• Published 16th Jun 2020
  • 486 Views, 11 Comments

The Power of Two - Locomotion



A young changeling runs away from home, only to be attacked by timberwolves in the Everfree Forest. Fortunately, Locomotion is on hoof to save her - but little do they know that she has a spy on her tail...

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Chapter 12: Meeting the Elements - Pinkie Pie

“...so this is Sugarcube Corner, huh?”

“That's right,” affirmed Surfie. “Purveyor of some of the finest confections in this part of Equestria...”

“...and the home of Ponyville's premier pink party pony par excellence,” finished Locomotion.

Hornette's mouth watered slightly as she gazed upon the bakery with interest. “Gosh, this Pinkie Pie sure has done a good job with this place,” she mused. “It almost looks good enough to eat.”

Locomotion chuckled lightly. “Well, actually, it was the Cakes who designed it like that,” he said, “and I don't think they'd like that very much.”

“Wait...how can cakes design houses?” exclaimed Hornette, bewildered. “Does Pinkie bring them to life or something?”

“No, Hornette!” laughed Surfie. “Loco was referring to the owners – Carrot Cake, his wife Cup Cake née Chiffon Swirl, and their twin foals Pound and Pumpkin.”

“Oh...” Hornette looked away with embarrassment. “...but I thought Pinkie was the owner.”

“Nah, she just lives and works here when she's not hosting parties. In a way, she's kind of like a surrogate daughter to them – speaking of whom...” Surfie said no more as they entered the bakery, but simply gazed around in search of the pony in question.

What they did find was Mr and Mrs Cake busily going about their work, and Twilight waiting patiently at a nearby table. “Hello there,” she greeted cheerfully.

“Morning, Twilight,” replied Locomotion. “Morning, Mr and Mrs Cake.”

“Good morning, Loco,” said Mrs Cake, who had just finished arranging the display counter. “Who's your new friend?”

Locomotion could only chortle inwardly at how unfazed the rotund blue mare seemed – and after seeing a changeling up close to boot! “Oh, that's Hornette,” he answered. “I gather Twilight told you about her?”

“No, but Pinkie did. Something about a changeling fugitive that had been found in the Everfree Forest.”

“Well...I'd rather call her a refugee than a fugitive,” said Locomotion earnestly, “but yeah, that's about the size of it. Where is Pinkie, anyway?”

“She's out running errands for us,” explained Mr Cake, emerging from the kitchen with a batch of fresh cookies. He himself seemed a little uneasy with having a changeling in the bakery; but then, Locomotion quietly reassured himself, he always did have a slightly awkward disposition. “She should be back in a few minutes. Is there anything we can get you in the meantime?”

Locomotion turned to Surfie. “You wanna go first?”

“Oh, sure. I'd like a chocolate chip muffin and a banana milkshake, please – and, uh...when would be the best time to talk birthdays?”

“Whenever suits you, deary,” smiled Mrs Cake. “I discussed with Pinkie on her return, and she's happy to go over your party plans at a moment's notice. Now, Loco?”

“Hmm...” Locomotion let out a light snort of contemplation. “...I think I'll go for a butterfly cake and a carton of apple juice. How about you, Hornette?”

But Hornette could only stare at the vast array of confections on display, a troubled look on her face. “Gosh, so much choice...and they all look so good...” She shook her head in dismay. “...I just can't choose.”

Mrs Cake smiled kindly at the young changeling's indecision. “Tell you what, deary,” she offered, “why don't I choose something for you, and you can decide whether you like it or not?”

“Um...if it's okay with Loco,” murmured Hornette tentatively. “I mean, I don't have any money myself, and I don't want...”

“Oh, don't you worry about that, deary. Since you're new here, you can have yours for free.”

“Eh? You...don't want any kind of payment?”

“Not one cent,” affirmed Mrs Cake graciously.

Unable to come up with a verbal response, Hornette smiled and nodded gratefully as Locomotion and Surfie paid for their own orders. She felt undeserving of such generosity, but remembered how adamant Rarity was about Prairie, and decided not to make a fuss. Even if she did, she wouldn't have gotten very far before being startled by a loud droning noise from upstairs, followed by a sudden crash.

“MOMMA!!” shouted an agitated little filly's voice. “HE'S DOING IT AGAIN!!”

Mrs Cake groaned and clapped a hoof to her face in annoyance. “Pound,” she called sternly, “what did I tell you about dive-bombing indoors?”

Looking upstairs in confusion, Hornette noticed a cream-coloured Pegasus colt at the top of the staircase. He had a toy aeroplane held in one hoof, and was grinning sheepishly. “Sorry, Mom,” he apologised. “Just got a bit carried away, I guess.”

“Yeah, just a bit,” quipped the pale yellow unicorn filly standing behind him, rolling her eyes. “Remind me, Pound, how did I wind up getting a brother as hyperactive as you?”

“Aw, c'mon, Pumpkin, I was only playing Wonderbolts!” protested the colt. “No harm in that!”

“Oh yeah?” retorted his sister. “Then how come everypony else...is look...oh, hey, Surfie,” she promptly interrupted herself, noticing the pre-teen filly and her older brother standing nearby.

“Hello, Pumpkin,” said Surfie, putting on a cheerful face in spite of her dismay at Pound's behaviour. “Been keeping well?”

But before Pumpkin could reply, Pound warily spoke up. “Wait just a minute,” he said, eyeing Hornette suspiciously, “what's that thing doing here?”

“Excuse me?” cut in Locomotion indignantly. “That 'thing' is our new changeling friend Hornette – emphasis on new, so you be nice to her.”

Pound didn't answer; he just continued to glower at the young insectoid, even as his mother shot him a scolding glance of her own. Pumpkin, on the other hoof, gazed upon the new arrival with great fascination. “Wow!” she gushed. “A real live changeling! I'd always wanted to meet one of them!”

“Pumpkin, are you nuts?!” burst out Pound, visibly mortified. “This is a changeling we're talking about, not an Applewood celebrity!”

“What's wrong with that?” quizzed Pumpkin, offended.

“Hello? Changelings feed on love! They're out to take over the world! They want to...”

“What?! No!” objected Hornette frantically. “I'm not here for any of that!”

“Sure you aren't, and we've got parasprites in our backyard(!) You can't fool...”

“That's enough, Pound!” Despite his own uncertainties about Hornette, even Mr Cake wasn't about to stand any nonsense from his son. “You heard what Loco said – be nice!”

“But Dad...”

Locomotion snorted crossly. Pound Cake could be a real handful at times, but this was ridiculous. “Pound,” he interrupted firmly, “would you care to answer me one very simple question?” and without the slightest change of expression, he pointed a stern hoof at the cream colt and began strutting towards him, chanting reproachfully;


Who are you a-shoving of?
Who d'you think you be?
Who are you a-shoving of?
Can't you leave her be...?


Pound backed away, cringing uncomfortably. Surfie only smiled and shook her head in amusement; but Hornette was so taken by surprise that she couldn't avoid bursting into laughter. “What...?!” she spluttered through her giggling fit.

“Alright, Loco,” cut in Mrs Cake, trying to keep a straight face herself, “I think Pound gets the message.”

“I should darn well hope so,” said Locomotion, ceasing his musical barrage, but still eyeing Pound pointedly, “'cause there's way more coming should I hear another bad word about Hornette.”

“Yeah, you tell him!” agreed Pumpkin cheekily.

“Ah, leave him alone, Loco,” soothed Twilight. “It's not worth having a go at him.”

With an awkward grin, but also a feeling of satisfaction that his point had been driven across, Locomotion turned and sat himself down next to the lavender-coated alicorn. “Sorry, Twilight. Guess I just couldn't help myself there.”

Surfie chuckled and winked at the still tittering Hornette. “Yeah, my big brother can be more than a little random sometimes. You get used to it,” she whispered as they took their own seats.

“So,” went on Twilight, “I see Hornette has already met Surfie?”

“Yeah, just as we were on our way down here,” explained Locomotion. “Only downside is,” he added darkly, “she also had the displeasure of bumping into Diesel.”

Twilight frowned. “You had another run-in with him?”

“Yes, about twenty minutes ago. He said he was just out for a stroll, but the way he was trying to get my goat – ugh, I can't believe that!” The red-furred unicorn shuddered in disgust.

“He was having a go at Hornette and getting on my nerves about Loco,” put in Surfie grimly. “If he hadn't mentioned that you were on his side, Diesel would probably still be in our hair even now.” Her brow furrowed; “Weird thing is, as soon as Loco said your name, he just...left. He didn't even try to challenge us.”

“Why worry?” insisted Locomotion. “He can't touch us as long as the Friendship Council are on his trail.”

“I wouldn't be too sure about that, Loco,” said Twilight gravely. “He seems to be buying into your alibi a little too easily for my liking.”

Locomotion opened his mouth to reply, but quickly shut it again as he realised what Twilight was implying. Suddenly, he didn't feel so reassured. “You think I might have told him a bit too much?”

“Quite possibly. I mean, just think – a mysterious Pegasus turns up in Ponyville. Nopony knows a thing about him, yet he knows practically everything about a simple young railway worker and his changeling companion. If he's already gone to such great lengths to filch information on you and Hornette, he'll probably stop at nothing.”

Locomotion nodded grimly in reply; but was soon distracted from his woes again as Mrs Cake came out with their orders, along with a cream horn and a strawberry milkshake for Hornette. Good thing she had been preoccupied the whole time, he thought thankfully, what with Pumpkin being so full of questions.

“Anyway,” finished Twilight, “we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. How have you been getting on, Surfie?”

The pink filly smiled sadly and cocked her head. “So-so,” she replied, “apart from that forest fire destroying the campsite. And I was so looking forward to Camp Everfree too.”

“Never mind,” counselled Twilight. “There's always next year.”

“Yeah...I suppose so. But oh well,” mused Surfie half-heartedly, trying to perk up, “at least that means I can get everything ready for my birthday with Pinkie...when she gets back.”

“You called?”

Almost on cue, a bright pink face seemed to jump out at them from the middle of the table, startling the three ponies and giving Hornette such a fright that she yelped in alarm and lurched back in her chair. Luckily, Locomotion only just managed to grab hold of her before she overbalanced. Still overtaken by shock, he glared at the space between her and Surfie. “What the flabberwocky?!?” he burst out indignantly.

“Pinkie, can you not?” chided Twilight sternly. Slowly gathering her awareness, Hornette followed her gaze to find the practical joker examining her with an innocent look of curiosity. Her bright blue eyes bore an energetic glint, almost mischievous, and her Cutie Mark consisted of three strange blue and yellow objects that looked to the young changeling like blobs at the end of a length of string.

The pink mare giggled in a squeaky voice. “Sorry, Twilight,” she apologised brightly. “Couldn't help myself just then – I heard somepony say my name, and BAM! Here I am!”

Locomotion sighed heavily and looked wearily at his hooves – only to lock up as he realised Hornette was still in his arms! Both pony and changeling promptly sat up again, blushing madly.

“And there's something else as well – I've been getting a new Pinkie Sense combo lately,” continued Pinkie Pie, raising a foreleg. “My knee's been getting all pinchy, but there's an itch round the back of my ear too. You know what that means?”

“What?”

“It means there's a really scary-looking creature around here who's a lot friendlier than she looks.” Pinkie Pie swung around and assumed a wary, analytical glower; “I'm looking at you, Hornette!”

“No need to be so aggressive, Pinkie,” objected Surfie, taken by surprise. “She's not...”

“Now, now, Surfie,” interrupted Pinkie Pie in a deceptively calm yet slightly patronising tone, “you'll get your say in a minute.” She turned her attention back to Hornette, resuming her mask of apprehension and ignoring the sulky pout on Surfie's face. “So,” she demanded accusingly, “care to explain yourself?”

“I can answer for her character,” began Locomotion. “She's here because...”

“LET THE CHANGELING SPEAK FOR HERSELF!!” Pinkie Pie practically bellowed, almost deafening him.

Hornette winced in discomfort, silently wishing for the ground to open up and swallow her. “I didn't mean any harm, honest,” she whimpered. “I only came here to start a new life...somewhere...where I don't have to steal other beings' love.”

Pinkie Pie's eyes narrowed dubiously, and the young insectoid began to fear for her life – but only for a moment, for the pink mare's face suddenly broke out into a broad, bubbly grin as she announced gleefully, “Then welcome to Ponyville! You are so gonna love it here, Hornette – this is like one of the friendliest towns in Equestria ever...”

Flustered, Hornette turned and gave Locomotion a questioning look as the pink party pony continued to talk at a mile a minute. Locomotion only sighed and shook his head; “And there was I thinking she was on the offensive,” he muttered to Surfie. “I don't think I'll ever understand Pinkie Pie.”

“I don't think any of us will,” sympathised Surfie. “Never mind,” she went on, “at least she's taken to Hornette pretty well.”

An exaggerated gasp caught their attention as Pinkie Pie's face lit up. “I've just realised something, Hornette!” she chattered excitedly. “I've never seen you before; and if I've never seen you before, that means you're new to here; and if you're new to here, then you know what this calls for?”

“NO!!!” burst out Twilight and Locomotion abruptly.

“What do you mean 'no'?!” exclaimed Pinkie Pie, confused. “I was only gonna suggest that she have...”

“We know full well what you were about to suggest, Pinkie,” interrupted Twilight firmly, “and I'm sorry, but it'll have to wait a while. Just as you said, Hornette's still new to Ponyville; therefore, she still needs time to find her hooves here, and the last thing she needs is to be overcrowded.”

“WHAT?!” Pinkie Pie was mortified. “But...but I have to throw her a Welcome Party, Twilight! I HAVE to! It's the law!”

“Technically, Pinkie, I am the law, and I say no!”

“Yeah, but you're not Hornette, are you now?” retorted Pinkie. “How do you know she doesn't want one?”

But Locomotion could see that Hornette was becoming too freaked out to offer her own opinion, and was quick to defend her. “Pinkie,” he said with a severe tone of finality, “I speak for Hornette, and Hornette says 'maybe later'!”

Pinkie Pie opened her mouth to argue further, but was greeted by hard stares from Locomotion and Twilight, along with a more plaintive one from Hornette. “Oh, alright then,” she conceded huffily; “but you gotta Pinkie Promise that you'll take me up on that party offer!”

“No, Pinkie, she does not have to Pinkie Promise anything!” ordered Twilight, her patience wearing thin. “It's her Welcome Party, therefore it's her decision whether she has one or not!”

“And who is gonna plan it for her?!”

“Pinkie, we've all seen what you're like when someone breaks a Pinkie Promise, and Hornette doesn't need that kind of stress in her life right now!!”

Surfie and Locomotion exchanged weary glances of dismay as a noisy argument broke out between the two mares. “I don't know,” sighed Surfie.

Locomotion nodded gravely and turned to gaze at an imaginary camera, pointing towards Pinkie Pie and Twilight as he spoke; “Sad fact of the matter is, fillies and gentlecolts,” he announced to the world in general, “I have to work with these two.”

Almost at once, Pinkie Pie spun around and pressed her face right up against Locomotion's. “HEY! NO FOURTH WALL BREAKING! THAT'S MY JOB!”

“Oh, don't be so greedy, Pinkie!” reproached Locomotion with a slight smirk. “The universe doesn't just revolve around you, you know!”

“I don't care!” snapped Pinkie Pie. “I'm the only one who's allowed to break the fourth wall and do all sorts of cartoon gags and all that stuff! You're just a bumped-up fan character!”

“Oh yeah? Well, I'll be the best 'fan character' to hit the railfan community!” Locomotion shot back facetiously, causing Surfie to burst into laughter. Twilight allowed herself a weak chuckle of her own; but Hornette looked completely baffled.

“Fourth wall? What in the world are they talking about?!” she wondered.

“It's a theatrical term for an imaginary wall between the actors and the audience,” clarified Surfie, pulling herself together. “Pinkie likes to pretend we're some sort of cartoon a lot of the time, and it's kinda rubbed off on Loco a bit.”

“I wouldn't pay it any attention,” put in Twilight before Hornette could even begin to question her own existence. “It's just Pinkie being her usual random self. Even I don't fully understand her, and I've kinda learned to live with it.”

Hornette only nodded thoughtfully in reply.

“Tell you what, Pinkie,” offered Locomotion at last, “if you can Pinkie Promise to wait until Hornette feels ready for a Welcome Party – if she ever does – I'll get Vinyl to give you a spot on the Radio PON-3 Chat Show,” directing a coy wink to Twilight as he spoke. “Sound good?”

Pinkie Pie raised a hoof to her chin and fell silent for a moment. “Well...okay then,” she conceded reluctantly, “but only if I'm paid – in coconuts.”

A round of chuckles greeted this. “Sure, Pinkie,” muttered Locomotion, stifling his own scoff of amusement, “whatever you say.”

“Anyways,” finished Pinkie Pie, “if I can't throw her a party, I might as well do the next best thing...”

“If by that you mean the Welcome Wagon...” began Twilight.

“Not that, silly!” said Pinkie Pie smugly. “I was just gonna go do some baking.” Instantly changing her tune once again, this time to a much friendlier and more generous one, she turned back to Hornette; “Wanna help?”

Hornette blinked. “Who, me?”

“Yes, you!”

“But...but I don't know a thing about baking,” protested Hornette pathetically.

Pinkie Pie giggled. “That's the point, you silly filly – I'm offering to teach you!”

“Hmm...” Locomotion pondered for a moment. “...that's not such a bad idea. Any chance I could join in?” he ventured.

“And me,” chimed in Surfie. “We do need to talk about my birthday, after all.”

“Okey-dokey-lokey!” agreed Pinkie Pie, and bounded merrily away to ask if they could borrow the kitchen.

After some discussion, Mr and Mrs Cake agreed to her plan, and Pinkie Pie began gathering baking trays and ingredients for their baking session, while Twilight and the others stood to one side. Hornette, still full of self-doubt, could only watch in disbelief as the pink mare whizzed back and forth at unbelievable speeds.

“Gosh,” she murmured, almost in a daze, “that Pinkie Pie can fairly move. How on Earth does she do that?”

“Honestly, Hornette,” confided Locomotion quietly, “I don't think we'll ever know the answer to that one. Heck knows, Twilight had a hard enough time trying to work out the secret of her Pinkie Sense.”

“Better to just pretend you understand and leave it at that,” put in Surfie.

Before Hornette could reply, she was cut off by an exaggerated gasp as Pinkie Pie pulled her head out of one of the cupboards. Raising an eyebrow, Twilight piped up; “Something the matter, Pinkie?”

“It's terrible! TERRIBLE!!” wailed Pinkie Pie despairingly. “We were supposed to be making some more muffins, which is why Mrs Cake asked me to go get some fruit and chocolate chips with which to make them, but I was so worked up about seeing Hornette that I got the nuts, but not the other ingredient I needed for some of the muffins...and YES! WE HAVE NO BANANAS!” She collapsed into a sobbing heap on the floor. “We have no bananas today!”

“Well...that's okay,” answered Twilight awkwardly, trying to diffuse the situation. “Just stick to a different variety for now. At least you've got the chocolate chips.”

“Yeah, but I've still got a whole batch of nuts just sitting around doing 'nutting'!” complained Pinkie Pie hysterically. “What am I supposed to do with them if I can't use them in muffins?”

“What about that honey nut cupcake recipe you thought up?” suggested Surfie helpfully.

“I don't even have the honey for that! Nopony mentioned anything about honey!”

This gave Locomotion an idea. He whispered something to Hornette, whose eyes lit up as she nodded her consent. “Say, Twilight,” he remarked, “you know those lab tests you said you were doing?”

“Lab tests?” Twilight looked confused for a moment – but quickly realised; “Oh, those lab tests! Yes, I've given my jarful a thorough check; it should be more than fit for equine consumption. Why do you ask?”

“Because we're gonna need flowers – lots and lots of flowers.” Locomotion winked and cocked his head towards the planters on the window sill. Taking the hint, Hornette opened up the window, carefully drifted through it, touched down in front of the planters, and set to work.

Surfie raised a perplexed eyebrow. “I don't get it.”

“You will – soon enough,” smiled Locomotion knowingly. Already he could see the dull yellow sheen on Hornette's horn growing more and more noticeable with every flower until, after barely a few minutes, it was almost dripping with nectar. The young changeling set her horn glowing again, and both Surfie and Pinkie Pie watched in amazement as the nectar began to change in colour and consistency. As she was doing so, Locomotion found an empty jar and levitated it over to her, winking once again. “You don't need bees when you've got a Hornette,” he quipped to his sister.

It took a while for Surfie to realise what he was talking about; but when at last she did, her jaw dropped open with bewilderment. “Wait a minute – is that what I think it is?”

“Yep – that, sis, is genuine changeling honey in the making!” proclaimed Locomotion, and told her and Pinkie Pie all about Hornette's experiment on Steamer's daffodils.

“Wow!” admired Surfie. “That's well clever, Hornette. You ought to be proud of yourself.”

“Oh,” said Hornette bashfully, a heavy blush on her cheeks, “you're too kind.”

Pinkie Pie dipped a hoof into the jar and took a cautious lick. Her eyes goggled as the taste of the honey registered on the tip of her tongue, and without warning, she flung her arms around Hornette and hugged her tight. “Hornette, you clever little angel in disguise!” she screeched with delight. “I was hoping for a miracle, and now I find I'm getting something WAY BETTER!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!”

“Uh...you're welcome, I'm sure,” interrupted Twilight wryly, “but I think you've traumatised Hornette enough, Pinkie. Could we maybe get started with the baking?”

“Oops...sorry.”

“Um...no trouble at all...I guess?” Hornette didn't know whether to feel proud, humble or flustered; but after helping somepony out of a bad situation, she couldn't stay freaked out for long. In fact, over the top though Pinkie Pie may have been, she was beginning to like this crazy party animal. “So where do I start then?”

Pinkie Pie's eyes lit up once again. She had been looking forward to this all morning, and jovially guided Hornette through the recipe;


All you have to do is take a cup of flour,
Add it to the mix;
Now just take a little something sweet, not sour;
A bit of salt – just a pinch.


Baking these treats is such a cinch!
Add a teaspoon of vanilla;
Add a little more, and you count to four,
And you never get your fill of...


Cupcakes! So sweet and tasty!
Cupcakes! Don't be too hasty!
Cupcakes! Cupcakes, cupcakes, CUPCAKES!"


Understandably for a beginner, Hornette didn't find her baking lessons quite as easy as Pinkie Pie had made them out to be, but she still enjoyed herself. The first batch turned out to be more like caramelised rock cakes than cupcakes, but Pinkie Pie just laughed and reassured her that the recipe was still far from perfect anyway. Not that it really mattered, of course – Hornette was so pleased to have done her a good turn that she couldn't possibly feel disappointed in herself.

Their baking session continued until early afternoon, by which time Surfie had also finalised her birthday party plans with Pinkie Pie and the Cakes. Hornette was starting to feel a little tired by then, so she and Locomotion decided to take their leave.

“Thank you for letting me help out around here,” she said to Pinkie Pie before they left.

“No problemo, Hornette!” beamed Pinkie Pie. “Always happy to make new friends – and I hope you settle in well.” She turned her attention to Twilight; “Do I get a coconut?” she asked innocently.

Twilight rolled her eyes, but humoured her nonetheless. “As long as you can keep your promise, Pinkie, I'll buy you all the coconuts you can eat.”

“Drink!”

“Drink?” repeated Twilight, Hornette, Locomotion and Surfie, one after the other.

“Drink!” affirmed Pinkie Pie, and bounced away back to the kitchen before any of them could answer.

Hornette was so taken aback that she could only stare in her general direction. “What...how do you drink nuts?” she wondered aloud.

“Well...technically, coconuts are actually fruits,” explained Surfie. “Basically just a tough, hollow shell with water in them. It makes a really nice drink, and the 'meat' is really good for exotic cuisine and stuff.”

The young changeling shook her head in confusion, but said nothing. She was overloaded enough with Pinkie Pie's random behaviour, but coconuts?! Hollow shells full of meat and water – classified as fruits? That was just too much for her to take in. Fortunately, she didn't have to dwell on it for very long; seeing the befuddled expression on her face, Locomotion tactfully cut in. “Uh...probably best to move on before Hornette starts thinking crackers are animals,” he advised wryly.

Author's Note:

The song that Locomotion sings in reproach towards Pound Cake is based on a George Formby music hall song from World War Two - and you can probably guess the name from the lyrics!

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