Being Equestria’s officially recognised best young flier—and let’s be honest here, best flyer period—you’d think the idea of waking every day up to the sounds of my adoring fans screaming my name, begging for my attention and all-around worshipping the cloud I stand on would be a good thing. The kind of thing I’d just accept, get used to, maybe even come to enjoy.
And if they were just "fans", you’d probably be right.
At least I’d gotten around to removing the window from my bedroom. Waking up to the sight of some genuinely terrifying stares from dozens of leering eyes every morning was really getting creepy.
With a sigh, I rolled out of bed and stretched a little. In an effort to push the calls, screams, and declarations of love from my mind, I started what had now become my morning routine. To be honest, I was pretty surprised how easy it had gotten to slip into a morning routine. I wasn’t much of a morning pony to begin with, and these past few months had given me plenty of reason to want to hide in bed all day. Still, I did have work to do, and this routine gave me a good reason to get up early enough for it.
First on the list was a security sweep. Even with the newly reinforced cloud layers and multiple enchantments I’d had put in, which had seriously cut down on attempts to break in, it was better to be safe than to be attacked during breakfast. Although I hadn’t seen anypony smashing through my walls for months, I still felt it best to check any and all weak spots. One time, I actually caught a few of them trying to swim up one of my rainbow waterfalls. It was lucky for them that I was on my sweep, since I managed to fish them out before they swallowed too much of it or fried their stupid faces off. It didn't really do much good, though. If anything, that just made it worse. They started calling me their saviour, shouting out about how heroic I was, and “swearing undying fealty”, whatever the hay that means. I still grind my teeth at the memory of how utterly moronic it was.
I did put a big, thick gate on the waterfall’s entrance the next day, though. That really helped to scare off most of those idiots.
It looked like nopony had actually managed to get in last night, but there were a few bumps and dents where they had tried. This led straight to the next stage of the routine: maintenance. I repaired the lumps, pushing the compacted cloud layers of my floor and walls back into place where ponies had tried to get through. I did a quick check of my windows, too, and found no cracks. No light, either. It couldn’t get through all of the faces pressed against the glass, eyes gleaming as they followed me around the room and faces screwed up into happy, creepy grins when I had to go close enough to check the glass for damage.
I was suddenly really thankful that I’d gotten Twilight to cover them with some of her magical protection mumbo-jumbo a few months ago. I think she must have put something through the walls too, since I didn't have any magic-powered visitors either. It was almost worth her exposure to me, her subsequent attempt to lock me in my own house and seduce me, and my eventual bucking her face-first out of the door.
Now that cleanup was taken care of, it was time to get something to eat. I went to the kitchen, poured myself a hearty bowl of oats, and retreated to the bathroom. Yeah, eating next to a toilet was probably unhygienic and weird and stuff, but it was the only room besides the bedroom that was windowless, and I really didn’t like the stares the ponies outside gave me when I ate—or finding week-old oats in my bed, for that matter. Thankfully, no-one had thought to, or had the nerve to, climb through the plumbing and get into the house through the toilet. Not yet, at least.
Now that was a horrible image. The thought of a pony clambering up into my house through the waste pipes wasn't a nice one, really. Especially when I'm trying to have breakfast.
Strangely enough, I wasn’t very hungry anymore, so I went to the living room and poured the last of my oats into the little trough in Tank’s enclosure. I'm not entirely sure if he should eat oats, but to be honest, I have no freaking idea what I'm supposed to feed a tur—I mean, tortoise. Besides, he doesn't really care who watches him eat, so he had no trouble with the peering eyes at every window, and he seemed to devour pretty much anything I put in there for him.
Heh, maybe I should just set Tank on the crowd outside. Not sure if I’d want a pet with a taste for pony, though.
My mood was raised a little by watching him slowly but surely making his way through the oats—which, in my mind at least, were beginning to resemble some particularly star-struck ponies. With nothing left to do at home, I decided that I might as well set out for work. There was a problem with that idea, though—actually getting out of the house. I hadn’t yet thought up a way of building a secret entrance without them all finding it within a day or two. Besides, now that Twilight was out of the question, I doubted I could get anypony to "reinforce" it for me. Basically, I was stuck with using the front door. As annoying as it might be, it wasn't too much of a problem, to be honest. I’m usually fast enough to get out of there before the horde even knows that I’ve left.
And the times when I'm not fast enough? Well, those bozos just end up getting even more hurt.
Slowly and quietly I made my way the door and gently pressed my ear against it. Through the general noise out there, I caught a few voices murmuring close by. I smirked when I realised that they still hadn’t learned to stay the heck away from the door. Suddenly, my morning seemed a little bit brighter.
And so, with no warning, I spun around and bucked it outwards.
The door flew open and straight into the faces of some unlucky ponies. I heard a few cries of pain, and then the crash of ponies hitting into other ponies. My smile might have grown a little at the noise.
I leapt through the opening, whirling around to lock the door behind me, and then turning to face the mob. From what I could see, my door had sent at least four ponies flying into the crowd, knocking them back into the front line of an endless sea of bodies that had somehow all managed to cram themselves onto my porch. Even as I watched, they started to struggle back to their hooves, a maddened glint appearing in their eyes as they saw me. I could see the ponies behind them pushing forward.
Oh yeah. It was definitely time to leave.
Whoosh! Straight up, into the sky. Not many pegasi can pull off a sheer vertical takeoff, and even fewer can do it anywhere near as fast as me. I was already a good distance above them by the time anypony realised I had gone. Still, some of them tried. It was almost funny to watch them strain, fail, and fall back on their flanks, but I had places to go to. Places that just happened to be far away from here. As the rest of the mob began to take flight, I punctured the now-permanent cloudbank above my house.
I wasn't surprised at all to find even more ponies sitting on top of the clouds, waiting for me - after all, they'd been there every other day this week. Their eyes gleamed just like everypony else's as they turned to face me, and some of them started reaching around for "gifts".
Well, I was hoping to practice some aerial dodges today anyway.
I flew onwards in tight spirals, away from my house and skimming the clouds as objects hurtled towards me. After doing this more times than I cared to remember, I had started sorting these "gifts" into three categories in my head.
First, there was "pansy nonsense": flowers and love letters and other pathetic junk like that, generally light and difficult to get much momentum on, and so naturally falling way short.
Then came the "middle stuff": boxes of chocolate, teddy bears, even jewels. Normally this stuff was pretty harmless, but they could get downright dangerous in midair.
Then there was "the insane". This was stuff that was heavy, stupid, and had nothing to do with romance in any possible way.
Like the freaking sink that rose out of the cloud in front of me.
I barely managed to swerve out of the way of the speeding tonne of steel. As it flashed past, I could make out what looked like the words "NOTICE ME", scrawled across it in pink crayon, which showed up pretty well on the shiny metal surface. I guessed that some ground-bound pony decided they’d try and get my attention whilst I was still up in the sky.
A few questions started popping in my mind right about then. Questions like:
No, seriously. What?
Who the hay announces their love with a sink?
Where did they get a catapult big enough to launch the darned thing?
And, is it wrong of me to hope that the sink hits that swarm of pegasi behind me?
No such luck. the sink fell back through the clouds and towards what would probably be a pretty nice crater on the ground. Moments later, a chunk of cloud a safe distance from any impact zone churned as dozens of ponies smashed their way through it, clearing the way for hundreds more to spill into the open sky. I took evasive manoeuvres, in case of more sinks—something I really didn’t imagine I’d be thinking today—and flew the heck outta there.
After a little while I slowed down enough to look around, hoping to see that they had given up their pursuit. They hadn’t. In fact, the flock had gotten bigger, and as I watched, even more pegasi emerged from their cloud tents—I'm not joking, freaking tents —and join the hunt.
“Seriously?” I yelled back in frustration. “You guys really have nothing better to do than camp outside my house and chase me all day? Don’t you have jobs? Families? Anything?!”
Shouting never worked – this was something I knew all too well by now. If anything, the sound of my voice seemed to spur them on, and the group actually picked up speed. I groaned and slapped myself on the head with a hoof. “Oh, for the love of Celestia…”
It was about then that I noticed some kind of fuss at the head of the pack. A second later, what seemed to be a beam of sunlight blared out from the group, forcing ponies out of the way.
A white object, the source of the light in fact, came racing through the gap, hurtling towards me with increasing speed.
No no no.
It was a lot larger than the others who were chasing me, it was using magic, and it looked an awful like a certain princess.
I turned and flew away as fast as I could, the cold jaws of terror snapping at my hooves.
I didn’t quite hit Sonic Rainboom speeds. Doing it any way but straight down takes a lot of preparation, after all—as much as I hate to admit it, the one I did at Twilight's brother's wedding really stretched me to my limit. Besides, a massive multicoloured explosion doesn't really help when I'm trying to avoid attention. That isn't to say I didn't fly fast, though, because I really did. It’s funny how being chased by a deity can make somepony put in a little more effort.
Once I'd managed to outrun that flock of idiots—If her flight speed was anything to go by, I'd be adding Celestia to my "ponies not quite as awesome as me" list later—and I was sure that there were no other ponies in sight, I ducked back beneath the cloud layer and took a look around. I was a little surprised to find myself just outside Canterlot, but I suppose that it did make sense. After all, I’d flown as hard and as fast as I could for over an hour, and that kind of speed can really get you places.
Places that normally take a full day to reach by train and, maybe at a push, half that for the fastest fliers out there.
I briefly considered descending to the city, to find a ride home instead of flying again, but the whole place seemed pretty active. Which, now that I thought about it, also made sense. I doubt they could find their ruler that day, what with her being outside my house and all, and that was probably making more than a few officials a bit nervous. The last thing they needed right now was a mass exodus of rainbow-obsessed ponies, which is what they'd probably get if I got too close.
At least if the trip back from that Hearth's Warming Eve performance was anything to go by. I never would have thought that I'd watch an entire audience chase our train that night, and I really didn't want a repeat of that.
Besides, any other way home would still take longer than a roundabout flight. I shuddered to think of what horrors my weather team would have waiting for me if I took too long to get back. One accidental case of tapioca-flavoured rain clouds should be more than enough for any town.
With a sigh, I started on a wide flight path, circling back around towards Ponyville. It took me a good couple of hours longer to get back there and still avoid the flock, but crazy swarms of lovestruck idiots aside, I still had a job to do, and whatever it was that made them all crazy seemed to stop them from thinking straight too, since they at least rarely thought of looking for me in town.
I mean, it did stop me from being able to sleep well at night, or open my own darned door some days, but at least I could do some of my work before being tackle-hugged to the ground by five different ponies.
I finally arrived, hovering far above the centre of Ponyville. As I had expected, there were weather faults all across town: rain clouds where I had scheduled clear skies, clear skies where I wanted some minor cloud cover, and a rainbow that started at Town Hall and then suddenly cut off just over one of the hills.
This had the half-hoofed signature of a Cloud Kicker job to it. I swore then that I was gonna cut her pay.
Just as soon as I worked out a way to get to Town Hall, fill out the paperwork, take it to the weather bosses in Cloudsdale, have it approved, and then break the news to Kicker. All without being assaulted by any of those lunatics as they fell in love with me.
Yeah. Fat chance.
Before trying anything else, I did a quick check for any surprise attackers. It wouldn’t have been the first time Kicker had tried to trap me by distracting me with her shoddy attempts at weather management, but I was darn sure I’d make it the last. Finally, when I judged the coast to be clear, I started to fix the mess.
A lot of ponies seemed to think that I was really bad at my job or something. They probably saw me napping on a cloud or performing some of my awesome tricks, and just assumed that it’s all I ever do. The truth is, I was actually really good at my job. Like, too good. When I could clear the skies in a flash, it left a whole load of time for napping, or pranking, or practising my moves.
Normally, work would be a good distraction from those romance-obsessed idiots, and I’d take my time with it. Today, though, I was feeling a little bit angrier than usual.
Being chased by a goddess does that to a girl.
It wasn’t long at all before my enraged screaming stopped, and every cloud in the sky had had the living hay kicked out of it. Well, all except for the little cloud campsite outside my house that was practically a landmark in the sky by now—I was pretty sure I didn’t want to go anywhere near there, though.
In other words, I was out of work to do. I started looking around for anything else I could smack around for a bit, and noticed a grey dot on the ground, growing larger as it came up to meet me. It wasn't very long before I could just about make out who it was, and I felt a little happy to see Ponyville's goofball mailmare, Derpy. I smiled a little hopefully. She must have just finished her deliveries for the day and wanted to talk, or maybe she had a letter for me. Either way, I could use a friendly face to talk to. She’d always seemed to be able to resist… whatever it was that was going on with me.
Personally, I was starting to think it was those eyes. She probably couldn’t even see me properly.
As she got nearer, though, I noticed a couple of things. Namely, the basket of muffins balanced on her head, the heart-shaped card in her mouth, and that look in her eyes. It looked like Derpy had fallen for it, too.
And by "it", I mean "me".
Time to leave again. It was coming up to nap-o'clock anyway, so I flew on out of there—no need for evasion, Derpy had trouble flying in a straight line anyway—and towards my favourite land-based napping spot.
In case you ever need somewhere to lie down, Sweet Apple Acres is a great place to catch some Z’s. If there aren’t any clouds available because your local weather manager bucked them all into oblivion in a fit of rage, I mean.
I swiftly flapped my way towards the back of one of the Apple family's larger groves, and, after a quick scout around to make sure nopony was looking, I darted through the leaves of what looked to be little more than one more apple tree in the sea of hundreds that surrounded it, but was in fact my home away from home. Applejack usually found my napping spots within a few days and had an awful habit of bucking me out of them when I was in the middle of a great dream. Obviously, though, recent events meant that I had to get a bit more stealthy. I’d struck a gold mine with this one: there was almost enough leaf coverage to completely hide me from any nosy ponies, it had already been bucked clean of apples by the time I got to it, and it was in one of the furthest groves from the farm itself. All of this added up to the peace and quiet that I really needed at times like these.
I shook the waiting blanket off to one side to get rid of the leaves and bugs that had made it their home since I’d last visited. I then carefully set it back down in the crook of two thick branches to make it as comfy as possible, getting it just right. Then I collapsed onto it. Sure, it wasn't a patch on a cloud, but it would do for me.
A stretch, a sigh, and I closed my eyes.
You know when you try to sleep, and your mind drifts? It just sort of throws up loads of memories, thoughts and other junk to keep you busy. Yeah, I was getting a bit sick of that. Every time, it was the same thing, flashing before my eyes. Everything about this whole... "problem" came back up to mock me.
I met Twilight for the first time. I watched six mares approaching a crumbling castle. I remembered the fight with Nightmare Moon. I became the Element of Loyalty all over again, and It was somehow still as awesome the fortieth or so time I re-lived it.
It was ever since that night that things had changed.
It had been barely noticeable at first. I mean, ponies were already in awe of me—and who could blame them? So a couple of them started going a little overboard, so what? It wasn’t like I didn’t already have a fan club. I could deal with a little more attention.
At least, I had thought I could.
It just kept building. And building. And building. Before I even knew it, it was like everypony in the whole freaking town was looking at me differently, staring at me with… that look. Their eyes slightly glazed over, their mouths twisting into a dreamy smile. It was downright creepy.
I had gone over every reason for it that I could come up with by this point. Was it Twilight Sparkle’s fault? Had some magic spell of hers done this? It was definitely a possibility. After all, she’d pretty much done the same thing to her Smarty Pants doll, with that "want it, need it" spell. Besides, this whole situation had started since she moved to town. Didn’t seem too likely, though, from what I went through after that Heart’s Warming Eve pageant at Canterlot, in Dodge Junction, and even with those changeling freaks. They had all wanted a bit of me, too. Every time, the same problem, the same look. Sure, Twi’s powerful and all, but I doubt she could affect the entire world.
Or… maybe it was a love poison? Someone had infected the water supply for Ponyville, Canterlot, even the whole of Equestria, and they’d all been drinking loco juice? Again, sounded possible. Maybe it was spread in the rain, since all of that came from Cloudsdale? But then again, wasn’t that supposed to make them fall in love with just the first pony they saw or something? I’m awesomely fast, I know, but I can’t be everywhere.
Ideas kept throwing themselves around my head, just like they had done every other day. Was it some of Zecora’s mumbo-jumbo? curses or not, she was still a little creepy. Was it the Element of Loyalty? Was it Discord? Was it aliens? Was I really just that awesome?
I never got an answer, of course. All I knew is that for some reason, ever since that battle with Nightmare Moon—ever since all of these zany adventures I've been having with my friends began—something… or someone… wanted me to be in some kind of relationship with pretty much everyone that I’d ever seen. It was like some outside force had decided to pair me up with absolutely every creature that they could think of.
It even got to Gilda, for crying out loud, and she’d been in town for barely a week before I had to beat her away with a stick after Pinkie’s little party.
I was woken up sometime around noon by what sounded like a manticore growling in my stomach. I shushed at it, giving it a harsh glare for being loud enough to give away my location. Then I realised that I was shushing my own stomach, and I began to wonder if it really was just me who was going mental.
Never mind my possible insanity for the time being. I needed some food. Slowly and carefully, I raised myself off of the blanket and moved a few leaves out of my way. I took in a good view of the Apple family’s bright red house in the distance, and considered flying over to it for a moment before shaking my head. Sure, they’d offer me food, but I had the rope-burns to prove that AJ wasn’t any less immune to whatever was happening to me than anypony else. Don't get me wrong, I could probably escape her again—she might have been pretty tough, but my wings were freaking powerhouses. Her brother would be a different matter, though. That stallion was strong.
To be honest, I wasn’t entirely confident that I could put up as much of a fight as an entire freaking house, and remembering how he’d managed to beat one of those in a tug-of-war last Hearts and Hooves Day just gave me the shivers.
Oh yeah, I was staying far away from him.
Stealing a few apples was out of the question, too. For one, I wasn't really a huge fan of theft after that whole Daring Do thing—even though I was only trying to borrow the darn book. Knowing AJ, she probably counted every apple on every tree on the farm. Heck, she probably had pet names for them, too! Besides, the only trees with decent fruit left on them were too close to Apple HQ for my liking. They’d be sure to see me, and then they'd be sure to try and kidnap me.
I’m not sure what would happen if I got close to Applebloom or Granny Smith, but I didn’t really feel like getting tackled by a lovestruck toddler and pensioner. Granny’d probably put her back out trying, anyway.
Definitely not worth the risk, then—not to mention the possible harm to the elderly. I moved on, turning around to face towards Ponyville itself. I was out of choices, so it was the only option left, really—I couldn't go back to my house until either my "fans" went to sleep or Celestia went home, and I’d already accidentally flown to Canterlot today, and didn’t want this thing to spread any further if I could help it.
How did it get to Celestia, anyway? Did one of Twi’s friendship report letters carry it or something? Ugh, great. Now I can't even write without somepony coming after me.
I checked that the coast was clear before hopping out of the tree, flapping my wings a couple times before landing so that I didn’t make a loud and obvious thud, and started trotting down the dirt path leading from Sweet Apple Acres back towards town.
Then I remembered that anypony who saw me was likely to attack me outright. With a sigh, I moved to the side. Trudging through the dense undergrowth and the small trees that grew on the edge of the path wouldn't be fun, but I knew from experience that it would be thick enough to keep me hidden.
Knowing that it would also be thick enough to make the going almost impossible didn’t help much, but it did keep me from cursing when I almost tripped up.
Well, not too much, anyway.
Normally, the whole "fastest flyer ever" thing would keep me safe in the air. Being that close to town, though, meant that flying was out of the question. I couldn’t stay high and quick like I do when clearing the sky nowadays, since I’d have to be on the ground at some point anyway to try and get something to eat. Don’t get me wrong, at first I tried staying high and just swooping straight down at the last minute to the door of wherever I was gonna be eating that day, but I’d hurtled straight into one too many nets since this whole thing had started.
Besides, I needed to be sneaky to avoid attention, and I was pretty distinctive when flying through the sky. Leaving a rainbow trail behind me everywhere I went tended to make it fairly hard to stay hidden.
Unfortunately, though, even on the ground I was pretty obvious—there just aren't that many ponies as amazing as me walking around. That’s why I like to make use of the bottomless resources of Pinkie Pie.
I've had a whole lot of ponies tell me that Pinkie is "completely inexplicable", "off-the-wall", or even "downright crazy". To be fair, they were right. What they didn't realise, though, is how much planning went into that madness. She had a contingency for every eventuality, regardless of how incredibly improbable it might've been.
At least, that’s what she told me when she showed me that map of disguises she had stashed all over Ponyville, "in case of disguise emergencies". Personally, I just went with “Pinkie Pie is so bucking random”.
Lucky for me, I remembered a couple of the points on that map. A little stumbling through the undergrowth eventually led to a hollowed-out tree stump with a fake lid, containing everything I’d need.
I slowly approached the stump, taking a look all around it for any obvious booby traps, before carefully and gently lifting the lid…
Wham! The lid was forced out of my hooves as a gang of spring-powered plastic snakes leapt out of the stump and into the air, followed by a ridiculous amount of confetti that definitely shouldn’t have been able to fit in so small a space.
Obviously I wasn’t scared or anything. I don’t care what anypony has to say, I definitely didn’t jump backwards out of fright. I just… tripped. On a root.
I mean, I couldn’t possibly be scared. This must have been, like, the umpteenth time something like this had happened to me. I have no idea how the snakes managed to reset afterwards, every freaking time, but they always do, and I always forget about it.
But I’m never scared.
I shook my head, dislodging the one snake that had manage to actually hit the target. The rest had just gone flying into the air, and Celestia knows where they all landed. Pinkie must be getting sloppy or something if her traps were that bad. I was more used to having a face full of paper reptiles by now.
I made my way back to the formerly booby-trapped stump, sticking my hoof right in there. It was probably safe now. Pinkie had far too many pranks like this to set up every day as it was, so I was betting she hadn't had time to set a back-up trick. It didn't take me long to find the fake bottom, a spring attached to it, with the actual goods hidden underneath.
Like I said, Pinkie is random. At least it was better than the last time I’d tried one of her disguise stashes. Somehow, she’d known that I’d be there, and was lying in wait for me. Took me hours to shake her off – literally. She’d covered herself in toffee or something, so she stuck to me like glue. It had taken three rainclouds and a team of minotaurs to get her off me.
Of course, I had to deal with a team of minotaurs and a sticky Pinkie Pie chasing after me then. That had been a tricky one…
Shaking my head to get rid of some really freaky memories, I quickly sorted through the stump, pulling out a pair of glasses, a comically huge moustache, crayons, a mirror, and some coat and mane dye. Setting them out before me, I donned the glasses and got to work.
I’m not quite at Rarity’s level, and as any quick inspection would show, it was a pretty rushed job. Still, I'd had to learn how to apply this kind of rubbish. I mean, obviously I didn't use these kind of things normally—regardless of what some ponies say about rainbow manes being impossible—but all the craziness going on had made me a fast learner.
A little while later, I could safely say that I was no longer Rainbow Dash. Instead, I was… hrm, needed a cool fake-name... how about "Painblow Crash", professional hoofwrestler and all-around hardflank? That sounded suitably awesome, and it was the perfect disguise!
I took one last glance at my frowny-face cutie mark in the mirror and shook my matte-black fringe out of my eyes before I started forward, hopping back onto the path and putting one dark-green hoof in front of the other as I trotted towards town.
I gave everypony my best scowl as I passed through the outskirts of Ponyville, and made a beeline for the marketplace. I didn't even dare to look around and check that everypony was falling for my disguise. I had never managed to work out what it was that makes ponies fall for me, but wearing a disguise and avoiding all possible contact seemed to work fine.
The second half of that plan a whole lot more difficult to get right when I entered one of the local cafés, given that I’d actually have to talk to someone in order to get any food. I didn’t even know anypony here either, so I couldn’t skip lines like I used to be able to do at Sugarcube Corner.
Then again, I’d made the mistake of going into the Corner after this whole thing started once before, and it wasn’t one I wanted to repeat. For the record, Pinkie Pie is very hard to escape from, and streamers are a surprisingly good wing restraint.
Oh, and babies aren’t immune to whatever's going on with me either. I don’t know if you’ve ever been assaulted by tiny twins, but trust me, it’s creepy.
After what felt like a year of waiting in line—and carefully glancing around at the other customers while pretending to be giving them angry glares—I reached the front of the queue. The pale-blue unicorn behind the counter had a bored expression on his face, clearly not paying attention. I sighed with relief. This was gonna make things a whole lot easier.
“Hey!” I called, before remembering my disguise, and coughing. “Uhm, hey,” I said in a far deeper tone of voice. “Daisy and daffodil sandwich. Make it qui—”
There was a gasp behind me. The kind of gasp that a pony might make when they realise someone in front of them was the disguised object of their inexplicable affections.
Trust me, I know that gasp.
With a wince, I turned around. I had already lowering myself a little, ready of a quick takeoff, only to find… well, white. My entire field of vision was blocked with a soft, furry whiteness. It was only when I turned my gaze upwards that I found a face, set with two sapphire orbs, and an elegant waterfall of purple curls flowing around it.
“Rainbow Dash, darling!” Rarity cried, lowering her own head to peer at me. “Is that you? What have you done to yourself?” She took a closer look at my dyed coat, and then gently flicked my blackened mane with a hoof. “Why, how positively absurd you look!” she declared with a small giggle. “What is this, a costume for a prank?”
“Something like that…” I muttered, sneaking a glance over her shoulder. I almost had a clear path to the door. Sure, a few customers would get bowled over, but that was their fault for getting in my way in a time of need.
“Well, it looks awful, my dear, simply awful!” Rarity giggled, pressing a hoof to her forehead and rolling her eyes dramatically. “Oh, how could I possibly let such a dear friend present herself in public in such a state!” I had to resist the urge to roll my own eyes. Jeez, what a drama queen.
Rarity tutted to herself, flicking her own mane back with a tilt of her head, before holding me in place with a determined gaze and a pale blue haze of levitation magic. “This simply will not do! Rainbow, I have no choice but to take you back to my boutique, where I can cleanse you of this… this… stain!” With that, she turned towards the door, floating me along with her.
Don't get me wrong, her magical prowess wasn’t something to be sniffed at, but she was just a dressmaker, not Twilight Sparkle. I could definitely break free of her. I began beating my wings against her power, straining to escape her grasp.
“No, really, Rare,” I huffed, “I’m fine…”
My friend-slash-kidnapper spun around to face me, setting her hooves and giving me a smirk that was probably meant to be reassuring, but actually turned out terrifying. “Come now, dearie!” she cried. “It’ll be fun! I can bathe you, then dry you off by hoof…” She gave an excited giggle, and the haze surrounding me turned a shade darker. “Then I’ve got this new range of dresses that I know you’ll simply love! And we can talk about our days, and discuss our foalhoods, and curl up next to each other and drift to sleep in each other’s forelegs...”
This went on for a while. Long enough for me to stop actually listening. With every new idea, though, Rarity became more breathless, her eyes became less focused, and the levitation field became stronger. It was becoming steadily harder for me to escape.
It was time to take off the horseshoes.
Usually, it'd be a terrible idea for a pegasus to unleash her full wingpower indoors. Not just because the downwash would scatter a few loose papers, either—when somepony's going flat out, it’s pretty hard to stop for little things like walls and other ponies.
Multiply this by about a billion, and you’ve got what it’s like to be me indoors. I knew that anything not tied down was about to get blown away, and that I was probably gonna make a pretty nice dent in the back wall of the café, but I didn’t really have a choice at this point. Seriously, the "bathing" part was scary enough. Throw in dresses and heartfelt talks, and I was terrified.
Forget what I said earlier about never being scared. That image right there almost had me screaming.
So I threw almost everything I had into my attempt to escape Rarity’s clutches. Three or four wing beats was all it took to snap out of the levitation field—her magic was no match for the full strength and speed of Rainbow Dash.
Neither was the café’s back wall, as it turned out. It must have been pretty flimsy, since I went straight through it and headfirst into the kitchen. It was lucky for me that the chef was standing right on the other side, or my face would've had an unscheduled appointment with the oven door. That would’ve hurt a lot more than the comparatively soft red flank that I had slammed into.
Of course, I wouldn’t have been drenched with the water he had been carrying in a saucepan if I hadn’t crashed into him, but it was still a better outcome than a concussion.
Groaning, I picked myself up from the mangle of limbs that I’d reduced the chef to. I checked his eyes quickly. They were spinning loosely in their sockets, but since nothing seemed broken, I guessed he’d be fine after a minute or two. I also noticed that he’d been holding a plate with a sandwich on it when I collided with him, and he was still cupping one foreleg around it protectively. Jeez, this guy was really committed to his job.
“Mine, I think,” I muttered, grabbing the sandwich with my mouth. I turned around and climbed carefully back through the Dash-sized hole in the wall.
Looking at the state of the café’s front, I decided that full power might have been a terrible idea after all. Most of the tables had been lifted up, slamming into walls and ponies. Some had even smashed through the windows and into the street. The food displays were toppled over, plates and meals were scattered all across the floor, and there were fallen ponies everywhere, steadily climbing to their hooves.
And turning to look at me.
And getting that look.
I glanced back at myself, and my heart sank as I recognised my own cutie mark was showing again, as was my cyan-coloured flank. I realised that the darned water had washed out most of the coat and mane dye, and that I was almost back to my normal, awesome self, if slightly muted.
It was clearly having an effect on everypony. The ones who had already steadied themselves began to stumble shakily towards me with big, stupid, lovey-dovey grins on their faces. One of the closest reached his hoof out towards me, muttering something about wet manes being the best.
“So out of here,” I mumbled around my sandwich, before sprinting for the door.
Apparently, some of the ponies had decided to team up. A wall of bodies suddenly blocked the door as ponies threw themselves across the opening. Their eyes were fixed on me, and their faces twisted somewhere between the joy of capturing the object of their affections and the crushing ache of having dozens of ponies pile on top of you. Those who weren’t close enough to the door just started running forward, clearly trying to get in my way, and making this escape more like an obstacle course than anything else.
Oh, they hadn’t had enough yet?
Maximum power plus one.
I leapt into the air, and with a couple of my strongest wing beats, propelled myself towards the blockade at roughly the speed of pain.
A few of the ponies’ faces widened in shock and fear. A couple even had the sense to jump backwards and out of my way.
The rest went flying over Ponyville as I smashed my way through them, rocketing back into the sky.
An updated forecast for that day: light idiot-showers across Ponyville. Better stay inside.
Okay, this was just getting ridiculous.
I could handle a heck of a lot of craziness. I mean, that was pretty much daily life in Ponyville. This was a place where you got used to visits from royalty or Cerberus, buildings being blown apart by Derpy or dragged halfway across town by Big Mac, crazy destructive antics from the Cutie Mark Crusaders… and Pinkie Pie. Just… Pinkie Pie.
It was pretty clear that living round these parts meant putting up with some weird stuff—and I could handle all of that.
An army of royal guards stationed outside my cloud-house, patrolling the nearby area, and making it pretty much impossible to get back home, though? That was too much.
I guess Celestia didn’t take the whole me-being-faster-than-her thing too well; it looked like she’d pulled out all the stops to try and catch me when I came home. There were patrols on the ground nearby and in the air, I could see pegasi carriages carrying unicorns—probably all ready to magically restrain me—and there were nets hanging between strategically-placed clouds.
Luckily, this didn’t include the one I was hiding in right now. Then again, it hadn’t been here very long—I’d only brought it over from near the Everfree Forest a couple minutes ago.
I was floating gently a safe distance away, glaring at the soldiers between myself and my own freaking house. From this distance, I couldn’t tell if Celestia herself was still there, but really, with this kind of military strength, it wouldn’t change things much. No matter how happy I was to see that the royal guards had forced all those creepy campers away, it didn’t change the fact that I literally had an entire army between me and my bed.
There was also the fact that, no matter how devoted they were to the princess, they’d all go for me the second they saw me. Somehow, I didn’t think having hundreds of soldiers fighting over me would end well. I didn’t want to start an all-out brawl—and probably a civil war—on my own porch.
Well, crud. Now what? It had only just gone noon, but all I wanted to do was just sleep the rest of this day off. It’s not like I had much else to do; barring some kind of random unexpected problem, the weather was all in place for the day, so I had no work to do, and I couldn’t really go hang out with anypony, because… well, you know.
After a moment of thinking, I decided I’d go and practice a few aerial routines. Hopefully, by the time I finished, the guards would have been called back to go… I dunno, guard things or whatever it is they do in Canterlot normally. Not a lot, most likely, given how easy Twilight said it was to sneak into that special book place. What kind of “guard” can’t catch a pair of loons and a dragon with a tub of ice cream when they’re breaking into a huge library full of important and delicate scrolls?
I mean, it’s not like Twi, Pinkie and Spike were trying to break into a hospital and “borrow” a book. Now, that’s real espionage right there.
I shook my head, focusing back on the task at hoof. As soon as I was sure nopony was looking, I shot out of my cloud cover and blasted my way across the sky. Just to make sure I was free, though, I went headfirst into Whitetail Woods.
There was a nice, clear path through the middle of Whitetail, separating the groups of densely packed trees. That’s not what I was aiming for, though. Swerving between the trees took some real agility—something those guards probably didn’t have in all that stupid heavy armour. If anypony was tailing me, I’d almost certainly lose them this way.
Besides, it was a great warm up. I’ve heard about other pegasi flyers who spend loads of bits on specially-designed cloud courses, mazes, and complicated routes, in order to build up the agility they need for some of the most demanding flight routines… and I’ve always thought that they’re morons. Why spend all that money, when you can just go to a forest? In here you had to think one flap ahead, planning out where you were gonna swerve next, and dodging anything that came your way. Compared to this, remembering a flight routine was nothing.
I barrelled straight through the last bit of leaf-cover, bursting into a small, clear field, sitting a safe distance from anything that looked inhabited. This had become my practise field over the past few weeks, after practising anywhere near civilisation became completely impossible. I didn’t mind getting a little aerial dodge practice in the morning, but I didn’t want to be doing it through my entire routine.
I waited for a little while, to make sure I hadn’t been followed, and passed the time with a few stretches. I wasn’t lying when I said that forest flight was a good warm up, but I’d using a whole different skill set with some of my tricks, so working my other muscles beforehand was pretty important. Once I’d finished them, I decided I’d waited long enough and, seeing nothing out of the ordinary, I blasted off into the start of my practise.
There’s nothing quite like flying like that. You’re putting your absolute best into every twist and turn, making every move mean something, forcing it to be better than anypony else can do it. To me, it’s all about proving that you can go that little bit further than anypony, and do it all better, too—it’s obvious, what with me being so awesome and all, but it’s still exhilarating. On top of that, you’ve got the rush of adrenaline, the screaming wind tearing at you, the constant fight against gravity and air resistance for every roll, loop and flip…
Oh yeah. It’s the ultimate high.
I can never work out how pegasi like Fluttershy manage to survive going so slow. I know full well that she can bust out some real speed when needed—small things like saving animals in freefall, or catching me so that she can help save the world from a creepy chaos crossbreed—but she’s happy just floating around at a snail’s pace, barely even moving.
How can she resist the wind tearing at her mane? What is it about her that stops her blood calling out for speed, for excitement, for danger… for more? I used to think that that was something natural to all pegasi, but nowadays I’m not so sure. I mean, I can appreciate having a restful glide as much as anypony—more so, probably, since I’m pretty good at the “restful” part—but doing just that? How boring can you get!
Other ponies… I didn’t think I’d ever understand them. Completely aside from the whole falling-in-love-with-Rainbow-Dash thing, of course, which was understandable but still crazy as all heck.
Huh, almost went five minutes without thinking about all that nonsense. Maybe I should start doing even more practice, since it seems to take my mind off that topic pretty well.
I pulled out all the stops that day: the Buccaneer Blaze, the Fantastic Filly Flash, a Death-Defying Dive or two, and even Spitfire’s Super Speed Stratospheric Suplex Stunner.
Hey, don’t look at me. I didn’t name ‘em.
Any other pony would be, like, dead after all that. Me, though? I was a little worn out, but you just can’t keep awesomeness like me down for long. A little break, and I’d be ready for round two. My Clattering Cumulus Corkscrew still needed a little tidying, and I was determined to keep going until I nailed it.
Right up until a streak of gold and blue flame came blazing over the treetops and slammed to the ground in front of me and kicking up a cloud of dust.
Which faded to reveal the captain of the Wonderbolts herself, Spitfire, standing before me in her full flight uniform.
Carrying a second flight uniform in her mouth, which she took in hoof and offered to me.
…Yeah, I think my brain broke right about then.
“Hey Dash,” Spitfire said with a laid-back, confident smile. “Nice moves back there. Your corkscrews need a little tightening, but that’s something we can work on.”
“Oh, this?” she asked, dropping the uniform at my hooves. “Yeah, this is for you. I figured it was about time we got you on the team.” She chuckled a little, pushing her flight goggles up onto her forehead so that she could give me a coy glance. “To be honest, I can’t believe we haven’t signed you up yet. You’re… well, you’re pretty awesome, tell you the truth.”
Okay, this right here? This was a dream come true. This was the moment my entire life had been leading up to. Not only was I being offered a place in the best flying squad since, well, forever, but the captain herself said I was awesome! I mean, I already knew that, obviously, but it’s pretty nice to hear it confirmed by your foalhood idol. I was so excited that I was finding it hard to stay on the ground.
Which probably explained why I was doing some weird little hopping dance of celebration right now.
Huh. Hadn’t even noticed that. Well, now I look like an idiot. I stopped jigging around like a schoolfilly and cleared my throat, eager to thank her—and to make some kind of conversation with her, beyond just going ‘guuuuuuuh’.
“Guuuuuu—I mean, uhm, thanks!” I felt like my face was gonna be ripped apart by my grin. “This is, like, the coolest thing ever! I have been waiting my whole life for this! Did you really like my moves? When’s my first show? Oh, do I get a sweet house to live in? Omigosh, a pool! I want a pool! And…” I might have started gushing a little, but really, could you blame me?
Luckily, being as awesome as she was, Spitfire knew what to do. She pressed a hoof against my mouth to stop me from talking, and smirked. “Whoa there, motor mouth! Calm it down a little.” She stepped back a little, that same smirk on her face. “Don’t worry, we’ll get to all that,” she said, “but first we’ve got to take care of… you know, paperwork and stuff.”
“Oh, do I have to sign on? Sure!” I cried, jumping right into Spitfire’s face. “I can do that, like, now! Where’s the papers? Do I need a lawyer?”
Spitfire giggled, and her smirk dropped down a smaller smile, almost…shy? She pawed at the ground with a hoof. “Well, uhm, I don’t really have the papers with me now, but…” She glanced back up at me. “How about we go eat someplace tonight, and I’ll bring you the papers then? Just you and me, and we can… talk business.”
Wait. Something wasn’t right.
This was the coolest pegasus since… well, me. She shouldn’t get shy. She shouldn’t be pawing at the ground, or looking up at me hopefully, or blushing, or trying to look bashful. She had me wrapped around her hoof right now! What was going…
Well that was a kick in the teeth.
I could already feel the disappointment rising, but I had to get out of there before it completely took over. I started backing away carefully.
“Eheh… actually, Spitfire,” I said, glancing behind me, “I really have to… erm…” Come on, brain! Think up a clever lie! “…Ah, go… wash my… socks! Yeah, that’s it. Gotta keep them socks clean, y’know?” Really? That’s the best you’ve got, brain? I don’t even wear socks.
If anything, Spitfire just looked more eager. “Oh, really?” she gasped, her smouldering eyes widening. “Me too! Maybe I could just come to your place and… share your washer?” her eyelids lowered slightly, and her voice took on a gruffer tone as she started stalking towards me. “Maybe we could show each other our socks, y’know? I’d love to see how you look in yours.”
…Huh. This was an entirely new level of weird, and considering I didn’t like any of the previous levels, I was gonna get right out of this one.
“Sorry, Spits, but I gotta split,” I said, chuckling nervously at my own rhyme, before jumping into the air. Before I even flapped, though, I knew I was gonna have a problem. After all, she was bound to come after me—it’s just the way things go with me these days—and, being the captain of the best flight team out there, I was expecting to have a real race on my hooves this time.
What I didn’t expect was her to whistle loudly, and for four more Wonderbolts team members to burst out of the woods and start racing towards me as Spitfire rose into the air herself.
Despite the whole situation being pretty much my worst nightmare, I still felt a little admiration in me. Now that was leadership. She’d gotten her whole crew to wait in the forest, even though they all must have been as desperate to catch me as she was? That’s the kind of dedication and loyalty that I could admire.
Too bad I had to let them all down. Still, I wasn’t gonna turn down an opportunity like this. Racing against all my foalhood heroes? Heck yeah.
“Catch me if you can, slowpokes!” I yelled, blowing a raspberry back at some of the best fliers in the world, before rocketing away.
The best thing about racing is that it’s nothing but speed. Oh, sure, you throw in tricky courses and some rules about special manoeuvres and it becomes about agility and reaction times too, but at the baseline it’s still about being faster than everypony else.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m really fast. Regardless of how much I idolised my pursuers, I wasn’t gonna let anypony take my speed record away from me. Besides, Spike managed to beat them back when he went all greedy, and I wasn’t gonna let that shrimp of a dragon one-up me.
When I looked back a few moments later, the Wonderbolts were maintaining a decent pace, and were actually managing to keep up. They were doing better than Celestia, in fact, making me a little disappointed that I wasn’t the only one who could fly faster than a goddess. I could tell from my quick glances back at them that they were spreading out, too; looked like two were heading off to the left, two round to my right, leaving just Spitfire barrelling straight after me. What, were they trying to flank me? Hah, yeah, good luck with that—by moving away from me, they’d just made it even less likely for them to ever reach me. I started piling on even more speed anyway, since it would just be embarrassing to get caught in such an obvious move…
…Wait a sec.
I looked back again, and counted five Wonderbolts.
Weren’t there, like… ten of them?
I realised what was happening. Spend enough time around Applejack, and you start being able to tell when something’s being herded. That’s what was happening here; Spitfire and her team members were corralling me, encouraging me to go straight ahead. No doubt the rest of the team was gonna pop up somewhere ahead with a net or something—and just after thinking this, I saw a couple of small clouds waiting up ahead in the distance, looking just about close enough together to stretch a net across.
I suppose I could have dropped down into the treeline, lose them in the dense forest, and then make my escape. I could even have just shot up, or turned around; I was pretty confident I could move faster than Spitfire’s crew, and I could shake them off, given time. There were plenty of options, now that I thought I knew their plan, and any one of them would have probably been a smart move.
I wasn’t feeling smart right then. I was feeling pretty darn angry. Not only were my heroes chasing me down, they were trying to herd me! Me, Rainbow Dash!
“Oh, you wanna play hardball?” I shouted futilely into the wind, narrowing my eyes. “Alright then, you asked for it!”
Like I proved at lunch, it takes a whole heap of muscle or magic to hold down a regular Dash. I hadn’t yet met anything that could stop a raging mad one, though. Definitely no nets that I’d ever heard of, at any rate.
I pushed myself harder and faster. My vision narrowed down to just the gap between the two clouds as I hurtled towards it. Everything left my mind except for the desire to go faster. I didn’t care about staying hidden, and I didn’t worry about what I’d do after this. All I could feel was anger and adrenaline.
Like I said earlier, pulling off a Rainboom takes a lot of working up to; it’s not something you can just do willy-nilly. Luckily, I’d had one heck of a warm-up, and I had all the motivation I needed in the form of a boiling rage.
I pushed forwards, gritting my teeth and fighting the ever-increasing air pressure.
A net flew out from cloud on the left, and was presumably caught by a pony hiding behind its partner.
I felt the world stretch around me as I neared the sound barrier.
The net went taut a second before I hit it.
Then I pushed on through, and the world exploded into colour.
Kudos to the ‘Bolts Spitfire had put on net duty; they kept hold of the net, even as I blasted through both it and the sound barrier. Most ponies would probably run for their lives from the massive multicoloured explosion, but they stuck to their jobs, and I could admire that kind of dedication.
It’s a pity that a bit of the net apparently got caught on my tail or something, pulling the two pegasi teams behind me at an insane speed, until they smacked together in the middle of my slipstream and tumbled towards the ground.
I hurtled away, leaving a rainbow trail of awesomeness, an enormous shockwave, five comatose ponies and the entirety of the Wonderbolts team behind me.
By Celestia is it good to be this awesome.
A little while later, I was relaxing on a small cloud hanging a little distance above the Everfree, which seemed safe enough seeing how nopony ever touched the weather out here.
Well, I say “relaxing”. More like, “coming to terms with the fact that my dreams have just been crushed.”
It was almost funny how much different it felt this time. When the town first started going nuts on me, it was pretty annoying. Every time one of my friends had fallen under this spell, it’d been a whole other level of frustrating, but I could still live with it. This, though? This was my entire life. My one goal, the thing I’d been striving for ever since flight camp.
I kicked out at the cloud below me. It was a stupid dream, of course, and I should have known right when this all kicked off that I’d have to give it up. Sure, having everyone love you would be a great way to make sure you sold tickets, but not many aerial shows where everyone in the audience, security, and the flight crew itself was trying to kidnap one of the performers end well.
Worst of all was how uncool this whole thing was. The leader of the Wonderbolts herself shouldn’t ever look like that—all shy and embarrassed and lame—no matter how unbelievably awesome the pony she’s talking to is.
At least she’d actually tried to ask me out on a date first, instead of just skipping straight to the “try-and-kidnap-me” part like everypony else did.
To be honest, if it wasn’t for all this nonsense, I’d probably have said yes. Not just because of the guaranteed spot on the best aerial team in the world, either. I mean, the two most awesome pegasi in Equestria, together? I’d at least be willing to give it a shot, if only because it’d be really cool.
Problem was, how could I tell if anypony was really interested in me, since everypony reacted the same way? This… I dunno, curse or whatever… how could I tell between the ponies who only felt this way because of it, and those who were actually interested in me? It meant that, even if I ever did feel that way about a pony, I’d have no way of being sure if they felt the same.
Not that I ever would, really. I hadn’t yet met anypony awesome enough to handle the Rainbow.
I sighed in defeat, rolling over onto my side and staring down at the forest below me. The Everfree itself kinda reminded me of my life right now; uncontrollable, wild, and a complete mess.
Not that I didn’t try to control it at first, mind you. I mean, I’d looked for an answer back when all this craziness first started. Did some research, tried to see if something like this had ever happened before, and what could cause it. That’s actually where most of my ideas about what could have set all this off came from. Then, of course, my research partner tried to lock me in my own house so that she could have me all to herself. That kinda put me off a little.
I kept meaning to hit the books again, but… well, some of those books are really big and tough-looking, and sometimes they bring friends too—reference guides and dictionaries and other stuff. I didn’t want to pick a fight with them without a great big egghead on my side, backing me up… and since Ponyville’s egghead queen was out of the question, I was pretty much out of options.
Well, maybe it was time for a different kind of research. Maybe I had to go it alone, and look for the answers in my own life, instead of in history books.
I sat up on my cloud a little, thinking it through. Enough was enough, right? This was all just going to end up with me running from lovesick ponies for the rest of my life, wasn’t it? No matter how much I tried to ignore it, it wasn’t gonna go away. If I wanted to try and live my life the way I wanted, I was gonna have to force things back to the way they were.
And I thought I knew just where to start; the place I’d first noticed anypony acting weird, the place where it had all began. The first time I’d ever realised that someone was looking at me in that weird, stupid, lovey-dovey way that’d become such a commonplace part of my life now.
It was gonna be hard, scary, and probably really dangerous… but if I wanted answers, I had to start there.
I glanced up at the sky, and was relieved to see I still had a few hours of daylight left. Hopefully, the fact that customers were still there would stop anything too crazy from happening—even though I knew it probably wouldn’t.
With a new determination I leapt down from my cloud and started trotting across the field between the Everfree and Ponyville, heading straight towards Sugar Cube Corner.
Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.
Sneaking through town had been a breeze. It seemed that everypony was nicely distracted by the huge rainbow explosion I’d set off a little while back. Ponyville was like a ghost town right now; between the darkening sky and the herd that had gone galloping off to Whitetail Woods in search of me—which meant I’d have to find a new training field…again—the streets were pretty empty. All I really had to deal with was sneaking past a couple of the ponies I’d ‘bumped into’ at the café earlier, since they apparently figured I’d stuck around after launching them halfway across Equestria. Yeah, it made getting through town a heck of a lot easier for me—since I didn’t have to really try to hide at all—but on the flipside, it was pretty darn creepy, too.
Creepy wasn’t a feeling I really wanted just now.
As I stood alone outside Sugar Cube Corner, trying to force myself to go in, doubts started doing the rounds in my head. They all basically said the same thing: am I completely insane?! This is Pinkie we’re talking about! What, do I have a death wish or something?
It probably says a lot about me that I found the idea of facing Pinkie even scarier than the whole chased-by-Celestia thing this morning.
I knew the dangers. Pinkie Pie was a great friend, and the absolute best pranking buddy… but she was also terrifying as all heck. If I went in that shop, I wasn’t at all confident that I’d be coming back out again. I mean, no matter how hard I tried to hide… she could always find me. Always.
So did I really want to do this? Just… march right into her lair, like some kind of sacrificial foal?
I knew I didn’t have a choice, though. I wanted to find out how this all started, and that meant returning to the first time it happened—the moment that the world changed for me.
That meant Pinkie.
I still remembered that moment, clear as day. We were just goofing around in the Cakes’ kitchen, making spicy cupcakes to serve to customers as a prank—well, to me it was a prank. To Pinkie, it was more like a light snack.
Halfway through baking, we started a batter-ball fight; like a snowball fight, but… well, with cake batter. Say what you like about Pinkie, but she’s usually a pretty good aim. She’s even managed to beat me once or twice, and I’m like, perfection. This time, she got me right in the face. It was a good laugh, but then she… I dunno, she sorta stiffened for a second, and a strange look came over her.
I know that look way better than I want to nowadays, but back then I just thought she was pulling another of her stupid Pinkie faces. I laughed it off and smooshed some batter over her face, to get my own back. She just kept staring at me, though, leaning closer and staring at the batter covering my mouth. She licked the batter off her own face, then moved in to lick it off my own face, too.
‘Course, I backed off. This was just weird, right? I tried to talk to her, see what was going on, but she just kept coming forward and trying to get the batter.
Didn’t take me long to work out it wasn’t that batter she was after, though.
At first I just thought it was Pinkie, taking our friendship a little further than I was comfortable with. I gave her some space—y’know, to make it clear that I was pretty happy with our friendship as it was—and hoped that would clear this all up.
It didn’t. It just got worse.
And then everypony else joined in.
So here I was, now; back where it all began. The one place I’ve been too scared to go since it all started.
But, wait. Rainbow Dash isn’t afraid of anything, right?
I gulped, took a deep breath, and strode through the door.
I knew that I was in trouble the moment the door closed, and the shop was plunged into darkness.
Okay, I know it was getting late and all, but it was still day time. Shouldn’t a shop be, like, open? ‘Specially one that sells food, since ponies would be getting ready for dinner about now and all.
Yeah, this was definitely trouble. I had hoped for at least a couple customers—not enough to cause me a problem, just a couple, to make Pinkie less likely to break out any of the real craziness that she holds back for when she’s alone.
“Uh… hello?” I called out. Well, maybe ‘called’ is a little too generous. More like ‘whispered carefully, in a high pitched voice’.
…Okay, fine, ‘squeaked’.
Silence answered me.
This was real odd now. Where were the Cakes? This was where they worked, and where they lived! They totally should have been here.
Alarm bells were ringing in my head, but I had to ignore them. I couldn’t come this far and turn away.
So, slowly and carefully, I put a hoof forward, heading deeper into the shop. I kept moving, absolutely silent… right up ‘till I stood on something soft, that squeaked loudly as I put weight on it.
I stopped, perfectly still, not daring to move. Seconds passed as I strained my ears, trying to hear if anything was gonna respond to the noise. Nothing answered, so it looked like I was safe. I glanced down at the floor, and found that I had stood on one of Pumpkin Cake’s many, many chew toys.
Note to self: when being sneaky, look where you’re freakin’ going.
Well, since there had been no response to the toy, I felt it safe to guess that the Corner was empty. Yep, definitely proof that there was nopony here. Satisfied, I turned around and started back towards the door quickly—
There was a giggle from behind me.
I spun, my heart hammering in my ears.
There was nothing there.
I slowly backed towards the door, keeping my eyes peeled. I was sure I heard somepony laugh, but I couldn’t see any—
There was a giggle from behind me.
Whirling on the spot, I flared my wings out, fight-or-flight instincts kicking in.
There was nothing there.
Okay, this situation had jumped straight from ‘downright creepy’ to ‘Oh my Celestia what are you doing GET THE HECK OUT OF THERE YOU MORON’ levels of terrifying.
So that’s what I decided to do: get the heck out of there. I galloped for the door.
Something dropped from the ceiling, landing in a ball right in front of me and making me scream like a little fil—I mean, let out a heroic cry.
I screeched to a stop inches away from the terrifying creature in front of me, which stretched out and revealed itself to be…
…A teenie, baby pony. Turns out that the squeak toy had summoned its owner; I’d been running scared from Pumpkin Cake.
Not that I knew that, of course! For all I knew, it could have been a horrifying, otherworldly monster chasing me! Not very likely, since I was in a bakery and all, but… have I mentioned ‘Pinkie Pie’ and ‘crazy’ yet?
Speaking of pink and terrifying… if Pumpkin cake was here, then who was looking after her?
I got my answer in the form of a horrified shudder and a far-too-bubbly voice from behind me: “Oh, nice work Pumpkin! You cover the door, and Pound covers the air! Veeeeeeeeeeeeeeery clever!”
I looked upwards. Sure enough, the other twin was hovering above me. The moment he saw me, he reached out his hooves and made ridiculous baby-noises at me.
“Uh-uh, Poundy!” That terrifyingly cheery voice called out again, closer this time. “That’s not for babies, it’s for momma!”
I sighed in defeat, and turned to face the scariest thing I’d ever seen in my entire life; something that had been haunting my nightmares, and that I’d been trying desperately to avoid for so long now.
“Hi, Pinkie Pie.”
I was greeted with a smile that seemed to be wider than the face it was on. “Heya Rainbow Dash!” she called, waving a hoof. “Good to see you again! Feels like I haven’t seen you in…” she paused for a moment, looking thoughtful. I almost butted in, but then she suddenly did a flip, sticking all her legs in the air.
“…FOUR-ever!” she cried, wiggling her hooves, before collapsing into a quivering, giggly mess.
“Uh… Heh, good one Pinks,” I forced myself to join in, nervously glancing between the laughing mare and the door. “Listen, I just came to ask you a quick question, then I’ll be out of your mane—”
“What?!” Pinkie shouted, and in a blur she was on her hooves again. “Oh no you don’t, missy!” she said, grinning as she stalked towards me. “You’re here now, and you’re not leaving ‘til I’ve got what I want!” With that, she leapt forwards.
I did my best to escape. Really, I did. If it had been any other pony, I could have dodged, easy-peasy—after all, I out-flew the Wonderbolts earlier! I suppose I could put it down to just being worn out from that, and all the other craziness from today, but really there’s no point. This is Pinkie Pie we’re talking about. It really wouldn’t make a difference how prepared I was; when she can somehow shift her body in midair faster than you can think—and to the point where, under any normal laws, she should have broken half the bones in her body—you don’t have a hope in Tartarus.
So I ended up pinned under a horseload of hot pink, while the twins flew in circles around me, carrying… oh, great, streamers. Again. Seriously, I don’t know where Pinkie gets that stuff from, but it’s surprisingly useful for tying ponies up with.
“That’s it!” Pinkie cheered, giving the babies a manic grin. “Fly, my pretties! Fly!”
She leaned upwards, keeping a tight grip on me so that I was pulled up too. That grip was really something else; no matter what I did, I just couldn’t wriggle out of it, yet she managed to keep herself far enough away so that the babies were going around me but not her, flying (though I guess one of them was more levitating than actually flying) under her hooves. The Cakes did a few more laps of me, with Pinkie Pie egging them on the entire time.
“Steady there, Pumpkin!” She ordered. “Good job, Pound! One more pass… now, streamer out! Let ‘er go! Detach streamer!”
On cue, both babies released the streamers they were carrying in their mouths, leaving me completely bound. Pinkie fell backwards dramatically, making an explosion sound effect with her mouth, before going back to Basic Pinkie Pie Mode: non-stop laughter. I went straight to Basic Dealing-With-Pinkie-Pie Mode: rolling my eyes and waiting for her to stop.
“Oh, that was a great one!” she chortled as she stood back up, wiping away tears with a hoof. “And here I thought we’d have to use something lame, like ‘use the horse’!” She said this in a deep, melodramatic voice, then stared at me with an eager grin, clearly expecting me to understand.
As per usual, I didn’t.
I tried to get back on topic. “Yeah Pinkie, that’s great and all, but I really just need to ask you something—”
Pinkie gasped loudly, then leaned in closely. “Ooooh, can I guess what?!” she asked, and before I could answer with an absolute no, she started listing off ideas. “Is it the secret ingredient for my super-awesome-special cupcakes? Is it my favourite colour? Is it the location of the map? Is it the airspeed velocity of an unlaiden swallow? Is it where I’ve hidden the trigger? Is it…”
This is normally around the point where I’d shut Pinkie up by either distracting her or shoving a hoof in her mouth. Since I was tied up, though, I couldn’t really do much to stop her. Luckily, it seemed the twins were just as fed up as me; the squeak toy I’d stood on earlier rose up, lit by the glow of Pumpkin’s horn, and forced itself into Pinkie’s mouth.
Even Pinkie knew she’d gone too far if Pumpkin was ready to give up a toy to shut her up. She gave it a thoughtful chew, before spitting it out and scrunching up her face. “Ewwww, baby drool! Icky!” She stuck out her tongue and started wiping it down with a hoof, which got the babies laughing.
“Yeah, this is real heart-warming and all Pinks,” I interrupted her performance, “but I really do need to ask you something.”
“Oh, fine then!” Pinkie said wearily. “It’s all ‘me, me, me’ with you, isn’t it Dashie?” She huffed a little, and then span me around and started dragging me off towards the stairs.
“Uhm…where are we going?” I asked nervously. Being tied up was bad enough; I didn’t want to get dragged off somewhere I didn’t know on top of that.
“Oh, I’m just gonna take you up to my room,” Pinkie explained, before leaning over and looking at me from upside-down. “Y’know, so you can ask your question, and we can have some…‘alone time’.” She wiggled her eyebrows as she said this, leaving it pretty clear what she meant by that.
I suddenly remembered, oh yeah, she’s freaking terrifying! All of that fear that I’d forgotten during the regular Pinkie madness came rushing back. I tugged at the streamers desperately, but they wouldn’t come loose no matter how hard I tried. How did babies learn to hogtie a pony this well, anyway? What, was Applejack giving them lessons? I gave up on the bindings and turned back to my captor.
“Actually, Pinks, I think I’d much prefer to stay down here…”
I got no response, and she kept dragging me away from the freedom of the door. I tried to wiggle away as we reached the stairs, but I couldn’t do anything. Darn that iron grip of hers!
“Nuh-uh, baby-wabies!” I heard Pinkie coo, and I looked back into the shop to see the twins were starting to trot over, giggling. “I said, ‘alone time!’ As in, ‘not suitable for ikkle-wikkle pony-wonies! And besides, I promised-womised the Cakes that I’d take good care of you while they’re on vacation-wation!” Well, that explained why the Cakes were gone and the shop was shut. Still, all this baby talk was making me feel sick. Like, really sick. Like, baked bads sick.
Pinkie let go of me for a second. “Here you go, Cakey-wakeys!” she cried, and a couple of things flew over my head, towards the babies. They stopped for a second and sniffed them, before eagerly gobbling them up.
“There,” she said in a satisfied tone of voice, and she picked me up from behind again, dragging me up the stairs. “Those should keep you distracted…wacted… for the rest of the weeked….meekend?” Pinkie fizzled out, mumbling a little. “Oh no! Dashie, I’m running out of rhymey-whymeys!” She stopped, then giggled. “Oh wait, that was one! Gee, I dunno how Zecora does it-”
“What did you throw at them, Pinkie?” I asked desperately. Not so much because I actually cared, but because I really wanted to keep her from breaking into another endless series of horrible rhymes.
“Everlasting gobstoppers,” she said, shrugging slightly, apparently thinking that it explained everything. We reached the landing, and she started pulling me towards her room.
I’ve gotta be honest, I was impressed that Pinkie was able to carry me so easily. She wasn’t even struggling at all! Man, she must be much stronger than she looks—you can’t really see that much muscle on her body—
Stay on target, brain.
Pinkie Pie tugged me through the doorway and into her bedroom, which was just as party as you’d expect, but wasn’t nearly as pink as you’d think. She lifted me up and threw me onto the bed, then became a blur as she ran around the room.
“Omigoshthisisgonnabesogreat!” She babbled excitedly, hurling seemingly random objects over towards me. “We’re gonna play board games, and plan pranks, and—oooh! Pin the Tail on the Pony! It’s been aaaaaaaaaaages since we played that! And we can eat snacks, and share childhood stories, and— ” she broke off into a stunned gasp, before gently picking something up. She turned towards me slowly with a crafty smile, before revealing—
“Spin the Bottle!” Pinkie yelled, punching a hoof in the air, before chucking the bottle over too, which thankfully landed nowhere near me. “Oh, it’ll be such great fun! I mean, I know it’s just the two of us so it’s a bit redundant, but it’ll still be awesome! I’ll go first, and you can dare me to kiss you, and then it’ll be my turn, and I’ll get you to tell me the truth about that one time, at flight camp— ”
“PINKIE PIE!” I yelled in frustration. Volume seemed to be the only thing that got her attention when she’s like this.
“Yes, Rainbow?” she asked, batting her eyelids.
“Look, Pinks, all I wanna do is ask you a simple question! No games, no pranks. Just a question. Okay?”
“Oh yeah! I forgot, you said something about that.” She seemed to seriously consider the idea, squinting thoughtfully and rubbing her chin, before leaping forward to land on the bed. “Depends on the question, silly!” she said, rubbing a hoof on my head. “Like, is it a serious question like, ‘how far is it to the nearest cookie’? Or something silly, like ‘where are the bodies?’
“…Bodies? Ugh, never mind.” I had to cut to the point, or this was just gonna go nowhere. “Look, do you remember the last time I was here?”
Pinkie frowned for a moment. “I dunno Dashie,” she said thoughtfully, “That was an awful long time ago…”
“Yeah, I know, that’s kinda why I’m here.” I sighed. “I just want to get a quick answer from you, about—”
“Forty-two!” Pinkie shouted, beaming at me.
“…Say what now?”
“Forty-two, silly!” she repeated, looking at me as if I was the one who had gone completely crazy. “It’s the answer to everything, you know.”
“…Great. Look, something happened the last time I was here. It happened to you. Remember?”
Pinkie stared off into the distance with a real strained look on her face, like it was almost hurting her to think that far back, and sticking her tongue out in concentration. It would have been funny, if it wasn’t so important to me.
And if, y’know, I wasn’t all tied up and stuck on her bed, too.
“I remember…” she began. “…We were in the kitchen, making some super-tasty-spicy-mazing cupcakes! And then…” she faltered, looking sad. “…I dunno, I got sorta… tingly, I guess. And then you left!” She turned to face me again, almost looking angry. “I had something really important to tell you, and you just flew off!”
I perked up when Pinkie started talking about her ‘tingles’, but that look nearly scared me right off. Still, I’d come this far; I had to push further. “What do you mean by ‘tingly’?” I asked.
“I dunno, sorta…combo-like?” she said. “Y’know, Pinkie Sense style, only my whole body this time! And not in the ‘doozy’ way, though it was a doozy; just… y’know, different. And then I looked at you…” Pinkie made eye contact with me again, and I could see that I was losing her; her eyes started going unfocused, and she smiled dreamily. “…Everything just sorta… fitted, y’know? Like, it was where you were supposed to be, and I was supposed to be, and… I dunno, just… nice.”
This was getting me nowhere. “C’mon, Pinks!” I pleaded. “You gotta give me more! Did it feel like a spell? Did you eat something weird? What!?”
“I dunno, it was like… there was someone in my head, saying that this was right! That this was how it should be!”
Alright, now we were getting somewhere! “Who was it, Pinkie? Who?”
Pinkie leaned in closer. “You, Dash,” she breathed. “It was always you…”
And with that, I knew I’d lost her. Her eyes closed, her lips puckered together and she slowly bent over towards me.
Overall, it hadn’t been a total waste of time. I guess I’d learned a little bit, at least. Not that I could really use it, mind you. Still, it was better than nothing.
Well, nothing for it but to make my cunning escape.
…I said, cunning escape!
…Oh come on, I must have had an escape plan! I didn’t just march into the lion’s den without coming up with a way out first, right?
I went straight back to panicking, fighting against the streamers tying me up. Pinkie was getting closer and closer, and I was no nearer to getting away. I was completely trapped, and there was no way out!
C’mon, brain! Do something!
I realised a second later that I’d actually done that one out loud. Pinkie was staring at me in confusion.
“I mean…uh…cook something!” I flustered desperately. “Yeah, that’s it! I’m, uh… really hungry! Can’t do anything with you on an empty stomach, y’know?”
Pinkie looked at me suspiciously. “I dunno…”
Time to turn on that famous Rainbow Dash Charm. Y’know, the normal kind, not the one that turned ponies into crazies. “Pleeeeease, Pinkie? Just for me, your…ugh…‘Dashie-washie’? I’d really appreciate it…”
Pinkie kept looking at me for a moment, before breaking into a smile. “Okay, Dashie, but only for you!” She bounced off the bed, and trotted over to the door, before turning back and giving me eyes across the bedroom. “I guess you’ll owe me one after this, huh? Don’t worry, I’ll be back to ‘collect’ soon!”
She headed out of the door, and I sighed. I’d bought myself a few minutes, and it was almost worth the taste of vomit in my mouth after using that baby talk. I started wriggling against my bindings, but stopped when Pinkie suddenly reappeared in the doorway.
“And just to make sure you’re safe, I’ll leave my guard alligator with you!” she announced, shaking her mane until Gummy dropped out of it. With that, she headed downstairs.
I stared at Gummy.
He stared at me.
“…Is it alright with you if I try to escape now, little guy?”
He kept staring. I decided that his silence was a yes.
Right, good job brain. We’ve got some time. Now let’s get the heck outta here!
I started tugging frantically at my hooves and wings, desperate to loosen the streamers. Seriously, where the heck did Pinkie get these things? They were like steel!
I tried squirming, and wriggling, and shaking. I even flopped to the carpet and started dragging myself along, trying to rub them loose. it was no good though; no matter what I did, the blasted things just wouldn’t come loose. I clearly wasn’t getting out of them through force alone. If only I had something else I could use, something I could trap the streamers between, and then sorta grind my way through them! I could get Gummy to chew through them, except he didn’t have any—
Oh, right. Teeth.
I practically broke my neck bending around so I could start chewing through them. It took a while, but finally I got my hooves free. I got to work on the ones around my wings, but froze when I heard singing.
A moment later I heard hooves on the stairs. Pinkie was on her way back up! I definitely didn’t have time to get the bindings off my wings, so I needed a plan, and quick.
What did I have to work with? Balloons, and birthday cakes, and giant candy canes, and barrels, and more streamers, and more balloons, and party outfits, and…
…A great big cannon, conveniently pointing at the ‘pegasus door’ Pinkie had in her wall, as a quick route into her room for me.
I ran to the door, throwing it open, then sprinted back to the party cannon, grabbing one of the massive candy canes on my way past. I practically leapt into the cannon, shoving myself into it rear-first. It’s funny, the thing barely looked like it was large enough to hold me, but it was actually pretty roomy, almost like it was bigger on the inside. I put it down to being something that belonged to Pinkie Pie.
Speaking of Pinkie, she walked into the room, focusing on the tray of treats she had balanced on top of her puffy mane. “Hey Dashie, what was up with the weather today?” she giggled. “For the first time in history, it started raining mares! What was up with that?”
She looked up, and saw me in the cannon. The tray slid off her head as she looked at me, shocked.
“Sorry, Pinks!” I called, giving her a mock salute with my free hoof, reaching round and whacking the firing button with the candy cane I held in the other one. “I hate to bail on ya, but I gotta fly!”
For a second, everything was frozen. I stared at a dumbstruck Pinkie Pie.
Pinkie Pie stared at me.
Gummy stared off into space.
Then my backside exploded, launching me across Ponyville and into the darkening sky.
Trees are great for napping in. For one thing, they’ve got a lot of branches, so there’s plenty of space to choose from to find a comfy one—heck, if you bring a blanket, it’s almost as good as a cloud. They’ve also got plenty of leaves a lot of the time, which are great when you want to hide from work. Or love-obsessed morons. Or both.
What they aren’t so good for is high-speed crashes. All those branches just get in the way, clawing at you and slapping into your sides. There isn’t really a ‘good way’ to crash into a tree; no matter how you hit it, it’s gonna sting… and if you’re really unlucky, you can seriously hurt yourself like that.
Trust me on this one, I’m practically an expert. I’ve crashed into a lot of trees.
…Okay, so not normally after being fired from a cannon. But still, I was used to it.
I made my way through all the normal moaning and groaning and rubbing at the bits of me that felt like they’d been torn off—it’s pretty much another routine of mine by now—and then started tugging my head back through the trunk it had smashed into. I finally yanked it out with a pop!, leaving yet another Rainbow Dash Head Hole in a defenceless tree.
I’m sure that somewhere out there, Fluttershy was crying a river.
Freed from my wooden prison, I took a look around. Turned out that Pinkie’s cannon had one heck of a kick to it; I’d been fired right across town, all the way to the edge of the Everfree itself. In fact, I wasn’t that far away from home, actually; craning my neck back and looking up to the sky, I could just about see my cloud house floating above me.
Home. That reminded me, wasn’t there a blockade of soldiers between me and my bed? Well, not any more I guess, since the skies around me were clear of armed guards. It looked like they’d all gone back to Canterlot or something. There was no sign of anypony, in fact. Finally, I’d be able to get one night’s sleep without an army of more-than-fans camping on my doorstep.
It was properly night time now. The moon wasn’t out yet, but the stars that were out already were just about enough to light up the field between me and my house.
It was nowhere near enough to make me feel safe hanging around the Everfree, though. Again, not ‘cos I was scared. Just… wary. I could totally take on those freaks in there, of course; I just… wouldn’t want to go out with nopony knowing of my heroic stand against incredible odds, after all; fighting against all the hideous, freaky, evil creatures that could tear me to pieces without a second thought…
Yeah. Wary. That’s what I was.
Besides, I hadn’t eaten since that sandwich I took off of that chef I knocked out earlier. For both my safety and my stomach, I decided it would be best to get out of there and get home quick. With that in mind, I leapt into the air for a quick takeoff.
Then I remembered that my wings were still tied shut. After a moment, so did gravity, and it wasn’t happy about me trying to defy it.
“Ungh!” I slammed back into the ground, hard. Wouldn’t be too bad for a pony like me normally, but having just been shot out of a cannon and into a tree (after a day of avoiding goddesses and Wonderbolts and crashing through café walls and smashing my way through a wall of ponies…wow, today had been a weird one), I wasn’t really that springy. I just sorta lay there, groaning a little. All those little aches were starting to add up, and just climbing back to my hooves was an effort.
Those streamers. Those blasted streamers! I turned to glare at them. It was clearly their fault that I’d belly-flopped to the floor like a chubby colt at a swimming pool just now. I tried straining against them with all the strength in my wings, but I knew it would be no use. By Celestia, how were they so strong?!
I tried to twist my neck round to chew through the bindings, now that I had time. The painful twinge I got from turning my head pretty much destroyed that idea, though. I was gonna have to leave it a while before I got them off, to let my neck recover from the crash through that tree.
Heck, I was lucky that I didn’t need a neck brace after that. I could wait out this little ache.
So, what could I do instead? Couldn’t go home, since it was floating up in the air and all. Fluttershy’s cottage wasn’t far away… then again, that would probably lead to another misadventure, and me having to make another daring escaping from a love-crazed pony. I was getting a little tired of that today, though; I just wanted to sit down for a little while without having to run for my life.
There was a pretty big boulder just a little ways into the field. It looked as good a place as any to wait out the pain in my neck; it wasn’t really that cold yet, so I could wait outside, and with that rock I could rest my back against something. Plus, it would give me good vision all around the field, so I’d see any incoming crazies or… monsters… from a long way off.
Thinking about crazy ponies reminded me; where was Pinkie? Normally she’d be chasing after me by now, with that spooky super-speed or teleporting or whatever insane stuff she does to keep up with me. Eh, I guess she felt her responsibility to look after the Cakes’ babies came before her need to chase after me like a love-struck filly.
Hey, just because it’s never happened before doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.
I trotted over to the boulder and leant against it, gasping a little as I rested my back on its surprisingly cold surface. I didn’t think it should be that chilly, but hey, what did I know about rocks? I sighed in relief as the weight came off my hooves and I slid downwards.
Yeesh, this had been a long and wacky day. As I sagged down, my body just kept getting heavier and heavier. It felt like everything I’d been through today had piled up on me at once, so I decided to just lie back against the boulder for a while. Celestia knows I could do with the rest.
Staring up at the stars like that left me with nothing to do but think about this whole stupid thing again, though. Really, I couldn’t understand where it came from, or why it happened to me.
Okay, so I guess I did know why it happened to me: because I’m awesome. I almost had a hard time blaming anypony for wanting me. But still…
In a way, I sorta knew where they were coming from. I’d even had thoughts like that before myself. Sure, everypony looks at the ponies they know in… you know, that way. I mean, not all the time, obviously, but just sometimes. Wondering how things would work, or even if they could work. It was the same with me. I’d just… never bothered to do anything about it, I guess. I had too much to do, anyway—practising for Wonderbolts tryouts, having as much fun as possible, and the little issue of saving Equestria from certain doom over and over again. I was just too preoccupied to be bothered about any of this mushy stuff.
If only everypony else could see it that way, too.
Maybe one day, I could have managed it. If I’d tried, I could’ve found somepony to… y’know, be with. Really, since I was me, and ‘me’ was awesome, I’d be spoilt for choice anyway. After all this, though? There was no chance. With all the craziness going on, it had just put me off the whole thing.
Besides, what if I did choose somepony? What would happen to the rest? I didn’t think that they’d just shrug it off and move on, since I couldn’t get rid of them myself. Would they keep trying? Heck, they’d probably just find a way to get rid of whoever I’d chosen, and try to get me to pick them the next time.
Yeah, that wasn’t gonna happen.
I stared up at the edge of the moon, slowly rising above the forest. Really, couldn’t they just leave this all to me? I’d love the attention if it wasn’t so crazy. A little bit of being worshipped is good for any mare as far as I’m concerned, but these guys were just taking it way too far.
And today had pretty much been a total waste. It was just like every other day, really. Oh, sure, I’d gotten a little out of Pinkie, but so what? All I knew was that some kind of outside force had told her she should be in a relationship with me. What use was that, really? What could I do with that information? I didn’t know what they were, or where, or how they were doing it. They could be creepy wacko space monkeys in a different dimension for all the difference it would make to me right now.
I guessed I could go and try again, find out some more. Keep talking to ponies, getting all the information that I could, to try and build up to something I could chase—after they stopped chasing me, anyway. Then I could go on some crazy adventure to find the problem and stop it. Really, though, I was just tired right now. I really didn’t care enough.
So the Wonderbolts seemed out of the question for me now; so what? It was just a dream. Life’s full of those! I bet I could set up my own team, or even fly solo, and still beat the pants off them!
Or… socks? …Ugh, never mind. Point was, I still had my dream. There’s no way any of this rubbish was gonna stop me from chasing it. I was Rainbow Dash, for pete’s sake! It was my job to smash through boundaries! As far as I was concerned, all this ‘love’ trash was just something else for me to bulldoze right through.
I didn’t have to change the world to get the most I could from it, after all.
Yeah… yeah! I jumped back to my hooves, suddenly feeling a lot clearer on the whole mess, as all that extra weight just seemed to melt away. What did I care if all these ponies went mental over me? I was tough; I could outlast and outrun all of ‘em! I could get what I wanted, no matter what they tried! I was gonna be huge! One day, I’d have my name up in the sky!
…Wait. What was…?
I was still staring at the moon, now almost halfway into the sky. That’s why I noticed it; right in the middle of its face, there was a… I couldn’t tell, really. Some sort of pattern?
This was weird. I mean, the Mare in the Moon was the only ‘moon pattern’ I’d ever noticed, and that had disappeared when Luna returned! What was going on now?
As the moon slowly rose higher over the trees, I could see more of the shape. It looked like… a cloud?
Then underneath it… something else, some straight lines reaching downwards before zig-zagging to the side…
Oh Luna, no.
Finally, the moon cleared the forest completely, and I could see it in full; a big, puffy cloud, with a lightning bolt blasting out of it, separated into different, presumably multi-coloured sections.
It was an exact match for the one on my flank.
My jaw must have hit the floor, because the grass was tickling my chin. I shut my mouth before I swallowed any insects (or small birds), and glared up at that circle in the sky.
Great. Now my cutie mark was slapped on the freaking moon. I’ve seen some grand gestures in my time, but that one? That really took the cake.
What was that supposed to show, anyway? Besides being great publicity, I mean. What, the pattern on my flank, on the moon? Was Luna trying to say… that I should… moon?…
I decided I was reading too much into this. Like, way too much. It was probably best to just pretend it never happened.
Ugh, wonderful. I was feeling so inspired and happy and stuff a minute ago! Now this happens, and I’m back to square one! Snarling in anger, I kicked out at the boulder behind me.
That was funny. Rocks don’t normally go ‘clang’.
I turned to look at it a little closer. Now that the moon was up, I could see it a lot better… Y’know, for a boulder, it was surprisingly square. And metallic. And… sink-like.
“You!” I growled, trying to fan my wings out in anger. That just reminded me of the streamers, which just made me even angier. “You’re the one who almost flattened me this morning! This is all your fault!” I yelled. “I dunno how, but… it is! You stupid… ugly… sink!” I span around and bucked the sink hard.
Now that my hooves were throbbing in pain, I decided I’d had enough. I sat down and whipped my head around. I didn’t care about my neck any more; I just wanted this day over. I snapped at the bindings, and after a little struggle, I was free.
“Later… dork.” Yeah, I don’t have that many insults saved up to use against sinks.
With a couple of hard flaps, I was high in the air. I gotta tell you, it felt great to be soaring up in the sky again—y’know, without the help of a cannon. I hadn’t even realised how antsy being trapped on the ground had made me.
Well, antsy enough to blame my problems on a sink, anyway.
Finally, I arrived back home again. I trotted in, slamming the door behind me, before locking it shut. Sure, there weren’t any ponies around right now, but I was willing to bet they’d be back in the morning.
They always were.
Tank started stirring on his straw bed, and slowly climbed to his feet. Very slowly. I thought about going over to see him, but I got tired of waiting for him to get up. I sighed and headed over to the kitchen instead. My stomach was really angry with me right now, since I hadn’t paid attention to it since lunchtime, and I felt like making up to it with a great big sandwich.
See, why can’t all arguments be settled with a great big sandwich? The world would be a way cooler place that way.
For the first time in what felt like forever, I could actually eat in my kitchen. It was a nice change of setting from the bathroom, at least. It meant I could just sit and think for a while more, too, without having to look up and the moon and remember-
No. Not gonna think about that.
Honestly, I couldn’t imagine that there’d be much more I could do. Pinkie had been a dead end, and I didn’t think anypony else would be any more use—she was Pony Zero, after all, so they’d all just say the same thing. And then try to kidnap me.
I couldn’t really go to the library and do some research there, either. Not only was just the idea of it totally boring, but last time I tried that, Spike went all greedy again and grew ginormous, and I had to keep out of town ‘til he calmed down again.
I didn’t run away or anything. It was for his own good, of course! I could have taken him, but I wasn’t willing to slay the dragon over this.
I was out of ideas, and this whole line of thought was just getting me down. With a snort, I shoved the rest of the sandwich into my mouth and swallowed it in one big gulp.
Hah! take that, stomach! Trying to grind that down should keep you busy for a while!
I headed back into the living room, and towards the stairs. Maybe I could just have some alone time, cool down a little before bed, and just get on with my life tomorrow. One day at a time and all. I was halfway up the stairs when I heard a noise behind me. A sorta… tortoise-like sound.
There’s no other way to explain it, really. Go on, try and describe the noise a tortoise makes.
I turned around and saw that Tank had managed to travel the huge distance between his little straw bed and his little food trough, and was looking at me expectantly.
“Heh, you must be as hungry as I was to move that fast, little guy!” I chuckled sheepishly as he slowly nodded his wrinkly head. I swear, if Flutters knew how many times I’d almost forgotten to feed him, she’d… wow, I don’t even want to think about what she’d do to me. It wouldn’t be pretty, that was for sure.
Since I didn’t have any of my own food to throw at Tank this time, I went over to the shelf next to his enclosure and grabbed the box of ‘tortoise food’ Fluttershy had given me to feed him with. I think if she realised how often I just give him my leftovers instead of the special stuff she’d given me, she’d probably be just as angry.
I popped the lid on the food box, and took a look inside. From the look and smell of it, I really couldn’t tell the difference between this and any other bland pet food, but I trusted Fluttershy to know what food an animal needed a heck of a lot more than I did. It was her job, after all.
I walked back to Tank’s trough, and was just about to pour in the food when I met his eyes again. Funny enough, they weren’t all glazed over or anything.
In fact… I don’t think he’d ever acted like that around me.
So… maybe this curse of mine only affected stuff that… I dunno, could talk or something? Ugh, there’s probably a proper word for that, but hey, I’m no Twilight Sparkle.
Still, it was a good point. I mean, Gummy didn’t react much earlier… then again, I’m not sure if Gummy’s… y’know… all there. He didn’t really react to anything much.
Well, I might not be the Egghead Queen herself, but I could still run an ‘experiment’.
I turned around and galloped to the kitchen, Tank… I dunno, ‘tortoising’?... in complaint behind me for taking away his dinner. I quickly grabbed some crisp green lettuce from a cupboard, then zipped back over to his enclosure.
I picked Tank up, and carried him back over to his little straw bed. “Just wait here a sec, little guy!” I ordered as I put him down, before going back to his little red trough. I poured some of that Flutter-food into it, and put it in the far corner of the enclosure, on Tank’s right. I then flew over to the other corner so I’d be to his left, and I dropped the lettuce roughly in the middle on my way past.
I gave the whole ‘experiment’ the once-over, then nodded at my pet. “Okay, fella!” I called. “Go ahead, make your choice!”
See, my hypotha-thingie was pretty simple here: I was… what would Twilight call it, the ‘control’ varia-whatsit? Ugh, whatever. Point was, I knew my effect on most creatures. If Tank really did have that ‘love’ mumbo-jumbo going on, he’d head straight to me—the blue option—instead of destroying the food in his red trough. The green lettuce was sort of an in-between choice, since I was pretty sure it tasted better than whatever food came out of that box.
It felt like all the hours I’d spent running around today, everything I’d been through, all the time and effort I’d put in… it all came down to this decision.
All I had to do was wait for him to make his choice.
So I waited.
…That was the only problem with my ‘experiment’, really. I’d forgotten one crucial varia-whatsit in my equa-thingie: Tank’s really, really slow.
At this rate, it would take, like, fifty-thousand years for him to reach me.
I was tired. I wasn’t waiting that long.
“Screw this,” I muttered. I jumped over Tank’s enclosure’s fence and headed up the stairs, leaving him to make his decision on his own. Heck, I’d probably come down in the morning to find that he’d just eaten both. I didn’t really care at this point, I just wanted to get to my room.
A couple seconds later, and I was finally there. I shut the door behind me and flung myself onto my bed, sighing in relief as I sank into the soft cloud mattress.
Finally, I was alone. Finally, able to just spend some time with myself.
I turned to face my mirror, on the opposite wall to my bed. Even from here, I could see that I was a mess. What with the long-distance flying, café brawl, Sonic Rainboom escape, time spent in trees, and being Pinkie-napped, I was surprised I had any mane left at all.
Like I said earlier, I’m no Rarity. I still know when I look like a furball dragged backwards through a forest, though.
I couldn’t be bothered with a shower at this point, so I just flapped over to the mirror and sat in front of it, grooming myself back to looking like my usual, awesome self. It wasn’t long before I good enough for Dash standards again—and let’s be honest here, they’re the only standards that matter, right?
I stared at my reflection, admiring my handiwork. And… well, myself, too. Who could blame me? I was pretty fantastic.
“Looking good, Rainbow,” I muttered, flexing my wings and grinning. “Looking real good.”
Heh. As if any pony thought they were cool enough to handle the Dash. Nah, there was only one pony cool enough for me, and that was… well… me.
‘Go with the flow’; that’s what ponies say, right? Well, that’s what I was gonna do. Keep on going through my life, taking what I could from it. So I couldn’t stop all this crazy; so what? It wasn’t gonna change what I wanted, or how I would get it.
You’d think that something like this would take away all my reasons to keep going, but that’s not true at all.
I knew exactly what I was living for.
A/N: Chapter 6 ends this story precisely how I wanted it to. The tale was always just a day-in-the-life, a quick glimpse into a world filled with improbable shipping partners and even more improbable events. This little epilogue is a completely optional little snippet, bringing the Equestria I've cruelly thrown Dash at into the folds of 'canon' Equestria, because I found it funny. Here's hoping you do too!
At their weekly Pony Pet Playdate, five friends gathered with their beloved animals for an afternoon of fun. It wasn’t long before all five of them, and their pets, were happily playing and talking, filling Ponyville Park with the sounds of laughter and joyful voices. This really was a great time for them all; it brought these very different personalities together, for a few hours of carefree interaction.
There was a sixth pony, however, who was once again conspicuously absent.
After they’d gotten pleasantries out of the way and left the pets to play together, the girls sat down for a picnic. Twilight felt it was a good time to get down to business. “Girls, I know we’ve talked about this before…” she started, standing up and glancing across the faces of her friends. “…But I seriously think that we need to do something about Rainbow Dash.”
“Twilight, dear…” Rarity began, her half-eaten sandwich floating before her. “We’ve been over this, haven’t we? We all agreed that we can’t do much more than just let this run its course. Why are you bringing it up again?”
Twilight raised an eyebrow before pointing a hoof upwards. The group panned their heads back and spotted a single cloud, hovering just above them in the otherwise clear sky, which had somehow managed to gain a rainbow-coloured tail.
“Oooh! Hi, Raincloud Dash!” Pinkie called, waving wildly with her forehooves before falling backwards, snorting with laughter over her own pun.
The cloud suddenly sprouted a pair of eyes, narrowed in anger. “Oh, come on!” The cloud yelled back furiously. “Can’t you guys just leave me alone?!” With that, a pair of blue wings emerged from the cloud, and it flew away at speed.
Twilight sighed, raising a drink to her lips. The farmer lying next to her snorted, pushing her hat out of her eyes so that she could glance up at Twilight wearily. “Sugarcube, we’ve been over this more times than ah can count,” she drawled. “That pony’s ego is bigger’n a buffalo’s behind! Ah don’t think there’s nuthin’ we can do.” Applejack rolled her eyes. “Celestia knows we’ve tried.”
Twilight frowned at both the defeatist attitude and the affront to grammar in her friend’s speech. “I know that, AJ, but there’s got to be something we can do! There must be something we haven’t tried yet! Doesn’t anypony else want to try again?” she asked pleadingly, meeting the eyes of her other three friends individually, hoping that at least one of them would back her up.
“Well I, for one, am beginning to tire of her dramatics,” Rarity admittted, wiping her mouth daintily with a levitating napkin. “Why, just the other day I happened up on her in a café, wearing the most…” the unicorn paused, shuddering at the memory. “…revolting get-up, as some form of crude disguise! Honestly, I was almost glad when she crashed through the wall and got drenched—at least it washed out the worst of that abominable colouration!” Her eyes narrowed. “And what she did to that delightful cook! Such a gentlecolt, and she knocked him unconscious and destroyed his wonderful café, without a single word of apology! How very uncouth.”
As the unicorn sniffed dismissively, and before Twilight could question how Rainbow ended up demolishing a wall, Applejack sat up, a look of disbelief on her face. “You. Tired of somepony bein’ dramatic.” She didn’t sound convinced.
Twilight intervened quickly to both refocus the conversation and to head off the argument she knew was about to follow. “It gets worse! I even called in Princess Celestia to try and talk to Dash, but Rainbow didn’t even wait to hear what she had to say! She just flew away.” Twilight sighed dejectedly, sinking to her haunches. “The Princess was even kind enough to bring some of her royal guards along with her, to clear out all the fans hanging around outside her house. I hoped that would give her some breathing space, but apparently she just thought the guards were after her, too.”
Applejack sighed wearily, raising an eyebrow. “That fan club o’ hers is still givin’ her trouble, huh?”
Twilight nodded. “Personally, I think it’s the real source of this whole issue. It’s become much more of an issue recently, and especially since the wedding. After she pulled off the Rainboom there, the press have been calling her the ‘next great Wonderbolt’, and ever since that, they’ve been sitting outside her house.” Twilight smiled a little. “Along with the regulars, of course. Scootaloo practically lives on Dash’s porch nowadays.” She looked at Applejack questioningly. “I thought your sister was gonna talk to her about that?”
Applejack grunted. “Ah did ask her. She said she tried, but that whole club ain’t listening.”
Rarity nodded in agreement. “According to Sweetie Belle, there’s been quite a number of ponies from further away that have come to Ponyville purely to join that silly little appreciation society.” Rarity laughed derisively. “Honestly! Glory hounds, the lot of them! Hopping onto the latest bandwagon and riding it for all it’s worth!”
Applejack turned to Rarity once again, a smirk on her face. “Followin’ a trend, huh? Ain’t that, like… the main point o’ yer job?”
Rarity spluttered indignantly, her blush prompting Applejack to laughter. “Well! I… that is, ahem… it’s completely different!” She insisted. “I adhere to—and set, I’ll have you know—the latest trends in fashion, whereas these attention seekers merely wish to leap on the coattails of a rising star, and claim they were there at the beginning!”
Pinkie raised her head from the bucket of candies that she’d somehow gotten to the picnic without anypony noticing—and, wisely, nopony chose to question it—to add in, “C’mon Rare, can you blame them? She is pretty awesome!”
The fashionista stopped her rant to consider that, before breaking into a small smile. “Well, I suppose.”
After a moment of silence, Fluttershy cleared her throat—as much as squeaking counted as clearing the throat—before piping up and bringing the topic back to point. “I’ve, uh, tried talking to… her… as well, but she just thinks that I’m… uhm, you know…” her face was suddenly bright red.
“We know.” The other four ponies spoke in unison. They’d all had their share of conversations with the pegasus, and they’d all ended the same way.
“It just doesn’t make sense!” Twilight groaned, slapping a forehoof on her head. “I mean, sure, plenty of ponies admire her, but where did she get this idea from?” She kicked out at a rock in powerless frustration. “Every time we try to help her, she just assumes we’re part of… that we’re thinking about…” Her voice trailed off and she blushed slightly. “…you know, that.”
Applejack snorted, collapsing back to the ground and lowering her Stetson over her eyes. “Twi hun, that pony’s just in a world of her own these days,” she said, chuckling dryly. “Ah reckon that we need ta just give her some space, ‘til her ego dies down a little.”
Twilight sighed again. “You’re probably right… I just hate not being able to do anything.” She muttered. “We’ve tried everything, though! I’ve done all the research I can into psychology, but when I tried to discuss it with her, she kicked me out of her house! You tried a more… ahem… ‘forceful’ approach, Applejack, and it had the same result; Rarity’s spoken with her too… heck, even Fluttershy gave it a go!” As a hoof was jabbed in her direction, Fluttershy hid her face behind her mane and cowered on the ground, meeping.
“Oh…uhm, well, I haven’t really tried to talk to her since that one time I mentioned, since she gets all angry and scary whenever any of us try…” the shy pony mumbled, before braving a glance up at her friends and giving a small smile. “Oh! But I did help the Wonderbolts after Rainbow…well, you know…” She drifted off again, looking sad, before shaking her head slightly and giving the gathering a genuine, strong smile. “And I got them to promise not to hold this whole thing against her, and to give her a second chance when she’s ready. They said it’s the least they could do after I… uh, well… you know, the stitches and all.”
Twilight winced slightly; it was true that some of the ace fliers had been a little worse for wear after Rainbow had finished with them. Still, she gave Fluttershy a thankful nod; it was only through her pleadings—and Dash’s own famous flight skills, of course—that the pegasus still had the chance to join the stunt group.
A pink ball of energy suddenly sprang up mere inches from Twilight’s nose, an enormous smile on its face. “Oh, pick me next! I helped too!” Pinkie Pie cried, bouncing up and down. “I threw a sink at her!” she announced in a sing-song voice.
Twilight nodded absently. “Oh yeah, and Pinkie threw… a…” the unicorn’s voice faded as her brain started processing what her friend had just said. “A what?” she shrieked.
Pinkie nodded enthusiastically at the dumbfounded group. “Uh huh!” she beamed. “I figured, ‘wow, Dashie sure is being silly about all this, and nothing normal like talking or, y’know, being brilliant friends with her is working!’” The beam shifted into the kind of devious smile that gave the Cakes nightmares. “So I thought, if ‘normal’ ain’t working, why not try something ‘super-duper-not-normal’? And what’s more not-normal than a flying sink? Nothing, I tell ya!” The pink pony sat back proudly, not even stopping to take a breath after that monologue. “It was the perfect plan.”
Silence reigned for a few moments as everypony tried to process the logic being used. Unfortunately, since it was Pinkie Pie logic, it didn’t really fit into their own minds very well. The closest anypony came was Applejack, who managed a stunned “…Guh?”
As the others came to terms with her thought process, Pinkie’s exuberant smile slowly faded into a muted frown, and she sank down on her haunches slightly.
“Well, I thought it was the perfect plan,” she admitted. “I even wrote ‘NOTICE ME’ in great big pink letters, so she’d be sure to see it and know it was from me!” Pinkie glanced around the group earnestly. “I thought Dashie would be so curious, she’d have to look on the bottom of the sink and read the other message there—the one that said ‘stop being such a dumb moody pony and just be friends with us all again, you silly filly!’” She sighed dejectedly. “At least, that’s what I’d do. I always check the bottom of the sink for hidden messages. I mean, that’s what it’s for, right? And then, she came into Sugar Cube Corner later, and I totally thought it had worked! I mean, sure, I had to tie her up a little, to stop her from running away all over again... but after that, I was totally friendly and stuff! I even tried to put together a quick ‘Hurray You’re Back To Normal And Now We Can Be Bestest Friends Forever Again’ party!” she shuffled uncomfortably. “But no, it was more of that silly sappy stuff she’s always going on about these days.”
Pinkie sniffled sadly, looking to be on the verge of tears. “She asked me why I liked her, and then there was something about us making cupcakes, and then when I went to check on the twins and make us some snacks, she fired herself out of my party cannon, just to get away from me! Why would somepony do that?!”
Twilight could think of several reasons why anypony forced to spend too much time in Pinkie Pie’s presence would want to be fired out of a cannon, but she felt this wasn’t the best time to present such evidence. Instead, she opted for the old friendship standby: a compassionate hug. She reached towards the party pony and embraced her, awkwardly patting her back with a hoof.
“Don’t worry, Pinkie,” Twilight promised. “Like Applejack said, it’s probably just a phase. There might not be anything we can do about it now, but I’m sure she’ll be back to her normal self again soon enough, and then everything can go back to how it was.”
Moments later, Twilight felt a loving warmth surround her, as the other three ponies present joined in on the compassion. Trapped within the group hug, Pinkie had no choice but to feel better. She giggled slightly, glancing around at the smiling faces of her friends. “Yeah, I guess you girls are right,” she admitted softly. “It’s just Dashie being silly. I’m sure she’ll snap out of it soon.”
Twilight let go of Pinkie, sitting back and giving her an encouraging smile. “Exactly!” she agreed. Her eyes softened slightly as she turned to stare after the cloud-shrouded pony in question, who had long disappeared into the distance. “She’ll snap out of it soon,” Twilight repeated quietly.
“She’s got to.”