"Spike," Twilight screamed, "Take a letter!"
Spike came down the stairs groggy from being woken up and asked, "What is it, Twi?"
Twilight turned to her assistant, she was still shaking with anger, "Fluttershy was here, and she attacked me. I'm alerting the Princess of her plan."
Spike immediately snapped fully awake. "She was here? How was she? What plan? I thought you were giving her until noon?"
"That was until she attacked me."
Spike looked at Twilight with a look that was both stunned and confused. "Wait a second Twilight. Fluttershy attacked you?" He stepped in front of Twilight just staring for a moment then stammered, "Just tell me what happened."
Twilight took a ragged breath releasing some of her anger. She turned to the baby dragon, "She flew in here demanding the scroll with the list of victims. When I refused and tried to hold her she threw a book at me and flew off." Twilight looked down to Spike, "Take this down. I think Fluttershy will try and track down the other victims, and I need to inform the Princess of that. It's my duty as her pupil."
Spike just stared at Twilight. 'Duty,' he thought, 'Is that all she cares about?' "And what about your duty to your friend? Or does that not matter anymore?" He felt that the small family he had was being ripped away from him. For years, it was just Twilight and him, but now Fluttershy was being forced out. He felt so powerless and needed answers, "Why would Fluttershy risk going to heavily populated areas?"
"I believe she hopes to find any of Grey Rings victims," Twilight said shaking her head at the idea of Fluttershy attempting such a futile cause, "Perhaps they can help her with a defense, but she needs to be brought in."
Spike did not know whether to feel angry or disgusted with Twilight. Fluttershy was the kindest and gentlest pony either of them had ever met, and while she did stand up for her friends, it was always as a last resort. Her killing Grey had to been to protect Rainbow Dash. He was visibly shaking now and with tears running down his face shouted, "Why are you against protecting your friend? You know that she would never harm anypony without a good reason."
Twilight was staggered by the outburst. She never expected that from Spike. She sighed rubbing her face with her hoof and said, "I'm trying to protect Fluttershy. Every day she spends out there running from the law she is digging her own grave! If she can turn herself in, we can help investigate what happened."
Spike felt relieved that Twilight was thinking of Fluttershy's well being though it was in a cold way. 'There must be something I can say to change her mind. Think Spike,' he scolded himself, 'Fluttershy's life is on the line here. Wait a second.' He looked at Twilight concern heavy in his eyes, "Hold on Twilight. Isn't Grey's dad like supremely rich? Think he may be able to influence the trial?"
"Impossible," Twilight said shaking her hoof in the air almost laughing at the notion, "Princess Celestia would never allow that."
"She can't do anything about it," Spike said, "Remember that really old law that her and Princess Luna made?"
Twilight thought and remembered the old story was that a pegasus had broken the law. What law varied depending on what story was read, but the constant was that he was sentenced to be hung by the neck until dead. That sentence was set by Princess Luna when she was beginning to turn into Nightmare Moon. That was why she picked a very cruel form of execution.
The pegasus had the noose around his neck and was lifted off the ground so his neck would not be broken. Of course, a pegasus's natural reaction is to fly, and according to legend, his wings were not bound. He hovered to remove the pressure from his neck. That was when weights were tied to his hooves. This was to gradually weaken the pegasus and force him to hang himself. The time varies from legend to legend and ranges from taking twelve hours to three days for him to finally die.
There was a public outrage over the sheer cruelty of the punishment, but neither Princess felt inclined to do anything about it, until a massive exodus began. Equestria was not nearly as large then as it was now, and had only a few hundred thousand subjects under their rule. The majority felt if the Princesses could be so randomly cruel, they would take their chances in the lands beyond the Everfree Forest. This of course spurred the Princesses to write into law a standing order that neither one of them would ever again be above the law nor be able to interfere with any matter of the court unless it was a direct threat to Equestria.
Twilight had to think for a moment rubbing her temple with a growing headache, "Still we must inform the Princess of what is happening. She has to know."
"Yeah," Spike agreed. He rubbed his eyes, looked Twilight in the eye, and asked with voice shaking with fear, "But does she need to know right now?"
"Yes Spike," Twilight said. She knelt next to Spike and said, "Fluttershy's making a mistake trying to take the law into her own hooves. She broke the law and has to answer and live with the penalty."
"We're talking about murder Twilight," Spike said, "That's the death penalty. She won't be able to 'live with it' for very long, and neither princess can change the punishment."
"So what then," Twilight asked annoyed standing back up, "We can't just allow her to buck the law. What would we have without Rule of Law? We need a means of maintaining order and governing out morality."
Spike sighed his voice shaking as he fought back his tears, "Twilight please, for me, don't do this. If you still wish to write that letter then you're going to have to deliver it yourself, cause I won't." He turned from his friend and hoped that was enough to change her mind.
Twilight glared at Spike and shouted, "Fine! Then I'll find a way to deliver it to the Princess." She was about to get a spell book, stopped, and sighed. 'What am I doing,' she thought, 'I promised to give Fluttershy until noon.' She turned back to Spike who was looking at her crying once again, "I need to keep my word don't I," she asked, "If I break my promise then I'm nothing but a hypocrite. Spike would you please take a letter. I want to tell the Princess what happened, but maybe not everything."
"You got it Twilight," Spike said happily wiping his tears from his face. 'Finally,' he thought, 'I got through to her. Now we can help Fluttershy. I just hope I can do enough for her.' He ran to the table and grabbed a quill and scroll. "Ready when you are," Spike said.
Twilight cleared her throat and suddenly smiled an idea popped in her mind.
Dear Princess Celestia,
I received your letter stating Grey Ring was found dead and Fluttershy will be officially named the prime suspect. Now I know there is an old law that prevents you from interfering with the courts, but I do believe that it will be possible for you to provide some 'assistance' with the investigation. If that is possible, I would like to ask if you could allow me to direct any investigators that arrive here in Ponyville. I of course would prefer to bring Fluttershy in myself, as she will be in need of protection. If that is not possible then please allow me to be your voice for the investigation. I also request that you allow Fluttershy at least three days before her name is released as the prime suspect. If you feel you are unable to comply with this request, then I will have to reevaluate my course of study.
Your humble student,
Spike finished writing the letter, "So you're siding with Fluttershy?"
Twilight stared out the window, "I don't know. I know the law is right, and Fluttershy needs to turn herself in." She paused and turned to the baby dragon, "Why didn't she tell us? Was she afraid we would judge her for it? She was a victim, but now that doesn't matter."
"What do you mean it doesn't matter?"
"She broke the law. Victim or not, she shouldn't have killed Grey. I understand that he hurt her, but that doesn't give her the right to act as judge, jury, and executioner." She turned to Spike and said, "When we get a response, I'll try to think of what to do. For now, I'll check my study. Clean up those books please."
"Sure Twilight," Spike said. He took a deep breath, sent the message to the Princess, and began to clean up the spilled books unaware that a very angry unicorn was headed that way.
It was now nearly an hour after Spike sent that letter and was now in the basement trying to patch together a bomb that would either blast the door open or blow himself up. The sounds of the fight could be heard even through the thick door. The sounds of various items striking the walls were often punctuated with the sounds of larger objects hitting the floor. 'C'mon Spike,' he scolded himself. "Work faster," he screamed at himself. He was less concerned about his own safety than the well-being of the two unicorns upstairs. He shuddered when he heard a body hit the basement door hard enough to make it shake; he assembled the makeshift bomb, and saw some notes for a type of magic suppression device. The bomb was ready, but he knew there was nothing he could do to stop his friends short of setting them on fire, and he would never do that.
He grabbed the notes and looked them over. They were simple to understand and he could build it with the materials within the basement. But there was a catch. Just like the bomb, this device was also unstable. According to the notes, it temporarily overloads the magical 'circuitry' of a unicorn causing them to lose all magic ability for a few minutes, or cause massive aneurysms and kill them. He gulped and with growing dread began to build the device. 'I hope I don't need to use this,' he thought, 'why is this happening? This is all my fault. I should have told Rarity instead of trying to reason with Twilight.' He wiped his eyes. He needed focus not tears.
Upstairs the mini-leyfield had become far less mini. There was visible electricity in the air and the unicorns were staring each other down, both covered with fresh bruises from various books being slammed into each other.
"You certainly know a thing or two about magic Twilight," Rarity said, "But this will not be my first fight as I suspect it may be yours."
Twilight said nothing. She was angry, so angry that she was no longer thinking. She threw a small table at Rarity and teleported beside the other unicorn.
Rarity sidestepped the table, and barely noticed Twilight's teleport. Before she could fully turn to face the purple unicorn, she was kicked into the bookshelf. The wind was knocked out of her and she ended up struggling to her feet. She cast a telekinesis spell focusing on Twilight's legs, forcing them out from under her.
Twilight spun and landed hard on the ground. She casted her spell and lifted the white unicorn into the air, and attempted to throw her across the room.
Rarity was aware of what was in store for her, but she was prepared for it. She bided her time and began to focus a shockwave spell, and when she was flung waited until the final moment and released the spell. The blast of the shockwave caused considerable damage to the library wall, and created a pocket of air dense enough to cushion her and she landed to her feet harmlessly. 'That was a bit more daring that I cared for,' Rarity thought. She turned to Twilight and with a flick of her mane said with a smile, "Is that really the best Princess Celestia's prized pupil can muster?"
"Ok almost ready," Spike said excitedly. The makeshift bomb and magic suppression device were placed into a small box so they would not go off prematurely. The baby dragon ran up the stairs and secured the bomb to the basement door, took a deep breath, lit the fuse, and ran back down the stairs waiting for the bomb to go off. He dived behind some crates. Thick scales or not the blast would be big and he didn't want to be caught within it.
Twilight was exhausted now. Her breathing had become ragged, her mane dripping with sweat, and her vision was becoming blurry. She had spent most of her magical ability and the leyfield was already fading. The purple unicorn weakly lifted a table and was about to throw it at Rarity, but was stunned when the unicorn tackled her. She was on her back and Rarity was pinning her down.
Like Twilight, Rarity was tired. Her carefully maintained mane was a wreck. 'Please let this end,' she thought. It took all the strength she had left to keep from throwing up. She had reached her magical limit and didn't have the strength to lift a book. The unicorn who was accustomed to using words to fight her battles, and maintaining her poise at all costs gladly threw it all away for the sake of defending her dearest friend. Fluttershy was always there for her and now she needed all the help Rarity could give. The white unicorn had to fight directly now, and now that she had the physical advantage she used it. She hit Twilight in the face as hard as she could, "Give up! I don't want to do this Twilight, but Fluttershy's wellbeing must come first."
Twilight was stunned. She was beaten. She was defeated by Rarity, of all ponies. She was angry and humiliated. Twilight just glared at the white unicorn and flinched as she raised her hoof to strike again.
Suddenly, the entirely library was rocked by an explosion. Spike ran into the room and was about to use the device when he saw both unicorns staring at him in disbelief. He held the device with both hands above his head and screamed, "That's it! If you two don't back off of each other, I will use this!"
Rarity backed away from Twilight not taking her eyes off of Spike. She said nothing and the shock of the explosion along with not knowing what that device was took all the anger out of her. She managed a few steps back and collapsed feeling great pain and knowing that there would be worse later.
Twilight tried to make it to her feet and couldn't. She was worn out, tired, and in pain. She was also no longer angry. All she wanted was to rest. She was able to lift herself to a sitting position and saw Rarity do the same. She looked at the white unicorn and was shocked at the number of fresh bruises that littered her body. Suddenly, she felt very shamed of herself and couldn't look at Rarity in the eye.
Rarity was beginning to feel remorse now that the adrenaline from the fight was gone. She wanted to say something, but feared that anything could spark another conflict. There was a wave of relief when Spike began to speak.
"Ok, now that we have this out of the way. I can tell Rarity what was in that letter." He glared at Twilight, the purple unicorn nodded, and he said to Rarity, "Now Twilight originally wanted to send a letter to the Princess telling her what Fluttershy had planned, but I refused to send it. After we talked, she decided to send a different letter. In it, she asked the Princess to wait three days for releasing Fluttershy's name as the prime suspect and to put Twilight in charge of the investigation here in Ponyville. She also asked to be the Princess's voice and if she refused she will no longer be her student."
Rarity gasped at the idea Twilight would abandon her studies for Fluttershy, and began to feel terrible for her actions. She looked to Twilight and asked, "Is that true, Twilight? You're willing to give up being her student for Fluttershy?"
Twilight was still sitting and said softly not wanting to set off the powder keg, "Of course. Fluttershy is still my friend, but I want her to be safe and in custody is better than on her own out there." She looked Rarity in the eye and said, "Maybe I was overzealous in wanting to do things my way that I forgot my friends." She sighed and said disgustedly, "All those letters I wrote about the lessons of friendship and I forget it all when my friend needs me. I just never thought I would be in this situation." She looked down knowing that there was no excusing herself.
Rarity said nothing. She was much too tired and sore from the fight to think clearly. After a few moments asked, "What do you say we rest for a while?"
Twilight looked at Rarity and Rarity said, "If either of us have any surprises for each other, I doubt we're in any position to do anything about it."
Twilight smiled softly and laid down staring at the ceiling the leyfield finally disappeared with a small crackle of electricity.
Applejack was back home and looking for Granny Smith. The old mare was usually in the kitchen relaxing in an old rocking chair, but this time she was nowhere to be found. Applejack ran up the stairs into her brother's room, and shook the stallion awake.
"What is it Applebloom," Big Macintosh said groggily, "You have another bad dream?"
"Where's Granny," Applejack asked ignoring the fact that her brother had confused her for her baby sister.
Big Mac rubbed his eyes and looked at Applejack, "Applejack what are you doing in here?"
"Granny," Applejack said, "Where is she?"
"I dunno," said the sleepy stallion, "I guess she'd be asleep."
"Oh," Applejack said realizing the time, "I'll go to her room then."
"You do that," grumbled Big Mac, "Why aren't you wearing your hat?"
Applejack looked down and said, "I got my reasons."
Mac just nodded and rested his head back onto his pillow. If he were more awake he would have asked more, but he wanted sleep more than answers.
Applejack slowly made her way to Granny Smith's room and knocked slowly. She entered her grandmother's room and saw the old mare sitting in a chair looking out the window. Before Applejack could speak, Granny turned to her.
"You're goin' somewhere," she asked.
"Yeah granny. I'm headed to Manehattan to talk to the Oranges." She walked next to her grandmother, looked out the window, and said, "I need their help."
"Hm," said Granny, "That might be a tall order. The Oranges aren't too fond of us Apples." She turned to Applejack and said softly, "I know how mean they were to you, so what could be so important that you of all ponies would go to them for help?"
"Fluttershy needs the help," Applejack said and cringed slightly. Granny never said anything, but Applejack suspected that she never truly approved of her being with a mare. "She's in trouble and I abandoned her."
"So you'll give up your dignity for her? Y'know I never thought my granddaughter would lay down with another mare." She kept looking out the window but there was no anger on her face. There was only a sense of disappointment.
Applejack walked up to her and said firmly, "I'm willing to give up a heck of a lot more than mah dignity for that pony. I owe her that. The way I betrayed her, she deserves better."
Granny Smith turned to Applejack and said, "Then get to Manehattan. Do you have a plan?"
Applejack shook her head and said, "I can't think of anything. I just keep thinking of them laughing at me, and I can't do nothing to stop them."
Granny put her hoof to Applejack's face and said, "I'm sorry. I thought this whole business between you and Fluttershy was just foolishness, but I see that you really love her." She turned to her dresser and reached for a folder. She opened it and took out an old photograph, and handed it to Applejack.
Applejack looked the photo over and asked, "What's so special about this here photo?"
Granny smiled and said, "To you it probably don' mean a whole lot, but the truth is that the Oranges owe a great deal to the Apples. In fact, you could say that they owe most of their good fortune to us Apples."
Applejack stared at her grandmother in shock, "What do you mean 'they owe us'?"
Granny laughed and asked, "Well where do you think the bodies are buried?"
Applejack just looked at her with her head tilted, "Uh, what now?"
Granny looked at Applejack and laughed, "I'm sorry lil' one. I just wanted to say that for years. No, the truth is much more boring. The Apples have a silent controlling interest in their shipping business. That was the deal that your mother made when she married your father. The Oranges refused to support their relationship, but your mother had owned a large portion of the Orange stock. When she married your father, she changed the name on the stocks to Apple. Now we Apples can have a direct say on their practices. Your mother didn't want to interfere with their lives, so she made a deal. They would leave her and her family alone and she wouldn't interfere with their business."
"So if I take the paperwork to the Oranges, ah can blackmail 'em into helping me. Ya think they'll go for it?"
"Perhaps," Granny Smith said, "Unless what you're fighting is a bigger threat than you." She reached to her old recipe drawer and pulled out a folder. It was not thick, but the information could ruin a family. Applejack had to remember that. She handed the folder to Applejack and said, "Only remind them that we have it. There is no need to cause undue harm." She went back to rocking in her chair as she watched her granddaughter pack the folder into a saddlebag, and noticed that Applejack's hat was also in the pack. "Why aren't you wearing your hat?"
Applejack looked down not wanting to tell her grandmother why. She eventually looked up and said, "I just don't feel like I deserve to wear it right now." That was not entirely true. She knew that she didn't deserve to wear the hat. It was her main source of comfort, and she didn't deserve to be comforted. Not while Fluttershy was out fighting for her freedom and her life. She knew that Rainbow Dash was with her, but it should be Applejack standing by Fluttershy's side. 'She'll never forgive me,' she thought solemnly, 'I don't deserve forgiving.'
"Well Manehattan is a long ways off," Granny said knocking Applejack out of her trance, "You best get a move on."
"Right," Applejack said, "I just need to get a book from the library and I'll be ready to head out." She put on her saddlebag and began running to Ponyville.
Fluttershy and Rainbow were flying to Manehattan and made certain to steer clear of main roads to avoid detection in case Fluttershy was already named the prime suspect. This resulted in the trip taking much longer than it should, and the pegasi had to land in the forest to get some rest and some food.
They were eating the cupcakes and drinking some juice that was in the pack Pinkie gave them and neither felt like speaking. Both were deep in thought and were thinking the same thing. Each wondered if there was a future together.
Fluttershy glanced over to Rainbow who was eating her share of cupcakes very quickly and thought to herself, 'I never knew Rainbow felt that way about me. Do I feel the same? Am I just using her?' She shook her head gently to rid herself of the thoughts and to avoid drawing Rainbow's suspicion. Fluttershy looked up to the sky and began to wish she were back home. There she would be taking care of animals, trying to get Angel Bunny to cooperate, and be content with her quiet existence. That wasn't her fate. She seemed to be fated to misery of some sort. Though she did not normally subscribe to melodrama, she was feeling the need to scream at somepony. Instead, she simply ate her cupcake quietly.
"We should get going," Rainbow said, "What's the name of the pony we're looking for?"
"Let me see," Fluttershy said opening the scroll, "Her name is Fire Mist, and she lives in Manehattan." She put the scroll away and said, "Rainbow?"
"Yeah Fluttershy," Rainbow asked.
"Um, I just wanted to say thank you. For everything. I mean, um if it weren't for you I would be in jail right now." That was not what she wanted to say. She wanted to know when Rainbow started to have feelings for her, and why she never told her.
"Hey I don't plan on bailing on you," Rainbow said proudly but the façade faded quickly, "Not again. I can't let you suffer alone." She gave her pink maned friend a smile and the yellow pegasus gave her one in return. She flapped her wings and took to the air, Fluttershy following right behind her. It would take all morning to reach Manehattan, but this was the safest way to get there. They needed to stay out of sight for as long as they could.
Spike was cleaning up the library as quickly as he could, but the unicorns had made quite the mess. He would occasionally look at the battered ponies and noticed that they weren't making eye contact, and if they did, they would see that they were both ashamed of themselves. He decided to break the ice, "So anypony hungry?"
Twilight looked to Spike and slowly shook her head.
Rarity was able to stagger to her hooves and said softly, "Thank you Spike, but I feel that I should leave. I feel I have done enough harm as it is." She looked to Twilight and said, "Twilight."
Twilight looked to Rarity and said nothing.
"I," Rarity started, "Well, perhaps we can have a word later." She lowered her head and limped out of the library back to her boutique.
"That didn't go as I planned," Twilight said.
"You think you two will be ok," Spike asked.
"I don't know. Rarity clearly wants to make amends, but I don't know how to feel about it. She attacked me first."
"Yeah, but you did have it coming." Twilight looked at him and he said quickly, "Think about it Twilight. This whole mess could have been avoided if you just told Rarity what was in the letter from the beginning."
Twilight sighed, "Yeah you're right." She groaned as she slowly stood up and thought, 'I hope Rarity will be alright. Heck, I hope I'll be alright.' She limped to the kitchen and tried to levitate an ice pack and felt a sharp pain in her head.
"After that you still insist on using magic," Spike said, "Here let me." He grabbed the ice pack and gently placed it on Twilight's head. She winced but smiled at the baby dragon.
"How did you become the voice of reason? Thank you Spike. I don't know what would have happened." She closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep. While she slept, Spike belched out a scroll. He considered waking her but instead chose to let it wait.
The hot air balloon was cooling and Pinkie knew it was time to land. She made her way down her head full of ideas of how to help Fluttershy out. Various thoughts danced through her mind, and there were some good ideas there none seemed to be more than a temporary solution. 'How will the investigation be done here in Ponyville,' she thought.
She tapped her chin with her hoof and suddenly had an idea, but she would need Rarity's help. Pinkie immediately changed course to home. She needed her tuxedo. Pinkie hoped the unicorn would be willing to help her.
Applejack arrived at the library and walked in slowly after examining the destroyed front door. "Twilight," she called, "Ya'll ok in here?"
"Hey AJ," Spike called, "Twilight's sleeping."
"Oh ok, but what in the hay happened in here?"
"It's a long story," Spike said examining the destruction that occurred in the library, "So what do you need Applejack?"
Applejack shook her head, "Right. I need a book on law. One that's dealing with what Fluttershy is going through."
"So you're taking her side," Spike asked happily.
Applejack looked down and said, "I should'a taken her side from the beginning. I jus' feel awful for it." She looked at Spike and said, "I'ma make this right."
"Hey AJ," Twilight said weakly.
"Whoa," Applejack gasped at the sight of the bruised unicorn, "What happened?"
"Rarity and I had an 'argument'," Twilight said.
"Argument," Applejack asked, "From here it looks like the Element of Generosity gave you a generous flank whuppin'."
"Very funny AJ," Twilight said, "Why do you want to study law all of the sudden?"
"I was thinking that I might be able to get my kin over in Manehattan to spring for a lawyer for Fluttershy. It's a long shot but it's the best I got."
"I understand. I would help but my magic has pretty much reached its limit tonight."
"That's alright Twi. I can just help Spike find it for me. Ya'll get some rest."
"No need to worry AJ," Spike said, "Here's the book you wanted."
Applejack was stunned at the sheer size of the book. It must have had over one thousand pages and as she flipped through it saw it was very difficult to read. She gulped and thought, 'I knew this would be hard, but ah sure hope ah ain't doomin' Fluttershy.'
Her composure remained calm and confident. She nodded to Spike and looked to Twilight getting a closer look. Her purple coat made the bruises hard to spot, but they were there and there were plenty.
"You sure you two just had an argument," Applejack asked, "Cause it really does look like Rarity stomped a mud hole in your flank and done walked it dry."
"I would rather not discuss it right now," Twilight said, "I'm sorry."
"Say no more. Whatever it is ah'm sure ya'll will be able to settle it."
"I hope so."
"I'll see ya'll later," Applejack said running out of the library, "I gotta get to Manehattan!"
"I'm glad she finally made up her mind," Twilight said, "Why can't I?" She turned to Spike and asked her eye wet with tears, "Am I really that callous that I am unable to side with Fluttershy?"
"You're not callous," Spike said, "Whatever that means. I know you're looking out for her and are looking for the safest solution. Just do what you can to help." Suddenly, he remembered the scroll, "Hey Twilight! I forgot. While you were sleeping, this scroll came!"
He handed Twilight the scroll, who weakly used her magic to open it. Even that was taxing, but as she read it, her exhausted face slowly turned into a large grin.
Rarity limped inside her boutique and was grateful that she did not pass out in the street. Now she did not mind if she passed out on the floor, but Sweetie Belle was waiting for her and the filly was crying at the sight of her big sister.
"Sis," Sweetie Belle cried, "What happened?"
"I, I was wrong. Twilight did not betray Fluttershy as I imagined, and I made a foal of myself." She limped up to Sweetie Belle and hugged her, "I am so very sorry that you have to see me being such a poor role model. I promise that when I make my formal apology that I will bring you with me. That way I can show you how to admit being wrong while maintaining your dignity."
"And if I come along there's less of a chance of another fight breaking out," Sweetie Belle asked sniffing back some tears.
Rarity laughed softly and cringed, "Yes well. You always were very clever. Now please Sweetie Belle don't cry. I am fine, and Twilight and I are still friends." 'I certainly hope we can be friends again,' she thought to herself, 'Although I don't see how Twilight will ever forgive me.'
With a light flick of her mane, which caused her headache to worsen, she said, "Now, off to bed with the both of us. I imagine that I should open up rather late in the morning." Sweetie Belle and Rarity began making their way upstairs when somepony began pounding on the door.
"Who in the world could that be," Rarity asked weary and annoyed. She limped to the door, opened it, and was knocked over by a bouncing Pinkie Pie.
Rarity let out a yelp of pain and tried to get back to her hooves but failed. She glared at Pinkie and said, "What is it Pinkie? I do not have time for your foolishness right now." She groaned and got back up to her feet.
"Gee Rarity," Pinkie squeaked, "What happened to you?"
"Twilight and I had a disagreement, and if you don't mind that will be all I shall discuss of it."
"Okey dokey," Pinkie said softly still concerned, "I really need a favor. I want you to alter my tux. I need it to be plain, and I mean super duper plain. Make it as boring as you can."
"Not now. I am simply too exhausted for one of your costumes."
"But this isn't for me. It's for Fluttershy."
"Do you have a plan?"
Pinkie nodded and said, "I sure do! I'd tell you but it's best to be a surprise!" She gave Rarity a smile that made the beaten unicorn shiver slightly.
"I see," Rarity said. She was very tired and in great pain, but Fluttershy was in far greater trouble than she was. With a heavy sigh, she gathered Pinkie's tuxedo and began the process of altering it to a plain black suit.
Applejack was running down the road toward Manehattan and her thoughts were jumbled. 'I know this is the best thing to do,' she thought, 'I just got to make things right between Fluttershy and me.' She pushed herself to run faster. It wasn't long before she came across a carriage.
It was large and the driver was attempting to patch up a broken axle. He saw Applejack and nodded a greeting which she returned unconsciously reaching for her hat that wasn't there.
"Something wrong," she asked with a friendly smile.
"Oh just a busted axle. Nothing to worry about."
"Where're ya'll headed? If you don't mind me asking."
"Oh we're headed to Manehattan."
"Well shoot, so am I. What do you say we make a deal. I'll fix that there axle and you give me a ride to Manehattan."
"You sure you can fix it?"
"Of course, I live on the orchard just down the ways there, and I fix stuff like this all the time."
"Hmm, you have a deal." Both ponies shook hooves and Applejack began the careful task of fixing the axle.
"Oh you poor baby," Applejack cooed, "They weren't nice to you at all were they?" She managed to coax the axle back together and after a half hour of hammering, it was good enough to get to Manhattan. Applejack turned to the driver and said, "Ok, now that'll hold till we get to Manehattan, but you need to get it replaced. It won't last much longer than that."
The driver was very impressed. He thought that the axle was finally done for, but this pony managed to get some life out of it. "Well, a deal is a deal. Hop aboard and we'll get you to Manehattan by lunch."
"Much obliged," Applejack said, "I'm gonna try and get some sleep if that's alright."
"Oh by all means, rest well." He gave a whistle and the ponies began to pull the carriage to Manehattan, and Applejack was on her way to an unexpected and confusing reunion with the pony she loved.
Manehattan was up ahead and Fluttershy was tired. 'How did I manage to fly all this way,' she thought surprised at her stamina. She turned to Rainbow and felt something growing in her chest. 'Is that respect,' she thought, 'or something else?' She shook her head, 'now is not the time to think such things, Fluttershy.' Still, she was tired and needed rest, "Rainbow?"
"Yeah Fluttershy, what's up?"
"I'm tired. I need to rest. I'm sorry."
"Don't sweat it. We can take a rest in around here somewhere."
"Are you going to get some sleep?"
"Of course. I'm getting a little tired myself."
"You're a bad liar. If you won't get any sleep then neither will I."
"Fluttershy," Rainbow began but stopped when she saw her friend's eyes. They were tired but filled with concern. "Ok I promise that I'll get some sleep too."
The pegasi found an old warehouse and snuck inside. It was abandoned and there was nopony there. Still, they erred on the side of caution and slept on a high corner. Fluttershy didn't entirely believe Rainbow and to make certain she decided to use her as a pillow. Rainbow groaned with annoyance, but her heart was beating faster feeling Fluttershy's warm body on top of her own.
After a few hours, Fluttershy stirred and was relieved that Rainbow was still there. She nudged the blue pegasus awake and stretched. "It's time to find Fire Mist," she said.
"Are you sure that it would be a good idea for you to go out in public Fluttershy," Rainbow asked, "We don't know if your name has been released to the public. I think we need to disguise you somehow."
Fluttershy sat down and looked around the abandoned warehouse. She saw a sign that had a familiar face. It was faded but she could swear that she knew the pony on the sign. She walked up to it and tried to decipher the name. "The. G. R. A. And. P.ERFUL. IXIE," she mused. Suddenly it hit her, "The Great and Powerful Trixie," she squealed with delight.
"What," Rainbow asked, "Why did you think of that showmare?"
"She must perform here regularly. If anypony can disguise me she can."
"What makes you think that?"
"Well she's an illusionist. She could cast a spell to temporarily change my cutie mark or my coat color."
"Yeah she probably could, but the question is 'Why should she do it?' She hates us remember?"
"No. She hates you. I never interacted with her." She looked at Rainbow and said, "I have to try." She checked the sign and read, 'The Great and Powerful Trixie can be found at Manehattan General performing for foals every weekday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.' "Hm," Fluttershy said, "If we hurry we can make it to the hospital, and ask her to help us."
"Why is she working at a hospital?"
"I don't know, but that is where the sign said she would be so that is where we're going."
Once again both pegasi were airborne and on their way to convince a pony that was not fond of them for assistance.
Twilight Sparkle waited patiently in the library waiting for the investigators that were already on their way according to the scroll. She had taken some medicine for her body aches and hoped it would be enough. With a smile though, she looked back at the scroll. 'Yes,' she thought, 'Now I can actually do something to help.'
She carefully sipped her tea and continued to wait. The investigators were on their way, and they were about to follow the direction of Princess Celestia's appointed representative.
"Is it ready? Is it ready? Is it ready," Pinkie squealed each question higher than the last. She was bouncing around the room and making the tired and bruised white unicorn very dizzy.
"Yes Pinkie. It is finally finished, and I must say it is the most boring thing I ever stitched together. I feel as though I sucked the very soul out of the fabric."
"Perfect. That's exactly what I want. Thank you so so so very much, Rarity" She gave the unicorn a gentle hug and ran out the door back home. She had some preparing to do.
"Well, I don't know about the rest of Ponyville, but I am taking the day off." She turned to walk to her room and simply fell to the floor. 'This will do,' she thought as she slipped into slumber.
Pinkie rushed into her room and put everything together: her brand new black suit, a plain black tie, plain black horseshoes, and black sunglasses. All were there, but something was missing. Pinkie kept looking everything over and wondering what was wrong. "A badge," she squealed, "I need a badge! One that's officially looking and intimidating."
She ran to her party trunk that had all her party favors, and she began rummaging through it. She grabbed an old black leather wallet and an official looking badge. She then took it to her work desk and began to combine the two adding one of the few photographs that were taken when she was sad. Her mane was straight and flat and she had a very serious expression. "Perfect," Pinkie said, "But now I need to look the part."
She knew what she had to do, and she didn't like it. She loved her curls and bouncy mane and tail, but Fluttershy was more important. She took a deep breath, turned to the mirror and said softly, "Let's get serious!"
"But Fluttershy," Rainbow whined, "Why do we have to go to her? I mean this is a big city. I'm sure there are plenty of unicorns that can cast illusions." Before they left the warehouse, Rainbow insisted on scouting first. She looked at local bulletin boards and checked the newspaper, and felt relieved that Fluttershy was not mentioned. That meant they still had time, but they could not be careless. Once Fluttershy's identity was revealed then anypony who saw her could identify her. Rainbow knew that Fluttershy needed a disguise, but didn't like this plan.
Fluttershy glanced back to Rainbow and asked, "Do you know any?"
"No," Rainbow grumbled. She didn't want to see Trixie, not after she embarrassed her in front of the majority of Ponyville. 'Why her,' she thought, 'Of all ponies why do we have to go see some stuck up showmare.'
They arrived at the hospital and made their way to the foals' ward. "I'll ask if we can talk to Trixie," Rainbow said, "No point in risking you getting caught if she isn't even here."
"Ok," Fluttershy said softly, "Be careful.
Rainbow nodded and entered the hospital. Inside was the familiar smell of sanitizer and cleaning supplies. The smell bothers most ponies, but Rainbow thought of her foalhood and the times she spent visiting her mom. She quickly made her way to the reception and asked the nurse, "Hi! Is Trixie working today?"
The nurse looked at Rainbow and said with a smile, "Yes the Great and Powerful Trixie is in the break room!"
'Great,' Rainbow thought, 'a fan.' She waved Fluttershy over and the yellow pegasus and her entered the break room.
Inside was the blue pony with the blue and white mane and tail. She wasn't wearing her cape or her hat. They were on the table while she was having some coffee. Fluttershy felt that she should handle the conversation since Rainbow would likely lose her temper.
"Excuse me My name is Fluttershy, and I um have a very-"
"Not now. The Great and Powerful Trixie is not performing for the public today." She got up and looked at Rainbow and hissed, "You! How dare you show your face here?"
"Hey," Rainbow yelled back, "I wasn't the one run out of town for lying!"
"Girls," Fluttershy shouted, "This is a hospital. Act like it." She turned to Trixie and said softly, "I'm not looking for a show but help. You see I-"
"Forget it, Fluttershy," Rainbow said, "She isn't interested in helping anypony. We should never have come here to ask this stuck up showmare."
"How dare you," Trixie said softly but loud enough to get the point across, "Trixie do not have to justify herself to you two noponies! Get out before security is called!"
"No," Fluttershy squeaked, "Please hear me out!"
"Trixie does not remember you. Were you there for her humiliation?"
Fluttershy nodded and said, "I was there but nopony was laughing at you. They loved your show. In fact, even after you left they still talked about it. Snips and Snails talk about you still."
"Oh the foals that brought the Ursa Minor to Ponyville and ruined my name," Trixie said.
"Is that why you're working here," Fluttershy asked.
Trixie shook her head and said, "Oh Trixie is not working." She smiled to Fluttershy and continued, "She, oh forget it. I volunteer here whenever I can. I enjoy seeing the young foals smile, so tell me Fluttershy what do you need?"
"Well," Fluttershy said, "Have you heard what happened to a pony named Grey Ring?"
Hearing the name caused Trixie's face to darken, "Yes I heard some brave pony finally put the animal down. If I find out who it was then I would give them my hat."
'What is it about ponies and hats,' Fluttershy thought remembering how attached Applejack was to her Stetson though she knew that it belonged to Applejack's father.
"Well," Fluttershy said softly, "I did it."
"You," Trixie gasped and quickly looking around hoping nopony heard them, "When did you..."
"About two days ago," Fluttershy whispered, "I'm looking for his other victims in hopes of building my defense for my trail."
Trixie nodded slowly and asked, "What do you mean other victims?"
Fluttershy looked down and Trixie gasped at the realization. After a few moments she said, "You just tell Trixie what you need, and she will try and help as best she can!"
Fluttershy looked up and gave Trixie a small smile. She was one step closer to finding her justice.