Not even Beteljuice knew how to spell his own name, namely because he had specifically signed documents both ways just to screw with people. Sometimes he even mixed the two spellings together for the heck of it, because why not?
Unfortunately, the confusion did not exist in spoken form, to his annoyance. He wished it were possible to hear spelling. People would be so much more annoyed for no good reason and that delighted him.
Beetlejuice ran out of the castle just like everyone - pony? - else when Tzeentch had done his thing. The first thing he did was jump into an alley and hide behind two trash cans. After this, he checked his new living body over. Living! Not bound by any stupid rules, regulations, or ghostly apparitions. He was here and he could do whatever he wanted!
He didn’t have hands, that was definitely annoying, but he could still pick stuff up because hooves didn’t need to follow the laws of physics, apparently. Perfect. Four sturdy, strong legs. He would have preferred something more agile or magical - clearly unicorns were the superior race and he was stuck bumbling through the mud. Annoying.
Further examination proved that, yes, he was still a ‘woman’ or ‘mare’. Normally this prospect would excite him in a decidedly disgusting way, but there was the slight issue that he was also a horse. The proportions were all off and everything was covered in little hairs.
He poked his head out of the alley, adjusting his hat and narrowing his eyes. Lots of ponies walking around completely in the nude and it all seemed so… normal.
“This place is cramping my style,” Beetlejuice muttered. “There’s gotta be something here. Anything. Come on…”
“Applejack?” a child’s voice asked from behind her. “You’re talkin’ kinda weird.”
Betelgeuse grinned. That’s right, there’s more to life than women… He whirled around and gave his signature ear-piercing ghostly scream of terror, ready to see the kid run away screaming at the top of her lungs.
Only one problem.
He couldn’t do the scream without ghost powers, of which he currently had none. So all that came out was a “Graaaaaaaah!”
The yellow filly and her two friends looked at her in confusion.
“Did… did you just try to scare us?” Sweetie asked.
“Wow, that was lame,” Scootaloo laughed.
Betelgeuse twitched. “You all are in for it now…”
Apple Bloom cocked her head. “Seriously, what’s wrong Applejack? You… you don’t look too good.”
“It needs to be worse!” He grabbed Apple Bloom by the shoulders and shook. “What about the ghosts!?”
“Uh… Ghosts don’t exist?”
Beetlejuice twitched. “What. If. They. Did?”
“Ah guess Zecora might know somethin’...”
“And where is Zecora?”
“...Really, AJ? She lives in the Everfree Forest. Right down that path.”
Betelgeuse dropped Apple Bloom and took off at a gallop into the forest.
“...Whaddoya suppose that was all about?” Apple Bloom asked.
Scootaloo pointed at a giant green balloon in front of Friendship Castle.
“Ah. It’s gonna be one of those days.”
“...And you weren't worried at all?” Fluttershy asked.
“Ah mean, a little?” Apple Bloom shrugged. “Ah’m kinda used to it at this point.”
“Weird stuff happens,” Scootaloo added.
“Looks like I’ll fit in perfectly!” The Mask shifted her body into that of a puzzle piece.
“...Mask, I can't move my legs,” Fluttershy said.
The Mask popped back into a pegasus shape.
“So what are you gonna do?” Apple Bloom asked.
Discord pressed his hands together. “We are going to find Beetlejuice and we are going to force him out of Applejack through chaos magic. I’m thinking bellows to the face will do it.”
“Can’t you just snap your fingers or something?” Spike asked.
“Yes. But that’s boring.”
“Our friends are in danger!”
The Mask slid up to Spike and grinned. “Nothing sayin’ we can’t have some fun while being heroes, amirite?”
Spike slid away from him. “...Yes! Yes th-”
“Spike,” Fluttershy said, putting a gentle hoof on him. “Don’t you remember when we were out saving the world that we had fun despite the danger? Pinkie would joke, Rainbow would say something something ‘awesome’, and Rarity would complain and everypony would laugh? It’s okay to have a little fun.”
Spike frowned. “...Sure. Whatever.”
Fluttershy sighed. “We’ll be going to Zecroa’s now. Crusaders, can you ask around Ponyville, find where the others went?”
“Can-do!” Apple Bloom said with a salute.
Discord raised his hand. “And away we go-”
“JUMPSIES!” the Mask shouted, jumping them to Zecora’s hut.
“Mask!” Fluttershy gasped. “That was rude, taking Discord’s teleport like that!”
“But the look on his face!” the Mask chuckled. “Look at it!”
Fluttershy looked at Discord’s bewildered face. The eye twitch got her to chuckle. “That is a pretty good face…”
“Zecora?” Spike called, running through the front door. “Zecora!?”
Zecora looked up from the noxious green brew she was stirring. “Spike the dragon, do you wish for a flagon?” She held up a small flagon filled with goop colored similarly to her cauldron.
“How long have you been waiting for me to walk in so you could make that rhyme?”
“Weeks,” Zecora admitted, holding out the flagon. “Do not worry, it has no leaks.”
Spike facepalmed. “Look, has Applejack come by?”
“Applejack was indeed here, but is no longer I fear.”
“What did she want?”
“Seeking books of degeneracy; dark magics, spirits, and necromancy.”
“Hey! That wasn’t a great rhyme!” the Mask said, busting through a window as though it was on a rotating axel.
“Find necromancy a rhyme. I’m waiting - I have time.”
“Incorporate that into a sentence or give me your repentance.”
The Mask twitched. “Bah.”
“Sorry about her,” Fluttershy said, smiling awkwardly. “That wasn’t Applejack, Zecora, that was a ghost possessing her form another world.”
“This is grave news indeed, for I gave her a book that could make ears bleed.”
Spike groaned. “Why would you give her a book of dark magic?”
“She said it was a request from Twilight, I would not want to give the princess a slight.”
“Where is she now?”
Zecora shrugged. “She left to find a place suited for her use. The Treehouse seems a fine end for the deuce.”
“Thanks, Zecora!” Fluttershy said.
“BOU-” the Mask began.
“Oh no no no you don’t! Discord gets to teleport us this time, hmph!”
“...On come on, I have it ready and e-”
Discord teleported them all away with a snap of his fingers.
Zecora let out a ‘huh’. She decided since no one was around she didn't need to rhyme it with anything.
Giggling to herself, she took a drink from the flagon and said “purple.”
A manticore roared at Beetlejuice.
He glared at it. “Back off you overgrown tabby!”
The manticore didn’t find this glare particularly threatening, so it attacked. Betelgeuse tried to fight, but he found that while he was strong he didn’t know how to use Applejack’s body well enough to be agile. The manticore’s claws hit him in the side and tossed him over to a bridge that almost broke from the impact.
The manticore, having a modicum of intelligence, was able to realize that meant it probably wouldn’t be able to support the weight of an apex predator. With an annoyed growl, the manticore left Beetlejuice behind.
“Ha! That’s right! Run away! I am the scariest fucker this side of the multiverse! You will rue the day you ran into Betel-”
One of the ropes on the other side of the bridge started to break.
Betelgeuse forgot his speech and jumped to the safe side of the bridge, the force of his jump causing the bridge to crumble into the ravine below. His landing on the dusty ground was painful, but he managed to not only avoid breaking any bones but also kept a sharp hold on the book of dark magic he had tricked Zecora out of. Dumb bitch, heh.
Not that he’d figured out how to use it yet, but the book had mentioned places of power in the Everfree Forest, and he was in the Everfree Forest, so it made sense to start there.
He forgot all complaints of his living body aching horribly when he realized what was standing in front of him - an old, decrepit castle standing in stark defiance to the encroaching forest of darkness around it. This must be it!
With a spring in his step, he trotted forward and touched his hoof to the front door.
He was more than a little shocked to see a ghostly pony float through the door.
The ghostly pony was more than a little shocked that Beetlejuice could see her.
“What?” They both said at once.
“I thought ghosts didn’t exist!”
“I thought the living couldn’t see is!”
“Well, I didn’t used to be living, babe.”
The mare instantly lost all interest in him. “And that’s enough of talking to you.” She floated back into the door of the castle.
“Wh- hey! Don’t ignore me!” He ran through the door into an open courtyard with dozens of ghosts floating around, chatting, going about their un-lives like nothing was wrong. “Hey. All of you!”
They mostly ignored him, and the few who didn’t looked at him with annoyed disdain.
“I’ve got a book of dark magic and I’m not afraid to use it!” He held up the book and waved it around menacingly.
One of the unicorn ghosts laughed. “She really is an idiot, isn’t she?”
“Quite,” his pegasus friend said.
“Do you think she realizes she needs a horn to use those spells?”
“Well now she does.”
Betelgeuse almost tore the book in half in rage. “That’s it, I’m going to make this clear - you all are going to tell me exactly what to do with this book, or I am going to sic the agents of chaos on you and they will tear you limb from limb…”
The ghosts who weren’t ignoring him laughed.
“Don’t test me! I’m the ghost with the most - er, well, not-ghost with the most! You hear me!?”
Meanwhile, at the balcony of the Treehouse, Silverstream looked away from the telescope. “Applejack sure looks angry…”
Gallus put his eye to the telescope. “...She seems to be shouting at nothing.”
“She is communing with her inner yak!” Yona said.
“I thought it was Applejack out there?” Silverstream asked.
Beetlejuice threw the book at the ghosts, the pages of darkness passing harmlessly through them.
“Just go already,” one of the ghostly mares said. “You are not welcome here, you are nothing more than a disruption.”
“I’m not doing anything you tell me.” Betelgeuse folded his hooves and sat down on the rock.
They glared at him in disdain.
“You want me out? Tell me how to use the book. Otherwise, I’m staying right here and I’ll never shut up.”
A unicorn ghost sighed. “Looks like we’ll just have to get rid of you then…”
“I made an unliving spooking the living out of their homes. I’d like to see you t-”
One of the ghosts picked up the book in her telekinesis and slapped Beetlejuice across the face with it. The nightmares contained within the dark necromantic tome flooded his mind, showing him in no uncertain terms that he not only would die, but his ghost would be purged from existence in a ritual so painful that he would wish the Black Death had gotten him.
He grunted. “That the best you g-”
She hit him with the book again. And again. Each time throwing a new nightmare of darkness into his mind with a different spin. Gore. Overly cheery happiness. Uncanny valley. Failure.
A replaying of the events of the death that made him a ghost in the first place.
He let out a shout of panic and scrambled out of the courtyard.
“...Something has her spooked,” Gallus said, stepping back from the telescope.
“Who?” Silverstream asked.
Ocellus looked up from her book. “I thought we were talking about Pinkie?”
“Yaks do not scream and run, not even inner yaks,” Yona offered.
Gallus snorted. “You sure you know yaks?”
“Yona know best yaks!”
“Spiders,” Sandbar coughed. “Spiders.”
Yona glared at him.
“And she’s gone,” Gallus said. “We may never know what that was about.”
Beetlejuice ran out of the courtyard doors and right into Discord’s leg.
“Did the dead just scare you out of their house?” the Mask asked. “That’s RICH!”
Beetlejuice thought fast. “Mask, we’re buddies, right? Come on, help a brother out and give him a little boost.”
“Beteljuice… Nah.” The Mask did a triple backflip back and winked. “He’s all yours big guy.”
Discord lifted Betelgeuse into the air and stared deeply into his eyes. “You’re in my friend’s body longer than it was loaned to you for. I’m taking it back. You are paying your overdue rent with interest at a later date. Whenever I see fit, really.”
“Twelve percent interest rate compounded hourly,” Fluttershy offered, typing into a receipt machine. She tore the receipt off and stuffed it in Betelgeuse’s mouth. “You will be contacted by a financial advisor when we feel your debt has become oppressive enough.”
“Wait!” Beetlejuice called. “I can give y-”
Discord didn’t let him finish. There was a snap and Beetlejuice was gone.
“That was easy,” Apple Bloom said, walking out of Berry Punch’s “totally just juice and nothing else” shop. “Berry really does know everythin’.”
“So I guess we’re done then?” Sweetie said, unsure.
Scootaloo sighed. “That was boring. We need something exciting!”
Discord teleported an unconscious Applejack onto Scootaloo’s back, knocking the poor pegasus to the ground. “WAUGH!”
“Ask and thou shall receive,” the Mask said, wearing a priest’s uniform.
“This feels… odd, but strangely fitting,” Fluttershy noted, adjusting the collar.
“What did you find?” Spike asked the Crusaders, trying to get to the point.
Sweetie levitated a notebook out, flipping through a few pages. “Okay, so… we’ve got nothing at all on Twilight, and I don’t think we are since she could have teleported anywhere she wanted. Rainbow Dash flew at full speed to Canterlot, Rarity was last seen going into her boutique, and Pinkie has been seen in several places stabbing ponies and getting ketchup everywhere.”
“S-stabbing ponies?” Fluttershy gasped.
“Yep,” Apple Bloom said. “Apparently it’s aggravatin’ her somethin’ fierce that none of her knives actually do anythin’. Bon Bon’s apparently having a… ‘crisis,’ accordin’ to Berry from an encounter with the ketchup knife.”
“Where is this happening?” Spike asked.
“All over the place. Seems pretty random.”
“That’s Pinkie for you,” Sweetie commented.
“Can we get Applejack off me!?” Scootaloo whined.
The Mask produced a giant spatula and flipped the Scootaloo Applejack pile like a pancake, leaving Scootaloo on top.
“Any time, any day, any spaceship,” the Mask said.
“Why isn’t Applejack awake?” Apple Bloom asked.
“Chaos coma,” Discord said. “Same reason Starlight’s out. Just watch over her, she should wake up eventually.”
“Bill’s the closest,” Fluttershy said. “We should go there.”
“To the boutique!” Discord declared, suddenly wearing a caped superhero outfit.
“Mine’s better,” the Mask said, showing off her added muscles and bladed wings.
“You try too hard.”
“Guys!” Spike yelled. “Boutique! This way! Come on!”
Chara had been… “experimenting.”
She couldn’t be lethal, not with Pinkie’s powers. That much was clear. She’d used knives she made, knives she found in random kitchens, swords, spears, fake knives (just to see if the reverse meant something)... nothing worked.
She’d tried knocking ponies off cliffs too. They bounced like she would if she had anything to do with leading them to their doom. Vicious animals were somehow never able to maim when captured by her.
But one thing she could do was imprison ponies. There was nothing stopping her from putting them in a cage and throwing them into the deepest caverns to watch them scream.
Chara giggled to herself as she passed by her latest victim - one Derpy Hooves, who shivering in the bottom of an oversized birdcage. “That’s it, bird, try to fly… you’ll never escape. This is your home forever, now. Forever.”
Derpy whimpered in fear.
“Good… good…” Chara retreated from the cage, replacing her grin with a frown.
Fun as this was, it wasn’t… enough.
She couldn’t kill, directly or indirectly. The animals wouldn’t attack viciously… but that may have been because they were part of this world.
If she could try something truly indirect…
She had no idea how to do that at the moment. But it was something to think about.
She was going to figure out how to consume the world as Pinkie Pie.
Nothing was going to stop her.