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58w, 6dThe end is in sight 2 comments · 46 views
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.