• Published 11th Jan 2018
  • 4,372 Views, 290 Comments

The 4000 Year Old Virgin - Harmlesskitten13

4000 years isn't too old to still be a virgin...right?

  • ...

Chapter 5

Just as courtship rituals and standards have changed within Equestrian culture through the centuries, so it has within Changeling Queen culture. However, unlike their Equestrian counterparts, the Changeling Queen had to change her methods and standards out of necessity, rather than natural evolution. Traditionally, Queens would only mate with those of the highest nobility - prince- or princess-level and higher. But, as time wore on, the numbers of these royals shrunk, either out of the merging of various tribes and empires, or, ironically, through their reduction as a result of a Queen's mating habits. As such, this has required 'Lesser Queens' to mate with those who would never have been given a passing thought centuries ago: dukes, earls, governors, mayors, and even the lowly royal notary have all allegedly been a consort throughout modernity. Queens of Queens and their successors, at any rate, maintain the tradition of the so-called 'Second-in-Command' rule. - The Rise of the Changeling Queendom, Vol. III by Works Cited

Celestia's sun rose over the horizon, revealing the idyllic little town of Ponyville. A town where, despite catastrophes and disasters plaguing the little village practically every week, a shop that only sold quills and sofas managed to not only survive, but apparently thrive. Some would argue that this was due to the relatively recent addition of Equestria's newest princess, as a castle that large would need a fair amount of davenports and loveseats, as well as the fact that one of the primary occupants of said castle was an occasional neurotic mess who required structure and order to fully function, and lists helped to calm her nerves. Hence the copious amounts of quills ordered every week.

The sun kept rising, until it finally shined its rays onto the town's resident royalty. She unconsciously rolled over, her body attempting to gain just a bit more sleep before the day had to start. Scattered around her bed were various papers: a new legal proposition here, a failed experiment's notes there, and random pieces of scratch parchment covered in mathematical equations littered the floor. The encroaching daylight filled the room, denying its dweller any additional rest. Rolling onto her back, she yawned, and slowly opened her eyes. She stretched her four legs out in every direction, and with a contented grunt, she crawled out of bed. She walked over to her vanity, and picked up a brush. Wincing every time she hit a knot or tangle, she scrolled her eyes around the border of the mirror. There was a picture of her first party in Ponyville, then a picture of her surrounded by her friends, a shot of her parents, her brother with his family, her coronation, and ended on a shot of the most recent Grand Galloping Gala. Looking back into the mirror, she finally spoke.

"Okay, Sparkle. Today's the day. Four hundred thirty-eighth time's the charm!" she said, opening a drawer. Looking over her shoulder, she checked for any possible intruders. No one else in sight. She had a sheepish grin as she lifted the false bottom in the drawer, revealing a well-read and tattered scroll. She pulled it out, and began to unroll it. At the top was a title: "OPERATION: ORCHARD Proposals," and a seemingly never-ending list of two- and three-word ideas were indexed under it. Finally arriving at that day's suggestion, she read it out loud. "Number four hundred thirty-eight: Food Innuendo. Okay then." Re-rolling and returning the scroll to its place, she closed the drawer and turned around. Again scanning the room for fear of any snooping interlopers, she quietly walked over to a bookshelf. Removing a book entitled Two Ocean War: A Short History of the Equestrian Navy in the Equus-Griffonian Conflict, she again looked around. She opened the cover, only to expose the real book she had picked up: Euphemisms, Innuendo, and Undertones: A Guide to Veiled Vulgarity by Dirty Pillows. She quickly flipped through the book. "Let's see...fainting, fighting, flouncing, ah! Here we go! Food!" Her eyes darted back and forth as she committed as many filthy figures of speech she could to memory. She closed the book, restored it to its original position, and sniffed the air. The young royal could smell coffee and pancakes wafting through the castle. She smiled. Today was going to be a good day.

The Ponyville Farmers' Market was, as always, busy. Ponies milled about, from Golden Harvest's second-to-none carrot crop, to the "Flower Sisters'" top-notch floristry cart. One of the benefits of living in a comparatively small town was it allowed for local businesses to specialize and thrive, and consequently gave its patrons the best possible product. This was no better proven than by one of the oldest carts run by one of the oldest families of the town: the Apples. The cart itself was not what brought ponies from near and far. It was old, creaked a little too much, and had some rust spots. Some would even argue that it wasn't the owners of it. The Apple family was notoriously loyal to the notion that their fruit was the best fruit, all others were simply unnecessary, and yes, they'll fight you on it. No, what ultimately brought in customers was the product itself. The Apples' apples were known far and wide as being some of the sweetest, juiciest, and savoriest crops to be harvested. And the family's baking prowess with the fruit was incomparable. Sure, the Cakes made great cakes, and Bon Bon had the best bon-bons, but nothing could compare with the Apples' apple dishes. Apple fritters, apple pies, apple turnovers, apple crisp, apple dumplings, apple brown betty, baked apples, apple pockets, apple cobblers, apple butter, apple chips, caramel apples, apple strudel, apple juice, candied apples, and best of all - apple cider! And the Apple family could make it all, and make it better than anyone else. And the cart had a little bit of everything!

Unsurprisingly, the line for the Apples' cart was long, at around twenty or thirty customers. But Twilight didn't mind; it gave her time to come up with the right combination of words to catch the attention of her future wife. She just needed to get her hoof in the door was all. Just one date was all it takes. Because one date turns to two, then three, then eventually you're dating exclusively! Then, assuming you both want to spend the rest of your lives together, you get married! Then a family. Of course Applejack would want a family. And they both had time. Earth ponies were famously long-lived, and Equestria's newest alicorn might be immortal. At least she was pretty certain she was. She should talk to Princess Celestia about that. So she could wait. On this line, and on Applejack. Twilight knew that love wasn't like those romance novels she liked to borrow from Rarity. As entertaining as the stories of torrid love affairs held between bookish librarians and rough-and-tumble farmhands could be, they just weren't realistic. True love was a slow simmer, not a raging conflagration. And she was fine with that. Love could wait, and so could she. Fourteen more ponies ahead of her. The one at the front seemed to have an abnormally large order. She didn't care, though. As long as there was something for her to buy when she got up to the front, it would at least give her a reason to be in line. Of course she was happy and willing to wait on love. And Applejack. After all, she started trying to bring the Earth pony around to the idea years ago. She just needed the right combination of words to make it clear. It was like picking a lock: you just needed to click the right tumblers in the right order, and bingo - you've got her attention. And she was certain that today she had the right combination!

Finally! She was just a single pony away from the front! Shaking her head to clear her mind, she dredged up all the various lines she would use. Today was the day. It had to be! The customer in front of the Princess got his order and left, and there she was: the orange pony in all her apple-y glory.

"Well, howdy there, Twi! Stop by for some breakfast?" asked Applejack, closing her till. Giving the broadest, yet least creepy smile she could create, the alicorn nodded her head.

"I sure am! Say, Applejack, I have a question for you." she replied, a bead of sweat rolling down her neck. The Apple looked back up at her.

"Oh? What's that?"

"Applejack, do you know what kind of fruit you'd be if you, um, were one?" she asked, her voice cracking. The orange pony shook her head. "Y-you'd be a fine-apple!" she answered, adding in a nervous laugh.

"Well, shoot, I've always thought of myself as a fine Apple, if I'm honest. It's how my family raises all us Apples!" the blonde mare replied, puffing out her chest with pride. Twilight had a confused look on her face, before realizing what her friend had meant.

"Oh! No, I meant, like a play on- you know what, it doesn't matter." Okay. That was a failure. Keep going, keep up the momentum! This'll work! "Um. Applejack, I'd really like to butter your muffins!" she proudly stated while waggling her eyebrows. The Apple pony frowned.

"Aw, sorry, Twi! We're fresh outta muffins. As for butter, you might want to talk to Guernsey! His butter is darn good! We use it at home all the time!" she responded with a smile. Twilight was struggling to keep her composure.

"Applejack, listen to me: I want to eat your pie. You know? 'Pie?'" the alicorn countered, ending on an overly-emphasized wink. Applejack cocked her head in confusion.

"Ain't it kinda early to be eatin' pie? At least for breakfast? Course, it's not like it's all that healthy to be eatin' fritters all the time, either, so I guess I shouldn't say anything." she said, scratching the back of her neck. "'Sides, nobody ordered any pie yesterday, so I didn't bring one today. Sorry, Twi. Can I get ya something else?" The purple pony's nervous smile finally slipped, and she sighed.

"Just...just give me a couple of Red Delicious apples and a fritter, I guess." she said, lowering her head. Applejack nodded her head with a smile, and bagged up the order.

"Let's see...two apples at a bit each, a fritter at three bits, that's five bits." she said, hoofing over the goods. Twilight was about to reach into her saddle bags to retrieve the money, when an idea struck her.

There's an idea! Why didn't I think of this sooner?! she thought, her eyes widening. Giving a mock look of shock, she gasped. "Oh...no! I seem to have forgotten my money at home! Is there any other way I could pay you back, Applejack? Perhaps dinner at my place?" The orange Apple chuckled.

"Shoot, Twi, don't worry about it! It's only five bits; that's not worth a whole dinner! I can just open a tab for ya!" she replied. Leaning in, she whispered to her purple friend. "I'd just give 'em to ya, but I don't want the ponies behind you to think I'm playing favorites, ya know?" adding a wink at the end. Twilight was flummoxed, and could only stammer and stutter for a few moments before she heard a pony loudly clear his throat from behind her.

"Um, if you're done Princess, I do need to get to work soon." the unfamiliar gray Earth pony said. This seemed to snap her out of her trance, and she meekly grabbed her order, quietly apologized, and left. As she began her slow walk of shame back to the castle, she heard a whistle. Raising her head, she looked around, and spotted Rainbow Dash sitting at a table near the market. She was gesturing for Twilight to join her. The Princess walked over, and as she sat down, the blue pegasus shook her head.

"Dude, that was painful to watch. I mean, I've seen plenty of ponies strike out, but I've never actually watched somepony strike themselves out. Do you do this every day?" she asked, taking a sip from her drink. The alicorn sighed.

"Well, not EVERY day. Two to three times a week, give or take." she said, unable to meet her friend's gaze. "Oh, do you want this fritter? I actually already had breakfast, and I don't need it." Dash gave a lazy smile, and stretched across the small table to grab the treat. "Anyway, at least now I know that food innuendo doesn't work." The blue pegasus snorted.

"Yeah, no kidding. Look, I love AJ like a sister, but she can be downright dumb when it comes to this kind of stuff. If you want to go on a date with her, just say it. Just be like, 'Yo. Applejack. You, me, dinner. Tonight.' and boom. She's your marefriend. You gotta be direct with her, none of this clever stuff." she answered, spewing crumbs all over the table. Twilight groaned in response.

"I tried being direct once, remember? Braeburn? And you saw how that turned out..." she added bitterly. "I mean, I at least learned I didn't like stallions romantically, so I guess it wasn't a total loss...and I tried taking it slow with Cheerilee after the whole love potion thing, and she just...lost interest in me, I guess." She absentmindedly took a bite of one of her apples and stared at the table. "I just...I'm just trying to find that happy medium where I'm a little direct, but not too much, you know? Where they get the message, but I'm not coming on too strong." the young royal said, swallowing her bite. "Then again, I'm beginning to think I shouldn't even try. It seems like every time I find somepony I like, they just...leave. Like they want nothing to do with me." she said with a sigh. Rainbow frowned.

"Hey, don't beat yourself up! You're a freakin' PRINCESS, remember?! You're pretty, you're smart, you're powerful, and you have some amazing friends!" she added with a wink. "There are ponies out there that would give their front two legs to be with you! Heck, if I ever find out I'm gay, I'll go after you!" Twilight gave a weak smile.

"I'll keep that in mind. Sorry, I don't mean to be a downer, it's just that lately I've been so lon-"

"PACKAGE FOR T. SPARKLE!" shouted a dark brown pegasus, shoving a large brown paper-wrapped parcel in the alicorn's face. The noise and the suddenness of the event nearly caused her to fall out of her chair. Heaving a breath, she regained her composure, and took the package from the pony. She gave her signature, and just as the pegasus was about to fly off, Dash called out.

"Hey, you're not the regular delivery pony. Where's Derpy?" she asked, giving a suspicious look. The brown pegasus turned around to give a quick answer.


Before Dash could interrogate the pony any further, it flew off, leaving the two alone. Twilight turned the parcel over and over in her magic, scrutinizing it.

"Strange, there's no return address. It doesn't even have my address on it. Just 'To T. Sparkle.'" the alicorn said, her eyebrows furrowing. "This bears...further examination. In a safe environment." Rainbow Dash's eyes widened.

"You don't think it's a...bomb, do you?" she loudly whispered, her eyes darting left and right. Twilight discreetly shook her head.

"I doubt it, but I still don't want to open it here, just in case. We'll use my lab in the basement of the castle; it has a nigh-indestructible room in it, so if anything goes off, Ponyville will be safe." she said, holding the package a fair distance away. Dash's eyes widened.

"I'll get the rest of the girls!" she said, speeding off. Twilight turned to stop her, but the pegasus was too quick.

"Rainbow, don- oh, come on! At least wait for me to respond!" she sighed, and began a brisk walk back to the castle. Maybe if she was fast enough, she could lock it up to keep her friends safe.

Twilight wasn't fast enough. She had barely gotten downstairs before Rainbow Dash had gathered up her cadre. The alicorn could hear her cerulean friend loudly exclaiming about how it was probably a bomb, how it would blow up all of Ponyville, maybe even a bit of the Everfree, and how she hoped they all had their wills made up. Twilight shook her head; this mystery package was probably not even remotely close to anything of what Dash was saying, but admittedly she felt better having placed it in her 'safe room.' The room itself wasn't that big, at only a few pony lengths long and wide, with just barely enough room to stand upright. The walls were quite thick, and magically reinforced. On one side there was a two-way mirror used as a viewing window. The alicorn had designed and built the entire room so that she could interact and manipulate with whatever or whoever was on the inside without them being able to reciprocate. She hadn't really ever thought she'd need to use it, but if living in Ponyville had taught her anything, it was to expect the unexpected.

The Elements of Harmony finally reached the basement, followed by her protege carrying Fluttershy in a magic field, and her number one assistant bringing up the rear. He was trying to calm down the terrified pegasus as best he could, but he appeared to be having no luck. Turning around, she groaned. "Rainbow, while I really doubt it's anything all that dangerous, do you honestly think it's a smart idea to put the entirety of Equestria's various saviors in the same area as the package?" The pegasus just rolled her eyes.

"Look Twilight, if somepony sent you a bomb or whatever, you KNOW it's not going to be some firecracker! It's going to be powerful enough to level all of Ponyville! Maybe even the whole county! So it's not like being somewhere else is going to save us. At least then we don't even feel it! Just poof! We're gone! No pain, just a mushroom cloud!" she smugly replied. The alicorn sighed again. She was doing that an awful lot lately. She needed to be careful, otherwise she might start hyperventilating.

"Sure. Spike?" The dragon came forward, parchment and quill in claw. "Two things: One, I want you to state for the record that I honestly don't think everypony needs to be here right now, and Two, start taking notes. I don't think this will amount to much, but just in case I want to keep a log." Her assistant nodded, and began scratching away with the quill. She turned to the window, and concentrated. Magically picking up the suspicious parcel, she cast a detection spell. Nothing. No gunpowder, no dangerous chemicals, nothing even remotely threatening showed up. She slowly undid the twine around it. Still nothing. She gently pulled back each layer of brown paper as her friends cautiously huddled around her. As the wrapping came off, the object it concealed was finally revealed: it was...a photo album? With a card on top? Twilight silently gave a sigh of relief.

"Aw, seriously? That's it? Just some stupid photo album? Who cares!" cried her blue friend. It did indeed appear to be a photo album. Bound in pink cloth, with small hearts around the title, which read "For My Sweetest Somepony." Rarity clicked her tongue.

"Awww! You must have a secret admirer! That's wonderful!" she said, playfully nudging the alicorn. "And look at the calligraphy on the card! They must be very artistic!" Twilight scrunched her nose.

"Well, I guess that would explain why they used a non-Equestrian Postal Service employee to send it. They must be shy or something." she said, removing the objects from her safe room. As she began to open the envelope, Rarity stopped her.

"No no no, darling! The light in here is atrocious! If somepony went to all the trouble to make this for you, you simply must read it in the proper place! Like the throne room!" Twilight smiled at the suggestion, and the group began the long walk up the stairs. Then a thought occurred to her.

Wait. Applejack's here. What if she thinks that I'm interested in whoever sent this? Then she'll think I'm taken, and I'm sunk! I'll have to somehow show that I'm appreciative, yet uninterested in this mystery pony. That way, if she decides to do something like this, she'll know I still like it! Wait. Waitwaitwait. What if SHE'S the one who sent it?! I mean, that's not really like her, but maybe that's WHY she did it! Maybe she's actually been picking up on my hints all along, and was just ACTING oblivious to it! And to catch me off guard, she did this whole thing to surprise me! the purple pony thought, her spirits lifting. She entered into the throne room with a smile, and the various ponies took their respective seats. Rarity and Fluttershy leaned forward in suspense, Applejack and Starlight held friendly smiles, Rainbow Dash tried to look as indifferent as possible, Spike kept his quill to the parchment, and Pinkie...wait. Where was Pinkie? It's not like her to want to miss something like this. For some reason, Twilight's heart was racing. She took a deep breath to calm herself, and she opened the envelope and pulled out the delicate note.

To the Great and Powerful Princess Twilight Sparkle,

As you know, we have kept an amiable rapport for the past few years.

No more.

While I concede that your arcane strength is legendary, and your wiles cunning yet tender,
I can no longer stand idly by while you commit the most grievous error of remaining an
anhaga. In order to rectify this situation, I wish to engage you in the most revered
form of intercourse - combat. Should you agree, meet with me in the fields west of
your castle at sundown in three days. Come alone, or I refuse to engage you.

I await your reply.


Queen Chrysalis, the Devourer of Ponies

As she read aloud the note, Twilight's mood and expression went from one of anxious excitement to befuddlement, before finally dropping to confused anger. The ponies surrounding her looked to one another, each shrugging or shaking their heads. Twilight dropped the note on the table, slouched in her chair, closed her eyes, and began rubbing the sides of her head.

"Okay...I'm only going to ask this once: is this a joke? Like a prank? Because if it is, it's fine, just tell me now." she asked with a sigh. Her friends all looked at the resident prankster with suspicion. Rainbow Dash looked behind her, then back at her friends, then finally down at her lap.

"Wait. What? You think I did this? No way! I don't even know what half of those words mean!" she said, crossing her forelegs in defiance. Twilight idly tapped a hoof on her throne.

"So if I open this photo album, it's not going to be just a bunch of pictures of you?" she asked. The pegasus shook her head. Rarity then spoke up.

"I must admit dear, this sort of thing really isn't Rainbow Dash's, uh, modus operandi. She's more of a simplistic trickster." she said, eliciting a rude gesture from her blue friend. She whipped her head to face her. "Excuse me, but I'm defending you here!" Turning back to face Twilight, she continued. "And, admittedly, I'm with her; I'm not entirely sure what some of the words even mean. Take that 'anhaga' comment, for example. What is that?" Twilight chewed on her lip.

"If I remember correctly, it comes from old Ponish. The term was most commonly used as a pronoun to refer to King Gilded Necklace from the pre-Unification era. He was the last King the unicorns ever had. Although no paintings or sculptures exist of him, it was said that he was extremely ugly and lonely, and never sired an heir. With that said, he's best known for his incredible magical abilities; it was said that he could lift the sun and moon on his own, although that has been hotly contested throughout the centuries. Nopony really knows if it was true, or just a myth. After his death, there was a power struggle amongst the nobility, and only ended with the rise of Princess Platinum." she replied, lost in thought.

"So if that varmint Chrysalis did write that note, you're saying that she thinks you've got incredible magical abilities? Incredible enough to pose a threat to 'er?" Applejack asked. The alicorn gave a slight blush.

"I...I guess so. That's, uh, that's weird. I've been insulted plenty of times by my adversaries, but never complimented." she said, giving the note a sideways glance. "But regardless, it sounds like she wants to fight me, one-on-one."

"Are you going to, Twilight?" asked Fluttershy, peeking out from her mane. The other pegasus in the room stood up defiantly.

"If she is, she's not going alone! We'll pound that bug into the ground! I've still got a score to settle!" Dash exclaimed, puffing out her wings. The alicorn put a hoof to her chin.

"Hmm. I'm not sure, to be honest. I feel like if I go alone, then it's definitely a trap. She'll overwhelm me with superior numbers, or maybe she has some heretofore unknown artifact that makes her more powerful than me, like the Alicorn Amulet." she said, staring at the table. "Buuuuuut, what if it's just a feint to get us all out of the castle and Ponyville? They strike where we're not, and all the ponies here suffer for it." She stared at her hooves for a few moments, deep in thought. "I don't know what to do. What do you girls think?" she asked, lifting her head back up.

Half of the ponies seated around the table gave their answer at once. Rainbow repeated her desire for violence, Rarity mentioned that she'd like to make sure Ponyville was safe, and Fluttershy squeaked out a wish to avoid the whole thing. That just left Applejack and Starlight. The orange Earth pony had a thoughtful expression.

"Well, since you're askin' me, here's what I think: why don't we do both?" Her answer evoked questioning looks from her friends. "Hear me out: Twi, you obviously can't be at two places at once, at least not without straining yourself. And if that big ugly bug does show up to fight you, you might need all the strength you got. So maybe we stay here in Ponyville to protect the place, and you show up there in the field? If we need ya, you'll know. And I know you can teleport pretty easily anywhere. 'Sides, if a buncha changelings show up, I know us girls can take 'em, easy as pie. We've done it before, remember?" she said, nodding her head towards the other ponies.

Fluttershy raised a hoof to interject. "Didn't that, um, end up with us captur-"

"Yeah! We can take 'em! Heck, I kinda HOPE they show up! That fight at your brother's wedding was fun!" Rainbow Dash interrupted, her wings flaring out for effect. Starlight cleared her throat.

"That's actually not a bad idea. I'd be here to help the girls, too. And, not to toot my own horn here, but I am pretty adept with magic. You've said so yourself." she said, polishing her hoof on her barrel. Twilight stroked her chin.

"Hmm. Well, if you all think it's a good idea, then so do I. With that said, I may keep a brigade of royal guards nearby just in case she has some troop reserves." she finally replied. "Spike? Send a letter explaining the situation to both Princesses Celestia and Cadance, and request some elite guards. This could be a good joint exercise for the Crystal and Equestrian Royal Corps." The dragon nodded, and began writing. There was a small moment of silence, where the only sound that could be heard was the scratch of quill on parchment. Starlight gave a nervous laugh.

"So, uh, is anyone else kind of curious about what's in that photo album? Because me? I definitely am."

Pinkie could NOT believe it! Twilight had finally done it! Somehow, someway, she had gotten through to Applejack, and they were going to start DATING SOON! As soon as she heard about the package, she felt a new combo. Left ear flop, right foreleg itch, and two twitches of her tail. She'd never had that one before, but she had a gut feeling - it meant love was in the air! She plunged into her party planning cave, and ripped open the eighty-seventh filing cabinet on the fourth shelf. Hoofing through the folders, she gasped. There it was! The "It Finally Happened on the Four Hundred Thirty-Eighth Try" Party plan! Pulling it out, she looked it over. Wow. This was going to take some serious last-second material gathering. And where was she going to get two hundred gallons of salsa at this hour of the day? No matter! She'd do it! For her friends! Stuffing the folder in her mane, she sped out of the cave.

Twilight shook her head in disagreement. "I don't know. Since all of this apparently came from Chrysalis, who knows what sort of traps she's set up? If anything, we should just put it in a stasis field, and have Princess Celestia launch it into the sun." Starlight sidled up next to her teacher.

"Oh, come on! Aren't you just a little curious about what's inside? Maybe there's photos of her new hive! That could be valuable information, for when we, you know, obliterate it. Again." she said gesturing towards the book. Twilight groaned.

"Well, you do raise a point. And the detection spell didn't come back with anything, and I did it with the highest level there is. Okay. Fine. But! If I at any point think something's wrong, we go with the stasis field. Deal?" she said, looking at her friends. They all nodded and gave sounds of approval, and Twilight picked up the album in her magic. She slowly cracked open the cover...

Pinkie Pie frowned. Should she go with baby blue or sky blue for the banner? This was a momentous occasion, and she didn't want to mess it up with the wrong color! Ack! Light blue! TOO MANY CHOICES! She closed her eyes, and randomly picked a color from the paint palette. Oh. Purple it is! She grabbed a swatch of the color, and ran to the clerk behind the counter. In no time, the paint was mixed, and she was on her way.

"Good grief!" "My word!" "Is this real life?!" the exclamations poured out of the gathered ponies' mouths, as Twilight flipped from picture to picture. On each page were one or two photographs of Chrysalis, Queen of the Badlands Hive, and apparent 'Devourer of Ponies'...in lingerie. Usually in awkward poses.

"A lotta these look like the mares in those pin-up magazines I found under Big Mac's mattress!" Applejack blurted out. Twilight looked over at the orange pony.

"Your brother, too? Mine kept his stashed between his 'Manta Mare' and 'Power Ponies' comics." she said, shaking her head. "Colts are gross."

"It's not just that, though!" Rarity interrupted. "Some of these also look like those dreadful poses you have to use for your senior pictures!" Fluttershy cringed.

"Oh, I hated those! They were awful, just awful!" the yellow pegasus quietly shouted. All of the ponies present were in various states of shock, disgust, or dismay. That is, all of them except Rainbow Dash, who couldn't stop laughing.

"Oh-oh my gosh! Is this real?! Seriously?! Sh-she sent you a bunch of pictures of her wearing sex clothes?! With a letter saying that she wants to fight you?!" she said in between bouts of laughter. Starlight Glimmer, when not wincing, was waxing theoretical.

"Do...do you think she's maybe trying to psyche you out before your battle? Because this? This would psyche me out. Hardcore." she asked. Twilight didn't respond; rather, she simply sat with her eyes wide and mouth agape. Shaking her head to regain her composure, she finally answered.

"Probably? Maybe? I have no idea. This whole thing has been weird from the start! I don't want to see any more. We're done, girls." she said, slamming the album shut. Rainbow Dash shot up from the floor.

"Aw, come on! You only had a few more pages! Let me see 'em, pleeeeease?" she begged. With a sigh, Twilight tossed the book to her.

"Knock yourself out. Just burn it once you're done. Seriously. I don't want it on this planet after today." she said, getting up from her throne. The pegasus picked up the book, and greedily pored through the remaining pages. That is, until the last page.

Well, she couldn't get all the salsa she wanted, but pico de gallo would work in a pinch! Pinkie took one last look at her checklist. Yup! All present and accounted for! Now to start this thing! She held a confident smile as she approached the castle. Sneaking in a back entrance, she stealthily entered the throne room. All of her friends were enraptured by the photo album Applejack must have given Twilight! Awww! She's so sweet! And look at Rainbow! She laughing with joy! Moving along the wall, she pulled out suction cups, and slowly began the ascent to the Golden Oaks chandelier. When she reached the top, she looked down. Rainbow Dash had the book now, and Applejack and Twilight were next to each other! This was the perfect moment! The pink pony affixed the vertical banner to the top of the tree roots, and was about to drop down when she heard a shriek. Rainbow Dash had thrown the book away, and was running out of the room! Oh no! What happened? Did she discover some latent homosexual desire towards Applejack or Twilight, and now realized she couldn't act on it? She must be crushed! So crushed she's...stopping? In a corner? And...tossing her cookies?

As Rainbow Dash flipped to the last page, something seemed to reach out of the depths of Tartarus at her. She screamed, threw the book down, and began to run out of the room. She was only able to get so far before stopping in a corner. The blue pegasus was no longer blue, and more of a greenish color. She began wretching. Fluttershy rushed over to help before Dash's breakfast became apparent to the rest of the ponies in the room. The rest of her friends ran over as well, in the hopes of giving any sort of aid. Her yellow friend held the now-green pegasus' mane, and rubbed her back, whispering soothing words while asking what happened. Spike ran out of the room to fetch a mop and bucket. Rainbow raised a shaky leg to point in the direction of the book. In a hoarse voice, she finally answered. "The...the last page...what...in...the hay...was that?!" she choked out. Thinking about it again, she started vomiting. Starlight and Twilight looked each other in the eye, and walked over to where Dash had thrown the book. They stared at it, wondering what eldritch horror laid on its last page to create such a reaction. Starlight took a heady breath, and brought it up in her magic. She opened it to the last few pages, preparing a defensive spell just in case. And then, it all happened.

Aw, poor Dashie! I'll have to help her after this party. Pinkie thought to herself. But there MUST be a party! Twilight and Applejack deserve to be happy! Grabbing the rolled up banner, she backflipped off the chandelier. As she landed on the table, the banner behind her fully unrolled, releasing confetti and unveiling its contents.


Twilight screamed. Starlight screamed and dropped the book. Pinkie screamed, except that her scream was one of joy, instead of the ones of abject shock from the first two.

"CONGRATULATIONS, YOU TWO!" the pink pony yelled. Twilight looked up at the banner.

"What?! Why would you congratulate us?! And what does Applejack have to do with it?!" she shouted. Pinkie's shoulders hunched up, and she gave a sheepish grin.

"Because...she finally realized what a great catch you are?"

"No! She hasn't! Why would you even think about that in this situation?!" the alicorn replied. Pinkie's eyes widened. Turning around, she quickly flipped the banner, where it read


Twilight smacked a hoof to her face. "Pinkie, no. That's not what happened at all. Not yet, anyway. Look..." she quickly gave a short summary of the events that had just transpired, and the Earth pony listened intently, her irises increasing in size as the story went on. "Now, we need to see what made Rainbow Dash so terrified." she added, picking the book back up. Hearing this, Applejack walked over to the trio.

"I'm not sure if I wanna see it, but we should know what we're dealing with here. At least now we know that it's something awful, if it made RD lose her breakfast like that." she said, nodding in the direction of her friend.

"Agreed. As horrific as it may be, it could be a new trick up the changelings' proverbial sleeves. And we must be prepared!" Rarity added, walking over as well. "Fluttershy darling, do you wish to see it?" The pegasus shook her head, and went back to soothing her friend. Twilight slowly opened the book as her protege charged her horn. Three pages away. Two pages. One page away.

"Everyone ready?" the alicorn asked her friends. They all gave uncertain grunts of approval. "Okay, here goes." She flipped to the final page.

Everyone screamed. It was as though something terrible had jumped out at them. And it sort of did. Pop-up pictures are like that.

Author's Note:

More Dorkalis, because dork bug is best bug.

Indeed, what DO you have there, Sparkle?

Hey howdy hey, everyone! We've left the hive! Finally! Temporarily, but finally! I'll admit: I had some trouble with this chapter. Writing for canon characters is pretty easy when they've only been on screen for less than an entire episode's length (looking at you, Bughorse). However, it's considerably harder to do it when you're writing for the Mane Six. So, with any luck, you've suspended your disbelief long enough I've managed to get a decent grasp on their mannerisms and such, while also providing entertainment. Also, fun fact: I've actually read the real Two Ocean War nine times. It's dryer than crackers on a summer day, but man I love me some S. E. Morison. Also, take a shot of apple juice every time you read the word 'apple.' I say juice, because I don't wish alcohol poisoning on any of my readers.

If you enjoyed this chapter, thanks for reading, and let me know! If not, please tell me in Pig Latin, and if you're apathetic about it, why are you still reading this story? We're five chapters in, and I'll probably only get more pompous and sanctimonious from here!

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