• Published 1st Oct 2014
  • 3,109 Views, 414 Comments

Story Shuffle - FanOfMostEverything


Thirty-one one-shots inspired by thirty-one random Magic cards.

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7
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Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Cream Rinse sipped her tea and enjoyed the beautiful day. Maretropolis had many cafes, and they all had their charms. (Well, except the three hundred or so Queequegs scattered throughout the city, but those didn't really count.) The key charm of this particular cafe was that it actually served her. This was far from guaranteed. After all, she was the only pony holding her teacup with a prehensile tendril of hair.

Ponies ran by, screaming. The rest of the cafe's customers followed suit. It was kind of nice to know they weren't panicking because of Cream. Still, she was kind of curious about what was causing it.

She got her answer in a pair of earth ponies, or what had once been a pair of earth ponies. Now their skin was hairless and pallid, their eyes clouded and vacant. One was a huge stallion, staggering on distended hooves the size of ponyhole covers. His every step came with a sound like onions on a hot griddle. In his footsteps, cement crumbled and asphalt bubbled. The other was a mare, her enormous jaws making her nearly tip over with every step. Unhealthy greenish vapor, uncomfortably close to the color of Cream's own locks, leaked out between cracked teeth with her every breath.

They had no names for themselves; they no longer had the capacity. But the city knew them as Hoof and Mouth.

Part of Cream wanted to be a hero, to leap at the pair and do something useful with her powers for once. The rest remembered what had happened the last time she'd tried that. Still, when Hoof and Mouth showed up, there was only one thing they wanted.

"Huuuun-gryyyy," moaned Hoof, moving like a puppet with half its strings cut.

"Huuuun-gryyyy," agreed Mouth, more of her foul breath leaking out.

All they wanted was to feed, and they were in no mood for salads. What they did to their victims... Cream knew how terrible she'd been in the past, but she also knew she wasn't ever that horrible. She hoped she never would be.

A lilac streak zipped towards Cream, resolving itself into none other than Filli-Second. "Heya, Creamy! You're looking pretty sane, think you can look after Humdrum for a bit?"

Cream blinked. She'd completely missed the colt until he started clinging to her leg. Judging by his expression, he was still recovering from his trip on the Filli-Second Express. "I suppose, but—"

"Great! Back in a blink!" And then the speedster was gone, and it was just Cream and Humdrum against the Decaying Duo.

Cream coughed into a fetlock. "Um, so..."

Humdrum smiled at her. "Don't worry, Miss Rinse. The rest of the team should be here soon enough."

She nodded. "Good to know. It's just, well, after the last time I tried to help..."

"The relapse, yeah." He wilted for a moment, but perked up with an optimism that she suspected was literally superequine. "More than anything, we just want you to be safe and happy."

Cream smiled and nodded. Then she turned back to Hoof and Mouth. They were still approaching, not so much slowly as inexorably. "So, didn't the Masked Matter-Horn use some kind of 'quiet rest' beam on those two? I'm fairly certain she told the papers it would last for years at the minimum."

"She said it was supposed to." Humdrum gulped. "She, uh, she thinks the Neighcromancer might be back in town."

Cream stiffened. "Humdrum, I don't care if she has to hit me with that sanity ray of hers every two minutes, I'm helping against him."

"But—"

"No buts. I'd rather become the Mane-iac again than let that monster walk free."

A wordless groan preempted anything Humdrum might have to say to that. Both turned and saw that Hoof and Mouth had noticed them. With only two potential meals, the pair could focus, and they raced forward with startling speed.

Hoof's putrefying touch was one of the reasons why Cream knew her hair was only nigh-indestructible. Even if it could withstand him, it would do nothing to protect the rest of her against Mouth's necrotic breath.

That didn't matter. "Humdrum." Cream positioned herself between him and the Decaying Duo, her locks flaring out around her. "Run."

He gasped. "B-but if you fight, your sanity's going to hang by a thread!"

She chuckled. "No. By a hair. And a hair is stronger than the same thickness of steel. Now run."

"Meet my maelstrom, mephitic malefactors!"

Hoof and Mouth stumbled to a halt and looked to the skies. There was a flash of lightning, and a vortex engulfed the pair. It soon turned the sickly green of Mouth's breath, but not a wisp escaped the tiny tornado.

Cream's body and locks both sagged in relief. "I have never been happier to hear alliteration."

"Yeah, sorry," said a suddenly present Filli-Second. "Not quite 'a blink' a blink, but we can't all be me."

"I don't know if the world could handle two of you." Saddle Rager strode to Cream's other side.

She looked from one to the other, then backed away. "Sorry. Feeling a little boxed in."

Rager nodded and offered a small smile. "I understand. It's nothing personal though. We're just not that useful against Hoof and Mouth."

Filli-Second nodded. Well, her head blurred in a generally vertical manner. "Yeah, SR and I actually have to hit people, and those two? Those two you don't want to touch. So, bodyguard duty!" She beamed. "I saw what you were ready to do."

Cream watched as Zapp released Hoof and Mouth from the cyclone just in time for Radiance to conjure restraints on both of them, including a muzzle for Mouth. Mistress Marevelous had her lasso ready as the Masked Matter-Horn swooped down and fired a beam the color of fresh milk at each of the monsters. Both slumped over, and Cream released a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding.

She turned to Filli-Second. "I want to make up for what I've done in the past. Somehow, some way that's more constructive than going mad in the heat of battle." She mane-pointed to the Matter-Horn. "I know you already have a genius who managed to invent an artificial horn, but I can at least act as an assistant. If the Neighcromancer is back..."

Filli-Second and Saddle Rager shared a look. The latter heaved a deep breath. "Hoof and Mouth would indicate something like that is happening, and if it is the case, then we'll need all the help we can get."

"We'll probably have to put it up for a vote," noted Filli-Second, "but if it were up to me, you'd be in before you could say 'Welcome to the team.'"

Cream smiled and savored the moment. It was also possible that she was holding back tears. "If nothing else, I appreciate the sentiment."

"Just remember," noted Rager, "we will be keeping a close eye on you. One 'mane' pun, and..." Her costume strained at her bulging form. "Just remember. I'm always angry."

Cream took a few steps back. She kept that distance even after Rager returned to her usual proportions. "Duly noted."

Humdrum peeked out from under Filli-Second. "Well, I believe in you."

"Heh." Cream had to smile. "Thank you, Humdrum. That makes one of us."

Author's Note:


This was originally going to have a lot more focus on the fight, but a throwaway scene involving a sane Mane-iac grew on me until it kind of took over the story. Still, zombie cannibals are definitely present. (What did you think Hoof and Mouth did to their victims?)

I'm entirely aware that there was an IDW comic on the Power Ponies. I haven't read it, and I don't particularly care what it has to say about the headcanon presented here, especially the bit about the Masked Matter-Horn.