The Ballad of Twilight Sparkle

by Gravekeeper

Chapter 6: And She Ran so Far Away

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The Ballad of Twilight Sparkle
By: Gravekeeper
Chapter 6: And She Ran so Far Away

As Celestia's sun began its descent below the horizon, the rainbow streak that divided the heavens between Ponyville and Manehattan began diffusing softly into the evening sky, slowly losing its source of light. The mysterious, long-lasting weather phenomenon had baffled the citizens of the big city since it didn’t appear to be related to any precipitation; the sky had been clear all day, and neither was the streak manufactured by the famous Cloudsdale Rainworks—this rainbow was a band of condensed water particles. It was natural, but was deliberately drawn across the sky.

Crowds of curious onlookers had followed the rainbow all the way to where it abruptly dropped off at the Clydesler Building Plaza, finding the pavement cracked with suspiciously horseshoe-like indentations. Holly Diver had actually gotten a glimpse of the pony responsible for this, but she found the spectacle and speculation of the crowd to be quite entertaining, so she kept her silence as she flew over the gathered ponies before making her way to the lobby of the building.

Once inside, Holly lazily greeted one of the many security ponies stationed to the lobby. “Hey, Daze.” she waved, trotting over to the front desk where the colt was keeping himself entertained with a rubber band around his hooves.

“Hey Diver, how are—huhwhat?” Daze did a double take as soon as he turned to greet the dark pegasus, the rubberband snapping off of his hooves and whipping his muzzle.

Holly Diver stopped and raised an eyebrow at the guard. “Yes?” Following his gaze, she realized what might be troubling the lazy colt. “Oh. These.” she looked at herself, at least two-dozen cameras slung around her neck, back, and forelegs. “I like cameras.” she said plainly, before continuing her trot to the elevators.

- - -

Rainbow Dash had been quite comfortable on her purloined sofa, resting on her back, head over the armrest as she held a large stack of papers over her face—said stack had kept her entertained for a while now, the acrobat having read and reread it from start to finish a couple of times now. Kicking her hind legs and using the momentum to sit upright, she glared disbelievingly at The Great and Powerful Trixie. “Ok, ok hold up. You wrote this? For reals?”

Trixie glared at the winged pony, blush bright on her face. “Trixie wrote it, yes. Why?” she asked from her seat, three chairs away from Rainbow Dash's sofa. Well, she knew why the cyan mare was asking that, but that didn’t mean Trixie had to own up to it.

Rainbow Dash looked back down to the script in her hooves. The Brave and Beautiful Glitter Dawn. “Whadda ya mean, 'Why'? Have you read this?” asked the pegasus, tapping the papers with her hoof.

The unicorn mare really didn't need this right now. “Trixie wonders if the rainbow trout has a point to make...” she commented, turning away from the cyan mare with a huff. Manifesting a file out of thin air with her magic, the azure pony began grooming her hooves in a show of forced indifference.

Rainbow Dash dropped the script on the table as she slowly stood up from her sofa. “You wanna come over here and say that again?” she growled, the feathers on her wings puffing up slightly.

“Ladies, please.” Miss Spelling adjusted her glasses. “Counselor Dash, I know you are upset, but your anger is misplaced upon Ms. Trixie, insufferable as she may be at times.”


The pegasus took flight, glaring at Trixie. “But she lied to everypony!” Rainbow Dash hovered slightly over the table, unable to keep still in her seat.

Miss Spelling placed a hoof on top of the script, lest it blow away in the attorney's down-wash. “It was a terribly foalish, frankly idiotic thing she did, but I believe her reason for doing so was quite clearly out of cowardice, not outright malice.”

“Well duh! I mean, I just read the thing.” Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes as she crossed her front hooves over her chest.

The azure mare’s eyes twitched. “Trixie is STILL in the room would you PLEASE stop talking about her as if she were NOT.” Why did everypony insist on assuming the worst from her all the time?

Still in stationary flight, Rainbow Dash descended slightly to pick up the movie's script, before flipping it open. “Oh, I'm sorry,” began the floating pegasus, “Does 'The Mighty and Fearsome Pixie' have somethin' to say?”

Miss Spelling watched as Trixie turned as red as a ripe Sweet Apple Acres apple under the Counselor’s knowing accusation. The magician-turned-writer hadn’t been too concerned about concealing her identity in her script, and much less in her live show; that genuine quality was one of the reasons Miss Spelling had been so driven to bring Trixie’s story to the masses. “Counselor Dash,” the orange mare began, raising an eyebrow. “I would have expected you of all ponies to be more sympathetic to Ms. Trixie's... cause for concern.” Using her magic, Miss Spelling floated Rainbow Dash's legal pad into the air, displaying it for everypony present.

“HAH!” chortled Holly Diver, having just come into the room.

- - -

“Dangit dangit dangit!” Applejack cursed as the rainbow streak she had been following for the past two hours finally dissipated completely. She had entered the city limits 10 minutes ago and was still galloping at full tilt, the rumbling of her forceful sprint fracturing windows and overturning sidewalk tables at every outdoor establishment she dashed by. The farmer poured more effort into her gallop, figuring she had to be close to her destination—as far as she could tell, Rainbow Dash had flown a nearly straight line all the time; Applejack hoped that the pegasus's landing spot would be obvious enough if she just kept running down the sidewalk of the street she was currently stampeding through.

At her current speed and current mindset, everything not directly ahead of her seemed to pass by as a blur. The dark hues of the city and the somewhat drab pastel colors of its citizens all seemed to blend together into dithering blotches of gray and other muted shades around the periphery of her vision. That is, except for one swath of very familiar bright lavender and deep blue that couldn’t help but stand out against the dull background. 'Shoot! I'd know that purple hide anywhere!'

Coming to a screeching halt that startled many horse-drawn carriages into running into each other, Applejack doubled back and quickly caught up to Twilight Sparkle, who was dispiritedly pacing down the opposite sidewalk from the farmer, head hung low. The earth pony quickly and haphazardly crossed the street, causing another carriage pile-up which she paid no mind to. “Sugarcube! What's goin' on, hun?” she asked, coming up to the unicorn’s side.

Twilight turned to the farmer, lip quivering. “Apple...jack? Oh, Applejaaaaaack!” the unicorn let loose the waterworks, quickly drenching Applejack in a teary hug.

Applejack was momentarily stunned—that was not the reaction she expected from her book-learned friend. “Uh, Twi...? Is sumthin' the matter?” she asked rather uselessly. At that, Twilight proceeded to cry even harder into the orange pony's mane. “Huuokaaay....”

- - -

NYPD officer Bobby Flat-Hoof stifled a yawn as he watched the knife nut being hauled away; it had been a long day for him and the rest of the New Yoke City police ponies in Manehattan.

The dark blue earth pony hated working overtime. Now, there was always something going on in a bustling city like Manehattan, that much was true... But today, today was just plain strange. Flat-Hoof had started his shift very early in the morning, working the beat uptown. Everything had been pretty normal—up until lunch time, it had been an average, even boring day in Manehattan, so much so that he'd stayed at the doughnut shop for a bit longer past his lunch hour. His peers had given him guff for perpetuating the stereotype, but since they were there at the shop before him and remained there after he left, he decided not to comment.

A couple of hours later, the reports started piling in. Public indecency. Immoral Acts being performed on the streets. Flat-Hoof rolled his eyes; many of the calls had been from older ponies, one of them claiming that –this was the crumbling of the morals of Equestria, by way of that rotten, flithy, dirty, lewd, lascivious JUNK called Rock n' Roll - A report that Flat-Hoof planned to make a copy of and frame once he got back to the station.

Flat-Hoof and his partner Gummie Horseshoe had made the trip to the Downtown area, specifically the Clydesler Building Plaza, only to find a whole lot of nothing going on. A few other patrolponies had gotten to the scene first, and were interviewing some of the witnesses. Apparently, none of them had seen anything happen, even the ones that reported the incident.

The trip wasted, Flat-Hoof and Horseshoe returned to the station only to be dispatched once again, Downtown once again. The reports came from all over the city this time—a strange rainbow-colored beam of light shot straight through the city, aimed, coincidentally enough, at the Clydesler Building. The worried citizens had claimed this to be either a secret Canterlot super-weapon, the end of the world, or the work of “human-lifeforms”, the nickname given by conspiracy theorists to the mythological “extra-Equestrials” of legend.

Though pretty to look at, it turned out to be a form of naturally occurring rainbow, albeit strangely linear compared to most. Trip wasted, once more. Horseshoe had made her annoyance clear during the walk back to the station; Flat-Hoof could only nod at his partner's mounting frustration about the lack of action. One hour later, action!

Or so they thought. Clearly something had taken place. A large number of Manehattan's finest had been called Uptown after reports of a rampaging beast started coming in. One storekeeper flailed tearfully, claiming that the powerful monster, apparently hidden in a dust cloud, had ruined his life and probably killed millions. Flat-Hoof looked at the single, 5-inch crack running along a corner of the store's glass window and decided that this particular witness would not be questioned again.

More distressing and equally baffling had been the 89-carriage pile-up along the same street. Apparently caused by the same massive behemoth that had knocked down some tables and ruined some glass, this vehicular disaster was going to be a complete logistics nightmare to untangle. Fortunately for Flat-Hoof and Horseshoe, they were called away from traffic duty by the strangest report yet: a hot-air balloon had come in low through the streets, propelled by a pegasus and powered by a miniature dragon, of all things. Now, a hot-air balloon around the city—that would be a novelty, but nothing to really call the cops over. No, what that balloon was carrying, that was the reason for concern; both partners had broken into a gallop.

As they neared the scene of the incident, another patrolpony galloped up to them with the bad news: Flat-Hoof and Horseshoe had been late to the action once again—and they had missed a doozy this time! Allegedly, the balloon had deposited a young, pretty unicorn armed to the teeth right there at Clydesler Building Plaza. The crazy unicorn had then waltzed right into the lobby and demanded she be let in to see her friends—at which point building security decided to subdue her. She took out 15 security ponies before they finally got her under control.

Flat-Hoof had to chuckle as Horseshoe loosed a string of curses; they had run up and down the entire city for hours on end, and they had nothing to show for it. NYPD officer Bobby Flat-Hoof stifled a yawn as he watched the knife nut being hauled away; it had been a long day for him and the rest of the New Yoke City police ponies in Manehattan.

- - -

Applejack sat at the table, picking at the remains of a half-eaten bowl of wild-flower pasta. She had correctly assumed that some food would calm down the distraught unicorn sitting across from her. What she hadn't counted on was the amount needed to do so. The farmer was worried this meal might overshoot her current financial state by quite a sum—especially after last night, when she had bet most of her pocket money against Fluttershy in her drink smackdown versus Big Mac.

“Thanks, AJ... With all that's happened today, I had forgotten I hadn't eaten anything since yesterday...” Twilight Sparkle heaved a contented sigh, stacking her empty bowl on top of the other nine, and next to the 4 rounds of beer she had already been treated to.

Applejack smiled at the unicorn. “Shucks Twi, you don't have to thank me none, I'm just glad yer not bawlin' yer eyes out anymore... I'm just no good at all that mushy stuff.”

Twilight blushed. “I apologize for that... It's been a very trying day for me, Applejack... But what about you? What brings you to the city?”

It was Applejack's turn to blush. “A rainbow.” she answered coyly, watching Twilight's expression. The earth pony quickly realized that her unicorn friend was not picking up on the obvious hint. “Rainbow Dash, Sugarcube. Ah was chasin' down that mangy pegasus when Ah ran into you.” Applejack decided to let Twilight get away with the change of topic for now.

The unicorn in question blinked as the gears in her mind worked. “But Rainbow Dash's been in town for at least two hours now...”

“I'm just a humble earth pony, hun; Ah ain't got no fancy-shmancy wings, just mah Sun-given legs to carry me wher'ver I need to go.”

“AJ!” Twilight raised her voice, somehow managing to whisper loudly, “You ran all the way from Ponyville?”

The marathon pony smiled. “Shore did! Non-stop express to the end of the rainbow!”

“That's incredible, Applejack! But... Why? Did something happen to Rainbow Dash? Cause she seemed fine to me...”

“Exactly!” Applejack winked at Twilight, “You don't let a fine filly like that just go, 'specially not after you fin'lly caught 'er!” the farmer was blushing deeply now, but it felt good to be honest after hiding it for so long from her friends.

Twilight tilted her head in utter confusion. “Uh, caught her?” the unicorn's brain density was detrimental, at times.

Applejack facehoofed. With a sigh, she waved over the waiter and asked for two more beers. “How do Ah put this real delicate-like?” she asked herself, bringing a hoof to her chin, her other hoof still nursing a mostly empty bottle. “Oh, Ah know! It's just like you and that purty snake-in-the-grass!”

“S-snake...?” the unicorn shuddered.

Applejack nodded, “Yeh, you know, that magic-snake-oil salesmare!”

Twilight flinched. “Snake-oil…?”

Applejack shrugged. “C’mon Twi, that slitherin’, belly-draggin’—”

AJ!” hissed the unicorn, shivering slightly. “Will you please stop talking about s-snakes?!”

The farmer chuckled sheepishly. “I’m sorry Sug, Ah reckon I’m still a mite sore at Trixie even after all this time.”

Twilight visibly slumped. “…Trixie?”

“Right, Ah dunno if it were some big secret you thought you was hidin’, but let’s just say I’m not the only filly runnin’ marathons for love, ain’t that right Sugarcube?” Applejack took a sip of her beer. “Ah bet you never realized how long you were out walkin’ whenever you went on one o’ yer Trixie Hunts. It was hours, almost entire days at a time, Twi.” The farmer smiled cheerily.

If Twilight had ever wondered how slack her jaw could go, she needn’t anymore. Luminescent blush permeating her whole body, she could only stare at Applejack as her bright purple eyes became minuscule black dots and her hair became slightly frazzled.

Applejack chuckled into the mouth of her bottle, finding Twilight’s expression quite amusing. “Now don’ go freakin’ out on me Twilight—just ‘cause we ain’t all chummy with Trixie it don’t mean we’re gonna give ya a hard time about it; we’re yer friends, after’all.” Applejack thanked the waiter as he brought them another round of beers. “B’sides, you can’t choose who ya’ll fall for—Ah should know!” Applejack laughed at herself, opening the new bottle with her teeth.

The orange earth pony finished her beer in one gulp. Wiping her lips, she pointed the empty bottle at herself. “Pers’nally, other than needin’ a attitude readjustment, Ah don’t think the filly’s a half-bad pony—Ah mean, she did stand up to that there Ursa critter when she coulda just as easily turned tail and let it eat ev’rypony… An’ that,” Applejack opened the second beer bottle and placed it in front of Twilight, “…is just the right kinda foolhardy, idiotic disregard for pers’nal safety in the face of danger that an Element o’ Harmony prides herself in!” the young business owner leaned back into her seat. “Ah think she’d fit right in… Ya know, whenever you git to catching her.”

Twilight was now sure that it was indeed possible to die of embarrassment. She assumed that the feelings of confusion, fright, and mortification welling up within her were actually her internal organs shutting down one by one as all the blood within her body rushed to her face.

Applejack watched with wide eyes as Twilight Sparkle fainted, falling forward and running her horn into the table. “Uh. Twi...? Sugarcube?” the farmer poked the unconscious mare with her hoof.

“Aw man, now I have to carry her?”

Applejack, still poking at Twilight, turned to face the complaint source. “S'cuse me?”

Rafale sighed. “You can come too, if you help me drag her back to the office.”

“Whah...?” Applejack watched dumbstruck as the white pegasus dropped a large amount of bits on the table, then proceeded to haul up Twilight up over her back.


End Chapter 6
Bonus Art!: Holly Diver and Miss Spelling!

Next Chapter: With Friends Like These... Estimated time remaining: 2 Hours, 50 Minutes
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