• Published 4th Aug 2012
  • 4,107 Views, 82 Comments

A Glasshouse Butterfly - littlerobotbird



A shippy bit of nonsense featuring Fluttershy and a silly twist.

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7 ~ Bright Lights, Bit Cagey

Closer and closer it stretched through the bars,, but still her target lay just out of reach.

“Sweetie, gimme another one,” Apple Bloom hissed, tossing the long-handled spanner into a bit a carefully prepared hay and holding a forehoof behind her.

“Got it.”

A hoe slid into said forehoof, the filly carefully pressing it through the cage bars as the trio huddled beneath the curtain.

The arguing on the other side grew louder for a moment, all three glancing over before letting out a sigh of relief, the handle’s journey halting for a moment.

“Apple Bloom!”

Apple Bloom yelped in surprise, sending the long-handled tool jabbing right into the black lump’s side before she quickly withdrew it.

“What? We ain’t poking it!” Apple Bloom declared as she was quickly sandwiched between Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle, the tool not so surreptitiously swaying overhead.

Applejack just stared at her a moment, sweat drops blooming all over the fillies’ collective faces before the tool fell into her pile of discarded tools with a clang. All three fillies gave a chrous of defeated groans.

“Sorry, Sis… I was just worried it had... um, gone to that big ol’ hive in the sky?”

“That’s all well an’ good, but with a stick?” Applejack coked an eyebrow as Scootaloo kicked the hoe a bit further away, giving the little pegasus a look that plainly stated her disapproval. ”Y’all know that ain’t proper etiquette.”

“But that’s how all the ponies in the pictures do it,” Apple Bloom argued.

“And comics!” Scootaloo added before finding a rather interesting stain on the floor to stare at.

“And in books!” Sweetie Belle chimed in, the only one of the three managing to smile beneath the elder mare’s stare.

“Scootaloo, y’all in enough trouble as it is when I get a hold o’ yer parents,” Applejack stated steadily, adjusting her hat. “And Sweetie, you best be getting along back to Rarity’s shop before we do call yer mom an’ dad. So the three o’ y’all best get along back inside and wait.”

“Yes, Miss Applejack,” the trio chorused before falling quiet, the omnipresent air of argument quickly filling the silence.

“I’ll be taking the lead here, okay? I am obviously the most qualified as far as general knowledge and expertise is concerned—not to mention... Wait, why am I even arguing this with you?” Twilight declared as Applejack hurried the trio of crusaders away from the cage, the unicorn having made up an old barn door and a pair of hay bales into a makeshift desk across which copious notes and vials were littered.

“Not even a clue!” Pinkie Pie replied cheerfully before downshifting a good half-dozen octaves, eyes smouldering as she snapped at her bonds before turning towards the cage with a growl. “Lemme at her! Justice calls for vengeance!”

“No. Just… no.” Twilight looked up at the well-trussed pony as she swayed overhead, tied to one of the barns cross beams.

Why she hadn’t tied up the pink pony someplace far and away was beyond her. Perhaps from a tree far, far away from her...

She shook her head again. “Absolutely not.” Her voice was tinged with a quiet exasperation born of some long and permanent interpersonal strife.

Applejack just watched on, paused mid step towards the kitchen door.

“Okay, so that’s settled.” Pinkie’s angry curse of dissent went ignored. “Is everypony ready then?”

A chorus of affirmations and one more—quickly muzzled—cry of discontent.

“Bu—”

Crusaders! Get already!” Applejack quickly cut off any further debate from the fillies, quickly rounding them back up again from the cage’s side, silently cursing the distraction.

“But we’re the ones that caught it!”

“What if there’s a bounty?” Sweetie cried out, eyes shimmering with excitement.

“A bounty?”

“Y’know, Scoots. Bits for creature capturing,” Sweetie explained quickly.

“We could be making bits at this?!” Scootaloo grabbed Sweetie by the head, pressing their faces together. “Why didn’t anypony tell me?!”

“Girls…” Applejack groaned.

“Well, we gotta get good at it first.” Apple Bloom quietly tried to pry the pegasus off of from Sweetie.

“Eye on the prize, Bloom! We could’ve been the Cutie Mark Crusader Bounty Hunters this whole time…” Scootaloo trailed off, eyes looking off towards nothing in particular.

No doubt scenes of ponies in dusters and spurs dueling in abandoned towns playing in her mind. She really did read too many of those Silverstar Shooter and the Wide, Wide West comic books.

“Uh, Scoots,” Sweetie sputtered between the pegasus’s crushing hooves.

“...so awesome…”

The kitchen door interrupted with a creak.

“Y’all spotted Rainbow yet, Mac?” Applejack asked, her brother having stopped midway through the door, expression stating all anypony needed to know about his feelings towards the situation.

“Nope.”

“Mind taking care o’ these three afore I do something I regret?”

“Nope.” The stallion quietly and carefully hefted the three fillies up onto his back, ignoring Apple Bloom as she poked into the top of his view.

“Aw, Big Mac!” she whined, wrapping her little hooves around his neck as well as she couldl. “Ain’t like we’re gon’ git in the way or nothin’!”

“Y’all heard your sister. Now you’re gonna go on gettin’ on,” he commanded, staring straight up into his baby sister’s eyes. “Got it?”

“Got it,” a pair of the fillies echoed as Big Mac made his way into the house proper.

“Bounty hunters…”

“Scoots, you’re droolin’ on mah brother.”

The door shut noisily, a suppressed sigh filling the room.

“Well, I suppose this will be a rather lengthy discussion between mother and I,” Rartity declared, choking back a bit of nervous laughter that edged her polite, reserved tone. “But on with this… unpleasantness.”

“Well, let’s see where we are then.” Twilight cleared her throat, standing up from her makeshift desk to pace. “We’ve got a changeling incursion at the edge of Everfree; Fluttershy has been captured and presumed cocooned; she apparently had taken in a changeling among her animals by mistake; the royal guard task force has yet to answer my summons in spite of the urgent nature of our situation; and I have no idea what’s happening with Celestia and Luna since nopony is answering my letters.”

“And we, of course, now have the aforementioned changeling,” Rarity added.

“I was getting to that,” Twilight replied curtly. “Yes, we also have one changeling captive.”

“It even awake yet?” Applejack asked, tapping the shrouded cage.

Twilight grinned as her horn flared into the life, all the lights in the barn going dark.

“If it isn’t, it will be.”

~o~0~o~

Consciousness came none too gracefully to the changeling, coming as it did with a jab right to the carapace. Her eyes snapped open just as darkness descended around her, whatever light there had been hiding behind a sway of pleated shadows. Thankfully, the dark took the offending shaft of wood with it as well.

Glancing about, she could only make out that she was in a small, enclosed space. As she strained to hear, she could only detect the barest of whispers and mutters beyond the veil, the barest hum of magic laced through every thread of the shroud covering her… whatever it was.

So she merely settled down, resting her head on her chin as a warm, happy feeling flitted about her synapses at a job well done.

The changeling paused a moment longer to think.

It rather seemed as though things had not gone quite as planned, but… two out of three wasn’t bad, right?

“—will be.”

The changeling’s eyes widened at the sudden breach of sound before quickly narrowing to the barest slits as the veil was torn back, a burning spotlight bearing down on her just as a deluge of freezing water hit, an ice cube or two clacking off her armored hide.

“Wakey-wakey!” a voice shouted.

It was the unicorn from the library, the changeling realized dimly, only able to let out a frightened trill at the suddenness of it, eyes adjusting in a hurry as the spotlight glinted off the well and sopped cage floor.

“Eggs and bakey!” Pinkie’s jovial tone joined in, having worked the bit of makeshift gag out of her maw, bits of saliva-ridden straw falling back to the floor.

“Hush, darling. The professionals are working,” a rather prim and proper voice whispered as blue magic tucked a fresh bit of hay back into the pink pony’s mouth.

“Good. You’re awake,” Twilight mused darkly as a rather sinister grin creased her face—quite consciously ignoring the other ponies in the room. She let the emptied washbasin drop to the barn floor with a clatter as she approached. “Now, here’s how this is going to go. I am going to ask you a question and you are going to answer that question. Simple, yes?”

The changeling gave an uncertain nod, shuddering at the wispy reds steaming off the unicorn in the darkened room.

“Good.” She turned for a moment, just long enough for the changeling to take a step before she spun around, slamming her hooves against the bars. “What are you doing here?!”

The changeling let out a plaintive squeak, bursting into a overwrought mess of conciliatory chirps and explanatory squawks detailing how she’d come to Ponyville in the first place…

...before noticing the high, quirked eyebrows and impenetrable expressions of her audience.

Slapping a holey hoof to her head—for she was indeed being, as the pink pony would say, a silly billy—the changeling’s horn lit up...

“Spike!”

“On it!”

...and was subsequently extinguished before she could change into a form more conducive to an Equestrian interrogation, a spray of thick, greenish sludge hitting her smack dab in the face, a liberal coating of her head following quickly.

A mix of mint, berry and a rather putrid, ammonia-like scent assaulted her senses as she rolled on her back, flailing her hooves in an attempt to escape the mass of goo. Her magic crackled wildly before going out entirely with an impotent spurt of green fire. Her panic lasted a moment longer however, a steady stream of viridian smoke filtering up from her horn tip when she finally settled down, the various facial orifices blessedly cleared.

“Prisoner successfully incapacitated, ma’am!” Spike stated with a salute, a bit of the green sludge dripping from the water pistol tip clutched in his claw.

“As you were, Spike.” Twilight grinned smugly as she again rounded on the changeling, a notepad levitating just within her peripheral vision. “There will be no escaping by magic, changeling, transformative or otherwise,” she began, voice fluctuating in intensity as she snuck a peek at her notes. “Now, answer me. Where is your hive?!”

“Don’t you mean ‘why are you here’?” somepony chimed in from the background.

“Thank you! Why are you here?!”

“How long have you been here?”

Where is here?”

“How many of you are there?”

What is here?”

“What is your plan?”

“Can there even be a here?”

“Pinkie Pie, cut that out!” Twilight yelled over her shoulder at the gently swinging earth pony, the ropes creaking as she swayed back and forth. “For the last time, I am running this interrogation.”

“Awww, but I’m so good at them!”

“She actually is, Twilight,” Spike spoke up before shrinking back in the face of Twilight’s immediate glare. “I mean ma’am, Twilight ma’am. Ma’am Twilight?”

“Not the point, Spike,” Twilight interrupted the sputtering dragon. “Pinkie is obviously under the influence of some kind of changeling pheromone or magic or… or something. She was speaking fluent Prench for pony’s sake!”

“Ze language of ze looooove…” Pinkie crooned before launching into a fit of maniacal laughter. “I vill get you, my chitinous little friend!”

“And now she’s speaking atrocious Prench… fantastic.”

“Well, this is Pinkie Pie we’re talking about,” Spike offered.

Quietly, he watched said pony swing herself into the cross beam—perhaps in service of some ill-thought out escape attempt—smashing into it for a third time before letting out a quiet ‘ow’ of realization that solid objects colliding with soft flesh could only equal pain.

“But yeah, still weird.”

“Noted,” Twilight huffed.

“Oh! Oh!” Pinkie spoke up, one hoof having escaped its binds to rub at a bruised spot on her skull. “I know what you need!”

“What?”

“A good cop,” she said with a sagely nod. “You can’t just have bad cop.”

“What?”

“A carrot to your stick, darling,” Rarity elaborated.

“I know what good cop means!”

“Oh, fantastic, darling. Then we just have to decide who is the good cop and who is the bad,” she declared with excitement in her tone, entirely overlooking Twilight screaming into her hooves. “I believe I would make an excellent good cop should you wish to continue playing bad cop. Although it would be remiss of me to not discuss my qualifications for the latter.”

Twilight sputtered for a moment before turning in a huff and plopping herself face down onto her makeshift desk, contenting herself with a stack of messily organized papers.

Any carefully planned interrogation she might’ve planned had falling quickly to pieces.

In the meantime, the changeling watched in rapt confusion.

Quietly, Rarity drew herself up in front of the cage. Eyes closed, she pressed a hoof to her chest to take in a deep, steadying breath. Her eyes flashed open, lids settling somewhere between sleepy and seductive as she looked the changeling over.

“Now, darling, I know my friend has been a tad… harsh,” Rarity cooed, sliding a hoof down one of the bars. “But you simply must understand that your… compatriots have taken a very, very dear friend of ours. You do understand that, don’t you?”

The changeling nodded, scooting a bit closer to Rarity, her kind aura a comparative comfort to her fellow unicorn’s.

“Are you quite certain? I’m unsure of how much you may or may not—no offense intended—understand the crux of my issues with your actions nor the depth of friendship that we ponies enjoy.” A soft blue glow gripped the changeling’s hooves, dragging her to within hoof’s reach of the ivory unicorn as her aura took a bitter turn. “Or perhaps you don’t understand the depths to which we are willing to go to reclaim our friend. What do you think?”

The changeling gulped as a pair of white hooves pressed her to the bars that they might look at one another directly, eye-to-eye.

“Now, being such a dear, dear friend as I am… well, any good friend would be quite beside herself were anything untoward were to happen,” she continued, calm tone suddenly aberrant in the company of the pinpricks her pupils had become, boring further holes into the changeling’s hide. “Perhaps like, oh, I don’t know, some hive of love-sucking demonic bugs swarms out of the sky to kidnap her whilst ripping her away from what may well have been her true love!” The unicorn’s eyes were alight with fire and brimstone, voice dropping an octave or two past terrifying as her hooves held to the changelings skull, chitinous hooves dangling just off the floor. “Now, where have they taken her?!”

“Rarity!”

There came shouts and cries of panic, but the changeling couldn’t pay much attention due as her focus was fully on the death glare slowly leeching the life from her body.

“Now—”

The changeling’s eyes bulged as she was pulled hard against the bars...

"—where—”

...and harder…

“—is—”

...and harder, compound eyes pressed almost directly against the unicorn’s.

“—she?!”

Quickly the situation devolved into screams and shouts as the white unicorn was tackled to the ground by a pair of purple, and purple and green blurs.

“Rarity, get a hold of yourself!” Twilight yelled, smothering Rarity’s magic with her own.

“No, you get a hold of yourself!” Rarity yelled back as Applejack looped some rope around her middle and yanked her back.

The screaming went on for a few minutes longer as the changeling gasped on the cage floor, letting out a loud trill of discontent.

“Wow. And you were saying I’m crazy?” Pinkie chimed in, her free forehoof rotating around her ear.

The changeling let out a squawk of agreement, followed shortly by a few chirps.

“I know! I can’t believe that either!”

“You kin understand it?” Applejack glanced up at the pink pony as she switched a bit of rope from mouth to hoof, dragging the still smouldering Rarity onto a hay bale, Spike atop her to lend a claw with the knotwork.

“Don’t be silly! Of course not. But come on! Some things are just obvious,” Pinkie answered cheerfully before her demeanor darkened, refocusing with a laser-like precision on the caged changeling. “Now where is she, you chitinous curr?! You brackish blight! You feculent philiaphile of fastidious formulations!”

Applejack simply groaned, finishing binding Rarity to the heavy bale of hay, the paled unicorn’s breaths finally coming in something other than enraged snorts.

“Okay… okay… I am calm. I am quite calm,” Rarity muttered, her face finally flushed with something other than anger. “And quite embarrassed. That wasn’t effective in the least, was it?”

“Well, I think it’s had enough of bad cop at least,” Spike affirmed, glancing at the cowering changeling.

“Maybe we oughta give friendly cop a try.” Applejack, having been sorting through the barrels at the barn’s side, emerged with a basket on her back and made her way up to the cage.

The changeling cowered before a sweet scent reached her nares, drawing her back onto her hooves.

“Feelin’ a mite peckish in there, am I right?” Applejack asked, setting down the basket before lifting out an exquisitely red apple. “I know I can get that way with all this excitement.” Falling quiet, she took the moment to buff the apple up good and shiny before holding it through the bars. “Go on. Free sample on me.”

With an excited squawk, the changeling dashed to the bars, snatched the apple from the farm mare’s outstretched hoof and retreated back to the far corner to munch on the fruit.

Applejack hummed quietly to herself as Twilight drew up alongside her, frustration replaced by curiosity.

“What are you thinking?” she asked idly.

“Jus’ gimme a sec with it.” Applejack stepped up to the bars again, staring down at the changeling as she set down the unfinished half of apple. “Now… I’m gonna ask real nice-like here, so I’m hoping you’ll answer nice in return.” The farm mare took a deep breath to calm herself. “So, where’d your swarm take our friend?”

The changeling thought a moment, then shrugged her shoulders with a noncommittal chirp before launching off into the same explanation that she’d given Twilight earlier.

“Wait, wait, wait…” Applejack interrupted. “Can’t y’all speak Equestrian?”

The changeling waited a moment to parse, but nodded.

“So… what’s with all the chirpin’ and squawkin’?”

The changeling trilled, pointing at first to her throat then to her still smoking horn.

“Huh…” Applejack looked over the prison, testing the bars with a hoof before turning her back on the cage. “Spike, I’m gonna need you to run the hose in.” She motioned to Twilight. “A moment of your time, Twi.”

~o~0~o~

“Okay...” The book Twilight had been poring over snapped shut in her telekinetic grasp as she grinned at the changeling. “This should hold up well enough under the circumstances,” she declared, turning to her fellow ponies and dragon, “and if it doesn’t, Spike and Rarity are well-prepared with the backup plan.”

The changeling leaned to the side to find the now freed unicorn and diminutive dragon standing with rather large water cannons in their respective grasps, a sludgy green sloshing about inside the reservoirs. As she gulped, she spotted a cartful of similar arms just behind them.

“Well, ready when you are, Twi.” Applejack raised up the hose, a hoof on the nozzle as Twilight took a step towards the cage, her horn aglow.

Slowly, the unicorn’s eyes closed and the light from the horn form into a solid beam that drew across the bars of the cage, shafts of magenta light forming across the gaps. With a curious glance, the changeling pressed a hoof to the space between the bars, finding it solid but springy before she was cast back by a sudden blast of water.

She struggled against the spray as it shifted across her body before, sputtering, the changeling emerged clean and glossy.

“Alright. Do your thing, changeling,” Applejack stated as she cut off the flow.

The changeling glanced up in confusion before noticing the impotent sparks of magic had faded away, the crooked horn glowing solidly once more.

Applejack looked away as the changeling burst into green fire, fading to reveal a pink earth pony standing in the cage.

“Test… check… check test...” the second Pinkie muttered aloud, rubbing a hoof over her muzzle and throat. “Wowies, that is much better.”

“You! You faker!” the first cried out, sullenness written all over her features. “I am at least twice as adorable as that!”

The second Pinkie was taken aback. “Hey! I’ll have you know this is a perfectly good Pinkie Pie!”

“I know! That’s why it’s terrible! I woul—mmmm!” Pinkie was silenced, if only temporarily by a bit of rope held in magenta light.

“Applejack, please continue,” Twilight nodded her head at the changeling turned earth pony.

“Alright, changeling, you—”

“Oh, you can call me Flammy.”

The gathered ponies’ eyes collectively widened.

“Like the…”

“The flamingo?”

“Of course!” Flammy stated matter-of-factly.

“Wait... just how long have you been in Ponyville?

“A few weeks, I think?”

“And you’ve been hiding out as a flamingo this whole time?” Applejack asked, a bit awestruck as Twilight furiously scribbled on her notepad. “Y’all can do that?”

“Of course.” Flammy’s eyes quirked in confusion. “I also got to try out being Miss Pinkie Pie and Miss Fluttershy too. I wanted to try a few others... buuuuut one thing led to another and I didn’t get the chance.” The pseudopony looked positively downcast at the realization. “Oh well, everything turned out alright in the end. Well, not for me so much, but for Fluttershy and the hive everything should be fantastic!” She smiled brightly, clapping her hooves together with excitement that quickly faded at the looks on the ponies’ faces.

“How in the wide-wide world of Equestria d’ya reckon it’s good for Fluttershy to be ponynapped?!” Applejack cried out incredulously.

“Well… um…” Flammy stammered, sifting through her accumulated words carefully. “She wasn’t happy and now she will be happy! The hive will makes sure of it! After all, a happy pony is a pony that gives an awful lot of love and an awful lot of love is exactly what a hive needs!”

“And how exactly will they go about doing that?” Twilight cut in as Applejack’s face took on a slightly greenish tint.

“Well, Miss Fluttershy will be taken to the hive and all her wants will be real and it will be wonderful and she’ll be very, very happy,” she stated slowly, wishing for a moment she had her books. “And then the hive will feed on her love and the hive will be happy too.” Flammy nodded, but her eyes bespoke of uncertainty as she glanced between the blue and green auras of the ponies and dragon.

Had she missed something?

No. Everything had gone as it was supposed to.

“Okay… so where is the hive?”

Flammy shuffled nervously. Aches, pains and echoes of angry yells served as a reminder of the responses to said query.

“We only want the truth, Flammy. Nothin’ more, nothin’ less.”

“I… I don’t know where Queen has gone or where she might have started a new home… but wherever she is, she’ll take the best care of Miss Fluttershy! I promise!”

Flammy’s smile had all but vanished by now, replaced by a nervous grimace as she sat and held up a hoof, crossing her heart with it—or at least crossing where a ponies’ heart would be were said pony, in actuality, a pony.

“Promise!”

“Applejack.” Twilight waved Applejack back from the cage.

“What is it?” Applejack asked curiously, no longer looking at the cage nor its occupant at all.

“I think it’s telling the truth,” Twilight muttered darkly. “Or at least what it believes to be true.”

“But it is true! I would never, ever do anything to hurt Miss Fluttershy.”

The pair ignored the outburst, dropping their voice further.

“That don’t bode well.”

“It really doesn’t… we have a vague direction for where the swarm went, but we have no way to find them unless they went straight all the way to their hive. And that’s not even to mention the numbers we’re looking at going against,” Twilight murmured as she studied the changeling carefully. “We have some advantages, but I think it might be best if we turned the changeling over to the academy.”

“Wait, what?!”

“Yeah, what?!” Again, the changeling’s outburst was ignored. Albeit their conversation finally did return to a more reasonable volume.

“They’re the best equipped!” Twilight stated. “Especially if there’s nothing more we can do by ourselves. We might just have to wait for a proper response from Canterlot.”

“If’n you’ll pardon mah poor Prench, that’s a whole load’a bullhonky, Twi, “ Applejack spat. “We ain’t gettin’ nothin’ done while waitin’ on a bunch of pencil jockeys to come around.” She turned to the fake Pinkie, eyes now shining with a new fire. “You.”

“Yes?” the changeling pony squeaked out, a burst of flame racing across her hide as a thick pink mane formed for her to cower behind.

Applejack paused a moment, aura tinged green again. “Uh... can’t y’all find the hive somehow? What happens when one of you changelings gets lost or soemthin’? You got to have some way of findin’ yer way back.”

“Umm… we can sense one another when we’re close enough,” Flammy replied in Fluttershy’s soft soft, almost pleading voice.

“Huh…” Twilight scratched something down on a notepad before turning to her compatriot. “Applejack, I really don’t think we should be pressing this. What would happen if all the Elements of Harmony are captured… or worse?” Twilight asked, putting a hoof on the farm mare’s shoulder.

“An’ what if the Academy’s anything like the rest of the Canterlot’s high falootin’ bureaucracy? We’re gonna want an answer here before them anyways. Ain’t got time for their sort of chicanery.”

“I hardly think that’s anyway to describe the duly elected authorities of Equestria—”

“Twi… y’ever have to deal with the EAA describin’ the legal distinction between a jonagold, a pink lady and a mcintosh apple inasfar as taxes and transcontinental commerce regulations so they can serve a temporary injunction on your flippin’ livelihood for the duration of a—and I quote—‘thorough investigation of the facts brought to their attention by The Flim Flam Brothers’ Apples and Apple Products Limited’?” Applejack asked rhetorically. “It’s a merry ol’ go-round-and-’round-and-around if you enjoy that sort of ride.”

Twilight opened her mouth, then clamped it shut.

“Got my point?”

“Yes.” Twilight sighed, rubbing at her temple with a hoof. “And I’m sure that some of the higher ups in the academy would surely intervene at the chance for more specimens”—Flammy’s yellow fur shifted several shades towards green—“to test with everything that’s going on.” She shuffled her hooves nervously, giving a sidelong glance to the barn door.

“I'm sensing there's a 'but' comin' round that corner..." Applejack grimaced.

"But we still need to keep the Princesses informed at the very least. And maybe talk to some of the local guards. We can use all the help we can get, right?"

"Fair enough. We round up some guards and fire another letter to the princesses and then we get this little dog, pony and whatsit show on the road, agreed?"

"Agreed.” Twilight nodded before the pair turned to their friends. “Rarity, why don't you come with me to fetch the guards?"

"Me?"

"Well, if we're gonna be… convincing the guards, we need to put our best hoof forward," Applejack stated as a slight blush overtook Rarity's features.

"Oh! Oh! Me too!" Pinkie said with a violent swing, the rope holding her up lurching down the cross beam. "I can be all sultry and seductive too!" she declared, giving it her best pout.

Or perhaps it was her best impression of a mallard; Flammy wasn't quite sure.

"Pinkie… you, uh…" Applejack stammered for a moment. "Stay 'ere an' keep watch over the prisoner."

"Twilight ma'am, yes, ma'am Twilight!" the pink pony saluted before her eyes suddenly bulged out at her once doppelganger, Flammy scooting back as far as she was able.

Applejack leaned in close to Twilight to whisper. “I’ll go get Big Mac to watch the both of them. Shoot, I best figure out where the hay Rainbow’s bedded down for the night.”

“Take Spike.” Twilight hefted the dragon onto the farm pony’s back, swapping out an anti-changeling cannon for a more traditionally water-filled one with a wink. “For cloud testing.”

“On it, Twi ma’am!”

Twilight turned to face the changeling. “And as for you..." Behind her, a saddlebag levitated off the wall, held in a cloud of magenta light, flipping open as a small vial of soft blue fluid hovered out. "We'll be talking again real soon."

The contents of the vial spilled out only to be caught in Twilight’s magical aura. The fluid danced a moment in air before, with a soft blow from the unicorn, it became a cloud bearing down on the changeling.

"Okay… talk to you later, Twilight..." Flammy staggered up, seeming a properly inebriated pegasus before face planting into the middle of the cage floor. "Bye—" Her soft farewell became a quiet squawk as her disguise failed along with her consciousness.

~o~0~o~

"Tomorrow, they said... Bah! ...I say."

The changeling stirred ever so slightly, trying to stretch out only to find her hooves bound, rope looped through her hole-ridden appendages, cool dirt scraping along her back.

"Don't they know the agony? The agony of every minute spent separate? Don't they understand?" the pony muttered in front of her, an oddly bright green vibrating around it, a core of pink throbbing at its center. "No, of course not, Pinkie. That's why we’ve taken this into our own hooves!"

They stopped suddenly, the changeling gasping as a pink hoof drove the breath from her, stepping onto her stomach.

"Alas! Please, forgive me, Twilight and Applejack! Rarity and Spikey! And Big McIntosh! Especially Big McIntosh! Forgive me for I do this... for love!" Pinkie stared back, hoof held out as if in want towards the distant Ponyville. "Oh, sorry!"

The changeling squeaked in reply as Pinkie stepped off her, muzzle loosely bound with a short length of rope, the remainder of it hogtying her hooves.

"Oh, wait… should I be sorry? Are we still doing good cop, bad cop?" Pinkie rambled for a moment before smacking her forehead with a hoof. "Silly little Twinkie Pinkie! Now we're doing renegade cop! She don’t take no guff! She don’t follow no rules! But she gets results!"

Flammy's eyes grew wide as the pink pony leaned down close, voice dropping a few more octaves than she would've thought anypony possible.

"Now, listen and listen well, punk… You took somepony very, very special to me and now you're gonna help me get her back… capiche?" Pinkie demanded angrily, a click and the sound of scraping metal echoing.

Flammy cocked her head to the side.

"Capiche?" Something silvery glinted threateningly in the dark.

The changeling had no response.

"Oh, c'mon! Neightalian Mafiosi?" The shimmering object drew closer to her bruised carapace. “Scarflank?”

But still the changeling had no response save to cringe as much as her binds would allow.

"Fine, first you help me unponynap Fluttershy and then we get you some proper Equestrian culture," Pinkie declared. "We'll start with It Came from Everfree! I bet you'll love that one. Monster movies are the best! Aren't they?" It came out half question, half threat.

The changeling nodded as fast as she could before a gasp caught in her throat, something sharp flashing in the dark. Her eyes screwed shut on instinct, preparing for a strike that didn't come.

"Alrighty then, on your… you still call them hooves, right?" Pinkie asked, eyes alight with genuine curiosity as the ropes fell away.

The changeling let out a chirp of surprise, watching the metallic object twirl about in the pink pony's hoof.

"Oh this?" Pinkie began, following the changeling's eyes as she flipped it open again. "Tactical sporkife, never leave home without one… tool of a thousand uses! Or at least three." She turned the combination spoon, fork and knife over in a hoof to let the changeling admire it before she tucked it away in her mane.

The changeling simply shook her head however, motioning to the snapped binds now littering the ground.

"Oh! That. Well, you're not going to run, right?"

The changeling thought a moment, then nodded.

"And you're going to help me, right?"

A second, less certain nod.

"Close enough!" Pinkie declared with a hop and a skip, pulling the changeling to her hooves. "Also, I am absolutely under the influence of I no idea what”—the pink pony bounced higher and higher—"so maybe this is all a really terrible idea!"

She let out a gasp as Pinkie spun in the air and landed atop her, hind hooves kicking against the changeling’s sides.

"Now onwards!”

She reared in surprise before breaking into a panicked gallop without even a second thought.

“In the name of love!"

~o~0~o~

As Twilight looked upon the scene—an empty cage, a dangling length of rope, and a well and dazed Big McIntosh, face dripping with what appeared to be chunks of apple pie and whipped cream as he dangled from the rafters by a hind hoof—she could think of only one response.

“Dang it, Pinkie Pie.”

Author's Note:

(Rev.11.21.2014)