• Published 6th May 2012
  • 2,096 Views, 186 Comments

Space Captain Pinkie Pie - terrycloth



Rainbow Dash reveals the little-known fact that pegasi can survive in outer space.

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24: Cherry and Trixie's Big Adventure

“So, Calibration,” Raindrops said, as she and Rainbow watched the weather team – and their small army of mind-controlled minions – start the slow process of coaxing a thunderhead out of the dry winter air. The moon had just set, and so supposedly the sun was rising, although they were still in the shadow of Canterlot. It was getting bright enough to see the snowy woodlands covering the mountainous terrain below them, at least.

“Yeah,” Rainbow Dash said. “We should definitely add as much calibration as we can to make sure this works right.”

“Do you actually know what calibration means?” Raindrops asked.

“Um… sort of?” Rainbow Dash said. “Mostly I just know that we need lots of it, more than any pony thinks we could possibly do. But we’ll show them!”

Raindrops sighed, and pulled out a notepad she kept in her saddlebags. She swooped down to a nearby cloud and set the pad on her forehooves, taking a quill in her mouth. “Right. Let’s start with the basics. You said Twilight was going to drop a building off the moon. How big is the building?”

“Um… like… 200, 300 feet across?” Rainbow Dash said. “And circular like a frisbee. So the same both ways.”

Raindrops frowned, and wrote down a few scribbles. “How many stories?”

“Just one,” Rainbow said. “But it’s like 30 feet tall.”

“And are we talking brick? Stone? Wood?” the other pegasus asked, taking her best guess at what Rainbow meant.

“I’m not sure…” Rainbow Dash said. “It looked sort of like metal, but it was the wrong color, kind of whitish, but it didn’t look like paint. Pottery maybe? The inside was metal.”

Raindrops took some more notes. “And no air means no terminal velocity? Gravity goes all the way up?” When Rainbow Dash confirmed that, she spent a while on the math. “Huh. We can do this. Cutting it close, though. We’ll need to calibrate the buck out of this.”

”Great!” Rainbow Dash said, enthusiastically. “Let’s do that!”

“That means getting exact numbers for our estimates,” Raindrops said, patiently. “I need the weight and surface area of the building, and the coefficient of friction.”

“Oh, so that’s why he wrote those out on the smart paper,” Rainbow Dash said. “He should have told me it was important.” She shrugged as Raindrops stared at her. “I kind of lost it in the sonic rainboom, along with my awesome lightning spear. All I have left is this –“

“Do you think you can find it?” Raindrops asked.

“Um… no,” Rainbow Dash said. “But I think I know some pony who might know the answers.”

===

“Cock-a-doodle dooooo!” crowed the farm’s rooster. The strained rope creaked as the blue unicorn swung slowly back and forth from the noose hung from a bare branch of a great tree at the edge of the apple orchard. Since she’d been hung by her hind legs instead of her neck, the Great and Powerful Trixie’s eyes flew open, and her horn started to glow with a spell to free herself.

The mechanism clamped to her forehead whirred, and a tiny hammer slammed into her horn near the tip, painfully disrupting her spell before it could form. Her cry of pain attracted the attention of the two sleepy earth ponies standing nearby.

“Hey, it works!” said the blond-maned mare, standing up from her nap. “Try it again!”

The blond-maned, pink-haired mare, with cherries for a cutie mark.

Cherry Berry. With little pink hearts in her eyes.

The other pony, a blue colt, shook his head. “I wouldn’t try that if I were you. The smallest glint from your horn will trigger the clockwork, and then – bam!”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie is not you,” she proclaimed proudly. “Trixie might have been surprised the first time, but channeling through a distraction is merely one of the – ow!”

Cherry Berry laughed. “That was great! Do it again!”

“Trixie will not!”

“Do it! Do it!” Cherry chanted, picking up a rake from the ground and approaching the trussed up magician, standing behind the other guard. “Dooooo it!” she said again, winking at Trixie.

“Look, miss,” the colt said, “repeated impacts have a small chance of causing horn fracture and –"

Trixie’s horn glowed -- whack went the hammer. This time, she didn’t cry out. Her eyes narrowed in concentration as she tried again, with no better luck.

“Stop!” the earth pony said. “I don’t want you to get hurt! Rainbow Dash told us not to let any of you get hurt!”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie is an escape artist beyond compare! These pathetic bonds will not hold Trixie!” She lit up her horn again, her eyes widening frighteningly as the hammer disrupted her spell again.

“Are you insane? Are you trying to –“ whack went Cherry’s rake on the blue colt’s head. “What?” he said, dizzily, before another blow from behind took him down.

“So, yeah,” Cherry Berry said, spitting out the weapon. “I’m not a zombie. Get it?”

Trixie dropped to the ground, having wriggled out of the pathetic attempt at a noose, and landed face first in the snowdrift below her. “Your signal was sufficiently unsubtle. Can you remove this device?” she asked as she clambered to her feet. “Trixie does not appreciate abuse of Trixie’s horn. It is, after all, her second most valuable asset.”

Cherry fished in the unconscious colt’s saddlebag for a key, and soon the clockwork inhibitor dropped to the ground. “I guess you really didn’t need me to rescue you,” she said. “And here I thought I’d finally get my chance to save the day, after those Rainbow-eyed bubbleheads forgot I was with you guys. Oh well. Next time!”

The rope glowed with Trixie’s aura as it hogtied the erstwhile guard. “Trixie is grateful for your presence,” she said. “Fighting off two earth ponies without magic, while not a story for the ages, might have been a bigger headache than repeatedly triggering that infernal device while you took your sweet time.”

“Well, excuse me for never having hit any pony before,” Cherry said, pouting.

Trixie’s expression softened. “You are excused. This time,” she said, haughtily. She leaned close to Cherry Berry’s face, and stared into her eyes.

The pink pony blinked, and tried to step back, only for Trixie to follow her pace for pace. Finally, still looking confused, she gave the unicorn a little kiss. Trixie leapt back, startled.

“You’re not my type,” Cherry said, “but if you want to play the rescued prince…”

“Trixie was studying your eyes!” Trixie protested. “Rarity’s work, presumably?”

“Oh!” Cherry said. “Yeah, she really saved my tail. A couple of the zombies almost remembered I was with you guys but the eyes changed their mind.”

Trixie’s horn glowed, and her irises were replaced with pink hearts as she copied the spell.

Cherry looked uncertain about the disguise. “I guess it’s worth a try. I’d better bring the rake, though.”

Cherry led Trixie to a weird carrot-themed house on a hill overlooking the Apple family’s main buildings. A unicorn from the guard was on duty alongside a cream-colored earth pony with a striped mane. Both had pink hearts in their eyes. “Hey, Bonsy,” Cherry said. “Guess who decided to join the herd?”

Bon Bon looked at Trixie suspiciously. “Do we have to take her?”

“All hail Rainbow Dash, fastest flier in Equestria!” Trixie said, holding out a hoof.

“No, really,” Bon Bon said. “I was looking forward to using her as a piñata.”

“She’s going to convert the rest of the prisoners,” Cherry Berry said. “She knows a mind control spell that’ll make them fanatical followers of Rainbow Dash in ten seconds flat!”

“Mind control?” Bon Bon said, grimacing.

“That’s restricted magic,” the grey-coated guard said, narrowing his eyes and pointing his horn at Trixie. “Still, if it’s to protect Rainbow Dash, I guess I can look the other way. I’d better escort her, though. This might be a trick.”

“I’ve got a rake. Unicorn magic is no match for a good rake.” Cherry Berry said, indicating the tool slung over her back. “Besides, wouldn’t that be going a bit further than ‘looking the other way’?”

“He’s trying to take credit for my idea,” Trixie said. “Trixie is familiar with this maneuver, and insulted that he thinks he can steal the spotlight.”

The guard snorted, but stood at attention. “Fine.”

“Keep an eye on her, Cherry. I don’t trust her,” Bon Bon added as the pair went inside.

Cherry Berry cracked up as soon as the door closed. “Can you believe it? Sweet Celestia, they’re so stupid!”

“Who is?” asked yet another mind-controlled zombie from the kitchen. She was frying something, and the smell of hay and carrots filled the air.

“Um, those ponies from town who don’t follow Rainbow Dash,” Cherry said. “Shifty got them to run around in circles again.”

“Again?” the pony in the kitchen asked. “At this rate he’s going to win for sure.”

“Win?” Trixie asked.

“Yeah, didn’t she tell you? We’re competing to be Rainbow Dash’s special somepony! I wasn’t much use in the fight, but I’m going to pull ahead when she gets a whiff of Golden Harvest’s special carrot-hay-fries.” An orange pony with an oranger mane came out, carrying a small dish of orange and yellow slivers balanced on her head. Her eyes were little pink hearts, like every pony else’s. “Oh, it’s you. I guess I’d better tell you the rules anyway, even if I’d rather gouge out my own eyes than see you win.”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie is not interested in Rainbow Dash’s attentions. Trixie wishes merely to see Rainbow become the ruler of all Equestria!”

“False humility, eh? Well, I guess that’s something no pony else tried,” Golden Harvest said. Cherry grabbed the plate off her head and set it on a hoof to start eating. “The rules are, don’t hurt any pony --”

“Trixie was hurt!” Trixie protested.

“You were stunned. That doesn’t count,” Cherry said. “Or at least, Rainbow Dash didn’t appear in a puff of smoke to correct Shifty when he said it didn’t count after stunning every pony.”

“She said she’s watching and grading us, so she could have appeared if she’d needed to,” Golden said. “So it must be alright.”

“Trixie sees,” Trixie replied. “Continue.”

“Don’t hurt any pony, make sure to smash the stupid jelly jars before any pony gets hurt, and make sure the elements of harmony don’t interfere with Rainbow’s secret project,” Golden Harvest said. “And before you ask, none of us know what it is, since it’s a secret.”

“These are good, Carrot Top!” Cherry Berry said, finishing her plate.

Golden Harvest pouted. “Please don’t call me that Berry Punchline.”

Cherry giggled. “I’m not nearly drunk enough for that to work as a double entendre this time. C’mon, Trix, let’s go convert the others to the glory of Rainbow Dash!”

Trixie saluted again. “All hail the Rainbow!”

“We’ve got them stashed in the basement,” Cherry said, leading the way towards a set of stairs heading down into darkness. For Golden Harvest’s benefit, she added, “Once they’re mind controlled, Rainbow will be totally safe. We’ll win for sure!”

‘Carrot Top’ did not have a dungeon in her cellar, although the overly long staircase might have implied as much. What she had was a root cellar in the back of her actual cellar, with a door that locked to keep out overly-clever Equestrian varmints. At the moment, she also had a trio of charcoal-coated unicorns of the royal guard, still in full armor.

“All hail Rainbow Dash!” Trixie proclaimed, confidently.

The unicorn in the middle stunned her with a blast of orange magic. Cherry Berry tried to hit him with the rake, but somehow found herself lifted off her feet by the rake in her mouth, flipped onto her back, and slammed into the stone floor hard enough to daze her.

“But we’re on your side!” she whimpered, as the spots in her vision started to clear. There was a flash of orange light, and suddenly she couldn’t move. Shifty was right, though, it didn’t hurt at all.

“I told you she was with them,” said the one in the middle, nudging Cherry with a hoof to verify that she was stunned. “Come on, let’s put them with the others.”

The other two unicorns moved to the sides, and pointed their horns at the door, ready to stun any pony who emerged as the apparent leader levitated out a key and unlocked the door, bracing himself for attack as he opened it. No attack was forthcoming. In fact…

“Ponyfeathers,” he said, looking back and forth through the door. “There’s nothing in here but carrots -- they’re trying a number three.”

“Check the ceiling?” suggested the one on the left.

“They’re probably just hiding under the carrots,” the other guard said.

The leader fired a few random stun blasts into the pile of carrots, then tossed Trixie and Cherry into the empty cell. “Well, I’m not falling for the third oldest trick in the book. I’m surprised Shining Armor would let them try something so stupid.” He closed the door, re-locked it, and the three guards returned to their post, guarding the cell which surely now held all six elements of harmony.

===

With a flash, Trixie and Cherry Berry appeared on a hill overlooking Sweet Apple Acres. The unicorn who’d teleported them saluted Shining Armor, who was standing nearby looking down at the farm.

“Thank you, Blazing Arrow,” Shining Armor said. “And thank you, Fluttershy. It looks like you saved us again.”

“Oh, it was really Angel Bunny who did all the work,” Fluttershy said, smiling. “Although he’s still a very bad bunny for having a tunnel burrowed into Carrot Top’s root cellar!” she added, glaring (but not staring) at the smug-looking rabbit, who continued to look awfully proud of himself.

“Never thought I’d be grateful to see one of them varmints on my farm,” Applejack said, shaking her head. “What now? The sleepover’s wrecked, and so are your jelly-jars.”

Shining Armor looked down at the zombie-infested farm angrily. “We get back the Elements of Harmony, we track down Rainbow Dash, and we stop her before she causes any more trouble.”

===

“Spike, do you still have the Elements?”

Spike turned over in his bed. “Just another five minutes, Twilight…”

A familiar aura lifted him out of bed and shook him until his eyes opened, and he realized it wasn’t Twilight magically forcing him awake this time. Shining Armor stared at him. “We need the Elements of Harmony.”

“They’re under ‘E’,” Spike said, annoyed. Shining Armor set him down and six ponies, scattered around the library, looked at the baby dragon expectantly. “Fine, I’ll get them, I’ll get them.”

“You stashed ‘em here? With Spike to guard them?” Applejack asked.

Shining Armor nodded as he headed downstairs, to where Spike was searching the shelves. “I wasn’t planning on zombies, but I was planning on being distracted making friends. There are guards patrolling all the streets, and I left a ward --”

Spike screamed and ran around the room, his right claw on fire. Shining Armor fetched the book Spike had just pulled from the shelf, and opened it to reveal it had been hollowed out, and now held the Elements of Harmony: five jeweled necklaces and a big crown. There was a hiss as Spike put himself out in the kitchen sink.

Shining Armor looked over towards the kitchen. “Huh. Twiley said Spike was immune to fire.”

===

Tracking down Rainbow Dash was a little harder. “How do you even track a pegasus?” Cherry Berry asked. She and Trixie were mostly recovered from the stun bolts, although they still felt a bit stiff. “Look for hoofprints in the clouds?”

Applejack shrugged. “Pinkie Pie never had any problems.”

Trixie looked up at the sky, through one of the library’s windows. “Trixie overheard that Rainbow Dash was working on a secret project, one that seems to involve all the pegasi from Ponyville. The zombies' primary instructions were to stop us from interfering.”

“I doubt they’re headed for the moon, then. Something weather-related perhaps?” Shining Armor asked. “If it wasn’t for the overcast skies, we could probably see it from here. But she took all the pegasi with her, so we don’t have any way to check.”

“Perhaps we could send for a pegasus in another town?” Rarity suggested.

Trixie concentrated, and a dangerous looking storm cloud formed in the middle of the library, hovering over the unicorn bust on the central table. She tilted her head left and right, and the cloud followed her gaze. “If one of you knows the spell to walk on clouds, perhaps Trixie could provide transportation.”

“Twilight says it’s easy, but I’ve been trying to learn it for months, with little success,” Rarity said. “I was hoping to sell a line of enchanted boots.”

Shining Armor frowned. “It’s not a difficult spell per-se, but it’s usually only cast by unicorns with weather-related cutie marks. Trixie’s talent is magic, so she might be able to learn it. Spike! Do you know where Twilight keeps the book of weather spells?”

“Find it yourself!” came a sulking voice from the kitchen.

“Um…” Fluttershy said.

“Yes, dear?” Rarity replied.

“I could… fly up and look for her,” the shy yellow pegasus said quietly.

“Are you sure you’re okay with that, sugarcube?” Applejack asked, concerned. “You’ve seemed a bit spooked lately, ever since the moon–“

Fluttershy eeped and curled up.

“Since the guard came to town?” Rarity suggested as an alternative.

Fluttershy looked up, and nodded. “I’m not quite so scared in the daytime. I could look for Rainbow Dash, if you want. Or we could just send for a pegasus in another town that would be a better flier, if you think that would be better. I wouldn’t want to let every pony down.”

“We’ll do both,” Shining Armor said. “Fluttershy can leave now, and we’ll have some pony gallop to Manehattan to –“

“Shouldn’t we just have Spike send Celestia a message?” Applejack said, cutting in. “Hay, the Princess might be able to see Rainbow’s secret project from Canterlot.”

“I’m afraid Celestia’s location and activities are currently classified,” Shining Armor said. “But you’re right, we should let her know what’s going on. Spike! Take a message!” He grinned. “I’ve always wanted to do that.”

“Go away!” Spike said from the kitchen.

===

Fluttershy burst through the snowy overcast layer, and spiraled up into the dim winter sunlight, spinning around to shed the last tufts of cold, clinging clouds. Breathing heavily, she leveled off into a gentle glide, to rest her wings a bit.

It wasn’t hard to spot Rainbow’s secret project. A few dozen miles to the north, a massive storm cloud loomed. From this distance, she couldn’t see the pegasi that had to be controlling it, but even if the weather in Equestria wasn’t completely under pegasus control, nothing about how it was forming was the slightest bit wild.

The puffs of cloud circling the top of the thunderhead that spelled out a query in Horse Code were another clue.

‘girl of my dreams, need wt, area, cf of hth’

Fluttershy’s glide took her down to cloudtop level, and her hooves skimmed through the mist until she spread her wings and gracefully landed on the puffy white expanse. “Oh Rainbow…” she said wistfully, then her expression hardened. “You’ve got a lot of explaining to do, young lady.”

Fluttershy folded her tired wings, and burst into a gallop, heading north towards the storm, to give her friend a chance to do just that.