• Published 2nd Dec 2013
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Adventures on the Friendship Express - GreenS21



Spin-off story to "Sonic Generations: Friendship is Timeless", taking place during the train ride to Canterlot.

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Fun and Games Pt. II: Casino Park

Blaze, Silver, and Zecora were walking along through Ponyville together with the Cutie Mark Crusaders, Blaze and Silver trying to answer the four fillies’ questions as best they could while Zecora calmly answered the questions Babs Seed had for her. As they were walking, they came across something that Silver and Blaze found odd. It looked like a large green butterfly cocoon, but it had a mailbox, a small muffin box, and a small pot with flowers in front of it. ‘D. Hooves’ was written on the sides of the mailbox.

“What’s that?” Silver asked as they got closer.

“Ah, that is the home of Ponyville’s resident mailmare, though it’s safe to say, at the moment, she’s not there,” Zecora answered.

Silver looked over at the zebra, “Mailmare?”

Sweetie Belle piped up, “Yeah, remember, Silver? You and Blaze helped rescue her earlier!”

Blaze looked down at the unicorn and asked, “Earlier? You mean that gray pegasus pony?” Sweetie Belle nodded in confirmation. By this time, they had reached the front of the cocoon and Blaze knelt down to peer inside, seeing a small blue pillow that read ‘Home Sweet Home’ inside. “Why does she live in a… chrysalis?” she wondered.

Scootaloo asked, “Chrysalis? The Changeling Queen doesn’t live with her. She lives by herself in that cocoon.”

Blaze turned her head to look at the orange pegasus with a raised eyebrow, “What? Chrysalis is another word for a cocoon, Scootaloo.” Zecora suppressed a slight chuckle with her hoof at this clarification.

Before anyone could say anything more, they all heard a voice call, “Hey!” They all turned to see the cocoon/home’s owner coming towards them, a small wrapped treat being balanced on her slightly extended left wing and a large purple cat following her. As Big and Derpy came to a stop in front of the cocoon, the latter asked, “What are you all doing in front of my home?”

Blaze stood up as Silver said, “We were just walking along when we saw it, Derpy. We didn’t mean to… You really live in this thing?”

One of Derpy’s eyes looked up as she smiled, “Uh-huh! After I got out of it and it didn’t fall apart, I thought it would make a nice home!”

Blaze stepped back and looked at the green cocoon as she said, “Forgive me for saying so, Derpy, but it doesn’t look very… comfortable. And with that hole, it must get quite cold when the temperature drops.”

Derpy trotted in front of the cocoon as she shook her head, “Nuh-uh! It’s not like that at all, Blaze!” She expertly flipped her treat over to her right wing and set it down on top of her muffin box before crawling into the chrysalis, fluffing her pillow. She laid her head down on it as she said, “It was actually really warm inside this past winter! And with the hole in it, I can stretch my legs out and keep my muffins close to me when it starts to rain! It’s the perfect home for me right now!”

Blaze and Silver looked down at her, a bit amazed at how she was able to tolerate living in what was essentially an open home. Big spoke, “I live in a hut surrounded by trees. Froggy and I usually get wet when it rains.”

Derpy gasped and stuck her head back out of her chrysalis, “Oh no, Big! That sounds terrible!”

Big replied, “No, not really. Froggy likes getting wet.”

Derpy sighed, “Oh, okay then.” She reached over to her wrapped treat and pulled the wrapper off of it, revealing a toasted muffin. Her eyes lit up when she saw it, but she soon frowned, “Oh no! My muffin got cold! They taste so good when they’re fresh and warm…”

Blaze walked over to the pegasus and knelt down in front of her. She held her right hand out, “Here, let me see it, Derpy.” The mailmare held the baked treat out to the princess, Blaze taking it in her hand and folding her fingers around it. Soon, a faint glow shone out from under the muffin, small flames peeking out from underneath the wrapper. After several seconds, she handed the muffin back to Derpy, “There, how’s that?”

Derpy took it back in her hooves and, upon feeling it and looking at it, she gasped, “That’s much better! Oh, thank you so much!”

The gray pegasus leapt up and wrapped Blaze in a hug, still managing to hold onto her muffin. “Erm… You’re welcome…” Blaze muttered, feeling quite squeezed by the pegasus’ forelegs. She finally managed to wiggle out and push Derpy back, the blonde mailmare falling onto her bubble butt and happily munching her muffin.

“Yay!” Big said, happy that Derpy was happy again.

“Wow, Blaze! What’d ya do?” Apple Bloom asked.

Silver spoke, “She used her fire powers to heat Derpy’s muffin up without burning it.” He looked at Blaze and sheepishly asked, “Uh, right, Blaze?”

Blaze nodded, “Yes, that’s correct, Silver.” She looked down at her hands as she held them up in front of her, “To think, there was a time where I was teased about these powers so much that I actually considered them a curse. But then…”

Zecora spoke, “The cruel jeers of others can cause one to falter, no doubt, but through friendship new understanding can come about.”

Blaze knelt down and rubbed Babs’ head as she nodded, “Yes. And that’s why I believe in Sonic and the others. No matter what they may be caught in the middle of right now, I’m sure that, as long as they stay together, they will be fine.”

________________________________________

“Unh!” Twilight groaned as she crashed into what could only be a very large green pinball bumper, the unicorn feeling the force of the impact in the split second before it forcibly pushed her away, just moments before Applejack collided back first into the same bumper.

Similar things were happening to the others as well. Spike and Rainbow Dash were being bounced between two rows of bouncy triangles, occasionally brushing past each other as they tried to get out of the enclosed area they were in. Shining Armor and Cadance were sliding against a wall, gravity pulling them down along it until they reached a large flipper. It shot up as they slid along it, sending them hurtling upwards across the inclined ground. And Fluttershy and Rarity kept trying to slide down, but some kind of booster on the ground kept shooting them back up.

The only ones who weren’t getting bounced around painfully (at least not quite as painfully) were Sonic, Tails, and Pinkie, all three of them having curled up into balls and letting gravity and luck have its way with them as they bounced around the pinball table. Eventually, Tails managed to roll down towards the bottom of the table, but as he slid alongside the wall leading down to one of the flippers, he gasped and uncurled, throwing out his tails and legs and sliding as he tried to stop himself.

As he reached the curve, he managed to plant the ends of his tails and his feet up against the wall and, after several seconds of securing himself, came to a stop. He sighed in relief as the sudden ride came to a stop, but as he looked up, he gasped, “Whoa, Sonic!” He quickly wedged his back against the wall and held up his hands straight up as the hedgehog came rolling down towards him.

Sonic uncurled just before he reached Tails, letting out a grunt as the fox’s hands pressed against his torso. After a second, he looked down at Tails and said, “Ugh, thanks for the stop, buddy.”

Tails smirked back, “Hey, it’s good to stop once in a while, don’t you think?” Before Sonic could respond, Tails exclaimed, “Heads up!”

Sonic turned his head to look back over his shoulder and, after a second, flipped over onto his back with a “Whoa!” He held open his arms and, a second later, a lavender unicorn crashed into him, Tails buckling a bit from the force of the impact. Twilight lifted herself up a bit a moment later and Sonic grinned, “Hey, how’re you doing?”

Twilight glared at him, “Well, I was thinking of asking you how I looked, but…”

Before any more could be said, Shining called, “Twily!” Twilight, Sonic, and Tails looked to see Cadance trying to slow the stallion down, having managed to get off the table enough to fly. Despite her best efforts, Shining still came into contact with Twilight’s backside, albeit with much less force than if Cadance hadn’t been helping him. “Sorry,” he groaned, feeling the side of his chest with a hoof.

Cadance hovered above them with her wings and looked around before asking, “How did we end up on a giant pinball table?”

Sonic spoke up, “I think we should focus on getting off of it right now.” He looked around Twilight, up towards Spike, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Fluttershy, none of them seeming like they were having much luck at the moment. “Hey Cadance, as long as you’re up and you’ve got magic, maybe you could help them out?” Sonic asked.

Before Shining Armor or Twilight could say anything, Cadance responded, “Certainly. But what next?”

Tails looked towards the moving flippers that were just feet away and said, “We might be able to get off this table by going down the drain. But if we’re gonna go down it without any help, we’re going to have to time it right or those flippers will send us back up.”

Suddenly, Rainbow Dash managed to find her hoofing and shot off one of the table walls, using her wings to fly above its surface. She shot down towards the group as she called, “I’ve had it with this! Coming through!”

As she shot underneath Cadance, Tails held out a hand in the pegasus’ direction, “Wait, Rainbow Dash!” It was too late; just as Rainbow was about to fly down the drain, the flippers flipped and hit her.

“WHOA!” Rainbow Dash cried as she was sent shooting up the table, a rainbow streak bouncing across the table and colliding with Rarity and Fluttershy as they were coming down just before intercepting Spike, Pinkie Pie, and Applejack in turn. As the pile of ponies came back down, it managed to hit Cadance and then the group bunched together before going past the flippers straight down the drain, everybody screaming all the while.

After about half a minute, the group was deposited out of a blue tube onto carpeted ground in a jumbled heap, some groans rising up from the pile as they laid there. A couple of seconds passed before Shining asked, “Is everybody all right?”

There were some hesitant, incomplete answers to the stallion’s question, so Sonic grunted and spoke up, “Put another way, did anyone break anything?” There were clearer responses to that question, as everybody answered that they were all still in one piece and in relatively good health, all things considered. With this confirmed, the group began to disentangle from each other, everyone managing to get out of the mass without too much difficulty.

As he raised himself up to a sitting position, Tails rubbed the back of his head as he sighed, “That wasn’t one of our better landings…”

Twilight looked over at him and said, “Well, it was better than some. At least this one didn’t involve running from predators that fight each other for the right to devour us.”

Tails, Sonic, Cadance, and Shining Armor looked at the lavender unicorn at that, Tails looking away a second later as he muttered, “Not sure I want to know the story behind that…”

Spike spoke up, bringing them all back to the present, “Where are we?” The rest of the group looked around, standing up as they did so. A night sky full of stars hung above them, the city around them brightly lit with a wide selection of colors. The group stood on a plush red carpet, which fit in with the casino theme of the city that the giant slot machines, roulettes, and tables gave off.

“This is that city we passed through while making our way to where Eggman’s base was located that one time,” Sonic said after a moment.

Tails nodded, “Right. It never sleeps, kind of like a real casino…”

Fluttershy murmured, “It sure looks pretty at night.”

Twilight looked at Sonic and Tails and asked, “So where are we in relation to Twinkle Park?”

Sonic scratched his head for a moment before shrugging, “Uh, pretty far away?”

Applejack asked, “Far away? That ain’t exactly comfortin’, Sugar-hog.”

Sonic replied, “No, normally it wouldn’t be. But distance isn’t a big deal for us at the moment.” He looked at Tails and asked, “Right, Tails?”

Tails thought for a moment before saying, “Right! We can use the Warp Ring to get back to Twinkle Park in no time!” Everyone perked up upon hearing this, but when Tails reached into his left tail to pull out the ring, his smile faltered. “Huh? Wait, I know I put it…” He continued to check his twin appendages for a minute before saying, “I… I don’t have the ring anymore!”

Everyone looked shocked at this, Rainbow yelling, “WHAT?! You lost it?!”

Tails exclaimed, “No, I didn’t!”

Applejack asked, “Then why don’t ya have it, Tails?”

Tails replied, “I don’t know! I had it with me, I know I did! I checked after we got off both the roller coaster and the carousel! I could feel its weight the entire time we were inside that castle!”

Sonic looked up at the tube the group had fallen down and said, “If it fell out on the pinball table, it should’ve come down by now. There’s only one gutter and everything gets pulled down.”

Tails nodded, “Right! And I still have my radar and the Chaos Emeralds with me! I don’t know how this happened!”

Twilight held a hoof to her chin, “If it’s not here, but you had it the whole time we were in that castle, then where could it be?”

Cadance thought for a moment before saying, “It must still be back at Twinkle Park, back where we went through the portal. It must’ve somehow slipped out right before we entered the portal. That’s the only thing I can think of.”

Rainbow groaned, “Ugh, great! So now we’re stuck here?” She turned and glared at Sonic, “Thanks a lot, Sonic! This is your fault, you know!”

While Tails pulled out his radar, Twilight asked the cyan pegasus, “Now, why is it Sonic’s fault, Rainbow Dash?”

Rainbow answered, “Because he’s the one who took off running back there and we had to catch up with him! If we hadn’t been going so fast, Tails wouldn’t have dropped the Warp Ring!”

Sonic crossed his arms as he looked square at Rainbow, “Yeah, uh, FYI, Dash: Tails usually does carry a lot of things around in his tails, and he’s never had to worry about dropping anything no matter how fast he goes. Like he said, if he dropped one thing, he should’ve dropped everything he had, but you notice he didn’t.”

Rainbow argued, “You still took off on us! We wouldn’t have gone through that portal if you’d waited instead of running off!”

Rarity rolled her eyes as she spoke up, “Oh yes, Rainbow Dash. You have EVERY right to be angry at Sonic for over something like this. After all, your own impulsiveness has NEVER gotten anypony in trouble before, which is exactly why you were right behind him back there: you were trying to stop him, not because you were suspicious of that mirror like the rest of us.”

Rainbow demanded, “What’s that got to do with anything right now?! We’re stuck here without that Warp Ring!”

Sonic said, “We can’t be stuck here, Dash. Portals always show up when it’s most convenient. Come on, how many times today has a portal shown up when we’re inside of another portal?”

Pinkie smiled, “Portals inside of portals… Ooh, portal-ception!”

Sonic continued, “There has to be a way back to Twinkle Park somewhere around here.”

Pinkie grinned, “That’s how psychology works!”

Some of the others looked at her at that, Twilight asking, “Why’d you say that, Pinkie?”

Pinkie replied, “Because it works like that, right?”

Sonic shrugged, “Uh, sure…”

Suddenly, Tails spoke up, “Guys, I’ve found something!” Everyone gathered around the fox as he used his stylus to adjust what his radar was showing. As he moved it, a very faint signal came into view. “It looks like there’s a portal somewhere up ahead. It might take us back to Twinkle Park,” Tails said.

Spike smiled, “Wow, that was quick, Tails!”

Sonic and Rainbow Dash looked over at each other, the latter rubbing the back of her head as she said, “Uh, sorry about getting mad at you just now, Sonic…”

The blue hedgehog waved a hand, “Hey, that’s okay, Dash. I’ll admit that I was a bit hasty back there and I’m sorry for it. I should probably work on that.”

Rainbow snickered, “Whoa, easy there, speedy. You’re doing it again.” Sonic rolled his eyes, but smirked all the same.

Applejack spoke, “C’mon, y’all, let’s get movin’ so we can get outta here.” Everyone nodded and they started making their way into the city, heading in the direction of the signal Tails’ radar was receiving.

As they walked, Cadance looked at the fox and asked, “Do you have any idea where this portal might lead, Tails?”

Tails shook his head, “No, not yet. We’re too far away to get a clear reading; considering the distance, it’s kind of surprising I actually picked it up.”

Shining said, “Well, let’s hope it will take us back to Twinkle Park, otherwise…” He trailed off, but everybody knew what he was getting at.

Twilight turned to Tails and asked, “Do you think something else could’ve happened to the Warp Ring, Tails? You know, besides it falling out?”

The fox scratched his head with his left hand, “I don’t think so, but I’m not sure. I’ve really never dropped anything I was carrying around in my tails. At the very least, I hope it’s still at Twinkle Park somewhere. Between the portal and the pinball table, I got kind of disoriented, but I had it before we went through the portal and I never felt that robot search me. This is very confusing…”

________________________________________

Back at Twinkle Park, the robotic tour guide merrily floated around the park, weaving around the castle towers and hovering over the castle as it hummed a merry tune, an expression of satisfaction on its screen. After about a minute, it came to a stop and brought out its arms, bringing its right arm up to its screen. And clutched between its fingers was none other than the group’s Warp Ring.

“Of course you didn’t feel anything, you little kit; I never touched you! But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways of frisking somepony. As for your getting back here… If what I’ve read is true… Well, guess what? In your dreams!” it mockingly said before resuming its route.

________________________________________

Sonic and the others were currently caught up in a battle against Eggman’s robots. Following the city’s roads as best they could while ultimately aiming for the portal Tails’ radar had picked up had led them closer to it, but also led them to some precarious situations. They’d had to ride a few giant dice blocks to get over gaps in the road while using bouncy green platforms to get across others, and of course they had encountered Eggman’s robots at various points in between, each group seeming bigger than the last.

The group of robots they were caught up in battling now was mostly made up of Egg Pawns as well as several Flappers, Camerons, and Egg Knights. Despite being a sizable group of robots, Sonic and company were having little trouble handling them. Sonic, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie Pie were working closely together, Pinkie bouncing on and around the robots to confuse them while Sonic punched or kicked them and Rainbow Dash kicked them while flying at high speed, and Applejack was bucking the heads of Egg Pawns off their bodies, Shining Armor and Rarity doing the same when they weren’t using magic alongside Twilight and Princess Cadance. And Tails and Spike were helping each other, Tails flying up to attack the flying robots while Spike tripped and did whatever he could against the ground robots.

After the last of the robots was destroyed and the group had caught their breath, Tails and Rainbow Dash flew up to the sides of the door leading to the next area and each pulled out a switch on the wall, causing the door to open. Beyond the opening, the group could see a glass ledge hanging over the next section of road. “Wow, this city sure has a lot of these ledges, huh?” Shining asked as he used his magic to carefully lift the bottom glass out of the frame.

“Yeah, it sure does. Having magic sure is handy here; we don’t have to break these things to get past them,” Sonic noted, getting down and slipping under the glass, dropping down to the road below. The others did the same, Shining placing the glass back into place as he dropped down onto the red rug road below.

Twilight looked around after everyone had landed and said, “This city is really amazing. It’s so bright and alive, even at night like this.”

Tails nodded, “Yep. It’s like a giant outdoor casino; that’s why all the buildings and roads look like they do.”

Cadance smiled, “It is beautiful. It’s too bad we can’t see more of it in our time here.”

Sonic chuckled, “Yeah, it’s a shame. The first time we were here, Tails, Knux, and I had a deadline to meet, and this time we’ve got time and space to save. We’re definitely not getting a chance to see a lot of this city any time soon.”

Fluttershy came up alongside him and said, “I’m sure you’ll get to see it all soon, Sonic. But for now, I think we should just keep moving.” Sonic nodded and the group continued on their way.

After passing through a brightly lit passage at the end of the road, the group found a set of springs against the wall across from them. At the top, they found they could take two paths that looked like they would lead to the same area or a third hallway that went up, the frame of its entrance lined with curious metal bumps. Spike walked over to the entrance and looked up the hall before turning to Sonic and Tails and asking, “What’s up there?”

Tails walked over to him and said, “I don’t know.” Taking a peek himself, he added, “I’m pretty sure this was closed off last time we came this way. I don’t remember going up here.”

Rainbow Dash trotted next to him and said, “Let’s take a look, then! Seems like we’re going that way anyway; there might be something cool up there!”

Pinkie chimed in, “Or it could be something super fun, or something that could help us get out of here faster, or all three!”

Applejack looked at Sonic and asked, “What do you think, Sonic?”

The blue hedgehog scratched his head for a moment before saying, “Well, let’s take a look at least. Like Tails said, we couldn’t go up there last time, so we might as well see what we missed.” Everyone agreed with this idea and they all walked through the entrance, making their way up the slanted hallway.

After a couple of seconds of walking, the group reached the end of the hallway, which emptied out into a small, square-shaped room. It had the same red carpet as a lot of the roads and paths in the city and there were black and white diamond shapes on the far right and left sides of the room. There was no wall across from the group; just an opening that had a walkway attached to it and the letters ‘VIP’ hanging above and around the walkway.

“What’s this?” Shining wondered as he looked at the brightly lit letters.

After a moment, Tails spoke, “Um, I think this is the entrance to the V.I.P. room.”

Applejack looked at him, “V.I.P. room?”

Tails nodded, “Yep. High risks, high returns. Only high rollers would try their luck here.”

Pinkie bounced up and down, “Oh boy! That sounds like fun! Let’s go play!”

Fluttershy murmured, “I don’t think that’s a good idea, Pinkie…”

Tails heard her and said, “I think you’re right, Fluttershy. We don’t have time to get caught up in games right now, so we shouldn’t keep going without a good reason.”

Spike protested, “But we could win big here! We’ve had lots of luck today!”

Cadance smiled softly down at him, “That’s true, Spike, but unfortunately, it hasn’t always been the best of luck. Maybe we can come back later and play.” Spike looked disappointed, but nodded with a soft sigh.

As the group was about to turn to leave, Sonic looked forward and spotted something hovering near the walkway. “Hey, what’s that thing?” he asked while pointing between the ‘V’ and the ‘I’. The others looked where he was pointing and saw what appeared to be a TV screen on a cube that had a rotor attached to the top of it, floating around outside aimlessly.

Twilight used her magic to grab the box and pull it inside to get a closer look at it. Everyone pressed together so they could all get a look at it. As they looked at it, text began to scroll across the screen:

Feeling lucky? Wish you could get around faster? Look no further!

Take a chance and try your luck in the Big Super Happy-Go-Lucky Challenge! See if luck’s on your side in these fun challenges!

Shoot for the high score to complete the first challenge and move onto the second! Race to the end to complete the second challenge and you’ll be on easy street!

Entrance located in the V.I.P. room. Admission is free for participant and spectator alike.

(You’re bound to lose all your money in the end, but you have everything to gain and nothing to lose in this city anyway!)

“Well, that’s comforting,” Twilight remarked as she pushed the flying box back outside with her magic and released her hold on it. Without something holding onto it, the box resumed flying and floated out of sight to the right.

“The Big Super Happy-Go-Lucky Challenge sounds like fun! Let’s try it!” Pinkie exclaimed.

Rainbow grinned, “Yeah, let’s do it! With me around, we’re 20% luckier!”

Twilight started, “Wait, doesn’t ‘easy street’ mean…?”

Sonic asked, “Being rich? Yeah. It almost seems like that thing was saying this challenge thing is a good way to win a lot of money.”

Twilight said, “Then it probably wouldn’t help us get through this city quicker if we took it.”

Rainbow asked, “What are you, crazy, Twilight? The first line on that thing said taking this challenge could help us get around quicker! This challenge probably involves us blazing through this city!”

Applejack added, “And if we make some extra bits while doin’ it, it’ll be even better!”

Twilight let out a small sigh; Cadance placed a hoof on her shoulder and, when the unicorn looked up at the pink alicorn, she said, “It’ll be all right, Twilight. Let’s at least look into this challenge. If it gets us closer to the portal that Tails’ radar detected, we can abandon the challenge partway through to get to it.”

Twilight smiled up at her while Spike shrugged, “Well, part of a challenge is better than no challenge at all, I guess.” Rarity placed a reassuring hoof on his shoulder, causing the baby dragon to perk up almost instantly.

Cadance looked towards the letters across from the group and asked, “So where do we go to start this… challenge?”

Tails pointed at the walkway between the letters and said, “I don’t see anywhere else to go in here, so I’m going to say it’s at the end of that walkway.” The others agreed with this logic and they all crossed over to the other side of the room, walking between the giant letters and following the straight carpeted walkway past them.

After a short walk, the walkway emptied out onto a rectangular-shaped platform that, unlike the walkway they had been on, had a border around it that looked similar to the battlements on top of the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters except that the fact that the border was a gold color and was made of metal. To the group’s right, nestled into the corner, was what appeared to be an ordinary pinball machine, the machine’s black casing standing out against the brightly lit buildings around it.

The group soon noticed the machine and gathered around it, looking at it. “What’s this doing here?” Shining wondered.

Twilight noted while looking at the machine, “It looks pretty plain, doesn’t it? The table and scoreboard are there, but it doesn’t really have any markings on it.”

Tails held a hand to his chin, “Yeah… Maybe it’s like a controller for the challenge?”

Applejack looked at him and asked, “What do ya mean, Tails?”

The fox shrugged, “Well, with all the giant pinball tables, roulettes, and everything else this city is known for, it’s kind of weird to see a small, unassuming pinball machine in the middle of it all. I’m wondering if it controls, like, the flippers and acts as a better way to see what’s happening on one of the giant pinball tables.”

Cadance looked down at the lower left corner of the table and spotted a small plaque with writing on it. “Look, there’s something written here,” she said as she moved her head closer to read it. After a moment, she spoke, “It says, ‘Insert ball to begin challenge’.”

Fluttershy asked, “So this is where the… challenge begins?”

Sonic nodded, “Sounds like it. ‘Shoot for the high score’…” He turned and walked over to the other side of the platform, where a giant pinball table could easily be seen from the edge. Placing his left hand on his hip and holding his right hand above his eyes, he whistled as he looked at it, “Wow, this is sweet!”

Shining Armor, Spike (who hopped up on Shining’s back), Rainbow Dash, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie came over to stand at his sides while the others hung back a little bit, closer to the pinball machine. “Ooh, pretty!” Pinkie exclaimed while bouncing up and down.

“You said it, Pinkie! That’s a pretty fancy-looking pinball table!” Rainbow nodded.

Shining glanced at Sonic and asked, “You think it’s pretty awesome, huh Sonic?”

The blue hedgehog shrugged, “Eh, mostly because of the nostalgia. I don’t know if this is something new or they just designed it to look like this for this challenge, but this table definitely looks like it was taken straight from the Casino Night Zone on West Side Island!” Indeed, the pinball table that they were looking at stood out amongst the others the group had seen so far; a glance down revealed that it was hanging over the normal V.I.P. room pinball table. The table in question was mostly dark blue with red and yellow mixed in and it had neon lights in the shape of palm trees, spires with stars on them, and a large slot machine around it. It also had two golden statues of a certain two-tailed fox and neon signs that read ‘SONIC’ and ‘MILES’.

“Hey, Sonic, why does that one sign say ‘MILES’?” Spike asked while pointing at the sign.

“Uh, well…” Sonic glanced behind him, looking at Tails out of the corner of his eye. The fox had his left hand balled into a fist and was holding it up to his mouth, and he had an apprehensive look on his face as he glanced back at Sonic.

The blue hedgehog looked back at Spike and shrugged, “Eh, there were all sorts of signs in the Casino Night Zone. Tails and I never ran into anyone who could tell us what all of them were for when we were there.” Tails quietly gave a sigh of relief at that, hoping that would satisfy the dragon’s curiosity. Thankfully it did, since neither Spike nor any of the ponies questioned Sonic further.

Tails cleared his throat and, when everyone looked at him, he asked, “So what does everyone think? Should we give this challenge a try, or should we go back?”

Shining Armor shrugged, “Well, we’ve come this far. We might as well try it.” The others agreed with him, Rainbow, Pinkie, and Spike sounding the most enthusiastic.

Twilight then remembered something and asked, “Wait, that machine said we need to insert a ball, right?”

Cadance nodded, “Right, Twilight.” She looked towards the pinball table and said, “I guess that means we have to put a ball in place on that table.”

Twilight wondered, “But what can we use for a ball?” Sonic moved in front of her and placed his right hand on his hip, giving her a flat look. “What?” she asked after a moment. In response, Sonic curled up into a ball and shot around the area for a second before uncurling in front of her, wearing the same expression and standing in the same stance as before. She smiled, “Oh, right! ...Are you sure you want to do that, though, Sonic?”

The blue hedgehog shrugged, “Eh, it wouldn’t be the first time. I’ll be fine.”

Tails looked towards the machine, “Guess all we need now is someone to operate the machine.”

Shining rubbed the back of his head with a hoof as he said, “Uh, Twily and I mainly got into playing ‘Oubliettes and Ogres’ growing up. I don’t know if either of us would be any good at this pinball thing.” Twilight got a look on her face at that, but she evidently agreed with her brother since she didn’t say anything.

“I’ve never played pinball before…” Fluttershy murmured.

“Neither have I. Is there any real skill involved?” Cadance asked.

“Ah know plenty ‘bout apples and kickin’ a ball, but Ah don’t know nothin’ ‘bout this,” Applejack commented.

Rainbow boasted, “Come on, guys! How hard can it be? It’s just knocking a ball around!”

Rarity spoke, “I don’t think it’s quite that simple, Rainbow. It looks more sophisticated than that.”

Tails nodded, “Yeah, it’s easy to knock the ball around. Knowing where to aim the ball to rack up points is the real trick.”

Pinkie suddenly popped up between the rest of the group and the pinball machine and said, “Stand back, everypony! Let the master show you how it’s done!” She put on a pair of black sunglasses that she had gotten from somewhere, her eyes hidden behind them.

Tails confusedly asked, “Uh, Pinkie? Why are you wearing sunglasses?”

The pink pony shrugged, like the answer was obvious, “Duh! I don’t need my eyes or my ears for this, just my sniffer!” She turned and trotted over to the machine, oozing confidence with every step.

Sonic shrugged and called to her, “All right, Pinkie! We’re counting on you!” He then turned and leapt up onto one of the slabs at the edge of the platform, jumping towards the pinball table and curling up into a ball as he went down.

Once she was standing in front of the machine, Pinkie grinned, “Game ON!” She pulled a pair of headphones out of her mane (leaving some of them even more mystified as to where they came from) and slipped them over her ears as she stood up on her hind legs, putting her forehooves on the sides of the machine as a ball suddenly appeared in the machine, ready to be launched by the plunger.

While Pinkie pulled the plunger back, the others turned their attention to the giant pinball table, all of them moving closer to get a better look. They watched as Sonic was launched up by the plunger, the blue hedgehog curled tightly into a ball as he shot up the ramp, sideswiped a bumper, and went under a ramp before rolling down to the main part of the table.

As he rolled down towards the flippers, they shot up to send him back up the table, the hedgehog hitting a panel on the table and causing it to light up as he ricocheted off it to his left. He rolled down and passed through the slot next to the left bumper, causing the green light at its entrance to light up as he rolled down towards the flipper. Once again, unlike the flippers on the table that the group had ended up on when they arrived, which flipped randomly, it didn’t move until Sonic was right in the right position, sending him rolling up a tube that shot him up to a higher level on the pinball table.

As Sonic continued to bounce around the table, lighting up lights and beginning to rack up points on the big score counter above the table, Tails and Twilight got curious and turned their heads to look over at Pinkie, both of them seeing the pink pony still standing over the smaller table and looking like she was really getting into the game. After Sonic ended up in the large slot machine and got a matching row of three, Twilight and Tails looked at each other before moving to take a look at what the party pony was doing.

Peering over Pinkie’s shoulders, they saw that it was true; not only was she actually playing pinball on the machine, but a quick glance at the larger table revealed that the ball’s position mirrored Sonic’s perfectly. Even when the hedgehog was sent up to the higher levels on the pinball table, the ball went wherever he did. Tails and Twilight were both impressed; where did a machine like this come from?

Despite the pink pony’s best efforts, the ball soon ended up going down the drain, and a round of shouts from the others told Twilight and Tails that Sonic had done the same. A quick glance towards the larger table showed that the blue hedgehog was being put back into play while the ball reappeared on the smaller table. Pinkie pulled the plunger back and sent the ball back onto the playing field, soon beginning to rack up points once again. Unfortunately, gravity seemed to have it in for her for being messed with so many times, as, based on the way the ball was rolling, it looked like she was going to lose another ball.

Suddenly, the ball came to a stop in the middle of the field and stayed there for a moment before shooting to the left up a ramp! Tails and Twilight were surprised by this, until they heard Applejack shout, “Whoo-hoo! Nice save, Sonic!”

The two turned to look, seeing Sonic heading for the upper part of the table and hearing Shining Armor ask, “Can he really do that?”

Rarity spoke, “I don’t see why not. Just because he’s playing the part of the ball shouldn’t mean that he has to leave where he goes completely up to the flippers.”

Spike and Rainbow called, “Yeah, Sonic, you spin, ball!” Twilight and Tails noticed the blue hedgehog was doing another Spin Dash to stop and reorient himself to stay on course. Turning to look back at Pinkie Pie, it came as no real surprise that the party pony didn’t appear to be the least bit thrown off by Sonic’s attempts to stay in (at least it seemed that way; with those sunglasses and headphones on and the way she was handling the game, it was like she had become part of the machine!).

Both Sonic and Pinkie kept it up for as long as they could, with Sonic trying to give Pinkie an extra chance whenever he could and the party pony tilting the table in addition to controlling the flippers, but the game had to come to an end at some point. Sonic eventually went into the drain a second time, and then not long after being put back into play, he landed in the gutter for a third time, this time being dropped back into the viewing area with the others.

Upon uncurling and landing, Sonic looked over at Pinkie Pie and saw that she had fallen back onto her haunches. He hurried over to the pink pony as she was being comforted and raised up onto her hooves by Tails and Twilight. The three of them helped her back over to the others, where they removed her sunglasses and headphones to reveal she had a stone-faced expression on her face. She looked shiny thanks to the city’s lights and all the sweat on her face.

“That was incredible, Pinkie. You’re definitely the best pinball player I’ve ever seen,” Tails murmured soothingly.

“The game had to end at some point. Don’t feel bad about it ending like this, Pinkie,” Twilight added.

Sonic glanced up towards the top of the large pinball table and asked, “How did she do, anyway?” The others looked up as well, having been more focused on the action happening on the pinball table than Pinkie’s overall score.

Looking up at the scoreboard, the group could make out that it was a six digit number, but before they could register the actual number, panels flipped over and hid it, the panels displaying the words ‘CHALLENGE 1 CLEARED!’ Applejack grinned, “Whatever score she got, it was enough ta blow that challenge outta the water!”

The others began cheering at this, and Pinkie suddenly snapped out of whatever funk she was in and began screaming loudly, wrapping Sonic up in a tight hug with her forelegs in the process. When her grip loosened a little, Sonic took a step back and pointed at her while grinning, “This pony sure plays a mean pinball!” In the midst of their celebrating, a series of sky blue circles surrounded the group and, before they could react to them, they were teleported away in a beam of sky blue light.

Author's Note:

This chapter ended up being longer than I expected, so I decided to split it and classify the two parts as separate chapters. So if you don't exactly like the ending to this part (I don't exactly like it; hence why I waited to post it), don't worry; it immediately continues in the following chapter.

The opening of this chapter was meant to show how and what some of the other characters are doing at this point in the overall story. I'm sure there will be more scenes like it in upcoming chapters. I don't want to completely kick them all to the curb, but I'm not certain how to have them show up and help the main group, so that's why I'm going to include these scenes.

Can't think of much else to say. So onto the notes!

For anyone wondering about why Derpy is living in a cocoon, it's something that's only been shown in the main comics. I don't know if it's considered to be her actual home, but unless she's shown owning another home in the show at some point, I'm going to go along with what IDW has shown.

The group's first experience with Casino Park's pinball tables was inspired by one of the scenes in the "Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog" episode, "Attack on the Pinball Fortress".

The pinball challenge is a big reference to the Casino Night DLC for the console/PC version of "Sonic Generations":

*The spectator area looks similar to the part of the pinball table Sonic is standing on in the cutscene before the level starts.

*The pinball table looks like the CN pinball table, except it doesn't have the "Sonic Generations" logo here.

*The pinball machine that controls the giant pinball table looks similar to the pinball machine in the White World where you access the Casino Night level.

Various references are made to the lyrics of "Pinball Wizard".

I think that's about it. Get ready for some dreaming in the next chapter!

Music:

Gatherings - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQ9YUyBkoYg

Pinball Attack! - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCrJzo6C_WM

Giant Casino - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVRVdT6LNm0

Starting the Search - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiYGxnEofhg

Casino Park - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eUniedCF2g

Pinball Challenge - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ud432qsHww

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