The Cup Cake Killer

by SaddlesoapOpera

Chapter 1: The Cup Cake Killer

By Saddlesoap Opera

She was walking.

Applejack watched Pinkie Pie pick her way up the lane all the way to the farmhouse, and the only thing that stood out in her mind was that the party-pony was making her way with a steady, heavy-hoofed gait. Not bounding. Not pronking or prancing or hopping.

Just walking.

Applejack opened the door before Pinkie could knock, and stepped out into the crisp autumn air. The wind gusted, wrenching the door wide, and crisp dry leaves rustled across the fading grass.

“Uh, hay there,” she said. “What brings you ‘round?”

Pinkie straightened and shook her head as if startled to hear her friend’s voice. Her frizzy mane and tail danced in the breeze. She worked her mouth a few times before words came out.

“A-Applejack, we’re… we’re family, right?”

The farm-pony raised an eyebrow. “Whah? Well, sure we are! Shucks, what’s gotten inta you, Pinkie Pie?”

Pinkie laughed a sharp and barking laugh. A laugh like a bird striking glass.

“Oh nothing! Nope! Nope! Nopey dopey!”

She stood there and held a wide and silent smile for a long and awkward moment before speaking again.

“Say, could you come to Sugarcube Corner tonight? You need to… ah, I want… I mean, you really…”

Pinkie trailed off before she finished speaking. There were words, but no breath escaped her quivering lips to carry them. She inhaled sharply.

“So yeah! Come on by, okie dokie?”

Applejack swallowed despite her mouth feeling dry.

“Uhh… sure, Pinkie. I’ll stop by after I rake the back field, awright?”

Pinkie turned around and walked away.

• • • •

The unsettling meeting stuck with Applejack throughout the afternoon’s chores, like a burr on her hide. She wasn’t one for curiosity - she’d seen what overthinking had done to Twilight Sparkle at times - but the weirdest mare in Ponyville had managed to outdo herself that day, and Applejack wanted, needed, to know why.

She cantered off as soon as her chores were done, heading to town at a hustle.

Ponyville was less occupied on fall evenings; the chill in the air and the early dark sent the townsponies indoors. There was no traffic on the streets as Applejack made her way to the bakery where Pinkie lived. Sugarcube Corner was dark; the door was ajar.

Applejack slowly climbed the front steps and slipped her head in to nudge the door open wider. She wrinkled her nose at a sour scent that sharply intruded on the perpetual sweetness of the air in the place.


Applejack heard a soft splash from the kitchen. She strode into the bakery’s main room, and immediately skidded on a layer of scattered silver dragées on the wooden floor. She cried out and stumbled to keep upright.

“Shewt... P-Pinkie? Where are ya?”

Without even moonlight from outside, the shadows in the bakery were deep. Applejack proceeded slowly and slid her hooves on the floor to avoid slipping on any other spilled confections.

Applejack turned the corner and entered the kitchen. She saw Pinkie there, up on her hind legs facing the sink. From the splashing, the sink was full.

“Pinkie? Pinkie, what’s-”

Applejack’s front hoof slid up against a yielding mass. Something big and soft and heavy and room-temperature.

She looked down.

Cup Cake was sprawled on her side on the kitchen floor. Her legs were curled up tight facing Pinkie… and her head was facing Applejack.

Applejack’s eyes went wide as saucers. She gasped and jerked back; her hind legs hit another patch of spilled decorations and she scrambled and stumbled before sitting down hard on the dense little beads and slamming her back against the far wall.

The moon cleared some clouds, and light poured into the window facing Pinkie Pie. As well as her sharp silhouette, Applejack could make out two smaller shapes in the filled sink.

The farm-pony’s heart was pounding at full gallop. Cold sweat bathed her hide.

“S-Sweet Celestia!” she croaked. “Missus Cake… she’s…!”

“She’s dead!” Pinkie chirped. She looked up at the moon. The water splashed again. “She’s dead,” she repeated, softer.

Applejack tried to get to her hooves, but her body was trembling. Leaden. Like freezing-cold anvils were pressing down on her. Her stomach lurched. She grimaced to hold back vomit. She had to ask. Pinkie was so calm. So relaxed. She had to ask. The awful curiosity was burning in her innards like quicklime.

“Pinkie… did-” Applejack fought another surge of nausea. “...Did you do this?”

“Well, I broke her neck,” Pinkie mused. She was still staring at the moon. “She died on her own, a little bit later.”

Applejack finally got her quivering legs to obey and stood up. She saw movement in the sink again. Two little shapes. Ice-water surged up Applejack’s spine.

“Are the twins in the sink, Pinkie?”


Applejack cast about in the darkness while Pinkie was still turned away. She squinted through the shadows until she spotted a thick wooden chair.

“...Why are they in the s-sink, Pinkie?”

Pinkie sighed at the moon, like she’d been asked the most obvious of questions.

“So they’ll drown, you silly filly!”

Applejack’s vision wavered with tears; she clamped her teeth on the polished wood of the chair’s back.

Pinkie turned as Applejack swung, and the instant before the chair smashed against the side of Pinkie’s head and sent her tumbling, Applejack could have sworn she saw the pink mare smile.

• • • •

Applejack sat on the front steps of the nearby flower shop and sipped mulled cider from a wooden tankard. A thick woolen blanket was draped over her shoulders.

The sun had barely been raised, but guardsponies were all around. Exploring the Pegasus-cleared patch of sunlight in the otherwise overcast day. Speaking to residents. Milling about inside and outside of the bakery. Did Ponyville even have guardsponies? Had they been brought in just for this? Was Mister Cake back from his trip yet? Did he know?

A muffled, distant noise snapped Applejack out of her reverie; she looked around before focusing on the stallion speaking to her not two paces away.

“Miss Apple…? Did you hear me?”

“It’s Applejack,” she muttered. “Just… just Applejack.”

The pale-grey Pegasus nodded. “Applejack, did you hear or see any signs of an altercation on your way into the bakery?”

Applejack stared at the steam rising up from her cider.

“Those lil’ twins… they don’t have a Momma anymore…”

The guardspony frowned, but the hard expression was padded with patience.

“Ma’am, I know this is difficult, but we need to get your statement while it’s still-”


The stallion tilted his head. “I’m sorry?”

Applejack’s eyes stayed unfocused. “Sprinkles. Sprinkles... had me w-worried.”

“There were dessert decorations spilled on the floor.”

Applejack nodded. She took another sip of cider. She clamped her teeth on the polished wood.

The stallion lunged and caught the mug as it fell, so he took Applejack’s panicked scream full in the face.

• • • •

Ponyville City Hall’s front doors glowed reddish-purple and then hurled themselves open. Twilight Sparkle strode inside the dome-ceilinged atrium and headed straight for the scrum surrounding the town’s chief administrator.

“I need to speak with her, Mayor.”

A portion of the crowding newsponies turned and shifted their attention, flowing toward the newly arrived Alicorn like water seeking low ground. Flashbulbs flickered and cracked.

“Princess Twilight!” one of the reporters piped up. “Any comment on the first murder in this town’s entire history?”

“How do you respond to the allegations against your associate?” shouted another.

She ignored them. “Mayor Mare!” Twilight repeated, louder this time. “I need to speak with her now!”

The dun-coloured mare took a slow, calming breath and then adjusted her cravat. “This isn’t the time for that, Princess. We need to reassure the public that justice will be done. We can’t just-”

Twilight spread her wings, ignited her horn, and stomped a front hoof. Shimmering floor-to-ceiling panes of magic flashed into being edge-on before her and slid outward, bulldozing the reporters aside until they were gently but firmly pressed against either wall of the atrium. They squirmed and grumbled in muffled outrage.

Twilight strode forward until she was nearly nose-to-nose with the Mayor. She narrowed her eyes.

“Mayor. I need to see Pinkie Pie. That’s an order.

• • • •

Pinkie Pie was sitting in the middle of a dusty, long-disused holding cell in the basement of City Hall’s barely used justice department. A heavy bridle and harness with hobbles to prevent kicks crisscrossed her body with dark, thick canvas that contrasted sharply with her rosy hide. Her mane and tail had been combed straight during her arrest and processing.

Her ears twitched when Twilight approached; she lifted her head to meet her gaze. Even in the minimal light from the one high, barred window, an ugly splotch of bruising stood out on one side of her face.

Twilight had approached with purpose, but once she took in the sight of her friend in that position and the hard reality of the moment struck her, she sat in silence for a long time.

Eventually, Pinkie spoke first.

“This is for the best.”

Twilight perked up, but kept staring. “Wh-What?”

“This is for the best. It was going to happen eventually.”

Twilight stood up, fighting a skittish urge to take flight. The heavy walls and ceiling of the basement seemed too close for comfort.

“Pinkie, I don’t understand!” Twilight shook her head as if trying to escape a swarm of insects. “This doesn’t make any sense! I know you! You aren’t like this! K-Killing Missus Cake… and, and the twins! Trying to drown them? That’s… HORRIBLE!”

“It sure is,” Pinkie agreed. She nodded as much as her restraints allowed.

Twilight was panting. Wide-eyed. Dizzy. The imbalance of things gnawed at her like starving rats.

“H-How… Pinkie, how could you do this? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS?”

“Earth Ponies are really strong,” Pinkie commented with a shrug. Her voice was so flat. So un-inflected.

Twilight briefly wondered if this flat-haired, bound and restrained, dull-voiced thing was even really Pinkie Pie. Her horn began to glow, but then sputtered out. She looked up at it in confusion.

“Restriction spell at the door,” Pinkie said numbly. She paused, and then looked down. “I’m not a Changeling.”

Twilight shakily performed a breathing exercise to regain some focus. It wasn’t very helpful.

“This doesn’t make any sense…” Twilight repeated. She looked down at the stone floor, at her imprisoned friend, and then at a discarded, crumpled feedbag in one corner of the cell, stamped with the words Property of Ponyville Gaol. “I just don’t understand…”

Pinkie Pie finally smiled. “You should just accept it,” she said with a touch of her old lilt. “Take a leap of faith.”

She inhaled deeply, making her restraints creak, and then let out a long, satisfied sigh. “This is for the best.”

Twilight tried several times to reply, but her vast vocabulary failed her over and over again. She ultimately just hung her head and slowly plodded out of the basement.

On the main floor of City Hall’s justice department, Twilight caught sight of Mister Cake sitting in a glass-walled interview room with the twins hanging at his shoulders in a papoose yoke. His face was buried in his front hooves, and sobs wracked his spindly yellow frame.

• • • •

The sky was grey again when the Cake family gathered on the Memorial Hill to bury Cup, but the weather team delayed the rain.

Carrot stood by the open grave with the foals nestled in a buggy in front of him. His black suit called extra attention to his rail-thin physique.

Cake relatives and O’Flour in-laws surrounded him, all similarly sporting sombre dress.

The elderly stallion offering a traditional eulogy spoke slowly, to keep the quaver out of his aged voice.

“From Earth we arose, and to Earth we return this precious gift with gratitude and sadness for time spent and unspent.”

He touched a hoof to the young sapling that would serve as Cup’s marker.

“What Cup Cake has left behind will nourish this tree. Long may it grow.”

“Long may it grow,” the crowd repeated. The formed a line to each touch a hoof to the sapling in turn.

On the next hill over, Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Rarity and Fluttershy watched the proceedings from a distance. They would be permitted to pay their respects once the relatives left.

Applejack squinted at the funeral, watching the line form. She stirred a hoof in a patch of bare soil. She half-turned away, and looked at a pair of thick, healthy trees topping another slope.

“Long may it grow,” she whispered.

• • • •

Ponyville’s train station saw more traffic in the ensuing days than it had in the previous year.

Countless investigators, guardsponies, journalists, relatives of the victim, and morbid sightseers flocked to Ponyville to learn more about the so-called Cup Cake Killer. It was the fifth murder in recorded Equestrian history; the next most recent had happened before the invention of the printing-press.

The rest of Ponyville’s erstwhile saviours sat gathered in the Apple farmhouse’s living room. Nopony spoke.

Rarity’s makeup was freshly reapplied to a greyed and stiff mask of neutrality that strained to hold back a flood of unseemly emotion.

She sat next to Fluttershy, who was whimpering and sobbing softly only due to no longer having the energy to cry any louder. Angel the bunny sat on her shoulder, dabbing up her tears with a cloth as they slid down her flushed cheeks.

Rainbow Dash sat next to Fluttershy. She trembled now and then, and twitched her wings. Chaotic, clashing emotions filled her with frustrated nervous energy. She wanted to fly, but she knew not even her speed could escape those feelings.

Applejack sat in the softest easy-chair in the room and kept her dark-circled eyes staring at the floor. She’d finally slept after the funeral the other day, but nightmares jarred her awake so often that it made little difference.

Twilight sat on the floor on the other side of Applejack. The soft rustle of her leafing through the case documents and reference books piled before her was the only sound in the room apart from Fluttershy’s whimpering.

After a few more endless minutes of rustling and sniffling and sorting and sobbing, Twilight looked up at the assembled group.

“I… I’m sorry,” she said. Tears welled up in her eyes. “It’s open and shut. She isn’t even contesting it. Applejack, even if you hadn’t…” She swallowed hard. “There’s nothing we can do. She… she’ll get the Mirror-Box for this.

Applejack’s features tightened. She tensed against grim feelings she couldn’t even name.

Rainbow Dash stomped on the floor and gritted her teeth. She half-turned away and hid her head under a trembling wing.

Fluttershy threw herself against Rarity and clung to her as a second wind for sobbing came upon her. Rarity hugged her back as her calm facade quickly crumbled.

• • • •

The largest room in Ponyville’s modest courthouse was packed to the rafters - literally. Pegasi hovered near the thick wooden beams, floating above a sea of filled seats.

The trial had been brief; only a few hours. Pinkie Pie offered no defense, and admitted her guilt without hesitation.

Princess Luna - determined to resume her particular duties now that she was redeemed and rehabilitated - stared down at the little pink mare in the defendant’s booth.

“Considering these grave matters,” she said solemnly, “We have no choice but to mete out the most terrible of punishments.”

The assembled crowd lowered their heads. Luna ignited her horn, and wreathed her head and shoulders in magical shadows until only her horn was visible.

“Pinkamena Diane Pie,” she intoned with a sepulchral edge to her voice, “for knowingly and willingly taking the life of an innocent Pony with malice aforethought, and for attempting to repeat this heinous act upon two foals, We sentence thee to be placed inside the Reflector Macabre and subjected to magical scourging until thou art no more.” She heaved a deep sigh. “May the spirits of our ancestors have mercy on thy soul.”

Pinkie Pie took a silent breath and then nodded, smiling.

“Gosh, I sure hope they will!”

The crowd burst into a fit of murmurs and whispers and gasps.

Near the back, where Twilight and her friends and other associates of the accused had been placed out of courtesy to the Cake family members near the front, Maud Pie shifted in her spot on the long bench and stared down at a rock-candy necklace sitting on her slate-grey lap.

“This is the worst day of my life,” she said.

• • • •

Twilight Sparkle magicked her tangled, unkempt locks out of her face and continued searching through the ash-streaked piles and boxes in the storage room of her huge and barely furnished crystal castle.

“Come on… I know it’s here… Alchemical Glass can hold molten lava. It didn’t burn. It’s here… it’s got to be!”

Spike pulled a stack of charred loose pages and torn books off of a box and then paused with his claws on the edge of the smoke-scented cardboard. He looked over at his caregiver with wide, worried eyes.


Twilight’s wings twitched. She swished her tail. “Not now, Spike. Please, just keep looking.”

Spike squeezed the edge of the box tighter.

“Twilight, it’s time soon. Can’t you hear the crowd? They’re going to-”


Twilight had wheeled around to face the little Dragon, staring him down and spreading her wings like a hawk about to strike.

Spike cringed against the box; its contents shifted, and a light clink rang out among the softer sounds.

Twilight’s fury softened. She sagged. “I’m sorry, Spike. I didn’t mean to snap at you. It’s just… this doesn’t add up. I know it doesn’t. I’ve gone over every shred of evidence, every document, and I’m still missing something. And I can’t stand it.”

She magicked the gold-accented potion flask out of the box behind Spike. Its ivory-coloured dregs were thick and clotted with age.

Spike looked up at the bottle. “Uhgh. Is that stuff even still good…?”

Twilight unstoppered the flask and took a sniff. She drew back and grimaced. “I have to try.”

Spike wrung his tail with his claws. His lower lip trembled. “It’s nearly time. Can’t we just… s-say goodbye?

Twilight’s horn glowed with crackling, seething force. The potion’s contents swirled and sloshed.

“Maybe we won’t have to.”

Twilight put the flask to her lips and slowly tipped it. She allowed one solitary drop of its bitter contents to touch her tongue.

Spike hopped back as Twilight tensed all over and her eyes blazed bright white. That searing glow flickered and strobed intermittently. She staggered. The bottle fell, spilling the last of the potion on the crystal floor.

“Twilight! Are you okay?”

The Alicorn gritted her teeth and stomped her hooves. She thrashed from side to side. A long, pained groan escaped her throat.The potion had the power to turn back centuries in a heartbeat; using it for such fresh postcognition was jarring in the extreme.

“S-Stop…” she moaned. “Please - please don’t!”

“Twilight!” Spike scampered up and pressed his claws against Twilight’s chest. He shook her as much as his strength allowed. “Twilight! Snap out of it!”

Twilight backed away with a wide-eyed gasp. She turned and galloped through the crystal halls. Her hoofbeats echoed in a cacophonous racket. She came to a window and dived.

• • • •

The crowd gathered in the town square was less than half locals; the rest were all recent arrivals.

A low wooden platform had been constructed in the middle of the square, and a heavy silver cabinet sat in the middle of that. The thing was roughly the size and shape of a privy, but its open interior was polished to perfect reflection and scrimshawed with complex arcane patterns.

Pinkie Pie sat next to the Mirror-Box, still restrained. By her side, a light brown Unicorn stallion wearing a heavy black hood and a black robe covering his Cutie Marks stood in silence. His spiraled horn was painted blood-red.

Still gripped by the fragmentary vision and too disoriented to fly, Twilight stumbled through the streets toward the square. She slammed into walls and boxes and fences, and every impact shocked more visions through her head.

“Please don’t cry!” Pinkie pleaded. She hugged Missus Cake close. “You’ll wake Mister Cake and the twins!” The crisis was especially bad this time. The worst Pinkie had seen.

Cup Cake jerked and shuddered in Pinkie’s grasp. She craned her neck to stare at Pinkie with teary, reddened eyes. “What do I care?” she moaned. “They’re not even mine! My poor babies… where are you?”

“Shhhh… It’s not true,” Pinkie crooned as she rocked the older mare. “You know it’s them. You know they’re yours. Just breathe, okie dokie? Just… just take a few breaths, Missus Cake…”

Twilight smacked face-first into a wall; she tasted blood. She groaned, staggered, and then righted herself. She took three strides before her eyes flashed again.

“GET OFF ME!” Cup Cake shrieked a few days later. “THEY’RE MONSTERS! WHY WON’T YOU BELIEVE ME? I NEED TO DO THIS!”

Pinkie held onto Cup for dear life, bouncing on her back while the blue mare kicked and bucked and lunged around the kitchen. They smashed into a table, and a tall jar of sprinkles fell and rolled and spilled.

“NO!” Pinkie shouted. “Please, stop! You can’t!” She strained with all her might, but the elder mare was heavier and slightly stronger. “PLEASE!”

Nearby, the twins splashed and cooed in the filled sink.

Pinkie tightened her grip on Cup’s neck and gritted her teeth…

The speed of the flashbacks’ starts and stops struck Twilight like runaway trains. She tumbled off her hooves and bashed her shoulder on the corner of a public trough. Ahead, the crowd grew louder and a deep, low drumbeat began to play.

Twilight shakily stood, and looked down at the rippling trough-water. She clenched in pain as she watched her eyes glow in her wavering reflection.

Pinkie held the sopping wet twins and sobbed as she rocked back and forth on the floor and listened to Cup’s gurgling and sputtering slowly stop. “Our s-strength is not for h-hurting,” she whimpered. “Our strength is n-not for hurting. Oh, Celestia, our strength is not for hurting...”

Twilight ran into an untended fruit cart with enough force to smash its frame. Produce rained down on top of her. She pulled up out of the mess and skidded on fruit crushed underhoof. The flickers were coming hard and fast, searing through her mind like lightning.

Pinkie set the wet foals down in their crib and plodded toward the door after a brief backward glance at the body on the kitchen floor. She turned the bakery’s sign to CLOSED, and left.

Twilight groaned. Her wings shuddered convulsively.

“Mister Cake couldn’t take it,” Pinkie cooed to the twins as she carefully put them back in the sink. “He’d never forgive himself for not seeing it. He’d never be the same. If you got raised by a Daddy like that, you’d never smile. Not ever. But don’t worry. I’ll f-fix it. I’ll take care of everything. You’ll see.” She kept her front hooves under the babies, supporting them in the water. She tensed as she heard the door creak open and heard Applejack say:


Blood dripped from Twilight’s nose.

“Trying to drown them? That’s… HORRIBLE!” “It sure is.”

Twilight cried out in pain. He knees gave out. The drumbeat was so close. The crowd was deafening. The potion wrenched her back and forth through past and present. She felt like the force of it would saw her in half.

“It was going to happen eventually.”

The Alicorn screamed; her horn blazed. She rocketed through space instead of time, skipping the teeming masses and flashing into being at the front of the crowd. Her visions finally subsided, and her swimming, disarrayed eyesight strained to focus on the pink blur moving inside the silver blur.

“PINKIE!” Twilight cried out.

“Don’t worry,” said a hoarse, frayed voice from next to Twilight. “She’s getting what’s coming to her.”

Twilight turned to see Carrot Cake, sitting at the front of the crowd and holding his motherless foals. Grief had aged and withered him, but steely, bitter resolve shone in his eyes. A father’s fiercely protective love.

She turned back to focus on Pinkie. The Red Horn was striding in close, taking position next to the Mirror-Box.

“Pinkie!” Twilight shouted again. “I saw it! I saw what happened!”

Pinkie held up a hobbled hoof and shook her head. She looked down into Twilight’s eyes, gave a serene smile, and then silently mouthed: “This is for-”

The Red Horn glowed, and pointed at the box. The polished door swung shut and clasped itself.

Twilight stared in horror as the executioner fired a bolt of crimson magic into an indentation on the side of the Mirror-Box. The beam ricocheted a million times inside the shiny and warded space, multiplying the force of the magic by orders of magnitude.

The door swung open again moments later, and a gust of superheated air that smelled of smoke and brimstone wafted out from the utterly empty interior.

Twilight’s lower lip quivered. Tears streaked her cheeks. She looked at Mister Cake, cradling his babies with untainted, grief-sharpened love.

She turned and looked at the now silent crowd and their hard, saddened eyes. The grim stare of witnesses to closure and justice. She saw her friends among them. For them, the nightmare was over.

She turned back to the vacant Mirror-Box and then hung her head. She heaved a shuddering sigh, and whispered:

“This is f-for the best…”


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