The what-if spell
Twilight rubbed her hooves together in anticipation. Everything was going perfectly. She smiled smugly as she crossed the second to last article off her checklist. The only thing she needed now was test subjects. As soon as the thought entered her mind, a knock came at the door.
“Right on schedule,” Twilight thought.
Twilight rushed upstairs, only pausing to don her lab coat and goggles. She bolted across the library, and flung the door open. As expected, her five closest friends were on the other side. Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy were all standing in the doorway. Rainbow Dash hovered above them, with a confused look on her face.
“Uhh, hey Twilight…” Dash said; “What did you need to see us about? And what the hay are you wearing?”
“Good news everypony!” Twilight exclaimed. “I’ve developed a new spell! One that will revolutionize the way we look at reality!”
“That didn’t really answer either of my…”
“Never mind that now! Follow me down to my laboratory! We have testing to do!”
Her friends gave each other nervous glances. All except Pinkie Pie, who bounded forward, an excited grin smeared across her face.
“Ooooh!” she cried; “Do we get to help with your revolutionizing reality thing?”
“Yes!” said Twilight; “Now follow me, and we’ll get started.”
Without another word, Twilight led the way to her basement. As usual, the dark room was packed full of various scientific instruments. Large pipes and glass vials reached toward the ceiling, becoming entangled in the roots of the treehouse. The EEG machine Twilight once hooked Pinkie into was stashed in the corner of the room. What drew the eyes of the five mares, however, was the small device in the center of the basement.
It was a slim machine that came up to about eye-level with the ponies. Two glowing blue rings circled the base. On the top was a small screen, displaying nothing but static.
“Twi,” said AppleJack; “What in the hay is that thing, an’ why is it glowin’?”
Twilight turned to her and grinned. “It’s my latest invention!”
“Sorry dear,” said Rarity; “but since when were you an inventor?”
“Since five minutes ago when I built this! My mind-image synchronization generator!”
“Right, let’s pretend for a little bit that none of us have any idea what that’s supposed to mean,” Rainbow Dash said.
Twilight let out an exasperated sigh. “It records my brain waves, and beams them into your mind, so you can see what I’m seeing in my mind’s eye.”
“So this is what you dragged us over here for?”
“Of course not! I need your help in testing my new spell. The spell is designed to emulate the most probable results from any given hypothetical situation. So you just ask a question, and the spell will show you an answer accurate to one-tenth of a plausibility unit.”
“That’s so plausible I can’t even believe it.” said Fluttershy.
“Indeed.” replied Twilight; “The spell only works for the caster, so that’s why I made the MISG machine so you can all see what I see when I cast the spell. Now, would anypony like to try it?”
“Ooh, I’ve got a question!” exclaimed Pinkie Pie, “what’s fourteen times five?”
“Seventy,” replied Twilight flatly.
“Is that right?”
“Wow, that spell is good!”
“Right,” said Twilight, rolling her eyes; “Anypony else have a question?”
“Well…” responded Applejack; “I’ve really wanted to know what it’s like to be all fancy an’ high-class. After that uh… eventful sleepover with you an’ Rarity, I kinda got curious about what makes her so sophisticated an’ detail-oriented.”
Rarity blushed slightly at the mention of her refined tendencies.
“Well it really comes down do my line of work,” she said, “a certain amount of class and sophistication is needed in the fashion industry.”
“All right.” said AppleJack. “Twi, can that spell of yours tell me what it would be like if I were a designer like Rarity?”
“Certainly!” replied Twilight. She closed her eyes, and wrapped her horn in a light purple haze of magic. She took a deep breath, and spoke out loudly and clearly.
“What if AppleJack was a high-class fashion designer?”
The glow around her horn intensified for a second, then vanished.
“All right everypony, now just look into the mind-image synchronization generator and see what comes up!”
With that, the six ponies gazed into the machine’s monitor. With a slight bit of vertigo, their vision started to tunnel in and fade. When it returned, they found themselves in a small boutique, looking through the eyes of AppleJack.
AppleJack looked down at her creation. For the past four hours she had been hoof-stitching her latest client’s dress. It was coming out perfectly. Every stich was as elegant as it was practical, every bit of fabric an exercise in understated elegance.
“Let’s see those hacks at the Carousel Boutique top this.” She smugly thought.
AppleJack glanced over to her bundle of supplies. With a start, she noticed she was nearly out of thread. She had forgotten to buy any with all the hours she’s been putting in. She had stayed up all night just working on this one dress. AppleJack made a mental note to buy some more next time she was in town.
She gave a tired sigh and pushed herself away from the desk. Wearily, she looked at the sizable stack of orders she had accumulated over the last few days. She would need to work double hours just to get caught up on her backorder.
“At least I’ll never go hungry.”
As she was preparing her workspace for the next part of the dress, there was a knock at the door. AppleJack groaned and tore herself away from her desk once more. Gathering herself, she put on a practiced smile and opened the door.
“Good evening!” she beamed, adopting a regional accent to hide her southern drawl; “Welcome to ‘Le Rouge Appel’, home of the finest formalwear in all of-“
She stopped in surprise as she saw who was on the other side of the door. It was her fiercest rival. The only other professional designer in Ponyville. The single pony AppleJack hated above all others.
The white unicorn smiled and trotted into the store. Once inside, she looked around with obvious disapproval.
“Honestly,” Rarity sighed; “I have no idea how you can survive working in this mess.”
AppleJack rolled her eyes at this. As if Rarity’s “organized chaos” approach to design was any neater.
“What do you want, Rarity?” AppleJack asked, dropping back into her natural accent.
“Pity you still haven’t learned proper manners. Well, since you are so insistent, I came here with an invitation.”
AppleJack raised her eyebrow in surprise. “An Invitation to what?”
“As you may know, there are some big names visiting Ponyville for a photo shoot; many of whom are old friends of mine. We thought it would be fun to put on a little runway show to promote each other’s new lines. A sort of fashion collaboration.”
Rarity walked over to a row of half-finished dresses, pretending to be interested. “Unfortunately, one of my colleagues has come down with a rather serious case of laminitis, leaving us with an empty slot in our show. A slot I intend to fill with you.”
AppleJack’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “You want me to be in your fashion show? What’s the catch?”
“No catch, I promise. Honestly, it was in desperation I came to you in the first place.”
Ignoring the insult, AppleJack mulled this over. True, Rarity was a royal pain to work with, but she had friends in high places. If AppleJack could make a good impression, it would really help her brand.
“Alright, I’ll do it,” AppleJack declared. “Just one question: Why pick me? Why not one of your stiff-lipped Canterlot buddies?”
“Like I said, you were my last resort,” said Rarity, heading out the door; “Also, we need somepony to make us look good in comparison. By the way, the show is at eight o’clock tonight. Toodles!”
With that, she walked out, shutting the door behind her.
AppleJack growled, and sat back down at her worktable.
“I’ll show her a comparison, all right. Come tomorrow, she won’t know what- Wait, EIGHT O’CLOCK?
Panicking, AppleJack scanned her row of mannequins. Not a single dress was anywhere near finished. Even if they were, they were painfully plain compared to what was expected on the runway.
“All right,” she said, steeling herself; “I need to design and sew a dress in the next eight hours. One that will put Rarity in her place. No problem.”
She pulled out her sketchpad, and grabbed a pencil. As she lowered the tip to the page, her eye twitched. She had a slight problem.
“I have no model,” she said aloud, dropping her pencil. She could feel the panic start to rise again. There was no way she could contact one of her regular mares in time. If only she had a dragon like Spike; she could send a letter instantly…”
“That’s it!” AppleJack exclaimed. She jumped out of her chair and sprinted out the door towards the library.
Less than ten minutes later, she was there. Panting heavily, she knocked at the door. When it opened, AppleJack was greeted by the sight of Twilight Sparkle, dressed in a white labcoat and the thickest goggles she had ever seen.
“Twi’? Why the hay are you wearing that?”
“I was just working on my latest invention!” Twilight replied.
“Since when were you an inventor?”
“Since five minutes ago, when I invented the world’s first magic-powered corn cob holders!”
A few seconds passed as Twilight beamed at a slightly perplexed AppleJack.
“Uhh… Neat.” AppleJack finally said. “Listen, is Spike around? I could really use his help with something.”
“Sorry, he left an hour ago. He said something about ‘helping his beloved with her dresses’. What did you need him for anyway?”
AppleJack sighed. “I have to make a custom dress from scratch for a show by tomorrow, and I have nopony to model it for me.”
“And you needed Spike for this?” asked Twilight, raising an eyebrow.
“Yeah. Hey Twi’, this may sound strange, but can you do it? Wear my dress for tomorrow?”
“Sorry, A.J., but I have too much testing to do. The left cob holder keeps setting the eyebrows of everypony within a ten-metre radius on fire. Goodbye!”
With that, Twilight shut the door, leaving AppleJack alone to dwell on her impending doom. She couldn’t show up to the show modelling her own dress, she would be a laughing stock. Also, working in front of a desk for years hadn’t done much for her figure. Nor could she just not show up. She had already agreed to do it; it would be extremely unprofessional to be absent.
“Right!” she thought, eye twitching again; “I’ll just fake my own death!”
She was walking back to her shop, thinking of tasteful suicide notes to write, when she was intercepted by a pink blur.
“Hey Pinkie Pie.” said AppleJack calmly. She was uses to the earth pony’s surprise visits.
“Hey AppleJack!” said Pinkie Pie, bouncing in place. “Wanna hear something crazy?”
“Sure,” said AppleJack dryly. “Maybe if I pretended I was just deathly ill…”
“Well, I was talking to gummy, and we both thought it would be a good idea for me switch careers.”
“We put our brains together, and thought for like, two minutes. Then, I decided to become a world-renowned supermodel! You know anypony who’s hiring?”
“Uh-Huh… Wait, what?” AppleJack stopped dead in her tracks.
“Yeah!” Pinkie exclaimed; “I want to be a famous model when I grow up!”
“Pinkie, you’re already a grown… never mind. How would you like to be a supermodel right now? I need somepony to do a show in one of my outfits tomorrow.”
“Well…” said Pinkie, scratching her chin in thought; “I never really thought about being a model before. But O.K.!”
AppleJack let out an explosive sigh of relief and hugged her friend.
“Pinkie Pie, I have no idea what happens between the real world and your mind, but you just saved my life!”
The two mares ran back to AppleJack’s boutique. Once inside, AppleJack took some quick measurements of Pinkie and furiously started to sketch out a design in her notebook. The design had to be exuberant and flashy, a perfect complement to the hyperactive Pinkie Pie. Plenty of pink and purple, with large, eye-catching curves.
A few hours later, she was finished. AppleJack glanced nervously at the clock on the wall. Less than four hours until the show. It would be tough, but AppleJack had been under tougher deadlines. In a flurry, she started creating the dress.
Hour passed as she worked tirelessly. All things considered, AppleJack thought she was doing pretty well. She was nearly half way done when the spool of thread she was using ran out. She reached into a nearby basket for another one, and a chill ran down her spine.
The basket was empty. Horror welled up inside her as she realized she had neglected to buy more thread. In the excitement of the day, AppleJack had completely forgotten that she had run out.
“I’m doomed.” AppleJack said. Her eye started twitching again, and her ears flattened against the back of her head.
“What’s wrong?” asked Pinkie, walking over.
“I ran out of thread.” Applejack groaned.
“Can’t you just buy some more?”
“I can’t go to the store now! There are only a few hours until the show, I’ll never make it.”
“Hmm…” Pinkie pie looked around the room in thought. Grinning, she bounced over to the row of unfinished dresses at the side of the room. “What about these?”
AppleJack sighed. “Pinkie, those aren’t finished; and even if they were…”
“I don’t want to wear them silly! But since they aren’t finished, why not take some of the thread from them? It’ll be like recycling!”
AppleJack thought for a moment. Those dresses were all for clients. She was already late on most of her orders as it was, and she didn’t really have time to take any of them apart. However, this was an emergency. She would just have to make up some excuse later.
“Pinkie, bring me that dress over there.” she said, pointing at the one she was working on before Rarity showed up.
AppleJack quickly disassembled the dress, and using the reclaimed thread, she started working on the new one once again. She had to cut a few corners here and there to make up for lost time, but after a couple hours more, she was done.
AppleJack stood back and admired her work. It wasn’t perfect, but it would do the job. There were a few seams that could be tighter, and one or two bits of thread hung down. AppleJack looked at the clock and cringed. There was less than twenty minutes left. It would have to do. AppleJack just prayed that the other designers wouldn’t notice the rough edges.
“Come on, Pinkie.” She said; “Let’s get over to the runway and get you dressed.”
“Okey Dokie Loki!”
The pair rushed out of the shop and over to the town square. It wasn’t hard to find out where Rarity had set up the fashion show.
There was a massive stage set up, with dozens of ponies gathered around. Large curtains concealed the backstage area. Torches lined the catwalk, giving it a dramatic look. Spotlights dotted the area, all directed to a single point in the middle of the stage.
“Ohhh!” Pinke said in wonder; “They really went all out!”
AppleJack swallowed past a nervous lump in her throat. “Yeah… They sure did. Come on, it looks like they’re already starting.”
They circled around the crowd and headed back stage and got Pinkie Pie dressed. There were six or seven other designers there making last-minute preparations. Racks of dresses from the most prestigious designers in all of Canterlot were set up all across the backstage area. Rarity was there, getting her model ready for her turn in the spotlight. Seeing AppleJack and Pinkie Pie, she trotted over to greet them.
“Thank heavens! I thought you weren’t going to show.” Rarity looked over Pinkie and her ensemble. “*tsk*, Really AppleJack, is that the best you could come up with? Oh well, it will have to do. You are up next, so get yourselves ready.”
AppleJack gritted her teeth and let the insult pass over her. She turned to Pinkie Pie.
“All right Pinkie, this is your moment! Are you ready?”
“Sure am!” said Pinkie, beaming.
“All right then! Get out there and show them what you got!”
“Right!” Pinkie put on a determined look and headed towards the runway. However, she stopped short and turned around in confusion.
“So, what exactly am I doing?”
AppleJack’s jaw dropped and she buried her face in one of her hooves. “Just walk to the end of the runway, do a little pose, and walk back. Simple” She said.
“Okie Dokie Loki!”
Pinke bounced out onto the runway. With a grin going ear to ear, she joyfully pranced down the aisle, hopping all the way. Once at the end, she gave a flamboyant pose on one leg, holding it for as long as she could. Giggles and whispers circulated throughout the crowd.
“What the hay have I done?” thought AppleJack in horror. She could only watch in embarrassment as Pinkie started to bounce her way to the back of the stage.
“Well, at least I got this over with.”
Pinkie was nearly at the end when one of the loose threads in the dress caught on the edge of the stage. It started to unravel, and a piece of the dress started to separate. After one final bounce form the oblivious Pinkie Pie, the section completely separated, getting tangled in Pinkie’s hooves.
“Woah!” Pinkie squealed as she toppled over. She was able to stay on her hooves, but not before smacking her face right into one of the torches. A stunned silence filled the crowd as it began to sway.
“Dear sweet Celestia no.” pleaded AppleJack. She started to rush toward the stage.
She was too late. The torch toppled over, directly onto the stage’s curtains. In an instant, they were alight. There was a brief moment where everything seemed to stand perfectly still. Eveypony just gaped at the flames that were rapidly consuming the stage. Pinkie Pie was guiltily backing away.
One mare finally screamed, and the crowd fell into utter chaos. Ponies tried to run in every direction at once. The designers and models bolted from behind the stage, along with Pinkie Pie and AppleJack. Some of the more level-headed ponies were trying to safely direct the crowd away from the fire.
Free from immediate damage, AppleJack turned and stared in horror at the scene unfolding. The stage was now completely engulfed. Even from nearly twenty meters away, she could still feel the heat from the blaze and the crackling of the wood. Through the smoke and flames, she could just make out racks of one-of-a-kind dresses being turned to ash.
It looked like everypony had made it out alright. The crowd was gathered in an awkward circle, watching the fire. The designers were glaring at AppleJack and Pinkie Pie. One broke down and started sobbing.
Rarity trotted over to comfort her colleague, all the while giving AppleJack a look of pure hatred.
“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” she snapped at AppleJack and Pinkie.
“Well DUH!” Said Pinkie; “I just burned down the runway… right?”
“There was nearly a hundred thousand bits invested in this show! Not to mention you could have killed somepony!”
“Yeah, this modelling thing is defiantly not working out for me. I’m going to have to have Gummy help me with a new resume. Do you know any bakeries that are hiring?”
Rarity gave her a confused look, then glared at AppleJack.
“Woah now, don’t even start.” AppleJack said. “I’m tired of you, I’m tired of losing all my sleep, I’m tired of this whole industry, and I’m done with this. I quit. This is way too stressful for me. Between this stupid show and my regular customers, I’ll never get caught up anyway. If anypony needs me, I’m gonna work on a farm or something.”
AppleJack walked away, not even giving a second look as emergency crews started showing up.
“I wonder if Carrot Top’s hiring…”
The scene evaporated, and the six ponies found themselves standing in Twilight Sparkle’s lab once again.
AppleJack was rubbing her forehead. “Well that was unpleasant.”
Pinkie Pie Rushed over and hugged AppleJack. “I’m so sorry I ruined your fashion career and started a fire! I’ll do anything to make it up to you!”
“Pinkie, calm down.” said AppleJack awkwardly; “It wasn’t real.”
“But it was my fault! Will you ever forgive me?”
“Oh! OK, thanks!”
Rainbow Dash was flying near the ceiling, trying to shake off the effects of Twilight’s M.I.S.G.
“So everything we just saw, is exactly what would have happened?” She asked.
“Oh my yes.” Twilight responded. “There may be a few details off though. I really don’t think that I would think that magic corn cob holders are a good idea. SOLAR powered ones on the other hoof…”
“So, can we ask it another question?” asked Fluttersky.
“Certainly!” Twilight exclaimed. “Who has a what-if question they want answered?”
Five hooves shot into the air.
“Excellent! Let the sciencing begin!”
If you have a what-if question you want answered, leave a comment saying what it is. Every week, I’ll pick one that I feel good about and write a chapter around it!
No clop or gore. Pretty much every what-if scenario has been covered in those categories anyway.