• Published 11th Jun 2013
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Lavender Unicorn Syndrome - Sharaloth



A lavender unicorn has a terrible day when every lavender unicorn starts turning into copies of her best friend, the lavender unicorn!

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Part 1: The lavenderen-ing... ing

Lavender Unicorn Syndrome

Rarity awoke with uncharacteristic slowness. Not that she often awoke bright and chipper in the morning; beauty sleep wouldn’t be quite so, well, beautiful if it ended so abruptly. Still, this morning in particular she was finding it hard to open her eyes.

It had been a mistake to remove her sleeping mask. The sunlight streaming in through the windows was made soft by the delicate curtains that surrounded her bed, but it seemed almost like a spotlight aimed directly in her face every time she cracked an eyelid. She considered just rolling over and going back to sleep, but the duties of the day were already worming their way into her thoughts. She knew that the world would not wait for her to be ready, well, not unless she whined loud enough, and she wasn’t really in the mood for that.

She spurred her sluggish brain into motion, forcing her thoughts to organize and her will to steel against the necessity of motion. With a groan that she would never have allowed to escape her lips were she with company, she rolled herself out of her bed. Her hooves found her slippers with practiced ease and her magic pulled a robe from her closet to drape over her sleep-mussed coat. Then, with a steadying breath, she opened her eyes.

The curse she let out at the sudden, stabbing pain in her eyes made her glad Sweetie Belle wasn’t staying over. There were certain lectures she would not accept having her mother deliver to her, and a discussion of appropriate language was one of them. Another was proper attire for a young lady, which was why a certain basement storeroom in the boutique was always kept locked.

Muttering an apology to Celestia under her breath, Rarity shuffled to her bedroom door. On the other side was an irate cat who had taken her claws to the closed door sometime in the night, leaving little wooden shavings all over the hallway.

“Good morning, Opal,” Rarity said, leaning down to nuzzle her pet. “How’s my precious little dumpling today?” Opalescence let out a growling meow and batted Rarity’s nose. “Yes, I believe that’s going around this morning,” Rarity sighed. “I shall feed you momentarily, dear. I just need a moment to wake up properly.”

Opal responded in the way of cats: by demanding food again in a louder, more piercing tone. Rarity gave the demand the attention it deserved and walked to her bathroom without pause. She shut the door behind her, hearing the dear little bundle of joy start to scratch at it the moment it was closed.

“Wonderful,” Rarity grumbled, turning on the shower and letting the water warm. The light was still stinging her eyes, so her magic readied her toiletries mostly by memory, a skill that fortunately came easily to her. She stepped into the shower, the hot water cascading over her mane and coat feeling absolutely divine. She luxuriated in the steamy warmth until a furious yowl from the hallway reminded her that she had obligations. With lethargy slowly releasing her from its grip she completed her morning shower, drying quickly and wiping down the mirror to get to the important business of styling her mane into the beautiful curls she had worked so hard to perfect.

What she saw in the mirror made her drop every brush, curler, spray, gel and iron she’d picked up, the sound of them falling like a sudden rainstorm in the bathroom. She barely noticed. She stared at the mirror, her eyes wide and mouth hanging open in shock. She closed her eyes and scrubbed at them with her hooves, hoping that what she had seen was just a remnant of sleep in her eyes. She peered into the looking glass again, and finding it exactly as it had been she snapped out another curse that would have scandalized her if uttered in public.

The tip of her horn, that beautiful ivory spiral that, while not her best feature, surely ranked in her top ten, had turned purple. Not the purple of her mane, no, and not precisely purple, either, but a shade of violet that on some level she couldn’t help but call: “Lavender!”

***

Rarity’s wide selection of hats was surprisingly short on horn-hiding chapeaus. Of course, that wasn’t a problem for her. She just threw together a fetching ensemble that included a horn-hiding shawl instead. It wasn’t her best work as she was rather rushed, but she took some pride in being able to accomplish the feat at all. Unicorn horns were not exactly easy to conceal.

But conceal it she must, and so conceal it she did. She simply could not be seen in public with that lavender blotch marring the pristine whiteness of her beautiful horn. Not that lavender was a bad color, of course. Her dear friend and newest Princess of Equestria, Twilight Sparkle, was essentially lavender all over, and she was quite pretty, if lacking in contrast. No, what really annoyed her was that she had built up an image, and the splotch of lavender on her horn was simply not going to mesh with it.

Also, it could be some sort of disease. Which was somewhere on the scale of horrible beneath bad color coordination but above sloppy shawl work.

She trotted through the streets, making for the hospital and the hopefully discreet ministrations of the doctors there. She prayed it wouldn’t take too long; her shop couldn’t afford to stay closed for extended periods.

“Hey, Rarity,” Rainbow Dash said as she dropped out of the sky to Rarity’s side. “How’s it going?”

Rarity cringed a bit at her friend’s sudden arrival, but straightened her neck and smiled brightly. “Oh, just fine, Rainbow dear. It’s quite a lovely and sunny day, isn’t it?”

Dash frowned, scratching a hoof at the back of her head and refusing to meet Rarity’s eyes. “Yeah. Sorry about that.”

“Sorry? Whatever for?”

“Well, it’s supposed to be overcast today. Showers in the afternoon for an hour or two. Not going to happen now,” Dash said, looking up at the clear sky in annoyance while absently shaking out her wings. Feathers dropped from the limbs with every step, leaving a trail of blue behind as they walked.

“Oh, yes. I remember that was on the schedule,” Rarity said. She did remember something about it, vaguely. She forced herself to ignore her own troubles and focus on her friend. “What’s gone wrong?”

“I don’t know,” Dash sighed. “It’s like every pegasus in Ponyville’s got the flu or something.”

“You seem okay,” Rarity said.

“Heh, right,” Dash snapped her wings again, sending a flurry of feathers puffing out into the air. “Does this look ‘okay’, Rarity?”

“You’re... moulting?” she ventured.

Dash shook her head. “Not even close. Honestly? I’m lucky I can still fly. A lot of us are completely out of commision until we shake this flu, so no weather patrol. I don’t want to end up grounded, so I was just heading over to the hospital to get checked out. I saw you heading the same way and thought I’d say hi.”

“Yes, well, I’m going there too,” Rarity admitted. “I awoke feeling a tad unwell today, though I daresay I’m not in anywhere near as poor off as you seem to be.”

“Howdy, y’all!” Applejack called out to them from a short way down the street. Her greeting lacked much of the usual warmth and good humor that Applejack always held for her friends. Instead she sounded tired and worried. The farmer was hauling a small wagon with her little sister and, surprisingly, big brother lying down inside. Big Mac looked awful. His coat was darkened with sweat, his eyes were screwed tightly shut, and a bag of half-melted ice rested on his head. Apple Bloom looked over her brother, frowning in worry and wincing at every bump in the road.

“Applejack!” Rarity called back. “Whatever is the matter with Big McIntosh!”

“Yeah, he looks wrecked!” Rainbow Dash added.

“Don’t quite know,” Applejack said, shaking her head as they all continued to the hospital together. “We all woke up with a headache this morning, but Mac’s been hit the worst. Had to drag him outta bed and onto the cart, otherwise he’d still be lyin’ in bed moanin’ about the sunlight.”

“Really?” Rarity mused. “I woke rather sensitive to light myself.”

“Yeah, me too,” Dash said. “Man, I thought this was just a pegasus thing, it looks like everypony’s got this flu!”

“Is it a flu, then?” Applejack asked.

“That’s what we’re going to find out,” Rarity told her, narrowing her eyes as a thought occured. “Though so many ponies coming down with it at once? A little too much for coincidence.”

“Yeah, I wonder if it’s only Ponyville,” Dash said. “Anypony seen Fluttershy? She lives far enough outside of town.”

“She has company,” Rarity said. “And no farther than Applejack does.”

“Yeah, but she doesn’t come in to town as often as AJ,” Dash pointed out.

“Fair point,” Rarity allowed. “But if she hasn’t caught this, I would prefer if we didn’t needlessly expose her to it.”

“Right,” Applejack said. “If we don’t see her at the hospital, might be because she don’t got it, and if she don’t got it, we shouldn’t give it to her.”

“Thank you, Applejack,” Rarity said, giving Dash a pointed look.

“Hey, I get it, two votes to one. We leave Flutters out of this unless she comes to us,” Dash said, her wings flaring defensively, which only made another storm of feathers that fell to the ground in a blue carpet. “Aw, man. This is so gonna mess with my training.”

“Oh, believe me, we shall all be cursing this horrid illness long before it’s run its course,” Rarity said. “I just have a feeling about it.”

***

The hospital was bedlam. A sizable portion of Ponyville’s population had woken with a plethora of health complaints. Their ills ranged from debilitating headaches and extreme light sensitivity to the pegasus-only problem of rapidly shedding feathers. Many of them had turned to the hospital for help. Thus the hospital had become crowded. So much so that the waiting room had overflowed and there was now a lineup that extended out of the building and into the street. Pinkie Pie bounced over to them as they arrived, her pet alligator curled up in a basket tied to her head.

“Oh! Are you here because of the mysterious mass misery mire?” Pinkie Pie asked.

“Mire?” Applejack asked.

“There’s not a lot of words that mean ‘bad situation’ but start with ‘m’,” Pinkie said, grinning. “But I still found one!” She leaned in close, looking at Big Mac. “Oh, poor little Big McIntosh! Don’t worry, I bet I know how to cheer you up!”

“How about no,” Applejack said, pushing the rambunctious pony away from her suffering brother. “He just needs some rest and a lookin’ at by a doctor.”

“Of course he does!” Pinkie squeaked. “Doctor Pinkie!”

“No,” Applejack said. “No Doctor Pinkie. I don’t know where doctor Pinkie got her medical degree, but I’m guessin’ her treatment for splittin’ headache might be puttin’ a trumpet to his ear and blowin’ as loud as she could.”

Pinkie stood blinking at her friend. “And that would be bad?”

“Pinkie!”

“I’m just kidding!” Pinkie Pie laughed. “I wouldn’t do that to Big Mac! Also, I’ve got a super-duper wow-that-hurts headache, so I’m not sure if loud music is really good for me right now.”

Dash’s eyes widened. “Wait, you’ve got it too?”

“Well, duh.” Pinkie rolled her eyes. “Why else would I be here?”

“I, um... don’t know?”

“Be that as it may,” Rarity cut in. “It seems we, and the rest of Ponyville, are all suffering the same malady.”

“Oooh! Malady! That’s a good one!” Pinkie said, eyes lighting up. “But not everypony has it. The Cakes are fine.”

“Hey, that’s good,” Applejack said with a smile. “I’d hate to see those foals hurtin’.”

“Quite,” Rarity agreed. “I suppose this could just be the result of a normal virus,” Rarity shook her head. “But I think it prudent if we were prepared for the possibility that this may be more.”

“You really think this might be somethin’ else?” Applejack asked

Rarity shrugged. “I wouldn’t rule it out.”

The hospital staff was overworked and suffering from the mysterious headaches themselves, so it wasn’t long before Nurse Redheart made her way out to the crowd. She spotted the four friends and pushed through the crowd to them. “I need your cart,” she said without greeting or preamble.

“Hold on, now,” Applejack said. “I’ll be happy to help, but my brother’s got it, whatever it is, bad. He’s not fit to be shifted, so if I’m gonna give you the cart I gotta know why.”

“You see all these ponies?” Redheart gestured to the crowd. “Well, they can’t see me. So shift yourself and help me up.”

“Wow, you’re a grumpy gus!” Pinkie remarked, bouncing uncomfortably close to the nurse. “Come on there! Turn that frown upside-down!” She demonstrated by grabbing her own face between her hooves and pulling down to create an exaggerated, and horrifying, frown. Then she turned upside down, which, considering the ways she had to twist to accomplish it, only made the expression worse.

“One day, Pinkie,” Redheart hissed, leaning towards the inverted party pony. “One day you are going to throw your back out or do some other horrible damage to yourself, and I will laugh, and laugh, and laugh.” Pinkie’s eyes lit up with delight. “But not today, so don’t try it.” Pinkie’s face fell, which, considering she was still pulling on it with her hooves, only intensified the anti-gravity upside-down drooping frown she was making.

Rarity shuddered, carefully not looking at her excitable friend and addressing the nurse. “I assume you have news for all of us?”

“I do,” Redheart said as Pinkie resumed her normal bouncing orientation. “But I’d like to give it to everypony at once, and for that, I need to be seen and heard.”

“How ya doin’, Big Mac?” Applejack asked her brother. “You okay to get down?”

“Eeyup,” Big McIntosh replied, slowly standing on the wagon. His legs shook as he rose, and Apple Bloom let out a whimper as she saw her big brother in such a state. He took one step off of the wagon and collapsed, falling to the ground in a painful sprawl. His sisters were immediately at his side, helping him into a laying position. He wasn’t hurt, but the fall had settled a shroud of dread on the ponies present. Even Pinkie stopped bouncing and adopted as close to a serious expression as Rarity had ever seen on her. Anything that could take out a pony as strong as Big Mac would eat the rest of them alive.

Redheart heaved a sigh and clambered up on the cart. “Can I please have everypony’s attention!” She shouted. The crowd quieted and looked to the nurse. “I understand that you’re all hurting! I understand that you’re worried! I’m hurting and worried too! The doctors are working on this, we’ve called in everypony who could possibly help, but they can’t do that and personally look after everypony here! The hospital administration has decided that we are only going to see the worst off, but that doesn’t mean we’re ignoring the rest of you! The best thing for you to do right now is go home, take the day off from whatever work you had, and get plenty of fluids and rest! Once we’ve figured this out, you will all know as soon as possible!”

There was a murmur of assent through the crowd. Redheart answered a few questions, but didn’t really have any information to give. The ponies gathered at the hospital dispersed, soon there were only the few worst off and their escorts left.

After Big Mac was settled in a hospital bed, his sisters by his side, Dash and Pinkie departed to spread the news to those who hadn’t been here and might think to head to the still-overworked hospital. Rarity, who had not forgotten her own problem, managed to pull aside Redheart for a private talk.

“Is it just me, or are the stallions getting hit worse?” Rarity asked.

“It’s not you, they are,” Redheart replied. “The big ones especially. You should see Snowflake, he’s just awful.”

“I’ll... take your word for it,” Rarity said. “Now, I know about the headaches and the light problems, but are there any other, ah, symptoms that I should be watching for?”

“Well, if you’re a pegasus you start shedding feathers like mad,” Redheart shook her head. “Honestly, Miss Rarity, you shouldn’t be worried. Unicorns seem to be the best off out of all of us.”

“Are they?”

“Oh yes, very few headaches reported. Only the light sensitivity, and that’s more annoying than it is anything else.”

“So no unicorn’s come in with something, ah, different?”

“No. Why?”

“Well, this,” Rarity undid her shawl and pulled it from her head.

Redheart blinked at her. “Your horn.”

“Yes. It was like this when I awoke,” Rarity said, fidgeting with worry. “I know it isn’t much, but I’m certain it isn’t a splotch of ink or other nastiness, so I assume it has something to do with this dreadful illness.”

“Not much? Miss Rarity, your horn has gone completely purple.”

“Lavender,” Rarity corrected, then paused. “Excuse me, did you say completely?”

“I did.”

“No!” Rarity, grabbed a makeup compact from one of her stylishly concealed pockets and pulled out the small mirror to stare in horror at the fully lavender horn adorning her head. “No! It was just a small bit of lavender at the tip! How could this happen!”

“How long ago was that?” Redheart asked, focusing as Rarity began to hyperventilate.

“Two hours ago!” Rarity shouted. “No! This is absurd! I can’t have a lavender horn!”

“This might be a new symptom. I’ll have to ask you to sit down while I get a doctor,” Redheart said.

Rarity did as she was told, completely shocked at the speed with which the small discoloration had spread. She’d never heard of something like this happening before. Neither, it turned out, had any of the doctors. They spent a good portion of the day poking and prodding at her, but in the end sent her home with nothing new learned.

The town wasn’t quite panicking yet, but she could feel the tension in the air as she returned to the Carousel Boutique. Ponies were worried, and in Ponyville that meant sooner or later they would turn to Rarity and her friends to solve the issue. It was one of the few pitfalls to being best friends with one of the Princesses.

When she got home, a surprise was waiting for her. A Sweetie Belle-shaped surprise.

“Surprise!” the surprise said. “Mom said I get to stay with you while Dad is sick! She said she didn’t want to take care of two kids at once again.”

“Did she?” Rarity said, trying to keep the worry out of her voice. “How wonderful. I’m sorry that I’ve been out most of the day, then. Did I keep you waiting?”

“Only a few hours,” Sweetie Belle replied, ever happy just to spend time with her sister.

“How are you feeling, Sweetie?”

“Okay,” she answered, frowning. “My eyes really hurt when it’s bright, though.”

“You haven’t noticed any, ah, odd colors on your horn?”

“No? Why would I?”

Rarity let out a sigh of relief. “No reason, dear. Now, let’s go inside and get something to eat.”

Author's Note:

To be continued...

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