“Oh my gosh! Just look at how cute and fuzzy everyone is!” Pinkie Pie jumped in the air, whipping her hooves about, pointing at random ponies. The townsponies froze like deer at a party with one of those flashy disco ball things. Pinkie Pie was very clearly having a Pinkie Pie moment, and the thing about her moments like that is that she tended to share them with anypony unfortunate enough to cross her path.
Like a rocket, she zipped about, getting perilously close to the personal space of pretty petrified ponies. Caramel, who was hauling a cart full of vegetables and unable to get away, was the first one she met. Grabbing his tan leg, she stared at the end of his hoof. “Wow—real horseshoes on a real horse!”
He opened his mouth to say something, but she'd already zoomed off to lift Sweetie Belle in the air and proclaim something about miniature versions. By the time he shook his head, Pinkie Pie was smelling the roses, much to Roseluck's annoyance as she was carrying them in a basket on her back.
Wide-eyed, hyper, and very, very bouncy, Pinkie Pie indulged in mildly bothersome rampage throughout town.
“Ah'm telling ya, Twilight, there's somethin' off about her,” Applejack said. “She spent five whole minutes gushin' about my cute-as-button freckles an' didn't even bat an eye at the two fer one deal on balloons across the street.”
“Poor Sweetie Belle was so rattled that I saw her walk into a tree.” Rarity winced and shuddered. “Who shakes ponies like that? My sister's not supposed to be a squeaky toy.”
“She seemed normal enough to me.” Rainbow Dash leaned back in the air and shrugged. “Though now that I think about it, when I suggested that she join in the weather team's skyball game, she shrugged and left them alone, muttering something about not having wings—like that's ever stopped her before. I guess that was kinda weird.”
Twilight nodded as if she were making mental notes and tabulating results on the fly. “What about you, Fluttershy? Did you notice anything odd?”
“Um, well, she asked to be introduced to my animal friends, and tried to talk to them, but seemed oddly disappointed when they didn't talk back. She didn't stay long after that, even though I offered tea.”
“Oh.” Shaking her head, Twilight groaned. “I think I know what's wrong.”
“Is it bad? She isn't sick, is she?” Fluttershy asked as they walked along the street away from Twilight's castle. Her eyes were big and full of concern.
“What? No. It;s nothing like that. She's just—” Twilight was interrupted by a flying tackle from a hyper pink blur.
“Oh, my gosh! It's really you, the Princess Twilight Sparkle!” Pinkie Pie gave her a huge hug, causing Twilight's eyes to bug out. “You are so much softer and fuzzier and huggable and—”
“—squeezable, and glompable, and snuggly, and—”
“—warm, and feathery, and adorable, and—”
“Pinkie!” Twilight shouted at the top of her lungs, causing the hyper pink pony to jump back.
Grinning sheepishly, Pinkie Pie scuffed a hoof in the dirt. “Oh. Um, er...” Now that she wasn't moving at ten million miles per hour, some oddities in her appearance became clear. For one, she was a slightly paler shade of pink, though she had the same blue eyes. Her poofy red mane was also about twice as long, dangling low over her left shoulder.
“Pinkie, it's good to see you again, but what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be in school?” Twilight asked.
“Nah. We're having spring break now, so I decided to visit. Why didn't you tell me that this place is so awesome? Authentic thatch roofs! Everything is so quaint and humble and down to earth that it's amazing!”
Twilight's other friends blinked and exchanged confused glances.
“Oh, sorry. Let me introduce you before things get even more awkward.” Stepping to Pinkie's side, Twilight reached a hoof out to rest it on Pinkie's shoulder. “Everypony, this is my friend Pinkie Pie from Canterlot High School in the mirror world where everypony has a human counterpart.”
“Hiya!” Pinkie grinned and waved.
“Oh wow, you're that Pinkie. That is so awesome!” Rainbow Dash smooshed in her cheeks in a total fangirl moment.
“Well shucks, that sure explains a lot. It's a pleasure to meet'cha, Miss Pinkie Pie.” Applejack reached out and shook Pinkie's hoof.
“Oh darling, I'm so glad you like it here. This all must be so different from your world,” Rarity said.
“Yeah, it really is. I'm not sure if I'd want to live here live here, as I've only been here a few hours, but it's a super-duper fun place to visit!” Grinning wide, Pinkie nodded vigorously, shaking her extra-long mane.
“Um, if you don't mind my asking, I'm not trying to ruin your fun or anything, that is, um, if you don't want me to say anything...”
“Yes, Fluttershy?” Twilight asked.
“Oh, well, is it really okay for her to visit us? Wasn't there something dangerous about the magic?”
Sighing, Twilight shook her head. “Well, yes and no. It's a moot point anyway since she's already here. Going back and forth to a mirror world is completely safe, but each trip weakens the barriers between the dimensions until they eventually merge into one. Until we can find a way to stop that process, it puts a limit on the number of trips we can make so I try not to visit unless there's a crisis going on.”
“Oh right, that.” Pinkie shuffled her feet uneasily.
Twilight shrugged. “Don't worry about it, Pinkie. Like I said, it's a moot point, and it gives me an opportunity to study the effects a human has on our world. I mean, it's not like the added weakening of the barriers between dimensions allowed a trans-dimensional entity to slip through the cracks and wreak havoc or anything like that.”
Everypony suddenly stood perfectly still. Their noses wrinkled as they detected the distinctive odor of wood smoke drifting through the air. Behind them, Ponyville was on fire.
Pinkie Pie slapped a hoof on her face. “Well that escalated quickly.”
In the center of the burning chaos was a perfectly cubical being of a soft gray hue, kind of like a milky charcoal black. It was itself about the same size of an average pony, assuming said pony was compressed into a cube. It floated over an overturned wagon and seemed to 'face'—maybe—the cream-colored pony stuck underneath. Cubes have six faces, all identical, and all blank, so it really could have been facing in any direction, or none at all.
“Don't you just hate it when your day starts out fine, but one little thing after another just keeps going wrong and soon the once-wonderful day is smothered to ruin under the weight of a constant string of tiny cosmic mishaps?” it asked, in a cubey voice.
Roseluck blinked. She glanced back and forth at the random ponies screaming and panicking and up at the strange cube hovering before her. “Er, yes?”
“Villain Cube knows what that's like. He understands what you're going though. He's here to listen to your woes if you want to tell him about your problems.”
“Oh, um...” She folded her ears back and pulled out a sad-looking squashed persimmons from the pile of flowers that she trapped under. “I guess my day was going fine, until everything caught fire and a bunch of panicked ponies knocked over my cart over and trapped me under it. Heh-heh,” she chuckled weakly, “Mondays, right?”
“Villain Cube agrees. Such is the power of Mondays to make an arbitrary length of time feel like passing through it is the same as being drug through the mud.”
Roseluck's eyes popped wide open at a crackling noise and strong stench of sulfur. Her reddish mane was now a glowing orange that danced on her head, tapering off into a thin, wispy, transparent black line that floated from her head into the sky, because it was on fire. “Augh! My hair—it's on fire!”
“Such is the ephemeral nature of combustible materials in the presence of Villain Cube. He knows a great deal about the anguish of burning, because he is the one who set you on fire. Would you like to tell Villain Cube more?”
“Help, help! Somepony help!” Roseluck screamed. “I'm on fire again!”
Her yelling was quickly doused by a bucket of water to the face as a tan pony briefly stepped out of a bucket brigade to douse her. Sparks of lightning crackled around town as pegasai brought in tiny storm clouds to dump rain on the burning, thatch roofs. The overturned wagon glowed with a magenta aura and lifted off the panicking pony. Finally free, Roseluck bolted off, leaving a puff of smoke in her wake.
Setting the wagon aside, Twilight Sparkle flew down and hovered over the spilled plants. She eyed the weird floating cube suspiciously. “Hey! Does anypony know what's going on here? What is that thing?”
“Villain Cube too ponders the nature of the universe. Given that each and every being is only built to respond to very specific stimuli, that leaves a wide range of information that is denied. There are colors outside the visual spectrum, sounds that are too high-pitched to hear, distortions in the spacetime continuum itself, and many other things that are all invisible. Thus, no one being can ever truly know exactly what is going on.”
“What.” Twilight blinked. She gave the cube a long look, because she was a horse.
“Also, you are on fire.”
“Why am I on fire!?”
One philosophical discussion about the true nature of being on fire later, a grumbling Twilight with a short and crispy mane gathered with her friends in an emergency meeting just outside of town. They were all there except for their own Pinkie Pie and Spike, who, like the human Pinkie Pie, were currently visiting the other mirror world.
“Okay, girls, we have a major problem on our hooves. It looks like Pinkie's visitation has indeed weakened our universe enough to allow... something to slip in after her.”
“Uh, whoopsie.” Pinkie sat down and bared a huge grin of pearly whites.
“Wait, so ya mean that some sorta monster is wrecking Ponyville?” Applejack asked.
“Actually, it appears to be a perfect cube,” Twilight said.
“A euclidean horror!” Pinkie's eyes popped wide open and she threw her hooves into the air. “Augh! That's twenty billion times worse! It's like revenge of the math homework.” Shuddering, goosebumps appeared on her fur. “Just knowing that such things exist will make it awfully hard to sleep at night.”
“Um, I'm sure it's not that bad,” Fluttershy said. “It's probably a really nice cube once you get to know it.”
Twilight patted her burnt hair and blinked. “That's the really weird part. For whatever reason, it loves to talk philosophically, and it seems nice, but it also lights everything on fire. So I'm not really sure what to think. All I know is that it's wreaking havoc and that if we don't act quickly there won't be much left of Ponyville to save.”
“Oh, well, maybe it doesn't know about all the harm it's causing, and if we just talked to it we could get it to stop?” Fluttershy suggested.
Twilight nodded. “That's a good idea. And if it doesn't want to listen, you could always give it that stare of yours. Anypony else?”
“Hmm, perhaps it wants something?” Rarity asked. “If we knew what it liked, we might be able to strike a deal.”
“Diplomacy,” Twilight said as she added that to her list of plans.
“Diplomacy?” Pinkie moaned. “How do you plan to reason with a cube?”
“Aw shucks, Pinkie. Just 'cause somepony's a cube don't mean that they don't have a heart full of, uh, whatever cubes have.” Applejack shrugged. Pinkie just gnashed her teeth. “If'n it don't take to reason and we can't get it what it wants, we could always try to make it feel welcome here.”
“Friendship!” Twilight beamed. “That's always a good idea.”
“Uh, Twilight.” Rainbow Dash looked up at the thinning cloud of smoke wafting from town. The ponies had done a good job a dampening the flames, but thatch burnt quickly and there were so many new fires erupting around town that they couldn't deal with them all. “Normally I'm all for punching things, but in this case, that cube thing probably just feels lost. I mean, if I were stuck in a random dimension I'd want to get home too.”
“Go home.” Twilight scribbled that down. “That's a good point. I might not be able to find its home dimension right away, but if it knows that we want to help, then perhaps it won't keep setting things on fire.” Twilight paused, and followed Rainbow's gaze in looking up at the ash-laden sky. “Speaking of which, can you get us a real rainstorm to dampen everything? If nothing else works, that'll make it impossible to keep lighting stuff on fire.”
“On it.” Rainbow Dash gave a quick salute and flew off.
Twilight scanned her list briefly and looked at Pinkie. “What about you? Any ideas?”
“Me?” Pinkie blinked. “If it were up to me, I'd blow it up.”
The others gave her strange looks. Applejack chuckled weakly. “Blow it up, as in blowin' up balloons? Like a party?” she asked.
“Uh, nooo.” One of Pinkie's ears half-drooped, and she drew out the word as if speaking to a baby. “I mean blow it up as in exploding it into tiny bits.”
The ponies stood there stunned, with their mouths hanging open. “Pinkie, that might work in the human world where there's no magic, but we can't just annihilate anything that bothers us here. It would set a terrible precedent. I'm just going to write down 'party',” Twilight said.
“C'mon, Pinkie, ya haven't even met the cube thing. At least give it a chance,” Applejack said.
“Fine.” Groaning, Pinkie covered her face with her hooves. “I'll play nice, but you can't trust cubes. This is going to end in disaster.”
Twilight kept her distance flying up above. She used her magic to help dampen the flames, assisting the emergency responders. This kept the cube's mayhem down to a manageable level, for now. Ponyville's town square was only slightly crispy, and the odor of wood ash hadn't choked out all of the oxygen, yet. Hopefully, Fluttershy or one of the others would be able to talk some sense into it.
Approaching from the ground, Fluttershy found the cube hovering by a vendor stall that had previously been selling balloons, but the air was now full of the stench of burning rubber. She was forced had to flap her wings to clear the air. Behind her, the others took position hiding behind a makeshift barricade the townsponies had set up to isolate the danger zone.
The cube found Fluttershy first, while she was still wheezing from exposure to the vile air. “Villain Cube sees that you are in distress, but is not all life distressing?”
Her eyes opened wide, and she gave it a long look, because she was a horse. “Oh. Um, hello.” Clearing her throat, she kept staring at its plain, gray surface. “No, life's not distressing. I'm quite happy, usually; it's just—” Fluttershy glanced around at the flames licking at the previously viable goods in the town's busiest marketplace “—it's only distressing when everything's on fire.”
“Villain Cube understands. He knows what that's like. Everything is glorious and peaceful, but everything changes when Villain Cube sets it on fire. Truly, the happiest moments in life are as brief and ephemeral as the flames that extinguish them.”
“Uh...” Fluttershy blinked. She'd been hoping that the cube wasn't aware of the suffering it was causing and just needed have that pointed out and it would stop. This was going to be harder than she expected. “Let me introduce myself. My name's Fluttershy and—”
“You have a bad name too? Villain Cube understands.”
“My name's not bad!”
“How you act is dictated by your very moniker. You are shy, and act shy. Such as Villain Cube is a Villain, and sets things on fire. Truly, this is something that we share, and suffer together. But do not worry. Villain Cube is here. You can talk to him, and he will listen.”
Nodding, Fluttershy said, “Oh, well, I guess that's true, but I don't have to be shy. I can be assertive too, um, just like you can not set things on fire?” She grinned.
“Ah. To be something that which you were not meant to be. Such is a question that mires the thoughts of introspective thinkers. It is far simpler for a rock to be a rock, and for Villain Cube to be Villain Cube, and to set you on fire.”
“No, don't!” Fluttershy mustered her stare and glared at the cube, but all she saw was her own reflection, which was on fire. “Augh!”
Fluttershy frowned deeply at the short, black and crispy end of her once long and flowing pink mane. Pinkie Pie rubber her on the back.
“Now will you believe me when I say that the cube's bad news?” Pinkie asked. “It lights people on fire!”
“Aw shucks, Pinkie, that's hardly anythin' serious. Apple Bloom lights ponies on fire too,” Applejack said. Her even gaze showed no hint of sarcasm.
“What?” Pinkie scrunched up her face, raising an eyebrow. “But—fire, burning, screaming...”
“Now really, darling, ponies aren't all that flammable. All it takes is a bit of water and a mane extension and we're good as new.” Rarity gazed at the cube in the marketplace; it just set fire to the well. “But I do admit that it's distressing. So it enjoys fire does it? I shall see if there's something that it likes more. Wish me luck, girls.” With that, Rarity set out.
Pinkie Pie groaned and shook her head.
Fluffing her mane, Rarity leaned down and gave the cube a charming smile. Such a grin had enticed many stallions, right before they found themselves doing lots of extra work for her. “Why hello there, Mister Cube.”
“Villain Cube is not Mister Cube. Villain Cube is Villain Cube,” the cube said as its plain gray form hovered before her.
Rarity faltered, scuffing her hooves on the ground. “But you are a male cube, are you not?”
“Villain Cube is the object that does the passing through of holes. This makes Villain Cube objectively male.”
“Er, right...” Inching closer, Rarity batted her eyes. “You're such a charmer. I bet all the lady cubes can't keep their, uh, vectors off of you.”
“Villain Cube might know many things, but he has never heard of lady cubes. What is this that you speak of?”
“Oh, well, you know how us ponies have mares and stallions, right? Well I just thought that you'd have some cube back where you came from that you could love and cuddle up to at night.” Pressing her hooves together, Rarity rolled her eyes up to wistfully look at the sky. It was still full of smoke.
“Villain Cube cannot distinguish between non-angular matter entities, just as you cannot truly know what it is like to be a cube. Such is the nature of different entities from different worlds. If you wish to talk about it, Villain Cube is here to listen, and also to set things on fire.”
“Oh, yes, well, I'd love to chat about it, but I'm more concerned with that whole setting-things-on fire bit.” Rarity shuddered. “While it's good to have hobbies that you enjoy, surely there must be something else that you enjoy too, that doesn't involve such crass conduct. If there's anything that I can get for you, or do for you, I'm fully willing to accommodate your needs, if you know what I mean.” She winked.
“Is one less for taking a bribe? Does one lose one's identity if one allows another to change one's behavior through promises of material goods or services? Villain Cube believes so. He believes in purity, and what is purer than naked flame? The best way to see the light is to spontaneously combust, as you are doing now.”
Rarity crossed her eyes, looking up at her mane which was on fire. “This is hardly the proper way to treat a lady.”
Back behind the barricade, Rarity was futility trying to comb the burnt bits out of her mane.
“Augh! This is pointless!” Pinkie threw up her hooves. “That cube is completely one-dimensional! It has no depth!”
“Now, Pinkie, that sure ain't true.” Applejack shook her head. “Cubes have three dimensions: height, width and depth. So yer wrong on both counts.”
“I hate math—hate it, hate it, hate it,” Pinkie said as she banged her face into the nearest wall.
Chuckling, Applejack gave Pinkie a smile. “Calm down, sugarcube. I know it might not look like we're making progress, but we're bound to get through at some point. It's just a matter of finding the right angle, that's all.”
“It's a cube! All it has are right angles!”
“Than it should be a snap. Ah reckon that I can bring it in line with some good old Apple hospitality. Just you watch.” Applejack tipped her hat and walked out.
“It's a cube! It doesn't have any huggable parts!” Pinkie screamed after her.
Applejack sauntered up to the pyromaniac cube with a wide grin and a tray full of steaming, fresh apple fritters. “Howdy there, pardner. Can I interest y'all in some tasty apple grub?”
“Villain Cube appreciates the gesture, but he cannot incorporate foreign material into his body. Such an act would compromise the purity of Villain Cube's existence.”
Applejack blinked, and raised an eyebrow. “Wait, so y'all are sayin' that ya can't eat? But how can ya live like that?”
“Life itself is a mystery, but who are we to question its existence? To ponder the meaning of life is one of the oldest questions in the universe. But for Villain Cube, being alive is simply being Villain Cube. Sometimes, simple answers are the best answers.”
“Uh, well, y'all talk mighty funny, but there ain't nothin' wrong with that.” Applejack stashed her fritters lest they suddenly catch on fire. “There's more ta life than just existing, y'know—there's friends and family too. Don't y'all have a momma and poppa cube that love you?”
“Villain Cube spontaneously came into existence as a fully-grown adult cube, because that is how that happens.”
“Well shucks. Without any friends or family, yer missing out on the best things in life. But I can help. If ya'll want, I can take ya in and teach ya what it's like.” Applejack walked over and reached up, extending her hoof to the cube. “So whadda ya say? Ya wanna be an honorary Apple?”
“Villain Cube appreciates the offer, but he must decline. Apples are not very cube-like, and for Villain Cube, the best things in life are being philosophical, and setting things on fire, such as you. You are on fire.”
When Applejack came back with her hair burnt, Twilight flew down to join them. One quick glance confirmed her fears as everypony except Pinkie had burnt manes. Though she hadn't been flying long, she landed awkwardly and panted. “One sec.”
Pinkie's eyes widened and she rushed over. “Twilight, are you okay?”
“Yeah, I'm just...” Her voice trailed off and she had a glassy look on her face. “Lightheaded, I guess. Or something...”
“Have you been flying through smoke the whole time?” Pinkie asked.
“Well, not the whole time, but there's a lot of it up there, and—”
“You can't do that! You'll get monoxide poisoning!”
“Oh. Well, that's a concern, I guess.” Twilight took a deep breath. “But I'm also exhausted from casting so much magic. Trying to fireproof the whole town isn't easy. I just need some fresh air and I'll be fine.”
Frowning, Pinkie shook her head. “I don't like this. I really don't. You're going out of your way to accommodate that awful cube thing, and it can't take a hint! You should just blow it up and be be done with it!”
“Well, we don't like it either, but isn't that a bit extreme?” Rarity asked. “We just want it to stop setting things on fire, not murder it.”
“Uh, yeah, that.” Twilight blinked. She shook her head. “But we shouldn't have to worry about fires soon. Rainbow Dash will have that rainstorm ready and then nothing will burn. That should take it down to size.”
“Twilight, it's size is exactly pi times its radius squared times one-third of its height,” Pinkie said, with narrow eyes.
Twilight gaped. “No! That's the formula for the volume of a cylindrical cone. The volume of a cube is height times width times depth, which are all equal so it's just length cubed.”
“Well excuse me for trying to think outside the box-like entity!”
Rain soon started pattering, and the currently roaring fires sputtered under the assault of water. The gray cube had moved to different part of town, and several storefronts were now singed as a result. This rain put a damper on its spirits, but aside from being a little wet, the cube showed no symptom of distress. The creaking sign above the sofa and quill store briefly flared into a dancing flame before the falling water squelched it.
Rainbow Dash flew down to confront the cube. Hovering before it, she crossed her forelegs. “Okay, I'm just going to ask this bluntly, but if you like philosophy and fire, can you do the talking thing without also setting things on fire?”
“Talking without fire? What does Villain Cube look like, Sympathy Circle?”
“Yeah, okay, that's what I thought.” Pointing at the cube, Rainbow Dash narrowed her eyes. “I'm warning you, cube, that's totally not okay here. If you want us to welcome you, you'll have to play by our rules.”
“Villain Cube understands your frustration. It is a problem that many face when they travel. Do they compromise themselves to please the locals, or do they be themselves and risk riling them up? There is no choice for ones of purity. Villain Cube is Villain Cube, so he will understandably create friction. But he is also here to listen to your concerns. You can talk to him if it will make you feel better.”
“Fine. I'll talk.” Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. “Your lighting my town and my friends on fire has seriously distressed me. What do you have to say about that?”
“It is a normal reaction to Villain Cube's presence. You are a healthy pony. You have nothing to worry about.”
“Except for being lit on fire!” Glaring, Rainbow Dash made the most sour expression that she could manage. “Face it, cube. You're not welcome here. You're going to have to go home.”
“Home is where the Villain Cube is.”
“That's not how the saying goes! And what I mean is that you need to go back to that place where you were before you entered our world. Gah, now you've got me talking all weird too.”
“Villain Cube understood what you meant, but Villain Cube does not have to comply. Following the orders of others can reduce your individuality, and Villain Cube is a single entity of untainted purity. He shall do as is in his nature, and he shall set you on fire.”
Rainbow's mane did burst into fire, but the pattering rain soon put it out, leaving a large scorched spot. “Seriously?”
While Rainbow was talking to the cube, Pinkie Pie had run off to get 'party' supplies. She gathered a large plywood sheet, a saw, an empty life-sized Pinkie Pie piñata, and lots of confetti. She was still missing something important, though. Away from town, it was quiet and peaceful, and she could almost smell the nectar from the field of flowers before her—almost. Her nostrils were clogged with soot. She'd have picked her nose, but ponies don't have fingers.
Beyond the blooming poppies, there was a drop-off and she spotted three small ponies by the edge. Curious, she wandered over.
Even in pony form, they were familiar. In fact, she'd seen one earlier today. “Oh my gosh! It's the Shirtie Mark Crusaders! I really like this one—she squeaks!” Rushing over, she grabbed the white unicorn and lifted her in the air, kinda-sorta shaking her at the same time.
“Eek!” Sweetie Belle squeaked.
“Pinkie, what are ya doing?” Apple Bloom asked. She lifted her hoof to block the sun which was in her eyes.
“Oh nothing much, I'm just trying to get party supplies to throw a big, fat 'thanks for setting us all of fire' party for some stupid cube thing. Yourselves?” She set Sweetie back down, and the little pony shook her head to stop her eyeballs from rolling around.
“Well, we were going to try some Cutie Mark Crusading, but...” Scootaloo pointed a hoof at town, which was still smoking even in the localized rain.
“Yeah,” Apple Bloom groaned and glanced at a wagon full of explosives that just so happened to be sitting next to them. “Button Mash is always playing those violent arcade games, but he hasn't gotten a cutie mark from them. We thought that if we could do all that explodin' in real life, he'd get his cutie mark for sure!”
“It's a great plan, but building a trebuchet is harder than it looks,” Sweetie Belle moaned.
“And Ponyville is already on fire,” Scootaloo added. “That kinda takes the fun out of it.”
“So Cutie Mark Crusader Castle Crushers is a no-go,” they all moaned.
Pinkie gaped. “Uh, I might be an alien from another dimension, but I'm pretty sure that leaving you three with an entire wagon full of explosives would be irresponsible. I'm gonna have to take it—for, safety reasons. Ya, safety. No ulterior motive. None at all.” She grinned.
“But, Pinkie—” Sweetie Belle started to complain, but she blinked. “Did you get a mane extension?”
“Uh, no. My mane's always been this—oh my gosh, this version of Scootaloo has the cutest, most adorable, tiny little wings!”
“Hey, my wings aren't that—hey!” Scootaloo complained as Pinkie picked her up.
“You already said that, silly.” Tossing the filly into the air, Pinkie caught her and frowned when she came back down. “C'mon, I want to see you fly.”
“But I can't fly,” Scootaloo said. “Put me down.”
“Nonsense! All the ponies with wings I've seen can fly. You're probably just imagining that you can't. Why-with the proper motivation, you'll be soaring in no time.” Grinning broadly, Pinkie held Scootaloo high and leaned back to toss her. “Oh look, a convenient cliff!”
“No! Stop!” the others yelled and rushed towards her.
Later, Pinkie Pie was preparing her 'party' supplies. She'd cut a hole in the plywood and was currently staring into the empty, hollow interior of her piñata with a blank, vacant look on her face.
“Ya fillin' that with confetti?” Applejack asked.
Jerking, Pinkie's eyes unconsciously drifted towards her purloined wagon full of explosives. “Uh, yeah, heh-heh. So, uh, I guess that Rainbow Dash didn't manage to convince it to leave?”
“What do you think,” Rainbow said with a huge frown. There was a perfectly circular crispy spot in her mane.
“Ouch.” Pinkie shook her head. “Don't worry, girls; one way or another, I'll make certain that the cube thing leaves you alone for good.”
“You're just throwing it a party, right?” Twilight asked.
Once again, Pinkie's eyes drifted towards her wagon full of explosives. “Well, duh. I have the perfect kind of party planned, too. It'll go off with a bang.”
The rain couldn't last forever, and once the clouds petered out, Pinkie Pie scanned the smouldering streets for the wayward cube. It had migrated back to the town square, and was apparently trying to set the concrete water fountain on fire.
“Okay, cube, let's make this perfectly clear: I do not like you,” Pinkie said as she walked towards it. Behind her, she was dragging a tall, thin thing covered with a sheet.
“Villain Cube knows what it's like to be disdained, and the act of unliking can be distressing as well. If you wish to express your feelings on this matter, Villain Cube is here to listen.”
“Distressing? You know what's distressing—these people might be pony caricatures of my friends, but it's still awful seeing them all get lit on fire! How do you think that makes me feel? It hurts me deep inside. I am very, very upset.”
“The bonds that one feels for creatures similar to its—”
“Take this, you stupid cube!” Yanking off the sheet, Pinkie exposed the sheet of plywood. It was standing on edge with a circular hole cut in it. After doing that, she zipped away and rolled the piñata in to take her place while the cube was distracted.
For once, it did not say anything. Instead, it trembled in the air. It approached the hole, but its corners caught and it could not pass through. “A-a round hole. H-how d-did you know that was Villain Cube's only weakness?”
Villain Cube exploded. The blast was so intense that it shook the earth, rattling the fire-damaged town. A billowing mushroom cloud of smoke wafted in the air as mud and debris splattered everywhere. There was nothing left of Villain Cube but a giant, smouldering crater.
The ponies with the burnt manes rushed in. “Pinkie, are you okay?” Twilight asked.
“Yeppers!” Standing up from behind her makeshift bomb shelter, Pinkie spat out a clot of mud and put a huge smile on her face.
“What happened here?” Fluttershy asked as she flew around the crater. “There's nothing left of him.”
“Oh, well, he apparently can't handle round holes. Who knew?” Pinkie shrugged.
Sniffing, Twilight raised an eyebrow. “Is that the faint odor of high explosives mixed in with the existential anguish of a geometrical entity right before it gets blown into itty-bitty tiny bits?”
“Uh, nooo.” Pinkie Pie drew out the word as she lowered her head and flopped her ears down. With a hind leg, she quickly pushed an expended plunger like the kind used to set off dynamite into a nearby bush. “It's the smell of victory, Twilight. Like, duh.”
“How did you know that it was, um, allergic to round holes?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Oh, well, it was simple, really. When Rarity asked it about being male, it talked about passing through holes—just like all those block sets in kindergarten. So I knew a round hole would upset it because there's like, nothing worse than trying to shove a square peg through a round hole. Plus, since it couldn't distinguish between 'non-angular matter entities', I was free to to swap myself with a substitute Pinkie Pie when it was distracted.”
Applejack frowned, “Wait, so did ya fill that fake Pinkie with explosives, and when it lit it on fire...”
“Oh, hey, that would have worked to,” Pinkie said. The others glared at her. “Uh, I-I mean that it could have worked, if I'd been trying to blow it up, which I wasn't, because that would have been like murdering it, and I totally, like totally didn't do that.” With a wide grin showing all of her teeth, Pinkie started to sweat.
Rainbow Dash laughed and slapped Pinkie on the back. “That's a good one, Pinkie—pretending like you blew it up. I know you'd never do something like that. It was probably just so upset that it poofed itself back home or something.”
“Uh, yeah, exactly what you said,” Pinkie said.
“I'm just glad the whole thing is over.” Rarity frowned deeply at the mess left behind, curling her lips down. In addition to the smouldering crater, cracked fountain, and singed structures, there was dirt splattered everywhere. “Cleaning this up is going to be such a chore. Has anypony seen Sweetie Belle? She owes me a few favors.”
“Oh yeah! I saw her, uh, er—” Pinkie's eyes darted back and forth, and she seemed to shake. “She was playing with her friends by that cliff way, way, way, over on the other side of town. She's probably still there and I, uh, just remembered that I have to leave like, right now. So if you'll excuse me, I need to run really really fast in the other direction. It was super-fun visiting. Bye everyone!” With that, Pinkie took off in a puff of smoke.
“Uh, bye, y'all. Have fun.” Applejack waved at the dust cloud.
Out of breath, Pinkie stepped out of the statue's base in front of Canterlot High School. “All those ponies are crazy! No wonder Sunset Shimmer left.”
Shaking her head, she stood there, leaning on the school's statue until her chest stopped heaving. “I wonder how the other me is doing. I bet her day can't be nearly as crazy as mine.”
Inside the school, the hallways were eerily empty and silent. It might be spring break, but there were still some activity clubs and the teachers were having a three-day conference. A chill ran down her spine when nobody responded to her calls. They hadn't vanished, though, and she found them all in the gym.
It was a like something out of a horror film, as they were all, all, lying on the floor crying. Even the humanized version of her pony self was there with pinker skin and shorter hair.
“Wait, Pinkie, don't go in there,” the purple dragon-turned-dog Spike tugged at her stockings. “I've been trying to get in touch with Twilight, but she hasn't responded. You might be our only hope.”
“What's going on? Why are they all crying?”
“Uh, I'm not sure I can explain. It shouldn't hurt to take a quick look, though; just cover your ears.”
Nodding, Pinkie glanced at the scene. In the center of the room was a white, perfectly circular—circular, not spherical, entity hovering above them all.
“—and as the circle of time grinds on, all traces of our ephemeral existences are washed away, as if we never were in the first place.”
“It's all so true! Life is utterly pointless!” The humanized pony Pinkie Pie wailed.
The real human Pinkie Pie facepalmed. “I'm going to need more dynamite.”