She had really done it this time.
The tomato vendor in town, a white earth pony mare about Rarity's age with dark brown hair with a single tomato as a cutie mark named Scarlet Tomato, had always run a tough business. She was never afraid to try to squeeze a few more bits out of a customer if she could.
That was the twisted reason that Fluttershy was her favorite customer.
Scarlet Tomato only reserved her extortion techniques for the ponies that she knew they would work on, that is, the shyest or most gullible ponies in Ponyville, or any town for that matter. Fluttershy not only fit into both of those categories, but even if she did know that she was being cheated, and she undoubtedly did, she would never cause a ruckus about it. As such, Fluttershy often found herself paying the outrageous price of three bits per tomato.
This particular day, Fluttershy was buying tomatoes for a dish that she was making for a potluck dinner that the six of them were going to have the next day. As per usual, Fluttershy walked up to the tomato stand with her head low and her ears flattened; a stance that Rarity had seen her in often when she was embarrassed. Scarlet Tomato greeted her with her usual satisfied grin, and the two began chatting about tomato prices.
Fluttershy scooped a trio of tomatoes into her bag and dejectedly placed ten bits on the counter. Rarity, who had recently purchased tomatoes had paid two bits for five tomatoes. Rarity glowered at Scarlet Tomato as she scooped the bits into her cash box, still wearing that insufferable grin. Rarity gritted her teeth and growled. She had to talk to Fluttershy about standing up to her one of these times, but for now, she would have to talk with Scarlet Tomato. It would be a talk that would determine how long Scarlet Tomato had left to live.
Rarity marched up to the tomato stand and shot the Scarlet Tomato a look that left little doubt as to how mad she was. To Rarity's frustration, Scarlet Tomato seemed relatively unfazed by the glare, and returned it with one of irritation. "What do you want?"
"I want you to go into your cash box and give me the eight bits you stole from my dear friend Fluttershy!" Rarity commanded.
Scarlet Tomato snorted and replaced her irritated glare with her smug smile. "Or what? I didn't force her to give them to me. I just asked her for ten bits and she hoofed 'em over. There's hardly anything too illegal about that."
"You deliberately stole money from a poor, defenseless pegasus. Have you no shame?!" growled Rarity.
Scarlet Tomato paused for a second at this question. She looked deep in thought and she scratched her head for a brief moment before turning back to Rarity with that same smug grin. "Nope, I can't say that I do! Now if you'll excuse me, I have other customers to attend to." Rarity looked behind her and sure enough, two ponies were waiting impatiently behind her. Rarity turned her attention back towards Scarlet Tomato who continued to give her that infuriating smug smile. "We have a little saying in the tomato business for ponies like you: get the buck away from my tomato cart!"
If looks could kill then Scarlet Tomato and her entire extended family would have been struck dead on the spot. Rarity ground her teeth together. "This. Isn't. Over."
Scarlet Tomato laughed and poked Rarity's nose. "I think it is. Now go away." Rarity turned around to begin the short journey back to her shop. As she walked away, she heard Scarlet Tomato call out to her. "I look forward to the three bits per tomato you're gonna owe me!"
That was the final straw. Scarlet Tomato would die tonight; as slowly and in as much agony as possible. Rarity would take special pleasure in peeling off chunks of her skin with her specially sharpened vegetable peeler. Oh, and her teeth would have to come out too. Then she couldn't give anypony else that irritating smug smile ever again. She could smash her in the mouth with a hammer or maybe she could revel in Scarlet Tomato’s screams as she pulled them out one-by-one with a pair of pliers. There were just so many juicy opportunities.
Rarity entered Carousel Boutique and immediately went down to her basement. In retrospect, she wasn't completely sure why she even went down into the basement to prepare in the first place. Hardly any of the knives she extracted from her workbench were actually used, and Rarity felt that it was often more gratifying in the heat of the moment to improvise. Still, there was something oddly satisfying about the sense of control that she had when she was picking her instruments of death. She opened her workbench and scanned the rows of her toys. She licked her lips with the tip of her tongue as her eyes landed on a straight razor. She giggled and lifted it out of its spot. She turned it in the air, giggling again as the light in the basement reflected off of the immaculately polished blade.
"You're going to do it tonight, aren't you?" whispered a young voice behind her.
Rarity yelped and nearly dropped the razor. She turned turned around and saw Sweetie Belle looking at the arrangement of knives in Rarity's drawer. "Oh, Sweetie Belle, I didn't hear you come down. Uh, yes. Tonight is a kill night."
"And I still get to audit tonight right?" asked Sweetie Belle, a large grin stretching across her face. Despite that, Rarity sensed a twinge of fear in Sweetie Belle's demeanor. Her left ear twitched, and her grin didn't quite reach her eyes.
"Oh, yes of course." Rarity put the razor onto her tray and idly picked up her skinning knife. "Uh, I'm going to go out and get the pony in question tonight at nine. You may wait in the kitchen for my return... or you can just forget the whole thing and go to bed." She had said that last part rather quickly, hoping that the twinge of fear that Sweetie Belle felt would be enough to discourage her. No such luck.
"I'll see you in the kitchen sometime after nine then, sis!" Sweetie Belle snapped before storming back up the stairs.
Rarity growled in frustration and turned back to her knives. "You really must change the lock sometime, Rarity," she muttered.
She shook her head and glanced up at the clock on the wall. Seven forty-two. There was still plenty of time to decide what to do with Scarlet Tomato.
Suddenly, she was struck with an idea. A wonderful, wonderful idea! She was surprised at herself for not thinking of it before now. She glanced at her clock once more. She had more than enough time to accomplish what she needed to do.
She trotted up the stairs, making sure to close the basement door behind her, and exited the shop. She slipped her saddlebag onto her back and made a beeline straight for Twilight's tree house, hoping that Twilight would be able to help her. Rarity didn't see why not though; she was asking for a spell that Twilight had cast many times herself.
When she arrived at Twilight's door fifteen minutes later, she knocked on the solid wooden door and immediately heard a commotion from the inside.
"Spike can you answer that?" asked the familiar voice of Twilight Sparkle. She heard Spike's mumbled reply and within a few seconds, the door opened revealing a mildly irritated Spike. As per usual, when Spike saw Rarity he immediately tensed up and started babbling like a filly with a schoolyard crush. Rarity didn't have time for Spike's silly little crush right now. Her sister was at stake.
She walked in to see Twilight hunched over a dusty old book, completely immersed in its pages. Twilight's eyes scanned the pages, looking for whatever she was searching for in the book and her mouth moved to mouth a word whenever she read it. It was a habit that Twilight exhibited whenever she was lost in the pages of a book or a scroll that she was reading.
Rarity amused herself for a moment by trying to guess what words Twilight was reading while she waited for Twilight to give Rarity her attention. Magic... onion... astrophysicist... Luna... and... sail... botany... wife. Either Twilight was reading a very strange book or Rarity wasn't very good at reading lips. She opted for the latter.
Rarity glanced at the clock on Twilight's wall. It was eight oh-two. She didn't have time to wait for Twilight to finish up what she was doing! Rarity cleared her throat which seemed to snap Twilight out of 'The Zone'.
She grinned and used her magic to shut the book. "Hey, Rarity. Sorry about that, I just reading this fascinating book about how thousands of years ago, Princess Luna helped an astrophysicist transport magical onions across the sea for a botany convention that his wife was attending. It's really interesting stuff and I kind of got lost in if for a minute there."
"Try thirty-five," Spike muttered.
Twilight shot him a glare before turning her attention back towards Rarity. "What can I do for you?"
"Well, I was hoping that you had a book on memory spells or something of that nature. You see, Sweetie Belle is having trouble remembering the details of a presentation that she has to give to the class and she lost the script. She's too nervous to ask Cheerilee for another one, so I was wondering if I could get a book on memory spells to see if I can't help her out a little bit."
Twilight seemed to buy the lie as she smiled warmly at her fellow unicorn. "Yeah! I have just the book for you," said Twilight, walking over to one of the shelves in the library and pulling out a dark blue book. "This should do the trick, Rarity. Oh, and don't worry, unless you have absolutely zero magical talent, there should be no bad effects if the spell isn't cast properly."
Rarity breathed a huge sigh of relief and hugged her friend. "Oh thank you, Twilight. You are a lifesaver for Sweetie Belle!"
Twilight chuckled and patted Rarity on the back. "I'm always glad to help out a friend, Rarity. Let me know if you need help with it or anything!"
"Oh I most certainly will, Twilight." Rarity broke away from the hug. "I must take you to the spa sometime. You have truly done a wonderful thing for me!"
With a final round of goodbyes, and a complimentary kiss on the cheek for Spike, Rarity left the library and, when she was sure that she was out of sight in case Twilight or Spike was watching her go, she quickened her pace back to her home. She found Sweetie Belle sitting in the kitchen waiting for her when she opened the door. Sweetie Belle looked over to her big sister and gave a confused frown when she saw that Rarity was alone. "Where's the pony we're gonna kill?"
"I'm going to kill, Sweetie Belle. You're going to just watch."
Sweetie Belle's ears drooped. "I can't even help just a little?"
"Not tonight." Rarity deposited her saddlebag on the back of one of her chairs. "As for why the pony in question is not here, I have not collected her yet. I said that I would go at nine and it is hardly eight thirty yet. We have some time."
"So, do you know who it's gonna be yet?" asked Sweetie Belle.
"Yes, Sweetie Belle. I'll show you who it is when I bring her back." Rarity opened up her cupboard and took out a pair of hay bars. She placed one in front of her sister and opened up her own.
"What... what are we gonna do with her?" Sweetie Belle looked down at the hay bar, but didn't touch it. She looked a little green. "Is she going to go on your wall?"
Rarity shook her head and swallowed her bite. "No, darling. I don't think so. As for the other details, well, they just kind of happen naturally. It rarely goes how I plan them in terms of method. I was thinking of starting by slicing off her ears and maybe removing her teeth."
Sweetie Belle's ear twitched and she began blinking quickly, but made her best attempt at a smile. "Oh... yeah, that sounds... great, I guess." Sweetie Belle's ear twitched again, and she glanced in the direction of the stairs. "Uh, I think I'm gonna go up to my room and uh..." Sweetie Belle pushed her hay bar away and stood up. "Something."
Rarity sighed and facehooved. "Sweetie Belle, you clearly don't want to do this. I must insist that you not be down there for—"
Sweetie Belle's eyes flashed with anger. "No! You said I could be there with you and I'm gonna be there! Don't break your promise now!"
Sweetie Belle stomped up the stairs and Rarity gave another frustrated groan. How could Sweetie Belle be so stubborn?! Our parents aren't stubborn ponies, so where could she have gotten...? Oh, right. Rarity cleared her throat.
She opened one of the top cabinets in her kitchen and used her magic to pull out another hay bar. It would serve her well to have the proper amount of energy for tonight's task. While she ate, she scanned Twilight's book, skipping past the section to restore memories. She didn't want a memory spell to bring back memories; she wanted a memory spell to erase memories. After some searching, she found what she was looking for. It looked simple enough. She shouldn't have any problems with it if she could catch Sweetie Belle unawares.
As she finished the bar and finished reading the section describing the memory spell that told her how to cast it, skipping the rest of the useless information, she glanced at her clock. Eight forty-five. She sighed. She was far too restless to just sit there waiting for another fifteen minutes. She got up and walked out into the main room and called up the stairs. "Sweetie Belle, I'm leaving a little early. If you are down here when I get back, then I know you'll still want to watch. If you're not, then I'll know you don't."
"Okay," came Sweetie Belle's shaky response.
Rarity nodded and used her magic to secure her saddlebags to her back. Even as she exited out the front door, she heard quiet hoofsteps coming down the stairs.
* * * *
Half an hour later, Rarity returned to her home with Scarlet Tomato placed securely in a potato sack. The kidnapping had gone as well as Rarity could have hoped, and she was in and out of Scarlet Tomato's house in five minutes. She glanced into her kitchen with a tiny hope that Sweetie Belle had lost her nerve and would not be joining Rarity for tonight's events. No such luck. Sweetie Belle sat at the kitchen table, staring intently at the floor. She looked up when she saw Rarity come in.
Rarity nodded. "Wait ten minutes for me to get everything set up then you may come down."
Sweetie Belle took a deep breath and turned her gaze to the floor. "Okay."
Rarity opened her basement door and went downstairs to begin the process. She opened up the bag and placed Scarlet Tomato on the table. She strapped her down and placed the table in a vertical position. She was in the process of checking the straps when she heard Sweetie Belle coming down the stairs. "Did you shut the door behind you?"
"Yes, sis," said Sweetie Belle.
Rarity continued to check the straps holding Scarlet Tomato down as Sweetie Belle reached the final step. When Sweetie Belle saw who was strapped to the table she gasped. "Oh sis, not her! Anypony but her!"
Rarity frowned. "Why not, Sweetie Belle?"
"Her little sister is in my class! I sit next to her in school and we talk to each other every day before class starts, and she always talks about how much she loves her big sister Scarlet Tomato! You can't kill her! Her sister was telling me how she was going to take her on a sister-sister day this week, and they were going to do the Sisterhooves Social this year!" Tears started forming in Sweetie Belle's eyes. "Can't you pick somepony else?"
Rarity shook her head and continued checking the straps on the table. "I'm sorry, Sweetie Belle, but I'm afraid that it has to be her tonight. There is no other option."
Sweetie Belle sat on her haunches and began sobbing. "But why her?!"
"She had been bullying and extorting money from Fluttershy for weeks now. Every time Fluttershy goes to buy tomatoes from her, she charges Fluttershy a ridiculous amount."
Sweetie Belle's eyes widened. "That's what this is all about? A few extra bits for tomatoes?"
Rarity shook her head. "No, darling. It's more about protecting Fluttershy. I tried to talk to Scarlet Tomato about how she shouldn't treat Fluttershy that way and she refused. Furthermore, she told me that I would now have to pay extra for tomatoes."
"You could just get them somewhere else!" Sweetie Belle insisted.
Rarity shook her head again. "No, that's not how I operate," she said bluntly. "Now, since this is bothering you so much, I must insist that you—"
Sweetie Belle shot to her hooves and stomped on the floor. "No! I'm staying right here! I'm gonna sit here and watch you do this. You promised, sis!"
Before Rarity could argue further about it, Scarlet Tomato groaned as she slowly began to wake up. The two sisters looked at their victim. There was no going back for Sweetie Belle now. Scarlet Tomato woke up in earnest now and whimpered as she looked at her surroundings. To Rarity's relief, she merely began whimpering instead of screaming like so many of her victims did.
Scarlet Tomato looked at Rarity and Sweetie Belle. She stared at Sweetie Belle for a few seconds, her eyes wide with horror until Rarity cleared her throat. "Over here, darling. We have some things to discuss before we begin.
Scarlet Tomato's attention snapped over to Rarity, and she whimpered under her piercing glare. "Look, i-if this is about the money you wanted earlier, I-I'll give it back. In fact, I'll give every cent that I took from Fluttershy back plus..." Scarlet Tomato began shivering and blinking rapidly as tears welled up in her eyes. "P-plus ten, no, fifteen percent interest if you let me go!"
Rarity snorted and rolled her eyes as she began moving the knives over to the tray. "Before we begin, I must ask you to read this." Rarity levitated a straight razor and tapped it on her poster. "It will save us both a lot of trouble."
Scarlet Tomato turned her gaze to the poster with visible unease, and she began scanning the entries. As she got farther along, she began whimpering, and was softly sobbing by the end. She turned her head back to the two other ponies, being careful to avoid eye contact with Rarity. She looked at Sweetie Belle instead. "You... you're in my sister's class at school, aren't you? Yes, your name is Sweetie Belle, isn't it?"
Sweetie Belle's breathing became heavier as the mask of calm that she was trying to maintain slowly started to split. Sensing this, Rarity grabbed Scarlet Tomato's head in her hooves and jerked it so that she was facing her. "Leave her out of this. This is just between us."
"How could you?" she whispered. "How could you let her see this?"
Rarity's eyes narrowed and the first traces of a snarl appeared on her lips. "I said leave her out of this. Celestia help you if you speak to or about her again." As Rarity wheeled her tray closer to the table, she glanced at Sweetie Belle who was trying to steady her breathing, but her legs were shaking as though an earthquake was going through the basement. Rarity wondered how long she would last once Rarity began cutting in a few moments.
Rarity picked up a straight razor and flattened Scarlet Tomato's ear against the table. Scarlet Tomato began hyperventilating. "Please... don't do this."
Rarity glanced up and levitated her knife closer. "You read the poster, darling, and you know that I don't like it when ponies say that to me. I'm afraid that I'm going to have to think of other fun things to do while you're still alive. Now hold still or I'm liable to mess this up."
Scarlet Tomato shut her eyes tight as Rarity began slicing off Scarlet Tomato's ear. As Rarity continued to slice, Scarlet Tomato's whimpers became louder and they gradually turned into cries of pain. Sweetie Belle was silent for now, so Rarity ignored her.
With one quick tug using her magic, the ear came off of Scarlet Tomato's head. Scarlet Tomato's screaming sobs echoed throughout the basement as Rarity nonchalantly tossed the ear aside. "Okay then. One more to go and then we can move on to your lips and teeth." Rarity grinned and ran the flat of the blade against Scarlet Tomato's remaining ear. "You know, I really hated that smug grin you were giving me this morning, darling. It was extremely rude."
Scarlet Tomato didn't respond except to cry in pain. As Rarity moved on to the right ear, she noticed that Sweetie Belle had picked up the severed ear and was examining it in her hooves. Rarity saw that she was going a little green. "Sweetie Belle, put that down, please."
Sweetie Belle tossed the ear aside and, with what seemed to Rarity be a great deal of effort, she began watching again as her sister sliced off the other ear.
Even with Sweetie Belle watching, there was something exhilarating about the feeling of a razor slicing through a pony's ear. This was a new trick for Rarity, and one that she simply must remember for the future. With another sharp tug, the other ear came off with little effort.
Scarlet Tomato forced her eyes open and turned towards Sweetie Belle. "How can you just sit there while she does this to me?"
Rarity glared at her victim and slammed a hoof onto the table. "What did I say about talking to my sister?"
Scarlet Tomato wiggled her foreleg as if pleadingly reaching out to Sweetie Belle. "You're friends with my sister! You're just a filly. You shouldn't see this."
"Shut up now!"
Sweetie Belle was slowly backing away from the table. Her tears were coming fast, mixing with the occasional heavy sob.
"I know you; you're not like your big sister and you never will be. You—"
Before she could finish her sentence, Rarity used her magic to force Scarlet Tomato's mouth open and she shoved the razor into her mouth. She proceeded to slice open everything in Scarlet Tomato's mouth, paying particular attention to her tongue. Scarlet Tomato screamed in pain and thrashed about on the table, but she couldn't do anything to stop the vicious assault.
"I told you to stop talking to my sister!" Rarity screeched. "You didn't listen to me, and now look at what's happening to you!" Rarity doubted that Scarlet Tomato even registered the words that Rarity was speaking to her over the immense pain in her mouth.
After a few more seconds of slicing, Rarity removed the razor. Blood dribbled out of Scarlet Tomato's mouth, staining her coat. "Are we through being foolish?" she growled. Scarlet Tomato merely groaned and began weakly spitting blood out of her mouth. Rarity clicked her tongue and placed the razor back on her tray. "Very well, then. I suppose that I can leave your lips and teeth alone for now. What say you to a little skinning, hmm?"
Rarity fired up her horn and levitated her sharpened vegetable peeler towards her. Scarlet Tomato whimpered and tried to slide her legs out of the straps, but the straps were too tight and she couldn't form any coherent noises with her mouth sliced up like it was. Rarity had made sure to do a little work on in her throat as well.
Rarity placed the vegetable peeler on Scarlet Tomato's stomach and was about to begin when she heard a small voice beside her.
"Rarity's not a bad pony," Sweetie Belle whispered. "Doing this doesn't make her a bad pony. It must not be that bad if she can do this and be okay."
Rarity frowned and turned her head to look at her sister. Sweetie Belle was in the corner of the basement, curled up into a ball and stroking her tail. She was shaking as though it was freezing in the basement. Rarity frowned and turned around. "Sweetie Belle? Are you okay?"
Sweetie Belle turned her head up to look at her sister. Her gaze flickered over to Scarlet Tomato who was still trying to wiggle out of the straps. She gulped and slowly got to her hooves. "Can... can I do something?"
Rarity groaned and put the vegetable peeler back on the tray. "First off, Sweetie Belle, I have already told you Celestia knows how many times that you are just going to be watching for this one. Secondly, you look like you are about to keel over and die at any second. This is clearly disturbing you and I haven't even gotten to the worst parts yet; not by a long shot. Furthermore, if I was in my right mind now I would send you back upstairs where you belong!" Rarity looked between the bleeding pony on the table and her crying sister. "In fact, now that I think on it, you've seen enough, Sweetie Belle. Go upstairs and get yourself to bed! I'll be up when I'm done here, okay?"
To her utter relief, Sweetie Belle nodded and slowly began trotting towards the steps. Rarity would definitely have to use the memory spell on her as soon as possible. Although, that was something that she was planning to do at any rate.
As Sweetie Belle walked towards the stairs, she accidentally bumped Rarity's tray and the resulting collision sent it crashing towards the ground, scattering all of the assorted sharp objects on the floor. Rarity groaned and righted the tray. "Sweeeetiieeee Bellllle! Look at what you've done!"
Sweetie Belle looked at the assorted knives on the ground and before Rarity could do anything, she grabbed a scalpel, rushed over to Scarlet Tomato, and stabbed her in the leg. Rarity stood in shock for a few moments. Scarlet Tomato was convulsing in pain and blood was pouring from the stab wound in her leg. She was bleeding far more than was normal unless... "Oh Celestia!"
When she saw what she had done, her sister violently backed away from the bleeding mess that was Scarlet Tomato and began crying. "Rarity! I don't understand! Why is she bleeding like that?! I... I only meant to give her a little cut!"
Rarity quickly grabbed a nearby rag and pressed it against the wound. "You severed the femoral artery, Sweetie Belle!" she cried. "She's..." Scarlet Tomato's convulsions became weaker, and it wasn't more than a few seconds before they ceased altogether. Rarity exhaled and dropped the bloody rag on the ground. "She's already dead."
Scarlet Tomato lay motionless on the table, eyes wide with fear, looking directly at Sweetie Belle as if staring directly into her soul, pleading her to not do what she had just done. Sweetie Belle sat in the corner, not even crying anymore. She just looked at the mare that she had just killed in an almost contemplative way. Rarity wiped the first traces of tears from her eyes as she dropped the bloody rag on the floor. Her sister had just killed another pony, something that Rarity had never wanted to happen, but the deed was done.
Sweetie Belle began shaking violently and before Rarity could say anything, she pulled a bucket close to her and vomited into it. When she finished, she still had the look of contemplative shock on her face. "What did I just do?" she whispered.
Rarity didn't even attempt an answer. She gently lifted Sweetie Belle onto her back and walked back up the stairs. Sweetie Belle slowly turned her head and chanced a glance at the wide-eyed corpse strapped to the table. Her gaze flickered down to the bloody scalpel still embedded in Scarlet Tomato's leg, and she began shivering and quietly sobbing.
Rarity shut the door to the basement behind her and set Sweetie Belle down on the floor of the main room. She walked over to her kitchen and grabbed a dishtowel and bucket. She filled the bucket with water and dunked the rag into it. She walked back to Sweetie Belle and began gently cleaning the blood off with the rag.
When she finished, Sweetie Belle curled up into a ball on the ground, not moving, not even crying. She was just lying there in shock. Now was her chance. Rarity fired up her horn. If she did it right, Sweetie Belle would forget about this whole thing and simply wake up believing that she had fallen asleep on the floor.
Sweetie Belle squealed when she heard Rarity's horn fire up, and she quickly rolled out of the way. Rarity's spell hit the floor where her sister's head had been seconds before.
"No! Please don't kill me!" Sweetie Belle wailed as she backed away. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to hurt her so bad! I won't tell anypony; just don't kill me!"
"No, Sweetie Belle, I'm trying to save you!" Rarity insisted. She fired off another memory spell which Sweetie Belle easily dodged.
"I don't believe you! You're going to leave my dead body in the Everfree Forest for the timber wolves to rip to shreds!"
"I would never do that, Sweetie Belle!" said Rarity, firing off another memory spell.
Sweetie Belle was slower to react to this one, and the spell hit her in the ear, knocking her backwards. Sweetie Belle quickly recovered. "You killed that mare in the basement! I saw you stab her in the leg and I'm going to tell everypony I see!" Sweetie Belle turned tail and began running towards the door.
"Sweetie Belle, you Pinkie Promised me that you wouldn't tell anypony about what I do in my basement!" Rarity cried.
Sweetie Belle stopped dead in her tracks and looked confusedly at Rarity. "Uh, no I didn't. The last Pinkie Promise I made to you was to clean my room by the time you got home from Twilight's. That was last month."
Rarity rushed over to her door and blocked Sweetie Belle's path. "Sweetie Belle, don't you remember? You Pinkie Promised that you wouldn't tell anypony about big sister being a serial killer!"
Sweetie Belle frowned, thinking over Rarity's words for a moment before shaking her head. "I think I would remember making a Pinkie Promise like that."
"Sweetie Belle! You..." It hit Rarity at that moment and she facehooved. "Oh for Pete's sake."
Sweetie Belle ran towards the back door and Rarity moved to intercept her. She didn't dare try another memory spell right now as she was not sure what the outcome would be. She quickly levitated her saddlebag over to her and took out a syringe that she stuck into Sweetie Belle's neck. Sweetie Belle dropped to the floor like a marionette whose strings had been cut. Rarity had to use a levitation spell to prevent her from hurting herself when she hit the floor.
Rarity took a deep breath and levitated her potato sack over to her. She gently lifted her sleeping sister into the air and placed Sweetie Belle into the potato sack. She secured the top and ran out of her house, running towards the home of the only pony that she felt like she could turn to at this moment.
Within ten minutes, she was pounding on Twilight's door. It took a few minutes, but the door was answered by Twilight who grinned when she saw her friend. "Oh. Hey, Rarity. What's in the bag?"
"Twilight, thank goodness you're awake! I have a huge emergency and you are the only pony that I can turn to!"
Twilight's expression turned to one of concern and she moved aside to let her friend in. "I'll help in any way I can Come down to my basement. Spike's sleeping, so we won't disturb him there."
Rarity breathed a sigh of relief and managed a weak smile. "Thank you, Twilight. You're a lifesaver!"
Rarity followed Twilight into the basement and placed the potato sack down. She opened it, revealing a still frozen Sweetie Belle. Twilight flinched back and yelped at the sight of Sweetie Belle. She stared at the limp filly, a look of horror on her face. "What in the name of Celestia happened?!"
Before Rarity could respond, Sweetie Belle softly whimpered and a shiver coursed through her. "Rarity... blood..." she squeaked.
Twilight's jaw dropped open slightly and she looked between Rarity and Sweetie Belle. "What? What was that?!"
Rarity bit her lip and touched her sister's forehead. "It was the memory spell. I think I cast a variation of it that I didn't intend to. It altered her memory somehow, and she now thinks that a dream that she has been having on and off again is real."
Twilight cocked her head and leaned down to examine Sweetie Belle. "What dream?"
Rarity opened her mouth to respond with a little lie, but everything that had happened that night had left her drained and she was drawing a blank. She moved her mouth, wishing words to come out that Twilight would believe.
Twilight cocked her head with a frown. "Rarity, what dream? Does it have to do anything with what she said about you and blood?"
Rarity took a deep breath and took her hoof off of Sweetie Belle's forehead. "I think so. To hear her describe it, the only part that she remembers when she wakes up is me holding her as a baby pony, panicking about something. We're both covered in blood."
Twilight raised an eyebrow and gently stroked Sweetie Belle's mane. "Wow, sounds like a pretty horrifying dream." Twilight tightened her jaw and furrowed her brow. "I think I have a solution here."
Rarity breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh that's simply wonderful, Twilight!"
Twilight nodded and opened a closet to their left. "I've been working on this machine that can recall dreams and memories and display them on this screen here." Twilight patted the hull of the machine. "I think that if I can find the dream that she's been talking about, we can pinpoint what in her subconscious is causing it and we can see what kind of damage the spell did and where and with what memories. If I can find those, I'll be able to fix her. We'll know what memories are damaged because they'll show up blurry on the screen. This dream you're talking about should be a good starting point."
"You're reading her mind?" Rarity looked uncertainly at the machine. "Is that... er... ethical? I do want to help my sister, but a memory reading machine seems... intrusive."
Twilight froze for a moment before nervously rubbing the back of her neck. "Well... it was really just for dreams at first. The memory aspect was kind of by accident." Twilight turned her head back to Rarity. "I can try something else if you want."
Rarity bit her lip and looked between the machine and Sweetie Belle. Her sister was still whimpering and twitching on the floor. Rarity flattened her ears and lowered her gaze. "If it's the best option, I'm willing to do what I need to."
Twilight nodded and wheeled the machine next to Sweetie Belle. She levitated what looked like a sweatband with wires coming out of it off of a hook on the side of the machine and secured it around Sweetie Belle's head. She began using her magic to press keys on a keyboard connected to the machine. The machine's screen came to life, and immediately an image flashed onto the screen. All the duo saw was Sweetie Belle standing in the middle of an apple orchard, like the kind Applejack tended to. She was shivering, almost as if she was cold, and uneasily walking around. It was dark outside, which was presumably the cause of her fears.
Suddenly she squealed in terror and began running from some unseen force. Tears were pouring down her face as she ran from her nightmare. She dodged tree stumps, ducked under low hanging branches, and her mouth was open in a silent scream the entire time. As the dream continued, Sweetie Belle twitched and whimpered on the floor.
Twilight and Rarity watched the screen silently, each wondering what it was she was running from in the dream. They did not have to speculate for long. Eventually Sweetie Belle tripped over a root and she tumbled onto the ground. She rolled over to see her pursuer and screamed once more. She tried to back away but a brick wall appeared behind her, impeding her progress.
Sweetie Belle extended a hoof to ward off her attacker and it was at that moment when the two of them saw who was chasing Sweetie Belle: Rarity.
Rarity let out a pained gasp and had to sit on her haunches as she watched herself silently standing over her squirming sister. Twilight, meanwhile, simply stared silently as the screen.
Rarity whimpered as her dream self took another step towards Sweetie Belle and her sister squealed in terror again. "Twilight, please turn it off!"
Twilight snapped out of her shock and powered down the machine. Immediately the offending images faded away, leaving the two staring silently at the dark screen. Twilight was the first to break the silence. "What was that?"
Rarity gave a humorless chuckle. "She's had dreams of us being covered with blood that she believes are real and I just put a sleeping spell on her. I think that would do it, yes?" Rarity's weak smile faded and she took a deep breath. She sniffled as she slowly crawled over to Sweetie Belle and wrapped her up in a hug. "Big sister would never hurt you, Sweetie Belle," she whispered. "I-if you can hear me in there, believe me when I say that I would never do anything to hurt you."
Twilight cleared her throat and nervously scratched the back of her neck. "Uh, if you don't want to do this right now we can always... well, we can put her in my guest room and see if she sleeps it off."
Rarity gently put her sister back on the floor and shook her head. "No, I need to know how to fix what I did."
Twilight nodded and powered the machine back up. "Okay, when was the last time she had a dream like the one you described?"
Rarity wiped a tear from her eye and said the first thing that popped into her head. "Uh, I believe that she last mentioned one a few days ago."
"Okay," Twilight muttered. She turned back to the machine and began adjusting a few knobs and hitting a few keys on the keyboard. However, the screen in front of her showed only static.
Twilight frowned and began adjusting a few more knobs on the dream machine. "I don't get it, I know for a fact that this machine works because I used it only a few days ago." She began typing again. "Maybe if I expand the time range we can find it." She clicked a few more keys, but the machine still showed static. "Hmm... well, we can try one other thing. I'm going to search for it in the 'memory' category. I doubt something like you two being covered in blood is actually there, but with the memory spell it's possible."
Rarity froze. She desperately wanted to destroy the machine; to pull the plug and try her chances with the memory spell again. It was likely that because she had been so rushed and had only hit Sweetie Belle's ear that was the reason that the memories hadn't been completely erased. "Okay, file 'memories', keywords 'Rarity', 'filly Sweetie Belle', 'blood'." Twilight pressed a few more buttons and after a few seconds, it appeared.
Rarity involuntarily let out a tiny whimper and had to suppress a full blown sob as the memory began playing out in front of her. It was a memory that she hated revisiting, and now here it was; displayed on the screen for Twilight to see and her to relive. There was her thirteen year old self, trying to hold it together in front of a baby Sweetie Belle. Both were covered in blood.
Twilight was staring at the view screen in shock. "I guess this is it," she said quietly.
"I guess so," Rarity whispered.
Twilight hit one of the buttons and paused the memory. Her eyes flickered over to a smaller screen on the machine above the keyboard and she examined the information scrolling across it. Twilight frowned and clicked a few keys. "But, that doesn't make any sense," she muttered to herself.
"What?" asked Rarity.
"According to this, this memory was from when she was just a few months old, but I searched for the most recent of these memories. So unless you really messed up with the spell..." Twilight turned to Rarity with a grim look. "This is no dream, it's a real memory."
Silence filled the basement for a few moments before Twilight spoke up. "Rarity, would you mind explaining this to me?" Twilight raised a hoof and pointed it at the view screen. "Whose blood is that?"
Rarity didn't have the mental capacity to formulate an answer. The events of that night combined with seeing this memory once again, with Twilight in the room no less, had almost fried her brain, blocking the thought processes that would have resulted in a decent lie.
Twilight warily turned back towards the machine and began typing again. She read the information that came across the screen silently for a moment before turning back to Rarity. "Rarity, the machine told me that you cast a 'forget' spell on Sweetie Belle today. There seem to be eighteen minutes of memory that aren't there anymore, scattered over a bunch of different days. What did you want her to forget, Rarity?" Twilight tapped the viewing screen. "Does it have something to do with this?"
Rarity gently cleared her throat and regained enough brain power to begin speaking again. "I... I... Twilight, let me explain."
Twilight glared at her but didn't say anything. Rarity tried to formulate an explanation, anything that would shift suspicion off of her, but no words came.
"Rarity, whose blood is that?" Twilight asked quietly. "That's too much blood to have come from a simple cut or something. That amount of blood would only come out if you..." Her eyes widened and before Rarity could react, Twilight hit her with a freezing spell inhibiting Rarity's ability to move anything below her neck.
Twilight silently lifted the headband off of Sweetie Belle and placed it on Rarity's head. Having taken note of the date of Sweetie Belle's memory, she typed it into the computer.
"Twilight, no!" Rarity pleaded, but Twilight was unresponsive. She started the process and Rarity felt a small shock go through her head as the memory played out on the screen again, only from her perspective.
Twilight silently set the machine to show Rarity's memories from a few minutes before that point. The image of the solicitor flashed across the screen.
"Well good afternoon miss, may I have just a moment of your time? I'm with the Phillydelphia Valley Corporation, and we're looking for a few ponies here in Ponyville to do a survey for our company regarding business prices and customer satisfaction. Would you mind it if I asked you a few questions?"
"Oh, no thank you. I am not interested."
"It would just take few moments, miss."
"Only a few moments and you will receive a twenty bit gift card for our business."
"Well, I suppose it's okay, if it really will just take a moment. Would you like to come in? I have some tea on the stove."
"Why that sounds very lovely, miss...?"
"Oh, Annie, my name is Annie."
"Well, Annie, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
"Likewise, now if you'll excuse me, I must go check on the tea."
Twilight stared in horror as thirteen year old Rarity did not get tea, but instead grabbed a large knife. Rarity could only stare on as Twilight saw her brutally murder the solicitor. Finally the memory caught up to where it had originally started and Twilight paused the machine once more and turned towards Rarity. She stared at her in silence for a few moments, tears streaming down her face. "Why?" she whispered.
Rarity blinked away the first traces of tears as she answered. "When I was eight years old, I was tormented by three bullies who were attacking me in a place that was very dear to me. They were going to beat me up, saying that since my parents didn't have money nopony would care.
"As their leader approached me to begin the torture, I grabbed a large rock lying nearby and hit him in the head with it. I didn't mean to kill him, but that didn't change the fact that that was exactly what I had done. I then proceeded to murder the other two bullies,"
Twilight turned back to the viewing screen, and stared at the frozen image of Rarity standing above the solicitor; her bloody knife raised high for another blow. "I don't understand. What does that have to do with this?"
Rarity's closed her eyes and took a long, deep breath. "Those three bullies were just the beginning. I have since killed a total of seventy-three ponies, one griffin, and I participated in the killing of a seventy-fourth pony tonight. I was not the one to actually do the killing."
Twilight quietly gasped and wheeled around to face Rarity. Her eyes were wide, and she glanced at the basement door as if she was considering running. "You're a serial killer?" Rarity nodded and Twilight took a few steps back from her friend. She gave a pathetic whimper as her legs gave out under her. She sat down curled into a ball, hugging her hind legs and rocking back and forth, tears steaming down her face.
After a quarter of an hour of this, she finally looked up at Rarity. "Rarity, what happened tonight?"
Rarity couldn't answer if she wanted to. Twilight looked like she as about to die of sorrow right there. Guessing that Rarity wasn't going to answer, Twilight stood up and began typing into the machine. "No, Twilight, don't do this to yourself!" Rarity pleaded. Twilight just ignored her and started up the memory, starting with the capture of Scarlet Tomato.
"Why her?" she asked.
"She has been extorting money from Fluttershy for a long time now and being a general bully to her," Rarity weakly explained.
Twilight wheeled around and fixed Rarity with a furious glare. "So you decided to murder her? You could have just contacted the police!"
"I had no guarantee that justice would be served, Twilight," said Rarity softly. Twilight's angry glare did not fade but she turned back to the screen.
Twilight continued to watch as Rarity took Scarlet Tomato down into her basement. When they got there, Twilight paused the image to fully take in everything that was down there. She saw the pony hides and manes that hung up on the walls, the open workbench revealing Rarity's collection of knives, the table where she strapped down her victims so she could kill them, she saw it all.
Somehow Twilight worked up the nerve to continue and she watched in horror as Rarity sliced off Scarlet Tomato's ears, all the while yelling at her to stop talking to Sweetie Belle. She saw Rarity slice up Scarlet Tomato's mouth, she saw Sweetie Belle ask to help with the killing, she saw Sweetie Belle knock over the tray of knives, and she saw Sweetie Belle stab Scarlet Tomato in the leg, severing her femoral artery and ending her life. Twilight paused the memory there and looked back at Rarity. Tears still streaked her face, but this time her expression was disturbingly blank.
Twilight shook her head and her ear twitched. She turned her back to Rarity and powered down the machine.
The numbness that was spread over her body slowly dissipated, and Rarity moved her forelegs to ease some of the stiffness out of them. Twilight was curled up into a ball on the floor once again, rocking back and forth. Her expression was completely blank. Rarity walked up to her and charged up her horn. Twilight's ear swiveled in Rarity's direction, but she didn't move. She merely tilted her head in a subtle nod.
* * * *
"Thank you again for the book, Twilight. I'm sorry we came so late," said Rarity as she and Sweetie Belle walked out the door of the library.
Twilight followed them out with a large smile on her face, stopping at the door frame to wave goodbye. "No problem at all, you two! You are always welcome. Just return that cookbook whenever you are done with it."
"We will. Goodbye, Twilight!" said Sweetie Belle happily. Twilight gave one final wave and went back inside her house.
"What a great idea to make a late night snack, sis!" said Sweetie Belle as she bounced up and down. "I've always wanted to make sunflower brownies, and making them with the best sister in the whole world will make them taste even better!"
Rarity smiled at the bouncing filly. "I'm sure that you're right. And doesn't making them this late at night seem more fun?"
"Definitely!" said Sweetie Belle. Sweetie Belle stopped in her tracks for a few moments before pulling Rarity into a tight hug. "I love you. You really are the best big sister a filly like me could ever have."
Rarity smiled and hugged Sweetie Belle back. "Why thank you, Sweetie Belle. You are a wonderful sister too, and I love you very much." The two continued the hug for a few more seconds before Rarity broke it off and led Sweetie Belle back to her house. "Now come on, let's go make some brownies, shall we?"