Between a Rock and a Hard Place

by JohnPerry


All the Ponies in This Town Are Crazy

A huge thanks to my sister Izzy for making the poster for this story!

This is a sequel to Enter the League of Fanons, which itself is a sequel to Legion of Gloom, so read those first if you haven't already.

Chapter One: All the Ponies in This Town Are Crazy

Rainbow Dash’s head was swimming. She moaned softly as she groggily opened her eyes, her pupils expanding to compensate for the dim light in the room. She made to grasp her pounding forehead in her hooves, and it was about then that she realized her hooves – all four of them – were chained to the wall.

“Well good morning, sleepyhead!” a cheerful voice giggled from the shadows. “I was starting to worry I was going to have to start the fun without you!”

Dash was gripped with fear and started struggling with the chains, the memories of what had occurred flooding back to her in an instant. After accepting Pinkie’s invitation to join her for lunch at Sugarcube Corner, Pinkie presented Dash with a cup of punch. After drinking it, Dash suddenly started to feel dizzy as Pinkie began giggling uncontrollably. Dash could remember Pinkie saying something about “finally having Dash for dinner” before she lost consciousness. Now she could recognize the basement of Sugarcube Corner where she was currently being held against her will.

“Pinkie, what’s going on?! Let me out of here!” Dash cried.

“Oh, silly filly…” Pinkie giggled. “You can’t leave yet! We haven’t even started the fun part yet…” The party pony stepped out of the shadows, her hair straight and her coat a faded shade of pink, just as it had been when she became convinced her friends no longer liked her. But at the moment, Dash’s attention was focused on the gleaming steak knife Pinkie had gripped in her teeth.

“Pinkie Pie…w-what are you doing? H-help me outta here!” Dash whimpered, tears welling up in her eyes.

“Don’t worry, Dashie! All I want to do is cut to the chase!” Pinkie giggled before standing up on her hind hooves, clutching the knife in one hoof and laughing manically. She raised the knife above her head, preparing to make the first stab into the cyan pegasus’ hide.

WHAM!

Pinkie’s body suddenly went rigid. She stopped laughing but a creepy smile was still plastered on her face as her eyes slowly moved in opposite directions. Suddenly she began to slowly teeter forward, landing face first on the cold ground with a loud ‘THUMP.’ Behind where Pinkie had been standing, a gray pegasus with crossed eyes hovered, clutching a shovel with a head-shaped dent in the blade.

“Was that really necessary?” A voice came from the back of the room. Stepping out of the shadows was a brown earth pony with an hourglass cutie mark and a frown on his face.

Derpy Hooves grunted, dropping the shovel onto the ground. “We’re dealing with the single most disturbing thing to ever come out of this fandom,” she replied. “I’m going to go with…yes.” She pulled a length of rope out of a nearby box and starting binding Pinkie’s hooves together. “Now go free Dash while I stop Leatherface here from carrying out the Ponyville Chainsaw Massacre.”

Doctor Hooves trotted over to Rainbow Dash, pulling out his sonic screwdriver and waving it over the chains binding Dash, which immediately released the pegasus with a rusty ‘click!’ Dash fell to the ground, shuddering uncontrollably as she tried to come to terms with what had just happened.

“Pinkie Pie…” Dash muttered. “…Why…?”

“That is most definitely not Pinkie Pie,” the Doctor said. “At least not the Pinkie Pie you know. By the way, lovely to see you again, you’re looking quite well. …Save for the, you know, terrified for your life part…”

Derpy finished tying together Pinkie’s hooves, leaving her unconscious and hogtied on the ground. “I think we might want to throw some chains on her as well…we don’t know what this girl is capable of.”

“Right,” the Doctor said, helping Dash to her feet. “Now come on Dash, we need you to be strong right now. We’re going to get this all sorted out, you understand?”

Dash nodded slowly, her eyes closed as bitter tears streamed down her face. She took a great, shuddering breath before slowly exhaling. Finally she opened her eyes, a brave look of determination crossing her features.

“I’m fine,” Dash said shortly. “I was just thinking about what I saw when I thought I was about to die…about what I would lose…”

“Quite normal, really,” the Doctor replied, looking relieved that Dash was apparently speaking once again. “In a moment of trauma your brain is deprived of oxygen, causing your visual sensors to stop analyzing the current situation and desperately search your memories in search of a solution to your predicament. Or as you ponies refer to it, ‘your life flashing before your eyes.’”

“It’s not just that…” Dash said quietly. “I thought about…her.”

“Who?” the Doctor asked.

“Her…” Dash repeated, gazing off into space. “I could have died without telling her…how I feel.”

“Who are you talking about?” Derpy asked, frowning but with a worried look on her face.

Dash looked up at the cross-eyed pegasus. “I…I need to go,” she blurted out suddenly, getting up and galloping to the door.

“Well wait, where are you going?” the Doctor cried. “We need your help and I haven’t even explained what’s going on yet!”

“It’ll have to wait,” Dash said. “There’s something I’ve been putting off for too long, and it’s time I fixed that. If you really need me, I’ll be at Sweet Apple Acres,” she finished before racing upstairs.

The Doctor and Derpy were slack-jawed and silent for several seconds, starring at the spot where Rainbow Dash had just been standing. Finally they turned to each other.

Derpy broke the silence. “Did she just say…Sweet Apple Acres?”

The Doctor gave a world weary sigh. “Oh, dear…”

***

Knock. Knock. Knock.

Spike raced to open the door to the Ponyville Library, nearly stumbling over himself in his haste. He wrenched the door open to see Bon Bon and DJ Pon3 standing on the doorstep.

“Oh good, you’re here!” Spike exclaimed, gesturing for the two ponies to come inside. “Come on in, quickly!”

“Is she all right?” Bon Bon asked worriedly as Spike led them upstairs.

“She’s been like this all day, and I don’t know what to do!” Spike cried, obviously distraught. Looking carefully, Bon Bon could see the dragon had dark circles under his bloodshot eyes from lack of sleep and he looked like he was on the verge of tears.

“Don’t worry little man, we’re gonna get this all fixed up,” DJ Pon3 offered, patting Spike on the shoulder. “She’s in here?” she asked, gesturing to the door to Twilight’s bedroom. Spike nodded.

Bon Bon pushed the door open. “Twilight? …Are you okay?”

Despite being nearly mid-day, the room was quite dim. The curtains were drawn and Twilight Sparkle was lying on her bed, gazing absentmindedly at the ceiling. At the sound of Bon Bon’s voice, she turned her head slowly to face her.

“Oh, Bon Bon…” Twilight said with a hint of surprise in her voice. Her tone was gloomy and she looked deeply troubled, almost depressed.

“Are…are you alright, dear?” Bon Bon asked. “You’ve got Spike quite worried. He sent a letter to Princess Celestia when you wouldn’t get out of bed, and the Princess sent us along.” Strictly speaking, this wasn’t the entire story – the Doctor had convinced the Princess to assign this specific task to the League of Fanons, but that detail could wait.

“Oh…I’m sorry…” Twilight muttered slowly. “I just…” After a moment she resumed staring up at the ceiling.

“Is there something bothering you, dear?” Bon Bon asked kindly.

“Something you want to share with us, maybe?” DJ Pon3 inserted.

Twilight continued to stare off into space. “I just…I’ve been so blind. I never realized how I really felt about her.”

Bon Bon and DJ Pon3 exchanged a significant look. “Twilight…” Bon Bon said slowly. “Did you fall for somepony?”

“Wha…how did you know?!?” Twilight yelped, sitting straight up in her bed. After a moment she slumped back onto her covers. “…Was it really that obvious? Oh…I bet everypony knew it all along, but I was just so blind…”

“Dare I ask who?” DJ Pon3 said, raising an eyebrow.

Twilight sighed softly, and a small smile crept upon her face. “The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Trixie…” she said, apparently savoring every syllable she spoke.

“You guys really have to get that spell fixed,” Spike muttered. “I’m really sick of having to say The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Trixie, you know.”

“Hey, this spell stuff ain’t easy, little man,” DJ Pon3 replied. “Take it from a unicorn on this.”

“I’m sorry,” Bon Bon interjected. “But Twilight, are you forgetting the fact that The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Trixie tried to kill you?”

“That wasn’t her fault!” Twilight cried. “The Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Trixie is just scared is all!”

Bon Bon turned back to DJ Pon3 and Spike and gestured dismissively at Twilight, who had resumed staring at the ceiling sadly. “Well, she’s hopeless. I say we just leave her like this for now. So long as she doesn’t do anything stupid, she should be fine just laying here moping.”

“Right,” DJ Pon3 agreed. “Let’s find the Doc and see if he has a plan yet.”

***

Octavia and Lyra knocked on the door of Fluttershy’s cottage for the fifth time in as many minutes. They would have stopped after the second time, but a soft moaning sound coming from within suggested that their quarry was inside. Just as the two started to debate whether or not they should break inside, the door finally opened with a soft click and an exhausted looking Fluttershy came into view.

“Oh…hello ladies…” Fluttershy mumbled. “It’s an…an…aaaawwn,” she stifled a large yawn. “…Honor to see you again.”

“Hello Fluttershy,” Lyra replied, giving the pegasus a cheery wave. “Are you feeling alright? You look really tired.”

“Oh, I’m fine…” Fluttershy mumbled. “Come on in…if that’s alright with you…” She turned around and trotted back inside. Octavia and Lyra exchanged a look before following her inside.

The inside of Fluttershy’s cottage looked perfectly normal – tidy, picturesque – save for a couple of major details: all the curtains were drawn so the light was dim and there was a certain heaviness in the air that was similar to that of a mildew-infested place, but without the dampness or the smell.

“So…” Lyra started, searching for the right words. “…Have you been, you know, sleeping okay?”

“Well, to be honest, not really…” Fluttershy said softly. “I’ve been having these horrible dreams lately,” her eyes suddenly became unfocused as she stared off into space. “There was smoke and fire…always devastation, destruction and death…the horror…the horror…” Suddenly she seemed to snap back to reality as she closed her eyes and smiled sweetly at Lyra and Octavia. “But I’m sure it’ll pass soon enough.”

Lyra stared back with apprehension. “Uh-huh…and uh, how long have you been having these uh, dreams?”

“A few days now,” Fluttershy replied.

Suddenly there was a deafening scream as Octavia threw herself backwards into the middle of the room. “MOTHER OF…” she stopped to catch her breath, pointing shakily at a basket in the corner. “WHAT THE…What…WHATIs that thing?!?

Lyra looked to where Octavia was pointing and gasped in horror. Sitting in the basket was a black mass of ooze, glistening softly with small bubbles covering it. It would have looked exactly like tar, were it not for the fact that it also seemed to be breathing. In the silence of the cottage following Octavia’s scream, Lyra could now hear the thing’s deep, ragged breaths that caused it to expand and contract slowly within the basket.

Fluttershy looked over to the basket with a cheerful expression on her face. “Oh, that’s my new animal friend! He looked hurt, so I brought him back here to nurse him to health! I’m still trying to figure out how to help, though…but I did figure out he doesn’t like sunlight, which is why all the curtains are closed.”

Lyra tried to respond to this but the words got stuck in her throat and came out as a quiet squeak. She cleared her throat. “And…um…how long have you been…um, taking care of it-I mean, him?

“Oh, a few days now,” Fluttershy answered.

“Oh, a few days you say?” Octavia cried out. “Same amount of time as these nightmares you’ve been having, am I right?”

“Are you implying something?” Fluttershy’s voice was quiet, but it had lost some of its usual shyness. Lyra was standing behind Fluttershy facing Octavia, waving her front hooves frantically in the air as if to say ‘Stop talking now!’ Octavia ignored her.

“I’m implying…” Octavia growled. “That this…thing is corrupting your mind. And I’m going to see to it that it stops!” She turned back to the basket but before she could take a step towards the creature Fluttershy had raced in front of it and looked Octavia in the eyes, flashing her infamous stare.

YOU WILL NOT HARM US.” Fluttershy was speaking, but the voice that came out of her mouth was deep and gravelly, and sounded like a demonic voice layered atop Fluttershy’s stern tone. The words rumbled throughout the cottage and the atmosphere felt even heavier, almost constricting. Octavia was frozen in terror, helpless to do anything but stare back into Fluttershy’s eyes, while Lyra noticed that the creature in the basket glowed slightly red as each of the words were spoken.

Lyra rushed to Octavia’s aid, taking her arm while avoiding Fluttershy’s gaze. “Heh, that’s not Octavia meant at all! Hey look, we should really get going so we’re just going now so we’re just going to leave you with your obviously totally harmless and absolutely delightful animal friend! Okay, bye bye now!” She tugged at Octavia, pulling her towards the door. With a final great tug, she managed to break Octavia’s line of vision away from Fluttershy and they both bolted for the door, slamming it behind them before racing down the road back to town.

***

“Wow, you two look like you’ve seen a ghost,” DJ Pon3 remarked.

Never…again…” Octavia wheezed through clenched teeth, breathing heavily.

The members of the League of Fanons were standing in a Ponyville park on the edge of town. After escaping from Fluttershy’s cottage, Lyra and Octavia had galloped full speed back to Ponyville where they spotted Doctor Whooves, Derpy, Bon Bon and DJ Pon3 in the park. Lyra and Octavia were hunched over, panting breathlessly after their flight for life.

“So how’s everypony doing?” Bon Bon asked. “What’s happening to the other Elements of Harmony?”

“It’s just as I feared,” the Doctor replied. “Each of the Elements of Harmony has been taken over by a popular fanon version of themselves. At the moment, Pinkie Pie is the psychopathic killer of Cupcakes.” With the exception of Derpy the other ponies gasped in horror at the news and the Doctor hurriedly waved his hooves. “It’s okay, it’s okay! We got her locked away on board the TARDIS, she can’t hurt anyone!” There was a collective sigh of relief at this announcement.

“Well,” Bon Bon started. “Twilight is now infatuated with TrrrrrrrrThe Great and Powerful Her Royal Highness Princess Trixie. Oh, Celestia damn it!” she cursed at having to once again say the full title. “How does a mock self-insert who’s dead still get to do that?!” Lyra offered Bon Bon a comforting pat on the shoulder.

Octavia straightened up. “Fluttershy seems to be entrapped in some sort of grimdark tale. She is caring for a demonic creature and she was quite liberal with The Stare.” Octavia shuddered at the memory of it.

“I didn’t even realize that was a fanon trope,” DJ Pon3 said.

“Well, it’s no Twixie…” Bon Bon explained. “But Flutterrage and demonic creatures are something of a theme among Fluttershy stories.”

“I still can’t believe you actually read that garbage,” Octavia scoffed.

“Hey, it’s not that bad!” Lyra cried. “In fact, some of it is really good! I don’t see why out of a group of ponies made from fanfics Bon Bon and I are the only ones who actively read it. I mean really, what excuse do the rest of you have? Huh?”

Derpy shrugged. “Well, with my eyes the way they are I don’t really do a whole lot of reading. Gives me a headache.” She said this very matter-of-factly, but Lyra blushed deeply in response.

“Oh, Derpy…” Lyra breathed. “I-I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean…” she stammered.

Derpy waved a hoof dismissively. “Don’t make this a bigger deal than it already is. Let’s just focus on the task at hand.”

“So knowing Cupcakes, I assume you rescued Rainbow Dash from Pinkie’s evil clutches?” DJ Pon3 asked. “How’s she doing?”

The Doctor and Derpy exchanged a glance before the Doctor cleared his throat. “Well, um…she’s with…that is to say, she’s at…Applejack’s farm.”

“Doing what?” Octavia asked.

“Probably Applejack by this point,” Derpy snickered. The Doctor threw her a sharp glare and Derpy gave him an embarrassed smile, placing her front hooves behind her back. “What? I couldn’t let that opportunity pass me by!”

The Doctor cleared his throat. “Rainbow Dash has gone to meet Applejack to…discuss their feelings for each other.”

“Oh, how sweet!” Bon Bon and Lyra cooed.

“No, it’s not sweet,” DJ Pon3 growled. “It’s freaking gross. And it’s stupid, too! I mean really, they’re the two most stubborn ponies out of the whole group and they keep getting on each other’s nerves! Who really thinks those two winding up together makes any sense?!”

Bon Bon smiled slyly at DJ Pon3. “You’re just sore about it because every story the fans write about you has you falling in love with Octavia!”

“THAT IS NOT TRUE! I am in tons of stories that don’t have Octavia in them!” DJ Pon3 yelled hotly.

“Oh, DJ…” Octavia simpered, mockingly fluttering her eyelashes at DJ Pon3. “Am I not good enough for you?”

“Screw you,” DJ Pon3 muttered darkly.

“If you ask politely enough, maybe she’ll let you,” Lyra giggled. Doctor Whooves facehoofed while Bon Bon and Derpy burst out laughing. Octavia looked affronted while DJ Pon3 glared daggers at Lyra.

“Oh…” DJ Pon3 growled at Lyra. “You filly of a bi-“

IF we’re quite finished,” the Doctor proclaimed loudly. “We seem to be forgetting somepony. Did any of you check up on Rarity?”

“Um, Doctor?” Derpy pointed with one of her hooves. “She’s right over there."

The others turned to a nearby picnic table in the park where they saw Rarity sitting astride a massive boulder she was positively clinging to. Occasionally she would pause her constant massaging of the boulder to softly coo something into the general area where there would be an ear if boulders had ears.

The League of Fanons took in this sight for a while before DJ Pon3 threw her hooves into the air. “That’s it. This fandom is sick. Sick, I tell you. They’ll ship us with everything but the kitchen sink. And then they’ll probably ship us with that too.”

“Hey, at least Rarity and the boulder actually happened in our version of reality,” Derpy pointed out.

“Say Bon Bon,” Lyra said, winking slyly at her friend. “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?”

Bon Bon smiled mischievously and put a hoof on her chin as if deep in thought. “I think so Lyra, but if you’re making out with a rock, does that mean it already has a hard-on for you?”

“WOULD YOU STOP THAT?!?” DJ Pon3 screamed at Bon Bon, who was rolling on the ground with laughter along with Lyra and Derpy while Doctor Whooves and Octavia groaned at this childish display of innuendo. For her part, DJ Pon3’s normally frizzy mane somehow was looking even more chaotic and her face was flushed. “Seriously, this is all really starting to creep me out.”

The Doctor sighed. “If we could all just focus for a minute, I think you’ll find this situation is no laughing matter. Right now all these versions of our friends from separate realities are crashing in on this reality, and if we don’t figure out how to stop it soon it will spread to all of Equestria. Before we know it, we might be dealing with-“

Suddenly the world was plunged into darkness. Everypony looked up at the sky, expecting to see a night sky full of stars and the moon, perhaps Nightmare Moon flying by laughing about an eternal night, but the sun was still visible in the sky. Everypony tried to figure out this contradiction for a moment before they looked around and realized that the sun’s light had been shrunk to a series of narrow rays that moved slowly across the landscape, their light resembling dots in the darkness.

The sun now resembled a giant disco ball as the tune of a popular Equestrian disco song could be heard wafting through the air.

“…Princess Trollestia,” the Doctor finished, groaning.