Mind Games

A somber passing

Morning at Town Hall.

Sweetie Belle woke up with a yawn in her room at Town Hall. Even though her sister had told her not to, she and Apple Bloom had been up all night playing games and trying to have fun. She hopped out of her bed and made her way towards the front door to greet the day. Opening the door, Sweetie Belle began to sing to the world.

“Good Morn~!...” She started singing, until a group of ponies caught her attention.

“Oh, good morning Sweetie Belle!” The purple Unicorn from yesterday spoke to her, walking with the same group of ponies.

“Ahhh!” Sweetie Belle screamed, quickly shutting the door from the inside.

“Well that’s a weird way to say hello.” Spike said aloud.

“Leave us alone!” Sweetie Belle called out from inside.

“Fine by me!” Fluttershy replied.

“Hey!” Rainbow Dash told Fluttershy.

“We’re powerful sorry about the trouble we caused!” Braeburn called back to Sweetie Belle.

Sweetie Belle didn’t respond, unsure of what else to say.

Meanwhile, Apple Bloom, awoken by the scream, snuck up on Sweetie Belle.

“Open the door.” Apple Bloom told Sweetie Belle.

“Gah!” Sweetie Belle jumped. “What!?”

“Open the door. Ah need to talk to them.” Apple Bloom said again.

“What? Why?” Sweetie Belle asked, looking back from the door to Apple Bloom. “Uh…okay I guess.”

Sweetie Belle opened the door enough for Apple Bloom to get through.

“Apple Bloom? What are you doing here?” Twilight asked the filly.

“Yeah, why aren’t you with Zecora?” Spike asked as well.

A tear started to form in Apple Bloom’s eye, but she wiped it away before speaking.

“Ever since you two showed up around these parts, ya’ll have done nothing but cause trouble.” Apple Bloom told the Unicorn.

“Huh?” Twilight replied, confused.

“After you two left, things only kept getting worse for Zecora and Ah.” Apple Bloom continued.

“What are you talking about?” Spike asked.

“Yes. What happened Apple Bloom?” Twilight added.

“Because of you two and everything that you’ve done here…” Apple Bloom told the two, before she could no longer hold back her tears.

Twilight and Spike couldn’t respond, taken aback by the filly’s reaction.

“ZECORA IS GONE!!” Apple Bloom yelled at the two.

“What!?” The group outside yelled.

“Oh no.” Braeburn spoke up. “I guess things were much worse than I thought.”

“What’s she talking about Braeburn?” Rainbow Dash asked the stallion.

“During that meeting yesterday, Rarity said that Princess Luna confronted their home in the Everfree forest.” Braeburn explained. “I reckon she must’ve done more than just yelling.”

“You two made her forget everything!” Apple Bloom said between tears. “And because of her trusting you, Princess Luna came and took her away!”

“She did what!?” Twilight exclaimed in disbelief.

“Oh no…” Spike replied.

“All that was left…(sobbing)… was a patch...(more sobbing)… of DIRT!” Apple Bloom squeezed out, before her tears started to fall heavier.

“Oh no, Apple Bloom…”Twilight told the filly, tears starting to form in her own eyes.

“Ah want Zecora back!” Apple yelled between tears again. “GIVER HER BACK!!”

“Apple Bloom…” Twilight spoke to the filly, trying to hold back her own tears. “I’m so sorry…”

“We had no idea anything like this would happen!” Spike added on.

The two ponies continued to cry to themselves, while the rest looked on in sympathy and confusion.

Braeburn then placed a hoof on Twilight, trying to adjust the situation.

“Twilight. I know that this may be a hard thing to deal with right now, especially for you and your friends…” Braeburn began to tell Twilight. “But we should really keep moving if’n we want to prevent anything else like this from happening again. We should try to resolve this later.”

“You can’t be serious Braeburn!?” Rainbow Dash yelled at the stallion.

“No. It’s hard…but Braeburn’s right.” Twilight agreed, sniffling more of her tears.

“What!? Twilight!?” Rainbow Dashed turned to her friend.

“Zecora would want us to move on, and we can’t let her sacrifice be in vain.” Twilight told Rainbow Dash, before turning back to the still crying filly. “I’m so so sorry Apple Bloom, but we need to go.”

“NOOooOoOoo!!” Apple Bloom cried out behind her tears.

“How could you!?” Sweetie Belle finally replied, trying to comfort Apple Bloom.

“The nerve!” Fluttershy replied.

“Come on everyone.” Twilight told the group, running off away from the fillies, still sobbing a litter herself.

The rest of the group quickly followed, while Apple Bloom let out one final cry.

“ZECORA!!!”


Presently, over the Everfree forest.

“Huh?” Spitfire said aloud. “First that detour last night, now some screaming? Maybe I should check it out?” She thought to herself. “See anything squirt?” Spitfire asked Scootaloo holding onto her back.

“What was that?” Scootaloo asked back, distracted from soaring through the sky with her Captain.

“Do you see anything!?” Spitfire asked again angrily.

“Uh…!” Scootaloo replied, quickly looking around. “I see some ponies running around Ponyville!”

“How many!?” Spitfire asked.

“Looks like four or five!” Scootaloo answered, not sure if the smaller purple one was a filly or not.

“I guess it’s worth a shot.” Spitfire thought to herself, banking around in the air towards Ponyville. “Just keep your eyes sharp up there!”

“Yes ma’am!” Scootaloo replied, giving a little salute.

“I guess it was worth stopping by to grab her after all.” Spitfire thought to herself.


Meanwhile, in Ponyville.

The ponies of Ponyville went about their daily lives that morning. While unbeknownst to them, a changeling stuck his head out from behind a corner, checking to see if the coast is clear.

“Heh. Alright, this seems like a safe enough spot for now.” The changeling said aloud. “You sure did take your time following me though.” The changeling spoke behind himself to Soarin.

“Not like you were making it easy to follow you, with all your twists and turns.” Soarin replied.

“Well you’re being hunted right now.” The changeling answered. “You really wanted to take the easy way out of there?”

“I still can’t believe that Captain Spitfire would do that to me. She’s never done anything like that before.” Soarin responded.

“Well it sounds like she’s ready to cut her losses with you.” The changeling replied.

“I’ll believe it when I see it.” Soarin retorted back.

“Believe what you want, but she really is coming after you.” The changeling told the Pegasus.

“Then maybe I should let her find me!” Soarin replied. “Then I can explain what happened and she can help me get Rainbow Dash!”

“That other Pegasus was the one who was trying to save you from her.” The changeling answered.

“That’s enough. I’m done talking about her.” Soarin replied.

“Suit yourself.” The changeling told the Pegasus, poking his head out again to see if things were still clear.

Soarin walked over to take a look himself, before the changeling shoved him back behind some boxes.

“What the!?” Soarin tried to yell, but the changeling covered his mouth.

“Quiet!” The changeling whispered to him, before turning around to look behind them.

Apple Jack trotted past the alley, talking to herself the entire time.

“Ah can plant some apple trees here, and some apple trees there, and some…” She continued on after going past.

The changeling took a quick look to make sure she was gone, before speaking again.

“Phew! That was close.” He spoke. “It was just that crazy apple horse again.”

The changeling looked back over at the Pegasus, who appeared to be sulking now.

“You okay?” He asked.

“I just can’t believe I have to hide from everypony now.” Soarin said with a sigh. “How could this all happen to me?”

The changeling gave an annoyed sigh of his own, before answering the Pegasus.

“Look, I know this is all pretty confusing to you, and I’m sure…kn..know… you’ve been through a lot in the past days, but we should probably get moving before someone we ‘don’t’ want to find, finds us.”

“Ye..yeah. I guess you’re right.” Soarin answered.

“Good.” The changeling replied. “Let’s get going then. We’ve almost reached the edge of the town. From there we can take my secret path through the forest to get to the ground beneath Cloudsdale. After that, we’ll head straight up into the city. I figure that would be the last place that Captain of yours would think to look for you now.”

“Su…sure.” Soarin replied. “Just what’s going on here?” He thought to himself.


Over in the Royal Palace.

Celestia once again found herself staring out the windows in the royal chambers, only to once again be disturbed by the sound of the doors opening.

“Hmm?” She said, turning her attention to the doors.

Discord walked into the room wearing a painter’s outfit, while painting on a canvas floating in front of him.

“I trust the doctors are still taking good care of her?” Celestia asked Discord.

“Oh their doing a stand-up job. She’ll be back to her old self in no time.” Discord replied, paying more attention to the canvas than to Celestia. He then turned the canvas around to reveal a picture of Chrysalis and several other familiar ponies drawn as changelings. “Do you like?”

“How very…appropriate?” Celestia answered, not very enthusiastic about the painting.

Discord’s face grew a frown, as he tossed the canvas into nothing.

“Everybody’s a critic.”

“Back to the task at hoof then.” Celestia told Discord, looking back out the window.

“Yes, about that.” Discord replied, reclining himself in the air.

“Hmm?” Celestia responded, looking back to the draconequus.

“After dealing with royal pains and ponies popping in and out of here like a tourist attraction…” Discord told Celestia, while manifesting a crown, followed by a sunhat onto his head. “Do you even have any clue where Queen Chrysalis might be?”

“No, unfortunately we don’t, and it seems like we have been spending too much time on Luna and those ponies to find her.” Celestia answered, turning back to the window.

“So what do you plan on doing?” Discord asked, popping up outside the window.

“I’m not sure.” Celestia replied, turning and walking away from the window. “This has never happened before in all the years that we’ve been with her.”

“You don’t suppose that little Twinkle pony is the cause of all this? Hmm?” Discord spoke from beneath Celestia, only his face appearing on the carpet with a smile.

“Her?” Celestia asked, looking down at Discord’s face.

Discord then emerged from the carpet head first, until his entire body was standing.

“Yes. Think about it. Since she’s been here, all kinds of crazy things have been happening.” Discord told Celestia, his eyes spinning around. “Queen Chrysalis disappears.” Discord appeared behind Celestia, wearing a princess out fit and looking (oh woe is me).

“She was ponynapped.” Celestia corrected, her eyes looking back behind her.

“Whatever.” Discord replied, before disappearing again. “Princess Luna goes crazy.” Reappears in a straightjacket, before disappearing. “That wannabe magician keeps popping in and out.” Appears holding a magician’s hat and pulls out a very angry white rabbit. “And that apple basket case has been running all over Equestria.” Appearing with ponytails for hair and freckles.

“Hold on.” Celestia interrupted. “Say that last one again.”

Discord stopped pulling on his ponytails, before answering.

“The apple pony has…”

“No, the one before that.” Celestia clarified.

“Oh! The tricky trickster sneaking around.” Discord replied, pulling a cape around and in front of his face while moving his fingers.

“Yes! What do you mean by that?” Celestia asked.

Discord tossed his get-up away before crossing his arms and answering.

“I don’t know. I’ve just seen her around some parts of Equestria lately.”

“Well why didn’t you say anything!?” Celestia demanded.

“Oh please Celestia.” Discord replied, waving his arms at her, before disappearing. “What’s life without a little fun?” Appearing next to Celestia.

“I thought I told you the other night that she was suspected of being in Queen Chrysalis’ chambers when she was ponynapped, and that we should be on the lookout for her.” Celestia told Discord, looking over at him.

“Yes! And that was that night.” Discord replied, pulling out a calendar and pointing to the day in question. “She’s been bouncing around all over today!” He replied excitedly, throwing the calendar up in the air.

“Mother of me Discord. I don’t know what to do with…” Celestia muttered to herself, the calendar falling onto her head and the current day’s date being pierced by her horn. “Never mind!” She told Discord, knocking the calendar off her head with her hoof. “Where was the last place you saw her!?” She asked Discord, stomping her hoof back on the ground.

“Jeez, someone can’t take a joke.” Discord replied, holding his palms up. “She was last seen in Ponyville.” Discord answered, crossing his arms again with an uninterested look on his face.

“Alright then.” Celestia responded, calming down. “Now we just need to…” She began to speak, until the sound of approaching hoofsteps caught her attention.

“Hmm?” Discord asked, looking where Celestia was looking.

The sound of hoofsteps grew closer, until the chamber doors burst open, revealing Apple Jack.

“Howdy Yall!”

“It appears we have a helping hoof.” Celestia said aloud.

Discord looked from Celestia to Apple Jack, confused.

“Sorry ta barge in on ya like that Princess.” Apple Jack spoke to Celestia, taking off her hat and bowing her head before putting it back on.

“No problem at all Apple Jack.” Princess Celestia replied. “What is it that you need?”

“Since Ah was walking around Canterlot looking for places to plant mah apple trees, Ah thought Ah’d just come straight here to let ya know what Ah found.” Apple Jack told the Princess.

“And what have you found?” Princess Celestia asked.

“Ah can honestly say Ah haven’t found a thing.” Apple Jack answered with a smile.

Princess Celestia replied with a raised eyebrow, while Discord looked at the pony with a derp face.

Apple Jack continued to smile, oblivious to the reactions of the other two.

“Well…thank you…for your hard work.” Princess Celestia finally answered, trying to give a sincere expression.

“No problem at all Princess!” Apple Jack replied. “Ah’ll just be on mah way then ta look around some more.” She told the Princess, before starting to make her way out.

“Wait, before you go.” Princess Celestia called to Apple Jack.

“Yeah?” Apple Jack turned back around, confused.

Discord looked at the two, before a lightbulb appeared above his head. He pulled the string attached to it, turning it on, and then spoke.

“Oh Celestia! We should get her to!…” He began to say, before the Princess cut him off.

“No. I have a more productive idea Discord.” Celestia replied, looking at Apple Jack with a smile.

“Beg pardon?” Apple Jack asked.

“Apple Jack.” Princess Celestia addressed Apple Jack.

“Uh, yes your highness?” Apple Jack asked, still confused.

“I need for you to look over a part of Equestria for us.” Princess Celestia told Apple Jack.

“Ah course! Where would ya like?” Apple Jack asked.

“I would like for you to go through Ponyville again.” Princess Celestia told Apple Jack. “This time more thoroughly.

“No problem Princess!” Apple Jack replied. “Looking for something in particular?”

“Anything or anypony you don’t recall ever being there.” Princess Celestia informed Apple Jack.

“Will do your highness!” Apple Jack replied with a little salute. “I’ll get on it faster than an apple pie at my family reunion! YEE HAW!”

Apple Jack then took off out the doors, letting them slam behind her.

“I was going to say we should have her plant an apple tree in your bed.” Discord said aloud, unamused.

“While I’m sure you would find that funny, there are more important things that need to be done.” Celestia responded.

“Fine.” Discord replied, disappearing and reappearing laying on Celestia’s back. “So where does that leave us then?” He asked, pulling out sunglasses and a tanning mirror.

“I’m beginning to think that perhaps we should start searching Cloudsdale.” Celestia told Discord, tilting her body so he’d fall to the floor. “We may be able to find Captain Spitfire, and if we’re lucky some information on Queen Chrysalis.”

“Oh goodie! Field trip!” Discord exclaimed, before making a school bus with eyes appear in the middle of the room and emerging from behind the steering wheel with curly hair.

“I’ll let the guards know where we’re going, in case somepony stops by trying to find us.” Celestia told Discord, while making her way towards the doors to inform the guards.

“Make it quick Celestia! This bus runs on FUN!” Discord called to Celestia, honking the bus’s horn.


Meanwhile, atop Rainbow Falls.

“How are things looking in Canterlot brother?” Flim asked Flam.

“Nothing in particular since Princess Luna last night.” Flam told Flim.

“Well keep an eye out. You never know when something might happen.” Flim told Flam, before going back to trying to fix the locks that were melted.

“Indubitably.” Flam replied, continuing to look through the telescope. “Hmm? What have we here?” Flam asked aloud.

“See something brother?” Flim asked Flam.

“It looks like Princess Celestia and Discord are leaving Canterlot.” Flam told Flim.

“Well that’s quite odd.” Flim told Flam.

“Yes it is. Especially since that means that Princess Luna is the only one left in Canterlot, and she won’t be leaving anytime soon.” Flam told Flim.

“Any clue where they’re heading brother?” Flim asked Flam.

“It seems to me they’re heading over to Cloudsdale.” Flam told Flim.

“I wonder why they’d be going there. They don’t actually expect to find Spitfire or any of her pawns do they?” Flim asked aloud.

“Beats me brother.” Flam told Flim, pulling his head away from the telescope.

The brothers thought to themselves for a minute, before an idea came to Flim.

“Well with them and those other ponies out of Canterlot, I suppose there’s no more need to keep an eye on the place. Eh brother?”

“Undoubtedly brother!” Flam replied. “But what about Princess Luna?”

“She won’t be going anywhere anytime soon by the looks of it, but it might not be a bad idea to keep an eye on the other two in case something comes up.” Flim told Flam.

“Alrighty then brother!” Flam told Flim, before adjusting the telescope over towards Cloudsdale.


Outside Trixie’s wagon at the Castle of the Two Sisters.

Rarity, Mayor Mare, and Derpy all finally stirred, waking up after what felt like a nightmare.

“Ohh…” Rarity rubbed her head.

“Uhh…”Mayor Mare started to sit up.

“Owie…” Derpy said aloud.

“Ugh…is everypony alright?” Rarity asked the other mares.

“I’ve seen better days.” Mayor Mare replied.

“My eyes feel funny.” Derpy answered, shaking her head until her eyes went back to normal.

“It…it appears we’re back at Trixie’s wagon?” Rarity said aloud, confused.

“How did we manage to get back here after all that rubble fell down?” Mayor Mare asked.

“I don’t know Mayor.” Rarity replied, before remembering why they even came there in the first place. “Ah! Derpy! Do you still have the map!?”

“Oh! Uhh!…” Derpy started looking around herself. “N…no.” She replied, looking down.

“Drat. With that passage way not doubt blocked off, we have nothing to report to the Princess.” Rarity stated.

“We could still report what we found. We just wouldn’t have much to show for it.” Mayor Mare suggested.

Rarity thought about trying to tell the Princess what they had found. However, without a clear way to return to the room, there didn’t seem to be a point.

“No. We shouldn’t bother trying to report to Canterlot without something to present.” Rarity told Mayor Mare. “Let’s head back to Ponyville for now. It’s already morning and I’m sure Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom must be worried sick about us.”

“You’re right.” Mayor Mare replied, standing up.

“Okie dokie.” Derpy added.

They three then started their trek back to Ponyville, leaving Trixie’s wagon and the castle’s secrets behind.

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