by Huk

Chapter 1 - Status Quo Ante

Lying on the cold, palace floor - she looked so peaceful, almost as if she was sleeping. Embracing her body, they let a torrent of tears to soak through their furs, as reality set in. She was gone. “We will never forget you…” they thought in unison, mourning for the lost friend.

Canterlot - 36 hours earlier

It was almost five o'clock, and the city of Canterlot was starting to slow down for the night - while the worst of the rush hour had passed already, the train station was still crowded with ponies and other creatures trying to get back home. Inside the mob was Pinkie Pie - nervously glancing left and right, trying to keep as low as possible.

Every so often, with heart in her mouth - she would poke her head out of the crowd to look at the station clock - trying to do something, anything to speed up the time. Finally, after yet another quick peek - a nervous smile appeared on her face when she heard the train arriving with a loud screech. “All aboard for the trip to the Crystal Empire!” shouted the conductor pony, and almost simultaneously the mob of passengers rushed forward like a tidal wave.

Pinkie was boarding when suddenly, her heart sank again - in the distance she saw a bunch of royal guards, carefully scanning the crowd.  She hastily jerked her head away from the sight and lowered her posture - hoping it would be enough to avoid detection.

With her heart pounding and her body shaking, she slowly approached her destination - but so did the guards, and it was becoming evident that her cover would soon be blown, yet there was no turning back now. When she was about to be discovered - by a stroke of luck, another train entered the station, momentarily blocking guards line of sight - a second later she boarded the wagon with a bounce, and quickly ran inside.

The next few minutes were a blur, with sound and images jumbled together - Pinkie regained her composure only after her eyes saw one of the waterfalls surrounding Canterlot. “Phew, finally out of the city… that was a close call,” she said to herself while pulling a diary out of her saddlebag.

Outside the train window, mountains and green forests were painted with gold and crimson by the setting sun - such a beautiful sight was usually enough to ease Pinkie’s nerves after hard days, but not this time, not after what happened.

“Ehh… how did it come to this Mr. diary...” Pinkie asked herself with watery eyes, but there was no obvious answer. Swallowing hard, she took her journal and started to write.

“Last few days were weird, to say the least - oh, and I don’t mean weird like when I used the pond to clone myself, or when Twilight was trying to analyze my ‘pinkie sense’ - I mean super-duper weird! Like when Discord turned Ponyville upside down or when changelings attacked Canterlot. I need to write down everything I know - because my Pinkie Sense tells me ‘they’ will be coming,” she sighed heavily - looking for words, “I wish I knew exactly who ‘they’ are - my bits are on changelings again, but I’m not ‘Okie-dokie-lokie’ sure, you know? Anyway, I guess it started a few days ago when I returned from the trip to Crystal Empire…”

Ponyville - a few days earlier

Inside Ponyville’s train station, Pinkie’s friends were awaiting her arrival - it has been a few days since she departed to compete in the dessert festival organized by the Crystal Empire - and they haven’t heard from her since. Their small talk was suddenly interrupted when a blue blur landed nearby with a loud thud. “Well, nice of you to… drop by Rainbow Dash,” Rarity said with a hint of sarcasm, “we were starting to think you got lost or something…”

Rainbow chuckled nervously, eyeing her surroundings for some excuse, “S-sorry guys but, uh... I was so busy…” suddenly she had a eureka moment,  “keeping the sky clear! I completely lost track of time, heh heh…”

“Right...” Twilight frowned and quickly glanced up - while it wasn’t an overcast, a lot of clouds were still present - it was anything but the cloudiest day. “By that, I assume your nap took longer than usual, again?”

Glancing down at the ground, Rainbow furrowed her brow a little. “Guilty as charged, but I-”

Their conversation was interrupted as everyone covered their ears and painfully gritted their teeth - reacting to the loud screeching noise coming from the train. Soon the sound stopped, and a crowd of ponies flooded the station - chatting and greeting their relatives. As minutes passed the train was getting more and more empty, yet Pinkie was nowhere to be seen.

“Twilight, you sure this is the correct train, darling?” Rarity asked with a confused voice.

“I’m positive… perhaps something-”

Twilight was interrupted by the loud 'bam' followed by a suffocating puff of smoke and some confetti. “Hellloo girls!” Pinkie shouted with a smile.

"*cough* Pinkie wh..at was *cough* that?" Twilight asked, gasping for air.

"Aww, that was my new 'confetti-bomb'! In case I'm not able to take my party cannon with me, I want to use these as a backup."

Rainbow interjected with a frown, "Seems to be making more smoke than confetti."

"It's a work in progress," Pinkie said, hopping off the train.

“Um… you seem happy, does that mean it went well?” Fluttershy asked.

Pinkie stopped jumping around and glanced at the group with a stony face. “No, it didn’t go well…" the girls gasped in surprise and were about to comfort their friend when suddenly Pinkie bounced with a grin. "It went FUN-BUCKING-TASTIC! Ta-da!” she presented them a golden cup, with following engravings on it: ‘For the winner of Crystal Dessert Competition - Pinkamena Diane Pie.’

Immediately, Rainbow took to the air and made a loop above the group. “Awsome! You showed those crystal ponies who is the boss!”

“Thanks, Dashie, but honestly I was hoping for more of a challenge - I entered the stage with my super-duper spectacular secret recipe cake and know what I saw? Blueberry Tarts, Peanut Butter Cup Brownies and other ‘common’ desserts! I mean, duh, bo-ring! After that - I knew this was gonna be easy peasy!”

“Well, we are just glad you enjoyed yourself,” Fluttershy added with a gentle smile.

“Yes, indeedy! I was even able to spend some time in Canterlot on my trip back home-”

“Oh, did you saw the construction site by chance?!” Twilight said, shaking with excitement.

“Yup! By the looks of it, that tower of yours will be done super duper fast!”

Pinkie and Twilight got weird stares from the rest of their friends. “Hold on a second,” Rainbow rubbed her chin, “Celestia is adding a new tower to the Canterlot Palace - just for you? Awsome!”

Twilight’s chuckled nervously, “No no, it’s not for me… well not JUST for me - Celestia meant to add that tower for years… my coronation finally gave her the excuse-”

“Oh, come on darling - you are a princess now!” Rarity interrupted, nudging her gently. “It’s about time if you ask me - like it or not, but every princess should have her private quarters in Canterlot.”

Twilight blushed a little; she knew Rarity was right - the custom was that each princess had her private chambers in the Capitol - even if they were to be rarely used. Cadance probably hasn’t visited hers since she became the ruler of Crystal Empire - but it was available if needed. Still, Twilight was worried how the ‘nobility’ will react - most of them weren’t very fond of her… (come to think of it - they weren’t very fond of Luna either, but she at least scared them enough to leave her alone - Twilight wasn’t so lucky.) “I’m just glad I will finally be able to stash some of my private stuff somewhere - carrying all this luggage every time I visit Canterlot is a pain.”

“You know what this calls for?!” Pinkie shouted with a grin while bouncing around. “A great big ginormous ‘Twilight will get her own tower!’ super-duper party!”

The group gave her a little-surprised stare. “Ah don’t know Pinkie,” Applejack interjected, “you just arrived - aren’t ya tired?”

“Oh silly! I don’t mean today,” Pinkie responded, still jumping around, “but when the tower is finished, I will throw Twilight a party she deserves! That’s a Pinkie Promise!”

The group sighed with relief - while everyone loved Pinkie’s parties, they all had their day planned at this point, and she wasn’t exactly someone you could easily turn down - unless you wanted to feel guilty for a few days.

“OK girls, I need to get going - the Cakes are probably super-duper excited to find out how it went - see ya!” the girls nodded in agreement and quickly parted their ways. Pinkie went (or rather bounced) directly to the Sugarcube Corner, where she presented the trophy to her employers. After quick congratulations, they proudly placed the golden cup on the counter and got back to work, since the bakery was swarming with customers. Even though this was officially her day off, Pinkie decided to help - she sat behind the counter while the Cakes redoubled their efforts to serve everyone in time.

Long after Luna had risen the moon, the last client finally went home. Pinkie lay in her bed, watching the beautiful sky and listening to the soothing sounds of crickets chirping - this was a good (even though exhausting) day. She turned off the light and peacefully went to sleep, not knowing that her life was about to change...