By: Arctic Tempest, Artee, Clarity, CmdrBrony, Ember Storm, Ebrona, Freightrain, Ikariuga, Nopony, Polecat, StarshineSprinta, Still Apony and Unknownpony
Dusty Trail - Equestrian Ranger
The sun was just starting to throw its first tentative streamers across the land, unfolding like golden ribbons across dusky blue skies as the day began. But with the light come the shadows. They stand out in stark relief, where evil and criminals can hide from the shining light of justice. They scurry away like cockroaches when you turn on the hall light, or those weird little bugs no pony can ever identify.
They scurry in a ... scurrying way away from the light, making their home in the shadows. But they still watch with their beady little eyes, because they know the light could shine on them. But here, in the mean streets of Fillydelphia, they know that their days are numbered.
They know that they have to run, they have to hide, because justice will find them.
They know they must scurry away to hide their ill gotten gains and-
The pink pony blinked and looked towards the purple unicorn shouting her name. She stood in the entryway to her library, the door thrown wide open despite the fact it was MUCH too early for her to be up and around. Guessing from the bags under her eyes, Twilight Sparkle had fallen asleep reading again.
"I'm not Pinkie Pie!" She answered with a smile.
"Then who are you?" Twilight asked, looking a little amused.
"I'm Dusty Trail, Equestrian Ranger!" Pinkie Pie proclaimed proudly. Twilight hid her face behind a hoof.
“I only lent you those books two days ago, Pinkie, and only to show you that not all books are boring." Twilight forced herself to say, "These are NOT the mean streets of Fillydelphia. I don't even think Fillydelphia HAS mean streets, but this ... is Ponyville. And in case you didn't notice, we don't even HAVE proper streets!"
"Have YOU ever been to Fillydelphia, Twilight?"
"That's not the point!" she fumed. "Coming to the point though, why are you outside my library at the crack of dawn talking to yourself so loudly that you woke me up!"
"Oh, that was my internal monologue." Pinkie responded with a wide smile.
"Pinkie," Twilight answered in a soft voice, "Internal monologue means it's internal. No one else can hear it."
"Well that's silly! How else could the readers know what I'm thinking?" She giggled before stalking away through the grass.
Spike approached the purple unicorn, suppressing a yawn, "You're up early, Twilight! What's all the commo- ... Is that Pinkie? Is it ... is it ... twitchy tail?" He shuddered, hiding behind Twilight.
"My name ... is Dusty Trail, Equestrian Ranger! And I ALWAYS get my mare!" Pinkie Pie shouted back from her hiding spot in the tall grass.
"This is going to be a long day." Twilight groaned.
Dusty Trail could feel the presence of wrong-doers in her bones, something was clearly afoot! If there's one thing she had learned from her years of catching criminals it was to check her contacts first. There was a young mare nearby, said she owned a dress shop, but Dusty Trail knew better. She was up to something; but right now Dusty needed more information.
Twilight Sparkle watched Pinkie bounce off, making sure she actually left before closing the door. Pinkie hadn't gone ten feet before she switched from bouncing happily to stalking like a hunter.
"I don't envy the pony she's heading to now." Twilight sighed as she leaned against the door, still hearing Pinkie Pie's monologue from outside, though it grew fainter with every second.
“You're telling me.” Spike replied, yawning once more as he tried to make his way back to bed. The clumsy creaking of his footsteps almost made him trip on the edge of a thick green rug covering the wood flooring. His stumble halted as a magical aura stopped his descent. The dragon looked back at Twilight slightly embarrassed and grinned before climbing back into his comfortable little bed.
“I worry about that pony sometimes. She's just so ...” Twilight looked for the right word. Spike braced himself out of habit for having to ask for an alternate definition, even if he wasn't taking a note for Princess Celestia, Twilight's mentor, for a change. “She's just so ...”
“Pinkie?” Spike divulged, hoping for some quiet despite the sun peering in through the window. The purple unicorn glanced his way disapprovingly, but could sympathize with Spike.
“I guess there really is no word to describe her, is there?” Twilight asked rhetorically as she made her way downstairs. Spike pulled the pillow over his head as the floor creaked again, much louder than before.
“I'm beginning to wonder if I'm going to have to ask the Princess for a new word to describe her.” She chuckled to herself as she pulled out breakfast from one of the cupboards.
A book floated to Twilight’s side as she ate. It was nothing in particular, something she had tiredly grabbed from her 'to read' pile on the way to the main floor. She flipped the sign to 'open' outside, despite having never locked the doors last night. It was something she had grown accustomed to in the town and she never knew when a friend might stop by to say hello or ask for help. Or wake her up.
A half an hour passed with Twilight's nose stuck in the book before she bookmarked her spot and finished with breakfast, returning the table to its place on the side of the room. The window above it was always a good reading spot during the morning hours thanks to the morning sunlight shining in. It made a near ideal study place when there were no visitors, only tranquility. She checked the night return box for books, lifting a pair of gardening guides towards their place on one of the shelves.
Suddenly the door flew open with a bang! The books fell as a pair of ponies raced through the door, a blue winged pegasus after a certain wild pink pony from earlier, laughing and giggling all the way.
“... but the blue pegasus continued to fail catching Dusty Trail, no matter how hard she tried!” Pinkie laughed a quick laugh again, the way only she could.
Rainbow Dash narrowly avoided crashing into one of the shelves as she adjusted her route of pursuit. Pinkie definitely needed a new word to describe her, no regular Earth pony should succeed in so easily avoiding a pegasus, and especially not as good a flier as Dash.
“Dusty continued her attempt to evade Westblue the Grandflier, but it soon became clear that there was no escape!”
“You bet there's no escape!” Dash yelled.
Whatever Pinkie had done, it must have been fairly something but Twilight had no real clue what Pinkie had been up to during her breakfast. Through the window she noticed that the unusual display had gathered a small audience outside. Twilight switched between staring at them for brief moments and watching the game of cat and mouse going on inside. She was tired from already dealing with the joyous, role-playing pony before and had little interest in resuming the less than fruitful effort she had pursued earlier. Instead she decided to keep her focus on the books, keeping the sudden high winds and near collisions from removing them from their shelves.
“Thinking fast, Dusty bolted outside yet again, closing” ~WHA-BOOM!!~ “The door in the face of the evil Grandflier! With Westblue out of the way, our hero continu ...”
Pinkie was soon out of earshot, leaving a moaning Dash lying against the inside of the recently replaced and reinforced wooden door.
“Good morning, Dash.” Twilight said as she walked over, smiling mildly. “What brings you here?” Several grumbles made their way back before the rainbow-colored mane repositioned itself behind Dash's head. “Did Pinkie Pie wake you as well?”
Rainbow Dash rubbed her head where it had impacted the door; she winced in pain as she found the exact spot.
"Wake me up?!" She burst after a moment. "You know, I'm slowly getting used to Pinkie Pie being ... well, Pinkie Pie, but ..." she stopped and thought for a moment. "Did she fall on her head this morning, Twi?"
“I'll explain in a moment, but let me help you first, Dash." Twilight snickered.
A gentle glowing surrounded her horn and after several moments a washcloth soaked in cool water came floating from upstairs towards the blue pegasus and landed gently on her bruised head. Dash carefully moved it onto the aching spot with a hoof.
"Thanks! So what is up with Pinkie Pie this morning? You seem to know something."
Twilight rolled her eyes, slowly trotted over to one of the bookshelves and made a particularly thick and dusty old book come floating towards her, opening itself on her favorite lectern. Twilight skipped through some of the pages while Rainbow Dash edged closer, looking over the purple pony's shoulder for a better view. Page after page turned before Twilight finally found what she was looking for.
"Ah hah! There it is!" She turned her head, smiling broadly at the pegasus and feeling rather proud of herself. "This book covers the power of the imagination and the negative effects it can have on a pony." Her eyes moved quickly, absorbing every written line.
"And what does that have to do with Pinkie Pie?" asked Dash, not quite able to grasp what her friend was going on about.
Twilight closed the book with a loud thud.
"I lent two of my books to Pinkie Pie recently." she explained. “Nothing extraordinary, just some fancy crime thriller stories I thought she might like. It seems her vivid imagination has gotten the better of her though." Twilight rolled her eyes quickly, making a crazy-pony impression in reference to Pinkie.
She looked around, wanting to call for Spike, but remembered the little dragon was still taking his well-deserved rest after Pinkie had woken him earlier. So she used her magic to return the book to its proper spot on the shelves. Rainbow Dash followed the book with her eyes as the wet washcloth slowly slid down her forehead and onto her nose. She put it back to its proper spot, her shaggy mane being quite drenched by now.
"So, basically Pinkie Pie read those stories and is playing a criminal now ... and that's why I got a door in my face and my mane is all wet. Is that what you’re trying to say, Twi?" The blue pegasus smirked at her friend.
"Actually it seemed to me that she was thinking of herself as some kind of crime fighter. Which leads me to the question - why were you chasing her anyway, Ms. Westblue the Grandflier?" Twilight laughed as she repeated the strange name the pink pony had given Dash. "Oh ... sorry." she apologized as she found the pegasus glaring at her.
"I was at the market when that pipsqueak Scootaloo found me and wanted to hear for the umpteenth time how I won the Iron Pony competition." Dash felt the washcloth being on the move once more and quickly placed a hoof on it.
"You know me, I'm not one to brag; nevertheless I did the filly a favor and told her the story ... when suddenly Pinkie Pie jumped onto my back from behind a bunch of crates and shouted into my ear!"
Twilight listened carefully.
"She hollered that I’ve been found guilty of lies and deception and that she would ‘always get her mare’ and ‘criminals beware’, whatever that means." Dash looked at her friend with big eyes. "Do you think she's lost it? I mean, when did I ever lie to or deceive anypony?"
Twilight's mind returned to the events of the Iron Pony competition and the Running of the Leaves race from not so long ago.
"Uh ... I have no idea!" Twilight rolled her eyes playfully as she right out lied and put on her most convincing smile. "Anyway, we better go looking for Pinkie Pie. Who knows what else our self-proclaimed crime fighter will do?"
Rainbow Dash nodded. "Yeah, it's enough if one pony a day gets a door slammed in her face."
City of Criminals
"I still cannot believe that Rainbow Dash keeps crashing into other ponies’ houses" mumbled Rarity while repairing part of her boutique's ceiling. "I mean, I could only fly for less than one day and I had complete control over my elegant wings!" she added as her horn glowed to lift special tiles to her roof where a big hole needed her immediate attention.
"What’s that?! Did Dusty just find the pony guilty of assaulting the Prince?! Something has to be done, but somepony that dangerous is never alone!" said Pinkie Pie while hiding in some shrubs not too far away from Rarity.
"Who is there?" asked the white unicorn, turning her head as she heard whispering.
"Oh no! Has Dusty been discovered by the criminal?!" said Pinkie Pie as Rarity approached and saw her sitting among her neatly pruned bushes.
"Oh it's you, Pinkie! Please don't startle me like that, dear. What are you doing hiding behind my shrubbery? You'll get leaves stuck all over your coiffure!"
"Dusty has to act! She’s been discovered! What to do, what to do, what to do?!" Pinkie's fear grew while Rarity stared at her with growing concern in her eyes. Pinkie Pie looked around quickly and then she saw it! A piece of rope lying coiled up next to the wall.
"Are you feeling okay, darl-"
Suddenly, Pinkie rushed towards Rarity, holding the rope in her teeth, while the white unicorn was paralyzed in surprise.
"I have called the authorities! And you don't try anything funny, Mister!" said Pinkie to a tied up Rarity, still speechless after what just had happened.
"Now off to clean the rest of the streets!" said the pink justice bringer, bouncing away into the distance.
Rarity gazed in bewilderment, lying helplessly on the ground.
“Pinkie?” she finally called after the perpetual pink pony prancing away, switching between a contented bounce and a sinister stalk every so often.
“Pinkie Pie?!” she called again, but it was too late. 'Dusty Trail' had disappeared around another building, lurking in the shadows for who knows what purpose.
Her unexpected situation caused a torrent of emotion to wash over Rarity; anger at how she had been treated and sorrow for the seeming abandonment by her friend. Most importantly though, was the internal confusion now plaguing her mind as to what might have brought on such an event.
“Did she not like my new dress for her?” Rarity asked herself, before looking around for somepony in sight to aid her - but she was out of luck. Nor would it have been easy to discover her lying among the bushes.
“I doubt that was it, everypony loves my dresses. I wonder if ...”
A meow from the bushes interrupted her as Opal walked out indifferently to the presentation before her. The cat stared, taking several paces before coming to a standstill. Her dull eyes surveyed the scene with indifference to her owner. Rarity struggled slightly, trying to get Opal's attention. The preening feline only gave her a long look from the sudden movement, as if thinking. Rarity stared back in wait until the cat finally came to a decision after a solid minute.
“Opal?” she said sternly. “Opal! Come over and use those claws of yours to help Mommy, darling.” The cat's eyes glanced her way for a moment, but made no alterations to her cleaning routine. “Opal!” Rarity's frustrations did not matter to the cat. “Opal, I swear if you do not help me out of these ropes right now I will ...”
Opal took several more paces towards Rarity, looking at her.
“Yes, that's it, darling! Come now,” a smile came back along with a glimmer of hope, “get me out of these, these things!” She whined in a pitiful voice.
Opal had stopped just in front of Rarity's head, staring slightly more attentively than normal. There was a hint of surprise on the feline's face at the pony's request.
The feline rolled its eyes in a mix of annoyance and haughtiness and showed its claws. But instead of actually using them to free her owner she only pointed at Rarity's horn. Rarity looked confused, then confusion gave way for embarrassment as a deep blush formed on her cheeks. Her horn started to glow gently and the ropes binding her fell off.
"Oh ... right ... thanks, Opal."
It was a short while later that Rainbow Dash and Twilight had come across Rarity who was still in a state of distress. After explaining to them what had happened the trio decided that it was time to sit down with the delusional pink pony and explain that this type of behavior just wasn’t acceptable.
The ponies didn't have to look for long until they found her lurking in a nearby alley. They were only able to convince her to come along with them, however, by saying that they were done with crime and wanted to turn over a new leaf. Now Pinkie Pie sat in front of the three of them in Twilight's library, looking around suspiciously for any signs of danger.
“So you admit to your dastardly deeds?” she asked.
“No, Pinkie Pie,” replied Twilight. “The real reason we brought you here is to tell you that what you’re doing is completely uncalled for.”
“Uncalled for? So … you’re not giving yourselves up?”
“No,” Twilight reasserted, “You interrupted my morning meal, dazed a raging Rainbow Dash and roped up Rarity all because of some silly story! This has to stop!”
Pinkie stared at them blankly for a long while, then suddenly exclaimed, “It is you who shall be stopped!”
“What? What did I do?” asked Twilight confusedly.
“I bet you didn’t think I would catch on, did you? But your use of questionable consonants gave you away! You’re the ALLITERATOR! Leader of the Fillydelphia crime family!”
“Oh Pinkie, don’t be ridiculous. You know very well that ...”
But it was too late, Pinkie Pie had already begun her attack. She darted around the library, knocking dozens of books onto the floor as she did so.
“Take that!” she yelled.
“Pinkie what are you doing!?” Twilight yelled desperately. “I just finished reorganizing everything!”
“Exactly!” yelled Pinkie Pie. “Your plans are foiled!”
“Oh goodness!” exclaimed Rarity, as she watched the scene unfold. “Somepony stop her!”
“I’m on it!” Rainbow Dash shouted, leaping into the air.
Twilight could hardly keep up with the two of them as they tore around the library, causing even more chaos than before. Books of all shapes and sizes - and more importantly of all different categories - were being flung in every direction. Twilight tried to cast a spell to make Pinkie Pie stop but the prankster was so fast that the unicorn missed her by an inch and only managed to knock more books off the shelves herself. Books bounced off the floor, slammed into walls, some even hit the ceiling. The faster Pinkie and Rainbow chased each other the more of a vortex of wind whipped up, tearing pages from their covers and filling the room with a maelstrom of some of the greatest works of writing in pony history.
“I’ve got you now!” yelled Rainbow angrily.
She made a sharp right turn in an attempt to cut Pinkie Pie off half way around the room but the pink calamity ducked just in time to avoid her. There was a sudden rumble as Rainbow Dash crashed into the wall. Every book that was still on the shelves jumped at the collision and came tumbling down in an avalanche of paper. As the air cleared, the only pony not buried under a pile of text was Pinkie Pie.
“Justice!” she cheered, then hopped happily out the door.
Several minutes passed before her friends finally managed to free themselves, popping up through the mounds of books one at a time like moles in a mole hill.
“Oh, this is getting out of hand!” said Rarity very sternly.
“Yeah, no kidding,” agreed Rainbow Dash. “But what can we do to stop her?”
“Oh, I’ll tell you what we’re going to do,” said a livid voice from behind them.
Rainbow Dash and Rarity both turned around to see a furious Twilight gazing around her destroyed library with an open book resting on her head and a look of malevolence in her eyes.
“And w-what might that be, dear?” asked Rarity nervously.
“If ‘Dusty Trail’ wants villains, she’ll get villains,” Twilight replied, with just a hint of craze lacing her voice. “Gather the rest of the team, Rainbow Dash, or should I say, ‘Westblue’. I think it’s time we put an end to this lint loving lollygagger once and for all!”
The Rise of the Alliterator
"Is this really necessary?" Fluttershy asked with some worry in her voice.
"Absolutely!" Rainbow Dash replied.
"But it's really tight, you know ..." the yellow coated pony mumbled.
"It has to be or it won't be believable!" Twilight nodded as she admired their handiwork.
"But ... but ..." Fluttershy trembled and gave a pitiful squeak.
"Darling, we explained it to you. Unfortunately there is no other option." Rarity said as she watched Fluttershy with a sympathetic look.
The pegasus was resting tied up on the sofa in her hut near the Everfree Forest. A couple of mice and other small woodland creatures that were living with her watched the scene curiously. Fluttershy's legs were bound as were here wings, a thick rope wrapped around her medial, keeping them in place. She looked miserably at her friends and wasn't quite sure she really understood the whole situation.
"So ... so Pinkie Pie is ..." she started.
"Pinkie Pie is currently in an obscured state of mind. She thinks ..." Twilight replied when she was cut off by Rainbow Dash.
"Pinkie Pie is loco in the coco as she would put it." the pegasus said, earning her a reproachful look by the purple pony.
"But why don't you just ... um ... try to talk to her? There's no need to wrap me up like this!"
"Because Pinkie Pie is not willing to listen!" Twilight sighed "But if she notices you might be in danger she will hopefully not try anything rash. We might even be able to just talk to her. But if she is not willing to talk ..."
"Exactly, Twilight" said Rarity with a grim look, "if she doesn't listen to us ... we will seize her!" The purple unicorn was surprised at her friend's sullen expression. "Tying me up and throwing me into the bushes, ruining my hair!" Rarity mumbled to herself with a low voice.
"Yeah! We will use the elements of surprise and superior numbers!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed, pounding her hoof on a nearby table, making a vase almost topple over and several of Fluttershy's house mice scurried away, startled by the noise.
"Whoops ... sorry." the pegasus blushed.
"Anyway, we-" Twilight said just as the door to Fluttershy's hut suddenly swung wide open.
Startled, the three ponies turned around quickly and even Fluttershy craned her neck to see who it was. For a heartbeat they thought Pinkie Pie had found them by accident but a moment later they all sighed in relief as it wasn't the pink crime fighter after all but their friend Applejack with Spike in tow. The orange filly with the broad hat trotted closer, shaking her head.
"Howdy! Well shoot, y'all better be kiddin'. All that fuss just so y'all can have a talk with Pinkie Pie?" she asked, eyeing up the other ponies.
"Hello Applejack, thank you for coming." replied Twilight, sticking out her tongue playfully. "I'm not sure Spike has told you everything about Pinkie's condition."
"Spike here told me that Pinkie Pie is an apple short of a bushel after readin' one of them books y'all gave 'er. I guess y'all better give 'er a cookery book next time." Applejack chuckled and Rainbow Dash joined in, even on Rarity's face formed a grin.
"Good one, AJ!" spluttered Spike.
"Yeah, yeah, just keep on laughing. I'm sorry for trying to make ponies of vast reading out of you guys." Twilight rolled her eyes, giving them a glance.
"Um ... Twilight ... I'm sorry to disturb you ... but ..." Fluttershy started "... um ...these ropes are tight and … um ... how will Pinkie Pie even know that I'm in danger?"
"Oh, that's very simply! Rainbow Dash will lead her here and as soon as she sees you ..." Twilight nodded and so did the other three ponies as they looked at each other, reassuring themselves that this was the best way to put an end to Pinkie Pie's crime fighting days before anypony got hurt.
"So, we commence as planned then, right?" Rainbow Dash asked and Rarity and Twilight nodded.
"Indeed! Westblue the Grandflier, find Pinkie Pie and lead her to us!" Twilight said and now it was the blue pegasus' turn to look rather annoyed.
"I hate that name." she hissed while leaving the hut.
“And don’t forget, she calls herself ‘Dusty Trail’!” Twilight shouted after her.
Spike and the other ponies scurried away to look for proper hiding places. Only Twilight Sparkle remained with Fluttershy. With a smile, the purple unicorn produced a cape and a top hat from her saddlebags that were lying in a corner. After putting them on, she walked up to a mirror to look at herself. Her horn started to glow; she focused and a moment later there was a loud pop and a long, twirled mustache appeared in her face. Twilight looked pleased.
"Perfect! The Alliterator is ready!"
Soon thereafter Rainbow Dash could be found soaring around Ponyville, looking for the pink pony just about everywhere that she could think of, but she was nowhere to be found. Rainbow Dash stopped between every shop, store, and mildly crowded area along the way. Several minutes passed before she finally found a clue leading to the distraught detective. From inside Rarity's shop came a loud CRASH! The blue pegasus could only think of one pony who could have caused it.
She rushed inside and sure enough, there was Pinkie rummaging through a mess of ribbons, fabrics and other sewing materials that could be found.
"Hey Dusty!" the blue pony called. "Bet'cha can't catch me!"
Surprised, the pink pony suddenly jumped, turning to face her new foe!
"Westblue!" she shouted with a grim look, "Up to no good again, are you?!" Pinkie charged after her, dropping the random things she had scavenged from around the store.
Surprised at Pinkie’s speed, Rainbow struggled to avoid being tackled by the crazy detective. She dashed out of an open window, just narrowly avoiding Pinkie as she swiped to grab her tail.
Rainbow dashed through the air, stopping frequently to make sure that Pinkie was still hot on her trail. Sure enough, she was always just a hoof behind and, fortunately for Rainbow Dash, also a few meters below. It was not long before she managed to make it back to Fluttershy's cottage close to the forest. With a crash through a window, she found herself inside, waiting for Pinkie to catch up.
Dusty trailed after Rainbow Dash and within moments she too was inside Fluttershy's cottage.
"I've caught you at last, Westblue! You can't escape Dusty Trail! Because I'm always on your trail!" she exclaimed proudly.
"Oh no, she has caught me! Now I'll be put in Pony Jail for sure! Oh, where's the sheriff when you need her?" Rainbow Dash tried to play along.
Just then, a mysterious purple unicorn wearing a cape, top hat, and simply fabulous moustache appeared in the door as well.
"Avast, the amazing Alliterator!" announced the Alliterator. "Tremble in terror at my terrific terminology!"
Out of the Frying Pan
Rainbow Dash quickly sought cover behind Twilight. The purple unicorn was sitting up on her hind legs, her forelegs folded in front of her chest, trying to strike a cocky pose. Her horn glowed softly, an end of her mustache being twirled all by itself.
"Alliterator! I knew you were behind all this! Who else would conceive a wicked and vile act of ..." Pinkie Pie looked around the flat, trying to think of a crime the Alliterator could have committed when she suddenly noticed the bound pegasus on the sofa.
"Pony-napping! Release Fluttershy this moment or you will feel Dusty Trail's brand of justice!"
"Where's the sheriff when y'all need 'er ..." Twilight heard the hidden Applejack's soft chortle as she aped Rainbow Dash. Pinkie Pie's ears pricked up.
"Help me, Dusky Tail!" Fluttershy squeaked quickly, turning the pink pony's attention back to her.
"The Alliterator's ambitions are abominable and also awe-inspiring!" Twilight said, trying not to be intimidated by Pinkie Pie's glare at her. It was clear to see that the pink prankster meant business. The little wheels in her mind turned quickly as Pinkie Pie stepped closer.
"Hold your ponies, you goody-four-horseshoes detective. We just want a word with you ..."
"This is your last chance!" The pink pony proclaimed, her eyes not leaving the disguised Twilight for a moment. Sweat pearls started to form on the unicorn's brow.
"Help me, oh help me, Musty Train!" Fluttershy wiggled on her sofa, eyed by a pair of squirrels sitting on the backrest.
"'Er name's Dusty Trail, for Pete's sake!" Applejack's irritated voice could be heard.
"Who else is here with you? Did you bring some reinforcements?"
Twilight knew this wouldn't turn out well - reasoning with Pinkie Pie at this state seemed impossible ... so it was time for plan B. "Get her!" Twilight shouted and with a swift motion she spun around, the coat she wore got lose and as if guided by magic it landed on top of Pinkie Pie's head.
A darkness descended upon the head of Dusty Trail as the coat fell upon her- 'Ow!' she cried as she was continuously prodded by mysterious hooves, trying to tie her down as if she were a struggling Manticore. But Dusty would not give up! She would not succumb to the darkness. What would become of Fluttershy?
"Who the hay is she talking to?" asked Applejack.
"I don't know, but at least she's stopped moving around," Rarity replied with an angry glare at. "And she better, my mane is a mess again after all the roughhousing it took to subdue her."
Applejack gave Rarity a dissatisfied look as the elegant pony stood up and straightened her hair as best she could. A hairbrush floated towards her from the distance. In the meantime, Spike untied the helpless Fluttershy.
"She's just doing an internal monologue again." Twilight sighed in an answer to Applejack's question.
"But ain't we not supposed to hear it then?" The farm pony wondered, only earning her an annoyed grumble by the unicorn.
"She had to save her! She had to stop them! If Dusty Trail fails, Ponyville too would fall under control of the Fillydelphia crime family!"
Rarity continued to brush her mane, listening with mild interest in the ramblings. Twilight wondered if the pink pony had calmed down enough by now so they could actually try talking some reason into her.
"Listen," Twilight said softly, "don't you think it is time to - stop being Dusty Trail and start being our Pinkie Pie again? We miss our friend."
Rainbow Dash groaned in slight annoyance at Twilight's sappy speech, letting go of the coat for just a moment.
"Alliterator! You will not get away with this! Your soothing words will not make Dusty Trail sway! Ponyville needs me; and the hearts and goodwill of all the law abiding citizens gives me a strength not even you can conquer!"
She felt the grip on the coat loosening and started rumbling again, tossing and turning and throwing Twilight off from above the coat entirely. Without her focus, the blanket became even more chaotic as the magical possession left the inanimate fabric. A forceful head motion later banged against Dash, knocking her back as well. Rarity tried to get back within range of holding it, trying to bring the fabric against the floor, but not being used to moving fabric against a thrashing object, she was no match for 'Dusty Trail.' Fluttershy bolted from the room in terror, unsure of what to expect next as Pinkie finally appeared from underneath the blanket.
"Where is Fluttershy! Where-" Dusty stopped, peering around the room," Pinkie said, as she did just what she described. "Wherever you have taken her, I will find her!" She called, moving towards the door, "and there will be nothing that will stand between you and justi-"
A snap interrupted her. Pinkie's face went from frustration to surprise as she gazed down, towards the one thing that prevented her escape.
Applejack clung tightly to Pinkie's tail, pulling back on the hyperactive pony, muttering something incomprehensible with a frustrated look on her face. There were no words as Pinkie tried to escape from the strong Earth Pony, to no avail.
"Too many, they are too many! For now she had to retreat! She knew what she had to do! She took a nearby vase and smashed it against the wall."
Fluttershy flinched at the noise in the other room, while a stunned Applejack kept a tight lock on her jaw despite the maneuver.
"There was nothing else to be done against the stubborn minion of the underground than to escape, escape at any cost!"
With the remains of the shattered vase, A quick slash to her back left her trotting away at full speed, with a mangled mess of pink hair in an astonished Applejack's mouth.
Horror dripped from the faces of the ponies at the failed attempt to capture their friend. Disappointment filled Twilight, as she began to wonder how to put an end to this yet again. Rarity merely wondered how messed up this 'Dusty' character was, if escape was more important than one's own self-image!
"Okay, that's it! I'm out of here!" Rainbow Dash hollered and just in time Twilight caught her by the tail in a similar fashion to AJ getting Pinkie’s moments before. The blue pegasus sighed and sat down in sheer frustration.
"I know it's not easy, Dash, but we must help Pinkie Pie." The unicorn tried to comfort her.
"Help her? We are the ones who need help! Even all four of us couldn't capture her." Rainbow Dash complained.
"Or talk to her ..." mumbled Fluttershy who returned, still shaking from the experience.
Rarity shook her head, aghast at the remains of Pinkie Pie's tail that were lying on the floor.
"I have to agree with Dash, Twilight. Who knows what a pony is capable of that is willingly ruining her caudal coiffure in such a dreadful manner." She said, carefully picking Pinkie's tail up and placing it on a table that was laden with several tins and bottles.
"We should talk to the mayor. Pinkie Pie might be a danger to other ponies at this rate - maybe even a danger to herself."
"But Pinkie Pie would never hurt anyone, you know that." Spike peeped up from behind. Fluttershy nodded in agreement but she looked rather worried at the prospect of anypony getting hurt nevertheless.
Rarity looked at Rainbow Dash and Applejack, their faces grim.
"A pony capable of such a detestable deed," Rarity nodded at the cut off tail once more, "is capable of anything."
Twilight bit her lips and grimaced. She started to walk up and down as if in thought, the other ponies and Spike watching her thoughtfully.
"Aha! I think I’ve got it." Twilight proclaimed suddenly. The purple unicorn twirled the end of her newly found mustache with simple magic. Spike sighed in disappointment as he looked at it, wishing he had one as well.
"Got what, sugar cube?" Applejack asked, trotting a bit closer.
"Pinkie Pie will return eventually! After all she didn't manage to rescue Fluttershy! We just have to wait and prepare ourselves better this time!"
Rarity looked at Twilight in doubt, cocking her head. Rainbow Dash's face didn't show much more confidence either.
"I ... I'm sorry, Twilight," Fluttershy mumbled, stepping from one hoof onto the other "but I don't really want to ... you know ... being bound again; it was very uncomfortable."
Twilight grinned as she saw the skepticism in the eyes of the other ponies and gave them a wink.
"Don't worry guys, I have a plan - and this time it doesn't involve a pony being tied up or captured. We know what Pinkie Pie's weak side is. What does she love more than anything else?" Twilight smiled broadly.
"Yah mean a ..." Applejack rolled her eyes.
Twilight nodded and her horn glowed. A scroll opened by itself and a quill and some ink came floating towards her as she started to write on the parchment, using her magic. The other ponies looked over her shoulder and one by one they started to grin. When she was done the scroll closed itself.
"Spike, please take this letter to Mr. and Mrs. Cake at Sugarcube Corner!" She said and gave the scroll to the young dragon that stood at attention and saluted her.
"Right away, Twilight!"
“What's this?” Dusty Pie called, staring at the bulletin. “I did not see this earlier today. ‘Party at Fluttershy's house with Equestria's Premier Party Pony from Canterlot. Tonight, all night!' Hmm ...” Her eyes dilated for a moment as her hair shot out in all directions, but a moment later she was back to thinking.
She read the words once more, carefully ... Premier Party Pony. "That's the Alliterator's writing! A party at Fluttershy's after kidnapping her there ... This is most suspicious!” A hoof stomped the ground in mild frustration, as her thoughts continued. “But how will I get in? No doubt the culprits will recognize me ... Aha! I have to find an adequate disguise. I bet I will find something useful at Rarity's boutique!” She twitched again, this time calling slightly more attention to herself as she started galloping.
Her thoughts raced, she needed to rescue Fluttershy that night, before it was too late. Then again, if the party went all night she did have plenty of time to enjoy herself. Her disguise would need to be good though, perhaps she even needed to dye her mane! Then again if she did dye it how would the 'Premier Party Pony' actually get to know her? Whoever this white pegasus on the banner was, she did not recognize her as one of the minions from earlier. Perhaps this party was truly a party as well as a cover-up of something much more sinister? In that case she'd need-
'Closed' said the sign. Rarity's shop was never closed, not at this time of day. Dusty Trail wondered if she had been kidnapped by those villains as well!
“This does not bode well for Ponyville,” she said, to no one in particular. “If this keeps up, within a week this will be...” she paused dramatically for her seemingly invisible audience, “Ghostyville!”
She looked around at the other ponies, most of whom were simply ignoring her antics, as they had learned to. Dusty did not dwell on them long, however, instead reigniting the story on her own.
“Now, where can I get a disguise ...”
Trotting back to her house, Pinkie continued to think of what she could pull out from her closet for a disguise. Her closet had all sorts of clothing she rarely used, some plain, some unique. It was hard for her to remember just what was in there though. Dusty Trail believed it would be for the best if she were to lie low, but then how would she ever enjoy the party? Granted it wasn't what she was going for, but who said you couldn't accomplish things and have a good time doing them?
She could almost see her closet, the stored away coats and the funky hats, the umbrellas, the glasses, the prank equipment, the beach balls, the scuba gear, and anything and everything else she had ever laid eyes on practically. A tan jacket and brown hat appealed to Dusty in the corner of her eye, but she wasn't sure if that was proper party attire. Her Gala dresses, all stages, lay on her right. They were certainly party material, in her mind, but at the same time they were bound to bring unwanted attention to her at the party.
Then she saw it, a glorious mix of both stealthiness and party-ness. It wasn't perfect, but she'd been feeling slightly conflicted, in a way that Dusty wasn't used to feeling. Tonight, that would all change.
She was sure of it.
“Pinkie better appreciate this by the time this is all over,” Rainbow mumbled, “reading about parties is something eggheads do.” She groaned as her face landed on the book that was lying open in front of her. It wasn't particularly thick but still had more than enough pages for a pony not used to sticking her nose in books. 'A Dummy's Guide to Parties' was written in thin golden letters on the spine of the book.
“Dash, keep reading.” Twilight herself was looking through several other books at once, and raised Dash's own head through magic yet again as the blue Pegasus lay on the floor.
“Twilight, you don't really learn 'how to party' from a book,” Dash tried to explain. “You might learn what partying is, but how and what are two separate things.”
“What do you mean? I learned how to party just fine from books.”
"Yeah, cause you didn't know an-Ow!” Something prodded her side hard.
“Not now, sugar cube. Ah know ya don't like readin' an’ all,” AJ said, “but we're running out of options an' time 'ere. An' of all of us, you're the only one who can hope to match her partying skills and energy.” Rainbow Dash sighed.
“Yeah, yeah, just keep decorating, Applejack. If we wanna out-class Pinkie we're going to need to put every ounce we have into this.”
Twilight gave a little smile. “Which is why you're reading those books, Dash.”
“Shut up, Twilight." the pegasus mumbled.
Twilight just kept smiling, as Dash returned to reading the book as intently as her laziness would allow.
Rarity hadn't returned from her shop with her makeup kit yet. It was an important part; even her magic couldn't do everything to make this work. Illusion spells were generally simple but ones that were constant and didn't need her focus to keep them working were much more difficult to come by. But that tail hair of Pinkie's seemed to be the key!
As Dash read, ten eternities seemed to pass before a door slam finally got her attention, and even Twilight dropped a couple of books. Rarity and Fluttershy had finally arrived with the food, party supplies as well as Rarity's makeup - and Spike who had tagged along to bring Twilight what she needed for her illusion spell.
“What's all that for, exactly?” Dash asked. “I thought I was just going to put on a hat like last time, or something.”
“I don't know if that trick will work again,” Twilight replied. “She might have you memorized now, but I do have a plan. Rarity, can you dye Pinkie's tail yellow?”
“Sure, darling, but why would you want to do that?”
“You'll see, it'll all make sense in a few minutes.” Twilight replied.
A few minutes later, Twilight finally pulled Dash aside. The pegasus could barely keep her eyes open anymore after all the reading, yawning loudly.
“Okay ... um, now what are we doing again?” She asked, stepping from one hoof onto the other in attempt to get some life back into her tired body.
The other ponies were standing back, not sure what was going to happen.
“We're making you unrecognizable, basically. Through both magic and makeup, to ensure it is Pinkie-proof.” Twilight said. “You have the hair, Rarity?” Rarity levitated it over to Twilight, moderately repulsed by it for some reason.
“Um ... Twi?”
“Just close your eyes, Dash. It'll go faster this way.”
She did, and as she did, she found herself feeling warmer and warmer as something began covering her from head to toe. Light seemed to flicker in her view, despite having her eyes firmly shut. Then she felt like somepony had doused her in water as the feeling went away.
“How was that?” Twilight asked.
“How was what?” Dash wondered “the lights or the bath?” The others just looked at her, not sure whether to like or dislike what they were seeing.
“Um ... anyways, Rarity, can you get started on the mark?”
“Sure thing, Twilight. Now if you just step over here in front of the mirror an-”
Rainbow Dash did not hear anything more she said. Instead of seeing herself in the mirror, she saw a white Pegasus pony with vibrant eyes and curly yellow hair. Hair almost completely identical to Pinkie's. It was such a shock to see that drastic change in appearance in her, this hadn't been what she was expecting at all! Then her heart sank further as Rarity finished up with one spot. Her own cutie mark was now gone as well, hidden under a set of three purple balloons, almost exactly like Pinkie Pie's.
“Surprise!” Twilight grinned broadly as she noticed how taken aback the pegasus was.
“What?” Dash responded, entirely by accident.
“Oh you look simply dashing, darling,” Rarity said as she finished the other flank and took a step back, “Now you just need a new name.”
“Well, she did already answer to 'Surprise.’” AJ added in. “Why not that?”
'Surprise' was uncertain how to take AJ's smirk and chuckle. She felt unsure about the whole situation, tricking her friend into thinking she was someone she wasn’t. There was too much hinging on this though, and she sighed, giving in.
The Bounty Hunter Fillies
"We're never gonna get our cutie marks at this rate." Apple Bloom let out a despairing sigh.
Scootaloo leapt to her feet.
"We can't just give up! When have you ever heard of anypony getting their Cutie Mark from just giving up!"
"Maybe we're Cutie Mark Crusader quitters?" Sweetie Belle raised her head and interjected.
"Well, that's just silly! What kinda talent is quittin' anyhow?" Apple Bloom responded, frustrated from the failure.
The usually stout trio of young fillies, well known by other ponies as the ‘Cutie Mark Crusaders', were moping around Ponyville, utterly disappointed after their most recent disaster. Like so many times before they had followed one of Scootaloo's daredevil schemes to get their cutie marks - and failed.
As they trotted through the streets of the town they noticed a commotion rising from Twilight's library. In unison the three little fillies started to run to get a good look at the action. They arrived just in time to see a gleeful Pinkie Pie springing down the path before turning to a sneaky stance whilst talking to herself about catching criminals. Just as quickly as she had appeared, she jumped behind a corner and could no longer be heard or seen.
"Did you hear that? She said Ponyville is a host to criminals!" said Scootaloo, utterly shocked.
"Gosh, who knew our own humble town was a center of crime!" thought Sweetie Belle out loud.
"Hmm, criminals ... y'know that gives me an idea! Do you know what criminals mean?" asked Scootaloo.
"Stolen apples?" replied the innocently farm raised Apple Blossom.
"Snappy suits?" added Sweetie Belle, following in the designer footsteps of her older sister Rarity.
"No, trouble! And nopony wants trouble." Corrected Scootaloo, a spark of inspiration in her eyes.
"Yeah, so what?" questioned Apple Bloom, still incredibly confused.
"That means some ponies will be needed to take care of that trouble!" joined in Sweetie Belle, quickly catching on.
The three little fillies inhaled simultaneously, before loudly blurting out "CUTIE MARK CRUSADER BOUNTY HUNTERS!"
Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo and Apple Bloom decided to follow Pinkie Pie so they could find possible criminals sooner.
"Scootaloo, can you let us ride on your scooter?" said Sweetie Belle in a tired voice. "My hooves hurt."
"Sweetie Belle, use your brain for once. My scooter is loud. Pinkie Pie will obviously hear us if we ride it." Scootaloo responded snappily.
"Scootaloo, stop being mean to Sweetie Belle!" Apple Bloom interjected.
"What are you guys talking about?!" Pinkie Pie exploded into the conversation, sticking her head between them.
All three fillies jumped up, each coming up with a different excuse.
"We were just going to the farm!"
"I was just showing them a new trick!"
"Uh ... what they said!"
"Come on you three, what are you really up to?" Pinkie Pie giggled.
The trio looked at each other, unsure whether to be honest about having overheard Pinkie Pie. They all nodded to encourage each other before turning back to the pink pony.
"You know, Pinkie Pie, we have been trying to get our cutie marks for months now ..." Scootaloo started, not able to conceal a hint of disappointment on her face.
"Yeah, but so far we always failed." Apple Bloom.
"So ... we overheard you talking and ..." Sweetie Belle blushed.
"Ooh! You heard me talking? Who was I talking to and what did I say?!" Pinkie Pie blurted out as if she had already forgotten her mumbling from moments ago.
The fillies stared at her with their eyes and mouths wide open. Scootaloo shook her head.
"You said there are criminals in town!"
"You were going to catch them!"
"So ... uh ... we want to join you!"
"WE'RE CUTIE MARK CRUSADER BOUNTY HUNTERS! YAY!" they cheered loudly.
Pinkie Pie listened to them, looked at the young trio, then burst out laughing. She fell onto her back, rolled in the grass and giggled and snorted and chortled as much as she could, tears rolling down her cheeks. The three fillies looked at her with wonder, then their faces that were so happy moments ago turned into frowns of disappointment. Pinkie Pie was laughing at them, she found the idea of them being bounty hunters ridiculous. Their latest plan was a failure before they could even give it a try. With hanging heads, they turned to leave when Pinkie Pie hopped up.
"All right! Let's go then!"
"But ... you were laughing at us." Sweetie Belle sighed.
"Don't be silly, girls. I'm sure you'll make great bounty hunters - although what Dusty Trail really needs are a few criminal hunters!"
"Dusty who?" Apple Bloom wondered.
Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle just shrugged.
"Dusty Trail - Equestrian Ranger! Come on you three, and keep your eyes peeled for thieves and regicide!" she warbled happily and off she bounced before even awaiting a reply by the Crusaders.
"Regi-what? Pinkie ...?!"
The fillies shrugged once more, it was all they could really do whenever they listened to Pinkie Pie. But the urge to have a chance to get their cutie marks was way too tempting to stay behind so they quickly followed the pink prankster.
Pinkie Pie and her filly entourage sneaked carefully from bush to tree to more bushes as they approached Fluttershy's cottage and with each step the music they heard coming from its direction became louder. There was no doubt that the party had already started. While Ponyville had seemed almost abandoned to her the small trail to Fluttershy's home was bustling with ponies that wanted to attend the party. She knew most of them. Some were honest citizens but many were scoundrels and scalawags, Pinkie Pie thought - but 'Dusty Trail' was here on a different agenda.
While the 'Cutie Mark Crusaders' huddled up behind a large barrel to spy at the surroundings Pinkie Pie hid behind a shrubbery and produced her disguise from the saddlebags she had taken along. She examined her inconspicuous party outfit and quickly put it on. She tugged a few streamers back into their appropriate place and straightened the huge yellow bow she was wearing. A tip to the big cupcake that was her hat and off she went.
Quite a crowd had already gathered and with an innocent look on her face, she entered the cottage. Several of the other party guests gasped as they saw her, others cringed and started to whisper to each other and moved out of the pony's way. Pinkie Pie was happy with herself - how well she steered past the other party guests without them even noticing her.
"Didn't she wear that last year at that fashion show?" Lyra whispered to her friend Bon-Bon.
"Yes, it's just horrible. I can't believe she actually kept that ... thing." the latter replied, shaking her head.
"I guess some ponies just want to draw attention." Lyra said with a sigh.
Pinkie Pie's eyes rested on the two ponies for a moment and they blushed, quickly changing the topic.
The Mint Lantern and Poison Candy, what are these two evil masterminds doing here? It's good they couldn't see through Dusty Trail's superrific disguise. I will take care of them later - Fluttershy's safety comes first. Pinkie Pie whispered as she slowly strolled through the cottage. It was quite cramped with ponies and none of Fluttershy's animal friends were in sight, apparently scared away by the noise and commotion.
A few moments later Scootaloo, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle snuck into the cottage as well. As they looked around they only saw familiar faces, ponies they had known for as long as they had lived. They felt quite out of place as they were the only school age ponies who attended the party.
"Have you seen any criminals yet?" asked Sweetie Belle as she stood up on her hind legs to see better.
"Them criminals must all be hidin' somewhere." Apple Bloom replied as she closely watched a pony with mulberry mane drinking right from a punch bowl.
"You know that means?" Scootaloo said and looked at her friends.
The three friends assembled and stretching out their right forelegs high-hooved each other. "Cutie Mark Crusader Bounty Hunters undercover mission is a go!" They whispered with as much enthusiasm as possible and weaseled away in different directions, soon disappearing among the party guests.
The Best Partier
"Good gracious ..." Rarity mumbled as she snuck back upstairs to where Twilight and her other friends where hiding. She was shaking.
"What's the matter, Rarity? You look like you've seen a ghost!" the purple unicorn asked, the four ponies looking at her with concern.
"Worse! I've seen Pinkie Pie!"
"Well, Pinkie Pie may be a bit of a crackpot today, but it's not nice of you calling her worse than a ghost!" Rainbow Dash said with a smirk on her face. Even though she liked Pinkie Pie a lot it was obvious that she had already had more than enough of her today.
"Then have a look yourself, 'Surprise'." Rarity huffed. Rainbow Dash cringed as she was reminded of her disguise and new name.
Rainbow Dash looked at AJ, both with a puzzled look on their faces. They nodded after a moment of thought and carefully snuck towards the base of the stairways, looking down. The music was blaring loudly, ponies were eating, drinking and dancing and it didn't take long for the first table to be knocked over.
"Oh my!" The two heard Fluttershy squeaking behind them, the pegasus fearing for her furniture.
"Are you sure our plan is gonna work, Twilight?" Spike asked, holding a bowl full of gems that Rarity had brought him before the party started. He stuffed a good portion of the stones into his mouth, munching loudly.
"Well I certainly hope so - if not we may have to inform the mayor after all. Poor Pinkie Pie ... I only wanted to awaken her interest in literature."
They looked up as Rainbow Dash and AJ returned, both holding their mouths, broad grins on their faces. They chortled, then burst into loud laughter, the pegasus rolling on the floor. AJ was wiping some tears from her face.
"I didn't think Pinkie would keep that ol' thing around!" AJ giggled, wiping another tear from her eyes. "It seems tah be the big talk of the party."
"It is? Oh no, then they will all remember I made it for her. They will remember the fashion show! My career will be ruined!" Rarity looked at her friends with horror, stepping from one hoof onto the other.
"I will be the laughing stock of Ponyville - again!" she whimpered as tears started to fill her eyes.
Before any of her friends could stop her, Rarity was rushing downstairs, knocking several of the party guests aside, and earning her many scornful looks. Pinkie Pie looked up as she saw the unicorn hurrying towards the exit, almost tripping over the sneaking Scootaloo on the way out. The other ponies wondered what had gotten into the mare but as soon as another song had started, they had all but forgotten about the incident and started to dance again.
Rarity ... what was she up to? But first things first! Dusty Trail needed to find Fluttershy. But didn't Rarity come from upstairs? Maybe that is where they are keeping her!
Pinkie Pie said loudly, brushing several dancing ponies aside as she tippy-hoofed towards the staircase. She looked around, ignoring the half dozen party guests that were staring at her and pushed her cupcake-hat deep into her face.
It was time that Dusty Trail faced the Alliterator once more. The epic finale to this epic battle of epic proportions.
"Well, now what?" Rainbow Dash pondered as she looked through one of the small round windows, seeing Rarity bolting back towards Ponyville.
"We have to get along with our plan before anything else unexpected happens." Twilight said with a look at Dash.
"Um ... Twilight ... excuse me ..." Fluttershy mumbled.
"We have to catch Pinkie Pie off guard." the purple unicorn went on.
"Um ... but Twilight ... she ..."
"With Dash's disguise and the party we might snap her out of her state."
"Yes ... but ... but ..." Fluttershy squeaked helplessly.
"What's wrong, Fluttershy?" Twilight finally asked with a deep sigh. "We don't have time for disturbances."
Fluttershy's only reply was a feeble squeak. The yellow pegasus was trembling, looking at something behind Twilight. As she looked at Applejack, Rainbow Dash and Spike for help she only found them staring past her as well, their faces crestfallen. Twilight gulped.
"She's standing right behind me, isn't she?"
They all nodded causing Twilight to take a deep breath and slowly turn around. She found herself eye to eye with Pinkie Pie who was grinning at her broadly.
"Oh, it's you ... we totally weren't expecting you." Twilight babbled, her mind racing, trying to think of a way out of this whole mess. To her surprise Pinkie Pie barely noticed her for somepony else had caught her interest, 'Surprise'.
"Who are you?" She said as she bounced past Twilight to face the disguised Rainbow Dash. "I know every pony in Ponyville, and I have never seen you before! Are you new around here?"
Rainbow Dash grinned awkwardly, wiping a long piece of her now curly hair back, searching for the right words.
"Um, yes, I'm Surprise ... and I'm the biggest party-throwing and party-going pony far and wide! Surely you must have heard of me!"
Pinkie Pie examined the white-furred pony with the yellow mane. She blinked a few times; it was as if she were looking into a mirror. Even the cutie mark was the same.
"No ... nononononono, me, I'm the best at parties - everyone in Ponyville knows that!" she said and looked at the others. But they just slowly shook their heads.
"Oh, come on - Alliterator, you know me!" Pinkie Pie looked at Twilight. Again, she just shook her head.
"Spike!" she bounced over to the little dragon and beamed at him. "You love parties, Spike, we only celebrated your birthday two weeks ago! We were playing pin-the-tail-on-the-dragon!"
However, Spike just looked at her with big eyes, shrugging.
"You're 'Dusty Trail' - Equestrian Ranger! I don't remember ever being at one of your parties." Spike said, tilting his head as he looked at the pink prankster.
Applejack slowly trotted over to the disguised Rainbow Dash and placed a hoof on her shoulder.
"Surprise here throws the best parties far an' wide!" she proclaimed and patted Dash proudly.
Pinkie Pie's face turned from pink slowly to red, her eyes narrowed and she glared at the assembled group. The music was still blaring loudly, mixed with the chattering and dancing of the ponies downstairs.
“But …” Pinkie continued to gaze around at the party of ponies. “I’m the best partier far and wide!” Turning to Surprise, she continued. “I have never heard of you before and I know everything there is to know about parties. If I were as smart as Twilight, I would have already written several books about parties! What's this party about anyway?"
Rainbow Dash, in the guise of Surprise, stepped back ... did she just hear her mention Twilight? The other ponies gasped with a glimmer of hope as well.
“Well, I lived in Ponyville when I was younger! Yeah! And then I left, you see? I had to move with my family to … Hoofington! This party is to let everypony know that I’m back!”
Pinkie looked unconvinced for a second.
“Okie doki loki …” she finally said very slowly. Her muzzle drew closer to Rainbow’s, glaring sharply. "If your parties are that great, why did you invite everypony but Rainbow Dash?!”
Everyone in the room was in shock. They were looking at each other. Why would she ask that of all things? The little wheels in their heads were spinning as they tried to think of an excuse for Rainbow Dash's absence. Still Twilight had the feeling their plan was working, though not as expected. First her name, now Dash's.
“Well?!” Pinkie Pie said, eyeing them suspiciously.
Rainbow Dash knew she had to say something quickly or Pinkie Pie would figure out the whole thing.
“She ... she has to be somewhere. You just missed her, that's all.” said Rainbow Dash who couldn't think of anything else.
“I missed her? Don't be silly. I'm Dusty Trail! My skills in perception are unbeatable. I saw everything and everypony at that party and I'm sure that Rainbow Dash isn't in here - besides you look very suspicious to me, Surprise!” Dusty Trail said. “If that's your real name!” she screamed.
'Great... what will we do now?' Twilight thought and everyone started to look at the disguised Rainbow Dash. But very much to their surprise, Surprise wasn't surprised at all.
She looked at Pinkie Pie with a smile and said, “I remember now. One pony rejected my invitation to the party. She said that my party could never compare to the parties her best friend throws. She said that she misses her friend and that she couldn't wait to see her fantastic parties again. What's was her friend's name again ... hmm ... I think it was Prankie Pie or Pinkie Pipe. So that must have been your Rainbow Dash, I assume. I have to say that I was a little jealous that somepony would have such a loyal friend as her. That Pinkie Pipe is a very lucky pony. ”
Dusty Trail looked on in shock. She started to smile and a few tears were forming in her eyes but she quickly shook her head and repressed them.
Rainbow Dash was confused, did she just see hesitation in Pinkie Pie's eyes? She thought it would be a good moment for the next step.
“You never introduced yourself to me. What's your name again, pink pony?” she asked.
“My name ... my name is...”
Dusty Trail’s Revelation
“Berry Punch?” The pink mare looked uncomfortably at the menacing orange filly that stood in front of her. “Sure … !” uttered Scootaloo, eyeing her suspiciously.
“Uh, I think she's legit, Scootaloo,” intervened Apple Bloom. “I haven't seen her do anything else but downing drinks.”
“Oh, fine, you can go.” Scootaloo grumbled and at that cue the mare with the mulberry colored fur hasted away.
“At this rate we'll never get our bounty hunter cutie marks!” Apple Bloom complained.
“There's got to be somepony in this party up to no good.” Scootaloo eyed the crowd that was enjoying the party. As she saw Sweetie Belle walking over, she gave a hopeful smile. “I've got the feeling Sweetie Belle's got better luck.”
“I'm sorry,” Sweetie Belle sighed disappointed. She saw Scootaloo renew her sulking. “I've interrogated the grey pegasus but she didn't seem to know anything about criminals in Ponyville. In fact she just gave me a muffin and sent me off.”
“And did we really hafta interrogate mah brother?”, wondered Apple Bloom. “I mean, if he was out being a criminal I surely would have known.”
“It's always the ones you would least expect.” retorted Scootaloo. She sighed. “This interrogating is getting us nowhere. Let's just look out for suspicious figures.”
The Crusaders skimmed the crowd for a while. It was getting dark outside but that did not stop the ponies from having a great time. Whenever a pony left the party they were replaced by a latecomer. It seemed to the fillies as if half of Ponyville had gathered in Fluttershy's hut. It was so cramped that some ponies were even dancing outside and to make more room they had carried a table or two outside as well, laden with snacks and drinks. There were ponies sitting on the small bridge, letting their hooves dangle and some pegasi had moved a few clouds over the house to rest on them without being disturbed.
“There!” Sweetie Belle finally shouted in excitement, “Somepony took a carrot out of the salad bowl!”
“Great! You spotted somepony stealing a carrot especially prepared for this party?” cheered Scootaloo.
“How dastardly, stealin’ free food.” Apple Bloom sneered, giving Scootaloo a sarcastic look.
“Somepony sneaking around at parties snatching away food is never to be trusted.” Scootaloo grunted. She knew she was grasping at straws but she could not stand waiting any longer.
The suspicious figure was alarmed by the sudden commotion. She grabbed the carrot and darted away.
“CUTIE MARK CRUSADER BOUNTY HUNTERS TO THE PURSUIT!” shouted the three fillies in unison and off they went to chase after the thief.
“Do you see the culprit?” whispered Scootaloo.
“Nope.” replied Sweetie Belle shortly while the trio sneaked through the throng of party guests.
“Hey, watch it!” Bon-Bon fussed as the little fillies crawled through her legs, their eyes fixed on the carrot thief.
They couldn’t quite make out who it was, there was always another pony leg or tail in the way but they had the feeling it was somepony familiar to them.
“I think I kno- ouch!” muttered Apple Bloom as she got knocked into her friends by a dancing couple just as the thief had reached the stairway and with a few quick hops was gone. The fillies groaned as they slowly got back onto their hooves.
They looked at each other and nodded encouragingly before heading slowly upstairs. None of the dancing and prancing ponies paid them any attention.
“A’right, could anypony explain tah me once more what we need that carrot for?” They heard the voice of Applejack. Carefully they crept up to the last step and to their surprise saw Pinkie Pie with her friends.
Twilight coughed and magically turned a few pages of a book that was floating in front of her. The cover read ‘The Big Book of Party Games’.
“Simple, Applejack. It is only natural that the biggest party pony is also the best at party games …” she started to explain.
“Dusty Pie … really … that’s your name?” Rainbow Dash – still in disguise – asked Pinkie Pie with slight annoyance in her face, interrupting Twilight.
“As far as I remember … or was it Pinkie Trail? I’m not sure anymore!” Pinkie Pie blabbered while eagerly awaiting the rules of the game to be explained once more.
“How about Pinkie Pie?” asked Rainbow Dash, sounding even more annoyed now.
“Who would have such a silly name?” Pinkie Pie replied, shaking her head.
Dash ground her teeth and stepped towards Pinkie Pie, a hoof raised. Just in time, Applejack stepped between the two.
"Whoa there! Simmer down, Nelly."
Rainbow Dash angrily slammed her hooves onto the wooden floorboards. Pinkie Pie just kept on smiling as if nothing had happened.
"What about the carrot?" she asked.
"The carrot, right!" Twilight sighed. "Since we have no tail and no pin we have to improvise. So we will play a game of poke-the-cutie-mark-with-the-carrot!"
"Um .. Twilight ... if you don't mind ... we don't have a blindfold either." Fluttershy mumbled bashfully.
"Then our two contestants will just have to close their eyes!" Twilight said, some annoyance audible in her voice now as well - enough to make Fluttershy duck in alarm.
The three little fillies waited for the right moment and slowly climbed onto the stair head while the adult ponies were distracted. Suddenly, they sprang up and tried to tackle Applejack. Laughing, Apple Bloom clung to her tail, Scootaloo wrapped her legs around one of the farm pony's hind legs and Sweetie Belle climbed onto her back.
"Apple Bloom! What the hay is going on?!" Applejack bellowed and the anger in her voice was so obvious that all three of them let go right away scampered off to hide behind Fluttershy.
"Uh ... we're Cutie Mark Crusader Bounty Hunters ..." started Sweetie Belle.
"And we saw you nabbing a carrot!" continued Scootaloo.
"Ya shouldn't go thievin', big 'sis!" finished Apple Bloom.
The three looked at each other with joy as they had just caught their first 'criminal'. With excitement they examined each other's flanks ... but they remained bare. The happiness faded from their faces and made way for disappointment once more; it hadn't been the first time today.
"Oh shoot, another failure ..." sighed Scootaloo.
"We're never gonna get our cutie marks that way." Apple Bloom mumbled.
"I think we're not made to be bounty hunters after all." Sweetie Belle groaned.
"Don't worry girls," said Applejack, "y’all find yah talents someday. Y'all just have tah be more patient. Now y’all get on home. It's already dark outside and way past bedtime."
"Awwww!"" said the Cutie Mark Crusaders in unison, before turning to leave.
"Bye, Pinkie Pie," said Scootaloo.
"Bye, Scoot!" Pinkie Pie responded in her normal happy voice.
"Thanks for playing with us," said Sweetie Belle.
"Can we fight crime with you tomorrow too, Pinkie Pie?" asked Apple Bloom. "Maybe we just have to find more criminals before we get our marks!"
"Maybe! I've got a big batch of strudels to bake, so I'm going to be super busy, but maybe after!"
"OK!" The three fillies said happily as they walked back down the stairs and out of sight.
Once they were gone, Pinkie Pie turned back toward her friends.
"Now, where were we?"
All of her friends looked at each other, then back at her, their mouths open in utter confusion.
"Oh! Right," she said, putting on an angry face. "Now, where were we?" she repeated in her Dusty Trail voice. There was a long pause where all her friends just kept staring at her.
"What?" she finally asked. "Is there something on my face?"
Rainbow Dash was the first to recover her senses.
“Uh, Pinkie Pie?”
“Yes, Rainbow Dash?” Pinkie Pie responded in her usual, completely innocent tone as if it had been any other normal day. Her friends could only stand aghast.
“Did you know who I was the whole time?” said Dash, annoyance entering her voice.
“Well sure, Dashie! I thought you were doing really good! I never expected you to get disguises and everything!” The pink pony beamed. "And ... what you said earlier was really sweet, you know?"
“Pinkie Pie, were you really pretending this whole time?” Twilight spoke up, unable to believe she had fallen for this prank.
“Yeah! It was superduper fun, wasn’t it? I really liked your alliterations! They were … alliter-awesome!”
For a few moments, every pony in the room just stared at each other, dumbfounded. The music coming from downstairs making the silence more pronounced. Each pony thinking about the events of the past day and Pinkie’s strange definition of “fun”. Finally, Twilight grinned and started to cackle and laugh dramatically.
“You don’t dare defeat the dastardly Alliterator, Dusty Trail!”
Not able to hold a broad smile back any longer she took on what she assumed would be an evil pose. Everypony, except Pinkie Pie, who seemed to be slipping back into her character as Dusty Trail, looked at Twilight as though she’d grown an extra horn.
Twilight smiled back. “What? She’s right, this is quite fun!”
“Well, as long as I don’t have to wear any more disguises ... or crash into anything else. Besides getting a door on the head I guess it was kind of awesome chasing Pinkie around.” said Rainbow Dash, shaking off her disguise as much as she could. Dusty Trail gave her a fitting glare. “I mean, uh, chasing Dusty around.”
“Well I reckon ya’ll are gonna need somepony to keep ya’ll in line.” Applejack puffed out her chest and tipped her hat back jauntily. “A sheriff ought tah do the job nicely.”
Twilight guffawed dramatically. “Surely not even the sheriff can shunt my shady dealings. Especially not when I have a hostage!” Twilight finished with a flourish towards Fluttershy, who had been backing away hesitantly and now squeaked at the sudden attention.
“Well, I don’t know ... I mean ... okay ...” Fluttershy plopped down and readied herself to be tied up again. The Alliterator, not sure what to make of such a willing hostage just opted to laugh maniacally.
One story below, the party was still in full swing. Everypony having a good time despite the lack of a host or hostess. Occasionally, over the music, a thump could be heard coming from the floor above, usually dismissing concerns with the sound of laughter echoing soon after.
Later that night, with Spike fast asleep and all her friends safe at home after having a wonderful time - or in Rainbow Dash's case, sitting under the shower for hours to clean herself - Twilight Sparkle composed her letter to Celestia.
Dear Princess Celestia,
Today I learned that sometimes the best fun can be had without you even knowing it. You shouldn’t have fun despite your friends, but with your friends.
Sometimes you just can’t understand your friends, but that doesn’t make them any less of a friend, and it doesn’t mean you can’t still have a good time.
Your faithful student,