The last bits of Luna's night were chased away by the rising of Celestia's sun, the moon taking its leave as the skies of Equestria began to brighten up. Inside the Ponyville Library, Twilight Sparkle's eyelids began to twitch as the sunlight made its way across the floor. She turned over onto her side as it reached her eyes, trying to squeeze out another minute or two of sleep.
She soon lost the battle and her eyelids separated, revealing her violet eyes. She let out a yawn as she sat up, running a hoof across her face in an attempt to wipe the remnants of sleep away. She soon lowered her hoof and, after a moment, got out of her bed, setting her four hooves down on the wooden floor. Glancing over at the basket housing the sleeping form of her assistant, she decided to let him sleep in for a little while and walked over to her dresser, picking her brush up with her magic and beginning to brush the bed head out of her hair.
When her mane was back to its usual straight appearance, she smiled at her reflection and made her way down to the first floor of the library. She picked up a scroll on the table in the center of the floor and unrolled it, looking over the schedule she had made last night for today. Rolling it back up, she walked over to a nearby bookcase and used her magic to pull several books off of the shelves before walking over to another bookcase and doing the same. When she had all the books she was looking for, she walked back to the center table and pulled a book off the top of the first pile, setting it down and opening it.
About an hour or two later, Twilight was startled out of her reading by Spike walking down the stairs while saying, "Good morning, Twilight! What can I get you for breakfast?"
Twilight looked back at him over her shoulder and asked, "Spike, what are you doing up so early? I was going to let you sleep in."
The baby dragon replied, "Twilight, it's, like, 9:30 right now. I think I've slept long enough."
Twilight blushed, "Oh, right. Uh, I don't know. Anything's fine, I guess. I'm just about done looking through this book anyway."
Spike nodded, "Okay." He then walked into the kitchen to get started on breakfast while Twilight turned back to her book, resuming where she had left off. She soon closed the book and was just about to start on another one when Spike called her, saying breakfast was ready. She returned to the main room a little later, having enjoyed the grass pancakes Spike had made, and resumed reading while he got to work on his morning chores.
Aside from the light sound of Spike working, the air in the library was relatively quiet. The peace was eventually broken by a knocking at the door. Twilight looked up as Spike ran to answer it. Pushing the door open, he smiled at the cyan mare outside, "Hey Rainbow Dash! How's it going?"
The proud pegasus said, "Awesomely amazing, Spike, as usual. Hey, is Twilight home?"
Twilight waved from where she was sitting, "Right here, Rainbow Dash. If you're here about the new Daring Do book, I'm still waiting on the shipment."
Rainbow Dash trotted in and over to the table, standing opposite of Twilight as she said, "Nah, that's not what I'm here for. Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy wanted to get everypony together for something fun, so they decided to have a picnic. We're all gonna meet up a little later for it, so I was just dropping by to ask if you wanted to come."
Twilight smiled, "A picnic? Sure, my schedule is pretty light today." She looked over at her assistant, who was standing near a bookcase, and asked, "Spike, do you want to come too?"
The baby dragon replied, "Yeah! Sounds like fun!"
Rainbow Dash said, "Okay then. I'll let the girls know both of you are coming. See you later!" She then ran out through the open door and spread her wings. When Spike moved over to the door, he saw her take off while leaving behind her signature rainbow trail.
I don't think there's anypony out there who could match Rainbow Dash's speed when she's in full flight mode," he breathed. Pulling the door closed, he asked, "What do you think, Twilight?
Twilight?" Looking back at the mare, he saw she was looking down at the book in front of her. Walking over to her, he leapt up and grabbed onto the edge of the desk, pulling himself up and resting his elbows on top of the table as he looked down at what she was reading. He sighed, "Twilight, it's been over a week since that happened. Why are you still worrying about it?"
Twilight used her magic to pick Spike up and set him down on the table before replying, "Because I'm still not sure what to think, Spike. Sure, we got a great lesson on friendship from that trip up the mountain, same as when that dragon was sleeping there, but I still have this feeling that we missed something. Something important
Spike shrugged, "I don't know, Twilight. I mean, how much can you miss when it comes to rockslides? Sure, the fact that that many occurred is kind of strange, but you all came together and figured out there were a lot of loose rocks up there. That's enough, isn't it? That had to have been all it was."
Twilight sighed to herself. As much as she wanted to accept that what happened that day was completely natural, she couldn't shake the feeling that something was off and it was going to come back to bite them on the flank. She used her magic to close her book and moved it back on top of the pile. As she moved to put all the books back where she found them, she said, "I still think there's more to it than that, Spike. Lots of ponies said they heard an explosion that day, before the first rockslide started. What could've caused an explosion?"
Spike replied, "I don't know, but I don't think you're going to find the answer in a book. Besides, you went back up there a few days after it happened and found nothing. Why don't you just relax and take your mind off of this for one day? Worrying about it certainly isn't going to make the picnic any fun."
Twilight said, "Yeah, I guess you're right, Spike."
Spike puffed up his chest, "Well, of course I am. I've had to help calm you down in the past, after all."
Twilight turned and smiled at him, "Okay, you've got me there. Listen, I'm going to stop by Zecora's for some tea. Just take care of the rest of your chores and, after the picnic, you can have the rest of the day off."
Spike immediately saluted, "Aye aye, ma'am!" He then raced back upstairs to finish the rest of his chores. Twilight giggled to herself and headed for the front door, using her magic to open it and close it after stepping outside. She then headed straight for the Everfree Forest.
After a few minutes of walking through Ponyville, Twilight stood at the entrance to the Everfree Forest. After taking a moment to mentally trace her route to Zecora's home, so as not to wander off the path like the time when she ran into the cockatrice, she started walking into the forest. She kept her eyes and ears open as she walked, looking and listening for anything unusual. When it came to the Everfree Forest, a pony couldn't be too careful.
After a couple minutes of walking, Twilight entered the clearing in front of Zecora's home. Hoping she wasn't interrupting anything, she walked up to the front door and knocked twice. Inside, she heard the zebra say, "I heard a knock, who has come here?" Opening the door, Zecora smiled, "Ah, Twilight Sparkle, come in, my dear!"
Twilight returned the smile and stepped inside. She spoke, "I hope I'm not interrupting anything, Zecora. I was just wondering if I could get some of your tea."
Zecora walked over to her cauldron and said, "It is no trouble, for as you can see, I was already working on a fresh batch of tea. Sit down, Twilight, and take a sip. As short as it was, coming here was still a trip."
Twilight walked over and took a seat on the floor near the cauldron. "Thanks, Zecora. I really like your tea," she commented.
Using a ladle, Zecora poured the tea in two cups and allowed Twilight to take her cup with her magic before walking over with her own and sitting down in front of the lavender unicorn. "I know that you enjoy my brew; that is why I enjoy sharing it with you." Twilight nodded and they both sipped their tea, making small talk all the while.
A short while later, both Twilight and Zecora exited the zebra's house, Twilight needing to get back to Ponyville for the picnic and Zecora wanting to visit a few ponies in town. They continued talking as they walked, Twilight soon asking if Zecora wanted to come to the picnic. The zebra eventually agreed to stop by after seeing the ponies she was planning to visit.
As they neared Ponyville, they stepped around a patch of poison joke. Not long after avoiding the blue flowers, the ground beneath them suddenly shook! Both Twilight and Zecora came to a stop as the earth rumbled, but it soon quieted down. "Uh, that was
Were you expecting that?" Twilight asked, not really sure what else to say.
Zecora shook her head, "If the earth were heaving itself, I would've felt a sensation. But that was not a natural vibration. Something has disturbed the forest, of this I am sure. But I do not know whether it is malicious or pure."
Twilight asked, "I suppose we should make sure everything is okay in Ponyville, right?" Zecora nodded and they resumed walking, though at a slightly faster pace than before.
When they reached Ponyville, they found that everypony was going about their business, like nothing had happened. "What's going on? We both couldn't have imagined that earthquake just now, could we?" Twilight asked.
"That would be unlikely, I surmise; there is no pulling the wool over these eyes. Whatever caused that shake is troubling my mind; let us ask around and see what we can find," Zecora replied. Twilight nodded and they quickly trotted into Ponyville, neither one noticing a purplish-black void beginning to form up in the sky.
"Derpy, will you watch where you're flying? I nearly crashed into you that time!" Rainbow Dash exclaimed at a cross-eyed bluish-gray pegasus with a light yellow mane and a cutie mark of bubbles, both of them flapping their wings to remain in the air.
"Sorry about that, Rainbow Dash! I just don't know what I was thinking just now!" Derpy said.
"Huh, that makes two of us," Rainbow Dash muttered under her breath.
Down on the ground below, Rarity had set up a picnic blanket in the usual spot and Fluttershy was making sure it was lying flat on the ground. Applejack, meanwhile, was digging into a picnic basket prepared by Fluttershy, pulling out some food and silverware while Rarity looked through what Pinkie Pie had brought. The pink earth pony herself was bouncing around after opening a basket filled with balloons, which floated away shortly after the blanket covering them had been taken off.
Looking up at the two pegasi above, Applejack commented, "Rainbow really shouldn't argue with Derpy like that."
Rarity looked up and nodded, "I agree. Just because she's a bit
ditzy doesn't mean she has to get so angry at her. Some ponies might take offense to that!"
Fluttershy said, "Oh, I wish Rainbow Dash would treat Derpy a little nicer too, but she's worried about Derpy's well-being at least. I'm glad she's not trying to push her away or anything mean like that."
Pinkie Pie bounced over next to Fluttershy and said, "Dashie would never do something like that, Fluttershy! That wouldn't be like her, being disloyal like some disloyal disloyalty pants!" She then looked around and asked, "Now, what's keeping Twilight? I thought Rainbow Dash said she'd be here!"
Spike, who was sitting under the nearby tree, said, "She said she was going to stop by Zecora's for some tea. They're probably talking with each other and lost track of time." He then returned to relaxing under the tree, enjoying the nice day.
Pinkie Pie exclaimed, "Ooh! Maybe Zecora will come too! That would be so much fun!"
Applejack looked off to the side and noticed a large red stallion pulling a wagon behind him approaching. She stood up and walked over to the corner of the picnic blanket he was closest to, saying, "Howdy there, big brother! Done working for today?"
Big Macintosh came to a stop near the picnic blanket and drawled, "Eeyup. Granny Smith told me 'bout your picnic, so Ah thought Ah'd bring y'all some refreshments."
Applejack looked back at his wagon and saw a dozen bottles of apple juice on it. "Well, thank ya kindly then, big brother! Here, let me help ya with that." She walked around to the side of the wagon and picked up two bottles with her hooves before asking, "So what's Granny Smith up to right now?"
Big Macintosh said, "Said she was gonna pick up Apple Bloom from school. Probably gonna take 'er out shoppin', Ah reckon." Applejack nodded and set the bottles she was holding down on the picnic blanket before moving back to help Big Macintosh unload the rest. Rainbow Dash came down soon after they were done, Derpy quietly following after her and almost crashing into her when she landed. Big Macintosh then said, "Ah reckon Ah'll leave y'all to yer picnic then."
Spike, having come out from under the tree while the two siblings were unloading the apple juice, said, "Aw, come on, Big Macintosh! You can stick around for a while."
Applejack nodded, "Sure! Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy packed extra in case anypony wanted to join in. It ain't a problem if ya wanna relax." Looking back over her shoulder, she saw Twilight and Zecora coming towards the group. She turned and called, "Howdy, y'all!"
Pinkie Pie popped up in front of the two as they got closer, causing them to stop suddenly, and said, "Yay, you made it, Twilight! And you brought Zecora too! Oh, this is going to be great!"
Rarity trotted over and said, "Darling, I'm so glad you could make it! I do hope that, after all that studying, you'll take the time to unwind."
Twilight asked, "Uh, did anypony feel that earthquake earlier?"
Everypony looked at her funny at that. "What are you talking about, Twilight? There wasn't an earthquake," Spike said.
Zecora replied, "I would like to believe that, but it was not fake. While we walked through the forest, the ground did shake."
Derpy exclaimed, "Silly ground! Why would you startle Twilight and Zecora like that?"
Applejack asked, "Well, couldn't that just have been something that usually happens in the Everfree Forest?"
Rainbow Dash nodded, "Yeah! Strange stuff happens in there all the time!"
Twilight replied, "Zecora said she wasn't expecting it to happen, and she understands the forest better than anypony. I think we might have a problem on our hooves."
Rainbow Dash sighed, "Oh great. How big a problem are we talking?"
KRAKA-BOOM! Everypony's heads immediately jerked in the direction of that sound, looking up at the sky as a vortex formed high above them with lightning shooting out of it. Suddenly, a large creature that was mostly obscured by some kind of black smoke (only the silhouettes of its mouth and eyes could be seen) pulled itself out through the vortex with a loud roar. "Uh, that big a problem?" Twilight guessed.
"Aw, hayseeds," Applejack groaned as the creature floated freely in the air, glaring down at the seven mares, zebra, stallion, and baby dragon.
Fluttershy dropped to the ground and hid her face behind her mane while placing her hooves on top of her head. She squeaked, "Eek, it's scary! What is it?!"
Pinkie Pie looked down at her and said, "Don't worry, Fluttershy, it can't hurt you! Remember
♪Giggle at the ghost-♪ Whoa!" The pink party pony was cut off from breaking into song when she suddenly felt herself being dragged across the ground. Actually, everypony could feel some kind of suction beginning to pull at them. Helping Spike up onto her back, Twilight took another look up at the creature and saw that it had created some kind of portals, which were floating in the air between its arms. Just like everypony else, she dug her hooves into the ground and tried to keep from being pulled up by the suction coming from those portals, the picnic blanket having already been yanked out from under them along with the food and juice.
After a moment, Derpy, Zecora, and Fluttershy all lost their grips and were all pulled off the ground, each one being pulled into a different portal! Rainbow Dash saw this and regained her composure, spreading her wings and flying up towards the creature while yelling, "Hey, cut it out, you jerk!" She flew straight towards its face, but before she could reach it, it pulled its left arm in front of itself and swung it towards Dash, slapping her back down towards the ground.
The cyan pegasus bounced off of Big Macintosh before hitting the ground and sliding backwards. The sudden impact surprised the red stallion and he lost his grip, also being pulled into a portal. Applejack screamed, "Big Macintosh! Whoa!" Unfortunately, she also lost her grip, as did Pinkie Pie and Rarity, and they all disappeared through their own separate portals too.
Spike yelled, "Rarity!" Looking back at Twilight, he asked, "Twilight, can't you do something?!"
While struggling to hold onto the ground, the lavender unicorn groaned, "I don't
know what's going
on, Spike! I don't know
what to- Aah!" Her back legs suddenly came free of the ground and began to pull her and Spike in the direction of the two remaining portals.
Spike looked back at the creature as he clung tightly onto Twilight's back and then looked back at her and asked, "Can't you at least get us out of here?!"
Twilight looked up and cracked an eye open as she said, "But
" The rainbow-maned mare had hit the ground hard and had seemingly been knocked out by the impact. Glancing back at the creature over her shoulder, Twilight took another look at Rainbow Dash and made her decision. Her horn lit up as her magenta aura surrounded it, using her remaining strength to erect a force field around Rainbow Dash.
As soon as it was complete, Twilight lost her grip on the ground while, at the same time, Spike lost his grip on her! They both reached out towards each other, but they were both pulled into the last two portals, which closed up immediately after they went through them.
Under the force field Twilight had created, Rainbow Dash gave a twitch, but was unable to do anything else. She simply lay there on the ground as the creature disappeared, a bright white light spreading out from where it had been all over Ponyville. Everypony saw it approaching, but they were unable to do anything as it enveloped them
Miles "Tails" Prower flew through the air with the aid of his twin namesakes, flying as fast as his tails could take him. He soon saw his destination come into view: a small outcropping of land near the shore of a lake, surrounded by a few trees. Encouraged by the sight, he went into a dive, flying down towards the area.
As he neared the ground, he saw all of his and Sonic's friends gathered around or near a lone picnic table, setting things up. Knuckles the Echidna, Amy Rose, Cream the Rabbit, her Chao friend Cheese, Blaze the Cat, Rouge the Bat, and the Chaotix (Espio the Chameleon, Charmy Bee, and Vector the Crocodile) were all there. He landed on the ground at the bottom of a small hill and stopped to catch his breath after all the flying he just did, picking up on what everyone was saying as he panted. "I think we've got enough plates and cups available if we need them," Blaze was saying.
"Oh, I hope Sonic really likes this! This is such a special day for him!" Cream said.
Tails stood up and started to run up the hill as he heard Knuckles say, "I'm sure he'll at least appreciate it. Even he can't run from birthdays."
Tails crested the hill as Amy said, "Well, he'd better do more than just appreciate it after all the hard work I put into this!"
Rouge smirked, "You think you did all this by yourself, Amy? Don't kid yourself." Looking up, she said, "Oh, speaking of kids
Tails ran down the hill and stopped at the bottom as Espio said, "Welcome back, Tails. Is Sonic on his way?"
The young fox replied, "I think so. I left him a message to meet me here. He should've seen it by now."
Charmy cheered, "I can't wait to see the look on his face!"
Vector said, "Calm down, Charmy. He still has to get here before we can surprise him!"
Tails spun his twin namesakes and flew up as he said, "I'll keep an eye out for him. Are we ready?"
Knuckles spoke, "Everything's all set up. We're good to go."
Tails nodded, "Good." He landed on top of the hill and looked out into the distance. Moments later, he saw a blue streak coming towards him. Turning back around, he called, "Heads up, everyone! He's coming!"
He then turned back around, only to see a familiar blue hedgehog come skidding to a stop right next to him. "Hey, Tails! So what's up? You wanted me to meet you here, right?" Sonic asked.
Tails nodded, "Yeah, about that
" He gestured towards the bottom of the hill, and as Sonic looked
"SURPRISE!" everyone shouted at the same time, followed by party poppers being shot off. Sonic looked down and saw, in addition to chili dogs, cupcakes, and small coolers full of cold beverage, there was a white birthday cake with pink frosting sitting on the picnic table, which all of his friends were standing around.
He grinned, "Aw, you guys
" He then followed Tails down the hill towards the picnic table as everyone began to enjoy the birthday spread, avoiding Amy's attempts to give him a birthday kiss as he did.
As they neared the table, Tails turned to Sonic and said, "It's kind of impossible to surprise you."
Sonic replied, "You totally got me this time. I had no idea."
Tails smiled, "Yeah, right." Upon reaching the table, the fox kit grabbed a plate holding a chili dog with a ribbon wrapped around it and held it out towards Sonic. "Happy birthday, Sonic. I hope you like it."
Sonic grabbed the chili dog and took a bite out of it before saying, "Like it? I LOVE it!" The duo continued talking as the party began to get in full swing and Amy started walking over to Sonic, attempting to make another attempt at kissing him.
Unfortunately, everything was interrupted when what sounded like lightning and a fierce wind blasted through the area, sending Sonic's chili dog and everything on the picnic table flying! As if the force suddenly reversed itself, everything (with the exception of Sonic's chili dog, which had flown straight up) went flying back the way it came, some of Sonic's friends getting hit by baked goods or wet as everything was sucked up into a purplish-black void.
Tails pointed up at the void as a creature surrounded by black smoke pulled itself out of the gateway it had created and exclaimed, "Sonic, look!" The blue hedgehog turned his attention away from his missing chili dog and looked up at the creature now floating in the air, the vortex it had come through having closed. As it began to create portals that floated in the air, Tails asked, "What's it doing?"
All of a sudden, Charmy was caught up in the fierce wind that was being created by the creature's portals and was pulled towards one, despite Vector and Espio's attempts to grab him. They soon followed after him, as did Knuckles, Rouge, and Amy, the pink hedgehog screaming, "SONIC!" They were all pulled through different portals, each one closing around them.
Sonic ran towards the creature, ignoring the pull of the wind, and shouted, "Hey! Not cool!" He leapt up towards it and went into a Homing Attack, aiming for the creature's face. Unfortunately, it pulled its right arm in front of it and slapped him away, Sonic hitting the ground and bouncing back over the picnic table and over the fence, coming to a stop on his front on the grass between the fence and the lake.
As he lay on the ground, unmoving, Cream and Cheese were pulled into one of the three remaining portals and Blaze into another. Tails, as he struggled to hold onto the grass, looked up at Sonic and called, "Sonic
!" He then lost his grip and was pulled towards the last remaining portal, shouting, "SONIC!"
The blue blur tried to fight the haze clouding his head at his best friend's shout, but was unable to do anything more than twitch a little as the last portal closed, blackness moving in and covering his vision