Twilight Sparkle’s eyes widened in disbelief.
“You’re throwing a party for who?”
“For Zecora!” Pinkie Pie was bubbly as she bounced up and down, holding a basket of invitations at her side. Atop her head several bright pink hearts wobbled back and forth, attached by springs to the purple banded hat which bounded up and down along with her jumping.
Twilight, preferring to use her magic whenever possible rather than her hooves, levitated the invitation forward and held it aloft for examination. The paper envelope shone with a purple glow as she suspended it in mid-air, a magical aura matching the brightness emanating from her horn.
“I figured we kinda owed her one… you know, after the whole…” Pinkie’s bouncing paused as she explained, and she looked at the ground sheepishly as her sentence ended.
“You mean the ‘Evil Enchantress’ thing?”
Pinkie Pie kicked her hoof at the ground bashfully, her pink spring-hearts still wobbling with every movement of her head. “Uh-huh…”
Twilight laughed at her friend’s uncharacteristic timidity. At least she was willing to admit when she made a mistake… and though a party wasn’t the conventional way of owning up to your errors, it was certainly the Pinkie Pie way. Smiling in resolution, Twilight nodded.
“Alright, I guess it makes sense. You can count on me to be there, Pinkie Pie.”
The pink pony immediately resumed her joyous bouncing.
“Ohhhh, great! I can’t wait, it’ll be super!”
She paused her momentum in mid-air as she raised a hoof to her mouth ponderously.
“Do Zebras like cake? Or dancing?”
Twilight giggled again as her friend, defying all logic and laws of physics, floated back down to earth as she mused on her question.
“I’m sure Zecora will be happy with whatever you have planned, Pinkie Pie. You always throw the best parties, after all.”
Pinkie’s eyes lit up, and her wobbly hat extensions threatened to fly off her head in all directions as she bounced up and down again.
“Aw gosh Twilight, thanks! I’d love to stay and chat, but I’ve got aaallll these invitations to hand out, and the rest of the party to plan! See you there?”
“See you there, Pinkie.”
The violet unicorn smiled to herself as her excited pink friend zoomed off across town in search of her next victim. Pinkie Pie’s laughter and exuberance were infectious sometimes – Twilight had been in a mood to spend the whole weekend alone in her study, but now, after only minutes with the cheerful party-pony, she was looking forward to the inevitably outlandish get-together.
“I hope Pinkie doesn’t go too crazy with this party…” she mused to herself as she wandered back inside the library, hoping to get in at least several hours studying before the festivities began.
“A party in the Everfree Forest?”
Pinkie nodded repeatedly for the second time of the day. The pony holding an invitation this time was Rarity, but Pinkie’s hoof was offering three more envelopes as well – though Twilight Sparkle enjoyed spending most of her time in solitude whenever possible, the remainder of Pinkie’s group of friends were more social creatures, and she had been fortunate to find the four of them all meeting for lunch at a café near town square.
“Uh-huh! It’s for Zecora! I thought we could throw her a big super-duper-fun- spectacular mega-awesome party to show her that we’re sorry for mis-judging her. It’s going to be a ton of fun! All the usual; plus, I’m organizing an extra special surprise!”
The town’s resident seamstress cocked an eyebrow as the other three ponies at her table stood and gathered behind her, each of them accepting one of Pinkie’s offered invitations. “A surprise? Exactly what type of surprise were you intending, dear?” Rarity had learned to be cautious of Pinkie Pie in the most common of situations, and a party for a zebra in the Everfree Forest was already setting off alarms in her head. No shame in being cautious about this, she thought to herself.
“Silly! I can’t tell you, or it wouldn’t be a surprise! Just trust me, I promise it’ll be a blast!”
Rarity turned the invitation in her hooves nervously, as her three friends each looked theirs over as well. Fluttershy had taken hers and resumed huddling behind the rest of the group, staring at the ground; though she found it far easier to come out of her shell when she was around her friends, the yellow pegasus still found Pinkie Pie’s constant exuberance a tad off-putting. She resolved herself to hiding next to the other flyer at the gathering, one Rainbow Dash, who was glaring at her invitation in mild exasperation.
“Uch… Do we have to do this tonight? I had another flying practice scheduled… and I don’t even like Zecora! She still creeps me out…”
Dash was interrupted by a hoof-shove to her shoulder, and lurched sideways before steadying herself. “Hey!”
“Rainbow Dash, I ain’t impressed with you. Zecora might be different than most folk around Ponyville, but Pinkie’s right; we owe her one for treatin’ her so poorly.”
Dash glared and crossed her forelegs at Applejack’s scolding, but quickly unfolded them letting her hooves fall to her side. She rolled her eyes in exasperation.
“Fiiine, I guess you have a point. I’ll go...”
Applejack nodded, glad to see her usually stubborn friend come around.
“We’ll be there Pinkie, no worries.” The earth-pony cast a warm sideways glance at Fluttershy, who was still staring intently at the ground. She didn’t mean to speak for the shy butter-yellow pegasus, but sometimes it was that or have nothing said for her at all.
“I’ll, um, be there too, Pinkie. Your parties are always the best…”
Pinkie’s yell sent Fluttershy upwards in a startled jump as soon as it left her mouth.
“Great! I can’t wait! I’ll see you guys there; I’ve still got TONS to do!”
With that, Pinkie Pie was off in a blur, back to Sugar Cube corner to begin the night’s preparations. Again, the pink pony left a trail of smiles in her wake.
All of the friends (aside Pinkie Pie, who was presumably still busy with last minute preparations) gathered at the ominous entrance to the Everfree Forest that evening, the path to Zecora’s house looming ahead in front of them. Slowly, they began the trek to the zebra’s home.
“I don’t know about y’all,” began Applejack, a tinge of shakiness in her southern drawl, “but this place still gives me the willies.”
The other ponies nodded in confirmation, except for Fluttershy, who was shaking nervously while holding on to Rarity’s shoulders. The white unicorn seemed to take this in stride – it wasn’t the first time Fluttershy had clung to her for reassurance, and certainly wouldn’t be the last. Rarity even smiled a little as she guided her the pegasus along with the rest of the group; knowing she was helping calm a friend’s anxious nerves was a good feeling.
The group of five ponies had only made it about halfway to their destination when they noticed the section of the forest they were walking through seemed far brighter than it should, given the time of night. Rainbow Dash, who was at the head of the procession alongside Applejack, squinted into the distance as she noticed the increase in luminosity. Pink light… that definitely wasn’t something normal, Everfree Forest or otherwise.
Dash cocked her head sideways in confusion, and looked back at her friends. “Does anypony know if that’s normal in this forest?” A chorus of shaking heads was her only answer. At the very least, the intangible pink spotlight brightened the otherwise gloomy atmosphere that pervaded the woods normally.
Less fearful, but still cautiously, the gang proceeded ahead to their destination, the thought arising in their minds that, yes, this was a Pinkie Pie Party, where the only rule seemed to be: expect the unexpected. For Fluttershy, this was practically a sentence of impending discomfort; the timid pegasus didn’t deal well with surprises. Her shaking continued as she huddled in the back of the assembly.
After what seemed like an eternity of walking, the five at last came to a break in the ever-present drooping leaves and winding trees that shrouded every corner previously. There in front of them was a small, naturalistic hut they only barely recognized; This time, partly because of the multicoloured floodlights bathing the entryway path in prismatic light. Apparently, the pink glow had only been the start of an entire arrangement of chromatic illumination.
The spectacle was impressive, causing the ponies to ooh and ah at the work Pinkie had put into the party preparations. Even Fluttershy, normally too quiet to speak up even in a sea of assenting opinions, joined in the gasps of astonishment at the rainbow-path leading up to Zecora’s home. Pinkie must have quite a party planned, Twilight thought as the five friends made their way to the bamboo door. Even though the bookish unicorn had been back several times since her initial visit in the interest of developing a rapport with the formerly alienated zebra, the dwelling still wasn’t familiar to her – she hoped dearly that Pinkie hadn’t made too much of a mess of things in her party arrangements.
Twilight was just about to lower her hoof to knock when the door swung open inwards, sending her sprawling awkwardly forward before landing clumsily on her face, her foreleg now jutting at an awkward angle as she landed on it in her confusion.
“Hey guys, you made it! Come on in!”
The voice was not the one Twilight had initially expected; instead of Zecora’s mystical rhyming cadence, the familiar brightness of Pinkie Pie’s always slightly too loud yelling greeted the group.
Twilight groaned in mild annoyance, preparing to pick herself up off the ground.
“Twilight, what are you doing down there? It is a nice floor, but the real party’s up here!”
A deadpan glare was the only response as Pinkie helped the purple unicorn up to her feet. “Thanks, Pinkie…” she grumbled before dusting herself off.
“No problemo, Twilight! You know me, always willing to help somepony in need! Come on in, we need to get this party started!”
Playing her role as party-planner and gracious host (or assistant host to a homeowner, in this case), Pinkie beckoned her guests inside, waving her hoof in an exaggerated usher impersonation, leading the ponies inside to their first real casual visit to the hut they had previously labeled as a den of the occult. This time, things certainly looked… different.
The tribal masks adorning the walls still remained, but they had been covered in an assortment of ribbons and streamers, some of which hung low enough to touch the dirt floor of the hut. Totems still stood in strategic locations around the surprisingly spacious room, but now they wore party hats, and glowing lights blinked on and off on several of them in multicoloured hues. In the center of the den, a large disco ball hung from the roof, hovering over the padded floor previously home to a large ominous cauldron; now, in its place, was a tub of mixed candies and various party-favors. The whole house had been – Pinkie-fied.
It certainly made the ponies feel more at home.
“This is quite a job you’ve done with the place, dear. I must say you have a knack for livening up a room.” Rarity smiled at the party decorations that protruded from nearly every corner of the area. True, some of the choices were a little… tacky, for her tastes… but ultimately Pinkie had succeeded in making Zecora’s little shack a hospitable place for a cheerful get-together.
“Aw, thanks Rarity, I worked super hard on it! I just hope Zecora likes it…”
Twilight’s voice perked up in shock as Pinkie finished her sentence.
“Pinkie – what do you mean you ‘hope’ Zecora likes it? You mean you haven’t shown her yet?!”
The pink party-planner shook her head emphatically. “Nopey dopey! I thought it would be more fun if it was a surprise, so I asked her to go get some herbs while I partied everything up! Do you think she’ll mind?” she placed a hoof to her mouth in contemplation as she pondered the issue for seemingly the first time.
“Wait… so y’all did at least tell her there was gonna be a party, didn’t ya’?” Applejack attempted to assess the situation lest Twilight’s head exploded from onset panic.
Pinkie Pie giggled at the question. “Of course I did! I’m not that loopy, you guys; throwing a party in somepony – er, somezebra’s house you barely know! I just didn’t want her to see all the decorations before you guys got here!”
Twilight sighed in relief. “Phew. You had me worried there for a second, I almost thought – Hey, wait a minute. You threw a party in my house the first day I moved to town, and we hadn’t even spoken yet!”
Pinkie Pie’s eyes drifted off in thought again as she furrowed her brow in thought. “Oh… yeah, I guess I did! Huh. Well, there’s an exception to every rule, I suppose!”
Twilight felt a nervous twitch in her right eye at Pinkie’s ability to so easily discard an obvious contradiction of logic. Anticipating the possibility of one of the unicorn’s agitated rants, Rarity stepped forward to speak.
“Well, as I said before, Pinkie, it’s quite lovely. I’m sure Zecora will adore it.”
Pinkie Pie clapped and giggled, always brazen in her displays of cheerfulness. “I hope so too. Once she gets back we can get started – is everypony ready to get down?” She laughed and flipped in the air, displaying a mastery of dancing physics that seemed to arise spontaneously, spinning on her head yelling exaggerated ‘Woo!’s before halting her momentum in a classic break-dance finish pose, leaning her head on her hoof.
Laughter was the only logical response, and everyone present giggled at Pinkie’s display of spontaneity.
“Pinkie Pie, you are so random!” Rainbow Dash chuckled as she patted her friend on the shoulder. Pinkie only smiled wide in response, already a beacon of excitement before the party had even started in earnest.
“Oh my goodness…” a new voice interrupted the ponies' giggles, a largely unfamiliar intonation gracing their ears. In silence, the six girls turned to the house’s back entrance, the door wide open behind Zecora as she stared the scene in front of her.
Pinkie Pie’s yell broke the silence.
“Surpriiiiiiise! Do you like it?”
The zebra’s mouth hung wide open in astonishment as she struggled to form a sentence to articulate her reaction. Meanwhile, the five ponies, more situationaly aware than their oblivious pink friend, huddled together, eyes wide, fearing the worst.
Pinkie’s gaze ballooned in anticipation. Finally, Zecora seemed to collect her thoughts, and cleared her throat before speaking. Her expression did not belie any frustration with the situation.
“If I seemed upset, I do apologize, these party decorations are quite a nice surprise!”
A sigh of relief washed over the small group of anxious ponies, and Pinkie Pie shouted an emphatic “Yes!” before pumping her hoof into the air. Zecora smiled warmly at her guests, still taking in the changes to her normally nondescript dwelling; Pinkie certainly knew how to make things exciting…
“Hey everypony- er, and zebra- we’re all here, so let’s get this party started!”
As if purely on the cue of her suggestion, Pinkie Pie’s arrangement of wicked party jams began blaring, pumping the reverberating bass through the floor of the shack, shaking the streamer covered masks on the walls with each beat. Sprinkles of confetti rained from the roof as the dance music began to play, and the disco ball at the room’s center started to spin, showering everyone in its multicoloured shimmering rays of light.
Quite a night so far, and the party had only just begun.
Several hours had passed since the beginning of the evening, and the party was still in full swing. Pinkie Pie’s exuberance seemed to never die down, and each time she detected one of her friends taking a breather from the dancing and festivities she would sidle up to them, bobbing back and forth, urging them to get back up and continue having fun. Pinkie seemed, for all intents and purposes, to be a pony without an off switch.
Zecora had seemed a tad nervous at the night’s start, but after some enthusiastic cajoling from Pinkie she had joined the ponies in earnest, laughing over punch and cake and joining in for dancing as well. Every pony had taken a moment aside to apologize again in for their previous suspicions, and Zecora had assured them in her usual rhyming that, it was no trouble, really.
Twilight seemed to be the only one with anything on her mind as the night continued, and she kept giving nervous sideways glances towards the door, as if she half expected a crazed Manticore or other forest creature to come barreling through it at any moment. Eventually, Rainbow Dash noticed her friend’s apparent anxiousness, and attempted to question her about it over the roar of the music.
“Twilight, is there something on your mind? You seem a little… worried.”
The unicorn had shrugged with an awkward smile, before looking around her conspiratorially, and leaning in to whisper level with Rainbow Dash.
“It’s probably nothing… but Pinkie said earlier she was planning another big ‘surprise’ later in the night, and I still haven’t seen anything… I’m just a tiny bit scared it’s going to be something… disastrous.” Twilight’s tone flattened into a deadpan as she finished her explanation.
“Oh come on Twi, you’re totally over thinking it. Pinkie Pie’s parties are always a little wild, but they’re not that bad-“
“I know, I know! I just can’t shake the feeling that something is going to happen…”
Almost on cue, Pinkie Pie bounded over to her friends, bouncing excitedly.
“Hey girls, whatcha chattin’ about over here? Are you having as good a time as I am?”
Rainbow Dash and Twilight both nodded awkwardly, not sure how to explain the nature of their conversation. The chromatic blue pegasus attempted to answer the second question, while ignoring the first.
“Yeah, we’re having a great time, Pinkie. You always-“
“-throw the best parties! Aw, you guys always say that.” Pinkie giggled at her friend’s surprise as she finished the sentence for them. “Twilight… is there something on your mind? You don’t look like you’re having enough fun!”
Twilight shuffled her hooves nervously as Pinkie changed the focus of her attention.
“I’m fine, Pinkie Pie, I was just wondering… about that surprise you were planning…”
“It… it’s not anything that’s going to be… dangerous, or anything like that, is it?”
Instead of an immediate answer, Pinkie placed her hoof on her chin thoughtfully.
“You know, I’m not sure.”
Twilight’s mouth gaped open.
“I dunno if it could be dangerous! I mean, I don’t think so… don’t see why it would be!”
Rainbow Dash interjected, placing her hoof comfortingly on Twilight’s back as she spoke.
“Pinkie… what do you mean you don’t know? What is this surprise anyway?”
“It’s a show! I saw a flier in my mailbox that was advertising some kind of entertainment; said it was great for parties, so I figured I’d give it a shot! Not that I’m not the BEST at throwing parties, but I thought this one called for something special.”
Twilight shook her head to clear her thoughts before speaking again, her eyes still wide in shock.
“You mean you just ordered some random entertainment to show up in the middle of the party and you don’t even know what it’s supposed to be?!”
“Nope!” Pinkie shook her head and laughed. “Don’t worry Twilight, I’m sure it’ll be great! Whatever it is, it’s supposed to be showing up soon, now that you mention it…”
She had no sooner finished her sentence when a knock on the wooden door punctuated the ‘unce-unce’ of the party music. Whomever it was knocking made sure to do so very loudly.
All of the party guests turned to look at the house’s entrance. Apparently only Twilight had remembered Pinkie’s planned ‘surprise’, so confusion was the common look on the faces of everyone present as they mentally took a tally of the rest of the guests; the six from Ponyville, and Zecora – nopony else had been expected, or, to their knowledge, invited. Their contemplation was interrupted by a shout from the door.
“Royal Guard; Open up!”
That hadn’t been what anyone was expecting.
“What? Pinkie, this isn’t your surprise, is it?” Twilight asked with a worried look on her face. Pinkie only gazed back puzzled.
“I don’t think so…”
Again the knock came at the door, more insistent this time.
“Royal Guard, open the door!”
The party-goers looked around the room nervously. Had one of them done something befitting of a visit from Celestia’s task force? Zecora especially looked anxious – she was already unused to having visitors in the first place, but an unannounced check up from the Royal Guard…
Twilight took the initiative, halting the blaring music with a quick spell, before walking to the door. She gulped nervously, and looked back at her friends as if to say ‘Be cool!’ before opening it. A stone-faced white pegasus in a blue and gold uniform stared back at her from outside.
“Is there a problem, er, officer?” Twilight’s voice was thick with the nervousness that impeded all ponies when faced with a member of law-bearing authority; the worry that somehow, despite an otherwise perfectly law-abiding existence, you could at any moment be arrested for a minor infraction you had no knowledge of committing.
The Guard didn’t hesitate before shoving past the lilac unicorn and entering the house. “We’ve had noise complaints from citizens in town, and I’ve been dispatched to ensure everything is in order.”
While his explanation was simple, his tone was hostile and unpleasant, strictly businesslike without a glow of warmth present.
Twilight was glancing around the party nervously. “Noise complaint? But surely…”
Her awkward excuse was cut off by a raised hoof from the guard, indicating his desire for silence. Almost as if by magic, her mouth immediately shut.
“Is the owner of this residence present?” He demanded curtly.
Slowly, the group of ponies fanned out around the lone zebra present, leaving Zecora sitting awkwardly in the center of attention – she had taken a moment to rest on a wooden chair before the interruption, and now that she had been singled out by the guard’s focus, proximity seemed like a death sentence.
Zecora’s words were shaky, but remained steadfast in her normal cadence.
“This humble abode is solely mine, how can I help you at this time?”
The guard cocked an eyebrow at the rhyming zebra, but otherwise displayed no change in his expression.
“On behalf of the authority of Princess Celestia’s Royal Guard, I’m afraid I’ll need to have a few words with you.” He began to approach the awkwardly sitting zebra, but paused halfway, giving a tilt of his head to Pinkie Pie.
Pinkie’s was still standing befuddled with the rest of her friends, and it took her a moment to register that she was being spoken to. After several seconds, however, her eyes shone with understanding, and smile broke out as she hopped over to the music-player. The other five ponies watched her, aghast, as she placed a CD in the spinner, and a new soundtrack began booming from the speakers – a funky bass line and intoxicating rhythm washed over the house and its guests.
As the music began playing, the white pegasus smiled suggestively at the confused Zecora sitting in front of him.
“So… I hear you’ve been a bad girl.”
Zecora’s mouth hung open in shock as the Royal Guard turned slowly around her chair to the beat of the music, placing his hooves on her shoulders as he stood behind her. She felt a whisper of breath on her ear as he leaned in and whispered.
“I guess you’ll have to be dealt with…”
All the other ponies in the room were too stunned to react, having gone from thinking they were about to be arrested to witnessing a seductive dance routine right in front of them. The supposed Royal Guard pegasus was now in front of Zecora, and was shaking his hips suggestively to the beat of the music. As his flank continued to gyrate, he raised a hoof to the clasp of his breast-plate, and slowly began to unfasten it. The metal top-piece slid off his shoulder as he leaned forward and winked at the astonished zebra in front of him, before raising his hoof to the other buckle, and loosening it. The armor fell forward, and he held it on his chest for a moment, before slowly sliding it downward, revealing a coat of soft, white fur.
Zecora had no idea how to respond – she could only mumble to herself incomprehensibly in a language nopony present recognized. “Looh ajabu, jinsi aibu ...”
The ‘guard’ was still smiling as he discarded his now unstrapped breastplate to the floor, and slid his hooves sensually down the front of his body toward the clasp for his lower armor…
“This is pretty good so far, don’t you think guys?”
Pinkie’s inquiry was met only with blank stares from the rest of the ponies, most of them still fixated on the ‘entertainment’ before them. Only Rainbow Dash seemed uninterested, and was glaring sulkily at the wall as her friends gazed affixed to the stripping pegasus. Pinkie Pie evidently had not planned to wait for an answer.
“Woo, take it off!”
The ‘guard’ winked at her suggestively.
“With pleasure, m’am.” he said, followed by the clicking of unfastened armor straps.
Zecora and the ponies watched (Rainbow Dash aside) as he slowly removed his outfit’s lower plating...
The sun broke peacefully over the trees of the Everfree forest, shining every erstwhile ray of light it could into the normally dark and dreary woodlands. Happy morning birds broke out in song, and creatures crawled sleepily from their burrows to greet the new day.
At Zecora’s hut, a sluggish procession of ponies were beginning their trek back to Ponyville. The last of the group to exit the hut, Rainbow Dash rubbed her eyes and yawned before patting Zecora’s shoulder amicably.
“Thanks for having us over Z, you really know how to host a shindig!”
Zecora smiled back wearily, also tired from the night’s festivities. She managed a short reply.
“Not at all, it was quite fun, thank you for coming everyone.”
A chorus of nods and brief acknowledgements was the response from the group before they left, echoing Rainbow Dash’s thanks. Everypony had already thanked Zecora for the party, but it had indeed been quite a night, so perhaps a little extra wouldn’t hurt.
Pinkie Pie was the only one who seemed to have any energy left over from the evening, and was still bouncing up and down as she joined her friends on the trot back home.
“Thanks again Zecora, it was a blast! Can we do it again sometime soon, can we?”
Zecora nodded wearily.
“Last night truly was one of the best, perhaps again soon, after a little rest.”
Pinkie giggled with glee as she hopped down the trail from the lone shack in the middle of the forest, seemingly undaunted by the journey back to town. Zecora smiled as her new friends departed, leaning on the doorway of her hut as she watched the ponies walk off in to the distance. She sighed in contentment before a voice perked up behind her.
“Zecora, are you coming back to bed?”
A smirking white face was peeking out from the entrance to Zecora’s bedroom, a lop-sided guard helmet still sitting atop his head.