Apple Bloom scrunched up her face as she nosed her dinner around the plate. "Bored! Bored! This ain't no fun!" She looked up at the face of Big Mac, impassive as always. "Applejack said she would play a game with me, why ain't she come home?"
Big Mac stared down at his little sister dully, chewing a straw. It was the same straw that he had been chewing for the past year, at least that is what he thought. In reality Applejack had to sneakily change it every week so that it didn't become nasty. "Applejack's gone on holiday lil' one. She said she'll be gone a long time."
Apple Bloom glared quizzically up at her brother. "That don't make no sense, she would've told me!"
Big Mac huffed. "She won it from Pinkie Pie. Said it was really last minute, had to go quick. Didn't even see her pack a bag."
"How can Pinkie Pie afford to buy Applejack a holiday? She never said anything about no competition!" Apple Bloom's small form scooted down from the table. "Somethin' fishy is going on her Big Mac, an' I'm getting to the bottom of it! Wish me luck!" With that she shot out the door into the evening light.
Big Mac watched her go and settled down in front of the fire to chew his straw. It was particularly tasty today.
Apple Bloom's investigations led her to her fellow Cutie Mark Crusaders. Right into them in fact, as the little filly crashed headfirst into her friends as she ran frantically down the path. A mass of pony limbs, baskets and cupcakes flew in all directions.
Scootaloo was the first to pop her head up from the ground. "What the hay was that about, Apple Bloom! You've ruined half these cakes, AND they were for you!"
Apple Bloom giddily stood up on all fours as she watched Scootaloo shuffle round the path, carefully picking up the cupcakes that survived the crash. Sweetie Belle regained consciousness, blinking. "Help help; there's something wrong, I can only see cupcakes now!"
Scootaloo plucked the offending cupcake from its position impaled on Sweetie Belle's horn. "There, all better! Oooh, does this mean I'm a doctor?" She stared excitedly at her flank, blinking, waiting patiently for a doctor-themed cutie mark to appear. Rather expectedly, it didn't.
Sweetie Belle whipped a tartan blanket from her pack and set it on the ground. "Pinkie Pie was giving these away in town; we got a bunch for you. Picnic time!" she smiled brightly, taking a purple sparkly cupcake from Scootaloo and shoving it into her mouth. "Mmmmpf mmmmp mppppf!"
Scootaloo plonked her rear down on the blanket too, picking a yellow and pink cupcake, with a little candy butterfly on top, passing another cake to Apple Bloom. "What she means to say is that it's been ever so boring in Ponyville since Rarity won that competition!"
Apple Bloom tilted her head suspiciously. "Wait, RARITY won a competition? So did Applejack..."
Sweetie Belle nodded. "And Twilight Sparkle! And Fluttershy! She was ever so excited to be going away!" Scootaloo bit into her yellow cupcake. Apple Bloom stared at the cake her friend had passed her. It was orange and yellow.
And there was a little candy apple neatly pressed into the top.
Apple Bloom continued to look at the cupcake, her little mind ticking away. Finally she spoke. "Uh girls... don't you think there's something a bit... odd... about these cupcakes?"
"Odd? What'dya mean?" Scootaloo spoke with her mouth full; yellow crumbs spraying everywhere. "They aren't odd, they're great! Better than ever!" She pushed Apple Bloom's cake towards her. "Go on, if you won't eat it, I will!"
Apple Bloom's eyes widened in horror. "Look uh... ah don't know how to say this, but... Pinkie Pie works in a cake shop, she can't afford to send ponies on holiday. Suspiciously sudden holidays. What if she ain't sending them on holiday, what if..." she trailed off, staring down at the cake before her.
Scootaloo tilted her head. "What if she fed them cakes...?" she replied. "I don't get it."
Apple Bloom leaned forward conspiratorially. "No, what if... what if... they ARE the cakes!"
Scootaloo shook her head. "No Apple Bloom, ponies aren't cakes." She sighed. "I mean I don't know what you... oh!" Her eyes widened as it suddenly clicked in her head. "But that's ridiculous, Pinkie Pie wouldn't do that!" She stared down at the little apple cupcake, feeling a bit queasy as the cake she had just eaten felt heavy in her stomach. "Oh."
The cake sat there, the little candy apple placed on top seemingly staring accusingly at the little ponies. And then it was gone.
"Five second rule!" The three fillies jumped back with a start as Rainbow Dash swooped down from the sky, gulping down the cake with one bite. She stood there smugly, before flapping her wings for another take-off. "Waste not want not; have fun kids, *I* just won a competition! Holiday, here I come!" And with that, she shot off as quickly as she left.
Apple Bloom gulped hard, looking round. "Cutie Mark Crusader Crimefighters?" she finally stuttered out.
The sun was starting to set as the various ponies of Ponyville busied themselves before the light faded. Finally the last rays of light left the sky and silence descended; no place more silent than outside the cake shop.
That was until the bush started speaking to itself.
"There's a branch in my eye!"
"Why are we even here?"
Three heads popped out of the bush at three very uncomfortable angles. Apple Bloom glared at her friends. "Ah don't think you're taking this very seriously! We've not seen Rainbow Dash come out of there! She could be in trouble!"
"We didn't see Rainbow Dash go IN there!" Scootaloo stared impassively at Apple Bloom. "She could have gone in and left before we got here. If you hadn't INSISTED on SNEAKING the whole way to Ponyville, we could've got there at the same time as her!"
"Quit it with your fancy logic!" Apple Bloom retorted, as the little filly slowly sidled up to the window and peered in. "Ah've not seen Mr and Mrs Cake either. Maybe... maybe she got them too. Maybe..." She trailed off, her eyes wide, pupils tiny dots lost in the white, as she stared at what she saw.
"What what?" Scootaloo leapt onto Sweetie Belle's protesting head, using her as a ladder. "I wanna see - oh!"
The two ponies pressed their noses against the glass, speechless in horror. At the back of the room was the prone body of Rainbow Dash. And Pinkie Pie, standing above it.
"What? Is it a cake?" Sweetie Belle tweeted upwards. But her friends ignored her.
Scootaloo turned to Apple Bloom. "Okay, there's gotta be a reasonable explanation for this. Perhaps Rainbow Dash just uh... is tired?"
Pinkie Pie looked around her. Her voice could be heard faintly through the window, as she spoke to the body of Rainbow Dash. "Oh Dashy, you look good enough to eat. In fact..." Scootaloo gave a scream as Pinkie Pike leant down to bite a chunk out of Rainbow Dash's wing. "Mmmmm, rainbowy!"
"Ohmygodohmygod!" Scootaloo thrashed about on top of a protesting Sweetie Belle as she tried to get a foothold again. "There's gotta be an explanation, there's gotta be! This can't be what it looks like! Maybe Rainbow Dash has a joke wing on!" She scrambled back on top of Sweetie Belle's head to push her face against the window, joining an Apple Bloom frozen with fear at the drama unfolding before her.
"And now Rainbow, to put you in the mincer round the back so I can make you into delicious cupcakes!" Pinkie Pie grabbed the body of Rainbow Dash and started to drag it away.
After a moment, Scootaloo shook her head. "Maybe uh... no. No, I've got nothing."
The door to the cake shop creaked open as the three friends slipped in. "Okay, while she's out the back, we sneak in, get some evidence, then go to the mayor!" Apple Bloom hissed. "She's not making my friends and family into cupcakes and getting away with it!"
The shop was soon a whirr of pony madness as the fillies crashed about, rifling through cupboards and drawers and sweet jars. Sweetie Belle in particular spent a good deal of time 'investigating' a jar of icing. "We're getting nowhere!" Apple Bloom wailed, sitting down in a slump. "There's nothing here that's suspicious. Maybe ah WAS wrong, maybe we were seeing things earlier, maybe..."
It was at that exact point that Sweetie Belle picked up a blue jar, which with a click activated a secret trapdoor that happened to be beneath Apple Bloom. She disappeared with a crash and thud and scream as she fell down a set of hidden stairs. And then she continued to scream.
"I really hope that's a scream of joy!" Scootaloo frowned, peering down into the darkness after Apple Bloom. "Hey, you okay down there?"
"Ubba blah ubba!" echoed up the response. It was not a reassuring noise.
Slowly, Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle stepped down the creaking wooden stairs. It was like descending into hell itself. Apple Bloom was sprawled on the floor, having crashed into a pile of skulls. Candlelight flickered in the darkened basement illuminating a selection of dripping red, raggedly cut cutie marks that had been hung up on a clothesline, more skulls, and a cauldron full of something suspicious and slimy. Worse than that, the entire room was completely smeared in a sticky red substance. Scootaloo screamed.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAH!" Sweetie Belle took slightly longer to take in the view, but then she too joined in the screaming.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAH!" Apple Bloom finally regained consciousness to find herself lying on a pile of skulls and covered in what could only be blood.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAH!" A pink head bobbed up to join the three fillies. Pinkie Pie beamed. "What are we screaming about?"
Apple Bloom scooted backwards, slipping and sliding as she waved a hoof in Pinkie Pie's direction. "We... we know what you're up to! You won't get away with it! We're not scared of you!"
"YES WE ARE!" Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle shouted in unison, scrambling to race up the stairs. Apple Bloom darted after them.
"Don't worry, I'll take care of you!" Pinkie smiled, a cleaver suddenly appearing in her mouth as she hopped after the three fillies.
"I... I think she's gone!" Apple Bloom peered out of the bush. Sweetie Belle hadn't stopped twitching since leaving the basement of horrors. The three were exhausted after the chase through the night. Every time they through they'd escaped their pursuer, up had popped Pinkie Pie in defiance of all physics. But now, finally -
"I LOVE HIDE AND SEEK!" Pinkie Pie's smile suddenly appeared from inside the bush next to Apple Bloom's head. "Who're we hiding from?"
The three screamed and ran faster than they thought possible.
THREE HOURS AGO
"Gotta say, this is very generous Pinkie, are you SURE?" Rainbow Dash stood in Pinkie Pie's secret candy kitchen basement, looking at the ticket her friend had just pushed into her hoof. "You can't afford this!"
"Nono, it's okay, I have lots and lots saved up from selling cakes!" Pinkie Pie beamed. "I like to spend money on my friends; when they are happy, I am happy!" The pink pony lifted a cleaver in her mouth and used it to chop up some particularly tough candy canes. "Making candy sprinkles is hard! But little fillies like them especially!"
Rainbow Dash peered about Pinkie's workshop. "It's worth it Pinkie, your new cupcake range is super! And you've done some great work on the catering for the town Halloween party!" She took an idle bite out of a candy skull. Pinkie Pie slapped her.
"No bitey! They're difficult to make! Almost as hard as these cutie mark cake toppers! All on rice paper!" She waved a hoof at a selection of carefully traced cutie marks, all on edible paper, stacked neatly.
"Still, not sure about THAT" Rainbow Dash frowned, pointing towards Pinkie Pie's latest creation. Pinkie Pie's face fell.
"But I spent ages on the life-sized Rainbow Dash replica cake!" She carefully dusted the cake, which was uncannily like Rainbow Dash. She gave it a quick lick.
"No Pinkie, that's just WEIRD, and just a bit unlikely. I don't want any pony eating me. Now, holiday time!" With a flick of her wings, Rainbow Dash took to the sky.
Pinkie Pie frowned. "Aaaw. I guess I'll have to put it in the cake mincer and reuse it for my cupcakes. Oh Dashie, watch out for the raspberry jam!"
But it was too late. In her hurry to leave, Rainbow Dash had unbalanced a large vat of raspberry jam, which tumbled over, spilling out and flooding the basement in a thick red delicious liquid.
By the light of the moon, three little fillies hid underneath a bridge outside Ponyville, covered in mud, shivering. "Do you think we've lost her?" Scootaloo whispered.
Apple Bloom shook her head. "A few more hours Scoots, then we'll be safe. A few more hours..."