What's Wrong With the Cutie Map?

by Jay David

Chapter 1: What's Wrong With the Cutie Map?

"Okay, Twilight, what is it this time?"

The young Princess looked to Spike with a raised eyebrow.

"What are you talking about?"

Folding his arms, the drake looked to his lifelong friend with a sceptical look.

"You know exactly what I'm talking about! This!"

With one claw, he gestured to the scene before them, prompting Twilight to look on as well. The two of them were, at this moment, seated in their usual positions around the cutie map, in the main chamber of the Friendship Palace. Around them were all of their friends, Applejack, Pinkie, Rarity, Fluttershy and Rainbow, all seated in their respective thrones. Each of them had, in front of them, a small cup of tea, which a few of them were even in the middle of drinking when Spike made his declaration. And now, they all looked to him with interest as he kept on speaking.

"I mean...all of us, here like this, around the table, with you having that look on your face? Heck, we're even drinking tea! Tea! Those things don't go together unless one of us has something on their mind."

Looking back to him, Twilight frowned.

"What look on my face?"

Reclining back into his chair, Spike gave his answer.

"You know the one. The one that says that there's something bothering you that you don't understand, so you're gonna go ahead and talk about it."

Twilight opened her mouth to reply to that, only to stop when Applejack interrupted her.

"Hate ta break it to ya, Twi, but Spike's gotta point."

The alicorn seemed indignant at that.

"Well...what if I just wanted to get all my friends together for a nice afternoon together? That happens too, right?"

All of her friends gave her an incredulous look, even Pinkie. Though admittedly, the latter's look seemed a bit more forced than the others, as one would expect of her. As Twilight looked on, seeing these looks bore into her, she eventually broke down, letting out a long sigh and hanging her head down.

"Okay...so maybe I did have something in mind..."

Looking up again, she frowned and pointed to each of them.

"...but I want it on record that I also like bringing us together just for the sake of spending time together!"

"Agreed," they all spoke in unison.

Letting out a snort of annoyance, Twilight brushed aside some of her mane, which had become somewhat tussled during her outburst, before then clearing her throat.

"Anyway, what I wanted to discuss with you all today...was this."

With a single gesture, Twilight pointed her hoof straight at the cutie map in an accusatory manner. Naturally, her friends all looked to one another, confused. A silence passed between them, broken only when Rarity spoke up afterwards.

"Um...darling? Are you trying to say that there is an issue with the cutie map?"

Twilight looked to her, nodding, prompting Pinkie to add her voice to matters.

"Well geez, Twilight. It seemed to be working fine when Rarity and me got that mission."

Again, Twilight nodded, but kept her eyes on the map before her.

"I know the map has sent us on plenty of missions, and that it's found friendship problems that are worth solving. But doesn't it seem as if something's a little...off about it?"

As before, confused looks were abound, ending when Rainbow rolled her eyes and reclined back into her throne, looking to Twilight with a look tinted with slight annoyance.

"Okay, Twi, would you stop beating around the bush and get to the point already?"

Nodding to her friend, Twilight then glanced down at the map.

"I think...the map might not be that great at detecting friendship problems."

As one would expect, such a statement caused raised eyebrows everywhere, displaying the clear confusion her friends had over it. In the end, and after much silence, it was Fluttershy who then began to speak.

"Um...what do you mean, Twilight? I mean...the map has always sent us to places where we needed to be before, hasn't it?"

Twilight nodded.

"I know it has, Fluttershy, and I know that a lot of them needed us to be there. But..."

Her eyes narrowed slightly.

"Does it strike anypony else as strange that we've only had, what, five missions by this thing?"

Chuckling, Applejack leaned forward, taking another sip of her tea before speaking up again.

"Beggin yer pardon, Twi, but given that those missions usually take us away from home fer a few days, ah'm not complainin about not gettin too many of em."

Again, Twilight nodded.

"I agree. But consider this. Equestria is a big place. Thousands of square miles of it, populated by hundreds of thousand of ponies and other races. And yet, in the time we've had this map, we've only had a relative hoof-full of tasks to undertake."

To this, many of her friends seemed ponderous, looking to one another with curiosity. Realizing that she had their attention, Twilight continued.

"Does it, in any way, make sense that, at any one point, with all those thousands of ponies to potentially help, the map can only seem to find one or two with a friendship problem to solve? Even when we take Starlight's time-travel interference into account?"

Hearing that, Rainbow looked to her alicorn friend and, at last, replied.

"Well...when you put it that way...I guess it doesn't make sense."

Pinkie looked to her and nodded.

"Yeah! I mean, you'd think there'd be friendship problems all the time, all over Equestria! Like, maybe, a struggling romance here, and argument amongst friends there, and all sorts of stuff in-between! But no! It's only one or two glowing tushies at a time!"

Twilight nodded back to her.

"I know the problems usually helps many people at once, like introducing friendship to Gryffonstone, or helping out the community at Manehattan, but it still strikes me as odd that, at the same time, the map isn't sending any of the rest of us anywhere else!"

A silence fell, and for the first time today, the mares all glanced at the map in an unsure manner. When it passed, Fluttershy was the one who ended it.

"And what about the time you and I went to those two families, Twilight?"

The alicorn looked to her, prompting Fluttershy to continue.

"That feud had been going on for generations. That could have been hundreds of years, but...the map didn't let us know about it until the end of the year. I'd have thought that it'd let us know the moment we were done with Starlight's village."

Twilight gave a grim nod, casting her eyes back to the map.

"So...we have only a few of the probably hundreds of potential problems made aware to us...and when it comes to problems that have been going on for years...it keeps silent."

All eyes were on the map now, even Spike, despite the fact that he'd been largely quiet this whole time. Minute after minute passed, and when it was finally over, Pinkie, to the shock of everypony there, leapt out of her throne and onto the table, glaring at it angrily.

"Okay, map! What's wrong with you! talk!"

Twilight got off her own throne, speaking up to her friend.

"Pinkie! It's okay! You're not gonna be able to interrogate it!"

Pinkie looked to her with a glare.

"Why? Because it's a table?"

Twilight shook her head.

"No, it's because it's a ta...okay...yeah, it's because it's a table."

Pinkie looked back down at the map.

"Talk! I said talk! Oh, giving me the silent treatment, eh? Well two can play at that game!"

With that, she sat down right on top of it, continuing to narrow her eyes at it. As for everypony else, they nervously looked at one another, before, finally, Applejack spoke to the young Princess.

"Ah'm no expert on magic an stuff, but...maybe the map just, ya know...can't see everythin?"

Twilight considered that, and slowly, she started to nod.

"Maybe. I mean...we always thought of it as this all-knowing magical thing, but...maybe it's power has limits, just like mine, or anything else with magic."

Slowly, she glanced back to the table.

"Maybe...maybe, in the end...the table simply lets us know what we need to know...when we need to know it."

After everything that had been said thus far, those words, at the very least, seemed to result in a chorus of agreement around the table. That is, except for Pinkie, who continued to stare angrily at the map.

"Ha! That's exactly what it wants us to think! But I ain't buying it!"

To that, Twilight slapped her forehead.

"Pinkie...for the last time...it's just a table."

Sadly, her words had no effect, as the bouncy earth pony simply kept her focus squarely on the inanimate object beneath her. In the end, she took a deep breath, letting out the biggest and angriest scream anypony could remember her giving.


"Alright! Alright! I'll talk!"

All fell silent, staring at the table with looks of shock plastered over their faces.

"Um...pardon?"Twilight asked.

A sigh was heard.

"I was hoping for a nice quiet day, but no. Apparently, I get screamed at by a bunch of ponies!"

Twilight remained gawking at the thing, as indeed did everypony else.


Unfortunately, the Princess was not given the chance to actually ask a coherent question, as Pinkie then chose that moment to get right on back to business.

"Alrighty, Mr Map! Spill! What's wrong with your friendship-problem-sensing-thingy?"

Another sigh.

"Look, the truth is...meh."

Confusion was their response to that.

"...what?" Pinkie asked.

"You heard me...meh. I guess I just wasn't really that into it. I mean, you wake up one morning, suddenly poofed into existence by a tree, you find you're a table of all things...and you expect me to have any enthusiasm for my job? Just sending ponies around to do stuff while I stay here and stare at the ceiling my whole life? Well, sorry for not living up to your expectations, Mom!"

Pinkie rolled her eyes at that.

"So...you'll just get around to it when you feel like it?"

A pause followed, ending shortly afterwards.

"Like I said...meh."

Another silence followed, and when it ended, Pinkie merrily hopped off the table, bearing a wide smile and nodding to Twilight.

"Well, there you have it! Mystery solved!"

With that, she patted her friend's shoulder, before happily bouncing off away from all of them. As for the rest, they stared at the table for quite some time, never straying from their looks of sheer disbelief. Then, after the passing of at least five minutes, Twilight shook her head vigorously, placing her hoof upon her temples and rubbing them.

"Okay...all in favour of going to Sugar Cube Corner and drowning this memory in endless milkshakes...say aye."

"AYE!!!" they all responded.

"Yeah...that's what I thought."

Return to Story Description


Login with