To ponies who hadn't lived there, Canterlot seemed to be the model of what equinity strived to be.
It was the pinnacle of Equestrian culture: Beautiful domes, magical marble, mystical lights, and brilliant minds printing out the knowledge that would change the world was at the core of the city's culture. It was where the finest arts, greatest scholars, oldest lore, and most ancient of buildings stood the test of time. It proclaimed what Celestia and Luna had helped build and cultivate over two millenniums of progress.
It was exactly that. It was only a model. The world at large seemed to collectively forget what the children of millionaires and the upper-middle class did in their spare time. Some of them would indeed change Equestria and Ungulia in the future, and some of them would follow in their parents' hoofsteps at keeping the intellectual and bureaucratic gears of Equestria churning for another generation.
But did Equestria really think the children of nobles and scholars were bastions of moral purity?
Sadly, they did.
Moral purity and thousands of twenty-something ponies in a confined space never went hoof-in-hoof, regardless of income bracket, educational level, or chosen by Providence to be examples of virtue. Virtue had a good talk with Decadence recently on Providence's behalf. Virtue had been a bit uptight over the eons, and Decadence had decided to loosen up Virtue's standards.
Rarity lead her sisters-in-arms - or more accurately in drugs - to the Undercity of Canterlot once they had stumbled off of the train. If it wasn't for the THC and residue alcohol flowing through her blood the glares that she received from the middle-age upper class gentry around her would have made her whimper on the inside and feel slightly uncomfortable on the outside at the least. Surrounded by her friends in a small herd of varying states of mental intoxication was a most excellent shield for her more socially concerned mind to hide its problems.
She was also more attractive than ninety nine percent of the ponies around her at the bare minimum, and could have surely and utterly ruined the groins of the nobles around her in more ways than one, if she didn't do so through her verbal bombardment of both clever and vulgar retorts. The Rainbow Dash like satisfaction in knowing that she had the best traits from most levels of society only bolstered her swagger and glee. The ways in which she and Rainbow shared some personality traits had to be pushed to a corner of her mind in thinking that she shared any traits with her other than being of the same species and sex.
The other Elements of Harmony followed Rarity semi-cohesively through the city streets toward the more hidden side of Canterlot that the natives tried to forget, but were secretly thankful for. Built into the cliffs underneath Canterlot and sprawling deep inside of the mountain, thousands of upper middle class ponies and their university going children called the Undercity of Canterlot their home. Soothing magical street lights lite up the polished tunnels and open caverns of the Undercity, its buildings built in and around the caves, merging Unicorn architecture with Earth pony engineering brilliance.
"While I do not think I could ever fully adjust to living inside of a mountain," Rarity said, "I must admit that they have done a wonderful job of making it habitable."
She turned around toward her friends, her forehoof sweeping over the curved main streets that arched up and down the tunnels. "Look at this! Beautifully lit, marvelous designing of these houses and shops built into the bedrock, polished to remove most of the dreadful dust that one would normally find in a cave, and-"
"Rarity," Rainbow said, placing a forehoof on her shoulder, "if you are trying to give me a wing boner by talking about buildings you aren't gonna do it. I don't know that much about non-Pegasi architecture."
Rarity sighed loudly. "Must you think just because I am talking about patterns and designs of something slightly related to what you enjoy I am pandering to you?"
"And have you not realized that much like Twilight sees patterns in the scientific world that I see patterns in everything that equinity has created?"
Rainbow paused, her eyes slowly blinking in thought. "Uhh... no. Not really. I just thought that you liked culture, and art, and stuff like that. When you put it that way though, this place is mega cool with how the buildings bend with the walls."
Rarity wrapped her forehoof around Rainbow's shoulder, smiling brightly. "You see, darling? Just because it is not one's area of expertise does not mean you can not enjoy its beauty."
Twilight rubbed a forehoof into her forehead. "I'm not the only pony here who is hearing Rarity and Rainbow talking about architecture and having a fun time about it, am I? If I am, I have officially gone insane. A lot of crazy things have happened today, but that is just something that I'm not sure I can hear and think I'm sane afterwards."
"I think it's adorable." Fluttershy giggled. "It just shows how much Rainbow Dash and Rarity have in common that they hadn't realized before."
"Applejack may have been right on the train," Twilight said. "Maybe cannabis is the solution to most of our problems. It-"
"Is that a Hot Topic!?"
Applejack grabbed Pinkie Pie, pointing to the ebony colored shop. "I've always wanted to go in one, but never had the courage to say I did. I'm gonna get me some souvenirs."
Pinkie giggled excitedly, hopping in place. "I like high you, Applejack. Let's go buy things we don't have any use for and don't remember getting tomorrow morning. Yay!"
"I'm so bucked tonight," Twilight sniffled, leaning into Fluttershy. "And not in the good way. Rarity was right about Applejack. Would you like to go out on a date with me instead of Applejack, Fluttershy?"
Fluttershy gasped loudly, staring into Twilight's eyes. "Twilight! How could you say such a thing about Applejack? I could never do that to you, her, or Rarity. And the language!"
"You have to just go with the flow, Twilight." Rainbow placed a forehoof on Twilight's shoulder, smiling softly at her. "Look at what Rarity's doing. She's just not really caring anymore for her own sanity and stuff. You just have to do that yourself. It's what I do, and look at how cool I am."
"Rainbow dear," Rarity said, "I still do care. I am just pushing it away to a little corner of my mind until I need to eat some ice cream and dark chocolate to vent. And you also have anger issues, Rainbow. Do not forget that."
"You know I am trying to cheer her up," Rainbow gritted between her teeth. "And fine, I do, but so do you and Twilight."
"But you two aren't the ones who are having to date her," Twilight whimpered. "Can't I choose Fluttershy? I seriously hate what you all put me through. Why do I just let you all shove me around like this?"
Fluttershy scoffed at the ground. "Umm... I'm not exactly looking for a relationship right now, Twilight, but if you are really wanting to - and if Applejack doesn't mind - maybe-"
Twilight pointed at Applejack and Pinkie bouncing from their recent shopping spree. T-shirts, mugs, low quality jewelry, and other things a pony rarely needed were collected on their backs as they tittered to themselves. Applejack tackled Pinkie suddenly, dragging her forehooves through Pinkie's coat to the squeals of delight that nickered out of Pinkie's muzzle.
"We are getting ice cream now," Twilight said flatly. "And if she is not better by later tonight, I can't promise that I won't use magic on you all that is very, very illegal and dangerous. I'll take friendship to a whole new level."
She turned to look at Fluttershy, Rarity, and Rainbow, the corners of her eyes glowing a radioactive green around their edges. "Do I make myself clear?"
"Ice cream sounds wonderful!" Rarity cried happily. "Invictus has ice cream sundaes that are simply to die for. Coffee flavored for me!"
"Triple peanut butter," Rainbow said quickly.
"Cherry," Fluttershy squeaked.
Twilight grinned. "Good!"
The Elements of Harmony stood in front of a throbbing, massive nightclub. It had been carved around and in a cavern that shot out into the night sky, occupying below, to the sides, and above the cave to form a sealed bubble of youthful vigor. Hundreds of ponies were everywhere eating, gambling, dancing, drinking, and legally - mostly - drugging the night away. It was an open flaunting of sin and status.
Invictus was its name. It captured the essence of what it was to be a pony: To sing, dance, laugh, and be peaceful.
By being utterly bucked up in the head in more ways than one.
"I'm so glad you aren't a flat character, Rarity." Pinkie Pie's blue eyes scanned the crowd of ponies, drinks, machines, and music. She had never seen such a mix of so many forms of entertainment, cultures, and ideas merging into what was surely something she would try to replicate in a town that considered six ponies getting drunk a news worthy affair. "I mean, nopony would think of you as a mare who likes to party in this manner. Good thing we know otherwise!"
Rarity gently bumped her flank cheek into Pinkie's, resulting in a faint giggle echoing from Pinkie's lips. "You, dears, have only seen the tip of what I have been repressing for far too long."
"I pretty clearly remember Bayston," Twilight said. "Not that you were completely out of control or anything, but you weren't exactly what you want the rest of Ponyville to know you by."
"Frivolous details," Rarity hummed. "I am more than meets the eye and I am glad my friends usually see me that way. Usually."
"And all it took was weed from the Equine Union," Rainbow said, hovering over Rarity. "Let's just hope you don't kill me when you are hungover or sober and remember all of this. I'm still kinda shocked that Applejack and Twilight want us to date still, you know?"
"Well if I must be honest, I'm not a raving fan of it either," Rarity said. "I was peer pressured into this, and you know full well I am not good at resisting peer pressure. I'm sure you are fantastic in bed, Rainbow, with what kind of experience you have and how open you are to ideas. That slightly makes up for the remote chance that I will even let you do that."
"Which I totally am." Dash nickered suggestively.
"And with that thick coat of yours? If I were to guess you are wonderfully affectionate."
"Despite my amazing badflank meter hating it." Rainbow chuckled nervously.
Fluttershy wrapped a wing gently around Rarity, leaning into her. "She really does like it; she just denies it because it conflicts with who she wants to be seen as, like you."
Rarity did one of the top five things she was best at. She pouted. "But Rainbow and I have so many things not in common though that... well..."
Twilight turned to face her friends, her THC high having melded into a bitter calm. It was two contradicting things that she should never be at the same time. "Being friends isn't about arguing what we have that's different from each other, even when those things can drive us all insane. It's about enjoying what we have in common and accepting what we have that's different. Think about it: We're all polar opposites of each other, and yet we're still the best of friends."
"Bradley's balls I'm not friendin' anypony until I eat half a buffet," Applejack groaned. Her emerald eyes had dulled, puffing out a spiderweb of pulsating cherry from every throbbing vein. "I am so high 'n hungry right now," she grumbled, rubbing her eyes with a forehoof. She took several steps forward before shaking her muzzle in an attempt to wake herself up. It didn't work.
"Note to self: Applejack is amazing stoned off of her plot," Rainbow laughed.
"Glad my date is an intellectual tour-de-force," Twilight huffed, stroking her temple with a forehoof. "I am so looking forward to that ice cream."
"Cool story, Twilight," Pinkie said, twirling a forehoof through Fluttershy's mane, "but Jackie's right: I get pissy wissy when I'm hungry and high too, and the last thing we need is Rainbow-"
"Enough with the pee jokes!" Dash whinnied, pressing her muzzle into Pinkie's. "I get off to a lot of things, alright?"
"Oh I know that pretty well, Dashie Do," Pinkie grinned.
Rainbow mumbled incoherently to herself, her wings flapping more loudly as she folded her forehooves across her chest. "I'll just not mention Button's-"
"Well I wonder how Rarity's gonna get us in?" As quickly as Pinkie had the upperhoof on Rainbow her burning cheeks showed defeat. She leaned over Rarity's shoulder, whistling loudly.
"You... walk in?" Twilight tilted her head to the entrance. "I don't see any ponies waiting in line."
Fluttershy stepped forward to look at her five friends and their varying states of decay. "Umm... girls... I think you all are being a bit... snappy."
"And getting in is a very simple thing, as our tense leader would say." Rarity waved a forehoof. "Barring concerts, it has enough room for anypony."
She giggled at Fluttershy, patting her gently on the muzzle as her tail flicked behind herself. "So let us trot on in, dears, for Fluttershy is right; you girls have no reason to be tense!"
"But you are tense most of the time, Rarity," Fluttershy said. "You are just passive-aggressive about it. So that means you can't be mad at us when we are tense too. Because that's just a double standard, and that's called being a bitch."
Fluttershy's friends looked at her, their eyes turning in one gentle pivot of their heads.
Fluttershy had just sworn in public.
Her face turned a flaming napalm in color as a painful squeak escaped from her snout. She laid on the ground with an agonizing whimper echoing from her throat, covering her snout with her wings. "Please don't kill me, Rarity!"
"Fluttershy!" Rarity spat, sending forth a splatter of saliva onto the ground, "how could you say such a thing about me? The nerve, mare!"
"It's the truth," Applejack prodded Rarity's side. "Just look at ya right now. I love ya, girl, and I really, really mean that - and this isn't just the weed talkin' - but at times it can be a definin' trait of you."
Applejack smiled at Rarity. "Besides, Rarity, you think yer're the only one with a stick up their pucker from time to time? Rainbow's number one trait is just bein' a crotch cloud eatin' bitch to us. It's how she gets all of her lesbian anger out. You just gotta find a way to do it without throwin' a hissy fit."
"So don't worry about it, Rarity, even if it's true," Rainbow said, landing in front of her. "Which it totally is. But it's not like we all don't get rid of our problems stupidly. Take a look at Applejack: She's a stupid hick who only cares about farming and incest based honor stuff. So what does she do with her Redneck Rage? She gets it out by being stubborn and beating trees since she can't beat zebras like her ancestors did. Old habits die hard, you know?"
"Exactly," Applejack said.
"And I get it out by repressing an angry side of me, doing cannabis while I help my animals, and engaging in the thrill of the drug trade." Fluttershy smiled. "It keeps me on edge and relaxed at the same time."
"And I lock away the half of my personality that would balance me out and make me look normal by letting it go satanic and contemplate the murder of anypony who even slightly annoys me in my mind," Pinkie chirped. "It keeps me on edge and relaxed at the same time too!"
"And I eat junk food, get migraines, tell Spike to do everything, and secretly plan on overthrowing Celestia and Luna to create a despotic meritocratic socialist technocracy," Twilight said. "It's not that hard really, since she doesn't realize the industrial potential of Fillydelphia and modern magi-tek capabilities, despite me telling her otherwise."
Twilight's friends looked at her once more with legitimate concern at realizing that her dictatorial asperations explained a vast majority of her personality traits.
"Simple isn't it?" she said, giggling to herself. "I'm glad you agree! This is why we are the Elements of Harmony. And we can see this as our most challenging mission yet. So all I have to do is get some connections with some industrial tycoons - which you can help with, Rarity - and blackmail them to give me their research. Then I jump start some think tanks, build some tanks by inspiring union laborers for the good of my socialist utopia, start an underground propaganda war on how she represses technological progress, use you all in your fields of expertise, and pretty much blitzkrieg to Canterlot, shock and awe the population, and tada! Overthrow Celestia and Luna, install you all as my generals, take the wealth from the nobility and give it to research and development - while aptly repaying my workers of course - and let the sheer excellence of my technologically advanced army make her submit."
She was trotting in place as she spoke, the eyes of her friends ink dots of terror. "Then I get everypony with a doctorate in Equestria - minus most of the lawyers of course - put them in positions of power, and we talk about global imperium from there! Lets see you take a electromagnetic railgun to the plothole, Celestia! Next deity we face we should have known about? Rainbow, why use a spear when we can use a dark matter cannon? We'll destroy every last hadron of them!"
By the time Twilight was finished her friends stared at her with a raw fear that made the thoughts of Twilight sexually enslaving them feel more like having a chocolate stain on one's coat. Her friends were statues of their former selves, the only parts of their bodies able to move were their eyes glancing at each other.
Twilight blinked, flicking her tail behind herself as she ran a forehoof through the locks of her mane. "Did I not think about having enough artillery? That is a key component of modern warfare. Oh! I could use airships as Pegasi' carriers-why didn't I think of that? Thanks, girls!"
The smile that spread across her muzzle was not one of evil or insanity; it was of an honest joy at her friends agreeing with her grand strategy at world domination.
A soft squee escaped from the end of her muzzle in excitement as she trotted forward to kiss each of her friends on the cheek. "This is why we're the best of friends; you all help me when I need you the most. Friendship through Unity. Unity through Magic. I'll make sure to give you all high positions in my government of course. It's the least I can do for my girlfriends who've been with me through thick and thin! But this is still a decade away, so until then-"
"Wait. Hold up, Twilight."
Pinkie walked in front of Twilight, placing her forehooves on the librarian-turned-dictator's shoulders. "There's something I wanna ask you."
"Of course!" Twilight chirped. "Although... I think I've said enough of this plan in public, and I don't want to take any more risks. I think-"
Twilight slammed into Pinkie with a shriek of pain, collapsing on top of her with an agonizing grunt.
A black Unicorn stallion guarding the entrance to the club turned his muzzle quickly toward the Elements of Harmony, the other three guards around him soon enough perking up their ears and eyes toward them. "What the buck are-"
"She was choking," Rainbow called, hovering above Twilight. Twilight coughed up saliva painfully onto Pinkie's curly coat, clinging to her meekly.
Rainbow landed in front of the black stallion. "She really likes the gum my pal in pink makes, and it got lodged in her throat."
The guard looked at his fellow bouncers, raising an eyebrow at her. "That's... a very interesting-"
"I'm a first degree black belt in Hailing Tempest," she said. "It was stuck in the back of her throat. But... yeah... that might have been... a bit much, heh."
"We always tell her she chews too much gum," Rarity said, pulling up Twilight onto her hooves. "She's a librarian, and well... you can guess how boring that must be as an occupation."
"Try our job," the guard snorted. "It's either boring, dealing with fights, mares, drunks, or druggies. No offense to you ladies." He leaned forward to look at Rarity, tilting his snout to the side. "Are you... on the VIP list?"
She nodded delightfully, eyeing the barely awake Twilight beside her. "I do believe I am. I am Rarity Gemma, and these are my fillyfriends." She fluttered her eyelashes rapidly at the stallion, gently flickering her magic through her mane. "I know it was... excessive what Rainbow did, but alas sometimes one must use extreme measures on Twilight when she begins to eat too much for her own good."
"I promise we won't cause any trouble, darlings," she hummed, gently rocking on her hooves in a manner that made Pinkie raise her eyebrow. "And I pay in gold bits inside such a fine establishment, of course. To do anything less would be an insult!"
The Unicorn bouncer blinked. "Miss Gemma-"
"-if you are trying to flirt with me, I'm paid enough to not be seduced."
A deep, dark groan escaped from her muzzle. If Twilight had a more active ability to think, she would've been proud of how much it sounded like one of her own. "You know, I know I'm a very attractive mare-"
"Ya know," Rainbow whistled, "from this angle, damn, Rarity, you got a nice butt."
"-thank you, Dash, but I don't 'seduce' everypony I come into contact with."
Applejack wrapped a hoof around Rarity's shoulder. "Rarity, yes ya do. If you can flirt with anypony to get them to help you or do work for you, you will."
Rarity dragged a forehoof firmly across her muzzle, shaking her snout as another painful sigh escaped from her mouth. "Pinkie, give me the pot. And can you all bloody sod off for about five minutes? I need a drink, or six.”
"I like drinking," Pinkie nodded, bouncing up and down. She handed the warm vaporizer to Rarity, swishing her wiggling pink tail like a pet dog. "Can we go inside, mister? We can't drink out here-"
"-don't, make, a pee joke," Dash growled.
Pinkie snorted. "Wasn't going to!"
Fluttershy looked up at the bouncers, stroking Rarity's side affectionately with her wing. She eyed her friend taking gentle puffs from the silver cylinder. "She's just tired from working too hard planning tonight. And she also hasn't drank enough water or eaten enough." She blushed, scoffing at the ground as she leaned forward. "She also needs a good mating. I know we're a bit... umm... different, but we just want to have a bit of fun and maybe find a mare or colt tonight, if you don't mind letting us in?"
"I need some more vespene gas," Applejack chuckled, hiccuping afterwards. "Or to release some."
The guard shook his head from side to side as he watched Pinkie's eyes twitch rapidly at Applejack's words. "You six look... 'mostly' harmless." Pinkie snorted loudly, prompting everypony around her to glance at her as she giggled to herself. "And legal. But Luna's landing, you mares are bucked up."
"Just don't cause any trouble, ladies." A baritone, obese Pegasus looked over the Elements slowly. His massive frame and burgundy coat didn't hide the strength hidden underneath his fat. "You might be cute, but there's what happens in there, and what doesn't happen in there. Don't do what doesn't happen in there."
Twilight groaned to life, shaking herself off as if she had been soaked in water. "I think I've just had a mild concussion. Slight memory loss, fatigue. That's what happens when I smoke too much and don't drink enough; I hit my head and well, injuries!" She stumbled once more on her own legs, catching herself. "Thanks, Pinkie. I'm kind of klutzy."
Rarity continued to pull on the vaporizer, trying to bring herself back into the world of peace she knew only an hour ago, and again a few hours before that. "Relax, Rarity, and all will be-"
"What we have here, is a prime example of an annoyed Rarity in the wild," Pinkie said thickly. Her Oatstralian accent was pitch perfect. "Look at the way her smooth coat is standing up on edge." She groomed and stroked Rarity's sides firmly, digging into her white coat.
Rainbow could not keep herself from joining in on Pinkie's teasing, scratching at Rarity's sides with her. "Fascinating," she said, her own Trotdon imitation frightfully accurate. "Now, normally Rarities grind their teeth or grit them together when annoyed. Our current specimen has been sedated to prevent a possible injury to the audience."
Applejack and the injury stoned Twilight had fallen over onto the ground in hysterics, leaving only Fluttershy standing on her hooves as she watched Rarity with raw horror on her yellow muzzle. Pinkie and Rainbow had fallen onto their backs afterwards, kicking their hind legs into the air as tears poured steadily down their cheeks.
Rarity simply stood there, her eyes staring off into the distance while she suckled on her magical grass. "I will have my revenge one day," she whispered, glancing at the bodyguards blinking at the squealing mares. "It may not be today, or tomorrow, or next month, but it will happen. They will feel my wrath. But for now... I just need to get drunk and have a shag... with... Rainbow... Dash."
She shook her head gently, rubbing her eyes with a forehoof. She did her best to think of words to insult Destiny and what it had dragged her into. She came up blank. The amount of words in an incoherent order simply could not do her insult justice.
Tonight was going to be long one. And by Nathan Fillyion's voice, she was going to get off several times by the end of it.