• Published 24th Oct 2013
  • 6,312 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 Afternoon: Those Left to Mourn


EARLY MONDAY MORNING


"'The burning sun rose over the purple mountains with shimmering tendrils of effluent gold light. The air was crisp and brimming with the reinvigorated life of a fresh dawn. In Ponyville, in the apple of Equestria's illustrious eye, the royal subjects of Princess Celestia's glow were waking up, one by one, charismatically imbued with the desire to make life sweet and joyous and harmonious for themselves and their fellow neighbors. As the golden brightness in the east melted over each rustic rooftop and bouncing boughs of luscious trees, the illustrious equines consumed their morning sustenance, nuzzled their loved ones dearly, and proceeded to embark upon their separate professions, as 'tis the duty of Equestrian citizens everywhere—'"

"Ungh!" Sweetie Belle's voice ripped its way into the tranquil parlor to Carousel Boutique. "Rarity! Will you stop that racket?!" She stood in the doorway, frowning as she held an ornate comb in the crook of her hoof. "Between the constant tapping noises and your endless rambling, I can't concentrate on getting the tangles out of my mane!"

Rarity cringed, then slumped over her magically glowing typewriter with a sigh. "Sweetie Belle! For goodness' sake, darling!" She adjusted her pink robe and glared over her shoulder at her younger sibling. "It's not as if you own this place, now is it? I'm proud of you for beautifying your mane so early in the morning, but if the sound of my creative expression displeases you so, then why can't you go through the motions on the opposite side of the Boutique?"

"Because you're louder than Apple Bloom's big brother kicking a dead tree!" Sweetie's voice cracked as she brushed and frowned and brushed and frowned. "For your information, the only reason I'm awake is because you suddenly decided to give a speech through the walls!" She stomped her tiny hooves. "I could hear you from the third floor!"

"Well, my personal memoirs certainly aren't going to write themselves!" Rarity said, turning her nose up to the white-washed ceiling. "And if it's a crime that I can only hone in on my literary inspiration by reciting my paragraphs out loud, then I'll proudly hang by the gallows! Furthermore—" She suddenly gasped, tossing a double-take in the foal's direction. "Sweeite Belle! Is that... m-my antique Canterlotlian porcelain comb?"

"Uhhhh..." The foal blushed.

"Grrrrr!" Rarity wobbled angrily on the stool before her typewriter. "How many times have I told you not to go through my personal things?!" She shook her hoof in the early morning light. "Do you have any idea how expensive that thing is?! It was a personal payment from Sapphire Shores for a commission that I had done for her, and you're using its fragile needles to... nnngh... loosen your tangled bed hair?"

"Well, it's not like you have your name on it or anything!" It was Sweetie Belle's turn to upturn her nose. "Every time I so much as sneeze or breathe in this place, I'm somehow messing up something that's precious to you!"

"That's what happens when you spend the week at a home that isn't yours! You should learn to be more courteous and less impulsive!" Rarity groaned as she adjusted the sheet roller of the typewriter. "Prancing around as if you own the place! Hmmmph! Didn't Mother and Father teach you better etiquette for sleeping over at another pony's house?"

"Uunnh!" Sweetie Belle's jaw dropped as her eyes quivered. "But you're my big sister! It's not like I'm being sea quested at some stranger's apartment!"

"It's 'sequestered,' darling."

Sweetie stomped her hoof again. "I know what I said!" her voice cracked. "I'm not dumb, y'know!"

"Mmmm..." Rarity mumbled under tight white lips. "The jury's still out on that one."

"What did you say?"

"Eheheh..." Rarity tossed her a poster grin. "Nothing."

"Grrrr! I'm tired of you treating me as if I shouldn't exist!"

"Oh, Sweetie Belle, darling, don't go on being so dramatic."

"Stop calling me 'darling.' You only ever say that when you're mad!"

"I most certainly I do not!"

"You do too! I wonder why Mom and Dad ever bother dropping me off at your place if you're always so grumpy and selfish every minute of the day!"

"Hmmm... The thought has crossed my mind as well."

"Nnnnnnngh!" Sweetie Belle growled until her white coat turned red. On angrily waddling hooves, she stormed out of the room and tore down the adjacent hallway. "Fine! Be that way! I'm going to go brush my hair someplace where I won't bother you! Like in a lion's den!"

"Not with my precious comb, you won't!" Rarity blindly shouted back. "Be a good dear and put it back where you found it!" She was answered by the distant slamming of the parlor door. "Unnngh..." She ran a slipper'd hoof over her face. "Mother... Father... why this week? Why not the next or the one after that?"

As the vibrations of the shouting contest came to a halt, Rarity took several calm breaths. She straightened her mane and curved her lips into a delicate smile.

"Now, where were we?"

Her horn shimmered, covering the typewriter once more with violet-blue telekinesis. One after another, the typewriter keys clicked in place, following the dance of her tongue as she dictated her thoughts to the walls.

"'Harmony: for such was the importance of that little town. It shone like a jewel in the navel of ponydom, and all thanks to the qualities of kindness, honesty, loyalty, laughter, magic, and generosity that defined it. I, in particular, was a bearer of the lattermost quality, most commonly witnessed in the manner with which I bequeathed my creativity to the populace around me, and with such a liberal deluge of artistry too. My name is Rarity, or 'Lady Rarity' if you so desire to be formal. It is my greatest desire to spread elegance and beauty throughout this land, but it all started in a humble town... with humble ponies... all of whom loved each other very dearly...'"


Applejack sat at the kitchen table inside the Apple Family home. She held a spoon limply in the crook of her hoof, digging randomly and lethargically into a steaming bowl of porridge. Her hatless mane was tussled, with frayed edges to the bangs from the residual vestiges of sleep. Nevertheless, her eyes were as awake as ever, and they carved dull lines into the tabletop below her.

The silence was broken only by the clatter of utensils against bowls, as well as the occasional gulping sound.

Applejack exhaled heavily. She glanced up, gazing quietly across the table.

Granny Smith sipped from some tea, her bleary old eyes pouring over an unfolded newspaper before her. Big Macintosh was nibbling at the last of his meal: a large slice of buttered toast. Apple Bloom sat on a high stool, ravenously scarfing away at her bowl of porridge. In the silky gold light of dawn, nopony returned Applejack's glance.

Applejack's body rose and fell slowly with steady breaths. At last, she cleared her throat—like thunder across the kitchen linoleum—and put on a tiny smile. "So, Big Mac, you've got yerself the West Fields to harvest today, huh?"

"Eeyup," Big Mac muttered before lifting a glass of apple juice to his lips.

Applejack blinked. She squirmed a bit, clattering listlessly at her bowl. "You... uh... got quite a lot of work cut out for you. I'm ahead of my chores for the week, oddly enough. Think you'll need my help gettin' all the apples bucked?"

"Eenope," Big Mac replied, bearing a calm smile.

"So..." Applejack fidgeted. "You got everythang planned out all good and proper, I reckon."

"Eeyup..."

"Eheh... of course ya do..." Applejack cracked a toothy grin. "Yer big and strong. You really don't need yer lil' sis nearby, fumblin' around in the way of yer work."

"Eenope..." Big Mac got up, placed his dishes in the kitchen sink, and paused to pat Applejack on the head. He trotted smoothly away.

"Oh, Big Macintosh!" Granny Smith suddenly called out from beyond the pages of her newspaper. "Keep an eye out around dem bushes along the west fence! I saw a rattler slitherin' about last week while I was gardenin'!"

"Eeyup!" With a creak and slap of the kitchen screen door, Big Mac was gone. His heavy hoofsteps could be heard thundering off into the orchards outside, serenaded by Winona's random barks.

Applejack glanced over at Granny Smith. "That's mighty respectable of ya, Granny, lookin' after Big Mac's safety and all."

"I—er—wh-what..?" Granny blinked blearily at Applejack. She then gave a wrinkly smile, "Oh, shucks, I just figured that if he spots one of dem snakes, he could toss it in a bucket and throw it someplace where it could get rid of the farm's rat problem!"

Applejack's ears drooped a little. "Oh... well... th-that's what you call thinkin' with experience, Granny."

"Sure, sure, whatever..." Granny folded her newspaper, sipped the last of her tea, and stood up from the table. "Well, I'd better go grab me my bonnet. I'm headed into town to talk to Filthy Rich and then swing by the ol' marketplace for some fresh kitchen fix'ems!"

"Oh! Uhm... Won't you let me go with ya, Granny?" Applejack stood up from her chair and leaned forward. "It's such a long walk n'all. No need to wear yerself down."

"Ohhhh, Applejack. Don't be such a fuss-budge-it." Granny winked as she patted Applejack's forelimb. "I'm not nearly as run-down as you think I am."

"I... I didn't mean nothin' by it, Granny! I just wanted to help."

"And ya did help me, fillygirl! Ya paid the bits to fix my hip a few months back, now didn't ya?" Granny wheezed forth a laugh. "Heeeh heeeh heeeh! All those early years of teachin' ya hard work really paid off in the end! I'm really enjoyin' these mornin' walks!"

"Yes... I'm..." Applejack sat back down in her chair. "...mighty happy to have lent a hoof."

"That's cuz yer always so dependable, darlin'." Granny made her way slowly towards the opposite end of the house. "Now, don't forget to clean out the barn's hayloft! And also, the well needs that new bucket attached, assumin' the hogs haven't gotten to it and all!"

"But Granny, we're so caught up this week!" Applejack called forth. "Why can't we... I dunno... relax and have a picnic?! Or maybe chat over apple cider or somethin'? You ain't gonna be gone all day!"

"Now now, Applejack, that's not like you! You know very well this here farm's not gonna take care of itself. We gotta keep up a good work ethic!"

Applejack sighed as the front door opened and shut. "I know, Granny. I know."

A loud belching sound echoed across the kitchen.

Smirking, Applejack squinted aside. "Whoah, slow down there, AB! No sense in ya chokin' on yer vittles."

"Nope!" Apple Bloom wiped her mouth and hopped down from the empty bowl. "That's because I'm done!" She lifted the dish onto her head and carried it swiftly to the sink. "Thanks for the breakfast, big sis! You always make the best oatmeal!"

"Only c-cuz I have the best family," Applejack said with a soft smile. "Ahem. So, where you off to in such a hurry?"

"I gotta get to the clubhouse pronto! Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle will be there this afternoon, and they're countin' on me to build a new balcony on the south side of the shack!"

"A balcony, huh?" Applejack leaned against the table with a warm smirk. "Reckon I should take ya by the hardware store to fetch ya plenty of wood and nails and—?"

"I already did that!"

Applejack did a double-take. "Ya did?"

"Yup! Just yesterday!" Apple Bloom spun from the sink and smiled at her sister. "Me and Scootaloo went by Hayhoof's Hardware and Surplus! We bought a whole bunch of stuff to build the balcony with!"

"Where in tarnation did you get all the money?"

"We painted fences around town!" Apple Bloom gestured stroking movements with her hoof. "All them brushstroke techniques ya taught me as a lil' filly really came in handy! Not to mention my fancy Kung Fu moves! Hiiii-ya!" She performed a vicious uppercut to the air, then smirked. "We were rollin' in the bits in no time!"

"Ya don't say." Applejack gulped and trotted over to her with a gentle smile. "Well, how'd you reckon me givin' you another helpin' hoof today? You and I can work on that balcony together! Like sisters!"

"Heehee... That's really nice of you and all, Applejack, but I had it planned just right all along." Apple Bloom galloped off towards the screen door. "I even made blueprints! Havin' you around might... I dunno... mess up the grand design!"

Applejack tried not to wince. "Ya sure you don't want me to help? Luggin' around planks of wood sounds awful tiresome."

"Applejaaaaack..." Apple Bloom rolled her eyes and smiled back at her from the doorway. "I'm not a baby anymore! Besides, of course I gotta do this by myself! What if my talent is actually balcony-makin'? I can't have you stealin' all the thunder!"

"Er... no, I-I reckon not."

"Later, AJ!" Apple Bloom's voice rang back as she galloped beyond the clapping screen door. "Try not to work too hard today!"

"Oh, I... I won't..."

Alone, Applejack sat at the empty kitchen table. There, she picked up a glass of apple juice, swirled it around in the crook of her hoof, and eventually took a quiet, bitter sip.


The morning sunrise was still burning its way over the eastern mountains when the golden chariot flew into downtown Ponyville for a landing. Four muscled pegasus stallions made contact with the soft earth, galloping swiftly in order to land the vehicle with as little turbulence as possible. At last, they came to a stop, only lightly jostling the violet mane of the lone alicorn squatting in the chariot's plush seat.

Princess Twilight Sparkle blinked tiredly. With a sigh, she adjusted her crown and stepped gingerly out of the chariot.

"Your Majesty!" One of the stallions detached from the chariot's riggings and rushed to her side. "Allow me to assist you."

"It's quite fine, sir," Twilight muttered to the guard. "I think I remember how to trot."

"My apologies for the length of time it took for us to make a comfortable landing," he said, bowing low. "We had to circle around twice. There was a great deal of dense air traffic around the town's floating post office for some inexplicable reason."

"Nothing to be sorry about."

"It's our duty to bring you back safely from the Royal Conference, and you must be terribly exhausted from all the deliberations with Princess Celestia and Luna and—"

"All the reason for me to make swiftly for my home," Twilight droned. "My real home. Thanks for flying me back, sirs. But I can handle it from here."

"Are you certain, Your Highness?" The guard squirmed where he stood. "We can see many strange ponies roaming around these parts. There's no need for you to walk all by yourself."

"I've survived rampaging Ursa Minors, parasprite swarms, and a flamboyant dragonequs—all in this same town." Twilight smiled tiredly. "I think I can deal with a simple morning walk. Thank you, good sirs, but you're dismissed."

All four of the stallions bowed humbly. "As you wish, Your Majesty." They returned to the chariot, fitted themselves to the rigging, and galloped away.

Twilight paused and turned around. She watched the chariot as it took off and flew a wide arc around the city limits. The stallions made eye contact with the alicorn one last time, saluted, then rocketed back towards the hazy bowers of Canterlot in the far east. At last, they were beyond sight.

With a deep exhale, Twilight levitated her crown off and slid it discretely into her saddlebag. Zipping the thing shut, she trudged her way lethargically towards the heart of town. As she trotted along, several bright-eyed citizens paused to wave at her. Many of them bowed low, jittering nervously in her presence. Twilight smiled habitually at them, twitching when she saw familiar ponies curtsying with the same extreme show of humility. At last, she reached the front door to her treehouse library, and her hooves sprinted the last remaining district.

With a burst of air, she threw the door open, tossed herself inside, and slammed the thing shut behind. Twilight slumped to her knees, her wings drooping on either side of her as she let out the mother of all sighs. After a sniffling sound, her face twitched and her eyes began to water—

"Twilight!" Spike bounded down the steps with a wide grin. "Alright! You're back!"

Twilight shot up straight, rubbing her cheek dry and standing prim and proper. "Ahem. Yes, Spike," she said in a dull tone. "The Royal Conference is over."

"Woohoo! That means you've knocked out your quota early this month!" Spike pumped a fist and held his scaly palm out. "Princess High Hoof! Eh? Eh?!"

Twilight's nostrils flared. She trotted coldly past the whelp. "Yes. It is a good thing..."

Spike blinked, his emerald eyes glossy. "But... but..." He looked down at his hanging palm, then pointed at it. "You're ahead of schedule. Shouldn't that be a reason to celebrate?"

"I'm tired, Spike," Twilight Sparkle muttered as she trudged up the stairs. "And I really don't feel like celebrating at the moment."

"Why not?" Spike shrugged at the base of the steps. "Did something happen at the Royal Conference that's gotten you all... I dunno... moody?"

"What?!" Twilight gasped. She spun around with a knifing scowl. "No! I never said that! What would make you think that?!"

"I... uh..." Spike leaned back from her distant frown, sweating. "Jee, I don't know. Maybe a little lavender b-bird told me?"

"I've had very little sleep, Spike." With a sigh, Twilight resumed trotting up the steps. "So forgive me if I'm not exactly peachy."

"Are they forcing you to move out of Ponyville? Or... are they making you wear a fru-fru gown twenty-four seven?" Spike toyed with his claws as he spoke Suddenly, his purple features paled. "Oh no!" He pulled at the scaled edges of his face. "We're going to war with another kingdom!"

"Ungh! We are not, Spike!"

"Who is it?! The Griffon Dominion?! The Changeling Hive? The Colts in Gardez?! United Arabuck Emeroats?!"

"Spike, the only one I'd be going to war with is you if you don't let me enjoy some peace and quiet around here! I mean it!" She stormed up the last few steps. "I'll be in my room! Preferably asleep!"

The door slammed shut.

Spike limply pointed. "I-I made your bed and tidied your bookcase for you," he whimpered in a distant voice. A few seconds dripped by, and then he folded his arms. "Harumph. You're welcome." He kicked at the dusty floor and waddled off. "Princess Grumpy Saddle..."


"Now now, Angel," Fluttershy cooed as she finished tucking the tiny piece of living fluff into a matching-sized bed with a matching-sized quilt. "No more fussing about! What you need is some good bed rest and plenty of fluids!" She smiled dearly from where she crouched in the corner of her sunlit cottage. "That way, you'll be all better in no time!"

Angel sported the frown of the century. His ears were flattened by an icepack while a thermometer stuck its way out from beside his bucked teeth.

"There's a nasty bug going around, and I heard you coughing earlier while you were chewing on your breakfast carrot!" Fluttershy waved a hoof. "But Momma Fluttershy isn't going to let you catch the flu that easily!"

The bunny's forehead burned as his body shook with anger.

"Oh dear!" Fluttershy gasped, reaching a hoof to his reddened coat. "You've already got a fever, haven't you?! Ohhhhh! I knew this would happen!"

With a disgruntled squeak, the rabbit spat the thermometer away like a torpedo and flung the icepack down onto the floor beside his bed.

Fluttershy frowned. "Why are you doing this, Angel?! Don't you see that I just want to make sure you don't get any sicker than you already are?"

Angel sat up in bed, firing forth a salvo of breathy hisses and grunts, all the while gesturing madly with his paws.

"Well, you know what they say!" Fluttershy smiled nervously. "The first symptom of the common cold is denial!"

Angel blinked at her, then thunderously facepawed.

"Now just rest up, Angel..." Fluttershy laid him back down and tucked the quilt over his fluffy body. "It's not going to be so bad. You'll see." She gestured across the cottage full of tranquil rodents and critters milling about. "This is the absolute best place in all of Equestria to enjoy some nice peace and quiet."

A hoof pounded murderously on the cottage door. "Fluttershy! Open up! Ponyville emergency!"

"Gaaah!" Fluttershy shot up like a yellow comet, clutching up-side down to a swinging birdhouse as her body rattled from the inside out. She clenched her teeth shut and flung a frightened glance towards the door. "Rainbow... D-Dash...?"

"I know you're in there, Fluttershy! Come on out! I wanna have a word with ya! Pronto!"

"Just a second!" Fluttershy limply glided down to Angel's tiny bed. She stuck the ice pack back on his head. She cleaned the thermometer off and put it back in his mouth. She fluffed his pillow and she folded the quilt back over his body and she straightened his ears—

"Nnnngh! Fluttershyyyyyyy!"

"C-coming!" Fluttershy flitted over to the door, unlatched four sets of locks one by one, and slowly opened it up. She peered through with bright, blinking eyes. "Uhm... wh-what is it?"

"Fluttershy, what gives?!" A very frazzled, extremely breathless Rainbow Dash hovered before her door. Her mane was a mess and two saddlebags full of envelopes hung from each flank. "I first knocked on the door over a minute ago! Are your hooves made out of molasses or what?"

"But it's so early in the morning, and..." Fluttershy squinted at the letters falling out of Rainbow's bags. "Are you... carrying the mail?"

"Ungh! And how!" Rainbow snatched the crumpled sheets up and shoved them back into her satchels. "I'm up to my flanks in packages and parcels! There's a big problem here in Ponyville!"

"Oh n-no!" Fluttershy trembled, her ears instantly folding back. "Is it Queen Chrysalis? The Spirit of King Sombra? Rabid chipmunks?!"

"No, we've got a severe shortage in the—" Rainbow Dash did a double-take. She spun her head from her saddlebags and squinted at Fluttershy. "Chipmunks? Really?"

Fluttershy gulped and smiled. "They're rather grumpy this time of year."

"Never mind. Look, there's a shortage of workers at the Ponyville Post Office. Tons of pegasi are sick with the pony flu."

"Oh, I heard about that. Isn't—?"

"And they're calling all available pegasi to fill in for volunteer work to make sure the postal deliveries go through!" Rainbow Dash grumbled as she fidgeted with the heavy satchels hanging off her body. "As you can see, I've been tasked with commandeering the weather team into mailpony mode! And we're still short on workhooves! I'm having to knock door to door while delivering the mail to see if any winged pony is able and willing to help out! It's a total disaster area at the post office! It's killing me to spend another hour away from supervising the place just to make these stupid rounds!"

"Oh dear..."

"Yours in the last house on my morning route. Come on, Fluttershy! You gotta help us out!" Rainbow Dash stammered. "Every bit of assistance we can get would be a goddess-send!"

"I would love to, Rainbow Dash," Fluttershy said with a nod. "Honestly, I would. But..." She sighed. "I'm afraid that I can't right now."

"Ungh!" Rainbow tossed her rolling eyes. "Well, this had better be good!" She leaned forward with a frown. "Because if your only excuse is that you have a severe phobia of licking envelopes, then I swear—"

"No no no!" Fluttershy leaned back, blushing. "Though, th-that is also true, it's n-nothing like that! I do have a good excuse this time!" She gulped and opened the door wide enough to reveal a pouting bunny rabbit in his bed. "It's Angel! The poor thing is coming down with something! I-I'm afraid to leave his side for a second! Much less for a whole day!" Fluttershy sighed. "I'm sorry, Rainbow Dash. But, as you can see, I'm having a little emergency of my own here."

Rainbow Dash squinted into the cottage, her ruby eyes reflecting Angel's frowning face. "Why, he doesn't look all that sick to me," the pegasus muttered, glaring aside at Fluttershy. "You sure you're not just imagining things, Fluttershy?"

"Why, Rainbow Dash!" Fluttershy gave a breathy gasp. "How could you say such a thing! Don't I know my animals?"

Rainbow gazed lethargically at the veritable herd of furry things bouncing all around the cottage. "I know that you love on ‘em somethin' hard."

"I keep an eye on each and every one of them with utmost care!" Fluttershy tilted her nose up. "Why, just this morning, I realized Angel was coming down with something when he started coughing non stop!"

"Was it while he was having breakfast?"

"Uhm..." Fluttershy's cheeks went rosy. "Yes."

"Aren't you always telling me and the girls how frustrated you are with him chewing on his carrots too quickly? He probably got some of the crap lodged in his throat and was trying to cough it up!"

"Still, I can't take any chances!" Fluttershy exclaimed. "There's a flu going around, after all. You of all ponies should know that."

"Ungh! But Fluttershyyyyy..." Rainbow Dash's mailbags jostled as she barked, "It's the pony flu! Rabbits can't catch that, now can they?!"

"Well... uhm..."

"See, this is something you gotta work on, Fluttershy!" Rainbow Dash pointed at her house full of animals. "It's okay to love on these critters of yours, but I think you do it a bit too much! You're a worrywort!"

"A worry... wort...?"

"You fret over every little thing! You've taken good care of these animals. Don't you think it's time you let them take care of themselves?"

"But... they need me!" Fluttershy dug at the floor with a soft yellow hoof. "Without my care, they're so frail and vulnerable and defenseless..." An ice pack ricocheted off her skull, and she frowned towards the tiny bed.

"Well, help them learn not to be so much! I mean... you can't be taking care of Angel and the rest forever, can you?"

Fluttershy opened her mouth, but a pale sheen washed over her lips. She stared pensively into the corner of the cottage.

"Unnngh. Fine. Whatever. Look." Rainbow Dash held her two hooves out. "The Ponyville Post Office is important. But the local wildlife of this town is important too. Besides, who am I to tell you how you should or shouldn't take care of these guys?"

"You're... uh... you're my fr-friend, Rainbow Dash—"

"Just make sure none of them get sick. For real, okay?" Rainbow Dash hovered out the door and lifted off towards the sky. "Now that I think about it, this is a lucky break. You really wouldn't want anything to do with this volunteer mess. Think of this as a ticket to freedom, Fluttershy. Not that you owe me or anything but... ungh... I've got a lot of stupid, crazy work ahead of me." And, in a flurry of envelopes, she was gone.

Fluttershy gulped and leaned on the door, slowly shutting the noisy, frightening outside world away. "Take good care of yourself..."


"Omigosh! Omigosh!" Pinkie Pie gasped, leaning her pastel self towards the high-chair where Pumpkin Cake sat with an infantile grin across her face. "Is that a tooth?! Huh?! Is that a tooth?!" She stood up on her hind legs and shouted through an invisible bullhorn. "I think I see a tooth!"

"Ungh! Pinkie Pie! For goodness' sake!" Cup Cake trotted across the kitchen and wiped Pumpkin's giggling face clean before spooning her some more baby food. "So maybe it is or maybe it isn't. There's no need to wake the neighbors over something so—"

But the bouncing earth pony had already gotten her hooves on a bass drum and was busy bounding across the linoleum floor with two sticks thundering away. "A tooth! A tooth! Forsooth she's got a tooth!"

"Pinkie!" Cup Cake snarled, turning bluer in the face.

"It's not a roof or a sleuth! But a Celestia darn toooooth—" Her drum ran smack-dab into Mrs. Cake's outstretched hoof. "Whoah!" Pinkie blinked over her heavy percussion instrument. "Mrs. Cake, that wasn't the part where you're supposed to join in! Besides, where are your cymbals?"

"I'm afraid the symphony has to stop early, Pinkie!" Cup Cake panted while her foals giggled from their high chairs behind her. "It's still the wee hours of the morning!"

"I see plenty of sunlight!" Pinkie tossed the drum behind her with a thud and grinned through the crashing noise. "The day's young! Plenty of hours left to celebrate baby's teeth!"

"I'm afraid I don't have much time for that, Pinkie. I've got several dozen doughnuts to bake, two wedding cakes to prepare, and I've still got to find out a way to make a delivery to the post office after Candy Mane came back. From what she’s told me, it sounds like that place is a greater mess than this kitchen is!"

Suddenly, Mr. Cake stuck his head in from the lobby to Sugarcube Corner. "What's all the noise?" he asked in a frenzied tone. "Are the bombs finally dropping?"

"Pumpkin's got her first tooth, Mr. Cake!" Pinkie beamed. She suddenly whipped a trumpet out of nowhere. "You're just in time to join the wind section!"

"Uhm..." Cup Cake leaned in and snatched the instrument from Pinkie's grasp. "Let's put a hold on the orchestra, dear."

"But... but..." Pinkie pouted sadly with folded ears. "How else am I going to practice for the Happy Potty Training Celebration Day?"

"Believe me, when the day comes, my hubby and I will be the ones celebrating." Mrs. Cake looked over at the stallion. "Carrot, honeybun, how's the lobby?"

"Almost sparkly clean, Cup. I'll be joining you with the baking shortly."

"Oh, it'd be wonderful if we can get at least a dozen doughnuts baked before opening the shop!" Cup Cake trotted hurriedly across the kitchen while Carrot retreated once more into the front room. "Between taking care of the children and making sure all the ingredients are in order, I've about pulled my mane out twice!"

"Ooh! Ooh!" Pinkie bounced. "Lemme help! Huh huh? I can bring that stress of yours down to sea level so that you can cuddle with starfish!"

"Oh, no need, dearie," Cup Cake said with a nervous smile. "You've been up all night. Why not catch some shut-eye upstairs?"

Pinkie's face stretched with confusion. "The only reason I was up all night was because I was busy figuring out party plans for the foals' upcoming birthday! They'll be one year old! I still need to find one thousand candles!"

"Good heavens, no!" Cup Cake gasped while feeding Pound another spoonful and wiping his muzzle clean. "We don't want Sugarcube Corner going up in smoke!"

"Heehee! Silly filly! Don't you trust me?"

"I... trust that you will... k-keep the spirits up around this place all well and fine," the mare fumbled to say.

"Well, that's what I'm here for, isn't it?" Pinkie said with a happy bounce. "Mom and Dad were smiling so much around me, their faces nearly fell off! So that's why they sent me to Ponyville years ago! So that I could spread the cheer around here instead!"

Cup Cake fidgeted, silent.

Pinkie grinned wider than the moon. "Right?"

Just then, Mr. Cake stuck his head into the kitchen again. "Don't look now, sweet cakes, but I think I see Miss Hooves walking just outside!"

"Oooh! Goodness me!" Cup Cake placed down the baby food and rushed across the kitchen to where a package rested on a counter. "This may be my one chance! I'd better catch her!"

"Catch Derpy?" Pinkie spun about, blinking. "What for? Is she being pitched to home plate?"

"Hardly anything of the sort!" Mrs. Cake balanced the box on her shoulders and bounded for the door. "I've gotta get this package sent out, and Candy Mane couldn't get through the line at the post office earlier! Maybe Miss Hooves can help out!"

"Better hurry!" Carrot Cake exclaimed. "You know how much your brother hates it when he receives important stuff late."

"Shhh!" Mrs. Cake hissed across the kitchen at him.

But it was too late; Pinkie inhaled a hurricane through her mouth before gasping, "This is a package for Daddy?! Oooh! Lemme deliver it!"

"Pinkie..."

She bounced around the mare as she chirped, "I can take it through the post office! I'll just strap a bunch of balloons to my tail and fly on up there and do the official stamp-a-roo!"

"Pinkie, please..."

"I could maybe even find time to slip in a postcard and a packet of sprinkles and a Haymark Card—"

"No need, dear." Cup Cake forced Pinkie still with a firm hoof to her shoulder. She gulped and smiled nervously. "I think it's best that... th-that I deliver this package to your folks. Don't you fret a thing."

Pinkie's blue eyes blinked. "But I'm not fretting at all, Mrs. Cake!" She leaned her head gently aside. "Don't Mom and Dad wanna hear back from me?"

Cup Cake bit her lip. After a few seconds of fidgeting, she cracked a smile and said, "They're certainly hearing about you, Pinkie. I make sure to write them every month."

Pinkie's bright brow furrowed. "But... but..."

"Oh, cinnamon sticks! She's about to fly off!" Cup Cake galloped away. "Sorry, but I gotta go! Be right back! Carrot, will you hold the fort, darling?"

"I always do, cuddlebuns!"

"Oh! Miss Hooves! Wait right there!"

The kitchen door swung back on its own, slapping shut in Pinkie's quiet, contemplative face.


Spike hummed to himself, sweeping a broom across the library's wooden floor while the noonday light from the windows swam across the rustic interior. As he filled a dustpan, he heard a series of clops and looked up. With a blink, he stood and waved his free hand.

"Twilight! You're up!" He smiled. "Did you have a good morning nap?"

"Mmmmmfff..." Shadows hung under Twilight's eyes as she shuffled down the steps and approached the nearest line of books. "I've got some... st-studying to do..."

Spike emptied the dust pan into the trash, all the while squinting suspiciously in Twilight's direction. "You... didn't get any sleep, did you?"

"Meh..." Twilight stood up on her rear hooves, wobbling from the odd weight of her royal wings. "It doesn't matter."

"Of course it matters!" Spike exclaimed. He placed the dustpan down and waddled towards her, shrugging. "What's on your mind? Maybe you and I can talk about it!"

"There's nothing to talk about," Twilight muttered as she levitated a stack of books down from various shelves. "Only reading."

Spike craned his neck to glance at the titles while they whizzed by. "'History of Equestrian Biology.' 'The Lasting Legacy of Starswirl.' 'The Age of Equestrian Feudalism.'" He scratched his head with a lone claw. "What the heck could you possibly be studying now?"

Twilight turned, blinking wearily at him. With a breath she said, "You've done a good job cleaning this place while I was gone at the Conference. Why don't you take the rest of the day off?"

"Rest... of the day?" Spike looked out the window. "But, it's barely twelve o'clock! You've only been back home for a few hours! Why don't you just chill and let me tidy the place up a bit more?"

"Don't you want to go outside, Spike?" Twilight muttered, trotting across the room with the floating books in tow. "Enjoy some sunlight? Maybe dig up a few gemstones? We all know how you like doing that."

Spike folded his arms with a frown. "It almost sounds like you just wanna get rid of me."

"Really, though..." Twilight grumbled into the dust of the place. "I could... just use some time alone right now."

"What for?" Spike shrugged. "Can't we talk about it?"

"Please, Spike. Just leave me be for a while. I mean it."

"Twilight, I don't get it!" He planted his hands on his hips. "This isn't like you! I mean, ever since you moved to Ponyville, you've hated being alone!"

"There's a time for friendship and there's a time for solitude."

"Funny." Spike pointed. "I thought it was friendship that got you those silly wings to begin with."

Twilight tried not to snarl; she failed. Frowning, she spun about to rebuke spike—

But just then, the front door flew open. Rainbow Dash blurred in and slammed the thing shut behind her. She was a panting, sweaty, disheveled mess.

"Whoah!" Spike jumped back.

Twilight swiveled to face her. Her expression immediately paled with concern. "Rainbow Dash?" She trotted closer. "You look horrible! What's wrong?"

Rainbow Dash gulped and braced herself against the door. She clenched her lips tight, but eventually blurted, "Derpy Hooves is dead."

The room fell silent.

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

"D-dead?!"


MONDAY AFTERNOON


Rainbow Dash stood before the front gate to Derpy's front lawn and condominium. She could see Dinky dancing as the little filly cleaned up the home while listening to happy music inside.

"Whelp... You're an awesome, brave pony, Rainbow Dash." The pegasus murmured to herself. "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.

A lavender forelimb rested directly on top of hers.

"Not by yourself, you're don't."

Rainbow turned and blinked over her shoulder. "Twilight...?"

The alicorn clenched her jaw tight and nodded. "This is a sad turn of events that affects all of Ponyville. As a newly-crowned Princess of this land, it is my place to make sure that everypony is taken care of."

"Twilight, you hardly even know this kid!" Rainbow Dash hoarsely retorted.

"Does it matter?" Twilight leaned in with a sympathetic expression. "Tragedies like this just don't happen everyday. Derpy Hooves—from all we know about her—was a single mother! This child—this Dinky—she has no surviving father or aunt or uncle or any adult guardian to take care of her—"

"You think I don't frickin' know that, Twilight?!" Rainbow hissed, knocking the alicorn's hoof away. She stomped her hooves on the ground and barked, "It's my fault her mother croaked in the first place! I was the one who sent her to her death!"

"Rainbow Dash, you didn't—"

"I did." Rainbow frowned. "I should have had the foresight and common sense to know that Derpy would have only screwed up and gotten herself hurt when I sent her to fix the broken assembly line! But I was too self-absorbed in my own frustrations and stress of this morning, and I didn't bother to think! Now Derpy is dead, and it's all because of me!"

"But Rainbow, if you try to claim responsibility for every horrible thing that happens, you're never gonna live with yourself peacefully!"

"I get what I deserve in life," Rainbow Dash grunted. "Anything good or bad that happens, it's 'cuz I earn it. Not all of us can get ahead of the curve by inventing a magic spell and earning new wings, Twilight."

Twilight frowned. "You think that anything I've gone through since I've become a Princess has been easy?"

"Heck, no!" Rainbow Dash spoke in earnest. "But I expect you to have the good sense to know what you're capable of handling!"

Twilight exhaled with a shudder, staring down at her hooves.

"Don't you fret about me, Twilight," Rainbow muttered as she stared at the path leading up to the lone condominium door. "I'm not gonna fret over every bump in the road before or behind me. Besides, that's Fluttershy's job." She sighed and placed her hoof against the gate door again. "I just know for a fact that I'm responsible for today's tragedy, and if you respect the element of friendship that I represent, then you'll let me act on that responsibility."

Twilight slowly nodded. "I understand, Rainbow. But, even still..." She leaned forward. "It doesn't mean you have to be alone."

"Why do you wanna be here so badly, anyways?" Rainbow asked in a quiet tone. "As soon as I open that door and trot in, it's gonna be a super sad day."

"Because I just have to be there too, that's all," Twilight said, teetering slightly.

Rainbow blinked. "Are you feeling okay, Twilight? You look kind of... I dunno.. exhausted."

"I've had a lot on my mind, but with the news of Miss Hooves—I've got even more on my heart." Twilight motioned towards the apartment. "Go on ahead, Rainbow Dash. I'll just be in the shadows. I promise that I won't steal the spotlight."

Rainbow sighed and pushed the door open. "Yeah..."

"And if you need me to rush in at any time and help out by saying anything poetically—"

"Yeah yeah..."


Dinky squatted on the couch as the record player continued playing music in the background. She stared out the window with squinting amber eyes. A broom and a mop rested against the couch behind her. The filly's little tail flicked back and forth.

Suddenly, a blue shard on an endtable glittered. The sound of bells magically rang through the room. Dinky reached over and picked the enchanted sound stone up.

"Hello?"

"Crkk—Muffin?"

"Hiya, Mommy!" Dinky sing-songed.

"My Muffin! Mommy's so glad to hear your voice! I just wondered—" The voice paused, then crackled back into existence. "Is that Mareweather Post Pavillion?"

"Yup!" Dinky smiled against her reflection as the record spun in the background. "You listen to really weird music, Mommy!"

"Well, how are you liking it, Muffin?"

"It's got a nice beat and you can canter to it!"

"Jee, that's so swell! What are you up to today?"

"Ohhh..." Dinky shrugged. "Cleaning the house. Dancing. Watching Rainbow Dash and Princess Twilight Sparkle have an argument in our front yard."

"Yeah. Heheh. That sounds great. Say, Muffin, could you do me a favor?"

Dinky turned away from staring at the lavender and blue blobs from beyond the front gate. "What is it, Mom?"

"Could you take a look around the house and tell me if you see any giant mushrooms?"

Dinky's face scrunched up. She trotted into the main hallway, gazing left and right. "Not seeing anything..."

"None? No fungus whatsoever?"

"I'm afraid not, Mommy."


Derpy dangled the blue necklace before her as she stood in a swampy bog somewhere, surrounded by forty-foot tall mushrooms stretching into an ethereal azure mist. Giant dragonflies and flickering lantern bugs buzzed around her.

"Then that settles it!" Derpy smiled to the north and the south at the same time. "Mommy's not in Ponyville anymore!"

"Is everything alright, Mommy?"

"Oh, just peachy, my Muffin!" Derpy sniffed, then held a gray hoof over a scrunchy face. "Though it certainly doesn't smell it..."

"Mommmmmm..." Dinky's voice giggled. "Did you fly off course again?"

"Hey!" Derpy sputtered. "This is nothing like that one Winter Wrap-Up with the southern birds!"

"Heehee! I never said it was, Mommy!"

"Anyway, Mommy needs to... do a few things before she gets home..." Derpy lifted a hoof, squinting at a giant centipede clinging to her fetlock. With a few easy jerks, she tossed the creature back into the swampy muck. "Hopefully it won't be too long. But just in case, you know where the oatmeal mix is, right?"

"Inside the pantry, third shelf from the bottom, left side."

"Heeeee!" Derpy blushed as a giant black widow dangled overhead from a single silken strand. She blindly side-stepped before the venomous arachnid's pedipalps could grasp onto her blonde mane. "That's a smart muffin! I raised you good, didn't I?"

"I learn from the best, Mommy. Oooh! I think the Princess and Rainbow Dash are visiting!"

"Fancy that! Be a good hostess and offer them some ice water! Mares love ice water!" Derpy raised the sack of void stones in her grasp. "It... uh... it might be a while before I can talk to you again! Everytime I jump around, the sound stone undergoes interference!"

"Jump around? Are you at a dance club?"

"Now now, we've been through this, Muffin. Mommy quit dance clubs. Just like she quit base jumping."

"Heeheehee! Anyways, I gotta talk to you later, Mommy! They're at the door! Have a safe trip home!"

"I always try to! And remember to take your nap, Muffin!"

"Yes, Mommy." And the foalish voice faded, along with the glow to the blue shard.

Derpy let the necklace dangle again as she plodded across the swampy bog, fumbling with her tattered mailpony uniform and the void stones hanging from it. "Now which one of you potatoes do I have to kick in order to get the bad smell away? It was rather fragrant earlier in that place with all the potted petunias!"

She whistled to herself, meanwhile a big, black, shelled thing with two scorpion tails stalked her from behind.

"Hmmm-hmmm-hmmm... What would I want? Sky! What would I want? Sky!—" She gave the bag a firm kick. The stones within rattled together with aquamarine light.

Just as the two scorpion stingers lashed, the pegasus had vanished.


"Did... did you ring the doorbell?" Twilight asked.

"Yes, Twilight," Rainbow Dash muttered, fidgeting intensely upon the front stoop to the Hooves residence. "Twice."

Twilight bit her lip. "Maybe a third time will do."

"Look, we're here to share bad news," Rainbow Dash grumbled. "Not bad manners."

"She was playing loud music earlier, maybe you should just be a bit more assertive."

"Do you forget who you're talking to?"

"I'm just saying—"

"Maybe..." Rainbow Dash shrugged. "...Derpy's kid is deaf."

"Deaf?"

"Yeah."

"Why?"

"Huh?"

"Why would you think that Dinky is deaf?"

"Well, you know, because her mother was so... so..."

"So what?"

"I dunno."

"If you don't know, then why were you about to say something so presumptuous to begin with?"

"Look, it's not like I ask why your big brother looks so dog-eyed all the time..."

"True... true..." Twilight nodded. She then did a double-take. "Wait, you think that Shining Armor has dog-eyes?"

"Erm..."

"What in Tartarus is that supposed to—?"

With a squeak, Dinky opened the door. She waddled up to the front stoop, grinning widely. "Hello there, Miss Dash!" She turned and curtsied low to Twilight. "Greetings, Your Majesty!" She then bounced in place. "How can I help you two today?"

Twilight's jaw clamped shut. She looked at Rainbow.

Rainbow stood in dead silence. Her entire throat was embroiled with a nasty battle against a huge lump. She did her best to avoid the foal's gaze, but failed. After a few seconds, she cleared her throat. "HiyaDinkymaywecomein?" It sounded like a dolphin trying to squeak through a blowhole stuffed with cheese.

Twilight did her best not to perform a royal facehoof.

"Why, sure!" Dinky waddled backwards, gesturing into the interior with a stout limb. "Like my Mom always says! Polite guests deserve a polite house!"

Twilight squeaked through tight lips. Rainbow hissed at her, and the princess took a deep breath for strength. Together, like stiff undertakers, the twin mares marched into the domain.

Dinky closed the door behind them and galloped towards the kitchen. "Just make yourselves comfy in the living room! I'll fetch you some ice water!"

"Oh, well, th-that sounds lovely, Dinky—" Twilight began, only to have a blue hoof shoved into her lips.

"That won't be necessary, girl," Rainbow Dash said in a low tone. "Look, can we—I dunno—find a place to sit down?"

Dinky spun about with sparkly blue eyes. "You don't want ice water?" the filly asked with a cute, quivering lip.

Twilight squeaked again, shivering and squirming.

Rainbow sighed and brought her hoof down from Twilight's muzzle. "For real. Let's just go someplace quiet."

"Well, okay then!" Dinky grinned wide as she led them both into the sunlit living room. "Funny you should ask for that! My mom really likes the peace and quiet, when she's not listening to music, that is."

"Uh huh..." Rainbow Dash muttered, each hoofstep like a cane plodding through wet concrete.

"In fact, if she had her way, she'd be quiet all the time!" Dinky sing-songed. "Like, forever!"

"Mmmm!" Twilight was misty-eyed at this point. Rainbow flung her a glare.

"In fact, she once joked about building this sound proof chamber and digging a hole in the ground so she could lie there and—"

Twilight immediately broke into sobs. Rainbow Dash flung a blue wing up to cover her face and cleared her throat dramatically to mask the sound. "Ahem. Look, Dingy, was it?"

"Dinky."

"Right. Dinky Hooves. Daughter to... uh... Derpy Hooves..." She gulped. "Residents of Ponyville... which is in Equestria... which is in the world." She blinked, twitching. "Light side."

"Oh Celestiaaaaaaa!" Twilight cracked, covering her face and hissing into her forelimb. "It'ssoterribllllle..." She produced muffled sob after muffled sob.

Dinky blinked at Twilight, then back at Rainbow. "I don't get it. Is this place a mess? I cleaned up just a moment ago! Mommy always loves it when she comes back to a clean house!"

"Mraaaaaa-haaa-haaaaaaugh!" Twilight bellowed into her hooves, her coat soaked with tears.

Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. Her entire body sagged to the carpet with a heavy sigh. "Look. Just... just sit down for a moment, will ya, kid?"

Dinky slowly nodded, slowly sat in a chair, slowly gave Rainbow her avid attention.

Rainbow paced around a few times, her shuffling hooves forming percussion to Twilight's muted cries. At last, she spun to face Dinky, bearing down on the filly like the edge of a blue thunderstorm. "Dinky Hooves, this morning... th-there was an accident at the post office."

"An... accident...?" Dinky stammered.

"Yes. It started at the assembly line... with your mother, Derpy. And... sh-she got mixed up with a package that was supposed to be carried across Equestria."

"My... mother...?" Dinky mewled.

"And... and the chariot carrying your mother crashed. The package that she was in fell into Ghastly Gorge. I... uh... I was there, Dinky... and... uh..." Rainbow took a deep, deep breath and finally said, "She's dead, Dinky. Your mother passed away this morning. She's gone. I... I'm so very sorry."

Dinky blinked. She blinked again. Then she broke into outrageous giggles. "Heeheeheehee!"

Twilight's face yanked up, her puffy eyes exploding in shock.

Rainbow's mouth had about fallen to the floor. She exchanged looks with Twilight, then gawked at Dinky. "Hey... Hey kid. Are you... uh... are you alright?"

"Hahahaha..." Dinky wiped the edges of her eyes dry. "My Mommy? Dead?"

"I'm afraid so, kid."

"That's impossible!"

Rainbow Dash winced. "She fell from hundreds of feet, ricocheted off the canyon walls, and... uh... kinda sorta became quarry eel food." Twilight smacked her in the back. Rainbow snarled, "Look, that's how it friggin' happened, okay?! It ain't pretty, but I was there and I tried to stop it but it was too late and... and..." Rainbow sighed once again. "I'm so sorry, kid. But she's really, truly gone."

"No, she isn't!" Dinky giggled again. "I just talked with her three minutes ago!"

Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow. "Wat."

Twilight leaned in. "She... she was here?!" Her tears instantly vanished, replaced by a gaping smile. "In this very house?"

"Nope!" Dinky hopped down from the chair and waddled over to the end table. She pulled the sound stone off in her teeth. "Ptooie!" She spat it into her hoof and held the blue shard high. "Through this! See?!"

Rainbow Dash grimaced, inching away from the small rock as if it was radioactive. "Uhhh... I see a shiny blue turd..."

"It's a sound stone, silly!" Dinky grinned even wider. "We used it to talk to each other all the time!"

"You and your Mom?"

"Yup!"

"Like... instantaneous communication...?"

"Yup yup!"

Rainbow Dash glanced over her shoulder at Twilight. Twilight shrugged, then leaned forward. "Could you... uhm... talk to her right now?"

"Sure! Just listen!" Dinky held the shard in two hooves and began rubbing it like a lamp. "Mommy! Dinky to Mommy! Hello?" She brought the dull thing to her ear. Nothing happened. The filly frowned and began rubbing it more vigorously. "Come in, Mommy! It's Dinky! It's your Muffin! Come onnnn! Talk to me!"

Twilight Sparkle was chewing on the end of her hoof at this point. With a twitch of her wings, she gazed sadly at Rainbow Dash. Rainbow was simply shrugging the whole time.

"Funny..." Dinky paused to tap the tip of her chin in thought. "Why isn't it working?" She then gasped. "Oh, duhhh!" She bopped herself in the horn. "Heehee! She flew somewhere off course, and the long distance travel is messing with the signal! Of course! Well... I was talking with her a few moments ago. I'm pretty sure she'll call me again later, on her own time of course. Heehee. You know, for such a good mailpony, she really doesn't know when to time stuff well!" Dinky winked. "Good thing I'm always around to look after her. Heehee! I love my Mommy so much!"

"Wow. You sound... uh... really attached, kid."

"Rainbow, shhh!"

Rainbow turned to frown at Twilight. "What?"

Twilight cleared her throat and trotted forward. "So, you were talking to her?" she asked the foal. "To your mother? Just now?"

"Uh huh uh huh..." Dinky nodded and nodded again. "Right when the signal was still good. I really don't know what's happening right now. But, like I said, she'll probably ring me up later. We've got matching stones, y'know! Very rare!"

"And these... talking stones—"

"Sound stones."

"Right... did they tell you where your mother was?"

"Well, no, but she described a bunch of super tall mushrooms!"

Rainbow Dash's eyes were thin. "Mushrooms."

"Yup! Isn't the life of a mailpony awesome?" Dinky hopped around the two flabbergasted mares. "When I grow up, I wanna travel the world just like her! Maybe I'll get to see giant mushrooms too! Isn't that exciting?" She skidded to a stop on gray hooves. "Oh! Darn! Where are my manners? I told Mommy that you two were trotting up to the front door, and she suggested I make you some ice water! Let me get right on that." She curtsied while trotting backwards. "Rainbow Dash... Your Highness..." She turned and skipped happily into the kitchen.

"Huh..." Rainbow rubbed her chin. "You know any place in Equestria that has huge mushrooms?"

Twilight bopped Rainbow on the head.

"Ow ow ow..." Rainbow winced.

"Rainbow, don't you get it?" Twilight scowled. She leaned in to whisper tightly in Rainbow's ear. "The poor little filly is in denial!"

"Denial?"

"She can't bear the weight of the truth," Twilight said in a heavy breath. "The poor thing would be crushed by the pain of loneliness she'd be facing. This whole... 'sound stone' thing is her way of coping."

"Ah jeez..." Rainbow Dash's ears instantly folded. "That sucks."

"Besides, have you ever seen a filly that darn happy before?"

"I dunno. I mean, I've never been around Derpy's kid all that much."

"Even still, this is at unnatural levels of joy."

"Okay, so... like... what the hay?" Rainbow Dash exclaimed hoarsely as the sound of running water echoed from the kitchen. "Since when did kids act that crazy? I mean, heck, I've lived through two parents' deaths, Twilight, and on both occasions I just took the truth when it was given to me, no matter how hard it was. I didn't make up some crazy mushroom fantasy on the spot!"

"Who said it was all on the spot?" Twilight thought out loud.

"Huh?"

Twilight sighed. "Rainbow, think about it. Ponyville's a small town. How do we know that word of Derpy's death didn't reach Dinky before we did?"

"Oh jeez..." Rainbow winced. Heavily. "You don't suppose the little scamp heard the wrong thing before we even came here to do the right thing?"

"It would make a lot of sense, don't you think?" Twilight pointed towards the kitchen. "And now that she's got two adults positively confirming it..."

"Gnnnngh!" Rainbow Dash slapped her own forehead. "I'm so stupid! I should have flown straight here and done what I was supposed to instead of speeding towards your treehouse and venting like a coward!"

"Rainbow, you're my friend!" Twilight exclaimed. "There's no shame in wanting to share the load!"

"But it was mine to bear and bear alone! Ugh!" Rainbow slumped to her hooves. "Why do I suck so badly today?! First I let Derpy down, and now Dinky..."

"Rainbow. Rainbow!" Twilight gripped the pegasus' shoulders as the running water cut off across the condo. "Listen to me. Now's not the time to be thinking about ourselves. Whether or not we've made mistakes in the past is not important. We have to focus on the here and now."

"How so? We've still got to break the news to Dinky!"

"Right, and we should go about it carefully."

"You mean...?"

Twilight nodded. "Let's play along with this 'sound stone' business."

Rainbow frowned. "You've gotta be kidding me."

"Absolutely not!" Twilight hissed as the little gray shape bounded closer. "This is for Dinky's own good! The softer we can let the dark truth sink in, the better she'll be able to handle it in the long run!"

"But Twilight—!"

"The entire rest of her young adult life is going to be shaped by what happens this very moment!" Twilight hissed. "Let's not blow it!" Clearing her throat, she stood up in time to curtsey before Dinky's offering. "Why thank you, Miss Hooves!" She telekinetically lifted the glass of water. "What a kind little hostess, you are!"

"Just call me 'Dinky,' your Highness!" The foal curtsied back and then offered a glass to the pegasus. "Rainbow?"

"Uh... jee... th-thanks..." Rainbow took the cup in a rattling hoof and wheezed, "Wow! Water! My favorite!"

"Would you like to wait around until my mother calls again?" Dinky asked with a wide grin. "I'm sure we have lots to talk about! You two are the most awesome ponies in this town, after all!"

"Oh, absolutely!" Twilight said in her most princessy tone ever. "Isn't that simply divine?"

"Totally radical!" Rainbow said through grinning teeth. "Ponies who are awesome... and alive..." The cheek beneath her left eye twitched. "Like your m-mom!"

"Heeheehee!"

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