ACT II: MADEMOISELLE
“Well, I really don’t know what you expect me to do, Darling,” Rarity said apprehensively. “From what I’ve heard, the poor dear’s rather a lost cause.”
“Oh, Miss Rarity,” Ditzy said with shimmering eyes. “I’ll try my best. You’re the most talented, beautiful, graceful pony in Ponyville. Maybe in all of Equestria!”
Rarity began to tear up at Ditzy’s praise. She neatly ignored Spike’s frantic negative gesticulations.
“Why… it would be my dream come true if I could be like you,” Ditzy continued, shyly digging her hoof into the ground.
“Like me?” Rarity repeated, swimming in a sea of vanity.
Ditzy nodded. “I’d be ever so grateful for your generosity.”
“Hnnnngggg...” Rarity had to turn away and bite her hoof to keep herself under control. After a moment she regained her composure and turned back to her three visitors with a gracious smile. “Well, I can’t just ignore a plea for help, can I? And, when it comes to grace and ladylike behavior, you couldn’t have found a better pony for the job.”
Spike sighed and Twilight turned back to him. “Don’t worry. We’ll keep an eye on them this time.”
They followed Rarity into her boutique and she set to work immediately. “Alright, dear. The first lesson in being a proper lady is presentation. Just hold still…” Rarity’s horn flared and in an instant fabric, needles and thread flew through the air. From the nearby vanity, a fleet of makeup supplies flew in formation, the compact at the apex of the flying V. The flight leader opened, deploying its payload of powder and obscured Ditzy from view while the other supplies joined in the fray.
“Maybe we shouldn’t let so many sharp objects near Ditzy,” Spike commented to Twilight, who looked a bit nervous about it, herself.
When the air cleared, Ditzy was wearing a gorgeous ensemble and the highest quality makeup. Unfortunately, her dress was on backward and her makeup seemed as if it had been applied somewhat askew of her actual face.
Rarity glowered at her. "You moved, didn't you?"
Ditzy smiled nervously. "Sorry, everything was just so... fun."
"Right, Darling," Rarity said as she approached with a rag. "This isn't too bad, I can fix you up in two shakes of a pony's tail.” She frowned as she saw Ditzy looked back at her tail and gave it a couple wags. As if speaking to a yearling, she explained, "That's a figure of speech, Dear."
"I'm not a deer, I'm a pony," Ditzy said while scanning the boutique’s interior and finding herself particularly attracted to the sparkling, gem-encrusted dresses adorning the mannequines. She hardly noticed as Rarity meticulously began to correct her makeup.
"Indeed," Rarity said distractedly as she focused on her craft. After a few moments, she adjusted Ditzy's flowing dress and took a few steps back to appraise her. Her makeup had been mostly wiped, with only a few minimal touches highlighting her cheekbones and eyes. The silken lavender fabric was now turned the right way around, but hung awkwardly from her frame. "Well, it's not quite what I had in mind, but it's not bad."
"You look... wonderful, Ditzy," Twilight said encouragingly.
Spike rolled his eyes. "She looks kind of ridiculous if you ask me."
"Spike," Twilight hissed at him, elbowing him in the gut.
"Well..." Rarity said pensively. "We’ll work on it." She turned around and beckoned the three to follow, levitating several stacks of books into the air. "On to Step 2."
"Oh," Twilight said, excitement oozing from her voice. "You're going to have her read all these books, right? That's a wonderful idea."
Rarity gave her a pointed look. "Ah, no Twilight. You don't learn proper poise from reading books. You learn proper poise from wearing them." With that, she lowered the stacks onto Ditzy's head, back, and even her outstretched wings. "Now, I want you to begin walking and I don't want a single book to drop to the ground."
"Wow," Spike said with a hint of awe. "This seems like one of those things Rainbow makes Scootaloo do for flight practice. Is fashionista training really this grueling?"
"Oh, you haven't known pain until you've been to Fashion Boot Camp, Darling," Rarity said, a haunted look descending upon her for a moment. She snapped out of it as Ditzy began to fidget. "Now, don't you let those books wobble. I see you!" she roared at the struggling Ditzy, who jumped in shock and caused one of the books to drop to the floor. Rarity got right into Ditzy's face. "That's it, you're going to give me 20 curtsies!"
An hour of posture training mostly resulted in a sore, bruised Ditzy and a dozen battered books. At Twilight’s insistence, they finally moved onto speech.
“Alright, now,” Rarity said, levitating a small sack along with her as she trotted over to Ditzy. “Repeat after me and speak exactly as I do: ‘With blackest moss, the flower pots were thickly crusted one and all.’”
“‘With blackest moss, the flower pots were thickly crusted one and all’?” Ditzy echoed with confusion.
Rarity opened the sack and began to take out several shimmering gemstones. “Oh, yes, very good, but try it now.” She grabbed Ditzy’s jaw and yanked open her mouth shoving the gems inside until Ditzy looked like a squirrel storing nuts for later. “I want you to enunciate every word just as if those gems were not in your mouth.”
“Wi’ brackeh mah, ‘ah fwowah...” Ditzy said, straining around the mouthful of jewels.
“Pots...” Rarity finished leadingly.
“I ca’, I ca’!” Ditzy cried pitifully.
Twilight’s brows knit sympathetically as she watched Ditzy sob quietly. “Are the gems really necessary, Rarity?”
“If they were necessary for the great orator Battle Loss, then they are necessary for Ditzy Doo.” Rarity withdrew another diamond and gleefully stuffed it into Ditzy's mouth. “Try again.”
“You think Rarity would give me speech lessons, Twilight?” Spike asked. He noted her exasperated glance and said defensively, “What, can you blame a dragon for liking the idea of being hoof-fed gems?”
“Wwwithh bllacketht mothpth thah fflowah potpthhpthh!” Ditzy shouted, spraying spittle and gems into Rarity’s face.
“Right,” Rarity said with a frown. “Good improvement, but maybe we should move on to the next step. First, however, I’m going to ensure that this rain in my mane falls mainly down the drain.”
After Rarity cleaned herself up, she quickly prepared the room. She lit it with candles and laid a roll of rice paper out on the floor. She gestured to the paper. “You must walk across this rice paper and leave no hoofprint.”
Spike crossed his arms and gave a huff. “I hate to say this, but I’m starting to think Rarity’s just making this stuff up.”
Twilight shrugged. “Well, it makes some sense at least.”
Ditzy took a single step on the rice paper and instantly tripped, the paper tearing and wrapping around her body as she screamed desperately. She rolled across the floor and crashed through the window. The other three winced as they heard a thud a moment later.
“Well… that was…” Rarity paused, searching for the right word. “Something.”
Later, after they made sure Ditzy was alright, Rarity had her sitting on a cushion surrounded by incense. “Alright, Darling,” she said. “I’m a master of the sewing needle, as you know, but I learned a little something about acupuncture from an old dragon-pony in the East.”
“There are… dragon-ponies?” Spike said with a goofy grin on his face as he looked longingly at Rarity. “As in… dragons and ponies…?”
“Spike,” Twilight scolded. “Ideas. Stop getting them.”
“Now,” Rarity said as she grabbed a few needles between her teeth. “This should bring all your physical systems into balance, and hopefully this will suffice to cause you to stop breaking my windows.” She stuck one needle into Ditzy's shoulder, who gave a yelp of surprise as her body went rigid. “Now, Dear, don’t overreact.” She placed another needle in Ditzy’s neck, causing her head to suddenly loll unnaturally to the side. “Hmm… now, I don’t recall that happening before.” Rarity shrugged and placed another needle in Ditzy’s elbow, causing her leg to jerk back and buck Rarity right in the face.
“It’s okay Ditzy,” Twilight said as they sat around her table back at the library. She horned through her book absentmindedly as she spoke. “Rarity did say she would be happy to try again later…”
“After she gets over the embarrassment of that black eye you gave her,” Spike added. “At least she and AJ finally have something in common.”
“Spike…” Twilight said warningly.
“She’ll probably want to get those scorch marks in her mane fixed, too,” Spike finished.
Twilight glared at him. “Not helping, Spike.”
Ditzy sat on the floor, her crossed eyes shimmering widely as her lower lip spilled out into a pout. “There has to be something I can do,” she said mournfully.
Twilight felt her heart breaking. Surely Rainbow Dash can forgive her by now? It had, after all, been a month since the thunderstorm catastrophe. Then her eyes drifted back to her book and it was as if she’d been struck. Twilight smiled broadly. How could she have been so blind? “Wait… I have it.”
“Huh?” Ditzy asked.
“I know exactly what to do to help you become the best pony you can be.”
Rainbow Dash lounged contentedly in the cloud-filled sky. It had been a calm month that lacked weather disasters or random objects falling on her head, unless one included Pinkie. She hadn't realized how much extra work Derpy had actually caused. I could get used to this.
Still, she thought. I didn't really mean what I said. I was just angry. Her smile slowly began to fade. If Derpy had come back by now, I'd have given her job back. Even her visitation rights. Maybe I should go find her... but... I mean, she's the one who did wrong, right? Why should I have to go begging her to come back?
Suddenly, a streak in the air roused Rainbow from her gray thoughts. "What was that?"
As if in response, the blur arched back toward her and performed a double loop before setting down gracefully on a nearby cloud in a perfect pose.
Rainbow's jaw dropped. Standing on that cloud was a pegasus mare with a shiny gray coat and luxuriant blonde hair. She was wearing a simple, streamlined violet dress and her dark purple eyeshadow complemented her light golden eyes, both of which were focused solely on her. Rainbow felt her heart stop for an instant as she looked into those intense eyes. "D-Derp...?"
"Hush, Darling," Ditzy said with a sultry grin. "Really, Rainbow, there's no need to be so gauche. You may call me Mademoiselle Doo."
Rainbow crinkled her brow with confusion. "Rari...?" but then shook it off. "Alright, 'Mademoiselle Doo’, you put on a good show. I guess I'll let you back on the weather team as long as you try to stay out of too much trouble."
"Oh, dear.” Mademoiselle Doo put a hoof to her brow, her tone breathy and her face tight with what seemed quite convincingly like anguish. "I do believe you still lack confidence in my ability."
Rainbow gave her a skeptical stare. "Well..."
"I've a proposition, Dashie," she said, ignoring Rainbow's eye twitch. "It's a rather cloudy day, hm? How fast would you say you could clear this?"
Rainbow looked around and laughed cockily. "This? Ten sec—"
"—onds flat, yes," Ditzy interrupted. "Well... go for it."
"Huh?" Rainbow was very confused, now. She thought Ditzy was trying to prove herself, not Rainbow Dash.
"Unless your boasts overreach your means," Mademoiselle Doo said.
"I'm not 100% sure what that meant, but it sounded like a challenge. Alright..." Rainbow reared up and dashed off. She sped to the first cloud, but in a flash of blonde, it was gone. Not thinking too hard about it, she zipped to the next one, but that vanished before her eyes as well. One-by-one all the clouds in the sky were cleared, and Rainbow Dash hung in midair, stunned speechless.
Mademoiselle Doo floated down into her line of sight with a smug look on her face. "Five... seconds... flat," she said as she primped her hair and dress, which had remained flawlessly arranged.
Rainbow Dash smiled widely. “That… that was awesome, Der… uh, Mademoiselle Doo. How did you… what did you…?”
“All it took,” Mademoiselle Doo said, placing her hoof delicately on her chest. “Was a little dedication, hard work and a little help from a good friend.”
“Well, I have to say, I’m really impressed with you right now,” Rainbow Dash said. “Heck, if you keep this up, I may even promote you to assistant manager.” She looked pensive for a moment. “Though… I have to ask… what’s wrong with your eyes?”
Rainbow coughed uncomfortably. “Well… it’s been, like, five minutes and you haven’t looked at me all crazy-eyed even once.”
Mademoiselle Doo laughed delicately. “Oh, my, Rainbow, that would hardly be ladylike.”
Rainbow Dash chuckled as she said, “You just beat me at cloud sweeping. That’s not exactly ladylike…”
“Oh, pish-tosh,” Mademoiselle Doo said, turning her nose up haughtily and patting Rainbow Dash condescendingly on the head. “Just because you can’t manage it gracefully doesn’t mean one can’t be athletic and ladylike at the same time.”
Rainbow Dash was starting to feel a strange churning in her stomach as Mademoiselle Doo spoke. She wasn’t too familiar with it as of late, but it didn’t take too long to recall what had been a very accustomed feeling in her foalhood: inadequacy. No, she thought. I should be proud of my friend for achieving her goals, not wallowing in self-pity because she's suddenly… better than me. “I’m… I’m happy for you… Mademoiselle Doo.”
“Indeed,” Doo said with a genuine smile and a flutter of her eyelashes. “Well, what do you say we go back to your place and I can bake you some muffins? You know, a sort of celebratory thing.”
Rainbow Dash smiled uncertainly. “Oh, um… I dunno…” she still remembered last time Derpy had tried to cook. Then again, this was Mademoiselle Doo, who seemed to be incapable of doing wrong. “Oh, what the hay? Sure, let’s go.”
Within the hour, Rainbow Dash was salivating over a freshly baked pan of rainbow swirl muffins. Mademoiselle Doo smiled sweetly at her and said, “Now, Rainbow, don’t eat them too quickly. They are hot.”
Rainbow Dash did her best to follow those instructions. But the smell of the muffins was too tempting and she ended up devouring the whole pan full. “Ow, I thing I burn’d my dhoungue,” she complained.
“I did tell you,” Mademoiselle Doo said as she wiped Rainbow’s mouth with an embroidered hoofkerchief. “And you got crumbs all over your muzzle. You are a mess, my dear.” She winked. “But don’t worry. I’ll take good care of you.”
Rainbow wasn’t sure how to feel about that. However, her anxiety was put to rest as Mademoiselle Doo trotted behind her and began to work her hooves into Rainbow’s back. She was about to protest, but the sudden wave of relaxation that washed over her stole the objections out of her mouth.
“Ooh, Darling, you are so tense,” Mademoiselle Doo said. “I cannot abide you suffering like this. Oh, idea!” She puckered her lips and began to whistle, reproducing almost perfectly the sounds of various bird calls.
“What are you…?” Rainbow started to say lethargically. Birds suddenly flew into her cloud home and twittered at Mademoiselle Doo. “What are these birds doing in my house?”
Mademoiselle Doo whistled at the birds and they began to fly about collecting brushes while a couple others grabbed some files in their beaks and began to file her hooves. “No… no, this is… too girly. I can’t…”
“Don’t fret, dear,” Mademoiselle Doo said as she redoubled her efforts on Rainbow’s aching muscles. “I will take absolute care of you. You won’t have to lift a hoof.”
“Well…” Rainbow said after a moment. “I guess this isn’t so bad. As long as nopony knows about this. Ever.”
“Of course,” Mademoiselle Doo said with a pleased smile.
Rainbow Dash reclined comfortably in a fluffy white cloud. Mademoiselle Doo had prepared it for her and it was surprisingly softer than most other clouds. As relaxing as last month’s work had been without Derpy, this month’s was even better. The increased competence of her formerly most disastrous worker had been so profound that she could actually take care of most problems that arose before Rainbow Dash even registered them. And, of course, being waited on hoof and hoof is nice, too. She paused to consider the oddness of that phrase, but then put it out of her mind and opened her mouth to let one of Mademoiselle Doo’s avian friends plop another grape into it. Another was fanning her with its wings to keep her comfortably cool on this warm day.
“Y’know,” she said to herself. “With all this free time, I should really put in some training. I’ll be in shape to join the Wonderbolts for sure.” She got to her hooves and prepared to launch herself off the cloud when suddenly she was impeded by her number one weathermare. “Whoa, what’s going on?”
“Rainbow,” Mademoiselle Doo said with a pout. “What are you doing? You should really lay back down and relax.”
“I’ve… I’ve been relaxing,” Rainbow Dash said. “I’m just gonna stretch my wings a little.”
“Oh, no dear,” Mademoiselle Doo said, pushing her gently back. “You really shouldn’t. Remember what happened when you went to ‘stretch your wings’ last week?”
Rainbow cringed in embarrassment. “That… that was… I just don’t know what went wrong with that trick, but you gotta crash a few times before you can make progress.”
Mademoiselle Doo scooped Rainbow up into her embrace and said, “Oh, Darling, I simply could not live with myself if you got hurt because I let you go gallivanting out on your own. I mean, you’re so… so accident prone.”
“I… I guess,” Rainbow said, a little lost as Mademoiselle Doo continued to snuggle her.
“Please promise me that you’ll lay back right here and not do anything rash,” Mademoiselle Doo said, patting her head lovingly.
Rainbow settled back into the cloud with a grimace at her athletic pursuits being stymied. However, one look into the sincere and caring eyes that fixed themselves upon her, and the words just slipped out. "A-alright, I promise."
Ditzy nodded in approval and fluttered off.
Rainbow languished in luxury for a while longer, but she could feel herself growing more and more agitated with her inactivity. It was then that she noticed a strange quality to the clouds around her, as well as the wind picking up. She could feel something was wrong with the weather in her feathers, and she began to tingle with excitement as she looked around for the problem.
She saw it. A funnel was slowly descending from the heavens and, from the looks of it, it would head straight for Ponyville. She leaped off the cloud and made a beeline for the tornado. “Finally, it's time for some action.”
When Rainbow got to the site, however, a whole host of pegasi were already there with Mademoiselle Doo taking point. “Alright, everypony from Cloudchaser to the right go high. Left of Cloudchaser, go low. Remember to fly counter to the rotation and don’t go directly into the funnel. Move out!”
Rainbow Dash frowned as her pegasi saluted Mademoiselle Doo and made for the twister. “Hey, what are you doing?”
“Oh, Darling,” Mademoiselle Doo said sweetly. “I have everything under control. You just go relax.”
“No way,” Rainbow protested. “This is what I’m here for. I’m going in.” She flew past Mademoiselle Doo and straight into the tornado with Doo following closely behind. “Alright, ponies, let’s get to work,” she shouted over the wind, feeling the need to reassert her authority.
“Oh, my dear,” Mademoiselle Doo said chidingly. “You really mustn’t do this. After all, I’m more than capable of doing the work of two of you.”
Rainbow grit her teeth at the cocky assertion and put her wings into overdrive. Mademoiselle Doo pulled ahead quickly, infuriating Rainbow even more. She couldn’t let that clumsy pegasus get away with showing her up like this. She tried to shave off some distance by edging ever closer to the funnel. Recklessly close, one might say. In fact, in her competitive drive to close the gap, she clipped her wing on the edge of the tornado. Hitting oncoming wind blowing at 200 mph when one is traveling at approximately the same speed is effectively similar to hitting a brick wall at about four hundred miles per hour. Rainbow could certainly believe that as she found herself suddenly buffeted back, slamming into other ponies as she made her round about the twister before being forcefully ejected in a screaming equine ball and smashing into the ground.
“Cover that instability,” Mademoiselle Doo was shouting as she coped with the sudden loss of several ponies. She picked up her own speed and in a matter of moments their counter spiral had enough momentum to cancel out the tornado.
The other pegasi cheered and lifted Mademoiselle Doo into the air—or, at least, they lifted her further into the air than she was—and carried her off, chanting her name. “Oh, Rainbow,” Mademoiselle Doo said. “You should really just go home and relax. I’ll be there in two shakes of a pony’s tail.”
“Yeah, Rainbow Crash,” One of the ponies said crossly as she dusted herself off and lifted off to join the others. “Maybe you should just go home.”
To be concluded in Act III...