• Published 1st Oct 2017
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Just a Little Batty - I Thought I Was Toast



The first day of school always sucks. It's particularly sucky when you're normally nocturnal.

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Dawn of the First Day

The sun was hungry.

That’s what dad always said. It was a hungry beast that cooked fillies into cakes and ate them up if they stayed up too late past bedtime. Clinging to Mom’s back, I certainly felt like it would. I could feel its creepy stare burning into my coat; it was making me itch all over. Even with the glasses Dad gave me, I could see it watching me when I risked a glance—like an eyeball or something. It was so white it hurt to look at, so I never did look for long.

Maybe it would be different this time?

Ow! No, no it still hurt! It left me seeing spots—large, white spots—and I whispered a few words I’d heard Dad say. Afterwards, I peeked at Mom to make sure she hadn’t heard.

“Don’t look at the sun, dear. You’ll hurt your eyes.” Mom banked to the side, flying under some clouds to give me sweet shade.

“Sorry…” I buried my face in her soft, grey mane and gave a squeaky yawn. “It’s just weird to be up this late.”

“This is early for most ponies, Night.” Mom giggled. “Hopefully, you and your father will get used to it quickly.”

“But I don’t wanna get used to it!” I whined.

“You don’t want to spend more time with me?” Mom shifted beneath me. “I barely got to see you and your father in Canterlot—what with us being on opposite shifts.”

She twisted her head around to nuzzle me—denying me my hiding spot in her mane. “I missed my little filly. That’s why we transferred to Ponyville. “Oh, darn, I missed the school!” Mom suddenly banked again, almost throwing me off. She managed to catch me by the nape of my neck, though.

She came in for a landing in front of the school and gently set me down for another nuzzle. “Go on, then, sleepy head. We just barely made it, and you don’t want to be late.”

I squirmed in Mom’s embrace. So embarrassing. It’s a good thing everypony was inside already. Carrying me by my neck… I wasn’t a yearling anymore! I could have glided down! Well, probably.

Mom pulled back, face scrunching in worry. “Nightingale, what’s wrong? You aren’t nervous, are you?”

“No, Mom…?” Did it count as lying? There were butterflies in my stomach—the non-tasty kind—but they weren’t the reason I was wiggling out of the hug.

Mom smiled. “Of course, what am I saying? You’re just eager to get going, aren’t you? My brave, little filly.”

I rolled my eyes, but a wide smile had crept onto my face as we hugged once more.

Mhmm… I did feel a little better this time. Unlike the itchy sun, Mom was soft and fuzzy. Her warmth was like moonlight, and some of my stomach butterflies flew away as she wrapped her hooves around me.

Mom hugs were the best.

She pulled back far too soon and nudged me towards the school with her muzzle. I walked toward it with my head held a little higher this time. It was hard, though. The sun was watching me from above the school house, the whole thing making me feel a lot smaller.

And that white sky. There was just something so wrong about that. It was meant to be a mix of greys and soft white spots. I couldn’t even spot any clouds unless I looked for the shade they cast.

Even scarier, though, I could hear all the fillies and colts whispering. There were a lot of them—way more than I was used to seeing at school.

“Alright, class, settle down.” My ear flicked as the firm voice of the teacher made itself known over all the hushed chatter of everypony else. “I’m excited to tell you all we have a new student today! They seem to be running a little late—”

“Aw, horseapples.”

“—but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give them a warm welcome! From what I understand, she might need help getting used to how we do things around here, so I want all of you on your best behavior!”

“Yes, Miss Cheerilee!” Everypony chimed.

Huh, maybe the class wouldn’t be so scary. Only one way to find out.

I poked my head through the door, and everypony fell silent. A big mix of various greys stared at me—some cocking their heads to the side, others’ eyes widening. The teacher shuffled awkwardly on her hooves as nopony else said anything.

“Cool….” It was a lanky colt in the back who drawled, breaking the silence, after which I was suddenly bombarded with questions and comments. My ears were forced to flatten at the sheer volume of it all.

“What’s with the wings?”

“And the glasses?”

“Can you fly like that?”

“Look at her ears!”

“Her ears? Look at those fangs!”

“Can you roar?”

“How do you eat like that?”

“I heard bat ponies eat bugs! Is that true?”

“Bugs? Eww! No way she does that!”

“Everypony remember your promise~” The teacher finally came to my rescue. Everypony else quieted down reluctantly, fidgeting in anticipation, and I was able to raise my ears once more.

“This is Nightingale. She just moved to Ponyville and will be joining us from now on.” She turned to me. “I’m your new teacher, Miss Cheerilee, and I like smiling students who turn in their homework on time! Would you like to introduce yourself to the class?”

“Umm… hi.” My eyes fell as I kicked at the ground. Oh, look, hooves. Yes, interesting. “My name is Nightingale and I’m a thestral. I love to drink my juice boxes.”

“Yeaaaah!” A colt with a beanie waved at me.

I suppressed a small smile as I continued, “Also, please be careful who you call bat pony. I don’t really mind, but some of my Dad’s family get really angry when they’re called that.”

“Duhhhh… aren’t you half bat, though?” A colt raised his hoof.

“Snails!” Miss Cheerilee tapped a hoof on the ground. “What have I told you about raising your hoof?”

The ash-grey unicorn, Snails, apparently, slowly tilted his head to the side. “Not to talk unless I’m called on? What does that have to do with— Oh, sorry!” He raised his hoof again. “Not to talk unless I’m called on?”

My new teacher sighed. “Yes, Snails.”

I shuffled. “It’s okay, Miss Cheerilee. I was done anyways.”

She blinked. “Are you sure that’s all you wanted to say to your new classmates? I just know they’re brimming with questions about thestrals. I certainly am.”

“Well, I mean… is there anything else?” I squirmed. “I don’t really know what I should say.”

Cheerilee smiled. “Alright. Class?”

Every single pony raised their hooves.

“Tell me you don’t actually eat bugs,” an earth pony with a tiara huffed as I pointed at her.

“But… I kind of do….” I fidgeted. “My dad says they’re full of proteins and stuff—things I can’t get from from the food everypony else eats.” I cocked my head to the side. “I still like fruits and vegetables and stuff… but they don’t… Miss Cherilee, do you know how to explain this?”

The charcoal teacher nodded. “Thestrals are what we call carnivorous, Diamond Tiara. Like griffons, they can’t get much nutritional value from the foods we eat. From the little I know, insects are the easiest way to satisfy their dietary needs.”

“Eww….” The filly backed down. “That’s… that’s so gross.”

“My favorite are butterflies.” I cracked a smile. She was totally missing out. “They’re light and flakey in the wings with a nice crunchy little core for the body.” I pointed at another pony in class.

“What’th with the glatheth?” A light pony with a darker mane pointed to her own glasses.

Hesitantly taking my shades off, I looked at them. “Dad says I need to wear them so I don’t hurt my eyes, but everything should be fine as long as I’m inside.”

I pointed to another pony in the back with a large bow. “Why can everypony else see ya like I can? Granny told me that the only ponies who can see thestrals are those who’ve seen ponies…” she hesitated, “...pass on.”

My ear flicked as the class broke into hushed whispers. “Huh? I-I’ve never heard that one before. Was that from an old fairy tale?”

Miss Cheerilee glanced up to the clock. “Oh my goodness, I thought we’d have more time for questions. Everypony get out your math books! We need to start our actual lessons. If you still have questions, I’m sure Nightingale would love to answer them at recess.”

She looked to me. “Nightingale, can you please take a seat next to Scootaloo in the back? She’s the orange one with the fuschia mane.”

“Orange?” I licked my lips. “Miss Cheerilee, I don’t see any fruit.”

The class broke into hysterical laughter, and even Cheerilee giggled a bit as I looked around in confusion.

“Oh… I’m terribly sorry, Nightingale. I didn’t know you were colorblind.” Miss Cherilee blinked as she realized I was serious.

A hoof patted my back. “Go sit next to Apple Bloom. She’s the one with the bow who asked you a question.”

I looked up to find Cheerilee smiling, then looked out to find the filly in question. She waved halfheartedly to me, so I creeped forward to set my bags beside my desk and crouched down in my seat.

I yawned, trying to ignore Apple Bloom as she edged to the other side of her seat, and I set my glasses on the desk before me. I always aced my math tests, so I could afford to rest my eyes for just a minute.

I just needed to make sure… to make sure… not to… fall…

The loud thwap of paper hitting my desk startled me from slumber. Looking up, I found Miss Cheerilee frowning at me with that disapproving frown all teachers seem to have.

“Nightingale, I know you’re still adapting to your new schedule, but please try to avoid falling asleep. It’ll only make the change harder if you do.”

“Sorry, Miss Cheerilee,” I mumbled—more to my desk than her. I sneaked a peek up at her, and her frown turned into a smile.

“Don’t be. I’m not mad, just worried. I don’t want you having to struggle to catch up if you fall behind.”

“I won’t fall behind. I promise.” I massaged my eyes with my frogs, yawning.

“Yes, well, unfortunately you’ll need to prove that to me by acing the extra homework I’m assigning you.” Miss Cheerilee pushed the extremely thick packet of paper towards me. “I can’t make exceptions to the rules just because of your situation, and sleeping in class comes with extra work for the lessons you missed.”

“No detention?” I blinked owlishly. “I… thank you, Miss Cheerilee. You’re much nicer than my other teachers.”

She raised a hoof to ruffle my mane. “You’re very welcome, Nightingale. Trust me. As long as you don’t do anything too troublesome, you won’t get detention or lose recess.”

She glanced at the clock. “Speaking of which, you somehow slept through the bell. Everypony else is already outside if you want to join them.”

“I think it might be better if I just have lunch and take another nap in a tree.” I arched my back. “It’ll hopefully keep me going through class afterward.” I frowned slightly. “And I am really sorry about falling asleep. I just wanted to rest my eyes for a bit.”

Miss Cheerilee giggled. “That’s what they all say.” She pushed me toward the door with one hoof. “Go on, then! Everypony is waiting for you!”

Grabbing my saddlebags, I ran for the door and sweet freedom.

“Oh, wait! You forgot your—”

As I tossed the door open and ran outside, the world burned white.

“—glasses.”

Scree!” I gave a screeching squeak that caused the mass of white blobs in front of me to flinch. White. White. So much white. All of it indistinct and blurry and painful.

I slammed the door shut, and bolted back into the room only to stumble into something—a desk most likely, but I couldn’t tell with all the spots seared into my eyes. I needed darkness. Blissful shadows. There were blotches of shade I could barely make out beneath the object I’d tripped over, but hiding beneath a desk—if that’s what it was—wouldn’t provide nearly enough cover.

“Nightingale, are you okay?”

A hoof touched my withers and I turned to clamp onto Miss Cheerilee with a whimpering whiny. “Bright. Too bright! The light! It’s evil!”

“It’s okay, Night.” A familiar weight settled onto my muzzle, afterwhich my face was buried into a flower-scented mane. “You’ll be okay. What can I do to help?”

I opened my eyes—the world blissfully darkened to a more tolerable state. Spots still danced before me, but the pain was a little more bearable.

“T-thank you.” I sniffed. “D-do you have a closet I could hang out in? Dad told me that if this ever happened, I needed as much darkness as possible.”

“Yes, sweetie, we do, although it’s a little cramped.” Miss Cherilee began nudging me along.

“Cramped is good.” I hesitantly let her pull me along, blinking rapidly to try and banish the spots.

“Still, spending your recess in there…. I feel so bad. Should I call a doctor or your parents? How serious is this?” She stopped pushing me along, and the tinkling sounds of a key ring filled my ears.

“It’ll be alright.” I squirmed. “It’s the first day of school after all….”

“Hrmm… I still better go and check with your parents.” The lock clicked open, and Miss Cheerilee began to fiddle with the door. “So… you want me to just… shut you in here?”

A portal of sweet, shady darkness opened before me. Muted greys outlined a small, cozy alcove with several boxes scattered on the floor. A bar with wooden hooks crossed from wall to wall near the top—a coat hanger sans any coats—while a shelf for hats and scarves sat even further up.

“It’s amazing,” I whispered, diving in between the boxes to the back wall. With a flap of my wings, I propelled myself up to hook my tail around the hanger.

Dangling, I stared out, blinking at a slack-jawed, upside-down Miss Cheerilee. “Can I use the shelf too?”

She shook her head before looking back at me. “Use the shelf for what?”

“Laying down. I have a book I’m in the middle of reading in my bags.” I swung upwards, launching myself at the edge of the shelf above me and scrabbling over the edge. Turning in circles a few times, I settled down—the ceiling and walls a mere hooves length from me.

“I… suppose there’s nothing wrong with that.” Miss Cherilee bit her lip. “Just please try not to fall while I’m gone.”

“Yes, ma’am!” I stood and saluted, knocking my head on the ceiling. “Ow— I mean, I totally feel better already!”

My teacher giggled. “Well, at least you seem more comfortable. Would you like me to send a couple students in to keep you company while I go check in with your parents?”

I ruffled my wings, ears twitching. “If you think they won’t mind….”

She waved a hoof dismissively. “I have the perfect fillies in mind. They won’t care at all—or one of them won’t. If you’ll excuse me, though, I really should get going. You don’t seem like you’ll need a doctor anymore, but I couldn’t call myself your teacher if I didn’t check to make sure.”

She stomped a hoof. “Oh, I knew I should have asked more questions when your parents were registering you. At least—if I hurry—I can get back by the end of recess.” With a wave, she closed the door. “Stay safe in there, alright?”

As the sound of Miss Cheerilee’s hoofsteps faded, my stomach growled. I licked my lips before I stood, jumping down from the shelf onto the boxes below. Poking my head into my saddlebags, I quickly found a juice box to suck on.

I ignored the straw—because Dad said straws were for wimps—and promptly bit into the box. Schlurp! Delicious, dark, liquid filled my mouth with a sweet and nutty taste as I turned the carton into a shriveled husk.

When it was thoroughly drained, I spat it out back into my bag and climbed back onto the coat hanger. I dangled there by my tail, waiting, until a light knocking came from the other side of the door.

“Come in!” I fidgeted and licked my fangs just in case any juice remaining.

The door creaked open to reveal two familiar fillies with a tiara and a bow.

“H-hello?” Apple Bloom shuffled from hoof to hoof.

“Hello!” I bared my fangs in a grin and waved.

The filly flinched at my wave, and my smile faltered. Diamond huffed at the display before sauntering in like she owned the place.

“Puh-lease, Apple Bloom. By now it should be clear those stories Granny Smith told you were wrong.”

A certain fire lit in the filly’s eyes, and she slowly entered, leaving the door open just a crack. “I know that, Diamond, but it’s hard to forget all of ‘em. Granny made them to be some big, ol’ scary monsters that’d suck all yer blood before eatin’ ya.”

I pouted. “Why would I want to do that?”

“And that clearly isn’t the case!” Diamond waved a hoof at me. “She eats insects, sure—” she failed to suppress a shudder, “—but who in their right mind would drink blood? She’s not a vampony! Get ahold of yourself, filly!”

“I know! I know! I’m here, aren’t I?” Apple Bloom snorted.

“Uh… girls?” I fidgeted. “Do you mind?”

Apple Bloom blinked. “Aww, nuts. We’re doing it again, ain’t we? Diamond has a tendency to make me act like a…”

“Mule?” Diamond tittered.

“Takes one to know one.” Apple Bloom slugged the pink filly in the shoulder before squinting up at me. “So… what exactly happened back in the yard? Ya came barreling out of the school and screamed something awful. Are ya alright?”

“Yeah,” I sighed, idly swinging back and forth. “I just forgot to put my glasses on before going outside. I should be fine as long as I stay in here for a bit.”

“That sucks.” Apple Bloom kicked a box.

“Not as much as Night will if she thinks you look tasty! Bleh! Bleh!” Diamond faked a laugh.

“Alright, Diamond, I get it! She doesn’t drink blood!” Apple Bloom huffed.

“Yeah!” I chirped. “That’d be silly. Hoof me a juice box from my bag, will you?”

“Here ya go?” Apple Bloom quickly tossed me a box.

It hit my hooves, and I fumbled trying to get ahold of it. As it passed my head, however, I let my tongue dart out to wrap around and pull it straight to my mouth.

Schlurp!

The others stared—or rather squinted—as I turned the box into a shriveled husk and spat it into my bag. Was I not supposed to do that? Maybe it was bad manners by day dweller standards.

“Well, dang!” Apple Bloom slapped her knee. “I guess we know where those vampony stories came from. What’s in those to make them so good?”

“You can try one if you like.” I pointed to my bag. “They’re basically my lunch.”

“I’ll take one,” Diamond sniffed. “I accidentally left my lunch outside when Miss Cheerilee asked us to come in, so you owe me.”

I shrugged. “Go ahead.”

She dug out another box and squinted at it. “Beet Positive is such a weird name. You’re weird, you know that?”

Apple Bloom swatted her friend as I squirmed.

“What? It’s true.” Diamond huffed. “That’s not a bad thing, just a fact.”

She pulled the little plastic straw from the back of the box—wimp—and poked it through the hole on the top. With a mighty schlurp, she took a sip, only to throw her head back and spit it all over one of the boxes.

“Eww! That tastes nasty! What’s in it?” She opened the door a smidge more to peer at the ingredients. “Contains beets, bees, and B Positive.”

She threw the box at me, so I caught it and drained it thoroughly. “Bees! You gave me bees!”

I spat the box back into my bag. “Yeah. I mean, they won’t kill you. Mom eats candy-coated cockroaches with me all the time.”

“C-candy-coated cockroaches?” Diamonds face darkened noticeably. “I would die if I ate those.”

Apple Bloom poked into my bag and pulled the empty box back out. “Mah question is: what the hay is B Positive?”

I shrugged. “No idea. I always assumed it was like the special sauce on Burger Princess hayburgers—some special ingredient that they can’t tell ponies about.”

“I think I might be sick….” Diamond groaned.

“Really?” I dropped straight down to hug her. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean anything by it, honest! I didn’t know it tasted that bad to other ponies.”

“Stop blubbering like I’m not going to be your friend over an honest mistake,” Diamond huffed, quickly pulling back from my embrace. “I’m far too good for that.”

“So we can actually be friends then?” I ruffled my wings.

“We can give it a shot….” Diamond sighed.

“Aww… she’s just being difficult again.” Apple Bloom rubbed the back of her head. “Ya shoulda seen her jump at the chance to get to know you. She was happy as a dog in a buffalo graveyard to meet somepony she didn’t have a past with.” She winked. “Diamond used to be a bit of a bully, if ya can believe that. Frankly, I just don’t see it.”

I giggled. “Neither do I.”

Apple Bloom,” Diamond whined before joining us in our giggles.

“Alright, class. I’ll see you tomorrow! And don’t forget your homework! I know you’re all excited for—” Miss Cheerilee bit her lip and glanced at me, “—hanging out with your friends at Sugarcube Corner, but that’s no excuse for tardy homework.”

“Yes, Miss Cheerilee!” The class chorused—a variety of farewells trailing behind them as they stormed out the door like a tidal wave. Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara had been nice enough to wait for me, and waved three other fillies on before heading over to my desk.

“Ya ready to have some fun, Nightingale?” Apple Bloom drawled.

“I guess.” I ruffled my wings. “Not sure if Mom and Dad are picking me up, but I’m sure they’ll understand. Are we going to this Sugarcube Corner place?”

“You betcha!” Apple Bloom nodded. “Ya haven’t lived till you’ve tried their Apple Fritter Sundae.”

“Of course you’d go suggesting apples,” Diamond huffed, turning her snout up slightly. “Trust me, Night. What you really want is their strawberry-banana smoothie.”

“Don’t listen to her.” Apple Bloom nudged Diamond to the side. “She’s probably just been talkin’ with Strawberry Sunrise—” she spat, like she’d just bitten into a sour horseapple, “—the no-good, yellow-bellied, two-faced daughter of Discord.”

“There’s nothing wrong with disliking apples.” Diamond sniffed before discreetly giving me a wink.

“Umm… girls?” I squirmed.

“She hates them, though!” Apple Bloom threw up her hooves. “Rubs it in our faces like a patch of poison oak!”

“Girls! Can we please not?!” I stomped a hoof.

Both Diamond and Apple Bloom blinked. “Sorry…” they mumbled together, kicking at the floor.

“It’s okay,” I sighed. “I’m just not used to friends that are so…”

“Passionate?” Diamond queried.

“Yeah.” I nodded.

“Well, I think it’s adorable.” A deep baritone came from the doorway, and I jumped two meters high. “A couple of feisty friends will help you come out of your shell.”

“Dad.” I whined, turning to the door. “How long have you been standing there?”

“Just long enough to see you take charge.” He flashed his fangs in a grin. “You keep practicing that, and you might make a fine drill sergeant someday. I’ll even teach you how to tear into cadets like fresh meat.”

“Oh, no you won’t.” Mom entered the schoolhouse with Miss Cherilee and thwapped him in the back of the head with her wing. “The last thing I want is for Nightingale to end up as the new Sergeant Smiles. If she’s going in the guard, she better be doing it properly.”

“Well, then she’ll need to get into some proper fights.” Dad roared with laughter. “She’ll need to be scrappy to make it into Princess Luna’s personal guard.”

He ducked as Mom swung her wing at him again. “Easy, honey, easy! You might knock my shades off.” He used his wing to pull her into a quick hug. “Besides, you remember what we were like at that age!”

“Yes, well,” Mom smiled softly, then continued, “Nightingale is cut from a different cloth than us, dear.”

“Nuh-uh!” I puffed my chest out, saluting. “I’m gonna be the best guard there is—just like you and Dad!”

“Of course, sweetie.” Mom came forward to ruffle my mane with her hoof. “Now, how about you introduce us to your friends?”

“Oh!” My ears perked momentarily, only to splay back when I guiltily glanced at my newest friends. “Sorry. This is Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara.”

“Hi there!” Apple Bloom drawled.

“It’s a pleasure.” Diamond nodded.

I squirmed slightly. “They were nice enough to sit in the closet with me during recess when I accidentally went outside without my glasses.”

Dad clicked his tongue. “Yes, we heard about that. I warned you not to take your shades off, Night.”

“But everything was fine in the schoolhouse!” I whined.

“Direct light from the windows can still hurt.” Dad frowned. “All it’ll take is something metal reflecting the sun the wrong way and bam, you’re down.” He rubbed his shoulder. “I found that out the hard way in training, Night.”

“You started it with all the sweet talk, dear.” Mom giggled, giving him a peck on the cheek. “Flirting with the enemy isn’t an option for married stallions.”

“We weren’t married!” Dad protested. “We had barely started dating!”

The giggles became outright laughter. “Oh, but I knew it was only a matter of time.”

Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara both poked me. I looked to them, and they both gestured at the door.

The door? Oh, right, Sugarcube Corner!

“So, umm… Mom and Dad?” I kicked the ground. “I know you’re here to pick me up, but Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara wanted to take me to Sugarcube Corner….”

Dad arched his brow, and I realized my mistake.

Head up. Back straight. Stance rigid. I saluted. “Permission to accompany my friends, sir!”

“There’s the spirit.” Dad smiled. “Yes, Night, you can spend some time getting to know your friends more. We actually just came from Sugarcube Corner ourselves, and it was pleasantly surprising—as long as you restrain the urge to go for the neck.”

“What?” I blinked.

“Oh, it’s nothing, really.” Mom waved a hoof dismissively. “You three go on and have some fun. Miss Cheerilee wanted to talk to us, after all. We’ve probably delayed her here long enough as it is.”

Miss Cheerilee smiled. “It’s not that big a deal. I just love seeing my students together with their family. I get to see a whole different side of teaching.” She headed in to rummage through her desk. “That said, I have a few more suggestions for you now. Did you know Ponyville is getting its own Junior Guard Division soon? It won’t be as big as Canterlot’s, but I’m sure Nightingale would love…”

Apple Bloom and Diamond waved at me from the door as my parents began to follow Miss Cheerilee.

Right. I had kept us waiting long enough. I gave a quick hug to my parents before I dashed through the door.

“Surprise!”

I bit my tongue, hard, while jumping a few meters into the air. I hovered a few seconds to collect myself—amid everypony’s giggles—before lowering myself back to the floor. As I landed, though, a vibrating pony popped out from beneath the floorboard in front of me, and I went skyborne once more.

“Ahh!” She wasn’t gray. She wasn’t gray! She wasn’t gray!

I had no idea what colors she was, but none of them were gray, and that made my entire coat stand on end. Was this what Dad meant about resisting the urge to go for the throat? Because part of me wanted to strike the unnatural terror in front of me down, while the other part wanted to run.

Whatever she was, she opened her mouth. “Hi there! I’m Pinkie Pie, and this is your surprise party! Were you surprised, huh? Were you? Were you? I spent like the last two hours planning it. You’re parents were so helpful with that! I mean, I threw them a party too, but I don’t meet many thestrals, so they spent most of it telling me what I’d need to make your party better.”

The mare— monster— Pinkie Pie, stomped a hoof, yet refused to stop for breath. “So now I’ll need to throw them two— No, three! I need to throw them three more parties! One to make up for their horrible Welcome to Ponyville Party. One to thank them for missing their own to help with yours. And a third because of The Rule of Three! Why stop at two parties when I can have three?! Wait… The Rule of Three only applies to books, doesn’t it? Maybe if I color a story about all three parties it’ll count. I have crayons and—”

There was a gasp, and a long terrifying suction of air that I swear tried to pull me towards her. Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara came to my rescue, though, pulling me away from the monster in pony skin before she could resume.

“Sorry.” Apple Bloom patted my withers as we rested by the snack table—my back to the wall to keep an eye on the hyperactive monster. “Pinkie gets a little overzealous with new friends. We would’ve warned ya, but we couldn’t really do that without the risk of spoiling the surprise.”

“And why wouldn’t I be zealous about new friends!

I nearly jumped out of my skin again as the voice spoke from behind me. I spun around to find the monster—Apple Bloom had called her Pinkie Pie—grinning at me like a loon under moon.

Her grin faltered somewhat as she saw my face, and she rubbed the back of her head. “Aww party poopers, you’re one of those ponies, aren’t you? Your parents said you were a little shy, but I thought that meant some of the good old Pinkie Pie charm would get you right out of your shell….”

She looked to Bloom and Diamond. “I overdid things, didn’t I?”

My friends nodded.

The monster— mare nodded as solemnly as her curly mane would allow. “Welp, I better go tell the other crusaders to cancel that big surprise we talked about, then.”

“What big surprise?” Apple Bloom arched an eyebrow. “Nopony told me about any surprises.”

Pinkie waved a hoof. “Don’t worry about it! Scoots just thought that—”

“Oh, well there’s the problem,” Apple Bloom groaned. “Go remind Scoots about the first time we tried to induct Diamond and Silver. I’d rather we not scare Nightingale away too.”

“Oki doki loki!” Pinkie giggled. “You want to save introductions with them for another day, then?”

“Yeah, if they don’t mind waitin’ a day or two,” Apple Bloom sighed. “As much as I hate to say it, introducing Nightingale to the rest of the crusaders might overwhelm her.”

I frowned. “Your other friends can’t be that bad, can they? I mean, they’re your friends!”

Diamond laughed. “You have no idea, Night. Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo used to be arguably worse than Pinkie Pie.” She glanced at the explosion of color, and gave a small smile. “No offense.”

“None taken!” Pinkie chirped. “You’re abso-posi-tivitutely right!”

I blinked, looking between the mess of color in front of me and Apple Bloom. “Oh… maybe it is better to wait, then.”

Pinkie nodded. “Yepperooni! You just worry about enjoying your party. I’m gonna go talk to the other crusaders, but don’t hesitate to call if the questions get to be too much!”

“Questions?” I tilted my head.

Pinkie pointed behind us, and I turned to find all the foals from class—plus a few new additions—sneaking glances at me as they whispered to each other. Upon seeing me look, almost all of them waved.

“Hey! Wanna play Pin the Tail on the Pony?!”

“Nah! You should play Twister with us!”

“How about we start that piñata?!”

Pinkie giggled, bending down to whisper in my ear. “I suggest the piñata, personally. Those candy coated cockroaches your parents taught me to make were surprisingly good. Just don’t tell the others until they’re eating them. It’s like the perfect prank.”

She winked, and I couldn’t help but smile. “A-alright, then.”

As Pinkie bounded away, I looked out on everypony and sighed. “S-so how long do you think all the questions will take?” I glanced back at Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara.

“Umm… probably longer than you’ll care for.” Apple Bloom kicked the ground. “Before the two of us came in to sit with ya during recess, everypony was brainstorming questions.”

“G-great!” I tried to smile a bit too hard, and it made Bloom and Diamond flinch.

“Guess we’re starting with the piñata, then!”

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