• Published 25th Jun 2012
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The Sisters Doo - Ponky



Daring pays a visit to her sister in Ponyville. Due to buried grudges, things get out of hoof.

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10 - Pretty Pink Princess Ponies Prancing Perpendicular

Chapter Ten
Pretty Pink Princess Ponies Prancing Perpendicular

Even compared to Canterlot’s, the Manehattan train station was enormous. As she stepped onto one of its multiple platforms, Rainbow Dash gawked at the vaulted ceiling high above her head. Without Daring’s guidance, Rainbow would have been overwhelmed by the swarms of hurried ponies darting across the floor like bees over a hive. As it was, Rainbow followed Daring’s lead as they flew over the dense crowd to the building’s eastern exit. Only five or six other pegasi occupied the airspace. Manehattan was home to few winged ponies.

The world outside the station was no less busy. A lively vibration pulsed through the metropolis. Rainbow felt it course through her bones and tingle in her wings. She smiled at the skyscrapers, itching to stand on the peaks of their spires. She ogled the vendors lining the old roads and puzzled over the polarized outfits worn by most pedestrians.

Daring noticed her stares. “This city’s home to a lotta ponyfolk, kid,” she said, “from every walk of life you can imagine. Only the very rich and the very poor bother with clothing.”

Rainbow watched a pair of colts down the street, dressed in tattered shirts and soiled hats, try to sell a newspaper to an uninterested mare in a fine, green dress. “Why?” she asked Daring.

“So ponies know they’re very poor or very rich,” she smirked. “Pride on the one hoof, desperation on the other.”

Rainbow frowned. “That’s... kinda sad.”

“That’s how it works outside of perfect little Ponyville,” Daring said with a shrug. She quickly looked in both directions and started trotting north.

Furrowing her brow, Rainbow followed her at a brisk trot. “That’s not true. I’ve never seen that kind of thing in Cloudsdale or Canterlot.”

“What kind of thing?” Daring asked in a bored tone.

The pair stopped at the paper peddlers. Daring reached into one of her new shirt’s pockets and pulled out a couple of bits. The boys thanked her graciously and hoofed her one copy from the top of their stack.

“You know,” Rainbow answered in a whisper once they’d moved away from the colts, “the… class separation, or whatever.”

“Huh?” Daring wasn’t paying attention, attempting to open the newspaper while she walked.

Rainbow grunted. “I’ve never seen any poor ponies before!” she said.

Stopping for a moment, Daring gave her a sideways glance. “Really?”

“Not like this!” Rainbow clarified, gesturing to the street around them. Everywhere she looked, grungy ponies wearing hardly more than rags trotted sullenly over the sidewalk.

Daring snorted. “You haven’t explored Canterlot much, have you?”

Rainbow blinked. “There’s, like… poverty? In Canterlot?”

“Not as much as there is here,” Daring admitted, “but yeah. There’s poverty everywhere, kid.”

“Not in Ponyville…” Rainbow muttered.

“Yeah, well. There’s not much of anything in Ponyville. Except good pie.”

Rainbow dragged her hooves as Daring led them closer to the eastern docks. Manehattan itself was built on an island, according to the fuzzy maps in Rainbow’s memory. She had never sailed on a ship before, and she briefly worried that she might get seasick. Those thoughts were quickly pushed aside in favor of more distressing matters: Why was she so surprised to see all these unfortunate ponies in the streets? Had she really expected everypony in Manehattan to be as well-to-do as Applejack’s relatives? Maybe the sophistication of Canterlot had skewed her view on big cities.

Daring interrupted with a rough game plan. “N’kay, so we’re gonna reach the docks, find that blue goon with a missing leg, and chase him and his partner around Manehattan for a while. Attract as much attention as you can. If any witty one-liners pop into your head, feel free to blurt ‘em out. Hopefully the nappers are pretty quick—we don’t want the chase to be too short. If they have the twins with them, try to chase them up somewhere really high where we have to rescue them from danger.”

Rainbow’s face contorted. “What!?”

Daring tucked her unread newspaper under a wing and waved her hoof dismissively. “You’re right, that’s too much detail. Just go with the flow, but make it exciting.”

Before she could voice her confusion, Rainbow’s attention was snatched by the sparkling horizon as the pair rounded a corner.

“There she is,” Daring remarked with a satisfied sigh. “The Big Blue.”

“Horseapples,” Rainbow swore. “That’s a lot of water.”

Daring barked a laugh and slapped Rainbow on the back. “You noob! Come on, let’s get a better view.”

She took to the air with a heavy beat of her wings, letting the unread newspaper drop to the sidewalk. Grinning wildly, Rainbow followed her into the sky. They flapped in sync, pushing their bodies higher and higher until they came to the midpoint of an outlying skyscraper. Hovering there, the pegasi swept their fuchsia eyes across the shining sea. It stretched out with apparent infinity to the north, east, and south.

“Wow,” Rainbow whispered.

Daring chuckled. “I thought you said something about visiting Los Pegasus before.”

“Yeah, my parents live there,” Rainbow said. “The ocean’s pretty and all, but you can see Trottingham just across the bay. This is…” She shook her head, wide-eyed. “This is crazy.”

“It is pretty,” Daring had to agree. “Sometimes I forget about that. I used to live on the water back in the day, more or less. Always traveling to one country or another.”

“Must have gotten pretty lonely,” Rainbow said off the cuff. “I hate being away from my friends for too long.”

Daring cleared her throat. “Yeah…” she mumbled.

The sound of their wings fell into rhythm with the murmur of the city far below. Considering the task at hoof, the moment was remarkably peaceful.

A self-satisfied grin curled over Daring’s lips as she mentally constructed the beginning of her next novel: As Daring Do cast her watchful eyes over the Draconic Ocean, she thought back to the flowing tears that stained the face of Lady Bunt. “You must rescue them, Daring Do!” she had implored— er, begged. Desperately begged. “Only you can save the royal orphan twins!”

“I’m no hero, ma’am,” Daring had tried to explain. “I’m only a humble archeologist with a quick tongue and a broken heart.”

Maybe that was a bit much, but first drafts were always overloaded. Daring kept going.

Lady Bunt had shaken her head. “Only your keen eye for detail and fearlessness in the face of danger are enough to bring them home.”

Daring bowed her head and expelled a hesitant sigh. “Who took them?” she asked.

“We don’t know,” Lady Bunt sobbed. “Surely you can find out.”

Daring rolled her eyes and grunted. “I’ll do my best. Do we at least have an idea to where they may have been taken?”

“Back to Equestria, no doubt,” Lady Bunt whimpered.

“Back to Equestria? That’s on the other side of the world!”

Blah blah blah, exposition, make up a reason for the twins to be in Manehattan…

Daring extended her wings out to her sides. “Don’t worry, Lady Bunt. I will travel back to Equestria, I will find the royal orphans, and I will not let anything distra—”

“Hey, check it out!” Rainbow Dash pointed a hoof out over the water. “There’s a ship on its way in!”

Daring’s eyes focused on the distant dot cutting through the ocean. She opened her mouth to speak, but Rainbow had already pulled her wings in for a dive. Daring watched the cyan pony’s colorful trail stretch through the air and end among the docks. With a roll of her eyes, Daring plummeted as well, securing her hat with one hoof.

“Hey, kid!” she called out, landing beside Rainbow as they wove between droves of ponies. “Kid, that’s not a—”

Rainbow rushed ahead, cutting in between a group of burly stallions. Daring winced apologetically as she trotted around the scowling steeds and galloped after Rainbow with a deeply creased brow.

“Stupid pony. Doesn’t she know anything about overseas travel?” she mumbled under her breath, chasing after her inexperienced partner.

{-DD-}

Ditzy Doo squeezed her right eye shut and struggled to keep the other focused. She had enough trouble navigating the wide dirt roads of Ponyville without bumping into trees, houses, and other ponies from time to time. The bustling streets of Manehattan and uncomfortably crammed harbor were proving themselves quite challenging.

“Hey, watch it!” a scruffy stallion snapped as she stepped on the back of his hoof.

“Sorry!” Ditzy yelped, keeping her eye on the ground. Her helmet collided with a tall mare’s saddlebag.

“I say!” she complained, stumbling from the impact.

“So sorry!” Ditzy said again, weaving around her and several of her sneering companions. Step by careful step, Ditzy managed to make it to the edge of the docks with only two or three more mishaps. She opened both of her eyes and stared out over the ocean, breathing in its salty smell and remembering days long gone.

“Good to see you again,” she said to the water, allowing a smile to lift one corner of her mouth.

A blink, a determined snort, and Ditzy turned back to the throngs. By some stroke of luck, a passenger vessel was embarking later that hour, which meant there hadn’t been a departure for at least two days. The foalnappers—and, hopefully, the foals themselves—were somewhere in the city, perhaps even somewhere on the docks. Ditzy aimed her eyes at the ground and slipped into the current of busy ponies, watching for any blue feathers snagged along the wood.

At another end of the long harbor, Daring grabbed Rainbow’s tail in her teeth.

“Hey!” the cyan pony yelped, losing her balance and slamming into the ground. Her helmet dropped off her head and rolled off the edge of the dock, sinking into the ocean. Rainbow twisted her head around and gave Daring a furious glare. “What was that for?”

“We’re on a mission, kid, in case you’ve already forgotten,” Daring said, yanking Rainbow onto her hooves by her tail.

“Youch!” Rainbow pulled her tail out of Daring’s grasp and frowned. “I thought we’d find the foalnappers waiting for that ship.” She pointed out over the ocean at the vessel headed straight for their dock.

Daring slid a hoof over her face. “That’s a cargo ship, kid. It doesn’t carry any passengers; it’s too slow.”

Rainbow squinted at the distant ship. “Really? How can you tell from here?”

“Because it’s on the water?” Daring said as if it was painfully obvious.

Confused, Rainbow raised an eyebrow and opened her mouth. Rather than a question, a sharp gasp rushed between her lips.

Daring blinked. “What? What is it?”

Rainbow’s pupils shrunk as she discreetly pointed to something behind Daring. The yellow mare pretended to crack her neck, sneaking a glance at the dozen or so ponies gathered on the dock behind her. Among them were two lean pegasi stallions with uncommonly narrow snouts: one was tan with a midnight blue mane and amber eyes, surveying the sky nonchalantly; the other’s coat was a softer shade of blue, his long mane rusty-orange, but his colors were hardly his defining feature. His front left leg was nothing more than a gnarled stub, and his left wing was lowered to the ground for balance. Between the stallions was a large, covered basket.

Daring and Rainbow exchanged a meaningful glance. They waited in silence for several seconds.

“What do we do?” Rainbow asked.

“Wait for my mark,” Daring answered in an even tone, “then chase them toward the city.”

Rainbow gulped. “Shouldn’t we just, like… grab the basket?”

“Nah, over too quickly.”

“How about I grab the basket and you chase them to the pol—”

“We’re not splitting up. Bad idea.”

Rainbow frowned. “Okay… ‘chase them into the city’ it is.”

Daring smirked, waited a few second more, and gave a commencing nod.

“Here we go,” Rainbow said, grinning in spite of her disapproval.

In unison, the green-clad mares flapped their wings and dove at the crowd behind Daring.

“Give back the foals!” Rainbow demanded.

“Hooves up, punks! As many as you have, anyway,” Daring taunted.

The Haissanic stallions reacted with surprising speed. The three-legged blue one took to the skies as his comrade grabbed the basket in his teeth. By the time Daring landed where the basket had been, both of the foalnappers were twenty feet in the air. Rainbow Dash, however, to Daring’s bafflement, was already ten feet above them.

“Come on, put ‘em up!” she shouted at the ascending duo, flying backwards and punching her front hooves in their direction. “Let’s go!”

The Haissanic stallions traded unsure expressions before diving downward in an attempt to swoop beneath Rainbow Dash.

“Oh no you don’t!” she shouted, twisting midflight to keep on her eyes on the fleeing ponies. With two quick snaps of her wings, Rainbow was directly above them, grinning lazily at their widening eyes.

“Maybe you foreign ponies haven’t heard of me,” she said, flipping forward with another burst of flaps. She snatched the basket out of the tan stallion’s jaws and ended up below the stallions, backstroking through the air and dangling the basket from an outstretched hoof.

“I’m the fastest mare in Equestria,” she finished with a snide wink. “Nice to meet’cha.”

The flabbergasted foalnappers watched in surprise as the blue mare spread her wings, catching a draft from the ocean breeze and dropping to the edge of the docks. Looking over their shoulders, both distracted stallions slammed into the side of Manehattan’s outermost skyscraper, leaving trails of slobber as they slid down the glass.

“Ha!” Rainbow barked from the ground. “Serves you right!”

“What the heck are you doin’, kid?” Daring’s voice bellowed over the oblivious crowd on the docks, going about their business without so much as a glance at the scene.

Rainbow winced at the anger in Daring’s disembodied voice. She searched the crowd for her hero, keeping one hoof on top of the basket.

Daring pounced from the edge of the crowds like a Jack-in-the-Box. Startled, Rainbow did nothing to stop her from planting her hooves on Rainbow’s chest and pinning her to the ground.

“What was that about?” Daring roared in her face.

“I saved the foals!” Rainbow shot back.

“In, like, ten seconds!” Daring whined. “What kind of adventure is that?”

“I focused on the mission, just like you said,” Rainbow said, wriggling under Daring’s weight. “And look: I even chased them into the city!”

Daring groaned and backed off of Rainbow, biting the basket’s handle and flying toward Manehattan.

Rainbow used her wings to get back up and followed Daring’s flight with a wary squint. “What is she doing?” she asked herself, galloping for a few strides before pushing off into the air.

Daring coasted to the base of the building where the Haissanic ponies were gathering their senses. They backed away from her approach and watched in confused silence as she set the basket at their hooves.

“Go on, take ‘em,” she said, nudging the basket toward them. “My partner doesn’t really know how the game works yet. She sorta jumped the gun, y’know what I mean?” She rolled her eyes and offered the stallions a humble smile. “I’ll give you a head start, how does that sound? I’ll say ‘pretty pink princess ponies prancing perpendicular’ twenty five times. That should be enough to make some decent distance, yeah?”

The stallions stood stock still, eyeing Daring with a blend of wariness and worry.

“Pretty pink princess ponies prancing perpendicular,” she said, lifting one feather of her wing. “Pretty pink princess ponies prancing perpendicular.” A second feather joined the first. “Pretty pink princes pron… er, ponies prancing perpederper… perpendicular. Pretty pink princess…”

The three-legged stallion seemed to get the message. He lunged at the basket and scooped it up with his only foreleg, whirling around to fly deeper into the city. His partner shot one last look of concern at Daring before following suit.

“Pretty pink princess ponies prancing perpendicular…”

Rainbow landed hard at Daring’s side. “What are you doing? They’re getting away with the twins!”

“Pretty prink princess… er, ponies prancing perpendicular…”

“… What!?”

Daring laughed. “I’m giving them a bit of a lead. You know, to make it more exciting.”

One of Rainbow’s eyes twitched. “You… you gave the foals back to them?”

“Oh, quit freakin’ out.” She smacked Rainbow on the back. “I’m a professional! I know what I’m doing.”

Rainbow’s shrunken pupils watched the stallions disappear behind a distant skyscraper. “You could have fooled me,” she squeaked.

{-DD-}

Somepony slammed against Ditzy’s side, pushing her into a railing at the edge of an older dock. She leaned against the wooden beam to rest her head on its weathered surface. Twenty minutes of constant jostling had taken its toll on her stamina, and there wasn’t a single blue feather to show for it. She clenched her jaw and glanced over the crowd, dreading her inevitable return to its currents. One of her eyes drifted upward, drawing her attention to an unusual sight.

Two thin stallions were rounding a skyscraper at breakneck speeds. The nearer they came, the surer Ditzy was of their identities. She watched them descend to the northernmost dock. The dark blue pony stumbled through his landing, partly due to a large wicker basket in his mouth, and partly due to his missing leg.

Without another breath, Ditzy rocketed above the harbor’s noisy crowds and hid behind a stack of smelly crates filled with edible seaweed at the edge of the northern dock. She peeked through a space in the bottommost crates with one wobbly eye, straining as hard as she could to catch their actions. To her alarm, the pair moved away from a noisy crew of cargo ponies and stopped at the opposite side of her stack. She pressed her ear to the space instead. They spoke in Haissanic, confirming her assumptions. Having not used the language for almost a decade, Ditzy missed parts of their conversation.

“Should we wait for the ship?” the blue one asked, his voice both low and raspy.

“Not with those two on our tails,” his tan companion replied. “Something blue is too fast to something, and the yellow one is crazy.”

Ditzy resisted the urge to groan.

“Is she on our side or not?” the three-legged stallion asked, catching Ditzy’s full attention.

“I do not know.”

“Why did she return the basket?”

Ditzy’s wings squeezed against her sides.

“I do not speak much Equestrian, but it seemed to me that she was giving us another chance to something something.”

“Do you think she’s tracking us?”

“No. It seemed to her a game.”

To keep from screaming, Ditzy ground her hooves against the salty wood beneath her.

The blue one chuckled. “Then we must take advantage of her misunderstanding.”

“Yes. While she something for us within the city, let us not wait for the passenger ship. You made arrangements for an emergency vessel?”

Ditzy’s next breath caught in her throat. There was a pause in which the three-legged stallion must have nodded.

“Good,” the tan one said.

“Not quite good,” the blue one retorted in a joking tone. “The trip will be far from comfortable.”

“We cannot something another encounter with those mares. Let us leave immediately. Where was it made ready?”

“Here, at the north dock.” The blue stallion thumped his lowered wing against the planks.

They picked up the basket and hurried to the far end of the dock furthest from the city. The anchored walkway became narrower with fewer ponies idling about. Ditzy followed them on quiet hooves, searching for an opportunity to strike and take the basket.

At the very end of the dock, where one more step would drop a pony to the ocean, the conspirators stopped. Ditzy took a filthy mop on the ground between her hooves and pretended to brush salt and grime into the water. The foalnappers gave her only one suspicious glance before nodding to one another. Ditzy’s left eye swiveled helpfully, for once, and allowed her to witness their curious actions without looking up from the mop.

The tan stallion lowered himself onto his belly while the blue one kept watch on the basket. Wriggling to the edge of the dock, the first leaned over the side and stretched his hoof into the water, clenching his teeth at its frigidity. After a few moments of splashing about, his eyes lit up as he caught hold of something. The tendons in his neck protruded as he pulled and grunted at his target’s considerable weight.

“Help me,” he wheezed in Haissanic.

The blue pony gave him a questioning glance before dropping at his partner’s side, dipping his only forehoof into the water. Pressing his wings against the dock for leverage, they managed to hoist a rusty, oblong capsule of sorts from beneath the water.

As it broke the surface inch by inch, Ditzy’s took note of its unfamiliar design: there were no windows, although the outline of a sealable door was visible on its side; it was only large enough to fit three averaged-sized ponies inside, if they didn’t mind getting a bit cozy; the back end, facing Manehattan, was adorned with what looked like a household fan sporting three large propellers inside a wiry cage; and the front end, facing the horizon, extended to a conical point.

“Let us hope there is enough magic in the something to carry us home,” the blue stallion remarked through gritted teeth, heaving the strange vessel onto the dock.

Ditzy’s eye swept back and forth between the metal monstrosity and the unattended wicker basket. The incidental gurgles of a curious foal were emanating from it. Her wings itched to dive forward, take the basket’s handle in her jaws, and hide among the skyscrapers until the next train to Ponyville.

Several thoughts stopped her from acting. Simply taking the foals from the abductors would not solve the problem. The root of the weed would still thrive. Alula had to be questioned.

Then again, the trip to Haissan could be made at any time. Would it not be wise to rescue the foals at such an ample opportunity, return them to their parents, and make the journey with their safety ensured?

Yet Ditzy could not bring herself to make that saving dive. She struggled in her mind, trying to push her innermost thoughts aside, trying to convince herself that the wicked little voice keeping her wings tucked in was wrong.

This is her fault, it said. You can blame this on her. She had the chance to save the twins—she had the basket in her hooves, and she gave it back to them. You can ruin her game. You can remind her how much it hurts to fail.

So instead of grabbing the basket, Ditzy continued to mop at a clean spot of the dock as she watched the foalnappers open the metal vessel’s door. They clambered in quite awkwardly, pulled the cooing basket in behind them, shut the door with a heavy clang, and the ship rolled into the water.

Ditzy dropped the mop and peered over the edge. The water was far from clear, but a faint glow of purplish magic and a sudden eruption of frothy bubbles informed her that the pod’s propeller had started to spin. The trail sped off to the west as the oblong submarine rocketed beneath the ocean, carrying the stolen foals far out of Ditzy’s reach.

Instead of guilt, to her surprise, a cold smile was the mailmare’s only reaction.

{-DD-}

Twilight Sparkle was soaked to the bone by the time she reached Sugarcube Corner.

“Pinkie Pie!” she shouted as soon as she stepped inside. “Where are you?”

The party was waning but there were still enough ponies who gave Twilight unsure glances for her to feel embarrassed.

“Hey, Twilight!” Spike greeted from across the room, waddling up to his caretaker. “What’s up?”

“Spike, where’s Pinkie Pie?” Twilight asked professionally.

The dragon raised an eyebrow. “Uh… upstairs, I think. She went to get more balloons.”

Twilight frowned. “I thought the party was ending.”

“It is,” Spike said with a happy shrug. “But you know Pinkie Pie.”

Twilight could only nod at that. “Excuse me, Spike,” she said, darting between pockets of chatting ponies and bolting up the Corner’s staircase. At the top she noticed Pinkie’s door slightly ajar and barged in uninvited.

“Pinkie Pie!” she yelled, startling the earth pony. The balloon between her hooves slipped away from her mouth and spun around the room with an obnoxious whine for five whole seconds.

“Hi, Twilight!” Pinkie chirped, grabbing an unfilled balloon from an enormous bag dragged halfway out from under her bed. “Wanna help?”

Twilight observed the top of Pinkie’s bed, overflowing with what must have been close to three dozen colorful balloons.

“Did you blow all those up yourself?” she asked, pointing at the horde.

Pinkie nodded, unable to speak due to the half-filled favor dangling from her lips. When it was as large as the others, she made a blur of her hooves that somehow tied a knot in the plastic and tossed it onto the top of the pile.

“Did you need something?” Pinkie asked, eyeing Twilight’s dripping mane with worry. “Did Dinky get home all right?”

“Yes, Dinky’s fine,” Twilight assured her, running a hoof over her matted hair. “And also, yes, I do need something. From you.”

“Oooooh! What is it? How can I help? I love to help my friends!” Pinkie rattled off, picking another empty balloon from the bag.

“I need you to tell me everything you know about that book you gave me.”

“What book?” She started to fill the blue balloon.

The Complete Works of Bluish Carol.”

Pinkie gasped, sucking in all of the air she had pushed into the balloon. Her body inflated momentarily, making her shining blue eyes bulge in Twilight’s direction. A huge grin pulled at the lips pressed tightly around the neck of the balloon while every drop of air in Pinkie’s lungs siphoned back into it. An excited hum came from the party pony’s throat as the blue ball in her face grew larger and larger, twice the size of any of the balloons behind her.

“Pinkie?” Twilight asked unsurely, watching the balloon continue to grow with equally expanding apprehension.

The blue plastic burst with a terrific crack. The impossible amount of air it had been storing was thrown into Twilight’s face, pushing back her cheeks and eyelids while completely drying out her mane. The force of the blast affected each of the existing balloons as well, causing a chain reaction behind a positively glowing Pinkie Pie that very much resembled fireworks.

“YOU READ IT?” she thundered gleefully above the pops of her balloons.

Twilight waited for the room to settle before answering in a tiny voice. “Not all of it,” she coughed, smoothing down her windswept bangs, “but enough to make me curious.”

Somehow, Pinkie’s smile broadened even more. “Good,” she said, nodding. “That’s very good. Curiosity is key.”

Twilight tilted her head. “Huh?”

Pinkie cleared her throat. “So… what did you read? What do you wanna know?” She couldn’t help from bouncing on the back of her hooves. “Oh, I’m so excited you read it! This makes me so happy!”

Trying to ignore her (hardly) unusual enthusiasm, Twilight presented her first of many queries.

“How did Bluish Carol know about the creatures of Tartarus?”

Pinkie’s excitement dropped with her jaw. “You… you know about that?”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “Pinkie, of course I know about that. I’m Princess Celestia’s personal student.” She narrowed her gaze and took a step toward her friend. “How do you know about that?”

Pinkie’s attitude had shifted dramatically. She bit her lower lip, glancing around the room and shuffling her weight from side to side. “I, uh… that is, I read about… er, the book…”

Twilight closed the gap between them and placed a hoof on Pinkie’s quivering shoulder. “Pinkie, what’s going on? If you know something about Tartarus, or something that Carol knew about Tartarus, you need to tell me. It could be very dangerous, or very important knowledge at the least!”

Pinkie’s pupils widened and she shook her lowered head. “I don’t know much about Tartarus, Twilight. Neither did Bluish.” A modest smile skewed her lips. “But I know about its creatures. I know a lot about its creatures.”

Twilight’s eyebrows knitted. “How? Tell me, Pinkie.”

The earth pony grimaced. “You won’t believe me—”

“At this point, Pinkie, I’ll believe—”

Pinkie interrupted Twilight by grabbing her around the middle and turning her toward the rectangular mirror hung upon the bedroom wall.

“You won’t believe me,” she said again, “unless I show you.”

She began to push Twilight toward the glass, scraping her hooves over the floor.

“What are you doing, Pinkie?” Twilight asked with mild concern.

“Remember what you said earlier, Twilight? About being curious?”

Twilight gulped. “Yes.”

“Well, I need you to be very, very curious right now.”

Her front hooves touched against the base of the wall. Pinkie kept pushing.

“What do you mean?” Twilight implored.

Pinkie pressed a hoof against the back of Twilight’s head and slammed it into the mirror.

“Ow!” Twilight yelped, cringing as her cheek was squished against the pane of glass. “Pinkie, what are you doing?”

“Curiouser, Twilight!” Pinkie said happily. “You’ve got to be curiouser!”

With a surge of magic, Twilight heaved Pinkie Pie onto her bed in the corner. Twilight backed away from the mirror and rubbed her flattened cheek.

“You’re crazy!” she yelled at her frowning friend. “What the hoof was that about?”

Pinkie stumbled off her bed, slipping on some of the remnants of three dozen popped balloons. “I was trying to show you the—”

“Stay away from me!” Twilight yelled, backing through the open doorway. “You’re crazy, Pinkie Pie!”

She turned and galloped down the stairs, leaving Pinkie frowning.

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