• Published 5th Aug 2019
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My Little Pony Friendship is Magic What If?: Volume 9 - SuperPinkBrony12

The ninth installment of a What If series that involves the rewriting of episodes. This one covers two Season 2 episodes, one from Season 4 as well as 6 and 7, and five from Season 8. (Warning!: Rewrites based on personal opinion. Please respect it!)

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S2 E23: Ponyville Confidential (What If?)

The ringing of the bell signaled the end of yet another day of school at the one room schoolhouse in Ponyville. Lots of excited ponies were rushing out the door, eager to see the newest member of their class to obtain their cutie mark. A pegasus colt with tiny wings named Featherweight.

Featherweight had a light yellowish gray coat, eyes a lovely moderate orange in color, a brown mane and tail with a lighter streak in the middle, and most noticeably of all a cutie mark depicting a feather (supposedly it indicated his talent as a writer).

"Hey, nice cutie mark you got there!" Snips happily exclaimed.

"Looking good, buddy!" Snails added in encouragement. And several other school aged ponies said similar things as Featherweight basked in their praise.

Not everypony was satisfied with this development though. For two particular not cutie marked ponies, Featherweight's new cutie mark was not a source of great joy for them. In fact, it only served to remind them that they were now among the only members of their class who still didn't have those symbols yet.

Sweetie Belle observed the whole thing with her light green eyes and sighed, looking across to Scootaloo. "Can you believe it? Featherweight of all ponies got his cutie mark. Featherweight, before us!"

"And he can fly too, which is just great," Scootaloo sarcastically remarked. "I'm so sick of being a late bloomer!"

Sweetie Belle tried to reassure her pegasus friend. "Hey, I'm sure you'll be flying circles around Featherweight before long. I can't even do magic, and my sister won't let me take lessons."

Scootaloo just sighed. "You know, I'm starting to wonder if we're ever going to get our cutie marks. We've been at it for what, half a year now? Maybe a year? We've tried everything and no cutie mark. I'm starting to run out of ideas."

"Same here." Sweetie remarked in an unhappy tone of voice.

But at that moment, Apple Bloom came trotting eagerly out of the schoolhouse with a bright grin on her face and a piece of paper clutched in her hooves. She tossed it to her friends as she proudly declared. "I got it, Crusaders! The answer to all our problems!"

Sweetie and Scootaloo eyed the paper that been tossed to them, a quick glance across the top revealed the words: The Foal Free Press. "That's the school newspaper, Apple Bloom," Sweetie Belle commented in confusion. "How's that supposed to help us?"

"Well you see-" Apple Bloom began.

But just then, the familiar voice of Applejack called out. "Hey, Apple Bloom! Get a move on, will ya?! We ain't got all day!"

Apple Bloom frantically called. "Comin', Applejack!" And then she said to her friends. "No time to explain, just meet me in the clubhouse later and bring the paper." Then she left to meet up with her big sister.

Her fellow Crusaders eyed the paper quite curiously, wondering what their friend had meant when she said the school paper was the answer to their problems. "Maybe we're supposed to do something with it?" Scootaloo wondered aloud.

Sweetie shrugged her hooves. "Can't hurt to try. Come on!"

The two fillies set off with the paper in tow, and they tried as many different activities as they could think of with it. Paper mache, recycling, bird nesting (in which the scraps of paper served as a make-shift bird's nest), even paper hats and a paper boat (which they rode on down a river). But in each activity they checked their flanks only to end up disappointed, no cutie marks appeared.

Frustrated, the fillies marched up to the clubhouse at Sweet Apple Acres to vent their frustrations with Apple Bloom. They were covered in mud and scraps of paper that clung to their wet manes. "Apple Bloom, your newspaper idea was nothing but a big bust!" Sweetie Belle complained. "We did everything we could possibly do with it, and no cutie marks. So, you got any other bright ideas we should know about?"

Apple Bloom was silent for but a moment before she threw back her head and laughed. "Oh girls, you're so silly sometimes," After she had regained her composure she explained. "I meant we should write for the school paper as journalists, we could get our cutie marks in journalism." But what Apple Bloom couldn't have suspected at the time, was that her idea for cutie marks was going to set off a chain of events that would put the school paper's reputation in danger, and rile up the entire town of Ponyville.

The very next day the CMC stayed after class, remaining in the classroom as Cheerilee dismissed the last of her students and then shut the door. "Now then, I assume you're all here to apply for the school newspaper: The Foal Free Press. But the first order of business will be to introduce you all to your editor in chief."

Sweetie Belle immediately shot up a hoof and shouted over and over again. Cheerilee noticed the display in an instant. "Yes, Sweetie Belle?"

"Uh, what's an editor in chief? And what does it do, exactly?" Sweetie Belle questioned.

The teacher flashed a smile. "That's a good question, Sweetie Belle. I like those reporter instincts, it shows you're thinking!" And she proceeded to explain. "Although I am currently presiding over this meeting of the school paper, I don't actually wield any kind of real authority, except for emergencies. The editor in chief is head of the entire paper and is in charge of every aspect of it: From determining what gets printed, to making sure the paper hits the stand on time."

The rest of the colts and fillies all nodded their heads in agreement, but said nothing else.

Cheerilee continued. "Now, as I was saying: Our previous editor in chief graduated last year. So it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you all the new editor in chief, Diamond Tiara!"

As if on cue the classroom door swung open, and the familiar magenta coated filly trotted in with a rather smug look upon her face. "Thank you, Miss. Cheerilee for your wonderful introduction. Couldn't have done a better job myself."

Several students let out a groan, they were not pleased to see Diamond Tiara at all. By now the rich filly had a rather... infamous reputation for causing trouble and picking on others.

Cheerilee moved quickly to dispel any tensions lingering in the air. "Yes, yes, I know Diamond Tiara can be... difficult," Her pause did not go unnoticed by the students. "But I assure you she's highly skilled and can be an effective leader. So I trust you will all do your best to get along with her." In her mind however she was thinking. "If only her mother didn't hold so much sway over the school board. If not for her insistence, I would never put a pony like Diamond Tiara in charge of anything."

"Thank you for that, Miss. Cheerilee," Diamond said with a bright smile. "If anypony wants to leave now, I won't blame them. I know I don't have the best reputation. But I believe that if we can come to an understanding, we can all make this school newspaper something truly wonderful."

Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo looked across to each other and Scootaloo whispered. "We should get out of here, now. No way am I working for that stuck up, rich filly!"

"My thoughts exactly." Sweetie Belle whispered in agreement.

But Apple Bloom whispered back. "This may be our best chance to get our cutie marks. And if we do, isn't it worth puttin' up with a little bit of Diamond's behavior? Who knows, maybe this won't be as bad as we think?"

Diamond didn't seem to pay the noticeable whispering any attention, she simply motioned for Cheerilee to leave. "I think everything's going to work out just fine, Miss. Cheerilee. No need to worry yourself, you can leave."

"Very well. but I'll be keeping an eye on you." Cheerilee cautioned to the rich filly and then departed the classroom.

It wasn't long after Cheerilee had left that Tiara started to assert her newfound authority. She even kicked the desk she sat at, bringing down several posters of herself. "Alright, everypony, listen up! Let's face facts, this school paper is an absolute joke! Nopony, and I mean nopony takes it seriously! But that's all about to change, I'm taking over and I'm going to make sure this paper succeeds," She gave a whistle. "Where's that photographer?"

A nervous looking Featherweight raised his hoof and stepped forward.

Tiara immediately shoved the colt out the door while telling him. "Document everything! I'll decide what's good enough!" She then turned to the other colts and fillies. "As for the rest of you, I want hard hitting news and exciting developments. No more namby-pamby stories like last year's editor."

Ruby Pinch immediately protested. "But Namby-Pamby was a great editor, probably the best we ever had."

"Well that was then and this is now!" Diamond declared. "So all of you get out there, and bring me some juicy stories! The juicer the better!"

Everypony in the room immediately rushed out, mostly so as to not have to spend another moment in the room with the rude, rich filly. Tiara didn't mind, this just gave her a chance to reflect back to what had motivated her to take up the position of editor in chief in the first place. And it wasn't just because her mother wanted her to.

The event in question that Diamond was reflecting back on took place several months prior, just after Apple Bloom had brought Granny Smith in for Family Appreciation Day in fact. Tiara had been most surprised to find her fellow rich filly was the first one to applaud when the elderly earth pony had finished her story.

"Silver Spoon, don't tell me you actually liked that crazy old coot's stories." The magenta coated filly frowned.

Silver Spoon simply folded her hooves and turned her head. "Come on, Di, they were great stories and you know it."

"She was making them up!" Tiara growled. "And I expected you to support me on that, not leave me hanging!"

"Well sorry, Di, but I'm not always going to be following in your hoofsteps. I'm tired of just being your lacky." Silver Spoon bitterly remarked.

At that Tiara blinked her cornflower blue eyes. "Silvy, don't say such silly things. You know you're not my lacky. The two of us, we're special. Gal pals forever!"

"Funny, it seems like you're always the one calling the shots when we get together," Silver commented. "Maybe it's because I did something nice for two of those blank flanks and invited them over for a sleepover. But I don't see why you have to keep picking on them. Are you really that mad that they stole the show at your cute-ceañera? Because I still had a good time."

Diamond frowned again. "Of course you'd say that, Silver Spoon. You're my oldest and bestest friend. You've stood by my side through thick and thin. I'd give anything just to not lose that."

"Really? And when was the last time you ever did anything that I wasn't a part of? You know, besides picking on those blank flanks?" Silver Spoon questioned. All she got in response was silence and she gave out a snort. "As I expected."

Frantically trying to avoid being put on the spot, Tiara insisted. "Silvy... I can totally do something without you! Something that'll make even you admit you were wrong about me!"

Silver arched an eyebrow upward. "Oh really? And that would be what, exactly?"

"W-well... I-I... uh..." Diamond started to stumble and stutter, trying frantically to think of an idea. Suddenly, looking down at the ground, it came to her. A light bulb went off inside her head and the gears in her mind began to turn. "You know The Foal Free Press, right?"

The glasses wearing filly nodded her head, noticing a discarded copy of it laying on the ground of the playground. "There's not a pony in the entire school who doesn't. What's your point?"

A rather large smile (almost sinister looking you might say) began to form on the pink coated filly's face. "I bet you that I can not only become the next editor in chief of it, but I can turn it all around. Make it into a newspaper even greater than those fancy magazines Mother always like to read."

What seemed like a frown formed upon Silver's face as she retorted. "I don't know, Diamond. My mother and father say those magazines don't have the best reputation. I hear they can be pretty sketchy and underhoofed sometimes."

"There's always at least a nugget of truth in them somewhere," Diamond thoroughly insisted. "Mother said so, and Mother is always right!" If one had looked closely they might have briefly seen her shudder.

Silver Spoon was not convinced the idea was a good one. But she knew that when her friend set her mind to something in such a way as she did know, it was almost impossible to talk the headgear wearing filly out of it. "Very well, Tiara. But if you fail, you have to admit that I'm right. You're changing, and not for the better."

"You've got yourself a deal, Silvy!" Tiara vowed.

The flashback ended and Tiara fought back a lone tear that had formed in her right eye. "Now's not the time to get sentimental. My friendship with Silver Spoon is on the line, and more importantly my family's reputation. I must not fail! I will not fail!" She mentally vowed.

Meanwhile, the CMC had departed from the classroom, eager to get started on their own ideas for what they thought would be compelling stories. "Mine's going to be an exclusive interview with Ponyville's top fashion designer." Sweetie Belle explained. It didn't take a genius to realize she meant her big sister, Rarity.

Scootaloo declared. "I saw a nest of baby birds yesterday, I'll bet our readers would eat up a story like that!"

And Apple Bloom announced. "Granny Smith's got a ton of stuff about Ponyville's olden days. I reckon I'll do a story on each of the books she's got."

They split off to pursue their respective stories, though each was not without setback. Rarity decided to use Sweetie Belle to model her new hat (which was very big and made up of feathers), Scootaloo slipped off a branch and fell into a mud puddle while trying to observe the bird's nest, and Apple Bloom found that Granny Smith was more interested in showing off old baby pictures (including one of Apple Bloom as a foal, where Winona had pulled down her diaper by accident).

Still they each got what they had come for, and delivered them to the basement printing press that The Foal Free Press operated out of. Diamond Tiara sat at her desk as they entered the room and spun around to greet them. "Oh, it's you three," She briefly, bitterly remarked before she changed her tone to a more professional and less hostile one. "Well I hope you've got some actual good stories. Because everything else that's been submitted has been garbage!"

One by one each Crusader deposited their chosen story onto Diamond's desk. The filly examined the headlines of each one, reading them aloud. "'Rarity's Hot New Hat'? 'Baby Birds Born'? 'Ponyville the Early Years'?" She made a gag face and knocked all the submitted stories aside. "Get this junk off my desk!" She jumped down a moment later and told the Crusaders quite bluntly. "I don't know what you call this, but it certainly isn't news! Not as far as I'm concerned, and since I'm editor in chief, what I say goes!" She paused and sighed. "But since I am trying to be professional, I'm going to give you three another chance. Get something else on my desk by the end of the day. And remember, it better be juicy!"

Tossed out of the basement, the three fillies found themselves in a bit of a dilemma. "Well, now what are we gonna do?" Scootaloo questioned. "Do you have any idea what I had to do to get my story?"

Apple Bloom looked rather embarrassed. "Oh, you don't even wanna know what I had to sit through to get mine! I think maybe we bit off more than we could chew with this one, Crusaders."

But Sweetie Belle wasn't listening to her friends' concerns, she was listening to the sounds of a struggle that were going on a short ways away.

"Get it off me, Snails! It's sticky!" Snips could be heard complaining.

"Eh, you get it off me, huh Snips?" Snails questioned. "This is the last time I listen to you."

Snails growled. "Hey, it's not my fault we're stuck in this mess. Now hold still, you're making it worse!"

Sweetie Belle crept closer, finding that the source of the disturbance was Snips and Snails. The two colts had somehow gotten bubblegum all over them, and were currently trying unsuccessfully to remove it. Their struggle went on and on, but they only ended up getting more and more of the gum stuck to them.

Sweetie watched with interest and giggled. Then she whispered as she motioned for Featherweight to come over. "Take a few pictures of this, then meet me during lunch, okay?" Featherweight nodded.

Sweetie then turned back to her friends with a smile on her face. "Girls, I think I have our story!"

The very next day, foals all over the playground were eagerly reading The Foal Free Press. More specifically a rather interesting article that had caught their attention.

One eager filly read it aloud to her classmates during recess. "'Snips and Snails in Bubblegum Veils!' And that's when the biggest jokester in the whole schoolyard really stuck his hoof in it – literally!"

Another filly commented. "You know The Foal Free Press is usually just boring old school news. This is so much better."

"Yeah, and so funny!" A colt chimed in.

Snips and Snails, meanwhile, were delighting in the attention they were receiving. They didn't seem to care that it was because their classmates were laughing at their misfortune from the day prior. "Our mothers always told us we'd end up in the papers someday. And they were right." Snips proudly declared.

"And look!" Snails shouted. "We finally got all the gum out!" He and Snips proceeded to show spots on their coats where their fur had come off, along with the bubblegum.

No one was more delighted by this turn of events than Diamond Tiara, however. She even held a copy of The Foal Free Press which displayed the prized headlining article, while she spoke to the Cutie Mark Crusaders. "Congratulations, girls! You've managed to exceed my incredibly low expectations for you."

"We'll take that as a compliment." Scootaloo remarked.

Diamond grinned. "You should, because I rarely give them," Then she changed the subject. "Your column is a sensation! I don't want you girls doing news anymore. I want more columns like this," She turned and looked out the window. "Columns about ponies and their private lives, the things they do when they think they're alone. There's a gold mine of untapped potential there," She proceeded to spin around to face the CMC. "You three are now officially my new gossip columnists! And I love the way you signed it! 'Gabby Gums'," A happy sigh escaped her lips. "That was a stroke of genius, not even I could've come up with something like that."

Apple Bloom explained the origins of the pen name. "We couldn't fit all of our names, so we decided to create one for all three of us. Granny Smith says a lot of famous authors and writers do stuff like that, don't remember what she called it though."

Tiara happily pounded a hoof on her desk. "Well I don't care about that, but I do know that I want more Gabby Gums! Nice work, girls. Keep it up. You're ensuring the success of The Foal Free Press. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got business to tend to elsewhere."

The Crusaders chatted among themselves after Diamond went off to focus on other things. "You know, we sure do seem to have a knack for gossip. Almost a gift, you might say." Scootaloo commented in observation.

Sweetie Belle eagerly added. "If we can write a few more of these Gabby Gums columns, we'll earn our cutie marks for sure! Let's do it!" And the Crusaders all high-hoofed each other.

But unfortunately, the fillies soon found themselves facing a problem. Namely the fact that they had no idea of what else they could write about for a gossip column. Not even some hot chocolate, freshly poured, could get their creative juices flowing. An impatient Scootaloo twiddled a pencil on a bench as she and the other Crusaders debated what to do.

Sweetie Belle looked at the pegasus as she asked. "Scootaloo? Do you have anything? Anything at all?"

Scootaloo shook her head. "Nope."

"Apple Bloom?" Sweetie asked.

The earth pony filly shook her head too. "Sorry, got nothin'."

Scootaloo sighed, putting her head down on the bench. "Let's face it, girls. Nothing very juicy happens at this school. Well, aside from Snips and Snails. But nopony's gonna keep reading the same thing over and over again."

"We're doomed." Sweetie Belle declared, before she packed up her things and left for Carousel Boutique.

Later that same day, Rarity happened to be walking around on the ground floor of the boutique when she suddenly and unexpectedly tripped over something. She soon found the source, Sweetie Belle's blue saddlebag that had been carelessly discarded on the floor. "Oh, that Sweetie Belle. What am I going to do with her?" Rarity complained. "Honestly, was she raised in a barn or what?"

Suddenly, something caught Rarity's eye as she used her magic to pick up the saddlebag. She tried to stop herself. "Oh, you really shouldn't be snooping, Rarity, it's a bad habit..." Unfortunately, the urge to snoop was too strong and try as she might the fashionista could not avoid succumbing to it. "Oh, but it's so much fun, Rarity. And what Sweetie Belle doesn't know won't hurt her."

The fashionista quickly found the object that had so fascinated her. It appeared to be an old newspaper of some sort, but not one that she recognized. "Hello... what's this?" It didn't take long before she was bursting into fits of giggles, delighting in the story. "Gum on their bum! Oh, too rich!"

All that laughing had an unintended effect, it brought a rather irritated Sweetie Belle downstairs. "Can you please keep it down with all the laughter?" She demanded. "I'm trying to– hey!" Her eyes immediately fell upon her open saddlebag, held aloft by her sister's magic.

Rarity, realizing she'd been caught in the act, tried to hide the evidence of her wrongdoing! "Bleh! Sweetie Belle?! I, I was just–"

Sweetie Belle growled. "Are you seriously snooping through my saddlebag?"

"Er uh... no, why would you ever think that?" Rarity answered with a nervous laugh and tried to conceal the bag behind her back with her magic.

Frustrated, the younger unicorn (who could not yet do magic) reached out a hoof and lightly smacked her sister's horn. This temporarily disrupted its magic, causing the saddlebag to drop to the floor. "How dare you!" She squeaked in protest.

"Guilty as charged, Sweetie Belle. But you must forgive me," Rarity apologized to the best of her ability. "This Gabby Gums column is so funny! I simply couldn't help myself."

Sweetie blinked in surprise. "You actually like the school paper? The Foal Free Press?"

The fashionista nodded. "It's simply so much juicer than anything in the boring old Ponyville Express. Almost nothing of substance gets published in that paper anymore," And she turned to her little sister. "Could I maybe borrow this to show my friends? I think they'd very much like to read this too."

"Seriously? You'd all wanna read The Foal Free Press? It's the school's newspaper, not Ponyville's." Sweetie commented with concern.

"I know, but I'm sure everypony would just love Gabby Gums!" Rarity happily exclaimed. "Who is she, anyway? I've never heard of her before. Is she a new–" But the rest of her sentence was cut off, for when she turned to look she discovered that her little sister had disappeared.

Sweetie Belle had rushed back to the school grounds to inform her friends of the recent development. "We're not done yet, Crusaders! We gave up too quickly, girls. Forget about trying to squeeze stories out of this school. We need to think bigger, we need to expand!"

"Heck yeah, what a great idea!" Apple Bloom commented. "Can't believe I didn't think of it. We can find all kinds of great gossip out there in Ponyville! That'll definitely get the papers sellin', and our cutie marks will surely follow!"

Sweetie nodded. "I knew you'd see it my way. We'll need to tell Featherweight to start working overtime, that camera's gonna get a good workout."

"Sweetie Belle, you're a genius!" Scootaloo proudly declared. "And I think I know just the place we check for juicy stories!"

"Honey bun, have you seen the twins anywhere?" Mrs. Cake called from the upstairs nursery of Sugarcube Corner.

Mr. Cake answered from downstairs. "No, I thought they were with you, sugar plum."

Mrs. Cake gulped. "I was afraid you'd say that. The twins aren't in their nursery."

"W-well, maybe Pinkie Pie took them somewhere?" Mr. Cake suggested.

Mrs. Cake shook her head. "Pinkie Pie hasn't been here all day, too busy working on a top secret project," And then she frantically declared. "We need to find my babies! They might be in danger!"

Suddenly, the sound of pots and pans crashing came from downstairs! Afraid of a disaster, Mrs. Cake rushed downstairs and met up with her husband! The two entered the kitchen, and they couldn't believe what they saw.

There were Pound and Pumpkin Cake, covered in flour and cake batter. The entire kitchen was a mess, and several baking tools (including pots and pans) lay scattered all over the place. It didn't take a genius to figure out what had happened.

The twins babbled something at their parents, not seeming to notice how messy they were.

Mrs. Cake trotted over, picking up the twins. "Oh, my little angels. It's nice that you wanted to help Mommy, but you really should leave the baking to her, Daddy, and big sister Pinkie Pie."

Mr. Cake sighed. "I'll get a bath started, sugar plum. I guess we can't always rely on Pinkie to keep an eye on the twins when we're too busy."

What neither earth pony seemed to notice, was the faint sound of a camera clicking from one of the kitchen windows. The next day, Diamond Tiara was eagerly reading the headline of The Foal Free Press "Pound and Pumpkin Cake: Future Bakers Create Culinary Chaos".

The headgear wearing filly grinned. "Nice work, girls. This is just what I like to see. Now if only the rest of the staff around here would learn from your example."

Just then, Truffle Shuffle came rushing into the printing press room, nearly out of breath. "Chief, great news!" He declared while panting. "The Ponyville news stand said it wants to carry The Foal Free Press. They say ponies keep coming by and asking for it. We're gonna be famous!"

"You're darn right we are, all thanks to my leadership!" Tiara proudly declared and then shouted. "Send 'em twenty copies, and if they run out of those, we'll send 'em twenty more! And make sure we get paid, this is our big break!" Then she turned to the Crusaders. "Keep those columns coming! Gabby Gums is gonna be a star!"

Scootaloo smiled. "Cutie marks, here we come!"

It wasn't long before The Foal Free Press was on every new stand in town, with ponies buying up copies as soon as they hit the streets. Gabby Gums' stories continued to keep them interested, and they would buy up new edition after new edition just to catch up on the latest gossip.

Cheerilee watched the whole thing unfold with quiet concern. She knew she was powerless to intervene in this situation, so far there was nothing that warranted concern from the school board members. But privately she was rather worried. "The school paper shouldn't be devolving into tabloid journalism. It was meant to teach students the hard work that goes into managing a business." She thought, but in public she said nothing. All she could do was hope that ponies would eventually grow tired of the gossip columns of Gabby Gums, and the paper would go back to selling only on school grounds.

Alas, that seemed to become increasingly unlikely as days turned into weeks, and The Foal Free Press and Gabby Gums only continued to rise in popularity.

Of course, there were some growing concerns about the paper. One story in particular that stayed in circulation for quite a while (before complaints forced it aside) involved Mayor Mare. The article read: "Mayor Mare's Mane Not Naturally Gray" and revealed that Mayor Mare was not in fact gray maned, her mane was actually pink and she was using dye to make it look gray.

During one of their spa date get togethers, Twilight voiced her concerns to her friends. "Look, girls, I'm all for a little gossip. But don't you think stuff like this is going a little too far? Don't you think maybe Gabby Gums needs to learn to respect other ponies' privacy?"

"Darling, if I didn't know better I'd swear you were upset just because Gabby Gums printed an article on Princess Celestia the other day," Rarity commented. "Hardly seems worth making a fuss about if you ask me."

Twilight frowned. "I read that one: 'Celestia Just Like Us'," She held up a picture of Princess Celestia eating a slice of cake. "This kind of stuff could ruin a pony's reputation."

"Okay, so she's a bit nosy, but that's part of the job," Applejack commented while she was getting a massage from one of the spa workers. "It ain't anythin' life shatterin', and it's all true. I'm sure even Gabby Gums knows there are some lines you don't cross, even in journalism."

"And her stories are so juicy! Who wouldn't wanna read them?!" Pinkie Pie chirped. "Who knew a school paper could be so exciting to read?!"

Just then, Rainbow Dash swooped in with a copy of The Foal Free Press clutched firmly in her hooves. "The new Gabby Gums just came out! 'The Great and Powerful Trixie's Secrets Revealed! Elusive Magician Spotted Near Canterlot!'"

Rarity waved a hoof. "We already read that one, Rainbow Dash. Come on, relax, why not have a hooficure? It feels so amazing."

Rainbow swallowed hard. "Uh, did you forget who it is you're talking to, Rarity? The day I get a hooficure is the day I turn in my daredevil license. Besides, I haven't read this Gabby Gums yet."

"Whatever, just do it quietly," Spike grumbled. "Some of us are trying to unwind."

Rarity then insisted further. "Rainbow Dash, darling, please take my advice. Join me in one of these relaxing hooficures. Trust me, you'll feel much better."

The brash speedster seemed to hesitate, looking all around as if she were afraid of being caught. "It's that good, huh? Well, maybe just one little hoof," She lay down on one of the spa beds, and watched as one of the workers got close to her with a filing tool. But before it could touch anything, Rainbow leaped up and yelped! " Forget it, I don't like ponies touching my hooves. It's nothing personal," With a longing sigh she then declared. "Man... I'd sure love it if Gabby Gums did a story on me."

"Well she did one on me."Spike happily admitted.

"What?!" His friends all exclaimed and immediately gathered around him, hoping to hear more details!

Indeed it was true, Gabby Gums had done a story on Spike. But it wasn't the usual gossip kind of stuff, it was something different. Apple Bloom proudly presented it to Diamond Tiara. "'Exclusive! Local Dragon Tells All!' Spike opens up about Canterlot, naps, and his favorite jams!"

"It's our best column yet!" Scootaloo declared.

Diamond Tiara didn't think so, she immediately tossed it aside. "You're joking, right?! This is bar none your worst column yet! I can't believe you're gonna do this to me, Crusaders! You're going to sabotage the paper's success, and my reputation, all because you suddenly don't wanna do gossip anymore! Well I hate to break it to you, but Gabby Gums didn't become the biggest thing in Ponyville with namby-pamby stories like this! So either come up with a juicy Gabby Gums gossip article, or leave the paper!" She trotted away, the door slamming shut behind her.

The Crusaders were quick to feel the effects of the rich filly's put down. "Yeah, she's right. This column is a little softer than our usual gossip." Apple Bloom admitted with a sigh.

Sweetie Belle looked nervously at her friends as she asked. "Were you girls feeling guilty about all the gossip too? Like... maybe we could be hurting other ponies' feelings?"

"Well... yeah," Apple Bloom unhappily confessed. "I mean, I didn't wanna say anythin' because everypony loves Gabby Gums so much, but... I was sorta hopin' that we could start writin' more stories like this one. And maybe we could leave the gossipin' behind."

Scootaloo nodded. "Me too, this doesn't feel right anymore."

Sweetie Belle went over, picked up the discarded story, and dropped it into the wastebasket. "Look, girls, if we're gonna get our cutie marks, then we've got to give the ponies what they want," She declared. "I don't like it anymore than you do, but this is the price we need to pay to get our cutie marks. Nopony said it would be easy."

And so the fillies reluctantly went back to their usual gossip columns for the paper. Unfortunately, it wouldn't take long for things to gets worse.

Gabby Gums started to get more and more vicious, and ponies were starting to take notice. During a meeting at Sugarcube Corner, Applejack was furiously venting about a story Gabby Gums had made out of her sleeping in the orchard. "'Applejack Asleep on the Job!' Can y'all believe this?! I was only restin' for a minute, it was a long day and I felt tired," She turned the page, showing Big Macintosh holding onto a stuffed doll that had clearly seen better days. "'Big Macintosh-What's He Hiding?' Just who the hay does this Gabby Gums think she is?!"

"Hey, wait a minute!" Twilight observed. "That looks like my old Smarty Pants! Applejack, has your brother been hiding my foalhood doll from me?"

"I swear I don't know where he got it from," Applejack insisted. "I keep tellin' him to give back the doll, but he says it's his now and he ain't givin' her up. But that's not important, what is important is that now everypony's makin' fun of him and sayin' he sleeps with dollies. I know he doesn't, but nopony will believe me!"

Twilight frowned. "That's the least of our problems, it looks like Gabby Gums has gone too far! Listen to this: 'Twilight Sparkle: I Was a Canterlot Snob'. A certain well-placed scaly source close to the prissy pony says that Twilight Sparkle thinks Ponyville is nothing but muddy roads and low-class rubes. I know I never said anything like that, which means only one thing. Spike!" She turned to face the dragon.

A horrified Spike belched out a flame that burned his paper to a crisp! "I didn't say that, Twilight! I swear! Gabby Gums made that up! Okay, so maybe I did talk about how you first thought everypony in town was crazy, but that's nowhere close to what Gabby Gums made up."

"Not that I mean to interrupt, but have you maybe considered that you ponies are blowing this just a teeny bit out of proportion?" Rarity suggested. "This gossip is mild compared to the tabloids you can find in cities and towns. If ponies actually believe that stuff is true, perhaps that says something about what they like."

Twilight shook her head. "But it's all lies, Rarity! Even you can't defend that! Gabby Gums prints whatever she wants, and she doesn't care whose reputation she ruins," She proceeded to read through a few other articles of Gabby Gums. "'Fluttershy Has Tail Extensions: Her Ponytail Is Just a Pony Tale', we both know tail extensions aren't a thing."

Fluttershy gulped. "Um, I've been told my tail is kind of long, n-not that there's anything wrong with that."

"Oh, get a load of this," Twilight sarcastically declared. 'Pinkie Pie Is An Out of Control Party Animal'."

Pinkie Pie snatched up the paper in shock! "What?!" Sure enough, the image was of her with a lampshade on her head and standing in a punch bowl. "Oh no, it's true! I do have a problem! I'm a mess!" She admitted and the party pony started to bawl her eyes out.

"And get this," The unicorn drummed on. "Apparently, the Cakes are breaking up."

Mrs. Cake came rushing out of the kitchen upon hearing the news. "Wait, we are?! But how?!"

"Sugar plum, we're not breaking up. I don't know where Gabby Gums got such a ridiculous idea." Mr. Cake reassured his wife.

Just then, Rainbow Dash came rushing in with several copies of The Foal Free Press in her hooves. "Well, my life is officially over. It was nice knowing you all, but Gabby Gums has made it to Cloudsdale."

Twilight examined the headline attached to a rather suspicious looking photo of Rainbow Dash from when she had attempted to sit for a hooficure. "'Rainbow Dash: Speed Demon or Super Softy?' She didn't!"

Rainbow dramatically exclaimed. "She did! I tried to snatch up as many copies as I could, but there were too many of them! I'm a laughing stock!"

Now all eyes turned to Rarity, who simply remarked. "Well, Rainbow Dash, you did say you wanted Gabby Gums to do a story on you."

"I know, but not like this! This isn't the Gabby Gums I got hooked on!" Rainbow complained. "Now she's destroying reputations left and right!"

Nervously, Rarity commented. "Okay... so maybe Gabby Gums has gotten kind of malicious in the past few days, but surely if we just give her time she will..." But then Rarity gasped as she turned the page and saw that the next headline involved her on her fainting couch! "I'll destroy her! 'The Drama Queen's Diaries'! I... I don't believe it! Gabby Gums reprinted my diary! How could she do that?!"

"There's only one way I can think of, and you aren't gonna like it," Twilight suggested to Rarity. "You wouldn't leave your diary lying around where anypony could get at it. Somepony had to know where to look for it and give to Gabby Gums. Sweetie Belle first introduced us to her, so maybe Sweetie Belle knows who this Gabby Gums is."

The fashionista let out another gasp, putting her hooves to her mouth! "Twilight, I can't believe you! My sister would never associate with anyone as beastly as Gabby Gums! I resent you even suggesting such a thing! Why, she's the most innocent, most lovely–"

But when Rarity inspected Sweetie Belle's saddlebag later, she was shocked to find her diary resting comfortably inside the carrying device. "–most evil pony in Equestria!" She exclaimed to herself as realization set in. "How could my own sister steal my private diary like that? How could my own sister be... Gabby Gums?"

A short time later, Rarity kicked in the door of her workshop where Sweetie Belle currently resided. She glared at her little sister and declared. "Et tu, Gabby Gums?!"

Sweetie stumbled back and jumped in shock as she gasped! "You know?!" She didn't realize until too late that she'd given herself away. "How'd you find out?!"

"The gilded pages of your betrayal, of course!" Rarity explained, holding up her diary. "Did you honestly think I wouldn't notice when you reprinted my diary?"

"Uh, if I say yes, will you be less upset with me?" Sweetie hopefully inquired, only to receive a glare that could've given Fluttershy's patented stare a run for its money.

Rarity simply sighed, adopting the best lecture face and voice that she could manage. "Gossip can be a very hurtful thing, Sweetie Belle. In some cases it is an invasion of privacy, just like when I snooped through your saddlebag. You didn't like that much, did you?"

Sweetie shook her head. "Well, no."

"Exactly," Rarity declared. "So what makes you think it's okay to do the same to others?"

The filly gulped as she confessed. "I didn't think I was really hurting anypony, it was all just supposed to be a harmless little thing. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo were in on it too."

"Well, at least now you understand how other ponies feel, and how much you've been hurting them." The elder unicorn scolded quite sternfully.

"That's the thing, I do understand," Sweetie confessed to Rarity. "We've all been feeling guilty, but we just want our cutie marks so badly!"

It was then that the fashionista proposed an important question to her little sister. "Do you really think that writing nasty things and making everypony feel horrible is your destiny? What you're meant to do with your life?"

"Well, when you put it that way..." Sweetie began.

Diamond Tiara did not take the news of Gabby Gums' planned retirement well. In fact, she all but blew a fuse! "No! I won't let you quit! Not after we've come so far! You won't sabotage my success, blank flanks!"

"And now we're back to square one, guess the truce was nice while it lasted." Scootaloo commented.

Tiara growled. "I don't know what's gotten into you, Crusaders! Here I try to be nice and give you a chance, and you insist on betraying me the moment you get cold hooves!"

"But don't you see?" Sweetie Belle commented. "The gossip we've been writing is hurting everypony's feelings, we can't keep doing it."

At that Diamond became indigent, stomping her hooves down. "Feelings?! Since when did you three start caring about feelings?! After all the stories you've printed, suddenly now you think you've gone too far?!"

"We're sorry, Diamond Tiara, but we have no other choice," Apple Bloom declared. "Find somepony else to keep Gabby Gums goin' if it's that important to you."

"Besides, you can't force us to keep up the gossip," Scootaloo added with a smirk. "We're done fearing you!"

Diamond's cornflower blue eyes suddenly lit up as she spun around. "You shouldn't have said that, girls. Here I was hoping we could settle this peacefully, but you leave me no other choice. When you see these..." She ominously held up three envelopes. "You may not want to quit after all."

The envelopes' contents spilled out, revealing a series of embarrassing photos of each of the Crusaders from when they had been trying to find stories for the paper. Tiara explained. "I told that Featherweight to document everything, and that's just what he did. At least he was useful."

"Why you little... gimme those!" Scootaloo growled as she lunged at Diamond Tiara.

But Diamond moved to quickly snatch them all up. "Sorry, girls, but they're not yours. They're official property of The Foal Free Press, which means as editor in chief I can use them as I see fit."

"You can't do that!" Sweetie protested.

Tiara smirked. "I can, and I will! So if Gabby Gums really does go into early retirement tomorrow, I'll need something to fill that empty column space. If you don't wanna have your names and faces plastered all over town tomorrow, I suggest you bring me something I can use. And don't even think about giving me something that's not gossip, because I'll know! Good day, girls!"

"Well that's just great," Scootaloo remarked as the Crusaders left the basement printing press. "Now what are we supposed to do?"

"Don't worry, we'll... we'll think of something, I'm sure of it!" Sweetie Belle declared. "Diamond won't get away with this!"

"In the mean time, we'd better find somethin' to keep Diamond off our backs." Apple Bloom suggested.

But at that very moment, Rainbow Dash came flying past and frowned. "Don't even bother, girls."

Scootaloo tried to fight back a gulp. "Uh, h-hey Rainbow Dash. Got any... interesting stories to tell us?"

Rainbow shook her head. "Nice try, kid. Everypony in town knows who Gabby Gums is now, your little secret is no more! So don't even think about trying to get more stories out of them, you'll be lucky if anypony even talks to you three again."

"But Rainbow, you don't understand!" Scootaloo pleaded.

The brash pegasus simply sighed as she flew off. "Sorry, Scootaloo, but this is one mess I can't bail you out of. You and your friends dug yourselves into this ditch, now you're gonna have to dig yourselves."

And indeed Rainbow was telling the truth. All throughout town, everypony either avoided the Crusaders or shooed them away. None were harsher though than Applejack and Big Macintosh, who ended up swapping roles.

"Ah c'mon, Applejack!" Apple Bloom pleaded with her big sister. "You're not mad at us too, are you?"

"Eeyup." Applejack bluntly replied.

Apple Bloom blinked in surprise. "You're not even gonna talk to us?"

"Eenope." Applejack answered and turned her head.

Big Macintosh then sternly spoke up with a glare in his eyes. "Y'all oughta be ashamed of yourself, Apple Bloom! Humiliatin' your sister 'n' me like that. Frankly, we don't really wanna talk to any o' y'all right now so kindly take your little gossip column and your embarrassin' photographs and just go away!"

"Well, this stinks," Apple Bloom commented as she and her friends left Sweet Apple Acres. "Our friendships are ruined, our families won't even talk to us, and worst of all we don't even have our cutie marks. Some idea this turned out to be."

"What are we going to do?" Sweetie Belle wondered. "Even our clubhouse isn't safe now, everypony's sure to be expecting that."

It was then that Scootaloo commented. "Well, there is one place where we can be safe while we think of a way out of this mess."

Said safe place turned out to be Scootaloo's house, marked by the Cloudsdale like pillars at the front entrance. And an amber coated pegasus mare was there to greet them, Dizzy Twister, Scootaloo's mom.

"Hey, Mom," Scootaloo nervously greeted her female parent. "Is it okay if my friends and I crash here for a few hours, maybe overnight? We really don't have anywhere else to go."

"As long as you promise to clean up after yourselves," Dizzy Twister commented as she ushered the fillies inside. "May I ask what brings you here? You don't seem to be very cheerful today. Has somepony been giving you three a hard time?"

Scootaloo gulped. "Well, kind of. It's really our fault," She proceeded to ask. "What do you know about Gabby Gums?"

Dizzy shook her head. "I was never into that sort of stuff, far too distasteful and exaggerated for my tastes. Call me old fashioned, but I much prefer Ponyville Express and I try to avoid gossip. Never does me any good," Then she questioned her daughter with her rose colored eyes. "What does that have to do with any of this?"

Sweetie Belle confessed. "Uh, because we are Gabby Gums. Or at least we were, now we're kind of in a bind."

Dizzy gasped as her wings (previously folded against her back) spread outward in shock! "My goodness! You three fillies have been causing so much of an uproar?!"

Apple Bloom nodded. "We didn't mean for it to get so out of control, Mrs. Twister. We're really sorry."

The amber coated pegasus just sighed and shook her head. "Well it's not enough to just say you're sorry, girls. When you're sorry, you have to mean it. And that usually means you have to fix the problem you caused."

"But how are we going to do that?" Scootaloo questioned. "The whole town's against us, and for good reason, we treated them pretty badly. We should've drawn the line much sooner, but we didn't and now we're in a real pickle."

Dizzy Twister simply commented. "Well, I can't say that it will work for your situation, but often I find that when a publisher or writer in a paper wants to apologize, they put out a note in the next paper. A letter, you might say."

"You mean, like the friendship reports Twilight and her friends always send to the princess?" Sweetie questioned.

"Something like that," Dizzy replied with a nod. "But I can't write that for you, you three need to figure out what you're going to say, and how you'll get out to the public."

Apple Bloom gulped. "We'd better be fast, we've only got until tomorrow before it's too late!"

The next morning dawned, and Diamond Tiara was waiting in the basement printing press for the Crusaders. But even as the birds sang, the three fillies did not show. Diamond grumbled. "That's it, they forced my hoof! Sorry, blank flanks, but Gabby Gums just ran out of time," She barked out orders to an ink covered colt manning the printing presses. "You there, run these photos instead!" She tossed over the envelopes. "And I want this paper on every street corner in Ponyville, ASAP!"

But before the envelopes could be set down, Sweetie Belle threw open the door and declared. "Stop the presses!"

"Uh, they haven't started yet." The ink covered colt responded.

"You're too late, Crusaders!" Tiara bitterly remarked. "I gave you time, and you blew it off!"

"Hold on a minute, Diamond," Scootaloo declared. "We've got a Gabby Gums article. It's our best column yet."

Diamond's eyes lit up like stars! "Really?!" But then the look faded as she thought about something. "Wait a minute, how do I know you're not trying to pull a fast one on me? Let me see that article."

Apple Bloom shook her head. "Ya want this paper to get out to the street corners in time for the mornin' rush, right? Well there's no time to read over it, 'cause it's a doozy! Either ya print it and all's well, or you run those embarrassin' photos and we rat you out to Miss. Cheerilee. I doubt she'll be pleased to hear what The Foal Free Press has gotten involved in."

The pink coated filly folded, any desire to check the story faded away. She didn't dare risk calling the Crusaders bluff now. "You're lucky I'm nice," She told them. "But don't test my patience like that again, or else you know what will happen!"

A little later, Tiara was strolling through the playground and admiring her leadership skills that she had displayed. "Ah, well done, Diamond Tiara," She gave herself a pep talk. "Mother would be so proud of you. You've averted yet another crisis with your amazing diplomatic skills," She giggled. "And any day now, Silver Spoon is gonna realize I was right and she was wrong. I told her I could pull it off!"

However, to the rich filly's surprise Silver Spoon came rushing up to her with a copy of The Foal Free Press in her hooves. "Diamond, you are never gonna believe what Gabby Gums just did!" The glasses wearing filly declared. "I never imagined you could stoop so low!"

"What do you mean?!" Tiara demanded as she snatched up the paper, and gasped at what she read! "'An Open Letter to Ponyville by Gabby Gums: Mysterious Gossip Columnist Reveals Shameful Secrets Behind Paper's Success'?!" She threw down the paper in fury, her face turning bright red as steam billowed out of her ears. "Ooh, that sneaky Crusaders! They're not gonna get away with this! I'll publish those photos first thing tomorrow! They messed with the wrong pony, and they're gonna be sorry!"

"Di, you're scaring me... I don't think I like it," Silver Spoon commented. "This definitely isn't you. I don't know what's gotten into you lately, but I'm putting a stop to it! Miss. Cheerilee has to know about this!"

While Silver Spoon rushed away to notify Cheerilee of the developments, the rest of Ponyville was waking up to Gabby Gums latest column, which read something like this:

To the citizens of Ponyville,

For some time now, you've been reading this column to get the latest dirt and the hottest buzz. But this will be my final piece. We want to apologize to you for all the pain and embarrassment that we've caused.

Yes, that's right. We. For in truth, I'm actually three little fillies, Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom, and Scootaloo.

As the popularity of our column grew, we got swept up in the hype. We knew that what we were doing didn't feel quite right, but we ignored the guilt because everypony seemed to want to read what we were writing. And maybe they were, until we started making things up to lure readers in.

Don't worry, from now on, we promise to respect everypony else's privacy, and we won't engage in hurtful gossip any more.

All we can do now is ask for your forgiveness, Ponyville.

Signing off for the very last time,

XOXO, Gabby Gums

Cheerilee learned of the developments soon enough, and the very next day she was in the basement printing press and an unhappy looking Diamond Tiara stood beside her. "I guess I should've seen something like this coming," She commented to herself. "It's a pity, I guess I put a little too much trust into a first time editor, and gave her too much authority," With a growl she added. "Diamond Tiara, I'm afraid I have to strip you of your title. Be thankful I don't kick you off the paper all together."

Tiara said nothing, she just looked shamefully at the ground while deep in thought. Where had she gone wrong? Where had she slipped up and cost herself so much?

"And now, it gives me great pleasure to announce our next editor in chief," Cheerilee proudly declared. "I give you, Featherweight!"

Everypony clapped and cheered, except for Diamond Tiara. "But what about me?" She reluctantly asked. "What am I supposed to do now?"

"Here you go, you can have my job," The ink covered coat told her. "Our new editor in chief says I get to take his old job as head photographer. Mind the presses, they tend to get a bit messy."'

Sure enough, Diamond ended up covered in ink completely, much to everypony's else amusement. But poor Diamond wished nothing more than to disappear at that moment. "Father's not gonna be happy about this, and even Mother's probably going to have a few choice words for getting demoted like this," She thought. "And I can't even begin to think of how I'll win back Silver Spoon's friendship. If I ever even get the chance."

Author's Note:

This rewrite has definitely been a long time coming. "Ponyville Confidential" seems to be among those episodes that gets a lot of flack for not entirely undeserved reasons, even though many people say it's at least a decent episode.

It's kind of hard to go back to this episode in hindsight considering all the developments that have occurred in the world of news, and changes in the show. This was Diamond Tiara's first solo appearance, and not only was she willing to use blackmail to get what she wanted but she outright said she didn't care about feelings. Her actions here definitely made her redemption in "Crusaders of the Lost Mark" hard to sell.

But the mane six in this episode also tend to catch a lot of flack, as do the townsponies. When they learn about the true identity of "Gabby Gums" they react by basically shunning the CMC entirely and refusing even to talk to them, despite the fact that they all relished in the gossip "Gabby Gums" offered until it happened to them. A hypocrisy that only Rarity acknowledged. Though I think the problem with that is that we saw the whole thing unfold from the CMC's perspective, and they never told anyone what we knew. If we the audience didn't know the CMC were being blackmailed we would not sympathize with them continuing their gossip column.

To fix some of these problems, I took the suggestions of long time series indirect contributor Comickook, who has offered suggestions for many other rewrites. He suggested specifically that Silver Spoon's absence be explained as a bet with Diamond Tiara, and include a nod to Spoiled Rich to foreshadow some of the later developments of Diamond's home life.

The mention of Silver Spoon's sleepover can be traced back to my redo of "Look Before You Sleep", which can be found here.

The Mysterious Mare-Do-Well (Redo)
Ponyville Confidential
Daring Don't (Bonus Chapter)
Dungeons And Discords
Once Upon a Zeppelin (Bonus Chapter)
School Daze Parts 1 and 2
The Maud Couple
School Raze Parts 1 and 2