Rainbow Dash quickly reached the outlying fields of crops. Earth ponies and unicorns toiled in the fields, while pegasi flew about, pushing clouds and flapping their wings to create winds. She quickly spotted Firefly, hovering near the center of the fields. She jabbed her forelegs in different directions, shouting orders all the while.
Rainbow Dash swallowed. “Okay, that’s not my mother. Except it is my mother. Well, in my reality she is. But in Pinkie’s reality and this one she isn’t. She’s just a mare. A mare who looks exactly like the mare who raised me and inspired me and what the Tartarus was I thinking coming here?”
Just then, Firefly spun about and locked eyes with Rainbow Dash. Her face was expressionless for a moment, then she smiled and waved her over. “Hey, what’s up, other than us?”
A bark of laughter escaped Rainbow Dash’s muzzle. “Well, Wind Whistler asked us if we’d mind helping out a bit around here, so I volunteered to help with weather-control, Mo… marvelous mare.” A burst of nervous laughter escaped her before she flew up to Firefly, straightened up and tossed her a quick salute. “Rainbow Dash, reporting for duty!”
Firefly eyed her, but returned the salute. “Thanks, you mo...mover and shaker. How much experience do you have with this?”
Rainbow Dash swallowed and straightened up. She flexed her forelegs and kicked her hind legs out several times. “I run my local town’s weather department and have some… special training from Canterlot. I can get everything done in ten minutes flat!” She held up a hoof. “But since this is your team and your fields and I l… learn from doing rather than being told, I’ll try and reign my ego in a bit.”
A smile slowly formed on Firefly’s muzzle. “Gee, thanks,” she deadpanned, winking. She whistled and waved over a pink-coated pegasus mare with five beanie caps as a cutie mark. Whizzer, this is Rainbow Dash. Rainbow Dash, Whizzer. Dash, follow Whizzer around as she makes her rounds and help out, okay?”
Whizzer flew from one side of Rainbow Dash to the other, wings a blur. “Hey, how you doing? I’m doing best as I can with these vines all around. Thanks for helping us out! Where do you come from? I bet it’s far from here. I like it in this village. It’s fun! I’ve got a lot of great friends and family. Do you have any other friends? You should! I really like you!” She suddenly buzzed off towards a group of clouds.
Rainbow Dash’s eyes spun about. She blinked rapidly and shook her head. “Yeesh, get her off coffee!”
“That’s her on decaf,” Firefly replied, smirking. She turned and flew off. “Better get going!”
Rainbow Dash’s eyes narrowed and her lips peeled back. She turned and shot off, crossing the distance to Whizzer in a little longer than an eyeblink. “Okay, Whizzer, standard grid pattern, or full saturation?”
The next two hours passed by relatively quickly for Rainbow Dash as she sank herself into the work. Thoughts of alternate Bearers of the Elements of Harmony sank into her mind as she pushed clouds, kicked them to release their water on crops, and even spun up more for later use. Whizzer managed to keep up with her, talking up a metaphorical storm.
Firefly eventually flew over to Rainbow Dash as the latter was finishing up cloud-herding to one spot above a forest. “Okay, Dash. We’ve got our morning routines done for the day. We’re knocking off and heading back for lunch.” She extended a hoof. “Thanks for the help.”
Rainbow Dash reached out and bumped Firefly’s hoof with her own. “Hey, I never leave my friends or family hanging, Firefly… not that you’re family. Just… a friend!”
The two flew back to the village. Firefly occasionally glanced over at Rainbow Dash, finally speaking. “Sorry, but I gotta ask. Do we know each other? Or at least, do you know me? It’s just, no offense but the way you act around me makes it seem like it.”
A fine sheen of sweat suddenly spread over Rainbow Dash’s brow, absent during her work over the field. She bobbed her head back and forth. “Well, it’s kinda… complicated, to be honest.” A hoof brushed over her Element of Loyalty. “Dang it, where’s Pinkie Pie when you need her?”
The pair touched down near the village’s inn. Firefly eyed Rainbow Dash, but held up a foreleg. “Okay, how’s this? I’ll drop it for now, if you promise you’ll at least try to explain it later. Deal?”
Rainbow Dash nodded. “Deal, Firefly.” She sighed and hung her head as Firefly took off and flew away. “I just gotta figure it out myself.” She looked down at her Element of Loyalty. “Lots of things to figure out.” And with that, she entered the inn.
Pinkie Pie and Octavia slowly made their way back to the inn. Pinkie Pie’s foreleg darted back and forth as she pointed to the various ponies. “That’s Shady, and that’s Heartthrob, and that’s Galaxy and North Star and Lancer and Slugger and Tex!”
Octavia slowly nodded. “And these ponies are all the founders of your Equestria.”
Pinkie Pie nodded, her smile gone and a thoughtful expression on her face. “Tirac the Abomination killed the last Queen of Ponyland, Majesty, and for about twenty years there were only scattered tribes about. When Firefly flew over the Rainbow Bridge to get help, she, Megan and others defeated him and started the slow process of rebuilding. My Equestria is the end result of that.”
“I can definitely see why you and your Equestria hold them in such reverence, then. Now this Megan, she’s a ‘human’, as you call it?” Octavia shook her head. “I’m sorry, but I’ve never met or even heard of such a species.”
Pinkie Pie nodded. “Up until about six months ago they were, at best, legend and semi-mythical in my own Equestria.” Her head tilted back and a small photo album emerged, a lock of hair wrapped around it. Pinkie Pie’s head darted back and forth and the pages flipped. “I’ve got a lot more pictures and videos on my phone, but this is my emergency stash.”
The pages finally settled on a picture. To Octavia’s eyes, she resembled a clothed minotaur, hairless save for the top of her head.
Pinkie Pie looked to Octavia and grinned. “Lemme guess, your first thought was minotaur, right?”
Octavia blushed, but nodded.
“This is Megan Williams, now Megan Richards. Her species are known as humans. They’re from Earth, the planet the Rainbow Bridge is connected to. When the old Rainbow Bridge collapsed, twenty years passed for her, but fifteen-hundred years for ponies.”
Octavia studied the picture. “From a mortal…. woman?” At Pinkie Pie’s nod, she continued. “A mortal woman who helped her friends to a demigod almost worshipped by your Equestria. Megan to the Mag’ne, a tale worthy of song” She glanced back at her cello, slung across her back.
Pinkie Pie followed her gaze. She put her photo album back into her mane and extracted a small book, its cover worn by time and use. The title read ‘the Scriptures of the Mag’ne’ in rather elaborate font. Pinkie Pie stood up on her hind legs, cleared her throat and began speaking. “And lo, the Mag’ne came upon Tirac in his Castle of Darkness. She held her Spear of Fire aloft, the shaft glowing with energy. “Bring forth Eternal Night no more,” she intoned, her voice still young but carrying authority.”
Octavia quickly unslung her cello, placed it on the ground, drew her bow and played. She sank into Pinkie Pie’s words, letting them direct her movements. Her playing sped up and slowed down, instinct helping her along.
Residents of the village stopped and gathered around the pair as they continued. Pinkie Pie’s coat was suddenly black and red, with her mane twisted into a pair of horns. “Tirac laughed and waved the Mag’ne off. “Foolish whelp! You come here, into my domain, where not even the bravest of the Herd dare to tread? I shall consume your soul and bring an end to these ponies!”
Her coat changed back to its original color, but Pinkie Pie was quickly wrapped up hoof to head in a brown robe. She reared back on her hind legs and balanced a long, red stick in her hooves. “The Mag’ne shook her head and stepped forward. “No, Tirac. You are the fool. The others of the Herd do not fear you. They know I am more than enough to end your reign of terror.” And with that, for seven days and seven nights, they fought. Tirac was powerful, yes, but so was the Mag’ne. And the Mag’ne was not alone, for the Firefly, Applejack, Twilight Wish and all the ponies were with her. And with friends by her side, she was more than a match for the Harbinger of Darkness.”
Pinkie Pie dropped back to all four hooves, once more herself. “And thus in the end Tirac was slain, the Rainbow of Light consuming him and banishing his soul to Tartarus! Thus, the First Labor of the Mag’ne had been completed, but it would not be the last!”
The ponies gathered around stomped their hooves in applause and cheered. Pinkie Pie and Octavia both bowed to them. “Thank you, thank you!” Pinkie Pie said, grinning. She looked to Octavia. “That was super-duper awesome playing, Octavia! How did you manage to keep up with everything I said and match it?”
Octavia slid her cello once more onto her back. “Practice, my dear Pinkie.” The pair once more resumed their somewhat slow journey to the inn. “So, Surprise. We have to figure out how to get her to embody the Element of Laughter. To spread joy among everyone. Or something along those lines.”
Pinkie Pie’s head bobbed up and down. “Yeah, yeah. She was pretty bossy back there at the bakery.” She sighed and her mane flattened slightly. “I kinda hate to say it, but I learned the hard way during Michelle Richards’ birthday party, that not every party needs to be all balloons and confetti and streamers. Think about what the guest of honor wants, not what you want.”
Octavia slowly smiled. “Now all we have to do is convince your alternate-reality ancestor the same thing.” She paused. “And to get off that before I get a headache, how did Michelle’s birthday party go?”
“Well, kind of a blur up until the police arrived…”
The two continued talking as they wound their way up and down streets. Finally, they arrived at the inn. Octavia groaned and tapped her hooves against the ground. “Lost track of time. I think we covered just about every square inch of this village!”
Pinkie Pie hung her head. “I’m so sorry, Octavia! I just got caught up in seeing all these heroes of my Equestria and talking about my Equestria and your Equestria and Earth and the humans.”
Octavia waved her off. “I should’ve thought more about the time.” Her ears twitched as she heard voices and other sounds coming from inside the inn. “Sounds like a bit of a party’s going on inside.”
Pinkie Pie leaned her head forward. Her neck stretched out and her ears elongated slightly. “Oh, that’s one of my jams!” She bounded into the air and hopped along. “Come on inside, Octavia!”
The pair entered the inn and made their way to the dining room. Inside, Spike, Rainbow Dash, Auntie, Ditzy and Steamer were sitting at several of the tables, eating. Pinkie Pie’s phone was still on top of the stand. Bouncy, cheery music was playing on it at half-volume.
Spike looked up as they entered and waved. He started to smile, but stopped as he saw Pinkie Pie’s expression. “I hate to be blunt, but I’m gonna guess it didn’t go well?”
Pinkie Pie nodded and half-smiled. “Reporter’s instinct, Spike?” She slid into a chair and hung her head. “Surprise tried to run a combination anniversary of the bakery opening/birthday party, but she didn’t listen at all to the guest of honor, focused on insane details and then flew out in a total huff.”
Auntie took a plate of food over to Octavia, then another one to Pinkie Pie. She gently rubbed Pinkie Pie’s back. “How are you holding up?”
Pinkie Pie opened her mouth. Her head shot forward and she inhaled the daisy sandwich and hay fries, gulping them down in three swallows. “Not much of an appetite, sorry.”
Steamer slid out of his chair. “I’ll leave you to chat about what you need to. Thanks for the company and helping out.” He nodded to them and left the dining room.
Spike reached out with his magic, turned off Pinkie Pie’s smart phone and floated it over to her. “Pinkie, if I could, I’d buy two of these, one for me and one for my assistant, Twilight.”
Pinkie Pie’s mane reached out, curled around the phone and placed it on the table. “That would be awesome! If you did, I could call you up and we could talk and talk and plan picnics and parties, but then I couldn’t go and we’d be sad.” She suddenly gasped. “Ooh, but I could get Doctor Whooves’ TARDIS and fly around all the realities until I found you two. And then I could fly around until I found the rest of you and we could go on more adventures together!”
Spike blinked. “Then again she’s been fine with her camera so far…”
Rainbow Dash spoke up. “So, what’s our plan concerning Surprise? How do we get her to plan this combo party without peeving anyone off?”
Ditzy gasped. “Rainbow Dash, such language!”
Octavia cleared her throat. “Let’s focus on the important things, Ditzy. We have to figure out how to persuade Surprise that not everyone has fun the same way, and that not every party fits all.” She looked to Pinkie Pie. “I somewhat hesitate to bring this up, but from what you and I talked about while walking around the village, you have first-hoof experience with that.”
Pinkie Pie let out a bark of laughter. “Oh, yeah.” She held up a hoof as she spotted some of the others begin to speak. “That birthday party I met Cheesy at that we both tried to plan? Went way out of control and involved calls to the police.” She reached into her mane with one hoof, rummaged around a bit, and pulled out a small beanie cap, complete with a propellor on it. She stuck onto her head, the small cap somehow sucking in her entire mane. “Ah, much better!” Her expression turned serious.
Octavia spoke up. “I suppose the best thing to do would be to track down Surprise tomorrow, get her together with Twilight Wish at the bakery and help her to see that not everything has to be perfect, and that their own vision is not always the right one when it comes to fun.”
Rainbow Dash snorted. “Just that simple, Octavia?”
Octavia chuckled and took a sip of cider. “Compared to our previous encounters? Quite.”
Auntie spoke up. “Octavia, I think you’ll be the best to help convince Surprise of that, along with Pinkie.”
Pinkie’s head bobbed up and down. “OOh, ooh, that’s a great idea, Auntie!” She reached out and wrapped a foreleg around Octavia’s shoulders. “I can be good cop, and Octavia can be bad cop!”
Octavia eyed her, but slowly smiled. “I’d be delighted to assist you in this, Pinkie.”
Ditzy spoke up, her eyes going in opposite directions. “Of course, the question is, besides what good cop and bad cop are, is when is tomorrow?”
The others all chuckled. “Well, perhaps we should all just stay in for a few hours and get some rest and sleep?” Auntie suggested.
Pinkie Pie held her phone up. “Ooh, ooh! You all wanna watch a movie?”
The others glanced at each other, their expressions falling. Auntie finally spoke up. “Pinkie, although we do appreciate the gesture, I don’t think it would work out.” At Pinkie’s confusion, she shrugged. “Well, having us all crowd around that small screen?”
Pinkie Pie laughed and waved her off. “Oh, silly filly!” She slid off her chair, walked over to a bare patch of wall and held her phone up. She pressed the screen a few times, then held it out towards the wall. The screen lit up and projected the image of Daring Do swinging across a river onto the wall. “It’s got the new theater option. I… don’t know what you folks have for movies, but my Equestria’s film industry’s still pretty new. Most of it’s newsreels, documentaries and test footage for new techniques. They started adapting the Daring Do novels to the big screen only two years ago. This one’s the first.” She turned her head all the way around. “Wanna watch?”
Rainbow Dash hopped up, flew over and landed right next to Pinkie Pie. She reached out, slid her forelegs into Pinkie’s mane and rummaged about a bit, finally pulling out a tub of popcorn.
The other four walked over. Spike’s horn lit up and he floated the phone over to a table and gently leaned it against a vase. “I’ll hit play when we’re all ready,” he said as he sat down.
Ditzy cocked an eyebrow at Rainbow Dash. “How did you know she had a tub of popcorn in there?”
Rainbow Dash shrugged as she munched. “It’s Pinkie Pie.”
Spike started the movie, and they all settled in.