DAY 1: 3
Rarity was having just the most horrid day! Oh it had started out okay, after all, she was finally in Manehatten, the centre of the fashion world! But then it had started going downhill. First she had no idea how she had got there, having just woken up, lying on the pavement. Then her mane just refused to be styled properly, looking like an absolute pig sty. Then the scroll had appeared, and this infernal timer had marred her beautiful coat. Still, things were beginning to look up now. She had managed to find Fluttershy, although the poor dear seemed to be frightened to death! She hadn't said a word since they had met up, or if she had Rarity hadn't heard her. She too had a scroll with her though, and it said the same thing as Rarity's.
"So then dear, what do you suppose this all means?" Rarity tried to strike up a conversation with Fluttershy again. "I mean, it's not every day you wake up in Manehatten is it? Unless you're lucky enough to live here I suppose, but then I'm sure that these scrolls aren't usual. What do you suppose they mean?"
Fluttershy opened her mouth. Whatever it was she said was drowned out by a sudden shout just nearby. Rarity swiveled around in time to see some other pony being swarmed by strange floating red symbols. Before her eyes, more and more of the symbols appeared, and seemed to attach to the pony, blocking her from view. Then, after only a few seconds, the symbols dispersed, but where there had been a pony only seconds before, now there was no one. Rarity reflexively took a step back.
"Did that pony just disappear? But she couldn't have, she was an earth pony! Unless those tacky floating symbols had something to do with it." Rarity felt a soft tug at her tail. She turned to find Fluttershy with it in her mouth. Seeing that she had Rarity's attention, she dropped the tail and pointed just to the right. Rarity followed the direction with her gaze, and spotted more of the symbols swarming over other ponies, also disappearing after a short amount of time. A group broke off from their latest victim and started flying towards Rarity and Fluttershy.
"Oh dear. Fluttershy, I think it might be time to run." Rarity turned on the spot and started running. Fluttershy followed on wing. After only a few feet though, Rarity felt her legs get caught under her and she tripped headlong. Fluttershy stopped to help her up, but it was too late. Symbols were approaching from all sides. Rarity used her only weapon left in her arsenal.
Having been an only child for most of her life, Rarity was good at getting what she wanted. Sometimes it required sickening sweetness, other times she got it by whining. But when all else failed, she had one final resort. Her scream, which on a clear day could be heard half a mile away, and had been known to knock birds out of their flight path at its peak. The ultimate weapon. She let loose one now, hoping that their attackers would be deterred. Alas, this was not to be the case, and the things keep coming closer. Rarity kept screaming, now out of hope that someone would notice her and save her.
"Rarity! Fluttershy!" Rarity stopped screaming. She knew that voice! Looking around, she saw Pinkie Pie running towards them. At least she assumed it was Pinkie Pie, although her normally frizzy and uncontrollable mane was now straight, and possibly duller. Pinkie kept shouting. "You two need to make a pact! Hurry or you'll be erased!"
Pact? Erased? What nonsense was Pinkie spouting now? Still, this had been a rather strange day. "What do you mean? How are we supposed to do that!?" She turned to Fluttershy. "Do you have any idea what she's on about?"
Fluttershy started to shake her head, then paused. Slowly she began to nod. Still not saying a word, she carefully placed her forehead against Rarity's or at least as close as she could with Rarity's horn in the way. Before Rarity could ask what she was doing, a pillar of light bloomed out of the ground, surrounding the two friends. Just at that second the symbols reached them, and their surroundings started to melt away.
Twilight could only stand in shock as she saw one after another of the red symbols - Noise symbols, that's what Pinkie said they were - pile onto the spot where Fluttershy and Rarity had been. "No... they can't be.... they've been..." She could feel tears begin to well up.
Pinkamena on the other hand seemed unfazed by what happened. Twilight rounded on her angrily, tears flowing now. "How can you just sit there so calmly?! Our friends just got erased, and we'll never see them again!"
Pinkamena sighed. "No they didn't. They haven't been erased. They made a pact in time. They'll be fighting off the Noise now, and there is literally no way you can lose your first Noise fight if you have a pact."
"They made the pact in time? Then where are they? They've vanished! Doesn't that mean they've been erased?"
"And just when I thought I'd explained everything to you... You don't fight Noise here. They transport you to a different plane, the Noise plane. We can't see my friends anymore because they're fighting in the Noise plane. Make sense?"
Twilight considered this for a while. "So, they're on a different plane of existence than us? But that's really powerful magic! Most unicorns are unable to Plane shift, and yet these Noise things make it happen just like that?"
"I don't know the details, but yeah. Technically we're on a different plane than normal as well, the Underground. The plane we normally exist on is the Real Ground. So I guess if we've already changed planes once, it's a bit easier the second time around."
"Okay, I suppose that makes a sort of sense," Twilight said. She looked back at where Fluttershy and Rarity had vanished. "So we just have to wait and they'll come back?"
"Once they've defeated the noise, yes."
Rarity slowly opened her eyes again. She wished she'd kept them closed. In front of her were three frogs, although they were like no frogs Rarity had ever seen. One of the three jumped at her before she had a chance to do anything. It landed on her head.
"Ah! Get it off, get it off!" she cried out, quickly backing away. The offending frog leapt away, using Rarity's face as a springboard. The force of the leap was greater than Rarity was expecting, and she found herself propelled the opposite way. She hit something behind her, and slumped to the ground, winded, but on the whole unhurt. She staggered back to her feet, and looked behind her to see what she hit. But there was nothing there. It seemed she had just stopped in the middle of the street, as if there was a wall of glass. She reached a hoof out to test this theory, and discovered that she couldn't move it past a certain point. There was no feeling of glass under hoof, just a barrier. Past it, she could see Fluttershy, also confronted by three frogs. The frogs! Rarity wheeled around just in time to see another frog leaping at her.
"Oh no you don't, not this time!" Rarity reached for her magic. She wasn't sure what she could do, magic wasn't her strong point certainly. But she could probably at least halt the frog in its tracks. She focused on the frog. A second before the it could make contact, a pillar of ice, glittering like diamond, speared up from the ground, impaling the frog. The pillar vanished a second afterwards, taking the frog with it. Rarity found herself gasping. Since when could she do that?
She didn't have time to marvel for long though, another frog was leaping towards her. Well, if she could do it once... Once again she focused, and was reward with a pillar of ice spearing the frog. It vanished faster than a pillar of ice had any right to do, not even leaving a puddle of water. Rarity, deciding she had the hang of this, decided to go on the offensive. She focused on the last frog, preparing to duplicate the feat... only to find it wasn't working. She tried again, focusing harder, but still nothing. She began to panic. The last frog sensed its chance, and leapt at the unicorn. Rarity jumped to side before the frog attached, but fumbled her landing, and fell on the ground for the second time that day.
She stumbled back onto her feet, feeling a bit sore from the second tumble. From here she could see Fluttershy, now also down to one frog. She was hovering just above the ground, dodging all the frog's leaps. Forgetting her own battle for the moment, Rarity watched Fluttershy. Suddenly she stopped evading, and closed her eyes. The frog lunged. Rarity was sure the frog would land a hit, but before it even got close, a ring of shadow seemed to surround Fluttershy. Despite it being shadow, the frog landed on this ring, and paused. It didn't leap off again; instead it disintegrated in a flash of black and white static. Her friend's safety assured, Rarity turned her mind back to her own. But the frog on her side had vanished. Even as Rarity was looking around for it, the world went blurry, and equestrian shapes began to fade into existence. For now, she seemed to be safe.
It was only about a minute before Pinkamena saw Rarity and Fluttershy fading back into existence. She rushed over to them, giving them both a hug. "Oh thank Celestia you two are all right!"
Rarity beamed at her. "Why of course we're okay darling. But what's happened to your hair? It's so straight! I thought your hair didn't straighten, after all it didn't take when we were getting ready for the Gala."
"Oh, yeah. Um, there's a perfectly good reason for that. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Did you two see Rainbow Dash or Applejack anywhere?"
Fluttershy shook her head mutely. Rarity did one better. "Not at all. Why, are they in some sort of trouble?"
"We're all in some sort of trouble Rarity. But I'd sooner explain this once we've found Rainbow Dash and Applejack. I've already said all this once today, I don't want to make it three times."
"If you say so dear, but how do you know they'll be here in Manehatten? I don't even know why we're in Manehatten!"
"That's part of what I need to tell you. Like I say, I'd sooner we found Applejack and Rainbow Dash first." Pinkamena paused to look at her hoof. The timer read 23:57. "Well, we still have plenty of time to try and find them. I'm sure they're both okay, they're resourceful ponies." A shadow of doubt flitted across her face.
"I'm afraid you're not making any sense dear. But if we must find our friends, then the three of us shall not rest until they are found."
Pinkamena managed a smile. It felt like it hurt. "I know we will. Oh, but there's actually four of us. Let me introduce my partner, Twilight Sparkle. She'll be helping us in the coming week."
Rarity managed a small curtsey. "Pleasure to meet you miss Sparkle. My name is Rarity, and my friend back there is Fluttershy. You'll excuse her if she doesn't say much, she's always nervous around new ponies."
Pinkamena opened her mouth to say something else, but was distracted by a tingling sensation on her front hoof. She looked, and discovered the timer had gone. Her eyes widened in shock. "Someone's reached Bits n' Bobs already! But that means that day's about to-"