The hallway to the second floor of the Sugar Cube Corner was quiet, almost eerily so. There wasn't a noise to be heard, even though there were two newborn foals and a notoriously hyper pink pony in one of the bedrooms.
When the Cakes came upstairs, it was music to their ears that there wasn't any commotion. They opened the door to the bedroom to catch them asleep in their crib, with Pinkie Pie standing watch over them, looking a little sleepy herself. She perked up when she saw they were home, and closed the door behind her.
"Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Cake!" Pinkie Pie whispered. "I thought you were going to be gone a lot longer. You said you wouldn't be back until 3, but now it's only 2:15! Did the ponies in the baking contest not like you two?"
"Oh dear, no," said Mrs. Cake. "They thought we were wonderful judges, but it was a lot shorter than we imagined."
"But that's not the best part," said Mr. Cake. "We came home to tell you that we finally got the catalog!"
He reached into his saddlebag to pull out a catalog for cafe products. The title was "Getting A Better Day's Rest: A Listing of Cafe Products 2012," and had a picture of many goodies for the cover, like coffee and exotic cookies.
"Ooh, does that mean we're selling more stuff in the Corner now?" asked Pinkie Pie. "We have so many treats to choose from, cupcakes and carrot cakes, like your names, and all the ponies say to me 'I love these cakes, Pinkie Pie, thanks so much!' But if we sell more things in the Corner, even more ponies will go out with smiles! And who doesn't like to smile?"
"I know I do," laughed Mrs. Cake, never tired of Pinkie's imagination. "How were the foals while we were gone?"
"Wonderful! They're getting better all the time, and I only had to use one bag of flour today!"
"Flour?" Mr. Cake asked, a little puzzled. "What were you doing with that bag of flour?"
"Oh, just for baking cakes," she lied. "I promise that's all they do, after all, their bodies are growing up, and they can know all about cakes!"
The Cakes bought the excuse, and looked back to the foals. The babies were sleeping soundily in their beds by then. The Cakes agreed to pay Pinkie the agreed amount of bits, and she went outside the Corner. She said something about needing to be part of Twilight's latest experiment involving manes before she was gone.
They sighed once they were alone, grateful that Pinkie appeared to be getting better all the time at this foalsitting business. Not wanting to wake Pound Cake and Pumpkin Cake, they went downstairs and dug out multiple jars full to the brim with bits, each having the label "Expansion Money".
"It's finally time," he smiled over to her. "Can you believe it? After all these years of saving up, we finally have enough to look at this and buy something."
"I can't believe it either," she said. "I'm really proud of you, that took a lot of work. Let's see what we can buy, but what can we get out of these products?"
"That's the best part from waiting this long, we can get almost everything on this catalog!"
Eager to see for herself, she flipped through the pages and eyed the prices, and it was true. There had to be thousands of bits in their inventory just for this, and nothing was above one thousand. They could cherry pick whatever they wanted and it wouldn't be a problem.
But picking exactly what to purchase was trickier than they imagined. There were entire pages full of items they already had in their possession, especially when it came to the pastery section. It was odd, the catalog carried nothing but brand names, and occasionally they would even see their own name in it, a result from franchising their best known materials.
Then things got a little more interesting. There was a section full of things they never had before in a section called "The Cafe's Choice". Here, they found such things like coffee cakes, bottled drinks, and coffee drinks.
"Honey, what do you think about this 'coffee' business?" she wondered.
"You mean those drinks loaded with caffine?" he responded. "I haven't had a cup of coffee in years, but I used to drink them all the time in college. It took a lot of sugar and creme before I liked the taste, though. It wasn't worth the trouble."
"This 'Starbits' brand says it comes with all of that, and you're supposed to serve it with all the sugar and creme inside. That's how their machines work."
"Can I see that? I haven't heard of a coffee maker like this before."
She pushed the catalog down the table, and he looked over the Starbits section. The illustrations of what the drinks were supposed to look like were a complete 180 from what he remembered. They featured towering cups, and had so much sugar and creme inside that it was naturally white, the sign of a good cup of coffee. Ah, how they first met...
"I don't know about this, Cupcake," he admitted. "It is expensive to carry, and that's something we'll have to pass down to the customer. And we built this brand on cheap prices and good food."
"But I've heard what happened to other ponies that carried Starbits before. They got a lot of new business come in, and we can always keep the rest of our menu."
Now he was going to have to think about this. He trotted back and forth, trying to weigh the pros and cons of the move. He knew he would still have money leftover, but if he voted on this one he wouldn't have this much flexibility again for a while.
But then again, he heard the stories about the businesscolts gaining new service when they carried Starbits in their shops, too.
"Fine," he sighed. "But are you sure we'll get more ponies coming in, if we do this?"
"We'll be the first in Ponyville to have Starbits coffee. That's big, you know, they're all in Canterlot and Cloudsdale right now."
"Really? Then I'm going to place an order for that machine right now!"
"Stay still, this won't hurt," Twilight said, trying to keep Pinkie still.
"But I don't know what that machine does! Does it zap ponies with a huge lazer? Sprays them with gas that keeps them sleeping for years? I don't know!" Pinkie Pie shouted.
The massive machine took up almost all of Twilight's first floor, pointing down at a table with a massive pin at the end. She tried in vain to strap Pinkie down, but she only got out of the table and hopped around, dazzled by the flashing lights of the machine.
"No, it doesn't do any of that, it's perfectly safe!" Twilight explained. "It's part of what could be a breakthrough in mane technology, one that could change all of Equestria!"
"Oh, when you put it that way, I want to see what this is! Maybe you can make it poofier?"
Twilight shook her head, and this finally got Pinkie to strap herself in. With the maniac ready to go, the unicorn went up to a ladder high above the table, and found a dial going around. There, it had the color wheel in all its glory, and she turned it to the color blue.
She proceeded to press a gigantic red button next to the color wheel, and the machine began to hum. The noise was quiet to start and got louder by the second, until it was so loud that Twilight had to cover her ears to bear it.
A laser emerged from inside, pointed straight at Pinkie's mane. It was red-colored at first, until it cycled through all of the colors in the wheel, eventually landing on blue. It widened to cover all of the table, and Pinkie disappeared in one big blue light.
The light was almost as bright as the sun, yet she didn't make any kind of painful noises. "Hey, this kind of tickles! What do you use to make this machine going!"
"Gems and magic, Pinkie!" Twilight responded, using a pair of goggles to cover her eyes. The whole room was emerged in the color blue, before it finally faded away back to normal.
Twilight's goggles were burnt to a crisp from the power, and she tossed them away into the garbage bin. She approached the table, curious if the process worked.
And it did! Pinkie held up a mirror to see her mane had turned from its naturally pink shade to a dark blue. "Wow, now I look like...wait, I don't know many ponies with this kind of blue mane. Colgate has blue hair, but it's not all blue, it's white too!"
"Yes, it worked!" Twilight exclaimed. "I can finally change the color of a mane! This is going to be great!"
"But you already can change a mane's color! It's called mane dye!"
"I know about that, but if this works like it just did, you can change it PERMANENTLY! You'll never need another bottle again!"
Pinkie looked back at the mirror, looking back at her new blue mane. "Actually, can you change it back to pink for me? I really liked it that way, and pink's in my name! After all, I don't think Blueie Pie has the same ring to it."
"No problem! I just hope it didn't set the house on fire, it did make a lot of smoke..."
"And there we go! It's all finished!" Mr. Cake said, as the brand new Starbits neon sign lit up on the storefront window.
It had the image of Celestia herself, her hooves lifted up and pointing at her head, with a flowing dress and coated in green all around. The sign said "We Proudly Serve Starbits Coffee", for yet another great selling point for the bakery.
"How does it look, honey bun?" Mrs. Cake asked from inside, opening the door to capture her husband's reaction.
"It looks amazing! You were right, this was the right choice!" he said, coming in to take a big look at the new, steel-plated coffee machine. "I had one of their lattes, and it was delicious! Who do you think will be our first customer?"
Right then, Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle came in, with their whole bodies covered in ashes from head to hoof. They waved to greet the Cakes, thrilled for some odd reason. Maybe it was how Pinkie's hair was pink again.
"Good heavens, girls," Mrs. Cake gasped. "What happened to you two? Do you need to go to the hospital?"
"It's nothing, Mrs. Cake," Pinkie assured. "It's just that Twilight wanted to be a mad scientist for a day, and I said 'How do you want to experiment on me today?' And she said 'I want to permanently change your hair color because I'm crazy,' and I went along with it, and the machine worked, I even had a blue mane! But it's a very big machine, so when she changed it back we had to go through three fire extinguishers! Don't worry though, she only lost one book, and it was a evil book on this scientist named--"
Twilight had enough and shut Pinkie up with a hoof in the mouth. "What she's saying is, we're fine, we had a good time." The shine from the steel coffee machine grabbed her attention. "What's that?"
"That is our brand new coffee machine," Mr. Cake boasted. "It's the latest addition to our menu, and it makes all kinds of coffee. Latte, frappe, plain coffee, it's something we thought ponies would like."
"What's coffee?" Pinkie asked.
He opened his mouth to answer back, and then the thought hit him. PINKIE PIE WITH A CUP OF COFFEE. The idea of such a hyperactive pony, with a whole cup of caffeine in her system...
Mr. Cake almost fainted at the mere idea of it, but he had to explain this. "It's a drink made of these beans, you see, and they're all mixed together to make a drink full of caffeine. Caffeine helps you keep all of that energy you have, so if you're really tired, it can keep you awake."
"That sounds good, can I try it first?"
He gasped when he heard those words. It was going to happen whenever he wanted it to or not, Pinkie would have turned on the machine when they were sleeping if he refused today. He looked back at his wife to know what to do. She might have looked as grim as he was, but she nodded. It would put Ponyville in mortal danger, but they had no choice with Pinkie Pie.
"Uh, are you sure you want one? You might not like the taste."
"But I just looked at that new menu, and it says you use milk for that frappe! That's the best thing ever! Milk is tasty, and frappe is fun to say! Frappe! Frappe! Frappe!"
"OK, one frappe on the way. What flavor?"
She looked back up at the menu, seeing all the flavors. "I like chocolate."
With the order of doom made, he went over to the machine. This could mark the end of Ponyville and he knew it. He went ahead and put the settings on, giving orders to make one large chocolate frappe. The cup was placed in the dispenser, and it would take a while to make, delaying their final moment a little longer.
It was a relief to him, as he wanted to enjoy this final moment with his wife. She came over and they hugged tight to each other, like one would before being shipped off to a war. Twilight Sparkle didn't get this at all, what was the big deal?
Pinkie Pie smiled when she heard the machine whirled, making her first cup of coffee ever. She didn't know how it would taste, which just added to the excitement. Would it really taste like a chocolate bar? Or would it taste like melted chocolate, which was just as yummy? All the possibilities, and it was going to be great!
After several minutes, the machine put the whipped cream on top with chocolate syrup, the final step in the process. Mrs. Cake pulled back and watched in tears as Mr. Cake pulled the frappe out and put it on the counter to within Pinkie's reach.
"There, one chocolate frappe," he wept. "I'm so sorry it took this long..."
"What? That's not a problem, especially when it's this good!" Pinkie reassured. "Now let's dig in!"
She stuck a straw through the layer of whipped cream and right into the sugary goodness. With her mouth watering, she stuck the straw in her mouth and took one large gulp of the stuff, the caffeine going inside her body and seemingly empowering her energy...
The Cakes dove under the counter, preparing for the worst. They held onto each other, praying that Celestia would take their lives early so they wouldn't have to see a destroyed Equestria.
But nothing happened. There was nothing but peace, quiet, and Pinkie saying "Yummy!"
They came back up to see Pinkie with the frappe, looking happy as ever, and Twilight still having no idea what was going on.
"Wait, you haven't exploded yet?" Mr. Cake asked.
"Nope!" Pinkie responded.
"What about the caffeine? Don't you feel any different?" Mrs. Cake said.
"A little. My stomach feels like it's got a bunch of ants crawling all around, and they're the most hyper ants I've ever met! But that's it."
Shocked and surprised, they wiped the sweat off their foreheads. "Well," Mr. Cake said, "I think this is going to work out after all."
"Yes indeedy! It's really delicious! It's like drinking a chocolate bar, and I want this everyday if the ants calm down!"
"It does look delicious," said Twilight Sparkle. "You think I could have a sip?"
She handed Twilight the cup, and the unicorn used her horn to bring the cup over to her face. She took the straw in her mouth and had her own sip of the masterpiece before giving it back.
"Wow, that is really good," she noted. "Now, I really should go back and clean all that dust off my house--OH MY CELESTIA, I LOVE YOU GUYS!"
Suddenly, Twilight became a living ball of energy, exploding up into the air and launching straight for the Cakes. They were taken off guard as she tackled them to the ground, her pupils shrinking as she became the horror they were afraid Pinkie would become.
"OH MY GOSH, I JUST THOUGHT HOW AWESOME IT WAS THAT YOU HAVE COFFEE!" Twilight ranted, slurring her words together. "IT'S COFFEE! I CAN STAY AWAKE ALL THE TIME NOW, AND IT IS ALL THANKS TO YOU!"
She leaped off the counter and into the table area. "I LOVE COFFEE, YES I DO, INFACT I WANT MORE THAN TWO! HOW ABOUT WE DANCE, AND I SWEAR I'M NOT IN A TRANCE!"
"Uh, Twilight, you're sounding like Zecora now," Pinkie noted, as the Cakes fled for their lives to the second floor. "I'm sure that's nice, but do you even know you're rhyming?"
"OF COURSE I DON'T! BECAUSE I KNOW NOW THAT COFFEE IS THE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING! WHAT IS TWO PLUS TWO! FOUR COFFEES! WHAT IS THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE? WHEREVER COFFEE IS PRESENT! DEAR PRINCESS CELESTIA, I LEARNED ABOUT THE MAGIC OF COFFEE!"
The unicorn lunged and crashed her way outside the window, raving like a beautiful lunatic about coffee to anypony that would listen.
"OK, Twilight, you're acting really silly," said Pinkie. "But silly is fine! Silly is the best mood to be in, because that means you can make people smile!"
"I KNOW!" screamed Twilight from outside. "I CAN CONQUER EVERY BOOK IN DAYS, AND THAT MEANS I CAN USE THE NEW FREE TIME TO LEARN MORE ABOUT FRIENDSHIP--"
She suddenly felt something piercing her neck. She pulled it out to see it was a tranquilizer dart. When she looked up, she found Mrs. Cake inside with a tranquilizer gun in her mouth that was aimed straight for her.
"HOW DARE YOU! I WILL TELL YOU SOMETHING, NOPONY EVER STOPS THIS NEW COFFEE TWILIGHT! I'M COMING AFTER YOU!"
Twilight bent down on the ground, and leaped for Mrs. Cake like a jaguar. Mrs. Cake screamed as the unicorn got closer, before Mr. Cake picked up the gun and shot another dart at Twilight's belly, causing her to fall to the ground in a sleeping motion.
The whole area was hazy, unfocused in a shade of bark brown. Twilight didn't know what she was looking at, but she could feel that her forehead was really cold. She rubbed around her horn, and realized that a bag of ice was on her head.
As her vision slowly came back to her, she was starting to see the color pink in a small shape. She blinked her eyes many times, and finally made out Pinkie Pie standing in front of her.
"You're finally awake!" Pinkie joyfully said. "I gotta say, you snore funny. No wonder Spike is always tired, I couldn't nap either!"
"What?" Twilight mumbled. "I'm back home?"
"Yeah, the Cakes shot you with some gun that makes you sleepy. Don't worry, they only want you to pay for a new window, a new Starbits sign, and never to buy coffee from them again!"
"That sounds awful, Pinkie! How is that supposed to be good news?"
"I already paid for everything!"
As her vision back back to normal, she rubbed her temples with her hooves, the ice bag really helping with the headache she was getting. "Why would you do that?"
"Did you know how you were when you were really hyper? More hyper than me, I know that! You were the only pony that could do everything I want to do, and even better than me!"
"How's that supposed to help me? I hated that, I didn't have any self-control!"
"Silly head," Pinkie Pie said, while dropping a huge frappe in Twilight's lap. "I'll teach you self-control. But right now, drink up, I got a whole schedule ahead of us!"