Episode One: Belle Runner
Andrew J. Talon
A My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Fanfiction
By Andrew J. Talon
DISCLAIMER:This is a non-profit fan-made work of prose. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is the property of Hasbro. Please support the official release.
Twilight Sparkle prided herself on her organizational capabilities and her meticulous attention to detail. It was a reflection of her skill as a librarian, a researcher, an academic. All these things combined made Order paramount to her job, and she sought it out or imposed however she could.
Frankly though, Spike thought she could go more than a little overboard.
"Twilight, we do not need blueprints for a pillow fort," Spike said unhappily, his foot tapping as his unicorn mistress drew upon her writing board with a pencil and a slide rule. Next to her on the nearby table sat several books having to do with pillows, architecture, and fortifications.
"Of course we do!" Twilight said. "I mean, how else could you have fun with it?"
"Because... It's a pillow fort?" Spike asked sarcastically.
Twilight looked over her shoulder with a huff. "That is not the proper way to have fun when it involves engineering, Spike. Proper fun with engineering involves math, and charts, and strategic analysis."
"I'm just going to be fighting a few fillies for their sleepover!" Spike protested. "It's not that big a deal!"
"Of course it's a big deal!" Twilight admonished her charge, turning to face him fully. "I'm not having my wonderful assistant face down the Cutie Mark Crusaders without at least five contigency plans, two escape routes and a self destruct mechanism in case the fortress is taken!"
"Uh... Twilight, I could just knock it over for that last one," Spike pointed out. Twilight huffed and turned around.
"No Spike, we must be dilligent about this." She smiled at him. "Besides, think of how they'll scream when the pillows go everywhere from the air catapult I'm going to build!"
"Well, that would be kind of fun," Spike admitted. "But that's not my problem, exactly."
"Oh? What is?" Twilight asked. She scowled at the design, crumpled it up with her telekinesis, and tossed it into a pile of similar balls of paper. Spike coughed, and directed his eyes to the waste basket. Or rather, where the waste basket had been.
Twilight coughed, and blushed a bit. "Ah... Well... I just want it to be perfect..."
"Who was it who said that engineering something perfect is as pointless as trying to make the sun go out?" Spike asked.
"Archimedes of Hippodrome, yes, but with my gamma ray laser concept-"
"Twilight," Spike admonished, glaring at her. Twilight cringed. "You said you'd stop with the doomsday devices!"
"I am! It was just a thought experiment," the purple unicorn said.
"Twilight," Spike pressed.
She pouted. "I wouldn't even use it on our sun, you know! Princess Celestia would be quite unhappy..."
"And that's assuming I could get the funding, you know how the grant board reacted to my weather machine-"
"Twilight!" Spike shouted.
The purple unicorn sighed. "Oh... Fine." She scowled at Spike. "You know, you're not too big for me to flip you over and spank you."
"Like that would get through my scales anyway," Spike taunted. Twilight glared death at him, and her eyes began glowing. Spike gulped and held up his clawed hands.
"Not... Not that I'd like to test that," he said quickly. Twilight's eyes returned to their normal luminosity, and she smiled.
"Good," Twilight said. "Now, I have to finish some experiments downstairs, do a little research, that sort of thing. I'll be back up in time for popcorn and scary stories."
"Good," Spike said. He sighed. "I really don't think there's a cutie mark for 'fighting dragons in pillow forts' though..."
"You never know! Wouldn't that be quite the discovery?" Twilight asked cheerfully as she trotted for the door downstairs. Spike stared after her.
"You're not thinking of dissecting them are you?"
"Spike!" Twilight gasped. "I hope you're joking! Of course I wouldn't dissect them!"
"Oh, good," Spike sighed.
"Observing them in captivity is much more informative, you know that," the purple unicorn admonished with a playful smile. She trotted downstairs, leaving a gawking Spike. The purple dragon shook his head and grumbled to himself.
"Figures she gets a sense of humor at the same time she goes mad scientist, brr," he said with a shudder.
Twilight Sparkle sat in the underground lab of her library, beakers and tubes of plastic glowing and bubbling all around her in every color of the rainbow-And some that weren't even in it.
"Oooh... I'm in my Sanctum of Science and Magic and everything is right with the world," Twilight sighed, stopping to sniff a few of the books and beakers. She shivered and grinned. "And soon, I shall know all about...!"
She lifted a squash out of a bin Applejack had kindly donated to her.
"SQUASH SKIN TEMPERATURE VARIANCE TOLERANCES! MWAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA!" Twilight cackled. "MWAHAHAHAHA-!"
"Heyah Twilight!" Gaily greeted young Sweetie Belle, popping out of nowhere.
"BWAH!" Twilight cried out, her experimental squash flying out of her telekinetic grip and smashing some beakers. Twilight looked over at this damage, and then over at the innocently smiling Sweetie Belle.
"... SPIKE! YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO KEEP OUR GUESTS ENTERTAINED UPSTAIRS!" Twilight shouted.
"THEY OVERWHELMED MY POSITION! MAYDAY! MAYDAYYY!" Spike shouted back over the sounds of fillies giggling madly. "AH! NO! HAVE MERCY!"
"Mercy? Never! You will become our dragon slave and help us conquer the world!" Scootaloo cried.
"Yours will be a hellish existence until your mind is broken and your will is twisted to serve us!" Applebloom contributed. A long silence followed, before Applebloom sheepishly added, "ah, Ah found it in a book..."
"Nevermind that! Keep pushing forward!" Scootaloo cried. The sounds of pillows and books flying around could be heard above them, and Twilight raised a hoof to her face. Sweetie Belle smiled, continuing to look sooo innocent.
"Sweetie Belle... Why are you down here?" Twilight finally asked.
"I got killed in the first volley," Sweetie Belle explained. "But it was a heroic sacrifice for the cause of evil." She looked over at the smashed equipment and winced. "I'm really sorry about that... Was it really important?"
"The squash, yes. The plastic tubes? Don't really know what they do so no idea," Twilight admitted as she began telekinetically cleaning everything up. Sweetie Belle helped out as best she could with her own weaker magic.
"Really? No idea at all?" Sweetie Belle asked.
"No. They came with the lab and I didn't really mind them because they were pretty," Twilight admitted. "I probably should figure that out..."
"Anyway, I came down to see you because I was dead and because I was hoping I could learn some magic. Like, to raise myself from the dead," Sweetie Belle said.
"Like for pretend?"
"You can pretend raise yourself from the dead?" Sweetie Belle asked, eyes widening. "Wow! Neat!"
Twilight stared at her. She really didn't have much experience with young fillies, so she decided to react as she would to Pinkie Pie saying the same thing.
"Yeah, sure, let's go with that," she said.
"So, how do I pretend raise myself from the-Oooh!" Sweetie Belle shifted geared rapidly as she brought a strange device up to her eyes from the pile of debris. "Ooh! What's this?"
"Hm?" Twilight asked, looking the thing over. "Good question... I would have tried to figure this out but well... Ya know, one thing after another came up..."
"Didn't this place come with an inventory?" Sweetie Belle asked, with surprising insight. Twilight smiled at the younger pony.
"For the books, yes, but most of this stuff? No. You know who owned it before me?"
"Some nice old mare and her weird husband, I think he was a farmer because when he left all these ponies gave him a going away party with pitchforks and rakes and torches," Sweetie Belle said, turning the bizarre device this way and that in her telekinetic grip.
It was about nine inches long, with a set of bunny ear antennae sticking out of the top. On the front were several small buttons on knobs just below a screen that shifted color as she turned it this way and that.
"Hmm... Well, this is probably a good chance to use a scanning spell I recently mastered," Twilight said. She closed her eyes and her horn glowed. Beams of light issued forth from her horn, sweeping over the device in a grid like pattern, making the device look like it now had a frame of glowing wires. A wire-frame, if you will.
At last Twilight's scan was finished, and the purple unicorn raised an eyebrow.
"It's... A soul detector."
"A soul detector?" Sweetie Belle asked curiously. "How did you figure that out?"
"Well... Ahem... There's a label on the side that's slightly obscured by tape," Twilight coughed, looking to the side. "There's a power button on the back, too."
"Neato!" Sweetie Belle said. She pressed it, and the little device began to hum cheerfully, as lights blinked along the antenna and the screen turned green. "How does it work?"
"Well, presumably you point it at a pony and determine if it has a soul," Twilight said.
"Well, I mean, would that really work?" Sweetie Belle asked eagerly, as she pointed the device at the older unicorn. Twilight waved her hoof up and down vaguely.
"Well... In theory you could construct something to detect a soul, but the easiest way is to just ask Princess Celestia if you have a soul or not."
"What did she say to you?" Sweetie Belle asked.
"Yes, of course," Twilight huffed. "Why would you think otherwise?"
"Ummm..." Sweetie Belle looked at the device, then back at Twilight. She seemed quite nervous all of a sudden. "Umm... No reason."
Twilight stared at Sweetie. Sweetie stared at Twilight.
"... Why don't you let me have a look at it, Sweetie Belle?"
"Oh... Oh please, could I just um... Keep it for a little while?" Sweetie Belle asked. Twilight took it out of Sweetie's telekinetic grip and examined it, before pointing it at Sweetie Belle.
On the screen, the words "SOUL DETECTED" flashed, with an outline of Sweetie Belle with something glowing in her chest. Twilight smiled and pointed it at herself. The same thing appeared, showing an outline of Twilight with a glowing orb where it was with Sweetie Belle.
"Well, seems to be working just fine," Twilight said. "However it works. I really should take it apart and study it, you know, just to be sure-"
An explosion sounded upstairs. Twilight sighed irritably, and looked at Sweetie Belle.
"I guess I'll have to deal with whatever that was now... You put it away Sweetie, and then come up. Gah, I must have had some wires crossed to not go through this sooner, huh?"
Sweetie Belle very, very slowly nodded. "Uh... Sure..."
"Good," Twilight said with a smile as she trotted upstairs. Sweetie very carefully pointed it at the ascending pony. She looked at the screen... And her breath hitched.
NO SOUL DETECTED, it stated in bold letters, with an outline of Twilight on it. However, instead of a glowing orb in the center, within the outline was a rough skeleton made of what looked like metal components.
Up in the library, books and pillows and popcorn were scattered across like snow over a desolate battlefield. Spike, Applebloom and Scootaloo laid like broken dolls in between the debris, groaning. Twilight gasped and rushed over between them.
"Ah! What happened?" She cried.
"I fought... To the bitter end, Twilight... But they were too much...! Evil has won this day! Cute, adorable evil!" Spike gasped. Twilight rolled her eyes.
"I mean in reality."
"Oh. I think the air catapult went off too soon," Spike said. Applebloom and Scootaloo sat up with grins.
"CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS! FLANK CHECK!" Applebloom cried. Applebloom and Scootaloo checked their flanks eagerly... And then sat down in depression.
"Awww... We didn't get anything," Applebloom said.
"Maybe if we skinned him alive!" Scootaloo suggested. Spike laughed nervously.
"Aha... Ahahaha... You're joking right?" Spike asked.
"Of course she was. There was only one cutie mark for skinning dragons and it was a component mark of a greater Dragon Slaying cutie mark," Twilight lectured. "It was the cutie mark of Foe Hammer, the greatest dragon slayer in history who-"
"Of course! We need to slay him!" Scootaloo said. She turned her head to Sweetie Belle, who looked to be in the middle of tucking something under her cloak. "Hey, Sweetie! Did you get your Cutie Mark?"
"Huh? Oh, um, no, no I didn't," Sweetie Belle said quickly. "I didn't..."
"Oh. Nuts... Well, since pillow fort siege cutie marks hasn't worked out," Applebloom mused, "let's try dragon slayin'!"
"NO!" Sweetie Belle cried fearfully. At everypony's stares, she coughed.
"Uh... I-I mean... Um... I don't think I'm feeling well right now," Sweetie Belle said, coughing for effect. "I um, I think I'll just go to bed. The guest room, right?" Sweetie Belle asked. Twilight Sparkle looked at the other occupants of the room, and then back at Sweetie Belle. She smiled.
"We'll get you water and soup!" Scootaloo said happily.
"And crackers! You like crackers, right?" Applebloom asked.
"Uh, sure... You can send Spike in. I mean, you three should definitely have fun... Without us... Lots of fun," Sweetie Belle said with a nervous laugh. She backed towards the door to the guest room, her eyes on them all the time.
"Uh... By the way, Twilight, where's the R section?" She asked.
"Right behind you, actually," Twilight said, pointing her hoof at the shelf. "Spike, go get her some tea. We'll work on cleaning this up, right?" She looked at the other Cutie Mark Crusaders with a scowl. They nodded, halos appearing over their heads.
"I really need to find out how they do that..." Twilight muttered.
"Fine," Spike said flatly. He carefully walked over the pillows and books to the door to the kitchen...
"AH! Oh, wait Spike!" Sweetie Belle cried. Spike looked over at the young unicorn.
"Yes Sweetie, what is it?" Spike asked, confused.
"Umm... Just wait there, please," Sweetie Belle said. She scanned the shelves in the R section rapidly. "R... O... Aha!" She quickly pulled out a book, and hid it under her cloak. Twilight blinked rapidly.
"Uh... You know, I can help you if you want a specific book-" Twilight began, but was quickly interupted by Sweetie frantic shaking of her head.
"No no no! I'm fine! I'm really fine..." She slowly backed away into the room. "Um, Spike, you can go now... And then come in here please! Thank you!" She shut the door behind her, leaving three very confused ponies and one dragon who was equally confused, but expressed it by rolling his eyes and muttering something under his breath as he went into the kitchen.
"What was that all about?" Scootaloo wondered.
"Did you turn her into a newt, Twilight?" Asked Applebloom.
"What? No! I mean, I could but I don't have any reason to," Twilight said defensively. "And I don't think it would produce this kind of a reaction... Hmmm..." Twilight scanned the shelves... And then chuckled.
"Aw... I think I know what it is," Twilight said with a smile.
"What? What?" Scootaloo asked.
"Is she sick? Does it start with an R?" Applebloom asked worriedly. "Or an RO?"
"What kind of illness starts with RO?" Scootaloo asked skeptically. "And how would Sweetie know what it was?"
"No, no, it's not like that," Twilight said, shaking her head. "I think she has a tiny little crush on Spike."
The two younger fillies stared... And then burst out laughing.
"What? What?" Twilight said, affronted.
"No, no... Heheehehe... It's just kind of... Funny," Applebloom giggled.
"She has a crush on the guy who has a crush on her big sister, heheheheh... It's like something out of this doofy soap opera my parents watch," Scootaloo giggled.
"So she was just getting a book on romance? Hahahaha!" Applebloom giggled. "Oh... Ah guess she is gettin' close to you!"
"What's that supposed to mean?" Twilight asked irritably. Spike came out of the kitchen, holding the tea tray. He stared at the three ponies laughing and giggling away, and sighed.
"Fillies," he muttered, and he headed to the guest room.
Spike opened the door and slipped in, shutting it behind him. He looked around the comfy guest room with a frown.
"Sweetie Belle? Sweetie Belle, where are you?" Spike asked.
A cute lavender head poked it's way out from under the bed. Spike stared.
"Uh... Sweetie Belle?"
"Shh! Get under here Spike, quickly!" Sweetie ordered. Spike set the tea tray down and obeyed, sidling underneath with her. Her horn was lit, and beneath her hooves was a book.
"What is it?"
"It's terrible, it's absolutely terrible!" Sweetie Belle said, looking anguished. "See, Twilight and I found this soul detector in the basement, and I used it on Twilight, and... And..."
"And what?" Spike asked. Sweetie lifted it up to him, where on the sensor's screen it showed the last reading it had taken. His eyes widened.
"Huh? A... A Robot?"
"Yes! A robot!" Sweetie Belle said.
"Oh no... Oh no... NOT A ROBOT!" Spike cried, holding the sides of his head. "WE'RE DOOMED!"
"Shhh!" Sweetie hissed. "You want them to hear you?"
"But this is horrible! Terrible! I..." Spike paused and rubbed his chin. "What exactly is a robot, anyway?"
"That's what I wanted to know too!" Sweetie said. She pointed to the book. "And look what I found!"
"Dr. Neighnian Soong's Oy, Robots?" Spike read. He looked at the lavender pony. "Huh. I guess Twilight's library does have everything."
"Good for us! Let's see what these robots are, anyway," Sweetie Belle said.
Some time later...
"Oh come on!" Spike huffed. "This is stupid!"
"But-But the detector!" Sweetie Belle protested. Spike huffed and crossed his arms.
"You're telling me that Twilight was replaced by... By that?" He asked, pointing to a picture of a metallic, skeletal pony robot. "It's a pile of horse radishes!"
"But the detector... Twilight said it really was a soul detector!" Sweetie Belle insisted. "Why would she lie?"
"If she really was a robot, wouldn't she lie and just tell you it wasn't a soul detector?" Spike asked reasonably. "I mean, it'd let you tell that she was actually a robot, right?"
"Well..." Sweetie Belle hummed. "I... I guess..."
There was a knock at the door.
"Sweetie, Spike, you two all right in there?" Twilight asked, muffled by the door. Sweetie pointed the soul detector at the door... And gasped.
"Ah! It's still showing robot!"
"Come on! Knock it off, Sweetie," Spike groused. The lavender unicorn trembled, but gave him a stern look.
"Look... Um... In the book, it says a robot can be stopped with a logical pair of ducks."
"Paradox," Spike corrected automatically. Sweetie Belle nodded.
"Right, that. Why don't we try it on Twilight, and if nothing happens, then... Then that means she's not a robot."
The dragon heaved a large sighed.
"Sweetie Belle? Spike? You okay?" Twilight called.
"SWEETIE AND SPIKE, SITTING IN A TREE! K-I-S-S-I-N-G!" Sang Applebloom and Scootaloo through the door. Spike growled as Sweetie Belle blushed.
"Come in!" Spike called. Twilight entered, smiling.
"Everything all right?"
"Uh, yes! Yes, everything's fine," Sweetie said, tucking the book and soul detector underneath her. "It's just... We had a question! Right, Spike?" She looked to Spike. The dragon heaved a sigh and looked to the ceiling, before looking at Twilight with his arms crossed.
"Yeah," he said, less than enthused. Twilight cocked her head, as the other Cutie Mark Crusaders peeked in with grins.
"Are you asking for Sweetie's hoof in marriage?" Scootaloo teased.
"Are ya askin' if she wants the foals named after her?" Applebloom laughed.
"N-No! No! Shut up!" Sweetie said angrily-Far more angrily than usual. The two fillies stopped laughing and stared at her. Sweetie Belle coughed.
"Uh, I mean... Hahahaha... Spike ask the question," the lavender unicorn said with gritted teeth. Spike nodded, and cleared his throat.
"Right... Twilight. If I said everything I said was a lie, am I lying or am I telling the truth?"
The purple unicorn stared at him, unblinking, then frowned thoughtfully. She then smiled and laughed.
"Oh, that's silly, everything you say can't be a lie, because then you'd be lying when you say it!"
"Yeah!" Applebloom said.
"What kind of a question is that?" Scootaloo asked.
"Oh, and the tea's cold," Applebloom huffed. She took it into her mouth and trotted off. "Ah'll warm it up again!"
Twilight continued to smile... And then frowned as she rubbed her chin.
"Or... would you be telling the truth because you're lying about lying... or are you lying because you're lying about telling the truth about lying..."
Spike blinked. "Uh... Twilight?"
"Or maybe you're telling the truth about a lie, but the lie is itself the truth..." Twilight rubbed her chin. "If the truth is a lie then the lie is the truth... Argh! This doesn't compute!"
Spike's jaw dropped, as did Sweetie Belle's. Twilight sighed.
"Well, I'll have to figure that out later. Let's go have popcorn!" Twilight said cheerfully. She turned and trotted out, leaving Spike and Sweetie Belle to look at each other.
"Come on, popcorn time!" Scootaloo said. "Enough silly questions!"
"Uhhh..." Sweetie tried, but the orange pegasus galloped behind her, jumped on top of the bed and head butted them both off.
"Come on!" Applebloom cried from the kitchen. "Ya'll are actin' like yer scared or somethin'!"
"Scared? We're not scared," Spike said quickly, as he and Sweetie Belle walked ahead of the smiling Scootaloo. "Why would we be scared?"
"Why would you be?" Scootaloo asked.
"Because Sweetie Belle thinks Twilight Sparkle is a robot," Spike muttered. "Which is stupid."
"It's not stupid! She is a robot!" Sweetie Belle hissed back.
"I just need more proof, that's all," Spike said flatly.
Twilight was standing in front of the oven, her flank to all three, as they entered the kitchen. The kettle whistle blew, and Twilight screamed.
"GYAHHH!" She cried, turning towards them. Her eyes were bright red and glowing, as steam poured out of her ears and the back of her head.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!" Spike and Sweetie Belle shrieked. Scootaloo yelped as she was run over by a panicking baby dragon and unicorn filly, who ran into the guest room, grabbed the robot guide book and soul detector, and jumped right out the window into the partially cloudy night.
They ran and ran and even galloped some when Spike's legs gave out and Sweetie Belle happily allowed him onto her back. At last, they came to a stop on the far side of town, the edges of the Everfree Forest looming ominously above them. They sat down, panting desperately for breath in the moonlight. Sweetie looked out over the sleeping town, and her eyes filled with tears over the threat hanging over it.
"Oh... Spike, what are we going to do?" Sweetie Belle moaned. "We're doomed! Doomed!"
"You know, it kind of sounds silly when you say it," Spike said. A whack from Sweetie Belle's hoof changed the tenor of his next statement. "But you're right! We're doomed! Also ow!"
"I mean, if they got Twilight Sparkle, then they were able to fool Princess Celestia!" Sweetie Belle wailed. "And if they got my friends then... Then...!"
"They can make robots too stupid to be stopped by a paradox!" Spike gasped. Another whack from Sweetie Belle went across his shoulder. "Ow! Quit it!"
"It's a library full of evil robots!" Sweetie Belle cried. "They're going to turn us into robots next and take out our souls waaahhhh!"
"Now calm down, Sweetie Belle," Spike said consoling, rubbing Sweetie's hoof. "It's all right. We just have to launch an attack on Robo Sparkle and the others out there, and make them tell us where our friends are!"
"Right!" Sweetie Belle said with a nod. "Right... Then what?"
"What do you mean, then what?" Spike asked incredulously. "Then we stop the robot infiltration, save the world! I mean, I have been involved in saving the world more than a few times. I know what I'm doing!"
"Twice," Sweetie Belle said.
"You've been involved in saving the world twice," Sweetie said, sniffling.
"That's as many times as Twilight Sparkle!" Spike protested.
"And you didn't do anything against Nightmare Moon."
Spike rubbed the back of his head. "Well, yeah, that's very close to the actual description of events-"
"And you didn't do anything against Discord-"
"I was Rainbow Dash!" Spike protested.
"And it'd just be us against her and she has Twilight's super magic and laser eyes-"
"We'd have... Uh... The Cutie Mark Crusaders?" Spike tried. Sweetie Belle stared at him. He stared back. Spike finally looked away, crossed his arms, and huffed.
"Well, I suppose you have a better idea?"
"We need to get help from the others!" Sweetie Belle said, determined. "Right now!"
"You're right!" Spike said. He tried to get to his feet... And slumped over. "Right... Right after I rest my eyes..." He yawned.
"Ah! Spike! Spike, no! Don't go to sleep!" Sweetie Belle gasped, shaking the dragon frantically. "No! No don't..." Her own adrenaline rush petered out, and she felt her eyelids grow heavy.
"No... The robot menace..." She yawned and rested her head on the belly of the sleeping dragon, soon passing out in the warm night air.
Well, in all honesty I'm going to finish Progress soon. I only write when I have a story to tell, and Progress has been told. So this is going to be my new main project, as long as my muse stays on this path.
Why did I have to get Pinkie Pie for a Muse, I ask you?