• Published 15th Oct 2012
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The Masterpiece - McPoodle

Twilight must step in to prevent Pinkie Pie's mental disintegration

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Chapter 10: Showdown at Sundown

The Masterpiece

Chapter 10: Showdown at Sundown

Four hours later, Twilight Sparkle looked over all of the open books around her and sighed. “None of these are any good at helping me figure out what to do about Pinkie, or the other Pinkie!” she exclaimed.

Just then there was a knock at the library door.

“Well,” exclaimed Spike, getting up to answer it, “isn’t that narratively convenient!”

“Spike, you think everything’s narratively convenient! I swear, I never should have taught you that phrase.”

Spike opened up the door with a grin, and then immediately launched into a bow. “Your Highnesses!”

“Both of them?!” exclaimed Twilight, running to the door.

“It’s nice to see you, Twilight, Spike, but I’m afraid I really must be flying,” said Princess Celestia. She turned to her sister and pulled her into a gentle embrace. “Come back to Canterlot whenever you’re able,” she told her. Then without another word she launched herself into the sky.

Librarian and assistant craned their necks out to watch. “It’s always so amazing the way she looks when she does that...” commented Spike.

“So, Princess, what made you change your mind about returning to Ponyville?” Twilight asked Luna, before moving aside to let her in.

“I did some research,” Luna replied, “and I’ve discovered that Clyde Pie is no longer a threat.”

Twilight Sparkle knew where this conversation needed to go, and she didn’t want her baby dragon around to hear it. “Spike, could you let me know how the party preparations are coming along?” she asked.

Spike had an instant suspicion that the unicorn was up to something, but at the same time he was more than a little creeped out by some of the things he had helped her research, and he didn’t feel comfortable getting any deeper into it. “OK,” he said cautiously, before walking out the door.

As he was reaching out to shut it, he stopped suddenly and yawned, then stuck a claw in his ear and wiggled it around. “Wow!” he exclaimed. “There’s something funny about the air out here!”

Luna frowned. “I noticed. It appears that the weather pegasi have instituted an abnormally high pressure system, to ensure there are no clouds for the Celebration. Well, go along your way, little dragon.”

Spike smirked. “Later, Princess!” And with that he closed the door behind him.

Luna looked guiltily at the floor. “I should have thought of sending him away before I brought up Pinkie’s father,” she said.

“It’s alright,” Twilight replied. “I’ve screwed up enough times to know when and how to do that. So, you knew about the rumor, then, about Mr. Pie being a Nightmare Moon cultist?”

“Yes,” said Luna, “and I examined the file that my sister had on him. She had heard of this rumor nearly two decades ago, and sent an agent to determine if it was true or not. Let me tell you what that agent learned about Clyde Pie:

“Clyde was born in Hoofington. He tried to become an inventor of the future, but nothing he made ever worked, so he took the opposite course and became obsessed with the past, and of the rumors of Nightmare Moon’s return. He heard about the Noctiferians, and decided to revive the cult all by himself with the money he made as a consulting geologist. At this, as with so much else in his life, he was an utter failure. He never discovered any of the occult volumes that the Noctiferians created and my sister destroyed, indeed he appeared to know nothing about them other than the name of their organization and the fact that they wore gray robes. Somewhere or another he had come up with the repugnant notion that a live sacrifice was required to summon the Nightmare, when the fact of the matter is that she’s a lot easier to summon than that. As for recruitment, there were only ever two members of the Revived Cult of Nightmare Moon: Clyde Pie, and his wife Sue, and she was only a member because she was completely dependent on him. The investigator unfortunately ignored all sorts of tragic clues about Clyde’s family in his single-minded quest to discover if the stallion was a threat to Equestria or not, but it seems pretty clear...”

“...that he took out his frustrations on his family, causing at least one of his daughters to develop a second personality,” finished Twilight coldly.

“Ah...yes,” said Luna awkwardly. “You managed to figure that out. Pinkamena Diane in particular seems to have been singled out for his rage because she was a filly prodigy. At a very young age she apparently was already better at inventing and geology than her father, at least according to the examiner who tried and failed to get her out of a non-existent home-schooling program and into a regular school. And there my research ended.

“At this point, I knew that Pinkie Pie had obviously freed herself of her father’s control, at least directly, but I felt it to be my duty to see if Sue Pie was still alive, and if Pinkie had any sisters who failed to escape. So I discovered where the Pies settled down, and went out there. I shared my concerns with Celestia and even though I was convinced that he was no threat to me, she insisted on accompanying me.”

Luna’s voice got quiet as she recalled the next part. “We got to the place less than an hour ago, a miserable little played-out farm no good for raising anything but rocks, but it appears that we weren’t the first visitors that day. The ground had been trampled by dozens of hooves, and there was a newly dug grave next to Sue Pie’s much older one, with a simple wooden marker inscribed ‘Clyde Pie’.”

Twilight gasped. “Did somepony—?”

“No, Twilight,” Luna answered quickly. “Celestia and I used our magic to examine the grave, and it was clear to us that Clyde Pie died of natural causes over two years ago, like his wife had six years before that. The pony was just so unloved—justifiably if regrettably—that nopony ever ventured out to his remote home before today to learn that he had passed. I thought it important to see you as soon as we discovered this, rather than spend time on the minor mystery of just who found and buried him.

“Twilight, it is vitally important that we control the manner in which Pinkie Pie learns the fact of her father’s death.”

Twilight nodded in realization. “Applejack would say she’s been winding herself as tight as a cheap watch on date night. The thought that her father is coming to meet her tonight has her on the verge of a nervous collapse. She came here last night with her other personality in control, saying she needed information about Nightmare Moon’s defeat to use against ‘her enemy’. She plans to confront him, to finally break his power over her. If she suddenly learns that that opportunity has been forever taken from her, it...it could...cause her mainspring to go ‘Sproing!’”

“Well, yes...to take a metaphor entirely too far,” commented the Princess. “But essentially, my thought process was similar to yours. Is there any chance we’ll be able to talk to her before the party gets started?”

Twilight glanced out the window at the setting sun. “Just barely. But we’ve got to hurry!”

“Pinkie, did you order a shipment from Hoofington?” Spike asked. He had volunteered to help the straight-maned pony when it became clear that he had a better memory than she did of how the real Pinkie ran a party. (He had also figured out pretty quickly that she was terrified of being found out, which was the reason he was calling her “Pinkie”.) He was currently in the doorway, looking west. “Because I see one coming this way,” he added.

Pinkamena froze for a second, and then smiled darkly. “Go back inside, Spike,” she said as she headed out of Town Hall, “and don’t come out no matter what you hear.” Oh well, she thought to herself, I was no good at pretending to be Pinkie anyhow.

The end of the western road was bathed in a golden sunlight so bright that it was nearly impossible to pick out details. What she could see was a large rectangular shape, pulled by a pony. The pony might have been surrounded by a halo caused by the intense sunlight, but Pinkamena decided that it was a robe instead. Walking on either side of the box were two small ponies. That they were Inkie and Blinkie was an absolute certainty.

At that moment, the universe shrunk to only two ponies, and only one of them had the right to speak.

“So!” she bellowed to the sun-obscured figure. “You finally returned! I was gonna lecture you into submission, but you always found a way to win, so I’m going to do something a little more drastic!” Reaching behind her, she pulled out Pinkie’s party cannon, but this one had been altered to her specifications.

“Say goodbye, Papa!” she snarled, as she put the pony in her sights.

No, Pinkamena! cried the voice of Pinkie in her head. If you do this, you’ll be just as bad as he is!

“Shaddup, Pinkie!” she screamed, as she pulled the trigger.

There was a tremendous flash of light, which burst out of the cannon and raced towards the box before exploding with a roar.

“It got him! I got him!” Pinkamena cried out in glee. “Did you see, Pinkie?”

Her face suddenly went slack in horror. “Pinkie? PINKIE?! Where did you go? Where...did...you...”

With a loud “SPROING!” sound, she collapsed.

Twilight and Princess Luna raced up to the fallen pony from one direction, and Spike from another. They had all been screaming at her to try and correct her mistake, but she had acted like she couldn’t even hear them.

The Pie Sisters, merely knocked over in a blast not meant for them, got up and looked back and forth between their sister and Rainbow Dash. Silently, they made their decision and walked over to the pegasus and helped her to get up.

“Wha...what happened?” she asked. She held out a hoof, and watched as it was quickly coated with falling granules. “Is it raining...sugar?” As her hearing faded back into existence, she picked up the sound of a marching band from the southern end of town. Apparently it had attracted most of Ponyville, because the square around Rainbow Dash was deserted.

Fluttershy, Rarity and Applejack soon joined her. “Are you alright?” Rarity asked.

Rainbow shook her head a few times to check for equilibrium damage. She noticed that it was a bit harder for her to breathe, like she had a small weight on her barrel, but nothing she couldn’t deal with. “Yeah, I’m OK,” she said. “I think I’m pretty much blast-proof by this point. Although that really wasn’t much of a blast—even the pony she thought I was might have survived, if he was unlucky enough to still be around, that is. Maybe Pinkie sabotaged the party cannon when Pinkamena wasn’t looking.”

The silence was broken by the screeching of Fluttershy’s birds, who suddenly burst out of the Town Hall and flew off in all directions.

“Oh, dear!” exclaimed Fluttershy quietly. “I wonder what’s gotten into them? Could I possibly...”

“Go,” said Applejack with quiet authority. “I got a feelin’ even more’s goin’ on than just this business with Pinkie Pie.” The ponies around her all had the same expression on their faces, as if they just knew that something awful was about to happen.

After Fluttershy had left the scene, Rainbow Dash quickly dusted herself off and joined the two “eggheads”. Princess Luna in particular was staring intently at the fallen mare. “Well, there’s no other recourse,” she said finally. “I’m going in.”

“Wait!” exclaimed Twilight, putting a hoof on the Princess’ shoulder to stop her from touching her horn to Pinkamena’s forehead. “Let me go.”

Rainbow looked back and forth between the two of them. “You’ve got a way to go into Pinkie’s head and finally fix her? Count me in!”

“No, to both of you!” Princess Luna ordered. “This is no mere dream I propose to enter, but a nightmare of the most horrible kind! Pinkie Pie’s mind is suffering from a cataclysmic breakup, which she may not survive! And that means that an unwary traveler could easily share her fate if she does not take the utmost precautions. You,” she said, pointing a hoof at Rainbow Dash, “have no idea what you’d be getting into and you”—she now pointed to Twilight—“are nowhere near ready for this level of danger. You have no idea what she’s going through!”

“Yes, I do!” insisted Twilight, looking her student/mentor deep in the eyes. “She’s hurt, and she’s confused, and she thinks she’s made the worst mistake in the history of the universe,” the unicorn said, her voice choking up. “She thinks that she will never be forgiven and right now, more than anything, she needs to be told that she will be forgiven, that life will go on and she will go on with it! Please, Princess, please let me go in there...before it’s too late.”

Spike stepped forward, and wrapped his arms around one of Twilight’s legs. She looked down at him and he looked up at her.

“Spike, I have to—” she began.

“You’re right,” he said to her. “You’re the one who has to do this. Be careful.”

“I promise,” she replied.

Luna meanwhile had stepped back in shock at Twilight’s words to her...and in recognition. Must all seekers of truth suffer the way I...the way we have suffered? she asked herself with an aching sorrow. “Al...alright,” she finally concluded. “I will let you in. And you will be careful. I will remain here, on the outside, and I will be your anchor. Call out to me if you are in the slightest danger, and I will pull you out. Do not disobey my instructions! I will not be committing two mindless ponies to the insane asylum tonight!”

Spike shivered, and the Princess instantly regretted her words, but they could not be unsaid.

“I promise,” said Twilight, bowing her head.

Luna lightly touched the unicorn’s forehead with her horn, and Twilight collapsed into senselessness. She then touched it to Pinkamena’s forehead for but a moment. “There,” she announced. “It is done.”

Spike wrapped his arms around Twilight’s neck, then sat down to wait.

“OK, now let me in!” demanded Rainbow Dash.

“No,” said Luna, as she settled herself down next to the dragon and two sleeping ponies.

“Why not?” the pegasus demanded. “There’s strength in numbers!”

Luna sighed. “If you went into that pony’s head, Rainbow Dash, who would you be trying to save?”

Rainbow blinked in confusion. “Pinkie Pie, of course!”

“And what about the other one, this ‘Pinkamena’? Are you scared of her?”

A whole range of emotions ran across the hot-blooded mare’s face. “Well, she did try to kill me. Twice.”

“That’s why you’re not going in,” said Luna with a steely expression. “Pinkie Pie’s survival is irrelevant. Twilight Sparkle is going in to rescue the real pony: Pinkamena Diane Pie.”