Episode 1: Your Attitude Stinks
“Thanks again for helping me pick these berries Twilight. I like to have a bunch in case one of the animals needs them.”
“No problem Fluttershy; nopony should have to do errands in Everfree Forest alone, even though we are still close to the edge.”
The two ponies continued picking berries, the bright sunlight and mild heat putting them at ease despite their location. The trees and bushes were spaced out enough that they could see any hostile animals approaching, and so they had started to relax after picking so many berries without incident. As Fluttershy grabbed another clump of berries with her mouth, she heard a faint scratching noise coming from inside the bush.
“I don’t remember there being any thorns in these bushes…” she thought to herself. “I should double-check before me and Twilight pick any more…”
Pushing aside one of the shrub’s branches, Fluttershy caught a glimpse of a small, black, furry… something. All she could see was an X-shaped white pattern on its fur before it turned around and she smelled one of the worst smells ever.
My Little Pony, My Little Pony
Ahh ahh ahh ahhh…
I used to wonder what friendship could be
Until you all shared its magic with me
Tons of fun
A beautiful heart
Faithful and strong
It's an easy feat
And magic makes it all complete
You have my little ponies
Do you know you're all my very best friends?
“…shy? Fluttershy? Are you ok? Zecora! I think she’s waking up!”
As Fluttershy slowly regained consciousness, she could see she was in Zecora’s hut. Twilight was standing over her, and as Zecora joined her Fluttershy couldn’t help but wonder…
“Why are you two wearing those clothespins on your…”
And then the smell hit her. It smelled like someone had left a pound of eggs, potatoes, onions, and garlic to rot together in a cellar for a month. The urge to vomit was overwhelming, but she hadn’t eaten anything in a while, and so settled for gagging loudly.
“Uh... here put this on.” Twilight magicked another clothespin over to her friend’s muzzle, and Fluttershy uncovered her nostrils long enough to let Twilight pinch the fastener over them. Though rather uncomfortable, the clothespin did its job, and the horrible stench waned immediately.
“Oh my… what is that smell?”
“Well, we were out picking berries and you got sprayed by… What did you call it again Zecora?”
“Parrallel Polecat I said. Like a skunk but with double the tails, and double the heads.”
“Yeah, that. You fainted from the shock and so I brought you here.”
“Oh, so Zecora could mix up something to clean me off?”
“I am afraid not. You were sprayed quite a lot. Even normal musk is hard to clean, and the Parallel Polecat’s is extra mean. Twice the spray, and doubly powerful too, it cannot be removed by any brew.”
“But don’t worry! Zecora said it’ll wear off… eventually, and she’s making a deodorizer you can put on your nose so you won’t have to smell it in the meantime.”
“Oh, okay. But what about everypony else? And all the animals at my house!? And…”
“Calm down Fluttershy! I’m sure once Zecora finishes this smelly stuff we’ll be able to sort out everything.”
Zecora continued stirring her cauldron, trotting over to a shelf to grab a new ingredient every few minutes. Finally she put out the flame and sniffed the contents.
“It is done, I can tell. Smear it on your nose to hide the smell.”
Fluttershy and Twilight clopped over and looked into the pot. It was full of light pink goo, similar to jelly, but it looked much thicker. Approaching it, they could smell it better and better, a blend of lavender and potpourri and numerous other scents that neither pony knew all of. As they took it in, Zecora scooped some up with a hoof and then rubbed it all across her nose, popping the clothespin off as she did so. Fluttershy and Twilight followed her lead.
“Well, it does hide the smell well enough…” Twilight noted, wiggling her nose as the goop settled into place.
“You may take this with you, reapply it once a day. It will defeat other smells too, but do not mix it with flour or hay.”
“Thank you Zecora, but I can’t expect everypony I meet to put this stuff on can I? And what about all the animals at my house? And…”
“Don’t worry about that part yet, let’s just get this stuff back to your house and we’ll figure things out from there.”
As Fluttershy opened the door to her cottage, she immediately noticed how empty and quiet it seemed. Twilight levitated Zecora’s pot through the door and put it down in the center of the room.
“Something wrong Fluttershy?”
“I was afraid of this… all the animals hid when they smelled the skunk musk.”
Twilight glanced around the room. Normally full of movement, it was very still now that she bothered to look.
“Well, we could try putting this stuff on all of them, how many animals do you have?”
“Oh…kay…Maybe you could leave them all with somepony until the skunk musk wears off?”
“Oh I could never do that, it’s too much work to ask of anypony.”
“Don’t be silly, weren’t you telling me just the other day how good at pet sitting Autumn Fall and Spring Break were? I bet they have enough room at their ranch.”
“But I don’t think…”
“It’d only be temporary; I don’t think we’ve got a lot of options.”
Fluttershy took a long look around her cottage, and every time her eyes settled on a place where an animal was hiding, there was a small flitter of movement as they retreated farther into their hidey hole. She went over to the door that lead to her backyard and opened it, and was greeted by a storm of barking and chirping and clucking and…
She closed the door, her long hair slightly frizzier than when she had opened it.
“Maybe you’re right.”
“Ok, good. Just let me do all of the work. It’ll be like a little vacation from all your usual work around here. I’ll prepare all the animals for moving and we can bring them over to the ranch in no time.”
“Hm. I guess I’ll go ask Spring Break if it’s okay then…”
* * *
When Fluttershy trotted up her walkway she saw dozens of cages and baskets littering her yard. Twilight was moving between the rows, a large trail of parchment skidding behind her. There were also various other ponies Fluttershy didn’t recognize going in and out of her house, carrying various animals as they went. As she approached Twilight low growls and yips and whines rippled out from the cages she was closest to.
“Ok good, that’s pets 200-225 accounted for…” Twilight made several check marks on the long stretch of parchment in front of her, and continued inspecting the containers.
“Wow… I know Autumn Fall said they would send over their assistant’s immediately, but I didn’t think you’d have this much done when I got back.”
“Oh hi Fluttershy! Yes some of them were already on errands so they were able to get here quickly. And they’re so organized we’re already halfway done.”
Walking by the rows of animals Fluttershy could feel them recoil. Several of the baskets fell over, and as Fluttershy habitually turned to go pick them up, three squirrels bolted out of one container.
“Oh shoot. Fluttershy, perhaps you should go run some errands, we’re going to start transporting them all soon.” Twilight huffed as she made another mark on her checklist, and one of the colts trotted off after the squirrels.
As Fluttershy turned to leave she saw one of the assistants coaxing two of her cats into a basket with food.
“Oh, you can’t give Walter dry food, he doesn’t…”
“Fluttershy, don’t worry about it. I found all your notes in the desk, I’m certain they’ll read them once everyone is settled. Now maybe you should leave before any more animals run off…” Twilight had to raise her voice slightly to be heard over all the noise the animals were making.
Fluttershy sheepishly turned away and started to walk back down the stone pathway away from her house, though she couldn’t help looking back at the rows of her animals as she did so. She bumped into a fencepost, and kept her head low as she continued towards the marketplace.
* * *
“It’s alright, I’m sure they’ll take of care of everyone, I’ll just get a head start on my shopping. It’s not like Walter has never eaten dry food, or Pixy hasn’t slept at someone else’s house, or Tabitha hasn’t…!”
“Oh hi, Fluttershy. Here for your usual order of pet food?”
Fluttershy looked up, and found herself at the food vendor she bought most of her pet food from. Fluttershy couldn’t help but notice the large clothespin covering the mare’s nostrils as she tried her hardest to avoid eye contact.
“Oh, uhm, actually, no, sorry, I was…”
“S’alright, you don’t have to explain. I’m guessing they won’t go near you after you got sprayed by that super skunk or whatever it was.”
“You… heard about that already?”
“Oh, most of town has. Word travels fast around here y’know.”
“Right. Sorry, but I have to go, do, something. Sorry.”
Fluttershy turned and started to wander aimlessly across the marketplace. Despite her practiced avoidance of eye contact, she could feel everypony staring at her, out of the corners of her vision she could see clothespins and hooves covering every nose. She instinctively started towards the booth where she usually bought carrots, then stopped herself. As she started going through her usual shopping list in her mind, she started to realize how much of it was for her animals before she bumped into a booth selling scissors.
“Oh, sorry, I wasn’t, sorry, I have to…”
She trotted off, trying and failing to put all of her animals out of her mind. Lost in thought, Fluttershy eventually arrived back at her cottage, muscle memory and skunk musk preventing her from bumping into anything or anypony along the way. Not in the mood to do any of her usual chores, she just went up to her room and into her bed.
“It’ll be better tomorrow. I’m just… not used to having so little to do. It’ll be better tomorrow, yeah…” Fluttershy continued to mutter to herself until she slowly fell asleep.
* * *
As dawn broke Fluttershy’s eyes snapped open. The lack of a rooster crowing confused her, until she remembered why he was gone. She dragged herself out of bed, but was at a loss for what to do once she was free of her covers.
While she was staring at herself in her bathroom mirror, Angel walked in.
“Angel!? Oh I’m so glad you stayed behind!”
Angel extricated himself from Fluttershy’s hug and gave her a thumbs up. He was wearing the pink stuff Zecora had given her on his nose, which reminded her…
“Oh yes, I should put a new coat of that on.”
Fluttershy went to the large pot Twilight had left in her living room and scooped some of the pink stuff to smear on her face. She smeared it on and the same rush of scents hit her nostrils before starting to fade into the background of her mind. Feeling a little uplifted by the pleasant odor, Fluttershy continued with her morning routine, eventually ending up in the kitchen, Angel hopping after her.
“Okay Angel, what do you feel like for breakfast? Maybe a nice pair of salads?”
As Fluttershy prepared breakfast, she had to restrain herself from making the large quantities of food she normally did, and in no time at all she had finished making food for her and Angel Bunny. He tore into his meal with his usual enthusiasm, but when Fluttershy sat down to eat, she sat staring at her food for a bit before she finally ate it.
“Ok Angel, what should we do today? I had to give Maurice a flea bath…Oh, right. And I had to brush Chastity’s… And I had to… Well, I guess I don’t really have anything to do today…
“Maybe I should go check up on all the animals at the ranch.”
Angel hopped in front of her and shook his head emphatically.
“Oh, don’t be silly Angel, what harm could there be?”
Angel crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow.
“Well, they’re MY animals and I’m going to go see them, so there.”
Fluttershy clopped toward the door confidently, and despite Angel tugging on her tail, she went out the door, closed it behind her, and headed towards Sunrise Ranch.
It was a bit of a walk; like the Apple family farm Sunrise Ranch was on the outskirts of town, but she trotted a little more enthusiastically than usual, and she quickly arrived at the ranch’s front gate. Fluttershy had been there just last week to help treat a cow’s upset stomach. She remembered being greeted by a bunch of cattle, but they were nowhere to be seen today.
As she passed by the office, she considered where her animals might be, and decided to try the largest building, the barn. After a bit of a walk she eventually arrived there, and opened the door, to a rush of noise and a lot of cages. All her animals were there, but most of them were still in cages. As she walked over to the closest one, containing Larry and Isabel the bats, the cawing and chirping and barking and clacking only grew louder, but Fluttershy was too annoyed to notice.
After a few minutes of seething at the fact her animals hadn’t been unpacked from the travel containers, the noise eventually drew Spring Break and some of her ranch hands.
“What’s going on here? Oh, Fluttershy.” Just as the name came out of her mouth Spring and the other two ponies were hit by the wave of parallel polecat stink. “Oh my.” All three covered their snouts with a hoof, but it wasn’t enough to stop the smell.
“Spring Break. I was checking on my animals and I notice you haven’t let any of them out of their cages yet.” Fluttershy had to raise her voice to be heard over the cacophony echoing throughout the barn.
“Yes, awful sorry about that Fluttershy, but right after we agreed to take care of them a bunch of the cows came down with a stomach flu. We’ve been tending to that and we haven’t had the time to find places for all your animals yet.”
“I see. Well, I was just coming to check up on them, but if you’re that busy I would like to take them back to my cottage. If that’s ok.”
“Ah, I wouldn’t recommend that shug’, if the smell comin’ off you is any indication.”
Fluttershy took a step towards the other three, who instinctively recoiled from the potent odor. “Well, thank you for your concern, and for agreeing to look after them in the first place, but I think they will be better off with me at home.”
“I wasn’t asking.”
“Fine fine, your animals your call. Betty, Steve, prepare all these containers to be moved back to Fluttershy’s cottage, as quickly as possible.” Anxious to leave, the two ponies rushed off. “They’ll be at your cottage by noon, we have some carts taking product into town today. Have a good day Miss Fluttershy.” Spring Break turned to leave, still with a hoof over her nose.
“Now that’s how you assert yourself!” Fluttershy thought to herself. She began to walk back to town, and as she moved farther away from the cages, her animals became less and less agitated, but Fluttershy was too elated to notice.
* * *
“And so I said, well, you may be a good hair stylist but your dress is a mess!”
After a hearty chuckle Twilight and Rarity each took a sip of their tea.
“So, what about your day Twilight?”
“Oh nothing too special, mostly running a lot of errands. My parchment supply was only at 33 percent and my ink was even lower. Then I stopped at Sugarcube Corner to help Pinkie with some bookkeeping. Then I continued organizing the D section of the library. Nothing special really.”
“Oh Twilight, you and your errands, and your chores, and your schedules. Planning is all well and good but one needs a little time not dedicated to anything at all.”
“Well I made time for this tea date didn’t I?”
“Indeed you did!” Rarity stamped her hoof a few times. “Oh waiter~! Some more of those cranberry crumpets please.”
“Right away ma’am.”
“I’ve been trying to watch my figure, but they really do make the best crumpets here; absolutely divine. *sip*
“And where are you off to after lunch, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Actually I was gonna check up on Fluttershy’s animals. I’m sure they’re fine at Sunrise Ranch, but it couldn’t hurt to double-check. “
“Oh yes, I heard about dreadful incident yesterday. Is Fluttershy doing alright?”
“She seemed fine yesterday. She doesn’t get a lot of time away from all her chores, I’m sure the free time will do her some good.”
“I’m not so sure of that Twilight. At all of our spa dates she adores gushing about all of her animals; their habits, their food preferences, their… physical concerns. Her cutie mark couldn’t fit her any better.”
“Well, perhaps I’ll move the D section to Tuesday and go see her after I check on her animals. She’s not the most gregarious pony after all.”
“I’m sure she’ll fine, that awful skunk musk must wear off eventually… Ah our crumpets! Lovely!”
Some time later, Fluttershy finally returned from Zecora’s hut, slowly making her way up the steps to her cottage, taking care with the large clay pots Zecora had given her.
“I’m glad Zecora was able to make me more of that salve. I just hope they’re not too upset that I left them alone for so long...”
Fluttershy opened the door to her cottage, and was hit by the same calculated, busy silence as yesterday morning. She carefully placed the pots on the floor and scanned the room.
“Don’t worry everyone, I know this parallel polecat smell won’t come off for a while, but I’m going to apply this to every one of you so you won’t have to smell it. And then everything will go right back to normal, I promise...
“Paul, Clare, you always take your medicine so well, why don’t you show all the others it’s not that bad.”
Fluttershy moved toward where the two mice were hiding, but when she got close to them they rushed out of the hole they had been hiding in and bolted to the other side of the room. Fluttershy turned to go after them, but they looped back around and Fluttershy lost track of them.
“O…K… Bernard? How about y…” But before she even finished her sentence Bernard has also bolted to a separate part of her house.
“Alright, now this is just silly.”
Fluttershy turned to where she knew Floyd was hiding, and used The Stare.
“Now come out of there.”
The monkey slowly, hesitantly, came out of his spot, while Fluttershy kept her eyes trained on him.
“Good, now hold still while I put some of this on.”
Floyd was visibly nervous as Fluttershy approached him. When she was within a foot of him he broke, throwing his hands over his nostrils and jumping away.
Fluttershy charged towards the next hidey hole, and the next, but every animal was too fast for her. She gave up and darted into her backyard. But it was the same result. Everywhere she flew, every spot she checked, her animals were too agitated by the skunk musk to let her apply the salve.
After leaping and missing many times, Fluttershy picked herself off the ground, disheveled after so many failed attempts at helping her animals.
“Fine, you want to do this the hard way, I can do this the hard way! ANGEL! COME HERE!”
Angel hopped out of the cottage, confused by FLuttershy’s abnormally loud voice. He gave her an inquisitive look as she stood panting in the middle of her yard.
“Good, you’re here. Go hold down Maurice and Bianca so I can put this medicine on them.” She jerked a hoof at the bush the two dogs were hiding in.
Angel glanced at his small arms and gave her a shrug.
“Well then what good are you!?” Fluttershy marched into her house and grabbed one of the pots Zecora had given her, then went back into her yard, dragging the pot with her teeth. Skunk musk or not, you’re not going to reject me, not after everything I’ve done for you. She flew up over the tree growing from her house, certain that most of the animals were hiding in it. She took aim for a moment, then threw the pot at the center of the tree’s branches. A few seconds before it hit the top leaves a hundred different birds, squirrels, and countless others darted out of the way, and a dozen droplets of pink goo scattered across the tree and ground as the pot shattered on a branch.
She slowly floated back to the ground, unsure how to feel. When she got there, she couldn’t think of anything to do besides stamping the ground in frustration.
And then her doorbell rang.
Twilight was about to open the door anyway when she heard Fluttershy undoing the lock. As Fluttershy opened the door, several of her animals rushed out.
“Uh… Fluttershy, are you ok? Spring Break said you came over to the ranch earlier and insisted they return all your animals to your cottage as soon as possible!”
“Of course I did, when I went to check on them they were still all in their cages, and they were completely ignoring all the instructions I wrote down. I specifically said Walter was only to eat dry food, and…”
“Wait, so what are you going to do with them all here?”
“I have it under control; I got more salve from Zecora while they were returning my animals, and I’m going to apply it to every animal, whether they like it or not.”
“What!? Fluttershy, that’s crazy, applying it once a day to every animal, from now until the skunk musk wears off? That’s…”
“Well it’s better than YOUR plan. I should’ve known better than to trust all my animals with some ranchers I barely know.”
“I… I was only trying to help; you won’t be able to control all your animals with that skunk musk on you.”
“Control!?” Fluttershy started to fly in place. “You’re somepony to tell me about control! This entire mess is your fault!”
“That’s right, you’re nothing but a big, bossy control freak. Prepared, pompous Twilight, has to have a plan for everything, and everypony has to follow it! I should never have listened to your dumb plan for how to take care of my animals.”
“I was just… Fluttershy, those animals will be afraid of you as long as that skunk smell remains, you can’t possibly think that…”
“I’ve had enough of your advice, thank you very much! Goodbye!”
Fluttershy slammed the door, and Twilight could hear the click of a lock.
Twilight pounded on the door, but got no answer.