Twilight looks up at the entrance from where she had been sitting since Celestia left, lost in thought over the revelations that had been shared with her. She waits. Nothing happens.
"SPIKE!!!" Twilight shouts, annoyed.
Why is he still asleep? He went right back to bed after Caramel and I left.
She soon hears the telltale sound of claws on wood, Spike himself entering her view soon after.
"You called?" the purple dragon asks, yawning as he descends the stairs.
"I did," Twilight confirms. "Can you get the door?"
Spike looks at their front door, "That door?"
"The one you're sitting like 10 feet away from?"
"The one you could have opened with your magic?"
"The very same."
Spike pauses long enough to give her a flat look before finishing his descent and walking over to the door. Opening it, he sees three familiar filly faces looking back at him.
"Hi Spike!" they greet in unison.
"Hey girls, how's it going?" Spike replies, a smile managing to worm its way onto his face as the fillies' boundless enthusiasm eats away at his sleep-grumpiness.
"Pretty good," Scootaloo answers. "Can we talk to Twilight? Sweetie Belle wants to ask her something before we start crusading today."
"Yeah, sure." Spike opens the door fully and walks towards the kitchen, "You guys want anything?"
"No thank you."
Spike shrugs, vanishing into the kitchen as the Cutie Mark Crusaders enter the library.
Meanwhile, Twilight stands, walking over to meet the fillies as they cross the threshold, "Hello girls; I'm guessing you're looking for a book to help you with your newest crusade?"
Sweetie Belle shakes her head, "Actually, I was wondering if you knew what happened to my sister last night. She seemed pretty angry when I woke up. Something about one of her greatest dreams getting utterly crushed after being heartlessly abandoned by one of her best friends, and now she's laying around eating a bunch of ice cream. Again."
Scootaloo rolls her eyes, "It also probably didn't help that you told her she's going to get fat."
Sweetie Belle throws up her hooves, "But she is! She already ate all of our ice cream last week when that guy criticized her puppet theater, and now she's doing it again!"
"Hold on a second – abandoned? I didn't – I mean, I don't think… " Twilight pauses, confusion taking hold as her memories begin to conflict with themselves, It was just me and Fluttershy in the hospital room and in the hallway. I could have sworn Rarity entered with me though…
Twilight examines her memory of that instance through her mind's eye. However, with Rarity nowhere to be found, she continues to backtrack through her memories of the previous night, So she apparently didn't enter the hospital… but I know she was outside with me.
Yet as she checks that memory as well, she once again finds Rarity to be missing, Wait, if she's not there, then that means…
Going back further to the moment of teleportation, Twilight feels herself surrounded by the warm glow of her magic combined with the enhanced spatial awareness granted by the spell to avoid teleporting inside of other solid objects. And with that awareness, she feels nopony but herself.
…I didn't take Rarity with me when I teleported to the hospital. Shoot.
Twilight? Twiliiiight~ Equestria to Twilight!
I guess she's pretty mad that she didn't get to see the vampony. And probably also that I left her with a crowd of frightened ponies who most likely swarmed her asking what I said after I left. I suppose I should've gone back and said something to them before going back to sleep. Oh well. And I should definitely go apologize to Rarity, but… ugh, that's one more thing I have to do now… though I suppose all my plans for today are already out the window anyways.
Nothing. She's just standing there.
Ah wonder what happened. It seemed like such a simple thing ta ask…
Hang on, I have an idea.
Twilight's eyes refocus on reality, her mind returning to the present. Sweetie Belle and Applebloom are looking up at her worriedly, the latter waving a hoof in front of her face. Twilight blinks.
"TWILIGHT!!!" Scootaloo screams in her ear through a megaphone, having somehow procured one from somewhere nearby.
Twilight jumps several feet in the air, falling to the floor in an adrenaline infused heap of hooves and wings.
After a moment, Applebloom nudges the purple pile, "…are you alright, Twilight?"
Twilight groans in reply, muttering something incomprehensible under her breath as she clutches her head with her hooves. The Crusaders stand fidgeting in front of her in the meantime, the minutes slowly ticking by while Twilight lays on the floor, waiting for the ringing to fade from her ears. Eventually though, she raises her head, the Cutie Mark Crusaders watching her anxiously.
"Why did you do that?" Twilight demands, more than a touch of anger in her voice.
Twilight eyes the three fillies from her spot on the floor, switching her gaze between each of them while she waits for an explanation.
"Well, you were just kind of sitting there, and you weren't reacting to anything we said, so we thought that maybe we should… try to snap you out of it?" Sweetie Belle ventures.
"And the solution you came up with was to try to make me deaf?" Twilight deadpans.
"Yeah… uh… mayyybe not one of our brightest ideas," Scootaloo admits, rubbing the back of her head.
"We're sorry… " they apologize in unison, meeting Twilight's accusing gaze with wobbly lips and wide, shimmering eyes.
Twilight tries as best she can to hold her ground against the onslaught of cuteness, yet despite her efforts she feels her anger draining away, "I forgive you."
The fillies highhoof each other at this.
"But! On the condition you stop and take the time to think through what you're planning to do before actually doing it," she adds pointedly.
"We will!" they promise together.
Twilight nods, "Good. Now, regarding Rarity, she and I just had a bit of a misunderstanding, but I'll talk to her and clear everything up. It's nothing you girls need to worry about."
"Oh, great," Sweetie Belle replies. "Thanks, Twilight."
"Alright, now that we know that nopony's friendship is about to fall apart, it's time to start our next Crusade!" Scootaloo declares, she and her friends walking towards the library's entrance.
Once they're outside, a purple aura envelopes the door to push it shut behind them, Twilight's headache continuing to throb.
I really need to talk with Pinkie about her emergency stashing habits. She's like a manic pink squirrel. First though, I'm going to need some more tea.
Rather than shouting for Spike amid the pounding permeating her brain, she turns to the kitchen intending to brew it herself. Spike, however, is already standing there holding a cup. He raises an eyebrow, "Sooo, I see you closed the door with your magic."
Twilight groans, "Please, not now, Spike."
Spike chuckles, "Some tea then?"
"That would be wonderful," Twilight replies gratefully, levitating the cup from Spike's claws over to herself. "Thanks, Spike."
Spike waves it off as he returns to the kitchen, "Don't mention it. I made some sandwiches too, if you want any."
Twilight trots over to join him, And this is why you'll always be my number one assistant.
Now outside, the Cutie Mark Crusaders turn to face each other, forming a small circle.
"Y'all ready?" Applebloom asks. Her two friends nod excitedly, "Alright then, Cutie Mark Crusaders: Vampony Hunters is a go!"
"Yay!" Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle shout, both grinning widely while Scootaloo's wings buzz with excitement.
"And Ah think we'd better work out some sorta plan first, seein' as how we promised Twilight and all," Applebloom adds. She and Scootaloo look over at Sweetie Belle expectantly.
Sweetie Belle stares back at them, "What?"
"Well, we kind of thought that you'd know the most about vamponies since your sister is so obsessed with them," Scootaloo explains.
"She's not obsessed!" Sweetie Belle exclaims exasperatedly, stamping her hoof, "She just really likes those types of stories."
Applebloom and Scootaloo share a glance, an understanding passing between them, then look back to Sweetie Belle. After a moment of awkward silence, Applebloom speaks up, "You… haven't seen the ceiling in Rarity's room, have you?"
Sweetie Belle's brow knits, "No. What would I be looking at her ceiling for?"
Applebloom places a comforting hoof on Sweetie Belle's shoulder, "Next time yer in her room, look at the ceiling above her bed. If you can still tell me she's not obsessed with vamponies after that, then Ah'll believe you."
Sweetie Belle opens her mouth to retort, however Applebloom continues before she gets the chance, "But enough about Rarity, we're gettin' distracted! Do ya know anything about huntin' vamponies?"
"I know a little," Sweetie Belle admits, frowning at the sudden change in topic. "They get burned in sunlight or with solar water, they don't like the smell of garlic for some reason, and the only way to kill them is with a wooden stake through the heart."
Scootaloo groans, her hoof meeting her face, "That's it? I could have told you that."
Sweetie Belle frowns, "Hey, it's not my fault. Rarity won't even let me see most of her vampony stuff. Apparently it's for 'Mares Only', whatever that's supposed to mean."
The other two shrug, equally unsure as to what Rarity could want to keep hidden.
"We can investigate that tomorrow, Cutie Mark Crusaders: Secrets Finders or somethin'. Anyway, it's not like we can actually get any of that besides the stake." Applebloom taps her chin with a hoof, "Although… solar water burns them right? So we could just use acid instead! That burns everything! Though Ah don't know where we'd get any of that either… "
"What about some really hot, hot sauce?" Scootaloo suggests, "That stuff can burn, and Pinkie's always got plenty of it around for her cupcakes."
"I guess that could work," Sweetie Belle concedes, though clearly not very convinced of the potential efficacy of hot sauce on vamponies. "We're going to have to make up for not using solar water though, so we'll need something a lot smellier than garlic."
Applebloom's eyes light up, "What about manure? We got plenty a' that back at the farm, and it’s one of the smelliest things Ah know of. We can pick up one of those old pieces of wood lyin' around there for a stake too!"
Scootaloo jumps over to her scooter and revs up her wings, "Sounds like a plan! Hop on girls, let's go get that hot sauce!"
Wonderbolt Scootaloo speeds past her competition, weaving around them with practiced ease.
A grin spreads across her face at their helpless squawks, the wind streaming through her mane and caressing her heaving sides as she gains on the only flier still in front of her.
Putting on a final burst of speed, she closes the remaining distance to cross the finish line an instant before the other pegasus, beating her by a mere nose.
Scootaloo and her passengers crash through the front door of Sugarcube Corner, a mint green unicorn who had just nudged the door open only barely managing to jump out of their way. Any remaining semblance of control Scootaloo had over her scooter vanishes an instant later, the Cutie Mark Crusaders flying off the scooter and attached wagon to skid across the floor until they encounter the shop's main counter with a solid whump. Applebloom and Sweetie Belle lay on the floor groaning while Scootaloo immediately leaps to her hooves, taking a triumphant pose.
And the crowd goes wild! She continues on a victory lap, even as sweat drips from her face and barrel. Upon reaching the finish line again, she sees Rainbow Dash hovering in front of her. "That was amazing!" Rainbow Dash exclaims, "You might even be as awesome as me now!"
Sweetie Belle bops Scootaloo on the nose, breaking her friend out of her fantasy. Looking to her left, Scootaloo sees both her friends glaring at her.
"Don't do that!"
"How're we supposed to be huntin' vamponies if we end up in the hospital?"
Scootaloo taps her hooves together, looking back at them guiltily, "Err… sorry about that. I guess I got a little carried away."
The glaring pair roll their eyes at this.
"Is it safe to come in?" a nervous voice asks from the doorway.
Turning, the fillies see Lyra Heartstrings peeking around the doorframe at them.
"Of course it's safe in here!" a cheerful voice behind them giggles, "Why wouldn't it be?"
Lyra takes another wary look around before entering, her gaze lingering on the Cutie Mark Crusaders along with their immediate surroundings. Pinkie Pie meanwhile bounces happily next to the register, waiting for somepony to place their order.
Trotting past the CMC, Lyra stops in front of the register, "Hi Pinkie, I'd like a mint-vanilla-swirl cupcake and a slice of double chocolate fudge brownie cake."
Pinkie Pie hops away to retrieve the desired confections, "Coming right up!"
She returns several seconds later, a bag containing the treats bouncing on her back. With a gentle buck, she sends them flying to land on the counter in front of Lyra, "That'll be 3 bits."
Lyra levitates the bits over to Pinkie and the bag over to herself, "Thanks, Pinkie."
Having gotten what she came for, Lyra leaves the shop; the ringing of the doorbell marking her departure.
"So what can I getcha?" Pinkie inquires, leaning over the counter to look at the fillies, "I had an idea for a new type of cupcake if you want to taste test a few for me. I haven't decided what to call them yet though… do you girls think Volcanic Cupcake or Volcanicake sounds better?"
"Umm… Volcanicake?" Sweetie Belle offers.
Applebloom glances at Sweetie Belle, then back at Pinkie, "Ah dunno, Ah like Volcanic Cupcakes. It's more straightforward."
All eyes now turn to Scootaloo, awaiting the tie-breaking vote. She puts a hoof to her chin, considering her choices thoroughly – only reaching a decision after a full minute of careful deliberation, "I have to go with Volcanicakes. It sounds way cooler."
"Al~right! Volcanicakes it is!" Pinkie declares, hopping high enough in her excitement for her mane to dust the ceiling, "Wait right there, I'll go get some for you to try!"
The Crusaders place their forehooves on the front of the counter, looking over just in time to see Pinkie vanish into the kitchen. A cacophony of noise immediately emanates from behind the closed doors, an intervening lull of utter silence finally terminated by an ominous rumble. After a few seconds more, the kitchen doors ever so slowly reopen, Pinkie carrying two plates of her invented dessert on her back while another balances precariously on her head. Moving as slowly and gently as Fluttershy carrying a breezie, Pinkie eventually manages to make her way over to the nearest empty table, depositing the experimental cupcakes delicately.
As soon as the third plate makes its way onto the table however, she returns to her happy, hopping self, "Three freshly-baked Volcanicakes ready for testing!"
Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle take a seat around the table, each in front of what may have been the most misshapen cupcake ever purposely made, appearing to have more in common with a mound of cooked dirt than anything particularly edible. Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo eye their demented pastry hesitantly, while Applebloom shrugs and leans in to take a bite.
Pinkie Pie instantly tackles Applebloom, a frantic look on her face, "WAIT!!! They're not ready yet!"
"They're not?" comes the muffled question from beneath Pinkie.
"Nope! I said ready for testing, not for eating, silly," Pinkie Pie says, popping back up off of Applebloom and kicking the table, causing the plates to clatter. The cupcakes respond instantly with a gurgle as the tops of the mounds crack open, releasing wisps of steam. Streams of molten caramel follows the steam out of the cracks, rivulets of the sweet liquid making their way down the sides and pooling at the base of the delicious volcanoes.
The fillies watch the display raptly, "Cool~"
Pinkie giggles at their reaction, "Now they're ready. Well maybe not now now. You should probably wait for them to cool off first. So they'll be ready more of a now later."
Hearing the doorbell ring, Pinkie leaves the fillies to greet her next customer. Said fillies quickly start blowing on the hot oozing mounds in front of them, eager to be able to dig into Pinkie's amazing treat.
Pinkie Pie hums happily as she trots over to the Cutie Mark Crusaders' table, her smile widening when she sees that their plates have quite literally been licked clean, "Sooo, anypony want seconds?"
"Can't. Too full," Scootaloo moans. Sweetie Belle and Applebloom groan in agreement, their heads resting face down on the table.
"Alright, but you don't know what you're missing~" Pinkie giggles, "Oh wait, yes you do."
Applebloom raises her head, crossing her forelegs under her chin to act as a makeshift pillow, "We would like a bottle or two of hot sauce though."
"Sure!" Pinkie replies cheerily, "I've got hundreds of them."
Sweetie Belle mumbles something into the table, however the obstructing wood prevents her words from making sense.
Applebloom pokes her, "What'd you say, Sweetie Belle?"
"I said, 'What could you possibly need that much hot sauce for?'" Sweetie Belle replies, this time rolling her head to the side before speaking.
"For the hot sauce cupcakes, of course! Or as I call them, Hotcakes! I had the idea a few years ago after Cheerilee said that my newest creations were 'selling like hotcakes'. But I had no idea what a hotcake even was! So I started thinking 'What is a hotcake?'. Well obviously it has to be a cake and it has to be hot and hot sauce is hot and cupcakes are a type of cake so if you put them together you get: Hotcakes!" Pinkie frowns at this, her mane deflating, "The hotcakes didn't sell like hotcakes though. I still don't know why, I mean they tasted great… "
She stares at the floor forlornly, remembering all the delicious pastries spit out amid cries for water. An awkward silence falls as the Crusaders glance at each other, unsure how to respond.
"Well… " Applebloom says, "if it makes you feel any better, Ah thought the Volcanicake was amazin'."
She looks over at Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo who quickly agree.
"They were awesome!"
Pinkie Pie looks up at the three of them, her normally cheerful demeanor quickly returning. Dashing around the table in a blur, she gathers her filly friends in a tight hug, "Oh thank you thank you!"
"Pinkie… can't breath… gonna puke… " Applebloom gasps out.
Pinkie immediately releases them, her smile not diminished in the slightest, "Oops, my bad."
While the Crusaders are still recovering from her surprise hug, Pinkie picks up their dirty yet sparkling plates, depositing them in the kitchen to be washed before returning with their bottle of hot sauce, "Here you go!"
"Thanks, Pinkie," Scootaloo replies. "We're going to stay for a bit longer and… digest. We're heading out to Sweet Apple Acres next, and I don't want to get cramps halfway there, you know?"
Pinkie shrugs, "Not really, but feel free to stay as long as you like!"
With that, Pinkie Pie takes her place behind the counter once again. The Cutie Mark Crusaders meanwhile slump onto the table and begin to doze…