The sun beat down on Twilight as if Celestia herself was against this mission. Each hoof beat against the hard ground echoed her heart, longing for the one thing that could bring her solace…
Twilight jumped at the voice that interrupted her reverie. "WAHHHH!" she shouted, leaping into the air. She landed on her back, facing the speaker. "Pinkie Pie! You scared me half to death!"
Pinkie examined Twilight, poking behind her ears, under her eyes, in her mouth. "Neh, only about a quarter I'd say. If you were half dead you'd look like this." She lolled her tongue out and fluttered her eyes.
Twilight groaned and turned away from the earth pony. Unperturbed, Pinkie bounced behind the unicorn as she restarted towards the main part of Ponyville, slower this time.
Twilight didn't respond.
"Twilight. Hey, Twilight. Twilighttttt. Twiligghttt Sparrrrkleeee. Twiiiiiiiiiii—"
"WHAT?" Twilight growled, flipping around to face the earth pony. She blinked in surprised; Pinkie was nowhere to be found. Breathing a sigh of relief, she turned around to continue her trek to Ponyville.
Only to be met by the face of the pink pony.
Twilight gave another yelp, but didn't jump this time. Pinkie grinned.
"You must be getting used to me! That's awesome." Twilight started trotting again with Pinkie Pie hot on her heels, still chattering. "Of course, it means I'll have to start switching it up. And I do love switching it up. Oh! I know! Maybe I'll start acting like Fluttershy. Wouldn't that be funny? Could you imagine me being all 'Um… well…?' Could you? Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just soooo un-Pinkie! But anyway Twilight, you didn't answer my question."
"What question, Pinkie?" Twilight asked in a monotone voice.
"What thing what?" Twilight didn't even bother stopping. The sooner she got to Ponyville the sooner she could get rid of Pinkie.
"What thing can bring you solace?"
At this, Twilight actually did come to a halt. "My book," she muttered. She had almost forgotten about it, as eager as she was to shake Pinkie. "Wait, how did you know about that?"
"You were narrating again. You do that sometimes."
"Yeah, under your breath. You were saying that you were 'longing for the one thing that could bring her solace.' In the third person and everything."
Twilight brought a hoof to her face. "Do I do that a lot, Pinkie?"
Twilight nodded, cringing.
"Yeah. But it's no big deal! Everypony thinks out loud sometimes. Very few do it so… eloquently!"
Twilight smiled at her friend. "Thanks, Pinkie. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a book to find." She cantered off as Pinkie bounced in the opposite direction, probably heading to get into some shenanigans with Rainbow Dash.
"Now to find that book!" Twilight muttered to herself, suddenly very conscious about all the words that left her mouth. As she passed Rarity's boutique, something hit her. "I've missed something." Sitting down, she closed her eyes and reviewed everything that had just happened.
She had set out from the library to head to the middle of town. Spike had told her to be careful and to watch out for zombie ponies. She had almost run over the Cutie Mark Crusaders as she galloped off. Pinkie Pie delayed her, told her about her bad habit of muttering under her breath and then had bounced off as suddenly as she had come. Then she had come here and remembered… something.
"There's something… something…" she muttered to herself.
"Something is right, darling." Rarity's voice caused Twilight's eyes to snap open.
"Rarity! I didn't see you there!"
"Quite alright, dear. I hope I didn't interrupt…?"
Twilight's face fell in disappointment. "Was I thinking out loud?"
Rarity nodded. "But it's quite alright dear! I was as well." She gestured towards Twilight's left. "Those two are up to something."
Twilight followed Rarity's hoof to see Pinkie Pie smiling up at a blue pegasus.
Pinkie Pie was always hanging out with Rainbow Dash!
"That's it!" Twilight shouted, leaping up and bolting towards the duo. As she neared, Rainbow Dash nervously glanced at her and raced off.
With a groan of frustration, Twilight skidded to a stop beside Pinkie Pie.
"What's wrong, Twi?" Pinkie asked, the picture of innocence.
Twilight turned accusing eyes to the pink pony. "Do you know where Rainbow's off to? Why she sped away so fast?"
Twilight blinked at Pinkie as the earth pony smiled politely. A moment of silence passed between the two.
"Well… can you tell me?"
Twilight gave her friend an exasperated look. "Pinkie Pie."
"Twilight, I made a Pinkie Promise! Nopony breaks a Pinkie Promise. Not even Pinkie Pie!"
"Please, Pinkie Pie, this is really important." Twilight pawed at the ground, her anger slowly turning into despair.
"I know Twilight, but losing a friend's trust is the…"
"The fastest way to lose a friend."
"FOREVER!" Pinkie cried. She smiled apologetically at Twilight. "Sorry, but it's true."
Twilight nodded. "I'm not mad. You stick to your principles." She bowed her head and walked off mournfully.
"Looks like this is a dead end…"
"Looks like this is a dead end, Daring Do!"
"You wish, Ahuitzotl!"
Okay, so it was a wall covered in snakes. Why did it have to be snakes? But Daring could get out of it… somehow. She turned around to see Ahuitzotl's pack of cats coming towards her. Snakes or cats. Which one, Daring?
A break in the pack opened up as the tiny kitten charged forward. They'll never learn. With a coy smile, Daring leapt for the hole. As she opened her wings to sail through the gap, a hand reached down and caught her. Struggling against the grasp, Daring kicked and squirmed.
Ahuitzotl laughed maniacally at her efforts. "Try all you want, Daring Do! You will not escape me this time!" He threw her down into a waiting cage, and banged the door shut. "Now, Daring Do. Tell me why you so rudely invaded my home and ruined my afternoon."
Daring glared up at Ahuitzotl in defiance. "You know why I came Ahuitzotl!"
The monstrous villain blinked at her as she stared at him accusingly. "Actually, I have no idea. Please, enlighten me." He leaned back on his giant throne.
Daring banged her hooves against the bars. "You stole my hat, you nasty-smelling son of a –"
"A hat? All this about a hat?" Ahuitzotl laughed, writhing on his seat. The cats gathered around him stared at him as he giggled. When he straightened up, he had tears in his eyes. "Daring Do, the famous adventurer. I would think that a treasure hunter like you could find your hat!"
"I'm not a treasure hunter… I'm an archaeologist." Daring grumbled as her archenemy was struck by another fit of chuckling.
"Well then maybe that's your problem! You couldn't dig up what's already on your head!"
Any further laughing was interrupted by a blow to the head. Daring had found a rock in her cage and had pelted Ahuitzotl with it.
"Or maybe I couldn't find my favorite hat because you had stolen it!" she growled.
Ahuitzotl glared down at Daring Do with contempt. The tense moment seemed to last a lifetime. It ended as Ahuitzotl snapped his fingers, summoning the tiny white kitten to him. He stroked it as he stared down at the adventurer.
"I've stolen a lot of things from you, Daring Do, but I have never taken your hat." He stood up. "However," he started, sticking his face close to the bars. Daring could smell his foul breath. "Since you are so passionate about this… hat, I think I'll set you free to find it." With his tail hand, Ahuitzotl drew a key and unlocked the cage.
Daring blinked up at him as he opened the door. "You're just letting me go?"
Ahuitzotl shrugged. "This was all just a misunderstanding. Although I am very offended that you assumed that it was I who had stolen it." He huffed dramatically.
"No, Ahuitzotl. You hate me. I'm Daring Do, your archenemy."
"And I am letting you free. You should take this opportunity before I change my mind."
Without another word, Daring spread her wings and took off for the skies and freedom. As she flew off, she heard Ahuitzotl's maniacal laugh.
"He's up to something…" she muttered. But she couldn't dwell on it now. She had a crystal to save from the Neighzis, and a hat to find.
"Let's do this." With a final adjustment to her slightly-less-lucky hat, Daring Do dashed off into the sunset.