“There’s poop everywhere!” exclaimed the poop-covered Lyra. “There’s poop on the road and poop on the stalls. There’s poop on the produce, the houses, and the walls!”
“I get it, Lyra,” said Bonbon as she watched out of the corner of her eye the ponies in the street, stalls, and shops whispering and eyeing the poop-covered mare.
“I don’t think you do!” said Lyra two decibels too loud. “Poop was on the colts, and poop on the mares!”
“And there’s even poop in your filthy hair,” deadpanned Bonbon.
“So you do get it!”
“I smell it, too.” Bonbon pushed away Lyra then vigorously wiped the hoof she used on the ground. “Now stop rhyming and clean yourself off. You’re disgusting.”
“That’s not a nice thing to say to your best friend.”
“Stinking up my stall and scaring away my customers isn’t a nice thing to do to your best friend either. Now get out of here.” Bonbon sighed as Lyra turned to go inside their house. “Stop!”
“Whaaaaat?” whined Lyra.
“Don’t go into the house like that.”
“But how am I going to clean myself off?”
“Just use the hose in the back.”
“What? Like a foal covered in mud?”
“Shut up, Lyra, and just get all that poop off yourself up before you go inside and then shower. And don’t use the good towels!” Bonbon watched as Lyra mumbled and trudged to the back of the house. At times you’re no different than a foal.
Bonbon turned back to the street in front of her stand and tried to pretend that none of that had even happened. As she smiled and waved to passing potential customers, she reflected on the story Lyra had told her. A short, green, two-legged, sloth-like creature that controlled the rain had lurched into the farmer’s market and received a discount from Applejack before using a curse to burst a septic pipe. That was crazy, even beyond Lyra’s brand of cuckoo-ness.
Honestly, when had Applejack ever given discounts?
If Bonbon was to believe that somehow Lyra hadn’t been involved in the explosion, she could have at least tried to make the story believable. Then again, with all the weird things that happened around Ponyville, she should give Lyra the benefit of the doubt. Besides, she was a secret spy-slash-monster hunter for Princess Celestia who daylighted as a confectionist. If there was one pony who shouldn’t cast doubt on the strange and unusual, it would be her. As she continued to debate Lyra’s innocence, she smiled warmly to passing ponies; however, it became harder to look inviting when more poopy, pouting ponies poured in from the farmers’ market and down Main Street. The smell was so overpowering that she had to cover her nose, but she practiced restraint in showing her disgust. Or at least she tried.
“The horror! The horror!”
“Blech! Why are you so nasty? No! Don’t come closer!”
Unlike the flower sisters across the street.
Their earthy, fecal foulness flooded Bonbon’s nostrils like cotton balls filled with tiny nerve-plucking needles-- then she remembered she had a new secret weapon that would banish the smell. She pulled close one of the glass cases on her stall labeled “Firebombs” filled with red jawbreakers, fished one out, then shoved it in her mouth and crunched it between her teeth, and the candy exploded.
Her cheeks ballooned from the force of the explosion, and spicy cinnamon flavor splattered in every corner of her mouth and crept up into her sinuses, eliminating the smell of poop and allowing her to breathe easily at the cost of some nasal discomfort. No longer the victim to the flood of fecal fragrances, Bonbon could continue to work the stall without gagging on her breakfast and repulsing the repulsive ponies away--even if a poop-covered pony would consider perusing and purchasing from the local confectionist while still covered in filth. She didn’t even want one of them to come close and possibly contaminate her goods. Still, it paid to be polite in the long run, and the flower sister’s blatant disregard for the victims’ humiliation provoked glares and feelings that soon wouldn’t be forgotten.
Then a terrible idea struck her: give the Flower Sisters firebombs. Not only would it shut them up, but it would also be a riot to watch them suck on the jawbreakers until they reached the spicy “bomb” at the center and freak out when they thought their brains had exploded. They took the candy as soon as she mentioned it would solve their odor problem.
Lily took three.
With her explosives stealthily planted, she just had to wait until the targets set them off, and her self-assigned mission of fun would be complete. She went back to her stall to watch and wait. Her mind drifted from her duties to fantasies and impatience. So much so it was making her lightheaded and woozy, like she was drunk from anticipation.
“Hey, Bonbon. What did I miss?”
She turned and saw two large, purple eyes on a metallic-grey face staring back at her. Heavy breaths puffed from the many holes peppered at the end of the snout. She let out a delayed yelp and fell to her side. The metallic visitor chuckled as Bonbon struggled to get back on her oddly noodly legs.
“Woah, drunk already, huh? Maybe I shouldn’t be schlepping this around town.”
“Berry!?” Bonbon struggled to push herself up off the ground. “What the-- where the---” She squinted at the pony in front of her. Purple fur, fruity cutie mark, and a cart with a large wine barrel. “Berry,” said Bonbon as she dug about in her muddy mind for orientation. “What are you doing? And why are you wearing a gas mask? Is it because of them?” She pointed out at the poop-covered ponies, who themselves wobbled past.
Berry shook her head. “Nope. Didn’t even know about that. Funny coin-ki-dink, huh? It’s actually because of this.” She motioned to the barrel behind her. “I’ve got me a bad batch of alcohol I need to dispose of.”
Bonbon tilted her head, and her body with it until she fell against her stall and stayed there. “Why would-- uh-- why would you-- I didn’t know alcohol could go bad.”
“Well technically, this alcohol isn’t bad. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! It’s too good. I’ve had a little ‘accident’ trying to magically give my drinks an extra kick, but now it’s got so much kick that it can kick your plot from across the street! Look.”
And sure enough, it was true. The effects of the alcohol reached as far as the corners of the block, and every pony within sight showed signs of inebriation, including the Flower Sisters, who blathered and slurred at each other.
“Nuh-uh. I told you Big Mac was checking my butt out.”
“How could you tell!? We were standing next to each other.”
“Please, please, girls. Both of you have cutie patooties.”
The limits of her stomach had already been tested by the fecal matter and the alcohol. She didn’t need that dribble to push her over the limit. She turned back to Bonbon. “But how?”
“Well--” Berry pointed at her gasmask “--the alcohol is so strong that it even travels by smell. That why I’m wearing this. I’m off to see Princess Twilight to find out where I can dispose of this.”
“What about the mayor?”
“Oh, yeah! We have one of those, don’t we?” Berry Punch chuckled. “Sometimes I forget.”
Bonbon shook her head. Her body wiggled along with it.
“So, uh, what’s with them?” Berry Punch pointed at the poop-covered ponies as they struggled to march down Main Street.
“--It was awful! There was a green sloth, and he had this lightning cloud, and he opened up a hole to Tartarus, and he blew up the septic tank before cursing everypony and got a discount!”
The exclamation shocked Bonbon off balance, and she fell over in a half-hop half-fainting maneuver that resembled less a trained dodging reflex and more like a falling ragdoll. She lifted her head and saw the dripping-wet culprit. “Lyra! For Luna’s sake, how long were you standing there?”
“Oh, a few minutes, but not as long as these three,” said Lyra as she pointed to the Flower Sisters beside her. Rose and Daisy waved and giggled stupidly at being found out. Lily, however, had one hoof wrapped around the jar of firebombs and another shoving the contents in her face.
“Hey!” In a moment of sudden sobriety, Bonbon lept up and snatched the jar from Lily, then placed the jar back where it belonged. “These firebombs aren’t cheap, you know!? I said you could only take one, that doesn’t give you free access to my whole supply!”
“But I can still smell the poo,” mumbled Lily through her stuffed cheeks.
“Did you say ‘firebombs’?” said Berry with undisguised excitement. “So the dragon peppers came? Oh, sweet, you’ve gotta give me some. I could totally use them in a new drink I always wanted to make!”
Lyra turned to Bonbon. “Dragon peppers?”
Bonbon sighed. “Lyra, do you remember when the package came and I told you not to touch it?”
Lyra tilted her head. “You’re going to have to be more specific…”
“Oh yeah! I just came out of the shower and found a package on the doorstep and you came running out screaming and shouting before you knocked me aside and disappeared into your kitchen with the box. I thought it was some of your spy--”
“Anyway-- Yes, that was when I got these dragon peppers.”
Lyra huffed. “Oh, so it was only peppers!? And you tell me I overreact. It’s not like you bought a --”
“There is something special about these peppers that you don’t know about.”
Berry smiled so hard that it could be seen under her mask. “Oh, you’ve got to show them. I want to see this myself!”
“Show us what?” said Rose.
“Oh, it’s something amazing. These peppers are unlike any of their kind. They only grow in the most hostile and uninhabitable corner of the land, far off in the basin of the Purple Mountains near the Volcano of Gloom. If you ever get your hooves on one, you’ve better be careful! They’re dangerous, but to a skilled chef or alchemist, one pepper is powerful enough to season an entire feast or add a huge kick to hundreds of potions.
“And you, Lyra, had almost ruined the entire batch, or even worse, turned your home into a crater.”
Lyra flinched at the accusation. “What? How? They’re just peppers.”
“A dangerous vegetable?” said Rose with a slight slur while leaning against Daisy.
“We work with plants. We would have heard about such a plant if it was so dangerous,” said Daisy with a strong slur while leaning against Rose.
“MMmf Hhnguuff fnahh fhooh,” said Lily without a slur.
“You’re gonna have to show them, Bon.”
Bonbon rolled her eyes. She would have rather showed this after her prank was completed. “Fine. But then you all get out of here, and you too, Berry.”
“Yes, you, I’m getting a hangover just from being near you.” Bonbon staggered behind the stall and unlocked the bottom compartment before fishing out a little wooden box with a fitted lid wrapped in plastic. She instructed Lyra to take several stumbles back as she clumsily unrolled the plastic and flipped the latches holding the polished lid in place. A light breath of red smoke escaped when she lifted the lid, and a crimson glow emanated from inside. With a tender, clumsy, plastic-wrapped hoof, she lifted the glowing-red pepper daintily and dropped it on a cutting board as if it were a newborn kitten before taking out a knife.
Ever so slowly, with as much care as a drunk could provide, she sliced off a sliver no bigger than a nose hair before repeating the unpacking progress in reverse.
Lyra and the Flower Sisters watched on while they “ooh”ed and “aah”ed and gagged on firebombs.
“It’s not radioactive, is it?” asked Lyra.
“Mmph Hhff Hff?”
“It would be much safer if it was any of those,” boasted Berry.
Bonbon walked over Lyra and to pluck a wet hair from her mane. She came back with a mouthful. Lyra cried out in pain, but Bonbon didn’t care as she took the volatile follicles back to the glowing pepper slice. “Now, I will show you why I got so upset with you on Tuesday. Stand back.” She dropped the wet hairs over the pepper particle, then dropped to the ground.
As soon as they made contact, there was a boom, and a mushroom cloud burst forth with enough force to knock over a few jars and inebriated ponies. Even some of the ponies wobbling in the street flopped over, either from the explosion or fright. The ones that still had any bit of sense in them ran away screaming.
“Sweet Celestia!” screamed Lyra, Rose, and Daisy in unison. Lily made glucking and gulping noises.
“And that is why these peppers are so dangerous: even a little bit of water can…”
“That’s so cool!” said Lyra
“Wait,” said Rose as she stared out at nothing in concentration. “You have more of those in your house!?”
“She’d better,”said Berry. “I plan to buy a few off her once I take care of this barrel.”
“We’re neighbors!” screamed Daisy. “If you have an accident… Oh, the horror. The horror!”
“We have to move! Stay away from us!”
Rose and Daisy turned tail and waddled away to their stands, crying bloody murder the whole way. Lily didn’t get the message and remained playing dead.
“I… I think she needs help,” said Bonbon as she massaged her temples. “And you need to get out of here, Berry. That stuff is giving me a headache.”
“Sure, but I’ll be back for--”
Lyra screamed. First in a dazed confusion, then in a startled realization, then once more in dread.
“Stop it, Lyra, it isn’t funny.”
“No! No, Bonbon. We must run. He’s here. He’s here. And he’s got Fluttershy.”
“Who’s here?” asked Berry as she looked down the street where Lyra was pointing.
Bonbon saw Fluttershy wearing a hat at the end of the street. She looked as calm and reserved as always, and there was nothing alarming about her, but behind her was a little clothed troll. Slumped as if in mourning with his eyes glued to Fluttershy’s back hooves, he followed closely behind Fluttershy as he half-heartedly held aloft an umbrella frame. His presence didn’t go unnoticed by Fluttershy as she turned to him and whispered a few words before continuing on her way. “What? That’s him?”
“Yeah! That’s the one that cursed Applejack and all the ponies at the farmer’s market!”
“Say what!?” Rose and Daisy stumbled over to Lyra. “Are you sure?”
“Yes that’s him!”
“Oh, that face. So evil!”
“He’s got Fluttershy. She’s cursed!” said Lyra.
“Mmmghphf!?” Revived by the jolting excitement, Lily lazily kicked about and wobbled on her back like a capsized turtle, all the while mumbling through a mouthful of firebombs.
“We’ve got to get out of here or we’ll be cursed, too!”
Bonbon looked on woozily at the little goblin as he trailed behind Fluttershy. Even as they made their way down the street, all of the little goblin’s movements and gestures resembled many of the bipedal monsters she’d worked with before. He looked timid and defeated. Dare she even describe him as apologetic. A small thundercloud over his head would rumble every so often, and with every tiny roar of thunder he’d mumble an apology to any ponies nearby. Or at least that was what it sounded like. She couldn’t hear very well over the clamour the Flower Sisters and Lyra were making.
A sharp pull on her tail dragged her out of her thoughts and onto the ground. She looked up at an exasperated Lyra and her mouthful of tail. “Bonbon, we’ve gotta go.”
Bonbon kicked at Lyra’s chest to get her to let go, but hit her nose instead. “Get off of me, you dolt.”
“Everypony run!” shouted Rose, sending waves of panic throughout the street. Ponies that could ran, the rest drunkenly stumbled away, but from what nopony was sure. As ponies tried to make it to safety, they collided and tripped over one another, and the screaming never stopped. Two stallions slammed into each other; and one tumbled against Berry’s barrel and knocked the lid off, sending splashes of magically concentrated alcohol on the dirt beside her. Berry jumped into action and supported the barrel while simultaneously berating the moron. Bonbon looked over in the direction to see where Fluttershy and her green friend went.
They were gone.
“Get up, Lily! We’re getting out of here!” screamed Daisy as she and Rose tumbled over each other and onto Lily, knocking the wind and a few firebombs out of her. Lily retched, and several firebombs oozed out of the corners of her mouth as she clawed at her own throat and violently kicked the air.
“She’s choking! Lily! Lily!”
Bonbon’s adrenaline spike, inebriated brain and lax muscles carried her up off the ground and to the choking pony. Rose, Daisy and Lyra stood over Lily fretting, grabbing and wailing uselessly over their dying friend. Bonbon tried to bend over to wrap her front legs around Lily’s barrel, but she kicked and struggled too much for Bonbon to hold.
“Daisy, Rose, Lyra. Sit her up and expose her stomach!”
Without question, the three of them dogpiled on their friend and stretched her out, but not without taking a few kicks to their faces. Lily even knocked the firebomb out of Rose’s mouth as she grabbed her front left leg while Daisy took the right and Lyra held her back legs down with magic.
“Good, now hold her still.”
Bonbon stood in front of the gasping pony and turned around. She lifted a back leg and steadied herself. Once she found her balance and the right spot, she bucked Lily right under her lungs. With a loud “hack,” a large wad of partially disintegrated firebombs soared overhead. The rescued pony fell back into her friends’ embrace and coughed.
“Geez, Bonny,” said Berry as she lifted up the lid to the barrel off the ground and put it back into place. “Did you have to kick the living daylights out of her to save her life?”
With the adrenaline wearing out, Bonbon plopped her butt down, leaned against the stall, and closed her eyes. “You know, that doesn’t sound nearly as clever as you think it does, and I’m drunk.”
“You sure look it. Tell ya what, I’ll take care of this first, then come back for some peppers after you’ve had a bit to clear your head. Sound alright?”
Berry nodded and turned back to her barrel. “Umm,” she muttered. “Bonny, what was Lily choking on?”
“Firebombs. She had a whole mouthful of them,” said Bonbon without opening her eyes.
“And did you see where she spat them up?”
“You may want to run.”
Bonbon opened her eyes and saw the barrel shaking violently. “Hit the deck!”
Everything went white as a large wall of fire burst forth and swallowed everything in sight.
Twilight Sparkle appeared in a flash of violet magic. The second explosion was by far much larger than the first and stabbed her with fear and concern. Was Ponyville under attack? What could have caused such a catastrophe? She teleported to the area of the explosion without her friends or a plan of attack, other than to plan a plan of attack once she knew what she would be attacking.
The first thing that she noticed was the smell. The air reeked with alcohol and peppers. It burned her sinuses and was already giving her a headache only after two-and-a-half breaths.
Everything around her was black and covered in soot. The walls of the buildings lining Main Street were all black, except for the outlines. Negative shadows of ponies. Whatever caused the explosion froze the shadows of the ponies as they were the moment the blast occurred.
And not too far from the shadows were the ponies.
Stumbling, slurring, and stark naked. No fur, no tail, no mane. Everything equinely exposed. All of the ponies seemed less hurt than stupefied, as if they had no idea what had happened or that they were even in trouble or naked. If she had to go by the looks on the many pony faces that she saw, it wouldn’t be inconceivable to think that Main Street was hit by a stupid bomb.
But she had to be sure. Without any fur color or cutie mark to go on in this land of the nude, Twilight couldn’t make out who was who and just walked up to the first pony she came across. A mare sitting down next to a stall was giggling with the occasional hiccup.
“Miss… Miss. Are you alright?”
“Hey-- Hey! I know you. You’re Twilight, the *hic* princess! Have you come to buy some flowers, Your Majesty?”
“Are you hurt? What happened?” Twilight lit up her horn and started scanning over the mare’s body for injuries.
The mare sloppily shoved Twilight back with a giggle. “I’m not that kind of mare, Your Majesty. Hehehe… Wait… is it ‘Your Majesty’ or ‘Your Highness’? Twilight, you’re a princess, right? Which is it?”
“I’m serious. Are you okay?”
“No, I’m not okay,” said the mare as she rubbed her head.
Twilight flared her wings. “Just stay here. I’ll get help and--”
“All this thinking is making my head hurt. ‘Your highness.’ ‘Your majesty.’ What do they mean? Which one is higher? Which one is more majestic? Oooh, I feel like my brain’s gonna explode.”
The mare and reality were far too separated for Twilight to get the answers she sought. “Listen, I’m going to get help. You stay here and be safe.” She flew off while the mare continued to question herself about the lexicon of royalty.
The mare continued to think and rub her head. She rubbed and rubbed. Thought and thought. She rubbed and thought, then thought and rubbed. Her head grew hotter and hotter.
Then the firebomb in her mouth exploded.
Daisy rolled around on the ground with her head in her hooves, screaming over and over, “My brain exploded! My brain exploded!”