* * Ω * *
“Pinkie Pie!” Rainbow screamed before she slammed into the ground in front of her friend. “I need a party!”
“Okie dokey lokey!” Pinkie saluted, and then promptly disappeared in a blur of pink.
“What? Wait!” Rainbow shot after Pinkie, but in the half second it took her to catch up, Pinkie had already set up a table, flanked by brightly colored balloons and loaded with tortilla chips, nacho cheese, bean dip, and a chocolate fountain. “I didn’t mean right now!”
“Oh. Well, I had a super-fun party in mind for you, but if you don’t want it...” Pinkie slowly pushed her party cannon off to one side.
“I’ll still take those chips,” Rainbow offered with a hungry glance at the bowl. “But I need this party in, like a couple of days.”
Pinkie nodded, and she produced a pencil and a small notebook from the infinite abyss that was her mane. “You should have told me that first! What kind of party do you want? I have birthday, wedding, funeral, welcome home, have a good trip, winter wrap up, we forgive you for backstabbing us…”
“Just a plain old party. I don’t need a theme or anything.”
Pinkie licked the tip of her pencil and began to write. “Generic party, gotcha. Where do you want to hold it?”
“Right in the middle of town,” Rainbow said with a conniving grin.
“A very popular venue. Hopefully it’s not booked.” Pinkie’s pencil practically flew across the page. “What would you like for refreshments?”
“Whatever. Oh, but there needs to be cider,” Rainbow said with a lick of her lips in anticipation. “As much cider as you can get your hooves on.”
“Oo, that’s gonna cost extra. Okay. Is this going to be a shindig, or more of a hootenanny?”
“Probably a shindig, but I want everypony in town to come. I can’t wait to bust him in front of everypony.” Rainbow rubbed her forehooves together and cackled with delight. “This is gonna be sweet!”
“Bust who, Dashie? I can make it a busted party if you want. I have hoofcuffs, even.”
“No, no cuffs. Just a plain party. Think you can get all of this done in a couple of days?”
Pinkie scoffed. “Are you kidding? I could have this ready in twenty minutes if you wanted.”
“You could?” Rainbow asked eagerly, but then she soured. “Wait a minute. How could you have it ready so quickly and have enough cider for the whole town?”
“Don’t sweat the small stuff!” Pinkie said as she stuffed her notebook and pencil back in her mane. “You let me handle that. Now, where can I get a mareiachi band and twelve peacocks while still avoiding the griffons?”
“Seriously, where is all this cider at?” Rainbow called out to her retreating friend. “Pinkie! Get back here!”
* * Ω * *
“Dash, I gotta admit, I’m surprised you forgot to renew your weather licence,” Long Run said as the two of them walked towards Ponyville’s town hall.
“What can I say?” Rainbow replied, her devious glee building with each step towards Ponyville. “I’ve been so busy with the Wonderbolts that it slipped my mind.”
“That I get, but why are we walking? We could have been there by now if we’d just flown over.”
“Hey, you know how steep the fines get for unauthorized cloud manipulation. I betcha there’s an inspector up there, just waiting to bust me for my naps.”
“Uh huh. Right,” Long replied with an exaggerated eye roll. “You are going to pay me back sometime this year, right? I’m gonna need those bits for my own fees and dues in a couple of months.”
“Oh, I’ll pay you back, all right,” Rainbow cackled under her breath. Once Pinkie revealed that she knew Long, her payback would be complete and perfect.
“That maniacal laugh doesn’t reassure me.”
“Relax, you big cry baby. Have I ever let you down before?”
“No, but you do have a problem with the concept of time. I’m still waiting for you to return my Ogres and Oubliettes compendium, and you said you’d give that back to me months ago.”
“Hey, I’m still trying to figure out how to squeeze more stealth points out of Spike the Stingy. I managed to infiltrate the Squizard’s inner sanctum, and you know what he gave me? A measly plus two! I mean, c’mon!”
“Truly, your suffering is an inspiration to us all,” Long replied. “May all of ponykind draw strength from the noble slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that you endure for the cause.”
“Not helping, Long,” Rainbow grumbled.
“Look, the best way to level up is to play to Spike’s interests. Try rescuing something in the game that he values more than anything else. If he’s somehow worked Rarity in, save her from that Squid-wizard, or whatever you said he created for the campaign. He’d probably give you all the experience points you want as a reward.”
“Really? You think he would?”
“Yeah. He’ll totally—” Long stopped dead in his tracks as they made the last turn before the town hall. “Oh, c’mon. Really, Dash?”
“What?” Rainbow moved to his side, and a hoof went to her chest in faux surprise. “What a coincidence! I had no idea that a party would be going on at this exact moment! How unexpected!”
“Try delivering the lines with a little more emphasis,” Long offered as he rubbed the side of his head. “Saying everything in monotone really kills the believability factor.”
“But this is a complete and utter surprise. I did not know this would happen,” Rainbow said in the same unsurprised voice. “But since we are here, we should go and enjoy the festivities.”
“All right, let’s get this over with,” Long huffed. “Where’s Pinkie Pie?”
“Oh, I bet she is around somewhere. She is always at parties like this. Really, you can’t miss her.”
“I bet not,” he grumbled as they made their way over to the party.
Rainbow had to admit that Pinkie had once again wiped up a nice party, and somehow, she even managed to keep the overall theme generic, just as she had said. The scattered tables were filled with freshly baked cakes, pies, several vegetable trays, bright red balloons, and a cotton candy machine, but Long's eyes lit up when he saw Applejack standing near a brown barrel of Dash’s favorite drink.
“You got more cider?” he asked. “Where did you get more cider from?”
“That’s a good question. I tell you what. Why don’t you go get some, and I’ll have Pinkie Pie come over and tell you where she got it?”
“That sounds wonderful, Rainbow Dash,” Long said with a long-suffering sigh.
“Hey! Since you’ve never met her before, this would be a great time to introduce yourself to her!”
“Right.” Long shook his head and chuckled. “Why didn't I think of that.”
Rainbow’s grin went from ear to ear as Long made his way to the cider and said hello to Junebug. All she needed to do was ‘arrange’ for a meeting between him and Pinkie, and once Pinkie revealed that she did know him, she was going to rub it in Long’s face for the rest of his life.
It would be the perfect payback for his blatant lie.
Rainbow then took to the air and glanced around for Pinkie. The first sweep of the overall party came up with a distinct lack of pink, as did the second in-depth look. After the third attempt at locating Pinkie failed, Rainbow flapped quickly over to Rarity, who was chatting with Lily while enjoying a slice of cake.
“Hey, Rares! Have you seen Pinkie?” Rainbow asked as soon as her hooves hit the ground. “I don’t see her anywhere.”
“Excuse me, Lily,” Rarity said calmly. “I believe Rainbow Dash has a question she would like to ask me, but lacks the manners to properly wait her turn.”
“Have you seen Pinkie or not?” Rainbow huffed.
“Why yes, Rainbow Dash. I do believe she went with Mayor Mare to procure more cider. You should be able to find her at town hall, if I’m not mistaken.”
Rainbow was off in an instant, and burst through the main doors of Ponyville’s town hall half a moment later. Mayor Mare shrieked at the sudden entrance, then gave Rainbow a withering glare as she straightened her glasses and adjusted her collar.
“Miss Dash, I do believe we talked about bursting in unannounced, did we not?”
Rainbow ignored the question and glanced around. “Hey, where is Pinkie Pie? I need her to meet somepony.”
“I’m right here, Dashie!” Pinkie replied with a hop, skip, and a jump. “You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to get these cider barrels here; the customs dues alone were outrageous! I hope you don’t mind that I told them to send the bill to you.”
Rainbow blinked, then shook her head. “Whatever. Hey, I have a pony outside that I want to introduce you to.”
“You do?!” Pinkie Pie lit up with delight, and she wrapped her friend up in a gigantic hug. “This is amazing! Now my Generic Rainbow Dash party can be a Welcome to Ponyville party!”
Rainbow smirked. “I think that’d be great. Lemme introduce you to him.”
Pinkie bounded outside with Rainbow, and the two of them eagerly surveyed the crowd of ponies. After a few moments and a couple of giggles, however, Pinkie turned to Rainbow in confusion.
“So, where is he? I don’t see anypony new here. He is a he, right? Maybe I should be looking for a she. Oh! Maybe he or she is really good and hide-and-seek! Where do you think they’re hiding at?”
“I don’t know, but I’m gonna nail his hooves to the ground when I find him,” Rainbow growled. “Stay here, Pinkie. I’ll bring him to you.”
Rainbow again took to the air, and after a futile moment of searching, she shot over to Rarity’s location once more. “Rares! Have you seen Long Run?”
“Excuse me, Lily. I do believe—”
“Lecture me later, Rarity. I need to find Long.”
Rarity gave a snort of annoyance. “My dear Rainbow, if you want my help, I suggest you rein in that troublesome tongue of yours. Your behavior is most uncouth.”
“Fine, I’m sorry,” she said with a huff. “Now, did you see where he went?”
“No, Rainbow. I did not.”
“Wasn’t he talking to Applejack just a minute ago?” Lily asked. “Maybe he’s still with her.”
“Why’s he talking to her?” Rainbow asked. “Ugh. Thanks, Lily. I gotta go.”
Rainbow began her search once more, and after a few moments, she found Long Run and Applejack near a stack of cider barrels. Her dive towards them was slowed when she saw Applejack’s furious frown, and when she landed, she couldn’t help but feel guilty.
“Hey guys. What’s up?” Rainbow hesitantly asked.
“This here cider is what’s up,” Applejack replied with a growl. “Do you know what kind of cider this is, Dash?”
“Um, it’s apple cider. Isn’t it?” Rainbow swallowed hard.
“This here cider is Criollo cider.”
“And why is that so—”
“It’s imported cider, Dash!” Applejack kicked a barrel with a rear hoof. “Ah can’t believe you’d go behind my back and get some cheap, knock-off, apple flavored water! Ah could have gotten you all the cider you needed for this little hootenanny, if’n you’d just asked me.”
“Wait, wait, wait. I thought you said you were completely out last week. ‘As empty as the desert in June when the snow don’t fall,’ right?”
“That was last week. Granny Smith and I whipped up a new batch after that.”
Rainbow’s eye twitched slightly. “Well, go yell at Pinkie. She’s the one who bought all of it.”
“Pinkie? Shoot, no wonder you got this disgusting slop. Pinkie wouldn’t know good cider if it came up and bit her in the rear.”
“Tell you what. I’ll take Long here and go tell her that she made a mistake. How’s that?”
“You do that. Meanwhile, Ah’m gonna go take this swill and dump it in my pig’s sty. Tragic waste of apples right here.”
“Just bring some of yours back!” Long called out as Rainbow grabbed his hoof and pulled him away. “I’ll pay double your asking price for a cask!”
“That’s a deal, Long!” Applejack called back.
“You’d better share when she gets back,” Rainbow growled as she marched him back to the center of her ‘party.’
“I won’t be able to if you rip my leg off,” he protested in return.
“Look, this’ll just take a minute. Pinkie is right over…” Rainbow stomped a hoof in frustration. “Oh, c’mon! Where did she go now?!”
“I think you’re getting just a bit carried away with this, Rainbow.”
“I am not. You are going to meet Pinkie, right here and right now, or my name is Maud.”
“Hey, Maud? You might want to let me go. The whole town is staring at you.”
Rainbow snapped back to reality, and as she did so, the eyes of the town quickly went to anything and everything but her, with some casual whistles and a few comments about the weather from the ponies nearest to her.
“Really, Dash. You gotta let this go.”
“Absolutely not. Just wait here, and I’ll figure out where Pinkie wandered off to.”
Long shook his head in bemusement as Rainbow went airborne, but she ignored his silent snark and began to search for her wayward friend. This was a matter of pride now; she couldn’t admit defeat without giving Long bragging rights for the next decade, if not longer.
After a search that took twice as long as it should have in Rainbow’s mind, she managed to find Pinkie Pie’s twitching, swishing tail protruding from a bush. With a heavy groan, she touched down, and she gave her friend’s rump a few sharp pokes. “Pinkie, what in Equestria are you doing?”
“I’m searching for your new friend!” Pinkie said. “He’s really good at hide-and-seek. Do you think he’d show me some of his hiding spots, once I find him?”
“I’m going to make him show me, too. That way he’ll quit disappearing. C’mon, I found him. He’s waiting by the pies.”
“Really! I like this new pony already,” Pinkie announced as she bounded away. “Anypony who likes pies is an instant favorite in my book.”
“Figures,” Rainbow grumbled.
“So, who am I meeting, anyway?” Pinkie asked. “Is he rugged and strong? Is he tall, dark, and mysterious? Will he sweep me off my hooves, take me into his tender embrace, and shower me with affection and praises?”
“Uh, you’re kinda scaring me now, Pinkie,” Rainbow said with a wary look.
“What? Don’t you ever dream of romantic candlelight dinners and messy baking episodes that end with both of you licking the frosting from—”
“Whoa, hey!” Rainbow shouted. “Look at that! I had no idea we were running low on pies!”
“What?! Why didn’t somepony tell me! I’ll be right back!”
Rainbow let out a sigh of relief as Pinkie disappeared. This whole thing was spiraling out of control, and for the first time, she began to wonder if this had been a bad idea.
Thankfully, Long Run had finally stayed put, so there was still a chance that her plan could come together. He was chatting with Roseluck at the moment, a piece of carrot cake on the table before him, and that dopey look on his face meant that he was about to launch into one of his long-winded stories. If she could keep him where he was, the two of them would meet as soon as Pinkie returned.
“Hey, Dash,” Long called out. “You gotta try this! You wouldn’t believe how creamy this frosting is!”
“Oh, I’ll show you creamy,” she muttered as she walked over to him. “I’m gonna ram that cake right down that fat neck of yours.”
“Say, Rose, do you happen to know Pinkie Pie?” Long asked. “Rainbow keeps telling me about her, but I haven’t met her yet.”
Roseluck offered a laugh that was clearly forced. “Nice one, Long Run. Of course I know Pinkie! Everypony knows her.”
“Thank you!” Rainbow exclaimed with a smug smile for Long. “See? What did I tell you?”
“How could you have not met her?” Roseluck continued. “I mean, she was there when we had that welcome to Ponyville party for you.”
“I guess I just missed her, somehow,” he said with a shrug. “Dash here is supposed to introduce me to her.”
“Introduce you to who?” asked another voice.
Rainbow cackled with delight, and with two flaps of her wings, she shot over and hauled Pinkie over to within a hair’s breadth of Long Run. “Finally! Now we can settle this once and for all! Pinkie Pie, this is Long Run. Long, Pinkie Pie.”
“Um…” said Pinkie in the oddest fashion. “Hi, Long. Have you decided if you want a pet yet?”
“A pet?!” Rainbow gasped. “You’re asking him about a pet?!”
Long glanced between the two of them, gave up on anything about this whole mess making any sort of sense with a shrug, and obviously decided to just run with the madness. “No, Pinkie. I’m not sure if I want one at all, since I’m gone a lot.”
“Oh. Well, if you change your mind, Fluttershy has a lot of different animals you could think about that are in need of a good home. If you get a bird, you could just leave a window open, and they could fly out and take care of themselves. Or I’m sure Rainbow Dash could make arrangements to stop by and feed your pet, if you want.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. I have to say, it’s really nice to finally meet you,” he said while looking square at Rainbow. “Since this is the first time we’ve met and everything.”
“Oh!” Pinkie stuck out a hoof, and her grin went from ear to ear as Long shook it. “It’s super nice to meet you, too!” She glanced around, then offered an awkward smile as she pointed to his slice of cake. “How do you like the cake Pin—er, that I made?”
“You were serious,” Rainbow muttered, her head hung in defeat. “You really haven’t met her.”
“Nope. Thanks for introducing me, though. Say, Pinkie, since I have you here, I need to ask you something.”
Pinkie’s eyes widened slightly in alarm. “Oh, um, what is it? I mean, sure! I love to help other ponies. What do you need?”
“Well, I have this friend who is probably named Rainbow Dash, and she was telling me that Princess Twilight Sparkle has been really uptight lately because of her responsibilities at the School of Friendship.”
“Long, no!” Rainbow begged.
“So, I thought I might try to help our princess out, being the concerned subject that I am,” Long pressed on, a sly grin growing on his face. “What I want to know is what are a few of Twilight’s favorite things? Warm woolen mittens, perhaps, or bright copper kettles?”
“Well, Twilight likes a lot of things,” Pinkie said with a small smile as Rainbow groaned and keeled over on the spot. “She might be a bit confused as to why you’re doing it, though.”
“Good point. Maybe some food would be better. I could invite her out to a picnic, maybe. Give her a break from the duties of a princess. Do you think she’d like schnitzel with noodles?”
“I think it might be better if you introduce yourself to her first. You have met her, right?”
* * Ω * *
“I still can’t believe you never met Pinkie Pie before now,” Rainbow muttered to the ground. “How does that even happen?”
“Hey, with my frequent absenteeism, it’s not too hard to believe,” Long Run said with a friendly pat on her withers. “But now I have met her, so I know who you’re talking about. She’s pretty friendly, and between you and me, she’s kinda cute, and she really knows all kinds of things about animals. I probably have a better chance of getting a first date with her than with Twilight, anyway.”
“Yeah, well, just please don’t be all stuck up about this, okay?” Rainbow asked. “I went through all this trouble to try to catch you in a lie, and I feel kinda bad that I did. Not to mention the fact that Pinkie is going to send me the bill for the party, and it ain’t gonna be cheap.”
Long took a moment to study his friend’s forlorn face, and with a laugh, he made the motion of zipping his lips shut. “I tell you what. Since it was a nice party, and since you did introduce me to somepony new, I’ll help you with the cost. When you do get the bill, bring it by my place and I’ll give you what I can.”
This brought a smile to Rainbow, and she slugged him softly on the shoulder. “Thanks, birdbrain. You’re not so bad.”
“Long! Hey, Long!”
Long Run turned, then yelped when he found the pink party mare mere inches away from his nose, although she was rapidly bouncing up and down on her tiphooves like some sort of pony jackhammer. “Pinkie?! Sweet Celestia, don’t do that!”
“No can do!” Pinkie cheerfully said, but then she shrunk back, looked down at the ground, and twiddled a hoof. “Say, before you go, do you mind if I ask you something?”
In one rapid rush of air, Pinkie blurted, “Well I was wondering if you’d like to come over to Sugarcube Corner sometime and hang out since we just met there’s a lot of catching up that we need to do it’ll be my treat and I’ll treat you to my famous snickerdoodle cookies!”
Long thought the offer over as Pinkie caught her breath, but then he shrugged. “Hey, I’m down for free cookies. How’s next Tuesday work for you, say around three?”
“It’s a d—excuse me. It’s a da—excuse me.” As every abbreviated word cut off, Pinkie jerked with a sharp hiccup that looked rather painful. “ThanksLong!” she managed between hiccups. “Seeyouthere!”
And with that, Pinkie bounded away in long, cat-like leaps.
“A date, eh?” Rainbow elbowed Long in the ribs and gave him a leering grin. “Careful. Pinkie might just crush on you.”
“What, are we in the Junior Speedsters again?” he scoffed. “Who has crushes at our age? You really need to lay off the cider.”
* * Ω * *