• Published 6th Sep 2011
  • 19,721 Views, 537 Comments

Substitute Harmony - blayzekohime



Pinkie's friends disappear and Pinkie must find others to try to help her defeat their ponynappers.

  • ...
16
 537
 19,721

Chapter 1: A Party to Forget

Day One

A small group of six ponies gathered atop the hill overlooking Ponyville, the quiet and peaceful town where the holders of the Elements of Harmony were located. There were a few moments of silence between them, nervous glances exchanged one to another.

In front of them all stood a unicorn, apparently their leader, seeming the least nervous of the bunch, her eyes focused on the city with determination. Her coat was a light pink, dotted with her cutie mark, six glittery purple stars on her flank. Her mane and tail were pure white, aside from the purple stripe that ran through the center of both, matching the color of her cutie mark. Around her neck was a singular piece of adornment, a heart shaped locket, gleaming in the sunlight.

“Here we are,” the unicorn faced the others as she spoke, “This is what you’ve been preparing for these past weeks. Now we’ve gone over all the information we need, and He says this is the time to strike.”

“I don’t feel right… this doesn’t feel right,” stated a pink maned, yellow earth pony with four pink roses as her cutie mark.

“It’s not like we have any choice,” stated the next pony, a yellow maned, tan coated pony with five apples as her cutie mark. She didn’t sound completely certain.

A pink coated pegasus with a simple blue mane but two impressive blue lightning bolts as her cutie mark hovered above the two and huffed down at them, “Come on! This’ll be a breeze. They'll never know what hit 'em! Man they will be so surprised!” A wide grin spread across her face, her mind seeming to race, “And when we get back home, we’ll be heroes!”

“Yeah! Everypony likes surprises!” another pegasus, who was yellow-maned with a white coat, rose up next to the pink pegasus. Her own cutie mark was five purple balloons with pink strings, which her hyper personality seemed to match perfectly. Unlike her companions, her mane and tail seemed to actually glow.

“You do realize what kind of surprise we are giving them? Yes, Surprise?” the other nearby unicorn asked, her own coat a very pale blue. She had been idly hoofing at the ground, admiring a few shiny rocks that she had found there. It was a rather appropriate habit given the four blue gems on her cutie mark. After a moment, the gemmed unicorn added towards the balloon filly, "I guess you probably do, just don't foul things up with your typical manner."

The pink unicorn in front stamped her hoof, “Silence! If I hear another peep that sounds like a doubt, I’ll be reporting to Him and suggesting another conditioning for you all!”

Whatever ‘conditioning’ was, it surely struck a chord, since all eyes went back to the pink unicorn. Even the two pegasi opted to land, making themselves slightly less conspicuous, despite their obvious excitement. The yellow earth pony’s mouth hung slightly open, having apparently been going to protest again, but completely unwilling to speak now.

“Look it doesn’t matter,” the pink unicorn took a deep breath, calming herself, “We don’t have a choice. He is the only chance our world has of survival, and if we don’t help Him take this one, all our family and friends will die… at least the ones that are left. It’s not like he’s asking us to kill innocents here, so let me go over the targets once more just to be sure.”

With that, the unicorn began to point her hoof at her friends in turn. First it went to the yellow earth pony. The unicorn sounded stern as she stated, “Posey, your target lives outside of town near the forest and towards the west in a small cottage with a chicken coop on the outside. You have what you need, so you better not disappoint us. ” Clearly, the leader trusted Posey to do her part the least.

Then to the tan earth pony she spoke, “Applejack, your target looks almost just like you, but with fewer apples on her cutie mark. Actually, she shares your name too, so you probably should make up some other name for yourself so it won’t seem weird. She lives out at the apple orchards. Watch out for her family, though you’ll probably fit in pretty well if you do run into them. Just don’t forget; He said no witnesses so, you know…”

The hoof went to the pink pegasus next, speaking firmly to her as well, as if she thought she wouldn't be listened to properly, “Firefly, your target lives in the cloud house with rainbows pouring out of it. You can’t really miss it; it's right over there.” She pointed towards the airborne house floating over the next rise, continuing, “Careful with her… she’s faster than you, you’ll need to use your agility. Don't do anything too dangerous.”

Her statement was met with an eye-roll from Firefly, who clearly wasn’t worried about it, “Bah, I know how to deal with one trick pony, and danger is my middle name!”

"Your middle name may as well be 'suicide' with the way you act," commented the light blue unicorn, who was still toying with several rocks off to the side.

The leader sighed, giving another warning glare to the two that spoke up, then pointed to the white pegasus and continued, “Surprise, yours is in the pastry shop in town. Now I know you like to be loud, but be careful about witnesses since He said we can’t allow any of them on this mission. Anyway, she’s a pink earth pony, so at least you’ll have an advantage with your wings.”

Then finally she spoke to the white gem-flanked unicorn, “Sparkler, yours is also in town, but not in as busy an area: Carousel Boutique. If I have to come after you because you get distracted by the shiny things in her shop, I will make you sorry.”

Twilight, the name this pink unicorn apparently shared with one of the Element holders, stood up straight and finished, “I’m off to the library; we’ll meet back at the designated area. If you can’t grab yours, don’t be afraid to run. Next time we’ll come in force for the ones we didn’t get, but this time we all have the element of surprise.”

“Yay surprise!” Surprise squealed, predictably, doing several loops in the air in another sudden burst of excitement.

Twilight face-hoofed, “Right… anyway I’ve helped those of you who would let me with your plans so snap to it. I expect you all back through the gate in less than three hours.”

-------------------------------------------------------

Twilight Sparkle closed the last book of the afternoon, rising to her hooves and stretching, frowning slightly as her mind went over what she had learned, or rather hadn't learned. She had been studying ancient history lately, but there was a distinct lack of references for anything that occurred prior to a thousand years ago, and very few and vague references for the conflict between Luna and Celestia that occured at that time. Twilight often wondered if Celestia was hiding something in particular about the events, even if she was certain Celestia would have good reason if she did so. Then again, perhaps there just wasn't a lot of record keeping done in the days when Discord ruled.

She glanced about the room, noticing how many books she had left out, then looking back at the shelves and trying to remember from which shelf she had gotten them. Oh well; it probably wasn’t important, and certainly wasn’t her problem.

“Spiiiike?” she called loudly.

The patter of tiny feet immediately ran towards her up the stairs, and Spike was soon seen panting as he arrived in her room, “Yes Twilight?”

The little dragon’s eager face made her smile, but didn’t keep Twilight from ordering him around. It wasn’t that she was necessarily being bossy,since he’d probably be disappointed if she didn’t give him an order every few minutes that he was here.

“Clean up these books okay? I’m going to be getting ready for Pinkie’s party tonight, so join me downstairs in a few,” Twilight said as she reached a hoof out to pat his head, turning back to walk towards the lower level of the library.

She didn’t have long to get ready before there was a knock on the door. Twilight arched an eyebrow, heading over to see who could be calling on her at this hour. Surely it wasn’t any of her best friends, since they would probably be shortly on the way to Pinkie’s party as well.

“Coming!” Twilight called out, not wanting to stop Spike from finishing his task upstairs. As she moved towards the door, her horn glowed, making the door glow in turn as it opened with a creak.

There before her stood the pink unicorn that so recently had been atop the hill, commanding her own friends to attack Twilight’s. It seemed that the pink unicorn had found her own target.

“Oh, hello there, cousin Wish,” Twilight Sparkle smiled in recognition, “Great to see you; actually it’s a great time to stop by. I was about to leave for my friend’s party, so maybe you could come with me?”

Indeed, while her friends had been preparing back home, the pink unicorn had already been busily finding out all the information that they would need here in Ponyville. For the past three weeks, she had been pulling herself off as a new resident of the town, and had even convinced Twilight that she was a long lost cousin due to family resemblance. No pony questioned the assertion here in Ponyville, as every pony pretty much trusted each other and had no reason to think such things would be lied about. She had even told Twilight Sparkle her real name, though the other unicorn had taken to calling her Wish to avoid confusion around others, a play on the pink unicorn’s special chant she sometimes used when casting magic.

Twilight Wish had even learned a great deal about the Elements themselves, even if the information she was actually going to need was still lacking. It was no worry to her however, as she was certain that her master would come through for her once again.

“Cousin!” Wish smiled, but looked unsure at the offer, “Oh, I’m not sure if I should go, you know, I actually wanted to talk to you about something rather important.”

Twilight smirked, “You're always avoiding meeting my friends. Look, you don’t have to worry, I’m SURE that they will just love you. They’re all really rather nice.”

Wish chuckled nervously, “No Twilight, dear, I mean it this time. You’re in danger. They’re coming for you.”

Twilight blinked, trying to figure out if this was some kind of a joke, but a look into the other unicorn’s eyes indicated that it wasn’t. She mouthed slowly, “What’s wrong? Who’s coming?”

“I can’t say,” Twilight Wish replied seriously, “I can only show. Twilight, do you trust me? I need you to trust me.”

“Well, yes, I think so, Wish,” Twilight nodded slowly, feeling uncertain, but at the same time wanted to know what had this unicorn in such a worried state, “Are my friends in danger?”

“Yes, they are,” her pink companion sighed, “Twilight, please come close, I’m going to teleport us both.”

The nervousness in Wish’s voice was apparent, yet there was something Twilight couldn’t put a hoof on. Her mind seemed closed, as if she were expecting Twilight herself to attack her.

‘Don’t be silly,’ Twilight thought to herself, ‘Why would she be afraid of me? She’s probably just scared that someone else will find us.’

“Fine, I’ll get Spike,” Twilight nodded, turning as if to head up the stairs.

“No,” the pink unicorn walked closer to her, moving around to cut her off, “He’s not the one they want, so he’ll probably only be in more danger if he comes with us. Twilight, trust me.” The unicorn made her very best pleading face, tears glistening in her eyes. It was a good thing that the library here had so many books on acting for her to skim through during her time here.

Twilight took a deep breath, “Fine then, but shouldn’t I tell him where we’re going?”

“No!” Wish tried hard to keep her voice down, “He’ll try to follow us and put himself in danger, please Twilight… this will only take a minute, I SWEAR.”

Twilight nodded again, stepping close to the other unicorn, “Fine then.”

The pink unicorn moved to stand close to her as well, both facing the same direction with cutie marks touching. Twilight glanced towards the other unicorn, watching as she closed her eyes. A faint purple mist formed around the two, glittering in the light of the room, engulfing them both. Twilight wasn’t alarmed by the smoke, having seen the unicorn cast before, but braced herself, knowing that teleportation with another pony could be a rough ride.

“I wish… I wish… I wish,” with Twilight Wish’s chant, there was a flash of light that arched through the mist.

Then they were both gone, the teleport spell pulling both unicorns into the vortex.

Spike, as luck would have it, arrived too late to see what had occurred. He looked about, not seeing any sign of any pony here, despite having sworn he had heard Twilight speaking down here moments earlier.

“Twilight?” he asked himself, but not to anypony in particular, as he was now certainly alone.

-------------------------------------------------------

Fluttershy put up the last bag of animal feed, having finished feeding her many house pets before sending them outside to play. Placing it in the cupboard with the others, she smiled to herself. It was now time to head over for Pinkie’s latest party, which she, like every pony looked forward to.

Turning about, she headed towards the door, head tucked quietly with the small smile remaining on her face. She was not too involved at parties, but she always enjoyed being with her friends even if just to stand and watch them have fun at times. These parties with just the six closest friends together seemed even more special, especially given what the six had been through in the past.

As she opened the door however, she blinked in confusion. She stared into the face of another yellow pony with pink mane and tail. For a moment she thought she was looking into a mirror, but no… this pony was an earth pony and the cutie mark was different.

“Oh!” the earth pony exclaimed. Clearly she had been standing there for some time, too nervous to knock on the door, “H-hello.”

“Oh my. Um… hello,” Fluttershy spoke as she shifted a hoof shyly at the new pony, “Are you lost?” Fluttershy was confused at why any pony would be too nervous to knock on her door, but this one seemed nice enough.

“Oh... um. Yes. I am lost. And thirsty. I don’t suppose you could… no probably not,” the earth pony looked at her hooves, seeming embarrassed at herself for a moment.

Fluttershy’s pity for a pony in need outweighed her own shyness just enough to let her speak, “Oh dear, please come in. I will get you some tea, and then you can come with me into Ponyville. Don’t worry we’ll find out where you should be.” She gave a sweet smile, turning back inside of her cottage.

The earth pony followed behind, looking deeply ashamed as she followed the pegasus in. There wasn’t a lot of conversation between the two, and the earth pony ended up watching in silence while the pegasus brewed them some tea. They exchanged glances a few times, but each time both of them would turn away, seeming unable to stare each other in the eye.

“Um. Well here you are,” Fluttershy spoke as she carefully poured herself and the other pony a cup of tea. “Oh. I’m Fluttershy by the way.”

The other pony walked slowly to the table, nodding, “Oh. Hello Fluttershy. I’m Posey and I… oh my.”

Posey looked out the window behind Fluttershy, clearly feigning surprise to get the pegasus to turn around. It was such a bad ruse that only the most naïve of ponies would have fallen for it. Luckily for her…

“Oh is something outside?” Fluttershy turned, walking to the window and looking out of it. She then slowly turned back towards the table, smiling again, “It must be gone now. There are a lot of animals around here, so don’t be too alarmed.”

Posey nodded, moving to sip her tea, only looking all the more ashamed. Her mood was even more obvious now; enough for Fluttershy to be more concerned as she sipped her own tea.

“Are you okay, Posey?” Fluttershy asked, taking another big gulp of her own tea.

Posey shook her head, tears streaming down her face, “N.. no.. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry oh goodness I’m so sorry…”

“What do you…” Fluttershy trailed off, suddenly feeling woozy after getting to the half-way point of her tea, the room beginning to spin around her. “W-what?” she murmured as the realization that the other pony had poisoned her tea came all too late for her. She had time to get one more phrase out, “I… forgive you.”

Posey watched as Fluttershy toppled to the floor. She sighed, moving slowly over to the unconscious pegasus to roll her over onto her side with a dull thud on the floor. She placed her ear to Fluttershy’s chest, making certain that the heartbeat and breathing were still regular, and then moved a hoof to straighten out Fluttershy’s mane in a nearly mother-like fashion.

Posey sighed, then began the painstaking process of dragging Fluttershy out to the cart that Posey had parked out in front, hoping no other ponies saw her. It would be awfully hard to get any other ponies to fall for the tea party trick, no doubt.

-------------------------------------------------------

Rainbow Dash posed in the mirror with a huge grin on her face, her crown from the Best Young Flier’s Competition adorning her head. It wasn’t really the best attire to a party, but it had been a long time since she’d properly showed it off. After all, there was never a bad time to remind everypony how awesome she was.

Her concentration was broken quite suddenly however, at the sound of a crash outside of her cloud house. The walls shook so hard that she thought they might be about to collapse. Her eyes went large, dropping her crown onto the floor near the door without thinking as she headed out to see if somepony was hurt.

On her front yard, if that is what one could call the clouds and rainbow falls outside of her cloud home, it looked as if a pink pegasus had rather ingloriously crashed into her rainbow pond, covering herself from head to hoof. At first Rainbow felt rather cross, but realized that she should probably help the poor pegasus before berating her. After all, even she crashed sometimes. Well okay; often.

“Hey you okay?” Rainbow held out a hoof, but the pink pegasus refused to take it.

Instead, the other pegasus was on her feet in a snap, yelling at Rainbow, “Aha! Gotcha!”

“Uh.. excuse me?” Rainbow looked at her dubiously, stretching out her own wings a bit defensively, “Who are you?”

“I’m Firefly!” the pink pegasus grinned, but the her smile faded as she twitched, dropping her confident glare for just a moment. “Wait just a sec,” she spoke again as she suddenly realized that she had forgotten to actually come up with much of a plan, even after having refused to let anyone else help her make one.

“Oh yeah?” Rainbow Dash sounded as if she was starting to get annoyed, “Look Firefly, it’s just great meeting you I’m sure, but I’m busy getting ready for a party, so if you’re okay you should just…”

“Race ya!” Firefly blurted out, cutting Rainbow off and striking a sudden pose of her own as if ready to take off.

“What? Oh uh. Well sure, we could do that, but let’s wait 'til after the…” Rainbow started to explain.

“Coward!” Firefly blurted out again, then turned about to rear on her forelegs and aim a back hoof directly at Rainbow’s face.

Rainbow was quick, dodging around the hoof with a start. When Firefly took off, she couldn’t help but feel her own competitive spirit surging. She took off moments after, quickly catching up to her assailant.

“Why you! I’ll beat you and still have time to get where I’m goin' ya little…” Rainbow shot past the other pegasus with ease, barely having taken a few flaps of her own powerful wings to do so.

However, Rainbow was surprised when her pink competition caught up and shot past her in a blur of pink and blue. She had never had a pegasus outstretch her that quickly, but she was determined not to let it phase her. After all, she was only using a fraction of her own ability.

“Oh gonna play this way huh?” Rainbow tilted downward, wings hammering, body surging forward as the force seemed to bend around her body, "Fine! We'll play this way!"

“Bah! Is that your best?” shouted Firefly in return, still keeping up, then shooting up into the air at a sharp angle, twirling as she taunted and laughed.

Rainbow didn’t know what to think of this other pegasus. She clearly wasn’t as fast as Rainbow, but was certainly agile, making so many sharp turns and spins during her flight that Rainbow found it dizzying to lock on and follow her.

Obviously though, Rainbow couldn’t let this other pegasus have the last laugh, so she shot up in turn to catch back up with the other pegasus. When the upwards spiral turned downward again to send both pegasi towards the ground, Dash couldn’t have been happier.

“Let’s see ya pull this off!” Dash compressed her body into the motion, heading downward at a sharp angle and watching the ground scream up towards her.

The air began to glow around her, a pocket of energy forming as she slid past the pink pegasus. Suddenly, the air seemed to explode around her in a huge wave of energy, rainbow shock-waves rattling the air around her, causing a brilliant pattern in the sky.

What she didn’t expect, however, was for the agile Firefly to actually grab hold of her tail just as she was breaking through, a trail of pink and blue swirling around her own rainbow trail as they continued downward.

Firefly clung on for dear life with her bare teeth, eyes wide in shock, clearly not having been expecting this to happen when she reached out to take hold of her opponent. Having only seconds to think as Rainbow was quickly regaining control and compensating for the extra weight, Firefly did the most rash thing she could possibly think of.

“Double inside out loop!” Firefly cackled, having no idea what would happen at this speed, but not really caring.

Grabbing hold by hooking her forelimbs against Rainbow’s hind legs, she swung herself forward, wings beating the air and using the surge of speed that Dash had unintentionally lent her. Her form shot directly in front of Dash, looping around her repeatedly, continually using her forelimbs to swing about by holding onto Rainbow’s wings.

At this point, however, Firefly began to care a lot more about what would happen doing her trick at this speed. Namely, she felt her fur literally ignite into flames, a jet of fire spreading out behind her as her inertia continued to carry her around Rainbow until the pegasus was literally surrounded by a ball of fire.

Firefly screeched, letting herself go, luckily shooting up into the air in the process. She dove directly at a nearby dark cloud, plummeting into it and shaking about to soak herself in the water contained there. Even after the fire was out, her skin felt as if it were burning, but at least she wasn’t hurtling towards the ground.

Rainbow Dash was not so fortunate. She felt the flames surrounding her, unable to see anything through the ball of fire. She knew that she was heading towards the ground however, and immediately angled upwards, flying right through the flames to burst from the giant fireball with a jet of rainbow light behind her.

An explosive wave struck her from behind as the fireball slammed into the ground and exploded, the shockwave sending her even more out of control than she was. She felt herself grow dizzy, spreading out her wings and trying to screech to a halt as quickly as she could.

Before she could pull out, she suddenly felt herself slam into the ground at an angle, bouncing up after leaving an impact mark there. Pain shot through her right wing, and trying to move it proved no use. Soon she was spiralling out of control directly towards a grove of trees. She felt the sting of dozens of branches snapping around her, followed by a solid crack of impact as her right side contacted a tree. Pain and darkness quickly followed as she blacked out.

-------------------------------------------------------

Applejack was bringing in the last haul of the day, glad to be done with it and looking forward to the party later on that evening. She would leave some of it for the next day and had told Big Macintosh not to do it himself, though she wondered to herself if he would. She hated having others finish her own load of work when it wasn’t necessary.

Upon arriving near the apple barn, however, her thoughts were pulled away from her family and towards an unusual sight. A tan pony with blond mane, who looked almost exactly like her save for a small difference in cutie mark, was balancing herself atop a barrel that she had propped against the nearest apple tree, reaching up for one of the apples.

“Uh.. howdy?” Applejack wasn’t sure what to think of the other pony’s technique.

“Oh howdy!” the other pony smiled, turning herself about, then suddenly collapsing off the barrel as she lost her balance, slamming her face against a branch before landing on her back on the ground.

“Uh,” Applejack moved forward, unbuckling herself and leaving the cart that she had been pulling behind, “Ya okay? Ya know ya could just kick tha tree ta get tha apples out, not that ah’m saying ya should'a been stealin' apples from our trees ta begin with.”

“Oh, stealing? These are your trees?” the other pony was on her feet quickly, if clumsily, and smiled, “Oh, you’re Applejack, I was just looking for you.”

“Yeah our trees, tha ones right next to our barn,” Applejack seemed cross at first, but then calmed slightly when the other pony continued on.

“Lookin' fer me?” Applejack automatically assumed that this must be some long lost relative that she was unaware of, so she politely nodded, “Well ya found me. Uh. Yer gonna have ta forgive me though. Ah seem ta be at a loss as ta who ya are. Ah’m Applejack like ya said, so ya already seem ta know me. 'We related? What’s yer name?”

“We sorta are. I mean after a fashion I guess,” the other pony smiled, though seemed to be having trouble deciding what words to put together. “Oh! I’m… Apple… Juice. Applejuice.” The fact that she had just made that name up on the spot couldn’t have been much more obvious.

Applejack blinked, recognizing this fairly quickly, walking closer to get a better look at the new pony. She grew slightly suspicious, but continued, “Uh. Kin ah help ya?”

“Well yeah, actually, you can, but we need to go into the barn there. It’s sort of embarrassing to me,” the strange earth pony’s new words seemed honest enough, at least.

“Yer real name is embarassin'? Well sure thang ah guess…” Applejack thought this was strange, but it never occurred to her that the other pony might be dangerous. Who ever heard of a dangerous pony in Ponyville? Well, at least discounting the possessed ones, but this one didn’t seem that far gone. Applejack turned towards the smaller barn near her main house, moving to open the door and step inside.

Once inside, the two stared at one another awkwardly for a few more moments. Applejack tilted her head, looking at the other, who moved her head to look about casually in response.

“Still embarrassed?” Applejack asked, dubiously, “Is this onna Pinkie or Dash’s pranks? Cause if it is ah ain’t got time fer it.”

“No,” her twin replied, “It’s just, I’m still embarrassed, maybe you could close your eyes just for a second, or a minute.”

Applejack sighed, “So it is a prank, fine then let’s get it over with.” She closed her eyes, waiting patiently, “Ah only gotta minute though, so be quick about it.”

The other pony turned herself about, looking over her shoulder. She carefully moved herself back and forth, lining herself up, and then suddenly lodged both hind hooves back to try to impact Applejack’s head. She promptly missed, sending her hooves too far to the right, then collapsed at the loss of balance.

Applejack felt the rush of air and the thud on the ground, “What tha hay you up to? Ya all right?” Still, she didn’t open her eyes yet.

“No I’m fine!” the other earth pony assured her, “Just a few more seconds, I swear!”

The earth pony carefully lined up her flanks again, moving over a bit, deciding it would be more effective to hit from the side. One hoof was driven up, barely brushing against Applejack’s mane. Applejack shook her head, unsure still what was going on.

“Filly, you gotta’bout ten seconds ta get to tha-,” Applejack started, but her sentence was cut off as the two hind hooves finally met their mark, slamming into the side of her head. Her head cracked against the nearest support beam for the barn, pinning it there to harden the impact.

Applejack’s eyes flew open just in time to see another kick lodged at her face, coming inches in front of it. She backed out of the way, tripping herself over a feeding trough that had been stored behind her, her rear slamming into it before she flipped the whole thing over and landed on her back. Her head was swimming, eyes darting around to see where her attacker went.

It seemed that her match had fallen off balance again when her last kick had been dodged, tumbling into the same beam that Applejack had been slammed against. The impact rattled the barn, causing a cloud of dust to settle around them both. Her own eyes darted around to see where Applejack had landed.

Before Applejack could speak, the other pony lunged over the trough at her, her fore-hooves now aimed at the grounded pony’s head. Applejack reacted without thinking, aiming her own hind legs up to kick the other pony in the gut, sending her flying back to skid across the dirt of the barn, ending in a crash as she slammed into an equipment rack, rakes and various farming tools falling upon her.

The athletic pony was on her feet more slowly than she might have normally been, her head still swimming with the initial impact. She found her own balance to be impaired, turning just in time to find that the other pony had risen to her feet and was preparing to lash her feet out again. Applejack dodged one, but then had another hoof slam into her forehead once again.

Had it not been such a serious situation, Applejack might have thought it was comical when she really did get a look at her opponent. It seemed that the other pony presently had a bucket over her head, the last two kicks having been pure dumb luck as she was simply launching her hind legs in the direction that she heard Applejack.

Applejack herself swung around, sending her own hooves back to impact against the other pony’s legs. There were several sickening cracks, the other pony screaming in pain at the impacts. Still, they were poorly aimed, and the other one was able to stagger off to the side out of sight in the dark barn.

“What in tarnation? Whar are ya? Ah sware when ah... when ah,” Applejack could barely speak, her head swimming now, her vision blurred. She finally gave up finding the other pony, heading towards the light that she knew to be the open barn door.

Just when she thought she would arrive there safely, a stumbling mass of earth pony slammed into her from the side, knocking her over and pinning her onto the floor. When she looked up, the other pony was just now succeeding in getting the bucket off her head. She looked down at Applejack, stunned and apparently having tackled her on accident.

Applejack launched her feet up again, but the other pony was now between said legs, making her powerful kick hit nothing but air on either side of her. The pony atop her responded with several more fore-hooves to the face, pain jolting through Applejacks head once again as she finally felt the world around her black out.

-------------------------------------------------------

Rarity tried on her third hat and scarf of the evening, never quite satisfied with what she saw. “Oh I suppose this will do,” she huffed, then turned towards her door. It was off to another fabulous party for her, and she was certainly looking forward to it, at least as long as Pinkie didn’t flavor the punch with anything unsanitary.

As with other ponies that day, her thoughts were cut off with a knock at the door. Her horn glowed, not bothering to walk over from her primping session. The door opened slowly and she looked out of it from where she was, spying a pony with coat and mane very similar to her own, save for the pink streak in the middle of the mane. What’s more, as the pony entered, they seemed to have a very similar cutie mark to her own, perhaps the same.

“Oh… why hello dear. Welcome to Carousel Boutique. Why aren’t you just a darling!” Rarity spoke, unable to resist complimenting the pony that looked just as fabulous as herself, “I must apologize, however. You see I have already closed today, since I am attending a party tonight and can’t be more than fashionably late. I’m sure you under… stand?” Rarity paused near the end, arching an eyebrow as the other pony ignored her statements and walked fully inside anyway, closing the door behind her with her own horn and actually moving to walk around the counter.

“Oh don’t worry ‘darling’. This won’t take long,” the strange unicorn smiled, “My name is Sparkler, by the way, no need to introduce yourself, I know who you are.”

“Oh, truly?” Rarity found herself smiling, flattering certainly got ponies somewhere with her, “I hope you didn’t come too far to visit, but as I said I am about to leave. Perhaps we could make an appointment for tomorrow?” Rarity was not exactly wanting to give up a potential customer; especially one that seemed to know her work so well.

“That would be perfect 'darling',” Sparkler nodding as she trotted over to Rarity. Her eyes visibly shifted over to a number of shiny gems on the counter, then across the room to take in every little thing. So many shiny objects…

Rarity nodded, turning to walk over to her appointment book. The pages glowed as they quickly flipped over to the next day. She pondered as she spoke, “How would ten in the morning sound? I had somepony cancel, so I could get you in bright and early. We could probably have a nice chat too, I wouldn’t mind getting to know you, especially with our cutie marks matching so wonderfully."

“How about now ‘darling’?” Sparkler’s initially polite voice was near mockery by now, quietly shifting the gems she had been looking at into her own side bag while Rarity was turned away.

Rarity blinked, her pen stopping an inch from the parchment, having been expecting Sparkler to go for the idea. She slowly asked, “But I thought you said-? Look dear, I would love to help you now but-”

Rarity was cut off as the scarf she had on suddenly tightened around her neck, glowing with magic. Sparkler trotted up behind her, climbing right onto her back and grabbing the scarf in her own mouth as well, aiding the motion of her own telekinesis. At first Rarity had no idea what was going on, just that a strange mare was trying to mount her.

“Well I never. Stop that this… instant…” Rarity’s voice was cut off further, suddenly realizing that the other unicorn was in fact assaulting her rather than being amorous.

Rarity’s eyes darted around, unable to fathom why such a creature would be attacking her. Her eyes shifted to stare into the mirror on the dresser, directly front of her, spotting the determined gaze of her attacker, and knew what to do. She used the mirror reflection to target her own magic, making a bag of gems rise from behind the other pony and flinging it towards her head.

Unfortunately, the same mirror that allowed Rarity to target also allowed Sparkler to spot the incoming missile and duck below it, yanking harder still. She twisted her body around, trying to pull Rarity’s head away so that she couldn’t look into the mirror again. This caused both ponies to slam into the dresser, causing the mirror to fall behind it with a shattering crack.

Rarity started to call out, more disturbed that her beautiful dresser had just been trashed than that she was being strangled, but she quickly went back to the task at hand. Unable to see her assailant, she used her powers instead to grab objects in front of her. She threw several more gems that were lying out, flinging them behind her to try to strike Sparkler, but Sparkler could easily see and dodge the projectiles. Next came an empty coat rack, which actually bounced off of Sparklers side, but then Rarity was quite out of things to toss.

The main thing that held her back was her complete unwillingness to throw anything that might be damaged. Had it not been for her reluctance to toss clothing to cover up the unicorns own vision or a well of ink to spray the other unicorn, she probably wouldn’t have had much of an issue getting Sparkler off of her.

The two struggled for what seemed like forever to both of them, even if it was only a few minutes. Rarity felt her power wane at the lack of oxygen, eventually stumbling forward so that her head slammed into the counter.

She felt herself fading into unconsciousness, her mind racing even now to think of a reason why this fabulous unicorn would have attacked her. Did she mess up their outfit? Did she forget an order? What terrible crime against fashion had she committed? Her head swam again, vision going blurry as she gasped for air.

The other pony continued to pull, waiting for her victim to fall unconscious before slowly releasing. The last thing Rarity heard before blacking out was the soft voice of the other unicorn whispering, “You really are a gorgeous thing. I must say, it will truly be a waste when we end you.”

Sparkler nudged roughly at Rarity’s still form to make sure she was breathing again, and then moved quickly to bind her. Out from her bag came a blindfold to cover her eyes, as well as dully glowing magical chains which were locked around her legs. The other unicorn made sure the door was locked, then went about her own business, filling the empty space in her bag with as many of Rarity’s more shiny possessions as possible before preparing to drag the other unicorn to her own cart.

-------------------------------------------------------

Pinkie Pie had already finished the decorations for her party, her room now blanketed with banners, ribbons, streamers, balloons, and every party joy that she could conceive of. Now she had gone back downstairs and sat at the front door to Sugar Cube Corner, eagerly awaiting her friends.

Strangely however, none of them had showed up as of yet. Usually they were early if anything, so it was a small worry. The little doubt she started with increased with every tick of the clock, and soon she felt like she might start deflating at the wait.

Finally, a knock at the door brought her back to attention. She hopped up with an audible springing noise, racing forward to open it.

“Hey there welcome to the… oh,” Pinkie stared at the white pegasus.

“Hi!” the white pegasus blurted out, “Hey I’m one of your friend’s friends and I was invited too, can I come in?” She looked quite confident in herself, certain that she would be welcomed in it seemed, and possibly looking forward to her best and potentially most painful surprise yet.

What happened next didn’t quite fit into her plan.

“YOU!” Pinkie suddenly pointed a hoof into her face.

“Me?” the pegasus kept her grin, but was unable to move inside due to Pinkie blocking her path, “Hey I’m Surprise! Have we met?”

“You shouldn’t exist! I replaced you!” Pinkie blurted out, suddenly in a blind panic for no reason that Surprise could imagine.

Pinkie suddenly bounced back from the door, diving behind the counter at the front of the bakery. The pegasus followed inside, quickly realizing that the pink one was somehow onto her and she had to act fast if she was going to catch the on-guard pony off-guard.

“I don’t know what you mean. I was invited to the party, honest!” Surprise smiled, moving towards the counter, trying hard to seem friendly. Her mind raced however, her eyes darting around, trying to figure out how the pink pony had been tipped off. Had one of her friends failed already?

Suddenly, Pinkie sprang up once again, wielding what looked like a t-shirt cannon decorated in candy stripes and frosting design. Into this contraption, Pinkie was loading several cupcakes, a comically devious look on her face as she primed the device and aimed it directly at Surprise’s face.

“Go back to the eighties!” Pinkie yelled out, though somehow laughing hysterically at the same time.

There was an incredibly moist sound, and the delicious payload slammed into Surprise’s face, sending her head over hooves back across the room, slamming into the far wall. Skidding on her back, the pegasus quickly flapped her wings to right herself, tearing open the saddlebag she wore to reach inside. Before anyone could ask her how in Celestia’s name she was doing this, she was pulling out objects that were far too large to have fit inside. A toaster, a large brick, and a small anvil all flew towards the air directly at Pinkie.

Pinkie fired the cupcake cannon at the projectiles, which of course had a less than stellar effect on them. She barely ducked out of the way as the objects slammed into the cake rack behind her, causing it to shake as several large cakes fell off, one of them splatting squarely on her head. She jumped back up, now wearing an upside down cake as a hat, and fired another cupcake at the support for the shelf closest to Surprise.

Sure enough, the shelf toppled and hit its mark, knocking Surprise to the floor and pinning her, little stars dancing around her head. She grunted angrily, and then shoved the cake rack off of her, now covered in delicious frosting as well.

“This isn’t a game!” Surprise yelled at the Pink pony, actually grabbing the stars that had been floating around her head moments earlier, using her mouth to throw one after another to Pinkie.

“Of course it is silly!” Pinkie was having a great deal more fun than Surprise, even if she probably wasn’t thinking about how much trouble she would get into for trashing the shop.

Not even Pinkie was expecting the stars to actually be thrown, however, and was finally struck in the head by two of them. The jolts of energy from the strange projectiles coursed through her, causing her to shiver violently. It actually felt quite hilarious, but all the same sent her to the floor, temporarily disabled.

“W.. oh my stars what are you doing Pinkie?” Missus Cake’s voice shouted as she hoofed it down the stairs just in time to see the baking rack overturn onto Surprise, who to her just appeared to be a random shop patron. “Pinkamena Dianne Pie!” Miss Cake was very motherly in the way she screamed Pinkie’s name; Pinkie only ever heard her full name when she was being scolded.

Though Missus Cake had already half-expected Pinkie to be trashing the place when she heard noises from upstairs, she certainly didn’t expect what happened next. The pegasus pony lunged at her, briefly fluttering through the air before slamming into her, knocking her back against a window, which cracked slightly at the impact.

“SURPRISE!” Surprise yelled, a psychotic grin on her face.

Pinkie started to explain, but her mouth was barely open before she saw Surprise reach back into her hammer-space-equipped saddlebag. Out of it she now pulled a baseball bat, which was promptly slammed into the head of the shocked Missus Cake with a frenzy that even surprised Pinkie. Somehow, she held the bat between both hooves when swinging it, getting plenty of wind up to properly beat her victim.

“No witnesses! He said no witnesses! Surprise!” the crazy pegasus cackled madly, continuing to slam the bat down on the head of the older pony, who was quite helpless after the first few hits.

“No!” Pinkie launched herself over the counter top, promptly tripping over the brick that Surprise had thrown before, which was now on the floor. She found herself slamming into the cake rack that she had just knocked over.

“Pinkie!” Missus Cake yelled out, now a cry for help rather than a cry of anger.

Now, however, Pinkie’s leg was caught in the shelf and she was straining to get it loose. By the time Pinkie arrived, Ms. Cake had stopped yelling or even moving for that matter. Pinkie angrily tackled the pegasus off her surrogate mother, slamming her into the window cracked by Missus Cake's head a moment earlier.

“Somepony is gonna pay! Somepony is gonna pay BIG TIME!” Pinkie screamed, suddenly taking the situation deadly serious, a mode that few had seen her in and fewer had liked.

The pegasus was knocked back, but kicked in return. The kick barely glanced at Pinkie’s belly, now too close for Surprise to get in a good strike. She slammed the pegasus back against the window again, which splintered and cracked with each violent slam. Several more shoves later, Surprise found herself breaking through the window and landing on the other side.

Pinkie then raced back, grabbing the baseball bat that Surprise had used on Missus Cake. She gasped at the bloody result, lifting her up to try to see if she was still alive, “M-Missus Cake?” Looking down and realizing how bad the damage was, Pinkie’s mane almost immediately drooped, an actual whoosh of air escaping as her mane and tail both straightened out.

“AHHHHHHHH!” a shout came from the front of the bakery.

Pinkie turned around to see the terrified eyes of three young fillies. Applebloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle all stood there, having heard the commotion from outside and they had come to see what it was. The first thing they had seen was a trashed pastry shop and a straight-haired Pinkie standing over Missus Cake with a bloody baseball bat.

“I… quick get help!” Pinkie yelled at them, then darted towards the window that she had so recently thrown Surprise out, trying to catch up to the pegasus and leaving the cuties to get help. It never even occurred to her that they probably thought she was the assailant.

Outside, she saw no sight of the pegasus. Surprise had promptly given up at the arrival of other potential witnesses, and probably wasn’t too keen on beating the snot out of young fillies. Then again, maybe she had just decided that she couldn't take them all on without at least one witness escaping.

Still, Pinkie ran along, looking up into the sky, trying to find her. Tears streamed down her face as the rage coursed through her body like she had never felt before. She wasn’t sure how long she searched, loosing track of time, but eventually had to give up. How could this pegasus escape her? Not even Rainbow Dash could do that.

She came around to the front of the bakery this time, not wanting to risk cutting herself more on the glass of the window, but as she came around the side of the building, she was met by the screaming faces of the three fillies again.

“Girls!” Pinkie exclaimed, “Did you get help?”

Pinkie waited for an answer, but was just met by three sets of frightened eyes. She tried to smile slowly, at which time her mind connected the previous events as they had likely been seen by the three small fillies.

“Oh wait,” Pinkie waved a hoof, “You don’t think I… no no no, let me explain.”

There was no chance to explain though as the three fillies ran screaming around to the front of the store, starting to run circles around a guard pony that they had apparently summoned there already before settling in behind him.

“Yeah that didn’t go well,” Scootaloo commented to her friends from behind the guard.

“You’re tellin me,” responded Sweetie Belle, coming to a halt next to the other, also hiding behind the guard.

“Guess us bein' Cutie Mark Crusader Crime-Fighters is right out huh…” Applebloom sighed.

The large guard pony turned to look nervously at Pinkie Pie, seeming less like he was afraid of her and more like he wasn’t really comfortable arresting a party pony. He spoke carefully, “Come with me Miss Pie. No need to cause any more trouble.”

Pinkie shook her head, tears streaming down her face again. How could they think she attacked somepony… killed somepony? She didn’t even know if Missus Cake was even alive! She looked at the shop, unable to see well inside, then back to the approaching guard. She clenched her teeth, and did the only thing she could think of doing.

She ran.