It was a beautiful afternoon day in Ponyville. Having just completed a successful day of working for the schoolteacher Cheerilee, Wordy Notes the unicorn trotted through the streets, smiling and waving at the ponies he came across. As he walked, he heard the telltale sounds of heavy wing beats just above him.
“Yo, bro'!” A voice came as a large griffon with black fur and red markings around his eyes landed, dust kicking up from the eagle/panther hybrid touching down, “What's up?” He flashed a bright grin, matching pace with the dark-blue unicorn, who currently sported a bright red bandanna around his neck and a pair of saddlebags, though his cutie mark of a scroll was still visible.
“Heya', Gavin,” Wordy returned the friendly expression, “How are you?”
“Pretty good. You off work too?” Gavin asked.
“Yup,” Wordy nodded in response, “Things went good today. Cheerilee and I got a lot of essays and tests graded as well as a few field trips planned for the end of the school year.”
“Woohoo!” Gavin patted Wordy's back, making the pony wince slightly from the heavy impact, “That's my bro!” He laughed, “We actually did some good work today too. We totes got at least three rainstorms set up and ready to go whenever,” he leaned close to Wordy, “Insider info: pack an umbrella on Thursday.” he whispered.
Wordy chuckled, “Well, I'll keep that in mind, thanks,” he looked over his shoulder and opened up one of the pouches on his saddlebags, “Oh, I was about to go grab some food on the way home. Did you want to come along?”
“Would I? You bet!” Gavin nodded quickly.
“Mind if I go third wheel on this one?” Both of the friends stopped and turned to face the female voice behind them. A pegasus mare with a light purple coat approached them, her mane a dark indigo with a green streak through it. Most notable on her face, though, were some piercings that included an earring in her left ear, a silver stud in her nose and snake bites in her lower lip, “I mean, if you two want some alone time I'd be cool with that too,” she smirked.
“Oh, heya', Crash,” Wordy greeted her. Sonic Crash was another friend of the duo, originally hailing from Cloudsdale. She could come off as being extremely prickly to others, but Wordy and Gavin had managed to get through and while she was still heavily snarky she was at least a lot friendlier than she used to be.
“'sup, Penpone Feathers?” She asked them,“What are you two doing out here at this time o' day?” She grinned, walking over and turning, allowing the two to see her cutie mark of a turntable with a fireball on top of the disc.
“On our way to get some grub,” Gavin replied, “The one question I have is what you're doing here. I thought you were scheduled for the weather team today,” Gavin crossed his front legs while tilting his head at Crash inquisitively
“Hey, not my fault. I let Sunshower know I was goin' to visit my family back in 'Dale for the day,” Crash rolled her eyes and made a raspberry with her tongue, “Of course, she almost made me fill out paperwork again to do it. Bleck, I'm gonna' be so so SOOOOOOO happy when Dash gets back from the Academy.”
“I don't think she's that bad...” Gavin muttered.
“I thought Thunderlane was in charge of the weather patrol team while Rainbow was gone?” Wordy asked.
“He is, but Sunny's been running a lot of lately since he's been out more often. Nopony's sure why,” Gavin replied.
“Well, whatever. Dash'll be back soon and then it won't be a problem anymore,” Crash snickered, “Hey, where are you guys grabbing lunch at, by the way?”
“How about that new place? I keep hearing a lot of ponies around town chatting it up,” Crash suggested.
Wordy and Gavin both looked at each other, then back to Crash, “What new place?” They both asked at the same time.
“Seriously? You two don't know? It's called Hotshot's,” she motioned her head down the street, “It opened last week in the building where that quills and sofas store used to be. A lot of the weather team's eaten there so far and they seem to like it.”
“Sure. I'm up for new things,” Wordy said.
“Ditto,” Gavin smiled, “Let's roll.” With that, the three friends started to make their way over to the restaurant. As they turned a corner, however, Wordy bumped into a pony and stumbled back a few feet.
“Ah! Sorry!” He quickly apologized, noticing it was Comet Tail, a tall, yellow unicorn with a blue mane.
“Huh?” Comet turned around, “Oh! Uh...you guys weren't trying to cut, were you?”
“What do you mean?” Gavin gazed past him before his eyes widened in astonishment. Stretching down a few blocks of Ponyville's streets was a line of ponies with the end of it being their apparent destination, a building with a sign that read 'Hotshot's Grill' emblazoned on the front of it, “Whaaa? Check out that line!”
“Oh wow,” Wordy remarked, just as shocked as Gavin was as he pushed his glasses up onto his nose.
“Oh screw that!” Crash shouted, “I don't care how good that place is, no way am I waiting that long for a couple burgers,” she shook her head, “Besides, I'm hungry now.”
“Wanna' go to Stir's instead?” Gavin suggested, Stir being an earth pony friend of theirs who ran a noodle shop in downtown.
“Heck yes I want to go to Stir's. Let's bounce,” Crash turned and trotted off, Gavin following behind her. Wordy turned to follow them, but stopped momentarily as he glanced back at Comet. He noticed that the tall unicorn appeared different somehow. He examined him silently, noticing the curvature of his stomach.
“Does Comet seem...heavier?” He thought. Wordy proceeded to take a glance past him, noticing some of the other ponies in line. He recognized a large portion of them and he noticed the same circumstances with the yellow unicorn at the back of the line, each of them appearing like they'd gained weight in some capacity, varying anywhere from a plumper belly to a heftier barrel to a larger flank. Puzzled, Wordy proceeded forward to take a closer look at the line and found the same thing with every pony that was in line. At the very front, he caught a glimpse of a dark-gray colored stallion as he entered the restaurant. The pony in question was heavily obese with a jiggling middle, a round, fat flank and even chubby cheeks coupled with a double-chin. Even more unusual was the identity as soon as he noticed the thundercloud cutie mark displayed prominently on the stallion's ample backside,“...Thunderlane?”
“Hey, bro! You coming?” Gavin's call broke Wordy out of his concentration, making him turn down the street toward the griffon and pegasus before he turned and galloped off to catch up with them, taking a curious glance back at the line as he went.
“Welcome to Stir Fry's Noodle Bistro!” A grayish-blue earth pony with a bright, yellow mane wearing an apron smiled as he greeted them, “Oh...hey, guys,” he waved half-heartedly as his smile faded, “How's it going?”
“It's going good, Stir,” Wordy said with concern as he walked over, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah...alright, not really,” Stir sighed as he stepped over to the counter as Gavin and Crash sat down on the stools, “You three are the only customers I've had all day,” he groaned as his ears drooped and he rested his head on the counter.
“I thought it was weird there weren't more ponies in here,” Crash noticed all the empty seats, “It's usually pretty busy this time o' day.”
“Yeah. It's been like this ever since that new restaurant opened. I've only been getting maybe ten customers a day because everypony's just going there instead of here,” Stir shifted and put his face down this time, “And it's been a week!” He lightly bonked his head, “If things keep going the way they are now I'll be out of business by the end of the month!”
“Whoa, whoa!” Gavin leaned over, patting Stir's back, “Dude, chill. I don't think it's gonna' be like that,” the lamenting pony looked up at Gavin, “For real. Don't freak out. Things'll pick up again once all the hype dies down.”
“For sure, Noodles,” Crash added, “Besides, you'll always have us as customers,” she held up her hoof to him to which Stir sat back up and forced a smile as he bumped her hoof while Wordy and Gavin l gave reassuring nods.
“Thanks, you three,” he said softly, “So, with that out of the way, what can I get you?”
“Let's start with some rangoons,” Wordy spoke up, “Those are always pretty good,” he chuckled.
“Sure thing! I'll get you an order going while you decide what else you'd want,” Stir trotted off into the kitchen with an excited step and returned after a short while with a large plate of the fried, crab and cream-cheese stuffed appetizers, to which the two boys and the mare immediately jumped on them, setting a few onto their smaller plates and eating them.
“Mmmm!” Gavin purred, “It's like happiness in a fried wonton wrap,” he smirked.
“Love these!” Crash popped a few into her mouth and chewed them happily. As the three ate, however, Wordy kept glancing over at the door, stuck in deep thought as he wondered about what he had seen earlier.
“Wordy? Are the rangoons okay?” Stir's voice brought him back out.
“Oh!” Wordy snapped his head over, meeting Stir's eyes, “They're great, Stir. I was just thinking about something,” he smiled nervously as he picked up another and ate it.
“Next great story idea?” Stir guessed.
“Sure, let's go with that,” Wordy laughed.
“Told ya'. Total nerd, right?” Gavin chimed in.
“There's a reason I call ya' Penpone,” Crash added.
“Yeah, yeah, you're all hilarious,” Wordy rolled his eyes and chuckled as he poured over the menu, the others doing the same, as they all tried to decide on what they wanted to eat.
“Hey, I'm the funny one with the tough guy charm,” Gavin slicked the feathers on his head back and winked at Crash.
“Tough guy, huh? That didn't seem to come into play the last sparring match we had, Feathers” Crash smirked back.
“Only 'cause I let you win. I wasn't goin' all out,” Gavin popped a rangoon into his mouth and held up his left forearm, balling into a fist as small bolts of electricity arched off his claws, a smug look on his face.
“Psh, that's so cheating,” Crash snorted, “Of course, I am too. Only difference is that I can't turn mine off. Hell, it's more a handicap than anything,” she sighed and rolled her eyes.
Stir came over to her, “Crash, just because you have weak wings doesn't mean you're less of a pony or anything.”
“Yeah...I know,” she turned to the earth pony, “They just kinda' become a liability when I'm in a scrap, ya' know?”
“Well, good thing you can knock 'em out before it gets to that point,” Gavin smiled as he patted her back.
“Psh, thanks,” Crash looked over at everypony else, Wordy giving her a reassuring nod, “I do mean it, though, guys. I appreciate it. Really. I do.”
“Hey, Crash?” Gavin beamed.
“Yes, Gavin?” Crash groaned.
“I think we just had a moment,” he leaned over and gave her a hug, eliciting a grumpy sound from the mare.
“Eeee!” Stir clapped his hooves, “This is so cute!” He came around from behind the bar to join in.
“I wish Shutter was here to take a picture of this,” Wordy chuckled, doing the same.
“I hate you all,” Crash did her best to force a frown, but quickly failed and submitted to the group hug.
The next day, Gavin was high up in the sky with the rest of the pegasi of Ponyville's Weather Patrol Team, moving into the right positions and organizing some of the others to make sure no adverse weather effects would happen. As he floated a large, dark thunder cloud over (while wearing gloves around his talons) he looked over to a yellow pegasus with a clipboard in her hooves that she was staring at intensely while subconsciously brushing her cobalt-blue mane to the side.
“Hey, Sunshower, where do you want me to put this one?” He asked her.
“Oh...uh...over there,” she responded, her back still turned to Gavin as she motioned her hoof to the left, but then panned her head up and around, sighing, “Erm...sorry. Over there.” She pointed over.
“Hey, it's no problem,” Gavin said as he started to move the cloud, “How're things going? We on track to finish good today?”
“If we actually have ponies show up we might,” Sunshower turned to him, “Thunderlane hasn't come in to lead things in days so it's been up to me to take up the slack and everypony that goes to lunch seems to take it longer each and every day now,” she brought the clipboard up and smacked it against her head, “I swear, Gavin, I can't do this! I don't know a thing about leadership or anything like that! I deliver and modify clouds for Celestia's sake!”
“Well, you're doing a good job all things considered,” Gavin floated over to her and gave her a friendly hug, “Keep it up.”
Sunshower smiled in response, “If you say so, Gavin. I do know I'll be happy once Rainbow comes back in a few days from the academy.” Just then, Crash floated over to them, “Crash! There you are! Where in Equestria have you been?!” She scolded.
“Hey, hey, slow your roll, Sunny,” Crash put her hooves up defensively in front of herself, “I just got back a little late from lunch since I had to go check on some ponies.”
“Check on who?” Sunshower narrowed her eyes at Crash.
“Uh, the rest of our team?” Crash shrugged, “Oh, by the way, Blossomforth and Raindrops are gonna' be late getting back. Something about how they wanted to get fourths?”
“Get fourths?!” Sunshower yelped with surprise, “Where are they? And why didn't you open with that?”
“You didn't ask?” Crash titled her head, “And they're at Hotshot's right now.”
Sunshower grit her teeth as she started flexing the clipboard between her hooves, “Are...you...KIDDING ME?!” She shouted, the wood board snapping in half like a twig, “Agggggh! That stupid restaurant just had to open and make my life even more like I was in Tartarus!”
“Uh...” Crash blinked, her eyes wide as she exchanged a glance with an equally worried Gavin, “Sunny, it's okay. Take a deep breath. Things are going to be alright. Really.”
Sunshower grumbled as she looked at the pieces in her hooves, “Right...it'll be okay,” she said, “I'm not going to let this affect me that much.”
“That's the spirit,” Crash smiled and patted her on the back.
“Yup. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some ponies I need to go talk to,” she grumbled as she floated downward. Once Sunshower was out of earshot, Crash leaned over to Gavin.
“So, is this a bad time to ask if you wanted to go to there after we get off work?” She asked him.
“Sunny's gone so I think we're good,” Gavin turned his attention to her, “And I thought you didn't want to wait in line for that long.”
“I did. Originally. I decided now, though...,” she met Gavin's gaze, fierce determination in her eyes, “...it doesn't get to win.”
After a lengthy wait in line, Crash and Gavin finally managed to get through to the front, take their orders, and sit down at a table in the heavily crowded restaurant, Crash getting an oat burger and some hay fries while Gavin had gotten a double oat burger with some chili hay fries.
“Geez, talk about busy,” Gavin said, scanning the room, “Kinda' surprised we even managed to get in.”
“That could be because some ponies are using the new delivery service,” Crash did the same before considering her burger, “Looks good,” she moved in closer and sniffed it, “Smells good.”
“Why are you smelling it?” Gavin cringed.
“I got food poisoning from a restaurant when I was a filly and I really don't want it happening again,” Crash took the burger in her hooves and was about to take a bite before she stopped and saw Gavin with an unsure expression, “You alright, Feathers?”
“I dunno',” Gavin said, eyeing his burger and fries, “This feels a little wrong with everything going on. I feel like I'm hitting Stir's business even more by being here.”
“Dude, don't worry about it,” Crash smirked and patted his side, “It's just one meal. Besides, new things are supposed to be fun and exciting, right? And we're about to see if this worth it too!” She opened her mouth and took a bite of the oat burger. After only a mere second of chewing, she suddenly stopped as her eyes shrunk to small dots as she froze in place, holding the burger in her hooves and sporting a blank look.
“Crash?” Gavin asked, “You okay?” As if in response, her wings popped out from her sides, nearly knocking the tray out from under another pony's hooves as Crash tore into the rest of the burger, decimating it in a few bites before she picked up the fries and poured them into her mouth as well.
“That. Was. Freakin'. AMAAAAAZING!” She squealed with delight, “That was the best burger I've ever had in my entire life! The fries were so delicious too!”
“Uhh...” Gavin moved back from her slightly, “For real?”
“Yeah, for real! Try it!” Crash hopped up, slamming both her hooves down on the table.
“Okay, okay! Don't rush me!” Gavin defensively held up one of his talons, picking his meal up and taking a large bite. The moment the food struck his taste buds, he was hit with a rush of flavor that seemed to shoot through his entire body as the end of his tail puffed up and his fur stood on end. The same reaction followed as Gavin wolfed it down as quickly as Crash had done.
“Holy crap, you're right! That was pretty good!” He exclaimed.
“I know, right?” Crash nodded as they both stared at each other.
“Let's get more!”
“How many more?”
Gavin put a claw under his chin, “Uh...10?”
“Each?” Crash asked with anticipation.
“Yeah!” The two friends bumped hoof and fist together as they quickly stood up and ran up to order more food. Soon, each of them now possessed more (probably even more than they had originally anticipated) and wasted no time in working to eat it all. Bun, burger, condiment and fries alike all stood no chance as it disappeared into the pegasus or the griffon's maws. Shockingly enough, nopony else seemed to bat an eye at the display going on, the other customers more focused on their own meals than anything else, and Crash and Gavin themselves didn't even notice even as their stomachs slowly distended from the amount of food being quite willingly crammed down into their gullets.
“Oh yeah,” Crash groaned as she leaned back in her chair, rubbing her heavily stuffed, globular middle with her front hooves, their gluttonous rampage having come to an end.
“That was pretty much the best thing ever,” Gavin stuck his tongue out and licked some sauce and melted cheese off his beak while giving his bloated gut a pat as it gurgled and churned.
“Heck yeah,” Crash nodded in agreement, letting out a small burp, “If going to this place is wrong, I don't wanna' be right,” she laughed.
Gavin looked at her, “Same time tomorrow?” He smirked.
“Tomorrow? Gav, we're going here for dinner!” Crash beamed.
“Hm...” Wordy tapped a pencil on his temple as he peered over a tablet of paper in front of him at a small desk in the classroom of the schoolhouse A few days had passed ever since he had first noticed the odd state of Ponyville's citizens. The blue unicorn had put together notes while trying to get to the bottom of it.
“Let's see...it's been two weeks since Hotshot's Grill opened up. Within one week, a lot of the business for Ponyville's other restaurants and food sellers started to lessen as ponies went there instead. Nothing unusual there, that sometimes happen with new places, especially in small towns,” he turned a page, “The problem is the amount of business that was lost, especially with the massive influx that happened within such a short time. On top of that, some businesses seem like they've actually started working with Hotshot now, selling his food instead of their own while others just simply closed up. That's weird.”
“Not to mention why everypony has suddenly started fattening up,” he said aloud, “And with how ravenous anypony that even eats the food there gets...hm...” He looked up at the ceiling in deep thought.
“Twilight-erm-Princess Twilight, rather, is supposed to be back today. I should go to her castle and bring her what I found. Maybe she could help me out with this, though I'm pretty sure Hotshot is the key to all this,” As he continued pouring over the pages, his attention was drawn to somepony else entering the room. Wordy instinctively put some schoolwork he had been working on over the top of the tablet to hide his investigation notes.
“Hello, Wordy,” he recognized the voice as Cheerilee, Ponyville's teacher and another apparent 'victim' of the recent, rapidly developing obesity epidemic. The mulberry mare had very quickly plumped up, every feature of her now laden with thick fat, enough to where she had started to develop a double-chin and a pair of round cheeks while her belly and rump had swelled significantly, bouncing and bobbing with every heavy step she took.
“Hey, Miss Cheerilee,” Wordy replied, doing his best not to stare at her, “How are things outside?” He asked her.
“They're going well,” Cheerilee replied with a bright smile as she sauntered over to her desk, “The foals are all enjoying themselves outside and the shipment of pies should arrive here soon for them to start eating once they come in from recess.”
“Erm...right. That's good,” Wordy chuckled nervously, playing along with whatever had caused her sudden change in behavior, “So...um...Cheerilee, have you noticed anything strange at all recently?” He asked her, attempting to find a further lead.
“Like what?” She asked curiously as she sat down, her fat spilling off the side of the chair and the seat creaking in protest from the increasing size it was forced to hold up.
“Well, just little things I've been noticing,” he walked over to the window, “It seems that all the students want to do anymore is just eat whenever they come here and I'm a little concerned about how it might be affecting their health,” he added, taking a glance at the chubby fillies and colts outside in the schoolyard.
“Oh, I wouldn't worry too much, Wordy,” Cheerilee responded with a wave of her hoof, “They're just going through a growth spurt is all,” she set a bag down on her desk and began to gorge herself on donuts.
“They're not the only ones...” Wordy whispered to himself.
“Hm?” Cheerilee perked up.
“Oh, uh, nothing. Just coughed,” Wordy quickly responded, giving a mock cough as he turned to face her, giving a bright grin.
“Hm...” Cheerilee hopped off the chair and walked over to him, “If anything, I'd be concerned about your health from NOT eating,” she stuck a meaty hoof out and prodded his side, making him jump a little and blush from the involuntarily poke, “You're practically skin and bones, you poor thing!” She giggled.
“Uh...right. I'll, uh, remember that,” he nervously nodded.
“Say, how about I treat you to a few pies once they get here? They're fantastic!” She smiled brightly, “Maybe you'd even want to take one home to Shutterbug?” She offered, referring to Wordy's girlfriend.
“I...uh, thanks, Cheerilee, but I, um, I'm not really all that hungry?” Wordy started sweating, wiping his brow with his bandanna.
“Are you sure, dear?” Cheerilee suddenly looked concerned.
“Postive. 100% positive,” he nodded quickly before shooting a glance at the clock, “Oh! Hey! The time! I, um, I'm going to take my lunch break now. I'll be back in a bit,” he chuckled, forcing his Cheshire-like visage at this point.
Cheerilee tilted his head, “But I thought you weren't hun-”
“GOTTA GO, BYE!”Wordy shouted before teleporting out of the room, but momentarily coming back to pick up his investigation notes from the desk before awkwardly waving and poofing away again, leaving a very confused Cheerilee behind.
“Whew,” Wordy sighed and took a deep breath as he relaxed on his way to Stir Fry's shop, “Dodged a bullet there.” He subconsciously took a gaze back at his bags before turning his attention forward, continuing his observance. He had been noting the progress of gaining on some of the ponies he had seen before, taking careful looks to see if they'd gotten any bigger (some of which had.) One big difference he had noticed was the lessened number of pegasus ponies in the skies and if they were there, they were just as big and husky as their wing-less counterparts (and getting close to being grounded themselves.)
“Wordy!” A voice came from above him. Wordy stopped and did a turn to see Sunshower land behind him, “Hey, do you know where Crash is? She was supposed to come in today for the weather patrol but I haven't seen her at all today.” She asked.
“I haven't, actually,” Wordy shook his head. Just like many of the other ponies, he took a quick note of her physique and noticed even she had started to show signs of weight gain, her middle dropping a bit lower than usual.
“Agh, alright,” she groaned, “I'll just head back...after I finish my lunch break, anyway,” she shook her head and took the air again, “If you see her, please please PLEASE ask her to get back into the sky and finish moving those clouds.” She flew off. Wordy watched her go and then continued on his way. On his way, he passed by several ponies he recognized yet again. Derpy the mailmare now had taken to using a cart to pull her mail around as she had expanded too much to even fly anymore, though still possessing the same bright, wall-eyed happiness she always had. Big Macintosh from Sweet Apple Acres was now a shadow of his former self, the once well-built earth stallion a vision of blobby adipose as his solid muscles were buried underneath layer upon layer of chunky flab, Wordy swearing he could even see his stomach dragging across the ground as he pulled a cart loaded with crates through town. Finally, he passed by Comet as he waited in line at Hotshot's Grill again. More weight had piled onto his frame from a few days ago, making him now resemble the rest of the ponies in line much more than the small amount of pudge he had before.
“If whatever's going on continues, the whole town is going to be overweight! Maybe even more than that!” He shuddered, remembering how large Cheerilee had gotten in such a short amount of time. The fact that he also hadn't seen some ponies in a while had also been worrying him.
“Hey, Penpone! 'sup?!” A second voice again broke his concentration. He looked over, seeing Crash trotting toward him, a cart around her waist loaded with bags and boxes.
“Oh. Hey, Crash,” Wordy walked over to her, “What are you doing?”
“Got me a sweet new delivery job,” she smiled, “It pays really well too. I even get a discount at the grill!”
“Discount? Job?” Wordy tilted his head, “You're working for Hotshot?”
“Well, not just him,” she shrugged, “I run deliveries for Sugar Cube Corner, the Oats and Boats Cafe, and sometimes even Sweet Apple Acres if there's a lot to get delivered.
“I see...” Wordy took a step to the side, again trying to examine her. Just as the same as Sunshower, Crash's figure was getting hammered by the effects of the all the food she was probably wolfing down on a daily basis, though it hadn't impacted her as much given how lithe she had been to start. Still, her developing pot belly and thickening flank were still quite noticeable and given the rest of the town's condition it wouldn't be long before she started to blow up like a balloon.
“Hey!” Crash stepped closer to him, “You eyeing me up, dude? Shutter might get jealous if ya' keep that up,” she grinned as she lightly smacked his shoulder, “Anywho, I got some work to do. See ya' around!” She started to trot off.
“I know! And if you see her again, tell her that this pays WAY better than moving clouds!” Crash smirked as she took a burger out of her side-bag and took a bite out of it, ketchup and onion straws collapsing off it, “Plush tha ferd's bertter!” She laughed with a full mouth before turning down another street. Wordy stood motionless in the street for a short time, running over everything that had just happened.
“This is worse than I thought...Crash might be a slacker, but she'd never willingly put off work when she needs to be there.” His thoughts also turned to Gavin, images of the griffon growing bigger and bigger playing out in his mind, “That does it. I need to talk to the Princess and soon!” His thoughts were interrupted by his stomach gurgling and for a moment he put the thought out of his mind as he entered the noodle shop. To his surprise, there were actually a few ponies inside, happily eating as he walked by them.
“Hey! Hey, Wordy!” Stir's voice called from the bar as Wordy cantered to the happy earth pony, “You want some rangoons? I'll go get you some.”
“Uh, sure. Sounds good,” Wordy put on a smile as he sat down, surveying the restaurant, “It seems like business is picking up again.”
“Oh yes! Yes it is!” Stir came back, carrying a plateful of warm rangoons that oozed, signifying they had just been made.
“What happened? Did you take out a new ad?” Wordy asked, picking up one with his magic field.
“Nope!” Stir beamed, “Mr. Hotshot came by my shop earlier. Apparently there were a few places in town that were struggling from his restaurant being in business and he felt terrible about that. Did you know Bon Bon had to close her bakery?” Stir said sadly.
“Yeah, I'd heard,” Wordy nodded, “So what did Hotshot say?”
“Well, he offered to make me a partner in his business. He'll give me a cut of the profits that he makes so long as I sell his food here,” Wordy put the rangoon in his mouth as he listened, “He even makes rangoons too! They're really delicious too!” Wordy's teeth chomped down just as the statement left Stir's lips, making a look of abject horror cross his face upon realizing what he had just done. The feeling of panic faded away immediately as the blue unicorn found himself under the food's spell, the delicious cream-cheese and the crab meat swirling with the crunchy, fried shell to stimulate his tongue's receptors enough to make small sparks shoot off his horn and his eyes shoot wide open.
“Mmmmm, good!” Wordy cried out as he levitated the rest of the rangoons into his mouth, filling it full and making his cheeks bulge, each of them just as tasty as the first one.
“Pretty good, right?” Stir said with a squee, “I tried one of his and it was the most delicious thing I'd ever tasted! He even brought over noodles and everything else I need to sell all his stuff here and he's even letting me make it all!”
Wordy gulped hard, taking the food into his belly before reaching into his saddle bag and slapping several bits down onto the counter, “I'll take five more orders of those! And a large bowl of noodles!” He demanded.
Stir grinned and clapped his hooves together, “You got it!” He trotted back to the kitchen as Wordy impatiently waited at the front bar. Stir soon returned with the order and set it down, the hungry unicorn wasting no time in attacking the noodles and the rangoons, slurping them up and chomping down at the same time. Soon, the food all vanished from the platter, Wordy having inhaled the remaining noodles and leaving the bowl completely empty just short of him licking it clean...which he subsequently proceeded to do.
“Ahhhhh,” Wordy finished running his tongue along the bowl and sat back, wincing slightly from how stuffed his gut had become, “Oh yeah. I'm coming here everyday from now on.”
“Looking forward to seeing you! Same with Gavin and Crash too!” Stir smiled brightly.
“Yeah,” Wordy put his hoof up to his mouth to cover a burp, “Hey...could I get one more order of those?” He slid some bits over to Stir, “Not for me. I'm sure Shutterbug will want to try them too.”
“You bet! I'll get 'em put in a takeout bag for you,” Stir trotted back into the kitchen, packaging up some more rangoons for Wordy to take home to his girlfriend, unaware he was about to make her experience the same fate as himself and the rest of his friends.
The beeping sounded like a jackhammer at work as Gavin grumbled and slowly opened his heavy eyelids.
“Ugggh...I know, I know. Shut up,” he reached out, slapping against his nightstand before finally making contact with the alarm clock, shutting it off. He then stretched his forearms and legs while yawning heavily before proceeding to get out of bed, which creaked slightly from the bulk it had been forced to endure all night. Ever since he had eaten at the grill, Gavin's body had increased in size by a significant amount. Thanks to the layer of muscle he already had, he didn't look nearly as out of shape as some of the others in town but he still had all the familiar traits of being fat with his belly hanging low enough to just barely brush up against the floor while his once toned rear bulged and quivered heavily. Each of his limbs were as rounded as tree trunks while his neck was buried underneath a thick double-chin and plump cheeks. He stretched out and started to make his way to get ready for the day, heavy steps booming across the wood floor of his apartment.
“Mmmm, I slept like a cub last night,” he smiled happily, reaching out and picking up a slice of pizza out of a box on top of a stack of similar containers, stuffing it into his mouth just as he entered his bathroom to brush his teeth and then grabbing two more once his business had concluded, consuming them in two quick gulps.
“Hm,” Gavin glanced back at the alarm clock to see what time it was, “Hey, I have time for a quick bite before work today,” he grinned happily, picking up his bag and lumbering toward the door. He stopped for a moment, though, as he felt his hips scrape against the entryway, forcing the griffon to grit his teeth and push a little harder to escape being stuck.
“Stupid door frame. This place was so not built for griffons,” he thought while continuing on his way.
“Whew...holy crap...that was a walk,” Gavin wheezed while he leaned up against the wall of Stir Fry's noodle place, catching his breath, “When did this place...get so...freakin' far?” He gasped, getting all four of his legs on the ground before slowly walking in. Business was good considering the time of the day, though many of the ponies eating there seemed lucky that they could even get in through the front door given their girthy statures, some of them even pushing the weight limit of the re-enforced benches Stir had been forced to get after a few incidents. As he carefully maneuvered his way through a sea of plates and blubber, he finally made his way up to the front, finding Crash and Wordy.
“Gavin! Hi!” Stir slowly waddled over to the side of the bar, the same usual friendly greeting across his arguably much fleshier face. Of the four friends, he had grown the biggest, probably due to his proximity of being right next to food for a good majority of his day. The chef pony was pushing at least five-hundred pounds with not an inch of his body untouched by jiggling fat, his bloated head amassing a collection of multiple chins while his enormous abdomen actively hindered his ability to walk around, though Stir still struggled to tie the apron around his waist, the string sinking into his chunky sides and straining to stay around his enlarged hips, his wok and chopsticks cutie mark serving as an unintentionally effective means of advertising his restaurant as it was stretched across his ponderous flank. Given his size, he was probably at least a few gorging sessions away from immobility, though he didn't seem to care.
“There you are, Feathers. Took ya' long enough to get here,” Crash smirked at him. Given her already active nature and original physique, Crash was the opposite of Stir and could even still be considered fat instead of obese, though she was still a shred of what she had been before with a rounded face that had the smallest beginnings of a second chin while her rear had inflated into an ample, curved behind. Her legs had also begun to get more weight around them, though if somepony looked close they could at least still see definition in them. The only part of her that stood out and made her not just resemble a plus-size model with heavy curves was the shape of her dome-like belly that had the same consistency of bread dough.
“Hey. Ya' know,” Gavin shrugged as he sat down, his butt covering the stool top and making it creak under his weight, “Haven't been flying as much so I had to walk,” he turned to Wordy, who had only barely acknowledged his presence, instead too focused on eating the three plates of food in front of him, “Heya', bro. What's up?”
“Huh?” The stallion stopped for a moment with a mouthful of noodles and rangoons and a confused look. Wordy was somewhere in the middle, definitely heavier than Crash but not anywhere near the colossal state of Stir. In fact, he was probably closer in weight to Gavin but given the lack of muscle on his body, his fat was much more pronounced and noticeable. He had stopped wearing his signature red bandanna given how he essentially had no neck to tie it around and he had to suck in the parade balloon of his stomach to even take a few steps forward as well as having to be careful not to get his inflated rear stuck in doorways.
“Erm...just saying hi,” Gavin cocked an eyebrow, “That's it.”
“Oh, alright,” Wordy said simply before going back to eating. Gavin sat awkwardly on the stool, nervously rubbing the back of his head before he asked another question.
“So, how's work been? I hear Cheerilee is just living at the schoolhouse now. What's that like?”
“Hm?” Wordy stopped again and looked up at Gavin, this time swallowing all the food he had in his mouth and staring at Gavin, even more bewildered “Did you say something?”
“Just trying to find out how your life is going. That's all,” Gavin replied. Wordy gave a small shrug before going back to his food.
“Guess talking's out of the question for now, huh, Crash?” Gavin turned in the stool, seeing her happily devouring noodles and rangoons.
“Mmmm! Stir, keep 'em comin'! These are delish!” She giggled happily.
“Coming right up,” Stir obliged her, setting more food in front of her before focusing on Gavin, “You want some too, Gav?” He asked. Gavin sighed and grumbled and scratched his itchy belly, talons immersing into soft flab as he did so.
“Sure. Why not?” He said, putting an elbow down on the table as his stomach growled in response.
“Okay!” Stir's eyes brightened up as he performed his now familiar routine, giving Gavin a heaping mass of food just before going back to his own meal, which seemed to be just as much as they were all eating. Gavin suddenly felt himself overcome with a feeling of sadness as he picked up a rangoon and stared at it with a fore-lorn expression before sighing and eating it, quickly cleaning the plate as he sat there in silence, the only other sounds were that of his 'friends' gorging themselves around him.
“Hurrrgh...nnngh...stupid clouds...MOVE!” Gavin roared as he angrily shoved a large group of clouds out of the way, fur bristling all over his body as sweat poured off him as well. Given the state of the town, the only pegasi who were able to still fly were the ones that hadn't eaten themselves into immobility or the ones who pulled double-duty as both delivery ponies and weather patrol (of which there weren't many left at this point) with Gavin and a small number of other ponies not fitting into either category. His outpouring of rage was answered as Sunshower floated up behind him, weighing about as much as Crash currently did, only sporting a much bottom-heavier frame.
“Um...Gavin? Are you okay?” She asked with a concerned look.
“No! I'm not!” He turned around, shooting a glare at Sunshower, then shook his head and composed himself, “Sorry, Sunny...I'm just, you know, a little stressed from everything that's been going on.”
“Have you tried eating something? You might be hungry,” Sunshower suggested with a smile as she munched on a burger while holding a clipboard in her other hoof. Gavin just stared at her for a while before he sighed and hung his head.
“Eating's the problem...” He floated past her, “I'm just gonna' go home early.”
“Gavin, wait! If you go now, you're going to miss the big dinner the weather team is going to have tonight. Eveyrpony's going to be there. We're meeting at Hotshot's!”
“I...Sunny,” he floated over to her and put a gentle talon on her shoulder, “I amazingly don't care. Have a nice day.” He glared at her before flying off, leaving a stunned Sunshower hovering in the air watching him go before she shook her head and turned back to her 'work', finishing her burger and going onto another.
“Today really sucks.”
The night had come as Gavin slowly made his way back. Even though he was full of delicious food, he still felt bad, especially about how he had went off on Sunshower earlier. It wasn't her fault and she didn't deserve the verbal evisceration he had given her. He knew full well exactly what he was angry at, something that he had been suspecting for a while. He had brushed it off before, chalking it up as simply a new interest that everypony else was excited about and not ignoring him on purpose, but that had been weeks ago. Now his friends' behavior was unnoticeable and it had become quite clear at this point that the three ponies cared infinitely more about eating food than really, well, being his friends and their friendly
“Why are they acting like that? I mean, I know the food's really good but that's no reason to be such big jerks about it,” he said to himself, looking up at the night sky and then around the street. Except for the occasional pony walking around, the town was completely empty and quiet at this time of night. He put his view back forward as a horrible, sickly feeling emanated from the pit forming within his stomach, which still didn't go away even as he entered his home and into his bedroom. The griffon passed by the pizza box as he went in and instinctively reached for a slice, but started thinking again about how Wordy, Crash and Stir and instead immediately dropped into the box and rolled into bed, zoning off and staring at the ceiling, thoughts swimming through his head as he started to drift in and out of consciousness and occasionally making depressed exhaling sounds.
“Today's the worst ever,” he mumbled before slowly closing his eyes.
The hammering sound of the alarm again shattered Gavin out from his dream. Unlike the day before, however, Gavin wasn't feeling as spry as he had before, moaning in discomfort as he ended up knocking the alarm off and unplugging it.
“Uggggh...why do I feel so awful?” He groaned, reaching a talon down to rub his stomach, “What the hay did I eat last ni-” He stopped as eyes widened, feeling something unfamiliar between his claw-tips, “What? What is going on?” He slowly peered downward, noticing the amount of chub he had a grip on, slowly letting it go and watchng his gut shake. Gavin blinked rapidly before letting out a loud squawk and quickly jumping up and out of bed.
“What's going on?! Why am I fat? How did I get so fat?” He winced and held his talons on his head, rubbing his temple to relieve himself from standing up so quickly, “Everything's such a blur...the last thing I remember is going to Hotshot's Grill with Crash-” Gavin suddenly opened his eyes again, “Hotshot's...everypony in town is getting fat...oh no.” He moved as quick as he possibly could (which wasn't much at his weight) and rushed out the door. After a short time and a few stops to catch his breath, Gavin finally arrived at Wordy's house, knocking on the door repeatedly.
“Bro! Bro! Are you home? We seriously need to talk! Like right now!” He called out, shooting a look inside before he heard the doorknob turn and the door opened up.
“Gavin?” A mare's voice came from inside as he met eyes with a quite plump, cerulean pegasus with a bright red mane wearing glasses, “What are you doing here?”
“Oh...uh...Shutterbug. Hey,” he nervously waved to her, noticing that Wordy's girlfriend was no stranger to what had happened to the rest of the town, “Ya' mind if I come in? I'm trying to find Wordy.”
“Sure, no problem,” she stepped aside, “I was about to head out to the grill so I could take some pictures for Hotshot,” the pegasus smiled.
“Cool, thanks,” Gavin entered, “Wait...Hotshot's paying you to take pictures of him?” He looked over his shoulder at her.
“No, not of him. His food. I get paid to make his food look good,” Shutter grinned brightly, “And then I get to eat it afterwards!” She giggled, reaching into a box nearby and pulling out some pizza slices, “Pretty awesome, right?”
“Yeah. Awesome,” Gavin forced a laugh, “Erm...so about bro...”
“Oh! Yeah, he's not here right now,” she shook her head as she picked up the empty pizza box that had been on a pile of papers, “Ew! Some of the grease leaked on there!” Shutter winced, “Aggggh, I gotta' go get something to clean this up. Be right back.” She hopped up and walked off into the next room, complaining under under her breath the whole time, mostly about Wordy not picking up after himself and about why pizza must be so delicious and yet so greasy. Gavin stood uncomfortably in the living room, pacing around and wondering what he was supposed to do, at least until something caught his eye. One of the papers at the top of the pile appeared to be part of a large, tablet of paper with text that the griffon immediately recognized as Wordy's hoofscript. Even through the orange stain he could make out the words, seeing that the unicorn had been investigating Hotshot and his restaurant as well as the reason for why everypony had started to get fat. It appeared he had found a connection, possibly related with Hotshot's food. Gavin poured through the papers up and down, getting more frantic as he read the evidence.
“No...Wordy was so close to this before he got addicted to the food too!” He thought, a shocked look crossing his face before it metamorphosed into building anger as he balled up one of his fists, “Hotshot is the reason that my friends and everypony else are the way they are right now...he's going to pay for this.” He stuck the papers into his satchel and stormed out.
“Gav?” A confused Shutter asked, wandering back into the living room.
Gavin seethed. Though it probably was an over-exaggeration, he felt as if he had never been angrier in his entire life. His friends were under the control of somepony who had rode into town and used his wiles and food to bring all of Ponyville under his control. Thoughts of what to do swam through his mind. His initial solution was to walk right into the grill and knock every tooth in Hotshot's venomous, lying mouth onto the floor, followed by giving him a good shock with his talons. Thankfully, reasonable thought took over and it made him aware that straight-up violence wasn't the answer right away, especially with how little he actually knew of how the teal stallion was actually using his food. No, he had to get help if he was going to take Hotshot down and he knew where to go first...as well as a Plan B in case the first one didn't go over.
“I just hope Plan B hasn't decided to dine anywhere in town recently,” he thought as he entered Stir's Shop. Because it was early, there weren't many ponies inside, though the ones he sought were right in the same spots, up at the front and gorging themselves while chatting with the ever-expanding chef serving them the instruments of their fatness. Gavin stared at Wordy, Crash, and Stir, steeling himself and taking a deep, confident breath as he approached them. Crash was the first one to notice his presence. Gavin, in turn noticed Stir set down a large platter of rangoons, making the griffon's eye twitch as he tensed up.
“Feathers! Right on time, we were just about to chow-” Crash's happy invitation was interrupted as Gavin put both talons underneath the platter and pulled up, flipping it over the counter as it landed with a clatter on the floor of Stir's kitchen, making the two stallions jump from the sudden action as Crash just stared at him, her vision moving to the fallen meal, “-down.”
“Gavin! I'm surprised at you! What in Equestria was that about?” Stir asked, a hurting tone in his voice.
“Yeah, what's up with you?” Wordy was as surprised as Stir did, looking at Gavin with annoyance.
“I know exactly what's up with me!” He pointed at each of the ponies before he reached into his bag and slapped the tablet down onto the counter, “And I know what's up with all of you too!” He slid it over to Wordy, who stared at it for a short time before turning to Stir.
“Hey, that reminds me, did you want to go out with us for pizza tonight?” He asked.
“Bro! Focus!” Gavin moved Wordy's head down toward the papers again, “You knew something was wrong with Ponyville and that Hotshot was the cause of it! Try to think about it, bro! I know you can remember!” Wordy read it for a long time before he shook his head.
“Yeah, I thought there was but it was just delicious food. That's it. Really, Gav,” he looked up at Gavin, “There's nothing to worry about.”
“Yes! Yes there is!” Gavin peered over the counter at the rangoons, “I've got it! I think you three just need to stop eating this food,” he snapped his talons.
“What?!” Crash and Wordy shouted at the same time.
“Yup!” Gavin nodded and paced around the tables, “If you stop eating the food, then maybe Hotshot's hold on you might get broken and then you'll be able to listen to reason!” He grinned, “It's the perfect plan!” He stopped and turned around to face Crash and Wordy. He wondered for a moment where Stir had gotten off to before he heard a clicking sound behind him. He slowly craned his neck over his fat-swaddled shoulders, noticing the corpulent earth pony had shut the door of the restaurant and locked it, staring at Gavin with narrowed eyes.
“Uh oh...” Gavin thought.
“So, heh, is that a maybe?” Gavin smiled nervously. Before he knew it, he heard the flapping of wings from the counter and whipped his head over only to make brief eye contact with Crash as the mare slammed into him, the force of her bulk and the surprise of the strike knocking him off his feet and sending him sprawling to the ground. Before Gavin could react, the pegasus put her weight on top of him, grabbing one of his back paws and restraining him while holding him down on the ground as he grit his teeth and attempted to break her grip.
“I am NOT getting cut off from food because you start trying to shut Hotshot down, Gavin!” She snarled at him, struggling to keep the heavier griffon on the ground, “Penpone, Noodles! Give me a hoof here, will ya'? I'm sure you want to keep eating that food too, right?”
“Already on it!” Stir called, trundling across the restaurant and getting back into the kitchen, bringing another plate out and hoofing it over to Wordy, who took it with his magic field and slowly made his way over to the pony/griffon pile. To his horror, Gavin noticed that it was filled to the brim with rangoons. The sight of them also made his blood boil even further, especially knowing those probably weren't even Stir's to begin with.
“I'm sorry, Gavin,” Wordy said as three of the fried goods floated off the plate and made their approach to Gavin, who closed his eyes and hung his head, both from sadness at what was happening and also not tempting himself to reach out and eat them...which he sorely wanted to at this point despite the situation.
“Yeah...” He replied before suddenly moving one of his front legs up and gripping it as best he could around one Crash's own hind-legs, “I am too!” He shouted, sending a surge of lightning right into her. Crash shrieked in pain as she was involuntarily forced to release Gavin, allowing him to roll over onto his back and aim his claws at Wordy, firing a blast that both knocked the plate out of his field and forced the unicorn to run and take cover behind a table, Stir doing the same. Before any of them could make another move, Gavin struggled up to his feet again, not even having managed to re-acquire his balance before he started charging at the door. He used the momentum from his rush to throw himself against it, snapping it off the hinges as it fell onto the ground outside.
“Gavin! Get back here!” Crash snarled from inside, making him quickly check behind him before jumping up to his feet, gaining as much speed as he could before he clumsily vaulted up into the air with a huff and slowly started to ascend, finally getting his heading as he flew toward the entrance to the Everfree Forest.
“Alright, I should've expected that,” he sighed, “I guess time for Plan B now.”
After a short flight and struggling through all sorts of shrubbery, Gavin finally found himself at his destination, a large hut built into a gnarled tree and decorated with odd masks of various colors. While anypony else would normally be creeped out by the display, he instead found comfort in it, at least for now.
“Please, please, please,” he thought, slowly approaching the entrance, cracking the door open as he walked in silently. Inside, he found Zecora, a zebra that lived out in the forest and would occasionally travel to Ponyville to get supplies for her alchemy and potion work. What he actually focused on, and brought hope to his eyes, was that she was the same size as she always had been.
“Ah, I was not expecting you, Gavin,” she said with a friendly tone, turning to see him, “Please come-” She was cut off as the hefty griffon pounced forward, picking her up in a bear hug and spinning around with her, “-in?” A surprised expression also crossed her face from both the sudden motion as well as there being much more of Gavin than she had seen before.
“Z! You're fine! You're not fat and eating and stuck in your hut!” He cheered and laughed, the odd, out-of-context statement making the zebra look even more confused.
“Yes, Gavin, I am not at all corpulent,” she said as he let her go, setting her down on the floor, “Now, what has you so turbulent?”
“Well, it started with this restaurant that opened in...town...” He trailed off as he noticed a steaming apple pie sitting on a table nearby, “Z! NO!” Gavin rushed past the zebra as he snatched up the pie and shot-put the baked treat, tin and all, into the floor before following up with repeatedly pounding his fist into the remains and turning into cinders with several close-range lightning blasts, “There! You're safe now!” He said, taking deep, panicked breaths. Zecora blinked slowly, in complete shock at the train of events that had just transpired before walking over to him.
“Gavin, please, I must ask why,” she calmly said, “Why did you do that to my pie?”
“It's evil! It's made from evil hooves that want to turn you into a food-addicted blob that's only useful as a resource for their own profit and you'll stop caring about your friends and then try and turn everypony around you into food slaves and, and...” He stopped as he looked at her, then turned his attention back to the block spot on the ground where the pie used to be, “Uh...where did you get that, by the way?”
“It was of my own making, I have recently been dabbling in baking, “ she replied, dryly.
“Oh...OH!” Gavin's eyes widened at the realization of what he had just done, “I am SO sorry, Z. Seriously. I had no idea. It's just that, well, some stuff happened and you're my last hope right now and I was really worried that I'd lose you to-” He stopped when Zecora held a hoof up to his beak before he could start off another tangent.
“Gavin, I can see that you are upset,” she lowered her hoof, “Take a deep breath, and start at the outset.” The alchemist proceeded to lead him over to her bed, having him sit down on it.
“Okay, okay,” Gavin nodded, fidgeting with his talons as he closed his eyes, doing as she asked, and then looking at her, “So, it's like this.” He proceeded to tell her everything that had happened thus far: about Hotshot, the food, Wordy's investigation, what had been happening to the rest of Ponyville, and the confrontation between him and his friends at Stir's shop earlier. As she patiently listened to him talk, Zecora fixed some tea for the two of them, Gavin gladly taking it and happy to have something not tainted.
“Hm...,” Zecora pondered, “The symptoms that you have described thus far, sound incredibly bizarre.”
“I know, right?” Gavin asked, “But what can we do?” Instead of giving a reply, Zecora walked over to a small bookshelf and removed one with a green cover, hoofing through a few pages as Gavin anxiously watched her. Finally, her gaze lingered on a page as she nodded and walked back over to a table.
“Take a look within this book,” she set the book down and tapped her hoof on the page, “Within its boundary is the solution to your quandary.” Gavin stepped forward, scanning the tome. It was about different types of plants and herbs, most of them magical in nature with the particular page in question being about something called the blubbercup, or the Ranunculus pinguedinem as its scientific name, that grew primarily near Griffonstone. What Gavin found more interesting was how a food addiction potion could be created from its essence being extracted from it, matching what he had witnessed as well as Wordy's notes almost exactly.
“So, this Ramunc...wait...ranuncu...penguin...,” he shook his head, finally giving up, “Blubbercup thing might be what Hotshot is using to get everypony to eat his food and why they react the way they do when they don't get it?” Gavin turned to Zecora.
“Yes, if I had to hazard a guess,” she nodded, “And if he has this much of the blubbercup at the ready, it will not be cured so easily.”
“Well, I don't care how much of it he has. I ain't standing by why he plays my friends like puppets,” he clenched one of his fists, “I won't let that happen!” He slammed it down on the table, teeth bared and fur standing up on end.
“Your desire to protect your friends is quite tenacious, but your task will be quite dangerous,” Zecora said, “I am also quite curious of one circumstance, how were you able to resist the blubbercup's trance?”
“Resist? Uh...I dunno,” Gavin shrugged, anger fading, “I just got kinda' sad when I started thinking about how they were acting and just stopped eating,” he suddenly had a thought, “Hey...do you think it might be because it comes from a griffon city that I might have some form of resistance to it?” He asked.
“That is a theory to be weighed...erm, sorry about the accidental pun I have just made,” Zecora scrunched her nose up at her poorly-timed joke.
“Trust me, Z, I've heard worse,” Gavin chuckled, “But down to brass tacks: is there a way you can brew up something to cure this?”
Zecora nodded, “Though the blubbercup's essence I am not well-versed, so I do not know exactly how its effects can be reversed,” she trotted up next to the large, black pot in the middle of room, “Though there is a potion I may be able to glean, if you could just procure some of Hotshot's cuisine.”
“Right, so grab some food, bring it back here, and test it out. Sounds good...and dangerous especially since every restaurant in town has my number at this point,” Gavin turned his attention toward the door, then back to Zecora, “Z, do you have anything here that might be able to give me an advantage if I have to fight anypony else?” He glanced to his left as he stared at the floor.
“I may have something to give, I suppose, but what is it you are worried you must oppose?” She walked over to him.
“Bro, Crash, and Stir. I mean, Stir I'm not worried about since he's already bigger than all three of us, but Wordy's got magic and Crash might not be as strong, but she's a way better fighter than I am, plus she's got glass feather syndrome...” Gavin solemnly looked back up at her, “I don't want to hurt her...I don't want to hurt any of them,” he said, softly. He twinged slightly from feeling something touch his chubby foreleg as he noticed Zecora gently holding his talon with a warm expression.
“You needn't worry too much about your hurdles and how to solve them without going in circles,” she said, “The determination you feel to help those you hold close, will help you no matter what may transpose,” she leaned in and gave him a hug as the surprised griffon quickly grinned and returned the gesture to the zebra.
“Thanks, Z. I think I needed the reminder that I'm a stubborn jerk that doesn't give up,” he chuckled as they stepped away from one another.
“It is okay to show your feelings of unrest, it shows you are willing to make the best,” Zecora said, “Now, onto the bottle that will aid you in your battle.” She trotted over to a massive shelf consisting of various potions of various sizes, colors, and container, Zecora moving her hoof along each of them as she scanned for one in particular.
“How do you know what all of these can do?” Gavin marveled at all the bottles.
“Careful organization of each and every potion,” she smiled, finally settling on a cylinder-shaped bottle filled with a lime-green colored one that oddly seemed to glow in the light of the hut, “If having to fight your friends is something you deem impossible, then this potion will render you temporarily invincible,” the striped brew mistress picked it off the shelf and handed it to Gavin, who took it cautiously into his own hands, “But you must be alert, for the effects may not be overt. You are a griffon, and there may be complications I cannot envision.”
Gavin examined the strange liquid he had just been given and stuck it into his satchel, “It might be a good backup in case I need it. Thanks, Z.” As he had been looking at it, though, Zecora had left the room momentarily and now stood near him clad in a brown, hooded cloth cloak.
“And in this instance, I shall provide you with assistance,” she said determinedly.
“As much as I'd appreciate that, Z, I'm gonna' have to ask you stay in the forest's edge,” Gavin replied, shaking his head, “If something happens and I end up falling off the wagon again, you'll be the only one left in Ponyville not affected by the blubbercup. If I'm not back in at least an hour or so, do whatever you can to get to Canterlot and bring the cavalry here,” he then groaned slightly, “Y'know, assuming Hotshot didn't already send Princess Celestia a cake with his secret ingredient baked in.”
Zecora eyed him for a time before she gave a slow nod, “As you desire, I will flee for help if matters get too dire.”
“Hey, I wouldn't mind getting an escort back to Ponyville, though,” Gavin held out his claw to Zecora, “Ready to roll partner?”
Zecora smirked and stepped forward, “Let us depart from my dwelling,” she took his claw in her hoof with a firm, strong shake that even surprised Gavin, “You have friends that need saving.”
he zebra and griffon hurried their way through the Everfree (as much as they could hurry given Gavin's condition, anyway.) Soon, they both reached the edge of the forest, Zecora and Gavin both rushing up behind a large bush as they peered up over the top of it.
“Well, looks clear from here,” Gavin observed, slipping back behind it, “The streets are pretty empty nowadays, especially with half the town probably stuck in their homes.”
“Gavin, if I may ask, do you have a plan to accomplish your task?” Zecora inquired, her face shrouded from within her hood.
“Uh...sorta'?” Gavin shrugged, “My plan was to go in, grab some food for you, maybe try one more time to get the three of them to snap out of it and then come back here. Not necessarily in that order,” he turned to Zecora with a sheepish smile, to which Zecora stared back at him...at least he thought she was anyway.
“Your persistence and loyalty might just be able to make a difference and have this turn out joyfully,” she said before turning her attention up to a tree, “This shall be my perch, good luck with your search.” And with that, Zecora knelt down and leaped up into the tree just above them, vanishing within its branches. Gavin nodded and gave a talons-up to the tree before he squeezed past the bush and started making his way into town.
Just like he had predicted, the streets were almost empty, the only ponies out at all were the ones either on their way to eat food or deliver it to the waiting maws of others. All the same, Gavin did his best to try and stay hidden, running around and diving between walls, trees, and shrubbery before he finally noticed a large box in an alleyway.
“Gotcha'!” Gavin rushed over to the box and flipped it round, trying to pull it over the top of him but ran into some difficulty in getting it on, struggling to push it past his fatty sides, finally managing to get it shoved on all the way, though the sides bowed outward from having to try and contain the bulging griffon, “Perfect...they'll never suspect a thing,”he grinned as he exited the alley, dropping down momentarily as a pair of ponies passed by him before he continued on, wobbling a little as he tried to maintain his balance.
“I really wish the opening on this thing was bigger. I can't see a thing,” he complained as he passed around a corner, only for something to smack into him, sending him falling over as the impact destroyed the box he was in and knocked the wind out of him, leaving him in a pile on the ground, writing in agony and trying to suck in as much air as possible to alleviate the pain as he rolled back on forth on a bed of cardboard. He eventually managed to struggle and roll onto his stomach, also hearing somepony else also recovering near him. Gavin turned his head to see who he had apparently run into and it turned out to be Lyra the unicorn, whose head was wobbling around as she was seeing stars.
“Ahhhh, what happened?” She said, unsteadiness in her voice.
“Lyra!” Gavin got up and moved over to her, “I'm really sorry about that! Are you okay?” He hurriedly checked on her.
“Y-yeah,” she stammered, shaking her head and standing back up, “Are you okay, Gavin? I kinda' ran into you,” she quickly started picking up the contents of her saddlebags and put them back on on her sides.
“Oh yeah, I'm good-wait a sec',” he noticed something about her, “Lyra...are...are you thin?” He asked her.
“Yeah! No time to explain, though! I have to go talk to Twilight!” With that, the minty-colored unicorn galloped off, leaving Gavin sitting there as he watched her leave.
“Wait...how...huh?” He slowly blinked before he looked off again, “Whatever, no time to worry now. I have to go get some of that food!” He started to walk off, but stopped and looked down as his leg brushed by something. Strewn on the ground near the curious griffon were some pears, some rather juicy looking ones at that. The sight of them made his mouth water, causing him to pick one up and go to take a bite of it, but he stopped as he caught himself.
“I'll eat 'em later...I gotta' go talk to Wordy,” Gavin opened his satchel and stuffed the pears into the satchel before running off.
Once again, Gavin found himself greeted by Shutterbug as he arrived at Wordy and her's home.
“Gav? Hey, what's up? Wordy was looking for you,” she said, pushing her glasses back up on her face.
“Oh? Uh...he was, was he?” Gavin smirked, his eyes darting around, “Is...uh...is he here?”
“Yup! Want me to go get him?” Shutter asked him.
“No! That's okay...I”ll...uh...just walk in and find him,” Gavin chuckled, desperately trying to convince her not to alert Wordy.
“Gav? What's going on? Why do you look so freaked ou-MMMPH!” Shutter's eyes bulged as Gavin suddenly shoved a pear from his bag into her mouth and then slid her outside the door, shutting it and locking it behind him.
“Sorry, Shutter. You'll thank me later once I help you too,” Gavin slowly began to make his way up the stairs, heading towards the study. Sure enough, he found Wordy curled up on the floor reading a book, his mass spread across the ground like uncooked bread dough. Before he could say anything, the unicorn glanced up from his book and made eye contact with the griffon, a frantic look crossing his face.
“Gavin!” He cried, his horn lighting up. Before Wordy could do anything, the griffon jumped at him, tackling Wordy and pinning him to the ground while flicking the stallion's horn and disrupting whatever spell he was about to cast. Gavin followed it up by wrapping one of his talons around it and gripping it, hard enough to get a good hold but not so tight that he would risk hurting Wordy.
“Bro! Listen to me!” Gavin said, adjusting his hold as necessary, “You know that this isn't right! Hotshot's got the whole town acting like putty in his hooves and he's bleeding everypony around him dry!”
“Get off me!” Wordy snarled as he kicked his hooves.
“He's using a plant called the blubbercup that grows in griffon territory! It makes you addicted to his food and you keep eating it and eating it and dropping more bits on it because it makes you think that you can't live without it! It becomes your whole life!” Gavin moved in closer, his own bulk pressing against Wordy's softer fat, “Please! You know it's true! We've got the evidence! We can take him down, but I need your help! Snap out of it!”
“You're overreacting, Gavin!” Wordy growled, staring up at Gavin with a deadly look, “Hotshot's helping the town and you're just being a big jerk that's jealous of what he's accomplished!”
“I'M the jerk? Seriously?” Gavin gnashed his teeth, “You, Crash, Stir...EVERYPONY in this town aren't themselves and it's because of him! We're friends! Best friends! All of us!” He yelled, his body tensing up,“He took that away just so he could make his fortune! Are you really going to be a part of that? Are you going to throw away-”
“I'm not throwing away any-”
“DON'T INTERRUPT ME!” Gavin exploded, causing the unicorn to jolt and pin his ears behind his head out of fear as the griffon took deep breaths while trying to compose himself, “Bro...Wordy...” His voice shook, almost a whisper, “Please. Your mind's probably pretty clouded right now, but I know that you know that this isn't who you are,” he said, looking away from Wordy, “You're kind, caring, always eager to listen to ponies around you even if you barely know them...I don't want you to lose that. So please, try and remember that,” he turned back to Wordy, eyes glistening as tears started to fall across his feathery face, “Be the pony that I'm proud to call my brother again.” Silence filled the room as the two of them stared at each other, Wordy unsure of what to say to Gavin's statement. Before the conversation could continue, they both heard hoofsteps coming up the stairs from outside of the room as Shutter rushed into the room.
“Gavin...what is going on?” She glared at him, “Why did you lock me outside?” Instead of answering her, Gavin took in her current state...she was back to her normal, curvy proportions instead of just simply being fat. He quickly tried processing it all in his mind before things finally started to piece together.
“Shutter's thin...but she was just...wait...so was Lyra...and she had the pears...the pears...” He perked up, “The pears!” He quickly reached into his pack and removed another pear, sticking it inside the surprised stallion's mouth as he chewed it. Gavin released his grip on Wordy and jumped off as the stallion swallowed the pear. All of the sudden, Wordy twitched and cried out in pain, making both Shutter and Gavin look on in concern followed by surprise and happiness as a loud pop sounded throughout the room as Wordy's features deflated like a balloon going in on itself until he had slimmed back down to his previous weight.
“Nnngh...” He groaned, rubbing his stomach and lying on his back before he opened his eyes and looked around, “Wha...what happened?”
“Bro?” Gavin leaned in, “Are you okay?”
“Sweetie?” Shutter did the same.
“Yeah...I'm fine...agh, I feel so gross right now,” he gagged and rolled over on his side for a moment before he managed to stand up, “I'm good...no worries.”
“That's good...do you remember anything?” Gavin asked, Shutter and him darting to his side.
“Kinda'?” He rubbed his head, “It's blurred, but it's coming back...what did you do? My body felt like it was on fire and then it was like I woke up.”
“Huh? You too?” Shutter looked at both of them, her focus finally settling on Gavin, “What did you do?”
“I think the pears just went and kicked the blubbercup's flank,” Gavin answered.
“Hotshot...” Wordy suddenly shot up, “Is that what he's using to get everypony to eat his food?”
“Yup. Z and I looked it up and that's definitely what's going on,” Gavin firmly nodded.
“Z? You mean Zecora?” Wordy asked.
“Wait, wait!” Shutter stamped her hoof, “Somepony please tell me what's going on!” Wordy and Gavin glanced at each other and then at her before they proceeded to tell her everything, filling in the details when one of them couldn't confirm what the other had said. Shutter stared at both of them with a blank expression before she slowly started to nod, “Right...good to know,” she said softly before flaring her wings and screaming in anger at the top of her lungs, “I cannot BELIEVE I let that lying snake trick me into taking pictures of his cruddy, awful food and actually try to make it look good...and he didn't even pay me in bits, that shyster!” She ranted and stomped around the study before pivoting and facing the two of them, clearing her throat and sitting down calmly.
“Feel better?” Wordy asked her.
“MUCH better,” she smiled and stepped forward, “So what's the plan now? Does it involve hitting him? Please please PLEASE tell me it involves hitting him,” Shutter begged.
“Take a number and get in line,” Gavin chuckled, “But first things first, we have to get Z some of his food so she can work on a cure since I kinda' doubt there's enough pears in town to cure everypony,” he looked out the window, “And something tells me we might be getting some backup soon.”
“What do you mean?” Wordy asked.
“These pears? I got 'em from Lyra, and she said she was on her way to see Twilight,” he smiled as he pulled one of them out, flipped it in the air and caught it in his bag, “So, while she's doing that, we have to help Stir and Crash.”
“Oh, that's right! They're affected too!” Wordy said, “They're still at the noodle shop.”
“Then that's where we're going,” Gavin firmly nodded.
“Need me to do anything?” Shutter inquired.
“Shutter, you should grab the negatives of those pictures you took and go meet up with Zecora...and be careful,” Wordy walked over to her, putting a hoof on her shoulder.
Shutter stared at him with a worried expression before she nodded, “Fine, but you had better be safe,” she leaned in and kissed him passionately, Wordy closing his eyes as he blushed brightly and returned the kiss, making Gavin turn his back to them, pacing nervously before Shutter pulled away from him and turned to the griffon, “And you'd better keep him safe! You hear that, Gavin?”
Gavin peered over his shoulder at her and nodded, “I promise I'll watch out for him.”
“Good,” Shutter turned and trotted out of the room.
Wordy smiled toward the doorway before he suddenly found himself getting hugged by Gavin, “Gavin?”
“Sorry...I'm just glad you're okay,” Gavin stepped back from him.
“I'm glad you're fine too,” Wordy replied, “And I'm sorry about the way I was acting. I could tell you were really upset.”
“Bro, don't worry about it. It's totally cool,” he patted the pony's back, “I just got you back, so it's all good...now let's go do the same for the rest of our friends.”
“Yeah...uh...what's wrong with your eyes?” Wordy tilted his head.
“Oh...um...” Gavin rubbed his face and glanced away, “Just...uh...fell in a puddle while passing by an onion factory on the way here. Plus, allergies. My allergies are really bad. Onion allergies, ya' know?” He turned back, eliciting a bright, sardonic smirk from the blue pony.
“Right on,” Wordy nodded as he trotted over to his desk, opening a drawer and pulling his bandanna out as he folded it up and tied it around his neck, turning and facing Gavin, determination pouring from his eyes, “Let's roll.”
Wordy and Gavin both approached Stir's restaurant, getting some looks from the rest of the ponies in the streets as they passed by them. Once they got close, the two of them noticed that the sign had been turned to 'closed.'
“That's weird,” Gavin stopped and looked at the sign.
“They're waiting for you, probably,” Wordy put his back up to the wall and used his magic to slowly open the door, “See?”
“Well, if they want me, I'm right here and I've got a special delivery for them,” he chuckled as he walked inside, Wordy sticking close behind. The dining room inside was completely empty, as well as the lights inside being off and the only light being generated from the sun outside.
“This looks like a trap,” Wordy whispered.
“Yeah, but we went in expecting that, right? That pretty much nullifies their surprise, thus making it not a trap,” Gavin grinned.
“We'll see about that!” A voice came from the front as Stir popped up from behind the counter, a large, tube-shaped object slung over his shoulder and aimed directly at them. Wordy and Gavin looked at it before Gavin flipped a table up, the two ducking behind it just as Stir squeezed a trigger and fired a large volley of noodles at them, some of the sauce splattering on the floor behind them as they slapped against the table.
“Is that a food cannon?” Gavin peeked up from over the table, ducking down as more noodles hit the table, narrowly missing him.
“That's a food cannon,” Wordy nodded, “And I'm pretty sure it's got Hotshot's food loaded into it too if past experience is any indication. If we take a hit and the food gets in our mouths, we'll be enthralled again.”
“Where did he even get that?” Gavin threw his talons up in the air in disbelief.
“I think from from Pinkie Pie as a gift from when he started this place up,” Wordy replied.
“Rad,” Gavin rolled his eyes and face-palmed, “Well, this just a lot more complicated...again,” Gavin looked up again, only to almost get plastered again, this time by a barrage of rangoons fired by Crash, who had taken up a position on the ceiling.
“Trust me! You're really gonna' like these ones...NO MATTER WHAT!” She laughed loudly.
Gavin hunkered down lower, “Bro...I just want to take this opportunity to apologize for earlier.”
“Gavin, don't worry about it,” he shook his head, “I wasn't myself, like you said, and I don't mind you tackling me like that to help me. Things turned out and we're going to get through this, so I forgive you.”
“I'm not talking about that,” Gavin grinned sheepishly, “Um...ya' see, when I was talking with Z at her place, I kinda' made a comment about how Stir was gonna' be the easiest of you three to take on...” he chuckled, “So, ya' see, I kinda' feel like I caused this to happen.”
“Oh...um...well, I forgive you for this too,” Wordy nervously laughed, looking just past the table before going back to Gavin, “How many pears do you have left?”
“Uh...” Gavin opened up his bag and looked through it, “I've got three left.”
“Which means we can only lose one,” Wordy sighed, “We'll have to make this count then,” he took one of the fruits into his magic field, “I've got an idea. Crash is a lot quicker. You keep her pinned in place with your shock blasts and I'll try and flank Stir and toss the pear into his mouth. These seem to take effect pretty quick...I just need to get in close.”
“You got it,” Gavin held up his fist, charging it up, “Just say the word, Bro. Good luck.”
“You too, Gav,” Wordy hoofbumped his other fist, “Alright,” he braced himself getting ready to dart out from the table, “3...2...1...NOW!”
“Hey, Crash! Over here!” Gavin popped up from cover, pointing his outstretched left arm at her and firing off bolts of lightning at her, causing the meaty mare to dodge around, only able to fire back at him briefly.
“This isn't going to end well for you, Gavin! Hotshot might give me a bonus for stopping you here and I'm getting it, even if I have to make chicken wings out of you!” She shouted at him.
“Yeesh...evil Crash doesn't play around, apparently,” Gavin kept an eye on Wordy as he charged around the corner, side-stepping as Stir fired a blast of greasy, noodles at him, wincing and turning his head away from the broken bits of noodle and sauce coating his body and mane, getting behind another table before teleporting across the room and getting underneath one.
“Wordy! Where'd you go?” Stir demanded, quickly moving his cannon around, scanning the area in an attempt to pinpoint Wordy's location, all the while Crash kept exchanging rangoon fire with Gavin's lightning shots. As Gavin popped up to shoot at her again, she managed to get a lucky shot off on him, striking his claws and making him wince in pain.
“Got you now, tubby!” She giggled, taking aim yet again.
“Oh no...Gavin!” Wordy dove out from underneath the table and reached out with his magic just in time to snatch the rangoon and change its trajectory...sending it flying right into his own mouth. His eyes bugged out from having it inside suddenly, forcing him to swallow or risk choking on it.
“Wordy, no!” Gavin cried as Wordy landed on the floor, sliding across it. To his surprise, the downed unicorn instead got back up to his hooves, looking no worse for wear and also not immediately jumping on any of the other food strewn across the room at this point.
“Ugh...those are so not Stir's rangoons,” he groaned before also realizing what happened, “Wait, I didn't get affected!”
“No way! Those pears make you immune too? Awesome!” Gavin chuckled.
“I have no idea what you two are talking about and I don't care!” Crash aimed her rangoon blaster at Wordy again, only for it to give her a clicking sound instead. She checked it, noticing that she was out of ammunition, “What? Oh, forget it!” She tossed it to the ground and landed on the floor, kicking a chair out of her way as she advanced on Gavin, “You and me! Bring it!” She glared.
“Oh geez...” Gavin stood up to confront her, putting both his fists up to block a kick she threw at him, followed up by grabbing one of her legs to try and hold her. Unfortunately, Crash wriggled out of his grip and responded by spinning around and slamming him across the face with roundhouse from her back leg.
“Nice try, Gavin,” she smirked, turning to the side and bashing her hips against him, knocking him over a table and leaving him sprawled out on the floor.
“Ow...aggh...” Gavin grunted as he struggled to get up, looking up at Crash as she walked toward him.
“Don't worry. I'll just knock you out. We can get to the feeding later,” she grinned.
“Crash...if this was any other situation, I'd be mad at you,” he got back up, reaching into his pack, “But since I know that this isn't you right now, I'll give you a pass on this one,” he took out the potion Zecora had gifted to him earlier, “So if you want to take me down, go ahead and try!” He popped the top off and chugged the entire thing, swallowing it with a big gulp. The effects activated immediately as his entire body glowed with an ethereal, golden light, making Crash step back in shock.
“What? What did you just do?!” She growled.
“I thought you were gonna' deliver the knockout punch,” Gavin laughed, “I'm waiting, Crash,” he winked at her, “Bring it.” Crash bared her teeth at him as she ran up to him, tackling him to the floor and repeatedly punching his side. Just as the zebra had said, while Gavin could feel Crash striking him it wasn't hurting him at all.
“Why isn't this...WORKING?!” Crash snarled.
“Bro! It worked! I'm invulnerable!” Gavin laughed.
“Good to know! Pear her if you can!” Wordy called back.
“Crash! Hold him down! I've still got noodles left to fire!” Stir brought the cannon back up again, targeting Gavin.
“My pleasure,” Crash again grabbed Gavin by the front legs and did her best to try and hold his beak open.
“Gaack!” Gavin squawked as he struggled with Crash, trying again to escape and making failed attempts to bite her hooves.
“Open wide, Gavin,” Stir prepared to fire again, only for a bright flash to shine throughout the room, causing him to cover his eyes with his hooves and drop the cannon, the large object clattering to the ground with a loud bang.
“Say cheese, Stir!” Shutter flew in from the side, taking pictures at him, the large flash bulb on her camera going off repeatedly before she looked at Wordy and smiled at him.
“Shutter!” Wordy beamed back at her.
“Huh?” Crash looked up at the other pegasus pony only to get kicked off Gavin and into the air just as Gavin's body ceased its glow. She glared at her attacker, meeting the eyes of Zecora, who stared back at her with a focused, calm expression.
“Sonic Crash, pegasus of fiery passion, I am only going to ask you once to cease your feisty action,” she said, circling Crash.
“Z, be careful! Remember her wings!” Gavin stood up, almost collapsing as he did so.
“Of that I am conscious,” Zecora glanced back as Crash flew down at her, “And I shall be cautious.”
“Eat this!” Crash cocked her hoof back and threw a hard strike at Zecora. The zebra rolled away just as her hoof slammed into the ground next to her and, with blindingly fast precision, jabbed her hoof into a few sections of Crash's portly torso. All of the sudden, Crash stopped and simply fell over onto her side, “Wha-what the hay did you do to me?!”
“A few points of pressure I needed to poke, and now your mobility I have indeed broke,” Zecora responded, looking down at Crash.
“Woohoo! Nice job!” Gavin clapped, only to groan a little as he felt his stomach gurgle loudly, “Okay, that wasn't a hunger pain, what's the dea-URK!” He hiccuped loudly as his body ebbed and quivered as he all of the sudden lost his excess weight, “Whoa...hey! I'm not chubby any-” His jubilation was interrupted by his stomach rumbling yet again along with another strange feeling that began to flow all throughout his body, ending with one of his front feet suddenly increasing in size, looking comically out of proportion with the rest of his body. Gavin stared down at it in shock before he looked back over over his shoulder, noticing that his tail all of the sudden lengthened and thickened, “Oh, crap.” As if on cue, the rest of his body joined in, stretching and growing bigger until he was at least twice his original size and still progressing, his burgeoning sides knocking tables and chairs over.
“Oh, that's not good,” Shutter blinked.
“My restaurant!” Stir lamented, giving Wordy enough time to toss the pear into his mouth, making him cry out as he collapsed, the same popping sound coming as the mass of jiggly adipose the earth pony had accumulated vanished within seconds.
“One down!” Wordy vaulted over the counter and galloped over to Gavin's fallen bag, taking another out, “Zecora, catch!” He tossed the green fruit over to Zecora, who caught it and stuck it inside Crash's mouth, causing the same to happen to her.
“And that makes two,” Zecora said, “We are almost through.”
“Yeah, but we've got a bigger problem now!” Shutter pointed toward the still enlarging Gavin. At this point, the griffon towered over them, slowly inching closer and closer to the ceiling and taking up more space the bigger he got.
“How long have you been waiting to make that pun?” Gavin put both his talons against the roof in a failed attempt to try and keep him from bumping into it.
“Since about a minute ago?” The blue pegasus shrugged.
“Zecora, any ideas?” Wordy started to slowly step back, taking Crash up into a magic field.
“I have never had a potion cause such a spurt, we must stop this before anypony gets hurt” Zecora eyed the growing griffon up and down before looking at Gavin's bag, “Wordy Notes, I may require a helping hoof. Transport me up there to the roof,” she pointed up as she put Gavin's bag around her shoulder.
Wordy nodded, “Ready!” He covered Zecora in magic, teleporting her up to the ceiling as she jumped between the beams, “Gavin! I think I know what she's doing! Open your mouth!”
“Hurry!” Gavin craned his head to the side as the roof above him started to buckle against his heightening body, “I really don't want to break this place any more than I already have!” He opened his beak as wide as he could. As she got close, Zecora withdrew the last remaining pear from the bag and jumped toward Gavin, throwing the pear into his mouth before doing a flip mid-air and sliding down his shoulder all the way to the ground before running over to Wordy and Shutter as all three watched with bated breaths, Gavin keeping his eyes tightly shut as not to witness whatever was about to happen. Suddenly, the effect ceased as he still remained the large size had been blown up to from the potion backfiring, but he was no longer getting any bigger.
“Oh, thank Celestia,” Wordy let out a sigh of relief as he sat down.
Shutter looked around the room before she brought up her camera and took a few pictures of Gavin, looking at everypony else, “What? Nopony is gonna' believe this later.”
“So, let me get this straight. Hotshot was using this blubbercup thing to get all of Ponyville addicted to his food?” Crash asked Wordy.
“Yup,” Wordy nodded.
“And it could be cured by eating pears and that's what happened to me and Stir?”
“Mhm,” another nod.
“And we have Lyra, Princess Celestia and some special agent to thank for catching him and turning the rest of the town back to normal?”
“From what I heard, yeah,” Wordy took a sip from a glass of water as he sat up at front bar of Stir's restaurant, Shutter sitting next to him and doing the same, nuzzling his side and giving him a kiss.
“Princess Celestia used a spell to cure the rest of the town since we didn't have enough pears to give everypony else,” Gavin added, bring a large tub of water up to his beak, sipping it like a glass as he sat up against a wall, Stir having cleared a space for the tree-sized griffon to comfortably rest from his ordeal.
“Right. Makes sense,” Crash sighed and put her face down on the counter top, “I'm never touching another oat burger again as long as I live,” she looked up again, “Was it even actually good? I kinda' doubt it was.”
“If that rangoon you shot me in the mouth with is any indication, not really,” Wordy shook his head.
“I guess Hotshot just tried to get the cheapest ingredients possible to maximize the return on his profits,” Shutter added.
“It's a travesty if you ask me,” Stir came back over from within the kitchen, setting a mop down nearby, “I mean, if he was going to go through with that specific plan, he could at least put a little pride into his work.” Stir's statement made all three of the ponies and the griffon look at him with confusion.
“Stir, are you arguing the degree to which he poisoned all of us?” Shutter asked.
“He used frozen, store bought rangoons,” Stir slapped a hoof on the counter, “Frozen. Store. Bought. RANGOONS,” he tapped his hoof, placing an emphasis on each of the words, “He took something that I pour my blood, sweat, and tears into each and every day and warped and crushed it into nothing more than him just using a microwave to serve his customers pre-made, mass produced food they paid their hard-earned bits for!” He looked at each of them before he looked down and stepped back, “I'm sorry...I kinda' wanted to hit him too,” he sighed
“So did Feathers, but apparently somepony else got to him first and gave him a beatdown into next Tuesday,” Crash responded.
“Yeah, but that doesn't change what happened. He used my food against me...against the town...against you guys....” The chef put his head down on the counter.
“Stir, it's okay,” Wordy spoke up, reaching over and patting the somber earth pony's back, “We're not mad at you. At all.”
“Really?” Stir looked back up, “Because you really should be.”
“Yeah, well, we're not, so you're gonna' have to deal with it,” Shutter smiled at him.
“Took the words right outta' my mouth, Snaps,” Crash grinned. Stir's eyes teared up slightly as he hopped over the counter, giving them all a hug.
“Thanks, guys...I really appreciate that,” he said.
“Hey, we're not gonna' let something like this end any friendships!” Gavin wrapped his large tail around all of them and brought them closer to him as he hugged them with his colossal forelegs.
“Well, I don't know about you guys, but I'm not arguing with the over-sized catbird,” Crash chuckled.
“Somehow I think you're enjoying this whole 'gentle giant' thing right now,” Shutter smirked at him.
“It sure isn't by choice, that's for sure,” Gavin rolled his eyes
“Yeah...sorry your potion went back on you like that, Gavin,” Wordy said.
“Meh, it's no big deal. It did what it had to do and it was just a little bit o' bad luck for me,” he shrugged, “I'm just hoping Z's gonna' be able to find a way to shrink me down again. I feel like I'm gonna' break something if I shift my weight the wrong way.”
“You needn't worry too long,” Zecora spoke up, “Fixing your problem is coming along.”
“I'm helping her out with that too. It should be ready soon,” Twilight Sparkle also entered the restaurant just behind the zebra.
“Princess Twilight!” Wordy, Stir, and Shutter immediately bowed to her while Gavin did his best to awkwardly nod and acknowledge her.
“'sup, Bookhorse?” Crash smiled at her.
“I'm glad things are going well for you all,” the alicorn walked over to them, “Stir Fry, I actually came by to talk to you as well. I've been going by the different businesses affected by Hotshot's actions and I wanted to let you know what we'll be offering compensation for you.”
“R-really?” Stir's eyes lit up, “That's wonderful! Thank you so much, Princess!” He said, running over and hugging her.
“You're, um, welcome,” Twilight blushed from the sudden gesture, hugging him back as well. As they watched the display, Gavin leaned down slightly, his head right next to Wordy, Zecora and Shutter.
“Thanks for all the help, by the way,” he said, “I couldn't have done it without you.”
“Anytime, Gav,” Shutter replied, “Just don't lock me out of my house next time.”
“I'll keep it in mind,” Gavin laughed, “You know...this whole thing might actually make for a good song for that rock opera I'm working on,” he snapped his talons before looking over at them and sighing, “Too bad I'm too big to write anything.” His regret was seemingly answered by the sound of a magic flare as Wordy floated a tablet of paper nearby.
“I've got your back...Bro,” he winked at Gavin, to which the griffon smiled back.
“Yup,” Shutter smiled, “This is definitely a Coltak Moment. I gotta' take this,” she grabbed a stool, setting her camera on it and adjusting it on a timer.
“Photo op, huh?” Crash smirked, “I'm down.” She trotted over.
“Same here!” Stir trotted over, “And after this, I'll make a whole, fresh batch of rangoons, my rangoons, for everypony to celebrate!”
“Be sure that, if you abide, to please try and get my good side,” Zecora did the same.
“You want in on this too, Twi?” Gavin asked her.
“Of course,” Twilight got into position as well, Wordy standing between her and Zecora.
“Okay. Everypony say 'Hotshot's rangoons suck!'” Shutter called out as she ran over next to Wordy.
“Hotshot's rangoons suck!” The group (minus Zecora) called out with laughter just as the camera went off and snapped the picture.