• Published 29th Jun 2013
  • 2,937 Views, 113 Comments

The Pinkie Paradox - SpaceCommie



When one of the duplicates, not Pinkie Pie, passes the test and remains in Ponyville, she's forced to lie to everyone. Well, almost everyone.

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Chapter 4

Good news, Derpy! I have a name! Well, sort of.

I would have gotten to this earlier, but I was a bit caught up in the whole issue of having left the only place I’ve ever known fearing for my life. Wasn’t that silly of me? But when I woke up this morning, I realized something. I’m free!

I don’t have to worry about being Pinkie anymore. New city, new me! So when the mare at the front desk asked me for a name, I proudly said “Diane Pie.”. Not terribly creative, I’ll admit. But it feels wonderful to be Diane. “Pinkie” was... confining, somehow. It always seemed like I had to live up to it by being bubbly and quirky and lively. As long as I went by Pinkie, I had to be her. Well, no more! No more parties, no wild smiles, and I will be exactly as enthusiastic as I want to be. Although I'm pretty darn enthusiastic right now.

Well, enough about me. It’s probably worthwhile to talk about you. I guess I do have to cop to the fact that your predicament is bringing me down a bit. My happiness feels illegitimate while you’re still- you know. Still, there’s not a lot I can do for you. I’ve left a standing order at Sugarcube Corner to make a daily batch of muffins, so when you wake up you can have as many as you want. They say you’d like that. So I guess in between free muffins and the expert ministrations of Nurse Redheart, you’re in pretty good hooves.

Of course, you still need to get this letter—get this apology. That’s, uh, not something I’ve quite figured out yet. You absolutely deserve it, so I promise I’ll work something out, and soon.

---

Twilight Sparkle was intensely nervous, as she usually was when the Princess paid her an unexpected visit. At this moment, she was acutely aware of every errant speck of dust and misplaced book in the entire library. What if the Princess thought she was shirking her responsibilities as the town’s librarian?

In the absence of the duplicate, she had redoubled her efforts to discover anything that might be useful about the Mirror Pool. Inquiries to the major Equestrian libraries for other editions of the book Spike had found? Utter failures. What about the author? Not only had he not written anything else, but the Canterlot library was convinced that he never wrote anything, on account of not having existed.

Unwilling to admit defeat, though, she had dug deeper into the book, a miner in search of truth diamonds. What a terrible metaphor, she thought. Maybe she was absorbing bad writing by osmosis. The section about the Mirror Pool really had been an outlier... which aroused her suspicion. She had become convinced that the scraps of doggerel had some sort of hidden meaning. Maybe the section that started “When pony circle” was a reference to—

“Twilight Sparkle?” Celestia said.

“Oh, sorry Princess! I was—”

“Don’t be concerned about it. On the other hoof, Twilight, I do have to ask... why is it that it has been weeks since I’ve received any letters from you?"

“I’ve been working,” Twilight said, a bit too tersely.

“On what? This nonsense?” Celestia said, levitating the tome. “‘Mysteries of the Mysterious Forest,’ by Beerswirl the Mustached?”

“That’s not the name of the book or the—”

“What happened two weeks ago?”

“Pinkie Pie left Ponyville a couple of days before that. She didn’t even say goodbye, not really. I think she's in Manehatten now.”

Celestia thought that over. “Manehatten?” she said. “The Element of Laughter is over 200 miles away?!”

Twilight looked even more worried, remarkably. “Yeah...” she said, and shrank back uncomfortably. “Not exactly, Princess. We thought so for a while...” Twilight explained the situation to an increasingly worried Celestia.

“...so that’s what I’ve been doing,” Twilight finished lamely. Celestia sighed, and felt unutterably old.

“I suppose I must help you get your friend back. Twilight, the Pool stores all of the ponies sent back into it as magical imprints. If I read the report on your investigation into ‘Pinkie Sense’ correctly, you already have readings of Pinkie’s magical signature?”

Twilight was, unusually, somewhat lost. She probably knew more about magic theory than any mortal pony in Equestria, but even she didn’t know much about what the Princess was telling her. “I guess. So...”

“Twilight Sparkle, I’m sure that my most gifted student will have no trouble finding Pinkie Pie’s imprint in the Pool. Let me know when you do, and I’ll get her out myself,” Celestia said, and turned towards the door, then paused.

“Is it possible that the Pinkie in Manehatten is not acting on her own accord?" Celestia asked, in an oddly formal tone.

"I suppose it's possible, but-"

“Good. That’s all I need to know.” The Sun Goddess walked out of the library.

‘Good’? Twilight Sparkle trusted, even loved, the Princess. That’s not to say that she wasn’t scared by her sometimes.

---

“You okay there?” Applejack asked, concern clearly visible on her face.

Rainbow Dash looked up at her and scowled. “If I say yes, will you go away?”

Applejack chuckled mirthlessly. “If I believed it, maybe. As is, not a chance. Also, if my memory serves me, you’re in my house, ‘cause you wanted to hang out here.”

“Point taken,” Rainbow said unhappily, then was silent.

“So...”

Rainbow exploded. “Of course I’m not okay! I’m responsible for all of this! If I hadn’t dragged that duplicate into the town hall, none of this would have happened!”

“Is that what you’ve been beating yourself up for all this time?” Applejack asked. “Well, buck up sugarcube. There’s plenty of blame to go around. An’ how do ya think Twi’s feelin’?”

“What are you trying to get at, AJ?” Rainbow Dash said irritably.

“To be honest, I have no idea. But listen to this, because it’s important. You know that Twi’s been studyin’ that Mirror Pool. Well, she says that we need to get the duplicate back here for some tests. Somethin’ about her magical signature, whatever that means. Twilight checked the train schedule, an’ the only city that she could have gone to was Manehatten. So we’re gonna go there.”

“I’m guessing that when you say ‘we’ you mean...”

“You and me,” Applejack said, managing a grin. The same couldn’t be said for Rainbow Dash.

“That worked out so well the first time, after all.”

Applejack ignored Rainbow’s sarcasm. “Come on, Dash. Let’s go get her.” With that, she offered a hoof to the pegasus laying on her floor, and the two walked out of the house.

---

Rainbow Dash and Applejack stepped out of the train. “I’m telling you, AJ, this would have gone so much faster if we had just done it my way!”

“You ain’t carryin’ me nowhere, Rainbow. What’s wrong with trains, anyhow?” Applejack paused suddenly.

“This ain’t how I remember Manehatten,” she said uneasily. There were Royal Guards patrolling the train station, at least ten within every few dozen yards. There were more outside, one to every street corner. Strangely, they were all pegasi.

“That’s the Crisis Response Division of the Royal Guard,” Rainbow Dash said, with a bit of awe. “They’re the first on the scene of large-scale emergencies, and-”

Applejack was looking at the weatherpony a bit skeptically. “What? I mean, obviously the Wonderbolts will recruit me in a couple years, but it’s never a bad idea to have a fallback. Especially an awesome one.”

“Ooookay then. Well, I don’t see any emergency.”

“My thoughts exactly,” said an armored pegasus as he alighted next to the pair. “Searching for fugitives doesn’t exactly fit our usual portfolio of assignments. Although lately, you lot have been getting to our assignments before we have. Captain Kicker, of the Day Guard,” the pegasus said, extending a hoof.

“Charmed,” Applejack said drily. “Y’all are lookin’ for a fugitive?”

“Well,” Kicker said, as the professional mask slipped a little. “In honesty, I don’t know what to call it. Pink fur, excitable, ‘poofy’ mane?”

Rainbow Dash and Applejack exchanged a look.

“Anyways, our orders were to retrieve the bearer of the Element of Laughter and bring her back to Ponyville.”

“And how are y’all planning on findin’ her? It’s a big city.”

“We’ve got procedures,” the Captain said, a bit too vaguely.

"I'm sure you do," Rainbow Dash said wistfully.

---

I’ve never been so scared in my life. If you haven’t guessed yet, I haven’t been having a very good day. It started with the door to my seedy motel room being smashed off its hinges.

“People usually knock,” I announced, taking a look at the door smashers. They were wearing some kind of military uniform: armor, helmets with silly plumes, the works. One of them seemed to be stoically nursing a very recently incurred head wound, if by 'stoically nursing' I meant 'irritably rubbing his head while muttering buck over and over again.'

“Is there a Pinkamena Diane Pie on the premises?” the other pony demanded.

Ain’t nobody here but us chickens, I thought inanely, then giggled inappropriately. Then I ran, because I really didn’t want to find out why they were so interested in me just then. It turns out that I can run really, really fast when I’m sufficiently motivated.

After no doubt confusing bystanders for several blocks with the sudden appearance and disappearance of a pink blur rushing past them, I ducked into an alley. Because it’s been that kind of a day, there was a Guard standing right in front of me.

Hmm. Not a lot of options here. “Jogging’s great, isn’t it?”

Yeah, he wasn’t buying it. On the bright side, he was alone...

I knocked into him at somewhere around light speed, sending him to the ground. Strangely, I was fine. No time to waste, I thought.

“Why are you looking for me?” I screamed. Well, he looked terrified, but the results weren’t forthcoming. So I kicked it up to eleven and got right in his face. “Tell me!” I said, trying to sound insanely unbalanced. It wasn’t hard.

“We’ve been ordered to find Pinkamena Pie and return her to Ponyville as soon as possible,” he answered nervously. Weird. I knew that Sparkle had some sort of connections to the Princess, but I didn’t think that they extended to sending goon squads across the country to find me.

“Why do I need to be in Ponyville?”

“You’re the Element of Laughter!” he said. What?

“Does it look like I’m laughing?” I asked, feigning rage.

“N-n-no...” he said, trying to get up.

“Good.” I can’t really explain how it happened, but I appeared behind him, and whispered right into his ear. “If you tell anyone you saw me, I’ll know where to find you.” It was an implicit threat, and an idle one. I had no ability or inclination to track him down afterwards and deliver some sort of awful vengeance. Still, he didn’t have to know that. He got to his hooves and flew away.

So I crossed the street and curled up on an alley doorstep to write this, probably because I am legitimately unbalanced in some way. This letter is the only thing I thought to grab on my way out of the motel room. Try as I might, I can’t think of that as a mistake. This is the most important thing in my life, I suppose. For that matter, you’re