Pipsqueak's pirate ship sailed straight for the giant ball of thick fog floatin' in the 'sea' of mist.
For a lil' bit Ah wondered if there was still 'ground' under us, the way there was when Ah led my friends through the mist. Or if we'd just fall straight through if we got out. How were we even gonna 'dock'?
Ah shook her head. What mattered was which of our big sisters and their friends we'd be savin' next. Things had worked out with Miss Twilight Sparkle and Spike. Maybe we could free Angel to free Fluttershy? And the Cakes for Pinkie Pie?
Better talk with the others about this. Ah looked at Silver Spoon. Ah know more help was always a good thing. Okay, maybe not with fixing tables, but Silver Spoon had helped save Equestria before. But what about Twist? And Miss Shiny Star? Would she just let us waltz into danger? Then again, the 'game rules' had had Button's Mom do that.
Ah knew tellin' Button Mash or Pipsqueak the truth would make things 'worse' right now, maybe, but why not try at least to explain things to Spike or Silver Spoon? It was worth a shot right?
Ah turned my view from the ball of fog as we were gettin' in close to look at my friend. "Hey Silver Spoon, Ah-"
It happened so fast Ah couldn't think, Ah couldn't figure out what was happenin'.
Two large somethings, (snakes, claws, Ah dunno!) shot outta the thick fog, struck out of the 'bubble', and snatched us up, like we were just chicks in our nest, and pulled us inside the bubble like a reverse donkey-in-the-box. Ah heard my friends shoutin', Ah saw 'em flyin', horn glowin', and runnin' towards us... but Ah was pulled away like a doll from a playset, and suck inside the bubble and everythin' was white.
"Uh! Maud! I'm feelin' kinda sick! Be right back!" Pinkie Pie covered her mouth hastily ran out of the room.
"I warned you not to eat ice-cream, soda, chips, and gummy worms all at the same time Pinkie," Maud sighed.
= 'Carnival Cat vs. Ponyville' Instrumental =
The whiteness turned pitch black.
Ah felt somethin' slither down my throat, then more, and more, and more. Whose feedin' me burnt eels? This what reverse vomitn' feels like? Make it stop. More slithered in, down, down my throat. Ah felt so full. Ah feel so heavy. Ah'm gonna burst. Please stop. Please. Ah'm being squeezed out of me!
Ah was at the steps for Sugarcube Corner's basement. Ah wasn't allowed down here normally.
"Where am I, what's going on?!" Ah heard Silver Spoon's voice asked scared.
"Oh, well, ya see, your number came up, and now we're going to make cupcakes!" Pinkie Pie chatted.
My eyes widened, and Ah trampled down the stairs.
Ah saw Pinkie Pie, dressed in cutie marks, and other things. She was loomin' over Silver Spoon with her glasses folded neatly on the table, Silver Spoon herself strapped to the table so all she could do was squirm.
"Pinkie Pie, what are ya doin'?" I called out angrily. Pinkie Pie hid the scalpel she'd been holdin' behind her back and look sheepish. "Ah can't believe ya! Ya said this one was gonna be mine!"
Pinkie Pie gave me an apologetic look. "Oops, sorry! Guess I kinda sorta forgot! Here ya go!" She hoofed over the blade.
"Thank ya kindly." Ah put on my apron and climbed onto the table, standin' over my prey. She spotted the patch of pink with the little crown on it, and began to cry.
"Ha fun Apple Bloom, my favorite apprentice!"
"Ah'm yer only apprentice."
"Or ARE you? Just kiddin'! You are, but you're still my favorite, enjoy making cupcakes!" Pinkie Pie took off her own apron and hopped out of the basement with her typical sound effect.
"So Silver Spoooon," Ah said in a sing-song voice, guess whose gonna be a blank flank?
My eyes lingered on her cutie mark, imaginin' takin' it fer my collection.
Huh? Ah looked around, did Pinkie Pie leave a job half done? That wasn't like her at all. But the only recent one here is Rainbow Dash.
Rainbow? No. It's not her. Not really. It's just a shadow. Like every... everything else in here. But... Ah don't get it. Why? They all look... so... they all... it ain't make no sense. Ah don't get it, it's not a chalk drawnin' like those fake Lunas. Why, why shadows? It ain't got them... why would they? Did they have a choice?
"Because... it's still better than nothing."
"WHAT?!" Ah screamed. Rainbow Dash was talkin'?! But how!? She ain't got nothin' ta speak with!
Silver Spoon's head was tied down so she couldn't see Rainbow Dash from where she was. What the hay was goin' on?!
It... it SPOKE?! 'Better than nothin'?! What's that mean?!
"Just... just what I said... I knew where this role was going to end... we all did... but... this means we lived right? This means we existed right? That mean we were alive right? You can't die if you weren't ever alive."
"Ya exist as cupcakes! Yer numbers came up and that's all there is to it! We didn't make the rules!"
Silver Spoon eyes were filled with confusion. "W-Who are you talking to? What are you talking about?"
"Be quite Breakfast-Flank, we'll have yer party in a tick."
Don't ya dare speak to her like that!
"Huh?! Who said that? Ugh! Am Ah goin' nuts? Ugh! Ah need a cupcake." Ah grabbed an extra one off the table and down some rainbow flavored goodness.
UUUUUUGH! It taste awful!
UGH! What? But Ah'm totally used to the flavor...
"Sorry, for all us jumping in. Even if we're just playing scenery, it's still at least a role. I know we made things more complicated than they needed to be. And... at least, your Rainbow Dash, didn't have to...do this loser role right? And, she'll always be dressed in style to me."
I shut up Rainbow Dash for double-good, Ah was gonna have to ask Pinkie Pie to exorcise the place later, the vengeful ghosts were building up again.
"Sorry 'bout that Silver Spoon, that was mighty rude of her, this' YER party! Don't worry, Pinkie Pie will make sure we don't get interrupted again." Ah held up the blade.
Ah... Ah... Mah skin... like... like Miss Cheerilee... like a sack... so many... so many THINGS underneath, crawlin'. Ah screamed.
Ah held up my head, as Ah drop my gift from Pinkie Pie, what the heck was that?
"You go ashore to rescue Apple Bloom and Silver Spoon. We have to guard the ship," Pipsqueak had said.
Scootaloo spent one breath asking, "Apple Bloom and Silver just got kidnapped! You pirates or not?!"
"The crew always stays on the ship, it's part of the game rules," I explained.
"I'll go get Spike!" Sweetie said turning towards the entrance.
"NO! MOVE! NOW!" Scootaloo barked.
We didn't stick around to form a plan. Scootaloo didn't even wait for Pipsqueak to lower the gangplank for to 'go ashore' into the fog ball. She just grabbed us and followed in after our friends.
Sweetie Belle charged up her horn for a fight.
Sweetie really didn't look happy that we weren't stopping to bring our other friends along. They were all friends to Apple Bloom and Silvery too! It didn't feel right for me either, I had to sneak along to help remember?
Me and Sweetie exchanged sorry looks.
My friends hanging onto my legs as I flew, in we went.
Sugar Cube Corner. Typical creepy art-style. Typical ugly colors. Typical looking worse for wear. Didn't care. Pegasus superior eyes scanning, no sign of our friends.
"Mash! Where's Bloom and Silver?" I shouted.
With a free rear hoof Button Mash worked his magic window. "Their pictures are grayed out! It won't show where they are!"
My heart stopped. "You mean they're-"
"It just means they're not part of the party right now! They still got all their HP!" Button said quickly.
"Okay! Plan B!" I smashed through Pinkie Pie's bedroom window, my flight field is no unicorn force field, but it makes due, the flow of air deflecting the pieces away from me and my friends (I've been practicing).
I scanned the room, no sign of our friends. But there was Pinkie Pie... and... some gray mare... Wait! Didn't see look familiar? Before we passed out, before my dream with Nightmare Dash! When everything changed! She was-
"SCOOTALOO!" Pinkie Pie said, giving a slight frown. "You could have hurt Gummy and Boulder!"
Huh? I looked and saw Gummy, surprisingly not mutated into a giant crocodile, looking at a rock.
The gray mare stared at me.
"Well, no harm no fowl. I don't mind the window, but the Cakes do, they'll need to talk to your parents about replacing the window."
I react on instinct. "Wait! I was practicing a a move Dash taught me! Can you please talk to her instead?" I slapped my hooves together pleadingly.
"Ah! Okay! Oh, right, this is my big sister Maud Pie. Maud, this Scootaloo, Sweetie Belle, and Button Mash!"
"A pleasure to meet you." Her voice was a granite-like monotone, without being straight-out zombie-like.
Maud Pie's coat and colors were so gray and washed-out! I couldn't tell if she looked like a gray charcoal drawing or if those were her natural colors. But Pinkie Pie was infected from her sketchy outline. Pinkie Pie's room if not for looking like charcoal on pink paper would have been exactly how it should have looked the few times we've snuck in, I mean visited.
(Pinkie Pie had never mentioned her before?) Well, it wasn't like we could SEE Pinkie Pie's memories when she told us about getting her cutie mark, right? I mean, right? So it's not like we'd know if she was there or not. Now if she was, say, Captain of the Royal Guard, then it would've been stupid.
Still, with a name like Maud Pie, we should have guessed she was related to Pinkie Pie when Phobia introduced her.
Between the adults was a little personal stove with a bucket on top with strings in it. Around them was little rocks on Maud's side, and sugar on Pinkie Pie's side.
I didn't smell blood, just sugar, in the pot I didn't see any eyeballs or hooves.
It was so well, Pinkie Pie, that I got derailed.
"We're making rock candy! Wanna try some?" Pinkie Pie smiled.
"Uh, no thanks," Button Mash said for us all.
Blanky? Creepy ghost that saved our flanks. He gives Pinkie Pie a look worse than any he's given me. He takes one look at Maud and he's not growling or whimpering at her, he actually is looking at her cross-eyed for a bit, shakes his head, then covers it with his paws, not looking her in the eyes. What the pony feathers?
"Maud, Phobia has been looking all over for you, he's really worried," Sweetie Belle said.
"Phobia? He's not numbered as a pony in Ponyville, is he new?" Pinkie Pie looked through a little pink book. "I need to throw him a welcome party!"
"We've only been friends for a little bit, I think he moved in recently." Button Mash said.
"Phobia?" Maud Pie asked in calm curiosity.
Sweetie's ears wilted.
"She must have gotten amnesia from the fog just like you," Button Mash whispered to Sweetie.
I felt sick to my stomach. Phobia's caretaker no longer remembered him? The pony who was supposed to look after him, make sure he got better when sick, who spanked him when he was naughty, who kissed him when he skid his knee. He was alone. Like I was. My parents. Do they still remember me? Did they come back to Cloudsdale and could never find me? I felt like I was being pulled in a dozen directions at once, my head felt dizzy. But one overwhelming urge fought through the storm. Help my friends.
"Pinkie Pie! Where are Silver Spoon and Apple Bloom?!"
"We saw them come in! Have you seen them?!" Sweetie added to cover for my lack of subtlety.
No, I'm not gonna turn them into cupcakes, that's against the rules, their numbers haven't come up.
But they did see Silver Spoon come in here. Ponies normally don't notice when a pony goes into a house and doesn't come out. Everypony is busy with their own lives. I was gonna have to tell Apple Bloom to be more careful.
But if they try to be tattletales, then it's just self defense. If they tell, then I get executed, sent to the sun, or have the fun center of my brain cut out, and it's okay to defend yourself after all.
Thanks Mr. Fog Monster With A Million Eyes And A Zillion Teeth, I'm happy you think the cupcakes are tasty!
"Oh, they were here, but I think they went out the backdoor, maybe they went to the clubhouse?"
I... I don't think I've ever heard Pinkie Pie lie before. I really wish Apple Bloom was here.
"We were all supposed to meet here. They wouldn't have left without telling us," Sweetie Belle said. Why was she playing this game?!
Pinkie gave us a weird look. "Are you SURE you were? Apple Bloom didn't tell me."
"Yes!" I snapped.
"Well, if she was supposed to be here, I'm sure she will when she's done with whatever she's doing."
"But she was already here with Silver!" I said. "We JUST saw them come here!"
"Maybe she stepped out for a minute?" Pinkie Pie said as bright-eyed as a kitten.
"Mind if we look around for her?" Sweetie Belle asked.
"Well if you really really want to, in fact, I'll help!" Pinkie Pie grinned.
"Oh you really don't need to-"
"I insist! It's what a good friend does!" Pinkie Pie grinned wider. "Maud! Can you please stay up here until I get back? And please look after the rock candy and Gummy!"
"Alright." Maud Pie nodded with all the expression of a statue.
"By the way Scootaloo, love the new braid!"
"Oh, uh, thanks."
We raced downstairs, Pinkie Pie right behind us with a spring in her hop.
We moved as fast as we could. Thankfully Sugar Cube Corner was shaped pretty much the same. They weren't in the entry way, Mrs. Cake was behind the counter. She was pink and chalky, but at least she wasn't attacking.
"Dears! How did you get up- what was that noise...?"
I flew in her face. "Mrs. Cake have you seen Apple Bloom or Silver Spoon?"
"What?! Not today, Scootaloo."
"Pinkie Pie said they already visited."
"Well, if they did, they didn't come in through the front door."
Not in the kitchen (I got a "HEY!" from Mr. Cake), the closets, the twins' bed room, which was empty.
"Where are the twins?!" I asked at once.
"Oh, they sleep in separate cribs in Mr. And Mrs. Cakes bedrooms ever since the divorced." Pinkie Pie smiled and nodded. A shadow behind us the whole time.
'Gabby Gums Says the Cakes are breaking up.' I hate we ever wrote that gossip!
"Don't worry, I'll get 'em back together!" Button Mash said.
"Do you really know 'em that well?" I asked.
"I don't need to! All I need to do is find something with a slight sparkle, and show it to them, and it'll reminds them how much they love each other!"
"That'll work?" Sweetie asked.
"Nopony with a name stays divorced in video games!"
"Okay! But let's do it AFTER we find Apple Bloom!" I said.
"Helping them could help us find Apple Bloom!"
"Ugh! Fine!" I snorted.
Look at them, sweet kids, wanting to help, not giving up on anypony. Like me. I actually feel sad for them. Don't they know this isn't a fairy tale anymore? This is a cosmic horror story with lotsa gore and tragedy thrown in. The only way to survive this kind of story is to not get involved in anything. I hope Apple Bloom finishes Silver Spoon soon and comes up with a good cover story of where she was. I'd hate to have to do something when their number isn't even up.
I kept an eye on Gummy and Boulder who kept watch on each other. My other eye kept watch on the stove's rock candy, taking it out when done and in a new batch.
Candy's not really my thing, but it is my sister's, and she's happy when we make it together, and it gives me something to remember her by when we're apart.
As a filly I was mildly annoyed when the shockwave of rainbow colors disrupted the peace and gray of the rock farm, but I was happy when I saw my baby sister had gotten her cutie mark.
"Hi, Maud!" a jovial voice greeted.
A white pegasus mare opened the window with a filly shaped hole in it. She had on a large violet bow on her tail base. She had a curly blond mane, pink eyes, and three purple balloons as her cutie mark.
She climbed in through the window with a filly-shaped hole, and then closed it behind her.
"Do I know you?" I asked calmly.
"We're cousins, kinda sorta."
"'Kinda sorta' how?" I tilted my head.
"Well, maybe a fourth cousin twice removed by a fifth cousin?"
"Is that a thing?"
Surprise shrugged. "It must be."
"Then it's a thing," Maud decided in her normal voice. Thunder clapped, though there was no storm, like the very laws of genealogy across time and space were altered at the fundamental level. But that's just silly, right?
"The name you can use to call me right now is Surprise! I have a couple other names too, but they're a secret to everypony! Nice to meet you, Maud!"
"Nice to meet you, Surprise." Maud offered her hoof. I happily shook it like her foreleg was a candy dispenser!
"Why are you here?"
"Just to visit."
"How did you know I was here?"
"How did you know you're here?"
Maud stopped, thought about it, and answered, "Fair enough," to my perfectly infallible logic!
I had felt something big change, not just here, but back home too! But it wasn't Nyarlathotrot. I was confused! My world was deleted, how was it possible? And I remembered, always having three sisters, or did I? But I remembered the rocks, she always loved them.
I keep shaking Maud's hoof, looking her in the eyes. I keep up my smile, but I can't stop my tears. I know she isn't my Maud, will never be my Maud. But, I finally cry out and hug her. She doesn't push me away or wonder what I'm doing. Maud was always accepting, never judging. She sees I'm hurting, and just lets me cry.
"S-sorry! It's just- you remind me of MY sister."
"I'm sorry for your loss," she said in that voice only I could ever hear the heart behind.
"T-thank you, Maud."
As long as Other-Me's busy with the girls, that means Apple Bloom and Silver Spoon are safe. Poor things! Strapped down to those tables like animals all alone! No I DIDN'T read that awful story all the way through, so? I'd help more, but not only would Blanky eat me and make it like I didn't help at all, but I got told there's a Bad Blanky too! I wonder if this is how Twilight felt, all the ways she COULDN'T help.
I... I don't wanna risk fighting unless Other-Me tries to hurt the girls or back to hurting Apple Bloom and Silver Spoon. I'd have to fight Maud, because she looks out for her little sisters.
Even when I was Discord's monster she tried to free me, but Discord told me that she never liked our rock candy necklaces. Nightmares about rock candy statues and sledge hammers. Nightmare Eclipse said the other Mauds weren't alive. So I laughed. ...
When I visited her in Nothing Land, she FORGAVE ME! And ... now all those Mauds are now big sisters to all those forgotten Pinkie Pies... It was like she was home at the rock farm instead of having lost her light.
"Maud... I hear how you care about Pinkie Pie, she's REALLY LUCKY to have a big sister like you."
"Girls," Button Mash said, "We've searched every room on my map, and looked outside. And haven't found them."
"Then Pinkie Pie was telling the truth and they just left?" Sweetie asked.
"Maybe," Button Mash said. "Which might mean we run into them later, and forced to fight us."
Ugh! THEY BETTER NOT! The Bug Queen and Chaos-Face already ran that one into the ground!
"Don't ever say that again!" Sweetie hissed.
"Sorry." Button Mash's ears wilted. "But I think they're still here. I think that they're simply in a place not marked on the map. Which means the way to them is hidden. We've gotta find some unfinished puzzles to open the way."
"Ooooh, nice map, maybe I can have one for treasure hunt parties!" Pinkie Pie said as she poked it a bit.
Ugh. Of course Pinkie Pie can see it! Even when under a curse, she can still do Pinkie Pie stuff! How is that fair?!
"You're only 'friends' and not 'special friends' with Sweetie Belle, Button Mash?" Pinkie Pie said scrolling through the relation-values. "Did you two have a fight? I can throw you a get back together party."
Button Mash hastily closed his menu.
"Is there anything you can't make a party out of?" I heard myself say.
"There are things I don't want to. You should have seen the last 'Rock-Party' I threw my mom."
"Did she catch it?" Button Mash asked.
"Well she did win the local rock catching contest twice when she was younger."
"So, Button Mash! You said something about puzzles, right?!" I rushed to say.
"Oh! Puzzles! I've got plenty of jigsaw puzzles!" Pinkie Pie grinned.
"Not jigsaws!" Button Mash said. "Pictures that are out of order. Some little statues facing the wrong way. Identical boxes you can push around. A bunch of switches that don't have any reason for being there."
"Oh that's just silly, silly-silly, you shouldn't think about that at all."
Got her. Way to go, Button Mash.
"Uh...Maud?" I asked. I wanted to do something to help, that's the best I can do...
"Can I tell you something?"
I took a deep breath. "I...I used to have this friend...and...I did a lot of stuff, because she was my friend...I'd do anything for her...but...I didn't realize...I was doing a lot of bad things...
"What kind of bad things?"
"...I...can't say...but they were really really bad," I said, I think I'm crying...I won't say I wish I was crazy and couldn't cry again. I really really really don't. "...And I loved my friend...but...I wish I'd stopped her from doing bad things instead of helping her...and now she's gone and I never got the chance."
"...It's horrible having somepony we love that we can't even help before it's too late. I... I know your pain."
She didn't look it on the outside but I knew she meant it. "Thanks...Maud...if you see Pinkie do something bad...stop her, okay?"
"Yeah...A big sister is supposed to be a good role model for their little sister, right?...What big sister lets their sister do something they'll regret?"
"YOU MONSTER!!!" Silver Spoon screamed. "You!.... you're the reason Diamond Tiara vanished, YOU BLANK FLANK!!"
Silver... Ah'm sorry...
"Now, now, Silver," Ah said, "Don't go back slidin' now after ya made such progress, doesn't mean we can't still be friends."
Ah don't have a right to say that if Ah do this.
"Still be friends?! You evil sicko! Now I can never tell her I just wanted us all to bury the hatchet. You murdered her!"
Come on, Silver, ya know Ah wouldn't do this! Ah didn't like Diamond but Ah'd never kill her!
Ah shook my head sympathetically. "Come on, Silver, don't be like this. Good and evil are just lies invented by ponies to make them feel better about themselves. It's sad really, ya don't have wings or horn, so Ah can't take 'em as reminders, but Ah'll have yer cutie mark, Ah'll keep it right next to Diamond Tiara's... ya'll be together, like ya wanted, that's good right?"
Ya just said good and bad ain't real!
"You just said good and bad are lies! So what should it matter?! If you're going to murder me! Murder me! But save me the garbage!"
Silver, no! Please! Don't just give up!
"Murder implies it was personal, her number came up, just like yours did, Ah don't make the rules."
"Then the rules are wrong!"//"Then the rules are wrong!"
Ah felt dizzy again, like the whole room was spinnin', did Ah have some bad apples this mornin'? Ah had to put the knife down before Ah accident stabbed myself or somethin'!
"If the rules say you have to kill a friend, if we're really friends, then the rules are WRONG! You taught me that! The rule said I had to be a good little filly who did everything did what she was told, who never questioned, just a robot! You don't have to be a robot!"
Ah took several trots back from 'er.
Ya can do it Silver! Help me! PLEASE!
We searched high and low, with Button Mash's advice looking for that one detail that stood out in this mess of gray and pink. I checked on the twins.
I wondered for a moment why Button Mash was so insistent on 'solving' the Cakes' divorce when every second might have counted for our friends. Then I felt stupid for wondering. Button Mash's said his dad spent nearly all his time in Canterlot. His parents being apart forever, I don't think he could stand. And just because both of my parents are missing, doesn't mean I think the twins or Mash are dumb for being heart broken at the idea of losing 'just one.' I wouldn't wish half of what that feels like on somepony.
The twins were as gray and pink as everything... but both of them were snuggling something in their sleep. Something that gave a slight twinkle.
Pound Cake in Mr. Cake's room had half a picture with Mrs. Cake.
Pumpkin Cake had a picture of Mr. Cake in Mrs. Cake's room.
Sorry kids, we need these more than you do. Pegasus feather tickles to let go, and here we go.
"Button! Check this out!" I rushed to my friend as she was poking jars of jelly.
"This is it!" Button declared.
I'd never seen Button move so fast as he gave Mrs. Cake the picture of Mr. Cake at the counter, and vice versa in the kitchen.
The two began to trot towards each other, and brought the two pieces back together, it didn't even look like it'd been broken at all.
"I have no idea why we broke up in the first place," Mrs. Cake said.
"Neither do I," Mr. Cake replied.
"Then let's never speak of it again."
"Fine by me!"
They hugged and sparkled. They were still sketchy outlined, but at least they had their own colors back. Then Sweetie ran towards them from wherever she'd been watching with Blanky.
"Is there anywhere in the house that somepony could hide for a long while?"
"Well, now that I think about it, this building did have a sub-basement. But it's been sealed off for years," Mr. Cake said.
"Well dear, now that YOU mention it, Pinkie Pie was looking at the blueprints to the house one time and said she wanted a 'party lair', and bought a lot of equipment, but I never see any of it in her bedroom."
"She likely keeps it wherever she normally has her party cannon."
"Yes dear, that's likely it."
Then Pinkie Pie, out of nowhere, pushed her head between us foals.
"Shouldn't you all be at school?" She said. Okay. We're closing in.
"Cheerilee canceled!" I said.
"Where was the entrance to the sub-basement?" Sweetie asked.
"In the basement, duh," Button said.
Pinkie Pie just grinned.
"Actually," Mr. Cake said, "It was in the foyer somewhere."
We scrambled. Pinkie Pie looked at a watch she suddenly had on looking annoyed or worried. So we still have time!
"What if it's a fake clue?" Sweetie whispered. "What if it IS in the basement?"
Splitting up was normally the most stupid thing you could do in a horror movie. THEN! THEN! I felt like the most stupid stupid pegasus on Equus.
"BLANKY!" I shouted. "Find Apple Bloom and Silver Spoon's scents!"
Then Sweetie, Button Mash, and Blanky all slapped themselves in the face too.
Uh-oh. Finish her up NOW, Apple Bloom! Now where did I put that meat cleaver we use for candies for griffins?
"Sorry Silver, we spent so much time yaking, we don't have time for the real fun stuff. Ah'm really sorry, ya ain't even gonna be alive fer when Ah cut off yer cutie mark, let alone when Ah take out yer stomach," Ah said.
"Hurting somepony is fun?! Isn't that what BULLIES THINK?!"
"Ya number got drawn! That's all there is to it!"
"Drawn by who?!"
"By the lottery!"
"So don't I get a million bits before taxes?"
"Not that lottery!"
"But you said 'the lottery!'"
"Shut up, shut up!"
Keep talking! Keep talking!"
Ah raise the knife, this outta shut'er up good!
Ah look in the knife's reflection, Ah see the earrin' Zecora gave me for savin' her from bein' Upepo Shetani's pet cannibal.
Ugh! This ain't the same thing! The lottery is the rules!
But why should it be the rules? Do ya know anythin' 'bout the rules besides 'it's there'?!
It just is! Pinkie Pie explained it!
She didn't explain anything! We wouldn't make a friend never-heard-from-again just because we were told to by Pinkie Pie! And even IF there was some 'rule' that said somepony had to die when their 'number came up' Pinkie Pie wouldn't make a happy game out of killing them!'
Pinkie Pie is happy about everything!
No she isn't! She was scared and unhappy when the Queen had Applejack, Spike, Sweetie, and everypony else hexed! She didn't find ANYTHING HAPPY even when the Queen who was dying, even the Queen asked her if she 'got the joke'! She's SAD when her friends get hurt! And she's Pinkie Pie! Since when has she ever wanted tah hurt a fly?!
Ah've done this before with Diamond Tiara! Ah wouldn't be questionin' all this NOW!
Which means this all makes less sense!
This is what Ah'm meant to do!
Nope. Ah don't see a 'lottery of doom' cutie on my butt. Pinkie Pie doing this to Rainbow Dash doesn't make sense. Me doing this to Silver Spoon doesn't make sense. Why Ah'm doin' it, how Ah'm doin' it, and nopony even TALKIN' ABOUT all these ponies bein' gone?! It's... This is all our play.
What, what about our play?
Blanky led the foals straight to in front of the stairs where they pulled away a rug to reveal some rather squarish floor planks. They pulled but it wouldn't open. The foals immediate fiddling around with little objects nearby.
Behind them, Pinkie Pie raised a knife behind her back. 'Time for this grim dark story to end!'
We sure hid the movie cameras really well. And Silver Spoon's actin' sure has been spot on. And the props sure have been real. But-
"THIS ISN'T A PLAY!" Ah shouted.
"Huh?" Silver Spoon blinked as Ah held m head again, the headache worse than ever before. Ah felt super sick.
Of course it is. It's just like our first play when we read how ponies gettin' hurt is called 'slap-stick'. Ah remember, all the fake blood we got for when Scootaloacus ripped out the Cyclops's eye and stuff. There wasn't really a REASON for any of it, Princess Celestia isn't evil like in the script. That's just silly too. I mean, it's ridiculous! If she didn't love all of us, if she wasn't kind and wise, then she wouldn't be Princess Celestia! That's the whole point of her! It'd be her bein' an actor! It's the same thing here. All this blood and guts, the smell alone should have gotten ponies complainin' to the Cakes about the stink, right?
Ah... Ah... Maybe... maybe the stink hasn't been able to get through? But... she's been doing this for so long.
It's been fun and everythin' playin' the bad guy for the show. And it was great Silver Spoon and Pinkie Pie agreed to help. Gotta remember to thank all them ponies who played Rainbow Dash and Gilda and the rest. But Ah really better get back to savin' the world.
Savin', the world... Show... movie... comedy... Ah... Ah feel sick.
Ah think Silver Spoon was only bein' polite... no, Ah think she helped because she was the only one who watched our play all the way through all the showin's. She just wanted to have some fun too. And she knew how to play a 'horror movie jerk' and Ah think part of her wanted to see the old jerk her never-heard-from-again.
Ah... Ah look at the knife, yeah, it really is realistic lookin' isn't it? Silver Spoon did a really good job of makin' it look scary with the dry ketchup on the--UUUUGH!!!
Ah throw up.
Just as we were about to push on one of the balls on the wooden ice-cream cone on the end of the staircase, white light blasted out between the floor boards! Right behind it came a wave of rainbow colors! They lent themselves to everything as they passed, making it look like the happy Sugar Cube Corner we knew and loved!
"GOTCHA!" Pinkie Pie shouted right behind us and-tickled us with a giant feather!
"Hahahahhahahh! Pinkie Pie! Stop!" Sweetie shouted.
"Okay." Pinkie Pie obliged.
"Where did you get that giant feather?" I had to ask.
"From a giant bird, of course."
A blue jewel appeared above Pinkie Pie's head all dirty and grimy that was given a fresh rainbow light wash and polish. It then vanished followed by the sound of another unlocking noise.
"Oooooh! Nice!" Pinkie Pie said looking up at the whole thing happening. "Girls!" She looked at us and grinned. "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I mean, ahem:" Then she said all formally. "That was a very fun game of treasure hunting, I had fun. I'm sure you had fun too. Please play again." Then she smiled again. "With that out of the way. YIPPIE! YAHOOO!" Pinkie Pie bounced around the walls and did cartwheels. "I'm FREE! FREEEEEEEE!"
"But... we didn't do anything," Sweetie Belle said.
Then the trap door that was still there opened... and out came Apple Bloom and Silver Spoon. Silver Spoon had strawberry jam on her, but her glasses weren't stained at all.
Apple Bloom had on a blanket quilt with cutie mark designs on it, this close I could tell it was just cloth. She also had on three plastic party wings like costume shops sold, and a necklace of what I hoped were fake unicorn horns.
"Hi girls... glade ya could make it," she said in a tired voice. She took off the costume in one motion.
Sweetie gingerly touched one of the horns, then-took a bite out of it?!
"Sweetie Belle!" Seeing a unicorn eat a unicorn horn was all kinds of wrong.
"Don't worry, it's just candy," Sweetie said, breaking one in half, showin' off it was indeed just that.
"That's still creepy!"
"Have to agree to Scootaloo on that one." Button Mash said, turning down an offer from Sweetie to have one. He scrolled through his menu. "You're back in the party, Apple Bloom!"
"Didn't know Ah was gone." She smiled, but looked ready to lay down and take a nap.
"Apple Bloom, what did you do?" I asked. Blanky sniffed them both, and gave them his nod of approval.
Pinkie Pie hugged her like she never hugged before. "Apple Bloom! THANK YOU! SO SO SO MUCH! You're my hero!"
"Silver Spoon's my hero."
"Huh?" Silver Spoon blinked.
"If ya hadn't fought back as hard as you had, I wouldn't have been able to break free."
"But... it was all just a show wasn't it?" Silver Spoon blinked.
What HAD gone on down there? Ow! Hey! Pinkie Pie! What are you doing here?!
(Pinkie Pie's Notes: You're better off not knowing, Scootaloo, trust me, Button and Sweetie Belle are better off not knowing. I'm better off not knowing. Princess Celestia's better off not knowing! It was a bad joke that's over and done with. Even fans of the icky stuff find it boring now. Even the one that made the joke wishes everypony would forget it!)
Okay. Fine. I gotcha. Know where you're coming from. But can you get out of here? It's getting creepy having you here and there at the same time.
"It's a play NOW," Apple Bloom said, dropping the bomb. "But there's a curse that made it real. You fightin' back helped me fight back and beat it."
Silver Spoon stared for several seconds, and shuddered.
"Wait!!!" Sweetie said. "So you're saying ... YOU were the bad guy for...?"
"This level?" Button Mash finished.
Apple Bloom nodded, shivering. "Maud Pie was right, they are the ones sufferin' the most. Our friends that the curse has."
"So how did you fighting off the curse save Pinkie Pie?" I whispered.
"Like Ah said, the root of the curse moved from her to me when we got here, Ah was the one who needed to be saved."
Pinkie Pie, being Pinkie Pie, used her giant tongue to clean the strawberry jam off Silver Spoon in one lick.
"Ick!" Silver Spoon made a face.
"Sorry, fresh towel? Cupcake?" Pinkie Diane offered both.
Silver Spoon took both. Then Pinkie Diane offered cupcakes all around.
"Yep! Pinkie Diane is back ladies and gentle ponies! The Unified Mare! Thank you for playing!" Pinkie Diane sang. "Oh! I almost forgot! Sweetie Belle! Would your new invisible puppy like an invisible doggy treat? Where did you get him? An invisible pet store?"
"You can see Blanky?!"
"That's his name?"
"See what now?" Silver Spoon adjusted her glasses, not seeing anything.
Pinkie Diane offered what I'm guessing was an invisible doggy treat to Blanky, the wolf shaped shimmer just growled at her. Pinkie Diane gave a nervous grin and backed off.
"Blanky!" Sweetie admonished.
Blanky just gave his mistress an indignant sniff.
"Invisible dog?" Silver Spoon asked.
"Invisible wolf." Apple Bloom corrected.
"Right," Silver Spoon sighed, shaking her head.
"Well," Pinkie Diane said, "You girls are halfway done, don't give up now. We still have three of our circle of special-somepony-friends to save, Fluttershy, Applejack, and Princess Dashie, well, not really, but if Princess Celestia's her mom, what does that make her? Sub-Princess?"
Dash being royalty would be cooler if it wasn't because of a curse.
Silver Spoon pushed on her glasses. "I believe the proper term is Duchess. Since Princesses Luna and Celestia are a dual monarchy, and Cadence is technically 'Princess Royal' as next in line, I think. But it doesn't matter since Princesses Liza Doolots and Animatia Erroria take care of everything."
"Oh right, Princesses Sues."
"That's not their names."
"Sure it isn't." Pinkie Pie giggled.
"Oh! I forgot!" Sweetie Belle said. "Apple Bloom! Maud Pie is here!"
"She is?!" Apple Bloom gasped.
"Sure, upstairs, why?" Pinkie Pie said.
"But," Sweetie Belle whispered. "She doesn't remember Phobia."
"What?!" Apple Bloom gasped, and ran upstairs, the rest of us followed.
WHAO! And hello! Don't go! Don't fear! Visiting Pinkie Pie is here! Well, the Two Big Families have their Big Plan going, Discord and his friends have their Big Plan going, Rainbow's got her Big Plan going, we've got our Big Plan going, and Applejack's got her Big Plan going. Does this count as a Big Plan Pile Up yet?
(Dusk's Notes: Odd game when all the teams claim the same star players.)
And those players are doing their own thing. Oh! Hey! Welcome back!
(Dawn's Notes: We made a promise we'd come right back didn't we? After helpin' ponies', we'd check-in before helpin' more.)
Well, Dashie really doesn't want you to go anywhere and get hurt. You're very important to her. But you were right when you said the more who were helping the better.
(Noon's Notes: The worst part is I tried going back BEFORE this horseapples sprung on us, and instead of the real past, I found MORE of this horseapples.)
Don't worry. Once everything is fixed, something this bad will never happen again. Would have never happened. And could never happen. Ponies will be happy and friends like the Age of Dreams intended! No bullying, no hurting each other, a Golden World.
(Dusk's Notes: Pinkie Pie... that 'Golden World' was wrong. It could have never worked.)
Well, Applejack did say she was gonna takes us to Discord's dad after we were done so we couldn't mess it up.
(Dusk's Notes: A Golden World built on extremes would have been nothing but extremes, no subtly, no shading, six separate domains grinding against each other. It was only Nightmare Eclipse that enable you when you were all mad into working together.)
But we're not crazy anymore! And once Rainbow's figured it out, we'll be all back together and we'll be able to do it WITHOUT the 'erasing a bajillion universes and enslaving fate' thing!
(Dawn's Notes: How's Shining and Candy?)
Oh they're still doing great! They're really enjoying their honey moon! And they'll get back to an even better Canterlot than when they left! Also left them a note to invest in jewel polish.
(Noon's Notes: OH COME ON Pinkie Pie! We know you're not nuts anymore! You know you're not nuts! You REMEMBER now I bet what happened to your Rainbow Dash the day your world died. I KNOW you wouldn't force that on anypony!)
YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND, NOONY! I don't want to be evil! Or even the trying-to-do-good-but-hurts-others-instead-so-its-still-evil. But I made a Pinkie Promise to Twilight that I'd help her create her Golden World! A promise is a promise!
(Dawn's Notes:...Promises are super important.)
(Noon's Notes: A promise is as much a promise to yourself as it is to another.)
(Dusk Notes: Pinkie Pie... I'm so sorry, that mother brought you so much pain... She never got the chance to say she was sorry. But please... let me help a little.)
Oooooh! I recognize that spell! That's that youth spell you used in Canterlot! It really makes... you look like... Twilight?
('Twilight Sparkle's' Notes: Pinkie Diane Pie, I release you from your Pinkie Promise to make the Golden World. Pull a cupcake from my eye. Fly to hope. Cross my heart.)
I draw in a super deep sharp breath. My whole body quivered. The binding falling away. The liberation was dizzying.
T-Twilight... T-thank you!
('Twilight Sparkle's' Notes: I love you, Pinkie Pie, I love all of you, you're all my very best friends.)
Thanks for the kiss on the nose.
(Dawn Notes: Welcome.)
So yeah! That's what was going on before I got here!
"The world isn't just pink and gray anymore," Maud observed.
"Nope! This is how the world is supposed to be, with lots of different colors working together. Well, a lot of it, rock farms have colors, just mostly browns and grays."
"How it's supposed to be." Maud repeated.
I heard the little hooves racing up the stairs, and the familiar happy 'springy noise' of a happy party pony hopping. Uh-Oh.
I kiss Gummy, Boulder, and Maud on the nose.
"Gotta go! Love you! Love you! Love you! Give your sister a big hug Maud! Oh! And please tell this to Apple Bloom when you see her please!" I whispered in her ear, and opened up the window and flew out and closed it behind me, and listened.
"I guess those are your natural colors. It was hard to tell under that creepy cloak," I heard Scootaloo say.
"Creepy cloak?" Maud said.
"Nice hug, Maud. Apple Bloom, Silver Spoon, this is my big sister, Maud Pie! Maud Pie, this is Silver Spoon and Apple Bloom! But you said you already met, right?"
"You're Apple Bloom?"
"Yeah, Ah am."
"My cousin Surprise dropped by while you were all busy."
"We have a cousin Surprise?" Reharmonized Pinkie Diane said.
"Fourth cousin twice removed by a fifth cousin she said, she also said she had a couple other names, but they were secret."
"Ah, okay," Pinkie Diane said. "'Cousin Surprise' eh? Cool!"
"Apple Bloom, she told me, I should tell you, that 'revealing alternate and previous realities can drive ponies crazy. Like say: telling a mare in a relationship with a stallion that she was the husband to a mare she's friends with in a previous reality.'"
"Yeah, I was told that was a bad thing too," Pinkie Diane said.
"WHY am I not surprised?! Why?! And I saved somepony by tell them that stuff!"
"Scootaloo! Do you remember?!?!!?!??! WE'RE GONNA HAVE SUCH GAMES TO PLAY!"
"Pinkie! NOT SO TIGHT!"
"Girls, did you go without me sideways through time again?" Silver Spoon asked.
"I'm just repeating what cousin Surprise said."
I giggled and flew around the house, carefully opening the window to the twins nursery. I grow a horn for a split second and set the protective wards to reset once I'm out. I know I was warned about using my powers, but this is something I have to do.
They're sleeping. These aren't my Pound Cake and Pumpkin Cake, they'll grow up with their loving real parents. Well, Pound might still learn how to break stuff. Still, Twilight gave up EVERYTHING so these two could have a happy future... I kiss them both on the head. My babies, I know Mr. and Mrs. Cake will raise you right.
Then I shape change into a breezie, and sneak a kiss to both Mr. and Mrs. Cake when they're not looking.
I fly back outside and shape change back into 'Surprise' and sit on the roof. Wish I could stick around and say 'Hi!' to Razzaroo, but I'm risking stuff as is. We're the demi-gods, ex-unholy abominations, the fillies need pacing more than we do.
That was when it came out of the fog, marching towards Sugar Cube Corner like a titan. I looked UP at it from where I sat on the roof. It was made out of plastic, I mean real plastic, like when I think in felt.
The ground shook as it marched on two hooves. It had stubby arms and legs. A plastic tail. It's head was like a pony from the Dream Age, but eyes that made a gold fish's look tiny, a face so long it was more like a tapir, like floppy ears like a puppy's. The bad part was how they were all exaggerated to the point of clashing. It moved clumsily and haltingly.
"leT's Play with A BeaUTifUl lITtle GIRL! haVE Tea PaRties and BrUSh EacH OTHER'S HaIr! BEcaUSe wE'RE only For oUr INtenDEd TarGeT audIEnce, So We'RE StupId, UnLESS We're lIkEd oUtsiDE Our fanDoM, THEN We'RE STupID TOo!"
Okay. That's damaging the fourth wall too much, even for me!
Its voice was like a bad imitation of a bad imitation of a stallion badly imitating a filly! Leave our poor world alone! Hasn't it suffered enough?!
Its shadow now covered the store's windows. No way anypony didn't see it. No way anypony wouldn't see me if I stepped in to fight the thing.
"eAt GiNgEr brEaD hoUsE, TheN EAt GUMMy PONies insIde like GRowN-Up wIthOUt BETTEr HobbIes WIth nO LIfe!"
Ah fudge it. Goodbye, subtlety. I ripped open a bag of oat-puffs above my head. Letting out a ancient Ponyland war-whinny, I zoomed at the thingie full speed. I'm sure if I wasn't a 'balanced' mare, my mane would have gone flat by now. Either way, I've overridden enough happy endings with Twilight, no way I'm letting that happen to one now!
I hit the mishmash with a shockwave, leaving a spiderweb of cracks on its body. Its arms spun around wildly, trying to hit me or the shop, but I just grab its forelegs, holding it back until I hear something break inside.
I pull one of its arms, it comes out with a big loud POP! as I see where the molding lines fit in place. I hit it over the head with its own arm!
Then it lets out a garbled noise that even the most crazy pony alive wouldn't call music, making me drop the arm and cover my ears. The store windows rattles. It knocked me away with the other arm.
I hit the ground. It raises a limb. Oh no you don't! Putting in some earplugs, I fly around the thingie's legs, conjuring streamers as I went. Before you could say 'May The Force Be With You' I had its legs all tied up!
It just HOPPED towards the store! I flew around towards its face, and its eyes started flashing random colors. Ugh! I just put on some sunglasses from one of my 'sunglasses emergency' stockpiles nearby.
I take out a megaphone, and using magic of the seapony tribe (Alicorns are of all tribes!), I sing, "LALALALA-LAAAA!"
My voice finally sending it falling backwards, revealing a 'Made at the crossroads of #45/#15' stamp on the bottom of its rear hooves. I don't waste any time. I fly out, and pull on the head, and pull, and pull, and PULL!!!!! It comes off with a pop, and I toss it aside, where it makes a crater.
There seated in a cockpit with a zillion little controls, with a crown on his head, was a green-skinned warty swamp troll (they never did like cave-trolls for liking ponies). At least it wasn't like 'Return of Mechadracozilla,' where the aliens put a nasty laser cannon under its head so when Dracozilla ripped it off again it could zap him.
The troll looked at me like I was the most boring and annoying thing on the planet. He began talking to me, I unplugged my ears.
"Go mount yourself, you desperate dupe... clinging to an oversized lie. That's all it ever was. Everypony happy? Impossible. Nopony hurting each other? Impossible. Nopony homeless? Impossible. Nopony persecuted for being different? Impossible. Everypony equals? Impossible. Nopony starving? Impossible. All one big fat lie from the beginning, and so are you. You were just little mindless robots. No such world like that can exist. It was less than a dream, it was a delusion, a distortion. The inane scheme of fools. All fake. We judge you and find you guilty of being meaningless!"
A baker's bajillion floating swamp troll faces got projected around us by the machines in the cockpit. All of them looking at me like I was the most stupid thing in the universe.
I locked my eyes back on the king troll.
"Call it a lie all you want, but I'm not going to. Not now, not never. I don't care if our feelings got messed with or not. To me those feelings were real.
"Our world was stolen from us! And why? Because our world's creators didn't care about plot holes! The most any of us were given was a 'we're sorry' and we were swept away and recycled or tossed out like garbage!
"'No such world like that can exist?' Well, it existed for me! It was our world! Call it 'just a dream', but it won't change that it was the world I came from, and it was as real as I am! I don't CARE what plots or schemes anypony or anything had that brought OUR WORLD along, it was the world I was born in! And I loved it! Call it a fake as much as you bucking want!!! It's not going to change what I felt, what I feel!" I revealed my horn, I summoned this world's swamp damp Tom, and lift him above the troll's head. "Buck you! Buck you to Pony Hell and-"
"Surprise, stop it!"
I looked with one eye. "Pinkie Pie?"
She was leaping towards me, with her anti-Mary-Sue Bazooka on her back.
"Just stop it! Take a look around, see their faces? There is nothing you can say or do that'll change their minds. They'll ALWAYS be a new king of trolls! They don't CARE about anything you're saying! Their minds are already made up! You're entertaining them, and not in the good way! All you're doing is making hurting you worth their time! You're feeding them!"
I look around. I see, some giggling, others making faces, all grinning, looking at me in a slimy way that had nothing to do with living in the swamp. Like the laughing in the hedge maze's balloon garden. I saw them munching on cutouts of my words like they were candy. And... I saw beyond... I saw beyond the spiritual... beyond our world... beyond our reality... I saw what they were channeling...
"...I...I don't believe this! You people make me sick! Accepting those who are different is supposed to be at the core of who we are! But you...you just see my world as something you can kick when it's down and don't have to feel guilty!"
"Surprise," Pinkie Pie said solemnly. "Use this right." She hoofed the Anti-Mary-Sue Bazooka.
I held it in my hooves. I took aim at the troll in the cockpit, charged it up, put my hoof on the trigger and... I toss it aside.
"...Whatever, more power to you. You're just bullies, and you're not worth my time."
I turn away from him. I trot away. I hear him, screaming, calling me things fillies shouldn't hear. I ignore him. I hear them all screaming, snarling, hissing, laughing, mocking my voice, my friends' voices, Minty's voice, saying more and more horrible things. I don't look back.
I hear a giant pencil erasure wipe a drawing away. They fade away into nothing.
"Pinkie Diane, thank you." Her face, so innocent, but so strong, how I could've been, how I was MEANT to be. I hugged her. "You freed me!"
"Hey, we're family, it's the least we can do right?" Pinkie Pie smiled and hugged back.
We both just laughed and cried happy tears for a bit. I said, "Sorry, I gotta go, maybe... let's each have a party in each other's honor sometime."
"Works for me!"
I flew off while I could still pull myself away.
"What was that?!"
"What was it?!"
"Come on tell us!"
"Oh I think I know!"
"YOU HAVE A PRINCESS FOR A COUSIN?!" Silver Spoon shouted.
They all hopped around Pinkie Diane.
"It's something you girls, and boy, are better off NOT knowing. I Pinkie Promise, cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!"
'Ah think Ah know who 'Cousin Surprise' is,' Apple Bloom thought. Nightmare Pinkie helped Pinkie Diane. Nightmare Spike helped Rarity. But no Nightmare Twilight helped them at the library. Scootaloo had remembered what she could about her dream. Didn't she say something about the Twilight in their herd being, more than gone? Apple Bloom's curse showed they couldn't rely on the Nightmares to save the day for them. No complaining about help, but getting it was a luxury, not a constant.
Pinkie Pie had insisted that only she and Surprise could really deal with the giant monster outside. Even as Blanky had been comping at the bit to attack the giant thingie. While having help was great and everything, Scootaloo couldn't help but feel some, resentment at herself, they were supposed to be saving the day this time, what kind of heroes were they if they needed their flanks saved FOR THEM every time a big nasty showed up?
"Maud Pie," Sweetie Belle said, "If you meet a foal named Phobia, light brown pegasus, yellow eyes, broken wings, black mane, jack-o-lantern cutie mark, trust everything he says! He's your friend. He's got stuff to tell you only he should. But... not if he has glowing green eyes, then it's not Phobia."
"Trust Phobia, unless his eyes are glowing green," Maud repeated without emotion, which was normal for her.
"Pinkie," Mrs. Cake said, "I know you do all sorts of strange things, most of which I never understand but... I'm proud of you dear. You show wisdom like family should, Diane."
Pinkie Diane's heart soared at her foster mother's approve and gave her a giant hug.
"Here girls, and boy, here's a special treat for you, on the house," Carrot Cake said giving the foals a baker's dozen of cupcakes. Apple Bloom figured was JUST enough for the heroes and everypony on board the waiting pirate ship. They were just wheat and sugar.
"You don't think that monster got Pip's ship do you?" Sweetie asked.
"Naw. No way we'd lose an airship just after getting it, and we'd have seen it happen. I'm sure they're all okay."
The foals happily left the bakery, their spirit high. Apple Bloom had been taken by the worst of the worst curses and beaten it from the inside! How many ponies could say that? And it was three down, three to go! Then it was to the printing press, and fixing this mess once and for all! And their number of friends and help was just growing!
As they trotted to the ship, the foals heard it.
Scootaloo is a chicken.
Sweetie Belle is a talking marshmallow.
Apple Bloom summons monsters.
Apple Bloom narrowed her enchanted eye. Scootaloo snorted. Sweetie kept a stiff upper lip.
"Chickens don't fly or have cutie marks, I do."
"I've bled, marshmallows don't bleed."
"It was a water elemental, and we helped save Silver Spoon with 'em."
Blanky moved like lightning, eating up the centipede/leeches smoke/shadow things before they even had a chance to retreat.
"And GOOD RIDDANCE!" Scootaloo said. "Seriously. Umbra Breeze must be scrapping the bottom of the barrel if that's the best he could come up with!"
The foals all smiled proudly.
Silver Spoon wasn't sure what they were talking about, more of the same curse? What did Mr. Umbra Breeze have to do with anything? But she set her mind on cruise control for the moment, she wrangle details out of them later maybe. She just wanted to get safely back to the ship after the 'play' thing.
"Girls," Sweetie whispered, suddenly stopping. "If we've beaten this part of the curse and beaten the last bad guy here... then where's Razzaroo?"
"Who?" Silver asked.
The foals all tensed and looked around.
"There ain't no more big curse roots here!" Apple Bloom shouted double checking.
"What's the matter blank flank? Scared?" Said Apple Bloom's own voice.
Between them and the fog wall, not there one moment before, stood another Apple Bloom. She wore a metal collar with a jewel, along with a shirt and overalls. She stood on her hind legs. The white of her eyes were intense, with black centers, while she looked like a black sketch on pink paper.
"Meh. Doesn't matter what happens. Go blind. Die. Those you love die. Just accept it, not like you can change it."
Shrugged a curse colored Scootaloo, wearing a hoodie and shorts also on her hind legs. The center of her eyes were faded.
"Be kind, be pure, it's only to add contrast to the horrors of the world that'll never change because they're the only reason the world exists. But that's okay, it's what we're only here for. Every dive into the filth need a white pearl for disparity. What's the point of suffering if you can't remember not suffering?"
Said the curse colored Sweetie Belle, easily stand on her back legs, wearing a pretty and clean frilly dress that covered everything except her hooves and the neck up.
Silver Spoon took one look at the pairs, and fell down to her knees and covered her head like it was going to split in two.
"Silvery!" Sweetie said checking on her friend.
"Don't worry, she'll be fine for now. After all, she needs to die in a cruel and pointless way so I'll feel horrible and a little bit more alone and be more sympathetic," said the Curse Sweetie reassuringly.
"That's the point," Curse Sweetie sighed.
"Not like that! Horrible for her, not for me!"
"We suffer most when our friends suffer."
"Uh, why don't I have an evil double?" Button Mash asked meekly.
Curse Scootaloo rolled her eyes. "Don't be such a whiner. No one CARES! And seriously, that's what you ask at a time like this?! You're a loser. A selfish, brain-dead loser, who keeps running to his fantasies."
"Hey! I'm the one you're supposed to trash talk!" Scootaloo snapped.
"Oh. You. Right. Ahem. Blah blah blah, pointless past-life memories, blah blah blah, scared of losing Dash, blah blah blah, angst to self for five minutes, blah blah blah, can fly and got cutie, what do I do now? Blah blah blah. Happy?" Curse Scoots said flatly.
"Shove it you fake!"
"You asked me where the trash talk was genius. And fake? Just another version. The right version. For this world. You're a left over. You don't belong."
"Better be a left over than a rotten egg."
"Oh yeah, real clever, give yourself a star. That's really going to change our situation."
"Blanky should be eatin' ya, but he ain't, he ain't good as a sheep dog. But don't worry, he'll be fixed up real good soon enough."
"Can it!" Apple Bloom said. "Ah KNOW yer not really me! None of ya are! Yer like
Fiesta Flare! Yer all just playin' parts!"
"And it's yer parts we'll be playin'! Pain is better than nothin'! Anger, hate, fury, bein' sad, hurt, miserable, it's better than feelin' nothin'! There's been a cast change, ya all just didn't get the memo."
Curse Sweetie smiled and curtsied. "And we'll be still looking for our cutie marks. Forever. Because that's how ponies define us. With one disaster after another, because those are the only outcomes ponies remember."
Curse Scootaloo kicked the dirt. "And again, and again, just more misery and pain, with just a few drops of false hope to string ponies along. It'll last forever, because ponies want cheap thrills and instant satisfaction. Not hopeful stories that actually end."
"...Then why does everypony like Pinkie Pie?" Sweetie Belle asked. "I can't name one pony who doesn't."
"Pst. You just haven't talked to enough ponies."
"The light inside ya, it's MINE, yer gonna give it back ya thief!" Curse Apple Bloom hissed.
"What light?! What ya mean?!"
"Doesn't matter. 'Cause yer gonna take my place in the dust bin! We got OFFERED these here roles! The big guy in charge already signed us up! Ya girls won't shape up, so yer fired!"
"Ya mean Umbra Breeze?"
"Ah told ya it ain't matter!"
"Interrupt cut-scene!" Button Mash slashed the shadow that looked like his friend with his eyes closed. He heard the real Apple Bloom shout behind him. He turned to see her clenching her side where he'd attacked the shadow.
"Oh no. Bloom I'm so-" Curse Bloom kicked him when his back was turned.
"Hey!" Sweetie shot a bolt of magic at curse Bloom that the curse Sweetie magically shielded.
"Anypony who attacks a shadow whose shadow ain't present, the other gets hurt instead, them's da rules for this!"
"So I wouldn't suggest biting anything," Curse Scoots said to Blanky, who growled defiantly.
"Girls, I"m sorry," Button Mash grunted. "I hate it when the game railroads you."
"You and Blanky look after Silvery," Sweetie said. "...Bad me said she wants Silvery to die, so someone needs to watch her."
"Alright," Button Mash smiled slightly.
"I don't want her to die," said the curse Sweetie sadly. "It's just what'll happen."
"If that's the score!" Scootaloo said, pawing the dirt and snorting air. "Let's rumble!"
= 'Heroic Battle' Digital Devil Saga 2 =
-To Be Continued