"Dragon, Trixie wishes to know what the next event is so that she may prepare her commentary." Trixie asked, looking not at Spike but instead at Twilight as she used her magic to fill a big hole with mud.Spike gave her an irritable look and shook his head. "Well Trixie, it looks like-""The Great and Powerful Trixie." Trixie corrected without even looking at the young whelp.Spike crossed his arms and huffed as a little smoke escaped from his mouth, "I already told you that I'm not calling you that.""And why not? Trixie has worked hard for that title, and it shall be used when addressing Trixie." she pointed her nose up at Spike as she spoke.Spike just smiled as he loaded up his comeback for her. "Earned it how? Was it after you ran away form the Ursa Minor?"Trixie glared down at the little dragon and Spike was more than happy to return the glare, while all the ponies were laughing their flanks off at the pair's banter. "Will you just tell Trixie what Twilight Sparkle is doing down there.""Well if that rope is any kind of clue, I have to guess we are moving on to the Tug-O-War, but with so many ponies competing this year I wonder how Twilight is going to handle it?" questioned Spike as he surveyed the large mud pond."Well if these notes in front of Trixie are correct then there are too many competitors, so Twilight Sparkle will most likely hold a series of one-on-one contests with the winner moving up a ladder bracket until there is only one pony standing."Spike was amazed, he had never thought for one moment that Trixie would take this job seriously but here she was reading the notes Pinkie had left and trying to comment on the action. Before he could say another word, Twilight cut him off. "That is exactly what we are going to do Trixie, but due to Bob's unfortunate medical problem we now of an odd number of competitors. I will need the remaining competitors to come on out here to draw lots to see who will be facing who and to see who will be getting a first round pass."Right on cue, the seven Iron Pony candidates filed out of the locker room and lined up next to Twilight. Using her magic, Twilight hovered a small box in front of the competitors so they could draw their lots. First up was Gilda who pulled out the number four, next was Spitfire and she snagged number two. While Applejack's number was three, and Rainbow managed to boost her ego after her mishap in the barrel weave by getting number one. Zecora was confused with her zero, Big Macintosh had six, and Soarin pulled out a five."The match-ups are as follows, first we will have Rainbow Dash vs. Spitfire, then Applejack vs. Gilda, Soarin vs. Big Macintosh and Zecora gets a pass for the first round!" Twilight spoke into her microphone while the competitors eyed their opponents."Well, good luck Spitfire. I hope you don't hold it against me when I beat you." Rainbow said as she walked over to the yellow Pegasus."Do you really think you can beat the Captain of the Wonderbolts, Dash?" Spitfire shot back with her own smile and shook Rainbow's hoof."Rainbow told us about what ya did to her, don't think ya can pull that stunt again. We're all watchin' ya." Applejack spoke curtly.Gilda just rolled her eyes and smirked at the orange earth pony. "Save it for someone who might care, that is if you can still talk once you get a muzzle full of mud.""Aw man, why did I have to get you? This is going to be like school all over again." Soarin moaned, dropping his head low as he whined."Now don't go gettin' all mopey on me Soarin, I'm sure ya will do just fine." Big Macintosh stated. But then a grin played across the red pony's lips. "But I do feel sorry for ya.""Giant freak.""Feather brain." Both stallions stared the other down before bursting with laughter and bumping hooves."It would seem that my luck is soaring high, but who will I face after my pass goes by?" Zecora asked Twilight, who glanced over her clipboard before informing her that she would face the winner of the match between Soarin and Big Macintosh. "Luck will come and luck will go, but my chances of winning seem mighty low."Twilight gave Zecora a sympathetic look before stepping up to the mud. "Okay everypony! It is time for round two, the Tug-O-War!" The crowd let loose with loud cheering, hoof stomps, and even a few whistles directed at Twilight.Back in the broadcast booth, Trixie was starting to get into the groove of things and was feeling rather proud of herself. "Trixie is rather good at this, but she would rather be the one putting on the show.""Well if you were in town yesterday you could have signed up for the competition." Chimed in Spike with a smirk."And why would The Great and Powerful Trixie do that? She knows full well her limitations in the fields of athletics, however, Trixie's magic has no limits and could have easily won this contest with her overwhelming skill.""No limits? That's funny because I remember the ursa minor, and he showed everypony first-hoof just how 'unlimited' your magic really was. Not only that, but Twilight showed you just how much power a real unicorn has." Spike finished with a smug look as he kicked his feet up."You, scaly one, are lucky Trixie is a better pony or Trixie would throw..." Trixie was cut off by loud laughing."You'll do what? Throw glitter on me? I don't even think you can hurt a fly, so I think I'm safe." It was then that Spike started glowing a light blue and was lifted out of his chair. "The Great and Powerful Trixie thinks it's time you disappeared!" With her declaration, Trixie threw Spike right out of the booth and into the pit of mud, causing the crowd to roar with laughter.Twilight walked over to the side of the pit and watched Spike climb his way out of the mud. "Spike, as much as I hate to say it, you deserved that. Why would you antagonize her like that?"Spike pulled himself out of the mud, grumbling and marched right past Twilight, but his path was blocked but a pair of snicking pegasi. "You know Spike, mud is a good colour on you." As the words left Rainbow Dash's mouth, she and Spitfire started laughing, only stopping when mud hit them both in the face as the little dragon whelp marched past mumbling about revenge."Now that Trixie has given the scaly one some time off, she can watch and comment on the competition in peace. Oh look! Twilight Sparkle is calling them to the center, it looks like they're about to start."Down by the mud pit both Rainbow Dash and Spitfire had gotten into their positions and had taken the rope into their mouths. As soon as Twilight gave the signal both pegasi started pulling with all their might. Hooves dug into the the soft dirt and the crowd's cheering seemed to favour Spitfire, but there was still a loud roar for Rainbow Dash."Well Trixie knows little of this Rainbow Dash, but if Trixie remembers her encounter with this mare correctly then she is not a pony to be taken lightly. The same could be said for Spitfire though, being that she is the Captain of the Wonderbolts after all." The blue unicorn stopped for a breather as she put her hooves up and onto Spike's seat before resuming, "Trixie would think that Spitfire would have some form of training, and with both competitors' strongest attribute being magically sealed away, this can go either way".Neither combatant was moving at first, and both seemed to be in a deadlock, but Spitfire soon took a step back, and then another. "Trixie must admit that these pegasi are rather impressive for not having any magic that is. It looks like Spitfire is starting to pull Rainbow Dash into the mud, this may be over at any moment!"Rainbow Dash was almost to the edge of the mud and it looked like it was over. Twilight was beside herself, she wanted to cheer for her friend and crush but, being the referee, cheering for anypony was inappropriate. But then Twilight's eyes went wide as she grinned. Rainbow Dash stopped right before falling in. Spitfire looked at her opponent and made her move to take the last step she would need, but Dash was waiting for that and as soon as spitfire lifted her leg Dash pulled harder than before, making the yellow pegasus' eyes widen in shock as she stumbled forward a few steps."Is Trixie seeing things? Rainbow Dash is now pulling Spitfire back toward the mud!" Trixie shouted into the microphone, making the ponies in the stands cheer louder for both ponies. Spitfire was not looking happy, she was only a half a hoof from the mud now and Dash was still pulling her even closer. If she didn't think of something soon she would be swimming in the mud. But as she wracked her brain for an idea it happened, the yellow-and-orange-maned pegasus fell headlong in to the cold mud."And Rainbow Dash moves on to the next round!" Twilight shouted over the cheering fans while she held up Dash's right hoof in triumph.Spitfire was moving to get out of the mud when she saw two hooves in front of her, one blue and one orange. With a smile she took both and let them pull her out of the mud. "I hope you're not mad at me, believe me when I say I did not want to send you into the mud. I mean, who wants to tick off their future boss?" Dash said, smiling."Don't worry about it." Spitfire said before winking at Applejack. "But I will have my revenge during your training, do you know the term 'hell week'?"The colour drained from Rainbow Dash's complexion as Applejack snickered. "Boy, that was a mighty fine effort you put into that rope, I thought for sure that you Wonderbolts were all speed and no buckin'. I guess I better stop judging a book by its cover." the farm Pony spoke fondly."Well most of the Wonderbolts only work on speed, but I like the feeling of my muscles when they're exhausted... well not really that feeling, but that hot bath after that, you bet your flank!" Spitfire laughed along with the other two ponies."See! I told you Rainbow Dash was going to win! She is just too cool!" came a random high-pitched shout through the speakers.In the announcers' booth, Trixie was enjoying a strawberry smoothie she got from a passing vendor when the new voice rang out through the speakers and her ears. "HAAAAAAAAA" her shrill scream echoed into the mic and speakers, making everypony and griffon cover their ears."Boy, that looked like it sucked.""Ya'll think she's okay?""I think you scared her.""Geeze, thank you for pointing out the obvious."It was after the last sarcastic remark that Trixie determined that her heart was no longer residing in her throat and stood up to shoot an evil glare. "And what in Equestria do you think you are doing? Trixie just saw her Great and Powerful life flash before her eyes!""Wow, and I thought Rarity was a drama queen." This comment got an adorable laugh from the Ponyville part of the crowd."No wonder Spike asked us to come and help her, she's nuttier then a squirrel in spring."It was then that Trixie saw the three headsets sitting on the fillies' heads. Behind them, at the open door, stood Spike. And in his claw was a paper Trixie knew well, an Anti-Magic Ward. Grinning, Spike slowly shut the door and slapped the seal onto it, effectively locking her in. The azure unicorn looked back to the three fillies. "Um, I don't believe Trixie has met you before?""I'm Apple Bloom." Spoke the yellow earth pony."Sweetie Belle." the white unicorn said fondly."And you can call me Scootaloo! Together we are..." At this point everypony from Ponyville, and a few from Canterlot, all covered their ears "The Cutie Mark Crusaders!" All three yelled into their microphones, making Trixie twitch."And today is the day we earn our Cutie Marks" Sweetie Belle spoke with enthusiasm."Oh man! Did you guys see how Rainbow Dash won? Rainbow Dash is the coolest pony in all of Ponyville!""But Scootaloo, Spitfire is a hero to Rainbow Dash, so if she is Dash's hero, shouldn't Spitfire be like yer super hero?" Scootaloo looked at Applebloom with a confused expression."What? No, yes, I mean.. sure Spitfire is great, but Rainbow Dash is… Stop screwing with my head! Rainbow Dash is just much cooler, she does tricks for the fun of it! She is the fastest and she is the only one to ever pull off a Sonic Rainboom!" Scootaloo spoke in a voice that dripped with confidence.Trixie was sitting with her head down on the table. "Does Trixie even want to know how this will get you your Cutie marks?"Twilight, Rainbow, Applejack, and Rarity all winced as Trixie asked her question, and knowing what was about to happen, covered their ears. While in the booth Applebloom and Scootaloo stopped arguing and stared at the older unicorn before Sweetie Belle jumped up to stand on her friends' shoulders. "Cute Mark Crusaders Professional Sportscasters, YAY!" the sheer volume they used went right into their microphones, making every speaker in the area shake."Trixie might be partly deaf from your yelling, but do go on." To the crowd it looked like Trixie had forgotten she was talking into a microphone. "So let Trixie get this straight, you three are here to earn your Cutie Marks? And if you don't find them by doing this, then what?"That's easy! We will try something else! And then another, and another, because that's what we do!" Sweetie Belle said with pride and a smile."Yeah! We are the Cutie Mark Crusaders and we will never give up!" Scootaloo added, pumping her hoof in the air."Okay, Trixie will commend you on being diligent, but what would you do if one of you happened to earn your Cutie mark today? Would she still be a Crusader?"Scootaloo opened her mouth to speak but then looked lost, she looked to her friends. Applebloom was looking concerned and Sweetie Belle looked just as confused as Scootaloo, and it was clear that they had never thought that far ahead on the matter. Faster than one could blink, Applebloom perked up and pointed out the window. "Hey, look, its Applejack! It looks like she's next!"Down by the mud pit Gilda was all set and was already holding the rope in her talons, Applejack stood a short distance away with Rainbow and Spitfire. "Ok AJ, Gilda is really strong, so you can't beat her head on, you have to outsmart her." Rainbow whispered."How in the hay do you outsmart somepony in a Tug-O-War contest?" Applejack asked with a raised eyebrow."Her pride! She is going to drag it out as long as she can just to humiliate you, so she won't go full force right away." Rainbow said as she remembered her and Gilda's old pranks.Spitfire was looking at Gilda and noticed her tail was swishing left and right rather fast. "Of course, griffons are natural born fighters and hunters." Both Applejack and Rainbow Dash stopped and looked at her oddly. "Just look at her, griffons are very top-heavy and are not built to stand on their hind legs for more than a minute or so. Look, she is already swaying, so if what Dash said is right and she will drag this out, then all you have to do is surprise her. So at the start don't put your heart into it, make her think you're not as strong, before counting to 10 and pulling with all your might. She should easily lose her balance.""Wow, that is one good idea sugarcube." Applejack spoke in an impressed tone.
"How do you know so much about griffons?" Rainbow asked. Spitfire just smiled."Well I used to date one, and while I was dating him I learned a lot about his species." Her smile faded and her face took on a more irritated expression, and she muttered something about cheating bastards."Applejack, its time!" The three mares broke their conversation and looked over to Twilight, who looked ready to move away from Gilda."Well that's me. Thanks for the help girls, but I reckon its time I put this Griffon in her place." Applejack tilted her hat and went over to take her place."Do you think she has a chance?" Spitfire asked, not looking away from the mud pit."If she was going against any other pony she would win hooves down, but Gilda..." Rainbow shook her head "She is going to need all the luck she can get.""Okay, you both know the rules so I'm not going to go over them again. So, on your mark, get set. GO!"Just as planned Applejack had started pulling with only half her might, she was pleasantly shocked that Gilda was doing just what Dash had said and was not trying at all. It was then that Applejack saw Gilda shift her leg and saw her opening, so she gave a mighty pull. But nothing happened, Gilda held her ground and smiled. "It's like that Blunderbolt said, griffons are predators and so we have sharp eyes... and ears." With that statement Gilda grabbed the rope and pulled with all of her might. The crowd went silent as Applejack was pulled off her hooves and into the mud in one swift motion, "What's the matter, did the big strong apple-picking hick lose?" Her voice was snide and condescending as she walked away to a small cheering section.Up in the booth, Applebloom did not look happy. "How could Applejack lose? It was like she wasn't even tryin'...""Well maybe Gilda was just a lot stronger then your sister, Applebloom." Sweetie Belle offered as she looked over the notes Spike had left when he stormed out."This cape is so cool! Where did you get it? Can I have one too?" Scootaloo asked.For her part, Trixie still had her head down on the table. "This message is for anypony that will listen, if Trixie does not survive this then she wants somepony to get revenge on that little dragon for her.""The Winner of this round is Gilda!" Twilight did not want to say, but she had watched Gilda closely for any signs of cheating and she had beaten Applejack fairly, even if she was a sore winner. "You okay AJ?" She offered her friend a hoof which the orange mare gladly took."Yeah, I reckon I am, the only thing hurt is mah pride." Applejack smiled, but Twilight could see it in her eyes that she was disappointed. Well, there is always the next event so I better go rest up while I still can, and get a good seat for mah brother's turn." Applejack then reached back into the mud and pulled her hat out, before making her way back to where Rainbow Dash was sitting on a large rock and Spitfire was sitting down on the grass next to her."Sorry you lost AJ, I was sure our plan was going to work." Rainbow removed her sunglasses so she could look her friend in the eye."I was sure it would have worked, I don't understand why she didn't go…" Spitfire was cut short as Applejack raised a hoof."She overheard us talkin', and thought it would be a good idea to play along, and it was, so she beat me fair and square. Now that mouth she's got on her could use a right and mighty kick though." The farmer spoke as she plopped down in the grass."Great, now I have to think up a plan to beat her." Dash slid her sunglasses back into place before reaching behind the rock to pull out a bag of strawberries and dropping one onto the ground. Spitfire looked at the fruit oddly and was about to ask why Dash dropped it when a long green head emerged from the rock. Spitfire shrieked at the sight and jumped in the air to fly off, but her wings locked up and all she managed to do was fall back down with a loud thud."Boy howdy, aren't you a jumpy one." Applejack teased as Spitfire looked back at the "rock" somewhat fearfully and hid behind Applejack, which confused the Earth Pony to no end."What is that thing?" Her voice was shaky and a little more high pitched than her normal tone."Spitfire, meet my tortoise, Tank." Rainbow spoke with pride as she rubbed the top of Tank's head.Spitfire made no indication that she was going to move and started muttering. "What was that sugarcube? I can't hear ya?" Applejack asked."She said she is afraid of reptiles." Said a clean and smiling Soarin."What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be getting ready for your shot at the Tug?" Rainbow asked from her seat on top of her pet."I should, but going to school with that guy- I know how strong he is, and I don't feel like taking a mud bath in front of all these ponies. So I forfeit and the ref. called the win for Big Mac." Soarin noticed the look he was getting from Rainbow. "Now don't give me a hard time, she is the one that is scared of your turtle.""Tortoise." Dash corrected."Tortoise, sorry. But anyway knowing you can't do something and giving up are two totally different things, plus I want the griffon to go down. So with me out then Mac only has to go against one pony and not two, and he will put that zebra down fast. Oh, sorry... No offense." Soarin said, looking at a muddy Zecora."The words you speak are not wrong, Big Macintosh was just too strong." Zecora wiped her face clean and smiled. "But I too think that that griffon's head is full of crud, maybe she needs a dip in the mud.""Hey, why is everypony talking like Big Macintosh is going to win? I'm still in this thing!" Dash sat up and took off her sunglasses again, her eyes showing she was more than a little mad. "Do you all think I can't beat her or Big Macintosh?""Rainbow, y'all know I ain't good when it comes to lyin', and even if I were I would not lie to you. You and I are almost neck and neck when it comes to athletics, you are a bit faster than me and I am a bit stronger, and mah brother is a good heap stronger than me." Applejack said while
looking at Rainbow seriously."I don't care, I am still going to try! She is going to pay for cheating me in the Barrel Weave!" Without as so must as a goodbye Dash got up and walked away."She has got quite the temper on her." Soarin said as he watched the mare leave."It's her pride, she can't let it go." Applejack sighed, "and I reckon that pride is going to take a mighty hit."By the mud pit the Rainbow coloured mare was pacing back and forth with an angry expression across her features. "Rainbow, are you sure you want to do this? You know as well as I do that Gilda is going to do everything in her power to embarrass you again.""First Applejack and now you? Look Twilight, I am going to beat her and I don't care what you or anypony else has to say!" Rainbow's words cut Twilight a little, but the purple unicorn just gazed at Dash fondly."Look Dash, if there is anypony here that thinks you can beat her it's me. I just don't want her to have the chance to hurt you again, you asked me here because you said I can keep your temper and your pride under control... Well that's what I'm trying to do. I'm your friend and you know that, so please trust me." Twilight's voice was strong and confident and Dash smiled at her."I know Twi, it's just…Look, I know I can't beat her." Twilight's face turned from one of concern to one of pure shock. "But I can't drop out, it's the same as me telling her 'hey Gida, you win.' And she would love nothing more than that. It's not much, but I can strike back with this." Dash said while looking at the mud. "Even if it's going to suck."Twilight let out a little laugh. "Alright Dash, just be careful, you don't want to look all banged up in the winner's circle.Both ponies laughed this time but stopped as soon as Gilda came over. "Well, looks like I get to send you into the mud now, this day keeps getting better and better." Without waiting Gilda moved over to the other side and grabbed her end of the rope "Well Crash, you ready to lose? Or do you need your little fillyfriend to kiss you for luck?" Her words came out smug and condescending as she spoke.That comment earned a blush from both mares before Rainbow's expression became angry. "Why don't you shut that beak of yours before I kick it down your throat." Dash moved to her spot and grabbed the rope.Twilight gave Gilda a hateful look before she gave the signal to start. "Wow, it looks like Rainbow Dash is starting full force!" Applebloom said, pointing at the Pegasus."Must you three always yell? Trixie is getting a horn pains." Trixie said, giving the Crusaders a dry look.Scootaloo smiled at the mare, a smile that told Trixie she was not going to like what came out of the little filly's mouth. "I don't know, do you have to keep talking about yourself in third pony all the time?" Trixie shot the orange filly a look before looking out the window. "Well Trixie sees somepony's idol swimming in the mud."Scootaloo's head snapped around so fast Trixie thought it was going to pop off. "NO! Rainbow Dash!"There Dash sat, in the mud, and glaring intensely at the smug griffon. "What's wrong Crash? I thought you were going to beat me, not let down your little fan club. I guess you are nothing but a loser and a liar." Gilda walked over and took a claw full of mud and was about to drop it on Rainbow's head when the claw started glowing a faint purple."Do it and not only will I disqualify you for unsportsponylike conduct... and I will also break your wrist." Gilda searched Twilight's eyes for any sign of a bluff but found none. Rainbow was shocked, in all the time she known the mare, Dash had never heard Twilight threaten anypony, let alone actually harm them with magic."Whatever, she's already muddy." Gilda scoffed as she walked off.Dash climbed out of the mud and looked around at all the spectators, many of them pointing and laughing. "Great, now I'm the clown." She walked off before Twilight could say anything.Applejack, Spitfire and Soarin were about to to head over to where Dash was sitting, when they suddenly heard the crowd cheer loudly and they looked over to see both Gilda and Big Macintosh pulling on the rope with all they had. "Why did Twi start the final round so fast?"Macintosh held the rope in his teeth and held his neck up high as he pulled back, trying to get the Strong flier to fall. Gilda held the rope in both her talons, giving her a strong grip, both paws and hooves dug into the soft ground but neither one of them moved."She is going hoof to hoof with mah brother, no wonder she beat me so easily." Applejack was stunned, she had no idea that griffons had that much power in their limbs, it scared her a little bit."Come on big brother! Show that no good sack of feathers how we do it down on the farm!" Applejack hooted. As she cheered the others got behind Big Mac as well."WOW! Look at them go! That rope is going to snap if they keep that up!" Scootaloo shouted."Well mah big brother is the strongest pony there is, he ain't gonna lose to anypony... or some griffon!""You almost sound like Rarity when she is talking about him, she is always going on about how big and handsome he is, and about how she likes the way he sweats while he is plowing the fields." By the time Sweetie Belle finished, almost everypony was laughing.Well, almost everypony. Luna had fallen over as she was laughing, and Trixie had a blush on her cheeks as she too was starting to have thoughts of the red stallion with sweat running down his neck. Applejack was stunned, while Rainbow was rolling on the grass. Rarity let out a loud shriek of embarrassment, dashed off to the booth, and dragged her sister home for a long talk about repeating such private things in public.After hearing the little filly speak about him, Big Macintosh became distracted and Gilda took the opportunity and pulled the red pony into the mud with a resounding splash.XXXAnd we have Chapter four done! I hope Everypony likes it, I had to re-write this one about 6 times… Anyway I want to thank Rhiiazami and MikParagon for taking the time to Beta my Work, and a special thinks to Asmariamoon for her help with Trixie.Thanks to everypony that is reading my story and I love everypony that leaves comments THANKS! Happy Holidays and Happy Hearths Warming Everypony! Happy New Year!