• Published 9th Nov 2015
  • 4,576 Views, 283 Comments

She's Awful - Superbowl

Principal Abacus Cinch is preparing to deal with the aftermath of the Friendship Games as she receives an invitation to Equestria from someone very familiar.

  • ...


“Surely you jest! There was a magical portal right under your hideous horse statue?” exclaimed Principal Cinch as Sparkle pushed her arm through the surface of the pedestal where the Wondercolt statue had once stood. Her headache was back after waning a bit while they made the journey to CHS. Principal Cinch had left her car some distance away so that it would not be too conspicuous (lest the students of her rival school key it or do something else of that nature) and they walked the rest of the way. “Well, it’s fitting, I suppose.”

Ignoring the comment, Sparkle replied, “I will go first, Mrs. Cinch. Wait for a bit before following so I can get out of the way… And be prepared to stand on four legs, of course!”

Principal Cinch took note of that advice. She hadn’t even considered the transition process, assuming, perhaps, that the portal would spit her out in whatever position was appropriate for her altered form. She prepared to fall on all fours as soon as she crossed the portal—crawling into it like that in front of Canterlot High was so out of the question that it was almost amusing.

The process took a couple of seconds, to Principal Cinch’s mild surprise. She had expected it to be instantaneous, seeing as how Sparkle’s limbs had immediately changed beyond the wavy surface of the portal, but that turned out to be a mere visual aid. Being distorted into a spiral and swirled around in the kaleidoscope subspace was wholly unpleasant, but Cinch managed to keep her cool until emerging on the other side.

The first thing Principal Cinch noticed after landing on her belly—it seems guesswork had not been sufficient in providing her with the correct movement plan after all—was the sheer shininess and smoothness of her surroundings. She put that thought on hold and looked at herself, only to see that she did in fact have hooves on the ends of her legs… All four of them, teal blue in color. She had to quickly convince herself that standing on all fours was only undignified for normal people—not for the equines.

After standing up and looking around she noticed another equine. It was unmistakably Sparkle, although at the same time barely recognizable as well. How peculiar.

“So, are we in the…Crystal Empire, Miss Sparkle?” asked Principal Cinch.

“No, Mrs. Cinch, this is just my castle in Ponyville. We’ll take a train to the Crystal Empire, it’s in the north,” replied Sparkle. “Speaking of, I have to organize a bunch of things pertaining to your visit…”

“Excuse me, but… Your castle?” Cinch tried to incredulously adjust her glasses, which turned out to be a challenge without hands.

“Oh, right, I’m sorry. I should have explained. You see, while our worlds share a lot of similarities, many things are vastly different, and I’m not just talking about our forms and our magic. I’ve been crowned a princess some time ago, and eventually got this castle. It’s a long story, but I can tell you on the train!”

Truth be told, Principal Cinch was almost intrigued by this development. Twilight Sparkle, a princess? Had she married a prince? If royalty still existed in this world, it would make sense that it was a real possibility, unlike in the real world. Maybe this Twilight Sparkle was actually interested in other people that way, who knew.

The purple equine, meanwhile, resumed her previous speech.

“So as I was saying, I need to organize some things. I barely warned anypony about this, since we only just decided it with Dean Cadance yesterday… This will take some time, and I have to disassemble the portal as well.“

The mention of a portal prompted Principal Cinch to look behind her to see what exactly she had come out of in this world. It was an ornate mirror surrounded by a rather complex piece of what looked like old-fashioned machinery.

Noticing that Cinch spent an uncharacteristically long time staring at the contraption, Sparkle spoke up again.

“The mirror is the portal. Normally it opens only once every thirty moons, but I had to find a way to keep it open whenever I needed…” Fortunately, Sparkle thought better of going into further detail. “Anyway, that book on top of it is connected to another one that’s currently in the human world, and it uses this connection as a sort of tether… Well, in laypony’s terms. We’ll use that book to communicate with Dean Cadance so that she can inform you immediately should something important happen.”

“And why exactly do you need to disassemble this… Thing?” asked Cinch.

“Oh, well, we’re going to take the portal with us on the train, so that you can leave at any point…”

“You seem to be willing to go to great lengths just to have me visit your world, Miss Sparkle. This is quite a complex looking contraption.” Cinch thought that the machine looked like something Twilight would build if she had access only to anachronistic parts and materials.

Sparkle blushed slightly at the perceived praise. “Oh, well, it’s really no problem. I just heard about Crystal Prep and what a great school it was and I really wanted to help! Besides, I can take this apart easily with my magic!” With that, she concentrated on what appeared to be a levitation spell, and parts of the machine started coming off, enveloped in a purple glow of magic. First among them was the book she had mentioned moments before.

Cinch was astounded at the display, even if she didn’t show it. The magic was much more controllable in this world, it seemed. If humans could do something like that, a lot of money could be saved… And a lot of people could lose their jobs. Still, it would be perfectly handy to have access to such a tool. It would more than justify this trip to a strange, different world if Cinch could get her hands on personally usable magic.

With the Friendship Games fresh on her mind, Cinch imagined secretly assisting her students at physical competitions: subtly guiding arrows to their targets, pushing motorbikes ahead just a bit… Whichever athletic events the next Friendship Games were going to have, Principal Cinch was certain that with magic she could easily secure victories in all of them, and nobody would be the wiser.

Of course, magic would also make it much more convenient to perform personal day-to-day tasks, but she didn’t use to complain about those anyway.

And with all that, the million dollar question came up. Well, rather, a few questions leading up to it. It would be foolish to ask this too directly.

“So, Miss Sparkle, can anyone perform magic in your world?”

“Well, yes and no… All ponies have magic in them, but only unicorns can directly control it in such a way. Alicorns too, like me, since we possess traits of all three pony tribes.” Sparkle’s eyes lingered on Cinch’s torso. “You, actually… seem to be a pegasus. Huh. To be honest, I was expecting you to be turned into a unicorn, Mrs. Cinch.”

Cinch looked at herself once again, this time more thoroughly. Her form was covered with a coat of a same teal blue color as her hooves (which didn’t seem right...), and she could in fact see two wings sitting on her back. Her tail shared the natural colors of her hair (without the artificial glossiness, of course), those being several shades of purple. On her hip she had some sort of picture—three vertically elongated cyan-colored diamonds in a straight horizontal row.

She turned back to Sparkle and raised her eyebrow. “And why exactly did you expect me to be a... unicorn, pray tell?” It was unfortunate that she had not become a unicorn, it seemed they had it best around here.

“Well… The three pony tribes have some typical psychological differences… That is not to say that a pegasus, unicorn or earth pony must be expected to conform to any stereotype, as they often don’t, but some differences have been noted in psychology studies… In unicorns, an increased interest in knowledge is common, and, if I may, often a certain level of overestimation of the importance of social status… The pegasi tend to be normally more into physical activities...”

This would have probably been really awkward had Principal Cinch been a native of this world. It seemed that Sparkle didn’t have enough social experience to subconsciously wrap potentially controversial statistics in placating blankets of half-truths and gentle reassurances, as real people had learned to do long ago.

“I see. Well, Miss Sparkle, it doesn’t matter. So, I take it, as a… pegasus... I can’t perform magic like you?” That was a bit careless of Cinch to ask, but it seemed that she had nothing to lose, what with her chance of possessing magical abilities rapidly thinning to nothingness.

“No, you can’t. However, pegasi can control weather, and, of course, fly! Would you be interested in learning how to fly?” Sparkle asked excitedly. Did she expect Cinch to be enthusiastic about this?

“Is that going to be necessary to get where we need to go around here?”

“Well, no, but—”

“Then it’s a waste of time,” Cinch stated. “Now then, Miss Sparkle, I believe you were saying that you needed to tend to some matters?”

Sparkle’s mouth opened for a second before actually making a sound. “Ah, yes, yes. Well, as I said, I need to organize some stuff for your trip. Plus, the train for Crystal Empire isn’t leaving in a while. So, if you don’t mind, a friend of mine will come here so she can show you around Ponyville while I take care of things. I’ll rejoin you as soon as I’m able.”

“Would this... friend be able to answer my questions?” To be completely frank, Cinch had absolutely no interest in exploring this “Ponyville”. Her headache did not help her irritation with this childish world, and the only thing she was interested in was learning potentially useful information, such as how to use magic, even though that possibility had flown out the window.

“Yes she would! Rarity is a well-educated pony and a unicorn as well, so she should be able to tell you more about pony history, or some basics about magic if you still want to learn.” Sparkle glanced at Cinch’s hip picture. “Come to think of it, her cutie mark looks a lot like yours!”

Cutie mark? If there ever was a time for a raised eyebrow, it was now.

Sparkle shook her head. “Right, you wouldn’t know what it is. It’s the symbol on your flank. It appears when a young pony understands their calling in life, their talent, what they’re meant to do. They can get quite symbolic sometimes and even difficult to interpret. Do you have any idea what yours might mean about you?”

“Can’t say that I do, Miss Sparkle.” Cinch was really not interested in deciphering the image that this world’s bizarre magical forces had assigned to her and saw fit to draw on her body. ”But you make it sound like you equines have it rather easy. A magical symbol to confirm what you can expect to be good at, what you are going to succeed at in life? How do you have any problems with such divine guidance?”

“Oh, it’s not that easy, Mrs. Cinch. Ponies can sometimes get a cutie mark without fully understanding it. Cutie marks are often unrelated to our jobs as well. Take Rarity, for example. Her cutie mark is three diamonds, similar to yours, but she is a fashion designer. She got it because she discovered her gem-finding spell, which led her to a gem deposit.”

Unbeknownst to Cinch, one of her ears perked up.

“She ended up using them on some costumes she was making, which, according to her, was what finally made them beautiful. When she saw ponies liking her work, the cutie mark appeared. It depicts gemstones, but she understands it as being about bringing out beauty in everything.”

A gem-finding spell. That could have been very useful indeed. Though maybe not for Principal Cinch herself, actually—getting rich was not her ambition, after all. And she doubted the spell could be twisted to find “hidden gems” among people—the most promising students, for example—unless magic was somehow operated with spoken language alone. Which evidently was not the case, as Sparkle hadn’t had to say any sort of incantation to levitate things.

“Anyway, I sent her a note yesterday, in advance,” Sparkle continued. “She said she would be free to come today. I think you’ll get along fine, even if you’re not looking to make friends with anypony.”

Principal Abacus Cinch getting along with a magical equine. That would be the day.

She also did not fail to notice that Sparkle had apparently been so sure she could get Cinch to agree to this visit that she had asked her friend to assist before even meeting with the principal herself.

“Now, I took the liberty of telling Rarity that you’re from the other world. She knows about it as well. This way you can freely ask her the most basic questions and it won’t be strange.” Sparkle looked to the side. “I also told her that you’re not staying for very long at all and, well... As I said, that you’re not looking to make friends.” She looked back at Cinch. ”She should be here fairly soon.”

“Very well, Miss Sparkle,” Cinch replied. “I believe I’ll be able to find the exit on my own. Please be so kind as to start your preparations so that we can get to this Crystal Empire as soon as possible and I can return home.”

“I’ll do just that. Oh, and Mrs. Cinch? I just want to say something.” Sparkle paused as though to collect her thoughts. “Nopony here knows anything about you as a person, you have no reputation to uphold, no image to keep. You will stay here for a short time and then probably never see anypony again, and the impression you make in this short time is perfectly inconsequential.” Sparkle’s expression became almost pleading. “Please, consider opening up to them a bit. Everypony here is friendly and good-natured, what could you lose if you treat them warmly in return? Maybe you’ll find yourself enjoying it, who knows?”

“I’ll keep that in mind, Miss Sparkle.”

Principal Cinch carefully descended a hard, smooth stone staircase as she contemplated her situation.

This Twilight Sparkle seemed oddly concerned with ‘helping’. It was not even her own world’s affairs, and yet she was willing to spend her presumably valuable time on this endeavor. Perhaps she was doing it as a favor or obligation to someone in the real world?

Then again, earlier in Cinch’s office, Sparkle seemed passionate about her ideals of people holding hands and getting along. Maybe she truly believed she was saving Crystal Prep from certain doom by introducing its nasty, cold-hearted principal to the concept of being nice.

The staircase finally ended. Cinch looked down the corridor to find the exit. She saw a window, and through the window she saw that this was still not the ground floor.

The whole place reminded Cinch of Crystal Prep, just a bit over-decorated and painted into darker tones. Actually, she did not mind the darker tones.

Back to the matter at hand, though.

Even more puzzling than Sparkle’s eagerness to “help” was the fact that Cinch had decided to go along with it. She didn’t really believe most of what Sparkle preached. Why did she now find herself in this fairy-tale world, wasting her time on things that would never be relevant? The only scenario in which they could was Cinch becoming a children’s book author.

Perhaps she did not have a good reason to decline, given how a tool for instant communication and a quick way back were provided to her. Cinch did not want to admit it, but this trip might have been a way to distract herself from the immediate problem back home.

Oh well. Cinch did want to question Sparkle directly, just to get straight to the information she could’ve used, but the purple equine princess needed to get her affairs in order. Disturbing her would only prolong Cinch’s stay and delay their trip to the Crystal Empire. Hopefully this Rarity would be able to provide some insight.

Actually, Cinch just hoped that Rarity’s company would at least be tolerable. On one hand, Sparkle had requested this friend specifically, so it would stand to reason that she picked one that would least annoy Cinch. On the other hand, it was done before meeting Cinch in person, so Sparkle had to rely on whatever account she had gotten of Cinch’s personality from others.

Principal Cinch knew that few bothered to understand why she acted like she did. Most simply assumed she was a selfish and unpleasant person. Then again, among those talking to Sparkle had been Cadenza, and the dean knew her well enough to offer more adequate judgement.

Another flight of stairs ended and Cinch spotted what looked undeniably like a front door.

The outside looked nothing like she had expected. Truthfully, Cinch hadn’t spent any considerable time contemplating what this world would look like outside the castle. A small rustic town, just a step above a village, was rather low on her list of possibilities. At least it was clean and well-cared for.

Unfortunately, but perhaps unsurprisingly, the day on this side of the portal was bright and sunny, the air hot and disgustingly still.

Principal Cinch looked around for anyone approaching and then turned to the castle.

Her expectations of this world lowered quickly and dramatically. How was she supposed to take anything around here seriously when there was a princess living in a backwater town whose crystal castle was half crystal tree? It looked completely ridiculous.

“Quite a sight, isn’t it?”

Given the flexibility of the phrase, it could indeed be applied to this gaudy monstrosity.

Cinch tore her gaze off the castle and looked to the source of the voice. It turned out to be a unicorn of a more reasonable white coloration, albeit with quite an extravagant mane. The unicorn wore a simple dress that looked rather silly on her. Before Cinch could form a polite reply, the stranger spoke again.

“Pardon me, but would you happen to be Abacus Cinch?” asked the unicorn.

“Correct. I suppose you are Rarity, then.”

“Indeed, that’s moi. Marvelous to make your acquaintance Mrs. Cinch!” exclaimed Rarity. “Shall we go?”

“Where will we be going, exactly?” Cinch said as she turned the rest of herself towards the newcomer. It was only polite.

“Why, the one and only place anypony new should visit as soon as possible! The Ponyville Spa, of course!”

Well, that was awfully forward of this creature. Then again, despite her wearing a dress, no other equine around them had any element of clothing on, which probably meant that visiting a sauna with a stranger could be considered acceptable in this culture. Still, Principal Cinch felt the need to protest.

“A spa hardly seems like an important place to visit during a BRIEF tour of a town.”

“Oh pish-posh, a spa visit puts a pony in the perfect condition to appreciate what our little town has to offer! Besides, I sense that you are less interested in sightseeing than knowledge, Mrs. Cinch, and I can answer any questions you might have just fine as we enjoy the treatment!”

“Very well then, Miss Rarity. Lead the way.” Cinch did not know what effect spas had on headaches, but she would rather find out than argue with a unicorn in a dress. Even though it was the very antithesis of a cool breeze.

Agreeing to this spa session might have been the best decision Cinch would make on this one-day vacation in another world. It was, all in all, rather relaxing, washing away her swarming thoughts. Even her headache was going away. This would undoubtedly make her visit that much more tolerable.

“...And so, all three pony tribes reached the land that is now Equestria, and, naturally, it didn’t take them too long to discover each other again.”

Just this once, Cinch allowed herself to be mildly curious about something equine-related. Cinch had inquired about a certain bit of their history that Sparkle had mentioned. Rarity was all too happy to oblige.

“Tensions rose immediately,” she narrated. “And, as you can imagine, the windigos had followed, so the weather started getting colder once more. This reignited the same conflict between the leaders, naturally.”

“There is one thing, Miss Rarity, that I do not comprehend. How were the unicorns dull enough to assume the pegasi had been at fault again, despite the fact that the pegasi had been driven out of their home just like everyone else? Surely it would have been obvious at that point that the weather was changing for other reasons.”

“Yes, it would seem so now,” Rarity nodded. “In hindsight a lot of our problems and questions have obvious answers. I’m sure that at the time things were simply too heated for the politicians to think rationally.”

Rarity was unaware how close to home her hindsight comment had struck. Indeed, Cinch knew too well how easily bad choices were made under pressure.

“They had all the time in the world to think rationally BETWEEN their meetings, I assume,” said Cinch while raising an eyebrow.

“Yes, well… I admit, every tribe’s pride also played a role.” Rarity looked a bit uncomfortable. “The unicorn royalty was too concerned with its reputation to admit their mistakes. The earth ponies were just… stubborn.”

Cinch already knew that this “great tale of old” would amount to someone finding an obvious solution to their embarrassingly simple problem. Perhaps something about the unicorns getting over their “petty concerns about reputation”, the others swallowing their pride and everyone getting along, again. This world seemed to be juvenile enough for an event like that to have played a big role in their history. It would not surprise Cinch if the equines had shared some eclairs and made peace just like that. Wanting to confirm her assumptions, she motioned for Rarity to continue.

“Either way, things were going nowhere,” Rarity obliged. “But luckily, the leaders’ assistants did not share the same hatred for each other that their so-called betters had. They became friends over the council meetings where they always got a chance to see each other. At the same time, Clover investigated the weather anomalies. Eventually she discovered the windigos.

“Naturally, she was quick to report her findings to Princess Platinum, but the princess was so deep in her disdain for the pegasi that she refused them the benefit of the doubt. Clover did not know who to turn to, and so she brought it up with her friends at the next council meeting. Smart Cookie told Puddinghead about it, and Pansy told Hurricane. What they hadn’t expected was this information made the situation worse.

“Puddinghead was convinced that the windigos were concocted by the pegasi in an effort to shift the blame to some imaginary monster. Hurricane was furious with Princess Platinum for refusing to recant her accusations. Platinum herself was quite cross with Clover for meddling in their affairs like that.

“A fight broke out like nothing the three cross-tribe friends had ever seen. It was far beyond the simple rudeness and passive-aggressive remarks—it became a shouting match, things were thrown, you can probably imagine. And the windigos were right there, getting so powerful that the entire building began to freeze over.

“The disaster brought Clover, Cookie and Pansy closer, though, and then, at the very last moment, from their friendship in the face of hopelessness a spell was born. Clover, powered by their friendship, used her magic to weaken and drive away the windigos.

“Nopony knows what happened to the beasts, whether they were destroyed or not, but their influence on the weather stopped. The land thawed out and the leaders were forced to face their mistakes and own up to them. From there the earth ponies, unicorns and pegasi started living in unity, and Equestria was formed as the shared land of all three tribes.”

Having finished her long-winded tale, Rarity looked expectantly at Cinch, only to find her companion thoroughly unimpressed.

“So permit me to clarify, Miss Rarity. Everything was solved with magic, magic that was somehow ‘powered by friendship’?” Cinch said with a deliberate, slow pace.

“Well, it used to be a mystery to us as well, Mrs. Cinch, but it was better understood after Twilight’s ascension. You see, friendship between ponies creates harmony, and harmony strengthens the magic…” Rarity tapped her chin with her hoof. “You’ll have to excuse me, I’m not up to date on the latest research on this matter—you are much better off asking Twilight for details, I’m afraid.”

“That won’t be necessary, Miss Rarity. I believe I understand enough.” Cinch paused for a moment. “Now, how much longer is this session going to last?”

“Oh! Well, actually, we can leave right now, it’s ended. We could have left earlier, in fact, but I was telling the—” Cinch climbed out of the bath and headed for the towels without saying a word “—story.”

The equine and the woman walked down a Ponyville street, headed toward a place Rarity had suggested to get a refreshment. The name had something to do with sugar.

Truth be told, it was not the first place Rarity had suggested, but Cinch refused to eat anything that she would not eat as a human. Apparently, only one place in town served anything other than grass or flower products. Instead it sold sugary pastries, as she was led to believe. That was good, sugar could help her stay awake through more of these stories.

Stories that she was still determined to listen to because it was the only remotely productive thing she could be doing in this horse land. She would’ve left immediately after realizing how tiresome her trip was going to be, but something useful could still be learned at the so called Crystal Empire. If it was a counterpart of Crystal Prep and really as much of a utopia as Sparkle had described it during their car ride, maybe she could at least apply some of their methods to her school.

Although after Rarity’s ‘brief’ history lesson a suspicion began creeping into Cinch’s mind, a suspicion she did not like but pushed away for the sake of her continued collectedness.

A building that looked like a gingerbread house came into view. All of a sudden, Rarity’s eyes widened and she froze in place. Cinch stopped as well, unsure of what might have caused such a change in her guide’s disposition.

“Er, Mrs. Cinch… This is Sugarcube Corner. And I am terribly sorry, but I must ask that you wait right here for a second…” Rarity glanced between Cinch and the building. “I have to run ahead and… well… take care… of something! Wait-right-here-I’ll-be-right-back!”

The white unicorn rushed inside the childish-looking store, leaving Cinch confused and irritated. What was it now?

Many long and annoying seconds passed after Rarity disappeared through the doors. Cinch noticed that her headache had returned in full force from all the bright colors around her. Mercifully, the unicorn soon emerged, looking much calmer, and beckoned Cinch inside.

The inside of the shop was thankfully not as garish as the outside, and the smell of freshly baked sweets was actually pleasant. There were not too many customers which promised quiet. Some of them glanced strangely at Cinch as she entered with Rarity. Behind the counter stood an equine so painfully pink that Cinch felt like turning away immediately so as not to worsen her headache. The pink creature seemed on edge, but had a smile plastered on her face anyway.

“Hi! My name is Pinkie Pie and—” Rarity shot her a subtle but meaningful look “—and what would you like to order?” The equine then started shaking very slightly, fidgeting in place as Cinch slowly lowered her gaze from her to the selection of baked goods on offer.

All the pastries looked about as headache-inducing as the equine selling them, but Cinch managed to pick out one with the least frosting and the most subdued color scheme.

“I will have this thing, please,” she said, her tone colder than ice, and went for the farthest table from the counter. She heard Rarity make her order and soon the unicorn joined her at the table.

“You’ll have to bear with Pinkie Pie, I’m afraid,” Rarity said. “She is very… energetic about meeting new ponies, and believe me”—she leaned forward a little to give Cinch a pointed look—“she knows you’re new. Fortunately I managed to dissuade her from throwing you a party on the spot by informing her that you are visiting Ponyville very briefly and have important business elsewhere later today. She’s trying her best to hold it in, but she really wants to try making friends with you, like she has with everyone else who ever set hoof in Ponyville.”

“I appreciate the thoughtfulness, Miss Rarity,” Cinch said in a not at all appreciative tone. “I’m not looking for any… friends here during my visit.”

“Aw, why not? Friends are great! You can never have enough!” Both heads turned to Pinkie Pie as she approached the table with their order. Apparently she thought nothing of butting into others’ conversations.

“That may be true for other people, Miss Pie, but not for me, I can assure you. Now can you please leave us to our food?”

“Silly, friends are for everypony! What could anyone possibly have against having friends? There’s only good things about it! You know what I think?” Cinch wanted to interrupt. “I think that if you don’t think so, you just haven’t met your friends yet! But everypony should have friends!”

Pinkie spoke much too fast to get a word in, so Cinch had to settle with a less satisfying option of simply replying.

“Yes, thank you very much for your input, but I must repeat my request.”

Rarity shot Pie another look. Pie frowned slightly, but put the platter on their table and left with a quiet “Okay”. Her mane looked a tad limp.

The meal passed in blissful silence.

After the pair left the bakery, Cinch insisted that Rarity lead her back to Princess Sparkle’s castle. Rarity was unhappy to have to cut her tour short, but seemed to understand anyway. She reluctantly agreed and now they walked through Ponyville again. Cinch made a point of staying in the shade as much as the surrounding buildings and trees allowed.

From time to time Rarity spoke up to point out one place of interest or another, but Cinch barely paid any attention to her. She did not say anything or even acknowledge anything Rarity said. Unfortunately, they were not allowed a calm trip to their destination.

“Woah! Your wings are a mess!”

Upon hearing these words from above, Rarity groaned and lowered her head to the ground. Cinch looked at the rude flying equine with a raised eyebrow. This one was light blue with possibly the most garish tail and mane Cinch could have imagined on one of these creatures.

“I mean, do you ever preen them? How do you fly with your wings like that?”

Cinch did not manage to find appropriate words to reply to this before Rarity stepped in.

“Rainbow Dash, this is Abacus Cinch, she’s Twilight’s guest here in Ponyville for a very short time, and I would appreciate it if you stopped being so unbelievably rude to her.”

“What? I’m only saying the truth! This is no way for a pegasus to keep her wings!”

Irritated enough so that the words came to her, Cinch coughed to get this Rainbow’s attention.

“As a matter of fact, I am not using these wings. And I shall not even have them for much longer. So would you perhaps consider leaving us alone and letting us be on our way?”

Rainbow’s face went from confused to horrified to confused again.

“What do you mean you won’t have your wings?!”

Rarity sighed and motioned for Rainbow to fly closer to her.

“Rainbow, Twilight brought Mrs. Cinch from Sunset Shimmer’s world, her pegasus form is only temporary!” she whispered to the pegasus rather loudly.

“Oooh, so you’re from the high school world? Weird that the portal would give you wings that look like they haven’t been used in years!” Rainbow looked incredulously at the unicorn. “Rares, did you not take her to the spa or something?”

“How did you… Nevermind, I suppose that would be expected of me,” Rarity conceded. “Yes, I did in fact take Mrs. Cinch to the spa, but she refused most of their services, including preening.”

“Jeez, I know some of the stuff they do there is weird, but why wouldn’t you want to try flying? From what Twilight told us, you guys all look like fleshy monkeys and have no magic or wings, and flying is awesome! Everyone who can should totally experience it!”

What was it with these equines and their insufferable need to insist that strangers do things that they don’t want to do? Was their society so homogenous that they assumed everyone liked the same things as they?

“Miss… Dash, getting my wings in an appropriate condition and then learning to fly just to experience it briefly, once, is an incredible waste of my time.” Cinch furrowed her brow. “In fact, even if I could fly right now, I would not, because it would still be wasting my time. Miss Sparkle still has to take me to the Crystal Empire and then I can go home, and never visit your world again for the rest of my life.”

“Whatever, your loss. Suit yourself.” Shrugging with a slightly irritated look on her own face, the pegasus turned around and flew away. Seems like Cinch’s message, carried across subtly with her carefully measured tone of voice and choice of words, was received loud and clear.

Cinch’s headache was getting stronger than ever, and she remembered Sparkle’s words about the impression she would leave on these creatures being completely inconsequential.

That was absolutely true, wasn’t it?

“Another one of your ‘friends’, Miss Rarity? I can certainly see why you would want the company of such a delightful and considerate creature. Why, she definitely seems like someone worth your time.”

“Now Mrs. Cinch," Rarity said with a furrowed brow, "I can understand your irritation, but I shall not have you make such sarcastic remarks about her. You are right: Rainbow Dash, for all her abrasiveness and lack of tact, is a dear friend and simply the most loyal pony I’ve ever known!”

Cinch responded by rolling her eyes and making an exasperated sigh. She could see Princess Sparkle’s castle from here, so she did not need to put up with these equines anymore—she could reach her destination and deter any other unwanted interruptions well enough on her own. With that thought, Cinch turned her head forward and resumed walking. Rarity followed several paces behind, unhappy but still obliged to accompany her to the castle.

Soon this would all be over and done with. Cinch only had to suffer through visiting this Crystal Empire, then she could head home with a clear conscience and deal with her real problems.

Author's Note:

Woah, the real Cinch coming through at the end there? Maybe, maybe not!

Also, I got some friend-art of this chapter! Here's his DA just in case.

Next time, the story concludes!