• Published 24th Oct 2013
  • 6,325 Views, 235 Comments

The Funeral of Derpy Hooves - shortskirtsandexplosions



When Derpy Hooves gets torn to ribbons by a freak accident, everypony mourns her passing. They hold a wake in her honor, which would be a noble thing--provided she was actually dead.

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Monday Morning: Death of a Mailpony

"Can I please get those darn stamps here already?!" Rainbow Dash's voice carried angrily beyond the bustling back counter of the lofty post office. "I've been waiting here forever!"

"What do you mean you've been waiting here forever?" growled a disgruntled pegasus mare. She adjusted her bifocals with a frown and leaned against the condensed cloud that made up the inner furnishing of the floating parcel center. "Just who's paying for this delivery, eh?!"

"Look, ma'am, I'm sorry..." Rainbow Dash adjusted a big bright nametag with the word "VOLUNTEER" plastered across the surface. "But it's the start of the business week and we're already overburdened with packages and—"

"You think that's any concern of mine?!" the lady harumphed. She slapped a graying hoof over the cardboard box while a thick line of waiting pegasi groaned and fidgeted impatiently behind her. "I've gotta get this stuff sent to my daughter in Los Pegasus by next Tuesday or she's gonna think I've grown neglectful!"

Rainbow Dash muttered under her breath, "Boy, would she be broken-hearted..."

"What was that?"

"Uhhh... What I meant to say was—" Just then, Blossomforth breathlessly flew in from the back room with a fresh package of stamps. "There!" Rainbow Dash victoriously grasped the roll, grinning wide. "Just in the nick of time!"

"The nick of time would have been five minutes ago," the mare grumbled.

"Yeah yeah..." Rainbow Dash turned to glare at Blossomforth. "Tell the morons in the back to snap to it!"

"I-I'm sorry, Rainbow!" Blossomforth stammered. "I'm used to cloud kicking, not this!" She gulped and pointed towards a clock hanging off a cloudy wall. "Plus, the main workforce won’t be here for another forty minutes!"

"Don't they know there's a flu going around?!" Rainbow Dash hissed aside while sealing up the old lady's package atop the counter. "Who's bright idea was it to call in the weather team for volunteer backup?"

"Uhm... Feathersong, the assistant manager."

"And just where is that bird-brain?"

Blossomforth blushed. "She... uh... she caught the flu. Same as all the others. Remember?"

"Unnngh..." Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes and grumbled, "Just two more years of Wonderbolts Academy training and I am so out of here." She slapped a final stamp over the package and heaved it into a box hanging from four bright red balloons behind her. "There. Off to Stratopolis it goes. That'll be four bits, please."

"You're lucky to be getting a single one, Miss Grumpy-Pants," the lady said as she fiddled with her bit bag. "Would it kill ya to show some enthusiasm?"

"Don't be silly," Rainbow Dash robotically retorted through a plastic grin. "This is 'service with a smile.'"

"Meh," the lady sighed and tossed the bits onto the cloudy counter.

Rainbow Dash snatched them up before they could sink through the dense mist. "If I only didn't have a flippin' cider hangover, this all would be a lot less head-splitting."

A stallion hovered forward with an expensive vase. "Maybe if you just tried improving your disposition, lady."

"Maybe if you tried to grab a Celestia-forsaken shipping box from the waiting area like every frickin' sign within eyesight tells you to!" Rainbow Dash barked, forcing the stallion to shake in his horseshoes. She craned her flustered neck and snarled at the frightened crowd behind him. "Seriously?! How many pegasi in line actually grabbed a box like they were supposed to?! Huh?! Show of hooves!"

Several equines gulped and shuffled until they were in the back of the line. They grabbed boxes for their items and tried to hide their shivers.

"Now that's more like it!" Rainbow Dash yanked the vase out of the gasping stallion's hooves and started folding a box of her own. "You have an address where you wanna ship this hunk-o-junk to?"

"Uhm... uhhh... uhhh..."

"Yes or no?"

"Y-yes!"

"Good." Rainbow slapped a sheet of sticker paper down with several black lines. "Write the address here. And try to keep it legible." As she began slathering bubble wrap around the fragile vase, she rubbed her head, groaned, and muttered, "I swear, anypony who actually likes Mondays has got to be wrong in the head..."


Derpy Hooves gasped, her googly eyes reflecting plumes of smoke billowing all around her.

"My kitchen is on fire!" the mare shouted with a flounce of her blonde mane.

Derpy's voice reverberated off soot-stained tile. Flames spat out from her stove-top and ignited the drapes hanging alongside the kitchen windows.

"Heeheehee!" Derpy stomped her hooves and grinned towards the opposite walls. "It's a great day to be alive!"


THE FUNERAL OF DERPY HOOVES


"Unnngh..." A gray unicorn foal trotted down the steps of the condominium, entering the hazy kitchen with teetering, twitching eyes. "Mmmmf... Mommy? I smelled smoke. Is everything alright?"

"Just one second, muffin! I'll let you know right after I deal with a little something!" Derpy sing-songed, then promptly yanked the pin out from a fire extinguisher’s handle. The mare licked her lips as she let loose a frothing fountain of white mist, bathing one end of the kitchen entirely with the flame retardant material. The air rang with cacophonous salvos, and at last the pegasus slumped to her hooves. "Ah, there we go! Huh. Funny, it still feels warm in here."

"Uhm, Mom?" Dinky pointed nervously at the enormous blaze immediately to the mare's left. "I think you sprayed the wrong half of the kitchen."

"Huh?" Derpy's head jerked to the side, her pupils making a rattling sound. She blushed deeply. "Whoops! Heehee! Mommy forgot to close one eye!" She waved the extinguisher around like a giant pepper shaker and dove in for the kill. "Don't worry! I got it!" She slipped on the filmy tile floor. "Whoah!" Derpy's body plunged straight into the billowing inferno.

Dinky slid forward just in time to block the mare's forward legs with her body, halting her momentum. "Here, Mommy!" The filly smiled brightly. "Just aim over my tail!"

"Wilco Roger!" Derpy stuck her tongue out while launching a snow-white volley over her daughter's flank. In no time at all, the flames dissipated, leaving the stove covered completely in white and black soot. "Whew! Well, that's the last time I try making an omelette this early!"

"But Mommy..." Dinky gazed up at her mother as the two tried standing straight on the slippery floor. "We don't have any eggs to fry! You were gonna go to the store tomorrow, remember?"

"Huh?" Derpy's eyes rolled until she went cross-eyed. "Then what was I trying to make breakfast with?" She picked up an empty cardboard box missing a dozen light bulbs. "Hmmmm..." She scratched her head, then tossed the box behind her with a shrug. "Oh well! Who's for Pony Tarts?"

Dinky bounced up and down. "Hoooooray!"


Dinky sat at the kitchen table, munching happily on her steaming-hot pastry while her mother mopped up the flame retardant muck around her. After gulping a morsel down, the child said, "I thought you had to be at work soon."

"Not for another hourrrrrrr!" Derpy sang as she pivoted the mop, scraping the handle against the tile while inadvertently slapping the mop-end against a cuckoo clock hanging on the wall. "My boss said I'm having to make up for the extra hours I worked overtime last week!"

"Oh yeah..." Dinky took another bite, swallowed, and scrunched up her face. "Just why you were home so late Thursday afternoon anyways?"

"Beats me! It was evening by the time I made it out of the last client's front lawn hedge maze!" With the crashing of clock parts, Derpy propped herself into a standing position against the mop. "Heehee! That's the last time I deliver to a minotaur's residence without bringing a ball of yarn!"

"Oh! I get it!" Dinky beamed. "So you can find your way out, right?"

"Actually, it's to get the cats off me. Though why the cats were wearing horns and headsets, I'll never know." Derpy looked at her watch and gasped. "Oh dear Celestia! It's L minutes past Zero!"

"Mmmmfff..." Dinky swallowed the last of her pastry and leaned over. She quietly pivoted Derpy's forelimb around.

"Oh! Okay..." Derpy gave a blushing, cock-eyed grin. "Mommy's still got sixty minutes left to go!" She spun around. "If only I knew what happened to the Cuckoo Clock. I know I can always trust on it to—Waaah!" She slipped on the said chronometer's parts, spilling sprockets and gears everywhere. Her fragile skull went sailing towards the hard kitchen floor. "Ooof!"

"Mommy!" Dinky dove down by the mare's side, sprawled out on her back. "Are you alright?"

"I see stars..." Derpy's eyes rolled in opposite directions, but her smile remained true. "And one of them looks like my muffin!"

"Heeee..." Dinky leaned in and nuzzled the crook of her mother's fuzzy neck. "Look at you, Mommy. Now you gotta wash up all over again!"

"Pfft! You think that's a problem? I forgot to bring my toboggan!" Derpy suddenly gripped Dinky in a bear-hug and kicked off the kitchen cabinets. Together, the two slid through the muck and froth piled across the tile floor. "Look! A winter wonderland! Weeee!"

Dinky giggled and spread her limbs out wide as she and her mother slid jubilantly across the kitchen floor.

"Ha ha! Don't try catching any of the snowflakes on your tongue, though! Ahem... I'll explain later..."


Minutes later, Derpy was upstairs, taking a warm bath. She scrubbed herself with a soft brush, rinsing her mane thoroughly and washing out the last of the smoke and soot stains. As she made the waves bounce along the edges of the tub, soap suds kissed the air, tickling her grinning muzzle.

"Ahhhh... I really love bubbles." She blinked. "I don't know why!" She smiled, then blinked, then smiled again.

Dinky strolled into view beyond the open bathroom door. "Hey! Mom! I cleaned the rest of the kitchen floor! Where should I put the mop?"

"In the downstairs closet!" Derpy said as she climbed out of the tub and reached for a towel. "Somewhere so that the dog won't get to it!"

"But we don't have a dog!"

"Then how come it's always whining at night right above the staircase?"

"Oh! I think you mean the radiator, Mommy!"

"Huh... No wonder it never wants to go out into the yard." Derpy shrugged as she wrapped the towel around herself and approached the bathroom sink. "Mommy still needs to freshen up some! Why don't you go get packed up for school?"

"Mommmmmm!" Dinky stifled a giggle. "It's summer vacation, remember?"

"Really? I thought it was winter."

"Nah, that was just the kitchen."

"Oh, well then." Derpy smiled as she pulled a bulky hair drier out from the nearest cabinet. "Make sure you do your homework!"

"Heehee..." Dinky smiled rosily at her mother and trotted away with a wink. "Sure thing, Mom. I'll get your stuff for the post office!"

"Hmmmm..." Derpy plugged the hair drier in. The outlet sparked a bit, lighting up her lopsided eyes. "I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful daughter that loves me. I should get her something for Hearth's Warming now that it's winter time—"

Derpy's legs slipped on the slick tile floor.

"Whoah!"

The hair drier flew from her grasp. She reached for it, unwittingly juggling the electrified device through the moist air.

"Whoah... wh-whoah... whoahhhh!"

The hair drier flew towards the full bathtub. Derpy flew along with it, her hooves finally grabbing the humming appliance to her chest like a hoofball. The basin's water reflected her plummeting flank.

Just then, the cord pulled taut.

Derpy hung at a forty-five degree angle over the wet rippling water of the sudsy bath.

She breathed... breathed again... then gasped. "Oooh! I know! Ice skates!" Derpy leaned forward just milliseconds before the cable snapped loose from its socket. She plugged it back in and began blowing at her mane with a contented smile. "That's the best Hearth's Warming gift for a little filly!"


Derpy stood at the door to her condominium in a blue postal worker jacket. After buttoning the cuffs of her long sleeves, she fumbled through her saddlebag with a worried expression. "Hmmmm... nope... nope... nuh uh..." Her gray face grew more and more distraught as she plowed through envelopes, stamps, and other miscellaneous bric-a-brac of postage. "What in Celestia's name did I do with—?"

A cute whistle sounded off below her. Depy looked down, blinking, then smiled warmly.

Dinky held a sparkly clean blue mailpony hat in her tiny mouth. Her lips curved on either side of where her petite muzzle gripped it.

"You always know when to save Mommy's day, my little muffin," Derpy said, snatching the hat and planting it on her skull. "Tadaaaa!"

"Heehee..." Dinky grinned. "I even shined it for you!"

"I know!" Derpy chirped. "I can hear it!"

"Pssst..." Dinky leaned in, pointing at her own nose, then at Derpy's.

Derpy blinked, then blushed. "Smell it. Smell it is what Mommy meant."

Dinky chuckled breathily, then leaned in, nuzzling the mare's legs. "I wish you wouldn't have to be gone all dayyyyy."

"Sorry, bits. Mommy's gotta earn the muffins somehow—er..." Derpy winced. "Uhm... You know what I mean, right?"

"I always do, Mommy." Dinky smiled. "I always do."

"Especially, uhhh..." Derpy gulped and rubbed her hooves together in a pensive manner. "Especially wh-when Mommy tells you that she loves you?"

"Mmmhmmm..." Dinky nodded with a calm grin. "Most especially."

"Wow! I didn't know you could attach a 'most' to that!" Derpy flung her hoof forward to ruffle the filly's hair, catching nothing but wind. "What a smart mare you're growing into!"

"Yes, well..." Dinky stealthily side-stepped so that her mane was in the right spot to be ruffled. She happily weathered the endearing gesture. "I learn from the best."

Derpy turned to leave. Her clopping hooves shook through the front door's foundation. A heavy brick with a murderously jagged edge wobbled directly overhead.

"You'll be careful today at work, won't you?" Dinky asked with a long face. "I get lonely every time you leave these days."

"But we worked a way around that, didn't we?" Derpy turned back with a grin. Milliseconds later, the skull-crushing brick landed directly behind her, smashing to bits along the front two panels of the front yard sidewalk. "Remember that trip we made to Zecora's in the Everforest Free?"

"Oooh! The stone!" Dinky's voice jubilantly cracked as she dashed into the living room. "Of course! Be right back!"

The daughter was only gone for a few seconds, during which Derpy enjoyed the chirping of birds, the sprinkle of morning dew, and the curiously missing space in the upper half of her doorframe.

Soon, Dinky returned, sliding back on waddling hooves. "Check it out!" She flung both forelimbs forward, holding a round blue shard that glowed in the shadow of the condominium's doorframe. "I think it's still enchanted!"

"Well, of course it is!" Derpy winked to both the ceiling and the floor around Dinky at once. "A zebra wouldn't lie, would she?"

"I keep an eye on this at all times!" Dinky said, then allowed her jaw to drop. "Don't you too?"

"Oh, jee!" Derpy faked a gasp. "What ever did I do with my half of the sound stones?"

Dinky folded her forelimbs with an amused glare. "Mommmmm."

Derpy smiled, then reached deep into her saddlebag. With a rustling of envelopes, she produced an even larger blue shard, this time affixed to a thin gold chain. "Look what Mommy decided to get for it."

Dinky gasped. "You turned it into a necklace?"

"Yup!" Derpy grinned wide as she hung the glittering thing over her neck. "That way, I always have you close to my heart! See?" She lifted a length of chain and spoke into it. "Pilot to navigator!"

Dinky tried not to giggle. Clearing her throat, she stood on her rear limbs and swung the necklace around so that the stone hung appropriately before the mare's chest. "There. Try it now, Mommy."

"Uhhh... eheh... I almost got it right that time."

The mare's voice echoed with magical feedback through Dinky's small stone: "Crkk! Almost got it right that time..."

"Mommy, as far as I'm concerned, you always get it right." She leaned in and nuzzled her mother's fuzzy chest. "You allowed me to be born, after all."

"Awwwww..." Derpy sniffled and leaned into her daughter's embrace, only to wince. "Owie! The horn, muffin! The horn!"

"Crkk! The horn, muffin! The horn!"

"Whoops!" Blushing, Dinky stepped back and rubbed a hoof over the pointed end of her skull. "My bad."

"Remember!" Derpy tightened the blue hat on her head and spread her wings in the doorway. "If ever you get lonely, just give Mommy a call! But don't smother her while she's at work, okay?" She winked. "That's Mommy's job, after all!" With that said, she flew off.

"So long, Mommy!" Dinky waved her hoof. "Fly safely! Don't forget about the clothesline!"

"What clothesline?!" A loud thud. "Ooof! Hey! Dinky! Your bridle is dry! Anyways, see ya this afternoon!"

"Heeheehee..." Dinky sighed happily and trotted back into the house, closing the door behind her. "I have the best Mommy ever..."


TIME OF DEATH: MONDAY MORNING


"Doo Doo Doo Doooooo..." Derpy hummed to herself as she trotted gaily down Ponyville's Main Street. "Am I really all the things that are outside of meeeeee..." She looked aside and waved towards a line of construction workers. "Good morning there! What are you working on? Another bird feeder?!"

"Uhhhh..." Several grizzled stallions paused in cement mixing together an eight foot tall mausoleum from the other side of a fenced-in cemetery. "It's more of a worm feeder, actually..."

"It looks cozy in there!" Derpy said as she blindly trotted through a yellow-taped off area surrounding a downed power line. "I bet you could fit me and all of my belongings in there if you left it hollow enough!"

She giggled, her hooves barely skipping over bright blue sparks spitting out of the loosely dangling cable.

"Try not to work up too much of a sweat!" Derpy exclaimed. "I hear dehydration is both painful and annoying! Heehee—Ow!" She had just bonked her muzzle against a rusted ladder. "Where'd you come from? It's not even hardware season!" She whistled to herself as she trotted directly under the ladder and past a black cat shrieking at a shadow looming around her.

"Heads up!" a worker's voice shouted from above. A giant neon 8-ball swung down from a snapped cord, missing Derpy by a hair's inch and smashing into the window of a novelty games shop. A stack of poker decks fell loose, raining aces of spades across the sidewalk, which Derpy promptly trotted over as she made her way to a busy intersection of blazing stagecoaches.

Derpy pressed one hoof out into oncoming traffic.

"Oh! Miss Hooves! Wait right there!"

"Huh?" Derpy spun around. A speeding horse-drawn wagon full of anvils blurred by so swiftly it flicked at her blonde tail hairs. "Oooh! Miss Cake! How are you this morning?"

Cup Cake ran up from the kitchen door to Sugarcube Corner, panting from the short distance sprint. "You're headed to the post office right now, aren't you?"

"Yupperooni!" Derpy smiled wide as traffic whizzed back and forth behind her. "Gotta make my morning rounds! Just right after I package things up for Long-Distance Intercontinental Pegasus Speedy Delivery!"

"Well, I-I sent my neighbor Candy Mane there an hour ago, since... uhm... I couldn't go up there myself."

"Why, they have a post box on the ground for you to deliver stuff through, Miss Cake!"

"I know, but I need this to get to Pinkie Pie's mother and father really quickly, and the long duration... erm..."

"Long-Distance Intercontinental Pegasus Speedy Delivery!"

"Yes. Uhm... That's the quickest known way to get things shipped around in Equestria, but when Candy Mane went to make the delivery, the line was extremely long, and they had to rely on the weather team to act as volunteer backup." Mrs. Cake gulped. "Rainbow Dash was there, and she didn't seem very cheerful, according to Ms. Mane."

"Wuh oh!" Derpy gasped. "It sounds like somepony's got the flu!"

"I know it's probably asking you to work outside of the postal service's policy... but... uhh..." Mrs. Cake blushed. "Would you terribly mind taking these yourself before it's too late? I'll pay you extra!"

"Awwww, Mrs. Cake." Derpy smiled, grasped the package, and leaned forward to nuzzle the mare. "I'd be happy to! And the only payment I need is the wonderful muffins you bake for me and my daughter every week."

The older mare smiled back, a little misty-eyed. "I don't know what we'd all do without you, Ms. Hooves. You truly make us all so extremely lucky here in Ponyville."

"Hey! Lucky is my middle name!" Derpy grinned. She adjusted her hat and spun towards the blurring intersection. "Whelp, off to deliver the mail!"

"Derpy, wait!"

Derpy spun before a mule-driven carriage full of rusted horseshoes could crush her into gray goop. "Hmmm? Something else on your mind?"

"Little Dinky..." Mrs. Cake smiled. "I'd be rude if I didn't ask how she was doing."

"Oh, my muffin? She's happy as ever!" Derpy sing-songed. Behind her, a wagon full of red metal barrels hit a ditch. The stallion drawing it gasped as he went plunging into the muddy road. The wagon behind him crashed, spillings its bubbly chemical contents and starting a fire. "She really makes every single day so bright and cheery! I'm lucky to have a daughter such as her!" Another wagon skidded to a stop, its front wheels shattering. A full crate of TNT spilled loose and grinded to a stop just inches away from the flames. "Why do you ask? Hmmm?"

"Uhhhh..." Mrs. Cake blinked awkwardly at the traffic accident behind Derpy.

"What? Cat got your tongue?"

Mrs. Cake gulped and said, "It's just that you're a busy mare, Miss Hooves, and having to take care of both your job with the postal service and a little filly can't be too easy."

"Oh, I manage," Derpy said with a smile. Shrieking stallions scrambled behind her to put out the fire as it crept a thin, blazing line towards the dense stacks of TNT. "I just live each day, one morning at a time, counting my blessings and not fretting about what tomorrow brings! Y'know?"

"If ever you need a foalsitter to take care of her, I'll volunteer anytime," Mrs. Cake said with a warm smile. "I'll even have Pinkie Pie visit to make her laugh!"

"Well, that sounds terrific!" Derpy tipped her bird-gunked hat as the flames built up around her. Smoke billowed over the stacks of TNT. "I'll have a talk with my little muffin about that! I mean, what else are we doing on this planet but to enjoy life to the fullest?!" That said, she turned around and trotted directly into the blaze. With a flap of her wings, she redirected the wind, causing the flames to go out just centimeters before catching up with the TNT. "So long, Mrs. Cake! Keep baking what you bake besssst!" In a gray streak, she flew through a murder of crows, banked north, and headed towards the floating post office in the sky.


"Doo doo dooooo... I just want four walls and adobe slabs for my girrrrrls..."

Derpy landed on the cloudy stoop of the floating post office and strolled through the front door. A bell jingled above her as she trotted into the bustling waiting area.

"Good morning, everypony!" she sang with a grin.

"Ungh, blow it out your plothole," a stallion grunted as he marched furiously past her. "Worst service ever, this place, I swear."

"Hmmm... I think I will blow! Much appreciated" Derpy chuckled light-heartedly. "Nice to know that I'm not the only pony who likes bubbles!"

She merrily made her way past a line full of red-faced, grumbling, irascible clients. At last, Derpy walked past the back counter and trotted through a fluffy doorframe with hanging plastic sheets. The smell of paper, cardboard, and hydraulics lit her nose. Behind the front desk area was an elaborate sea of conveyor belts hanging from countless balloons. The floating platforms transported packages, crates, and boxes of all sizes through a complex assembly process.

All of the containers eventually rolled towards an open, breezy loading dock at the back of the center, where uniformed pegasi affixed to chariots rolled up and waited for the mechanized process to load a fresh batch of cartons into their steel reinforced wagons. These vehicles were fitted with dry fuel rockets welded to the frames, so that when it came time for the pegasi to make the trip for Cloudsdale and abroad, they would gallop along the cloudbed, pull the vehicles off the edge, and jump into the cockpit in time for the rockets to blast off. With waves of booming thunder, the mailponies expediently piloted the parcels off into the wild blue yonder, making room for the next wave of deliverers to roll up in their empty chariots and continue the mechanical process.

This system would have been a marvel to behold to most ponies. Derpy, however, was busy trying to stamp her card.

"Nnnnngh!" The mare grunted and strained as she shoved, shoved, shoved the card into the slot. "Why... won't... it... go... in...?"

A blue hoof yanked her forelimb back and pushed the mare towards another station four feet away. "Because that was the water cooler, Derpy," Rainbow Dash grunted.

Derpy blushed under the sound of the time stamp taking her card. "Whoops. My bad."

"Ungh! No time for apologies!" Rainbow Dash's fuzzy body was covered randomly from head to hoof with errant stickers, twine, and bubble wrap. "Is this it? Are you the mid-morning workload?!"

"Well, I certainly have a load of work to do!" Derpy said, grinning from googly eye to googly eye. "And it's..." She glanced at her watch. "...eight minutes past zero! On the dot!"

"Unnngh..." Rainbow Dash face-hoofed. "Whatever. Look..." She pointed towards the front of the center. "I've got Blossomforth and Raindrops doing customer service while I try to salvage what's left of this goddess-awful backstock of unfinished packages back here. I don't care how much you tend to live up to your name; I need somepony with experience to help me get stuff processed back here or else we'll be up to our ankles in envelopes and customer complaints!"

"You know, they have an ointment for that!"

"But... it... you... Augh!" Rainbow Dash growled, "You know what? Less gabbin' and more gruntwork. Sound good?"

"I played quarterback in high school before the earth hit me between the eyes!"

"Good enough." Rainbow Dash pivoted the mare around and shoved her towards a stalled conveyor belt full of open crates. "See that assembly line towards the southwest edge of the center? It looks busted, and none of the volunteers from the weather team know how to work it. Think you can get it purring again?"

"Like a rattlesnake!" Derpy flew a zig-zagged line towards the conveyor belt in question, dodging the floating platforms' balloons with greater and lesser success. "Don't you worry your paint buckety head none, Mister Dash! I'll get it jiffed in a fix!"

"Just how the heck do you stay so... so... cheerful all of the time?" Rainbow Dash asked, then promptly frowned. "And it's Miss Dash to you!"

"I can't pretend to understand how things work or fall apart half the time!" Derpy floated besides the conveyor belt, pulled a wrench from her satchel, and began banging the gears at random. "I just smile in between the clouds and some way or another, the sun shines through!" The assembly parts rattled, hissed, smoked, and began whirring back to life. "Ha! See?! Good as new, Dashbow Rain!"

Rainbow sighed, wiping her brow. "Well, that's one nut cracked." She spun around, only to run into Blossomforth's distraught face.

"Miss Dash! We have a problem!"

"Unnngh..." Rainbow rolled her eyes and drifted after the mare. "What now?!"

In the meantime, Derpy floated over the slowly rolling assembly line. She blinked, her eyes rolling until they focused on a bunch of loose items that had spilled over the surface of the conveyor belt.

"Hello hello. What's this?" Derpy hovered down, squinting closely at two bags: a sack of tomatoes and a sack of polished black rocks. "Hmmm, they must have fallen loose from their crates when the assembly line stopped. How cute!" She hefted the bag of tomatoes over her shoulder and tried lifting the bag of rocks as well. Her whole body jolted, and she nearly plummeted into the rolling conveyor belt. "Ooof! Wow, you're a heavy bunch of puppies, aren't ya? Heehee! Hmmm..."

Derpy looked closely at the bag of rocks. The shards were dark and glossy, and like chunks of magnetic rocks they randomly attracted and repelled one another, only with tiny splashes of strange aquamarine light.

"Woooo... well if that isn't magical! I bet it's Canterlot bound!"

Straining, she pulled and yanked at the bag until she successfully lifted it over the shoulder opposite from the tomatoes. Then, in a lingering flight pattern, she buzzed past the empty crates until she found one large crate marked for the Equestrian capital. She took a close look at the shipping details.

"Hmmm... 'Void Rocks.'" She glanced at the heavy bag of black, sparkling stones. "Well, they certainly look 'voidy!' I wonder if somepony's thinking of planting a farm with these? Heheheh... Now just to put you where you belong—"

A random metal lever from the assembly line smacked into Derpy's skull from behind.

"Ooof!" Her blue hat fell off as her body flew hard into the open crate marked for Canterlot. In seconds flat, Derpy was drowning in shipping popcorn, all the while she wheezed from the unexpected blow. The bag of tomatoes and the bag of void rocks landed on either side of her. "Owie zowie... Was it s-something I said?"

Before Derpy could so much as climb out, a mechanical arm swung around and slapped a hard lid down onto the top of the crate, sealing it shut from the outside. Several nails were hammered in, and soon the box was rolled towards the back of a waiting chariot, along with an empty container marked with "Fresh Tomatoes" bound for "East Zebrahara."

The Canterlot-bound box rattled a bit, dripping gray feathers through the cracks while a muffled voice shouted unheard things from deep inside. Soon, it was conveyed into the nearest rocket-powered wagon. A bell rang, signifying that the chariot was full. Hearing his cue, the stallion pegasus folded away the issue of Maredevil that he was reading, slipped on his goggles, and kicked away at the cloud.

Pulling the chariot over the edge, he plunged it into the sky, then hopped into the pilot's seat just as the rockets ignited. With a clap of thunder, the aircraft roared off, piloted northeast towards the Cloudsdale distribution center, carrying the hapless Derpy along with it.


ONE MINUTE AND THIRTY SECONDS AGO


"Miss Dash!" Blossomforth stammered. "We have a problem!"

"Unnngh..." Rainbow rolled her eyes and floated after the mare. "What now?!"

The two of them floated away from Derpy and towards the front of the distribution center. "Well, it's the Sheriff of the Ponyville police."

"What about him?"

"He's waiting up front to speak with the current supervisor." Blossomforth gulped. "I'm afraid that means you."

"Ewww... What for?" Rainbow Dash's face made a scowling expression. "Were we robbed an hour ago without me knowing about it?"

"Not quite. The sheriff says that he thinks somepony might be shipping some stolen effects through the mail: a bunch of rare tomatoes from the Everfree Forest, supposedly. The stuff was reported stolen just yesterday afternoon."

"Great. Just the icing on the cake." Rainbow Dash folded her forelimbs and glared across the assembly line. "What makes him so darn sure they somehow ended up here?"

"I dunno, but he wants to speak with you so that the two of you can go over the recent mail orders so that we might apprehend the suspect."

"Can we even do that? I mean, I bet I gotta fill out a confiscation report and go through all the paperwork from today's packaging, which means halting the front room service until I can grab everything and—Ungh!" Rainbow Dash facehoofed once again. "Why me? Why today of all days?"

"I-I really don't think we should be keeping him waiting for long, Miss Dash."

"When I said I wanted more exciting things to happen in Ponyville," Rainbow Dash grumbled, looking up across the assembly line. "What I really wanted was something a bit more spectacular than this."

Just then, Derpy's body was pummeled into an open crate. Her blue hat flew loose as a mechanical arm swung over and sealed the box shut.

Rainbow Dash gasped, "Oh horseapples!"

"Not horseapples, Miss Dash, tomatoes—"

"Screw that!" Rainbow Dash shoved Blossomforth out of the way and blurred across the conveyor belts and mechanical platforms. "Somepony derp'd! Derp'd big time!"

She flew forward like a blue bolt of lightning. Still, she couldn't stop the crate littered with gray feathers from being loaded onto the empty chariot. The stallion put away his comic book and began drawing the wagon off the cloud top.

"Hey!" Rainbow Dash cupped a pair of hooves over her windblown muzzle. "Hey! You! Idiot! Stop! Don't—"

It was too late. The stallion plunged over the side, along with the wagon. After a few seconds crumbled away, the rockets ignited, blowing Rainbow Dash backwards with its explosive salvo.

"Gaaaah!" Rainbow Dash bounced off like a living pinball. She plowed through two walls of cloudy mist and smashed across a table full of shipping tools in the post office's waiting area. Several customers stumbled aside, gasping in fright.

"You!" An old mare with mottled wings pointed. "Are you the supervisor?! I wanna have a word with you!"

"Nnnngh!" Rainbow Dash kicked up to her hooves and gritted her teeth. "Stuff it!" A pocket of air exploded around her as the nimble pegasus kicked off the floor and propelled herself through the holes in the wall, pursuing the rocketing chariot at breakneck speeds.


"Hello?" Derpy huddled in the darkness, spitting up shipping popcorn. "Helllllloooo?!" Her head rattled between tomatoes, the lid of the box, and sparkling void rocks. "Ooof! Uhm... anypony out there?!"

She slapped the wooden surface a few times with a long-sleeved hoof. She was answered only with the dull roar of blaring rockets.

"You know, I always wanted to visit Canterlot!" She chuckled, sweating. "But not in the winter time! Hello?! Can somepony let me out? I'm kind of sort of on the clock! It's not break time yet!"

Just then, the blue shard around her neck lit up.

"Crkkk! Mommy? Mommy, you there?"

"Oooh! Hiya, Muffin!" Derpy's head hit the sack of tomatoes again. "Owie!"

"You okay, Mommy?"

"Mommy's in a box, honey! How are you?"

"Just fine. Is now a bad time?"

"Not at all, my Muffin! What's up?"

"The fire detector fell off the wall. I was going to nail it back in place, but I can't find the hammer."

"Oh, I left the hammer atop the ironing board last time I used it!"

"Uhhh... I'm looking at the ironing board right now, Mommy. The only thing on top of it is an umbrella."

"Oh... uhm..." Derpy fidgeted in the dark, her blue-lit face scrunching up. "Oh dear. No wonder none of the nails would go in when I hit them."

"Heehee! It's okay! I'll go check the umbrella stand!"

"That's my Muffin!" Derpy smiled wide as she shook and rattled. "So smart!"

"You doing okay? You need me to do anything before you get home?"

"I... uhhh..." Derpy's eyes rolled between the jostling bags on either side of her.

"Yes, Mommy?"

"Nope! I'm okay! You get at least one nap in before I get home, alright?"

"Awwww..."

"No whining, my Muffin! Sweet dreams!"

As the light went out and the broadcasted voice went silent, the bag of tomatoes mushed itself up against Derpy's face.

"Ooof! Mmmm!" She sniffed the bag of produce. "It sure is a ripe time for apples!" Her gray muzzle scrunched up. "Come to think of it, I should buy a farm. That would be so... so... cozy..."


"Fricking... frigging... stupid... flipping... muffin guzzling... wall-eyed... smiling idiot!" Rainbow Dash grunted as she flew harder and harder against the wind, the air making putty out of her sweat-slick face. Ahead of her, the rocketing chariot loomed, the only thing in her courageous sight. Beating the odds, Rainbow flapped her wings beyond their limit, gradually catching up with the runaway vessel.

Ten minutes into the speedy pursuit, the pegasus and her target had easily cleared the northeastern city limits of Ponyville. They were currently skirting the southern edge of Ghastly Gorge, slicing past the high mountain ridges immediately surrounding the misty canyon.

Rainbow Dash wasn't in the mood to sight-see. She levitated until she was at an even level with the rear-view mirrors of the chariot ahead of her. Once she could see the reflection of the stallion pilot's goggled face, she began flailing her forelimbs wildly.

"Hey! Heeeey! You!"

The stallion hummed to a radio he was listening to, oblivious to the voice cracking figure behind him.

"Hey! Featherbrain!" Rainbow Dash dove down, side-swiped a fir tree, and snatched a pair of pinecones from their branches. Propelling herself skyward like a missile, she spun and flung both objects angrily at the front of the chariot ahead of her. "Look at me!"

One pine cone missed, but the other managed to bounce off the rear-view mirror and ricochet into the chariot's cockpit. The stallion yelped in surprise at the sudden pinecone in his lap. He immediately cut the radio and looked into the mirror.

Rainbow's angry reflection waved angrily at him. "Pull over! Do it! Now!"

The stallion panicked. He glanced out the window at her then returned to his cockpit controls. With floundering hooves, he found the emergency breaks, then yanked at them.

Somehow, Rainbow Dash instinctually sensed it, and she shrieked. "Wait! Just slow down! Don't completely cut off the—"

The rockets died instantly. The wagon stalled, jerked,and lost altitude.

Rainbow Dash gasped. She flew forward, attempting to brace the rear of the descending craft.

It was too late. The wagon struck the peak of a passing mountain top. Sparks flew as the metal framework busted open. Rainbow Dash watched in horror as one particular crate, plastered with gray feathers, fell like an anvil into the belly of Ghastly Gorge below.

The chariot was half a second away from plunging into a mountainside. Rainbow heard the distressed shrieks of the pilot inside. Without a second thought, she dashed forward and lifted the rear of the craft. The vehicle flung clear of the rockface and avoided an explosive end, instead rolling to a rattling stop atop a steep cliff.

Breathless, Rainbow Dash peered down, squinting into Ghastly Gorge.

Her heart stopped, for she had caught sight of the supply crate colliding with a canyon wall. It imploded, spilling shipping popcorn and gray feathers everywhere. It didn't stop there; the thing rolled down a cleft of rock, smashed against a branch of thorny briars, and spilled a clump of debris into a lower abyss. The mass of unrecognizable junk rolled over a few times and looked like it was about to come to a stop. However, just then, four quarry eels thrusted out from a series of deep holes. With loud hisses, they bit onto opposite ends of the smashed crate, twisted the contents in their razor-toothed maws, and pulled the mess apart. There was a flash, like aquamarine lightning caught in the blink of Rainbow's horrified eyes, and then all she saw was a splatter of hot red juices staining the belly of the gorge.

Finally, all was silent.

Rainbow Dash whimpered something unintelligible. With drooping ears, drooping wings, and a drooping tail, she fell to a slump along the cliff's edge, her fuzzy blue chest heaving with labored breaths.

At last, the stallion pilot climbed his way out of the chariot and raised his goggles. "Whew!" He gawked at the wrecked wagon. "That was a close one!" He smirked at Rainbow. "Well, look at the bright side! At least nopony was hurt!"

Rainbow Dash's face swiveled icily towards the pony.


Twilight Sparkle dropped a stack of books as her wings fell limp.

"D-dead?!"

"Crushed, imploded, mangled to bits by quarry eels..." Rainbow Dash gulped as her body slid down the front door to the Ponyville library. "...but mostly dead." A pale expression washed over her as she ran her hoof shakily through her colorful mane. "I... I watched it happen inside Ghastly Gorge, Twilight. I had to give the police report and everything."

"And then you just flew h-here?" Twilight remarked. "Why?"

"I dunno!" Rainbow barked, tossing her head. "It's all so flippin' crazy! I feel like I'm in a dream!" She stood up and paced around in a tight circle. "Like, I tried stopping the chariot that was carrying Derpy. I flew as fast as I could! She was trapped inside a shipping box from the post office that was on board the thing. But as soon as I tried to pull the vehicle over, well..." Rainbow Dash squirmed, her ruby eyes dull. "The stallion driving the chariot stalled, hit a mountaintop, and down into the gorge Derpy went." She sighed, hanging her head even further. "There wasn't even a single scrap of her left. All was blood and feathers."

Twilight's mouth hung open. She held a hoof over her gaping mouth as moisture lined the edges of her eyes. "That's... that's... so t-terrible! I... I don't know what to say..." She gulped and glanced aside at Spike.

The dragon stood a few feet away, playing pensively with his tail. His eyes implored something from Twilight that the alicorn could not give.

Fidgeting, Twilight rubbed a hoof across her cheek, drying it. In a quiet shuffle, she trotted over to Rainbow’s side and placed a forelimb on her shoulder. "That... that couldn't have been a pleasant thing for you to have gone through." She gulped, trying to keep her composure. "But, from the sound of it, you did everything in your power to save Derpy from... such a terrible end."

"You kidding?" Rainbow Dash glared at her. "It's my darn fault she got into such a place to begin with!"

"But... how..." Twilight's face grimaced. "How could you say that, Rainbow Dash?! You weren't the one who caused such a crazy mishap!"

"But I sent a fool to do a genius' errand!" Rainbow Dash growled, lightly shoving Twilight's hoof off. "I was the one who made her go into the processing center to fix the assembly line! Ungh!" She began pacing again. "Figures! The one time I try to treat her as a smart... intelligent... c-competent mare, things go to Tartarus!"

She came to a stop before a library window. Spike and Twilight looked on as Rainbow Dash sighed into the dust of the room.

"She was always just so... so friggin' cheerful!" Rainbow Dash grumbled. "She seemed happy to whatever job you asked of her. It was my mistake to take advantage of that. I should have made her stay up front and deal with clients instead! I... I-I should have been prepared for this kind of decision making! It's just that this morning was so hectic and everything was happening so fast and—"

"The last thing you need to be doing right now is blaming yourself, Rainbow," Twilight said.

Rainbow turned around, sighed, and closed her eyes. "Maybe. Maybe not. One thing's for sure..." She gazed at Twilight with a hollow expression. "There's one job I gotta do right now, and I'd better not mess this one up too."

"What job is that?" Spike asked.

Twilight looked at Spike, then back at Rainbow Dash.

Rainbow Dash fidgeted, rubbing her leg with the other as she gazed nervously at the floor.

Twilight gulped. "Oh dear..."


MONDAY AFTERNOON


Rainbow Dash stood before the front gate to Derpy's front lawn and condominium. Music was playing inside, and through the window a petite unicorn filly could be seen dancing to the tune as she did housework. Dinky's eyes sparkled with the daylight wafting in through the front foyer, and her cheeks were rosy with life.

A grimace ran through Rainbow's face. She shuddered from mane to tail, then hung her head with a prolonged sigh.

"Whelp... You're an awesome, brave pony, Rainbow Dash." She gulped. "Get it together. One way or another, you gotta do this."

With lonesome clops, she trotted up the path, and pressed her hoof to the front gate.


Somewhere...

Far away...

Along the mountainous edge to a craggy stone plane drowning in eerie green light...

The plateau lit up with a splash of aquamarine light. A mass of wooden debris, shipping popcorn, and gray feathers fell to the black rockface with a thud. In the center was an upside down pegasus mare, her body tangled with two netted bags.

"Ooof!" Derpy Hooves thrashed about like an overturned tortoise. She stood up, covered all over with seeping red tomato juice. "Unnngh! Pew-wee! Apples don't smell so good on the inside, now do they?!"

She flung her hoof several times until the bag of mushed-up tomatoes flew loose from her forelimb. Pivoting about, she squinted at the heavy sack of void rocks.

"Well, at least you're in one piece! Heeheehee—"

With a blue spark, one shard was magnetically repelled so that it flew loose from the netting and smacked her upside the head.

"Ow! Grrrr..." With a lopsided frown, Derpy Hooves blindly snatched the loose rock from mid-air and shook it in the crook of her hoof. "Naughty stone! Be nice like your brothers and sisters!"

With a grunt, she thrusted the rock back into the bag. Hard.

All of the void rocks rattled together. The sparks between them lit up in a chain reaction, and soon she was covered with an aquamarine glow.

Then, just as swiftly as the pulse of light began, it vanished, along with the rocks... and Derpy Hooves.

The desert valley lay empty beneath green cosmic nebulae.

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