• Published 25th Oct 2020
  • 16,784 Views, 2,144 Comments

A Witch in Broad Daylight - Epsilon-Delta

Rainbow Dash sets out to defeat the legendary witch Twilight Sparkle and collect the five hundred million bit bounty on her head. The one thing she wasn't counting on was Twilight being less evil than she expected.

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“Oh, hey!” Derpy clapped her hooves together, happy to see Dash. “You’re not dead! Hurray!”

Dash spent most of the night to find some shenanigan bypass for the curse and failing. Recording herself saying it and writing it down didn’t work. Now she came crawling back to HQ in defeat.

Outside, most of the zombies were gone and the town hardly seemed to be in that bad of shape. Ponies were taking down all their barricades. They must have done a good job getting rid of that dragon fast.

“Did you find Twilight?” Derpy asked.

“I—" Dash tried holding her breath, to keep herself from being forced to say no. “No. I did not.”

“Aw. Well, no worries! Nopony actually expected you to pull it off.” Derpy reached over the counter and patted Dash on the head.

“Hey!" Dash brushed Derpy’s head pats away. "I didn’t find nothing, though!”

She took out the bottle she stole from Twilight.

“Bam!” Dash slammed the container of youth gummies on the counter. “Check it!”

“Oh, wow!” Derpy’s face lit up the moment she saw it. “You got me a snack? Are these banana flavored?”

“No!” Dash put her hoof on the lid and held it down tight just in case Derpy tried to stupidly take the whole bottle. “These are an artifact I found last night. Each one makes you five years younger.”

While Dash couldn’t tell ponies about Twilight directly, showing them this bottle worked out just fine. This was an impressive haul too! Dash had only ever heard of one other item that could make ponies younger.

“Wowzers!” Derpy's eyes widened in awe, instantly believing Dash’s claim. “Stuff that makes you younger is like, sociopathic levels of rare! I gotta go get it appraised but if there’s no catch this is worth like a hundred thousand bits minimum. You’ll go up to rank C instantly if you turn it in!”

“Only rank C?” Somehow that felt underwhelming after going face to face with the most legendary legend. She needed to find some way to tell ponies about what really went down.

“Well it’s just one artifact,” Derpy pointed out. “Unless you can get more of these. Did you find a youth gummy tree?”

Kind of!

Was what Dash wanted to say. Instead, she ended up clenching her jaw and holding her breath.

“Well, you don’t gotta tell me.” Derpy shrugged, moving to put the bottle away. “Lots of ponies keep secret spots. Anyway, I’ll just—”

“Nope!” Dash snatched the bottle back right before Derpy put it under the desk. “I’m not turning it in! I’m going to find somepony who uh, appreciates it more.”

“Okay?” Derpy tilted her head.

So far, her hope that Derpy would put two and two together kept dwindling. Dash wondered how much she could hint about it.

“Can you guess where I got this?” Dash asked.

“Um." Derpy looked back at the gigantic board of mysteries. "No?"

Dash wanted to complain about how obvious this should be but couldn’t manage to speak. This was so frustrating! So close but so far!

Maybe someone smarter than Derpy would be able to put the round hole in the round peg.

“Where’s everypony else?” Dash asked.

“They're busy,” said Derpy. “I dunno if you saw it, but a huge dragon zombie was running around last night. There’s a lot of cleaning up from that going on. Then there was the caravan incident.”

Caravan? The one Applejack was with?

“We found this big caravan just outside of town,” said Derpy. “Looks like it belonged to a family of nomads named the Apples. There were signs a huge fight happened over there, but all the ponies in the caravan are just gone. All their stuff is there, but the bodies seemingly poofed away into nothing.”

That certainly sounded suspicious. But did they make themselves vanish or was it something else?

“It’s on the board.” Derpy pointed to it. “If you want to have not-zero money you could always help investigate that. We got a whole list of ponies we can’t find that you should probably be looking for, actually.”

Dash looked over at the board and sure enough, Applejack was among the pictures of missing ponies. From the lack of a bounty on her, Applejack must have kept whatever shady business she did underground.

Applejack seemed smart enough to figure out where these gummies came from. Of course, Dash would need to find her for that. Dash didn't want to make this fetch quest any more convoluted. Twilight was more important on a global scale, so Applejack and her family were on their own.

Besides, even if Applejack did believe her, it wasn’t like anypony but Pinkie could find that leaf. It'd be a waste of time to convince anypony else.

Yeah! In fact, this plan was even more brilliant than Dash originally thought! Pinkie had so much psychic perception she could probably just instantly tell what Dash wanted. She had solved countless murders and mysteries so this should be effortless for her.

The only problem was Dash had no idea where to find Pinkie.

“Hey, do you know where Pinkie Pie hangs out these days?” Dash asked. “She used to be S-rank, right?"

“Huh?” Derpy blinked at the sudden change of topic. “She retired a while ago. Unless you want to go to one of her shows. She still does that.”

“She does? That’s great! Just gotta go find one.”

“We actually sell tickets to her show here!” Derpy took one out. “They go for a hundred bits each.”

“A hundred?!” Maybe Dash should have sold the youth gummies. “Guess she’s still really popular.”

“But since you’re an employee, you get fifteen percent off! So it’s only eight-five bits!”

“That’s one lucky break today.”

“Uh-huh.” Derpy calculated something behind the desk. “Then after taxes, it comes out to one hundred bits!”

“Dang it!” Dash didn’t have that kind of money. She didn’t have any kind of money! “Derpy, can you spot me a hundred bits?”

“You already owe me over a thousand bits, Rainbow Dash,” said Derpy. “Also an inflatable raft.”

“Okay, okay! But look!” Dash held up her bottle. “I got this thing, didn’t I? I’m on to something, trust me! I will pay you back a hundred-fold. Just give me question mark days.”

“Sure. But you’re always on to something and it usually ends with one of us covered in sewage.”

“Yeah! But have I ever gotten this far before?!” Dash shook the bottle

“Hm. That’s a good point.” Derpy closed her eyes and tapped her chin. “Maybe the stars are lining up! Okay! I will buy you a ticket.”

Derpy stamped the yellow slip and handed it to Dash.

“Sweet!” Dash grabbed the slip and spun around! This wasn’t just her ticket to seeing Pinkie Pie, but to blowing the lid off Twilight and becoming rich and famous! When Dash was a millionaire, she’d give Derpy ten thousand bits back just as she promised. “You won’t regret this! Best investment you ever made.”

Dash rushed out the door before Derpy could say another word.

Dash had to fly all the way to Gorgetown, where the show would take place. It took hours to get here, but Dash was so determined that she wasn’t even tired.

Now Dash stood before a large auditorium, the outside covered with two huge posters of Pinkie Pie. The one on the left was her younger self, the one most remembered, with her curly pink hair and that manic smile. On the right was her current, much older self, still smiling but hair white as snow and straight. Did aging make your mane straighten out?

Come to think of it, Pinkie had to be in her late 60s or even 70s by now. Her psychic perception still had to be bonkers, though. She still did these shows to show off how astounding her abilities were.

Pinkie was one of those ponies everypony wanted to be.

The public considered her the most powerful psychic who ever lived. Her psychokinesis was strong enough that she beat a host of S-class cryptids and ghosts with little or sometimes no backup. She defeated Adagio Dazzle, the banshee queen, entirely by herself freeing a whole city from the banshee’s death curse. Pinkie had been a major player in the war to destroy Toxco and had destroyed the great blight tree among all manner of other achievements. Dash hardly knew half of them.

Perhaps the thing that earned Pinkie the most love was that curse she broke— the curse of unpoppable corn. A long time ago, a powerful, passive-aggressive witch (rumored to be Twilight Sparkle) unleashed a terrifying curse on the land, making everypony unable to make popcorn!

A hundred years passed without popcorn until Pinkie appeared and cleared the curse’s condition, finding the witch’s missing sock with her incredible ESP.

For that, Pinkie Pie got a parade and free popcorn for life at every movie theater. That was the kind of thing Rainbow Dash needed to do! If she could pull something like that off, everypony would love her too!

Dash gave her bottle, her ace, a little shake.

Maybe Dash could bribe her with youth? Though some ponies thought that these rare methods of ‘cheating death’ were immoral for whatever reason. A slight chance of this blowing up in Dash’s face existed. Maybe that shouldn’t be her opener.

For now, Dash had a long line to get through. A blindfolded attendant, clearly a less powerful psychic, acted like a bouncer, checking ponies one by one as they came in.

The pony two spaces ahead of her was pink, had a bit of a punk look to her. She styled her purple mane in pigtails with a teal stripe going down each side.

“Name?” the attendant asked.

“Aria Blaze.”

“And you brought something for Madam Pinkie?” He took the doll from her and began scanning it.

“I brought a possessed doll,” Aria explained. “The ghost inside it is a total loser, but it’s one of those ones that keeps coming back no matter what you do. Every night it appears on the stairs trying to trip me.”

“Yeah, I hate it when that happens.” The attendant shook the doll around. “I knew I could feel a possessed doll with murderous intent somewhere in the line.”

He put his hoof on the doll's head and concentrated.

“Guess I was worried for nothing.” He handed it back. “The ghost in this doll really is a loser. It hardly matters how murderous his intent is. This thing is harmless.”

Aria gave a sharp smile as she took her doll back and walked inside.

Other ponies were bringing stuff to this? Looking around, it did seem like nearly everypony carried something with them.

Admittedly Dash had no idea what she signed up for or what happened in these shows. Turning the ticket over, she read a warning about Pinkie destroying possessed or cursed artifacts as part of the show. ‘Don’t bring anything you don’t want to explode’ it warned.

Actually, this was great! Pinkie might just call Dash up on stage and figure out the truth in front of a live audience!

But there was a lot of competition. Everypony carried something with them, the pony behind her had a vase and the one ahead had a mirror.

“Sorry, no mirrors,” Blindfold told the next pony. “There was an incident a year ago.”

“Ah, shoot!” The pony reluctantly put her mirror to the side before heading in. “Some ponies ruin things for everyone.”

Then it was Dash’s turn.

“And what did you bring?” Blindfold asked, taking the jar. “Is it cursed?”

“It’s not cursed or anything!” Dash assured him. “It’s just cool! Anti-aging stuff. I just want to see how impressed Pinkie is that I found it.”

“I don’t sense any curses. It’s not possessed or radioactive.” He handed it back. “You’re clear.”

Easy enough!

Dash went inside and took her seat, which just happened to be next to that punk pony with the creepy doll. Even if Pinkie didn’t call on her during the show, Dash still had a chance to meet her afterward.

The audience was packed. It seemed Pinkie could still fill a room. Pinkie herself was already out on stage, clearly a senior citizen. In Dash’s mind, Pinkie was still the poofy-haired hero, eyes blazing with psychic energy like in the posters. She’d seen pictures of the current, older Pinkie, but seeing her this old still felt wrong.

Pinkie sat in the middle of the stage in her armchair, her eyes closed as if meditating or trying to sense something.

“Okay!” Pinkie opened her eyes. “So, before we begin the show— one, two, three — That guy killed his wife! Get him!”

Pinkie pointed to a random person in the audience, a spotlight appearing over his head. Several police officers jumped out and tackled him.

“Dang it!” shouted the murderer. “I knew this was going to happen too! Why did I come here?!”

He struggled as the police dragged him out.

“And amazingly that holds up in court!” Pinkie declared.

The audience cheered.

Pinkie was good!

Maybe too good? Dash silently thought back to all the bad stuff she’d done in the past. She couldn't remember anything she could go to jail for.

“And now we come to the part where all of you get nervous that I’m about to arrest the entire audience,” Pinkie said.

Pinkie was really good!

“Well, no need to worry! If I did that every time, nopony would come to these shows!” Pinkie got a few laughs. “I’ll just let all of you off on a collective warning this time.”

“Do the spirit bomb!” an energetic pony in the crowd shouted out.

“Sorry,” said Pinkie, giving him a small frown. “I haven’t done the spirit bomb in years. I have a heart condition from eating too much candy. Can’t do it anymore.”

The audience made a few noises of disappointment.

“Now the first thing everypony always asks me is how I got my incredible psychic powers and also how they can get something even kind of close to them. The answer is that you probably can’t so don’t try biting on a down power wire or anything like that. Can you believe ponies actually do that?”

A few ponies laughed. Dash held her breath in embarrassment.

“In reality, there’s only one thing that can give you psychic abilities and that’s dumb luck!” Pinkie pointed out into the audience. “You gotta be unlucky enough to have something horrible nearly kill you, then lucky enough to miraculously survive, then lucky again to become psychic. It’s that last one everypony forgets.”

Yeah, Dash learned that one the hard way. They started doing a lot more ‘don’t electrocute yourself’ PSAs recently from the spike in teen self-electrocutions.

“I like to think the first roll for me, the bad luck one, wasn’t so much bad luck as bad proofreading. See me and my sisters, Inky and Blinky, were out ice skating.” Pinkie glided a hoof forward, imitating ice skating. “There was a misspelled ‘thin ice’ sign that said ‘thi nice’ so us being eight or so thought that must be the nice place to skate. Spoiler alert, it was not.

“Inky didn’t fall in. Our dad rushed over and grabbed Blinky out right away. I was the lucky/unlucky one. My father knew I went under the ice but couldn't find me when he dunked his head under. Somehow, I ended up way on the other side of the lake. Eventually, they got me out, but by then I’d been underwater for forty-five minutes and they estimated my heart stopped beating for almost a half-hour! Still the world record, by the way. The doctors had no idea how I survived that one.

“This is all that I’ve been told, anyway. Holding your breath for forty-five minutes, not to mention extreme cold, causes all kinds of brain damage. I had killer amnesia when I woke up. I don't have any memories from before that day."

Pinkie got up from her chair slowly, took out a single banana, and placed it on stage in front of her.

“Of course, the nearer you get to death the stronger your psychic aura is if it does develop. My earliest memory was the psychic power test they gave me. They asked me to try and grab an apple out of a tree. It went something like this.”

Pinkie closed her eyes. Even somepony with no psychic perception like Dash could feel a change in the air. The entire room began to shake.

Dash felt like she was moving but remained in her chair. On a hunch, she glanced outside to realize the entire building was rising. Pinkie lifted the whole place off its foundation, bringing it a good ten feet in the air!

Just as ponies started noticing and gasping at this. The seats, with the ponies in them, began to float too. Pinkie lifted the entire audience, inside the building she was already lifting, halfway to the ceiling!

And after her abilities had declined from old age too! No wonder Pinkie had a legendary reputation!

A thrill of amusement went through the audience, but the spectacle was short-lived. Dash could see Pinkie struggling slightly as she lowered everything carefully, gently setting is all back in place.

“As you can see, I failed the test.” Pinkie pointed to the banana, the one thing in the room that hadn’t floated into the air. “I uprooted every other tree in the orchard, but that apple was fine.”

The audience laughed.

“Obviously, my dad wanted me to buy a lotto ticket after that. I won the lottery so many times in a row they shut the whole thing down. For the kiddos in the audience, that was a number-guessing game you could win money in. Definitely something that wouldn’t work these days.

“Of course, there is a very spooky part of being psychic. Who knows which of the four sources psychic powers come from?”

Most of the audience shouted out ‘ghosts’.

“That’s right! I am technically kind of a ghost if you think about it! So as you can see—" Pinkie gestured to her side, “Or as most of you cannot see—"

This was the boring, sciency part of the show, wasn’t it? Dash couldn’t fully appreciate it with zero psychic perception, either. She impatiently tapped her hoof, waiting for the part Pinkie would blow up random stuff in the audience or hopefully call on her.

A half-hour into the show, Dash’s worries about it being too much of a lecture proved unfounded. Pinkie kept her nothing if not entertained the whole way through.

Right now, she was showing off her famous bag of chance. They were like a bag of holding only with a chaos portal instead of a pocket dimension inside. The only way to know what was in it at any given moment was to pull it out.

A few of these existed, but normal ponies could use one to any extent. You never knew what you’d pull out of the bag, which more often than not meant you'd get something dangerous.

But Pinkie?

“See, the more specific of a thing you’re waiting for the longer it’s going to take. The trick is to reach in at the exact right second.” Pinkie had her eyes closed, hoof hovering over the bag. “Also, you gotta be really quick or—"

Pinkie darted her hoof in and out of it lightning-fast, pulling out a squash.

“Huh? Kabocha squash? Not exactly a pumpkin, but normally I just get close like that. Just goes to show you how unpredictable these are. The important thing is avoiding whammies and that’s pretty easy.”

Pinkie set the bag to the side and got back up.

“See, I have what I like to call whammy vision. It’s one of the things that always helped me find the biggest lead.” Pinkie closed her eyes and swept her hoof across the audience. “I can find whoever has the biggest whammy in the room right now.”

The biggest whammy? Finally, they got to this part. Dash was after Twilight herself, so obviously Pinkie had to pick up on her.

“Let’s see!” Pinkie closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. “I sense a mare from the west with something of great importance to show me.”

Dash scanned the room. Dash came from the west! She had something of great importance.

“Yes, yes. There’s a pegasus.” Pinkie made a gratuitous ‘woo’. “And her name is Ron. No! Rambo! Rainbow!”

Dash leaned over the edge of her seat. It was totally her, right?! She looked around desperately to confirm there were no other pegasi here with rainbow hair.

“Rainbow Rash! Or something!” Pinkie opened her eyes and looked in Dash’s direction, making Dash’s heart beat.

That was totally her! No way there was somepony named Rainbow Rash here! Dash stood up; her wings flared out in excitement.

“Congratulations,” said Pinkie. “You are the pony with the second biggest whammy in the audience! Just missed it!”

“Whu?!” Dash fell over, back into her seat.

The crowd laughed.

“Sorry about that, I’ll give you a free autograph after the show. The person with the biggest whammy is the pony sitting next to you. Aria— Aria something. Am I right?” Pinkie pointed to the pigtailed pony from before.

“Oh, absolutely.” Aria stood up, holding her doll.

“Yes, I can sense a malevolent spirit around you,” said Pinkie. “I hardly ever sense something with this much hatred inside it. Come on up!”

Aria brought her doll up to the stage as Dash grumbled in defeat. That autograph had better be extra autographical! At least she'd get to talk to Pinkie for sure now.

“The staff told me it was just doing that lying on the stairs trying to trip you thing,” said Pinkie, taking the doll. “But I sense a much greater spirit than some wimpy wisp. It’s a good thing you brought it to me before it could go nuts. You see folks, sometimes a powerful ghost might be ‘asleep’ inside the object they possess, giving you the impression they’re just a wisp but—"

As she spoke, Pinkie tapped the stuffed pony on the forehead.

A ghost did come out of the doll, but it was a wisp, the weakest type of ghost unless you counted orbs. These appeared as balls of blue fire that gave off insignificant amounts of light. Wisps couldn’t manifest the form they had in life and had no real power.

“It is I!” a male voice came from the doll, hamming up the ghostly reverb in a totally unnecessary way. “The ghost of Zephyr Breeze! I never scored in life, but I got really close, I swear! After I died, I vowed to kill anypony who did get laid and that includes you Pin—"

Pinkie’s smile turned into a frown as she looked down at the doll. Then her eyes widened in panic.

“Wait a tick!” Pinkie swiped her hoof left, utterly destroying the ghost. “Oh no! This wasn’t the possessed doll I sensed!”

A mutter went through the crowd.

“That’s the possessed doll!” Pinkie pointed at Aria Blaze herself.

Aria began to laugh, taking another step towards Pinkie.

“Everypony get out of here right now!” Pinkie jumped backward, moving into a defensive position.

Pinkie’s psychokinesis blew all the doors off their hinges and shattered the windows wide open. The fire alarm began to ring.

The audience was too confused to move. Meanwhile, the pigtailed pony collapsed onto the floor, the ghost that was possessing what must have been a perfectly life-like doll flew out.

She looked nearly identical to the doll she’d just come out of, only now fangs filled her mouth and her hooves ended in claws, both of which appeared to be made of icicles.

A banshee!

That got everypony rushing to the exit, crawling all over themselves. A banshee’s wail was one of the deadliest things in the world!

And the banshee wailed immediately! Dash covered her ears, but it was too late. She could feel it in her chest like the banshee had just grabbed her heart with icy claws.

Dash and everypony else in the building had a death curse on them now.

“That’s right!” Ignoring everypony else, the ghost floated down towards Pinkie. “It was me! Aria Blaze!”

“Who?” Pinkie asked.

“Aria Blaze?” The banshee gritted her teeth, realizing Pinkie still had no idea who she was. “I’m Adagio’s younger sister!”

“Huh?” Pinkie tried to remember.

“Adagio?! The legendary banshee that you murdered?!” Aria shouted. “I’m here to avenge my sister!”

“Oh, I remember that now!” Pinkie nodded. “In my defense, she was about to kill two hundred thousand people.”

“That’s no excuse!”

“It’s not? 'Cause I feel like that’s an incredible excuse.”

Aria screeched this time. Dash felt like her eardrums were being blown out. Everypony who hadn’t left, including Dash, got forced to the ground by the pain. When Dash got up, she noticed Pinkie had blocked it with a psionic shield.

“Yeesh! You don’t gotta scream like a little kid! You know I gotta exorcise you if you don’t take off the death curse, right?” Pinkie started circling Aria, putting herself between the banshee and the bystanders.

“I’ve already made up my mind! One of us isn’t leaving here alive!” Aria flew back into her doll, bringing it back to its feet. “Or— you know! Even less alive.”

Pinkie jumped forward and put her hoof on the doll’s head. Her eyes glowed blue and the ghost was pushed out ever so slightly. After just a moment of struggling, however, Aria snapped back into her doll and shrieked.

This shriek was a bit different from the last, seemed to only affect Pinkie, who didn’t block in time. It threw Pinkie to the ground and Pinkie struggled to get back up.

“Losing your touch?” Aria gave a smug grin. “Well, that was all part of the plan! I waited forty years for you to get old and feeble so I could finally beat you up! All those injuries through your career are starting to catch up with you!”

Aria drew her hoof back, a sharp icicle forming around it. She thrust it down at Pinkie to stab her, but Pinkie held Aria's hoof back with her own mental grip. Pinkie blew the icicle apart and sent Aria across the stage, finally giving herself time to get up.

Was Pinkie struggling with this? She really was getting old.

Dash looked around, most of the audience already escaped, the few who remained clogged up the doors. It didn’t look like Pinkie had any backup. The only pony on her team around was a stagehand cowering behind her couch. Where the crow was that blindfold guy?

Dash saw an opportunity! Maybe this was a chance to make an impression on Pinkie Pie!

Dash flew up on stage as fast as she could and punched Aria hard in the face, sending her rolling across the floor.

“You know I didn’t even feel that, right?” Aria stood up immediately.

“Guess I forgot,” said Dash. “That doll is scarily realistic. It looks just like a real pony."

“That's because this is a real pony.” Aria put her hoof on her chest. “I had my dead body taxidermized after I died so that I could possess my own corpse! Pretty clever, huh? I’m surprised more ghosts don’t think of doing that.”

“That’s a little creepy,” said Pinkie. “You’re not a creeper, are you?”

“I’m trying to kill you!”

“So yes?”

“Can you take this more seriously?! I’m trying to vengeance over here!” Aria pointed to Dash. “You! I was going to take the curse off everypony else when I was done with her but now you’re dead too!”

Maybe Dash did get a little overzealous there. Destroying Aria was the only way Dash would survive now. It wouldn’t be long until the death curse brought deadly misfortune to her. Dash glanced around the room, taking note of where all the lights were. There was a hundred percent chance of one falling and killing her if she stood under it.

Pinkie looked around the room too, seemingly having the same idea, before a random section of the wall caught her attention. Pinkie charged over to it and put her head against the wall. A pipe burst right as she got there, hitting her as it broke through and firing hot steam in her face.

“Youch!” That staggered Pinkie more than Dash would have expected.

“If you’re a psychic, shouldn’t you have seen that coming?” Dash asked.

“I did!” Pinkie nodded. “That’s why I ran straight into it.”

“What?! Your explanation is making me more confused.”

“See, that’s the trick,” said Pinkie. “Death curses never just kill you; they always go through this unnecessarily elaborate chain of events that makes no sense at all! You gotta take the first hit to mess up its flow!”

“Looks like it’s just a matter of time for me now.” Aria laughed again.

A clunk came from behind the curtain. A table flipped over, throwing knives in between Dash and Pinkie, narrowly missing both.

“Oh no! We dodged it!” Pinkie gasped.

A knife sliced a wire that caused one of the lights from up above to swing down right at Rainbow Dash. That lamp was huge! It would have taken Dash’s head off had it been just an inch closer! But instead of just killing her, it slammed into the wall behind them and burst into flames.

The tapestry behind Pinkie a moment ago was on fire. The blaze spread fast, quickly covering most of the stage.

“Quick! Jump into the fire or you’ll die!” Pinkie jumped into the flames with wild abandon. “Jump and roll!”

Rainbow Dash’s brain told her that jumping into a burning fire was a bad thing. But then again, Pinkie had decades of experience. She had to know what she was doing or she’d have died years ago. She just had to trust the expert!

Dash summoned her courage and jumped into the fire, remembering to roll as Pinkie told her to. She got a little singed, had to quickly stomp on the tip of her tail to put it out, but was mostly okay.

On the other side of the burning curtain, the lone stagehand cowered. Instead of running into danger, he did the sensible thing and fled from it.

“Wait!” Pinkie called after him.

But it was too late. He slipped on the banana from earlier and fell onto one of the knives. It stabbed into his neck killing him instantly.

“This is bad!” Pinkie waved her hoof, blowing away most of the nearby fire with psychokinesis. “There was hardly any delay in the curse activating and that was a four-point kill. Most banshees need at least seven wacky coincidences to happen before you die!”

“Well you’ve defeated tons of rank S monsters, right?” Dash reminded her.

“Sure!” Pinkie nodded. “Just not, you know, recently. As in the last ten years. But still! I can probably maybe do this.”

“You can’t run from a death curse forever!” Aria called after them.

“No! But there’s only so many wacky things that can go wrong in this place!” Pinkie jumped back out of the fire. “I’ve been death-cursed a billion times before! You’re almost out of ammo for now, trust me.”

“Am I?” Aria smiled. “Let me ask you this— what’s the worst possible thing to be around when you have a death curse?”

“A bunch of random—?”

Aria stood next to the armchair Pinkie spent most of the show sitting in. She picked up the bag of chance, laughing once again.

“Uh oh!” Pinkie took a step in retreat, her back to the fire.

Aria spun in a circle, laughing as tons of random objects fell out of the bag. Chairs, a hammer, briefcases, a typewriter, and more all came spilling out of the bag to cover the stage.

“This is bad! I might not be able to keep track of all this stuff!” Pinkie looked around the room frantically, noticing Dash landing next to her once more. “Okay! You look like you want to help, so here’s the plan. You stupidly run into everything that gets thrown at us. I’ll try to exorcise Aria from that doll!”

“Right!” Dash nodded. She could hardly believe she got to team up with a former S-rank pony, even if her job was to be a total idiot.

Pinkie charged at Aria, who ran around the audience, now clear of other ponies, avoiding Pinkie and swinging the bag wildly as she went.

The banshee was too fast for Pinkie to catch. Pinkie tried pulling Aria towards herself with her psychic powers, but Aria just left her body and threw the doll forward once again to keep it out of reach. Dash could only hope Pinkie had a plan.

Dash had to concentrate on her part, be on the lookout for anything contrived.

The blaze spread slowly, parts of the stage just now catching on fire again. It moved threateningly close to a bunch of firecrackers! The fireworks themselves weren’t dangerous, but they were next to a pile of mousetraps and when they burst the mouse traps would go flying.

Dash threw herself into the pile of mouse traps just as the firecrackers went off. They snapped shut around her foreleg, but it hurt way less than she expected. That didn’t set anything else off, so Dash must have blocked it.

Dash grabbed a nearby blanket and tried to smother some of the fire, while on the lookout for more dangers.

Aria was getting close to the stage again. This time she swung the bag and animals came out! Snakes, bees, and a huge boar!

The snakes covered the floor, there being way more of them than anything else.

One of them hissed at Dash. Dash immediately knew she had to get bit by this sucker. Red and black was the not-venomous one if she remembered right. She should be safe.

Dash poked the snake trying to get it to bite her. Instead of attacking her, it retreated.

“Wait! Come back and bite me!” Dash chased after the snake, the stupid thing slithering off into a crack in the wall.

Dash stuck her hoof into the hole, hoping the snake would bite her.

Another one of the spotlights overhead came loose from all the commotion and started to fall right down at her.

Dash sighed. That was the second in the chain, but it would easily break a leg, if not a neck, at the least. She decided to risk getting hit by the third blow instead. She rolled out of the way, the spotlight crashing into the floor next to her.

That drew the attention of the boar who came charging at Dash. She had to let that thing ram her or she’d die for sure. Dash closed her eyes and opened her forelegs to accept the blow.

But it didn’t come.

She opened her eyes to see the boar running away from her, a thread of spirit energy wrapped around it. That banshee must have been drawing it somewhere else. But did that count as the chain breaking?

Pinkie caught up to the doll, cornering it. The banshee tried to ram Pinkie from behind with that boar, but Pinkie held it back with her mind.

“Psycho wave!” Pinkie hit Aria with a hoof blazing with blue, psychic energy.

A wave of psychic energy radiated from Pinkie’s hoof, pushing the banshee out of its hiding place.

But Aria wasn’t entirely detached from her doll. They were just barely visible to a pony with low psychic perception, but right now Dash could make out the faint red phantom chains. They looked like chains made of the clearest glass imaginable and tethered the banshee to the doll. Aria flew back all the way, the chains taut.

The banshee was visibly struggling to keep herself attached.

One of the links snapped!

But then Aria threw a hoof forward and five more tethered her to the doll. She pulled herself back in as the psycho wave began to die down and punched Pinkie hard when she got back inside.

Then the boar, now free, charged forward and rammed into Pinkie’s side.

One of Pinkie’s bones cracked from that! Pinkie herself went tumbling and didn’t get back up.

Aria mounted the boar, spirit energy and a frost beginning to surround the animal. The banshee laughed and they both charged at Pinkie at a speed far faster than a normal boar could move.

Pinkie still wasn’t getting up! Dash darted over to her and grabbed Pinkie, the boar narrowly missing them.

No way Dash could fight that thing by herself! She grabbed Pinkie and charged out the door, around a quick bend, and then into a closet to hide. The fire in the auditorium would consume the whole building in another minute.

There wasn’t a lot of time for Pinkie to recover. If she didn’t soon, Dash would just have to fly her far away.

She set Pinkie down, relieved to see Pinkie was still conscious at least. But they wouldn’t have long before the banshee came back at them.

“I need to get hit by that boar to keep the curse from finishing,” said Dash. “But how do I do that without dying when it’s this crazy?!”

Dash turned over to Pinkie who wasn’t looking so hot. She was still on the floor, panting hard.

“Sorry.” Pinkie sat up, trying to flex her shoulder only for it to crack, causing her to wince in pain. “I think I let myself go a little. Back in the day, they used to call me Pinkie ‘Trampoline’ Pie ‘cause I always bounced back from every attack! If I was still in my prime, that ghost would be toast before it made a single boast.”

Back in her prime?

Dash looked over at her satchel then back at Pinkie. She had twelve of those youth gummies. Hypothetically, that could make Pinkie Pie sixty years younger, easily a kid again. Would a ten-year-old body be better or worse than a sixty-something body?

Didn’t matter! Dash could just give her nine.

“Hey, Pinkie.” Dash took the bottle out. “If you could go back to being twenty years old physically, would you do it?”

“Would I?! Oh man, if I was young again my metabolism would be so great! I could eat a gallon of ice cream every night and—" The boar’s tusk cut through the wall, going straight between the two of them. “And also we wouldn’t die. But this isn’t time for wacky, hypothetical questions!”

Pinkie tapped her hoof, getting ready for another psycho-wave.

“Wait! This isn’t a hypothetical!” Dash shoved the bottle in her face. “This is a magical artifact I found in the forest! Eating them makes you younger.”

“These aren’t banana flavored, are they?” Pinkie looked at the bottle, suddenly skeptical. “'Cause see I used to like banana but when you get older your taste changes and—"

“You’re completely missing the point here!”

Outside, the boar absorbed even more spirit energy from the banshee and charged forward at an unstoppable speed. The entire wall in front and behind Dash exploded from the charge, throwing Pinkie out of sight and Dash into the next room.

The boar missed taking Dash’s head off, tearing clean through her the wall behind. It ultimately slammed into another support beam, destroying the pillar but also knocking itself out.

That was the third domino! And it missed! That meant the next would be fatal!

Seemingly, that last beam was a load bearing one. Between that and the fire, the entire building buckled and began to fall on Dash’s head!

There was no way to survive this!

“Psionic trampoline!”

The entire building stopped collapsing. The collapse slowed slightly at first then, as though bouncing off a trampoline, suddenly flew back up into the sky. The entire top half of the building was thrown into the air, leaving only the floor and a few sparse pieces of the walls behind.

“What?!” Aria jumped back; clearly surprised Pinkie could still do that.

Pinkie Pie stepped out of the rubble. Her hair was curly and pink again, though with a few grey streaks. From the looks of things, Dash would guess she ate two or three gummies and was in her fifties again.

“Haven’t done that in a while.” Pinkie stepped forward, smiling wide, the blue glow in her eyes dramatically brighter than before. “I got some bad news for you! Despite being yellow, they all tasted like strawberry which I love!”

“But—" Aria looked up at the building still on its way up. “The amount of power needed to stop the final part of a chain by force—"

“Yeah! I’d have to be crazy strong to do that, huh?” Pinkie laughed.

The streaks of grey in Pinkie’s hair were vanishing! Pinkie kept getting younger! Though now the question was how many of those she took.

“This isn’t over!” Aria declared, digging in. “I waited too long to just give up now!”

Aria emerged from her doll and took a deep breath, then wailed as loud as she could. This time, the walls of the building were blown apart from the shockwave.

Her doll, now glowing with the same energy the boar had a moment ago, moved without her at the same time, slamming its hooves into the ground so pillars of sharp icicles flew at the two of them.

Either of those would have killed a pony, but Pinkie was ready with a much stronger and larger psionic shield than before, one that covered both her and Dash. After a moment, Dash didn’t even hear the sound. The icicles shattered against the barrier and the screeching did nothing.

Clearly, Pinkie was the hooves down the stronger of the two now. Dash noticed the grey in her hair had completely faded away too. It didn't look like her age loss was about to slow, either. How many did she take?

But now the roof of the building was coming down at them. That whole thing was going to crush them in a few seconds! But the footprint of the crash would be so huge Dash wasn’t sure if she could get away from it all! She just had to hope Pinkie had some plan in mind.

Aria realized this was a bad spot and tried to bolt.

Pinkie reached perhaps forty and became fast enough to very nearly keep up with the doll as it darted away. For now, Pinkie was getting faster! A second later she looked thirty. Now she outpaced Aria and snatched the bag back.

With a single psychic-boosted punch she nearly destroyed the doll, sending limbs and stuffing flying off it.

Pinkie looked incredible now! She was back in her prime, in her twenties. All her colors and curls were back. Her body was toned, and blue psychic energy surrounded her.

The only problem was they were all a second from being crushed to death.

“No heart condition means no limit!” Pinkie hit her chest, then pulled back her hoof, the psychic energy that surrounded her a moment ago concentrating around it. It began swirling together to form a blue sphere. The spirit bomb!

“This isn’t possible!” Aria shrieked inside her broken doll. “I waited forty years for this!”

The psychic energy around Pinkie’s hooves shone brighter than ever before! At least, brighter than Dash had ever seen.

Just charging up the attack was enough energy to force the ghost out of the doll again. The chains became taut before Pinkie launched her ultimate attack.

“Spirit bomb!”

Pinkie punched the doll. The chains dissolved instantly as psychic energy covered the entire area. Dash was blinded, could just barely make out Aria as she howled and dissolved into the ether.

All the falling debris was blown off in every direction.

Pinkie stood up, making sure no straggling rubble touched the two before turning back to Dash.

“I guess she didn’t stand a ghost of a chance!” Pinkie struck a pose.

Dash couldn’t help but groan.

The psychic was ecstatic at her new burst of energy and power. She did a few flips of joy, the last of which she boosted with her telekinetic abilities, going clear over Dash’s head and spinning at least twenty times before hitting the ground.

The two of them were about the same age right now, but Dash had way less energy. Though in her defense she had gotten beaten up pretty bad there. She found her bag and started bandaging her cuts.

Up close and in her prime, Pinkie was a brick house of a mare. She was taller than Dash and jacked too. Even without her psychic powers, Pinkie would be intimidating just for her size.

“I can't feel her presence anymore. I think we’re good here. Unless they have a third sister or something.” Pinkie’s eyes darted left and right suspiciously before she chuckled. “Nah, I think we’re good!”

Pinkie did a backflip.

“I feel amazing! Now I have the experience of decades and the vigor of youth! I’m more powerful than I’ve ever been!” Pinkie jabbed her hoof forward repeatedly.

Pinkie stopped just then and looked down at her foreleg in surprise.

“My reach seems suddenly shorter.” Then it clicked. “Uh oh!”

Pinkie Pie continued to de-age. She was getting noticeably shorter now. She began losing most of the bulk earth ponies got as adults, becoming downright scrawny as her full figure faded.

“Uh oh!” Pinkie looked herself over, still shrinking until she became much smaller than Dash. “How young will I get?! Am I going to turn into a zygote?!”

“How many did you take?”

“The whole bottle?” Pinkie smiled nervously.


“Whoa, hey! Not the whole bottle!” Pinkie rattled the glass container to show a single gummy remained. “See I left you one to be polite!”

“Okay.” Dash let out a sigh of relief. Pinkie should still be relatively okay. “Then you should stop at fifty-five years younger, I think.”

“But then I’ll be thirteen?” Pinkie rushed over to a broken mirror on the floor. She could barely qualify as a teenager now, small enough to still be pre-pubescent. Thankfully, she did stop shrinking. “That’s five years before my lower limit! This raises lots of uncomfortable questions. Does this last forever?”

“For fifty-five years. I think you age normally from here.”

Pinkie thought about her situation in silence for a few more seconds

“You know what? Thirteen is better than sixty-eight!” Pinkie jumped up on a piece of rubble, then backflipped off it. “Ah yeah! Now I can eat all kinds of junk food without getting a stomachache again! Oh, hey! I can go trick or treating again and nopony will say anything! Thanks, friendo!”

Pinkie grabbed Dash’s hoof with both of hers and shook vigorously.

“This stuff is great!” Pinkie held Dash’s hoof tight and leaned in. “Hey, where’d you even find that? This is one of the best magical items I ever heard of, and I’ve been at this for a long time!”

Dash found herself holding her breath. She tried with every ounce of her being to say anything but the curse was too strong. Pinkie just watched her.

“Oh! You’re one of those ‘secret spot’ types, huh?” Pinkie nodded. “No worries! I’ve met plenty of you guys.”

Dang it! Dash wanted so badly to tell her ‘no’, but it just wouldn’t come out! She was so close! Yet all she could do was hope Pinkie’s ludicrous perception score would bail her out.

Thankfully, Pinkie did pick up that something was wrong here. She gave Dash a suspicious look at first like she briefly thought she was picking up on some horrible crime.

“Hey, wait! You seem to have a curse or something, right?” Pinkie looked her over.

Dash still couldn’t talk.

“Oh! This is one of those ‘can’t tell you about the curse’ curses, right?” Pinkie nodded. “Man! That takes me back to my thirties when— wait! Does that take me forward to my thirties? Am I being nostalgic about the future now?”

“Look, I don’t know but you got it!” Dash’s heart skipped upon hearing she could say even that much. Maybe if Pinkie already knew? “I was cursed but I can’t say what the curse is.”

She got through that last part okay!

“Well, you have fun with that, kiddo!” Pinkie waved and started walking off. “I gotta go make an uncomfortable phone call. 23 skiddoo!”

“Wait!” Dash managed to call after her.

“Huh?” Pinkie turned around, only to find Dash unable to say anything. “Oh! Did you want me to help you out with this?”

Dash couldn’t even say yes! How was this against the rules of the curse?!

“Well, you did give me eternal youth which is pretty cool!” Pinkie nodded. “So I guess I could help you get rid of it if you want.”

“I don’t think it’s eternal youth just, you know, youth. But yes! Please!”

“You got it! Just let me go do the phone call first. And now 23 skiddoo.”

This was great! If Pinkie Pie knew about Twilight— well Dash didn’t one hundred percent have a plan yet, but it would set things in motion. That would bring serious attention to the problem, people would listen to Pinkie!

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