• Published 20th Aug 2013
  • 5,812 Views, 581 Comments

A Hairier Problem: Rise of the Furball - BlueBastard

Applejack is back to normal and one of the greatest threats in Equestria's history has finally been laid to rest. But if that's the case, then what's going on with Apple Bloom?

  • ...

Ch.6: Peek-A-Boo!

Rise of the Furball Chapter 6: “Peek-a-Boo!”

Mornings for Diamond Dazzle Tiara, daughter of wealthy businessman Filthy Rich and his trophy wife Champagne Dreams, used to have been so simple. The last of the family to wake up about seven sharp, the time was only that early to begin with due to school, Tiara would wake up like a princess in her four-poster, queen-size bed. A fabulous breakfast in bed would start off each day just right, followed by a quick morning shower, leading into heading downstairs where her saddlebags were pre-packed by the family’s wait staff and a trip via carriage into town where DT would hook up with her PFFFL (Pony Friend Forever for Life) Silver Spoon, where together they would go to Ponyville Elementary to rule the schoolyard and make fun of all the lesser fillies and colts. It had been a great way to do things, without anything being left behind or any need unfulfilled.

At least, that’s how it had been until Filthy Rich suddenly started to slightly drop off in the doting of his little angel and started requiring her to do things herself, in some misguided (in her opinion) attempt to make her more like the scum she had to cavort with on a daily basis. First it had been making her be solely responsible for managing her saddlebags, which she still considered far beneath her due to how tedious it was. The fact she’d always had to do her homework, as opposed to a servant hired specifically to do it for her, had always been an annoyance to the pink filly, but now that she had to bother even putting it into her bags now irritated her even more.

Then he’d made her come downstairs for breakfast instead of being able to have it in bed.

Then she had to take the shower before going down to breakfast.

Then she’d nearly blown a fuse when her special “breakfast-in-pink” plateware suddenly disappeared for no reason, which she suspected her dad to also be responsible for (which he was, but only because it was discovered said plateware were in fact priceless family heirlooms that had ended up in the wrong box during the last property insurance audit, to which he subsequently had them placed in his private home office for protection where his daughter would never see them).

But now…now she was reaching her limit. At the very least, after going from being tended to at every step from waking up to leaving the carriage, to having to do everything herself save cook the actual meal, she could have done it all in silence. But, after her latest failure in bullying Apple Bloom went so far south, it was her mother that decided to try helping the crowned filly be more down to Earth.

So, a month after being shown up by a farmer, Diamond Tiara found herself sitting in the giant family dining room for breakfast with only her mother for company. Worse, her mother was trying to actually have a conversation.

“So, sugar,” began Champagne Dreams, doing her best to be motherly in tone even though it was obvious she was severely lacking in child communication skills. “Is there anything interesting planned for today in school?”

“No, mother,” replied an unhappy Diamond Tiara, trying to enjoy what she could of the hay-and-oats chocolate pancake stack in front of her.

“Oh, well, erm…” replied Dreams, trying to think of other discussion topics.

It hadn’t even been two minutes before the filly couldn’t take it.

“Mom, why do we need to even do this?” whined Diamond Tiara. “What have I done that you and Dad are punishing me for? Everything was fine the way it was when I could still have my first meal in bed, when I could shower without an empty stomach, when I didn’t have to worry about having my school bags all ready to go the night before school! Everything was so much simpler!

Champagne sighed. “Tiara, dear, you have to understand that even though we’re impossibly wealthy, our family cannot lose sight of what it is to be a pony on the inside. After all, that’s what the business interests that keep our accounts loaded with bits were founded on.”

“No they’re not! You and Dad hardly ever need to act like regular ponies! You’re always away on business related trips, staying in the most luxurious penthouse suites and cavorting around with the who’s who of society! Nopony gets to that kind of social status simply by being nice to everypony!” argued the irate filly.

“While that is true, most of that social elite are made up of nobles and wealthy heirs who haven’t worked a day in their lives to get where they are. That wasn’t the case for your father, who your grandfather, Horribly Rich, made work in the local stores of Barnyard Bargains here in Ponyville all the way through the corporate side of things before finally inheriting the job of CEO. And that was after making him only go through public school, like Ponyville Elementary.”

“Is that why you guys won’t let me attend a private school, where I can hang out with ponies who are actually like me instead of the normal residents of this backwater town?”

Champagne became more serious. “Diamond Tiara, I’m sure your father has made it clear how important Ponyville is to our family. We are, after all, one of its founding families, and one of the two most important alongside the Apples. It is important that you learn to be as much a part of the community as being a part of this family.” DT would have argued back, but the great grandfather clock in the room started to chime. “Oh, my bad, it seems we took too much time talking for you to finish your breakfast.”

“No, no, it’s fine, I’ll just eat it on the go!” hurriedly said the filly before taking the plate of pancakes and rushing away to the kitchen, plate-in-hoof. It would be awkward trying to eat them in the carriage, but it was a far preferable alternative to talking to her fashion-model mother about how the Rich family bloodline needs to be like the common pony in the streets. Or how the Apple Family was even allowed to be compared to the Rich family simply because of the whole “Founding Families” thing. As she dashed into the waiting carriage, plate of pancakes in her mouth now, she managed to stumble into the cabin and land face-first in said plate. Taking the moment, the waiting staff who bore witness to the event stifled their laughter, glad that karma was biting the demanding, spoiled brat right in the flank once more.

“C’mon, y’all! Time to go back in the pen!”

If there was one thing that Applejack disliked about living on Sweet Apple Acres, it was having to deal with the sheep. While the apple crop was always going to be a major part of the farm’s total revenue, it wasn’t the only thing supporting the Apple Family. Corn, wheat, and other cash crops did a fair share of supplementary revenue, but the big non-crop material sold through the farm was wool. Harvested in early spring, not long after Winter Wrap Up, the wool was processed old-fashioned style by the Apples while they waited for their crop to ripen, then stored until mid-fall where demand for wool would skyrocket due to the demand for warm clothing to fight the oncoming winter with. However, because wool only grew on sheep, and sheep were very skittish creatures despite being sentient just as much as ponies, so getting them to do anything the whole herd needed to do, such as go back into the pen after grazing, required some extra help. For Applejack, that extra help came in the form of Winona, who got them all into the pen relatively quickly.

“Hey, Applejack!” came a familiar voice, to which Applejack turned around and found Sandalwood approaching.

“Howdy, Sandalwood! Aren’t you supposed to be at work or somethin’?”

“Nah, taking some time off as my aromatherapy supplies are near total depletion and Zecora needs time to make her more affordable substitutes. Today I thought I’d come visit you on the farm, since the last time I was here there wasn’t able to really see the place.”

“Ah don’t remember you ever havin’ come to Sweet Apple Acres at all since you moved here.”

“You weren’t here. Remember the whole thing with Sable Loam and the chasing and the motor vehicles and the-“

“Oh. Right. That,” sheepishly replied the slightly blushing Applejack.

Sandalwood just shook her head. “Yeah, I thought as much. Anyway, in addition to seeing what your property is like, there is the matter of the truck.”

“The truck? What about the truck? Neither Ah nor the rest of mah family have found a use for it ever since it was put in the shed.”

“Have you at least run the engine since storing it?”

“No, don’t see a need to if it’s not bein’ used. Why?”

The tan pony frowned. “Because the truck, last I checked which admittedly was months ago, is using just a slightly improved version of the parade float engine that powered the thing the truck started out as. It has a battery, which requires to be constantly run simply to ensure it operates properly. Even before Twilight made it a permanent part of the vehicle with her spell, that’s proper internal combustion engine maintenance care since the battery runs the sparkplugs, which causes-“

Applejack just waved her hooves around in front of Sandalwood. “Alright, alright, Ah get it. You’re the mechanics expert here, not me. Frankly, when that engine was still a separate component, Ah simply just removed the battery. ‘Course, that was before the Crusaders put it into the big golden apple float that crashed into the river, which may or may not have damaged the engine and battery.”

Sandalwood, not wanting to waste time just standing around, had already begun walking away. “The engine was in good enough condition to send the ramshackle car it was installed in crashing into the Everfree, and it didn’t fail once during its rough maiden run in the truck, so I think it’s safe to say the engine just needs a little exercise.”

“Whatever you say,” replied Applejack.

Together, the two mares made their way to one of the smaller barns on the property, Winona tagging along and barking happily at the relative newcomer. Upon reaching the barn, the ponies each took a door and opened it up to expose the contents. Inside the barn sat a vehicle who Applejack shared a rather strange relation with: the Apple Truck. Originally a regular old cart with a salvaged float engine, it had been this vehicle’s demise that led to Applejack’s stint as a werewolf, and for that she was still somewhat wary around it. However, after Twilight tried to turn it into a copy of the fully working motor car built by Lyra and Sandalwood the same way she once made an apple carriage, the spell had ended up turning it into what Lyra described as a “truck” type of vehicle. Reborn, the newly christened “Apple Truck” had played a crucial part in helping take down the evil Sable Loam (namely by being the only thing that could have carried Iron Will to the battle with any kind of speed) and in turn not only restoring Applejack to her normal self but also giving closure to the mystery around the deaths of her parents. For that, the apple farmer decided to keep it around, but since out of habit all heavy load transport was done manually, the vehicle had been locked up in its barn ever since, left untouched.

Or that’s what Sandalwood had thought until she noticed what was sitting in the truck’s bed.

“Applejack, why is there a life-size cutout of Twilight Sparkle in the back of your truck?”

The mare in question was confused. “Huh? There shouldn’t be nothin’ back there…” Walking over to Sandalwood to see, the orange ex-werewolf’s confusion grew deeper as she too saw the two-dimensional pony in the back of the Apple Truck. It wasn’t even accurate to the pony it was trying to duplicate, as it depicted Twilight in her original unicorn form instead of her current alicorn state. Heck, it didn’t even look exactly like the regular unicorn Twilight either; the eyes seemed off center, the expression’s smile looked just plain creepy, and the “corkscrew” lines on her horn were far too vertically slanted to look like any real unicorn’s horn.

“Not gonna lie, that’s creepy.” commented Sandalwood.

“Ah wanna know where it came from,” replied Applejack, who proceeded to get into the truck bed to get a closer look. However, close examination revealed nothing about the origins of Cardlight Sparkle. It was if somepony had taken a perfect image of the princess prior to her ascension, altered it somewhat so it wasn’t a perfect image anymore, plastered it onto a large piece of cardboard, and then snuck it into the barn without having undone the lock simply to put it in the back of an unused truck.

“I’m more interested in why, myself,” absently mentioned Sandalwood, who had already popped open the truck’s hood to do a basic diagnostic, “is there anypony you know who could have any kind of reason to make a useless standee for the sole purpose of standing in the back of your truck?”

“Ah don’t. The lock doesn’t look touched, so Ah have to figure it’s somepony who has teleportation that could’ve done this, but even then Ah don’t know why somepony would want to leave it in a place where it wouldn’t be seen for months? As far as Ah know, the only thing Twi ever even did with this thing was turn it from useless scrap to…er, Ah guess not useless scrap once Ah actually figure out what to do with it.”

“Actually, she rode in the back with Spike and Iron Will when we went chasing after you. It’s how our now-married motivational speaker friend knew not to kill that furry bastard if you were ever to stop being a werewolf. Also, I want to take this thing out for a spin to check the battery.”

With no reason not to, Applejack just shrugged in reply. Some minutes later, the Apple Truck was rumbling its way around Sweet Apple Acres with a reluctant Applejack at the wheel. Sandalwood, aromatherapist and now driving instructor, kept on giving commands to the frazzled farmer that supposedly would put the truck through its paces. Cardlight Sparkle remained in the bed, visible in the rear view mirror and providing silent support.

“Ah swear this is the craziest thing Ah’ve ever done since tryin’ to sell surplus cotton!” shouted Applejack, clutching the wheel with a deathgrip. Somehow, the wheel was not instantly breaking under her strength.

“Toggle the headlights, and what was that about cotton?” quipped Sandy, who seemed to be paying more attention to the behavior of the truck than Applejack’s comments. The farmer remained silent, but did hit the switch for the headlights. The area immediately in front of the truck grew brighter, seemingly satisfying Sandalwood until she realized the strain of Applejack’s first driving experience might cause the hat wearing pony a hernia. “Alright, you can stop. Lightly press on the brake as you take your hoof off the accelerator.” Gradually the truck came to a stop, its engine rumbling in idle.

That’s what mah sister and her friends wanted to build!?” a somewhat paled and sweaty Applejack gasped. To say she did not like driving was an understatement.

Sandalwood just laughed. “Yeah, I had the same reaction when Lyra and I took the car for its first test drive. I know you won’t believe me, but it goes way faster than this truck if you slam the accelerator pedal. Part of it is the weight, since the car is smaller and lighter, but its engine also has a higher operating power drain compared to the mass produced float engine you’ve got, high enough that Lyra has to use her magic to power it. So take it from me in that if you keep practicing driving, you’ll get the hang of it.”

Applejack only looked slightly relieved. “Yeah…thanks…”

“But I’m still curious about how trying to sell cotton compares to first time driving in terms of craziness.”

Rolling her eyes, Applejack chuckled. “Ah have a cousin who lives in Fillydelphia; name’s Pianosa Prairie. One year, he took half his farmland to grow cotton, ended up with about thirty five thousand pounds of it. However, that was the year cotton’s market price got so low that the cotton seeds were more expensive than cotton itself. Ah go up there after hearin’ about Prairie’s troubles and thinkin’ Ah can help, but when Ah actually get there Ah find him tryin’ to sell chocolate covered cotton!”

Sandalwood’s jaw dropped. “Are you serious? Was he that desperate?”

“Eeyup. But when your entire livelihood and property are restin’ on the sale of worthless material, Ah can’t really blame him for it.”

“So, what happened?”

Applejack made a large smile. “Ah eventually came up with the idea of using all that cotton to make fake sheep decoys, which were able to be sold to areas that were havin’ serious timberwolf invasion problems. Managed to get rid of every last pound of the stuff and still turn a profit, along with threatenin’ Pianosa to never grow cotton again.”

The tan pony was stunned. “That actually worked?”

“Yep, everythin’ turned out good for Pianosa, and whatever is good for Pianosa, is good for the Apple Family.”

Apple Bloom stalked the streets. She was a werewolf, so like it or not she was now a predator. To be a predator was to be a good predator or die. So right now she was stalking her prey. Within her mind she was a vicious creature, silently following her mark to a point where she could strike and feast upon its innards.

Everypony else saw regular, not-at-all-monstrous-looking Apple Bloom pretending to be a cat with her two noisy friends following right behind her. Some of the ponies did stare for a few moments, but all eventually just stopped bothering. It was the CMC, they were just kids, as long as nopony got hurt they weren’t really being a nuisance, so they didn’t require much attention.

To Apple Bloom, though, this was serious werewolf training. Sure, she knew other ponies were watching her, but her target wasn’t aware of her presence. Of course, choosing a bright green-and-gold phoenix that was attracting attention from all over town as a stalking target probably wasn’t the smartest idea ever. Worse, it was only around five o’clock, which meant it was snack time, and today Apple Bloom was very hungry. Her stomach loudly voiced its consent with her self-assessment.

“Alright, you can’t be doing that later,” commented Scootaloo, quickly jotting down notes on the accompanying pad.

“Well, that will be taking place after dinner. Right now, I think we should continue after snack time.” Replied Apple Bloom, standing back up and walking over to take her place in the wagon attached to Scoot’s scooter. “I don’t know about you guys, but I could go for some milkshakes!”

“I have no argument with that!” agreed Scoot, rocketing off with friends in tow towards the local malt shop. She continued to talk while in transit; “But the important question is; do you think you’re ready?”

“Ah’m pretty confident in the trainin’ you two have put me through. Besides, it’s not like Ah’m gonna have to do anythin’ extreme tonight, just runnin’ mainly. But you’re sure that the storm will take place tonight?”

“That’s what Rainbow Dash said to me earlier,” confirmed Scootaloo, “I will admit that now I’m not so sure about you doing this, but I’ll back you up if there’s no other way.”

Apple Bloom’s reply was in a dead serious tone; “She insulted mah parents. They may have died in the blizzard, but they didn’t die because they were stupid. Ah can’t let that insult stand without retribution.”

Sweetie was decidedly worried. “Apple Bloom, are you sure you’re up for this?”

“Yes, Sweetie, Ah think Ah am!” said AB a bit more forcefully than she needed to. When she realized it, her tone became more gentle. “Ah’m sorry, mah temper is somewhat worse, a side-effect of you-know-what, but Ah still shouldn’t have said that like Ah did.”

She got a comforting hug from the unicorn in return. “It’s okay, you’ll be better about it eventually. Oh, hey, we’re at the malt shop! They better have peppermint swirl this time!”

“Not if I get it first!” challenged Scootaloo, sparking a dead heat between the three fillies to get in the door first. To the surprise of both the speedy Pegasus and physically-augmented werewolf, Sweetie won.

From a distance, Raspberry Beryl watched the three fillies who had been stalking her change course and ride away to somewhere else. Had they realized she and Heliodor had been aware of them the whole time? She couldn’t be sure, but the fact all three of them had been younger sisters of element bearers worried her, especially Sweetie Belle as she was Rarity’s sister. If the filly unicorn had been doing some spying and spoke bad of Beryl to Rarity, it could cost the reddish unicorn the biggest buyer of her gems.

The yellow, bow-wearing filly, however, was slightly more worrying. If memory served, that was the filly named Apple Bloom, younger sister of the honest Applejack. But it wasn’t the lineage that was troubling Beryl. There had been a slight feeling she detected around the earth pony filly, a very familiar one. Only problem was that familiarity was through something no earth filly ever should even be mentioned in the same sentence with.

“Uh, ma’am?” asked the pear vendor. “Are you going to buy my pears or not?”

“Huh? Oh! I’m so terribly sorry, it’s just that those ponies-”

“You mean the Cutie Mark Crusaders? They’re generally harmless, so don’t worry. Heck, the yellow one? She’s the youngest of the local Apple Family branch. When I learned who she was, I was sure she was going to call in her bigger siblings to break my kneecaps as punishment for trying to sell pears in their territory!”

“W-what!?” whimpered a now-scared Raspberry, the implications of the apparent Apple Family Mafia breaking the kneecaps of ponies they didn’t like possibly meaning even worse physical punishments for those who did far worse than just sell pears in apple country.

“Oh, perdona me, I don’t mean to scare you. The Apples are actually extremely nice ponies, they even buy some of my pears when I have some for sale.”

“Ah, okay, great, that’s a relief! But the total I need to pay for the pears?”

“For quattro pears, that will be otto bits.”

“Um, come again?” asked Beryl, with a hint of panic returning in her voice, “I don’t know what otto bits are…”

To the surprise of both ponies, Heliodor suddenly sprang into action from his perch on the pear cart. He flew down to his owner’s saddlebags and pulled out exactly eight bits, which he deposited on the edge of the cart.

The pear vendor was impressed. “I must wonder where you got such a bird, miss! I do not mean to offend, but it is amusing how he knows how to count in Roaman while you apparently do not.”

Raspberry just blushed. “To be perfectly honest, Heelee usually is the one who keeps me on track from day to day!” Reaching out to her bird so he could land on her foreleg, she brought him in close to nuzzle. “I truly don’t know what I’d do without him.” Once done nuzzling, she lifted him up so that he could perch on her horn.

“For a brilliant bird such as he, his beauty pales in comparison to the companionship he clearly gives to you. As it is, I must go sell my pears elsewhere in Ponyville, so a good day to you, miss!”

The two ponies bid farewell before parting ways, the pear vendor going deeper into the town while Raspberry headed for home on the outskirts. Shopping in Ponyville had been stressful, as always, but even though it had just been a few months here, Beryl felt like this could finally be able to put down some roots instead of just wandering the country like she used to.

“I have a good feeling about this town, Heelee. Yeah, my biggest customer is an Element, but as long as we stay on her good side I think she could be our best bet for…oh, what is the matter with you this time?” The bird on her horn seemed depressed, as if having watched somepony important to him die horribly while he could do nothing to stop it. Of course, Beryl knew why. “Heelee, is this about how Pear Blossom said your inner beauty is more than your outer beauty?”

The bird nodded, to which Beryl just laughed.

“You are just so full of yourself, aren’t you? I mean, that was a compliment and you’re taking it hard because she said something was better than your appearance. But I do agree with her.”

Heliodor was shocked, his dramatic expression giving Beryl more cause to laugh.

“Oh, stop it! Your coat is still magnificent, as always you vain little firebird, but you truly are even more beautiful in how you’ve been my best friend ever since we met. After everything we’ve been through, all the towns we can’t go back to because of-“

Beryl would have continued had it not been for the sudden, panicked cries of a young colt coming into earshot.

“Help! Help! Somepony, help!”

Against better judgment, unicorn and bird rushed over to the cry of distress. What they found was, thankfully, nothing too serious. The source of the cries had been a very young colt, bearing an interesting white coat that had brown spots all over him, but didn’t seem to have anything wrong going on with him.

“Is everything alright?” asked Beryl.

“My ball! It’s stuck in that tree!” replied the colt in a partial accent that betrayed his Trottingham origins.

Looking up, the ball was soon located in a medium-sized tree nearby. It was yellow with a blue stripe running through the middle and a red star on opposite sides.

“C-could you get it down for me, please? With your magic?”

For a unicorn like Beryl, it would have been an extremely easy case of using telekinesis to move the ball. However, while Beryl had telekinesis like any other unicorn, she really did not like using it in public. Bad things tended to happen when she had to use magic in public. But she also had Heliodor.

“I could use my magic,” began Raspberry, “but I think it would be more interesting if my pet went to fetch it instead. Heelee?”

On command, the phoenix launched from Beryl’s horn into the air and within seconds had retrieved the ball without puncturing it with his talons, letting it fall to the ground near the colt.

“Thanks!” shouted the young pony, who bounced his ball towards the house across the street and into an open door, where a pony that was presumably his mother was waiting. The mother figure waved at Beryl. Beryl waved back. The mother then closed the door, leaving the unicorn and phoenix alone in the world again. However, having been able to perform a simple act of kindness brought a smile to Beryl’s muzzle, something she wished she could do more often in her life. A sudden weight on her forehead signaled Heliodor’s return to his horn roost.

“C’mon, let’s go make supper.” Together, phoenix and unicorn walked down the street back home wordlessly, needing nothing in the world but each other’s company.

While weather in Equestria was usually always clear and pleasant, there was always the need for the pegasus weather teams to generate a superstorm or two to keep the natural balance of things in line. This year, the Ponyville weather team had whipped up one of the largest in years, so Rainbow had to have a town-wide curfew that nopony was to be allowed outside during the storm due to how fierce it was. Before midnight, the storm was released, and with it came driving rains, unbelievably bright flashes of lightening, and thunder so loud it was like giant drills were piercing the heavens.

To Diamond Tiara, it was extremely poor weather to try and sleep in. Between the noise of the rain and thunder, and her normally dark room constantly being lit up every so often by the lightening, how anypony was expected to sleep in this was beyond her ability to comprehend.

Giving up on sleep, DT absent mindedly decided to wander over to the window. Maybe the rhythmic tapping of the heavy rain might actually help her doze off if she was close enough to it. At the windowsill, she placed her forelegs on the edge and proceeded to stare into the night.

“Bah. I don’t understand why Dad couldn’t have hired some unicorn to put a spell around the house that would give us an insulating shield. That sounds like so much more efficient use of the family funds instead of suing the Equestrian Labor Board to raise the minimum wage. I mean-what the?!”

She’d almost missed it. In the flash of lightning, there had clearly been a shape of some sort illuminated. Curiosity getting the better of her, DT leaned closer, but not too far. The lightning flashed again, this time confirming the shape.

Unfortunately, it was a shape resembling the outline of the one pony Tiara hated most of all.

“I swear, if this is bucking Apple Bloom trying something funny…” swore Diamond Tiara as she threw caution to the wind and got right up to the window glass, muzzle to reflective surface. Whatever was out there, they were going to learn they did not mess with a sleep-deprived Diamond Tiara.

The lightning flashed a third time, giving a brief, fully lighted look for DT at the figure separated from her only by glass. As she’d thought, it had been Apple Bloom, but this time something was horribly wrong. The yellow filly’s fur and mane were an absolute mess, both from the rain and as if she hadn’t shed her fur coat in years, but that was the least scary part. To DT’s horror, “Apple Bloom” had her two forehooves on the glass…except they weren’t hooves. Canine paws, the pads on the bottoms clearly visible and the claws touching the window glass, were stuck to the outside. But worst of all easily had to be the face. The only thing even recognizable was the pair of eyes; still golden in color but now seemingly glowing. Below that, the muzzle was undoubtedly canine in appearance, complete with a little black dog nose, but all DT could focus on was the evil grin the thing on the other side was giving her. A grin full of what appeared to be sharp teeth meant for nothing but tearing into young, supple prey like fillies and ripping flesh from bone.

But in a split second the illumination ended, casting all into blackness once again. Shocked, DT was sure she was just hallucinating, right up until the thing that was Apple Bloom but wasn’t Apple Bloom spoke in the most horrifyingly bad husky voice ever.

“Peek-a-boo, I see you!”

Diamond Tiara’s scream woke every single pony in the house. Filthy Rich was the first on the scene and didn’t even bother opening the door, choosing to just slam into it and knock it off its hinges. He’d buy another one, doors were cheap. His daughter’s life was not. The door now rendered useless as an obstruction, he found the whimpering form of his baby girl in the farthest corner of the room, in the fetal position and mumbling incoherently to herself.

“Tiara? Tiara! Are you okay?”

‘”M-m-monster! W-window!” was all she could manage between the sobs. Moving to cradle his daughter, he instructed his bodyguard to investigate. However, when the bodyguard looked, there was no shape at the window, with nothing to indicate there ever had been a shape there to begin with.

For Diamond, she would spend the rest of the night trying to pull herself ever closer into her father’s embrace, fearing that the Apple Bloom Monster would re-emerge should he leave. Eventually, she fell asleep, but was then moved to the master bedroom lest she wake up again all alone. To the rest of the ponies, it would all be chalked up to a fillyhood nightmare that couldn’t have hurt a fly. To the Cutie Mark Crusaders, who were spending the night at Scootaloo’s house, Apple Bloom’s return fifteen minutes later after DT’s scream was cause for silent celebration.

And a quarter mile away from the mansion that Apple Bloom had terrorized, Fair Vista laughed without fear of anypony hearing her. After all, now she knew the first ally she would need to draft to her cause.