You Bet Your Flank
The Great and Powerful Trixie leaned over onto her thousand-bit massage couch, lost in thought. In the months that had followed the Ponyville atrocity (Trixie could think of no better way to describe the attack on her character done by those vicious Ponyville residents), she had prepared her backup trailer and supplies, hoping to pick up right where she left off touring Equestria.
While she hadn’t yet received her replacement cape from that ostentatious Hoity Toity (who kept feeding her a line about “trying out a new designer,” which Trixie just thought was an excuse to charge her more), she had decided to go forward with her first show after the Ponyville incident anyways. She had scheduled for it to take place in Central Park in Manehattan a mere week after her Ponyville appearance, but after explaining the situation to the event coordinators they had agreed to set a new date. After all, The Great and Powerful Trixie was a big name in the magic circuit. Maybe not Hoofdini-big, even Trixie was willing to admit, but big nonetheless.
Trixie had been a bit worried about Manehattan’s relative proximity to Ponyville coming back to haunt her, but she ultimately decided that the hustle and bustle of the big city should preclude a handful of ponies stumbling upon another one of her shows and heckling her. Besides, she had figured that the media attention that Manehattan receives would be more than worth the risk.
It was during Trixie’s first return show that she was discovered by a big shot Manehattan executive, who decided that her brash and blunt personality would be perfect for a new television show he was working on, and even told her as much. Trixie had thought “brash” and “blunt” were a weird way of saying “Great and Powerful,” but she nonetheless graciously took the offer.
Television had been around for many years in Equestria, but it had only really taken off in the more urban areas; and game shows were currently the cream of the crop for popularity. Trixie had never really understood the appeal of TV. Going on TV to show how stupid you were, particularly the ponies who went on that show where they were outsmarted by fillies and colts young enough to not even have their Cutie Mark, was not something Trixie could wrap her mind around. Nevertheless, she loved the opportunity to practice her stagecraft as a host in front of a larger audience.
“You Bet Your Flank” launched on the two month anniversary of the day all of Ponyville conspired to ruin Trixie (the irony of which was not lost on her), and was an immediate success. Ponies loved Trixie’s scathing jokes made at the contestants’ expense, and sometimes they even learned something. By the end of the first month it was one of the most popular shows in all of Equestria. After two months Trixie was promoted to an Executive Producer position, and by the third she was making 6 figures per episode.
The show had even been spun off into a successful version designed for kids with the unimaginative name “You Bet Your Flank: Kids Edition”; which as far as Trixie could tell was the exact same thing, only the questions were easier and if you answered one wrong you had green slime poured on your head.
This brought Trixie to her current line of thought. She smiled at her reflection in the mirror she had been using to brush her hair. If those backwoods Ponyvillians (she chuckled at the pun) knew that their actions conspired to make Trixie what she is today... Especially that lavender one. What was her name? Twilight Sprinkle? At that thought, her brow furrowed as her heat sank. Wait! When I was there, I didn’t see a single TV! There wasn’t even an electronics store. And that “Twilight Sprinkle” is such a bookworm that I bet she practically lives in a library. What if they don’t know that their actions conspired to make me more Great and Powerful than I was when I met them?
A good 5 minutes had passed of Trixie mulling over the implications of that last thought before a report came from her door.
“Um, Miss Great and Powerful Trixie?” called a young assistant from outside her trailer, knocking on the door. She had never quite been able to remember the colt’s name, but she knew it rhymed with “Avocado” and that he had a cutie mark of a computer mouse on his flank. “The producers wanted me to tell you congratulations on today’s episode, and you’re needed to help screen contestants for Wednesday’s episode.”
Luckily the young colt couldn’t see into the trailer, because he would no doubt have been unsettled by the large grin appearing on Trixie’s face.
“Rainbow Dash, I see you up there!” shouted the orange earth pony, scanning the top of one of her apple trees. “It’s a wonder we ever have any apples to harvest when you spend all your time eatin’ ‘em all.” A dismissive hoof wave was all Applejack expected as a response, but she was surprised to hear actual acknowledgment from her friend.
“Chill out Applejack” replied the cyan pegasus. “I’m just tired from working so hard this morning.” She made sure to punctuate her statement with the hoof wave she knew Applejack was expecting.
“Rainbow, its Monday. You aren’t scheduled to work on Monday, an’ you hardly work on the days you are scheduled to work. In fact, I saw you fly into that tree this mornin’ at 6 while Granny Smith was makin’ breakfast, which means you had to get up early today just so you could come over here an’ sleep in mah tree.”
“What’s your point?” Dash replied, having completely ignored the implication.
“Mah point is, you spend so much time moochin’ off of us that I had that mailmare friend of yours start deliverin’ your mail here instead of your house. I bet you haven’t even noticed, have you?” Applejack noted dryly, realizing she was already losing the attention of the young pegasus.
“That would explain why I haven’t been getting my issues of ‘Wonderbolts Weekly’ anymore” Dash retorted, making sure Applejack could feel the sarcasm. “And why you put up that second mailbox with ‘Rainbow Dash’ written on the side. And why I’ve been coming here every day at noon to get my mail. And why I sometimes come a little early and snack on apples while I wait for the mail to come.”
Applejack recoiled from the barrage, realizing her practical joke had just blown up in her face. “Ah… well… yeah” she managed to stammer out. She motioned towards the saddlebags she had brought with her before she spoke. “Anyway, I have a letter for you from the Colt Broadcasting System- Hey!”
She hadn’t been able to finish her sentence before the pegasus had bolted from the tree, colliding with the earth pony and sending them both rolling to the ground. When the stars cleared from Applejacks eyes, she looked to her left to see her friend rapidly tearing into the envelope in question.
“OMIGOSHOMIGOSHOMIGOSHOMIGOSH” Rainbow managed to force out between the occasional fangirl squee. “They are going to do my special ‘A Day with the Wonderbolts.’ I’ve been writing them for years to try to get them to do it!”
“A Day with the Wonderbolts?” Applejack asked, more curious than annoyed at her friend’s behavior.
“Yeah. It’s an idea I had when I was a little filly. I have a camera crew, and we follow the Wonderbolts around, watching them do stuff. Not being seen of course, so we catch them in their natural element. We do it for 24 hours, and then we cut the footage up to make an hour long special. It will be great!” Dash explained, currently being thwarted by a second, smaller envelope that was inside the first one.
“Excuse me for sayin’ this, Rainbow, but that sounds an awful lot like ‘A Day Stalkin’ the Wonderbolts.’” Applejack deadpanned.
“Don’t be ridiculous. Haven’t you ever seen a nature show? They have ponies follow dangerous creatures all the time. Manticores and cocktrices and sometimes even dragons. Is that stalking?” Dash responded, too caught in her task to catch the tone of Applejack’s statement.
“Yes. And do you even have a TV?”
“Of course I do. Even Fluttershy has a TV. Who in Equestria doesn’t have a TV these days?” Dash asked rhetorically, regretting it as soon as the words left her mouth.
“Twilight” was the instantaneous response from both ponies, causing Dash to facehoof for a moment before returning back to her work. Applejack chuckled to herself at her friend’s response to her own question.
“Ah ha! Take that envelope!” Dash soon yelled in triumph, her war with the second envelope having finally come to an end.
Applejack couldn’t help but roll her eyes at the devastation spread out on the ground before her. Small pieces of confetti covered the ground within a foot radius of the cheerful pegasus. Applejack noted that there were an awful lot of words on some of the scraps of paper, but she ignored her curiosity for a moment.
“You know, normally to open a letter you do it from the flap they use to close it…” she began, but stopped herself as she saw the odd look on her friend’s face. “What is it Sugar Cube? A restrainin’ order from the TV people?”
“Worse.” Dash replied. “It’s a letter from ‘The Great and Powerful Trixie’”
“All done!” Pinkie exclaimed, turning to everypony to show off her handiwork as Applejack came into the room. “Welcome back Applejack” she waved, giggling at her rhyme.
The five friends had gathered in Twilight’s library. Spike had awoken at the news of a letter from Trixie, but his own personal embarrassment over the incident combined with his want to spend his Monday doing something other than cleaning up books had conspired to drive him back to sleep before Twilight had even left the room. Fluttershy had been busy with her animals when Applejack went to give her the news, and it took several minutes for Applejack to convince Fluttershy that her work was more important than whatever silliness the rest of the friends would have to deal with involving Trixie. Rainbow Dash probably could have done it faster, but she was still quite embarrassed over her role in the proceedings that morning.
As it turned out, the only one of them to not get a letter had been Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie. In order to remember to deliver Rainbow Dash’s letters to Applejack’s house, Derpy had been putting Applejack and Rainbow Dash’s letters in a larger envelope and separating them upon delivery. As she was in a rush, she had forgotten to separate the letters before she delivered them that morning, and Rainbow Dash had completely destroyed Applejack’s letter in her haste to open hers. Pinkie had spent the last 20 minutes taping the letter back together while Twilight read through the other three.
“Thank you kindly for your help, Pinkie. I just hope in the future somepony doesn’t get whipped up into such a frenzy that she goes destroyin’ other ponies’ mail” Applejack said, giving Rainbow Dash the stink eye. Dash’s face turned a shade of red as she sheepishly looked away.
“Don’t worry. I LOVE puzzles!” said the bouncing pink earth pony.
“Thank you Pinkie.” Twilight responded, lifting the letter up to her face with her magic. “As I expected. The letter is basically the same as the ones received by myself, Rarity and Rainbow. The insults are a bit different, but the overall message seems to be the same. We are all invited to be potential contestants on a “game show,” and Trixie is somehow involved.”
“That mare!” Rarity exclaimed, putting as much venom as possible into the word. “It took me days of washing to get my mane back to its former beauty!”
“You mean The Great and Powerful Trixie?!” gasped Pinkie, appearing next to Twilight to read the letter. “I LOVE ‘You Bet Your Flank’!”
To her credit, Twilight had become so used to Pinkie’s outburst that she didn’t feel surprised at all that Pinkie had managed to cross the room without anypony noticing. “The very same. But what is ‘You Bet Your Flank’?” she asked.
“Silly filly. It’s only the best game show EVER. Me and Mrs. Cake watch it every Wednesday afternoon! It has the Great and Powerful Trixie and she asks ponies questions which they answer for money!” was the reply.
“But what is a game show?” asked Twilight.
“Well, it depends on the show. Sometimes you have to guess the price of groceries, and then you get to spin a big wheel. Sometimes you have to guess letters in a word, and then you get to spin a big wheel. And sometimes, when you are all done, you have to spin a big wheel to determine what you have won!” Pinkie explained, her excitement building with each sentence.
“So what do you have to do to spin the wheel in ‘You Bet Your Flank’?” Twilight asked, worried about what the answer may be with Trixie involved.
“Twilight, don’t be silly” Pinkie admonished, patting the lavender unicorn on the head. “There’s no wheel in ‘You Bet Your Flank’!”
“I… what?” Twilight managed to get out, the confusion visible on her face.
After settling with Rarity to only bring one item from Carousel Boutique rather than the entire contents of the store on the trip (“Sugar Cube, if we’re gonna be on TV I’m sure they have all the same makeup and dresses that you have.”), the group had managed to make relatively good time. Fluttershy had stopped by as they were on their way out of the library to give each of them a small bagged lunch, saving them two trips; and as soon as they were able to thank Fluttershy for the lunches and convince her to stop apologizing for not being able to go with them (“Really, Fluttershy, we are probably just going to end up getting in trouble again. Don’t worry about it.”), they had set out in Twilight’s balloon.
The trip the Manehattan had largely been a peaceful one, with the only incident being when Rainbow Dash and Pinkie switched Pinkie’s lunch with Twilight’s. That little practical joke ended up requiring a 5 minute pit stop as Rainbow Dash was forced to carry the fire-breathing Twilight down to the nearest stream to get a drink of water before she blew the balloon up, but otherwise everything was uneventful. After they had finished lunch, each pony had decided to spend the trip doing their own thing. Rainbow Dash had taken a nap, Rarity had taken out her dressmaking supplies and started working on a purple piece of fabric, Pinkie had gotten a pen and piece of paper from somewhere and started drawing things on it (occasionally giggling at her creations), and Applejack was content with simply admiring the view to be seen from the balloon.
Twilight, however, couldn’t help but use the time to wonder about what Trixie might have planned for them. As much as she disliked the braggart when she had shown up in Ponyville, she had come to realize that the events which transpired on that day had been bad for everypony involved with them. From Trixie’s grandstanding to her friend’s heckling to Spike’s aggressiveness to Snips and Snails ultimately dragging an Ursa into town, the events of that day would have probably been better off forgotten.
And yet, here they all were taking a balloon ride to go see Trixie and maybe even be on her show when they could just as easily have sent out letters declining the offer or at the very least asking for more information. She noted to herself that she would ask Princess Celestia when they got back home why ponies sometimes choose the least logical solution to a problem even when they know it is the least logical solution.
“So, Pinkie, how long has this show been on the air?” Twilight asked, attempting to derail her inner thoughts for a while.
“Not that long. Mrs. Cake heard about it from her sister, and she asked me if I wanted to watch the first episode with her. It was really funny how Trixie keeps making fun of the contestants when they answer questions wrong, so I asked Mrs. Cake if we could watch it all the time, and she said yes! I think we’ve watched it 15 times since then.” Pinkie exclaimed, beginning to bounce with excitement again.
“So, about 4 months then?” Twilight asked, doing the math up in her head. At this response, Pinkie sat down and lifted up her hoof.
“Let’s see, 4 weeks in a month.” She stared at her hoof and counted to four. “And we’ve watched it 4...”
She brought up another.
Her final hoof.
“16 weeks. And that’s 4 hooves. So, yep, 4 months!” Pinkie finished, a big smile appearing ear to ear on her face.
Twilight was about to ask just what Pinkie was counting, but she noticed Applejack shaking her head and decided to let it go. “So, Pinkie, how does Trixie look? Is she alright?”
“Of course, silly. They don’t let sick people on TV. Everypony watching would get sick!”
Twilight, having had her question answered close enough to her satisfaction, opted to not explain the error in that thought process. Unfortunately, Rarity chose this time to look up from her work.
“Darling, I don’t believe germs work that way.”
“Miss Great and Powerful Trixie?” came a call from the door.
Trixie expressed a sigh of contempt, making sure that it was loud enough to be heard from the outside. How is Trixie supposed to concentrate on concocting such brilliant plans of revenge when a certain brown colt keeps interrupting her when she was thinking of them!?
“What is the meaning of this disturbance this time?” She said, throwing open the door.
“Er, well, Miss Great and Powerful Trixie, the producers wanted me to tell you that the ponies you… er, suggested be potential contestants on Wednesday’s episode have all agreed to take part in the contestant selection process. They should be arriving on the set later today.” He paused briefly before receiving a nod of encouragement to continue. “Also, the billboard you… er, requested be put up on the corner of 34th and 9th is assembled in place as I speak.”
“Excellent…” Trixie grinned to herself, putting her front hooves together.
“What did you say, ma’am?” sputtered the assistant, almost afraid of the answer.
“Oh, nothing. Keep me updated on future details.”
And with that, she abruptly closed the door, just narrowly avoiding smashing the assistant’s nose into it.
One crash-course in microbiology later (one that bothered Rainbow Dash so much that she had woken up twice to complain about how boring it was before going back to sleep), and the group arrived at their destination. The ponies had arrived about an hour ahead of schedule, and they decided to make the most of their time in the city. After the Equestrian Agriculture Conference and Exhibition took place, Applejack had made it a point to tell all of her friends the story of how she got her Cutie Mark, so she offered her services to be a pseudo tour guide for the group to the best of her abilities while they were in Manehattan.
Rarity had opted to stay in the hotel to continue working on the fabric she had brought, having been to Manehattan with Applejack not too long before, muttering something about “looming deadlines” and “the client is always right.” Pinkie had decided to stay back as well, for reasoning the remaining three ponies could only assume would end up being party related.
“An’ that’s the famous Waldorf Horstoria hotel.” Applejack explained, pointing to her left. “That’s the place that Celestia herself stays in when she’s visitin’ the city. If we have time later, we might be able to go inside an’ see how fancy it is.”
As the ponies rounded the corner to their hotel, Applejack attempted her best impression of a tour-guide voice. “Ah. An’ here’s where you ponies will be stayin’. The famous no-tell motel on 34th Street. Nothing but the most fancy of lodgin’, courtesy of The Great an’ Powerful Trixie. An’ so ends Applejack’s Big Apple Tours” she said with a smirk as they came to the door of the building. “Please come again!”
“Applejack, you only showed us like four things. And one of them was your aunt and uncle’s house!” Rainbow Dash quipped, opening the front door to the hotel.
Twilight quickly shushed her before she caused another escalating prank war like what had happened at the Running of the Leaves.
“Thank you, Applejack, for showing us around Manehattan. It really is a beautiful city, and we’re glad that you’ve been here before and can teach us about it.” She said, hoping Applejack would take her praise at face value.
Twilight really is a horrible liar Applejack thought to herself, pushing the button for the elevator. Still, I get what she’s trying to do.
“No problem, Twi’. Any time at all.” She said, staring Rainbow Dash right in the eyes as the pegasus walked into the elevator. She switched to the Manehattanite accent she had learned as a filly. “Really, it was my pleasure.”
“Yeah yeah. I get it.” Rainbow replied, pushing the button to the second floor.
The rest of the journey to the room was a silent one, though Twilight was pretty sure Dash and Applejack spent the whole thing making faces at each other. When they came to the room, Twilight knocked on the door.
“Rarity, Pinkie, open up. It’s us.”
“Hello? Anypony in there?”
“Maybe Pinkie is throwing another party and it isn’t finished yet?” Rainbow Dash thought aloud.
“That would be silly, Dashie. Why would I throw a party in the hallway?”
All three of the ponies jumped. “Pinkie!?”
Applejack was the first to regain her composure. “Why aren’t you inside with Rarity?
“Rarity’s no fun when she is complaining.” Pinkie explained to the benefit of no one.
Rainbow Dash caught the implication the fastest. “Wait, Pinkie. When you say complaining, do you mean complaining, or COMPLAINING?”
“Well, she started talking as if she was performing in a play.”
A collective groan from the three ponies showed that all of their fears had been confirmed.
Muffled sounds could be heard coming from outside the room. Rarity heard them, but didn’t feel up to paying attention to their meaning.
“How do we get in?”
“Pinkie, why can’t you open the door?”
“Because, silly, I need the key to do that.”
The response seemed to be the sound of a slap.
“Don’t be blamin’ Pinkie for this. You were the one who said we didn’t need to take the key with us ‘cause it would ‘weigh us down.’”
“Dashie, why do you keep hitting yourself in the face with your hoof?”
“Okay everypony, let’s just go down to the front desk and get a spare key. We’ll drop it back off as soon as we find out what is wrong with… APPLEJACK DON’T-"
Suddenly, Rarity found the light from the outside flooding into the room, along with several pieces of what was the door. She looked towards the door to see Applejack with her hind legs in the air in roughly the same position of where the door had been.
“-do that.” Twilight finished.
“So if you finished what you were working on, and it doesn’t need to be done until Friday, what is the problem?” Twilight asked, finally haven gotten Rarity to open up. Pinkie, and Applejack were busy picking up the shattered remains for the door, and Rainbow Dash had gone down to the front desk to apologize in advance for the damage caused to the room.
“Don’t you see? It is a tragedy to make such a fine piece for such an unworthy client!” Rarity explained, pointing towards the dress with a melodramatic wave.
“But I thought that dress was for Hoity Toity?” Twilight asked.
“Cloak, dear. And it is, but I just now realized-"
She was interrupted as Rainbow Dash came bolting into the room. “Guys, look out the window!” she said, motioning towards the large window the covered the East wall of the hotel room currently obscured by a heavy black curtain.
Twilight shot Dash a look for interrupting Rarity’s explanation, but her curiosity overcame her as she trotted over to the window and drew back the curtain, the light from the outside blinding her momentarily.
As Twilight’s eyes adjusted to the increase brightness, she found herself nearly face to face with the 20ft. grinning visage of a certain azure unicorn with flowing silver hair. To the left were some words explaining the advertisement.
You Bet Your Flank
The GREAT and POWERFUL TRIXIE
Wednesdays @ Noon on The Colt Broadcasting System
Rainbow Dash was the first to speak up. “What kind of egomaniac puts her name in bigger font than the show she hosts?”
Applejack noted something else entirely. “An’ how full o’ yourself do you have to be to say you’re the star of a game show?”
“Now girls, calm down. Maybe Trixie has changed. We don’t know who is in charge of the advertising for the show.” Twilight said, trying to defuse the situation before it went out of hoof.
“Dear, don’t you see? She’s laughing at us. She put the billboard there to laugh at us, knowing we would see it. She wants us to be a laughing stock, just like when she turned my hair green.” Rarity exclaimed, her accent growing deeper with each passing sentence.
“Rarity, really, it’s just a coincidence. There is a billboard outside our window, and it just happens to have Trixie’s show on it. I’m sure it isn’t the only billboard in town facing a hotel.” Twilight tried again, realizing she was fighting a losing battle.
“Miss Great and Powerful Trixie, ma’am?” came the familiar voice from behind her door.
“Yes, what is it now?” was the expected curt response.
“The producers wanted me to tell you that the billboard was completed half an hour ago.”
“Ah yes. Thank you. Anything else?”
“Err… No, ma’am.” The graciousness of the response had caught the colt off guard.
“Then good bye.”
“Good bye, Miss Great and Powerful Trixie.”
The assistant shook his head as he turned to walk away from the trailer.
Why did I ever accept this job? He wondered. The pay is crappy, and since I switched my majors this doesn’t even count towards college credit! Still, it was nice to get a thank you from Trixie. I wish she didn’t act so mean all the time. I know that’s how she got the job in the first place, but I don’t get why she has to act like that off-camera.
The following morning the 5 ponies awoke to the phone call from the front desk, telling them that it was 6AM. And then another one at 7AM. And another at 8.
Called a “wakeup call,” Twilight had requested one for 10AM so they could make it to the studio by 11AM, but the colt at the front desk had made it clear that he would be happy to wake them up earlier if needed, or even if it wasn’t. “Just one of the many ways our hotel thanks guests for destroying hotel property” was how Twilight remembered him phrasing it.
While the earth pony had already been up before the first call due to her farming lifestyle, when the 8AM call came Applejack trotted out of the room for about 10 minutes before returning with a smile on her face.
“What are you so happy about?” Twilight felt it her duty to ask.
“Nothin’ you need to go worryin’ about, Twi’. Just go back to bed.”
And so she did. Twilight awoke again at a phone call, though she was surprised to see it happened at 10AM. She looked over at Applejack, who was busy making a breakfast out of the apples she had bought that morning while everypony else was sleeping. She shot the orange mare a quizzical look, which Applejack simply returned with a grin.
“Okay, everypony, time to get up. We got a big day ahead of us!” Applejack shouted to the two still-sleeping ponies.
Rainbow Dash was surprisingly the first out of bed. “Yeah, time to show that foal whose boss!”
“Girls, remember what we agreed to yesterday. If we get on the show, we aren’t going to intentionally ruin it.” Twilight pleaded. “Even if it is just a joke to make us look foolish, we could still benefit if we are chosen as contestants.”
“Yeah, I guess” replied Rainbow, the disappointment in her voice clear.
“Well count me out.” Rarity spoke up. “I didn’t get enough beauty sleep to go on television, and I don’t want to think what I would do if that… that mare” she uttered the word with pure contempt “tried anything on me again.”
Pinkie’s response was instantaneous. “But Rarity, you have to go with use. It will be so much fun being in the studio where they shoot ‘You Bet Your Flank.’ We may even get to see where they shoot ‘You Bet Your Flank: Kids Edition’”
“I’m sorry darling, but-"
“Please. Please please please please plase?!” Pinkie Pie cut Rarity off, looking at her with her eyes as wide as they would go. Rarity could swear Pinkie’s entire body had become more muted in color.
Rarity contemplated it for a moment. There are times where I swear that pony is using some version of The Stare on me. “Fine. But I won’t be on stage. I officially revoke my permission to be entered into the contestant pool. I will be perfectly fine sitting with Pinkie in the audience. As far from the stage as possible.”
Pinkie’s response was instantaneous. “Oh thank you thankyouthankyouthankyou thankyouthankyou” she exclaimed to her friend, grabbing her hoof and shaking it so rapidly Rarity thought her entire leg would come off. “It’s going to be so much fun!”
“So here’s what we, and by that Trixie means you, are going to do” Trixie explained, motioning towards her assistant. She had settled on calling him “Silverado” today, which she figured might actually have been his name. At the very least, he didn’t seem to be complaining about it. “You are going to change the contestant pool machine so that the only three names that come up as potential candidates are either ‘Applejack, Rarity, Rainbow Dash or Twilight Sparkle. Also, and this is important, Trixie wants Twilight Sparkle to be in the show regardless of who the other two are. Do you understand?” A slight nod was all she needed to go on. “And Trixie wants you to come find her when you have finished your task.”
“Are you sure I’m allowed to do this? I mean, it doesn’t seem like-"
“Do you question The Great and Powerful Trixie? The one who pays your salary? The one who has an executive producer credit on this show? The one who is the star of this show?” Her voice boomed inside the small room that the was controlled from. The assistant shook his head. “Then do it! And come get Trixie when you are done.”
With that, she threw down a smoke bomb and left the room in a trail of sparks.
You know, that’s dramatic and all. Kinda like Batmare. But I wish she wouldn’t do it around the computers. The assistant thought dryly.
Then the fire sprinkler system activated.
The 5 friends had been in the studio for two hours now, sitting in the makeup room and listening to Applejack complain about having to wear makeup (“All I’m sayin’ is, this is an awful lot of fuss to make when we might not even get on the show.”).
Rarity, meanwhile, had made it clear to everypony in the studio except the makeup department that she had no intention of being a contestant on tomorrow’s episode, so she was having as much fun listening to Applejack’s rants as she was accepting her free makeover. Twilight was relieved to see that even Rainbow Dash was having fun, though she would have preferred that the pegasus ponies’ idea of fun didn’t involve conspiring with Pinkie Pie to switch the labels for the shampoo bottles with those of the hair dye. Still, the day was going quite well.
Suddenly, the showmare herself burst into the room. “I hope all of you are prepared to be on The Great and Powerful Trixie’s TV show today.” She scanned the room, noting that her presence alone was having a cutting effect on the self-esteem of everypony in the room except the ones she had pulled so many strings to get there. “Ah, girls. Good to see you again.” She gave a sarcastic wave to them. “The Great and Powerful Trixie hopes that the ones that still have the oats to be in the show proper make it on.” She finished, shooting Rarity a mocking look. “In any case, The Great and Powerful Trixie supposes she will see the rest of you in the audience.”
Rarity was about to respond, only to realize that the facial mask she was wearing had hardened to the point that her jaw could no longer move. She brought her hooves to her face in a panic, scraping the remnants of the facial off as quickly as possible. Just as she had finally flaked enough of it off to talk, the blue unicorn dropped a smoke bomb and slipped out of the room.
“Oooohhhh, that mare” was all she was able to bring herself to say, seeing that Trixie had already left by the time the smoke cleared.
You Bet Your Flank (Chapter 2)
“So, basically, Trixie needs you to take Rarity out of the contestant lineup. This is perfect, because now it should be simple to make. Three potential candidates, three potential positions to be filled.” Trixie said matter-of-factly to her assistant. She had found him dropping off some wet towels with the wardrobe department and dragged him into the pantry the studio used for catering. Or, rather, used to use for catering, back when the studio still did radio specials. Not having been used for its intended purpose for some time, it had been turned into a glorified storage closet, filled with empty cardboard boxes and old stage equipment.
“But I’m already done making it. I’ll have to start from scratch” protested the colt.
“No matter. And when you are done with that, Trixie needs you to make changes to the computer that asks the questions.”
“What! I can’t do both! I’ll get caught for sure.”
“Executive Producer. You’ll be fine.” Trixie reminded him, pointing to herself. “Trixie wants you to change the type of questions you ask each contestant. Applejack is a farming pony, so she should only get questions about things like computers” she said, waving her hoof in the direction of the control room for the show. “Rainbow Dash is an athlete, so Trixie wants her to get those questions about quantum mechanics that we assembled for the Genius’ Tournament next month. And Twilight Sparkle is a bookworm in an almost literal sense, so Trixie wants her to get questions about popular culture or sports.” She noticed that her assistant was doing a bad job trying to keep a smirk from spreading across his face. “What is it?”
“I’m just surprised. This is actually a really devious plan. What did these three ponies do to make you so mad?”
“None of your business. Now, for the final round, Trixie wants you to change it so the machine only takes questions from the hardest category, regardless of the betting level. Can you handle that?” She finished, turning around to leave normally this time.
“Yes, but are you sure I won’t get in trouble for this?”
“Of course not.” She replied. So long as you do it right. “Trixie wants an update on your progress with her task before the show begins.”
The colt prepared for the smoke bomb once again, but was surprised when Trixie instead just trotted out of the room. Sure, when we’re in a room full of old boxes she doesn’t do it, but when we’re around sensitive equipment she makes the room look like we’re on stage with a mane metal band from the ‘80s.
He was so lost in his thoughts comparing Trixie’s typical theatrics to those of bands like Van Hoofen that he didn’t notice the cardboard box sneaking around in the corner of the room, four pink legs sticking out underneath.
The potential contestants were lined up in front of the stage, awaiting the announcement for who would be on the show.
Applejack was disgusted with how she looked. She was covered with makeup to hide her freckles, and her mane and tail had been brushed out rather than put in her preferred ponytail style. She hadn’t felt this out of touch with herself since she had moved out here with her aunt and uncle all those years ago. Horseapples! Why did I ever agree to do this? As soon as the word ‘Manehattan’ came up I should have put my hoof down. Still, could be worse. I could be Rainbow right now.
Rainbow Dash was unhappy, and she wanted everypony to know it. The makeup department had went through serious trouble getting her normally untamed mane to stay in place, ultimately resorting to using hairspray to keep it smooth. It made her entire head feel like it had a particularly poor-fitting (and itchy!) hat on her head, and it made her tail weigh twice as much as it usually did. Still, it could be worse. I could be Applejack right now.
Twilight, meanwhile, had come out of makeup relatively “normal” by comparison. Her mane was brushed out to get rid of the ratty ends before being brushed back into place, and her cheeks were touched up a bit to get rid of the slight bags under her eyes from being woken up so many times that morning; but otherwise she looked the same as she always did.
A producer for the show came up on stage and introduced herself. She was a tan, somewhat-older unicorn with a wispy orange mane and a clapperboard for a Cutie Mark. The three Ponyville ponies all guessed that she was probably around the same age as Mayor Mare was back home.
“Each contestant’s name is entered into the computer when they sign the release form. A complex random number generator selects each contestant from the list. Those who don’t win are given a free gift basket from ‘Better Horse and Gardens’ and a copy of our home game. Feel free to help yourselves to the craft services table located to your left. Does everypony understand?” She scanned the room for the nods of encouragement before going on. “Okay, I will be back in a moment with the names of the chosen candidates.” With that, she walked off stage behind a curtain.
The Ponyville ponies gathered around each other.
“Twi’, have you been able to figure out what’s goin’ on?”
“I’m sorry Applejack, but I just can’t put my hoof on it.”
“Don’t worry Twilight. Anything Trixie tries to pull, we’ll be ready for.”
“Remember, Rainbow, everypony promised not to do anything on purpose.” Twilight warned.
With that, the producer came back onto the stage, an envelope floating in front of her. She stepped back to her former position, opening the envelope and taking out a sheet of gold paper.
“Okay, all three names for the contestants written here on this piece of paper.” She stopped, pausing for dramatic effect. “Twilight Sparkle! You are the first contestant!”
Twilight was hit with a feeling of euphoria. I’ve never won anything like this before! Even if this was just a prank being done by Trixie, Twilight was still going to get to be on TV and show everypony just how much she had learned from Princess Celestia!
The Princess! That’s right! I bet she watches Trixie’s show. I’ll be able to show her just how much I’ve learned since I saw her last! Her thoughts kicked into high gear at that realization, and before she knew it she had brought her hooves up to start clapping,
“Applejack, Congratulations! You are the second contestant!”
Twilight froze mid-clap. She wasn’t sure how well she was controlling her face, but a quick glance at Applejack told her that the earth pony was feeling the same way.
What’s that mare’s game? The thought kept repeating itself in Applejack’s mind. Putting us on TV sure don’t seem like a good way to try embarassin’ us. The seconds stretched on for what seemed like an eternity as Applejack looked to Twilight for reassurance. If anypony can figure this out, Twi’ can. Her heart sunk as she saw the expression on the unicorn’s face. I only hope that the next winner isn’t…
“And miss Rainbow Dash, you are the third contestant! Congratulations!”
Rainbow Dash, who had been busy chowing down on the donuts at the craft services table, had completely missed the reveal of the first two contestants. Upon hearing her name, she took to the sky in glee.
“Yeeeess! I’m gonna be on TV. My name in lights… I can see it now.” She mimed holding a trophy in her hooves. “And the ‘Pony’ award for Best New Talent on Television goes to Rainbow Dash.”
The pegasus did a mock bow in mid-air, stopping herself when she noticed the amount of stares she was getting. Several nasty faces were directed at her from several locations around the room, but more than a few ponies were scratching their heads at the specific content of her faux paus. Rainbow Dash could swear she heard a few murmurs from the audience amid the silence. “You Bet Your Flank is a musical?” seemed to be a phrase repeated rather often.
Sheepishly, she lowered herself to the ground in response. Rainbow Dash looked to her friends for encouragement, but was surprised when she was instead treated with the looks of panic on their faces. She was about to ask them what was wrong when the producer continued her inductions.
“Let’s hear it for our three contestants, Twilight Sparkle, Applejack and Rainbow Dash. Welcome to ‘You Bet Your Flank.’ Come on up on stage so we can get you ready for the show!”
The three winners slowly slinked onto the stage, walking behind the producer and shooting nervous glances at each other, none of them having a clue what to make of the situation. As the producer scanned the room she saw the typical emotions from the losers. There were plenty of signs of disappointment, and even some tears. As much as she enjoyed working with ponies and giving them a chance to be on television, she hated having to see what happened when they missed out. What she didn’t notice, however, was that the winners were not expressing the typical feelings of joy she had come to expect and love from her job. They were actually all sharing a deep-seated feeling of dread, plain as day on their faces despite the various states of makeup.
Oh Celestia! The lavender unicorn thought to herself. Was I wrong about this?
“Welcome, fillies and gentlecolts, to ‘You Bet Your Flank’, now officially The Colt Broadcasting System’s most popular show.” The sound of Trixie’s voice boomed throughout the studio. Twilight noted that it wasn’t coming from the speakers around the studio, but was actually being magically amplified by Trixie herself. Suddenly, the showmare herself appeared on stage amid an explosion of smoke and fireworks. “I am your host, the world-famous Great and Powerful Trixie. So without further delay, let’s get this game started.”
Twilight chuckled to herself as the crowd burst into applause. Whatever Trixie’s flaws, she really does seem to be able to get a good reaction when in front of a crowd.
“First, let’s introduce the contestants.” Trixie continued. “We actually have an all-Ponyville show today. Our first contestant hails from just outside of Ponyville at Sweet Apple Acres. Her role in society is, according to this card, ‘Bucking things.’ Give it up for Applejack!”
The crowd roared in a combination of applause and laughter at Trixie’s double-entendre. Applejack, to her credit, managed to avoid blushing so much that it could be seen through her makeup.
“Our second contestant also hails from just outside of Ponyville. She’s a weather pegasus that usually manages to do her job on time and without falling out of the sky. Let’s hear it for Rainbow Dash!”
The crowd broke out into applause and laughter again.
“Our final contestant lives right in the center of Ponyville. She’s such a bookworm, she even lives in a library. She studies so hard she’s even Princess Celestia’s personal teacher’s pet. How about a round for Twilight Sparkle!”
The crowd repeated their actions a third time. Twilight could swear she heard a pink pony in the back of the crowd near the exit laughing hardest of all.
“Now, the game works like this. At the start of the game, the first contestant is chosen at random by the audience. They are asked successive questions of increasing difficulty until they get one wrong. The first ten questions are worth 100 bits. The second ten are worth 200. The third ten questions are worth 300, and so on and so forth. If you get a question wrong, the pony to your left gets a question of the difficulty level they were on when they last went. To keep your winnings, you need to score at least 5000 bits by the end of the game. The winner gets a 500 bit. Second place gets 250 bits, and third gets 125 bits. In the event of a tie, the bonuses will be divided equally. Bonuses are given out regardless of if the contestants break 5000, though no bonuses are given if you end up with a score of 0 bits.” Trixie paused to make sure the audience had gotten all of the information.
“For the final round, there will be a question fielded to all three ponies. Before getting the question, the ponies must wager their winnings. You can wager up to 5000 bits even if you don’t have enough bits to cover the wager.” Trixie continued. She paused, for dramatic effect this time, and then looked at the contestants. “However, beware my ponies. The more you wager before you are asked the question, the harder the final question will be. With that in mind, let’s start the game!” Trixie finished her explanation by throwing up her front hooves once again; supplementing her body motions with another fireworks spell similar to the one she had used to start her magic show. The crowd’s applause was deafening, even louder than the one at the start of the show.
“Now, who is our first contestant?” she asked the audience, opening the envelope on her lectern. “Why, it’s Applejack!” She turned to the earth pony “Are you ready to play?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be.”
“Good. First question” Trixie said, pointing towards a large monitor on the back wall of the stage. “In the 975th year of the sun’s reign, this computer company was founded to sell software to International Baling Machines, better known today as IBM. You have 5 seconds.” Trixie finished, smiling with a grin that only the three contestants knew the real meaning behind.
Applejack froze. “Er…”
The studio filled with the sounds of losing horns.
“Trixie is sorry, Applejack, the correct question was Macinsoft. Probably shouldn’t be dipping into so many applejacks before coming on the show, eh Applejack?” Trixie joked, spurring the audience on. She turned again.
“Twilight Sparkle, are you ready for your first question?”
“Yes. Yes I am” Twilight responded, confident that her knowledge would help her overcome whatever tricks Trixie had planned.
“Good. Involving a basketball, this game is played by performing a maneuver, and then having the next player attempt the same maneuver. If the second player fails, they get a letter. If they get all the letters, they lose. What is this game called? You have five seconds.” Trixie finished, with the same smile as before.
“Er… basketball?” Twilight asked, the word completely alien to her.
The studio filled with the sounds of losing horns again.
“Oh, Trixie is sorry, Twilight Sparkle. The name of the game is ‘Horse.’ Didn’t Princess Celestia ever show you how to play? I have to imagine she would be quite good at the game...” Trixie trailed off as the laughter in the studio picked up once again.
She turned once more, this time to the final contestant. “Now, Rainbow Dash…”
“Welcome, everypony, to the final round, where we are making ‘You Bet Your Flank’ history with a game where none of the contestants have scored any points! It makes me wonder what they put in the water down in Ponyville. Or is it that maybe they spend a little too much time around Applejack?” Trixie continued as Twilight thought to herself, the audience picking up steam again at the double entendre.
Twilight scanned the back of audience, hoping to find Rarity and Pinkie to get encouragement from her friends. She quickly found Rarity in her spot right next to the back exit, but the spot next to the unicorn that had previously contained the energetic pink earth pony was conspicuous in its emptiness. Not getting the feelings of support she expected without both of her friends cheering her on, Twilight looked down at her lectern.
The worst part of this, Twilight thought, is what she’s doing to Applejack. All of the questions Applejack has gotten are ones where Apple or Macinsoft could both conceivably be the answer, so if she could just bring herself to guess something she might get one right. At least Rainbow Dash’s questions are so hard that even I would probably mess many of them up, and it’s my fault that I’ve never read about sports. She looked back to Trixie, who was waiting for the laughter of the audience to die down. Though it is somewhat impressive that Trixie still hasn’t run out of jokes involving Applejack’s special talent involving being inebriated.
“So, how much will each contestant wager? Keep in mind that the more you wager, the harder the question will be. You have 10 seconds to decide.” The showmare explained.
The three friends exchanged nervous glances, and then nodded in understanding. They would all wager something small, a few bits, to try to at least salvage something out of the day.
As Twilight wrote her number down, she could swear that she saw Pinkie back in her spot from the corner of her eye, making winking gestures so obvious that ponies around her were beginning to stare.
“So, what did each of you wager? Applejack… wow, 5000 bits. We have a big spender here tonight!” The studio erupted in laughter as Applejack froze; looking down as her monitor as the three zeroes added themselves to the number Applejack had written. She swallowed hard and looked straight forward, not daring to glace at Twilight, and especially not Rainbow Dash.
“And how about Rainbow Dash? Oh, 5000 again? Look at how risky these ponies are with money they don’t have!” More laughter from the audience as Dash’s hair stood on end, shattering the hairspray holding it in place. Applejack gave her a look of understanding to try to calm her pegasus friend down, though Applejack wasn’t surprised when it didn’t end up working.
At this point, Twilight knew something was wrong. She didn’t think that she had misread her friend’s intentions, but they had still both gone all-in rather than the handful of bits she had expected them to bet. As she looked down at her monitor, she saw the 2 bits she had written slowly rotate 180 degrees before flipping over. As she stared in shock as the zeros started writing themselves in, Twilight failed to notice Trixie make her way to the lavender unicorn’s lectern and start talking again.
“And now for Twilight Sparkle. What do you wager? 5000 bits from you too? Looks like we aren’t going to have an easy question tonight” she finished with a chuckle, getting more cheers from the audience.
Trixie was beside herself with giddiness. Not only had all three ponies performed exactly as she expected, but they were going to go all in on a question she knew they couldn’t possibly answer. It’s like they are committed to making as much of a foal of themselves as possible.
“Alright, studio audience. It is time for the final question: ‘What is Friendship’? You have 60 seconds.” Trixie read off, fighting so hard to contain her grin that she failed to realize what she had just read. It was only upon scanning the audience’s faces that she realized something was wrong.
She reread the card. She reread it three more times. What is this? This isn’t a hard question. This isn’t even a real question! It’s philosophical nonsense! The things asked on cartoon shows watched by young fillies and colts!
Twilight, Applejack and Rainbow Dash all shot nervous glances at each other.
What is going on? was the unspoken question shared on the faces of all three of them. Nervously, they each wrote down the obvious answer, none of them thinking it could possibly be the correct one.
Trixie was panicking. My carefully laid plans have been ruined, but how? That assistant! Eldorado or Colorado or whatever that foal’s name was. She had made sure that assistant had reprogrammed the machine to always spit out the toughest category of questions regardless of the final bet, but that shouldn’t have mattered because all three ponies had bet the maximum 5000 bit amount anyways. And yet, now the machine was spitting out this nonsense? Now I know why he didn’t come and get me before the show. I’ll have that idiot’s head, she thought to herself.
She heard somepony clearing their throat, and looked over to the producer. The entire studio was silent and unmoving but him, who was making blatant motions towards his watch and the camera. He clearly didn’t know what was going on, but they might as well get the show done and figure it out later. Trixie got the message, and made her way to the closest lectern before the cameras began rolling.
“And welcome back to You Bet Your Flank. Going into the final round we had the unprecedented situation of all three contestants being tied for first, or more accurately, last, and we went on to the final question. The final question, which was” Trixie paused and cleared her throat before continuing “what is Friendship?”
“Applejack, with 0 bits and a bet of 5000 bits, what did you put down for what Friendship is?”
She motioned towards the screen as Applejack’s answer lit up.
“Honesty. Friendship is Honesty. Trixie is sorry, that is incorr-"
Trixie was interrupted by the sound of the correct answer tone playing throughout the studio. She threw a panicked glance at her producer, who threw his front hooves up in the air in response.
“Er, Trixie apologizes. That is the correct answer.” Trixie corrected herself, beginning to lose control of the tone of her voice. “That brings your final point total to 5000 bits.” She finished, moving to the center contestant lectern.
“Okay, Rainbow Dash. With 0 bits and a bet of 5000 bits, what did you say Friendship was?”
She motioned towards the screen.
“Loyalty? Trixie is sorry once again, but that is-"
Trixie was interrupted again as the correct answer tone rung. What is this? Two different answers can’t both be correct? By Celestia, what is going on here? Murmurs in the audience started to break out.
A quick glance at the producer confirmed her fears, as he caught her glare and broke out into a full gallop from his table behind the cameras to the door used by management located Stage Left. The message was clear: Trixie was going to have to deal with this mess on her own. As she composed herself she could swear she saw a bit of smoke seep through the door as it closed, but she ignored it and trudged on.
“Er, correct! And that takes you into a tie for first place with 5000 bits.”
Rainbow Dash and Applejack both shot Twilight a confused stare. She responded with her own.
Trixie was now completely at a loss for what was going on, but she continued anyways towards the final lectern. “So, Twilight Sparkle, with 0 bits and a 5000 bit bet, what did you say Friendship is?
She motioned towards the screen, dreading what she would see.
“Friendship is Magic. Um, that is… correct?” Trixie guessed. The correct answer tone told her she had guessed accurately, though it was soon drowned by murmurs from the crowd.
It had taken a good hour to clear out the studio after they ran the end credits. Trixie hadn’t bothered paying attention to the guests as they filed out, but she distinctly heard the words “scandal” being repeated several times. Great, she thought to herself. If nothing else, Trixie will probably be on the news for the rest of the week. She stood at her lectern resiliently, watching as Rarity and Pinkie Pie joined Rainbow Dash, Applejack and Twilight Sparkle. She had never heard the pink earth pony speak before, but she could swear that every fourth word from her mouth was some variation of the word “party.”
Twilight Sparkle caught her glance, and motioned for her friends to quiet down. She could tell the blue unicorn had something on her mind, and for all the trouble Trixie had put them through she still wanted to know what it was.
Trixie took that as her cue.
“I hope you’re happy. You ruin my magic show and drive me out of Ponyville, and then you come all the way to Manehattan to ruin my game show and attempt to drive me from here as well.” Trixie said, her voice breaking and eyes watering as she stormed past the surprised ponies, off the set and onto the adjacent stage where they filmed You Bet Your Flank: Kids Edition.
Rarity’s face contorted in fury as she opened her mouth to speak, but Applejack responded first. “Hold it just a darn second! I seem to recall gettin’ a letter from ‘The Great and Powerful Trixie’” Applejack said, pantomiming Trixie’s stage mannerisms as she said her name “practically demandin’ us to come down here an’ be on this show.”
Rainbow Dash went next “Yeah, and you ran yourself out of Ponyville when that Ursa of yours whipped your tail. We didn’t ask you to show up in town and start being a massive arrogant foal.”
“Rainbow Dash!” Twilight admonished, seeing this conversation start to derail itself so quickly. “Trixie didn’t bring-"
“Oh, you mean you had a problem with The Great and Powerful Trixie, a well-known traveling magician, coming to your backwater town and putting on a traveling magician’s show with all the typical trappings? Have you no shame? Trixie came to put on a performance and she was immediately heckled by the likes of all of you before I could… before Trixie could even properly start her show!” Trixie’s voice began to crack as she got out the last part, her tears starting to run down her face.
“Backwater!” screamed Applejack. “I’ll show you backwater. Come on, Rainbow” She beckoned to the pegasus, and they both began advancing on the crying unicorn. Trixie backed up until her flank bumped into one of the contestant’s lecterns, leaving her with nowhere else to go. She stared at the advancing ponies, the terror spreading throughout her body.
“Girls!” came a shout from behind the two threatening ponies as their tails were both grabbed. They turned around to see not Twilight as they both expected, but Pinkie Pie pulling both of their tails.
The sudden escalation of the conversation had caught Rarity off-guard. Her expression softened, and she tuned out the rest of the conversation as she thought about what Trixie had just said.
“Pinkie, you weren’t even there when her dumb bear attacked the town. You didn’t even show up until after Twilight got rid of it. You don’t know what’s going on!” Rainbow Dash said, struggling to free her tail.
“Exactly, Rainbow. She wasn’t there when it happened, but I think she does know what is going on. She knows better than anypony what foals we all sound like.” This time it was Twilight, giving Trixie a look of sympathy as she spoke. “For that reason I think we need to hear what she has to say.”
Rainbow Dash and Applejack exchanged glances before they both motioned for Pinkie to continue.
“Well, girls, it seems to me that everypony here is mad at Trixie for something. She is a big braggy meany pants? Well, Rainbow Dash, remember when you were so worried about proving you could win a race that you knocked Fluttershy off a cloud and she landed on dark matter butterflies?” Pinkie Pie asked, looking at the pegasus with pleading eyes.
“I… yes?” Rainbow Dash started, not having any idea what a dark matter butterfly was. “But how do you know about-" was all she was able to get out before Pinkie continued.
“She is stubborn and proud? Well, Applejack, remember the Baked Bads?” The mere mention of that incident was enough for Applejack to recoil. “Trixie can hold a grudge, even without any fudge that gives her such a pudge that she can’t budge? Twilight, remember the Doozy? You got so mad you even turned into a Rapidash!”
Trixie was clearly confused at this statement, and she raised her hoof to question it, but Twilight waved her off.
“And Rarity,” Pinkie motioned to the white unicorn who plainly wasn’t listening. “Remember when you told Twilight that secret about being jealous of Fluttershy? And Twilight was all like ‘I gotta tell the secret,’ and I was all like ‘losing a friend’s trust is the fastest way to lose a friend, FOREVER!’ Well, you said sorry to Fluttershy in the end and you’re still best friends. But to be friends you have to try to forgive mistakes, and you didn’t want to forgive Trixie for hers.”
Pinkie Pie reared up, ready to deliver the intended moral of her story. She looked upon the other ponies the room, building up the drama to an almost-painful point as they followed her every word. “And that is why I had to tie up Trixie’s assistant and throw him in a storage locker.”
Twilight looked around. While it certainly wasn’t possible to completely decipher such a message when the messenger was Pinkie Pie, Applejack and Rainbow Dash seemed to have gotten the gist of it, having both sat down with a look of shame covering their faces. She couldn’t make out what Rarity was thinking, but Twilight figured she could talk to Rarity later about it if she needed to.
Twilight could see that Trixie was having trouble overcoming the last part of Pinkie’s explanation of the events, though, and decided to try her hoof at explaining things.
"I guess what we're trying to say is that we're sorry for acting the way that we did. You were trying to put on a show, and even though we didn’t like the way that you were doing it we should have found a better way to express our feelings." Twilight explained. "Even when the odds were stacked against you, you attempted to help the ponies who had done nothing but cause you grief. And I guess we all think it takes a big pony to stand up for others. We only wish that you had explained your behavior to us better before you decided to escalate everything in response.”
She paused, looking over at Rainbow Dash and Applejack so they would understand that the next apology was something they should hear as well. “And I wish I had explained what really happened to the rest of Ponyville before we came on this trip, because I think we’ve all come to some incorrect conclusions about you since the day you visited Ponyville. I know it wasn’t your intention for Snips and Snails to bring the Ursa into town.”
There was silence in the stage for several minutes as everypony in the room attempted to come to terms with what had been said. Applejack and Rainbow Dash both shrunk back from Trixie, trying to make their feelings of shame and sympathy known to the unicorn for threatening violence against her.
"Trixie is not sure what to say" Trixie finally spoke up, staring at the group before her with tears reforming in her eyes. "Thank you Twilight Sparkle. Thank you Pinkie Pie. Trixie is… I’m sorry for what I’ve done today, and I’m sorry for how I’ve acted towards you in the past. I guess I should have-"
"I have something to say." Rarity interrupted, finally breaking her silence and earning a glare from Twilight for doing so. "Hold that thought, Twilight." She trotted over to her saddlebags and ruffled around them for a few seconds, before removing a small package wrapped in a white plastic bag with the Hoity Toity fashion label on the front. She returned to the stage and held the package in front of Trixie. "This is for you. I have been... conflicted in my feelings about giving it to you, but how could I even pretend to represent generosity and withhold such beauty from its rightful owner? I simply couldn't. Your apology is sincere. Your feelings are sincere. I can see that now. And so I give this to you as a gift representing forgiveness rather than..." she trailed off.
Trixie fumbled with the bag, attempting to open it to reveal its contents despite the tears in her eyes. Finally, she was rewarded with a beautiful purple cloak with a radiant star pattern; far fancier and well-made than the one she had lost on that fateful day all those months ago.
"Thank you. It’s beautiful. I... thank you." Trixie managed to squeak out, giving Rarity a hug.
Twilight finally got a good look at the cloak and gasped. "Rarity! Isn't that the cloak that you were making for Hoity Toity?!" She felt a hoof on her shoulder, and looked to see Applejack shaking her head. Twilight began thinking back to the events of the previous day, and the realization dawned on her. The four remaining friends joined Trixie and Rarity for a group hug.
Suddenly, Pinkie spoke up.
"Twitcha twitch! Twitcha twitch!" She exclaimed, looking at her tail with her eyes wide.
Trixie watched in awe as her new friends all dove for cover underneath pieces of the surrounding set, confused at the sudden change in the tone. She wasn’t sure what to expect as they all shivered, looking up in the sky, but she imagined it wasn’t anything good.
Her eyes caught movement from Rainbow Dash as she started to move from under the host's lectern where she was hiding to be next to Pinkie Pie under one of the cameras. However in the process the pegasus tripped over the cables for one of the cameras and went tumbling into a large lever located just off stage. Trixie began laughing at the sight before her eyes when suddenly she found herself covered with a green gooey substance, at which point everypony else started laughing.
"Don't worry Darling; we will get you cleaned back up." Trixie heard somepony say between the giggles expressed by her new friends.
It was the next day. Trixie had come to visit the five Ponyville residents before they checked out to return home. After expressing mild confusion about the door to the room looking like it was made from splinters that had been reattached to each other (“I LOVE puzzles!” was the emphatic yet completely unhelpful answer to the question when Trixie finally got up the nerve to ask it), Trixie had spent most of the morning helping her new friends pack their things together for the trip back to Ponyville, repeatedly apologizing throughout for conspiring to have them on her show just to make them look foalish.
While the ponies were enjoying lunch, Rainbow Dash had made it a point to apologize to Trixie for assuming the worst of her; and after some coaxing from Dash and Twilight, Applejack did the same. The six ponies had just watched the actual episode of the events that transpired the previous day when a thought came to Trixie’s mind.
“What Trixie doesn’t understand is how did Pinkie Pie know that Twilight Sparkle, Applejack and Rainbow Dash would answer the question with their elements?” Trixie asked the pink earth pony. “And how did Pinkie Pie know how to make it so the computer would make them all have the maximum bet?”
Trixie had gotten much of the background information regarding the incident from her new friends and her beleaguered assistant after she had tracked down the locker that he had been stuffed into, but many of the specific details of the Final Round incident were still confusing her. Of course, it didn’t help that the assistant’s most recent recollection of the events prior to Trixie discovering him was that he had been attacked by what he thought was a box of oranges as he walked out of the control room to tell Trixie he had completed her final task.
“Oh, silly. I don’t know anything about computers. I just went in the room and turned the fire sprinklers on during the last commercial.”
“Oh, well that explains…” Trixie began, before realizing that one of Pinkie Pie’s explanations had once again only succeeded in making her more confused than she had been before she asked.
Twilight sympathized with the emotions being expressed on Trixie’s face. “Don’t worry, Trixie. You’ll get used to it.”
And with that the six new friends joined in what would be the first of many laughs together.
Dear Princess Celestia,
My friends and I all learned an important lesson today: Always think about why somepony may act the way that they do before your judge their actions. Sometimes, if you take the time to get to know somepony, you just might find that they aren’t so different from yourself; and you may just make a new friend in the process.
Your faithful student,
Author’s Notes: So there it is. My first Pony fic. I had wanted to write one for about a month now, but I couldn’t think of a overall plot to tie things together that hadn’t already been done at least as well as I could have done. Came to me in a dream, I kid you not.
I’d like to thank the members of the GTP Bronies and Gerkuman from TSS who helped pre-read this for me. I can honestly say that it wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is now had they not all helped catch some of the screwups I made in the first two drafts of the story.