The next day, Gavin was high up in the sky with the rest of the pegasi of Ponyville's Weather Patrol Team, moving into the right positions and organizing some of the others to make sure no adverse weather effects would happen. As he floated a large, dark thunder cloud over (while wearing gloves around his talons) he looked over to a yellow pegasus with a clipboard in her hooves that she was staring at intensely while subconsciously brushing her cobalt-blue mane to the side.
“Hey, Sunshower, where do you want me to put this one?” He asked her.
“Oh...uh...over there,” she responded, her back still turned to Gavin as she motioned her hoof to the left, but then panned her head up and around, sighing, “Erm...sorry. Over there.” She pointed over.
“Hey, it's no problem,” Gavin said as he started to move the cloud, “How're things going? We on track to finish good today?”
“If we actually have ponies show up we might,” Sunshower turned to him, “Thunderlane hasn't come in to lead things in days so it's been up to me to take up the slack and everypony that goes to lunch seems to take it longer each and every day now,” she brought the clipboard up and smacked it against her head, “I swear, Gavin, I can't do this! I don't know a thing about leadership or anything like that! I deliver and modify clouds for Celestia's sake!”
“Well, you're doing a good job all things considered,” Gavin floated over to her and gave her a friendly hug, “Keep it up.”
Sunshower smiled in response, “If you say so, Gavin. I do know I'll be happy once Rainbow comes back in a few days from the academy.” Just then, Crash floated over to them, “Crash! There you are! Where in Equestria have you been?!” She scolded.
“Hey, hey, slow your roll, Sunny,” Crash put her hooves up defensively in front of herself, “I just got back a little late from lunch since I had to go check on some ponies.”
“Check on who?” Sunshower narrowed her eyes at Crash.
“Uh, the rest of our team?” Crash shrugged, “Oh, by the way, Blossomforth and Raindrops are gonna' be late getting back. Something about how they wanted to get fourths?”
“Get fourths?!” Sunshower yelped with surprise, “Where are they? And why didn't you open with that?”
“You didn't ask?” Crash titled her head, “And they're at Hotshot's right now.”
Sunshower grit her teeth as she started flexing the clipboard between her hooves, “Are...you...KIDDING ME?!” She shouted, the wood board snapping in half like a twig, “Agggggh! That stupid restaurant just had to open and make my life even more like I was in Tartarus!”
“Uh...” Crash blinked, her eyes wide as she exchanged a glance with an equally worried Gavin, “Sunny, it's okay. Take a deep breath. Things are going to be alright. Really.”
Sunshower grumbled as she looked at the pieces in her hooves, “Right...it'll be okay,” she said, “I'm not going to let this affect me that much.”
“That's the spirit,” Crash smiled and patted her on the back.
“Yup. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some ponies I need to go talk to,” she grumbled as she floated downward. Once Sunshower was out of earshot, Crash leaned over to Gavin.
“So, is this a bad time to ask if you wanted to go to there after we get off work?” She asked him.
“Sunny's gone so I think we're good,” Gavin turned his attention to her, “And I thought you didn't want to wait in line for that long.”
“I did. Originally. I decided now, though...,” she met Gavin's gaze, fierce determination in her eyes, “...it doesn't get to win.”
After a lengthy wait in line, Crash and Gavin finally managed to get through to the front, take their orders, and sit down at a table in the heavily crowded restaurant, Crash getting an oat burger and some hay fries while Gavin had gotten a double oat burger with some chili hay fries.
“Geez, talk about busy,” Gavin said, scanning the room, “Kinda' surprised we even managed to get in.”
“That could be because some ponies are using the new delivery service,” Crash did the same before considering her burger, “Looks good,” she moved in closer and sniffed it, “Smells good.”
“Why are you smelling it?” Gavin cringed.
“I got food poisoning from a restaurant when I was a filly and I really don't want it happening again,” Crash took the burger in her hooves and was about to take a bite before she stopped and saw Gavin with an unsure expression, “You alright, Feathers?”
“I dunno',” Gavin said, eyeing his burger and fries, “This feels a little wrong with everything going on. I feel like I'm hitting Stir's business even more by being here.”
“Dude, don't worry about it,” Crash smirked and patted his side, “It's just one meal. Besides, new things are supposed to be fun and exciting, right? And we're about to see if this worth it too!” She opened her mouth and took a bite of the oat burger. After only a mere second of chewing, she suddenly stopped as her eyes shrunk to small dots as she froze in place, holding the burger in her hooves and sporting a blank look.
“Crash?” Gavin asked, “You okay?” As if in response, her wings popped out from her sides, nearly knocking the tray out from under another pony's hooves as Crash tore into the rest of the burger, decimating it in a few bites before she picked up the fries and poured them into her mouth as well.
“That. Was. Freakin'. AMAAAAAZING!” She squealed with delight, “That was the best burger I've ever had in my entire life! The fries were so delicious too!”
“Uhh...” Gavin moved back from her slightly, “For real?”
“Yeah, for real! Try it!” Crash hopped up, slamming both her hooves down on the table.
“Okay, okay! Don't rush me!” Gavin defensively held up one of his talons, picking his meal up and taking a large bite. The moment the food struck his taste buds, he was hit with a rush of flavor that seemed to shoot through his entire body as the end of his tail puffed up and his fur stood on end. The same reaction followed as Gavin wolfed it down as quickly as Crash had done.
“Holy crap, you're right! That was pretty good!” He exclaimed.
“I know, right?” Crash nodded as they both stared at each other.
“Let's get more!”
“How many more?”
Gavin put a claw under his chin, “Uh...10?”
“Each?” Crash asked with anticipation.
“Yeah!” The two friends bumped hoof and fist together as they quickly stood up and ran up to order more food. Soon, each of them now possessed more (probably even more than they had originally anticipated) and wasted no time in working to eat it all. Bun, burger, condiment and fries alike all stood no chance as it disappeared into the pegasus or the griffon's maws. Shockingly enough, nopony else seemed to bat an eye at the display going on, the other customers more focused on their own meals than anything else, and Crash and Gavin themselves didn't even notice even as their stomachs slowly distended from the amount of food being quite willingly crammed down into their gullets.
“Oh yeah,” Crash groaned as she leaned back in her chair, rubbing her heavily stuffed, globular middle with her front hooves, their gluttonous rampage having come to an end.
“That was pretty much the best thing ever,” Gavin stuck his tongue out and licked some sauce and melted cheese off his beak while giving his bloated gut a pat as it gurgled and churned.
“Heck yeah,” Crash nodded in agreement, letting out a small burp, “If going to this place is wrong, I don't wanna' be right,” she laughed.
Gavin looked at her, “Same time tomorrow?” He smirked.
“Tomorrow? Gav, we're going here for dinner!” Crash beamed.
“Hm...” Wordy tapped a pencil on his temple as he peered over a tablet of paper in front of him at a small desk in the classroom of the schoolhouse A few days had passed ever since he had first noticed the odd state of Ponyville's citizens. The blue unicorn had put together notes while trying to get to the bottom of it.
“Let's see...it's been two weeks since Hotshot's Grill opened up. Within one week, a lot of the business for Ponyville's other restaurants and food sellers started to lessen as ponies went there instead. Nothing unusual there, that sometimes happen with new places, especially in small towns,” he turned a page, “The problem is the amount of business that was lost, especially with the massive influx that happened within such a short time. On top of that, some businesses seem like they've actually started working with Hotshot now, selling his food instead of their own while others just simply closed up. That's weird.”
“Not to mention why everypony has suddenly started fattening up,” he said aloud, “And with how ravenous anypony that even eats the food there gets...hm...” He looked up at the ceiling in deep thought.
“Twilight-erm-Princess Twilight, rather, is supposed to be back today. I should go to her castle and bring her what I found. Maybe she could help me out with this, though I'm pretty sure Hotshot is the key to all this,” As he continued pouring over the pages, his attention was drawn to somepony else entering the room. Wordy instinctively put some schoolwork he had been working on over the top of the tablet to hide his investigation notes.
“Hello, Wordy,” he recognized the voice as Cheerilee, Ponyville's teacher and another apparent 'victim' of the recent, rapidly developing obesity epidemic. The mulberry mare had very quickly plumped up, every feature of her now laden with thick fat, enough to where she had started to develop a double-chin and a pair of round cheeks while her belly and rump had swelled significantly, bouncing and bobbing with every heavy step she took.
“Hey, Miss Cheerilee,” Wordy replied, doing his best not to stare at her, “How are things outside?” He asked her.
“They're going well,” Cheerilee replied with a bright smile as she sauntered over to her desk, “The foals are all enjoying themselves outside and the shipment of pies should arrive here soon for them to start eating once they come in from recess.”
“Erm...right. That's good,” Wordy chuckled nervously, playing along with whatever had caused her sudden change in behavior, “So...um...Cheerilee, have you noticed anything strange at all recently?” He asked her, attempting to find a further lead.
“Like what?” She asked curiously as she sat down, her fat spilling off the side of the chair and the seat creaking in protest from the increasing size it was forced to hold up.
“Well, just little things I've been noticing,” he walked over to the window, “It seems that all the students want to do anymore is just eat whenever they come here and I'm a little concerned about how it might be affecting their health,” he added, taking a glance at the chubby fillies and colts outside in the schoolyard.
“Oh, I wouldn't worry too much, Wordy,” Cheerilee responded with a wave of her hoof, “They're just going through a growth spurt is all,” she set a bag down on her desk and began to gorge herself on donuts.
“They're not the only ones...” Wordy whispered to himself.
“Hm?” Cheerilee perked up.
“Oh, uh, nothing. Just coughed,” Wordy quickly responded, giving a mock cough as he turned to face her, giving a bright grin.
“Hm...” Cheerilee hopped off the chair and walked over to him, “If anything, I'd be concerned about your health from NOT eating,” she stuck a meaty hoof out and prodded his side, making him jump a little and blush from the involuntarily poke, “You're practically skin and bones, you poor thing!” She giggled.
“Uh...right. I'll, uh, remember that,” he nervously nodded.
“Say, how about I treat you to a few pies once they get here? They're fantastic!” She smiled brightly, “Maybe you'd even want to take one home to Shutterbug?” She offered, referring to Wordy's girlfriend.
“I...uh, thanks, Cheerilee, but I, um, I'm not really all that hungry?” Wordy started sweating, wiping his brow with his bandanna.
“Are you sure, dear?” Cheerilee suddenly looked concerned.
“Postive. 100% positive,” he nodded quickly before shooting a glance at the clock, “Oh! Hey! The time! I, um, I'm going to take my lunch break now. I'll be back in a bit,” he chuckled, forcing his Cheshire-like visage at this point.
Cheerilee tilted his head, “But I thought you weren't hun-”
“GOTTA GO, BYE!” Wordy shouted before teleporting out of the room, but momentarily coming back to pick up his investigation notes from the desk before awkwardly waving and poofing away again, leaving a very confused Cheerilee behind.
“Whew,” Wordy sighed and took a deep breath as he relaxed on his way to Stir Fry's shop, “Dodged a bullet there.” He subconsciously took a gaze back at his bags before turning his attention forward, continuing his observance. He had been noting the progress of gaining on some of the ponies he had seen before, taking careful looks to see if they'd gotten any bigger (some of which had.) One big difference he had noticed was the lessened number of pegasus ponies in the skies and if they were there, they were just as big and husky as their wing-less counterparts (and getting close to being grounded themselves.)
“Wordy!” A voice came from above him. Wordy stopped and did a turn to see Sunshower land behind him, “Hey, do you know where Crash is? She was supposed to come in today for the weather patrol but I haven't seen her at all today.” She asked.
“I haven't, actually,” Wordy shook his head. Just like many of the other ponies, he took a quick note of her physique and noticed even she had started to show signs of weight gain, her middle dropping a bit lower than usual.
“Agh, alright,” she groaned, “I'll just head back...after I finish my lunch break, anyway,” she shook her head and took the air again, “If you see her, please please PLEASE ask her to get back into the sky and finish moving those clouds.” She flew off. Wordy watched her go and then continued on his way. On his way, he passed by several ponies he recognized yet again. Derpy the mailmare now had taken to using a cart to pull her mail around as she had expanded too much to even fly anymore, though still possessing the same bright, wall-eyed happiness she always had. Big Macintosh from Sweet Apple Acres was now a shadow of his former self, the once well-built earth stallion a vision of blobby adipose as his solid muscles were buried underneath layer upon layer of chunky flab, Wordy swearing he could even see his stomach dragging across the ground as he pulled a cart loaded with crates through town. Finally, he passed by Comet as he waited in line at Hotshot's Grill again. More weight had piled onto his frame from a few days ago, making him now resemble the rest of the ponies in line much more than the small amount of pudge he had before.
“If whatever's going on continues, the whole town is going to be overweight! Maybe even more than that!” He shuddered, remembering how large Cheerilee had gotten in such a short amount of time. The fact that he also hadn't seen some ponies in a while had also been worrying him.
“Hey, Penpone! 'sup?!” A second voice again broke his concentration. He looked over, seeing Crash trotting toward him, a cart around her waist loaded with bags and boxes.
“Oh. Hey, Crash,” Wordy walked over to her, “What are you doing?”
“Got me a sweet new delivery job,” she smiled, “It pays really well too. I even get a discount at the grill!”
“Discount? Job?” Wordy tilted his head, “You're working for Hotshot?”
“Well, not just him,” she shrugged, “I run deliveries for Sugar Cube Corner, the Oats and Boats Cafe, and sometimes even Sweet Apple Acres if there's a lot to get delivered.
“I see...” Wordy took a step to the side, again trying to examine her. Just as the same as Sunshower, Crash's figure was getting hammered by the effects of the all the food she was probably wolfing down on a daily basis, though it hadn't impacted her as much given how lithe she had been to start. Still, her developing pot belly and thickening flank were still quite noticeable and given the rest of the town's condition it wouldn't be long before she started to blow up like a balloon.
“Hey!” Crash stepped closer to him, “You eyeing me up, dude? Shutter might get jealous if ya' keep that up,” she grinned as she lightly smacked his shoulder, “Anywho, I got some work to do. See ya' around!” She started to trot off.
“Oh, Crash! Wait!” Wordy turned around, “Sunshower wanted to find you!”
“I know! And if you see her again, tell her that this pays WAY better than moving clouds!” Crash smirked as she took a burger out of her side-bag and took a bite out of it, ketchup and onion straws collapsing off it, “Plush tha ferd's bertter!” She laughed with a full mouth before turning down another street. Wordy stood motionless in the street for a short time, running over everything that had just happened.
“This is worse than I thought...Crash might be a slacker, but she'd never willingly put off work when she needs to be there.” His thoughts also turned to Gavin, images of the griffon growing bigger and bigger playing out in his mind, “That does it. I need to talk to the Princess and soon!” His thoughts were interrupted by his stomach gurgling and for a moment he put the thought out of his mind as he entered the noodle shop. To his surprise, there were actually a few ponies inside, happily eating as he walked by them.
“Hey! Hey, Wordy!” Stir's voice called from the bar as Wordy cantered to the happy earth pony, “You want some rangoons? I'll go get you some.”
“Uh, sure. Sounds good,” Wordy put on a smile as he sat down, surveying the restaurant, “It seems like business is picking up again.”
“Oh yes! Yes it is!” Stir came back, carrying a plateful of warm rangoons that oozed, signifying they had just been made.
“What happened? Did you take out a new ad?” Wordy asked, picking up one with his magic field.
“Nope!” Stir beamed, “Mr. Hotshot came by my shop earlier. Apparently there were a few places in town that were struggling from his restaurant being in business and he felt terrible about that. Did you know Bon Bon had to close her bakery?” Stir said sadly.
“Yeah, I'd heard,” Wordy nodded, “So what did Hotshot say?”
“Well, he offered to make me a partner in his business. He'll give me a cut of the profits that he makes so long as I sell his food here,” Wordy put the rangoon in his mouth as he listened, “He even makes rangoons too! They're really delicious too!” Wordy's teeth chomped down just as the statement left Stir's lips, making a look of abject horror cross his face upon realizing what he had just done. The feeling of panic faded away immediately as the blue unicorn found himself under the food's spell, the delicious cream-cheese and the crab meat swirling with the crunchy, fried shell to stimulate his tongue's receptors enough to make small sparks shoot off his horn and his eyes shoot wide open.
“Mmmmm, good!” Wordy cried out as he levitated the rest of the rangoons into his mouth, filling it full and making his cheeks bulge, each of them just as tasty as the first one.
“Pretty good, right?” Stir said with a squee, “I tried one of his and it was the most delicious thing I'd ever tasted! He even brought over noodles and everything else I need to sell all his stuff here and he's even letting me make it all!”
Wordy gulped hard, taking the food into his belly before reaching into his saddle bag and slapping several bits down onto the counter, “I'll take five more orders of those! And a large bowl of noodles!” He demanded.
Stir grinned and clapped his hooves together, “You got it!” He trotted back to the kitchen as Wordy impatiently waited at the front bar. Stir soon returned with the order and set it down, the hungry unicorn wasting no time in attacking the noodles and the rangoons, slurping them up and chomping down at the same time. Soon, the food all vanished from the platter, Wordy having inhaled the remaining noodles and leaving the bowl completely empty just short of him licking it clean...which he subsequently proceeded to do.
“Ahhhhh,” Wordy finished running his tongue along the bowl and sat back, wincing slightly from how stuffed his gut had become, “Oh yeah. I'm coming here everyday from now on.”
“Looking forward to seeing you! Same with Gavin and Crash too!” Stir smiled brightly.
“Yeah,” Wordy put his hoof up to his mouth to cover a burp, “Hey...could I get one more order of those?” He slid some bits over to Stir, “Not for me. I'm sure Shutterbug will want to try them too.”
“You bet! I'll get 'em put in a takeout bag for you,” Stir trotted back into the kitchen, packaging up some more rangoons for Wordy to take home to his girlfriend, unaware he was about to make her experience the same fate as himself and the rest of his friends.