• Published 31st Jan 2017
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Creeping Happiness - LanceOmikron



Applejack is happy, but something feels off.

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Chapter 1: Life is Wonderful

"...And when the catalyst is activated, the completed spell matrix will contain and stabilize the reaction!"

As Twilight finished reading, sounds of comprehension and wonderment issued from her two companions. The three of them had managed to reserve the Grand Library of Canterlot for the day, and they planned on making the most of it. Tables and chairs had been pushed away from the main reading area in favor of a mountain of cushions that the trio lay upon.

"That was great, Twily!" said Shining Armor, nuzzling her, "Your reading gives such incredible life to Starswirl's works!"

Twilight giggled and blushed, snuggling up closer to her brother.

"I think the material speaks for itself in this case, B.B.B.F.F. After all, this is Starswirl we're talking about. He was a genius beyond his time!" she explained as she closed the tome and placed it upon a pile of finished books.

A large white wing draped over the unicorn siblings from Twilight's other side, pulling all three ponies even closer together.

"I'll have to agree with Captain Armor on this one, my faithful student” said Princess Celestia, "It's clear that your understanding of Starswirl's theorems and formulae is deeper and more thorough than any ordinary scholar. The sheer clarity of your interpretation most certainly enhances the experience."

Twilight grinned at the praise, allowing herself a bit of self-indulgence.

"Well, I suppose I have studied these works quite a bit..." her grin receded to a simple smile, "Really though, I'm just so glad we could do this. We hardly get to see each other as it is, so us all being able to spend the day reading together is a better present than I could ever ask for."

Celestia and Shining nodded.

"I completely agree, my faithful student. And I think I'll see to making this a regular occurrence. With how demanding our work can become, we could always use more time to relax in each others' company. I understand your studies have been particularly taxing as of late, Twilight."

Twilight chuckled, "You've got that right, Princess. And after the debacle with that monster you warned us about a few days ago, this break couldn't have come at a better time."

Shining Armor raised an eyebrow, "Oh? Do tell."

"Alright, alright Big Bro, you dragged it out of me,” Twilight joked, "It was pretty nuts, this thing was like something right out one of your Ogres & Oubliettes monster manuals. It was called the Alu... uh... Al... u..."

Twilight fell silent. For some reason that she couldn't fathom, the name of the creature escaped her. This was particularly vexing, as Twilight had even encountered this creature just... how many days ago? She couldn't quite recall. Things felt off. Come to think of it, when exactly had she, Shining, and Celestia met up today? What day was toda–

“Don't worry, Twily. It's probably not important.”

Her brother's words snapped Twilight out of her daze. The odd feeling passed.

“You're absolutely right, Shiny,” Twilight smiled and kissed him on the cheek. Enveloping another doorstop-like book with her magical aura, she called it over and turned to the first page.

“Now that we're done with Starswirl's Magical Matrix Theories, let's start on Amniomorphic Formulae vol. XII!

With two hearty agreements to the proposal, Twilight began to read once more. It was a beautiful day, and Twilight the unicorn was spending it doing her favorite activity with her two most favorite ponies in all of Equestria.

Twilight Sparkle was happy.

***

In the bustling city of Manehattan, a successful air show starring the famous Wonderbolts had just wrapped up, and the autograph-signing event had begun. Just about every big-name Wonderbolt was there, but no name was bigger than their captain, Rainbow Dash.

Rainbow was fully in her element, able to handle three separate lines of autograph-seekers with the lightning-fast efficiency that made her famous. All the while, she practically fed off the adulation they gave her. Whether it was a fellow athlete admiring her professionally, a standard fan gushing over her radicalness, or the odd mare or stallion who proposed marriage, Rainbow couldn't get enough.

But best of all were the children.

"You're so cool, Rainbow Dash!"

"I wanna be just like you when I grow up, Rainbow Dash!"

"Can you pleeeeeaaase come to my birthday party next week? All my friends will be so jealous!"

"Captain Dash, you're even better than the superheroes in my Power Ponies comics!"

That last one in particular threatened to make Rainbow's eyes roll back in her head from the sheer ecstasy of the ego-stoking. She puffed herself up and put on her most confident grin.

"Darn right I am! I even beat down villains in real life all the time."

The children's eyes lit up with wonder.

"Really!?"

"Yep. Why just this week my friends and I took out a Mane-iac wannabe in ten seconds flat! It all started when... when..."

Rainbow's smile faltered. For some reason, she found that she couldn't seem to recall the details of this no-doubt epic battle. Strange, usually her victories were burned into her brain. Something felt off. For that matter, since when was she the ca–

"So what happened, Captain Dash? What awesome move did you beat the bad guy with?"

And just like that, the feeling passed. Rainbow hitched up her cocky grin again.

"Ah, who knows? They were so lame that my awesome brain refused to even grant them the honor of being recorded in my memory banks."

"SO COOOL!!"

And so, the pegasus captain continued to sign autographs while having her praises sung by an endless legion of adoring fans.

Rainbow Dash was happy.

***

Typically, the Pie Family Rock Farm was a rather dreary place. Not so tonight. Tonight, it was a site of celebration the scale of which Equestria had never seen before. Balloons, lights, streamers, music, dancing, games, eating, drinking, fun, fun, and FUN! Everything one could ever want from a party was there, and then some! The celebration grounds extended out for miles around, as far as the eye could see. The master of ceremonies for this tremendous gathering was, of course, none other than Pinkamena Diane "Pinkie" Pie.

Currently the party planner extraordinaire was taking a bit of a break from the heart of the festivities (as unbelievable as that may seem) to peruse the food court with her parents and sisters.

“So whaddya think? Isn’t this just the most superawesomazingest party you’ve ever seen!?”

Igneous Rock looked about the fairgrounds with a nostalgic smile on his face.

“I must say, Pinkamena, thou hast truly outdone thyself.”

Beside him, Cloudy Quartz nodded in concurrence while Marble was happily bouncing her head to the music.

“It’s nice, Pinkie,” came Maud’s roaringly ecstatic approval, the corners of her mouth turned upwards a whole centimeter more than usual. Even the often-grumpy Limestone couldn’t keep a smile off her face.

“Credit where it’s due, Sis, I think this is gonna be really good for the farm. I talked with some business investors a little while ago, and they were having such a good time that it’s pretty much guaranteed that we’ll be able to take our operations up a notch.”

Pinkie’s smile practically expanded beyond the borders of her face.

“Limey, that’s WONDERFUL!! I can’t wait ‘til the Pie Family Rock Farm is a household name!” Pinkie cheered as she zipped to and fro across the grounds, visiting stalls and purchasing various foods at ludicrous speed.

Cloudy tittered at her daughter’s exuberance.

“Pinkamena, I think we might already be famous after we finish up this celebration. Though, what was it for again?”

Pinkie screeched to a halt in front of her mother, carrying a veritable feast on her back, “I told ya mom, it’s to celebrate my friends and me defeating the Loola-Loonay.”

“Wait,” Limestone couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at this, “The what now?”

“The Loola-Loonay! It was a big ol' meanie that the girls and I beat, and so I decided to throw a party because we did such a good job! The Loola-Loonay isn’t really its name, but it sounded like a Loola-Loonay, so that’s what I’m callin’ it! Although usually I’m better at remembering names than that. I wasn’t gonna invite it, but I definitely wanted to cross its name off the guest list! Hmm... that’s kinda strange, even feels a little off. And if the girls and I took it out, why isn’t this party back in Ponyv–”

Marble gently put a hoof to Pinkie’s lips, silencing her ramble.

“Mm-hm,” said Marble with a smile.

With that, the feeling passed.

“Ah shucks, Marble” said Pinkie sheepishly, “You’re right, it’s no big deal. Now let’s EAT!”

And so, the Pie family sat down at a nearby table to share a meal together. Ponyville’s premier pink party pony was enjoying a lavish feast surrounded by her adoring family, who was in turn surrounded by a sea of wondrous celebration.

Pinkie Pie was happy.

***

“And the ‘Best in Show’ winner of the Canterlot Couture Conference is… Alluring Black Rose, by Rarity of Canterlot Carousel!”

Ever since she was a filly, Rarity could tell that her destiny lay in the marvelous city of Canterlot. It was close enough to see from her bedroom window, but felt like a whole world away. It was a dream come true to finally open up a boutique here, but there had still been one more vista left to aspire to: The Canterlot Couture Conference, the biggest and most prestigious fashion show in all of Equestria. Everypony who was anypony was here. The results of this exhibition would shape the landscape of the fashion industry for the next… well, until the next CCC! And the highest honor of all was the ‘Best in Show’ award. To win that was to be recorded in the annals of fashion history as one of the greatest designers of all time.

And Rarity had done just that.

The audience stamped their hooves in thunderous applause as Rarity stepped out onto the runway alongside her chosen model, Fleur de Lis. Fleur was clad in a gorgeously intricate black dress, Rarity’s contest entry.

“Good show, Rarity!” called Fancy Pants.

“Simply magnificent! Bravo, Rarity!” cheered Hoity Toity.

“Woohoo! There’s nopony else like you, Rarity!” hollered Charity Sweetmint.

Coco Pommel and Sassy Saddles squealed with joy at the success of their employer and friend, jumping up and down in a half-hug. For her part, Rarity was wearing a million-bit smile and fighting tooth and nail to prevent her tears from falling and ruining her mascara. She motioned with a hoof and the noise began to die down, replaced with bated breath.

“As many of you ponies know, this has been a dream of mine since I was a young filly. It’s been a whirlwind of adventure getting here, but finally being here… it feels absolutely unreal. One thing I can say with absolute certainty is that I could not have done it without each and every one of you!”

More passionate applause came forth. Rarity carefully dabbed at her eyes with a hoofkerchief, having lost the battle to keep her tears in check. Eventually the applause died down once more as a spotlight illuminated the Mistress of Ceremonies, Photo Finish, who was preparing to personally give Rarity her award.

“Wunderbar, Rarity! Zis victory is vell deserved! It goes vithout saying, but zis gown you have crafted-”

Another spotlight descended on Fleur, who immediately began to pose and show off the dress in question.

“-is simply divine! Ze vine-like patterning, ze embroidered roses, it is zo striking! You simply must tell us of vat inspired you!”

Rarity nodded, “Oh absolutely! The theme of the Alluring Black Rose is that of mysterious beauty enhanced by a sense of danger. It was inspired by something that my friends and I went through rather recently. What exactly happened was… was...“

Rarity’s pupils shrunk. She couldn’t remember what had happened. This was disastrous! She had come this far, only to choke during the award acceptance? Sweat began to bead on Rarity’s forehead. Why couldn’t she remember?! Then again… that was actually a legitimate question. Why couldn’t she remember? The event had been on her mind the entire time she was making the dress. Right? Something felt off. Even the process of making the dress was feeling haz–

“Ooh, you keep us in suspense!” came Photo’s voice.

The feeling passed. With a clear head, Rarity reevaluated the situation. She had to tell the crowd something, so decided on the next best option: be coy.

“What exactly happened shall remain a secret, but suffice it to say that every rose has its thorns, and is all the more beautiful for it.” she finished up with a wink.

The crowd applauded and cameras flashed as Photo Finish presented the award to Rarity, securing her place in fashion history. At that moment, Rarity stood at the absolute pinnacle of her chosen craft in the city of her fillyhood dreams, surrounded by friends, colleagues, mentors, and admirers.

Rarity was happy.

***

“Fluttershy, thank you so much. you’ve truly done a wonderful service for our town!” said Mayor Mare.

It was a beautiful day in Ponyville, all the moreso due to the recent changes that took place there. All around the town, countless animals could be seen alongside ponies. All manner of birds perched on rooftops as well as ponies’ backs. Families of bunnies ran through the streets playing with foals, past a cragadile that was lazily snoozing in the midday sun. At a nearby construction site, beavers gnawed pieces of wood into shape while bears lifted them into place. Elsewhere at an open-air restaurant, a pony waiter took a manticore’s order. And still elsewhere colts and fillies and even full-grown ponies clambered up a hydra’s back to slide happily down its four necks.

“Oh Mayor,” Fluttershy began, blushing at the praise, “You don’t need to thank me, I didn’t do all that much. I’m just happy that we’re at peace with the Everfree’s animals. That’s worth the world to me.”

The Mayor looked to the Timber Wolf that was sitting placidly by her side and scratched it behind its wooden ears.

“You’re selling yourself short. Most ponies thought that some of these creatures simply could not be tamed, but you’ve made peace with all of them! You’ve well and truly accomplished the impossible!”

Fluttershy shook her head.

“Oh no, not all of them,” she clarified, “While most of them are normal animals, there are a few evil beings from the Everfree that really can’t be reasoned with. The girls and I had to fight one of them, sadly. It was an awfully frightening creature. It was...”

It still filled her stomach with dread to try and picture it, but she suddenly realized that she couldn’t actually remember just what sort of monster this was. Something felt off. This thing definitely wasn’t a mammal. She was certain it wasn’t a reptile, insect, or bird either. But then, just what sort of creature was

“Well thanks all the same, Fluttershy. We all appreciate it!” said Mayor Mare.

The feeling passed. Fluttershy’s smile returned.

“It’s truly my pleasure, Mayor."

And it really was. All around her and throughout Ponyville, animals of all shapes and sizes were living in perfect peace and harmony with the townsponies.

Fluttershy was happy.

***

Applejack woke up.

From habit, she could tell that it was around seven in the morning. Despite usually waking up around this time, though, she still felt much more tired than she typically did.

Ah well. The farm ain’t gonna turn upside-down if I sleep in just this once…

Her alarm clock did not agree.

Applejack nearly jumped out of her skin at the cacophonous ringing, hurriedly reaching out to silence the wailing device. Her hoof fell short, making her scooch across to the edge of the bed, which felt larger than usual. Finally she slammed her foreleg down onto the clock, ending its protests and knocking it askew. Her nerves frazzled, Applejack took a moment to calm down.

Welp, so much fer sleepin’ in. When did I even get that consarned thing?

Shrugging off the odd thought, she started to get out of bed. Complications arose when the floor turned out to be further down than she had assumed it was, causing her to tumble out of bed in a tangle of blankets.

“Applejack?”

The pony in question only heard the call at the periphery of her senses, and ignored it in favor of muttering expletives and trying to extricate herself from the blankets.

Ponyfeathers! Well this is just a great start to the day. Am I sick or somethin'?

Finding success in freeing herself from her bedding, Applejack picked herself up and walked over to her dresser, staring into the mirror situated on top. Her freckly teenage face stared back at her, same as it always did. And yet… something nagged at the back of her senses, as though she were forgetting something. She couldn’t place it, but had a difficult time shrugging off the feeling.

“Applejack, are you awake?”

This time she heard the call of her name more acutely, along with two sets of hooves coming up the stairs. Applejack did a mental double-take. The voice seemed familiar, and yet… not. She didn’t have much time to ponder, as her door opened shortly thereafter to admit two ponies.

“Well look who’s up and at ‘em! Our little sleepyhead is finally startin’ to rise with the dawn!”

“Did you sleep well, sugarcube? Come on down, breakfast is nearly ready.”

Something felt off. Despite it being one she had seen countless times before, the sight of these two cheerful ponies had Applejack lost for words. Save for two.

“Mom…? Dad…?”

Author's Note:

Special thanks to Tarbtano, Corona_Blaze, and Smjames, for pre-reading/advice. Thanks guys!