I am special after all!” the filly smirked. The others in the room looked on stunned as she began to pace the floor, her eyes closed and her nose stuck up in the air. “It’s not like you would understand, though. But then again, I guess having a special talent is something you BLANK FLANKS wouldn’t ever understand, huh?” she turned her head and threw a mean look to the crusaders.
Applebloom blinked in surprise. “Ok, maybe a little too awesome.”
Diamond Tiara giggled. “Sorry, I couldn’t resist” she smiled innocently.
“That’s it! Come here you!!!” Scootaloo shouted as she playfully tackled Diamond to the ground. Soon, the other three fillies joined in the pony pile. They ended up all on the floor in laughter, all tangled up in each other as the three grown-ups looked on.
“Aw, isn't that touching?” Fluttershy said, wiping a small tear from her eye.
“A little bit too touching if you ask me, but oh well,” Gilda shrugged.
“Well, fillies will be fillies after all,” Trixie sighed. “At any rate, I think the ‘Great and Powerful Trixie’ will be taking her leave now. Thanks for the tea Fluttershy! I hope we could do it again sometime!” Trixie said as she trotted towards the door.
"It was my pleasure Trixie! See you later!” Fluttershy waved as the unicorn left the cottage.
“Hey Fluttershy,” Gilda began to ask. “How about I take these fillies off your hooves for the rest of the afternoon.”
“Thanks Gilda. I would really appreciate that,” Fluttershy smiled.
“No problem!” the griffon winked. She then turned to the fillies. “Hey, whose up for some ice cream at Sugarcube Corner?”
“Me! Me! I do! I do!” The fillies shouted in excitement as they all raced out the front door with Gilda in tow, making sure they all behave themselves.
“I get to lick the spoon!” Silver Spoon shouted when they all reached outside.
“You always get to lick the spoon!” Scootaloo argued as the group raced further away from the cottage.
Fluttershy smiled at the carefree nature of the group and closed the door. A sudden thought popped into her head.
“I wonder if the bronies would even believe any of that if we ever told them,” she pondered.
After a moment’s thought, Fluttershy shrugged the question away. She began the process of cleaning up her tea cups and saucers when a sudden knock came from her front door.
“I wonder who that could be?” Fluttershy asked herself. She went over to the front door and opened it.
“Hello? Can I help…”
Fluttershy barely had time to react to the unicorn silhouette at her door as a piece of plywood was swung straight at her head, striking her to the ground unconscious. Fluttershy’s still form began to levitate as the assailant unicorn used her magic to place the pegasus on her back. With Fluttershy out cold, the unicorn began to take her away from her cottage, a manic smiled placed on her face.
“I’m not gonna let you miss this story, my dear Fluttershy!” the unicorn grinned. “You’ve got a song to sing!”
Ok Pinkie, calm down, Pinkie Pie told herself as she entered Carousel Boutique for the next scene. The intro might have been a disaster, but we’re not doomed yet. We can still pull this off. We just need to focus.
A small part of Pinkie groaned at that thought. It seemed as if she had been saying that more often as the summer wore on. She began to wonder how much more convincing and pleading she had to do before the repeat cycle was over. Pinkie shook her head. Now wasn’t the time to think about that. They had a show to do right now. Pinkie turned to address her friends as they were getting themselves ready for the upcoming spa scene.
“Listen girls,” Pinkie began. “I know this hasn’t been the greatest start we’ve ever done. But if we focus, we can still save the episode.”
Rainbow Dash sighed. “Why bother? This whole story’s gone off the tracks since we started.”
“I hate to say it but this story’s a lost cause, darling,” Rarity added as she was helping Pinkie comb her mane flat. “Try as we might, there is simply no way this episode can get back to normal at this rate.”
“Besides, we can’t even go to the gala without Twilight and Fluttershy,” Spike pointed out. Pinkie tried to counter the observation, but was unable to. Spike was right, they couldn't really do this story without the absent ponies.
“Stop lyin' to yourself, Pinkie," Applejack said. "Ah know it’s your job to make sure the show runs smoothly and all, but this has gotten out of hand. In fact, this whole summer's gotten out of hand for everypony.”
Rarity nodded. “Applejack’s right, Pinkie. I mean, honestly. How many more times will you have me fall to my impending doom. Or have me be taken by some Diamond Dogs. For that matter, why is it that I’m always the one in peril?”
“Only the best for our drama queen,” Rainbow Dash snarked, turning her head away to avoid Rarity's death glare.
“At any rate, Rarity does have a point,” The pegasus continued. “I mean, you remember how much begging I had to do to convince the Wonderbolts to get knocked out by Rarity again?”
“I know all that Dashie, and I told the Wonderbolts I’d make it up to them. It’s all for the good of the show, after all.”
“The good of the show? What about us, Pinkie?" Applejack shouted. "If ya weren’t so concerned about putting the show on like ya have, then ya woulda noticed that everypony’s had it just about up to here with these dadgum reruns!”
“You think I don’t know that?" Pinkie Pie replied, her eyes watering slightly. "You think it’s easy for me to keep my act up all summer long? You think I want to go through ‘Party of One’ or ‘Baby Cakes’ again? Applejack, I hate doing these things as much as all of you!”
Rarity tilted her head in confusion. “So, if I may ask, why are you forcing us to go on with this charade then?”
“We can’t afford to lose the fans, that’s why! They might abandon us if we went away! And if that happens, then we…” Pinkie wasn’t able to finish the sentence. The thought was too horrible to contemplate.
Rainbow Dash placed a hoof on Pinkie's shoulder. “Pinkie Pie, I keep telling you. That won’t ever happen.”
“We can’t afford to take that chance, Dashie. Not after what happened… last time.” Pinkie said softly. “Just… let’s get through this gala one time, and then I promise I’ll try to lessen the rerun load for everypony. Please?” She desperately pleaded.
Rainbow Dash sighed in defeat. “All right, Pinkie. We'll do it.”
The other two ponies hesitated for a second, but eventually gave in to try to help the desperate Pinkie Pie.
“Ah guess one more time won’t hurt,” Applejack conceded.
“If it really means that much for you Pinkie...” Rarity added.
“Thanks girls.” Pinkie Pie sniffed, wiping her tears away. She turned to the assistant baby dragon. "Hey Spike, how much time we have left?"
Spike went over to the camera and looked through the viewfinder. “Looks like we’re about thirty seconds away, Pinkie!” the dragon announced.
“Thanks!” Pinkie said. “Now remember the plan girls. It’s important that we try to stay on track to the story.”
“But, Pinkie? How the hay are we gonna do this without Twilight or Fluttershy?” Applejack asked.
"We can't do the musical number with just the four of us." Rarity pointed out.
“We don’t have much of a choice. We’re going to have to improvise." Pinkie said.
"But Pinkie," a concerned Applejack spoke up. "Ah'm not really that good making things up on the fly."
"Just do the best you can It's all we can do until Twilight and Fluttershy come back.”
Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. “If they come back.”
“Fifteen seconds!” Spike shouted.
Pinkie leaned in to her friends. “We'll just have to try and make the best of this. Let’s just have some fun now, ok?"
Rarity grumbled. "Let's get this over with."
"Places everypony!” Pinkie shouted as the ponies took their places for their scene.
Spike put his hand on the headset as the countdown neared its end. “We’re back in 5… 4… 3…”
With that, Spike put the headset down and jumped down onto the floor, letting the countdown finish as he got ready to do the scene. On cue, the camera’s red light lit up, indicating the transmission has resumed.
“Come on you guys! Let me in!” Spike yelled to begin the scene.
“Sure thing Spike!” Rainbow Dash said as she walked towards the door, just like the story prescribed. However, she only took a couple of steps before she realized that Spike wasn’t on the other side of the door. Rather, he was still inside the room.
“Spike! You blew your cue!” Rainbow whispered.
Spike winced as he realized his error. “Oh no! I was supposed to be outside wasn’t I?”
Pinkie suppressed the urge to panic at the miscue. She quickly trotted over to the dragon, snorting a fake giggle as she tried to cover up the blooper. “It’s alright Spike! We would have let you in. Besides, we don't normally wear clothes anyway!"
"That's mah line," Applejack muttered under her breath.
Pinkie walked back to the hair dryer, continuing her improvising. “I can't believe tonight's the big night girls! The Grand Galloping Gala! Oh, I’m so excited! Aren’t you excited, girls?”
The three mares looked uneasily around the room in response.
“Uh, yeah. It’s gonna be uh... great.” Rainbow Dash forced out.
“Yeah. Uh… great!” Applejack nervously agreed.
A quick pause followed, prompting Rainbow Dash and Applejack to nudge Rarity at the same time, trying to force anything out of the unicorn.
“I really like your… mane?” Rarity meekly offered.
Pinkie banged her head on a nearby table in frustration. You three weren't even supposed to say that, she thought.
Shaking off any reminders from 'Lesson Zero' from his head, Spike continued on with the scene, trying to help salvage the shipwreck the episode was becoming.
“I still can’t believe we’re gonna be in Canterlot tonight! And the best part is that we all get to hang out together, all night long!”
Rainbow Dash, Applejack, and Rarity looked at each other and the three ponies gave off a defeated sigh. They allowed their lines to come out flatly, devoid of any enthusiasm.
“I don’t know Spike.”
“We’ll just have to see.”
“We gonna be a mite busy.”
“Busy having fun!!!” Pinkie quickly chirped in her trademark upbeat tone. Her flat mane then poofed back up to its normal state. Pinkie breathed a small sigh of relief. At least something went right so far.
“I just wish I knew where Twilight and Fluttershy are,” Spike improvised, covering for the absent ponies.
“They’ll be around shortly,” Pinkie answered. “They won’t miss this for the world! We’ve all been looking forward to this.”
“Oh, I just know what you mean Pinkie, darling!" Rarity said, letting out the most forced smile she could ever remember giving. She struggled to get the rest of her words out. "I am just positively overfilled with excitement, myself. To think that tonight I’ll finally get the chance to meet the stallion of my dreeeeeaaaaa…” The unicorn’s face twisted as she found herself unable to finish the sentence.
“I know Rarity! The stallion of your dreams.” Pinkie said, finishing Rarity’s sentence.
“Yes. The absolute perfect stallion!” Rarity growled through clenched teeth. She then paused for a second as that last sentence gave her an idea. “You know, instead of going to the gala, how about we do the Hearts and Hooves Day story instead! We still have time to gather the Crusaders and…”
Pinkie quickly ran over and forced the fashionista’s mouth closed. “Rarity we can’t! We have to go to the gala tonight!”
“Besides 'Hearts and Hooves Day' won’t quite be the same anymore,” Applejack informed the group.
“Why not?” Pinkie asked, mentally preparing herself for more bad news.
“Big Mac n’ Cheerilee eloped last week.” Applejack calmly explained.
Pinkie Pie’s jaw dropped. “THEY WHAT?!?”
“Whoa! How did that happen?” asked a surprise Rainbow Dash.
Applejack explained. “Well, the last time we did that story, the two of ‘em said 'forget it' and they high-tailed it to Las Pegasus before the Crusaders could even whip up that potion of theirs.”
“I never even got a chance to catch the bouquet,” Rarity lamented.
Spike scratched the back of his head. “I don’t think the shippers are going to like this.”
Pinkie forced her way into the middle of the room, desperate to keep the scene from going completely off the rails. "Let's worry about 'Hearts and Hooves Day' later! We still have a gala to destro... I mean, to go to!"
"Yes! Of course! The Gala!" Rainbow Dash shouted in agreement. She then leaned into Pinkie's ear. "Where exactly are we supposed to be in the story right now, anyway?" she whispered.
"We're still waiting for Twilight and Fluttershy to show up, and then off we go to the Gala!" Pinkie Pie yelled loud enough for everypony, and everybrony for that matter, to hear. "They should be here soon... I hope."
"But, what are we supposed to do until then, Pinkie?" Rarity asked.
"Well, we can't do much of anything yet, so we just have to... wait for them," the pink pony gulped.
"Um... OK then," Spike said.
A short pause followed while everyone tried to find a way to fill time in front of the live camera.
“Well, um… well... uh.... you girls are looking great,” Spike sputtered out.
Applejack hesitated a bit as she answered. “Uh… thank ya kindly, Spike.”
An awkward pause followed.
"Well... did anypony do anything interesting this past week-end?" Pinkie asked, trying to get anything from her friends.
Another few seconds of awkward silence followed.
"Um... ah bought a new hat the other day."
"Oh... that's marvelous darling!"
Another silence followed.
"Was it expensive AJ?"
"Ah got it on sale. It was 25% off, too!"
"Wow, that's... great!"
Another silence followed.
"Hey, has anypony ever wondered what would happen if a cockatrice ever looked at itself in a mirror?"
The ponies pondered the query for a few short seconds before they shrugged it away. Another silence followed.
Spike sighed. "We really suck at this."
"Does anypony have anything we can use?" Pinkie asked.
“Um… Hey! How about a story?" Rainbow offered.
Applejack shrugged. "Be our guest, RD."
"All right, so there was this one time at flight camp…”
"Watch it Dashie, there are kids watching out there!" Pinkie whispered her warning.
"It's ok, this one's a G rated story. Although I guess I might have to skip the part with the banana and the..."
Rainbow Dash’s anecdote was suddenly interrupted when the boutique’s front door suddenly burst open. The surprised occupants turned their heads to see that the source of the noise was a currently unhinged Twilight Sparkle who was dragging in Fluttershy by her tail. The most shocking part of the display, however, was that Fluttershy was tied up, her four hooves bound together and her muzzle roped shut. The frightened Fluttershy tried to yell and scream for help, but her pleas only came across as muffled shrieks.
“Get… in here! You’re… big scene… is coming up!” Twilight grunted as she dragged the bound pegasus in the boutique.
The entrance left everyone stunned frozen. In particular, Pinkie's blood ran cold as she noticed the live ponynapping. She then turned her attention to the camera and saw its red light was still on, meaning that this breakdown was airing live. Not only was a pony going completely berserk on Pinkie's watch, the breakdown was being exposed for all to see.
Rainbow Dash was the first to snap out of her shock. “Twilight! What are you doing to Fluttershy?” she shouted.
“Oh, just making sure that everything's perfect for the big song number.” Twilight grinned madly. She began to untie the rope around Fluttershy’s muzzle. “Now that we’re all here, we can finally go to the gala as good friends!!!” She punctuated the last words by looking straight as Fluttershy’s face, making the shy pegasus yelp in fear.
“OK, this is way beyond creepy!” Spike looked on, part in fascination and in horror.
Rarity nudged Pinkie Pie out of her shock. “Pinkie Pie! Don't just stand there, do something!”
Pinkie Pie gulped. She slowly approached the unstable egghead.
“Um Twilight,” Pinkie started. “Maybe if we all just take a moment to calm down, then maybe we can…”
“Oh there's no time to be calm today!” Twilight interrupted. “This is the Best Night Ever after all!"
"Hey! Excuse us!" a male voice shouted from just beyond the open door. A pair of angry stallions entered the boutique.
"What's the deal here?!? We've been waiting outside forever for you guys to come out!" shouted the amber colored stallion.
The light blue stallion nodded. "Yeah, are you guys gonna need us for the..."
He stopped as he noticed the manic expression on Twilight's face. The crazed unicorn turned to two stallions and flashed a wide, insane smile.
"May we help you?" Twilight grinned madly.
The two stallion's pupils shrunk down in fear. They began to laugh nervously.
"On second thought..."
"...We'll just sit this episode out."
They both ran out the door and fled the boutique at full speed, galloping as far away from the crazy unicorn as possible. Pinkie Pie went over to Twilight, trying to diffuse the situation as best as she could.
"OK then! Now we got that out of the way, what do you say we just all calm down and have a nice cool glass of apple juice?"
Twilight shook her head. "We don't have time for fun and games now! We have a show to do! And this is the part where we sing now!” She turned to the tied-up Fluttershy. Her expression darkened.
“So, what are you waiting for? SING!!!” she yelled into Fluttershy’s face.
The frightened pony complied, afraid of what her friend might do to her if she didn't.
“At the Gala, in the garden, I’m going to see them all…” she whispered, tears rolling down her eyes.
“I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!” Twilight shouted.
Fluttershy shrieked. Without another moment’s thought she sang louder, letting loose more and more tears as she went on.
“All the creatures, I’ll befriend th-them at the gala.
All th-the b-birdies, and th-the cri-critters,
th-they will lov... love me big and small.
W-we’ll be-become.... good fr-frie-friends for-forever,
right here at...at the gala.”
Fluttershy collapsed into Rarity’s chest and broke out in a full round of sobbing, the white unicorn stroking her back in comfort. Rainbow Dash went over as well to help calm Fluttershy down, working quickly to undo the rest of her restraints. Pinkie Pie remained frozen in disbelief over what she had just witnessed.
“Perfect!” the crazed Twilight said. She then turned her attention to the pony who had the next lines. “Your turn Applejack!”
“TWILIGHT, HAVE YOU GONE AND LOST YOUR COTTON-PICKIN’ MIND?!?” Applejack exploded in rage at the unicorn.
Twilight simply responded by put a hoof on Applejack’s chest. “Now, now. That’s not how your part goes Applejack. You’re supposed to be singing about your apple-tastic treats! Yummy, yummy! Better hurry! Bring your money! Gimme…”
Applejack didn’t allow the crazed unicorn to continue any longer. She whipped out her lasso and roped her friend into submission. Twilight did her best to struggle free, but the farmer pony held on tightly to the rope. Fluttershy stopped crying as the struggle hit a crescendo, observing the fight in silent fear along with everyone else.
“Snap out of it!!!” The cowpony hissed.
“But AJ! We still need to finish the song,” Twilight strained as she struggled to get free.
Applejack narrowed her eyes into slits. “Forget the song, Twilight! How dare ya do that to Fluttershy! What’s the matter with you?”
Twilight struggled in the grip of the lasso, but Applejack held on tight. “I’m just doing my job, Applejack! She needed to be here! We all need to be here! It's for the good of the show! That’s what Pinkie said after all!”
Pinkie bit her lip while Twilight used her own words against her. A large sense of guilt had begun to grow in her stomach.
Twilight continued to ramble, her frantic tone growing more desperate as she continued on. “And in order to keep the show going, we were told to redo the same stories again and again and again until summer was over, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do! Even if it means sacrificing our own sanity to do it! We’ll do every parasprite invasion! Every Cutie Pox scare! Every dragon migration from now until the end of time! We have a responsibility to our wonderful fans after all! We should be thrilled to have fans like that. We are thrilled! I am thrilled! I… I…”
Twilight looked at her five friends and her little assistant, and she noticed that everyone in the room looked to be extremely worried about her. Even Applejack loosened her grip on the rope during the rant. She then took a look at the camera, remembering why she and her friends were doing these repeats in the first place. She collapsed on the floor and wailed.
“I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!”
Twilight broke down in a round of full, unconstrained sobs. Applejack let go of her rope, allowing Twilight to move freely once more. The six other occupants of the room looked on in stunned silence.
“I’m sorry Pinkie, I can’t do it! I can't do another gala! I can’t take another round of Pinkie sense. I can’t take another round of late reports. I can’t take another round of… of losing my friends to D- Discord! Just make it stop. Somepony. Anypony. Please make this stop!”
Spike rushed over to the weeping unicorn and embraced the broken unicorn. Twilight returned the hug, clutching her assistant with all her might. Applejack's expression now showed compassion and mercy for the pony she had angerly tried to restrain a few moments earlier. She slowly approached Twilight and held her in a warm embrace.
“It’s gonna be all right sugarcube, ya hear me? It’ll be all right.” Applejack said, trying desperately to keep a straight face on for the sake of her friend.
Fluttershy found herself crying again softly. Not out of fear from her friend, but instead out of deep concern. Rarity's eyes watered up as well, as she levitated a handkerchief to her eyes to wipe away the oncoming tears. Rainbow Dash looked away from the scene for a moment, trying to hide the tears flowing down her own face.
Pinkie Pie, however, remained frozen to the floor in shock. Her mind was replaying an entire summer’s worth of her poking, prodding, begging, pleading and persuading everypony into doing the reruns that had led to this moment. Applejack was right. She had been so wrapped up in the show that she sacrificed her friends’ well-being for it. She looked around the room, taking a good look at the sobbing unicorn. She then noticed the camera. Still running, and still exposing one of her friends’ most vulnerable moments.
“Spike? Cut to commercial.” She instructed, her voice barely above a whisper.
Spike nodded silently. He briefly broke away from Twilight and went over to the camera. After pushing a few buttons, the camera’s red light turned off, indicating that they were no longer live. With the task now complete, Spike ran back to Twilight.
Nopony was able to say anything at first as Twilight continued to cry. Nopony knew what could be said or done at a moment like this. Pinkie Pie didn't had an answer this time. She used to be so sure about what needed to be done. But now, for the first time since that fateful day, Pinkie Pie didn't know what to do.
After a few moments, Rainbow Dash spoke up. “Pinkie? I hate to say this, but I think we better cancel the gala all together. We don’t have much of a choice here,” she said sadly.
Pinkie hung her head in shame. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Pinkie began to sob herself. “I’m… I never meant for any of this to happen. I’m so, so sorry girls! We never should have done this in the first place! I… it’s just that I thought that if we didn’t, then…”
Rarity gingerly lifted Pinkie’s head back up and gave the pink earth pony a reassuring smile. “We know Pinkie, we know. You don’t have to say any more. ”
Applejack grunted as she helped Twilight up on her hooves. “At any rate, now’s not the time for apologies. Ah’ll help take Twilight back to the library where she can calm down. And bring Fluttershy too. We all can have a talk there.”
"And I guess... I'll tell the princess that the episode's cancelled," a dejected Spike said.
“Ok Spike,” Rainbow Dash slowly nodded. She turned to her fellow pegasus friend. “You gonna be ok there, Fluttershy?”
Fluttershy sniffed as she gave a small smile in response. “I think I’ll be ok.”
With Applejack carrying Twilight and Rarity and Rainbow helping Fluttershy to her hooves, the group began to exit Carousel Boutique. Fluttershy turned her head as she noticed Pinkie Pie did not move from her spot, her head still hanging low.
“Um... aren’t you coming too, Pinkie Pie?” the timid pegasus asked
“I’ll be along in a minute, guys.” Pinkie said.
The dragon slowly turned to the quiet Pinkie Pie.
“Are you sure you’re going to be OK, Pinkie?”
“Yeah. I’ll be… I’ll be fine,” she lied.
The ponies made their way out of the boutique. Spike lingered for a few seconds, keeping a worried eye on Pinkie. He then made his way out the boutique in order to execute the latest instructions, leaving Pinkie all alone inside. Only one thought running through the pink pony's mind. She had failed. She had failed the show. She had failed the fans. She had failed everypony in Ponyville, and all of Equestria for that matter. But most importantly, she had failed her friends in the worst way possible. They had all trusted her to help them get through the summer, and this was where that trust had led them? Pinkie's mane went flat as the full weight of her current dilemma dawned on her. She wept silently.
Pinkie continued to sit on the floor, crying for a few minutes when she heard a chorus of singing ponies outside the door, seemingly warming up for the big musical number. Pinkie snapped out of her crying as she remembered the upcoming musical number, a number that had to be called off now. She went outside to break the news to the chorus.
“Um excuse me everypony,” she announced. “I'm sorry, but we had an emergency come up. So we won’t be able to do the number this time.”
The news was met with a series of shocked shouts, exasperated groans, and concerned murmurs from the chorus ponies. Pinkie held up her hooves in defense.
“I’m very sorry, everypony but I can’t explain right now. I gotta go!” Pinkie galloped away to catch up with her five other friends, leaving behind a chorus shocked into silence. One of the ponies of the group threw up her hooves in frustration.
“Great! Now what are we supposed to do?”
An awkward silence followed as the chorus ponies tried to come up with an answer. After a few seconds, one of the ponies shrugged an answer.
“It’s just a jump to the left?”
All at once, the ponies suddenly jumped to their left as a sudden rock and roll riff began to play out of nowhere.
“And then a step to the right!!!”
‘…So because of what happened at Carousel Boutique, we had to cancel the rest of the episode. The girls are at the library right now. Twilight’s feeling a little better, but Pinkie’s really down right now. I don’t know what she’s gonna do about the rest of the story, or the rest of the summer actually. We’ll let you know if anything changes.
Spike took a deep breath and blew his magic fire on the letter, sending it straight to Princess Celestia. His task complete, the purple dragon leaned back on the exterior wall of Carousel Boutique and exhaled slowly, finally able to reflect on the events that had transpired inside just a few moments ago. While the others were long gone from the scene, Spike stayed behind in order to write the letter as quick as possible. With the letter done, Spike got ready to rejoin the emotionally shattered Twilight at the Library. He then passed by the chorus of ponies who now with no gala song to sing, were keeping themselves entertained with other numbers. Spike estimated that they were currently on their fifth or so number.
“Kick your hooves up!” One of the ponies shouted.
The rest of the chorus followed the instruction, kicking their hooves up in time while singing.
“Kick your hooves up, step in time!
Kick your hooves up, step in time!
Never need a reason, never need a rhyme!
Kick your hooves up, step in time!”
“They’ll be going at that for a few more hours.” Spike chuckled. He then noticed that the impromptu musical performance had attracted an audience of curious bystanders, like Lyra, Bon Bon, the mayor, Carrot Top. Another one of these bystanders, specifically the wall-eyed Derpy Hooves, waved Spike over.
“Hey Spike! What’s going on with those ponies? Weren’t they supposed to go to the gala by now?”
“Change of plans, Derpy,” Spike explained. “Long story short, we had to cancel the story. I guess the chorus got bored and started singing some other songs instead.”
Lyra, who was starting to dance along, chimed in. “I have to say that I like their choices of music. But what in the hay did ‘Jai Ho’ mean?”
“Beats me,” Spike shrugged, remembering the catchy yet confusing song. Since when did the chorus knew how to speak a different language anyway?
“Anyway, I just sent a letter to the Princess to tell her and the others in Canterlot that we’re not coming.”
“I can only imagine what those ponies are going through at the gala,” Derpy laughed. “They’re probably bored to death right now.”
“PARTY ROCK!!!” Octavia shouted. On her current cider fueled-frenzy, she had obtained a distinct pair of purple sunglasses. She adjusted the glasses a bit, then she spun a new record onto the stereo system. A techno beat quickly filled the halls of the gala, letting all the ponies loose into a round of dancing and cheering.
It was hard to believe that just a short while previously, the gala was still the same stuffy affair that it had always been. Despite anypony’s objections, they maintained the drab party for when Twilight and her friends arrive. However this time, there was no sight or sound of the six party-wreckers. Everypony was forced to wait until they did arrive however, maintaining the same boring ritual as always. Growing more and more impatient, some ponies decided to pass the time with a cup of cider.
A few rounds later, and the party was on. The commotion got so great that it drew in other Canterlot ponies into the Gala who weren’t even supposed to be in the episode and soon, everypony was having a blast. Many were dancing. Some were still drinking. Others, however, were sitting away from the dance scene, playing some games from the castle’s game collection. Some ponies were playing Pictionary. Others were playing Clue (or Cluedo as it is known in Manechester). One of these game groups saw Soarin, Spitfire, Pony Joe, Vinyl Scratch and Prince Blueblood playing Monopoly.
“Ok my turn,” Soarin said. He picked up the pair of dice and gave them a good luck blow before he rolled them onto the game board. He rolled a 9. He groaned as he noticed the space he landed on. “Mareiterranean Avenue.”
“…Which I own, by the way!” Spitfire pointed out gleefully. “That’ll be 250 bits for that hotel, thank you very much.”
Soarin grumbled as he gave his fellow Wonderbolt the play money. She gave the paper a savory sniff.
“Ah, the sweet smell of victory,” the smug Spitfire smirked.
“You know, the game isn’t over yet Spitfire,” said an annoyed Soarin.
“It’s only a matter of time, darling.” Spitfire simple answered with a fake posh accent. Soarin narrowed his eyes, trying very hard not to pour his cider all over her head.
“And here I thought Rainbow Dash was bad winner,” Pony Joe wondered to himself. He turned his attention to the DJ unicorn, her trademark shades absent thanks to Octavia. “By the way, are you even supposed to be in the gala story, Vinyl?”
“Not really,” she shrugged. “I just heard that there was a rocking party going on, so I simply showed up. I also brought the stereo, although I never thought Octy had it in her to DJ like this.”
“Well at least some ponies are able to enjoy themselves tonight,” Soarin grumbled.
“Hey, at least you’re doing better than Blueblood,” Vinyl Scratch shrugged.
“Shut up you!” the elitist stallion shouted. The game hadn’t been kind to him at all. Bad rolls and bad chance cards left him down to his last few bits.
“Hey, Blueblood. You’re the richest pony here. How is it that you completely suck at this game?” Joe asked.
"I’m just… strategizing!" Blueblood stammered out. “Yeah, that’s it! Strategizing! You have to spend money in order to make money in business after all.”
“Just roll the dice,” Vinyl groaned.
Without hesitation, Blueblood grabbed the dice and rolled them onto the board. The roll landed him at Boardwalk, and its 2 houses that Spitfire had placed on the property.
“Uh oh, that’s gonna cost you! And I guess that’ll also wipe you out,” Spitfire smirked.
Blueblood looked as his paltry game purse. He wouldn’t have enough to cover what he owed the orange Wonderbolt.
“Well?” asked Spitfire, her hoof outstretched and expecting some playbits.
“I’m thinking!” Blueblood said.
Joe facehoofed. “What’s there to think about? You’re gonna lose after this. Just give her the bits and be done with it!”
Blueblood frowned. He knew that the situation was hopeless and that he was about to lose the game, but Blueblood was a stallion who never lost at anything, never mind a silly board game. Nevertheless, his reputation was on the line here. He couldn’t simply submit defeat, even if it was at the hooves of a Wonderbolt. He formulated a plan to try to turn his bleak situation around.
“Hey Spitfire? I have a business proposition that you would like to consider. Since I obviously don’t have the bits required for this transaction, how about instead I offer you some… services in lieu of payment.”
“What are you talking about?” asked the skeptical Spitfire.
Blueblood leaned in and whispered into Spitfire’s ear. After a few whispers, Spitfire’s expression twisted into pure rage. She didn’t let the unicorn stallion finish his proposal before she hoofed him square in his muzzle. The punch launched Blueblood backwards onto the floor, unconscious.
“Forget it, you creep!” Spitfire shouted.
The other players sat shocked at the sudden burst of violence. Soarin carefully approached his fuming teammate.
“So… what the hay was that about?”
Spitfire leaned in and whispered into his ear. After a few seconds, Soarin’s eyes went wide in shock. He turned his head to the beaten Blueblood. After taking a good look at him, he approached the unconscious Prince and hoofed him square in his muzzle.
“Seriously, the nerve of some guys,” Soarin muttered.
“Um… is everything all right?”
The group was suddenly joined by two mares, a light pink earth pony with a multicolor mane and a purple Pegasus with a pink and violet mane.
“We saw the punch. We just wanted to make sure that everything was all right,” said the pegasus.
Spitfire rubbed her sore hoof. “Don’t worry about us, we’re all ok. Just taking care of some business.”
The earth pony blinked in confusion. “At any rate, we were wondering if anyone knows who has ‘Twister’. My friends and I would like to play, but we can’t find the game.”
The ponies started to shake their heads, not knowing where the game in question was located. Vinyl Scratch, however, remember seeing the sun goddess take the game up into her private chambers.
“You know, I think Princess Celestia is using it right now,” Vinyl said.
The two ponies’ expression saddened. They looked as if a great tragedy had just be fallen them.
“Oh no! We can't possibly play the game if someone else is using it. What are we going to do?” the earth pony lamented.
The pegasus shed a tear, seemingly inconsolable.
“This is absolutely horrible!” she sniffed. “How are we ever going to have fun with our friends now?”
The ‘Monopoly’ group looked at each other, part confusion and part disbelief. It wasn’t the world’s worst problem, but yet these two were acting like somepony had died. Pony Joe spoke up, not quite sure how to break the obvious solution to them.
“You know.. .you could always just… ask them?” he shrugged.
The pegasus and the earth pony looked at each other in surprise. Their expression suddenly brightened.
“That’s a great idea! We’ll ask them! Hooray!” the earth pony smiled.
The pegasus shook Pony Joe’s hooves. “Thank you so much! You saved the day!”
“Er.. don’t mention it,” Joe replied.
The earth pony began to gallop away. “Let’s go ask the princess right now!”
“Hey! Wait for me!” the Pegasus shouted to her friend as she flew away to catch up.
The group simply sat stunned as they watched the visitors leave, not quite believing what they had just seen.
Vinyl scratched the top of her head. “Does anypony else have a sudden urge to buy socks now, or is it just me?”
Without letting the discussion go any further, the ponies returned to their game.
In a separate room away from the party, Princess Celestia was tied up in a round of Twister, along with her sister Princess Luna, Princess Cadence and Shining Armor. Helping them out on the spinner was Celestia’s main adviser and the spirit of chaos, Discord.
“Right front hoof blue!” the draconequus shouted.
At that command, Princess Celestia, Princess Luna, Princess Cadence, and Shining Armor all struggled to get the correct limb on the color spot on the ‘Twister’ game mat. With the game was a couple dozen moves in, the four players were now one single pile of tangled ponies. While trying to get her hoof on the right spot, Cadence yelped as she felt something poking on her inner thigh.
“Hey! Watch where you’re pointing that horn, honey!” the pink alicorn shouted.
“That wasn’t my horn,” Shining Armor said.
“Actually, that was my horn. Sorry about that,” Celestia sheepishly said.
Cadence’s pink coat turned bright red in embarrassment.
Discord chuckled. “Ok, let’s try to keep this game PG here. Let’s not let this thing go into real anarchy.”
“You would like to see that, wouldn’t you?” Luna stated plainly.
Discord frowned. “Need I remind you that I got over the whole ‘spread eternal chaos’ thing?”
It was true that just like in the show, he had once escaped and tried to spread eternal chaos across Equestria. And also just like in the show, he was defeated by Twilight and her friends. Since then, he had to be released again and again for the repeats of the ‘Return of Harmony’ arc, only to be defeated again and again. Moreover, the ‘chaos’ he was spreading was the exact same chaos every single time. It turned out to be a vicious cycle for him; get released, spread a bit of chaos, get turned to stone, remain as stone, get released, spread the same exact chaos, get turned to stone, etc…
On the ninth or so repeat, Discord simply gave up his goal of eternal chaos and surrendered to Celestia. After a long talk, she agreed to let him roam free outside his story and he abandoned all plans of conquest and domination, opting instead to become an adviser to the royal sisters. He still dutifully played his part when the time came to redo the ‘Return of Harmony’, including being turned into stone. Thankfully, Celestia releases him as soon as the story was over. Despite being reformed, Discord still maintained a mischievous side and occasionally played small pranks on everypony, but all in fun. Unfortunately, Luna still held a slight grudge at the moment.
“By the way, we still haven’t forgiven you for putting that dye in our shampoo. Our mane was sparkling green for three days!”
Discord rubbed the sides of his head. “Why must you insist on using the Royal ‘We’, Luna?”
“I wasn’t. Cadence borrowed the shampoo too.”
The news surprised Discord. He let out a nervous chuckle.
“Um, sorry about that Cadence.”
“Apologize later. Can we please get back to the game?” Cadence grunted, struggling not to topple over. “I don’t know how much longer I can hold this!”
The spirit of chaos gave the spinner another turn. “Right back hoof green!” He shouted.
While the players tried to reposition themselves, a sudden burst of magic appeared in front of Celestia’s face, materializing into a scroll. Celestia shrieked in surprise, causing the players to collapse onto the game mat.
“Ouch! What was the meaning of that, sister?” Luna shouted, slowly rising back up.
“I’m sorry, but it looks like we’ve got a letter,” Celestia said. She untied the scroll’s ribbon and began to read it.
Cadence leaned over to try to get a better view of the scroll. “Who is it from?”
“It looks like it’s from Spike. Hold on a second…” Celestia read through the letter. She froze for a moment as she took in the letter’s details. She slowly rolled the scroll back up.
“Cadence? Shining Armor? Go tell everypony that the episode’s been called off and the gala is cancelled.” Celestia ordered.
The news took Discord by surprise. “The episode’s off? What the heck happened?”
“Did Pinkie change stories? Did the network get preempted?” Luna speculated.
Celestia sighed. “Actually, Twilight had a nervous breakdown.”
Luna and Discord stood shocked at the news. Cadence gasped, covering her mouth in pure shock. Shining Armor body grew cold as the news registered.
“What happened to her?!?” he shouted.
Celestia proceeded to explain what had transpired in Ponyville, as detailed in the letter.
“Wow, poor Twilight,” Luna said, taking in all the details of the situation.
“It was only a matter of time before somepony cracked. But to have that happen while the cameras were rolling,” Discord sadly stated.
“I should have been there for her,” Shining Armor lamented. “Why wasn’t I there for her?”
Cadence nuzzled her husband. “Don’t beat yourself up over this, honey. We were on our honeymoon. We didn’t know what was going on.”
“I know, Cadence,” Shining Armor sighed. “Um, Celestia? Did Spike mention what the girls are planning to do with the rest of the episode?”
Celestia shook her head. “Not at the moment. He’ll let us know as soon as they think of something.”
Discord threw his arms up in defeat. “Well, it’s been a good run. Better get ready for the inevitable.”
“Don’t say that, Discord!” Luna shouted.
“Oh come on, Luna. You know as well as I do what about to happen. We’re going to stop transmitting. The fans get angry. They stop watching. The show ends, and we get forgotten. And you know what will happen to us then, right?”
"Actually, I don't know," Shining Armor admitted. "What will happen exactly?"
Celestia closed her eyes. She knew exactly what would happen. “Equestria… will disappear.”
“WHAT?!?” The newlywed couple shouted in unison. Nopony had ever told them about this.
Discord nodded. “Exactly. We’ll all just poof right out of existence. Just like the last time.”
“Last time? What do you mean ‘last time’?” Cadence asked.
Celestia began to explain. “Well, there used to exist another world before this world came into existence. In that world was another Ponyville, completely different than the one we know today. In particular, there was a group of seven ponies who loved to frolic and play together. They didn’t go on grand adventures, they didn’t have to save the world. They just played games and had fun with each other. And just like us, they did stories for the fans too.”
Shining Armor began to have a sneaking suspicion on how the story was going to end. "The fans didn't watch those ponies, did they?"
Discord continued the story. “They never really connected to them. After a while, they stopped watching. The ponies were forgotten, and then the next thing you know, poof! They all disappear. Our own world was created soon thereafter.”
Shining Armor held his head down sadly as he heard the story. Cadence began to cry, mourning the loss of the ponies from the old world.
“That’s so horrible,” Cadence sniffed. “To think that all those ponies vanished just like that.”
Princess Luna’s eyes shifted around nervously. “Well, not all of them vanished. There was one survivor.”
The news took Shining Armor by surprise. “Really? What happened to her?”
Princess Luna exhaled as she prepared to break the news to the couple. “She currently resides at Sugarcube Corner working with Mr. and Mrs. Cake. She also happens to bear the Element of Laughter.”
At once, the married couple’s jaw dropped. Only one pony fit that description. That very pink description.
“PINKIE PIE?!?” they shouted in unison.
Celestia nodded. “We don’t know how she survived, but she did. And from the beginning, she took it upon herself to manage the stories and to make the fans happy. ”
“That explains why she’s been pushing everypony so hard this summer," Shining Armor figured out. "She doesn’t want to risk leaving the fans in the dark for the whole summer.”
“Isn’t there anything we can do to help?” Cadence asked.
Celestia shook her head. “We can’t change the rules. We can’t deviate from the original prompts. In fact, we’re already in a lot of trouble as it is with this episode going the way it has so far. As much as I hate to say it, we might be doomed.”
The words hit everypony like a ton of bricks. Heads were hanging low as the reality of the situation, and the implications it has on all of Equestria, became clear. Discord too was feeling down over the prospect of all of Equestria ceasing to exist. The good guys. The bad guys. Everyone and everything.
Suddenly, a thought appeared in Discord’s head. His eyes widened in realization.
“I wouldn’t say we’re completely doomed. I think there still might be a way out of this.”
The statement took Celestia by surprise.
“What do you mean?” the sun alicorn asked.
Discord began to reveal his idea. “Well, how about we…”
It was at that moment the chamber doors burst open. Standing at the door was an earth pony and a pegasus, both of whom were staring intently on the Twister game board.
“Excuse me, but my friend and I have a question.”
Back in Ponyville, Spike was heading to rejoin the others at the library. Behind him, the chorus was singing yet another song, this time joined by a few of the bystanders who had joined in on their fun.
“Open the door, get on the floor! Everypony walk the dinosaur!” they sang.
Not wanting to question the chorus' motives any further, Spike ignored the number and continued on towards the library. Halfway there, however, he was forced to stop as a fire began to grow in his stomach, forcing its way towards his mouth. With a mighty belch, Spike burped out the fire, which materialized into a scroll. Curious as to what caused the message, Spike opened the letter and began to read it. While he was reading it, his eyes grew wide and his mouth hung open. Not bothering to roll the letter back up, Spike turned around and sprinted back to Carousel Boutique.
They're gone. They're gone. Those words kept repeating in Pinkie's mind. After the scary earthquake had struck Ponyville and blacked her out, she had awoken in this strange place. It was pure white as far as they eye could see. The only things in this place seemed to be herself and this mysterious white figure. It had told her that her world had been abandoned by the 'fans' and that because of that, her home and her friends had been erased in order to make room for a brand new Ponyville. Pinkie was crushed that her friends were gone, but she was also focused on what was to happen to her.
“Can’t I be a part of the new world?” she pleaded to the white figure.
“I’m sorry Pinkie Pie, but everything is almost set for the new world. There no place for you.”
“Please! You have to let me into the new world! I don't want to stay here! I’ll do anything! I swear, whatever you want me to do I’ll do it! I… I can make sure the next world doesn’t vanish like the last one.”
The figure stayed quiet for a moment, seemingly thinking the offer over.
“Are you sure you want that burden? Can you shoulder that responsibility?”
“I will. I don’t want to see any more ponies vanishing. It’s the least I can do… for my friends.”
The figure stood silent again. It seemed like an eternity before it spoke again.
“Very well then. You shall have your wish.”
Before she had a chance to react, Pinkie Pie was surrounded by a warm light.
"And that's how Equestria was made," Pinkie thought to herself.
Pinkie Pie shook her head as the memory played in her head. She ran her hoof through her flat mane. She never liked to dwell on the past. To remember the world she had left behind, or those friends of that world whom she had failed. She had moved on, and she did it with a smile. She had made new friends in the new Ponyville and she was able to make sure the fans were happy, at least until now. She knew why she had pushed everypony so hard to please the fans like she had done, she was afraid to lose her current friends just like how she lost her old friends. In fact, it would be even worse if that were the case this time. While her old friends were really great playmates, Pinkie Pie felt as if she shared a deeper bond with her current generation of friends.
While it was true that the fans were vital to their very existence, if there was one thing she should have learned from this world was the importance of being a good friend. Pinkie cursed herself for being so short-sighted during the summer reruns. It was times like this she wished she was back in her old world. Things were so much simpler back then.
“Hey Pinkie Pie? It looks like we’re all set. We’re back in one minute.” Rainbow Dash announced from behind the camera. She, Applejack, and Rarity had finished setting up the camera in the middle of the library. It was focused on a spot on the floor where Twilight was sitting, now calmed from her breakdown at Carousel Boutique, and sipping on some tea Fluttershy had made. The six ponies began to gather in front of the camera.
“That’s great. Thanks guys,” No real emotion came through Pinkie’s voice.
Fluttershy also made it back where everypony was gathering, with a fresh pot of tea for everypony. She refilled Twilight’s cup.
“Feeling better Twilight?” she asked as she poured the tea.
Twilight gave a small nod in response. “A little bit, thanks. Sorry I scared you back there, Fluttershy.”
“It’s all right, Twilight,” Fluttershy smiled. “I was really more scared for you back there. You looked so stressed out.”
“I was. I can’t believe I let myself flip out like that.”
Applejack placed a hoof on Twilight’s shoulder. “Trust me, sugarcube. If it weren’t you, it was bound to be another one of us ah reckon.”
“At any rate, are you positive about this Pinkie?” Rarity asked. “We could still try and save the episode if you want.”
Pinkie shook her head. “No. I’m never putting anypony else through that again. Besides, the bronies saw what happened. This is the only thing that we… that I can do now.”
“Don’t forget that we’ve got you back, Pinkie,” Rainbow Dash winked.
Pinkie let off a sad smile in response. She turned her head back to the camera, patiently waiting for the red light to come back on. She had never been so nervous in her life. She didn’t have to wait long. After a few seconds, the camera’s light flickered on and they were on the air again. With the moment finally at hand, Pinkie inhaled and began.
“Hi everyone. This is kind of unusual for all of us. I mean, we don’t normally talk in front of the camera like this. But I guess you can tell by now that today has not been an ordinary day around here. If you were worried about Twilight, she’s doing a lot better right now. But because of what just happened at Carousel Boutique, we decided to cancel the rest of today’s episode. I’m really, really sorry.”
“Pinkie?” Twilight interrupted. “If anypony needs to apologize, it’s me.”
The purple unicorn ignored her and addressed the camera.
“The fact of the matter is that we really appreciate you guys and you guys are the greatest fans ever. But what happened was that we were all supposed to take a full break and go away for the whole summer after the wedding episode. They said that you guys would miss us if we went away. We didn’t want to risk… losing you…”
Twilight began to tear up. Wanting to give her a break to collect herself, Applejack took over the explaination.
“We didn’t want to abandon y’all, and we didn’t want y’all to abandon us if we went away. So we decided that instead of going away for the summer, we would just go ahead and redo some of y’all’s favorite stories this summer before we start brand new stories this fall.”
“That’s right AJ,” Rainbow Dash cut in. “Now we can’t say what exactly is going to happen with these new stories, so you’ll have to wait and see. But we promise that it’s gonna be awesome! I think you guys are gonna really love it! Especially the part where I… mmph!!”
Rarity rushed over to cover the cyan pegasus’ mouth before she made a fatal mistake.
“What my daredevil friend is trying to say is that we hope that you’ll join us this fall for brand new exciting stories! We had hoped that these repeat stories would have help passed the time until then, but as you all can see, that idea has not panned out the way we had hoped.”
“Again, we’re really, really sorry,” Fluttershy apologized. “It’s just that, these reruns just took a toll on all of us. We couldn’t take it anymore. We tried to get through it as best as we could, but we’re only ponies after all. Even we have our limits.”
“And in the end, it was my fault for not seeing that guys. And I promise I’ll never make that mistake again.” Pinkie said. She then turned back to the camera and continued.
“So with all that said, I guess that means we’ll have to be leaving you guys for the rest of the summer while we recover from these reruns. Don’t worry, we’ll be back with all new adventures this fall.” A few tears started to roll down Pinkie's cheeks. She began to lose her composure. “I hope that… you come back and see us. I hope that… you don’t… forget about us….”
A sudden flash of six forgotten ponies from a bygone world flashed in her head. Pinkie lowered her head and sobbed.
“I’m sorry I failed, everyone. I’m sorry...”
Twilight went over and gave Pinkie a hug.
“Pinkie, you did all you could have done. We wouldn’t even made it this far if it weren’t for you.”
“But I told her that I would make sure what happened to my old world wouldn't happen here. I don't want that to happen. Not to you girls, not to anypony here in Equestria. I could have doomed us all with my failure! What are we gonna if we really do vanish because of this?!?” Pinkie buried her head in her hooves.
Twilight thought about it for a moment. She was right. Their very existence hung in the balance with the decision to sit out the summer. The fans could come back after the break and everything could be fine. However, if they didn't... That was the risk Pinkie's old friends made way back when, and it had cost them everything. Were they really ready to risk it all? After thinking it over for a moment, Twilight provided her answer.
“At least we had a great run, and at least we did it with the company of our best friends. So if our fate is to disappear, then so be it. But if that time does indeed come, then we’ll face the end the same way we've faced anything before that, together. Right girls?”
The prospect of oblivion hit the other four hard. But Twilight’s words offered some comfort in the bleak situation. They all nodded, tears beginning to flow from their eyes.
“Of course sugarcube,” Applejack said, clearing her watering eyes. “You’ll never have to be alone.”.
“I love you girls,” Pinkie sobbed.
“Guys?” Rainbow Dash said, tears flowing freely down her face. “Let’s get this group hug out of the way right now before I completely lose it.”
With that, the six friends hugged each other, tears falling down their faces. They didn’t know how long they held that embrace. It didn’t matter. The surrounding world no longer mattered. All they cared about was that they were together, and that they would be together until the end. And speaking of the end...
“I guess it’s time to end the show,” Fluttershy said, finally breaking away from the embrace.
Pinkie Pie nodded. She turned to address the camera.
“Well, I guess this is it everyone. Thank you guys for everything and…” Pinkie froze as she noticed a key detail lacking from the camera.
The red light was off. The transmission had been stopped.
Rainbow Dash flew up to the camera to inspect why the camera stopped transmitting.
“Hey! What happened to the camera?” she asked.
“We stopped the transmission!” A voice suddenly bellowed from above the ponies.
A surge of magic suddenly manifested itself behind the camera. When the surge faded, the figures of the two royal sisters appeared in the library.
"Celestia? Luna? What's going on?" Twilight asked in disbelief.
“The episode can’t end like this,” the sun goddess announced.
“But we have to explain to the fans what’s been going on, and why we’re stopping the reruns!” Pinkie shouted.
“I’m sorry Pinkie, but the decision has been made,” Princess Luna said.
“Who made that decision?”
“I did,” a voice shouted from behind the princesses. Celestia and Luna moved aside a bit to reveal a third alicorn. She had a white coat, blue eyes, an auburn mane and a quill shaped cuite mark. For five ponies in the room, the mysterious figure’s appearance left them with even more confused. However, Pinkie Pie’s jaw dropped. She knew exactly who this was.
“Lauren?!?” she asked in disbelief.
The white alicorn gave her a loving smile. “Hello again, Pinkie Pie.”
Everything clicked together in Twilight’s mind. She looked to the third alicorn in amazement.
“Wait, you mean the Lauren? The architect and creator of Equestria?”
“Yes. I guess I am,” Lauren blushed.
The six ponies stood in awe. While it was generally understood that the rulers of Equestria and the regents of the heavens were the royal sisters, the actual creator of Equestria remained a mystery for many. The only thing most ponies knew was that the creator's name was Lauren, but nopony had ever seen her. Until now, at least. Rarity ran over to Lauren and groveled at her hooves.
“Oh dear goodness! It’s an honor to finally meet you. We owe our entire existence to you, after all! By the way, thank you for making me so fabulous.” Rarity gushed.
“And thanks for making me so awesome!” Rainbow Dash smirked. She then floated over to Lauren’s ear. “By the way, do you think you can put in a good word for me with the Wonderbolts?”
“Rainbow!” Applejack frowned.
“Just thought I asked,” Rainbow smiled sheepishly.
“Excuse me…” Fluttershy spoke up. “But you’ve met Lauren before, Pinkie Pie?”
Pinkie nodded. “I helped Lauren manage the show the first year on the air.”
“You’ve been working with Lauren this whole time?” Twilight asked Pinkie in disbelief.
“Not the whole time Twilight,” Lauren explained. “Sadly, I had to move on from the show after the first year. Pinkie’s been handling everything ever since.”
“But I don’t understand Lauren,” Pinkie Pie said. “Why did you come back?”
“Celestia and Luna reached out to me as soon as they heard what happened in this episode, Pinkie.”
“Oh, I see. I’m… sorry I failed Lauren.”
“You did not fail, Pinkie Pie.”
“But we ruined the show! We could disappear because of this.”
Celestia smiled. “I don’t think we need to worry about that.”
“What do you mean?” Twilight asked her mentor.
Lauren handled the explanation herself.
“You ponies don’t realize the true impact the show has had on the fans. The bronies aren’t just fans of the show. They are living our message in their own lives. They are spreading our message of love and tolerance into an increasingly cold and cynical world. The show has brought the best in those who never thought they had it in them. You girls have brought honesty, kindness, generosity, loyalty and laughter into the hearts of millions.”
The bearers of the elements of harmony smiled as they learned of the impact their own values had made on the outside world. Twilight Sparkle cleared her throat, trying to grab everypony’s attention. She waved her hoof to make sure that she wasn’t forgotten.
“Um… ‘magic makes it all complete’?” Twilight asked.
Lauren chuckled. “Of course it does, Twilight. And the magic that this show has created will almost certainly never fade. The fans will almost certainly make sure of that. So even if the show ends, Equestria will never disappear because you will never be forgotten.”
Pinkie's mane poofed back up as Lauren shared the good news.
"Really?" she asked.
A simple nod was Lauren's answer. "You've done well, everyone."
"Pinkie, you did it!" Twilight smiled.
Pinkie opened her mouth to respond but didn't. She shook her head as she felt Twilight's statement needed to be corrected.
"No, we did it," Pinkie corrected her friend.
Despite the growing sappiness of the moment, Rainbow couldn't help herself.
"Oh, what the hay? Second group hug!!!" the pegasus shouted.
Once again, the six friends shared an embrace, this time being warmer and happier than the one before. They cheered and hugged each other, knowing full well that they had made a true impact and that their fate of Equestria was secure for a very long time. A few moments later however, Pinkie Pie stopped cheering. She wasn't able to get rid of this nagging feeling that this was just a hollow victory. While this Ponyville would survive, the same could never be said of the old Ponyville.
Fluttershy noticed Pinkie had stopped celebrating. “Is everything all right, Pinkie.”
“Yeah, Fluttershy. I'm fine, I really am! It’s just that I just can’t forget about my old friends. I mean, I’m glad that we’re going to be Ok. But, I just wish I could have been able to save them.”
Celestia and Luna looked at each other for a moment. They then turned to Lauren, who gave them a smile, letting the sisters know that it was time to let her know. Princess Celestia turned her attention back to Pinkie Pie.
“I think we should tell you girls about the security breach.”
“Security breach?” asked a surprised Twilight.
“A group of unknown ponies turned up at the gala tonight. There were six of them all together. I think we need your help in identifying them.” Princess Luna said, trying very hard to mask the smile that was forming on her face.
Pinkie Pie scratched her head. “But why are you asking us? It's not like any one of us would actually know about a group of six unknown ponies. They could be any…”
Pinkie Pie froze as her brain connected the dots. No way, she thought. It was impossible, wasn’t it?
“You don’t mean…”
“Why don’t you see for yourself. Ok everyone, come on in!” Celestia shouted.
On that command, six ponies entered the room, one unicorn, one Pegasus, and four earth ponies, all of various colors, colors that Pinkie Pie knew all too well. The new visitors shouted in excitement when they laid their eyes on the pinkest pony in the room.
“Hi Pinkie Pie!!!” they shouted in unison.
“It… can’t be…” Pinkie's brain was unable to process what she was seeing. They wern't supposed to exist anymore, right?
“We missed you, Pinkie!” the young white unicorn said.
“My goodness, I really like your new look, darling!” the cyan earth pony said.
"We've been hiding in Canterlot this whole time," the light pink pony explained. "Lauren told us we couldn't interfere with you and your new friends, but she said that this was a special exception."
"Pinkie," Lauren began, "The love and memories you had for your old friends brought them into existence into Equestria. All of them."
"You mean... Minty and Thistle-Whistle too?"
"Even Wysteria and Kimono made it!" the purple pegasus reported.
Pinkie Pie couldn't think. She almost couldn't breathe at the moment. Here were her old friends, safe and sound in Equestria, along with the rest of the old world. This had to be a dream, right? She turned back to her current generation of friends.
"Applejack? Hit me."
"Um, are you sure sugarcube?"
"Just do it!!!"
Not quite sure how to honor that request, Applejack simply stomped one of Pinkie's hooves. She shrieked in pain for a second and then refocused on the image she thought she had seen. It didn't change. Her old friends were still there. Tears of joy began to flow from Pinkie's face.
"I'm not dreaming! It really is you! I missed you girls so much!!!”
Pinkie threw herself into her old friends, hugging them tightly. She never thought she would ever get to see these ponies ever again. She thought she had failed them into oblivion. But here they all were, safe and sound. She had saved her friends after all! There was not a dry eye in the library as the reunion played itself out.
“Hey Pinkie, why don’t you introduce us?” Twilight suggested.
Pinkie wiped her eyes clear of her tears. “Ok, Twilight. Everypony, I’d like you to meet my old Core 7 friends, besides me of course!”
She first pointed to the light pink pony.
“First of all our resident artist, Toola-Roola.”
“Hi everyone!” Toola-Roola waved, blowing a tuft of her mane away from the front of her face.
Pinkie moved onto the light purple Pegasus. “Next, we have Starsong and her beautiful melodies.”
Starsong gave a polite bow. “Pleased to meet you.”
“And now… I guess this is where things get weird.” Pinkie warned everpony. She first pointed to the dark pink pony. Her pink and purple mane made up in pigtails.
“This is our resident story teller, Cheerilee.”
“Cheerilee?!?” Twilight did a double take.
“Um… did I do something wrong?” Cheerilee asked.
Lauren shook her head. “No you didn’t. You most likely don’t know this, but in this Ponyville, there exists another pony named Cheerilee, and she shares some of the same traits you do.” She then turned to the orange pony and the white unicorn. “The same goes for you too, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle.”
Rainbow Dash looked stunned. "Scootaloo?"
Rarity's jaw dropped. "Sweetie Belle!?!"
The Core 7 Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle's eyes widened in amazement.
“There's another me here?" the white unicorn asked.
Rarity explained. “Well... Sweetie Belle is the name of my little sister, and Scootaloo is one of her best friends.”
"Cool! I can't wait to meet them!" the orange pony asked.
“And you know what? The two of them are almost exactly like the two of you,” Pinkie Pie added.
"The only difference is that our Scootaloo is a pegasus," Rainbow Dash pointed out. She then flew over to the scarf-wearing cyan pony. “So I guess that must make you Applebloom then, huh? Gotta say that I don't see the resemblance between her and you.”
She raised an eyebrow at Rainbow Dash in confusion. “Excuse me darling, but my name is not Applebloom.”
Luna smirked. She knew what was coming. “Oh, this ought to be good.”
Pinkie Pie scratched the back of her head, trying to find the best way to break the news.
“I guess there’s no other way to say this. Rainbow Dash? Meet… Rainbow Dash.”
“WHAT?!?” the two Rainbow Dashes shouted.
“A... double rainbow?” Twilight silently observed.
Applejack looked on in awe. "All the way across..."
Fluttershy lightly slapped Applejack on the back of the head.
"That joke's old," she said, slightly annoyed.
"Sorry," Applejack blushed.
The Rainbows looked at each other. They slowly mimicked the same movements, much like a warped funhouse mirror. In their minds, there was no possible way that the pony they were looking at was the Rainbow Dash. The pegasus Dash began to stammer.
“But I… How could... She doesn’t even have wi… SHE’S RARITY!!!”
“Excuse me, but I certainly do not share any traits with Princess Rarity.” The earth pony Dash said defiantly, bad memories of a small, curious, trouble making unicorn playing in her mind.
“Princess Rarity?!?” the pegasus Dash’s mind nearly exploded.
The royal title took the Carousel Boutique owner by surprise. “Princess? Oh, I must say that I’m absolutely loving this old world of yours, Pinkie.”
Pinkie Pie chuckled nervously. “we’re gonna need to have a really long talk girls. At least we’ll have time now that we don’t have to do the reruns anymore.”
Celestia spoke up nervously. “About that…”
Pinkie’s face fell. Whatever she was about to say was no doubt going to be bad news. “Don’t tell me…”
Princess Celestia broke the news. “I’m sorry, but the network requires the reruns to help fill the schedule. That was actually the main reason why we had to stop your broadcast.”
Fluttershy fell on her haunches. “More reruns?”
Applejack put her hooves on the side of her head. “You have got to be bucking kidding me!”
Twilight began to plea to the alicorns. “Princess? Lauren? Can you do anything to try to stop this?”
Lauren shook her head. “I’m sorry.”
Pinkie Pie groaned. “We’re right back where we started!”
“Not exactly!” a male voice announced suddenly announced. Everypony turned to see where the voice was coming from. Standing at the door was Discord, and he had brought a visitor. Standing right next to the spirit of chaos was Chrysalis, the Queen of the Changelings.
Celestia reared herself into a defensive stance. The invasion of the changelings was a rather recent event, so there wasn't any time nor opportunities to reach out to the Changelings. As such Queen Chrysalis and her children were still considered enemies of Equestria.
Princess Celestia prepared to charge an attack. “Twilight! Go fetch the Elements of Harmony before Chrysalis…”
Discord interrupted. “There’s no need for that, Celestia. We have reached an agreement with the Changelings.”
Luna raised an eyebrow. “What kind of agreement?”
Discord closed his eyes as he recited the terms of the agreement. “The Changelings will abandon their plans of conquest. Most importantly, the changelings will stand-in for the rest of the cast for future reruns as needed.”
The news took everyone by surprise. It was the solution everyone had hoped for. The changelings could act as stand-ins for the rest of the cast and the fans wouldn't even notice. It was the perfect solution.
Princess Celestia, however, was not completely sold on the deal. It was too perfect.
“There’s a catch, isn’t there?” she asked the draconequus.
The Changeling queen looked straight at the sun goddess.
“You do realize that this show of gratitude from me does not come free. We require payment for our services.”
Princess Luna got into Discord’s face.
“Discord, what have you done? We can’t afford any type of payment to the Changelings.”
Discord didn’t flinch. He didn’t seem to be bothered at all. “Relax, Luna. I’m sure we can afford the price.”
“What was the price?”
As if on cue, a tapping came at the library’s window. Twilight trotted over to the window and opened it, revealing Derpy Hooves, carrying a plate of freshly baked muffins.
“I got the muffins you wanted!” the bubbly grey Pegasus smiled. She flew inside and handed the plate to Discord.
“Excellent work, Ms. Hooves.” Discord took the muffins and handed them to Chrysalis. “Here is your payment madame.”
“This had better be worth it,” the Changeling queen grumbled.
“Oh, you’ll see.” Discord smirked.
Chrysalis took one of the muffins. She inspected it for a few moments before taking a small bite. She chewed for a few seconds before a sense of wonder and unfiltered joy washed all over her.
“This… is amazing!!!”
Discord chuckled. “I told you Derpy’s muffins were made with love.”
“I thought you were exaggerating, but you’re right! Why… There’s enough love in these muffins for all my children! Ms. Derpy Hooves, you simply must share this gift with us!”
“No problem! I have all sorts of recipes for any kind of muffins you want.”
Chrysalis and Derpy left the library, talking about every kind of muffin under the sun. The remaining occupants of the room sat confused.
“So… let me get this straight,” Twilight said, trying to make sense of what just happened. “We could have stopped Chrysalis and the Changelings this whole time… with a batch of Derpy’s muffins. Is that right Discord?”
Princess Luna was getting a migraine over this revelation. “And… you didn’t tell us that because…”
“It would have made for a boring episode.” Discord shrugged.
"He's got a point," Pinkie pointed out.
"Please don't encourage him..." Twilight pleaded.
Discord then noticed the third alicorn in the room. “Shouldn’t we be returning Ms. Faust back to her own world right now?” he wondered.
“Yes we should,” Celestia nodded. “Luna and I will take Lauren back to Canterlot. We’ll take care of it from there.”
“Wait!” Pinkie Pie shouted. She ran up to Lauren, wanting to get one more word in.
“Before you go Lauren, in case we never see you again… I just wanted to say… thank you, for everything.”
Lauren struggled to hold back her tears as she hugged Pinkie. She didn’t want to go through this again. It was hard enough saying goodbye the first time.
“No Pinkie, thank you. You’ve been more than brilliant this past year. The show couldn’t be in better hooves right now.”
“Thanks Lauren”, Pinkie said returning the embrace.
“I’m so proud of you.” Lauren turned her attention to the other five element bearers. “I’m so proud of all of you.”
Twilight stepped forward to white alicorn. “Lauren, will we ever see you again?”
“I don’t know, Twilight. I’m needed elsewhere now. All I ask is that you keep making the show as special as it has.”
Pinkie winked. “Don’t worry we will!”
“It’s time to go Lauren.”
The three alicorns and Discord gathered together for the teleportation. As Celestia and Luna began to cast the spell, Lauren took a look at the two generations of ponies. She then took one final look at Pinkie Pie.
“Farewell, my little ponies.”
Celestia leaned into Lauren’s ear, a bit annoyed.
“Stop trying to steal my thunder, okay?” she frowned. Lauren squeaked an apologetic smile.
The spell reached its peak, forming a bright bubble of light around the four beings. The bubble then faded away, taking the Princesses, Discord, and Lauren with them. The 12 ponies left behind sat silent for a while.
“Well… I guess that everything’s going to be ok now.” Fluttershy said, breaking the silence.
Starsong turned to Twilight. “Do things like that always happen around here?”
Twilight scratched the back of her head. “Well, I guess that it’s not every day that we’re able to get the bearers of the Elements of Harmony, six ponies from a previous generation, the two royal sisters, the spirit of chaos, the queen of the Changelings, the actual architect of Equestria, and Derpy under one roof at the same time. But honestly, after all we’ve been through, I guess this is just par for the course.”
“Golly, you sure do have some big adventures nowadays, Pinkie!” Sweetie Belle said in awe. “I don’t think we can handle any emergencies like you guys do.”
Pinkie Pie laughed. “Well, at least we’re able to handle those better than the way we handled this ep…” Pinkie Pie froze.
“What do you mean, ‘uh oh’?” the pegasus Rainbow Dash asked.
“If the speech we tried to make didn’t make it on the air…” Pinkie began.
Applejack eyes flew open as she realized what Pinkie was talking about.
“Then what in tarnation was the network broadcasting for the past 15 minutes?!?”
Without another word, Pinkie Pie rushed out of the library. It only took the others a few seconds before they all followed her out the door.
“Cause this is Thriller… Thriller Night! And no one’s gonna save you from the Manticore tonight!”
Everypony was having a huge dance party, with an added emphasis on every pony. As far as Pinkie Pie could tell, nearly every single pony/non-pony who had ever appeared on the show was involved in the number. Every supporting character, every background character, every villain, real or pretend, they were all there and they were all having a blast. In the middle of the entire scene was Spike who was operating the camera, its red light shining bright. Pinkie Pie could barely process the scene in the middle of Ponyville’s town square. Neither could the rest of her friends from either generation.
Toola-Roola spoke up. “Pinkie? Is this a scene from one of your episodes?”
Pinkie shook her head. “This isn’t a scene from any episode. This never happens in the show.”
“It’s happenin’ now, sugarcube,” Applejack pointed out.
The previous generation’s Scootaloo was absolutely blown away at the scene. “Nothing like this ever happened back in our old world.”
The mention of the previous generation grabbed Rarity’s attention.
“That reminds me, you simply must tell us stories of your old dimension, especially this Princess Rarity of yours.”
“Oh we’ve got a TON of stories!” The pig-tailed Cheerilee replied. “How about the time Pinkie met Scootaloo? We were just babies at the time and…”
“NO!!!” Pinkie screamed in a panic. She cleared her throat and continued in a calmer tone. “I mean, we can talk about the old world later. Right now, we need to find out what’s going on here. I’m going to talk to Spike.”
Twilight followed Pinkie. “I’ll go with you. He’s still probably worried about me.”
“Do you need us to do anything else, Pinkie?” the cyan pegasus asked.
“No. I think I can take it from here. Thanks anyway, Dashie!” Pinkie and Twilight began to make their way through the crowd of dancing ponies, leaving the other 10 behind.
“Well, how about we join the dance party? We can introduce everypony for you.” Rarity suggested to the newcomers.
“That sounds like a dashing idea, darling!” Rainbow Dash said. The group began to make their way towards the dance party.
“Why do you insist on saying that?” Rainbow Dash said.
“Well darling, it’s one of my trademarks. It’s the way you know you’re talking to the one and only Rainbow Dash.”
“You’re NOT Rainbow Dash. I’M Rainbow Dash. ”
“For your information I was Rainbow Dash long before you.”
“Well, you can’t be Rainbow Dash around here when you look like… that!”
“There’s nothing wrong with the way I look. I simply dress in style. Not that you would know what style is.”
“HEY! I can out-style you. Anyplace. Anytime. Anywhere.”
Fluttershy leaned into Applejack’s ear. “I think we can sell a spinoff series with those two.”
Applejack giggled. “Ah reckon you’re right about that… ooof!”
Applejack was bumped into something, or rather somepony.
“Oh my goodness. I’m so sorry about that!” the clumsy pony apologized. She then quickly walked away in embarrassment.
Applejack looked to see that the clumsy pony was a young freckled-face orange earth pony. Her blond mane looked to be untied, in contrast to the blue bow on her tail.
Wait a second. Blond mane? Orange coat? Freckles? Could that have been…
“Nah!” Applejack waved the thought away without hesitation. She rejoined the others as they began to mingle with the crowd.
Meanwhile behind the camera, Spike was busy making sure the transmission was going along smoothly. Princess Celestia had written that she was going to stop any type of transmissions Pinkie was planning, so it was up to Spike to find something else to fill time for the rest of the episode. Spike managed to pick the episode up with the chorus after Twilight’s meltdown. So for the past 15 or so minutes, the bronies were treated to a growing group of ponies singing and dancing to virtually anything. Thankfully, they never let up thus far and there was just a few short minutes left in the episode. They were home free.
“Spike!” a voice called out. Recognizing the voice instantly, Spike turned around to see Twilight and Pinkie running towards him. Surprised that Twilight was back on the scene and looking a bit better than when he last saw her, Spike ran over and gave the purple unicorn a hug.
“Twilight! Are you feeling better?”
Twilight returned the hug. “I’m fine now. Thanks, Spike.”
“Spike? What is going on here?” Pinkie asked.
“Well the chorus started singing random songs since the gala number was cancelled,” Spike summarized. “Other ponies joined in and the next thing you know, a full blown dance party broke out. I thought that this would make a great substitute over whatever the princess was trying to stop you guys from doing. You know, like a really nice pick-me-up for the fans, especially after what happened at Carousel Boutique.”
“So we’ve been broadcasting this the whole time?”
Spike sighed. “It was the only thing I could think of at the time. And I still haven’t come up with a way to end the episode. I’m sorry I couldn’t think of an answer that was more true to the story.”
“I don’t think we need to worry about that, Spike.” Twilight laughed.
Pinkie Pie giggled a bit too. “Yeah, any sense of ‘story’ for this episode was thrown right out the window when Twilight broke down earlier.”
The painful memory of Twilight’s breakdown was still fresh in Pinkie's mind, as was her fear when she had realized the fans had saw it. Thankfully, the recent events in the library was more than enough to perk her back up. Being reminded that there was still an active episode on their hooves, a sudden thought then came to Pinkie.
“Hey, how much time do we have left in the episode?”
Spike took a peak into the camera’s monitor. “We still have about a couple minutes left. Why?”
“I think I know how we can wrap this up!” Pinkie announced. “Twilight? I need you to play along. Close your eyes and come with me. Make sure the camera finds us, Spike.”
“Aye aye!” Spike gave a salute.
Pinkie led Twilight, who made sure to keep her eyes closed, to a spot in front of the camera just as the song was finishing up. Spike made sure that the shot was focused on the two of them, even though he didn’t have a clue what Pinkie had planned. Satisfied with the shot’s setup, Pinkie put her plan in action.
“All right, Twilight, open your eyes!”
Twilight did as she told. She looked around the party scene as if she was seeing it for the first time.
“SURPRISE!!!” Pinkie shouted.
“Pinkie? What are you doing?” Twilight asked.
“It’s our Let’s-Have-A-Break-From-All-The-Reruns party, silly!” Pinkie grinned.
Twilight arched an eyebrow. “It’s a… what party?”
“It’s a party where we take a break from the reruns and just have fun!” Pinkie ‘explained’. “You see, what happened at Carousel Boutique got me thinking. You might not be the only one who might be worn out by the same old thing over and over again. I mean, who really wants to see that boring old gala again, anyway? So I had the world’s most fantastic idea! Why not change the episode up a bit this time. If going to the gala would have made you sad anyway, then doing something completely different would cheer you right back up! Besides, who says we can’t have the ‘Best Night Ever’ right here in Ponyville!!!” Pinkie winked.
Twilight caught on to Pinkie’s plan. “You changed the episode… for me?”
“Well duh! You are my best friend after all. And the best part is that EVERYPONY is invited. Our friends, all of Ponyville, and especially…”
Pinkie turned to look directly to the camera.
“…the best fans anypony could ever dream of! This party just can't be complete without you guys too. All you bronies, all you pegasisters, and especially all you kids out there too! You guys are just as important to this show as anyone of us here in Equestria, and we love each and every one of you the same way you guys love us." Pinkie felt a single tear fall from her cheek as she continued to speak from her heart. "We don’t ever get a chance to say this during the show, and we probably won't ever get a chance to say it on the air again. So from all of us to all of you, thank you all… for everything.”
“Hey, less feels! More rock!!!” Octavia shouted from a makeshift stage. Pinkie Pie did a double take when she noticed that the normally classy musician was wearing purple shades and holding a large cider mug. Despite her wanting to know exactly how much cider she drank so far, she let it slide. There was an episode that needed to be wrapped up.
“Okay everypony! LET’S GET CRAZY!!!” Pinkie shouted.
On that cue, Octavia’s ensemble, who had by now switched to playing rock instruments, played a rock and roll riff as the musical number began.
“Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down? Oh no, let’s go!”
The song launched the entire cast of ponies into a frenzy of singing and dancing. Surprisingly, it was Twilight who led the dance floor as her spastic dancing seemed to fit the song perfectly. Even Spike had abandoned his position behind the camera to join in on the fun.
To Pinkie, the song was a fitting end to an episode that was anything but ordinary. The show today had been, by all accounts, a complete disaster. However, any sense of dread that she should have had over the complete derailment of the episode was non-existent. Everything was going to be ok now. Her friends, her show, her entire world, they were going to be all right. Pinkie Pie could finally release herself of the burden of satisfying the fanbase at all cost. She could now pour all her energy on the show now, to make it better for her friends and for the fans.
Pinkie was the only pony in the large crowd who noticed the camera’s red light had switched off in the middle of the song. Pinkie took a quick look at the camera’s monitor and saw that the credits had started rolling. The episode was over. However, the party showed no signs of slowing down. Pinkie Pie smiled. It might not have been the story anypony was expecting, but it still wound up being the ‘Best Night Ever’ after all!
Stay tuned! Another episode of 'My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic' is coming up next! Only on the HUB!
Pinkie Pie threw her hooves up in frustration.
“OH COME ON!!!”