“There! Over there!”
“Through the… argh, it’s gone again! That snow up there! Break in the clouds!”
“In the more snow, you mean!” yelled Vinyl Scratch.
“EEEEE!” screamed Big Macintosh, like a filly, as his hoof slipped.
Hastily, Vinyl’s horn re-lit. She was sweating. “I got you, it’s OK, I got it! Ow ow ow ow…”
The magic she was casting braced Big Macintosh’s trembling hoof, preventing it from sliding on the ice and straight off the cliff—her magical energies held for long enough to give him a chance to adjust his hooves—and his mighty muscles dragged them another few paces up nearer the crest of the ridge.
The last three crests of the last three ridges had only revealed more snow and the sight of a still higher ridge, yet there was nowhere to go but up.
It hadn’t started that way…
Vinyl hugged her decks, still on the stage where she’d left them. “I know. I know. I’m here. Sorry. You knew I’d come back. Sorry…”
To her side, Octavia trotted in place. “Oh, hurry! I mean, of course you must apologize to your decks, but all the townsponies said…”
“I know,” retorted Scratch. “We’ll need to be around the side of the mountain range by nightfall to have any chance of getting to Chowa in time for the gig. Seriously, Tavi? It has to be right away? I thought we were travelling musicians! All of a sudden we got a deadline?”
Octavia’s gaze didn’t waver. “I won’t remind you, dear Scratchie. Suffice to say, something you did made us very popular. And since we’ve lived up to that promise, things were set in motion that are larger than all of us, and a tide of ponies have already begun their journey to Chowa, to see our command performance. As they go, they bring along others. And as grand as they say Chowa is, those ponies can’t stay there waiting for us, for days. We must go.”
“And what about these ones here?” demanded Scratch, gesturing with a hoof.
Big Macintosh looked up guiltily. Around him, a flock of mares pressed closer, nuzzling all sides of his appreciatively erect stallionhood, fascinated by his ample charms. Fuji looked on, smugly.
“Ah’m sorry!” he said. “They’re… curious.”
“Like Octavia said…” suggested Vinyl, archly.
“Um,” said Big Macintosh, “I got to work, y’all. I need to pull th’ cart to the next gig.”
As one, the crowd of mares and the occasional stallion bounced away, with huge smiles. “Yay! Big Macintosh-san! Mighty horse of the great dangura! We will see you there!”
As one, with Fuji casting a wary eye over the crowd and taking up the rear, the little herd of ponies galloped excitedly off, down the road.
A bird chirped. Some leaves blew across the street. Vinyl, Octavia, and Big Macintosh were alone.
“Did they literally all go on ahead of us?” asked Vinyl.
Octavia gave a little shrug of her withers, and tossed her mane. “I told you. They want to attend the big concert we’ll give. There will be others. They’re going, because there isn’t enough time to get there by tomorrow unless they hurry.”
“But WE aren’t there,” suggested Vinyl Scratch. “They’re going to see us, but we’re here, not there. What are we supposed to do about that?”
“Hurry,” repeated Octavia.
“Come on, Miss Scratch,” said Big Macintosh. “Let’s get them turntables loaded onto the cart. I’m ready to hit th’ road.”
“Vinyl Scratch!” squealed Octavia, her ears laid back fretfully. “Come out of there, it’s time to leave! We’ve got everything secure and Big Macintosh is in harness!”
Only Scratch’s tail could be seen, poking out of the cozy little cafe. “Urp… jussa… minute…”
“Now, Scratchie! What in Equestria possessed you? What are you even doing?”
Vinyl backed up, and emerged, licking her lips. She burped again. “Doing? ‘m helping.”
“Ew, Vinyl!” wailed Octavia. “What are you eating? You’re a pony! Is that really…”
“I’m a unicorn,” replied Scratch. “From Neighpon. And they don’t do this in Ponyville, or at least not that I’ve seen… and it’s sushi, Tavi. It’s fish.”
“Ewww!” cried Octavia.
“Well, we have a long journey, Tavi!” argued Scratch. “I should be ready! I could nearly pull the cart after all that sushi. Mmmmm.”
Big Macintosh blinked. “That’s my job, ma’am.”
“Well, want some sushi?” suggested Scratch. “I haven’t finished eating all of it yet.”
“Nuh-uh!” protested Big Macintosh, recoiling, shoving the cart back.
“Oh, no!” squealed Octavia. She dove, and caught her toppling cello, and glared at him.
“Okay, first of all be more careful Big Macintosh,” ordered Scratch. “Second, I thought you said the cart was secure, Tavi. And thirdly, this is what Neighponnese unicorns do. Hey, even back home I’ve seen Fluttershy feeding weasels and stuff with fish. It gives you a lot more energy and, like, rar-fierce-pony-ness than grass does. Unicorns here eat this stuff to build up their magic more intensely.” She winced. “As you know, that’s kind of important to us.”
“Do them crazy pegasuses eat fish too?” asked Big Macintosh.
“Did you ask ‘em?” inquired Scratch, lifting an eyebrow behind her shades.
“Nope. Jes’ fucked em.”
“You might find some of their extra intensity comes from their diet,” said Vinyl Scratch. “The Kirin are okay with it, but very strict that no fish should die needlessly. Sometimes they protect certain types of fish if they think they’re becoming too scarce. And yes, our pegasi did also learn to eat fish protein.” She winced again. “Partly when they had to go to war with bands of unicorns. We’re better now, but yeah, unicorns get a lot of energy from the weird diet, and pegasi got really into it when they were needed as warriors. I think by now it’s mostly pegasi who do the fishing. Inland, I mean. In the sea, it’s all sorts, but inland you get pegasi with these spears going fishing in rivers. I’ve seen it, when I was growing up.”
Octavia boggled at her. “That’s amazing. I would never have imagined it. Back home, ponies don’t eat anything of the sort.”
“This is back home for me,” said Vinyl, and burped again. “Scuse me!”
“Oh, Scratchie, your breath smells of fish!” wailed Octavia, distraught.
“Sorry, sorry! Hey, it might be worth it, what if I need to use my magic? It’ll definitely help me build it up, okay?”
“But why are you ravenously devouring all the poor fish in this whole town?” begged Octavia. “Help me understand, I’ve never seen you behave like this!”
“It’s because I’m helping the townsponies!” insisted Scratch.
“Well, I won’t lie, it’s delicious and I probably won’t get the chance once I return to Ponyville… but Octavia, do you realize they’ve abandoned this town just to run on to the next one and hear us play?”
Octavia blinked, confused. “Do you think something will come and steal all the fish?”
Vinyl narrowed her eyes. “It’ll rot.”
“What, in just a day?”
“Oh yeah,” said Scratch. “Oh yeah! Especially this far inland. Tavi, these ponies were so excited they abandoned their stuff. I’ve found five places now that left sushi out, without any ice or anything to keep it cold. It’s not like hay, this stuff! I’m doing them a favor. Did you notice I’m licking all the plates clean too?”
Octavia shuddered, dismayed.
“The point is,” said Scratch, “the stuff will go bad really fast, and it’ll stink up the whole town! It’s not like they’ll come back and find their sushi waiting for them. I guess if they have some in the magic-powered cold boxes? But the stuff being served, and what’s on display, if we just left that it would rot and it’d be awful and I just can’t leave them such a horrible surprise for when they come home. It’s, like, rude and I know they’d understand and THEY would know what they did wrong if they weren’t so excited. So I owe it to them to fix the problem, so when they come home the town won’t stink of rotted fish, which would be the worst thing ever, trust me.”
“But you’re EATING it,” said Octavia.
“It’s wonderful,” said Scratch. “Fresh as dew on the grass.”
Octavia pouted. “You could just as easily have put it back into these magic cold boxes they’ve had to invent, since they won’t eat sensible grass and hay. I’m sure that’s what they would have done if they hadn’t all run away to the next town to see us perform.”
Vinyl burped again, and had the grace to look very slightly abashed.
“Well, since they didn’t…”
Big Macintosh’s hooves pounded the road, as Vinyl and Octavia hung on for dear life.
“Watch it!” yelled Vinyl.
“Ah’m goin’ fast as I kin!” cried Big Macintosh. “I’ll try to be steady-like! But we’re so awful late!”
“It’s your fault, Vinyl, for eating all those fish,” accused Octavia.
“Well, it’s your fault for convincing me to stop eating them!” said Vinyl. “Because it took a lot longer to go through all those places and put the sushi back in their cold-boxes! If I just kept eating it, we’d have been on the road faster…”
“You still smell of fishes!”
“But the town won’t smell of rotten fish,” countered Vinyl, “and isn’t that the important thing?”
Octavia pouted. After a pause, she said, “Princess Celestia would approve of what we did. Maybe not all of it, Little Miss Fish-Eater.”
Vinyl’s eyes were clear and sharp. “Yeah she would! And the Kirin would approve, too. I’m sure some will come and check up on the place. We did good, we saved them from something yucky, and we saved some of their sushi.”
“I did,” corrected Octavia. “You would most certainly have eaten it all if not checked.”
Scratch grinned. “Yeah. Guilty!”
Octavia heaved a big sigh. “Promise me you won’t try to make me eat the poor fishes.”
“Of course not! But I promise, it’s good for unicorns. I can feel my magic building up already. What if we need that?”
“For what?” asked Octavia, lifting an elegant eyebrow.
“No fair, Tavi!” protested Scratch. “I don’t know, but maybe I can do something? Just because I usually only lift my decks…”
Octavia screamed, shrilly. The cart had hit a bump, causing her cello to sway wildly out into the path of a tree branch.
Scratch’s horn flared alight in an instant, and she wrested the cello back to safety with her magic, and grabbed it in her hooves.
The two musicians looked at each other.
“Your point,” admitted Octavia.
Scratch was frowning. “We were supposed to be around these fuckin’ mountains by dusk. What time is it?”
“Dusk,” panted Big Macintosh, galloping.
“We’re not even slightly around the mountains,” said Scratch. “Hey. HEY! Stop! Stop and rest.”
As Big Macintosh, steaming, slowed to a head-drooped halt, they looked around.
“Hey, look,” said Scratch. “One of those roads.”
“The ones with pink signs?” asked Octavia.
“You know. Mostly they don’t have any,” said Octavia, “but sometimes I see these little roads leading up into the mountains. With the pink signs that say ‘don’t go up here you idiot, are you loco in the coco?’”
Scratch pulled her shades down, and gave Octavia an astonished look. “Say what?”
Octavia pouted. “Well, I don’t wear sunglasses in the daytime…”
“Big Macintosh, did you see those?” asked Scratch.
He was panting, his sides heaving. “Sweat… in m’ eyes…”
“Whoa,” said Scratch. She frowned, thinking. “I’m sure we’ve gone around most of the mountains by now. We totally should do a short-cut. That way we don’t have to go so fast, and we’ll catch right up to the other ponies. What could possibly go wrong?”
Octavia gave her a look.
“What?” said Vinyl Scratch.
“I quite agree,” said Octavia, “with most of it. It seems reasonable. I would just like to know… can we do this without you saying, ‘what could possibly go wrong’?”
“How come?” demanded Vinyl.
“It just seems to be tempting fate, Scratchie.”
Vinyl poked her shades back up, resolutely. “How hard could it be?”
“Eeee, stop it stop it!” wailed Octavia. “Big Macintosh, go up that road right now before she says anything else!”
Arguing, the ponies headed up the little road at a more sensible pace, not noticing the few flakes of snow blowing down from the mountain heights.
The trouble’d really started when, filled with enthusiasm, they’d begun congratulating themselves on what clever ponies they were.
Octavia had looked smug. Vinyl Scratch seemed positively electrified. Big Macintosh trotted up the mountain road effortlessly, lifting his hooves high, and they’d all felt like champions, sure to get to their gig in plenty of time, perhaps even to beat the townsponies to their destination.
Then, Big Macintosh had lifted his voice in an ebullient ‘YEEE-HA!’ and they’d heard the rumbling.
Octavia had seen it first. A wall of snow was plummeting toward them… a little way behind their path. Uncomprehending, they’d frozen in place and watched. It grew nearer, and then they realized it was moving much faster than they’d thought… and then they realized how BIG it was… and as they understood that, the avalanche thundered past, right behind them, cutting off their way back. Nothing but a giant wall of snow remained. Flakes of snow from the wall blew across the stunned ponies.
A fine dusting of snow came right up to the rear wheel of the cart. The three ponies stared at it, dumbly.
They looked up.
Every ridge obscuring the horizon around them was covered with snow. There was no sky, just a white haze of more snow. Little drifts of snow blew across the path they’d have to take, veiling the edges of the path in drifting, powdery snow.
A snowflake landed on Octavia’s nose.
And just like that, they were rocketing upwards on the treacherous path, Big Macintosh sprinting toward the hope of safety. Octavia clung to Vinyl Scratch, Scratch clung to the instruments and exhorted Big Macintosh to go “up! over the ridge! come on!” in a suppressed but intense voice, and Big Macintosh galloped for all he was worth along the increasingly narrow path that ran up the increasingly steep ravines they travelled…
The first time Vinyl caught him, it was a sheer stroke of luck.
His hoof had slipped on some snow, and Vinyl had watched his whole body flail and scramble for purchase, and something had reminded her of a night long ago: a night where she and Octavia had helped Lyra pursue her dreams of romance. Lyra had jumped across a sort of chasm, but it had been part of the Canterlot palace. She’d failed to make the jump, and risked falling to her death, and Vinyl had provided a telekinetic hoof-hold for just long enough to get Lyra to safety.
Vinyl remembered none of that during the instant Big Macintosh slipped. She’d just reacted. It was good that she’d been watching Big Macintosh that moment: her mind flashed out its response, and suddenly there was a little telekinetic wall right at the dangerous edge of the cliff, and Big Macintosh’s hoof couldn’t slide on the ice any further. He’d stopped, thinking himself safe, and then looked down to see his hoof a mane-hair from the chasm, and a telltale magic glow blocking his doom.
“Step. Back,” said Vinyl Scratch, her horn glowing blindingly, her shades askew.
From that point, the three ponies were a team, each with rigidly defined duties. Octavia clung trembling to Scratch, and gazed up at the masses of snow that terrified her, just to get advance warning on unexpected movements. Three times, she’d squealed ‘GO!’ and they’d galloped forward heedlessly, to barely dodge masses of rushing snow that cut off their retreat again and again. Vinyl Scratch held the instruments steady, and watched only Big Macintosh’s hooves. The instant he stumbled, her horn flared to blinding life, sending out a telekinetic force to catch him. Only once had he missed the cliff edge entirely, and Vinyl had squalled with pain as she briefly held his whole imposing weight for an instant, long enough for him to get his hoof back on solid ground.
It was a shame he couldn’t piss on the path like that the whole way up, as it’d melted the snow wonderfully for a moment.
Big Macintosh’s job was the hardest. He had to pick his way along a half-obscured mountain path that seemed to vanish in the drifting snows. He could only look down at the deceptive ledge he walked, plus he frequently had to back up. If his hoof got near the edge, it meant the cart would go over for sure, and that meant he had to find a path with room for all four cart wheels.
The one time a rear cart wheel had gone over, he’d had to brace his hooves and drag it right back, leaning heavily onto the harness poles to counterbalance the cart and its screaming passengers.
“I told you, I saw sky… there! There! THERE!” squealed Octavia.
Big Macintosh needed no further encouragement. Seeing a mostly clear path that wasn’t too narrow, he began to gallop, and his knotted, exhausted muscles churned with the effort as he sprinted for what seemed like only a glimpse of blue. Just a little wedge of sky, inexplicably there despite the whirling of the snow around them, the phantasms of white cloud and blowing snowflakes that seemed to reach up in a final great swirl as Big Macintosh charged ahead, coming up to the top of the ridge, a narrow path cutting through it in a vortex of snow…
He plunged over the top, over a small drift of snow blocking the path, and the blue opened up into…
The three ponies, snow crusting them, stared in total shock.
Blue, and green, and nice, and warm. For some reason they had come over the ridge into a verdant comfortable valley in the middle of all that snow and mountain. They stared, stunned beyond any hope of reaction.
Blue, and green, and warm, and pink. And pink. And pink. And pink.
Big Macintosh shook his head, blinked, looked again.
Pinkie Pinkie Pinkie Pinkie Pie Pie Pie Pie.
He tried once more.
Four Pinkie Pies stood, staring at him and Octavia and Vinyl.
“NOW what are we gonna do?” they said, in creepy unison. Then, the one on the end shook herself and looked at the others.
“What else, Delta, Sigma, Omicron? We’re going to have a WELCOME PARTY!”
“YAY!” cried the other three, poinging into the air.
Big Macintosh stared. Then he reeled in his dangling jaw, and gulped. “Scuse me. Have I gone wacky in my poor brain, or are you Pinkie Pie?”
“Yes!” chirped the first one.
“Then who are you?” he said, to the next one.
“I’m Pinkie Pie!” she said brightly.
“But how kin you BOTH be…”
“There was an accident with a mirror pool. It was really messed up! Thank goodness we all escaped to here!”
“…all?” said Big Macintosh, hesitantly.
“HI!” came resounding from every direction, and the world was suddenly alive with Pinkie Pies, smiling, bouncing, carefree, and oh so very pink against the ravishing green of the lovely, warm, valley.
Vinyl whispered to Octavia, “…remain sitting and don’t let ‘em at your pussy, this could be dangerous.”
“I heard that!” squeaked Pinkie Pie. “I’m Pinkie Sigma!”
“Pinkie whut?” said Big Macintosh, gawking in every direction at the bouncing Pinkies.
“Pinkie Sigma!” cried another. “She’s Pinkie Sigma! And I think that confuses you, ‘cos I’m Pinkie Psi!”
“Oh yeah? Well, I’m Pinkie Pi! So, that makes me Pinkie Pie Pi! How funny is that, huh? It’s the silliest!”
“Hush!” called the first, and in the flick of a Pinkie’s tail, they were all sitting, staring at the travellers, favoring them with huge beaming smiles.
“Sorry,” said that Pinkie. “I don’t get visitors here very often!”
Big Macintosh scratched his head. “An’ where is that?”
Pinkie winked at all the Pinkies. “Welcome to…”
All the travellers backed up a few feet in sheer panic. Pinkie saw this, and went, “Aww! Too loud for ya? I get excited when I think about how great this place is. We lucked out! And since we’re me and me is I and we are all together…”
“No we’re not!” said a Pinkie.
“What do you mean, Epsilon?” said the first Pinkie. “I know we all miss Gamma, maybe these nice ponies can tell us how she’s doing…”
“No! I mean, Zeta isn’t here.”
Pinkie batted her eyelashes cutely at Pinkie. “She’s having sex with Lambda.”
“And Theta’s off bugging Scientologists again…”
“No, shh, I’m explaining to our friends! You remember our friends?”
All the Pinkies looked sad, at once.
“Gosh, it’s good to see some of them again. Hi, Vinyl Scratch!”
“Hi, Big Macintosh! Have you been staying out of trouble?”
Big Macintosh blinked. “Uh, uh, maybe. Just a minute. So this is about that time Twilight dealt with that infestation of Pinkies from that mirror pool thing?”
For the second time, he peed himself, and Vinyl and Octavia clung to each other in a panic. All the Pinkies had simultaneously looked angry. Very angry.
“That was NOT FAIR,” said the first Pinkie, “and it’s a good thing some of us ran off to play tag, and Twilight Sparkle ought to be ashamed of herself, the meanie!” She sighed. “I guess it’s a little bit hard to take, though. Poor dumb Twi. She’d never be able to understand me.”
“But who are you?” asked Vinyl Scratch. “Are you, like, the first Pinkie clone? I remember that time. It was really strange. Thank goodness we got the real Pinkie back.”
“But you didn’t,” said the first Pinkie.
Pinkie Pie pouted. “You have Gamma. She bumped her head, playing tag, and thought she was imagining us. We went with her back to Ponyville, but she ran on ahead, and the next thing we knew, there was only her. Ponyville had got rid of all the other me and kept her, who’s also me, but the bumped-her-head-forgot-about-us me, which is Gamma which is the mirror pool me like the rest of me. Got that?”
“Eenope. So who are you?”
“I’m Pinkie Pie,” said the first Pinkie. “Or, Pinkie Alpha, or if you like Pinkie Prime. We’re all me and I’m the first. Hi!”
The travellers gawked at all the Pinkies. The Pinkies smiled back, happily.
“I thought all y’all was brainless fun-crazed wack-ponies and the one we kept was real,” said Big Macintosh. “No offense?”
Pinkie Alpha tsked. “You make it sound bad! And I’m sorry Gamma hurt herself, but she was lucky Twilight didn’t do a worse thing to her! If we didn’t get to use hammerspace and a very alternate reality structure it might have been a super sad mean thing Twilight did! Even then I’m sure we lost a few, if you count us in the watching paint dry scene. But it’s okay! If you can keep a secret…” she said, and whispered to Big Macintosh, “…some of us were just unanimated cards the whole time, and scenery doesn’t count as a true Pinkie Pie!”
Big Macintosh’s jaw had dropped again. “Buh?”
“Alpha!” protested another. “Be nice! They can’t understand. I’m Omicron,” she explained, “and twenty-three of us made it here, not counting Gamma who’s still part of the series but isn’t in this book. Um. What I mean is, we’re all safe, every one, except poor Gamma. Some of us made it through hammerspace back to here, some of us journeyed across Equestria to get here and did only occasional cameos in episodes, and I myself got to wiggle my tail and zap here directly on a technicality because one of me who was already here was talking to me and saying, who got here already? And I said, Theta and Beta and Mu and Nu and Iota and Phi and Chi and Alpha, and when I said back, ‘oh’, that meant I got to appear and say, that’s me! Because it’s funny!”
All the travelling ponies’ jaws had dropped.
“Way to go, Omicron,” said Pinkie Alpha, “that helped!” She bounced over and hugged her fellow Pinkie. “But I know I mean well, so we love you anyway, me! Anyway, before we call on Omega, I wanted to ask is Gamma okay?”
“Okay?” blinked Big Macintosh.
“Yeah! We have lots of fun here, but Gamma stayed behind. She bumped her head, remember? She doesn’t know about us. We like to peek in on things, but we daren’t come too close to Ponyville because of dumb stupid Twilight Sparkle, so we can’t check on Gamma the way we’d like.”
Big Macintosh, Vinyl and Octavia looked at each other, warily. They remembered Pinkie’s—or Gamma Pinkie’s—mad crush on Fluttershy, and the tribulations she’d undergone. Her desperation when Fluttershy had been revealed as a vampony, her struggles as Fluttershy had broken with her and taken up with first one and then two zebras, her shattered love affair with one of the zebras who’d once frightened her so much, and her eventual flame-out and reconciliation with all those who loved her.
Though there was some kind of eerie peace about these mysterious Pinkies, their Pinkie in Ponyville had become a special, wiser mare with a depth completely beyond what she’d had in her youth. Her path had been tragic in some ways, but she’d prevailed, and become more than she’d been when she started.
These Pinkies seemed to be a mere shadow of the Pinkie they’d come to know, even though one of them was Pinkie herself, and even though their Ponyville Pinkie had turned out to be Pinkie Gamma: the third one created by the mirror pool, ending up in Ponyville through pure accident.
Big Macintosh, Vinyl and Octavia looked at each other again.
“She’s fine,” said Big Macintosh. “Never you mind about her. She’s fine with us.” Vinyl nodded, her eyes narrowing slightly. Octavia lifted her chin.
“So you love her?” asked Pinkie Alpha.
“Yes!” blurted all three travellers, as one.
Pinkie Alpha beamed. “Yay! Now we can party hearty! Psi says you’re going back there once you get through this chapter. Well, this one and the next.”
“Uhh, okay,” said Big Macintosh. “This-all is mighty confusing. Do you have some kinda Pinkie magic that makes this valley so nice?”
“Kind of! We stole the buildings from another book that didn’t deserve them. What even is a Galt Gulch anyway? And it’s warm because there’s melted rock under this valley, Daiyam says. He’s nice!”
Vinyl jerked, startled. “The Kirin! He comes here?”
“Totally!” said Pinkie Alpha. “He likes it when we tell stories about the other books. He promised not to tell on us. He’s so nice and calm! He likes it here. Daiyam says he enjoyed this valley even before we came, and he enjoys it while we’re using it, and Omega told him he’ll still enjoy it after we are gone, which made him happy. He’s a nice Kirin! Even if he is, like, a boy Kirin and not interesting in certain kinds of ways. We learned a lot from him!”
“So, do ya get other visitors, uh, Pinkie Alpha?” said Vinyl. “I’m only asking because I wonder if you get all that you need here.” She whispered to Octavia, “Don’t get up yet! Her tongue could probably reach you from where she’s standing…”
“I heard that!” laughed a Pinkie. “I’m Rho. Don’t worry, we’re much calmer than the Pinkies you know. Your vagina is safe! Unless you don’t want it to be!”
“Rho, be good!” chided Pinkie. “I’m Upsilon, by the way. You know we agreed we can’t do that! Because we’re all me. Gosh, it’s so tempting, what with Dashie only the next chapter over, but if we got with her she’d likely not survive.”
“What a way to go!” giggled Pinkie Rho.
“She doesn’t have our spooky powers!” argued Pinkie Alpha. “No, be kind please, Rho. We’ve got me, after all! Or I’ve got we?”
“Later!” snickered Pinkie Alpha. “Anyway, Rho is right. You have nothing to fear. We’re much calmer than the Pinkie Pies you’ve come to know.”
“From what, meditating in this beautiful place with Daiyam the Kirin?” asked Octavia.
All the Pinkies blinked, together.
“No,” said Pinkie Alpha. “It’s simpler than that. It’s perfectly safe here, and we do meditate with Daiyam, but we’re always calm because there is no sugar here. We have all the grass we can eat, we can even do some baking though the Galt people didn’t put any cooking or cleaning things in their silly town so we had to build a baking oven out of gold coins and this funny metal stuff, but there’s no sugarcane or bees or fruits or any of that. So we don’t have any sugar, none at all, not unless you have some in that cart for some reason.”
She licked her lips, drawing a breath, her eyes glittering…
The question came from literally every Pinkie at once. All their eyes were glittering. The spectacle was terrifying…
As Big Macintosh blurted out the truth, the spell was broken, and the Pinkies sagged, the crazed look leaving their eyes.
“Good,” said Pinkie Alpha, grumpily. “We’re totally better off without it.”
“Totally,” sulked another Pinkie.
“We’re definitely not just waiting around to eat a whole bunch of it in delicious cakes and pies and candy and…”
“Shut up, Pinkie! I knew you were gonna say that. Know why?” said Pinkie Rho.
“Eta!” cried both, and fell over giggling.
Pinkie Alpha, seizing the opportunity, whispered to Big Macintosh, “Never bring us sugar!”
“Thanks! Between me and Omega, we keep us safe! But we’d go bonkers, all at once, and it’s really not good for ponies, you know!”
“Eyup,” said Big Macintosh.
“I should get Omega, I can tell we scared you, and we gave three of the readers nightmares too. Which is kind of cool but not really our special mojo, ya know? Let me get Omega, she’ll know what to do.”
“Who is Omega?” asked Big Macintosh.
A Pinkie Pie came walking serenely up.
“I’m Pinkie Omega. I’m the last to be created, and I’m about endings. Hi, Alpha!”
Big Macintosh found his ears laying back, though this Pinkie seemed just like all the others. “Endings, ma’am?”
“Everything has an ending,” said Pinkie Omega. “Even this book, or these books. Not us, though! We share a fourth wall and PinkPinkistan will go on, but for everything else there’s an ending.”
“Huh?” said Big Macintosh.
“You don’t really need to know any more,” said Pinkie Omega. “Are you ready, Alpha?”
“Oh, is it time?” said Pinkie Pie.
“Yeah, we have to move these ponies on. It’s almost the end of the chapter.”
Octavia was clinging to Vinyl Scratch, her eyes very wide. Big Macintosh’s hocks began to tremble.
“Y’all… moving us on? What ‘zackly does that mean, Miss Pinkie Pie?”
She fixed him with that serene, creepy gaze, so innocent and so knowing.
“We can’t risk Dashie catching up with us,” she said. “We’d be too excited and it wouldn’t be safe for her. There’s only one Dashie, plus even if we got her into the mirror pool it would risk the whole fabric of reality, and even if there’s just one Dashie in the world she’d surely come looking for us when you tell her what you found. If we’re still there she would have to come look for us, but if we deliver you to the next chapter safely and change books we can set it up so she can’t do that, which will keep her safe.”
“And we need to move you on so that WE can move on. Somewhere else that’s safe for us. Possibly a whole other book series. It’s complicated and you really don’t want to know any more. Unseen University is the hugest place with lots of room and we’ve had lots of talks with their Bursar… and then there’s another place where we have to let these little creatures with furry feet ride us, but we get second breakfast every day… I’m glad to hear that Gamma is okay, because we can’t really bring her with us without attracting way too much attention, and that’s sad… but we’ve had enough fun here. Ready, Alpha?”
“Zeta! Lambda!” called Pinkie Alpha. “It’s time! Get your tongue out of there and come help us with the wall!”
“Wait, what wall?” blurted Big Macintosh. “These funny metal walls on these here buildings?”
“The fourth wall, silly!” laughed Pinkie Omega, as two more Pinkies bounced over to join the group. Omega’s eyes began glowing in a peculiar way.
Big Macintosh fretted, as the Pinkies circled and began to concentrate. He called out, “But… Pinkie! An’ Pinkie, an’ Pinkie and all y’all! Don’t ya want to… give our Pinkie a message or something?”
“No messages, no waiting! It’s party time, and the party’s on the move!” said Pinkie Alpha.
“But… ain’t this a nice place? OUR Pinkie lives here and she ain’t goin’ nowheres!” protested Big Macintosh. “What’s wrong with us, you won’t party with us or nothin’? We’re nice ponies, honest we are!”
“Yeah,” said Vinyl Scratch, “plus we only just met you! We could play you some music, why are you leaving?”
“Won’t you stay?” asked Octavia, lip quivering.
Pinkie Omega looked at them, with eyes that were both eerily glowing and strangely, ruthlessly innocent.
“Feh! These books are scary and too full of dicks! Heck with that!”
And with a mighty FOOP, PinkPinkistan, its Pinkies, the buildings, and all signs they’d ever existed were gone, with only the untouched green valley remaining.
Speechless, Vinyl, Octavia and Big Macintosh walked quietly through the warm greenery, to the far end of the valley, where there was a matching ridge and a matching gap giving passage through it… and they looked down from the mountain at the nighttime lights of the city of Chowa, off in the distance below them.