The applied physics program at the University of Maremi wasn't particularly respected by those in the field, but Pinkie liked to think that she more than got her money's worth.
Not that she spent all that much on her degree, mind you—for though she could easily have gotten into Coltnell or Hayvard or MIT (the Massaddlechusetts Institute of Technology) like her sister, Maud, odd jobs and foal's parties simply didn't pay enough for an Ivory League education (and she'd readily concede that Mareami's reputation as the textbook party school made it a fairly easy compromise). Her interest in the science was far from professional—it was more of a hobby, really—but she was right in the middle of that unsure transition into the real world, having yet to begin her apprenticeship with the Cakes, and so took to her studies like a clever metaphor.
It was during her third year, under a professor by the name of Kestrel, that Pinkie first learned of cannons, those lumbering siege weapons used by the Griffons back when they had a functioning society, and understood things like government and roads and that cannibalism is generally frowned upon. They were rather simple machines, little more than a metal tube filled with explosives, but their effectiveness was hard to overstate, at least compared to the enchanted trebuchets favored by the Equestrian military.
Something about them fascinated her, and as she listened to stories of powder and fire and steel, Pinkie decided that she wanted a cannon of her own—what she'd actually do with it, she hadn't the slightest idea, but she figured that heavy artillery was the sort of thing that one would rather have, and not need, than need, and not have.
And so, through her Aunt Yellow Cake, she got in touch with a surly old gunsmith out of Ilion, a small town that sat in the shadow of the monolithic husk of the Oak of Griffonstone. The tom was the last of his line, his rusted worktools the last of their kind, and the falconet that Pinkie smuggled back to Equestria was the last thing he built before he succumbed to the myriad ailments of a life well-lived. There was, of course, a lengthy legal battle over her right to own it (Pie v. Duchy of Foalrida, 554 P.E.Q. 570), but everything worked out in the end, and the 'party cannon,' as she came to call it, would prove itself an invaluable utility.
"You lied to me."
Summer tore her gaze from Pinkie—a far cry from her previous exuberance, she was weighing the charge with narrowed eyes and pursed lips, her mind swimming with grains and coefficients.
"Back when this all first started, I said that we should buy a gun, but you told me that they aren't a thing here." Anon gestured towards the cannon. "Well, that looks a lot like a gun to me, Summer."
She stood there for a moment, digesting what he said, and then stared him in the eye with a furrowed brow.
"Non, cannons only exist in, like, history textbooks, this is the first time I've actually seen one. Besides, the ones you humans use are hoofheld and stuff, that's ... well, they're not the same thing."
"Since when are you an expert on firearms?"
"I watched the show. There was that weird episode where your friend did a bunch of registration forms, remember?"
One of the season four filler arcs concerned Anon's vaguely southern friend, William, and his dealings with the ATF after they misplaced his paperwork for a new suppressor. Though it had very little to do with much of anything, the storyline was well-received by fans, who praised its worldbuilding and 'cathartic representation of a maddening bureaucracy.'
Anon crossed his arms.
"It's still a gun."
Summer shot him a raised eyebrow.
"If I ask you for a sandwich, you don't bring me a hot dog. Sure, it fits the technical definition of a sandwich, but we both know that I wanted something else."
Anon stepped back, and held up his hands in mock surrender.
"Oh, a thousand pardons, your omnipotence, but I thought that telepathy was more of a unicorn thing. You assumed that I was talking about a specific type, not all guns, period."
She ruffled her wings in irritation
"It's the context. I don't really think that cannons are meant for home defense.
"If you're working alone, sure, but there’s two of us—they're crew-served weapons." He looked back at Pinkie, who had just finished ramming the wad. "In theory, at least."
"Crew-served ... Non, just call the police, run at them with a knife or something."
"Where's the fun in that? I mean, identifying the poor sod might be a bit difficult, but a cannon will certainly get the job done."
Summer tried—and failed—to suppress a chuckle.
"Yeah, of course, but all the blood and entrails might stain the carpet."
"Eh, we'll burn that bridge when we get there. If nothing else, we can hang it up as a warning." Anon grinned. "Heh, how's that for 'no trespassing'?"
Pinkie was, it seems, privy to Rainbow's schedule, and knew that every Thursday, from 12:30 to 1:00, she took a nap in a cloud above Ponyville Green. (For all her boasting, Rainbow Dash—perhaps out of some unresolved, lingering foalhood fear of being seen as 'uncool'—never really talked about just how hard she worked. Most days, she'd rise before dawn and retire after midnight, and spend the day repositioning clouds and arguing with locals and disrupting the wild storms that spawned above the Everfree (when she wasn't training for the Wonderbolts, that is). Rest, to her, was an extraordinary luxury, one that she reveled in the chance to indulge, and it was this willingness to sleep wherever, whenever, that earned the pegasus her reputation as a layabout). It wasn't that hard for Pinkie to figure out where, exactly, her friend was—there was but one cloud in the sky, and a color-striped tail hung limply from its side—so she had aimed the cannon right in that direction (with slight adjustments for wind, of course), and stuffed it with one of those PVC dodgeballs.
Over the years, and through rigorous testing, she had learned that a careful blend of loud noises and blunt force trauma made for an effective, if inelegant, method of waking ponies up. Normally, she'd bat them over the head with a hoof (or maybe a rubber chicken, if she was feeling up to it) and babble on about the usual nonsense, but the distance and relative inaccessibility of the cloud made using more 'enthusiastic' means something of a necessity. While the gunpowder would produce more than enough noise, the dodgeball, she figured, would hit just hard enough to wake up her target, but not so hard as to cause any (lasting) damage.
And so, Pinkie lit the fuse, and hit the ground with her forelegs wrapped around her ears.
The ball flew in a perfect arc, whistling as it cut through the air.
This wasn't the first time that Pinkie had done this to Rainbow (nor would it be the last, for that matter), so it was little surprise when, after a minute or two of flailing around, a prismatic contrail sped to her location, and began screaming about how shooting ponies is "dangerous" and "stupid" and "really, really bucking illegal."
"Oh, hey, Dashie!"
Rainbow, more out of shock than anything else, stopped her yelling, and gave Pinkie an incredulous stare.
"Are ... are you even listening to me? Seriously, you can't just do this, someday you're really gonna hurt somepony. What'll happen when ... "
Pinkie wrapped the pegasus in a hug, taking care to avoid the horrible purple welt that took up most of the left side of her face.
"It's so good to see you too!"
Summer decided to intervene before either of them wound up in the hospital.
"How are things, Dash?"
Rainbow turned towards Summer, her eyes softening in recognition, and her anger shoved to the side.
"Oh, hey! You didn't tell me you were coming to Ponyville."
Rainbow tore herself from the hug, and they exchanged a hoofshake.
"Figured we'd make it a surprise."
"Fair enough. Where's Anon?"
The man in question stepped forward.
"I'm three times your height, Rainbow, how the hell'd you miss me?"
Considering the ergonomic differences between them, Rainbow wasn't really sure what to do, so she settled for simply bumping her hoof against his thigh.
"Yeah, yeah. What's the occasion?"
He rubbed her ear between his fingers.
"Do we need a reason to see a friend?"
She leaned into his hand.
"Heh, I guess not."
Summer was more than pleased to see them getting along—she had plans, after all—but wasn't really sure how to react when Pinkie stuffed the cannon into her mane, winked, and then skipped back towards town. In the end, she simply decided to bury it, and turned back to Rainbow with a smile.
"So, wanna get lunch?"