• Published 5th Feb 2018
  • 1,338 Views, 67 Comments

Partyquest - R5h



Pinkie has one month to throw a party that's out of this world. Which is exactly where she'll receive the training she needs.

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The Gouda, the Bad, and the Pinkie

“I am the stallion with no name,” gruffed Cheese Sandwich. Not that gruff was a verb, but if it was, that would be what he'd done.

“I've got a good feeling about this guy,” Pinkie said, beaming.

“Oh, god, not this again,” Twilight said simultaneously, face in hoof.

He blinked at her. “What's 'this'?”

Twilight waved her other forehoof at him to indicate, in one fell swoop, everything about him: his sarape, his cowboy hat, and the rubber chicken on his back. And then, since she'd just lifted both front hooves, her face slammed into the ground. “Ow,” she mumbled. “We've had enough weirdos.”

“Oh?” Cheese squinted like, well, an old west actor. Because who else would he squint like. “You two are doppelgangers of a princess regent and my party idol, and I'm a weirdo? At least I'm setting-appropriate? We've got tumbleweeds over there, not a cloud in sight—”

A gunshot rang out, and Cheese's hat had a hole in it. He yelped and ducked behind the boulder they were standing next to. “And no-good varmints,” he whispered. “In no-good varmint garments.”

Pinkie peered to the side of the rock. There was an old-timey town in front of them, with buildings strewn about as if they'd been dropped haphazardly from a great height. Everything and everyone was covered in dust except the two white-suited stallions standing in front of what had to be, by genre convention, a saloon. “The Tartarus was that, Forsa?” said the fat one.

The thin one, holding a very old-fashioned revolver in his magic, glared at the rock. “Thought I saw a Sandwich, Boss,” he muttered, before spinning and holstering the gun.

“If he knows what's good for him, he'll be miles away.” Boss cracked a grin, then yelled into the saloon. “Ya hear? No Cheese Sandwich is coming to save your sorry hides. Y'all had better pay up by sundown, two days from now, or your one-pony town is history!”

Cackling, he and his lackey ambled away.

“They're the landlords,” Cheese hissed, “and they want to turn the whole town of Donkey's End into a strip-mine! So they keep raising the rents, trying to force the people out, and it's almost working.”

Pinkie gasped. “They can't do that!”

“Actually,” said Twilight, nose-deep in Western Genre Cliches 101, “they can, on account of 'being rich and arrogant and wearing fancy clothes, to contrast with the common clay of the land'.”

“All those poor people,” Pinkie mumbled, “separated from their homes.”

Cheese kicked at a pebble. “Consarn it! They know I could throw a party that would have people coming from miles around, bringing in all the bits they could need! That's why they've barred me from entering!”

“So they've banned you from the town,” Pinkie said, keeping her volume low too. “Just you, right? Not every party pony?”

Cheese nodded. “If you're willing to lend a helping hoof, you'll have my eternal gratitude—not to mention my supplies and all the training I can offer in three days' time. But you'll have to set it up! I can't risk setting hoof inside town limits... if it were just me, maybe, but—” He shot a glance at the rubber chicken on his back. “I couldn't do that to Boneless II. Not after all we've been through.”

“We're your ponies!” Pinkie saluted.

Twilight jumped, then scooched away from the two of them. “Wait, 'we're'? Don't press-gang me into this!”

“Come on, Twilight, I need your help to save the town! Besides,” Pinkie said, “what's the worst thing that could happen?”

“That stallion had a gun.”

Pinkie was quiet for a few seconds. “But—but Twilight!” she eventually said. “What does your book say that wandering funslingers need to do when faced with nogoodniks?”

“Ugh. Fine. Let's get started.” Twilight poked a hoof out from behind the rock, and then—when no hail of gunfire greeted her—trotted around the side and toward Donkey's End. “So,” she muttered, as Pinkie followed, “do you think Boneless II is a living rubber chicken somehow, or....”

“Worry about that later,” Pinkie said, eyes narrowed in determination. “And also, absolutely.”


The inhabitants of the town were donkeys, as it happened. They'd been watching with worried interest as Twilight set up bunting under Pinkie's direction, but that had been hours ago. Now it was dark, save for the stars and the moon: silence reigned.

Mostly.

“Friggin—stupid—gosh darned—bunting!” Twilight grunted and yanked, trying fruitlessly to untangle a few strands that had formed a sort of tumbleweed. She gave up, panting, and kicked the buntleweed, letting it bounce across the sand. “Pinkie,” she said, “it's ten at night.”

“And?” Pinkie slung out another roll of bunting without looking at it or Twilight.

“Don't you need to... sleep? Or at least write to your sisters?”

“What? This late?” Pinkie forced a laugh. “That would be rude, and might lead to burning. Silly Twilight.”

“What?”

Pinkie still wasn't looking.

“Well,” Twilight said, shivering as the heat of the day bled away in the moon's cold light. “I'm going to bed. I'll see you in the morning.” She turned to leave.

“Wait!”

Twilight stopped mid-step, and looked back to see Pinkie looking at her, a wild look in her eyes. “Did I do good?” she said. “I need you to tell me how good this party's going to be.”

Me?” Twilight shook her head. “Pinkie, you're the partier. I'm just... nerdy.”

Please, Twilight, I need a second pair of eyes here!”

“All right.” Twilight trotted several steps away from the town, took a breath, and lit up her horn. The day's preparations were illuminated: bunting, wall murals, signs directing tourists to the locals' shops, and more. “It's good, I think,” she said.

“Is it enough? Am I gonna be done by sundown in two days?” Pinkie's bloodshot eye twitched.

“Um....” Twilight squinted, a clear sign of mental arithmetic if ever there was one, then shook her head. “Even if you didn't sleep. I don't think it's possible.”

Pinkie shook her head, then growled, then jumped up and down like she was trying to trample something. “I'm notgiving—up!” she yelled. “There has to be a way to make this party happen in time!”

“Sorry.” Twilight rested a hoof on Pinkie's shoulder, which was tough because she was still jumping. “You might not be able to have it done by the time the landlords arrive.”

Pinkie stopped. “By the time they arrive,” she repeated. “Not sundown. When they arrive.”

“Pinkie?”

Pinkie started pacing to and fro, one hoof on her chin. “Pinkie Sr. said my parties needed a clear sense of direction....” She gasped, and then beamed a smile that seemed to emit visible light. “We need to see Cheese! I've got something he can do outside town to buy us time!”


Sundown on the third day.

“Boss,” said Forsa, idly spinning his revolver as they ambled across the desert—now in black suits. “Has that sign always been there?”

The sign stood starkly in the desert sand, almost black against the glaring sunset. It was only as Boss and Forsa approached that they were able to read it:

← Donkey's End

→ Donkey's End: Super Special Landlord Entrance

There seemed to be quite a beaten path headed left—but, without a second look, Boss turned right. Forsa squinted at the sign, then shrugged and followed Boss.

“Sure is taking longer than usual to get there,” he said an hour later, as they passed a sign that said, Just a Bit Farther!

“Shut it, Forsa.”

“Yessir.”

It was dark by the time they reached the ramshackle collection of buildings that passed for a town in these parts. No light came from the shacks. “Well, well, well,” Boss said, letting his voice carry through the wilderness. “It looks like Cheese Sandwich didn't come through for y'all after all, because I don't see a party. Smart fella.” He chuckled. “Now, pay up or get on out!”

No answer. There wasn't a single murmur of life in the town, come to that. “Well?” Boss shouted, stepping forward. “Answer me!

Forsa felt a rising fear in the pit of his stomach. He pulled out his six-shooter, aimed at the saloon, and fired.

What came next wasn't the sound of bullet hitting wood. It was the sound of air gushing from a balloon.

Boss and Forsa stared, open mouthed, as the balloon saloon deflated.


In the real Donkey's End, the sun rose on a saloon that still had lights on. Mussed bunting and messy murals bedecked the outside, bearing the marks of unrestrained revelry.

“One last cider for the road!” cried the last bilious mare at the bar. “How much?”

“With all the demand?” The jennet behind the bar laughed. “Thirty bits!”

“This had better be the best cider of my life....”

The bartender slid a mug across the table, and the mare grabbed it and chugged. After a few seconds, she belched and got up to leave. “You got lucky!” she said, teetering toward the door.

Over at a table in the corner, a venerable-looking old donkey—the Wise Ass of Donkey's End, in fact—perked up at the words. “This is fantastic,” he said. “That thirty bits puts us over the landlord's price! We're saved!” He turned and grabbed the hoof of Pinkie Pie, and shook vigorously. “We could never have done it without you.”

“We're happy to help,” said Twilight, who'd been keeping tally all night in the margins of Finance for Dummies. “Especially since no one got—”

A gunshot rang out from outside.

Twilight dived under the table.

Pinkie gasped, and peeked out a window of the saloon to see Boss and Forsa, dressed in black clothes that were covered with dirt. Forsa spun his revolver, which had been pointed skyward, and holstered it clumsily—needing an extra two tries. The cider-loving mare who'd left the saloon looked up, saw them, and scurried around them and out of town.

“All right!” Boss roared, his eyes bloodshot. “I don't know what kind of comedy y'all got the idea for a fake town from, but I ain't laughing! The deal's off—you can keep whatever dozen bits y'all collected! I'll bulldoze this town myself to make that mine!”

“Twilight,” Pinkie hissed, “we need to do something!”

“He has a gun.”

“So what?”

Twilight shot her a “Seriously?” kind of look.

“Now get your asses out of this village!” Boss yelled. “Or my boy here's gonna start shooting!”

“No,” said a quiet voice behind them. “You're the ones leaving this town today.”

Boss turned, just in time for a rubber chicken to fly into his throat.

“Oh, Boneless II,” said Cheese Sandwich, his eyes hidden ominously beneath his hat as Boss choked. “You always were fond of a gag.”

“Cheese Sandwich.” Forsa smirked, and twirled his revolver. “You shouldn't have come back. When I'm through with you, they'll call you Swiss Cheese.”

“You wanna bet?” Cheese Sandwich smirked back, then looked past Forsa and winked, right through the window of the saloon.

Pinkie Pie winked back.

“Really,” Cheese said, “let's make a bet of it. Duel, here and now, you and me. Loser leaves Donkey's End forever.”

“But you're unarmed. I'd hate to beat you in an unfair fight.” Forsa shrugged. “Eh. I'll get over it.”

“Who said I was unarmed?”

Cheese winked again, then pulled a device from under his sarape—a gray box with a red button. He pressed the button.

From over the horizon came a trundling noise. Then, a dome shape, advancing quickly. Closer to, it revealed itself as a brightly colored tank, with its barrel pointed right at Forsa. The unicorn gulped.

“The Cheese Supreme Cannonball Surprise,” Cheese said, hopping atop the CSCS. “Looks like mine's bigger, compadre.”

Forsa stared open-mouthed at the device, then shook himself. “You're bluffing,” he said. “That's a party cannon. It's not for hurting ponies!”

Cheese stared him down for a few seconds, but Forsa stared right back. Cheese sighed. “You're right. Boneless II might be a loose cannon, but I made a promise never to use what I love to hurt someone.” He frowned.

Forsa grinned and raised his revolver.

“But, on the other hoof,” Cheese continued, “she's probably fine with it.”

“What?” Forsa whipped around, just as—

A pamphlet whapped him on the head. “What?” he repeated, taking the pamphlet in his magic. “How to Bludgeon Ponies?

“Sorry!” Twilight called, peeking through the door of the saloon. “I got kind of mixed up. Used the wrong one. Let me try again.”

She concentrated, her horn glowed, and four hundred pages of First Do No Harm: A Medical Primer flew out and clocked Forsa upside the head. He hit the sand like a ton of bricks.

“That's better,” Twilight said, trotting out and returning the book and pamphlet to her saddlebags. Pinkie followed her out.

The sound of coughing alerted the three of them. Boss, rolling on the ground, had finally managed to yank Boneless II from his throat, and was dry-heaving into the dirt, staining his black suit with saliva. Eventually he looked up, only to see the three of them standing and Forsa out cold on the ground.

The color drained from his face, and he bolted with a yelp, running out into the wilderness.

“Well, that went pretty okay!” Pinkie said. “Thanks for the help, Cheese! Couldn't have done it without you!”

“I should say the same to you!” Cheese smiled, but the smile seemed wistful, a little down-turned. “I'd offer you a celebratory polka, but I'm afraid I can't stay that long.”

“Are you sure?” Twilight called up. “I'm sure Pinkie's got an afterparty in mind, if you stick around.”

Cheese shook his head, then jumped off his tank and walked over to retrieve Boneless II. “Can't say I'm the sticking around type,” he said, wiping the chicken on his sarape. “Besides, I've got to catch Boss, bring him to justice. Ponies have to know what he did.”

“All right!” Pinkie waved. “See ya later!”

Cheese smiled, and tilted his hat. “I look forward to it.” Then he set his eyes on Boss, who was several hundred yards away now.

The stallion in black fled across the desert, and the funslinger followed.


July 27


Pinkie wrote the date out on the page, then did nothing but stare at the blank expanse. She and Twilight were in a bedroom that the Wise Ass of Donkey's End had lent them for the day, resting after their hard work of the previous nights; heavy blinds were closed against the noonday sun.

Somehow, despite three nights of town-saving, she couldn't think of anything to write.

“Hey,” Twilight said from her bed. “Talking with your sisters again?”

“Sort of.” Pinkie rolled over on her back, staring at the ceiling.

“Mm-hmm.” Twilight paused for a few seconds. “So, ready to admit that there's no such thing as a puppy hurtspital?”

Pinkie jolted, and stared at Twilight.

Twilight just chuckled. “I looked it up, to be double sure,” she said, pulling out a book titled, Is There Such a Thing as a Puppy Hurtspital? She opened it up to reveal a single page, with a single small word in the center: No.

“Where did you even,” Pinkie began, then shook herself. “Fine. No, it's not for puppies.”

“And I bet the real reason's something to do with your family.”

“I....” Pinkie bit her lip, as if to stop words from escaping prematurely. She took a breath. “I want to throw them the best party ever, before I leave for college. Okay?”

Twilight laughed. Pinkie narrowed her eyes. “What's so funny?”

“Did you seriously make up a 'puppy hurtspital' because you thought I'd laugh at the real reason, or something?” Twilight hopped down from the bed, next to Pinkie. “That's an amazing reason for a party, Pinkie! You didn't need to hide it!”

“Yup! That's the only reason I was hiding it.” Pinkie laughed back, and scratched her neck. “You got me.”

“To be honest....” Twilight blushed and looked away. “I'm actually kind of jealous. Since Shining Armor enlisted, we haven't really spoken a whole lot—and now I feel dumb for it, because look at you! A whole dimension away, no hands, and you're still....”

Her gaze wandered over to the open diary and its empty pages. “Keeping in... actually, come to think of it, I haven't heard it buzz in a while.” Twilight looked up at Pinkie. “Is something wrong?”

“Well, I might have brought up a touchy subject and Limestone miiiight have threatened to set the diary on fire, so I'm a teensy bit on edge,” Pinkie said, picking up verbal speed with each word. “But hey, no news is good news, right?”

Twilight blinked. “Did you just pronounce 'news' with a hard S—”

The diary buzzed. “Quiet!” Pinkie hissed. Both ponies stared at the page with rapt attention as new words slashed their way onto the page.


sorry I said I'd set it on fire


The penstrokes were sharp and jagged. “Limes!” Pinkie hissed.


it just pisses me off when you





look let's just talk about other stuff okay
how's it going


“When I what? What do I say, what do I say?” Pinkie whispered. Her head whipped over to look at Twilight. “What do I say?”

“What—what are you asking me for? She's your sister!”

“Twilight, please!

“Fine, I'll—I'll try to think of something.”


It's going great-tastic! We just saved a town from evil rich people.

sounds fun

It was! We nearly got shot, like, a bunch!

what

Also we made a fake balloon town and met a dude with a rubber chicken and

go the fuck back
you nearly got shot?

Dunno if I want to talk about it.

Pinkie I will strangle you

I'll tell you if you tell me what happened with your stuff.
Not today! Not if you're not up for it. But soon.


They'd reached the end of the page. Twilight smiled. “I think this is all you, now,” she said. With a yawn she hopped back up on the bed, plopping a pillow over her face. “Let me know how it goes.”

Pinkie turned the page. Any moment now, Limes would start writing again. Things would be better.

So why did the knot in her chest feel worse?