Knock knock knock.
Cup Cake opened the front door, seeing Fluttershy on her stoop. “Hello, Fluttershy,” she said genially. “How are you?”
“I’m fine,” she replied. “Sorry for coming over so early, but I needed to see you as soon as possible.”
“What can I do for you?”
“Well, it’s about Mayhem.”
Her pleasant attitude faded a bit. Just like with Discord she had gotten used to him, but she couldn’t deny that a part of her was uncomfortable with him. It had nothing to do with appearance or attitude. In fact, Mayhem was far more tolerable than Discord. No, what gave her disquiet was the power he wielded.
“What’s wrong with him?”
“I… well… mmm…” Fluttershy tapped her hoof a few times on the ground. “I don’t quite know, actually. He’s gotten very cranky lately, mouthing off to Discord. He still treats me with respect, but I can tell he feels the urge to yell at me as well.”
“Has anything happened recently that might cause him to act this way?”
Fluttershy tapped her hoof again. “If I had to take a guess, I think it’s because the answer is ‘no’ that he’s acting up. Nothing has happened recently, and I… I think he’s growing bored of me.”
“You?” Cup shook her head. “Not a chance. He adores you! I mean, he calls you his mother.”
“Well, I don’t mean in the sense that he wants to be rid of me for good. I believe Mayhem probably wants some time away from me to see his friends, but he’s too afraid of upsetting me to be honest. He doesn’t want to hurt my feelings, so he won’t say what’s on his mind.
“I’m hoping a playdate with them will help him settle down. It’s the weekend, so the twins don’t have any school. The twins might be enough, but the more the merrier.”
“Well, as long as he behaves himself I don’t have an issue with it.” Cup tapped her hoof now, looking awkward. “Look, I know that being random is part of his thing, so I know he’s gonna use his powers like he did at the twins birthday party. Just… I don’t know… can you tell him to tone it down this time? I mean, it sure spiced things up, but I don’t think my living room should become a carnival.”
Cup turned towards the stairs, yelling out for her children.
A short while later they appeared at the top of the stairs, wiping the sleep out of their eyes.
“Hey,” said Pound with a little groan. “This isn’t noon.”
Pumpkin yawned. “Yeah. It’s the weekend. We want to sleep in.”
“Hello!” said Fluttershy, walking to the bottom of the stairs.
Pound opened his eyes a little wider, focusing. “Oh, hi. How are you, Fluttershy?”
Pumpkin looked like she had dozed off standing up.
“I need the two of you to solve a friendship problem.”
That got their attention. Pumpkin stood up straighter, forcing herself to alertness. “Who’s in trouble?”
“Well, this is the mother of all simple problems. I just want you guys to play with Mayhem today. I think he’s feeling a little cooped up from spending so much time with me, so I was hoping a day out with you and your friends will perk him up.”
The twins looked at each other, big smiles coming to their faces. “Oh, boy!” said Pound. “It’s been a while since we got the crew together.”
“Mom!” said Pumpkin.
“I already gave my permission,” Cup said, expecting their question.
“Sorry for waking you up so early,” said Fluttershy, “but I wanted to make sure I had the greatest chance of plans not already being made. The longer I waited the greater the odds they would make some.”
The twins trotted down the stairs, hugging Fluttershy. “Aw, no worries,” said Pumpkin, her eyes twinkling.
“Yeah! A day with all our friends and a chance to help one of them feel better? That’s great. Sounds like a perfect day.”
“Yeah. What could go wrong?”
The twins ran upstairs, writing down their request in the magic notebook. Over the next two hours they got confirmations from all their friends, even Flurry.
Soon enough the six of them were all together again. All that was left was Mayhem.
About ten minutes later there was a knock on the door, and when it opened Pound saw Fluttershy, with Mayhem on her back.
“Hey, Mayhem!” said Pound.
The draconequus floated off of Fluttershy, hovering in front of him. “Hey,” he said dispassionately.
“We’ve been waiting for you.”
“Yep.” Pound began hovering, taking Mayhem’s claw and pulling him towards the stairs. “We got the whole crew here today just to hang out.”
That seemed to generate a little interest. “Really?”
Pound nodded. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it? You should really come over more.”
“Why should I? Your mother doesn’t like me, right?”
Pound paused for a moment. “Why do you say that?
Mayhem landed on the top of the stairs. “Mommy said I shouldn’t use my powers today all that much.”
Pound landed next to him. “She just isn’t used to your powers. She’s the same way with Discord.
“Don’t let it get to you. We can still have plenty of fun together without changing reality.”
Mayhem didn’t look convinced. “I guess.”
They went into the twins room, where everyone greeted him.
Mayhem smiled for a few seconds, but then he sighed. He and Pound sat down with the rest of the group.
“So what’s wrong, Mayhem?” asked Flurry. “We heard you’ve been feeling down lately.”
“I’m bored and irritated and I just feel tired of it.” He let out another sigh. “I must be a pretty terrible person, huh? To be looking down on my mother after all the time she’s spent on me.”
“Nonsense!” said Tree Leaf, mussing up his hair a bit. “Everyone gets bored when they do the same things over and over. Nothing wrong with doing something new once in a while.”
“That’s why we’re all here,” said Peppermint. “So we can take that boredom away from you.”
Mayhem didn’t look too enthused. “Whatever. Let’s just get this over with.”
Pound and Pumpkin looked at each other uncertainly.
The group tried playing games with the little draconequus, but he showed little interest. Over the next hour they tried everything they could think of to entertain him, but to no avail. Within minutes of every game he’d just complain that he was bored and refuse to keep playing.
“I’m bored!” Mayhem said angrily.
Pumpkin was losing patience with him. “We’ve been doing our best to help you feel better, but you’re never gonna improve if you sit there whining all day.”
Mayhem let out a little growl.
“Saying that you’re bored over and over isn’t going to make you less bored, so either do something about it or just shut up already.”
Mayhem stood up, stomping over to Pumpkin with his eyes blazing.
Pound was feeling uncomfortable. Mayhem looked like he was about to snap. He got between the two of them. “Pumpkin, that’s enough! Let’s all just calm down. We don’t need to be fighting.”
Mayhem paused, his body clenching as he snorted. Then, all of a sudden, he stopped, and his attitude shifted. A calm smile came to his face. “You know what? You’re right, Pumpkin. You’re so right.”
Far from being reassured, Flurry felt a sense of foreboding from Mayhem’s shift in disposition.
“I’m tired of feeling bored, and I’m not going to stand for it anymore. From now on I’m doing things MY way.” He lifted his arms.
All of them reacted with shock as a dark orb came out of his hands, expanding rapidly. It passed harmlessly by the children, but everything else that touched it grew rotted and decrepit, as if it had been abandoned for decades.
The light from the sun quickly faded, making it look like nighttime.
Peppermint looked out the window, and saw that the effects had spread throughout town. The grass was brown, and all the houses were crumbled and decaying.
“Wha-what… what did you do?” asked Pound.
Mayhem snickered. “I’m not holding myself back anymore. I’ve decided that the rules have bored me long enough. I’m making this world mine.”
Masky gaped at him. “Mayhem! You can’t be serious.”
Mayhem slowly shook his head. “It seems you still don’t get it. I’m over a thousand years old. There’s no reason I should ever be bored.”
His head stretched from his neck until it was right in front of Pumpkins, their noses touching. “And I believe it was you who told me to either do something about my boredom or shut up about it, right?” Pumpkin’s eyes widened. “Taking over the world entertains me. As long as I don’t push too far I can gradually accomplish it.”
“You’re an idiot!” Flurry said strongly.
“Oh?” Mayhem chuckled. “And why is that?”
“We know all about you. Namely, your biggest weakness. You don’t actually exist.”
Mayhem’s eyebrow rose and he frowned slightly, but he didn’t speak.
“All you are is living magic. And when that magic runs out you vanish. You’ll have to use magic to enact your plan, and you’ll run out eventually. After that you’ll be locked away. Discord won’t ever let you out again.”
Mayhem glared at Flurry for a few moments before he smirked and pulled his head back to his body. He began to laugh, harder and harder. “Oh, that’s a good one. Did you really think I forgot about that?”
Peppermint didn’t like where this was going. On the day she met him she had been wary of what a power like his could do if he turned to evil.
“I think YOU’VE forgotten that I’m considered reformed. All I have to do is ask good old daddy dearest for more magic, and he’ll give it to me.
“I mean, really, the only thing that could stop me is if you went and blabbed my plans to everyone. But now… now you’re in my world. I don’t have to worry about that anymore. Unless you beat me here you’ll never be able to go home, and that means you’ll never be able to talk.”
All of them stared at him, looks of horror on their faces.
“And what about Fluttershy?” Pound asked angrily. “Your ‘mommy?’ What about her? When she hears that me and Pumpkin have gone missing she’ll be miserable. And she’ll be even more sad because Twilight will be miserable at hearing that us and her niece have vanished.”
Mayhem’s expression grew cold. “Unfortunately for her she will have to experience some sadness, but I have no intention of harming her. Of course, she’ll still have me by her side to comfort her. And she’ll want to comfort me too. How SAD must I be that all of my friends mysteriously vanished?”
Pumpkin began to tremble. “C-come on!” she said. “This is just a joke, right?”
Mayhem lifted his claw. “Mommy will be safe. Everyone else, though, is fair game. Want to see?”
With a snap, cauldrons of what looked like boiling lava and acid appeared.
With another snap all of them gasped. With the exception of Cadance and Shining Armor all of their parents appeared, blindfolded and their ears blocked.
“Mom! Dad!” Pound yelled. “What are you doing?”
“I told you,” Mayhem said darkly. “I’m not playing around. You don’t seem to be taking me seriously, so I guess I have to show you I mean business.”
Their parents were put into position over the cauldrons. “Here we go!” he said gleefully.
Flurry, Pumpkin, and Peppermint’s horns began to glow, but Mayhem simply took them away, ropes coming out of the ground and binding them to the floor.
Tears were coming down all their eyes as they tried to break free, but they were held too strong.
“Say goodbye, but make sure you do it quickly before they melt!”
With that, all of the adults began falling.
Right before they hit the cauldrons they became transparent, all of them falling through them harmlessly.
Mayhem chuckled. “Oh, come on. You didn’t really think I was going to kill your parents, did you? That’s just crazy.”
The kids were released from their bondage, their horns returned.
Flurry let out a long sigh. “Mayhem, that was a very, VERY poor prank. You went too far.”
“Prank?” said the little draconequus. “It seems you misunderstood me. Chaos can only be experienced when you’re alive. A dead pony can’t react to it. That’s why I have no intention of killing anyone.
“I just wanted you to understand this wasn’t a big joke. However, if you’d like to keep testing me, I might just be forced to give a demonstration.”
He lifted the parents over the pots again. “Go ahead and pick one. I mean, I might be joking, but… do you really want to take that chance?”
Their hearts were racing. Masky shook his head hard. “No! I don’t! I believe you! Leave my parents out of this.”
Mayhem smirked. “What about the rest of you?” He received murmurs of affirmation. “Very good. We don’t need these anymore.” With a snap all of the parents disappeared.
Pound let out a sigh of relief. He could feel beads of sweat coming down his face.
“What do you want?” asked Pumpkin, still trying to get her racing heart under control. “Getting rid of six kindergartners isn’t going to help you take over the world.”
Mayhem shrugged. “I know that. I just wanted to play a game with my dear old friends. All of you are going to fight me. If you win, I’ll return you home to your dear families, I’ll return to Discord, and you’ll never have to worry about me again. If you don’t, well… then you’ll become my playthings. I’ll use you for when I want to play games, and I know you’ll always be available because you aren’t going to be able to go anywhere else.”
All of them poofed outside to the middle of Ponyville. It was completely deserted, and now all the rest of them could see the state it was in.
Mayhem chuckled. “This is just a game to me. Right now this Ponyville is just pretend. But unless you defeat me this will eventually happen to the real Ponyville.
“I’ll be back soon. I have to go prepare things for our battle.”
With that he disappeared.
Flurry felt like she was having trouble breathing. She was never going home! Her only real means of combating him, her magic, could be rendered useless with a flick of his thoughts by removing her horn. None of them had a chance against him. They were powerless, and he knew that.
Even if, by some miracle, they could stall Mayhem long enough that his magic ran out, all that would happen is that he would vanish, taking their only means of escape with him. And because no one would have any idea that Mayhem had gone bad they would see no issue in letting him back out.
All of them were thinking on roughly the same lines. The six holders of the Elements of Harmony barely beat an adult Discord. The six of them didn’t think they could do much against a baby version.
“What are we supposed to do?” Peppermint asked, her voice cracking. “He’s unstoppable!”
“He’s only going to toy with us,” said Pumpkin, hanging her head. “You saw what happened earlier. He captured all six of us with ease and took away our magic to boot.”
“I’m sorry,” said Flurry. “In times of crisis like this ponies will turn to an alicorn to lead them, but I don’t have any ideas on what to do either.”
Tree Leaf put a hoof on her. “Come on, Flurry. Are you still on about that? You’re a kid like us, remember? There’s no sense in beating yourself up.”
Pound felt on the verge of tears. He had no idea what to do either. The idea of never playing with Auntie Pinkie again, or being hugged by his mother and father, was a terrible thought.
Pumpkin glanced toward Masky, seeing the odd look on his face. His brow was furrowed in thought. “A bit for your thoughts, Masky?”
The colt took a few seconds to answer. “There is… one way. To beat him, I mean.”
That got everyone looking at him. “What do you have in mind?” asked Flurry. “Any idea is better than none.”
“It’s pretty simple, really. We treat this as just another game.”
“What do you mean?” asked Pound.
“Let’s just forget about the threat Mayhem poses and play his game to the best of our ability. After all, when it comes down to it we’re not really fighting him. We’re fighting his boredom.”
Tree Leaf raised his eyebrow. “You mind explaining what’s going on in that head of yours?”
Masky gently tapped his hoof, trying not to get impatient. “Look, there are only two possibilities here. Either Mayhem is just messing with us and just wants us to give it our all fighting him, or he really did turn against us. If he’s pretending then once we play through his game he’ll let us go home regardless of who wins. And if he’s being serious then he’ll want to prolong things as long as possible, because he knows he could end this game in a second if he wanted.
“I think it’s obvious to everyone that a serious Mayhem wins no matter what, right?” Everyone nodded. “That means the only possible chance we have of getting out of this is turning Mayhem into the former.”
“And how are we supposed to do that?” asked Peppermint.
“It’s like I’ve been saying: we play along and treat this like just another game.
“Mayhem turned against us because he was feeling so bored and irritated that he ceased to care about the rules or who he would hurt by breaking them. If we can relieve his boredom then he might just let us go once the game is over.”
Pumpkin got a thoughtful look on her face now. “If we don’t play along then he’s only going to be more bored and annoyed.”
Pound nodded, not feeling as scared. “So we make this the best game of his life and hope that it’s enough to bring Mayhem back to his senses.”
“Sounds like a plan,” said Flurry. “But where do we start?”
Mayhem suddenly appeared nearby, making the ones who could see him jump back. Seeing this, the others turned around and backed up as well.
“Hey there!” the draconequus said with a wave.
“What now?” asked Tree Leaf.
“You’re boring. I want to spice things up. It won’t be any fun otherwise.” Mayhem snapped his claw, and he was now wearing a dark costume with a bandana mask and a cape.
He gestured to Flurry, and snapped again. She was wearing a costume too now, covered with Crystal Hearts. “You’re a talented alicorn, so you don’t really need any help, but since you’re so fond of those gigantic wings of yours you can now make them even longer.”
Flurry gave him a questioning look, feeling an odd desire to test that. She pushed her wings out, and with only a thought her wings extended out of her body another fifteen feet. She looked left and right, seeing the strange spectacle and unsure of what to say about it.
Mayhem crossed his arms. “Those wings of yours are sturdy, and they won’t even add to your weight.”
Tree Leaf was next. After getting his costume decorated with leaves Mayhem said, “You seemed to like the little transformation stunt I used on you when we first met, so that’s your gift. Turn into whatever animal you want.”
Despite himself Tree Leaf couldn’t help but get excited. With a thought he transformed into a dragon and let out a large plume of flame into the sky.
“Cute,” said Mayhem. “Pound and Pumpkin, you get elemental magic. Since you’re so into your whole twin thing you can only use them to their full potential together, otherwise it’ll be pretty weak.
“Masky, since you’re mysterious you have power over shadows.
“And Peppermint, since you’re named after a sweet you can stretch your body at will. Not quite like a peppermint, but I doubt you want to be brittle like one.”
The rest of them got their costumes, also decorated with their namesakes.
He gave a little wave. “Well, that’s it. Hope you enjoy your stay in my world.” With that he vanished again.
“Costumes and superpowers, huh?” said Peppermint. “This reminds me of the Power Ponies comic I read with Twilight.”
Pumpkin looked around at the others. “It’s more familiar than that. All of these costumes are an exact duplicate of the painting Mayhem did on our ceiling.”
That made the others look at everyone’s costumes.
Masky slowly shook his head. “So he’s really committed to this game of his.”
“Mayhem said that he created himself looking evil because he felt that if he ever went wrong that the six of us would be there to stop him,” said Pound. “And that’s what we’re going to have to do. We have to keep playing his game to bring him back to his senses, because that’s what friends do.”
Pound put his hoof out, smiling. “Let’s do it, everyone! Let’s get our friend back.”
All of them put their own hooves on top of his, giving their assent.