Princess Luna was led somewhat comfortably by a large fire that had been arranged by the group around her, nearby Apple Cobblers cart stood it’s shape casting shadows in the glow of the flames which lit the gathering of ponies encircling it, proud of their effort despite Trixie’s overkill on the immolation of fire wood that singed a few manes and tails.
The team however were not exactly acting like a well oiled machine having several immediate problems to deal with including the painful withdrawal symptoms of Berry Punch, the increasing discomfort of Spitfire and her injured wing along with her vocational predicament and the fact every pony had murderous thoughts about Trixie (well except Roseluck who would have been satisfied with a light maiming).
For the most part the rest of the group were fine, Roseluck was starting to unwind a little despite the anguished moans of her friend Berry, Apple Cobblers flanks had calmed down from their previous beating and Fleur was sat between them and Luna having successfully managed to be so inoffensive that they had all got along famously.
Spitfire and Trixie though had pretty much taken control of things by a mixture of natural managerial conduct by Spitfire and a more dictatorial means by Trixie, this left the group with the task of escorting Spitfire to Canterlot to blackmail Celestia into letting her leave the Wonderbolts to join Luna’s still as yet undisclosed mission.
This had however left a somewhat bad taste in the mouths of the other ponies and one princess but Trixie was adamant to the point of explosion and terror that it was the only way and that Spitfire was integral to their newly formed team.
Trixie’s passionate plea backed by threats of brutality surprised the others as it almost smacked of compassion, that was until she pointed out no pony else was worth the time and effort of a conversation.
“Ah don’t remember signing up so we can be all under hoofed and blackmail our princess, this is Celestia we’re talking about ah don’t reckon she’ll turn down a reasonable request for Spitfire to leave.”
“Two hundred and thirty one…”
“Ah beg you pardon…”
“How many times I’ve hoofed in my notice.”
Apple Cobbler just stared at the Wonderbolt for a second then just said…
Fleur chimed in as she hit a snag in her own understanding,
“But if you’ve hoofed it in why haven’t you left.”
“Because Celestia always gives me the, I need you and Equestria needs you speech and…”
It was Luna’s turn to cut in after remaining silent pretty much throughout the previous exchange over plans due to her total confusion on how her idea had snowballed into even more of an all round disaster.
“The puppy eyes and the sorrowful look of hopelessness am I right?”
“That’s the one.”
Luna knew Spitfires suffering, her sister’s ability to ignite self sacrifice in a pony for the good of all was legendary but used only to get the best out of said pony.
Luna guessed the reason Spitfire hadn’t been allowed to leave was because she really was the only suitable candidate, in which case the team’s trip to Canterlot and Trixie’s plan were futile, but Luna knew it would be pointless to argue that with Trixie who was so determined for some reason (Luna really hoped it was showing a new side to Trixie but inwardly knew it was more likely she just wanted to show off and stick it to Royalty having seemingly got a taste for it with Luna).
“Who gives a damn how she did it, it just proves you’re a bigger idiot than you look.”
“You try and tell a goddess no.”
“It’s not that hard, Luna’s a pushover and Celestia’s too wrapped up in being omnipotent to really give a damn since she always leaves the dangerous stuff to her prize student so I’ve heard.”
If that’s so how did you end up on this quest? Tell me that O Great and Powerful.”
“I allowed myself to be cast in the role of student for one reason only.”
Spitfire and the rest gave Trixie an inquisitive look all except Luna who hung her head a little in guilt.
“I promised I’d teach her to become the most powerful unicorn in Equestria…”
“That’s right I’m already the second most powerful so it won’t take long…”
The shocked expressions and open mouths said it all as the assembled ponies each gave Luna looks of pure disbelief, it was Spitfire who recovered first taking a second to give Trixie a strange look almost like she was seeing her in a new light before weighing in with her thoughts.
“You’re going to teach her how to be the most powerful pony short of you and your sister… Not to seem slow… But are you insane?”
“It was agreed between us that she would become my student, I don’t think there will be any problems other than her lack of inter pony skills.”
Trixie laughed mockingly as she mimed ‘speak for yourself,’ her mood was more relaxed but her confidence and the way she held her head high showed a different side to Spitfire who wasn’t used to seeing her so alive?
“And what if she decides she wants to be more than the student, you do know she’ll be pretty much unstoppable by any other unicorn and with an ego that rivals the dark lord Discord you’re dooming all of Equestria to ruin you know that.”
“Trixie is my student she would never attempt to seize power in such a way… she is my student…”
Luna stared blankly at Trixie as it dawned on her the blue mare seemed to be deep in thought as if she was considering it.
“The Great and Powerful Queen Trixie… Has a certain appeal…”
Judging by the looks from the others it seemed they had the same thoughts as Luna as they once more lapsed into silence, Luna and the others then descended into a pit of instant emo as they considered the possibilities of an Equestria under Trixie’s rule.
It was Berry who now took the main stage as her writhing in agony and despair at her sobering up became too much to bear and she screamed loudly surprising all and sundry and causing Roseluck to faint.
“Need… Booze… I need it Now… I NEED BEER WINE SPIRITS CIDER ANYTHING!!!”
As Berry stood on her hind legs and spread her fore hooves wide and threw back her head she screamed a long tortured cry of sheer longing and withdrawal she until collapsed unconscious.
“Ah think that mare needs a drink.”
“You think so do you, what gave you that impression dumb hick.”
“Watch it magic mare don’t think ah couldn’t buck you right here.”
Trixie’s expression of shock and the blush that followed leaving her speechless mimicked that of the other conscious ponies, Fleur had almost completely gone red all over and was silent as Spitfire and Luna just sat quietly not saying anything but furiously staring at the ground with slight tinges of red across their faces.
“What did I just say to make ya’ll start acting like a bunch of school fillies.”
Fleur overcame her blushes long enough to whisper what it had sounded like she’d said.
“Ah said BUCK, what are ya’ll deaf ah meant I’d kick you’re hide south of the border if you call me that again you wannabe sideshow performer.”
“Just try it hayseed I’ll show you how the Great and Powerful Trixie deals with country folk.”
“Is that so… Well how about you just quit you’re yapping and worry about where your mouth is going... straight into my hoof.”
Trixie sniffed at the thought of lowering herself to common brawling as the fighting spirit of the Apple clan surfaced in the young farm pony Spitfire moved to break it up before some pony (Apple Cobbler in this instance) got hurt.
“Look this is no time to be fighting, Fleur try to get Roseluck to come round, Apple Cobbler go and fetch the saddle bags from your cart and Trixie stop sticking your tongue out at her.”
Reluctantly Apple Cobbler gave in and did as she was told grumbling as she wandered to her cart Trixie blew one last raspberry at the back of the farm pony before finding a reason to examine her hooves for specks of dirt as Spitfire glared daggers.
Luna watched as the group dispersed and gave Spitfire a curious look that was returned with a bright smile and a wink.
“Would you be willing to go on a mission of mercy in the name of our newly assembled troupe?”
“I suppose I could… do you mean help Berry?”
“You guessed it… We need you to go on a shopping trip for us.”
“You wish me to do what?”
Luna got to her hooves as Apple Cobbler brought back the bag of stolen bits from Appleloosa and unceremoniously dumped them by the fire and waited impatiently as she tried to stare Trixie down who flat out ignored her with a sniff of derision.
Spitfire walked over to the prone Berry Punch and gently stroked her forehead, Berry who was laid out on her back with her hooves in the air and gurgling sporadically was having cold sweats and shaking all over as Fleur used a rag from the cart to mop her brow.
“We don’t have any supplies, food etc… and Berry needs alcohol, you’re the only one with wings and we’re a long way from anywhere so you’re the best choice.”
And so it was that Luna princess of the night, protector of Equestria and guardian of all ponies and small fluffy things got sent on a beer run of mercy.
As Luna took off into the night in the direction of Manehatten to one of its all night hay markets for said supplies it could be said that the mood enveloping the remainder was apprehensive indeed.
“Well now we just wait for her to return I suppose… Does any pony know any good ghost stories?”
“T-Trixie… Can’t we tell nice stories or how about we get to know each other?”
“Hmph next you’ll be wanting to link hooves and sing campfire songs, Roseluck you need to stop being so scared of everything don’t expect me to save you if your in trouble you’ll just get left behind.”
Roseluck blinked back tears as she settled once more by the fire, her latest bout of unconsciousness over she was still shaking and the exasperated look from Trixie wasn’t helping.
“I’ve always been scared of loud noises and the dark and angry ponies.”
“Are you scared of spiders?”
“There’s a really big one right next to your hoof.”
“Trixie stop trying to cause Roseluck permanent damage will you.”
“You are accusing me the Great and Powerful Trixie of being a liar you trumped up air jockey.”
Spitfire frowned at the insult but looked to where Trixie was now pointing.
“Um… Roseluck you might want to slowly move closer to Berry.”
Apple Cobbler and Fleur who were closest to Roseluck saw the spider and decided to both scoot to the opposite side of the fire near Berry Punch each with looks of fear and disgust on their faces.
Roseluck looked down at the rather large spider, the spider who had been simply warming it’s self by the fire before being noticed simply looked back and blinked it’s multitude of eyes and clicked it’s fangs.
Seconds passed as the group waited for the inevitable scream that never came.
“Oh hello there, I’m sorry if they’ve offended you please stay and make yourself comfortable.”
As the spider curled up by her hoof and gave one last click of it’s fangs it settled down to sleep, Roseluck turned her head to face the onlookers who were still waiting for screams and panic.
“I love spiders they help keep my roses free of creepy crawlies and my house free of them too.”
“You’re afraid of everything including the wind and you just sit there like it’s a puppy?”
Spitfire voiced the opinion shared by all but Trixie who had a taste for the macabre having always liked dark and foreboding architecture bats spiders and the lure of black magic and she was now wondering if the huge hairy spider fancied a job in show business.
“Like I said they can be a great help around the house.”
“Even if the darn things the size of ma cousin Applebloom…”
“She isn’t that big, don’t exaggerate or you’ll hurt her feeling’s.”
“What the hay you expect me to just lay down and sleep with that monster sitting pretty right there and any how how’d you know it’s a girl?”
“Because I just do ok, now stop making a fuss and sit down you big filly.”
Apple Cobbler blinked at Roseluck of all ponies telling her to stop being a filly then shared a pained yet confused look with Fleur who also had an overriding fear of spiders since she was a filly and both looked to Spitfire who wasn’t fond of them either and silently begged her to do something about it.
Spitfire watched as Trixie stayed led where she was unconcerned with the current situation developing in her team and not in least bit concerned that apart from her and Roseluck they were all crowed around Berry looking grudgingly at the blue magician for an answer.
This answer came hours later as Luna returned to find Roseluck and Trixie curled asleep by the fire but the others wide awake sat by Berry who was still suffering greatly as they all kept staring in the direction of Roseluck.
“I have returned from the shopping trip my little ponies.”
Luna landed shakily whilst weighed down by shopping bags with a look of having been more than a little ticked off, as it turned out mostly at the shoddy service she’d received in Manehatten but not just that as it soon became apparent.
Earlier that night…
After reaching Manehatten the moon princess had had trouble finding one of these all night markets mostly thanks to ponies fleeing in panic every time she landed for directions.
Luna hadn’t considered that a previously vilified princess landing right in front of ponies out of the blue at night might be a bit scary for them, but after eventually cornering one she’d been directed to a store next to an establishment that appeared to offer all night dancing on laps which confused Luna greatly since that sounded somewhat of a strange notion after all wouldn’t it be easier to dance on a floor?
Despite her curiosity at the bright lights and the crowd outside she ignored this intriguing scene and entered the market apprehensively having never needed to go late night shopping before.
“H-How may I help you. Wait are you… P… Princess Luna?”
Luna nodded as she studied the youthful mare in a red apron with a badge that read ‘Sales Assistant’ the mare stood shaking in fear wondering if it was too late to fund her college course by lap dancing at the club next door.
“I need food for six ponies and as much alcohol as I can carry.”
“O-Ok… What sort of food and what kind of Alcohol do you require your highness?”
It was Luna’s turn to stop and stare as she hit the first snag in the plan due to her own naivety.
“W-Well just everyday food and as for the alcohol you mean there’s more than one kind?”
With a feeling of ‘Why me?’ the sales assistant gave up and tried to be professional about the whole weird situation.
“A-Allow me to show you around… And maybe you will find what you’re looking for…”
After giving the princess a quick tour and an explanation of how the shop operated she began taking her around to get the basics of food then onto the alcohol aisle.
The young assistant had underestimated how sheltered Luna was and as she tried to explain the simplest of concepts she tried to keep from face hoofing but when Luna asked what the difference was between beer and lager the poor mare nearly called for the manager and ran away.
After a series of explanations that just further confused the socially inept princess she seriously began considering what being showered in bits while throwing away her modesty felt like.
“And this is strawberry flavored cider it’s fizzy and tastes great with strawberry cake.”
Luna looked into the small wooden basket she was floating alongside her with magic and frowned.
“I do not have strawberry cake… where do you keep this strawberry cake?”
“Uh that would be in aisle…”
The sales assistant looked around for help but her colleagues seemed to all have disappeared for their breaks suddenly, so hanging her head she left Luna examining a stack of small toys for foals that were hanging near the end of the alcohol aisle she was on and went towards the cake aisle.
Luna stood looking at the toys and was shocked to find a cheap toy set that was entitled ‘Good Vs Evil’ (You too can recreate the defeat of nightmare moon by Celestia and the Elements of Harmony!!!) looking closer she was dismayed to find the figurine representing Nightmare Moon was a dead ringer of her as she was now…
“I found you some strawberry cake princess… Uh p-princess you ok? You seem a little angry?”
“WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS… …OUTRAGE!!! I AM NO LONGER UNDER THAT VILE DAEMONS CURSE!!! IS THAT HOW PONIES SEE ME AS A VILLAIN? EXPLAIN THIS TO ME...”
As she began to literally glow with anger Luna noticed at the bottom of the packet it read ‘Made in Manhattan at Toys for Foals .inc’.
Witnessing the unchained fury of Luna as her magic began cascading throughout the store in wide arc’s of lightening was the last straw for the unfortunate student slash assistant who right then knew what her future held.
Two assistants and one night manager later a still furious Luna stood at the checkout with a pile of food and booze that the remaining staff struggled to pack as fast as they could while the day manager who had been called in from home (after the night manager quit in favor of a career as a lumberjack) tried to keep the princess from becoming any angrier by showing her the latest offers before asking how she wished to pay, to which she angrily dumped what she’d been given by Spitfire in front of him.
Counting the pile of bits in front of him the day manager briefly wondered where his daughter had gone, when he’d left work at the end of the day shift earlier she had just begun her duties as store greeter but now was nowhere to be found.
As Luna left the store and the staff voted unanimously to close up and go to the nearest bar the day manager decided to visit the lap dancing club next door to calm down before he had to find his daughter and give her a stern lecture in her responsibilities and her future college prospects.
Settling down in a chair facing the stage as the lights above dimmed and a voice announced to the assembled drooling stallions (and a few mares) the introduction of the next dancer, the voice continued that the crowd should go easy on her as it was her first time, the applause grew as he joined in waiting for the show, then as the dancer swayed seductively onto the stage and gave a few twirls the day manager decided it would be better if he just neglected to tell his wife about this whole evening as he hurriedly exited blushing furiously as his daughter found her true calling.
(Historical Note: This particular evening would be forever remembered as the night the greatest lap dancer in Equestrian history made her debut and the oldest and most successful toy factory in Manehatten ‘Toys for Foals .inc’ burned to the ground mysteriously in a fire that the night janitor claimed was started by what looked like a vengeful daemon carrying at least a dozen shopping bags who was screaming about misrepresentation, a claim he backed until his death many years later in the local asylum.)
Back with her student and her ‘friends’ (even Luna knew it was hopeless to say that without despairing) the princess set about trying to organize the food she’d brought back.
Spitfire gave up wondering how exactly Luna had flown back with quite so many bags but upon spying the bottles of alcohol Luna had purchased she moved into action fetching a bottle out and pulling the cork.
Before any pony could move and before Spitfire had even spat out the cork Berry had managed to appear suddenly in front of her as fresh as a daisy sat down with a look that matched even the thirstiest explorer lost in a desert as she drooled whilst looking at the open bottle.
“Wow Berry that was a fast recovery… Uh Berry you can stop looking… no… Berry please wait a minute let me… Berry! No…”
Spitfire was bowled over as Berry launched herself with a wild primal look in her eyes at the Wonderbolt who she then remained sitting upon as she drained in one go the bottle and let rip with a belch worthy of the worst fat ass imaginable.
As Berry jumped off the prone Spitfire she attacked the pile of shopping and discarded anything other than booze, the others who hadn’t eaten in some time tried to rescue as much as possible as Luna sat down exhausted next to Roseluck and marveled at the biggest spider she’d seen in a while.
As Berry consumed bottle after bottle in an attempt to obliterate any memories of her suffering Apple Cobbler managed to swipe a bottle of bourbon from the decreasing pile and offered it after a mighty slug to Fleur who after a few gentle sips coughed heartily and passed it to Spitfire who in desperation at the pain in her wing (doubled by Berries impatience) downed as much as possible.
This was a bad idea as she managed to get falling over drunk really quickly and decided to tell Trixie exactly what she thought of her before collapsing in a tearful heap and bemoaning her situation.
Trixie to her credit just listened to the Wonderbolts ranting before Spitfire finally drunkenly dozed off, then to the incredulous stares of the group Trixie got up and gently covered the now sleeping mare with her cape before sharing a look with the others that clearly read ‘Ask at your peril’.
The rest of the night went without a hitch as after eating their fill and drinking whatever they could rescue from Berries onslaught the remaining mares settled down to sleep around the fire somewhat reluctantly after further failed attempts to convince Roseluck to send the spider away.
As the group fell asleep or in Berry and Spitfire’s case passed out, the night continued on the stars the only witness to the strange scene of one cart six ponies and a princess sleeping below.