“Pinkie! C’mon Pinkie!” Rainbow Dash, lit by the early-morning sun, pounded on the Sugarcube Corner upper-floor window. “Pinkie Pinkie Pinkie Pinkie!”
The window opened, and Pinkie Pie leaned out. “Hiya, Dashie!”
“Hehe, that’s my name, don’t wear it out!”
“Whatever. Are we still on for all those pranks we talked about?”
Pinkie drooped slightly. “Oh, I’m sorry. I’m busy all morning today. Mr. and Mrs. Cake got a bunch of last-minute orders, so I need to make the deliveries.”
Pinkie leaned out the window precariously and patted Rainbow’s head. “But don’t you worry. I’m free all afternoon. Come back here at lunchtime, and then we can get our prank on!”
“Okaaayy …” Rainbow pulled away. “But on one condition.”
“What is it?”
“Never, ever say ‘Get our prank on,’ ever again.”
Time flies when you’re having fun, and rare was the day that Pinkie Pie didn’t have fun at her work. For her, those six hours rushed past like a mere half-dozen hours—and those hours were filled with smiling faces and cheerful greetings.
“Good morning, Cheerilee!”
“Hello, Pinkie Pie.”
“Happy ten-days-till-your-birthday, Orion!”
“Right back at ya, Pinkie!”
“Good late-morning-almost-noon, Lyra!”
“Hello, uh … you.”
Pinkie froze mid-step and looked intently at Lyra Heartstrings. The unicorn smiled back at her—a forced, pained smile. “Oh, gosh, this is awkward,” she said. “How could I forget your name, of all ponies?
Sweat broke out across Pinkie’s brow. “HaveagreatdaybyeLyra!” she shouted as she bolted back to Sugarcube Corner.
“Hi, Pinkie!” Cloudchaser said as Pinkie zipped past.
“Heya, Pinkie!” Muffins called to the familiar pink blur.
“Curse my popularity,” Pinkie muttered as she pushed herself to move even faster. She tried to stick to less-used streets, but she still passed dozens of ponies—who all recognized Pinkie and greeted her.
“Pinkie Pie, what’s the rush?”
Pinkle muttered, “Oh, no …”
She could see the entrance of Sugarcube Corner. But a small herd stood between Pinka and her salvation. She narrowed her eyes, snorted, and put on one last burst of speed. She leaped—and every pony in the crowd looked up as she sailed over their heads.
“Oh, hey, Pinkie Poo.”
“What the? Pimkie?”
Ponko Pay hit the ground and rolled, her momentum carrying her through the bakery’s doorway. She slammed the door shut behind her, then leaned against it, panting.
She was not alone in the bakery. Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle were both seated at the nearest booth.
“Finally!” Rainbow said. “I’m so bored, Pin—” A sudden coughing fit cut off the rest of her comment.
The pink mare threw her head back and shouted, “Daaaaarn it!”
Twilight leaped out of her seat and rushed over to her friend’s side. “What’s wrong, Puh … Puh …”
The pony in question ignored her, pointing a hoof instead at Rainbow Dash. “What did I tell you, just this morning?”
“What?” Rainbow replied.
“Pii, Pii, Pii …” Twilight sputtered. “Piiiiiin—”
The pink pony shoved her hoof into Twilight’s mouth. “Don’t! If you force it, you’ll just break it even worse!”
“Break what?” Rainbow lifted up from the table and hovered at the pink miniature horse’s side. “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t you remember what I said, Dash?”
“You say a lot of things. And … Tank kinda sorta hit my head really hard this morning.”
The pink equine facehoofed—in the process, splashing Twilight Sparkle’s spit over half her face.
With her mouth suddenly free of pink hooves, Twilight said, “And I wasn’t even there. What’s going on?”
“I said, ‘That’s my name …’” The pink ungulate leaned into Rainbow’s face. “‘... don’t wear it out.’”
“What.” Twilight said.
“Anyway …” The pink mammal continued glaring at Dash as she opened the front door. “Looks like we’ll have to delay that prank session, Dashie. Because I need to run by the shop and see if they can fix this.”
“Wait, P—, P—, uh, Miss Pie!” Twilight’s face lit up as she finally pronounced the name, sort of. “Miss Pie, I still don’t understand.”
Miss Pie scrunched her nose. “Ew, Miss Pie is my mom.” She stepped out, closing the door behind her.
Then she opened the door and leaned back in. “But, you know, before she got married.” She closed the door again.
She opened the door again. “If her maiden name was Pie. Which it wasn’t. You know.” She exited a third time.
Twilight and Rainbow Dash stared at the closed door for half a minute.
“Wow,” Rainbow said. “That wasn’t the weirdest thing she’s ever said, but it’s definitely a new kind of weird, right?”
Twilight, however, had her mind elsewhere. “Puh, puh …” She shook her head. “Eee. Ink. Puh. Okay, I can still say that much. So then, puh … Ink … Eee … Puh. Ink. Eee. Puh, ink, eee! Piiiiiiiiiiiipbpbtbptbtp …” She sputtered, her tongue sticking out.
Rainbow Dash laughed. “Good one, Twilight.”
“I’m not joking!” Twilight said. She trotted back to the table. “Something really weird is going on, and it might be serious. I’m going to get to the bottom of it, as soon as I’ve had my coffee.”
She took a long drink from her mug.
She spit her coffee across the room.
“What the hay?” Twilight said as she scrutinized her mug, and then the sugar pot. “Somepony replaced the sugar with salt!”
Rainbow Dash, meanwhile, whistled and looked everywhere but at Twilight.
Twilight scowled and opened her mouth, but before she could speak, the front door opened, and the pink quadruped trotted through.
“Okay!” the pink carbon-based lifeform said. “I’ve got good news and bad news and some more good news. Which do you want to hear first?”
“Ummm …” Twilight said.
“Too bad, I’m starting with the good news! Sooooo, the boys at the shop say they can fix it for me. Unfortunately, they have to special-order some phonemes from Germaney. So it’s gonna be two weeks before they can even start!”
“But! They gave me a loaner to use until then. So for the next few weeks, everypony can call me Flügel Snoot.” Flügel Snoot beamed.
“What,” Twilight said.
“Haha!” Rainbow said. “Good one, Flügel Snoot, you almost …” Her eyes widened, and she looked down at her own snout. “What the? Flügel Snoot, Flügel Snoot! Why can’t I say Flügel Snoot?!”
“See?” Twilight said. “I told you something weird is going on!”
Rainbow grabbed Flügel Snoot’s shoulder. “What’s going on? Why can’t I say your name, Flügel Snoot?!”
“That is my name,” Flügel Snoot said, “so don’t wear it …” A smile slowly spread across her face—a distinctly devious smile. “You know what? Go ahead and wear it out. I got the extended coverage insurance, so I’m not liable for any damage! I’m gonna run this sucker into the ground!”
Flügel Snoot pranced right back out the door. “See you later!”
Twilight and Rainbow Dash stared at the door, again.
“Twilight,” Rainbow said, “are you as scared as I am?”
Yet again, Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash found themselves staring at something—this time, above them.
“I’m not even wondering how she did it,” Twilight said. “I mean, I am wondering, but I also know that digging too deeply into that particular question will lead to madness.”
“Yep,” Rainbow said. “Madness.”
“So, whatever. I’m just wondering how she did it so quickly. How long was she even out of our sight? Two minutes?”
“A minute and forty seconds.”
The sky above was clear, save for a cluster of clouds directly above Ponyville. These clouds were shaped into letters, spelling out the message:
FLÜGEL SNOOT WAS HERE
“Heya, girls!” Flügel Snoot said, appearing from Celestia-knows-where and hooking her forelegs over Twilight’s and Rainbow’s withers. “Guess how many magazines Flügel Snoot just subscribed to!”
Rainbow groaned. “Too many, I assume.”
“Oooh, close! The correct answer is: all of them!” Flügel Snoot stepped away and commenced bouncing and cartwheeling in circles around Twilight and Rainbow. “Oh my goodness, this loaner name is going to be so much fun! As long as I don’t need my regular name for anything important in the next few weeks, I’ll be—”
Flügel Snoot lost her balance and fell on her stomach. The cause was immediately obvious: her rump was vibrating, and her cutie mark was flashing with a magical light. The same was happening to Twilight and Rainbow Dash.
“A cutie mark mission!” Twilight declared. “To the map, everypony!”
In the Great Courtyard of the Royal Palace in Antlerlantis, thousands upon thousands of caribou gathered—representatives of every walk of life, from all corners of the mighty Caribou Empire.
The Caribou Empress approached the podium, flanked by the six Bearers of the Elements of Harmony. Behind her, a large shape was obscured by a tarp. She cleared her throat and addressed the multitude. “Bucks and does, we are gathered here today to honor these six heroes. They have taught us a lesson about the Magic of Friendship which we shall remember until the end of days!”
“Until the end of days!” the crowd echoed.
The Empress waved her hoof. Three caribou pulled the tarp away, revealing the statues beneath it—the images of the six ponies, carved from marble. The base bore the engraving of each pony’s name.
“May their names be revered for a thousand generations: Twilight Sparkle. Applejack. Rainbow Dash. Rarity. Fluttershy. And Flügel Snoot!”
Though she was drowned out by the roar of the crowd, Flügel Snoot reared back and screamed to the heavens, “Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaarn it!”