• Published 17th Dec 2014
  • 7,501 Views, 490 Comments

3:14 PM - SugarPesticide

What if Pinkie used to be normal? What if being stuck in a time loop has driven her mad?

  • ...

Worst Twist Ever

“It started at a family reunion a few years ago,” Fluttershy said. “My parents could have been on better terms with my mom’s family, but they thought it’d be a good opportunity to talk to some other foals who were … aerially challenged.”

She paused to sip at her cocoa. The six of them had migrated back to the library, where she could tell her story in relative privacy. Spike was nowhere to be seen, so Twilight worked some of her student-era cooking magic to fix her friends some drinks. For their part, the other five were doing a spectacular job at pretending that they liked the pineapple flavor she had so thoughtfully added.

“It was after I’d gotten my cutie mark. We went to meet up with everypony else in Hoofington, and I was too excited. I think I may have shouted a little.” Her voice rose to a regular speaking level, as if demonstrating her point. “I couldn’t wait to show off my new cutie mark. Mom and Dad were so proud of me, even though I was still a weak flyer, so they didn’t warn me. They couldn’t have known.

“There was a barbecue when we got there. The grown-ups were talking with each other, and I went off to find some fillies and colts my age. There were a few of them playing on the lawn, so I asked if I could join in the game. I think one of them was about to say yes, but then there was a gust of air that knocked me over.

“That’s when I saw her. Trixie Lulamoon, who’d also gotten her cutie mark not too long ago. She was yelling about how she could accomplish amazing feats, like showing other ponies who was boss. I ran until I couldn’t hear them laughing anymore, but she followed me. She asked what my cutie mark represented, and when I told her, she said … she said it was ‘the dumbest cutie mark she’d ever seen.’” Fluttershy blushed at her own language. “She said real pegasi would have an eagle cutie mark o-or something like that, and that when she grew up she would be the greatest pegasus Equestria had ever seen.”

There was an audible creak as Pinkie tilted her head.

“I’m … not sure I heard you just then,” Rarity said delicately. “Are you saying that she honestly wanted to be a pegasus when she grew up?”

“That’s almost exactly what she said,” Applejack answered, deadpan. She smirked as Rarity rolled her eyes.

“She was always more interested in pegasus magic than in unicorn magic.” Fluttershy pretended to take a swig of her cocoa. “I … it’s horrible of me to say, but I think she was jealous of me. Of all of us other pegasi, really, but I was the easiest one to make fun of. The other foals were just glad it wasn’t them being picked on. I tried to take it up with her brother, Silver Shill, but he said she was just having fun. And our grandpa, Double Whammy ... well, I won't talk about him.”

“You should’ve told me about them,” said Dash, flapping her wings in a show of would-be aggression. “I would’ve shown them real pegasus magic … in the face.”

Fluttershy smiled wanly. “I’d almost forgotten about it, actually. The reunion felt like a long time, but it was really only four days. After that, my mom and dad decided their time would’ve been better spent with Dad’s side of the family, so we didn’t go back for later reunions.” She considered the floor. “I’m a little surprised Trixie remembered me after all these years.”

“Hey, you’re unforgettable, ‘Shy. And I mean that in the best way possible.” Dash patted her on the back, prompting a nuzzle.

Twilight gulped down the rest of her cocoa. “But why would she have such an interest in pegasus magic? Not that it’s a bad thing to be interested in, of course. It’s just that unicorns aren’t really adapted for flight and aeromancy, and those are the main schools of pegasus magic.”

“Maybe she just wants to be the best at everything?” Pinkie suggested. The proposition was weak, even to her own ears, but she felt like she had to say something. “Or she’s crazy. She did kill me with a balloon that one time.”

Stares met her strange remark.

“Well,” said Rarity, breaking the awkward silence, “we should probably keep her away from you, Fluttershy. Would you like to stay at the Boutique for the day? I doubt she’ll think to look for you there.”

Fluttershy nodded. “I’d like that.”

After some additional words of comfort, the ponies dispersed. Pinkie watched Rarity lead Fluttershy down a quiet street, then turned back to the bookshelves and continued her reading. She had been slowly but surely been making her way through the stores of the library over the course of the loops, searching for answers that remained resolutely hidden.

“What are you looking for?” Twilight asked, shelving a few returned books. “Maybe I can help.”

“Do you know anything about time?”

“I know there are three thousand six hundred seconds in every hour. Lots of time for potential studying!” Twilight’s smile faded as Pinkie blinked. “Or did you mean something else?”

“Is there … is there time magic or something? Can you manipulate time?”

“You mean chronomancy?” Twilight rubbed her chin. “I’ve seen a few mentions of it in my classes at CGSU. But it’s not something really taken seriously, since it hasn’t been studied in hundreds of years.” She hurried to add, noting Pinkie’s crestfallen expression, “Still, there might be something about it in here. Even I haven’t been able to read all these books yet.”

“If there is, it’s not gonna be obvious.” Pinkie gestured toward a particular shelf. “I’ve already checked the C’s.”

“You did? When was this?”

“It doesn’t matter. Now, I’m up to the L’s …”

Reading with Twilight was not an unpleasant experience. Granted, the comfortable rhythm of turned pages was often disrupted by the scratch of a quill against parchment as Twilight came across passages that may or may not have had anything to do with chronomancy. But there was something comforting about the fact that somepony else was sitting comfortably just feet away, helping to search for an obscure topic without poking into the reasons why.

Even if she is interested in studying for the sake of studying, Pinkie mused, turning a page in a discussion on sloth dictatorships in the third century, it really is nice of her to do this.

“Aha!” Twilight dragged her quill as she made an enormous checkmark.

Pinkie perked up. “Did you find anything?”

“There’s a note here on how spell matrices can more easily be constructed with a simple application of ceratomancy to the cerebral cortex! I told Moondancer it didn’t have to be a strictly mental construct, but did she listen to me? What do you think?”

Pinkie smiled pleasantly. “I have no idea what you just said.”

“Oh, right.” Twilight’s ears drooped as she set the parchment aside. “Sorry, Pinkie. I just get so wrapped up in studying sometimes … I haven’t found much on time itself, much less chronomancy.”

Pinkie’s eyes lit up. “But there is something?”

“Just a few references to mages who studied time over the ages. Star Swirl the Bearded, Clover the Clever … some lesser-known figures, too. It might be interesting to see what this ‘Heart Knell’ had to say …”

Studying the references Twilight had jotted down, Pinkie broke into a grin. “This is great! There really might be something out there I can use!”

“These don’t look like common books and scrolls, though. I’m not sure we could find them here in the library.”

“But they might be in the palace library! Princess Celestia said it was fine if I came over there!”

“... She did? When?”

“When we freed Princess Luna. But at the same time, it never happened. So it’s complicated.”

Whatever Twilight had been about say to that, Pinkie never found out. The library door slammed open, revealing a panting Spike, who leaned against the doorframe for support. “Twilight! Come quick! Everfree … bear … huge …”

“Spike, take a deep breath.” Twilight rested a hoof on his shoulder. “Can you repeat that?”

Spike gulped in air, wiping the sweat from his brow. “Snips and Snails were—”

A bloodcurdling roar made everyone’s eyes bug out.

Pinkie jumped, scattering books everywhere. “What was that?”

“The Ursa Major!” Spike stared into space, shell-shocked. “Snips and Snails were hearing that Trixie pony brag about beating one while she was signing autographs — I mean, she was bragging while signing autographs about beating an Ursa Major, not bragging about beating one while signing autographs at the same time — no, that makes it sound like her autographs were about the Ursa Major, rather than her bragging — actually—”

“Spike!” Twilight shook him, gently but firmly. “We can discuss syntax later. What do Ursa Majors have to do with …”

She trailed off, eyes wandering to the window. From there, the night-darkened sky could be seen, though a second roar made it difficult to properly enjoy. Distantly, they could hear someone scream about their ruined mane.

“They brought one into town, didn’t they?” Her voice was almost a whisper.

Pinkie and Spike looked at each other in that awkward assurance two creatures feel when neither has a clue what is going on. Finally, Pinkie spoke up. “Somepony ... brought a giant bear into Ponyville?”

“Not just any bear.” Twilight galloped out of the library, and Pinkie, though startled by the sudden motion, followed in quick pursuit, while a wheezing Spike trailed behind. “The star beasts are said to have come down from the night sky millennia ago. There are all kinds of legends about them — that they’re the children of constellations, or that they’re running from some even bigger monster in the stars — but the one fact everypony can agree on is that they’re really, really big.”

“How big are we talking?”

Twilight pointed. Over the thatched rooftops, a mass of the night sky loomed a few shades lighter, as though the sun hadn’t quite set. It was only when the mass moved that Pinkie, suddenly wobbly, realized its significance.

Pinkie’s voice was barely a squeak. “Oh.” And she turned and ran the other way.

“No, stop that!”

She struggled as purple magic grabbed her, dragging her back toward Twilight. “No, Twilight, I can’t deal with that bear! If I do, I know for sure it’ll kill me.”

“Don’t be silly.” Twilight continued to gallop toward the source of the chaos, with a hyperventilating Pinkie in tow. “Earth ponies are too tough for that.”

“And unicorns can just teleport an entire bear back into the forest, right?”

Twilight missed a step, but caught herself. She glanced back at Pinkie, seeming to realize what she’d implied.


“No, you’re right.” Twilight examined her hooves, slowing as she thought it over. “I made a generalization … a stereotype, even. I’m not thinking straight.”

“That’s understandable.” Pinkie gestured as another roar rattled windows to either side. “We do have a slight problem here. Can you let me go?”

“We need all our friends to deal with this,” Twilight reasoned, continuing on her way. “That’s how it works, right? With friends, you can do anything!”

“If I ever go crazy,” Pinkie mumbled to nopony in particular, “please don’t have me say something like that.”

They arrived at the scene, and Twilight paused at the edge of the site of destruction to get a better view. As for Pinkie, she could only stare as the Ursa, easily large enough to rival most buildings, stepped on a house and growled to itself, sniffing at wafts of smoke. The star on its forehead glowed with irritation, and it roared, sending everypony scattering even more.

Before the beast, though, stood Trixie, whose horn blazed like a beacon. Around her, wisps of air whistled through the square, creating a painting of every color of the wind. Strange shapes loomed to life in the opaque fog, reaching with thirsty claws as they stepped resolutely forward …

The Ursa sniffed. Then, with a paw the size of the largest of them, it batted them away, leaving colors dissolving in their wake.

“Guh!” Trixie gasped, collapsing as her horn went out. She struggled to get back onto her hooves, but the bear’s roar made her freeze in place. “Help ...”

“Trixie! Hold on!” Twilight galloped forward, seeming to have forgotten that she was still carrying Pinkie. Her horn glowed vividly, and she refused to falter even as the Ursa turned its attention toward them with its lip curled.

Pinkie gazed up in resignation. “This is not going to be fun …”

The Ursa leaned in, faster than anything that size had a right to do. Its jaws, bared wide to expose every tooth, swiped down at Twilight … missing her by inches. As a consolation prize, it managed to snap Pinkie up instead, and it bit down with a mighty crunch.

“Fluttershy!” Pinkie exclaimed, dragging her toward a cafe. “Why don’t you have lunch with me?”

“Well, I already ate …”

“Eat some more! I’m sure you get hungry sometimes!”

“That’s true.”

They took a window seat. The establishment was oddly quiet at that hour … odd, that is, for Fluttershy, whose past experiences with the food industry had apparently been crowded affairs. Pinkie, who was aware that most of the town had gathered to watch Trixie’s show, was less surprised.

“It’s a little strange,” Fluttershy admitted, sipping at her juice. “Nopony’s around. It’s a bit eerie … like they’re hiding until the perfect moment to startle somepony.”

“I don’t think that’s it.” Pinkie poked at her jelly doughnut. It was oozing red all over her napkin, and suddenly she lost her appetite. “They’re probably getting embarrassed by a braggy pony with a pegasus complex.”

“It’s funny you would say that.” Fluttershy’s eyes roved over a stylish painting of a duck. “I have a cousin just like that. I haven’t seen her in years, though …”

They talked through the evening — that is, Pinkie talked about nothing in particular, and Fluttershy would occasionally chime in when it seemed appropriate. It was nice, Pinkie thought, to spend some time with her shy friend. Even though Fluttershy was a little reluctant to speak her mind at times, she usually put plenty of thought into what she would say. The little pauses between when Pinkie ended and Fluttershy began, the scrunch of a yellow muzzle, and the eyes flitting down as if to pick thoughts like flowers … all of it spoke of an interest in the conversation, even if a hint of hesitance colored most of her words.

So Pinkie could be forgiven if, until a roar rattled the window, she had completely forgotten that a giant bear was going to attack thanks to two stupid colts.

“Eep!” Fluttershy dived under the table. A lock of pink peeked out from beneath. “W-What was that?”

“It’s an Ursa Minor.” Pinkie took a deep breath, willing her heart to slow down.

“A what?”

“A giant bear made of stars. Sometimes it eats ponies.”

“Oh.” Fluttershy dared to poke her nose beyond the safety of the table. “That doesn’t sound very nice.”

Pinkie remembered. She saw, in her mind’s eye, a shy pegasus soothing a rampaging manticore with minimal effort. “Fluttershy … you like animals, right?”

“Oh, of course! Working with them is my special talent.”

“How do you feel about bears?”

“Well, they can be grumpy sometimes, but that’s usually in fall and winter. They tend to avoid ponies during spring and summer, so unless you go out of your way to confront them they tend to you leave you alone. They can be perfectly nice once you get to know them and earn their trust.” Enthusiasm shone in her eyes. “Why do you ask?”

“I’m sorry I asked,” Fluttershy whimpered.

“See? It’s just like any other bear!” Pinkie had to raise her voice to make her assurance heard as she pushed her friend toward the rampaging beast, leaving a lengthy skidmark behind them. “He’s really disoriented, I think. I know I’d be disoriented if I were a giant among not-giants!”

“B-but he’s so huge … and scary …”

“Well, he’s probably more scared of you than you are of him!”

Fluttershy didn’t dignify that with a response.

“Twilight!” Pinkie called, noting two unicorns facing off against the Ursa; their horns glowed with effort as they cast spell after spell. “Everything’s okay! I brought an expert!”

Twilight didn’t look around, instead staring resolutely up at the beast, with a force field shielding her and her companion. “A little busy right now …”

Fluttershy shrank a little at the closeness of the bear. Then her eyes widened even further. “T-Trixie?”

The blue unicorn’s ears perked at the sound of her name, and she looked over, the Ursa briefly forgotten. “Fluttershy?! Where have you been hiding?”

“We don’t have time for your monologuing, Trixie!” Pinkie picked Fluttershy up with all the strength she could muster, and tossed her into the air. “Fluttershy, go show that bear who’s boss!”

“...” Fluttershy fell face-first into the dirt. A muffled mumble was her response.

“Come on, I know you can do this!” Pinkie pulled at her wings, but they seemed to be glued to her sides. “I saw you tame that manticore like nopony’s business! He had poison and everything. This guy is just big!”

“Too big …”

“Just look at him. Is he really all that different from normal bears?”

Reluctantly, Fluttershy peeked up at the Ursa through her mane. As it slammed a paw against Twilight’s shield, Fluttershy flinched, but she managed to keep her eyes on it.

“It would be nice if you could do something, Sparkle!” Trixie was shouting, summoning thunderclouds to swarm the Ursa. “I’ll admit your skills are decent, since you trounced me so easily, so put them to use!”

“I would if I didn’t have to protect you!” Twilight grunted, flaring her horn. The cracks in her shield were swiftly washed away in a flash of light. “It isn’t easy casting multiple spells at once!”

Trixie waved her forelegs, casting a spell to make every cloud unleash its bolts on the Ursa at once. It grumbled, more from annoyance than pain, and lazily started to swat them away. “Clearly you’ve never heard of linking spell matrices! A simple ceratomantic chain reaction can allow many effects for the price of one pulse of mana!”

“I’ll admit spell matrices are useful, but linking them in ways not meant to be used is asking for disaster! Besides, you still can’t avoid the need for concentration, and using them too frequently makes you run the risk of becoming complacent!”

“Are you calling me lazy?”

“Not in so many words! But if I were, I’d have thought that was already implied.”

“Hmph! I’ll have to set you straight later.” But a grin pulled at the corner of Trixie’s mouth.

Fluttershy looked from the unicorns to the bear, and then back again. Then, she took a timid step forward. “Um, maybe you could stop fighting …?”

“Fluttershy, this is dangerous!” Twilight called. She shifted the surface of her shield into something spikier, and the Ursa roared in pain when its paw slammed down onto its points. “Don’t come any closer!”

Trixie barked a laugh as she twisted at the winds, creating a small cyclone that did little more than ruffle the Ursa’s fur. “Just because you have the Element of Magic, dear cousin, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t leave this to the experts.”

Pausing mid-step, Fluttershy bit her lip.

At her side, Pinkie leaned forward, patting her shoulder.

Fluttershy swallowed, and then spoke. “No.”

“I don’t think they heard you,” Pinkie half-whispered.

Yellow wings flared, and blue eyes narrowed. Fluttershy resumed the long march forward. “No. You don’t get to tell me what to do, Trixie, especially not now. I am an expert.”

Both unicorns stared as she approached. “Excuse me?” Trixie asked.

“Fluttershy, run!” Twilight winced as her shield took another blow.

“I know animals,” Fluttershy said, ignoring both of them. “And I know that you need to stop provoking him. He’s only a baby.”

Trixie’s eyes bugged out. “He’s what?”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you!” Twilight said, a little exasperated. “Ursas Minor haven’t grown in their tusks yet! And Ursas Major are usually larger than entire towns! This is basic cryptozoology!”

Pinkie, gripped with the urge to run, found herself rooted in place.

“That might be true,” Fluttershy admitted, “but you’re still scaring him.” Her wings flapped, lifting her into the air. “Let me handle this.”

Nopony else moved as she approached the Ursa Minor, which had stopped pounding at the shield and was now staring at her in curiosity and a little trepidation. It cocked its head, nostrils flaring as it took in this new scent.

“You’re not mean, are you?” Fluttershy’s words flowed like water, smooth and uninterruptible. “You’re just a little lost and aren’t sure how to get home. Poor baby bear.”

The Ursa’s eyes crossed slightly as it tried to focus on Fluttershy, who landed daintily on its nose. Its ears flopped back, and a moan like a dog reverberated from its chest.

“I know. I’m sure your mommy misses you. Would it be okay if I pointed you back to the Everfree Forest? That way you could find her again.”

There was a low growl.

“You’re absolutely right; they shouldn’t have woken you up. That was very rude of them. But don’t you think their parents can best tell them that?”

Hidden in an alleyway, two colts exchanged guilty looks.

“And it’s okay to be angry sometimes. What’s not okay is destroying other people’s homes. Okay?” Fluttershy smiled. “Let’s get you home.”

The Ursa dipped its head. Fluttershy rose to its eye level, and, following her lead, it began its lumbering walk back toward Everfree. Wreckage crunched beneath every sweeping step.

“Did she just …?” Trixie watched as the bear turned, looking pensive. “Perhaps there’s more to her than I thought. Just maybe, though. I wonder if—”

Twilight screamed. She lunged after the bear, stopped only by the sudden appearance of Applejack and Rainbow Dash as they leapt in to hold her back. She strained against their grasp, horn flaring in an attempt to push them out of the way; in the flickering light of firelight, twin streaks gleamed on her cheeks, and her eyes bulged in horror.

Pinkie wasn’t sure what her deal was. She was feeling kind of tired, and she wasn’t sure how she’d ended up bouncing on her side, but as far as she could tell, she was doing fine. The sight of Twilight wailing in anguish bounced gradually away, shrinking into a pitiful display of frantic pastels.

“Oh …” Fluttershy’s face loomed into view. “Pinkie, you’re … are you feeling okay?”

“Yeah, I guess. I can’t feel anything, though. Isn’t that weird?”

“Um.” Rubbing her hooves together, Fluttershy struggled to keep apace. “I think you’re a little … oh my goodness … you really can’t feel anything?”

“Not a thing.”

“Pinkie, I’m going to ask you not to panic. Can you do that for me? Uh, please?”

Something niggled at the back of Pinkie’s mind. “Why? What’s wrong?”

They were outside of Ponyville by now. From this distance, she could see the trail of destruction the Ursa was leaving behind. She hoped somepony would be able to get that cleaned up.

“Well …” Fluttershy flew around in a tight arc as they passed a tree. “You know shish kebabs?”

“Yeah. You know what sounds good right now? Chocolate-covered fruit shish kebabs. I should try that sometime when the world’s not in danger.”

Fluttershy shivered. “Pinkie, the Ursa’s claws … you got impaled on them.”

“... Oh.” Common sense would have left her a gibbering wreck, but she was just feeling a little lightheaded. “That explains all the red stuff we’re leaving behind. How bad is it?”

“Um … they’re bigger than I thought … and you’re getting crushed every time he takes a step.”

“That doesn’t sound good.”

Blue eyes welled with tears. “Pinkie … I’m sorry, but … I don’t think you’re going to make it.”

Pinkie burst out laughing. With each guffaw, she thought she could feel hints of movement deep within, though she couldn’t move her head to check just how bad she looked. It didn’t matter, really. What did, at this point?

“It’s … not that funny,” Fluttershy mumbled, sounding almost offended.

Trying to pat her friend on the shoulder had no effect, so Pinkie grinned a snaggle-toothed grin. “Hey. Hey, Fluttershy. You can let me go die, okay? I don’t think I can recover all that well from this.”

“B-but … Maybe Twilight …”

“I don’t think she went to med school. Sorry, Flutters. You can collect my body later, okay? Right now I think Twilight needs a friend.”

Fluttershy looked almost as torn as Pinkie was. “You’re … oh!” And she took off for Ponyville again, watering the ground with her tears.

“Poor Fluttershy,” Pinkie said. She heard something squish as the Ursa’s paw came down again. “I hope I die soon. I bet this would be really uncomfortable if I could feel anything.”

The moon was high in the sky, though its light was heavily filtered by the Everfree canopy. Pinkie lay scattered across the forest floor like a rag, having finally slipped and fallen from the Ursa’s claws. She could still faintly hear its footsteps crunching vegetation like twigs, but she wasn’t in much of a position to appreciate nature in motion, only being able to see a few inches in front of her in the dim light. Scraggly undergrowth tickled her nose.

“Well, here I am.” Pinkie’s voice was quiet. “Here in Everfree, waiting for death. I wonder if I should say something poetic to send myself off. Or did I do that already? Wow, life is just full of surprises.”

Part of her screamed that the wolves were due to descend any minute now. Strangely, the rest of her didn’t seem to mind. There probably wouldn’t be enough for them to eat, anyway. Would she taste good? Strange what kinds of questions occurred to a pony on the verge of death. Maybe she could get an unofficial doctorate in philosophy.

The snap of a branch caught her attention, and she noticed the swish of something moving past bushes alongside the clip-clop of hooves. Blinking, she listened.

“Oh dear.” The voice was probably male and definitely sickened. Pinkie wasn’t sure why. “Oh, you poor, poor girl. I hope you died quickly, Pinkie.”

Pinkie held her breath. Or maybe she just stopped being able to breathe. It was hard to tell at this point.

“I hope there’s enough time,” the voice said. There was a clink of glass against metal, and a hoof stepped into view, gray in the shadows. “If I’m right, there should be five weeks until the collapse of everything. By then, this business should be … taken care of in …”

He trailed off. Slowly, a face leaned into view, eyes peering at her through the dark.

Pinkie grinned.

“Horseapples!” The stallion tore through the brush, sending equipment flying behind him. An hourglass landed on her head, cracking it — the hourglass, not her head — and dumping sand into her eyes. With only one sense left to her, she heard him galloping off into the night.

Finally, having nothing else to do, Pinkie died.

“Mrs. Cake?”

“Yes, Pinkie?”

“Do you have a teddy I could burn?”

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