Discord takes a hand… hoof… claw… whatever! – Part 2

Babs Seed was a little dizzy. She felt like she'd been scooped up by some tornado and carried along whether she wanted to or not. Her young cousin and friends were the source of the confusion. Why were they going to so much trouble, and why was it necessary to show her the place where they thought of ideas or ate in their clubhouse?

While it would be really wonderful to be part of a group again, even one as wacky as they were, she couldn't get rid of a deep suspicion that it was all too good to be true. The fact that they went into a huddle to discuss her was suspicious. Maybe the whole over-acting thing was just a way of seeing how desperate she was, or a way of making fun of her. The problem was that she _was_ desperate.

If Apple Bloom knew why she'd come here in the first place, she'd be able to guess that Babs would be willing to take any scrap of friendship she was offered. Despite her fear, she was weakening, but she hadn't given in yet. The fear of being led on and then turned upon was still too strong. Plus, if it happened and she went to Applejack about it, she knew who'd be believed.

Then they showed her the float they'd been building, and she was almost ready to cry. Getting a chance to play with something like that would be cool, if it wasn't a trap. She laughed nervously as the Pegasus, Scootaloo, offered her the chance.

"As a member of the Cutie mark Crusaders, you'd be able to ride on it with us! It'd be totally fun!"

Then a snotty voice spoke from the doorway. "More like funny… looking!"

The last word was spoken in chorus with another. Two fillies stood there, one in a diamond tiara and the other with glasses. Babs had never seen them before, but her hackles went up as she felt an instant dislike for the pair. This was quickly confirmed by the way they started insulting the float. Then they got on to her. Apple Bloom introduced her, and that seemed to impress them slightly. At least they didn't group her with the others.

"Suppose you're gonna join their little club? What's it called? The Cutie Mark Crusaders?" The grey coated filly asked mockingly.

Babs felt sick. So even here she couldn't escape the bullies! The way they'd said 'blank flanks' showed they were exactly the same as her tormentors in Manehatten. In an instant she started remembering all the horrible things that had happened. But there was a way out, they hadn't grouped her with the other blank flanks yet, if she agreed with them, maybe she could escape…

The sickness turned to anger, herself for being so weak, her cousin, for putting her in this situation, those two bullies for existing… She'd be becoming what she hated most, and abandoning ponies who'd wanted her to be their friend without any strings, or at least had said they did. But she couldn't go through what happened to her in Manehatten again, and the Crusaders hadn't defended themselves, or her.

The mix of hate and anger and fear and suffering focussed down into a single sharp point, and pierced her confusion. This was what her dream had been about, and she knew what she had to do, the only thing she could. She gave a deep sigh.

"More like Cutie-mark Crybabies!" She gave a derisive chuckle as her cousin gasped.

Diamond Tiara grinned as she approached with a smirk on her own face. "Oooo, heh, big city attitude! I like it!"

"Oh yeah? Well there's more where that came from." Babs snarked. Now nearly face to face with the pair she added, "Your mommas dress you funny, and I think you stepped in something crossing the yard… oh, no that's just your natural aroma. Phew!"

Watching the smile slip off the pink pony's face was so much fun. "What? But…"

"Oh, you thought I was talking about my cousin and her friends? Forget about it! You must think I'm as stupid as you are! I know your sort, we have them in Manehatten too, parading their butt-tattoos around like they were the be all and end all of creation! Cutie-mark crybabies is the perfect term for ponies like you, bragging about your cutie-marks because you've got nothing else to be proud of!"

"You can't talk to be like that!" Diamond Tiara spluttered out. "My daddy is the richest pony in Ponyville!"

"Heh!" It felt so _good_ to unload, and while she had no intention of following their actions, the insults and comments that the bullies in Manehatten had used on her, and the retorts she'd only thought of too late gave her a wonderful reserve of ammunition.

"Big hairy deal! I'm from Manehatten, remember? I know a dozen ponies who could buy your dad and everything he owns with their weekly allowance! Speaking of which, Apple Bloom, does her daddy own Sweet Apple Acres?"

The stunned farm filly finally found her voice and replied, "No, the Apple family has owned it since Ponyville was founded."

"So when did you invite these two prissy pony princesses to come visit?"

"Invite them? No, never have…"

"Never would, more like!" called out Scootaloo.

"That means these two are trespassing." She gave a distinctly sinister grin, and the two fancy ponies took a step back.

"Well, not exactly, everyone's welcome here." Apple Bloom admitted.

"Well, I guess they've worn out their welcome then." Babs suggested.

"You can't do this!" Diamond Tiara finally managed to splutter.

"Do what? I'm just asking Apple Bloom a harmless question. If I was doing something, you'd know about it." She gave another evil smile. "Yeah, you'd definitely know about it."

The two fancy ponies took several more steps back, and then Diamond Tiara managed to get some of her composure back. "Huh, it's not like there's anything in this stinky old yard that's worth our time anyway!"

"Yeah, like what-ever!" Silver Spoon chipped in.

They started to leave at just short of a run; then Diamond Tiara stepped on a shovel that had somehow fallen across their path, snapping it. She face planted in the mud, and the broken end flew up in the air, arcing over and in through the hay-loft entrance into the barn. It bounced off a beam, and knocked a sealed paint tin off a shelf, which in turn toppled a stack of boxes, one of which tumbled off the loft level and crashed down on the front wheel assembly of the float.

It crunched enthusiastically, snapping off, and the whole float tipped over and started to roll. Babs jumped out of the way as it went through the barn doorway. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, who'd just helped her mistress up out of the mud, did a wild take before taking to their hooves and running for it, pursued by the rolling float like an archaeologist in the more pulpy class of action movies.

They dived across the gateway of Sweet Apple Acres a dozen steps ahead of the pumpkin, and Diamond Tiara even had to scoop up her fallen tiara to stop it from being flattened. The float rolled off into a ditch, where it crumpled up in a pile of splinters and torn orange wallpaper. Babs had stood where she'd ended up, watching with open mouthed horror at the wreckage.

She was pretty sure that if the pair had been run down, they'd have just been flattened momentarily (the high natural background magic of Equestria sometimes protected ponies in odd ways) but she was just as glad she didn't have to find out. However, she'd only intended to scare them off, and she most definitely hadn't meant to get the float damaged.

Her shoulders slumped, she'd made the right choice, she was certain of that, but then she'd ruined it. Her cousin and her friends were never going to forgive her for destroying all their hard work, even by accident. She turned around to face the music. What she got was a triumphal pean.

"Woah! That was amazing!" Apple Bloom was wide eyed.

Scootaloo was so energised she was practically hovering, "Yeah! Totally awesome!"

Sweetie Belle added. "I've never seen any-pony take on those two like that!"

"uh…" The Manehattan filly was rather nonplussed. "What about your float? I didn't mean to get it wrecked I just wanted to see those two gone as fast as possible."

"C'mon, anypony can see that was some crazy accident. Besides, we can build another float." Apple Bloom dismissed it with a wave of a hoof. "Especially if we had another member of the Cutie Mark Crusaders to help us?"

She held out a hoof, and Babs felt a wave of relief. She blew her fringe away from her face and put her own hoof out to touch her cousin's. The other two ponies added theirs, and the three fillies, joined a second later by their newest member, yelled out, "Cutie mark Crusaders, HO!"

Discord had a smirk that was even bigger than usual as he paused the image. "Well?"

Princess Luna turned towards him, from where she was sitting on the couch. "Very well, I admit it, your actions improved the futures of those ponies."

"Ha!" A line of mini-Discords in cheer leader outfits appeared, dancing along the back of the couch, complete with a brass band marching theme. "And you doubted my skills! Now uphold your end of our agreement."

Luna found her own costume had changed to match the cheer-leaders', and switched it back to her default regalia with a flick of her horn and a sigh. "Very well, I shall allow you free access to the dream realm to pursue similar modifications, and provide you with proof to show my earlier selves."

The midnight blue alicorn frowned. "One thing though, the float still getting wrecked…"

"What, you suspect I gave it some assistance?" Discord put on a 'butter wouldn't melt in my mouth' expression, and just to prove it, made a stick of butter appear and held it between his teeth. It immediately developed icicles.

"Ptooie!" He spat it off into the darkness that surrounded the comfy couch. "That shovel falling into her path was merely caused by a vagrant gust of wind, that in turn was caused by a microscopic variation in the evaporation of water from a tree in the Everfree forest, due to a para-sprite flapping its wings a few seconds earlier than it did in the original timeline. What could have startled it? Who knows?"

He smirked. "It does mean we still get to see the build sequence. I did rather enjoy watching that, and listening to the background music."

"Actually, I found it rather catchy too." Luna admitted. "I am indeed interested to see what else this 'television program' can show us. Humans appear to be ingenious creatures."

"Wait until I show you their video games." Discord gave a chuckle, and started the program again.