Diaries of a Madman

When Discord breaks free of his stone prison, he proves to be much older and wiser than he was on the show. A being of ancient and unimaginable power, he forces Celestia to make a deal to save her little ponies. What she doesn't realize is that one of the terms of the deal is that she forgets ever making it. Enter Navarone, a poor human just trying to get by—or at least, to the ponies that's what he looks like. Pulled from his home by an accidental summoning from one Twilight Sparkle, Navarone is thrust into a world of ponies and more violence than he expected from such a peaceful seeming world. These are his adventures—with a few asides from everybody's favorite Lord of Chaos, of course.

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144. Chapter One Hundred and Nineteen—Too Many Pinkies

Of course, my first thought was that we found another crazy changeling hiding in the Everfree. My hand immediately went down to my dagger and I stepped forward. “Pinkie, step away from the changeling.”

“That’s not a changeling, silly!” one of the Pinkies said, giggling. “That’s me!”

“...Alright, how is that you?” I asked. The other Pinkie was looking at me strangely, as though she had never seen me before. Which might have technically been true.

“This is the mirror pool! It can make copies of anypony. Oh, I bet it can copy you, too!”

“First, that’s retarded. Second, cloning me would probably be the worst possible thing that could happen to this world. Third, why the hell did you think it would be a good idea to clone yourself?”

“Because when I have to leave again, she’ll be able to do everything in Ponyville that I couldn’t! And then Aerie can tell me all about it once she puts herself into Pinkie 2.0!”

“That is literally the dumbest thing I have ever heard. I give it less than six hours for everything to go to shit. It’ll be fun.”

The other Pinkie flinched and her body jerked. “Fun?” she asked, her eyes going wide.

“...Pinkie, how much does this thing know?” The other Pinkie started hopping around the place, just chanting ‘fun’ over and over.

“I dunno,” Pinkie Prime said, shrugging. “Anyway, can we keep her?”

Oh yeah, now you ask me. “Sure, why not.” At least until Twilight can tell us how to get rid of it. I reached to the back of my head and pulled out the blue scrunchy holding my hair in a ponytail. “Just put this around your tail so I can tell you’re the original.”

When the real Pinkie grabbed it, the other stopped jumping around and landed in front of me, looking up to my face. “Are you fun?” she sweetly asked.

“Only if you know what sex is. Do you know my name?”

She shook her head. Then her eyes went wide. “New friend time! I’m Pinkie Pie! What’s your name?”

“Navarone. Pinkie Prime, are we heading back to town soon? I’m getting a bad vibe from this place.”

“No no, not prime,” the fake abomination said. “It’s Pinkie Pie! You know, the food! Also, what’s sex?”

The real Pinkie just giggled. “Don’t worry about it, silly,” she said, wrapping a leg around her doppelganger’s neck. “Now let’s go back to town. We have a long day ahead of us!”

“A long day of fun?”

“Yep! Come on, Navi. Let’s get going.”

“Oooh, Navi! I like that name!” the fake one said. “Come on, Navi!”

“Don’t call me that,” I sighed, knowing it wouldn’t do any good.

“What was that, Navi?” she asked, her ears flopping around as she struggled to hear whatever I might say.

“I said not to call me that.”

“Nope! Navi it is, Navi! It’s too cute not to use!”

I wish I could hate you to death. Either way, I fell into silence, cursing myself for having the ill fortune of not being a stillbirth. As we exited the cave, the real Pinkie started briefing the fake Pinkie on all her friends and responsibilities. The fake Pinkie seemed very excited about most of what she was being told, but didn’t seem too happy to have an air elemental all up in her shit. Given that Aerie was apparently not around at the moment, she was saved from having that thrust upon her.

The real Pinkie stopped on the outskirts of town. Of course, we stopped with her, but I only did because both Pinkies grabbed me before I could walk too far away. “Want to do something fun, Nav?” the real Pinkie asked. At that point, I only knew it was her because of the scrunchy around her tail.

“Can’t,” I said. “Taya will be waking up soon and she’s in a new place. I don’t want her to panic or something, so I want to be there when she does.” That was mostly a lie. I really doubt she’d panic, but I also really wanted to get away from Pinkie.

Of course, she also knew I was lying, but she couldn’t really call me on it. Fatherly duties and worries trump all, thankfully. “Then who else is supposed to show Pinkie Po around town?” she whined. “If I do it, everypony will think she’s a changeling and then she can’t have any fun!”

“She could pretend to be Doppel,” I said with a shrug. “I bet all the stallions would love her, then.”

“Bad Navi!” the real Pinkie said, gently swatting me with a hoof. “Pinkie Po is too innocent!”

“What would all the stallions love?” the fake one asked. I guess we were calling her Po now, or something. Pinkie’s gonna Pinkie.

Sadly, the real Pinkie gave me a look that promised retribution if I started corrupting her clone, so I kept my mouth shut. She just said, “Don’t you worry your beautiful little head about it. But we have to say goodbye to Navi now.”

“Aww, do we have to? Can’t we just go with her?”

“You could try Bon-Bon,” I said, prying the fake Pinkie away from my leg. “She’d know immediately that this isn’t a changeling, and can at least point you in the right direction. Or you could just send her in and let her figure everything out on her own. It would be fun!”

“I like fun!” the fake Pinkie immediately said, looking toward the real one with hope in her eyes.

“Then fun it is!” the real one shouted. “Have at it, Pinkie Po!” She waved a hoof into town and the other one immediately started bouncing that way, a playful gleam in her eyes.

I spread my wings and jumped into the air immediately, because I knew Pinkie would probably want to talk to me about something. Sure enough, as soon as I got up, she lunged toward where I had been standing, trying to hug me or something. By that point, it was too late and I was already flying toward Vinyl’s pad, pretending I didn’t hear her calling me.

As I flew over town, I noticed the fake Pinkie already talking to other ponies. That wasn’t my problem and I knew it would make all kinds of trouble later, so I just ignored her and flew right to Vinyl’s house. Since everyone was so trusting in most pony areas, her door was unlocked, so I just let myself in and went up to where Taya was just getting out of bed.

“Good timing,” I said, letting myself in. At that point, I really needed a shower, since bleeding from your vag is very unsanitary.

“So… what did you do all night?” Taya asked as I walked to where I left my clothes.

“Painted some down in the foyer. Then I spent some time wandering around since my hands were getting cramped. Found Pinkie and let her do something really stupid. I hope you feel like spending the day either indoors or in Whitetail Woods.”

“...What did she do?”

“Made a magic clone of herself. Now there are two Pinkies out and about, and I’d much rather stay away from the area until Twilight does magic on the fake one to make it disappear.”

“What makes you think Twilight would do anything?”

“This is Twilight we’re talking about. She’s pretty much the embodiment of anti-fun.”

“What about that time—”

“Embodiment, I say! Now, I’m going to go take a shower, and then we can see what Vinyl has in her house that’ll work for breakfast. Well, you can take a shower while I see what she has.”

“I took one last night.”

“Well fine, then. You can go see what she has for breakfast. Either way, I’m taking a shower. See you in a few.” Thankfully, she stopped contradicting me and let me shower in peace. When I got out and went to the kitchen, though, she was just sitting at the table, not making any attempts to cook or eat anything. “So… not hungry?”

“There’s no breakfast food here,” she said with a shrug.

“Anything’s a breakfast food if you’re in the right mood,” I replied, going to the fridge. When I popped it open, I saw plenty of stuff just sitting there. “All kinds of leftovers in here, Taya. Mind, I wouldn’t trust anything except for the stuff we made last night, but there’s plenty of that, too. You just need a better imagination.”

“What’s wrong with having a bad imagination?”

“You wouldn’t be about to eat if I didn’t have one. So there’s that.” I started heating the stuff up, because no one likes refrigerated food that isn’t pizza. While it heated, I sat at the table as well. “So, any thoughts on what you want to do today?”

“You’re the one that wanted to come to Ponyville, daddy.”

“And you’re the one that agreed to go with me. If you don’t think of anything, we’ll just go running. You’re looking a little pudgy there, dear.”

“I am not!”

I reached in and pinched at her belly, grabbing some skin. “See this? This is pudge. And your stamina is awful.” I let her cute pudge go and sat back. “Going jogging sounds like a good idea.”

“...It doesn’t sound very fun.”

“God no. Exercise isn’t supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to be miserable. After all, pain is weakness leaving the body.”

“You’re not making it sound any better, daddy.”

“I wasn’t trying to. But the things you need to do often aren’t the things you want to do, and like it or not, you need to exercise. All the magic in the world won’t do you any good if someone manages to get too close. Being able to run away is important.”

“Or I could just teleport away.”

Or you could stop being a recalcitrant little bitch and just do what I say. “Too bad. We’re going running after we eat. You know you need exercise when you can’t even walk up a flight of stairs without stopping to catch your breath.”

“There were hundreds of stairs! It took us five minutes to get to the top!”

“That’s beside the point. You ain’t gonna finagle your way outta this one, Taya.” She looked away quite sullenly, crossing her forehooves. It was convenient that she decided to see things my way at that point, since the food finished warming up. I put it and some plates on the table and said, “Eat lightly. You don’t want to exercise after eating too much.”

“So if I eat enough, I don’t have to exercise?”

“No, it just means we’ll walk around Whitetail Woods for an hour before we start. We can’t do too much with you anyway, since you’re new to this and I don’t know what a good regimen is for an adorable filly—” to which she rolled her eyes, of course, “—so it’ll just be a way of finding your limits and learning what we need to work on. It’ll be good for you. Put hair on your chest.”

“My chest is already covered in hair, daddy.”

“It’s a figure of speech.”

Your chest doesn’t have hair on it.”

“That’s because I’ve been wounded so badly that hair doesn’t grow anywhere on my body except for my head, because that’s where the princesses spent the most effort reconstructing. And also because I’m a chick. And once again, because it’s a figure of speech. Now, are you gonna eat, or do you want to start the day hungry?”

She sighed and started eating, but almost immediately stopped. “You need to eat, too.”

“I don’t need to.”

“And I don’t need exercise. I’ll start running if you start eating normally.”

“Oh come on. Eating takes so much time.”

“You can drag me outside and into the woods if you want, but I’m not running unless you start eating.”

“If I start eating, that means you’ll have less to eat.”

“Good. You said I was getting pudgy and that I had to eat lightly. So get a plate, daddy.”

Ugh. Fucking teenagers, man. Flo, advice?

“My advice is to get a plate. She’s right, you do need to start eating. Especially since you still aren’t fully recovered from losing all that blood. It wasn’t just a little you lost, Nav. That much would probably put a normal human down for several days.”

“You are far too bossy for a daughter,” I sighed, getting up to get a plate. Taya just smiled viciously as she started eating again.

The walk/run through the woods went about as well as expected, with me learning quickly that Taya is not at all good at physical stuff. She spent far too much time lounging around with magic books and not enough time doing things that aren’t lounging around with magic books.

We were only out of town for around three or four hours. Most of that time was just spent roaming the woods normally, since Taya didn’t have the endurance to do anything else. So we got back to town around lunch time. It was also around the time that it was getting destroyed by a massive horde of Pinkies.

Of course, we didn’t realize there were a ton of Pinkies until we actually got to the market and saw about ten of them jumping from place to place, chanting “Fun” over and over. I think both of our mouths dropped.

It took me several seconds to say what we were both thinking: “What the fu—”

“NAV!” I stopped what I was saying and looked up to find Rainbow Dash floating right above me. “What do we do?!”

“Why the hell are you asking me?”

“Twilight’s not here and you always know what to do! There are way too many Pinkies for anypony else to deal with.”

“Then quarantine the fuckers. Who else is here?”

“Everypony but the real Pinkie and Twilight. We’re all in town.”

“Get them all together, find the biggest building in the town, and start stuffing it with Pinkies. Keep Rarity and Fluttershy on the doors to make sure none get out. Taya, you help Dash. I’m gonna go find the original.”

“How could you find the original in all this mess?” Dash demanded, finally landing.

“I have my ways. And you have your job. Now hurry up before they actually break something important.”

“Ugh, fine! But you better hurry!” She shot off in some random direction.

“Taya, follow her. No time for debate.”

“Hey, I’m not gonna say no to getting to magic a bunch of Pinkies.” She started trotting after Dash, a slightly disturbing smile on her face. That wasn’t any of my business, though, so I started looking for pink with a dash of blue.

As I walked, I surveyed the damage the Pinkies had done to the place. Most of it was superficial, thankfully, and nothing the town hadn’t suffered through before thanks to Pinkie or her friends. There were several bands of roaming Pinkies, each chanting fun and accosting any of the ponies or me that they saw. I got around them by ignoring them. Most of the ponies got around them by panicking and running away.

Finally, I found the original sitting by herself in a cafe, looking positively miserable. I joined her and spared a glance for the menu, then figured it was unlikely that a waiter would be coming by anyway.

“So how ‘bout that weather?” I asked, leaning forward in my seat. She just sighed, her head flopping down to the table. “The forecast says we’re gonna be seeing a metric fuckton of Pinkies. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about that, would you?”

“I dunno,” she grunted.

“It certainly seems like you would, Pinkie. You’re the only one that knew where that weird clone lake thing was.”

“Aren’t the others all me, too?” she asked, her eyes barely flicking toward me before seeming to give up. “I bet they know…”

“I kinda doubt it. They seem legally retarded, whereas you’re only the fake retarded.”

“Well I don’t!” she snapped. “How can I know I’m me and they’re not, huh?!”

“Because you’re wearing the blue scrunchy that I gave you this morning.”

“Coincidence! Any of the others could have put that on.”

I hopped up and walked around behind her, grabbing her tail’s dock. “This one still has a green hair stuck in it. Green like my hair. You know, where this came from. Come on, Pinkie. You’re the real one. This isn’t that hard.”

“That could just be coincidence, too!”

“God dammit, Pinkie, you’re starting to piss me off.”

She suddenly looked really serious and said, “You shouldn’t say that.”

“What? Dammit? I cuss all the time. Get over it.”

“No, God. He’s a meanie-head and you had to suffer because of it.”

“...You’re the real Pinkie, Pinkie. None of the others would know that.” She blinked a few times before realization clicked in her eyes and she jumped up to snatch me in a hug.

“You’re right! I am the real Pinkie!”

“Yeah, sure, whatever. Now, we need to go.”

“Not until you hug me back!”

I rolled my eyes and hugged her back, secretly delighting in the way her squishy body molded against mine as I hugged her. Not that I would ever tell her that, of course. Hugging mares just feels good, is all.

Anyway, when I let her go, she finally backed away, smiling from ear to ear. “Dash and the others are quarantining the fake Pinkies. How do we get rid of them?”

“I dunno.”

“What do you mean, you don’t know?! You’re the one that knew about the clone pool!”

“Well, yeah, but I don’t know how to get rid of them! Ask Twilight. She’s the magic one, silly!”

God dammit, Pinkie. “Christ. She’s not even in town yet and there’s no telling when she’ll get here. We need to make sure we have all the fake ones locked up and then find a way to keep them there until Twilight can get here.”

“Who’s Christ?”

“I’ll tell you later. Let’s go.” I started walking toward where I was hoping Dash and the others would be locking the fake Pinkies. Given that I didn’t see any of them as we walked, I assumed they were doing their job well.

“So how are we gonna keep them there?” Pinkie asked as she skipped next to me.

“I have something in mind,” I said, trying not to smile. Flo, of course, face palmed, but didn’t even waste the time to convince me that it was a bad idea.

“What do you have in mind?” Pinkie asked.

“Oh, you’ll see. You’ll see…”

“Oooorrrr… you could tell me!”

“Nah. So, how the hell did one turn into a hundred?”

“One wasn’t enough, silly! So I went back and made two more, and then they made four more, and then it sorta got outta hoof. Aerie thinks it’s funny, though!”

“Wait, why didn’t Aerie just tell you that you’re the real you?”

“She doesn’t talk much. She just sometimes tells me to do something that’s fun.”

“Here’s a tip in the future: If Aerie tells you to do something, you probably shouldn’t do it.”

“She’s telling me to not listen to you.”

“See there? You probably shouldn’t not listen to me.”

“I… should not not listen to you?”

“Yes.”

“Okay!” She continued bouncing next to me in silence for a few seconds before stopping. “Wait, what?”

“Don’t worry about it. We’re there.” Or at least, we were in front of the building that Applejack was tossing a Pinkie into while Rarity and Fluttershy stood next to the outer doors. “Get them all?” I asked.

“Well, we missed that one,” Applejack said, nodding to the one next to me. “I’ll fix that right up.”

“This is the real one,” I said, putting a hand on Pinkie’s back.

“How can you tell?” Rarity asked. “And when did you even get in town?”

“Last night. I can tell because of this.” I reached back to her tail and lifted it up, showing off the scrunchy.

“While I can’t deny that’s an adorable fashion accessory, it hardly means anything,” Rarity said, waving a hoof.

“I put it on her this morning right after she made the first clone,” I said, dropping Pinkie’s tail.

She made these?” Applejack asked.

“Sure did!” Pinkie happily said as she practically bounced in place. “Aerie said it would be fun and Nav didn’t tell me not to!”

“Now that ain’t quite true,” I broke in, holding up a hand. “I didn’t know you were going to make clones. And I told you upfront that I knew it would end in disaster in about six hours. Coincidentally, that was about six hours ago. But hell, I didn’t know how to get rid of the damn thing and I figured killing it would be bad form. But anyway, that’s beside the point. We got to deal with this. Where’s Dash and Taya?”

“Looking for any more,” Applejack said. “But no, that ain’t beside the point. Pinkie, you said Aerie told you to do this?”

“No! Well, mostly no. She just said it would be funny.”

“...Y’all ever consider… I dunno, not listening to her?”

“Hey, Nav said the same thing! Why wouldn’t I listen to her?”

Applejack slowly looked around the area we were in, which had all kinds of minor damage from the storm of Pinkies. “Does the phrase ‘property damage’ mean anythin’ to you? Those Pinkies destroyed all kinds of stuff at my farm!”

“Applejack, please,” Rarity said, stepping in and putting a hoof on her shoulder. “We can assess proper blame after the Pinkies have been dealt with. Until then, we need a way to keep them occupied until we can deal with them.”

“Unless you guys have changed your position about wholesale slaughter, which you probably haven’t, we’ll have to get Twilight or Celestia to deal with these things,” I said.

“How’re we supposed to do that?” Applejack asked. “Did Spike come back with you?”

“Nope. Fluttershy, I hope you can fly fast. Get to Canterlot, track down Celestia, and tell her what happened.”

“M-me?” she squeaked. “Rainbow Dash can fly much faster!”

“Yeah, but I’m going to need her. My record from here to Canterlot is twenty minutes. Beat that and I’ll give you a very warm hug when you get back.” Her wings shot out, ready to fly. “That’s the spirit. Get going.”

She gulped and started flying off toward the city in the mountain. Strangely, her wings seemed somewhat stiff, but I didn’t stop to look for long because Dash and my daughter got back, with a single giggling Pinkie held in Taya’s magic grip. Rarity pulled the door open and Taya tossed the doppelganger inside.

“Where’s Fluttershy going?” Dash asked, watching her fly off.

“Canterlot,” I said.

“Why’s she going? I could get there and back in a snap!”

“Because I need you,” I said. “We gotta distract these things somehow. Pinkie, Rarity, go look for more Pinkies. Applejack and Taya, secure the doors and other exits. Make sure nothing that isn’t us gets out.”

“Can’t I help you?” Taya asked.

“Nope. Me and Dash got this one covered,” I said, tousling Dash’s hair. She smacked me with a wing and then tossed her hair back into its disorderly place. Taya sighed and kicked idly at the ground.

“So what are y’all gonna do?” Applejack asked.

“You don’t want to know,” I said, walking up to the door. She rolled her eyes and Rainbow Dash and I let ourselves into the belly of the beast.

As soon as we stepped inside, several dozen sets of baby blue eyes focused quite intently on the two of us. Dash’s ears drooped slightly, but I just smiled and started walking through the center of the group. Each Pinkie that was in my way moved aside as I strode to the stage of Ponyville’s gathering hall. Dash, of course, followed me. It was… eerily silent.

Soon enough, the two of us stood in front of the horde of Pinkies. “Celestia, that’s creepy,” Dash muttered, watching the Pinkies watch us.

“Pinkie Po, would you kindly come forward?” I asked, trying to put on a kindly smile. The named Pinkie bounced forward until she was standing on the stage in front of us. “Thank you, dear,” I said, rubbing her hair.

“Are we gonna have fun, Navi?” she asked, looking up at me hopefully.

At the mention of fun, a gentle murmuring began in the crowd, each of the Pinkies wanting to get in on the fun action. “We sure are,” I said. “Dash, turn around.”

“...Nav, what are you doing?” she asked, not moving.

“I’m going to teach the Pinkies about the joy of orgies.”

“Nav, you’ve had some bad ideas in the past. Teaching Scootaloo about convection. Tying twenty balloons to Fluttershy’s tail that time we went camping. Hay, even hitting Twilight with a spoon for twenty hours straight wasn’t very smart. But this… this is the BEST IDEA EVER!”

“Good. Now turn around.” She smiled widely and did so. I lifted her tail out of the way. “Pinkies, take note. This is a vagina.” They all ooh’d at that. Pinkie Po reached a hoof up to carefully poke it, but I grabbed it. “Just a moment, dear.” She sighed and lowered her hoof. “You all have one of these. You also all have a mouth with a tongue. If you apply your tongue to another Pinkie’s vagina, you will have a lot of fun.” They all gasped and immediately started moving, but I quickly held up a hand. “Just a moment, please!” They all stopped. “Pinkie Po, would you kindly apply your tongue to Dash?”

She leaned in, but then stopped and looked at me. “Navi, do you have a vagina?”

“No. Now, would you kindly?” She shrugged and bent her head back in. “Other Pinkies, you may now begin.” The pandemonium immediately started, of course. I dropped Dash’s tail and walked up so I could look her in the eyes. “I’ll be outside if you need me,” I said.

“W-wait, y-you’re just gonna l-l-leave me?!”

“Yeah. Have fun.” She instantly got an angry look on her face and she opened her mouth to rebuke me, but only a moan came out. Given that, I spread my wings and took off, flying toward the door. When I got to it, I took one last look around the room, taking a deep breath. “I love the smell of orgies in the morning.” That important line said, I stepped outside, slamming the door shut before Taya could poke her head inside. “Bar the door, please. Nothing in, nothing out.”

Taya sighed and her horn lit up, coating the door in a thin orange aura. “So what did you do?” Applejack asked. “And where’s Rainbow Dash?”

“Remember your past misconceptions about my personal life?” I asked. She blinked a few times before very slowly face hoofing. “Dash is acting as the catalyst, you could say. But long story short, you uh… you probably don’t want to go in there.”

“...Daddy, what did you do?” Taya sighed.

“Something naughty, dear,” I said. “Now, what kind of damage did these things do?” I asked Applejack.

“You are some kinda awful, I swear,” she sighed, shaking her head. “But I should be used to that by now, I reckon. They tore up all kinds-a stuff on the farm and from the looks of things, they broke a lot of stuff here, too. I don’t reckon you’d know who’s gonna pay for all that, do you?”

“Nope. Does this constitute a natural disaster?”

“I don’t think any part of Pinkie is ‘natural’. And I sure don’t think this was entirely her fault, neither.”

“Hey, don’t think I had anything to do with this,” I quickly said, holding up my hands.

“I ain’t so quick to point hooves as that, at least not at you. Now, we all know Pinkie ain’t exactly the shiniest apple on the tree, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say she’s smart enough ta know an army of Pinkies is a bad idea. So what’s that air thing in her head doing up there, is my question.”

“Me?” a voice innocently whispered between us, making all three of us jump. As Aerie continued speaking, she gathered a few leaves and some dirt to give her more of a body. “I didn’t do anything, laborer. Where are my dear sweet Pinkies, anyway? I would quite like to… see them.”

“You aren’t putting yourself into them,” I said, crossing my arms. “We’re going to find some way to get rid of them, and I’m not quite certain that would be good for you.”

“Oh, I hardly feel the need to take any of them as hosts. I just want to see what kind of trouble they’re up to.” She giggled at that point, then continued, “But I was only asking in an attempt to be polite. I already know where they are. If you’ll excuse me…” The air holding the dirt and leaves dissipated, leaving them to fall on down.

Applejack, though, wasn’t quite satisfied. “No, you ain’t excused! Get back here!” There was no answer from the wayward elemental. “Ah’m startin’ ta seriously dislike that thing,” she muttered darkly, glaring at the doors leading to the Pinkies.

“I’m starting to dislike all these damn elementals,” I sighed, massaging my temple. “But look, Taya and I have this covered. If you need to go back home and start picking up the pieces, I understand.”

“I should, but I ain’t goin’ nowhere until I’m sure Pinkie’s alright.”

“I’m pretty sure she’s alright, but fair enough.” I walked back to the door and leaned against it, crossing my arms again.

“So what brings y’all back to town, anyway?” Applejack asked, probably just trying to pass the time.

“Got chased out of Canterlot by a high class bitch,” I replied with a shrug. “I was going to come back anyway to see some friends, so I figured I could come back ahead of schedule.”

“Sure ain’t like you to run away from a fight.”

“Not anymore, it isn’t. I’m not a knight anymore, so I can’t threaten to arrest reporters if they hound me. I also can’t threaten them with bodily harm without getting in trouble. Those are the tools she’s fighting with, so there’s not much I can do but run. I’ll be heading back soon enough, though.”

“Didn’t figure there was much in a small town like this to keep you anymore.”

“The peace and quiet is nice, and so are the people here. But the peace and quiet also gets really dull at times. Or at least, it does for me.”

“I’d prefer dull and boring ta busy and excitin’. I’d much rather stay here and let you and your airship go on your merry way, without any o’ my friends.”

“You’re welcome to take that up with Celestia. God knows I don’t want most of you there, either. I’m sure if you annoy her enough, she’ll let you stay here.”

“Ya know I can’t do that, Nav. Duty’s a heavy, heavy thing. I’ll talk to her about it, but… I can’t ask her to let us stay.”

Yeah, you can’t, but what about the others? “Your choice,” I said with a weary shrug.

Taya finally spoke up, the first time she had bothered since we started. “You’ll have your chance soon,” she said, looking up.

When we met her gaze, we saw Celestia’s chariot coming in very quickly. “Well, looks like I owe Fluttershy a hug.”

“You really shouldn’t tease her, Nav,” Applejack absentmindedly said as we watched the chariot approach. “Everypony knows you and the princess have a… thing. Fluttershy just… I dunno. Though she’s hardly the only one…”

“Is it really well-known that Celestia and I have a thing?”

“...Is that all you got outta what I just said?”

Before I could reply, the chariot of the sun landed right next to us, the guards pulling it quickly skidding to a stop. Celestia quite regally stepped down from it, walking to us without even thanking the guards. “Hello Navarone, Applejack, and Taya,” she very neutrally said. “I heard there was a… disturbance.”

“I reckon that’s a word for it,” Applejack said, scratching idly at her head, making her hat tip.

“I think it’s more like a ruckus, honestly,” I said, shrugging.

“Closer to a fracas,” Applejack replied, “but that’s just me.”

“So there is a problem,” Celestia said. “I heard it involved Pinkie.”

“It involved a lot more than one Pinkie,” I said, gently rapping on the door behind me with my knuckles. “I don’t reckon you knew there was a cloning pool in the Everfree?”

Celestia very slowly started to face hoof, and then I realized her hoof was going higher. She carefully removed the crown from her head and then threw it as hard as she could at the nearest building. “Well then, let’s get started,” she sighed. “I trust you know where the original is?”

“Uh… Princess? Your… crown?” Applejack said before I could reply.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Nav, the original?”

“Yeah, she’s with Rarity, looking for any Pinkies Rainbow Dash missed.”

“And you’re positive it’s the original? Absolutely positive?”

“Oh yeah, it’s her. The others are fucking retarded. Pinkie’s only normally retarded.”

“Excellent. What about Rainbow Dash? I trust there was a reason you sent Fluttershy?”

“Distracting the Pinkies,” I said, tapping the door again.

“Then shall we see to it?” she asked, taking a step toward me.

“Ah…” I jerked my hand back and forth in front of my neck, a gesture she probably had no idea about. “Taya, Applejack, you want to go look for Rarity and Pinkie? Or look for more Pinkies? I think we got this.”

“I’m good,” Taya said, not moving.

“Yours wasn’t a request,” I said. “Go look for Pinkie and Rarity.”

Her eyes narrowed, but she sighed. Applejack just shrugged and said, “Come on, Taya. I bet I know where they went.” With that, Applejack started walking away. After a few seconds, Taya joined her.

When she left, the spell on the door dissipated. After they were far enough away, Celestia quietly asked, “So why are you sending Taya away?” Celestia asked.

“First, because the distraction method I chose was an orgy. Second, because I want answers. You know about the pool.”

“I have had to do many things I was not proud of in order to protect Equestria in the past. You know that our capital used to be in the Everfree. There were several… facilities there that had all manner of uses. Most were lost or destroyed. This is one that was lost, but thought destroyed.”

“That’s about what I expected. Is it magic or natural?”

“The clones are magical in nature. But enough. I must deal with them before the others return.” Her horn lit up and lifted me out of the way. With that, she pushed the doors open and stepped into a room that smelled of musk, sweat, and sex. Thankfully, she cast a muffling spell as soon as the doors opened, so the moans didn’t leave the building. I could hear them when I followed behind her, though.

Rainbow Dash was surrounded by five Pinkies, all trying to get at her. Given how she tasted, I could understand that. And of course, all the other Pinkies were too busy to notice us, for better or worse.

“If you want to join them, I wouldn’t tell anyone,” I said, crossing my arms. “You’re already half naked, for you.”

“I was thinking the same of you,” she said, not even looking at me. “I’m surprised you didn’t.”

“Still on my period. I don’t want to make the last thing any of them taste be blood.”

“How noble of you.” Her horn lit up much brighter and Rainbow Dash disappeared with the cracking sound of teleportation. “And now she’s home. Close the doors. I suggest being on the other side when you do.” I stepped back and kicked the doors shut, staying inside. She slowly turned her head toward me. “Are you sure?”

“I would be no less or more guilty if I waited outside. Make it quick.”

“They’ll feel nothing,” she said, turning her head back toward the writhing mass of Pinkies. After a few moments, her horn lit up very brightly and they just started… disappearing. When the tenth or so had vanished, I stepped next to Celestia and gently hugged her as tears started quietly leaking down her face.

Finally, the last one was gone. Celestia seemed to lose all strength in her legs and she just sagged to the ground, dragging me with her. At that point, she lost all manner of decorum and just started bawling. Given that she had murdered several dozen completely innocent people, I could understand that. And of course, I was perfectly happy to comfort her, so I just quietly hummed and slowly rocked back and forth with her.

After several minutes, her tears stopped, though she was still very sniffly. Before she could say anything, I said, “They went out the way I would want to. And they lived a very happy life. I wouldn’t want anything more.”

“I… wouldn’t want it to happen at all. I didn’t want it to happen at all. Why, Nav? Why…?”

“She wanted there to be a Pinkie in Ponyville while she was on the airship. Aerie would report back on all the fun stuff the fake Pinkie was doing.”

Celestia’s horn lit up again and pushed me back, then she curled up into a ball, shaking. Flo didn’t even have to tell me that I just made Celestia realize that was her fault. That didn’t stop me from immediately cuddling up against her anyway, though, braving the marecum-covered floors to big spoon her.

“I don’t know what happened after she made the first one,” I continued, “but she went back and made another one, which apparently made even more.”

“I’m a monster,” she whispered.

“It was you or me,” I whispered back, hugging her tighter. “One way or another, it was our burden. It was what had to be done. Yes, that makes us monsters. That doesn’t make it wrong.”

“But it was wrong.”

“What other option was there? Tartarus, where they’d be killed by someone else? Mind wipe and reintegration, which is worse than murder? Giving them to Chrysalis, a fate worse than death? It was you or me, Celestia. One way or another, they would have died in this room.”

“If I didn’t make Twilight and her friends go with you—”

“Pinkie knew about the pool anyway. How much longer do you think it would have taken for her to go to it even if she had stayed here? You don’t know her as well as I do, so I’ll tell you right now that it would be less than a year. One way or another, she would have gone.”

“I… I… can’t do this. This… this is what Luna did. This was her job… Clean up messes. Clean up inconsistencies… Deal with problems.”

“Do you know how Luna felt, following your orders to deal with problems like this?” She didn’t reply. “The first time you told her to kill, she cried for days, with no one to comfort her. It couldn’t be you, because you were counting on her. It couldn’t be her subjects, because she was the one you wanted feared. Luna wasn’t naturally a sociopath, Celestia. She became one. Remember how you feel right now the next time you think about telling her to do something.”

Her horn faintly lit up again and something tugged free from my waist. Before I could check, she lifted the knife up to her throat. I just barely grabbed it before she could do anything, though I wasn’t wearing the ring and couldn’t stop her. “Let it go,” she whispered, her head slumped to the floor.

I tossed it aside and pushed myself up so I was straddling her. “I will never let go,” I said, putting one hand on her cheek. She just barely shifted her head when she felt my touch, which gave me enough room to sneak my other hand to her other cheek. She blinked as I carefully lifted her face up so she could look at me with both eyes. “I won’t let you leave me.”

We stared at each other for what felt like half a minute before she pushed her head up and kissed me.

When we got back outside, Pinkie, Applejack, Rarity, Taya, and the four chariot guards were standing in front of the building, waiting. Applejack was holding the crown, which Celestia took with magic. “Silly me, dropping something so important,” Celestia said with a small chuckle.

“You didn’t—” Applejack started to say, but I cut her off.

“So where’s Fluttershy, anyway?” I asked.

“She was quite tired from getting there so quickly, so I left her with Twilight,” Celestia said. “They’ll be coming back to Ponyville shortly. Thank you, Applejack, Taya, and Rarity, for helping stop this crisis. Be sure to pass my thanks on to Rainbow Dash as well, after she… recovers.”

“Recovers from what?” Rarity asked. “Did the Pinkies make her sick?”

“Extreme sexual exhaustion,” I said, smirking. Rarity facehooved and Taya rolled her eyes. Pinkie, of course, was looking more and more depressed by the second, but was currently actually staying silent.

“I hate to ask for more help after how much you’ve done, but would you three help fix up any damages in town? The crown would, of course, reimburse your efforts.”

“We’d be happy ta help, Princess,” Applejack said. “Won’t need no money for it, neither. Ponyville looks after its own. But why just us three?”

“Pinkie is free to join you, of course,” Celestia said. “However, Nav and I have unfinished business. Guards, hook yourselves back up. We have a small trip to make.” They all saluted and started trotting to the royal chariot.

Applejack was not so easily assuaged, however. “What do y’all need to do?” she asked.

“We must make sure this incident does not repeat itself,” Celestia solemnly said. “While I very highly doubt the perpetrator would be the same, I would not want just anypony to have access to the artifact that caused this.”

With that last statement, Pinkie finally burst into tears, wailing about being sorry or whatever. Celestia, of course, went to her side immediately. I stopped caring before she made it and walked to Taya instead, who has been eying me up since Celestia asked her to help with the town.

“I want to go with you,” she predictably said.

“Your magic’s going to be a lot more useful here than it will be where we’re going,” I said. “Stay here. Help Applejack with what she needs. We should be back in an hour or two, if all goes well.”

“Ugh, why can’t I ever go with you when you do fun things?”

“In this case, because you’re actually needed here. We’re going into the Everfree, and if anything tries messing with us there, Celestia will straight up atomize it. They’ll need your magic here. We won’t.” And if it means I don’t have to worry about you in the forest, even better.

Her eyes narrowed and her horn lit up. A second later, something forced me to bend down, then she jumped up and hugged me. Of course, I hugged her back, which thankfully made her magic dissipate. After nearly half a minute, she let go and pushed me back with magic. Before I could say anything, she walked away to stand next to Applejack.

I wanted to comment on that, but Celestia said, “Ready, Nav?”

“...Yeah. See you when we get back, Taya.” She didn’t reply, which left me to just stare at Celestia’s ass as I followed her.

When we got to the chariot, she told the guards where to go and asked, “Trouble with Taya?”

I waited until we were moving to say, “Yes.” I sighed and sat when we actually got in the air. “I didn’t want to be a parent, Celestia. I really am trying, but Christ. I lost count of the number of times she’s tried to seduce me.” Her eyes jerked open and her mouth dropped. “She didn’t even know what incest was. And then said it didn’t count because she’s adopted. I guess that’s one good thing about being a chick forever.”

“Nav, why didn’t you tell me this sooner?” she asked, putting a hoof to one of my shoulders.

“What could you have done? I had me, Cadance, and Doppel all telling her that incest was wrong and she still tried. It took a vicious spanking to make her back down, and… Christ, I never wanted this…”

I could tell that she very much wanted to respond, but we were already starting to land. We didn’t have to go very far, after all. “We’ll talk before you leave,” she said, wrapping her wing around me for a small hug. Soon, we were bouncing and bobbing over the uneven ground as the guards struggled to slow down. Since I didn’t like breaking my teeth, I bailed a few seconds after we touched down, using the speed to catch some wind to fly out of it. I landed right next to the chariot as it stopped. “You always must show off, mustn’t you?” Celestia asked, smiling.

“Gotta keep you interested somehow, right?” I said, spreading my wings to show off my sexy plumage.

“Mine are bigger,” she mocked, stately stepping down from her chariot. “One of you stay with the chariot, please.” Since they were still unhitching themselves, the guards didn’t salute or whatever. They did all reply with affirmatives, though. One stayed next to the chariot while the rest followed as we started walking into the forest. “Are you sure you remember the way?”

“I don’t, but I know someone that does,” I said, tapping my skull. She nodded smartly, hopefully trusting in Flo.

Right before we actually got into the woods, the guards stopped. “Princess, are you sure you should be going in there?” one of them asked.

“Our destination is within,” she said, looking back at him. “It is vital to the security of Equestria that we get there. If you are afraid, you may stay with the chariot as well.”

The guard’s eyes narrowed slightly and he shook his head. “We follow your lead, Princess.”

“Excellent. Navarone, lead the way.”

I continued walking as the three guards took up positions around their beloved princess. “You know, I think this is actually the way Luna and I went the first time we came in here.”

“On your hunting trip?” Celestia asked.

“Yeah. Before she went crazy and tried murdering me with an animal.”

“Well, hopefully it wasn’t the Everfree that corrupted her mind. I would quite hate to be in your hooves if I started trying to harm you.”

“If you did, I’d bend over and beg for more.” Every one of the guards forgot they were supposed to be guarding and just gaped at me. The blush on Celestia’s cheeks told me I scored a point, though she didn’t reply. If Flo wasn’t too busy giving me directions, she probably would have slapped me upside the face. Though, as she’s telling me as I write this, she doesn’t like abusing me, she just does it for my own good. Anyway, since silence returned, I asked, “Anything big happen since I left?”

Before Celestia could answer, one of the guards asked, “Is it wise to be making noise here… sir?”

“The Everfree only tries to hurt you if you plan to hurt it. If you go in with violence in your mind, it’ll send all kinds of hell after you. But if you just go in there for a walk, and ignore the monsters inside, they’ll happily ignore you.”

“There’s no way that’s true,” he said, slowly shaking his head.

I stopped in front of a tree and pointed out a bug on there. “See this thing?” I asked. “It’s extremely poisonous. One almost killed me while I was exploring in here a few years ago.” I gently reached out and stroked it. The thing curled around my finger and started walking over it, before I set it back on the tree. “If you tried crushing it, you would die before you got two steps away.”

He just shook his head and kept walking. One of the other guards tried reaching up to poke the bug before a golden glow stopped his hoof. “Just because you can does not mean you should,” Celestia gently rebuked him. “While Navarone is correct about the nature of the Everfree, you should never forget that he also has safeguards against poison and animals alike. He would have little to fear here even if his mind was centered on violence.”

One of the guards snorted and muttered, “We all know what his mind is on.”

Flo whispered a warning and I ripped a throwing knife out of a sleeve, throwing it into one of the trees. The guards all jumped, and then jumped again when they realized my knife was sticking out of a gecko that had blended into the tree. “Yeah, keeping you safe,” I said, walking over and wrenching the knife out. “I suggest you pay less attention to my ass and more to your surroundings.”

“We’re supposed to be impressed that you killed an innocent lizard?” one of the guards sneered.

I pointed back to the tree, where his blood was eating through the bark. “Its bodily fluids are very acidic and will eat through organic material like nothing you’ve ever seen. They’re fans of spitting, usually toward larger creatures.”

“Navarone, stop showing off,” Celestia said, patting my shoulder with a hoof. “I’d like to get there today, please.”

“It’s hardly showing off,” I said as we continued to walk. “Just explaining my position.”

“Then explain it while walking, please.”

“Oh, I’m done, now.”

“Of course you are,” she sighed, just shaking her head. “Tell me, how did you learn this place’s location?”

“Pinkie led me right to it. She asked me to come with her to the Everfree this morning, but she didn’t say why. She found a path I had never seen before that led to a cave I never saw before that contained the cloning pool. Next thing I knew, there were two of her. I figured it would be funny for a day and then I’d contact you and get it sorted out, but it stopped being funny much sooner than I thought.”

“There are times I wonder why I made you a knight,” Celestia sighed.

“Technically, that was your sister, so you can blame her for that if you want.”

“That makes me feel a little better, I suppose. How far in is the pool?”

“About twenty minutes or so. Nearly halfway there.”

“Couldn’t we have flown?” one of the guards asked.

“I walked when I got here the first time, so that’s how I know how to get to it. You can’t see landmarks through the tree cover.” He just shrugged and things got quiet again for a few minutes. Since I don’t really like awkward silences, I said, “Going through here with Pinkie was more fun. She’s a lot cuter than most of you and she was singing.”

“Would you like my guards to start singing?” Celestia asked. “I’m sure they would be happy to.”

“Your voice is prettier. And you know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard you getting caught in that song magic.”

“It has been a while…” she mused. “But I would much rather hear you, personally. Ever since your… change, your voice is so cute!”

“Oh, so that’s why you made me scream your name.” One of the guards cleared his throat quite noisily, looking away.

“Well, you’re hardly able to return the favor anymore, so I suppose one of us had to pick up the slack.” That made two of the guards start snickering and almost instantly pissed me off, but I forced it down so I could think of a clever response. Before I could, though, she asked, “Is there supposed to be a briar patch in our path?”

“The cave’s just on the other side,” I said, regretting not being able to come up with a good response in time. “I don’t know about you guys, but I’ll be flying over it again.”

“Want us to clear it, Princess?” one of the guards asked.

“I have an easier solution,” she said, her horn lighting up. As we continued to walk toward the thorns, she burned a path right through it for us. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much smoke, so we walked right through with no problems, right up until we got to the hole. “So this is it?” she asked.

I heard some cracking behind us right after she asked that, so I looked back and saw the briars already growing back to cover our path. “I fucking hate the Everfree, sometimes,” I sighed, turning back and shaking my head. “Yeah, this is it. It’s a straight drop for a few meters before it starts zigging and zagging. Goes a few dozen or so meters that way,” I said, pointing. “There are some cracks in the roof of the main cave room.”

“I’ll see it all when we get there,” Celestia said, nodding. “Guards, remain here. Navarone, let us continue.”

“Are you sure, Princess? What if there are monsters down there?”

“Then I shall keep Navarone safe and sound, so you needn’t worry about her safety.”

“Yeah, right,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Because I’m the one that keeps a bunch of big, strong stallions around day and night.”

“I’ve heard plenty of the night guards say they would love to be your… ahem, personal guards. If you’d like, I need only say the word…”

“I don’t need more night guards lusting after me, thank you. Now let’s get this over with. I have shit to do today.” With that, I jumped down the hole, spreading my wings to slow my descent. Celestia followed me moments later and together, we continued into the darkness. Well, it was darkness at first, but she magicked up some light for herself. And of course, she also pressed herself against me as we continued walking. “Oh, now you’re all friendly.”

“You were hardly acting polite yourself,” she shot back.

“The guards expect me to be a dick. You’re supposed to be the kind and loving mother-figure.”

“I’m fairly certain the truth of our… relationship is rather well-known, at this point. Among the guards, at the very least. I’m sure most of them find it comforting to know their princess is just a normal pony, too.”

“Somehow I doubt that. But if you want, I can ride you on the way back. I bet you’d like that.”

She shivered in delight. “More than anything. But not quite yet.” After she said that, the cave opened up and we were able to see the pool in all its beautiful glory. “So, this is it,” she said, stopping at the mouth of the cave.

“Yep. I didn’t get a chance to explore earlier, but I would quite like to.”

“Before you do… Nav, I want your honest input. What do you think I should do with this pool?”

“Put wards up around it. Block all entrances with local boulders. Mark the spot on a secret map. The future is always uncertain, Celestia. There’s a day you might need a lot of soldiers. Or you might need someone to send to Chrysalis but you run out of prisoners. Any use you get out of this thing will almost definitely be evil, but evil can be used for good.”

“...You think I should keep it as a backup weapon.”

“Precisely.”

“Go explore. I have to check on something. If you find anything, call me.”

“Simple enough, though I doubt there’s much here to find.” I continued walking into the cave while she stayed at the entrance, just staring down at the pool.

Since I was planning on saving the best for last, I started my exploration by looking around just the main chamber, avoiding the stream leading to the cloning pool. As I kinda expected, there really wasn’t much around the cavern. No side paths, no hidden relics, no hints of a lost civilization. Hell, I didn’t even find any small animals or bugs, or hints of them. So soon enough, I found myself walking back to the stream leading up to the pool. Before I checked it out, I looked back up at Celestia and saw that she was reading a letter or something. That wasn’t any of my business, so I went back to pretending to know what I was looking for.

When I got to the stream, I started following it toward the source. As I somewhat expected, the stream just led to a small crack in the wall that I definitely couldn’t fit through. “What do you think, Flo?” I asked, crossing my arms.

“I’m very tempted to extricate myself from your body to follow it, but I don’t know what risk that would entail, if the stream even can copy me. I have the feeling that even if I did get to the end, I wouldn’t understand what I was even seeing. There are many things in this world you don’t and can’t understand, Navarone. This will remain one of them.”

“I bet there’s a certain someone that can explain it to me,” I said, turning back to where Celestia had been standing. That’s when I saw that she had moved to stand right next to the pool, peering into it.

“Perhaps she could. But just because you have come to an… understanding does not mean you should push for information she does not want to give. Especially since the information is useless to you. I suggest dropping it.”

“Tch. Whatever. Not like it really matters, I guess. God knows we don’t need more of me running around. Let’s go see what’s on sunbutt’s mind, then.” Flo didn’t answer, so I just walked over to Celestia. She didn’t look up as I approached, so I got behind her and grabbed her flanks, pulling her ass into me. “Any thoughts?” I asked, practically hugging her booty.

“I’m considering throwing you in there so I can keep one of you around all the time. I quite doubt you’d like that, however.”

“Your doubts are well-founded. I meant more about what you decided, though. Destroy this place or hide it?”

She sighed, stepping away from me and slowly walking around the pool. “My heart is telling me this place is evil and should be destroyed without a second thought. But my mind… My mind, forged from six thousand years of survival and plotting, shaped in war and hardened in politics, tells me this place must be preserved. Living this long has taught me that you are correct, that evil can be used for good.” She stopped walking and looked up to me. “Speak of this place to no one. I’ve already placed the wards. Let’s go.”

She started walking to the entrance, but I walked up to her and put my arm around her neck. “Have you looked around this place?” I asked. “I mean, looked beyond the pool?”

She stopped, then turned her head. “What am I looking for?” she asked.

“This place is beautiful,” I said, lifting a hand to scratch at her ears. “No one expects us back in Ponyville so soon…”

“I… suppose we may spare a few moments… By the sun, I spoil you so.”

“You know you like it, Celly…”

By the time we got back in town, most of the place was back in order. Fluttershy and Twilight were back as well, helping put the finishing touches on some things. The place had gotten quite adept at dealing with structural damage since Twilight first appeared in town, and they put all those skills to good use when rebuilding the place.

They were all happy to see Celestia there, too. Most hadn’t seen her when she first showed up, because they had been too busy hiding from the Pinkies. It seemed word had spread of how she fixed the problem, though, and the citizens were all too happy to shower her with praise while forgetting that it had been the rest of us that quarantined the Pinkies in the first place.

Some time during the small festivities, I managed to corner Fluttershy alone, away from her friends and anyone else she might use as a social crutch. “So I heard you got a pretty good time to Canterlot,” I said, smiling.

“Oh, well… You said it was important and I didn’t want to let y—ANYPONY… anypony down.”

“Well, I seem to remember a certain promise I made before you left. Think that might have anything to do with it?”

“P-promise?” she asked, a blush creeping up her face. “I-i don’t remember any p-promise!”

“Oh? And here I was thinking you cared more than that. Well, if you don’t want the hug…” Her ears flinched and her body perked up. “Hm, it seems like you might be interested after all.”

“W-well, if it wouldn’t… be a bother… A hug would be nice.” That last part was whispered so low that I barely heard it.

As soon as I heard that, I bent down and tightly wrapped my arms around her. She flinched when I touched her, but soon relaxed and nearly melted into my arms. That’s when I wrapped my wings around her, cuddling much tighter. She sighed in pleasure as I began petting her mane and whispering, “Such a good pony,” over and over. Since I promised her a good one, I let it go on for five or so minutes, which felt awkwardly long.

For better or worse, I was saved by Celestia. “Ah, Navarone, there you are,” she said. “And there’s Fluttershy as well, it seems. Is there… something I need to know about?”

“I told Fluttershy I would give her a hug if she got to Canterlot quickly,” I said, patting Fluttershy on the back one last time before letting go. “So there’s her hug.”

“Hm. You should be careful, Nav,” she said as she pulled me to her with magic and then kissed me deeply, making Fluttershy squeak in horror. After a few seconds, she pushed me away and said with a smirk, “A mare could get jealous.”

“If your jealousy is anything like Kumani’s, I bet I would enjoy it a lot. But don’t worry, you have nothing to fear. Fluttershy’s just a friend that likes hugs.”

“It’s nice to know you’re such a good friend. I’m about to head back to Canterlot. I wanted to remind you that you need to come back soon for our date.”

“I’ll be back in a few more days, don’t you worry,” I said. “And my period should be over by then, which is even better. Is Twilight here in town to stay, or is she going back with you?”

“She’s here to stay, unless she takes a train back to Canterlot. I’m leaving after we finish talking and I’m not telling her, so she won’t be riding back with me. She’s asking many questions I don’t want to answer, so it’s better that she stays here.”

“I’ll see what I can do to keep her here, then,” I said, nodding. “She needs to spend time with her friends anyway. I’ll see you when I get back to Canterlot.”

“I’ll be waiting,” she said as she spread her wings. “Goodbye to you as well, Fluttershy.” She took off without waiting for a response, flying toward the center of town.

I watched her fly for a few seconds before turning back to a very terrified Fluttershy. “A-are y-y-you and the p-princess…”

“We’ve come to an understanding,” I said with a shrug. “She knows I’m going to be away for a while and she knows that I… am a slut, put bluntly. I can do whatever I want until I’m done with Discord, but as soon as I am… Well, she’s getting her turn.” Her mouth and ears dropped. “Yeah, we’re going to keep it quiet for as long as possible. So if you could keep that to yourself, that would be great.” I patted her on the shoulder and said, “See you later, Fluttershy.”

Her back legs gave out and her ass hit the ground as I walked away, looking for Rarity or Pinkie. After a few minutes of searching, I found Taya and the rest of Twilight’s small gang (minus Dash), all hanging out in the same area. Of course, Taya immediately stepped to my side.

Twilight was the first to say something to me, though. “Nav, have you seen the princess? I needed to speak with her.”

“Just missed her,” I said with a shrug. “She left a few minutes ago.” Twilight kicked the ground and muttered something unpleasant, turning a glare toward Canterlot. “Hey Rarity, you doing anything important?”

“I needed to get back to my shop, actually, and see if there was any damage there.”

“Well, I have something more important, so come on.”

“Navarone, there are plenty of mares and stallions both that would be perfectly willing to help with that.”

“Oh ha ha. Come on.”

“Ugh, very well. But this better be important. I haven’t gotten to spend much time with my family yet and this is cutting into what little we have left.” Welcome to my world, bitch. I led her away from the others anyway, not that most of them really noticed us leaving. “So what is this big emergency?” she asked when we were away from them.

“I just circumspectly turned Fluttershy down in one of the harshest ways possible, mostly on accident.”

“...I see. Where is she?”

“Keep walking this way until you get to Drury Lane, then turn left. That’s where I left her.”

“I will take care of her, Navarone. But I will have words for you later, missy!”

“Look, I fucked up. She wasn’t supposed to see what she saw, but she did, and Flo didn’t tell me I was fucking up, so it just sort of happened.”

“...Flo. That’s the name of the… thing in your head?”

“Yeah. She keeps me human, but she’s been distracted. Look, just go take care of Fluttershy. You can yell at me later.”

“Indeed I can. Go home, Navarone.”

“Don’t have to tell me twice,” I sighed, turning toward Vinyl’s house.

After we got several meters away from Rarity, Taya asked, “So… what did you do, again?”

“Told Fluttershy it wasn’t going to happen.”

“...Daddy, what did you promise me a few months ago?”

Ugh. “I don’t know, a pony? It’s been a long day.”

“You promised me that you would give Fluttershy a chance at the end of our trip.”

Oh yeah, that. “If I didn’t find anyone else. If I happened to find someone, as I did, then that’s out the door.”

“Well, which tramp is it this time?” she demanded, glaring at me. “That dragon already left you. How long do you think this next one will last?”

“I think Celestia’s in it for the long haul,” I said. Of course, her face quickly paled and most of the anger was replaced with shock. “But of course, I still have a while to truly decide. We’re keeping it open until I’m done with this trip.”

“But you can’t…” For some reason, she stopped. After a few seconds of silence, she just quietly asked, “Why her? After everything she’s done, why?”

“I dunno. Why’d you stay with me?”

“I don’t… You made me feel… safe. Warm. You were patient. You were kind. You saved me…”

“People fall in and out of love for all kinds of reasons, Taya. I can’t say that’s what I feel for her, but hey, might as well give it a shot. We’re both going to be living for a while. Might as well spend that time happy, I figure.” We walked in silence for a few more seconds before I smiled and said, “It helps that she has a nice ass.”

Taya just groaned.

When we got back to Vinyl’s sweet pad, she was chilling in the front room, sipping at some mead. “Dude, were you in town today? That shit was mad wack, yo.”

“I’ve been teaching you too many bad habits,” I sighed, shaking my head. “And yeah, I helped clean it up. There were far too many Pinkies out there, that’s for sure.”

“Yeah. But just think what they would be like in bed! I mean, all of them there, all alike, all so Pinkie, and I really shouldn’t be talking like this in front of a filly, should I?”

“Nope. But if you want to know about that, ask Rainbow Dash. I needed to distract them and she was all too willing.”

“Bucking. Hot.”

“I know, right? Anyway, Taya’s probably hungry and I need to eat even though I’m not. You cook yet?”

“Psh, no. Octavia was going to start soon, though.”

“...Octavia’s here?” I asked.

“Yeah. I told you we were gonna get another guest. She’s here for a day or two, before she heads back home.”

“Cool. We gonna make any more music?” Taya groaned, so I smiled and continued, “Playing the piano back at Flankfurt was fun.”

“Yeah, we can probably do that. After we eat, though. Everything was shut down today because of the Pinkies, so I’m starving.”

“Well then, why don’t we go help her?”

“Psh, this is my house. I’m letting you stay here out of the kindness of my heart. Seems only fair you cook for me.”

“Yeah, but you’re the hostess. You’re supposed to provide for your guests. I seem to remember doing that when you were in my house.”

“You humans have some weird rules. Well, get to cookin’,” she said, clapping her hooves together and smirking. I arched an eyebrow and her smirk faltered. My lips pursed slightly and she started nervously sweating. I crossed my arms and she gulped. As soon as I opened my mouth, she flinched and yelled, “FINE, I’ll bucking help you cook!”

“...Help?”

“Ugh! I’ll cook! Sweet Celestia, Nav, you’re evil! But if you get food poisoning, don’t come crying to me!”

“No promises. I’m sure you can figure something out. Octavia and I can supervise.”

The mare herself appeared when I said that. “Volunteering me for something already, Nav?” she asked with her coy little smile. “And what’s this I hear about Vinyl cooking?”

“Hey, I can cook!” Vinyl shouted, at least trying to defend herself.

“Making sandwiches doesn’t count,” Octavia said, her smile deepening. Vinyl’s ears drooped slightly and her eyes got shifty. “But as it seems I have been volunteered to assist you, I’m sure we can figure something out.”

“If you don’t want to help, you don’t have to,” I said. “I’m sure we can sit in the dining room and watch her slave over a hot stove for us.”

“Oh, now you’re just being mean,” Vinyl said, crossing her legs and pouting.

“Hardly,” Octavia said, passively waving a hoof. “We’re just trying to teach you to be a responsible adult. Learning to cook is a part of that.”

As soon as she finished saying that, Vinyl reached up and slowly removed her purple glasses. “You monster. Trying to turn me into an adult? What is wrong with you?!”

Octavia just giggled, so I stepped in. “I think what she meant is that she wanted you to learn to survive without restaurants. Because, you know, what if they all shut down due to some strange circumstances such as a hundred Pinkies out of nowhere?”

“...I need to hire a sexy changeling lust maid,” Vinyl slowly said, idly scratching at her chin with her hoof.

“Good luck with that,” I said, tousling her hair. “But until you do, get to cookin’.”

She just sighed.

 
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