• Published 24th May 2015
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My Little Pony Bizarre Adventures - Part 1: Ponyville Central - LateBronyWriter



One Thousand years ago, the saints Celestia and Luna drew upon the power of the Red Stone of Aja to defeat the demon Discord. Now one thousand years later the Stone is destroyed, beginning the tale of six ponies and their quest to redeem the world.

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Chapter 7-Thousand Hoof Crutch-Take 1

Thousand Hoof Crutch- Take 1:


Toying lazily with her mane In the middle of the library floor, Rarity twirls her hair in yet another graceful curl while her stylish mane-do bounces back and forth. “Twilight darling, have you seen Pinkie Pie?” the bored fashionista asks. “Because the last that I heard from her, she was saying some dreadful nonsense about a new pony and gravity control and bubblegum of all things! Do you think she’ll be here soon? All this waiting up is simply not good for my mane.”

“Well, Rarity, if I could predict Pinkie’s behavior, which I can’t…..” the lavender mare says as she practices one of her many spells, turning a random book into an orange and back several times in a row. “....my guess would be that she would arrive anywhere from two seconds to a week from now.”

Looking at the door with an impatient glance, Twilight sighs heavily and mourns yet another of her well-laid plans reduced to ruin by the machinations of Pinkie Pie. “And here I thought that because I told her we’d be doing some important work today, she would finally take things seriously and arrive on time. Silly me..…”

Looking around at her friends, who have been waiting for no less than fifty six minutes and twelve seconds, Twilight quickly goes through her figures calculating the effect the lost time will have on their schedule. Already, Fluttershy, Rarity and Applejack have arrived, and Twilight knows that with every second they waste, her plan becomes more prone to failure; and even more abhorrent to Twilight, she becomes more tardy than she was a second ago.

Twilight sighs once again. “We’re better off not waiting on her. Clear out, everypony.” Charging her horn with the glow of her magic, Twilight smiles as her aura fills a big empty space in the middle of the room. “All right: adjust aura, limit effect, perfect control and… Open!”

In a dramatic flash of light an octagonal center table reappears in the center of the room, causing Fluttershy to squeak in surprise as the large, cumbersome object relocates right in front of her. The table, though ordinarily bare, is covered this time in a full scale model of the entire town of Ponyville and its surrounding areas in near perfect detail.

“Now, you can all probably guess by what I’m drinking right now,” Twilight waves her handy thermos of coffee around with her telekinesis, “…But I didn’t get much sleep last night. However, all that lost sleep was worth it to construct this working model of Ponyville for our mission today. It’s made from the weather patrol’s maps and the town records so I’ve made sure it’s as accurate as physically possible.”

Applejack looks in amazement at the map, whistling in pride. “Wow, Twi. Ah have ta admit that’s mighty impressive, but when did yawl have the time to throw this whole thing together?”

Twilight smiles awkwardly. “Oh it’s amazing what you can do when you don’t have to sleep, Applejack! I just couldn’t sleep with how nervous I was for this mission, so I just stayed up all night throwing this together!” The lavender mare chuckles, sipping from her coffee thermos as the farmer takes a measured step away from the caffeine crazed mare.

“Anyway, enough questions.” Twilight magics up a crystalline pointer, pointing it to the center of the town at a location that looks startlingly like Golden Oaks Library. “Now, last night while I was putting this together, I organized a plan to survey the entirety of the town’s more easy-to-reach places, searching for Red Stones before they could be subsequently discovered by the residents of the town.”

Levitating her mug for another sip of coffee the mare points to several locations at the border. “Given the plans of the town and calculations that I developed from the explosion, I was able to guess a trajectory at which a large majority of the Red stones have most probably landed.”

The mare points her stylus to one side of the town, the side farthest from the Everfree Forest. “Here on the western side of the town, the side farthest from Canterlot, is where we will begin the search. According to my calculations and Rarity’s information, thank you Rarity…” The white unicorn nods. “…..all the easily found Red Stones were either already found or were recovered by her. Therefore our mission for today is to get our hooves on as many of the Red Stones still undiscovered in this west portion of town.”

Slapping her pointer down on the table like a general-at-arms, Twilight makes her point with gusto. “Once that’s done then we can focus on getting the Red Stones out of the hooves of other ponies, and locating some of the Stones hidden in more difficult-to-find places.”

Waving her pointer around with such enthusiasm that she nearly hits Rarity, Twilight takes another sip of her coffee and elaborates on their plan of attack. “And now for the plan of attack. Rarity and Fluttershy will take one group and search the south-west side of the map here. You two will use Rarity’s gem-finding spell and Fluttershy’s ability to fly to get as many of the Red Stones that you can from hard-to-reach places.”

Twilight groans, “And I had planned for Pinkie to help me out, so there’s going to be a change of plans.” Pointing her stylus at Applejack’s forehead, Twilight resumes, “Applejack.”

The mare swallows nervously in the face of Twilight’s aura of command, saluting as sharply as an officer on duty. “Ye-Yes, Twilight Ma’am?”

“I had planned for you to see if any of the ponies around town were acting strange or have begun hoarding strange objects recently, like the Red Stones, but the plan has changed. I need you to come with me and help me search the north-west side of the town.” Twilight moves her pointer along a larger portion of the town.

“Between Rarity’s gem-finding spell, which I just learned, and your ability to distinguish Red Stones by passing a magical current through it with your Stand, I estimate we should finish around…” Twilight looks outside to the position of the sun. “.... 6:25 pm, just before sundown, with time allotted for lunch breaks, bathroom breaks and travel for good measure. By then we’ll have surveyed the west side of town and taken the Red Stones that have been infecting ponies off the streets.”

With a wave of her horn the entire table and the pointer disappear in a flash of light, leaving behind only an empty floor between the mares. “Questions?” Twilight asks.

Fluttershy shakingly raises her hoof. “Um… Twilight, not to …. um criticize you or anything but are you sure that you are okay? I mean… I know that you want to help and all but….. Are you okay?”

Twilight groans. “Ugh, what is it with you guys? First Applejack, then Rarity and now you, Fluttershy. I keep telling you guys I’m used to all-nighters like this. I’ll be fine with a little coffee and a delayed sleep spell; it’s nothing I can’t handle.”

“Um it’s not that…..” Fluttershy mutters, “… though it probably is the reason why…”

“Yes, Fluttershy? What was so important that you had to interrupt the group to point it out?”

“It’s just that…. ummmmmm….”

“YES? What is it?”

“…. Um I didn’t really want to be a bother….. but,” Fluttershy shuffles nervously on her flank, “But you’ve been holding your thermos of coffee upside-down for the past half hour.”

Twilight processes the words for a few seconds before looking at the thermos she has been drinking from for the last twenty minutes. Sure enough, the bottom half of the thermos - the side designed to serve as a bottom - is facing up at her, mocking her intelligence with it’s very presence. While the lip of the cup - the part that is designed to hold the liquids placed into it - is on the bottom of her thermos, the container empty of the dark brown ambrosia she so craved. Twilight looks back to the door of the kitchen, staring at her brand new coffee maker (that Pinkie generously donated to the Ponyville Library) only see an offensively large amount of spilled coffee dripping from the counter. The stain no doubt the result of trying to pour coffee down the bottom end of a thermos. And as if things couldn’t get any worse, the dark brown coffee is staining her purple coat.

“Oh…” The mare realizes now why the rest of the group was snickering all morning. “Well that explains the mystery of why I seemed to never run out of coffee, and why I feel an unquenched need for caffeine.”

Twilight ignites her horn causing a gentle glowing aura to flow across her coat, cleaning her from excess stains while patching a simple illusion spell over herself to try and cover the remainder of the blemish. With another spell she then levitates the same pot from the kitchen and pours herself a cup of coffee in the right way, before taking a long, much-needed sip. “Better, now were there any more questions, anypony?” Twilight states as humorously as possible.

Applejack grins sheepishly. “Now, Twi, I tried to tell ya sooner but… it was so gosh-darn funny and yawl were…..”

“ARE. THERE. ANY. MORE. QQQQUUUUUUUEEEEEEEESSSSSSTTTTTTTTIIIIIIIIIOOOOOONNNNNSSSSSSS?”

“Nope no questions from this here farm mare! What bout you Rares?”

“No. No questions! Fluttershy?”

“meep…..”

“Yep we’ve got no more questions to ask yawl, so let’s go!” The orange farm mare turns to leave, however she is stopped once again by a familiar voice.

“I just have one more thing to address before we leave…” Twilight takes another sip of her coffee.

With an almost permeable feeling of deja-vu the orange farm mare turns to face Twilight. “….. Give me a break….. Twi, what is it with yawl and ‘one more thing?’ Now Ah know yer upset an all, but why da ya have to bring somethin important up when we’re all about to leave?” Applejack asks indignantly.

Twilight narrows her gaze at Applejack. “I don’t know, Applejack, maybe heavy southern accents just cause me to forget what I was going to say.”

Applejack narrows her gaze back at the purple mare. “Touché. Continue, Twi.”

“Good.” Twilight nods her head as she pulls a familiar black stone out of her saddle bags with her hoof. “It’s about this.” Twilight places the black stone on the table, causing the others in the group to circle around it.

“Twilight,” Rarity comments as she removes a pair of her fashion spectacles from her bag to get a better look. “Correct me if I am wrong, but that seems like a normal Red Stone. Not that they are supposed to be normal in any sense of the word.”

Twilight continues to stare at the stone. “That would be the case of this WAS a Red Stone of Aja..…” Lighting up her horn Twilight picks up the Stone with her magic.

In response to her magic, the Stone breaks out in a brilliant white light that banishes every shadow in the room with its overwhelming brilliance. The light, though incredibly bright, is not blinding or painful to the eyes in the slightest, allowing all the mares to stare enthralled by the Stone’s unknown power. Then, with the suddenness with which the light appeared, Twilight places it back on the table, returning the room to its normal illumination.

“This is the Stone Applejack gave me not to long ago,” Twilight says. “It’s the one that Applebloom cut herself upon. I’m concerned because, though it superficially resembles the Red Stones of Aja, it is fundamentally different in terms of density and magical essence.”

Applejack looks nervously at the black rock. “Define ‘fun-da-mentally different’.”

“That’s easy!” Pinkie says as she pops out from underneath Applejack’s hat, causing the farmer to fumble about in terror. “Twilight means that though it may look like those funny stones we’re looking for, the Red Stones of Abra, it isn’t! Even though it looks like one. It’s like bagels and doughnuts! A bagel looks like a doughnut and is shaped like a doughnut but it isn’t one! Doughnut?” the pink mare says as she pulls a box of doughnuts out from behind her back.

Before Twilight says a word, Pinkie Pie stuffs a delicious sugary treat into the dumbfounded unicorn’s open mouth. “Speaking of which do you like it that I brought doughnuts to our secret meeting? Do you? Of course you do! I know, ‘really cool Pinkie’, it’s just one of the many perks of having a cool friend that works in a bakery!”

Twilight gapes. “Pinkie, where were…”

“I was throwing a new party for the new pony in Ponyville! Gravity Well! He was really grumpy for some reason luckily I brought lots and lots of bubble gum! He loved bubble gum!”

“Pinkie, I’m trying to….”

“Oh and don’t worry about your whole plan Twibright! I’d be happy to ask around and see if any ponies are acting super strange around town. That is ask of any ponies are acting super strange other than me of course because everypony thinks that I’m really strange for some reason.” Pinkie taps her hooves together nervously. “You guys don’t think that though, right? But even if you did think I was really strange I’d totally forgive you cause you’re my best friends!”

Twilight’s mouth opens and closes, unable to conjure a word that encompasses how strange Pinkie Pie really is. Twilight doesn’t think that there’s a word in any language that could encompass the enigma of Pinkie Pie. Unwilling to risk derailing the conversation any further than it already has, Twilight glares Pinkie into silence and continues. “Anyways, the two Stones seem to be related somehow, since they too seem to be able to produce the same ability to manifest Stands as the Red Stones.”

Twilight taps the black Stone on the table with her hoof. “However the most interesting thing about this ‘Strange Stone’, as I have dubbed it, is it seems to produce the same unknown energy the Red Stones produce but on a much more concentrated and purer level. From what little I have seen of it so far, it seems to have amplification far beyond the norm, surpassing the Red Stones hundreds of times over.”

With deft hooves Twilight slips the stone back into her bag. “I’ll be keeping the Stone with me today to see if we do find any more of these Stones that I can use it for a comparison. So if any of you do happen to find any of these ‘Strange Stones’, be sure to collect them carefully and bring them to me immediately.” Twilight glances at her saddle bag nervously. “We don’t know how powerful these Stones are, or what they can do, so I would like to treat them with as much caution as possible.”

Twilight stretches her legs as she addresses the group, “Okay, now we’re ready to leave.” Everypony starts to rise. “But before we do, I just have a few safety precautions that….”

Everypony groans at the idea of another Twilight safety lecture. “Now everypony, nothing bad should happen today, Ponyville is a relatively safe town. However, untrained Stand powers can play with the minds of ponies that aren’t used to controlling them.”

Rarity interrupts, “You mean Stand powers can brainwash their users?”

“No, nothing like that Rarity. Think of it….” Twilight taps her hoof to her chin deep in thought. “Well, think if you just obtained the ability to fly, or if an earth pony just grew a horn. Gaining that much power instantly can corrupt and mislead a pony pretty easily.” Twilight rolls her eyes nervously. “Well…. unless they used a Darkness Pact…. But that could never happen here!”

Twilight gazes at her friends, a serious look in her eyes. “Now, I believe that nothing bad or dangerous will happen today - we’re not doing anything exotic or hazardous. If worse comes to worst and you encounter a dangerous Stand user, just run away.”

Twilight gestures to everypony. “We can call members of the Royal Guard to deal with any overt threats, and between me and Applejack we can handle anything that comes our way. So just focus on the task at hoof: finding as many of the Red Stones - and these Strange Stones - as possible before the day is up.”

Sticking her hoof towards the other girls, Twilight grins. “Now, are you all ready?”

Looking at Twilight’s hoof, Applejack smiles and places her hoof alongside it. “Ready.”

Pinkie smiles as she sticks her hoof in the center. “Yeppers! I’m Always Ready, Twilight!”

Rarity places her hoof as well. “Fashionably ready, darling.”

Everypony looks over at Fluttershy, the butter-yellow mare hesitating for a single moment before placing her hoof in the center with the others. “I’m… I’m here for you too, Twilight. We may have just met a short time ago, but I feel as though we’ve known each other for a lot longer.” The mare smiles. “So… so if you say that you REALLY need my help….. then I’m with you,” Fluttershy states with level of dedication one would not expect from the demure mare.

They break the five-way hoof shake as Twilight beams. “I feel the same way, Fluttershy.” The lavender mare looks around her. “I still find it hard to believe that I made friends so quickly with you four. It’s like we have a connection that we all never knew about……”

Twilight quickly pulls herself out of thought as she teleports over to the door. “Well, enough of that.” Twilight throws open the door in front of her with pizzazz. “We’ve got a job to take care of, so everypony get out there and do your best!”

…………………

The day passes quickly for the mares as the individual members of the team split up to cover more ground, each of them finding quite a few pieces of the Red Stone located across the town. The day passes uneventfully like this; talk to locals, find a Stone in an unexpected place, test for validity and repeat. It is in this monotonous state, as the sun rises past noon, that Fluttershy and Rarity slowly pick up the pace of their own work, eager to finish up their daily task.

“Hot,” Rarity says, as Fluttershy flies a little closer to the thatched roof of a nearby house.

“Colder,” the mare repeats as Fluttershy flies lower, looking at the glass-paned window sills.

“HOT! Boiling hot, darling, it’s right in front of you!” Looking at the underside of the roof Fluttershy spies a small sharpened fragment of the Red Stone embedded deep in the wood. Extending her hoof with surgical precision, the yellow mare grabs a cloth from her saddlebag and wraps it around the Stone, carefully pulling it out of its prison.

“Great job, darling! Now be a dear and come down so we can put it away.” Fluttershy sighs to herself as she drifts down over to Rarity. Unfolding the cloth, Rarity pinks up the Stone with her magic, causing it to glow a bright red. “Success! That’s another Stone collected by team Rarity! I’ll daresay that Twilight and Applejack aren’t even doing half as well as we are.” Rarity claps her hooves excitedly with a giggle.

Rarity stuffs the Stone in her bag and begins to trot leisurely away. “Come along, Fluttershy, we’re ahead of schedule, and I just can’t wait to see Twilight’s face when we arrive early with more Red Stones than she could ever…. Fluttershy? Are you coming?”

Standing as rooted to the ground as a tree in a field, Fluttershy whispers to herself. Her voice just out of earshot of the ivory unicorn’s hearing, she paws the ground with her hoof as nervously as possible.

“What is it, Fluttershy darling?” Rarity asks as she backpedals to her previous location. “Are you all right? I haven’t been pushing you too hard, have I? Goodness look at you! You’re sweating; let’s get you to some adequate shade!”

Finally, the yellow pegasus raises her voice to an audible level. “Why… why did you bring me along, Rarity?”

Rarity blinks in confusion. “Why? Darling, whatever do you mean? I thought that you were keen on spending some time with me and making new friends like Twilight? Is it about your job?”

Fluttershy shakes her head. “No, it’s not that. I was able to get a leave of absence from the veterinarian’s office since it’s been slow lately. And Twilight’s pay is generous enough that I don’t have to worry about money…. It’s just…..”

Rarity tilts her head in confusion, unable to process her friend’s concerns. Rarity had known Fluttershy from when the yellow pegasus had moved to Ponyville, and they had instantly bonded over their respective love of beauty and impeccable manners and etiquette. And despite the fact that she never quite got along with her childhood friend Dash, she had always thought of Fluttershy as one of her closest friends in Ponyville. However, the shy mare’s lack of overtness and her tendency to beat around the bush left the pegasus a flighty enigma to the fashionista, if only for the fact that she would fail to communicate properly.

Rarity mentally debates the cause of the pegasus’ sudden reluctance, when suddenly a dark and oppressive thought begins to take root in the unicorn’s mind. “Do you just not want to spend time with me anymore?” Rarity asks, almost dismayed by the very utterance of her statement. “I know that we haven’t been very close lately; I even had to cancel a few of our little spa dates because of…..”

“NO! It’s not that, it would never be that, Rarity, you’re a great friend and I’d never imply that you weren’t being a good friend.” Fluttershy lowers her head in shame as she paws the ground. “It’s just I wonder why you would want to involve such a useless pony in something as important as this….”

“Fluttershy, surely you can’t believe that, can you?” Rarity asks as she drapes her arm over the filly next to her. “Now darling, you really…….”

Brushing off the ivory unicorn’s closeness, the pegasus suddenly finds her voice. “But it’s true! I’m useless in all this…… this stuff.”

Fluttershy trots in place as she begins to nervously list all her deficiencies and failings, to illustrate her point. “I’ve always been frail…… I’m afraid of everything…… I can’t stand up for myself…… my only good talent is taking care of animals.”

Fluttershy points her hoof to Rarity tears dripping down her face. “But Rarity….. you’re the kindest and smartest mare that I know. You’re so generous and you care about everypony and you’re so rich and successful.”

The yellow mare turns away from Rarity, unwilling to face the mare before her. “It’s the same with everypony else who is helping…… Twilight is really good with magic…… Applejack is really strong…… And Pinkie always makes ponies feel better…… I….”

The mare gulps down her tears, unwilling to let the pony behind her see her cry. “…… I’m just in the way…… I can’t do anything to help you…. so why do you even want me helping you?”

“I-I don’t even feel like I’m your friend, sometimes……” Fluttershy sobs, “…… I just feel like a nuisance…. A pony who can only leech off the ponies around her……” Fluttershy lowers her head to the dirt in shame at her own apparent failures, utterly convinced she is making life worse for the ponies around her just by merely existing.

However, the pink-manned mare’s pity party fails to even make a dent in the mind of her friend. Mustering up an assuring smile that would make Pinkie Pie proud, Rarity trots over to the yellow mare and raises her face up with a gentle hoof.

“Even if that were all true, Fluttershy, even if you were the most useless pony on the planet - and I can assure you that you are not...” Rarity lifts the face of the pegasus, looking her straight in the eyes. “You would still be the most considerate, the kindest, and the most genuine friend that I have ever known. I have never known you to upset anypony, Fluttershy, and you never abandon your friends when you know that they need you. “

Rarity brushes off the tears that are slowly streaming off Fluttershy’s face with her magic as she smiles at her friend. “And I promise you, darling, it may not be today or tomorrow, or the day after that. But I assure you that you will have a moment in which all your friends depend upon what you can do.” Rarity smiles. “And I know when that moment comes you won’t let us down.”

Fluttershy smiles a bit, her earlier fears and uncertainties unforgotten but suppressed under the immense level of confidence Rarity has placed in her.

“Besides,” Rarity remarks off hoof. “It may just be my opinion, but our little team needs a bit of culture in it, don’t you agree?”

Rarity brushes her mane off to the side as she demonstrates her superior looks and class. “Pinkie is a dear and Twilight is from Canterlot, but no pony carries herself with the grace that you do, Fluttershy. Could you imagine it? Taking Pinkie out to high tea? She wouldn’t last thirty seconds before the entire greens erupted in chaos!”

Rarity wraps her hoof around her friend. “Besides, darling, with what Twilight is paying us we would be fools to not take this job. Twenty-two bits an hour, with expenses? How could anypony pass that up?”

Fluttershy raises her hoof to her mouth in a cute giggle. “It IS really silly….”

“Oh?” Rarity asks with a bemused expression, “And what is that, darling?”

“Well, the idea of Pinkie sitting down for tea! I don’t think that she would last thirty seconds without breaking into a song about cupcakes!” And with their fears forgotten both mares break out into laughter, the two of them basking in the joy simple companionship can bring.

“Don’t worry about you lack of confidence, dear,” Rarity once again assures her. “Even I have times when I wish that I had more confidence……” The ivory mare looks off in the distance, her eyes filling with worry and fear. “The confidence to tell a certain somepony close to my heart the truth…...”

Fluttershy drops her mirthful smile as she looks at her friend’s face, seeing an expression that the yellow mare had never seen before: one of shame. Never before had Fluttershy seen this side of Rarity, a side that knew fear. To her, Rarity was always so confident and brave; how could she be afraid of something? Fluttershy nudges the mare to her side. “Um, Rarity? Are you okay?”

The quick shake knocks the ivory mare out of her daydream and back into the world of the living. “Oh I didn’t mean to worry you, dear. Really, it’s nothing,” Rarity states with dismissive flair. “Well come along, Fluttershy, we’ve got a long ways to go today. And I do not want you to have any more pity parties, is that acceptable, dear?” Rarity smiles reassuringly as she trots down the street in front of her.

Fluttershy nods and prepares to follow her friend, when suddenly as if on instinct the yellow mare turns her head left, feeling an almost magnetic pull drawing her gaze off in the distance.

There, resting just barely on her field of vision, sits an abandoned playground, its gates covered in long dried ivy. As if drawn by a siren song, Fluttershy takes a step towards the yard’s rusted gate, then another, and another, each step more automatic and devoid of thought than the last. By the time she realizes how strange she is acting, Fluttershy is practically galloping towards the gate, as Rarity calls out behind her. However, Fluttershy does not hear her friend, any voices that she could possibly hear drowned out by a mythical haze that is filling her mind.

She feels it, that in that abandoned place is something, something that fills life with meaning, something powerful and ancient. She suddenly comes to a stop in the middle of the park, in an area of hoof high weed-covered grass.

Suddenly, the haze clears from her mind as she looks around in fright. “Where… where am I…? How did I get… OW!” Raising her hoof with a wince of pain, Fluttershy lifts the bottom of her hoof up to see a small sharp rock embedded in the boney bottom of her hoof. There in her hoof is the same black stone that she has been searching for, surrounded by pinpricks of her own blood.

Whimpering in pain, Fluttershy reaches shakily out to her hoof, her limb shaking more from fear than the pain of having a sharp object being driven into it. Clenching her teeth and closing her eyes, the mare winces as she pulls out the small black stone, placing the rock to her side as she fishes around her saddlebag for a bandage. “H-H-How c-could I be so dumb?! I need to get this b-b-bleeding under control! From what Twilight told me, getting cut by these Stones can make you really…. sick?”

Looking at the bottom of her injured hoof, Fluttershy had expected to find a gaping wound, a sore testament to her mistake. However, instead she sees her hoof looking as perfect as it was before, as if her injury and exposure to the Stone were but a brief illusion. “W-W-What?! B-But I was sure that…..”

“Fluttershy!” The yellow mare turns around to see her fashion-minded friend completely winded behind her. “There you are. Ugh, and now I’m covered in sweat! Fluttershy darling, why did you run off like that? I was calling out your name but you just kept on ignoring me and…. Hello? What’s this?”

Rarity’s keen eye suddenly spots the black Stone lying not a hoof from the mare, and with caution in her breath she picks up the Stone with her magical aura. Suddenly, just as Rarity’s magic touches the stone, it erupts in a cascading stream of white light that seems to reflect off everything around them with equal radiance. The sudden surprise of the light causes Rarity to relinquish her magical hold on the Stone, its inert form once again falling to the ground, as black as obsidian.

“GASP!” Rarity gasps. “This must be one of those Strange Stones that Twilight told us to collect, oh good job, Fluttershy! Not even my gem-finding spell can locate these fragments! And you just so happened to find one out of the blue!”

“But…. I…… there was a voice…… and hoof…… and then blood…… and……”

Not even giving the shy mare a chance to respond, the Fashionista embraces the yellow mare. “I knew that I could rely on you. See, Fluttershy? What did I tell you? You’ve already proven yourself useful; just picture the look on dear Twilight’s face when we come back with one of these marvelous Stones that she asked for!”

Rarity embraces the yellow mare in a tight hug, causing Fluttershy to blush with pride. She did find the stone….. Even though it was an accident. It was just like she felt called in its direction. Maybe, maybe she did have a role to play; maybe she could help her friends.

But what about her hoof? Was she going crazy or……

Rarity breaks off the hug and looks around the park with her horn illuminated. “Humh, my spell doesn’t seem to have located any more of the Red Stones around us, so we best be on our way to give this Stone to Twilight…”

“You two are going nowhere!” The two mares turn towards the sound of the voice. “And neither is that Stone that you are holding!”

The mares both turn to see that their only way out of the park blocked by a unicorn mare with a light green mane with whitish silvery highlights. Her mint green and well-groomed coat sits in stark contrast to her scraggly, free flowing mane that seems to sway in an imaginary wind. Her golden yellow eyes, locked on the two mares with the intensity of a predator, make it well known that she isn’t playing around. Her cutie mark, barely obscured by her white and golden saddlebags, is that of a golden lyre, professing her pursuit of passion and of her skill with musical expression. “So in case you didn’t understand the first time….” The mare crosses her hooves confidently as she stands on two hooves. “Empty your saddlebags now. You’re going to turn over those Stones you’ve been collecting to me!”

Rarity gasps at the threats of this new stranger. “Why you ruffian! Trying to rob a pair of sweet defenseless mares in broad daylight! I will not stand for being mugged like this. I have friends in high places in the government, including the Princess’ protégé! And to top it off, I am a fourth dan in Judo, so I would just walk away and…...”

The light-green mare rolls her eyes at Rarity’s antics, amused by the unicorn’s beliefs that her opinion could stop a mugger. “I’m not mugging you.” The mare lands back on all fours. “I just want you to empty your bags and leave the Stones that you’ve been collecting. Do that and we both walk away no pony the wiser to your little ‘secret mission’.”

“Um…” Fluttershy chimes in. “I don’t mean to be rude miss….. But getting someone to give up something that they own IS stealing… So technically you are mugging us.”

The mugger sighs. “Uh, news flash fillies, the Stones that you’re collecting fell out of the sky! That means they don’t BELONG to anypony. They’re fair game! Plus…” The mare takes a menacing step forward. “If you feel ‘inclined’ to leave them behind for me, then it’s not stealing now is it?”

Fluttershy shakes like a leaf, however not every pony is so easily intimidated. Raising her nose up at the pony in front of her, Rarity responds to the mugger’s threats with indignation of a whole other kind. “I simply do not know what your problem is,” Rarity says, as if the mugger’s manners are an affront to good culture. “But I will not be intimidated by a thug! And I have no intention of letting you steal the Stones that we have been searching all day for!”

Standing battle-ready and glowing horn pointed at her opponent, Rarity tries her hoof at her own brand of intimidation. “Now kindly step aside before I am forced to do something drastic!”

The green unicorn shrugs. “Suit yourself! We’ll just have to do this the hard way.” The green mare takes a similar combat stance, mirroring her opponent. “However, if you thought that your ability to use some Judo would allow you to take me down, I just wanted you to know beforehand, you are dead wrong.” Lyra stares intently at the sputtering Ivory mare.

“How dare you!” Rarity shouts. “You think that simply because I am a lady I can’t defend myself? I’ll have you know… AAAAAAAAAAAAA!” before she can even register what is going on, the ivory mare finds herself picked up off the ground. Her four hooves flail futilely against an invisible force, her mind in limbo as her body is slammed against the hard, unforgiving ground.

“Rarity!” Fluttershy rushes forward to her friend’s side, making it half a step before she too is tripped by the same invisible force that just defeated her friend. Both mares try to rise but struggle vainly against the invisible force binding them, as it feels like their bodies are bound in the coils of a serpent.

“Heh, too easy. And you thought your little Judo skills would bind me? Looks like you two are the ones tied up!” Suddenly, the same invisible force pulls the saddlebags off of the two mares, carrying them over to their subduer. “And to the victors go the spoils.”

Rarity grunts against the force holding her to the ground, all the while her horn radiating a light blue aura. “All right, don’t say that I didn’t warn you!” With expert precision, Rarity fires a bolt of arcane energy that shoots towards the mint green mare. Yet just as it looks as though Rarity has turned the tables on her attacker, the bolt of magic is brushed into the sky courtesy of the same invisible force.

“Wow that was close,” the green mare states as she glances at the stray beam of magic spiraling into the sky. “I take it back prissy pony, you’ve got guts….” The mare strikes a dramatic pose “….. but fighting my Stand, Thousand Hoof Crutch, without a Stand yourself is totally impossible!”

Her well-laid plans having failed, Rarity struggles vainly against the force holding her prone, if only to feel that she is doing something to escape. “I-If you do a-anything to u-us then our friends w-won’t….”

“Oh quit your sniveling!” the mint mare snaps. “I take back taking back what I said! You totally don’t have any guts.”

The green mare levitates the two mares’ saddlebags in front of her. “I’m just after the Miracle Stones! It’s not like I was going to do anything weird to you or anything! Now let’s see here….”

The green mare opens the bag and with her golden yellow aura pulls them out with one by one. Time after time she pulls out a glowing Red Stone, only to throw it behind her in disgust. “Junk, junk, garbage, garbage, no…. Aha! Here we go!” Holding up the eerie golden-white Stone that Fluttershy just found, the mare jumps for joy as she gazes into its depths. Stuffing the Stone into her white saddlebags, the mare throws the two mares’ saddlebags back to them and turns to leave.

“Well, that’s all I needed.” Waving her hoof over the two mares, they feel the bonds holding them to the ground fall off. “Later you two, and remember if you find any more of the Miracles Stones that they belong to me…. Lyra Heartstrings.”

The green mare is about to walk away when Rarity leaps to her hooves. “Wait! Weren't you after the Red Stones like us? Why are you just letting us go? What do you know about these other stones? Are you crazy?!”

Fluttershy puts her hooves over her mouth as the green mare freezes at the sound of the word ‘crazy’. With terrifying slowness, the mare turns her head around, inch by inch, revealing an angry stare that would chill the blood of a Cockatrice.

The green mare turns slowly around to face the two mares, an obviously angry look on her muzzle as she takes a step towards them. Holding her ground before the ivory fashionista, the mare takes a long deep breath as the angry glare vanishes from her face. “Well, since you asked, no, I’m not after these whatever you call them ‘Red Stones’, why would I be? First, I already have a Stand in case you didn’t know. Second, I’m letting you go because you’re gonna find more of the Miracles Stones for me. Third, I want them because the Stones can grant you wishes…..”

Rarity gasps, “Those Stones….. grant wishes!? What in the wide wide world of Equestria would make you believe in that hogwash?”

“…… As I said,” Lyra continues over the ivory mare’s protests. “The only reason that I’m after these Stones is because they grant your ‘greatest desire’,” Lyra says with pride in her voice. “When I found my piece of the Stone it granted me a Stand power and claimed that the Stone existed to grant the desires of its user or something like that.”

“That means whoever possesses the pieces of this Stone will have their wishes granted!” The Mare looks towards the heavens with hope in her eyes. “And when I gather all the pieces, then I, Lyra Heartstrings, will finally and irrefutably be able to prove the existence of Humans!”

The entire park goes completely silent as both Rarity and Fluttershy stare - mouths agape - at Lyra, with the look a new pony to Ponyville might give Pinkie Pie. The only sound that can be heard is the blowing of the wind as an ironically-timed tumble weed rolls on the ground in front of them

“…. Um Lyra, was it?” Fluttershy raises her hoof. “Not to rain on your parade….. but humans don’t exist.”

The green mare practically explodes. “That’s a lie! Humans DO exist! They were once a plentiful species that invented many great inventions that we ponies use today! Explain bowling balls! Humans existed! It’s a fact! I’m not crazy!” the crazy mare rants.

“Um, I’m sorry Lyra, but human existence has been debated for thousands of years but no certified evidence has ever been found to support the existence of humans,” Fluttershy states with the calm analytical logic of a seasoned animal expert. “In all zoological studies the closest thing to the mythical human is the monkey tribes of the southern islands and they went extinct five hundred years ago. I'm sorry but there’s just no evidence supporting their existence.”

“Humans DO exist,” Lyra insists strongly. “They even possess a technology that allows them to peer across the dimensional fabric of space time! They call it ‘Television’ and they’re using it to spy on all of us all the time!” Lyra’s eyes bulge. “Imagine it: they are all watching us in our most private of moments right now for their own sick entertainment!” Lyra hysterically explains. “That’s why I have to prove that they exist, I’m the only one that can stop their creepy spying!”

If silence could be any more awkward it would have broken the very dimensional fabric of space time. “Um…. Darling?” Rarity asks, “I don’t mean to be rude and all but are you always so….”

“DON’T SAY IT!”

“…… crazy?” Rarity winces.

The green mare nearly tears her mane out. “I’m NOT crazy! Why does everypony think that I’m crazy?! Cause I’m not! Humans are real, it’s all a conspiracy to cover up their existence! Why can’t anypony else see? This is why I need to gather the magic wish granting Stones! To prove that a race of two-legged hairless apes are spying on us and writing down our movements in their fan fictions! I’M NOT CRAZY!”

“Ah don’t know bout you, Twi, but that sounds plenty crazy ta me.”

“Agreed, Applejack. It’s a good thing that Rarity signaled us when she did; this mare looks like she needs some help,” Twilight remarks. “It may be that her Stand is affecting her judgment, but what she said sounds really crazy.”

Suddenly, the out-of-breath green unicorn breaks out of her rant just in time to see an orange earth pony and a lavender unicorn behind her, cutting off her escape. “Who are you?!” The green mare suddenly gets defensive as she moves to confront the two newcomers. “How did you find me? What are you doing here in the first place? Are you after the Miracle Stones as well?”

The purple mare strikes a pose demonstrating her authority and elegance. “I am Princess Representative Twilight Sparkle, and on behalf of the Crown I hereby command you to release my friends and turn yourself over to the government for your crimes against said agents of the Crown.”

“An as fer how we found ya…” The orange mare points up to the sky, a large light blue cloud of smoke remaining motionless in the air. “… Yawl probably should have noticed that there flare now?”

Lyra looks up in the sky in utter surprise as Rarity gloats behind her back. “I said that I had friends in high places, didn't I? I wasn’t begging and trying to distract you with small talk, I was stalling until my friends could arrive!” Rarity brushes her mane off to the side. “That’s what you get for underestimating a fashionable lady!”

Lyra finally closes her mouth and looks at Rarity. “Well I’ll be fooled…… That blast of magic wasn’t to hit me; it was a flare to draw your allies to you.” Lyra can’t help but grin. “Clever, I officially take back my taking back my taking back the fact that you actually have guts, you prissy pony.”

The green mare turns to face her new opponents, her entire body raring to go. “But don’t get too cocky! You may be with the government but I have no intention of turning over these magical wishing stones to you. I am going to make my dream come true and show everypony they were wrong to doubt me. If you want me to surrender you’re going to have to use force!” Lyra takes a resolute step forward as she prepares to attack. “And my Stand, Thousand Hoof Crutch, has never been beaten!”

Cracking her forehooves, Applejack takes a step forward. “Fine by me, Ah like having ta do things the hard way!” Leaping forward, Applejack manifests her Stand in a single moment, its heavy wooden body floating in front of her. Its glistening green mane shines as the setting sun reflects off of the Stand’s crown and body, it’s every muscle coiled to attack.

Suddenly, in a single blow Applejack’s Foundation shatters the ground where Lyra once was with a powerful right straight. With strength to spare, its hoof contorts the earth from the force of impact, yet Lyra is nowhere to be found. “She’s….. gone?” Applejack gapes. “Where did that there slippery varmint….”

Twilight points her hoof. “Applejack, above you!”

Applejack looks up to see the green mare hanging from a lantern post above her head, her body suspended from the pole by several strange looking arms, each one ending in five blunted claws of varying length. The dark iron arms seem to have grown out of the pole itself, their base seemingly a mix of the metal of the pole and the dark metal of the Stand’s ‘limbs’. Looking down on her opponent, Lyra breathes out a sigh of relief as another of the arms pops out of her back, wiping the sweat off her brow. “Whew, that was too close. If that had actually hit me, it would really be all over….”

“What in tarnation?” Applejack shouts, “Are ya a spider-pony er somethin’?”

Lyra laughs. “It looks like your Stand is pretty strong, I’ll give you that, even off the owner is short on brains.” The mint green mare crosses her hooves in confidence. “Fine I‘ll tell you! Thousand Hoof Crutch allows me to create arms and hands that can grow out of any non-living object within my range (well, including me as well), allowing me to create an army of arms. It’s how I so easily defeated your friends before, and it’s how I’m going to defeat you!”

Suddenly, several dozen arms grow out of the ground around Applejack, each one growing up from the soil with their twisted fingers outstretched. Then with remarkable precision each and every one of the metallic arms reaches out, grabbing a part of the farmer’s body. Her friends call out in distress as the dozens of arms grapple Applejack from every angle, rendering the orange mare unable to move even a muscle.

“Ha! Bet you didn't see that coming did you?” Lyra mocks. “You seem to have a lot of raw power but you can’t defend against a lot of attacks at once, can you? Bet that’s why you didn’t even bother to dodge, hunh? You realized it was futile, hunh?” The green mare crosses her hooves in pride. “Yes sir, my Stand is unbeatable, it’s only logical that even you’d give up struggling against it!”

Applejack, not even wiggling against her constraints, spits in the dirt to her side. “Nah, I just didn’t move ‘cause dodging’s too much trouble.”

“What?”

“‘Sides, it’s cowardly.” Applejack grins “‘Scaping’s easier.”

Lyra’s laughter stops instantly. “Escape? Ha, you think you can wiggle out of a twenty-three-arm grapple? Dream on! But since you seem so confident that you can beat me I’ll knock you out quick with my signature Thousand Fist Barrage!”

“….. Give me a break,” Applejack sighs. “Fine, just make it quick, Ah got harvestin’ ta do tomorrow.”

Manifesting even more arms around the paralyzed mare, the hands curl up their digits into a ball as they all arch around the farm pony like snakes coiling to strike. Then, as if moving with one mind, all the arms snap out like bullets, each one striking with incredible precision as they pound the paralyzed orange farm mare with a tremendous volley of blows, while Lyra shouts from the sidelines.

“Vola,Vola,Vola,Vola,Vola,Vola,Vola,Vola,Vola,Vola,Vola,Vola,Vola!VVVVOOOOOOOLLLLLLAAAAAAA!!!”

However, despite being on the receiving end of a savage beating, Applejack doesn’t seem bothered at all by Lyra’s attack. Leaning her head down she manifests her wooden Stand over her own body, it’s skin covering her like a shell of armor as the fists rush in, attacking her from every direction. Blow after countless blow impacts the orange mare and her Stand as Lyra mercilessly beats Applejack with everything she has. Yet the as the attack dies down Applejack appears to be completely unfazed, the fists that attacked her shattering into hundreds of pieces. The entire group - aside from Applejack - can only stare completely dumbfounded as Applejack has just endured a savage beating of supernatural origins without even being bothered by it.

“Yawl done yet?” the farm mare asks, brushing her coat off with her Stand “Standin here’s borin so Ah’d like to beat yawl and move on if you please.”

“How….? Why……? My Stand…. How did you endure……? DO YOU EAT CEMENT OR SOMETHING?!?” Lyra screams, “That was my best attack! What are you made of? Stone?!”

“Nah,” the farm mare claims, “Mah Stand’s power just makes it or anythin it touches impossible to move, is all, and since mah Stand is tougher than cousin Braeburn’s apple jerky, well yawl might as well have been punchin a brick wall for all Ah care.”

“SOUTHERNISIMS!” Twilight calls out from the sidelines. “Applejack, you promised, no southernisms!”

Applejack tilts her hat. “Sorry, Twi, it’s a habit, me and what you call them ‘southernisms’ are as close as peas and gravy!”

“UUUURRRRRAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!” Twilight screams.

“Well…. Well…. You still can’t break free!” Lyra states as her arms grip Applejack and her Stand even more tightly. “Ha, I got you there! I might not be able to injure you but if you can’t move then I win! Victory is…. ”

“UUUUUUUUOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Applejack cries out as she and her Stand push outwards against the strength of dozens of arms holding her to the spot at which she is rooted.

“Heh. Fool,” Lyra says, amused by Applejack’s struggling. “You plan to break the grip of my Stand? A regular pony like you? I’ve been given power by the Miracle Stones and I still have trouble with it. There’s no…”

“UUUOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Shattering Earth……” With the immense strength of her Stand and her own potent physical strength, honed over a lifetime of hard rigorous work, Applejack rips all of the arms out of the ground. The simple force of her power creates a shockwave as she breaks out of the hold with nothing more than physical strength. “…. Overdrive!” Earth and stone fly into space as the Stand stamps it’s weathered wooden hooves into the ground with an intimidating thunderclap.

Lyra stares, unable to even think as she tries to comprehend the monstrous level of strength she just witnessed. With nothing more than brute strength, she overpowered twenty three times a normal pony’s strength like tearing a tissue in half. The arms ripped out of the ground fade back into the ether as Lyra gapes at the sight she has just witnessed.

Dusting off her coat, Applejack smirks. “Oh, I forgot ta mention, mah Stand can also remove any object from its foundation by touchin it as well. So long as Ah got the strength to rip it out of the earth like that.” Narrowing her gaze at the stunned green mare, Applejack stands battle ready, her hooves itching for battle. “Now Is that all yawl got?”

“But…. Stones… and… humans…. I…”

“Well it’s been a hoot, Lyra, with yawl funny Stand and yer silly talk bout humans,” Applejack chuckles. “But Ah’ve got to be home in time for supper so I hope that yawl won’t think me rude fer finishing up our little ‘fight’ right now.”

Still stunned from Applejack’s superior strength, Lyra is just able to pull herself out of the way as Foundation bends the metal post that she was has hanging from like a bundle of straw. Scared out of her wits to be on the receiving end of a Stand that could do that to metal, Lyra puts her Stand’s many arms to the best advantage; in other words, using them to run away from the angered orange farm mare as if her life depended on it. Like a spider fleeing from a burning house, the many arms popping out of Lyra’s back carry her scurrying body across the ground while Applejack follows hot on her heals.

“Lyra! Stop running around like a chicken in the farmhouse an get back here so Ah can punch yawl good!”

“NO!”

“Ah mean it Lyra, get back here now and let’s end this little charade!”

“NO you can’t make me!”

“Lyra, stop runnin about like a coward and git back here or so help me, ah'll pummel yawl inta next Thursday! Now git back here!”

"You'll Have to Catch me first!!"

"UUUUUUAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!"

Author's Note:

To Be Continued →

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