Mind Games

Disappearing act

Town Hall

Sweetie Belle sat outside on the steps of the building, still worried about Apple Bloom resting inside. She had ended up crying herself back to sleep, and Sweetie didn’t know what more she could do.

She let out another sigh as she looked out into Ponyville. The commotion from earlier had calmed down, and while she had wanted to go see what had happened, she knew that it was better to stay and keep an eye on Apple Bloom.

Her spirits were soon lifted however, as Sweetie Belle glanced over to one of the bridges and immediately jumped off the stairs at the site of her sister and the others approaching.

“Rarity!” Sweetie Belle yelled out, running over to hug her sister. “I’m so glad you’re back! What happened? Why is Scootaloo with you?”

“We discovered a secret room under the Castle of the Two Sisters and came across Scootaloo asleep in a tent in the middle of the marketplace.” Rarity told her sister, finishing hugging her.

“However, we were not able to retrieve anything to use as evidence.” Mayor Mare added in.

“What did you find?” Sweetie Belle asked.

Rarity started to walk towards Town Hall, as she explained things along the way.

“We discovered a collection of diary entries written by Chrysalis and Trixie regarding Chrysalis’ plans for Equestria and Trixie’s own plans for Chrysalis.”

“Wow!” Sweetie Belle exclaimed.

“We also discovered a map of Equestria, with markings showing different areas of some importance.” Mayor Mare continued.

“Huh.” Sweetie Belle replied.

“But we were unable to retrieve either of them after Derpy accidently pulled a wire trap behind the map which caused the entire room and passageway to collapse on us.” Rarity explained.

“And even though we made it out somehow…I lost the map anyways…”Derpy told Sweetie Belle, hanging her head down.

“Oh no.” Sweetie Belle responded.

Derpy then walked over to one of the shelves and started to look through the scrolls inside.

Rarity set Scootaloo down using her magic, before taking a quick look around the room.

“How is Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle? I don’t see her anywhere.” Rarity asked.

“She’s not doing so well right now.” Sweetie Belle answered, looking away with a sad look on her face.

“Why? What happened?” Mayor Mare asked.

“After you three left yesterday, those ponies from before showed up this morning.” Sweetie Belle replied. “And when Apple Bloom found out they were here, she started to get real upset.”

“Good heavens!” Rarity exclaimed. “Did they do anything to her!?”

“N-no!” Sweetie Belle replied. “Well, not directly anyway. It was when Apple Bloom started talking to them that she started to cry and yell.”

“What exactly happened Sweetie Belle?” Mayor Mare asked.

“I had just woken up and was about to greet the day outside, when all those ponies from before came walking by.” Sweetie Belle started to speak.

“Go on.” Rarity told her sister.

“I told them to go away and leave us alone, and it seemed like they were about to, when Apple Bloom told me she wanted to talk to them.” Sweetie Belle continued.

“She really asked to talk to them?” Rarity asked, surprised.

“Yeah. She said she needed to talk to them and if was after she started talking that she began to cry.” Sweetie Belle explained.

“She stopped them so she could cry to them?” Rarity asked, even more confused.

“I’m still not really sure.” Sweetie Belle replied, confused herself. “I was just doing what she asked.

“Alright then, I guess.” Rarity spoke. “Continue.”

“Well…she started saying that it was because of the purple Unicorn and her dragon that Zecora uhh…is gone.” Sweetie Belle answered, hesitant.

“What!?” Rarity and Mayor Mare exclaimed.

“Please don’t yell!” Sweetie Belle tried to say quietly. “Apple Bloom finally cried herself to sleep not that long ago, and I really don’t want to wake her up by talking too much about Zecora.”

“Oh dear. I do suppose you’re right Sweetie.” Rarity replied. “Is there anything else?”

“Well, after she said that she started crying more and more while yelling at them.” Sweetie Belle spoke. “The Unicorn actually looked like she was about to cry too, but the stallion from Appleloosa convinced her and the others to leave. I’ve been with Apple Bloom ever since.”

“But I thought it was Princess Luna that?...” Mayor Mare started to speak, before Rarity cut her off.

“No. Princess Luna was definitely the one who did it. I’m sure of it.” Rarity told Mayor Mare. “Apple Bloom must have been trying to find some explanation as to why she would have done it. With those two showing up before she vanished; it would only be natural that she would think that they had some part to play in it.”

“Not to mention them talking about heresy against Queen Chrysalis when we still believed that she was ruler.” Mayor Mare added on.

“I’m really worried about Apple Bloom.” Sweetie Belle said aloud, looking down at the ground again. “I don’t know what to do for her.”

Rarity walked over and put a hoof around her sister, bringing her in for a quick hug.

“Without Zecora or some way to convince her that all of this was a lie, I’m not sure what we can do.” Rarity told her sister.

“Since we’re back now, perhaps we should try and send word about what we’ve learned to Princess Celestia.” Mayor Mare suggested.

“I still don’t think it would matter if we don’t have anything to show for it.” Rarity explained. “It would just be a waste of time.”

“Then how about?...” Mayor Mare started to speak, before she noticed Derpy drawing on one of the scrolls from the shelves. “Derpy, what are you doing?”

Derpy sniffled a tear, still disappointed in herself for leaving the map.

“I felt so bad about losing the map that I thought I would trying drawing it on another one.” Derpy explained.

“Derpy, I know you mean well, but this really isn’t the time for…” Rarity began to speak, before she noticed what Derpy had drawn on the map.

“Would you look at that!” Mayor Mare said aloud. “It looks almost exactly like the map from the castle!”

“But how do you know for sure?” Rarity asked.

Derpy sniffled again, this time feeling a little better.

“They were all in places that were familiar.” Derpy explained.

“Hmm?” The mares and filly said.

“Except for that place beyond Macintosh Hills, they were all places ponies have been before.” Derpy told the group.

“That’s rather insightful of you Derpy.” Mayor Mare praised the Pegasus.

“Thanks Mayor!” Derpy replied, now smiling.

“So they’re places ponies have been before; but why would Trixie or whoever mark someplace ponies haven’t been?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“I’m not sure Sweetie.” Rarity replied. “We’d have to ask one of them to find out.”

“Surely we could send THIS to Princess Celestia?” Mayor Mare asked.

“I suppose we could, but I’m not sure how we could explain it to her without taking the time to bring it to her ourselves.” Rarity responded.

“Perhaps Ah could vouch for ya!” Apple Jack said aloud, suddenly appearing behind the group.

Everypony let out a scream in shock.

“Apple Jack!” Mayor Mare scolded the mare. “You really should stop doing that!”

“Sorry bout that Mayor.” Apple Jack replied, still a little oblivious.

“What are you doing here anyway Apple Jack?” Rarity asked.

“Ah was asked by Princess Celestia to take a look at Appleloosa for her, since no pony has responded yet.” Apple Jack told Rarity.

“That’s because the Appleloosa ponies are with Rainbow Dash and those two from the rain storm.” Sweetie Belle explained to Apple Jack.

“What in tarnation!?” Apple Jack exclaimed. “Well that sure does explain why Ah couldn’t find heads or tails of them in Appleloosa. ‘Sides, Ah didn’t find anything important like to report and was about to head back when Ah got another request.”

“And what was that?” Rarity asked.

“To check up on ya’ll and see how ya’ll have been coming along in your search.” Apple Jack answered.

“Well I assume you heard everything we just discussed?” Rarity asked.

“Ah can honestly say that Ah did!” Apple Jack replied.

“Then we would like for you to take what we’ve found and inform the Princess.” Rarity told Apple Jack.

“Sure thing!” Apple Jack agreed.

“Well that settles that.” Mayor Mare spoke up. “So what should we do now? With Apple Jack having already searched everywhere else nearby, which should just leave Rainbow Falls left.”

“You’re absolutely right Mayor.” Rarity replied.

“But what about Apple Bloom, Rarity?” Sweetie Belle told her sister.

“While I did say that once we returned that we would all travel together elsewhere, I’m not so sure about that now that poor Apple Bloom is like this.” Rarity responded.

“Perhaps Ah could look after the little filly?” Apple Jack suggested.

“That would be most appreciated.” Rarity replied. “As I’m sure you would look after her like a little sister, but I’m just not sure if her traveling across Equestria with you would be the best thing right now.”

“Ah guess ya’ll got a point there.” Apple Jack agreed.

“I’m really not sure if she should even stay here any longer either.” Rarity said aloud. “Even this place may leave bad memories for her when she wakes up.”

“But where else could we take her?” Mayor Mare asked.

“I think I know a place!” Derpy spoke up.

“Really?” Rarity asked, surprised. “Where?”

“There’s a treehouse over on Apple Jack’s farm that would be perfect for her to stay in!” Derpy replied, clapping her hooves together.

“Now normally Ah’d say that everypony should stay away from mah farm and mah apple trees, but Ah think that she may have a point.” Apple Jack agreed. “It’s about as far away from anything as ya can get, and it would give her the best view of mah farm and trees!”

“Yes…I’m sure that’s exactly what would make her feel better.” Rarity said with slight sarcasm. “Perhaps we could even bring Scootaloo there. No sense in her staying here by herself.”

“Oh! Can I go too Rarity!?” Sweetie Belle asked. “I wanna make sure that Apple Bloom is still okay when she wakes up.”

“Absolutely Sweetie Belle.” Rarity agreed.

Considering the task now at hoof, Rarity turned to Derpy for the final decision.

“Derpy, would you mind taking Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle to the treehouse?” Rarity asked.

“Sure thing!” Derpy agreed, before walking over to grab Scootaloo and then heading to retrieve Apple Bloom.

“Wait for me!” Sweetie Belle called out, chasing after Derpy.

“Now that that’s settled, let us be off for Rainbow Falls.” Mayor Mare said aloud, making her way towards the doors.

“Yes, let’s get going.” Rarity agreed. “Hopefully there’s a train ready once we reach the station.” Following behind.

“Yee-haw!” Apple Jack called out, heading out the door with the other mares.

Atop Rainbow Falls.

The Flim Flam brothers just finished their latest scam pitch, before returning to their tent.

“Today’s profits should make up for all the damages that featherhead caused.” Flim said aloud.

“They should indeed.” Flam agreed with Flim.

The brothers placed their deceitful earnings in a new stash, ensuring this one wouldn’t be intruded upon like the last ones.

“Say, how are things looking over in Cloudsdale brother?” Flim asked Flam.

“I’ll go take a look.” Flam told Flim.

Flam made his way back outside to the telescope and looked through to see Cloudsdale off in the distance.

“Doesn’t look like anything’s going on.” Flam told Flim as he exited the tent.

Flim looked off at Cloudsdale in the distance, until something else far off caught his attention. He raised a hoof above his eyes to block out the glare of the sun.

“Say Flam.” Flim told Flam.

“Yes Flim?” Flam responded.

“What’s that approaching in the distance?” Flim asked Flam.

“Hmm?” Flam replied, adjusting the telescope to see what his brother was referring to. “I don’t see any…” Flam began to say, until he saw what his brother was referring to.

In the view of the telescope, Flam could see Princess Celestia, Discord, Soarin, and one other pony flying towards them.

“Uh oh!” Flam exclaimed, pulling his head away from the telescope.

“What is it!?” Flim asked Flam.

“We’ve got company on the way!” Flam told Flim. “And not the kind we can make a bit off of!”

“Who!?” Flim asked Flam.

“The Princess, Discord, and that scapegoat of Spitfire’s!” Flam replied.

Now in a panic, the brothers quickly thought of what to do.

“Umm…” Flim replied, still thinking. “Guess it’s time to take our show back on the road!”

“You said it brother!” Flam agreed.

The brothers turned to head to their tent, when a voice caught them off guard.

“Not so fast!” A mare’s voice called out.

The brothers turned to look, and saw a purple balloon quickly rise from beyond the edge of the falls, being pulled by two Pegasi.

“What the!?” The brothers called in unison.

The balloon leveled out in the air, revealing Twilight Sparkle, her dragon companion, and Braeburn sitting in the basket. Meanwhile, Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash hovered above the balloon; rope harnesses attached to them.

“You’ve got nowhere to run!” Rainbow Dash called down.

“Ya’ll will pay for all the trouble you and Spitfire caused!” Braeburn added.

“And what you were planning to do to Soarin. That’s just mean.” Fluttershy yelled quietly.

“Well technically we haven’t ‘done’ anything yet…” Flam said aloud.

“But opportunity calls and we really must be going!” Flim added on.

“Oh no you don’t!” Twilight yelled, hopping out of the basket as the balloon landed.

Thinking quickly, the brothers reached out with their magic into their tent and pulled out more of the smoke bombs that Spitfire had taken with her. They tossed all around themselves and used the resulting cover to quickly head inside their tent.

“Not this again!” Rainbow Dash said aloud, before she and Fluttershy used their wings to clear up the smoke.

As the smoke cleared, the group could see the brothers escaping in another steam powered contraption, their cart in tow.

“So long suckers!” The brothers said together, lifting their hats off their heads.

“They’re getting away!” Twilight called out.

“Not if I have anything to say about it!” Fluttershy yelled, before taking off after them.

“Fluttershy wait!” Rainbow Dash called out, chasing after her.

The Flim Flam brothers rounded a corner, escaping sight of the other ponies.

“Guess we can’t come back to this town again.” Flim said aloud.

“Aw well.” Flam added on.

“On to the next one!” The two said in unison, leaning against each other.

“Come back here!” Fluttershy yelled out, as she came around the corner at them.

“Gah!” The brothers cried out, before something else got in their way. “Ooof!”

Their contraption came to a sudden halt, as the brothers turned to find a road block stopping them in their tracks.

“Where did that come from!?” Flim asked aloud.

“Look!” Flam exclaimed, pointing up.

Fluttershy stopped as well and looked up to see a giant glass dome fall around them, trapping the three inside.

The three ponies looked around in shock and confusion, before all of them and the dome itself disappeared in a giant thundering red flash.

“Fluttershy!” Rainbow Dash called out, rounding the corner finally. “Huh!?”

She looked around, but saw neither the Flim Flam brothers, nor Fluttershy anywhere.

“What in the?...” Rainbow Dash said aloud.

Meanwhile, still approaching in the distance.

Princess Celestia, Discord, and Soarin continued to fly towards Rainbow Falls, while a pink pony with poofy hair sat on Celestia’s back.

“Shouldn’t be much longer now.” Soarin called out, before he and the rest of the group witnessed a giant red flash in the distance. “Woah! What was that!?”

“Hurry! We need to get there before something else happens!” Princess Celestia said aloud. “By the way; nice disguise changeling.” Celestia spoke to the pink pony on her back.

“Thanks!” The pony said in a high pitched voice.

Discord continued to slither along through the air, before turning blue and making a halo appear above his head.

“Ha ha ha!” Discord laughed out loud. “Hello, boys! I’m BAAAAAACK!”

At the same time, on-board the train to Rainbow Falls.

Rarity, Mayor Mare, and Apple Jack all looked out the window of the train to see a giant red flash up above.

“Waah!” The mares called out.

“It would appear somepony’s gotten to Rainbow Falls before us!” Rarity called out, before yelling towards the conductor. “Faster please!”

“It must be those ponies from earlier!” Mayor Mare added on. “They must’ve been in that balloon we saw rising up there.

“YEE-HAW!” Apple Jack exclaimed. “Things are getting exciting!”

Currently, inside the medical ward of the Royal Palace.

The doctors and nurses looked outside the windows of the ward, captivated by the bright red flash in the distance at Rainbow Falls.

Meanwhile, Princess Luna still lay motionless in her bed. Motionless however, until one of her eyes began to twitch in her slumber.

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