Rainbow Dash figured being around Luna and Twilight was about as harmless as it was going to get at a party like this. At least the pair of them weren't violently invading her personal space at every opportunity, and Luna would be able to bail her out if things got way too intense with Twilight yet again. What Luna couldn't prevent, however, was Twilight rambling on like an idiot with eyes as wide as dinner plates.
"A DJ can actually have up to FOUR turntables at once, all going at the same time!! But that's only if they're a really skilled unicorn DJ! I read up on it before we came tonight, you know!"
"Uh-huh," replied Dash, as nonchalantly as she could.
"Some DJ's can even manage two different rooms at once! Can you imagine that? A pony being able to hold two parties at the same time?! Like, WHOA! Can you imagine the kind of SKILL that takes?! Probably just as much as you pulling off a Sonic Rainboom!"
"Yep." Rainbow Dash knew all of this, of course, but she did idly wonder to herself how a bunch of ponies, the vast majority of who weren't athletes like herself, could ever keep up this kind of pace without getting tired. She looked over at Luna and Twilight, as Twilight continued rambling on. Twilight's eyes were transfixed on the crowd and the lighting, while Luna, on the other hand, looked content and happy as if she hadn't changed one bit.
"Can you IMAGINE how big these parties must get in the big cities? Oh Celestia, there must only be a couple of hundred ponies here at this party, but in places like Manehattan they must attract tens of thousands! What do you think?!," exclaimed Twilight, as she looked over into Rainbow Dash's eyes, her eyes fulfilling the latter part of her name and her mane, of course, was a complete mess. The only time Twilight had looked happier was after 'that night' back in the Spring, where she ran around telling everypony that she was in love.
"Uh, yeah, I guess. Say, Twilight, weren't you the one who said that this wouldn't be your thing? Kinda funny how that all changed once you got here, huh?," replied Rainbow Dash.
"Weeeeeell~, you know how I am with big social events like these right? I just figured I'd be too awkward for something like this, but then I realized when I got here that everypony feels a little awkward at things like this. So I figure, why not just try loosening up, just once!," replied Twilight, giggling and smiling brightly. "With everypony being so outgoing and caring, how could I be afraid?!"
"Huh. I... guess that makes sense." Dash looked off to the side. She had to understand just what was happening, but the more she asked, the more she realized that she was understanding less and less. It was like Twilight wasn't even the same pony anymore. Rainbow Dash leaned over to see past Twilight and over at Luna, who just continued to observe the party in her happy, yet passive way, bobbing her head with the music slowly."... hey, Luna."
"Yes?," replied Luna happily, looking over at Dash.
"So what do you think about all this? Pretty crazy, huh?," said Dash, with that nervous laugh she was using all too often that night.
"To be honest, I think that if everypony is having fun, and nopony is getting hurt, that these sorts of things are wonderful," she replied, smiling. "I try not to question the good things in life. They come as they come, and are as they are."
Rainbow Dash thought about it for a moment, and then just slumped back against the tent fabric, sighing.
"Just not... 'feeling it', Miss Dash?"
"Maybe you should take a walk outside, and get some fresh air? I promise it's a nice night out tonight," continued Luna. "I could even accompany you, if you'd wish."
Rainbow Dash thought about it for a moment, before standing up quickly and stretching her legs and wings. "Actually, Princess, I think I'm gonna take it alone. I mean, not because I don't like you or anything--"
"No, no, it's quite alright. I completely understand. You do what you must, Miss Dash," replied Luna, smiling again.
"Awwww, you said you were gonna stay with us!" Twilight folded her arms and pouted cutely. "Come back when you can, okay?!"
"A-alright," replied Dash. "See you two later."
The two lovers waved their hooves towards Dash as she skirted the crowd. She sighed and hung her head. Luna's answer had been the most convincing one, and yet, she couldn't believe that it was just good, wholesome fun. Thoughts continued to ramble around endlessly in her head, and there wasn't any point in trying to make sense of it, she figured. She just decided take Luna's advice and headed for the exit.
"Hey there Pinkie Pie!," said Cheerilee in her signature 'cheery' fashion.
"Oh, h-hey there Cheers," replied Pinkie Pie, a little startled. She was walking very slowly along the side of the tent, trying to get to the rest-area.
"Hi there!," replied Caramel, standing beside Cheerilee. "Nice to see ya again!"
"I just saw off your friend Rarity, Pinkie Pie. I think we've really gotten her into the scene! Ooooh, I can't wait to see her at the next party!"
"The next party?! For real?!," exclaimed Pinkie Pie. That had certainly gotten her attention.
"Yeah, that's what she said! Thanks so much for bringing her, she's such a lovely character to be around," continued Caramel.
"I-I'm really glad! But, I think I'm gonna--" Pinkie Pie was abruptly cut off by Cheerilee, who quickly tackled Caramel from the side.
"This is so, so wonderful! What do you think, Caramel? Do you think this party'll bring back the 'scene' to this small little town, just like all those years ago?!," exclaimed Cheerilee, squeezing her friend tightly.
"U-uh, maybe! Y'never know!," replied Caramel, blushing brightly as his friend tackled him from the side.
"I hope so hope it does! You remember those good ol' days, don't you...?," replied Cheerilee, giggling coyly.
"Yeah! Those good ol' days sure were somethin', huh?" Caramel just looked off to the side, with a deflective, cautious grin. "... oh, Pinkie Pie! Where're you off to?," asked Caramel frantically, as he called out to Pinkie Pie, who by now had very slowly and stealthily began to creep away from the pair of them.
"I-I'm just off to the rest area! I'm really sore and tired right now, s-so I wanna rest! Besides, you two are cute together, so I don't wanna ruin the moment!"
"B-but we aren't together!," called out Caramel.
Cheerilee just giggled and laughed, standing up again and letting Caramel go. "Oh, you're so adorable! How I've wanted to do that for so long! I was just playing around, you know. We used to do that all the time! Don't you remember?"
"We did? ... oh. Oh yeah! I remember now!" Caramel smiled back genuinely. "Wow, those sure were crazy times, huh? I can't believe we were like that back then."
"Totally!," replied Cheerilee. She then blinked and looked around. "Wait, where's Pinkie Pie? Did we scare her off?" Cheerilee frowned as she noticed that Pinkie Pie was nowhere to be seen.
"Aw shucks, I think we did."
"Oh well," said Cheerilee, sighing. "We should apologize to her later. I think she'll understand..."
"Dashie! Darling!," exclaimed Rarity as she ran up to her. Dash stopped in her tracks, gasped and took a step back as Rarity stuck her face an inch away from her's. Rarity's mane was stuck to her forehead with sweat and looked like a complete mess, although she kept on smiling regardless.
"W-whoa! Rarity! Hi!"
"It's simply a marvellous night! I've been dancing and talking with so many ponies and having the time of my life! Oh, and look, we even traded bracelets! They're so precious, just like memories..."
"Oh, that's great! Seriously!," replied Dash, grinning cautiously and moving herself ever so slowly back into her own personal space.
"I must say, it was definitely the right decision to be here, even if you did guilt-trip me into it."
"Oh come now darling." Rarity looked into Dash's eyes with her piercing feminine gaze. "It was a complete and total guilt-trip. 'It'll be the largest social event in the history of Ponyville. Are you sure you want to miss it when everypony will be talking about it for ages?'," continued Rarity, giggling. "However, I am glad I took the obvious bait. Consider me sold!"
"T-that's great, Rarity! I gotta..."
"Got to what, darling?," asked Rarity, with an inquisitive look on her face.
"Oh, uh..." Dash really didn't know what to say. Rarity had been so intense and sudden that her brain was having problems keeping up with itself. "Uh, go outside, yeah!"
"Go outside? Listen, darling, if you simply need time alone to dance with a certain special somepony, you needn't make such silly excuses."
"Dear, you're nervous and avoidant at a party like this, so clearly you're hiding something. What else could it be? Don't worry, your secret is safe with me, I swear it!"
"O-okay! Thanks for keeping my secret, Rarity!," replied Dash, becoming increasingly frantic. She just wanted to get out the door, for Celestia's sake!
"Oh, and how about you take one of these, to give to your special somepony. I'm positive they'll be suitable," said Rarity, raising her hoof and magically gripping one of her bracelets.
"Uh, how about you give it to me later! You know me, right?! I'll probably just break it!," replied Dash, her laugh now indistinguishable from a cry for help.
"Sigh. You really don't know how to impress a filly, now do you? Well, you shouldn't keep her waiting now, so move along!"
"W-wait, 'her'?! When did I ever say I was into-- hey!" Rarity had begun pushing her quite forcefully with her forehead.
"Go on now! There's nothing worse than keeping your date waiting! 'Hell hath no fury like a filly scorned,' after all!"
"Oh, and you really must come to my boutique for a little filly talk tomorrow. I want to hear all about it! You will, wont you?"
"Y-yeah! Sure! Hey, uh, gotta run!," exclaimed Dash, frantically breaking out into a short sprint. Rarity simply waved to her friend as Dash began to disappear around the bend.
"I'm so glad for her. What a wonderful night!," exclaimed Rarity, running back into the crowd to catch the next song.
"Shut up," said Pinkie in a quiet, yet very angry tone to herself. She was now bordering on pure exhaustion as she limped slowly along the side. She sat down once again, breathing heavily, trying to give her hooves a rest. Now that she was out of sight of everypony, she kept repeating the same words over and over to herself. "Shut up, shut up, shut up!" Pinkie Pie brought her hoof to her head. She was starting to get a headache which reverberated through her skull in time with the music, and she wished the party would stop even just for a second, so she could tell these bad thoughts to go away.
(I'm not going to shut up! You shut up! And I'm not going away!)
"Why won't you just leave me alone?!" Pinkie whined, tears forming in her eyes. "I just want my friends to be happy... to make them happy..."
(They're not happy because of you, you stupid, silly filly. They're happy because of this party, which isn't even yours!)
"That's not true... I've been here for everypony the whole night!"
(Yeah, and so what? Now they'll just compare your parties to THIS party. You can never bring them THIS kind of happiness by yourself, and they'll never want anything less ever again! You're USELESS to them now!)
"Hey, are you doing alright?," asked a violet-eyed mare from the side. "Are you... crying?"
(Nopony cares. Nopony cares! NOPONY CARES ABOUT YOU!)
"What was that?," asked the mare.
"Shut up shut up shut up," said Pinkie softly to herself.
"Dear, are you okay?"
"SHUT THE HAY UP AND GO AWAY!," exclaimed Pinkie, a look of pure rage adorning her face as she screamed it into the air above her. The violet eyed mare just hopped backwards, wide-eyed and afraid.
"Whoa! S-sorry!," replied the mare, now visibly afraid. "I-I'll leave you alone, okay?"
Pinkie Pie looked over at the other pony with a look of confusion in her eyes. She hadn't even noticed her until now, and in the few moments she had left, realized that she had just accidentally screamed at her. Before Pinkie Pie could even react, the mare had begun to turn tail and trot quickly back onto the dance floor. "N-no, wait! I didn't mean that! I wasn't talking to you! Please come back!" But it was too late, and the mare disappeared into the crowd.
(Great. Now you've ruined somepony's night. Way to go, stupie-head.)
Pinkie Pie just cried softly, leaning against the tent wall, which didn't provide much support. She was completely wrecked now, and just wanted the pain to go away, the music to stop, and the night to end. This was the worst night ever, and it had been all her fault. Her friends were happy and she was more miserable than she had been in a long time. It felt like the party was taunting her, with all of the smiling faces of her friends and acquaintances adorning the dancing crowd. She knew that everypony she saw would never, ever want to come to one of her parties ever again. They'd probably never even be her friends again, either. What was the point of her even being there?
(Exactly. Just leave! Your stupid 'friends' will have the time of their lives with or without you, so just save yourself the trouble!)
At this point, Pinkie Pie couldn't agree more. She stood up tall, and began walking around the crowd again, desperately trying to ignore the music and the incessant noises. She didn't even feel the pain in her hooves anymore. She felt nothing but anger.
As Dash approached the exit, her thoughts got interrupted as she saw a distraught Fluttershy talking to another mare near Applejack's drink table. Dash turned and began walking towards the pair, wondering what the hay was going on.
"... and her cutie mark is three yellow and blue balloons. Please promise you'll look out for her?"
"Of course I will. I suggest you tell anypony who knows her to watch out for her, too. She might just be dancing again and we can't see her, after all."
"O-oh, but she seemed so worn out and hurt when I saw her... just please promise?"
"I promise, Fluttershy," said the other mare, as she hugged Fluttershy closely. They smiled at each other sweetly, and the other mare began walking off towards the attached room to the side.
"Oh, hey Fluttershy. Who was that? Is something-- whoa!" Before Dash could finish her sentence, Fluttershy had instantly tackled her and wrapped her arms around her very tightly.
"Oh Dashie, I was with Pinkie Pie but she looked really really tired and I asked her to sit down but she said no and then we were dancing and she fell over and I told her to stay put as I went to find Misty who I was just talking to so she could get help but then when I came back she was gone and I'm so so so so worried about her Dashie!" Fluttershy blurted it all out as tears came to her eyes, nuzzling her face into her friend's neck comfortingly.
"Whoa! Pinkie Pie was hurt? What happened? Just, please, slow down a little."
"Oh, sorry...," replied Fluttershy, lowering her head as she continued to hug Dash. "I think... Pinkie Pie was having problems pacing herself. She seemed so set on doing everything all at once, and I asked her to slow down, but..."
Rainbow Dash just sighed. She knew she should've kept looking for her. "I think she'll be okay. The worst that ever happens to Pinkie Pie when she gets super tired is she just eats candy and falls asleep."
"But... she looked hurt, and scared, and sad... and I just can't help but think I failed her... l-like she's hurt and scared somewhere a-all alone and I-I'm not there to help her!" Tears began to form in Fluttershy's eyes as she clung to Dash tightly. Rainbow Dash hugged her back just as tight, and tried desperately to calm her down.
"It'll be okay, Fluttershy. I'll look for her as well, okay? We'll find her."
"D-do you promise...?"
"Of course I do!"
"O-okay," replied Fluttershy, her soft sobbing starting to cease as she wiped the tears off of her face with her hoof. "L-let's go look for her, okay?"
Dash sighed and looked down at her friend. She looked like a mess now, with her sobbing and fear for Pinkie's well-being. Dash couldn't stand the sight of somepony being all miserable like that, especially not Fluttershy. It just wasn't right. "You know what, Fluttershy? How about you go back and have fun with everypony, and I'll look for Pinkie?"
"O-oh, I couldn't do that! Not with Pinkie out there all alone and scared and--..."
"Fluttershy... trust me, I know Pinkie Pie. She'll be alright. There's NO WAY she could be sad or scared at a party like this, and she knows her limits. I know her better than anypony else."
"Y-you really think so?"
"We'll probably just find her sleeping in a corner somewhere wrapped around a bag of cotton candy."
"I-I... trust you, Dashie...," replied Fluttershy, looking at the ground. "A-and I did promise a colt and a mare that I met earlier that I'd dance with them both tonight... oh no, I hope they aren't upset that I've taken so long...!"
"U-Uh... well, why don't you go find them then? I mean, I'm sure they'll understand, if you were looking out for a friend," replied Dash. 'Outgoing Fluttershy' still seemed earth-shatteringly uncanny.
"You're right... they seemed really nice. I'm sure they'll understand. Thank you so much, Dashie...," said Fluttershy, the tears finally leaving her eyes, looking up at her friend happily.
"N-no problem. Just don't get yourself into too much trouble, okay?"
Fluttershy just smiled brightly, quickly hugged Dash once again and ran off towards the crowd, leaving Dash with a dumb look on her face. Dash just looked across the raving crowd, her eyes following the formerly-shy pony as she disappeared almost instantly into the visual noise. Everypony was jumping up and down, bobbing their heads to the pounding baseline that DJ PON-3 was whipping out. The lasers above streamed across the foggy, muggy air that hung below the ceiling, creating a trail of multicoloured lights that lingered in Dash's eyes. The matrix of bright projectors behind the DJ booth pulsated with every beat, and there was sweat, tears, smiles, hugging, laughing, and excitement everywhere around her. She had never seen Ponyville so alive than tonight under this tent, and the feeling was infectious. Dash could feel her heart start to race at the sight of it all, the feelings of intense happiness around her beginning to creep into her soul. She couldn't help but be drawn towards the crowd, the urge to let loose and dance building inside her to the point where she couldn't ignore it anymore. Just wanted to run in, to join the crowd, to not give a hay anymore. But the waves of desire clashed too harshly with the fear she was feeling. What was she afraid of?
"I need a drink," she said to herself, turning away from the crowd and walking in the general direction of Applejack's refreshment bar. There weren't many ponies obstructing her way there, and within a few moments she passed through the sound barrier and arrived at the bar, sighing heavily and looking down at the grass-laden ground. It was now, finally, that she had a moment to herself, but she wasn't terrible sure what to do with it. The feelings of happiness had passed, and oddly enough, Dash was happy in that alone.
"What can ah do ya for, darlin'?," said Applejack suddenly.
"Oh, hey Applejack," said Dash, slightly startled, still trying to catch her breath. "Uh, I dunno. What have you got?"
"Well, ah've got apple soda, ginger ale, caffeine-free cola, fruit punch, some sorta sports-drink thingy ah imported from outta town, and plain good ol'-fashioned water."
"Uh... give me some water please. I don't like that sugary stuff."
"Y'got it, sugarcube," replied Applejack, taking a glass from the side of the table and filling it with ice-cold water from a large jug in front of her. "Say, anythin' on your mind? Y'seem kinda down."
"Oh... nah, not really. I'm not feeling sad or anything, I promise."
"Well, if y'say so," replied Applejack, as she placed the cup of water in front of Rainbow Dash. Rainbow Dash looked at it for a moment, the slightly-muffled music still playing in the background which caused ripples to form on the surface of the liquid. As she heard the music and the laughter behind her, she felt sucked into the crowd again like a magnetic force was pulling at her eyes, and turned to look once more, unable to resist.
Across the crowd, she spotted some familiar faces. Lyra and Bon-Bon were off in a corner talking to a group of random ponies presumably their friends - while smiling brightly. Near the ceiling, she could see Fluttershy dancing with the pegasus colt she had talked about, laughing as the pair embraced in a friendly hug in the air. Off in the right corner of the tent, with an almost clear line of sight, she could see Princess Luna and Twilight snuggled up against each other, with soft words being whispered into each other's ears in their own little world. Twilight raised a hoof to Luna's face, to brush Luna's hair behind her ear, and wipe a tear that was slowly streaming down Luna's face. Luna just smiled softly, staring into her lover's eyes. They looked so happy, so calm, and so perfect together. Dash couldn't believe she had ever made fun of them, even in jest. She could feel the love and the passion between them, sucked into their private scene like an innocent eavesdropper, unable to pull herself away from it. At that point, Dash couldn't even hear the music anymore.
"A fruit punch, no ice, please, Miss... err..."
"Applejack. Just Applejack, if y'don't mind."
"Ah yes, Trixie remembers you. Trixie must apologize for our previous encounter."
"Think nothin' of it, sugarcube."
Rainbow Dash's ears popped up and her mane stood on end almost immediately, finally having snapped back to reality. "T-Trixie?!" She looked to the side and saw the familiar blue-coloured mare sitting beside her, waiting for her drink to be prepared. She was completely absent of her normal cape-and-hat, with her silver mane properly styled and brushed to the side. She looked almost vulnerable without her magician outfit.
"Yes, it is the Gr-- ahem, Trixie," replied Trixie.
"What, not 'Great-And-Powerful' anymore, huh?," replied Rainbow Dash, the malice nearly dripping from her mouth.
"Waddaya mean 'not tonight'? You remember how much damage you caused the first time around?! You nearly got the whole town destroyed!"
"And Trixie apologizes for that incident. Trixie never meant to seriously endanger anypony. It was foolish of Trixie to boast so wildly and to lead those two poor colts on," replied the blue mare bluntly, as Applejack handed her the fruit punch she had ordered, from which she immediately took a sip. Rainbow Dash stood beside her, mouth agape, at a complete loss for words. "Rainbow Dash, was it?"
"Y-yea-- wait, what?" Dash's brain was starting to misfire at the complete incongruity of Trixie's words. Trixie could only look to the side, grimacing.
"Trixie... is making Rainbow Dash uncomfortable?"
"No, it's not that. I just can't believe that you apologized to me without even asking," replied Dash, her initial shock and anger beginning to rapidly subside.
"Trixie understands. She will be returning to the dance in a moment. She is sorry for dampening your night."
"What do you mean? You haven't even done anything yet."
"Rainbow Dash looks sad. Trixie can only assume it's because of her presence."
Dash was taken aback. Applejack, and now Trixie of all ponies were both saying she looked miserable. "I'm not, okay? I'm really not. And even if I was, you'd have nothing to do with it anyways, so chill, alright?," replied Dash, with a thick layer of agitation present in her voice.
Trixie simply took a sip of her drink, and said nothing, as an awkward silence overtook the bar area, the three mares present not saying a word. Applejack just continued cleaning and keeping things in order, trying in vain to ignore the conversation that was happening right in front of her. After a minute, Rainbow Dash spoke up, the questions that had been building up in the back of her mind finally beginning to get itchy.
"Trixie, why are you here tonight?"
"Trixie isn't here to cause trouble."
"No, I didn't mean it like that. Everypony I know here came because their friends mainly me wanted them to come. Now that I'm here, I'm realizing that it isn't at all what I thought it'd be. But you're here on your own, and you're enjoying yourself, right?," continued Rainbow Dash. Trixie simply nodded. "So why are you here tonight? It's like everypony but me and Applejack here have lost their minds." Applejack just wrinkled her nose at her non-consensual inclusion to the conversation.
Trixie thought for a moment, looking up at the laser lights streaming overhead, continuing to create trails through the fog hovering below the ceiling. "Because here, Trixie is simply Trixie. Trixie doesn't feel the need to prove herself here. Trixie doesn't to put on a show. Tixie doesn't need to introduce herself as 'Great and Powerful.'"
"But... isn't that what you do? Put on shows, boast a lot, all that sorta stuff? I don't get it," replied Rainbow Dash.
"Sometimes it's just nice to be liked for who you are, and not because of what you do," said Trixie, looking down at the bar, smiling to herself in a kind of hopeful yet bitter way, a visible tinge of pain behind her voice. Rainbow Dash looked to the side, not terribly satisfied with the answer she had gotten. But it wasn't that she actually suspected Trixie of pulling anything, oddly enough. She didn't understand what 'being yourself' meant. She was always herself. Or at least, she thought she was. Oh great, self-doubt. Wonderful.
"Trixie can only hope that Rainbow Dash will accept her apology, for what has happened, and what foolish things Trixie will most definitely do in the future," continued Trixie.
"... maybe. I don't know. I'll have to think about it," replied Dash, tilting her head and eyes even further to the side, a distinctly defeated look coming across her face.
Trixie finished off the last of her fruit punch before placing the cup back on the table. "Thank you, Applejack."
"Yer welcome, Trixie," responded Applejack in a genuine tone, smiling back at her.
"Enjoy yourself, Trixie," said Dash, suddenly, looking back down at the wood grain of the makeshift bar. Dash couldn't think of anything witty to say, and now she really was starting to feel miserable. Trixie waited for a few moments, before continuing back into the crowd, instantly swallowed up by it.
"Kinda nice, ain't it?," said Applejack, finally, watching as the silver-maned unicorn disappeared into the mass of ponies.
"Yeah, Trixie ain't actin' like a stuck-up comic book villain tonight, and she's been like this the whole darned time, bein' all friendly 'n polite. So as ah said, it's kinda nice," she continued, placing the cup Trixie had used on top of the stack of dirty ones beside her.
"Yeah, I guess," said Rainbow Dash, with heavy defeat in her voice.
"Aw, now what's wrong there, sugarcube? Yer a'might miserable. Ah figured this kinda thing woulda been right up yer alley."
"Actually, you know what? I'm AM feeling kinda... I dunno. Awkward? Out of place? I don't know," replied Rainbow Dash, looking up at Applejack with pleading eyes.
"Lost in the crowd?," replied Applejack, in a knowing voice.
"Yer the one who wanted us all to come down to this shin-dig, honeybunch. So why are ya feelin' lost?"
"Everypony's just so... happy."
"...happy," replied Applejack, as if she couldn't believe what she was hearing.
"Yeah, happy. Like, not-themselves-at-all happy, and Trixie isn't even the half of it. You know, I just saw Fluttershy a minute ago, and she was going on and on about how many ponies she's talked to and how she loves being social. She's right up there dancing like a maniac with somepony right now!," she said, pointing her hoof over at Fluttershy and her dance partner.
"Wait, our Fluttershy?" Applejack looked up at the ceiling. She eventually saw what Dash was pointing to, and a look of minor confusion and shock came across her face.
"Yeah! And then I saw Twilight before that, and she was telling me how this is better than reading books or studying! How getting 'hooves-on experience' is the best way to learn! Can you believe that?!"
"Are y'sure they're not just, y'know, caught up in the moment?," replied Applejack, thick scepticism lingering in her voice.
"Before that, I saw Rarity, and she was going on about how she loves Cheerilee's 'retro' outfit and how the fashion here is a 'breath of fresh air'! And now she's even wearing those bracelet thingies! Isn't that evidence enough?"
Applejack just closed her eyes and hummed. "Hmm... evidence of what, exactly?"
"I..." Rainbow Dash just stared blankly at Applejack as her blonde-maned friend continued to clean around the bar.
"Y'don't even know what it's 'evidence' of, do y'now? Yer complaining about your friends bein' happy 'n havin' a good time. Are y'just jealous 'cause yer not?"
"What?!," replied Rainbow Dash incredulously, her eyes growing wide with disbelief.
"Yeah, jealously! Everypony is havin' the time of their lives, but you aren't fer some reason. Heck, even I'm just enjoyin' everypony bein' all friendly 'n kind t'each other. There need's t'be more of that in this world," said Applejack, nodding her head knowingly. Rainbow Dash just hung her head again in defeat. "Ah wouldn't even be here if it weren't for you and Pinkie Pie, and apparently ah'm enjoying it more than both you 'n her combined. And ah ain't even dancin'!"
Rainbow Dash's ears perked up for a moment. Oh Celestia, Pinkie Pie. How could she have forgotten?! "Wait, Pinkie Pie? What do you mean by more than her and I 'combined'?"
"Oh, y'haven't seen her? She came up here just b'fore you and was bein' all... how do they say it... all moody 'n edgy, ah suppose. She looked like somepony had just broken her heart or scorned her somethin' fierce. Ah couldn't read her at all," replied Applejack, with a concerned look on her face. "Plus, somepony had done somethin' weird to 'er hair."
"To her hair?"
"Yeah, it was all straight 'n noodley, and not all bouncy 'n bushy like she usually has it. It seemed kinda weird to me, but heck, I ain't one to push somepony if they ain't willin' or wantin' t'talk," continued Applejack, as she began sorting out the next batch of the various drinks she was to serve, lining up a row of large pitchers. Rainbow Dash's face began to take on an increasingly horrified look, and she could only hide her face in her hooves.
"What's goin' on, Dash? Be straight with me, now."
"I think Pinkie Pie needs help. Like, right now."
"Wait, what's this now? Is Pinkie Pie in danger? Is some villain huntin' 'er down or somethin'? Do ah need to go rough somepony up for harmin' our Pinkie Pie?!"
"No, no, nothing like that!," replied Rainbow Dash, sighing heavily. "I'm going to go find her, before things get really bad. Did you see where she went?"
"As far as ah could tell, she just made a bee-line for the exit. She didn't really say where she was goin', she just kinda left in a huff."
"Thanks Applejack. You've been a great help."
"Help shmelp. All ah did was add to yer problems. But y'go find Pinkie Pie now, y'hear?!," urged Applejack, waving her hoof towards the exit. Rainbow Dash nodded and turned back into the crowd, the noise assaulting her now re-sensitized ears as she passed through the sound barrier. The bass-line shook the ground and the air all around her, and she could feel her own ribcage reverberating to the beat. She didn't have to wade through the crowd very long before she made it to the exit. As she went through the small tented passage to the outside, she could feel the fresh air assault her throat and lungs with its purity and coldness.
Rainbow Dash spread her wings and stretched, looking up at the sky. It was the dead of night, and not a thing could be seen passed the small groupings of trees that surrounded the party tent, and the few lit lights down in the town itself. The only real sources of light were the sparkling stars and the bright moon which watched overhead high in the sky. The open sky was comforting, compared to how cramped it was inside. Rainbow Dash looked around, attempting to see any possible places that Pinkie Pie may have gone.
"Hey," said somepony from the side. Rainbow Dash looked over, being greeted by the bouncer-mare. She was tall, had short-cut blue hair and was wearing a black T-Shirt which had the letters 'STAFF' written on it in bright yellow. She looked at Rainbow Dash with a kind of stern, yet friendly look. "Lookin' for somepony?"
"Oh, hey," replied Dash, looking up at her. "Actually, yeah. I'm looking for a pink pony, about my height. She's got balloons as her cutie mark?"
"Yeah, I saw her. She didn't look so hot coming out of here. She went around the back of the tent, but she never came back."
"Thanks a lot."
"No biggie. It's my job to notice these things," replied the bouncer, who smiled and then headed back inside the entrance. Rainbow Dash quickly began walking around the tent, hearing the laughter and the happiness from within. She could hear DJ PON-3 start to make some sort of announcement, inaudible from the outside, which caused the entire crowd to cheer loudly. She wasn't sure what she was going to find this time. Last time had been fairly horrifying, and if Pinkie was being like this at a party this big, then it was bound to be even worse. Before she could even complete another thought, however, she found what she was looking for at the opposite side of the tent. At the same time, she wish she hadn't.
TO BE CONTINUED...