Twilight Sparkle's outfit was not her usual style. Her top was a bright pink tank top that exposed her midriff, while her skirt had been replaced with tight blue jeans that hugged her figure. Her hair was done up in a high ponytail.
“Are you sure we have to go through with this?” she asked Sunset Shimmer. “I'm starting to have second thoughts.”
“We're going to a party, not joining the Peace Corps,” Sunset replied. She was dressed in a red tube top and black jeans, and a different leather jacket than normal. “What are you so worried about?”
Three days ago, a Canterlot High student named Bad Brew had announced that he would be throwing a party Saturday while his parents were gone for the weekend. Up to that point, the only parties Twilight had ever attended were Pinkie Pie's, so when she received her invitation, she decided that it could be fun to see what kind of party somebody else threw. Plus, all of her friends were going.
Of course, now that the big day had arrived, her anxiety was getting the better of her, as it so often did.
“I'm just nervous,” she admitted. “I know Pinkie Pie, so I feel safe at her parties, but I've never even spoken to Bad Brew before. I have no idea what to expect. What if he wants us to play risque games like Spin the Bottle or Seven Minutes in Heaven?”
Sunset rolled her eyes, as if Twilight's concerns weren't perfectly reasonable. “I can guarantee that we won't be playing any games like those tonight.”
“Are you sure?” asked Twilight.
“Of course. We'll probably just play Strip Poker, or that game where a blindfolded guy gropes our bodies to find something hidden on our persons.”
“WHAT?!” Twilight shrieked.
“I'm kidding!” Sunset reassured her, laughing. “I promise you, nothing bad is going to happen to you. Just stay close to me, and if it starts to get too wild for you, we'll leave right away.”
Looking into Sunset's eyes, Twilight couldn't help but trust the other girl absolutely. “Alright Sunset, I believe you.”
The doorbell rang.
“That must be the girls,” said Sunset. She went to open the door.
Rarity and Rainbow Dash stood outside. Rarity wore a long-sleeved, shoulderless, baby-blue shirt with her usual three diamonds embroidered on the side and white pants. She had a light green beret on her head. Rainbow Dash's outfit was more casual, consisting of a simple black skirt, a blue shirt, and a jacket.
“Are you girls ready to go?” asked Rarity.
“You bet,” Sunset confirmed.
“No!” Twilight cried before she could stop herself. “I mean, yes, I am. Sorry, I'm just really nervous.”
“What's there to be nervous about?” asked Rainbow Dash. “You're just going to a party that's probably going to be wilder than anything you've ever been to before while wearing an outfit that would give your brother a heart attack. Not to mention that a whole lot of boys will probably be hitting on you the whole time.”
Twilight's knees were already clacking together.
Rarity rolled her eyes. “Stop teasing her, Rainbow Dash. Don't let her bother you Twilight, everything is going to be just fine.”
“That's what I've been saying,” said Sunset. “Now let's go before we're late.”
She grabbed Twilight's hand and pulled her outside towards the two cars waiting on the side of the road. One was a fancy blue Ferrari that Rarity had obviously borrowed from her parents, the other a gray minivan that Applejack was driving with Fluttershy riding shotgun.
Twilight got into the back of the Ferrari where Pinkie Pie was already sitting, while Sunset took shotgun. Rarity got into the driver's seat and started the car and and they were off.
“So, do you think the party will be fun?” Twilight asked Pinkie Pie.
“Hard to say,” Pinkie Pie answered, her tone unusually serious. “I doubt it'll have any balloons, or confetti, or streamers, or any other fun stuff, so I wouldn't get my hopes up. There had better be cake, though,” she growled. “If there's no cake, I won't be responsible for my actions.”
“Don't mind her, Twilight,” said Rarity, glancing at them in the rear view mirror. “Pinkie Pie always gets like this when we attend someone else's party. She simply doesn't trust anyone but herself to throw a good party.”
“It's not like that!” Pinkie Pie protested. “I just have high standards as the funnest there is. Name one person whose parties are even half as wild and crazy as mine.”
Sunset thought for a moment. “Well, there was that Sweet Sixteenth Birthday Party for Snow Fall that...”
“DON'T SAY HIS NAME!” Pinkie Pie shrieked.
“...Cheese Sandwich threw,” Sunset finished awkwardly.
Pinkie Pie clenched her fists and growled through gritted teeth. Twilight slid as far away from her as the car seat would allow.
“Okay, I'm afraid to ask, but what was that about?”
“You'll have to forgive her, Twilight,” said Rarity. “Pinkie Pie and Cheese Sandwich have shared a rivalry over which of them is the better party planner for years.”
“He thinks he's hot stuff just because he can afford a bunch of fancy-shmancy, high tech thingamabobs,” Pinkie Pie sneered. “Anybody can throw a good party if they have a big light machine and a movie-theater with surround sound, but it takes REAL talent to make everything by hand. I make MAGIC with these fingers, you hear me? A different kind of magic from what we normally do!”
Pinkie Pie began to wave her arms and gesture wildly like she was performing a magic act, nearly smacking Twilight in the face.
“See what I mean?” asked Rarity. “It's a shame, really. If they could just set aside their differences, they would make such a cute couple.”
“I DON'T HAVE A CRUSH ON HIM!” Pinkie Pie shrieked, her face turning beet red.
Rarity smiled smugly. “Your words, not mine, darling... Whoa! Pinkie Pie, stop! I'm driving!”
Fifteen minutes later, everyone arrived at a suburban house. Even from the road, Twilight could hear music blasting from the inside.
“Oh, my. It sounds like it's really wild in there,” Fluttershy said nervously as she exited the car.
“I know, right?” replied Rainbow Dash, grinning eagerly. “Don't you love it when parents leave their kids home alone?”
“Actually, I think I prefer it when parents stick around to keep everyone in line. I wish mine were here right now.”
“Your parents couldn't keep a ruler in line,” quipped Rainbow Dash. “Come on Fluttershy, don't you ever want to just cut loose and go wild?”
“Actually, I think I want to wait in the car,” Fluttershy said quickly, rushing to the van, only for Rainbow Dash to grab her arm and pull her back.
“Oh no, you are not chickening out on me now. Come on Fluttershy, nothing bad is going to happen, so why don't you just live a little?”
Fluttershy sighed and turned away. “I just don't know if I'll be able to have any fun tonight,” she admitted.
“You'll never know if you don't try,” said Sunset.
“Look at it this way, Fluttershy,” said Twilight. “If you really won't be able to have fun tonight, chances are that I won't either. If that happens, then at least we'll be able to not have fun together.”
Twilight didn't think she sounded very reassuring, but Fluttershy actually smiled.
“Alright, then, I'll give this party a chance.”
“Thatagirl, Fluttershy,” said Applejack, slapping Fluttershy on the back.
Together, everyone walked up to the front door. Sunset rang the doorbell.
A tall boy with amber-brown skin and bright green hair opened the door. He wore a red t-shirt with the image of a head of wheat on the breast and blue jeans.
“Hey girls!” he shouted over the music.
“Hey yourself!” Sunset shouted back. “We're not late, are we?”
“On the contrary — you're just in time to save this party,” Bad Brew assured her as he ushered everyone inside.
The room was dimly lit, allowing multiple colored strobe lights to flash brightly. The furniture had been pushed up against the walls while folding tables had been set up in the room's center to display various snacks such as chips, popcorn, soda, and, much to Pinkie Pie's delight, cake. Dozens of teenagers were dancing to the music blasting from two huge speakers.
Pulling a remote out of his pocket, Bad Brew turned the volume down.
“Hey, everyone, the Rainbooms are here!” he announced.
The entire room burst into cheers as everyone gathered around to greet the Rainbooms. Twilight was amazed at the sheer reverence everyone from school seemed to have for her friends. Far beyond typical high-school popularity, it was more akin to hero-worship, which made sense considering that they saved both the school and, potentially, the entire world from certain doom on three separate occasions. Twilight was uncomfortably aware that she herself was also a recipient of this adoration, if only because she happened to be the doppelganger of Princess Twilight Sparkle, the Rainbooms' seventh official member. What made it really awkward for her was the fact that not only had she done nothing to deserve this praise, she had actually been one of the threats the Rainbooms had dealt with.
“Now that the guests of honor have arrived, I have something special I've been saving for everyone,” announced Bad Brew. “Minion! Fetch us the magic elixir!”
“Don't call me that,” a lanky boy growled.
Bad Brew rolled his eyes. “Fine. Would you please bring the punch in the kitchen out here?”
The other boy sighed, but went into the kitchen. A moment later he came back out pushing a cart table. On it were several stacks of little plastic cups, a ladle, and a big glass bowl filled with a bright green liquid.
“I present to you my homemade party punch, with a special ingredient that's guaranteed to kick this party into high gear,” announced Bad Brew.
“I'll be the judge of that,” declared Pinkie Pie. She marched forward, took a cup, filled it with punch, and took a swig. Her eyes brightened.
“Holy moose, this is amazing! Hey, everyone, hurry up and try some of this!”
Everyone crowded around and helped themselves to some punch. Twilight took a sip and nearly gagged. Alongside the lime-lemon flavor, there was also a strong taste of strawberries. Twilight couldn't stand strawberries. When she was little, her parents had taken her to a strawberry farm, where she had participated in a strawberry eating contest. She had won, but her stomach had been unable to handle it and she'd ended up emptying it all over the interior of the car. Ever since then, Twilight had been unable to even smell strawberries without feeling nauseous.
Checking to make sure nobody was looking, Twilight spit the fluid back into her cup and set it aside.
“Yum, that sure was tasty!” she lied.
Rarity took a dainty sip from her own cup. “My word, this is simply divine!” she declared.
“It ain't apple cider, but this here sure is some good stuff,” said Applejack, draining her own cup in a single swig.
“I'll have some more!” said Sunset, ladling more punch into her cup.
For the next minute or so, everyone besides Twilight simply enjoyed the great tasting punch. When the bowl was nearly empty, Bad Brew pulled his remote back out.
“Now it's time to really get this party started!” he declared, changing to a fast paced song and turning the volume back up.
Cheering, everybody moved back onto the dance floor. Everybody, that is, except for Twilight, whose nerves chose that exact moment to desert her. While everyone else started dancing, she shuffled back to the wall and sat down in one of the chairs.
Half an hour later, Twilight was still sitting in the exact same spot. She just couldn't work up the nerve to join everyone else on the dance floor. Ever since she had started spending time with her new friends, Twilight had discovered that she actually enjoyed a lot of things she never would have tried before, such as canoeing, horseback riding and, strangely enough, even sky diving (Pinkie Pie had talked her into that one). But this party was proving to be too far out of her comfort zone. Not only was her fear of large crowds acting up, but the flashing lights were hurting her eyes, and it felt like the loud music was rattling her very bones.
She was just starting to consider looking for Sunset and asking for a ride home when Fluttershy plopped down in the chair next to her, panting heavily, her brow glistening with sweat.
“So, are you having fun yet?” Twilight asked dryly.
“I'm having a blast!” cried Fluttershy, in a very un-Fluttershy-like manner.
“Wait, really?” asked Twilight. She was surprised, to say the least.
Fluttershy smiled widely. “Seriously, this party is amazing! I've already danced with, like, four different boys!” She threw her hands into the air and let out a loud whoop of excitement.
This was extremely un-Fluttershy-like behavior.
“But when we got here, you couldn't wait to leave,” Twilight reminded her.
“Yeah, well, I just, ya know, stopped thinking and started having fun,” Fluttershy explained. She began to roll her head around for no apparent reason. “Haven't ya ever, ya know, just stopped thinking?” she asked.
“I can honestly say that I have never done that in my life,” said Twilight.
Without any warning, Fluttershy shoved her face into Twilight's. There was a wild look in her eyes. Her breath smelled like paint thinner.
“You've got to try it!” she gasped. “You just do whatever pops into your head right away and — number five!”
Leaping out of her chair, Fluttershy approached a boy and began talking to him. Twilight couldn't make out what they were saying, but in less than a minute, they were dancing together.
Twilight thought about what Fluttershy had just told her. Was it really that simple? If she just did whatever came to mind right away, without thinking about the consequences, would she actually be able to have fun tonight? It sounded rather far-fetched. On the other hand, it seemed to be working for Fluttershy, the one girl Twilight could honestly say was more socially anxious than she was.
The more she thought about it, ironically, the more it made sense. Twilight was always overestimating the potential consequences of her mistakes, and it never ended well for her. Once, in fifth grade, she had convinced herself that she would be suspended for simply leaving an assignment at home the day it was due. Unfortunately, she had made the mistake of expressing her fears to some classmates who weren't exactly her biggest fans. They had told her that the only way to get herself off the hook was by breaking into the principal's office and confessing her most embarrassing secret — that when she was six, she had asked her then-babysitter Cadance to marry her — for everyone to hear. Afterwards, her teachers had assured her that the worst any student got for a late paper was a drop in their grade. The bad news was that Twilight ended up being suspended after all for her stunt. Sadly, that day of enforced absence had been the highpoint of her year.
The point was that instead of overreacting and setting herself up to fall, maybe it was time for Twilight to start going with the flow more.
Scanning the room, she spotted a boy dancing by himself. She stood up and walked over to him, forcing her legs to move faster than her brain.
“Hey, would you like to dance with me?” she asked.
“Your boobs are awesome!” the boy cried.
“Excuse me?!” Twilight gasped.
“Seriously, they're perfect. Not as big as some of your friends, but I like 'em small.” The guy leered at her, swaying unsteadily on his feet. “You wanna do it?”
“That's completely... what is wrong with... you can't just...!” Twilight sputtered.
The nasty boy leaned forward and whispered, “Meet me upstairs if you do. Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta go pee.”
With that, he walked through the door going outside.
For a full minute, Twilight just stood there in utter shock. Never in her life had she heard anything so inappropriate.
Taking a few deep breaths to calm down, she assured herself that her night wasn't ruined yet. She would just have to find somebody else. Spotting another boy, she walked up to him.
“Hey, do you want to...”
“NEIGHBRASKA CORN HUSKERS RULE!” the boy shouted before smashing a plate against his face, shattering the platter.
“That's it, I'm out of here,” declared Twilight. She searched the room until she found Sunset standing beside the punch bowl.
“Sunset, I'm sorry, but this isn't working out for me; I want to go now,” she said.
“Hey Twilight, you're really cute,” Sunset said giddily, brushing a hand against Twilight's cheek.
That caught Twilight off guard. She felt her cheeks heating up. “You — you really think so?”
“Totally!” Sunset cupped both of Twilight's cheeks in her hands. “I mean, you're so cute, it shouldn't even be legal. You know who else is totally cute? Princess Twilight. Of course, you already know that. You see her face in the mirror every day, after all.”
The happy bubble that was swelling up in Twilight's chest vanished as quickly as it had appeared. “Yeah, that's nice,” she muttered, pushing Sunset's hands off of her face. “Anyway, I said I'm ready to go home now.”
“Flash Sentry is also really cute, you know,” Sunset mused, completely ignoring Twilight. “You know what I want to do more than anything?”
“Yes, you want to give me a ride home right now,” Twilight prompted her.
“I really want to have a three way with Flash and Princess Twilight,” said Sunset, grinning like a little kid.
Twilight's brain short-circuited for a moment. When she came to, she could only cry, “Say WHAT?!”
“Princess Twilight would totally go for it, you know," said Sunset. "I don't know if she's bi or not, but most mares in Equestria tend to have an 'if it's you, it's okay' mentality. Comes with being part of a polyamorous society with an unbalanced gender ratio, I guess. The only problem is that Flash might not go along with it, even though he would totally want to.” She frowned. “Seriously, he would actually pass up on living out every straight guy's fantasy with two of the most gorgeous girls in either world just because he'd think it wasn't gentlemanly. Can you believe it?!”
“You never know, he might say yes?” Twilight offered awkwardly. She didn't have the foggiest idea what the heck she was supposed to say in this situation.
Sunset scoffed. “Yeah, right. Did you know that he never once copped a feel on me or anything the whole time we were dating? It was so obvious that he wanted to, and who could blame him? But no, he just had to be considerate of my feelings. Well, what did he know about my feelings, or what I would or wouldn't have let him do? Just because I was using him to become more popular doesn't mean I wasn't interested. I have needs just like everyone else, you know!”
Sunset's lower lip began to quiver. Tears were actually dripping from her eyes. “It's not fair!” she wailed. “I'm the hottest girl in school! Guys should be lining up around the block to make time with me, but it's been months since Flash broke up with me, and not a single boy has even tried to ask me out! I mean, it made sense when everyone still hated me, but now they're all just putting me on a damn pedestal or something! What, just because I help save the school a few times, I'm some sort of untouchable goddess or something? Why doesn't anyone want to do it with me?!”
Sunset buried her face in her hands and began sobbing loudly. Twilight tried desperately to think of some way to calm her down.
She reached forward and patted Sunset on the shoulder. “Come on, I'm sure there are plenty of guys who want to... do it with you. They probably just don't know how to... ask you for it (that, or they simply have too much common sense, she added mentally). I'm sure that one day you'll find a very... nice boy who will be more than happy to... do it with you.”
“You really think so?” asked Sunset. Grabbing Twilight's hands, she gave her a hopeful look. “Would you like to do it with...”
“OKAY!” Twilight cried, pushing Sunset back towards a couch. “I think that you'd better lie down for a while.”
“But I'm not sleepy,” Sunset whined just before yawning heavily. Her eyelids began to droop.
Twilight helped her take her jacket off and gently laid her downpp on the couch. She laid the jacket over her like a blanket. “Just get some rest.”
“Night-night, mommy,” Sunset murmured, closing her eyes. She started snoring softly.
Breathing out a sigh of relief, Twilight considered her next move. She obviously couldn't rely on Sunset anymore, which meant that she needed somebody else to give them both a ride home. Looking around, she spotted Pinkie Pie standing off by herself, which seemed a bit odd for her, but Twilight didn't think anything of it.
Approaching her, Twilight said, “Hey, Pinkie Pie, there's something wrong with...”
“Oh shut up!” Pinkie Pie snapped.
Twilight reeled back in shock. She suddenly realized that Pinkie Pie's hair was flat and lifeless, a complete one-eighty from her usual poofy curls. It made her look rather deranged, which wasn't helped by her deep scowl and blood shot eyes.
“Pinkie Pie? What's wrong?”
“You want to know what's wrong?” Pinkie Pie growled. She pointed to Fluttershy, who was dancing with boy number six. “THAT'S what's wrong!”
“You're mad that Fluttershy is dancing with a boy?” asked Twilight.
“And it's not just her! Rarity and Sunset each have half the guys at school drooling over them, all the boys on the sports teams worship Rainbow Dash, and you... well, you're a different story, because Flash turned you down for not being Princess Twilight...”
“Bite me,” Twilight muttered under her breath.
“...but I'm sure you'll have your pick of boys once you decide to really try. Meanwhile, what have I got? Nothing! Nada! Zilch! In sixteen years, not one boy has ever shown the slightest interest in me! It's not fair! I'm just as hot as the rest of you, but if I'm not throwing a party or putting on a comedy routine or something, all the boys think I'm a hyperactive spazz who needs to be medicated!”
Twilight was having a serious case of deja vu.
“Now Pinkie Pie, I'm sure that's not true...”
“Yes it is!” Pinkie Pie snapped. She began to advance menacingly towards Twilight, forcing her to back up. “And do you want to know what the worst part is? The one guy I actually WANT to notice me only sees me as his rival!”
“You mean Cheese Sandwich?” Twilight guessed.
“Yes! The one guy in the entire city who's as crazy and kooky and party-rific as I am, and all he cares about is proving that he's a better party planner than me! And of course I have to answer his challenges or I'll lose my rep! Meanwhile, I keep dropping hints, and yet he never catches on that I want to do anything more than compete with him!”
Pinkie Pie and Twilight were just about nose-to-nose with each other when a boy walked up behind Pinkie Pie and tapped her on the shoulder. “Hey, hot pink, you wanna dance with...”
With an angry shriek, Pinkie Pie tackled the guy, wrapping his neck in a leg-lock and pulling on his own legs to force his back into a painful U-shape. “YOU'RE NOT THE GUY I WANT!” she screamed.
Twilight decided that it was a good time to leave.
Looking around the room, she realized that her friends weren't the only ones who had gone crazy. There was a girl at the snacks table shoving handfuls of food into her mouth like a pig. A boy was screaming at a coat rack for saying something about his mother. Another with a pot belly got up on a table, took off his shirt, and started dancing. No matter where she looked, everyone had completely lost it.
She needed to get out of there. She couldn't leave her friends, but she had to get to someplace safe and quiet where she could figure out what was happening. Pushing her way through the crowd, she ran up a flight of stairs into a hallway.
Entering the first door she came to, Twilight found herself in a bathroom. Unfortunately, Rainbow Dash was already there, loudly worshiping the porcelain god. She looked up and grinned when she spied Twilight.
“Hey, Twilight,” she groaned weakly.
“Sorry, Rainbow Dash,” Twilight apologized quickly. “I'll just...”
“Hold up,” said Rainbow Dash. She beckoned to Twilight. “Check it out. I just puked rainbows.”
“Rainbow Dash, that's—wait, seriously?”
Stepping up to the toilet, Twilight marveled at its contents. Was this an effect of Rainbow Dash's magic? Taking out the pocket sized sample kit she always carried around, she filled a test tube up. She then left the bathroom as Rainbow Dash continued to puke her guts out.
The next room Twilight entered was a bedroom, and when she saw who was already in it, she had to cover her mouth to keep herself from crying out in shock.
Rarity and Applejack were laying together on a king sized bed. Both of them were shirtless and running their hands over each other's bodies while pressing their lips together in a passionate kiss, complete with tongue.
Very carefully, so as not to make a sound, Twilight backed out of the room and shut the door. She turned to leave, but on a sudden impulse she took out her phone, cracked the door open and snapped a quick picture. Then she left.
Coming up to the last door in the hallway Twilight started to open it, only to stop and wonder what she would find inside the room this time. Ultimately, she settled for leaning her back against the wall and sliding down to the floor.
Rubbing her temples, she tried to think of what could be causing everyone to act so out of control. Magic was the first thing that came to mind, but her friends' own magic was supposed to protect them from things like that. Come to think of it, why was she the only one who wasn't affected? She had yet to display any magic of her own.
Twilight mentally reviewed everything that had transpired at the party since she and her friends had arrived. She tried to pinpoint something that might have happened to everyone else, but not to her. Sadly, she came up with nothing. The only difference in her own experience was that she hadn't danced or drank any punch.
Twilight slowly stood back up as things began to click together. Could it really be that simple?
As luck would have it, there was an unfinished cup of punch left on a decorative table. Picking it up, Twilight took a sip, fighting against the urge to spit it out. As she swished it around in her mouth, she detected another flavor beneath the fruit that triggered an old memory.
Back when she was six years old, Twilight's father had come home after a particularly rough day at work and poured himself a peculiar drink Twilight had never seen before. When she had asked if she could sample it, he told her that it was for grown-ups only and that she was far too young. Of course, that wasn't going to fly with her. She may have only been in the first grade, but her school was already letting her do fifth grade level work. In fact, she would have already skipped to that grade, but her teacher said that she wasn't ready emotionally. But what did she know? She only knew how to teach first graders. As far as Twilight was concerned, she was as good as any grown up. So as soon as her dad had left his drink unattended, she stole a sip.
It had felt like her throat was on fire, and she had spent the next hour screaming like it was. Her mother, meanwhile, had spent that hour alternating between trying to comfort her, yelling at her for drinking something she was told not to, yelling at her husband for leaving his drink out where their curious daughter could get it, and yelling at Shining Armor for laughing at the whole thing. Since then, Twilight had been careful to never eat or drink anything she wasn't allowed to.
Even after ten years, the taste of that awful drink was still fresh in her memory. And now a very similar taste was in the punch.
Twilight took out her phone and began to dial an important number. It was time to call in the professionals.
Before she could press the “Talk” button, a pair of arms wrapped themselves around her, knocking her phone to the floor.
“I'm glad you came.” Twilight recognized the voice as belonging to the rude boy she had spoken with earlier.
“Hey! Let me go!” she pleaded.
“You smell like cinnamon,” the boy moaned, running his hands up and down her body.
Twilight struggled frantically to get free. “Stop that! I don't want — Ack! Bad touch! At least take me to dinner first!”
“I had dinner, now I'm ready for dessert,” the boy said as he moved his hands up to cup her breasts.
Instinct took over. Twilight drove an elbow sharply into the boy's gut, causing him to fall back with a grunt and release her. Spinning around, she stepped in and delivered an open palm strike to his chin. His eyes rolled back into his skull and he dropped like a brick, hitting the floor with a loud thud.
Panting, Twilight stared in amazement at her own handiwork. She made a mental note to thank Flash again for all of the martial-arts lessons before picking her phone back up and re-dialing the number.
“Go for Shining,” her brother's voice answered. “Twily, is that you?”
“Hi, Shiny. You remember that party I told you about? Well...”
The next day, Twilight waited for her friends at the coffee shop. An hour past the time they had agreed to meet, they all shambled in through the door, dragging their feet and groaning in pain. Their eyes were all bloodshot and their skin was clammy. The only thing missing from their zombie impression was the rotting flesh.
“Are you guys alright?” asked Twilight as everyone sat down.
“I feel like I've got a dozen elephants tap-dancing on my skull,” Sunset growled. “What does that tell you?”
“To say that Ah feel like roadkill would be an insult to roadkill,” Applejack groaned.
“Would everybody PLEASE just SHUT UP?!” Fluttershy snarled. “It hurts to hear right now!”
Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie and Rarity just laid their heads down on the table and moaned pitifully.
Cup Cake walked up to the table with a platter of six steaming cups of coffee, which she passed out to the six miserable girls. “Twilight told me about what happened last night, so I brewed some of my special hangover-cure blend for all of you,” she explained. “It'll fix you girls up in no time.”
“Is it poison?” asked Pinkie Pie, raising her head to examine her cup. Her hair was still as flat as it had been the night before.
“Of course not,” said Cup Cake.
“I want poison,” Pinkie Pie moaned. “Or a loaded gun. Either one works for me.”
Cup Cake just shook her head and left the girls alone.
“Just what did Bad Brew put in that punch?” asked Rainbow Dash. She gingerly took a sip of her drink and pulled a face. “Nasty,” she muttered.
“I'm not sure, but according to my brother, it's a bit of a miracle that nobody got alcohol poisoning,” said Twilight.
“That slimy no-good little git!” Applejack snarled, clenching her fist. “Ah darn near brought Apple Bloom to that party! Ah swear, th' next time Ah see his sorry face, Ah'm gonna-AH!”
Applejack broke her tirade to clutch her head, gritting her teeth in agony.
“I doubt that any of us will be seeing him again anytime soon,” said Twilight. “Shining Armor said that there's a good chance Bad Brew could end up going to juvenile hall for what he did. Even if he doesn't, Shining Armor personally called his parents, and there was a lot of talk about boot camp on their end.”
“Serves him right,” Rainbow Dash huffed.
“So what about you girls?” asked Twilight. “Are any of you being punished?”
“Not at all,” Rarity assured her. “Thankfully, all of our parents understand that none of us knew about the alcohol until it was too late, so we're off the hook. Regardless, it will be a long time before any of us will be permitted to attend any party that isn't hosted by Pinkie Pie.”
“Maybe that's for the best,” said Sunset. She sipped her drink and grimaced. “Ugh, this stuff tastes like—hey, I think it's working!”
Indeed, her complexion did seem to be getting better. In fact, everyone looked much healthier than they had when they came in. Pinkie Pie's hair was actually becoming curly and poofy again before Twilight's very eyes, while making a sound like a balloon being inflated.
“There's just one thing I still don't understand,” said Twilight. Turning to Sunset, she asked, “How did you of all people get drunk?”
“What do you mean?” asked Sunset.
“Well, ponies and other equines don't get drunk, so why did you? Wait, you're actually human in this world, so it really doesn't apply to you. Sorry, dumb mistake.”
“No, wait, back up a second,” Sunset insisted. “What do you mean ponies can't get drunk?”
Before Twilight could answer, it was Fluttershy of all people who spoke up.
“The diet of most equines such as horses or ponies includes barley and hops, which are key ingredients for making alcoholic beverages such as beer or whiskey. Equines also possess an enormous large intestine, where fermentation takes place naturally. In order to deal with this, their livers produce large amounts of alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes, which breaks down alcohol and converts it into carbohydrates to be used for energy. This make it very difficult for them to get drunk.”
Everyone stared at Fluttershy in amazement.
“How do you know all of that?” asked Twilight. “I only know it because I did a report on equine biology when I was still at Crystal Prep.”
“Oh, I want to be a veterinarian, so I've been studying advanced animal biology to give myself a head start before college,” Fluttershy explained. “You would be amazed at how different each species' bodies really are.”
“You don't say,” said Sunset. She rubbed her chin thoughtfully. “To be completely honest, I don't know if that applies to Equestrian ponies or not. I know we have alcohol in Equestria, but I haven't had much experience with it personally. My mom would have a glass of wine with dinner once in a while, but I've never seen her drunk. We also have bars in Equestria, but I've never visited any of them.”
“I wouldn't be surprised if it was different for your kind,” said Twilight. “You've told me that daffodils are a popular snack in your word, but they're poisonous to equines in this world, so obviously your biology is different. I just wish we could know for sure.”
“Why don't we just ask Princess Twilight?” asked Rainbow Dash.
Sunset frowned. “I don't know if it's a good idea to fill up pages from the journal over this. I mean, I'm sure Princess Twilight can replace it once it's filled up—communication journals aren't exactly hard to come by—but I'd like to make this one last as long as possible.”
“Funny, because that didn't stop you from spending pages bragging about how many likes that video of you as Daydream Shimmer got,” Rainbow Dash retorted.
“You read my journal?!” cried Sunset indignantly.
“Hey, it's not like it's a personal journal or anything,” Rainbow Dash retorted. “Frankly, you're being kinda greedy keeping it all to yourself. I mean, have you even told Flash about it yet? I'm sure he'd appreciate a chance to talk to Princess Twilight.”
Rarity gasped. “She's right! Sunset, how could you?!”
“If I lent it to him, he and Princess Twilight would fill it up in one sit-down,” Sunset shot back.
“Girls, we're getting off topic,” said Pinkie Pie. “Let's focus on what's really important here.”
“Ya mean finding out if Equestrian ponies can get drunk or not?” Applejack asked in amusement.
“Please, Sunset?” Twilight pleaded, making the sad puppy dog eyes Spike had taught her. “Do it in the name of scientific knowledge.”
“Fine,” Sunset sighed in exasperation. She opened the backpack she always carried with her everywhere and pulled out a journal with the image of the sun on its cover. “I guess it's just as well; I feel kind of silly not knowing something so simple about my own kind.”
Opening her journal, Sunset began to write.
Dear Princess Twilight Sparkle,
How are things in Equestria? Everything's the same over here. Last night, however, some of us ended up drinking some punch that had been spiked, and it didn't end well. We're all fine, but the incident caused a very interesting question to come up: as it turns out, the biology of equines on Gaia prevents them from becoming intoxicated, and everyone's wondering if the same if true for Equestrian ponies. It's embarrassing, but I have no idea myself, so we're counting on you. Please write back soon.
Your faithful student, Sunset Shimmer.
Sunset closed her journal and set it down on the table. “And now we wait,” she said.
For the next few minutes, everyone just watched the journal while sipping their coffee.
“I just realized that if Equestrian ponies can't get drunk, then Princess Twilight might not have any idea what we're talking about,” said Pinkie Pie.
Before anybody could respond to that, the journal began to glow and vibrate. As everybody gathered around, Sunset picked it up and opened to a blank page that was magically being filled with words.
Dear Sunset Shimmer,
First of all, I am so relieved that you and everyone else are alright. Secondly, that is a very fascinating bit of knowledge that you've shared with me. I am definitely going to do some more research on our primitive “cousins” the next time I visit.
In any case, to answer your question I can assure you that yes, Equestrian ponies are very much capable of becoming drunk—or “hammered”, or “wasted”, or “soaked”, or whatever you want to call it.
“I knew it!” crowed Pinkie Pie. Turning to Rainbow Dash, she held out her hand, palm up. “Pay up, sucker!”
“We never made any bets,” said Rainbow Dash.
“Oh yeah,” said Pinkie Pie. “You want to make one now?”
“No,” Rainbow Dash retorted flatly.
“Aww,” Pinkie Pie whined. “I could have cleaned up.”
“Guys. there's more,” said Sunset.
As a matter of fact, I have a few stories to tell that prove it beyond a doubt. The first one takes place about a month after I moved to Ponyville. My Equestrian friends and I were having dinner at Applejack's farm, and she treated all of us to some of her family's homemade hard cider. I was pretty nervous, because I had only recently become old enough to drink...
“Wait a minute, what's the legal drinking age in Equestria?” asked Twilight.
“About twenty one,” answered Sunset.
“Princess Twilight is twenty one?!” everyone cried in shock.
“But she doesn't look a day over sixteen!” Rarity insisted.
“In this world, she is sixteen,” said Sunset. “The portal messes with your age a bit on top of everything else.”
“This brings up a whole bunch of questions regarding her relationship with Flash,” Twilight mused.
“So how old are you, Sunset?” asked Fluttershy.
“Oh, I'm around eighty or so,” Sunset answered lightly.
“WHAT?!” everyone shrieked.
Sunset laughed. “I'm kidding!” she reassured them. “Actually, I had just turned eighteen when I first came to Gaia. Anyways...”
...and it would be my first alcoholic drink. Applejack suggested that I just skip it, warning me that the Apple Family's hard cider is really strong, but I convinced myself that I would be fine.
I was barely halfway through my mug before I started dancing around and raving about how I was going to write to Princess Celestia to tell her that I was sick of studying and that I was going to quit being her student (luckily I had left Spike at home, so that didn't happen).
Rainbow Dash started laughing. “Oh man, I would pay to have seen that!”
I don't really remember what happened after I had finished my mug, but I woke up in the barn the next day with a splitting headache and a pig lying next to me, and I really don't want to know why there was a pig. I swore then and there that I would NEVER drink again. Of course, it's obvious how much that was worth since I go out for drinks with the girls every Saturday night.
My next story takes just after I became an alicorn and was crowned Equestria's newest princess. After both the parade and the big celebration were finished, the other princesses threw a smaller, private party for me. While we were there, Princess Luna made some of her special moonshine out of pure moonlight.
“Hold it right there!” cried Twilight. “I can accept levitation, teleportation, transfiguration that creates and eliminates matter and a lot of other things that magic can do simply because it's a foreign energy that operates according to a completely different set of physical laws, but this is where I draw the line. How the heck do you make an alcoholic beverage out of pure light?”
“Honestly, I'm just as baffled as you are,” admitted Sunset. “Remember, the powers of the Royal Sisters are on a completely different level from little ponies. Even ascended alicorns like Twilight can't measure up. It's better to just accept it as it is and move on.”
That sounded like a terrible idea to Twilight, but she just sighed and gestured for Sunset to continue.
I honestly have no idea how she was able to do that (“See?” asked Sunset), but it was one of the best things I have ever tasted. It was so smooth going down. Of course, Celestia REALLY loved it. She drank no less than four glassfuls of it! The problem was that she can't hold her alcohol at all; she wasn't even finished with her second glass before she was singing and dancing around like a silly little filly! She also can't carry a tune in a bucket when she's drunk. Unfortunately, she could teleport just fine. It was hours before we found her in the Everfree Forest, happily grazing on a patch of poison joke.
“What's poison joke?” asked Twilight.
“It's a magic plant that's similar to poison ivy, but instead of making you itch, it inflicts a random curse on you,” Sunset explained. “The last time I got in it, my horn turned into a trumpet that played jazz music every time I tried to use magic; and I HATE jazz music!”
I was terrified that it would cause something catastrophic, such as turning the sun into honey. Luckily, all it did was turn her coat blue. She then proceeded to spend the next half hour singing about how she was a giant blueberry before she finally passed out. When she woke up, she had a hangover that was so bad, it took her an entire hour to raise the sun. After that, Luna used her authority to ban Celestia from consuming any alcohol for at least five years.
“I wonder what our Celestia is like when she's drunk,” Fluttershy mused.
“She's so nice and understanding all of the time,” said Pinkie Pie. “Maybe alcohol pulls out some issues she keeps buried underneath that sunny smile. Maybe she gets mad when that happens and turns into a total bitch. Or maybe she just gets depressed about it. Or maybe she just gets happy and dumb. Or maybe she turns into a total slut who'll make out with anything that moves.”
“Really, Pinkie Pie!” said Rarity. She looked scandalized. “A proper lady never behaves in such a manner, even when inebriated.”
Twilight silently wondered what Rarity's foot tasted like.
My last story is about another pony who lives in Ponyville, Berry Punch. She's....well, she's the town drunk. To borrow a human phrase, I could count the number of times I've seen her completely sober on one hand. On a good day, she just barely manages to be coherent. One time, a delegate from Skysea of the United Griffon Kingdoms visited Ponyville. Apparently, he wanted to meet the “legendary Elements of Harmony” face-to-face and learn more about where they came from. The whole town had spent days preparing to make him feel welcome, and everything was going smoothly, until Berry, who was completely wasted at the time, somehow managed to stumble right past the security detail and crashed right into the delegate. It wouldn't have been so bad—the delegate actually apologized as if it were his own fault—had Berry not accused him of trying to molest her and dealt him a, quote, “Berry Punch”. He was so upset, he threatened to tell High King Gravin! It was a nightmare! In the end, the girls and I had to spend a week in Skysea as his personal guests (boosting his “street cred” as Rainbow Dash put it) in order to smooth things over. It actually wasn't so bad—in fact, I rather enjoyed myself—until it came time to eat. Have you ever had griffon cuisine? Humans may know how to cook meat, but those guys sure don't. I'll never get the taste of deep fried rat out of my mouth!”
“Yuck!” declared Rarity, pulling a face.
Rainbow Dash was laughing again. “Oh man, that is hilarious!” she said.
Of course, the real problem is that...well, Berry Punch has a little daughter, Berry Pinch, that she takes care of by herself.
“Less hilarious,” Rainbow Dash whispered.
As far as we know, Berry Punch hasn't mistreated her daughter in any way so far, but Pinch often talks about how her mommy is often too tired or too sick to cook or clean or take care of her. Everyone is worried, so we're all keeping an eye on them and keeping social services on standby.
The only reason I'm telling you guys this is because I'm wondering if any of you know a Berry Punch on Gaia. I know that humans and ponies are not exact copies of their respective counterparts, but if the human Punch's situation is anything like the pony's, then it would be nice if you girls could try and help her in any way you can.
That's all. Take care of yourselves and try not to drink anymore suspicious beverages.
Yours truly, Princess Twilight Sparkle.
“Well, that was fun up until the last part,” said Pinkie Pie.
“Does anyone here know a Berry Punch?” asked Sunset.
“Well, I don't know a Punch, but I do know a Pinch,” said Rainbow Dash. “She's part of the same Big Brother/Big Sister program Scootaloo and I belong to. I don't know if she's having any trouble with an alcoholic mom, but I guess it's worth looking into.”
Every sat in uncomfortable silence for the new few minutes. Then Sunset spoke up.
“So Twilight, did we do anything embarrassing while we were drunk?”
“You don't remember?” asked Twilight.
“It's all kind of blurry,” Sunset admitted. “I didn't do anything I can't live down, did I?”
Before Twilight could answer, a distinct ringtone went off. Pulling out her cellphone, Pinkie Pie checked her screen and groaned.
“What's wrong?” asked Applejack.
“Cheese Sandwich just sent me a text.”
“That's peculiar,” said Rarity. “I wasn't ever aware that he had your number.”
“So what is it about?” Twilight asked quickly.
“He's probably just issuing another dumb challenge,” Pinkie Pie grumbled, tapping her phone. A few seconds later, her eyes widened with shock.
“He just asked if we could have lunch together,” she said softly.
“No way!” cried Rainbow Dash.
“Shut up!” Rarity said gleefully.
“He just asked me out to lunch,” Pinkie Pie confirmed. She seemed to be in shock.
“You don't say,” said Twilight innocently.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” asked Rarity. “Say yes already!”
“I—but—I...” Pinkie Pie stammered.
“Oh for heaven's sake!” Rarity cried. Grabbing the phone from Pinkie Pie, she tapped the screen a bit before handing it back. “There, you're having brunch at Homestyle's Sunday.”
“I'm going on a date with Cheese Sandwich,” said Pinkie Pie like she couldn't believe it was real.
“Ya most certainly are surgarcube,” said Applejack, raising her coffee cup. “Cheers fer the new couple.”
“Cheers!” everyone besides Pinkie Pie said, raising their own cups.
“Speaking of new couples, I've got something to show you,” said Twilight, pulling out her own phone. Pulling up her photo box, she held it out for everyone to see.
“Who is it?” Rarity asked eagerly, leaning forward. When she saw what was on the screen, her jaw dropped and her face turned even paler than when she had first walked in. “Oh no,” she whimpered.
“What's wrong?” asked Applejack as she leaned in as well. Looking at the screen, her expression became identical to Rarity's. “Oh sweet heaven, no.”
“What's going on?” asked Sunset, taking a look as well. A blush appeared on her cheeks. “Oh my... Well, congratulations you two.”
“Give me that phone,” Rarity hissed.
“I'd rather not,” Twilight responded playfully. “I'm going to photo print this for a special place on my wall.”
“I said hand it over!” Rarity shrieked, trying to snatch the phone from Twilight's hand, but she was too quick, tossing it over to Fluttershy, who blushed deeply when she saw the picture.
“Oh my goodness.”
“Oh my gosh!” Rainbow Dash cackled as she and Pinkie Pie both took a look. “I am going to use this against you two for the rest of your lives!”
“So what kind of theme do you want for your coming out of the closet party?” asked Pinkie Pie.
“There ain't gonna be no party!” Applejack roared, lunging for the phone, initiating a three-vs-two game of keep away.
As Sunset laughed hysterically, Twilight whispered in her ear, “Don't you worry Sunset, I'm sure if you asked nicely, both Princess and Flash would be happy to have a three-way with you.”
Sunset's laughter died instantly and her face turned pale. “That does not leave this space,” she hissed.
“We'll see after I turn twenty-one,” Twilight said gaily. She took a sip of her coffee, savoring the flavor; almonds and cream, without so much as a hint of strawberries.