Duped!

by nagoluckywriting


Duped!

It was a slow day in the School of Friendship's counselling office, where a blue mare sat behind a desk, hooves kicked up. Life is good, thought Trixie Lulamoon as she stared at the ceiling. The voices of students floated in through the open window, and from the sound of it, another friendship problem had been solved by The Great and Powerful Trixie.

Whenever the office was empty, Trixie practiced magic rather aimlessly, shooting off a wide variety of spells from her horn. Twilight banned the dangerous ones after an unsuspecting student opened the door while Trixie was, quite literally, playing with fire.

A beam of magic hit a pencil. Another pencil appeared beside the original. Today, Trixie was toying with duplication magic. There was no harm in it. Three pencils. Four pencils. Five pencils. If anypony at the School of Friendship ever needed a pencil, Trixie had pencils to go around.

Without looking at anything in particular, Trixie shot off another bolt of magic. The bolt arced above her head before landing on a single bit that lay flat on the desk, which instantly turned into two bits. Trixie's eyes darted lazily around the room in an effort to identify the object that had been duplicated. Wasn't there one bit on my desk earlier? She shrugged. "Doesn't matter," she mumbled aloud. "It's only one bit." She put a hoof to her chin. "But what if..." She aimed her horn at the two bits on her desk, and after a bright flash of light, she counted four bits. A smile crossed her face.

The flashes came so rapidly in the counselor's office that students passing by compared the scene to a rave.

A soft knock at the door. Another. Trixie looked up from her desk, which was now covered with bits. Breathing heavily, she whispered, "Okay. Maybe I went a bit overboard here." She noisily slid the bits behind her desk onto the floor where they would not be seen.

Smolder's dragon head peeked through the door, followed by the rest of her body. She shivered, then shook her head before stepping forward.

"Everything okay Smolder?"

"Yeah. Yeah. There doesn't happen to be any valuable treasure in here, right?"

"Not that I know of," Trixie said through a forced smile.

"Eh. Maybe my dragon senses are acting up again. I've heard that that happens to dragons when they go through... well... my body's changing, I guess, and that's kinda what I'm here to talk about."

Trixie moved to close the door, clicking it shut.


That evening, Trixie and Starlight sat together outside Café Hay at a lovely little round table. "What are you going to order?" said Trixie absentmindedly as she perused a menu that she'd seen dozens of times.

"What I always do," said Starlight, who hadn't even picked up the menu.

"Right. Right."

"You seem... distracted. Is everything okay?" Starlight rested a hoof on Trixie's. Her touch never failed to comfort.

"Yes," replied Trixie. "In fact, things are better than okay." A waiter approached the table. Without offering any explanation whatsoever, Trixie asked the waiter for the café's finest bottle of wine.

"Are you sure ma'am? It's quite expensive."

"Special occasion." Starlight looked at Trixie, who winked.

"And what will you have to accompany the wine?"

"I'll have a cucumber sandwich. Extra cucumbers please," said Starlight.

The waiter turned to Trixie who said, "I'll have the garden salad with some of those expensive truffle mushrooms."

"Very well then," said the waiter as he scribbled the orders down on a yellow legal pad. The waiter moved to the next table.

"What was that about?" asked Starlight, her face furrowed into a concerned frown. "I'm not paying for the wine."

"Don't worry. I'll pay tonight. I want to make this date extra special," replied Trixie.

"And you can afford this how exactly? The paychecks from the School of Friendship are not what I would call lucrative."

"If I tell you, do you promise not to get mad at me?" Trixie looked at Starlight with puppy dog eyes.

Starlight put her head in her hooves. "Sweet Celestia. You're selling—"

"I'm not selling anything!" She leaned in close to Starlight, whispering in her ear. "Look under the table." She pulled up the white table cloth, and put her head under the table. Starlight followed suit.

The Cutie Mark Crusaders trotted by. "Is that... Trixie and Starlight? What are they doing?" asked Sweetie Belle.

"I dunno. Relationships are weird," replied Scootaloo. The Cutie Mark Crusaders continued onwards past Café Hay.

Underneath the tablecloth, Trixie and Starlight leaned in close to one another. "Watch this," whispered Trixie. In her hoof was a single bit. She zapped it with magic. Two bits. "How much was the wine again?"

"You don't even know?" Starlight said, outraged.

"Can't have been more than a hundred bits." A few moments later, Trixie slid one hundred bits into a small purse.

The waiter cleared his throat. Trixie and Starlight moved their heads out from under the table. Quickly, the waiter set two glasses of wine and placed a bottle of ruby red liquid directly in between Trixie and Starlight.

"Hey! This sandwich tastes like grass!" said a stallion at the next table over, motioning to the waiter. The waiter rolled his eyes before dragging his hooves towards the unsatisfied patron.

Trixie was smiling. Starlight was not. "What is it?" said Trixie, who leaned back in her chair and took a sip of the fine wine. She let out a satisfied sigh.

Starlight took a moment to collect herself, then said, "Look. I know that the paychecks at the School of Friendship are small at the moment, but I'm doing the best I can, okay?"

While Starlight was speaking, Trixie copied the half empty bottle of wine. Starlight rolled her eyes. "What? It's good."

"You don't think that using magic to create money is wrong?" asked Starlight.

Trixie placed a large sum of bits on the table. "Not when we can leave tips this big. What's the word again?" Trixie stared into the air and gestured with her hooves. "Philosophy? Pantropy?"

"Philanthropy."

"That's it!" Trixie smiled.

A few minutes after Starlight and Trixie departed Café Hay, the waiter stared at the pile of gold on white table cloth. Is my satchel big enough to carry this many bits? he wondered.


Trixie stepped through the doors of the School of Friendship as a shimmering mass, gemstones reflecting the sunlight streaming in from the windows. Students oohed and aahed as she passed by on her way to the guidance counselor's office.

She paused upon seeing Rarity. "Thanks again for making me this coat! I look lovely in it, don't I?"

"Indeed you do darling. The finest diamonds in Equestria will make any pony look good. Thank you for commissioning it." Rarity stood for a moment, admiring her work.

In her office, Trixie shuffled through some papers, preparing for another day of counseling at the School of Friendship. The door opened, and Starlight trotted in.

"Here for some counselling, headmare?" asked Trixie with a broad grin. Starlight returned an awkward smile before clearing her throat.

"Are you able to take the students on a field trip today?"

"I mean—" Trixie unfurled a scroll and pretended to read it. "—I do have quite a few appointments today. What's the issue?"

"Applejack had a family emergency to tend to. I can serve as counselor in your absence."

"Where am I going?"

"Does it matter?" Starlight huffed in frustration, then looked down. A beat of silence. "I'm sorry. Being headmare is far more stressful than being a guidance counselor. Applejack was going to take them on a hike on the trails near the school."

Trixie yawned. "A hike? I can do that."

"Great."


"How much longer is this hike?" moaned Gallus. "My legs are killing me."

"You have wings dude," said Sandbar.

"Oh. Right." Gallus beat his wings and floated gently up into the air. Spotting Trixie from above, he boosted over to her. "Where is it that we're going, exactly?"

"It's a surprise," said Trixie dismissively. In near distance, the grand buildings of Canterlot could be seen. Trixie and Gallus made eye contact.

"Canterlot? Why are we going to Canterlot?" Gallus held up a journal. "We're supposed to be identifying and documenting the plants near the school and you're taking us to Canterlot?"

"Oh. So you'd rather look at leaves than take a VIP tour of the Canterlot museum? Okay then." Trixie turned around, her nose upturned, her expression playful. Gallus brought himself down in front of her.

"Wait. VIP tour?"

"Yes. I know it's not often that the students at this school have the opportunity to go on culturally enriching field trips, so I thought I'd do Applejack a favor and take her students on the most expensive museum tour offered. Getcha up to speed, y'know?"

Gallus looked down. "Oh. I didn't bring bits with me. I'm not sure any of them—" He gestured to the other students trudging their way up the hill. "—did either."

"No no. This is on me," Trixie said, beaming.


"I can't believe they let you buy the dinosaur egg through a generous 'donation'," said Gallus to Trixie over teeny-tiny sandwiches from Canterlot's finest sandwich shop on restaurant row. The sandwiches were, of course, graciously paid for by Trixie. The students crowded around the egg, staring at its shiny, cracked surface. Ponies walking by whispered to one another.

Bathed in the glow of late afternoon, Trixie sighed. Life is good, she thought to herself.

"Trixie?" Twilight said, then rubbed her eyes, which had bags under them. All that escaped her mouth initially were "whats" and "whys". "What are you doing here? What are the students doing here? Why are you all staring at the dinosaur egg from the museum. From the museum? Wait what?"

The ponies who were escorting Twilight glanced at the dinosaur egg, then at Twilight, who still had not composed herself. Her back to Trixie and the students, Twilight took a deep breath, then turned around again. "One thing at a time," she mumbled to herself. She opened her mouth to speak, deciding on the appropriate question to ask. An awkward pause. Finally, she settled for "What is this?" a she gestured to the entire scene.

"I took the students on a field trip," said Trixie smugly. "I may have also acquired this dinosaur egg through a generous donation of one million bits."

"And where exactly did that money come from?"

"Twilight, Twilight. You of all ponies should know that a magician never reveals her secrets."

Twilight, obviously irritated, was about to continue questioning Trixie when one of her aides tapped her on the shoulder and whispered low in her ear. "Right, right," said Twilight. She adopted a formal tone. "If you'll excuse me, I have an appearance at a banquet for the School for Gifted Unicorns that I'm running late for." Twilight and her aides quickly moved down the street. Before Twilight rounded the corner, she glared at Trixie.

"It is a valid question," said Sandbar. "One million bits is more than most ponies see in their entire lives." Students chorused in agreement.

"Why don't we head back to the school?" Trixie said quickly. "I'm sure Starlight is wondering where we are."


"Where in the hay were you?" said Starlight angrily. "You were supposed to take the students on a hike!" She looked at the dinosaur egg. "And why in the world are you carrying a dinosaur egg?"

"We went on a hike. To the Canterlot museum." Trixie set the egg down on the floor of Starlight's office and rested a hoof against it. "Do you like it?"

"Do I like it?" Starlight's muzzle was twisted with anger.

"I made a generous donation."

Starlight put a hoof to her head. "Look, Trixie. Duplicating bits... It's not right."

"But I gave the students a VIP tour of the museum."

"You're also wearing a coat embossed with too many diamonds to count."

"Two hundred and fifty-six."

"Just..." Starlight put both hooves to her temple. "Stop, okay?"

"Fine," Trixie grumbled, trudging out of Starlight's office.


Trixie swan dived off of her desk onto a knee-deep pile of bits. "What should I do next?" she said, her smile maniacal. Having wealth made her feel powerful. More powerful than she'd ever felt, even with her magical abilities. The pile of bits that cushioned her doubled in size, blocking some of the light beaming through the window.

Through the glass, Trixie could see the delivery carriage arriving at the front of the school. With a strained magical zap, she transported most of the bits to her own carriage, which was hidden in a discrete location in the mountains near Canterlot. The remaining bits were scooped into a rather large leather purse.

"Got a custom statue order here." A stallion in a courier's uniform gestured to a pony-sized block in the back of the carriage covered with dark blue cloth.

Trixie opened her purse. The courier nodded and she passed the bits to him.

"Do you need help moving this ma'am? I'm decently strong." Behind him, two extremely muscular pegasi floated over and picked up the statue. The stallion looked back, frowning.

"No need." Trixie waved him off.

She used her magic to open her office window, and the pegasi lifted the statue, still covered by cloth, up.

"Little to the left," said Trixie to the movers, who were in her office now. "There. That's perfect." She handed each of them a small satchel of bits. After removing the cloth, she admired the statue, a likeliness of who else but herself.


"Twenty bits for a loaf of bread?" said a yellow mare in one of Ponyville's markets. "A loaf of bread was only eight bits yesterday. Five the day before that."

"Sorry ma'am. I don't set prices, the manager does."

The mare groaned as she aggressively swiped the loaf of bread off the counter before returning it to the shelf.

Trixie stepped forward carrying a basket of the shop's finest chocolate (which was not very fine) and one of those overpriced greeting cards that pop-up and play music. Starlight was more than a little distressed. The rising prices of every day goods had the potential to cause great financial strain on the School of Friendship. Trixie offered to help, but Starlight didn't want any of her "dirty money". Trixie planned to surprise Starlight with the chocolates and the card while on a date that night. Expensive, but not too expensive.

"Two hundred bits," said the young pony at the register.

"Sure, sure," Trixie said absentmindedly, fishing in her satchel for the money.

Behind her, in line, a filly whined, "But mom, it's candy!"

"I know sweetie, but we can't afford it today." The filly began to sob.

Trixie looked towards the crying filly, then reached behind her for a pack of multi-colored chewy candies. "These too." On her way out of the store, she bent low and gently placed the pack in the tear-stained hands of the filly.

"Thank you," mouthed the mother.

Back in her office at the School of Friendship, Trixie pulled back one of the desk drawers and pushed aside some of the bits to make room for the chocolates and card.

Lost in thought, she didn't hear the door open. Didn't see Twilight until purple hooves pressed against her desk. "Whatever you're doing, it has to stop," demanded Twilight.

"Hi Twilight," said Trixie, smiling. "What exactly is it that you want me to stop doing?"

"I know you're using magic to influence Equestria's economy."

"How so?"

"Really? A one million bit donation to the Canterlot museum? I've served as headmaster here. I know what the pay is."

"I had a good touring season over summer. A new fireworks routine really dazzled crowds. Made a lot of bits."

Twilight scoffed. "Crowds? I'd hardly call what you draw 'crowds'."

"Ouch." A pause. "Whatever is happening, it's not because of me, I swear." Trixie looked into Twilight's purple eyes, weighed down by deep bags. "You still don't trust me, huh?"

"I..." Twilight stammered. "Listen. If this issue is not resolved soon, Equestria's entire economy could collapse within days."

"Again, I have nothing to do with this."

Twilight sighed. "Okay. Okay. I should head back to the castle. Coming here was pointless." Trixie could see splits forming in Twilight's mane. On the way out, Twilight took a moment to observe the statue of Trixie. "Nice statue, by the way," she said with no effort to hide the sarcasm in her voice.

After Twilight had gone, Trixie leaned back in her chair and stared at the ceiling. It can't be my fault, can it?. She stared at the ceiling until well after the sundown, the school blanketed by the soft velvet of evening. Starlight was late. The clock chimed eight times. Trixie took that as her cue to leave the office in search of Starlight.

She opened the door, nearly knocking Starlight over. "Starlight! Just the pony I was looking for. What took so long?" It was then that she noticed Starlight's puffy eyes.

"I thought I told you to stop," said Starlight, her tone measured.

"I did!"

Starlight stared at the statue of Trixie. "Yeah," she spat. "I'm sure."

"Is this about the rising prices? How is that my fault?"

"You spent so many of your duplicated bits that you've single-handedly devalued the currency."

Trixie laughed. "What? That's ridiculous!"

"Is it? How many bits have you spent in the past week?"

Trixie mulled the question for a moment before saying, "I don't know. A lot?"

Starlight again looked at the statue. "Obviously so."

"So where do yo want to go tonight?" asked Trixie, changing the subject.

"Y'know what? I think I'm going to go home. Forget about our date." Before Trixie could protest, Starlight stormed out of the counselor's office, slamming the door behind her on the way out.

Trixie returned to her desk and opened the drawer. She opened the pop-up card. A happy jingle rang out, played for half a minute, then abruptly ended. She continued to stare at the card, wondering how any of this was her fault.


The voice came over the radio. "This is Sky Wave reporting. An economic crisis in Equestria is becoming increasingly likely as the value of the bit continues to drop. The cause for this development remains unknown." Trixie turned the knob to another channel.

The morning sun greeted her as she stared out the open window of her carriage at Equestria beyond. Behind her, piles of golden bits neared the ceiling, save for a narrow area surrounding her cot. "Now what?" asked Trixie out loud. She craned her neck to look at the mountain of bits, shimmering in the light of the sunrise. She had more wealth than a pony could ask for in one lifetime. She had everything. Everything but a hot mocha between her hooves.

Entering one of Canterlot's finest coffee shops, Trixie looked left. Looked right. Where is everyone? she wondered. Behind the counter, a mare stood, slowly sipping a cup of coffee.

"Don't tell my boss about this," said the mare. She sounded entirely defeated. Setting down the cup, she said, "What can I get for you?"

"A mocha."

The mare turned around, preparing a mug. "You do know that a mocha is running ten thousand bits today, right?"

"Ten thousand?"

"Yeah. I'm assuming you can pay for this? You look like a rich pony."

Trixie looked down at her cloak. She had Rarity make another one with twice the diamonds, because two hundred and fifty six didn't feel like enough. "I can, yes."

Silence followed. A few minutes later, the mare pushed a mocha over the counter. Trixie opened her satchel and withdrew the bits necessary to pay for it.

"'s a deep wallet," commented the mare.

Trixie pointed a hoof to her unicorn horn. "Magic." She cupped the mocha in her hooves and wandered over to a small sofa, where she sat and looked out the window. The streets were empty. Many businesses were closed. A sip of mocha. Life is good. With her magic, she had the ability to weather the economic tragedy, whatever the cause was.

The barista had the radio on, and in the background, Trixie could again hear the voice of Sky Wave. "Twilight Sparkle has officially declared an economic crisis in Equestria. Ponies everywhere are in a state of panic as obtaining life necessities has become impossible for most. More to come on this developing story."

Members of the royal guard appeared outside of the coffee shop. "This must be her!" one of them shouted.

"Move in!" Trixie counted five guardsmen before a white hoof grasped her, dragging her out of the shop. "These shenanigans have gone on long enough miss."

"What are you talking about?" asked Trixie.

"The royal guard has identified a blue unicorn spendthrift believed to have a connection to the current economic crisis. You match that description."

"Not me, sorry. I am the Great and Powerful Trixie!"

"Don't care." One of the royal guard shoved Trixie forward.

"Hey!"

Trixie found herself in an empty room, save for a cheap plastic chair and table. "What is this?" said Trixie. "Canterlot's royal guard can't afford nicer furniture?"

A gruff voice over the intercom. "This is a questioning room. Not sure the quality of the furniture matters at this point. Stand by. You will be questioned shortly."

Trixie kicked the chair and stuck her tongue out at nobody.

She paced around the room for a few minutes, surrounded by four drab walls. Eventually, a door opened and a mare donning a simple black suit stepped in. The mare pointed a hoof at the chair and table, nodding.

Trixie sat down across from the mare.

"Greetings. My name is Agent Stable. Please state your name."

Trixie said nothing.

Silence.

"Are you aware that the value of the bit has plummeted to a record low?"

No words. No movement. Trixie stared at Agent Stable, who began rifling through papers.

"Our records indicate that you have spent, at minimum, one billion bits in recent weeks. Let me repeat that number. One billion. Is that correct?"

A blank stare.

Agent Stable sighed. Twirled a pen in her hooves.

"Didn't know I spent one billion," said Trixie, finally permeating the silence. "I guess that makes me Equestria's first billionaire."

"Where did the bits come from?" asked Agent Stable calmly.

"Haven't you heard? I'm a famous magician slash counselor at the School of Friendship."

"Do you claim this to be your only source of income?"

"Have to make a living somehow."

"The official currency count as of two weeks ago was three hundred twenty seven million two hundred fifty six thousand thirty eight."

"Didn't quite catch that."

"Very well. Two weeks ago the official currency count was three hundred twenty seven million two hundred fifty six thousand thirty eight."

"What was that last part again?"

"Eight?"

"No. No. The part before that."

"Two hundred fifty six thousand thirty eight?"

"Y'know what? Just say the entire number again."

Agent Stable breathed out, beginning to lose her patience. "You spent more bits than there are in circulation. Significantly more, in fact."

Trixie scoffed.

"I am going to ask you again. Where did the bits come from?"

No response.

Papers were shuffled. A chair scraped against the hard floor of the questioning room. Agent Stable stood. "Very well then. You will be placed in a holding cell until further notice."

Two members of the royal guard entered the room and forcefully grabbed Trixie by the shoulders.

After being guided down a long corridor, the guards threw Trixie into a small cell, three walls and a set of white metal bars, which clanged shut.

Immediately after the guards were out of sight. Trixie's horn glowed. A pop. She looked left. Looked right. She had not moved. What? She tried to teleport again and again she found herself within the cell. "I am the Great and Powerful Trixie! I cannot be imprisoned!" More pops.

Eventually, Trixie collapsed to the ground, panting. She turned over onto her back and stared at the flat white ceiling above. Maybe this is my fault, she thought.

Twenty-four hours later, she was still in the cell.

A lavender head appeared on the other side of the bars. Still on her back, Trixie shifted her eyes towards the familiar face. "Starlight?"

Trixie could tell Starlight had been crying. "The School of Friendship is closing tomorrow. Thought I'd let you know. You, my marefriend, who will likely be imprisoned in the coming days."

"How'd you get in here anyways?"

"The guards quit. Canterlot can't pay them for their services anymore."

"They get paid?" Trixie said. "I always thought they served out of the goodness of their hearts."

"Will you quit being so naive?" Starlight spat. "I told you not to duplicate bits but of course you went ahead and did it anyways."

"I just wanted to give you—"

"Me? This was never about me! Only you." Starlight flailed her arms. "The jackets, the egg, the statue. In your stupid quest for wealth, you forgot about what really mattered!" The two mares locked eyes for a brief moment.

Sniffling, Starlight turned around. "I should go." With her head down, she collided with a mare's broad shoulders.

"Hi Starlight," said Twilight, who seemed frazzled as ever.

Trixie pushed herself off of the ground and placed her hands on the bars of the cell. She found herself face-to-face with Twilight, who spoke quickly, frantically. "I finally figured it out. Finally figured out how you did it. I'm surprised nopony tried it sooner. Maybe they have. But never on a scale like this. Only you, Trixie, would go well beyond reason and expose a serious flaw in Equestria's currency system."

Starlight attempted to ask what Twilight was talking about, but Twilight was not finished.

"Thank you. I hate you. Thank you. I need your help. You created the problem. Now you're going to help me fix it. There were three hundred twenty seven million two hundred fifty six thousand thirty seven bits in circulation before you—"

"Eight."

"What?"

"Thirty eight, not thirty seven," said Trixie.

"Does it matter?"

"Only for the sake of continuity." Trixie shrugged.

Twilight shook her head. "Anyways, I did some calculations, and if we combine our magic, we should be able to remove all of the invalid bits. Take a look." A notebook was shoved through the bars.

Why am I still single? I mean, I'm a princess! read a line on the page.

"What is this?" said Trixie.

Twilight looked at the notebook and blushed. "Whoops! Wrong page." After quickly flipping to another page in the notebook, Twilight again pushed the notebook towards Trixie.

The hoofwriting on this page was very crude and shaky, but Trixie did her best to decipher it. "Uh huh," muttered Trixie. "Yes." She finished reading. "So what do I get for helping you?"

"What do you get for helping me? Are you kidding me?"

"Not really?"

"I was going to sentence you to an Equestrian prison out in the frozen north, but now that I'm thinking about it, I have something much better in mind." Twilight gave a cheeky smile.

"Not prison?"

"Not prison."

"Okay. Let's do this then." The glow of unicorn magic illuminated the white walls of the cell and the hallway.

"Wait, wait," Trixie spoke, moments before the spell was to be performed. "What about the ponies who sold things to me?"

"The spell covers that. Were you even reading the notebook?" A pause. "Sorry. I forgot that my magical knowledge is significantly more advanced than yours."

Trixie frowned. Twilight's horn glowed. Having no choice in the matter, Trixie combined her magic with Twilight's. The three ponies were blinded by a bright flash of light. Momentarily blinded, they stumbled around. Trixie's head clanged against the metal bars.

"Did it work?" asked Starlight.

"Only one way to find out," replied Twilight, trotting down the hallway.

Trixie was still behind bars. "What about me?"

Twilight turned around. "It's open. It was open the whole time, actually. One of the guards didn't set the lock properly."

Sure enough, Trixie pushed on the cell door and it slid open.

The hum of a radio echoed throughout the empty break room. "...and that's why you don't set lemurs on fire. Learned that one the hard way."

"Couldn't even turn off the radio before they left." Twilight shook her head. She turned the dial. "...and some ponies say that they witnessed bits disappear. Confusion continues across Equestria. This is Sky Wave reporting. More to come after these messages." Static crackled.

"Okay, okay," muttered Twilight. She proceeded to aim her horn at a bit that had dropped to the floor. A blast of light. One bit. Trixie looked at Twilight. "I placed a spell on Equestrian currency that blocks unicorn magic."

The three mares stood by the radio in silence for a while.

A free mare once again, Trixie turned to leave the room. "Where do you think you're going?" said Twilight.

"Home?" replied Trixie. "Aren't we done here?"

Twilight laughed. "Starlight and I are. As for you..."


Trixie boarded the train under the watchful eyes of Twilight. She glanced down at her ticket again and rolled her eyes. Why the hay is Twilight sending me to Appleloosa?

On Trixie's horn was a special device that prevented her from performing unicorn magic. "It'll disappear in a few weeks," Twilight had said moments earlier. "And don't even think about leaving. That—" She gestured to the device. "—will prevent you from doing so. Have fun!"

Sullen, Trixie watched as the lush greenery of Ponyville gave way to empty desert sands.

At last, the train came to a halt. On the platform, a yellow stallion with a cowboy hat stood tall and proud. As Trixie stepped off, she was greeted by a country accent.

"Twilight told me you'd be coming. You excited for a taste ah' good ol' fashioned communal living?"


"Well Flim, looks like we're down to our last bit. Again," said Flam. "It appears that we've weathered this crisis only to find ourselves in another one." They both laughed.

"Never gets old. Ready Flam?" said Flim. The two unicorns stood over a bit, lightly dusted with dirt, and directed their horns at it.

"I think you did it wrong," said Flim.

"Me? You're the one who is magically challenged!" replied Flam.

And so the two stallions stood arguing, hovering over what would never be more than a single bit.