• Published 4th Apr 2019
  • 734 Views, 47 Comments

Errors - The Cloptimist

Three unlikely heroines are accidentally sent halfway across the world. How will they get home?

  • ...

What Went Wrong

"...and remember, a vote for Filthy is a vote for you, and the town, to get RICH! So, on election day, you all be sure to vote Filthy Rich for Comptroller! Thank you very much!"

The crowd of ponies stomped their hooves in appreciation as Filthy finished his speech, mopping the sweat from his brow as he held his other hoof aloft in a victory pose, taking in the applause. The polls had him more than 20 points ahead of his rival already, and after this little performance, that was only going to get better.

Behind the throng of cheering supporters, a group of bored schoolponies perked up their ears, hoping this was the end and they could go back to class now.

"Is this the end?", asked Rumble. "Can we go back to class now?"

Cheerilee, facing away from her students, surreptitiously rolled her eyes before turning around and giving a good-natured smile.

"Not yet, my little ponies," she said, as cheerfully as she could muster. "We have one more announcement from Mister Rich, about an exciting... uh..."

She checked her notes, flipping over the page and dying a little inside when she saw the last item listed for the day.

"...a factfinding mission, and goodwill expedition to Maretonia," she read aloud, "to advertise Ponyville's trade goods across the other side of the world! Isn't that..."

Her voice tailed off as she saw that none of the fillies and colts in her class were even listening to her any more.

"...exciting," she finished, before giving up and looking back towards the makeshift stage.

"And how did you manage to get all these ponies on board with your plans?", asked the reporter pony, floating her quill and notebook in front of her as she waited for a reply.

Filthy Rich smiled, and opened his mouth to answer, before Starlight Glimmer cut him off.

"We wouldn't usually get involved in politics," said Starlight, as the reporter shook her head for a moment before frantically taking down what she said. "But this election is different. As you know, it's a new position, after Princess Celestia decided somepony with business expertise could help Mayor Mare balance the books, to take some of the workload off of her. So, it's not like the mayoral elections, where there's an incumbent who's so beloved by the electorate. And we all thought Filthy Rich was the right pony for the job, so we're happy to support him, even if some of us might believe that an even better idea might be, oh, I don't know, for the workers themselves to control the means of production, and..."

The reporter's quill scratched furiously on the pad as she transcribed her comments, and Filthy took the opportunity to jump in and give a quote of his own.

"It's an honor, of course, to get endorsements from so many prominent Ponyville ponies", he said, cutting Starlight off with an easy, practiced smile, and placing a firm forehoof around the journalist's shoulder, gently guiding her away. "It's well known that I have connections across the board, including among the elite of Equestria. But I like to think that these endorsements I've gotten, from ponies whose opinions I do respect so very much, are a reflection of how my policies, and my plans for increasing our budgetary surplus, have cut across party lines to make me the true consensus candidate..."

Starlight watched as Filthy walked the journalist over to his crowd of hoof-picked supporters, and shook her head before climbing back up onto the stage.

"Are you sure we're doing the right thing?", she asked the two other ponies lined up next to her.

"Ah believe so," said Applejack, buffing an apple against her coat and then holding it up close to her eye, inspecting it closely before gently placing it in a crate filled with similarly shiny, similarly perfect apples. "We've been doin' business with Mister Rich an' his family for generations now, and he ain't never steered us wrong. An' we all talked it over, and ah agreed to go on this here goodwill mission to Maretonia to show off our apples and zap apple jam to new customers in a whole 'nother land. We all reckon it's too good an opportunity to pass up, even if it means puttin' our family name next to Filthy's, when ah don't rightly like givin' the smell of us messin' in politics. A deal's a deal," she huffed, before nodding at Starlight. "So, uh, in short... yeah. Ah do believe this will be good for everypony."

Starlight bit her lip and nodded uncertainly. "And what about you," she asked, craning her neck as the pegasus stretched her wings and began to hover a couple of feet above the stage, lazily flapping, the breeze ruffling Starlight's mane. "Do you think we're doing the right thing?"

"The idea is to show off how awesome Ponyville is, right?", said Rainbow Dash, suppressing a yawn. "We're gonna send a unicorn, an earth pony, and a pegasus, to show off how all the different types of ponies live here in harmony and whatever. And they already picked the unicorn who's most awesome at magic..."

Starlight blushed a little, and Rainbow gave a chuckle.

"...which is you, Starlight, seeing as how Princess Twilight refuses to get involved, and anyway she's an alicorn, so..."

Starlight's blush disappeared, and her eyes narrowed slightly. Rainbow gave another chuckle.

"...And they've got the most awesome earth pony Ponyville has to offer, right, Applejack?"

The farmpony blushed harder than Starlight, and pulled her hat down over her eyes. "Aw, shucks, Rainbow, don't go blowin' smoke like that now, y'all are like to make me embarrassed or somethin'...", she muttered.

"...And so, well, I don't wanna brag, 'cause, y'know, humble, but when they were looking for the most awesome pegasus in Ponyville, who else were they gonna pick?", smirked Rainbow.

"Rainbow...", said Applejack, in a low, warning growl. "Don't go gettin' conceited now..."

"What?" said Rainbow, mock-offended. "It's not conceited if it's just... true!"

Applejack looked at her, slowly raising an eyebrow, and Rainbow held her gaze for a moment before looking down at the ground with a sheepish expression.

"I'll behave, alright?", said Rainbow, before looking up at her two companions. "I'm kinda looking forward to seeing Maretonia with my own eyes, anyway. You just need to worry about looking after your apples and stuff, and getting your spells right."

"That should be easy," said Starlight, with a grin. "The translation spell is really simple, even with three of us, so although most ponies in Maretonia - even in the ducal court - won't speak Ponish on their own, once I cast the spell it'll seem like we're talking in Maretonian instead, and we'll be able to understand what they're saying too. Filthy Rich really wanted us to show off that spell - it's one of the reasons he wanted a unicorn to go on the trip."

"...And the other spell?", asked Rainbow.

"...Is the other reason he wanted a unicorn," smirked Starlight. "The teleportation spell is pretty advanced magic, if I say so myself. You normally need a lot of power to transport anything that far, safely, never mind three living ponies. But I've been studying this for weeks, and I found that if you combined the standard long-distance teleportation spell with Mistmane's Cælum Novum... it takes a bit out of you, but we've tested it over and over again, going back and forth to the Crystal Empire, and you can safely send ponies over long distances, without turning them inside out, or sending them to Tartarus. You just need a few days between castings to recover!"

Starlight beamed, feeling proud of her achievement.

"...Wait up, 'turning them inside out'?", asked Applejack, alarmed.

"Nothing!", grinned Starlight. "It's perfectly safe."

"...Are you sure about this?", asked Rainbow, skeptically.

"Hey, look! I think Filthy's about to make his announcement to the crowd. Best get ready!", said Starlight, a little too breezily, as she trotted over to take her place next to the rostrum.

Applejack and Rainbow shared a look.

"Princess Egghead wouldn't let us do this if it wasn't safe, AJ," said Rainbow, with a shrug. "Starlight and her have tested this soooo many times now, and they both look fine to me. No inside-out ponies in the castle."

Applejack thought to herself for a moment, and nodded her head before taking hold of her crate of apples and trotting over to line up next to Starlight.

"...and we wish them all the very best Ponyville luck on their historic mission, organised and paid for, of course, by yours truly, and the Campaign for Filthy Rich for Comptroller!", drawled Filthy, bringing forth another round of enthusiastic stomping and cheering from the crowd.

Diamond Tiara looked up from her place right in front of the stage, gazing adoringly at her father as he worked the crowd. Behind her, Scootaloo and Apple Bloom shared a look of concern.

"Are you sure they're gonna be, y'know... safe?", murmured Apple Bloom.

"Yeah," Scootaloo chimed in. "I know how amazing Rainbow Dash is, and how many times she's fought demons, but... Maretonia is, like, soooo far away."

"And hot," added Sweetie Belle, appearing behind her fellow Crusaders. "I hope they're taking lots of water with them."

"You need to relax," said Diamond Tiara with a grin. "My father has this totally under control. Starlight has been practising the spell for so long now, she can practically do it with one hoof tied behind her back. Princess Twilight let her teleport her to the Crystal Empire, and Princess Cadance let her teleport her back. It's all going to be just fine, and then my daddy is sure to win this election. Just wait and see."

"Ah guess," said Apple Bloom, and her friends nodded to her. "Ah'm just glad to be here to wave Applejack off."

"...And to hear my father's amazing plans for this town once he becomes Comptroller, right?", asked Diamond, looking up at the colorful banners and bunting that decorated the stage.

"...Yeah. Totally. That," said the Crusaders, with varying degrees of believability.

"Stand back!", came an announcement from above; "this magic is extremely dangerous, and so we ask you all to please, stand well clear of the stage!"

Diamond looked around for the speaker before seeing Trixie prancing theatrically across the stage. She was dressed in her usual magician's outfit, with her Equestrian Pink Heart of Courage pinned proudly to the front; a vote winner for the veterans, thought Diamond, as she bristled at Trixie's antics.

"Trixie!", hissed Starlight, under her breath. "Stop scaring everypony! The magic isn't dangerous at all. I've practiced it, like, a thousand times. You're only meant to set off some fireworks after we're gone!"

"Stage banter!" whispered Trixie, with a wink. "No self-respecting magician would pass up the opportunity to work the crowd a little more! It'll make it all the more... impressive when it goes perfectly right."

Starlight smiled at her friend. "Thanks, Trix," she said, blushing.

"I'll see you when you get back, OK?", smiled Trixie, and Starlight thought she saw a blush on her best friend's face too.

At the back of the crowd, the school ponies were thoroughly bored, and even the mission's impending departure hadn't sparked their interest after a long day of listening to boring speeches. Snips was idly hoofing a buckball into the air, and Snails was catching it in a barrel, usually without even bothering to look up. Cheerilee had asked them to stop it, but after the first dozen times, she'd given up trying to force them to be interested, and let them play instead.

"...Mandatory field trip", she read from her notes, "to forge a sense of wonder and excitement about the world of local government and pony politics... magic of democracy in action... tomorrow's civil servants..."

She scrunched the notes up with her mouth, and spat the ball of paper on the floor.

"I'm not doing this again," she thought to herself.

Derpy circled around above the stage, humming happily to herself. The bunting she'd hung was still in place, even if it wasn't in the right colors, and all those rosettes and posters looked so pretty fluttering in the breeze. Rainbow had entrusted her with keeping the clouds away, and she'd been patrolling around in a lazy circle for hours now making sure there weren't any clouds anywhere to be seen. She was doing a good job! And there was Mister Rich up on stage, and he looked very handsome, and there was Rainbow Dash, who must be seeing what a good job she was doing, and Applejack, who was always so nice to her, and Starlight, who never got cross when she delivered the wrong letters, or crashed into her windows. It was so nice, to live in a nice town, and to have nice friends!

Oh, and there was Trixie, too. Derpy frowned a little, but then smiled as she remembered what a good job she was doing. And Trixie must be a nice pony, because Starlight said she was, and Rarity said she was, and Princess Celestia had always told her that even ponies who were mean to her were only waiting to see what a good friend she could really be, and so maybe soon she would show Trixie what a nice friend she could be, too!

Was that a cloud...? No, no, just a white pegasus pony. A big, white pegasus pony. Very big, really. Struggling to fly on those tiny little wings. Flying towards the gathering. Flying towards her. Flying straight towards her.

She flapped, hovering on the spot, transfixed as Bulk Biceps flew unsteadily towards her; he had his tongue out, his brow was furrowed, he was concentrating so hard on staying in the air, and he was so busy looking at what was going on down on the ground, gawping as Starlight took her position, lighting up her horn for the big spell, that he wasn't watching where he was going...

A series of lightning-fast calculations shot through Derpy's mind, as she worked out how best to take evasive action and the optimal angles for diverting Bulk away from the ceremony and towards a safe, soft landing, lists of angles and trajectories flitting past her eyes, filing a flight plan in her brain even if she had no idea what her subconscious was doing.

In the blink of an eye, Derpy had her new course locked in, and she angled her body, preparing to intercept Bulk and guide him safely down.

A big red ball smacked her in the face, sending her spiraling down towards the stage.

She saw Trixie trying to bolt out of the way, her terrified face zooming in at alarming speed.

As the world spun, she saw four fillies, right in front of the stage, trying to gallop backwards and out of the way.

She realised she wasn't going to be able to pull up in time.

She saw Trixie's eyes wide in terror, watched her horn lighting up.

She smashed into Trixie, knocking her straight into Starlight Glimmer.

There was a horrible bang, followed by a horrible whistling noise.

Everything went purple.

Filthy Rich picked himself up, coughing and dusting himself off, before his eyes went wide in shock at the scene in front of him.

Rainbow Dash lay crumpled against a post, shaking her head. Applejack was splattered with apple mush, the remains of her destroyed crate. Starlight Glimmer lay unconscious on the ground, her horn flickering and fizzling with bright turquoise sparks. The wooden surface of the stage was blackened from the explosion, as was the grass directly in front, where the Cutie Mark Crusaders lay shielded behind a dazed Bulk Biceps, sitting in the crater where he'd apparenly crash landed.

There was no sign of Trixie.
There was no sign of Derpy.
There was no sign of Diamond Tiara.

Almost in slow motion, Filthy Rich saw Princess Twilight swooping down to the stage, scanning the crowd for injuries. He ran towards her, automatically, and reached out a hoof to grab her.

"...Princess!", he gasped, choking down gulps of air. "What happened? Princess, where's my daughter?"