Squinting in consternation, Celestia gazed upon her preparations. A single, tactically chosen stetson, a red bandanna, a blank name badge, a replica firearm from the human world, and an empty sack of bits, all lie neatly arrayed atop her study desk. A faint smile played across the alicorn’s features, as she studied the weapon. Purloined from Star Swirl’s collection of goods, pilfered from the realm of man, it was quite a curious little toy. Originally, the piece had a chrome finish and wooden handles, but that was far too mundane for the likes of a Princess. After borrowing the replica revolver, Celestia had discarded the original grips, replacing them with pearl handles inlaid with her crest. The frame and barrel had been dyed pink, a much more alluring color, as opposed to the bland silvery exterior of its initial incarnation.
Now, one may wonder why a diarch of Equestria had assembled such a curious collection of items, but the answer wasn’t nearly as complicated as it may seem. You see, on the cardboard backing of the pistol’s packaging, was a desperado. The man was, as far as Celestia could tell, some sort of human bandit. Recklessly wielding the gun, and firing into the air, he hefted a sack of, what the Princess presumed to be, currency. After spying the piece in Star Swirl’s personal assortment of human artifacts, a delightfully devilish idea began to coalesce.
As one may expect, being an ageless demigod horse Princess came with a few issues. Besides the seemingly never ending tide of threats to her people and her empire, one of Celestia’s chief complaints was boredom. Yes, the ennui of days filled with formal meetings, politics, diplomatic policies, and tedious paperwork, took a cumulative toll. Thankfully, over the countless millennia, she’d developed a tactic to deal with the doldrum of equine related royal duties.
Every few hundred years, or if the mood so happened to strike, Celestia would play a prank of alicorn proportions; that being, spendedly devious and entertaining to a fault. As fate would have it, the muse had recently stricken, and the Princess was finalizing her plans. Donning the hat, she levitated the bandanna. With care, she shrouded her snout in the cloth, covering the majority of her divine countenance, and leaving only her eyes and horn revealed. Lifting the blank name badge to the fur on her chest, she huffed in exasperation. Sadly, the paper tag wouldn’t adhere to her coat. Thinking quickly, she pulled a bit of tape from her office supplies. Sticking the name badge to herself, and realizing it may take a bit of fur off when she removed it, Celestia looked to the side. She only had one thing left to do.
Turning to a standing mirror, sitting to one side of her office, Celestia magically retrieved a black, felt tipped marker from a drawer of her desk. Pulling off the cap, she carefully penned the name “Applejack” on her paper badge. The words “My Name Is” were printed above a large blank area on the card, above a space for the wearer to pen in what they’d like to be called. Finished with her identification, the Princess sorcerously pulled her bandanna taut. Replacing the black marker for a silver one, she wrote “Not Celestia” in bold letters, further cementing her camouflage. Floating the firearm and empty satchel to herself, her horn blazed with arcane energy. With a dazzling flash, and pop of displaced air, the Princess was gone.
In the blink of an eye, Celestia appeared behind the Appleloosa branch of the First Canterlot Bank. There was no turning back now. Boldly, the alicorn strode forth, stomping around to the front of the building and the main entrance. As she reached the door, she coolly sauntered through the portal. The lobby, while spacious, was sparsely decorated. Several tellers sat behind a partition, at the far end of the room, in front of a massive vault door. A handful of chairs lined one wall, presumably for patrons awaiting service, and a island table rested in the dead center of the open area.
As the disguised Princess surveyed the scene, taking note of the three patrons and single, elderly guard pony, one of the banker’s spoke up.
“C...can I help you, Ma’am,” the clerk asked, unsure of how to process the newcomer. She’d never seen the pony before, so the tall mare was likely from out of town. As the lanky alabaster equine approached, she squinted. “Oh, Applejack, I almost didn’t recognize you,” she sighed in relief.
Celestia fought back a smirk, behind her mask. The pony had bought her facade, hook, line, and sinker. Even though she stood head and shoulders taller than ninety nine percent of the populace, was one of five alicorns in known existence, and was the only pony in Equestria with an ethereal pastel mane, she’d been falsely identified as a simple earth pony; all because of a stetson and a name badge. Of course, the “Not Celestia” scribbled on her cowl-like kerchief certainly helped.
One would expect such a transparent ruse to be wholly ineffective, but that wasn’t the case. Over the past few centuries, Celestia had discovered something rather curious about the pastel denizens of Equestria. Seeing as how a great many ponies looked similar, with matching mane styles and similar color schemes, it wasn’t an uncommon occurrence to misidentify one another. One of their defining characteristics, their cutie marks, were a solid identifier, but one which could be easily overlooked. As such, the name badge and banana combo had firmly cemented the alicorn’s disguise.
“Aaaahll right, this here is a stickup,” Celestia announced, attempting, rather awkwardly, to parody a southern drawl. Magically hefting her brightly colored revolver, she waved it about menacingly.
“Applejack, that’s not a stick. I mean, I’m not sure what it is, but it’s not a stick,” the teller confusedly explained.
“It’s not a...Oh, for buck’s sake. Ahm robbing the place,” the masked Princess exasperatedly sighed, leveling the prop weapon at the cashier. “Now, Ah want you to put all the bits in the bag,” she continued, levitating the sack across the counter.
“So...a withdrawal?” the banker asked, cocking her head.
“Ugh,” Celestia groaned, dragging a gold clad hoof across her face. “Now, you listen here, Lil’ Missy, Ah’m taking all the money, and don’t try to stop me!” she clarified, scowling over the fabric masking her snout.
“I’m not Little Missy, I’m Brown Betty! Applejack…” the mare’s whimpered, her lip quivering, “we’re cousins. Don’t you remember me?”
Feeling a bit guilty for misidentifying mare, and wholly cognizant of the irony, Celestia’s attention was dragged away, as the front door was dramatically kicked open. As she turned, a lone pie sailed by her, impacting Brown Betty squarely in the face. In shock, she wheeled to the entryway, where a mustachioed stallion stood.
“Now, I don’t know what the hay you’re thinking, Applejack, but you quit this right now, ya hear?!” Sheriff Silverstar angrily bellowed, leveling a confection in one hoof.
“Ah shoot, it’s the Sheriff!” Celestia blurted theatrically. Acting on impulse, she bounded over the counter. Gently wrapping one foreleg around the pastry streaked banker, she pressed the pistol to Brown Betty’s temple. “You’ll never take me alive, ya filthy varmint!” she shouted, staving off the urge to help herself to the apple filling slathered over her hostage’s countenance.
“I...what?” the Sheriff blurted, utterly perplexed. Capital punishment had been outlawed since time immemorial, and he had no idea what Applejack was holding to Brown Betty’s head. “Applejack, you stop this tomfoolery. So help me, if you don’t, you’re goin in the time out corner,” he declared.
Squinting at the stallion, Celestia handed the bag to the dessert stricken mare. “Fill m...mah bag,” she ordered, stifling a giggle. This was too rich. She’d had no way of knowing Silverstar would show up, but it certainly added a welcome element to the situation. A sudden clatter caused her to look downward. Her hostage, for whatever reason, was filling her sac with random stationary. “Fill it with bits, not office supplies!” she grumbled.
“I can’t see,” Brown Betty whined, virtually blinded by the baked good’s gooey innards and crumbly crust.
“Oh for…” Celestia muttered, taking the mare by the hoof, and guiding her to the restroom. “Just a moment, Sheriff,” she politely called. Leading Brown Betty to the employee bathroom, she opened the door. Watching the earth pony stumble inside, aimlessly waving a hoof around, in search of the sink, the Princess started, as something collided with her flank. Glancing back, she noted a cherry pie splattered across her rump. “Hey!” she barked, more offended with the waste of a good confection. She sighed, realizing it had likely been baked by Cherry Jubilee. The heresy of squandered pastry was overshadowed, however, by the realization that Silverstar had expended his ammunition. Celestia smiled behind her bandanna, as she trotted back to the counter. “Well, I’ll just help myself then,” she purred, opening a drawer and shoveling bits into her sack.
“H...Hey! You stop that!” the Sheriff irately yelped, fully cognizant that he was powerless, in the face of the bandit.
“Or what? You’ll throw another pie at me? Oh, wait! You don’t have any!” Celestia tittered, magically waving her gun around. Suddenly, and completely unexpectedly, a deafening bang filled the room, as one of the internal caps was detonated. Everypony, including the Princess, froze, transfixed by the mysterious device. Bewildered, and more than a little put off, by the cacophonous noise, Celestia hurled the toy revolver through a far window.
“What the hay was that?!?” Silverstar squawked, pointing in the direction of the discarded device. Whatever it was, it was loud as all buck, and he’d never seen anything like it before.
“I don’t know, it just sort of popped!” Celestia replied, equally shocked by the harsh din and wisps of smoke. She’d had no idea it could do something of the sort, and she didn’t want any more astonishing surprises out of the infernal thing.
“No, not that! How’s you throw the dern thing? It’s like it flew with magic!” the stallion clarified.
“Uh,” the Princess paused, unsure of how to answer, “invisible stick?” The questioning inflection, while unintentional, had an immediate response.
“So it is a stickup!” Brown Betty call out, from behind the restroom door.
“Yes, yes it is,” Celestia affirmed, as she began tossing coins into her bag. The Sheriff was still without any weaponry, baked or otherwise, so she was free to do as she pleased.
“I’ve got deputies coming, so don’t think you’re getting away scot-free,” Silver star yelled, helplessly watching, as Applejack filled her bag with bits.
“Wait,” Celestia uttered, cocking an eyebrow, “who’s Scott?” If there was somepony named Scott in Appleloosa, it was news to her, and the fact that the Sheriff had named him specifically likely meant he was some sort of expert in bandit wrangling or hostage negotiations.
“It’s a phrase. You know, like a saying!” the mustached stallion shouted back, baffled that someone had never heard the expression.
Sensing his irritation, the Princess gave Silverstar her full attention. “If it’s just a saying, who was Scott, and why was he important enough to get something named after him?” Celestia frustratedly pressed, stomping a hoof to punctuate the point. If anything, she should have a saying, not some random stallion named Scott.
“For Pete’s sake, I don’t know!” the Sheriff cried, tossing his hat to the floor.
“And now there’s a Pete?!?” Celestia bleated, taking a step back, as if stricken. “Officer, I demand you begin using my name in some figure of speech!” she asserted, wounded by the fact that the ponies of Equestria had failed to grant their diarch a commonly used expression. With a huff, she turned to leave, just as a posse of deputies came charging through the door.
“Well, well, well…” Silverstar chuckled, as one of his assistants handed him a steaming and freshly baked pie. “Applejack, I don’t think anypony is going to be giving you an expression, especially after this little stunt. Now, how about you come along quietly,” he continued, affixing the tall mare with his steely gaze. Upon closer inspection, he wasn’t sure when she’d had a growth spurt, or why she’d dyed her coat, but that didn’t matter.
Hearing Applejack’s name snapped Celestia from her vexed stupor. “That’s right, Ah’m Applejack, the rootinest’ tootinest’ apple bucker in all Equestria. Yawll ain’t never gonna catch me!” she bellowed, dashing down the length of counter. She could hear the pastries landing behind her, messily smacking upon the wall. Passing the restroom, the door opened. Just as she moved by Brown Betty, a coconut cream pie struck the freshly cleaned mare’s chipper little face. Without thinking, the alicorn’s wings unfurled, as she leapt for the window.
“A...Applejack is using some sort of witchcraft!” one of the officers proclaimed, awestruck that the earth pony had inexplicably sprouted wings.
Apparently, the officers had run out of pies, as Celestia was quickly peppered with cupcakes. The tiny frosted treats, while lacking the heft of their larger fruity cousins, still had jarring ballistic potential. Three of the small confections pasted themselves to the Princess’s side, and a fourth hit her in the neck, as she sailed through the air. Smashing through the glass, she landed on the dusty earth outside. While she hadn’t planned for such a dramatic exit, nor foreseen the incursion of law enforcement, she hastily devised a course of action. Rushing around to the back of the building, and making sure to gather up the discarded cap gun, the Princess swiftly removed her kerchief, name badge, and hat. Her horn ignited with arcane power, vaporizing the items instantaneously. Just as she began mopping off frosting, and the remnants of cherry pie, from her alabaster fur, the sound of stampeding hooves drew her attention.
“Alright, the jig is up, Applejack!” Silverstar hollered. As he rounded the corner, he came to a screeching halt. There, for whatever reason, stood Princess Celestia. Sadly, two of his deputies crashed into him, sending the trio of stallions into a pile.
“Sheriff Silverstar, I’m so glad you’re here,” Celestia cooed, absentmindedly licking frosting from her hoof.
“P...Princess? What in the hay are you doing here?” the Sheriff stammered, from amidst the tangle of limbs and equine bodies. He hadn’t heard anything about a visit from royalty, so he was wholly confounded with the alicorn’s appearance. Worming his way from his posse of deputies, he stood and brushed himself off. As he looked up, a levitating sack hovered towards him.
“I believe these belong to the bank,” Celestia casually asserted, passing the bag of office supplies and bits to the officer. Now that her little excursion was concluded, she just had to tie up all the loose strings.
“Wait, you caught Applejack?!?” Silverstar exclaimed. His eyes wandered to the colorful smatterings of frosting and fruit filling on her body. Along with the sweet gobs of goodness spattering her godly frame, a number of nicks and cuts dotted her chest and forelegs. “Princess, are you alright?” he asked, albeit somewhat reluctantly.
“Oh yes, I’m quite well. Simply the repercussions of my scuffle with that ruffian Applejack,” Celestia responded, noting the stallion’s concern. “Well then, since everything is in order, I’ll take my leave,” she added, hoping to beat a hasty retreat.
“Is that frosting,” one of the deputies inquired, pointing a hoof to her icing smeared flank.
Wheeling around, and leering at the inquisitorial pony, Celestia rose to her full height. “What I do, in my personal time, is none of your business,” she tutted, snorting in mock disdain.
“I’m sorry, Celestia, he’s just a little green behind the ears. I have to ask though, what did you do with Applejack? We can bring her to the station, if it pleases you, Ma’am,” Silver chimed in, cramming his hoof in the rookie’s gob.
“No need! I banished the ne’er-do-well to Tartarus,” Celestia flippantly added, turning to take her leave.
“You w...what?” Silver sputtered, taking a step back, askance. Generally speaking, a stay in the pokey was enough of a punishment for ponies, and sentences to pony heck were reserved for the most nefarious and dangerous villains imaginable.
“Yes, well, she robbed a bank, fled from the scene of a crime, and accosted a diarch of the empire, so it was a fitting punishment,” the Princess explained, extending her wings and shaking out shards of broken glass and crumbs from her plumage. “Oh, and Sheriff,” Celestia calmly called, drawing the posse’s attention, “do be a Dear and forget all of this happened. I’d hate for word of an Element’s misdeeds making it to the public.” Giving Silverstar and his men a warm smile, she took flight, soaring off into the heavens. She was sure they’d keep it all a secret, especially after having told them she’d exiled Applejack, a trusted friend, to the depths of Tartarus. For good measure, she’d ask Luna to toy with their dreams, assisting with misplaced or questionable memories of the event.
As Celestia sailed through the skies, she snickered to herself. While her day hadn’t gone quite as expected, taking a few twists and turns, everything had worked out perfectly. With her urge to indulge in a nonsensical adventure sated, the Princess was left to muse upon what manner of shenanigans the future held for her.