Giant Enemy Carb

by Ponydora Prancypants

Massive Damage

Rarity sighed contentedly as she trotted out of the Ponyville Day Spa and into a beautiful summer’s day. “Mm. It truly is the simple things in life,” she said to nopony in particular. “A hooficure, a glass of chardonhay, a tawdry tabloid—what more could a lady ask of a lazy Saturday morning?”

Tingll tingll tingll

The merry sound of jingling bells drifted by on the breeze. Rarity froze in her tracks. “No!” she exclaimed, her wide eyes darting back and forth. “It can’t be today!”

Tingll tingll tingll

The tantalizing tintinnabulation tinkled on.

“This is impossible!” Rarity exclaimed. “A disaster! How could I have forgotten to mark it on my calendar? No matter. I will simply ignore it. I have the willpower!"

Tingll tingll tingll!

The delicate ringing crumbled Rarity's resistance like the walls of Mareicho. Instead of zigging left toward the Carousel Boutique, she zagged, spurred onward by the siren song of the bells. “If I’d have known the Trough & Tankard Fair was today, I’d have invited Sweetie Belle and her friends into the showroom and given them fabric shears and permanent markers to play with,” she muttered. “Anything to keep me distracted! Anything to keep me away from them. Dear Celestia, please let it be somepony else—anypony else—ringing those bells!”

But it was not. As soon as Rarity came upon the town square, she found she had a direct line of sight toward her enemy. Among the dozens of mobile stalls advertising food, drink, and sundry wares, one food cart stood out. This cart was painted a shocking pink. It was adorned with pink hearts and a giant pink bow. Its baby blue roof stood supported by pink-striped barber poles. The dresses and manes of the two smiling young mares inside the cart were festooned with pink bows and ribbons. Little golden bells hung everywhere the mares had found room to place them. The pink-striped lettering on the roof read “Phenomnomenons.”

“My old nemesis,” Rarity said through gritted teeth. “We meet again.” She planted her hooves and stared defiantly ahead. “I have news for you. You may know my weak point, but this year I am stronger. This year I will not succumb to your wily candied fruit and pastry cream temptations. This year I will not debase myself upon your altar of sugary sin. This year I will not wreck my diet! I swear it to be so!”

Tingll tingll tingll

“Maybe just one wouldn’t hurt.” She started toward the stall.

Suddenly and surprisingly, a little voice spoke from above Rarity’s left shoulder, stopping her short. “Don’t do it, Rarity! Don’t give in. It’s not worth it. You’ve been working so hard to keep with the program!”

“Surely one little indulgence can’t undo all these weeks of paleo dieting!” Rarity protested. “All that grass!” She moaned.

“You know you can’t stop at just one,” the voice cautioned. “Nopony can.”

“I suppose not,” Rarity admitted, chastened. “I must remain strong. I must!”

A new voice spoke up from over Rarity’s right shoulder. "Aw, come on, Rarity. You know you want it, so go for it! 'What doesn't kill you,' right? And they're sooo delicious.”

“Don't listen to her!” the other voice pleaded. “You're better than that, and you and I both know they'll go straight to your haunches.”

“So what?” the other voice argued. “There’ll just be that much more of you to love. Go on; treat yourself!”

“You’ll only regret it tomorrow!”

“Mmm. Phenomnomenons. Nom nom nom nom nom!”

“Alright, that’s enough!” Rarity shouted. “Knock it off. Both of you!” She turned around and gazed up into the foliage of the large oak tree behind her. “What are you two even doing up there?”

“Winning a friendly wager,” Rainbow Dash proclaimed with a smirk. The Pegasus pony sat on a thick branch, her hind legs dangling. “I bet Fluttershy here that nothing could stop Pinkie Pie from gorging on phenomnomenons till she gets sick, like she does every year. For some reason Shy thinks this is gonna be the year Pinkie turns it around.”

“Um, I didn’t actually agree to a bet,” Fluttershy protested feebly. “Pinkie Pie told me how much she wished she could control her cravings for phenomnomenons, and I told her she might want to talk to Twilight about it.” She shrugged. “After all, Twilight came up with a something that worked for the vampire bats.”

Rarity narrowed her gaze.

“Sort of,” Fluttershy added sheepishly.

"Ha!" Rainbow Dash laughed triumphantly. "Check this out! Looks like somepony's gonna be disinfecting my kitchen tonight!"

"I never agreed—"

"And look—she even got to Twilight! Oh, this is too rich!" Rainbow Dash nearly fell off her branch as she doubled over with laughter.

Rarity turned back toward the phenomnomenons cart, and saw that Rainbow's assertion was true. Both Twilight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie were cavorting around the cart in a manic frenzy and stuffing the treats down their gullets by the baker's dozen.

"Oh no," Fluttershy said, shaking her head. "I'm sure Twilight tried her best, but it's like I always say: nature finds a way."

"Won't somepony do something to stop them?" Rarity asked, unable to look away from the debauched display of conspicuous confection consumption.

"Why would anypony want to stop them?" asked Rainbow Dash. "This is hilarious!"

"Because they're going to eat all the phenomnomenons!" Rarity exclaimed. "And that means I won't get any!" She immediately broke into a canter, then a full-fledged gallop as she decided to throw caution, her reputation as a proper lady, and pedestrian safety to the wind. She was racing across the fair at such a breakneck pace that she was barely able to stop when Fluttershy swooped down and landed in front of her.

"Wait!" Fluttershy shouted, holding up a hoof.

"I can't wait!" Rarity shrieked. She quickly scanned the square for the best path around her friend, but she was fully prepared to bowl the Pegasus over if no better option presented itself.

"Yes you can," Fluttershy insisted. "Look! You don't need to run. Pinkie Pie's stopped eating all by herself!"

Rarity looked and saw that it was so. Pinkie Pie had screwed up her face in an absolutely terrifying expression of existential incertitude, and Rarity was not entirely sure she was breathing, but there was no denying that she had ceased devouring phenomnomenons. Pinkie remained motionless, unblinking, and for a long moment it was as if time itself had stopped to see what would happen. Finally she exhaled, smiled broadly, and turned away from the food cart altogether. She and Twilight trotted jubilantly away.

"Sun and stars, she did it!" Rarity exclaimed. "She really did it! Do you know what this means, Fluttershy?"

"That Pinkie Pie is developing self-control? I'm so happy for her."

"Well, yes. And what else?"

"Um, that I won the bet?"

"I thought you never agreed—"

"Shh." Fluttershy raised a hoof to her mouth, then smiled and winked conspiratorially. "I have a bear with a fungal problem that I could use a little help with."

"Right." Rarity nodded. "Say no more. Please. But more than any of that, dear Fluttershy, it means that I have the phenomnomenons all to myself!" She laughed maniacally. "All those innocent little creamy pastry delights, and every one will be mine!" She brushed past Fluttershy and raced toward the food cart. She could see the phenomnomenon vendors looking downcast, miserable, perhaps even shell-shocked that Pinkie Pie had managed to resist the allure of their dessert. They were in dire need of succor, and Rarity would give it to them. It would be the generous thing to do! She was so close now. She could practically taste that rich sweet cream, that buttery puff pastry, that tart tangy sugar-dusted candied fruit. Just a few steps farther now...

At that moment, a troop of six burly Pegasus stallions in golden armor dropped out of the sky and landed between Rarity and the phenomnomenons cart. Their leader stepped forward and pointed an accusatory hoof at the two vendors.

"Gotcha!" he said, then turned to address the crowd of stunned fairgoers quickly gathering round. "We've been onto these two for a while, but we needed proof. We needed to see what would happen when somepony finally didn't eat one of these things. We needed to catch 'em hungry and weak. You see, while they've been feeding you ponies, you've been feeding them with your obsessive love for fattening sugar bombs! Behold!"

The Pegasus set a glowing blue orb on the ground, then gave it a sharp tap with a forehoof. The glow quickly intensified before radiating outward in a blinding flash of light. When the light faded, the phenomnomenons cart was gone and the remaining desserts had toppled into the dirt. In the cart's place was a grotesque mass of translucent green membrane encasing a black, shiny, irregularly shaped pod that pulsated rhythmically, obviously and horrifyingly alive. There were also two snarling changeling drones.

"These two have been behind every major dessert trend to sweep Equestria for the last ten years," the Pegasus commander continued. "Designer cupcakes, the cronut, pie-kies, so-called-healthy breakfast muffins—"

"Say it isn't so!" cried someone in the crowd.

"—top-your-own frozen yogurt, that irresistible hazelnut-chocolate spread; you name it, these two had their chelicerae sunk deep in it. But we finally got 'em, thanks to the willpower of that brave pink pony. Where'd she go, anyway? And where's Princess Twilight? I sent her a letter inviting her to watch the raid. Who's handling her mail?"

Suddenly, the newly-revealed changelings spoke up. "You haven't caught usss yet," they said in unison. "You haven't even ssseen our final form!" Before any of the guards in their heavy armor could react, one of the changelings used its single bladelike horn to tear open the pulsating black pod. As dark ichor oozed out onto the fairground, the two changelings quickly squeezed through the tear and burrowed inside.

The pod began convulsing spasmodically. Huge tumor-like growths appeared, then shaped themselves into angular projections that hardened into recognizable limbs. Mere seconds later, a massive, armored, crustacean-like beast rose on dagger legs and bellowed a mighty challenge.

"This can't be," Rarity said, as panicked ponies fled screaming all around her. "I simply refuse to accept it."

The monstrosity swept three of the guards aside with one terrifyingly strong blow.

Rarity marched forward heedless of any danger, ignoring the guard commander's call to retreat and wait for reinforcements. "Those phenomnomenons were mine! Mine I say! All mine!" The magical glow from her horn matched the incandescence of an exploding star. She ducked under a flying helmet. "Mine!" A moment later, the battle was joined.

That evening, Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy were flying side by side, busy with the task of summoning all the local Pegasi into town. It was going to take an absolute gullywasher of a storm to clean up the mess in the town square.

"I swear, I've never seen anything like it," said Fluttershy. "That poor monster."

"Oh, I dunno," Rainbow Dash countered. "A couple of spa days and I bet she'll be back to her old self."