The Supervillain Flu

by TheDriderPony

Chapter 1: Jackknife: Cutting to the Core

Load Full Story Next Chapter
Jackknife: Cutting to the Core

"Jeez, the things they can get away with printing nowadays." Spike took a long slow drawl from his mug, the piping hot coffee barely fazing his flame-treated throat. He flicked the newspaper so it stood upright again as his eyes shifted to another article.

"What's that Spike?" Twilight asked from across the table. Lacking dragon biology, she had to wait for her coffee to cool to tolerable levels and was spending the interim time focused on giving her toast as even a coating of butter as possible.

"It's this article," he replied, "Either somepony slipped it past the editors or they just lost all their journalistic integrity. It says there's a new type of flu going around that sometimes causes ponies to go crazy and turn evil. I mean, come on, if they're going for satire or even just a prank you'd think they would at least try to write something halfway believable!"

"Oh, you mean malpharyngitis?" Twilight asked through a mouth filled with toast, "That's real. I've actually been corresponding with a few Canterlot researchers about it. It's quite a fascinating example of evolutionary symbiosis."

"What?!" Spike exclaimed, his spit-take ruining both his coffee and the newspaper. "There's a virus going around that turns you evil, and you didn't think to tell anyone about it?!" He got up and began pacing frantically, murmuring half-spoken worries. "We- we need to get somewhere safe. A bunker maybe. We'll get our friends and some food and we'll wait out the pandemic! Yeah, that'll work. I'll need to get some gems, enough water to last us, oh and can't forget my comics..."

As Spike's mutterings became increasingly panicked and fevered, Twilight, without even putting down her toast, cast a spell. A blue aura formed a bubble around the small dragon as the air within it rapidly cooled. As the temperature dropped, so did Spike's speed and focus. Within moments his movements were sluggish, and his panicked rants devolved little more than disconnected vowel sounds.

As his breathing slowed, Twilight moved him back to his seat at the table. She swallowed her toast.

"There, now that you've calmed back down, do you want to wait for me to explain the situation before you start panicking?"

He nodded. Twilight refilled his coffee from the pot and passed the mug back to him. "Here. This should help bring your core temperature back up." He drank deeply as his movements started becoming more fluid.

"Everything's fine Spike," Twilight soothed his concerns. "Most reported instances are just hearsay. Either misdiagnoses or ponies who thought they could use a cold as an excuse to commit a crime. There are only a few actual confirmed cases. Even in those cases, the virus doesn't make a pony any stronger or more powerful than they actually are, though it does lower inhibitions, heighten aggression, and can cause acute cases of megalomania. Besides, even with that in mind you're doubly secure, since the virus evolved to be effective against ponies near exclusively, and doesn't seem anywhere near likely to make the species jump to dragons." She recovered from her long explanation with a sip from her coffee mug, only to find it almost empty. She grabbed the pot in her magic, only the find it empty as well as Spike swallowed the last couple drops from his fifth refill. He chuckled, nervously but good-naturedly.

"So even if somepony does get infected," he extrapolated, "The chances of them actually being a threat are still really low?"

"That's right. The only case in which it would really be a concern would be if the pony in question already had incredible magical or physical abilities before being infected, such as Celestia or Luna, but in their cases alicorn immune systems are more than capable of handling a little seasonal flu."

Spike nodded in understanding. Still, it was a scary thought to think that all it might take to bring back Nightmare Moon was a lucky sneeze. "I hope nobody in Ponyville catches it," he commented as he spread his sodden paper on the table as best he could, "With how easily everypony panics around here."

Twilight paused mid-toast-bite. That... was something to consider. Whether they be actual dangers or imagined ones, the average Ponyville citizen engaged in some sort of panicked stampede or riot almost once a week. She could picture the scenario even now:

Ponyville market, midday. The market is filled with lively hustle and bustle. Then a nondescript mare starts to sneeze. One sneeze leads into another, which starts off a chain that quickly devolves into maniacal laughter. The other ponies freeze; alarmed but curious. The mare rears up (or flies, in the case that she is a pegasus) and declares herself Overlord of the Marketplace, Queen of Produce. She decrees that any pony who does not submit a tribute of fresh vegetables shall be transformed into one instead, before returning to cackling. Despite the inanity of these statements, ponies run screaming from the would-be tyrant, knocking over displays, destroying property, potentially even hurting others in their blind rush to escape. Madness.

Twilight shook herself from her imaginings. As crazy as it was, for Ponyville, such a thing wasn't impossible. "On second thought, Spike, maybe we should go get the girls. Just to be ready in case a supervillain does pop up."

The walk to Sweet Apple Acres had been thankfully uneventful. The town was as calm and peaceful as one could hope. The pair had talked to a few ponies as they walked to get a feel for how the community was doing. Most of them knew it was flu season and a smattering actually had heard about the uniqueness of this year's strain. They were worried, but confident in Twilight and her friends to deal with any problems should they arise. A few ponies actually did have the flu though they showed no signs of developing any evil symptoms.

"So far, so good." Spike commented from atop Twilight's back, "Maybe we were being too worried after all."

The sound of something dragging alerted them that they were not alone. Over the crest of the next hill, they spotted a familiar orange mare towing a wagon of scrap metal.

"Howdy Twi, Spike." Applejack greeted with her usual warmth. Despite this, there was a faint hoarseness to her throat and a red irritated ring around her eyes.

"Applejack, are you okay?" Twilight asked, "You don't look so good."

The farmer sniffed, viscous mucous clogs amplifying and distorting the noise. "Ah'm fine. Just a head cold. But farms and fieldwork wait fer nopony."

"Do you want us to help? You really should be resting to help speed up your recovery." While true, Twilight also worried that too much physical activity might exacerbate her condition.

Applejack paused a moment, but nodded. "Actually, Ah could use some help. You mind helpin' me get this to the barn?"

Wordlessly, and little to no apparent effort, the entire cart of scrap rose into the air, its harness unbuckling from Applejack simultaneously.

"Whoo," the farm mare wiped a sheen of sweat from her brow, "Thank ya kindly, Twilight. That was feelin' awfully heavier than it shoulda been."

"Muscle fatigue is a common symptom of the flu." Twilight put a comforting foreleg around her friend, discreetly checking her for a fever at the same time. "Come on. Spike and I will help you with your chores so you can focus on recovering."

"Thank ya Twi-lah..lah.. lachoo!" The sneeze practically blew the hat off Applejack's head.

When they arrived at the barn, Twilight was surprised to find the entrance covered by a large curtain. She set the wagon down just outside it. "Is something going on in the barn?"

"Oh nuthin' much." Being more sensitive to temperature and immune to the virus, Spike had walked alongside Applejack to monitor her condition, just in case. "Just an idea Ah got in my head today."

She rummaged through the pile of metal and came out with a long lever. She attached it to a waiting mechanism on the side of the barn door. "Ah'll get back to you an' the chores in just a minute, Twilight," she explained, "Just let me take care of something right quick."

"Anything we can help with?" Spike asked.

"Oh it ain't anythin' fancy." She sneezed again, and when she opened her eyes there was a strange wildness to them. "I'm goin' to drop a thief in a vat of acid!"

She pulled the newly-installed lever and the curtain parted. Behind it was a hogtied pegasus suspended above a large tank full of frothing, bubbling, yellowish-brown liquid. If it weren't enough that they were friends, her iconic mane made her easy enough to recognize.

"Twilight!" Rainbow Dash cried, "Thank Celestia you're here! Applejack's gone crazy! She says she's gonna drop me in acid!"

Horrified, Twilight froze. This was beyond the things she'd imagined. She had failed to even consider the possibility of one of her friends becoming a supervillain. And to drop her best friend in acid: it was beyond mere villainy, it was downright, unabashedly evil! In the meantime, Applejack had donned a dramatic cape with high stiff collar. It would have been more impressive if it didn't seem to be made from old burlap sacks.

"Behold!" she declared, "Mah master plan!" She turned to Rainbow Dash, an evil glint in her eye. "Fer too long y've been takin' advantage of me. Too long. But no longer!"

"What. The. Hay! Applejack!" Rainbow Dash shot back as she struggled against her bonds, "For the last time, I have no idea what you're talking about! What stealing? What taking advantage?"

"Apples. Every day you take a nap in my trees and eat a few apples. Apples that are mine. Every day for years, you rainbow rapscallion! You know how many apples that makes?"


"Six thousand apples! Six thousand and *cough!* two hundred apples!"

Rainbow Dash balked. "I- I thought we were cool about that! We had like a... an unspoken agreement. What, do you want me to pay?"

She chuckled and swirled her cape menacingly. "Oh you'll pay. Boy howdy, you'll pay alright."

Finally Twilight's brain rebooted enough for her to realize that she needed to step in now. "Applejack, it doesn't have to be like this! I understand you're angry, but there's a better solution! We can talk about this!"

Applejack turned and, for a moment, the evil cleared from her expression. "Twi, thank ya fer your help, but this is between me an' my nemesis. Ah got this." And then the fiendish expression returned as she addressed her captive.

"Well Rainbow Dash, any last words?"

"Yeah! Don't do it!"

Applejack tutted. "Pity. That ain't a very awesome way to end your memoirs." She pulled the lever.

"Nooooooo...!" Rainbow Dash cried as she plummeted to her doom. Her wings struggled uselessly against their bonds, failing to slow or redirect her in any way. She hit the acid with a cannonball-like splash. Twilight instinctively threw up a shield, protecting her, Spike, and the sneezing Applejack from the deadly spray, before realizing what she should have done with her magic instead.

"No..." Rainbow's mournful cries still echoed, "I'm melting! I'm melting! What a world, what a world!"

Actually, those weren't echoes. She seemed to still be talking. That fiend Applejack! She didn't even choose an acid strong enough to make it a painless demise.

"I'm melting... slowly... eventually. Huh. It always seemed to go a lot faster in Daring Do." The pegasus's voice had become less sorrowful and more confused. Twilight opened the eyes she'd clenched shut in horror. With her hooves free, Rainbow Dash was doing a decent dog-paddle in the vat of acid, confused but seemingly no worse for wear. "What the hay? How am I alive? Am I acid-proof?" She licked her lips. "Wait a second." She bobbed under, took a mouthful of acid (much to Twilight's horror), breached, and spit it out. "Is this.. apple cider vinegar?"

"Har hahahahahaha!" Applejack cackled as she rubbed her hooves evilly. "An' now ya see the cruel irony of yer fate! You ate the apples, and now the apples are eating you! Ahahahahaha... ha... hatchoo!"

Damp, sticky, and mildly annoyed, Rainbow Dash heaved herself over the side of the vat (which Twilight now recognized as the Apple Family Reunion Traditional Dunking Booth) and splatted onto the ground. Twilight reflexively removed the bonds from her wings, teleporting away the soggy ropes.

Still dripping, she stomped toward her self-proclaimed nemesis with a growl in her throat and a thoroughly peeved glint in her eye.

But Applejack took her anger (and apparent ability to survive a swim in the best acid) in stride. "Ha! You wanna wrassle? Come at me then, the both of ya! No one can defeat me! Ah'm invincible!"

"Ah'll get you! You hear me! If it's the last thing Ah do Ah'll have mah revenge! You ain't heard the last of Applejackknife!"

Twilight closed the door to Applejack's bedroom, leaving the irate farmer thoroughly roped to the bed. She turned to Granny Smith, who'd been fretting in the hall. "She'll be alright, it's just a symptom of the flu. Make sure she gets lots of rest and plenty of fluids and she'll be back to her old self in a day or two."

The elderly mare shook her head. "Ah ain't never heard of ponies turnin' evil from a little ol' cold before. But Ah suppose that's Ponyville fer ya."

Nodding, Twilight left the old mare to her ministrations.

Outside, Rainbow Dash was waiting. A few cannonballs in the lake followed by flying through several clouds had left her smelling only slightly of vinegar. "Are you sure we're not inside a Daring Do book right now? Or maybe one of Spike's comics? Because a cold that turns ponies into evil supervillains does not sound like a real thing."

Twilight nodded seriously. "It's very real, and not just in Ponyville either. I was actually just coming to gather you, AJ, and the rest of the girls in case there was an incident."

Rainbow Dash shook herself once more to remove the last drips of liquid. "Well you got one of us, and I can totally make up for at least two ponies."

"We'd better go check on the others," Twilight advised as a worried expression clouded her face, "I'd hate to think what might happen if any of them also caught the bug."

Next Chapter: Marchioness Madness: The Ball in Your Court Estimated time remaining: 1 Hour, 26 Minutes
Return to Story Description


Login with