Rainbow Dash squinted and blinked her eyes, trying to clear her vision. All she could see was white… and it felt like she was hovering in the air even though her wings were closed at her sides. Her memories began to flood her mind as the white appeared to be fading… “A monster ruined the picnic my friends and I were having… When I tried to stop it from taking my friends, it knocked me out… and then I woke up somewhere totally far from Ponyville! I met this awesome guy named Sonic whose friends were also taken by that monster, and we worked together to save our friends and we all visited familiar places and got to beat up some old bad guys! We then confronted that monster, the Time Eater… there was a huge fight, and then… then…” Her eyes widened as she remembered what had seemingly just happened, a tear in the white opening up in front of her and pulling her through it.
As she went through the opening in the white, her hooves came into contact with grass as she was set down gently. She looked around and saw a hill, a wooden fence going along the side of it, and several trees nearby. “Where am I?” she wondered out loud. Almost as soon as she asked that question, she saw five white glows appear near her, forming a circle including her. As she watched, each of her five friends were deposited onto the grass, all of them looking a bit surprised for a moment before they looked around in confusion. Rainbow noticed that their coats and manes had returned to their usual appearances, Twilight was back to being a unicorn, Fluttershy’s wings were pegasus wings again, and they were all still wearing their Elements of Harmony. Looking down at herself, she saw that she too had returned to normal and she was still wearing her Element of Loyalty necklace.
After a moment, Rainbow looked up at them and asked, “Hey, are you guys okay?”
The others looked at her and Applejack, her and Pinkie standing closest to the cyan pegasus, said, “Ah reckon so, Rainbow. But… what was all that white about?” She looked to the left, behind Rainbow, and noticed that the fence went around until it ended abruptly further down from the girls, standing in front of a patch of flat grass and a lake, and added, “And where are we? Ah’m pretty sure Ah haven’t been here before…”
Twilight, who was standing across from Rainbow with Rarity and Fluttershy on her left and right respectively, looked up and murmured, “Hmm…”
Fluttershy looked over at her and asked, “Um, Twilight? Do you have any idea where we are? N-Not that there’s a problem if you don’t know, I’m just asking.”
The lavender unicorn replied, “I can’t say I know for certain, Fluttershy, but maybe…” She stopped short and her eyes widened as she remembered something. She looked at her friends and asked, “Wait, what happened to Sonic and Spike and everybody else?” Her friends’ eyes widened at that and all six of them started looking around again, searching for some sign that the blue hedgehog and their friends and family were all right.
Rarity soon noticed something when she looked to her right and pointed with a hoof while saying, “Look, over there!” The other five mares all looked where she was pointing to see an empty picnic table sitting near the shade of a tree and a white glow floating directly to the, from where they were standing, right of it.
After a moment, the glow deposited a familiar blue hedgehog wearing a bracelet on his left wrist in front of the table. After shaking his head to clear the slight disorientation, Sonic looked around and quickly recognized where he was. “Hey, this is…” he started before he remembered something. Tilting his head up, he saw his present from Tails falling straight down towards him, flipping end-over-end as it came down. He raised and swung his right hand, cleanly catching the chili dog in it, holding it up to his face and giving it a sniff before taking his long-awaited second bite of it. “Mm, still warm,” he commented. He then chuckled as he tossed it up in the air and caught it, “Heh, time travel does have its benefits!”
A second later, he heard Pinkie Pie call, “Sonic!” and turned to his left to look. He smiled as he saw Twilight, Fluttershy, Rarity, and Applejack quickly trotting towards him while Rainbow flew and Pinkie bounced over. Twilight reached him first, followed by Fluttershy, Pinkie, Rainbow, Rarity, and Applejack. They all smiled back at him (or in Pinkie’s case, grinned at him). Before anyone could say anything, they all heard a sound coming from the picnic table and turned to see more white glows beginning to appear on the other side of and above the table.
As they watched, all of their friends, families, and rivals, save for Tails and Spike, were deposited before them, the Cutie Mark Crusaders being set down on top of the table while everyone else appeared behind it. They all looked around and at each other for a moment or two in confusion before they saw the seven standing on the other side of the table and many of them began cheering, some of the ponies also whinnying (there was also a distinctive “Eeyup” heard as the cheers began to die down). Luna managed to retain her composure and instead gave Sonic and the Element Bearers a nod along with Celestia while Shadow, Gilda, and the Babylon Rogues simply acted disinterested for their own reasons. Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo all soon leapt towards their desired pony, giving them a hug.
Knuckles was the first to say something, “I’ve gotta admit, you guys made one heck of a team back there.”
Jet rolled his eyes, “Eh, they were okay.”
Amy, who just so happened to be standing next to him, turned and glared at him, angrily asking, “‘Okay’? Are you kidding?” Before Jet could react, she slapped him in the face with the back of her right hand, sending him rolling into the nearby tree while she turned back to the group and clasped her hands together, saying, “They were all great, especially Sonic!” Wave shot the pink hedgehog a dark look that she didn’t notice before moving to help Jet while Storm, remembering the last time he and Amy crossed paths alone, looked nervous before following suit.
Sonic and the Main Six, as well as some of the others, looked on in surprise at this display before Fluttershy leapt over the table to go help Jet while Rainbow and Applejack shot Rarity a look, as if daring her to comment on how cute Amy’s affection for Sonic was, and Twilight and Pinkie looked over at Sonic questioningly, the blue hedgehog glancing down to the right and scratching the side of his head with his left index finger while giving a wry smirk.
After a moment, they heard Spike’s voice off to their left, all of them turning to look as the baby dragon asked, “So he always returns to normal after a while? Huh. What happens to the Chaos Emeralds afterwards?” His question was directed at Tails, who was walking alongside him while looking down at him. The fox was carrying his radar in his left hand, though it was in its closed state at the moment.
“They always get split up due to all that energy coming together and being used all at once. And there’s no telling where they’ll turn up; they could end up in the Special Zone or anywhere in the world,” Tails replied. Spike nodded, having missed most of Tails telling Twilight about the Chaos Emeralds earlier. When they got closer to the picnic table, Spike ran ahead to Twilight, leaping up to her and giving her a hug, glad to see that she was okay. This prompted Shining Armor and Cadance to move around the table and join in, Big Macintosh and Granny Smith also moving to join in on the hug Apple Bloom was giving Applejack.
When Tails reached the table, he walked over to Sonic and the two gave each other a high five with their free hands. Afterwards, as the hugging ponies and dragon began to back off and Fluttershy came back over (Wave having shooed her away after telling her Jet was fine), Sonic took another bite out of his chili dog and swallowed it before asking, “So Tails, would you say our little time crisis adventure is over now?”
At that, almost everyone looked at the two-tailed fox, who replied, “From the way things are looking here, it sure seems like it. But if we want to know for sure…” He held up his radar in both hands and flipped it open, typing something into it. After a few seconds, he said, “Hmm, according to these readings, a lot of the damage that Eggman and Discord caused with the Time Eater is healing up nicely. In Equestria, it looks like the recovery is starting in Ponyville, where the creature first appeared, and is spreading out from there. The same thing is happening here too. It’ll take a little time, but all the damage should heal on its own soon.”
At that, Mayor Mare smiled, “Really? That is indeed wonderful news, Tails! So it won’t be long before our quaint little town and the rest of Equestria is fully restored?” Tails nodded.
Scootaloo spoke up, “You guys sure walloped Eggman and Discord way past next week! That was so amazing!”
Sweetie Belle looked at Tails and asked, “We helped, didn’t we?”
The fox replied, “Uh, yeah, Sweetie Belle. Everybody helped out!”
The unicorn filly grinned, “I knew it! I knew it!” She giggled happily.
Apple Bloom, while looking at her flank, said, “We tried ta get our cutie marks in moral support before, but we didn’t get anythin’ that time. Maybe this time we’ll get somethin’?” Babs couldn’t help but chuckle lightly at her cousin’s ever constant hopefulness. While Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle’s sisters and Rainbow Dash tried to calm the now-curious fillies down, the earth pony filly glanced over at Sonic, Tails, and Twilight and casually blew her mane to the side, acting calm as ever. The three of them simply shared a smile with her, Sonic taking another bite out of his chili dog a moment later.
Pinkie Pie suddenly piped up, everyone’s attention shifting to her, “Silly fillies, there’ll be plenty of time for cutie marks later! Right now, we need to celebrate!” She then shifted her attention to the other girls, “Instead of a picnic like the one that was ruined earlier, let’s have a party instead! And everyone’s invited!” At that, most of Sonic’s friends began to look bothered as their eyes fell on the picnic table, the empty picnic table. Pinkie and most of the other Equestria residents quickly picked up on this, the former asking, “Hey, what’s everyone looking so sad about?”
Before anyone could answer, Celestia spoke up, “Forgive me if I upset the mood further, Pinkie Pie, but our little filly friends have just reminded me of something.” She looked at Sonic and asked, “What happened to Discord?”
Sonic shrugged, “He got hit with the Elements of Harmony. It doesn’t look like he’s around, but the Elements are supposed to do the trick against him, right?”
Celestia leveled a stern gaze at him, “I’m afraid that’s not going to be enough. If the power of the Elements of Harmony was somehow offset by the power of the Chaos Emeralds, then Discord could still be out there somewhere, free. I need to see proof that he is not still free and causing chaos somewhere else.”
Before anyone could say anything, they all heard a loud crashing sound coming from the other side of the nearby hill, everyone looking in its direction. Sonic and Tails shared a look before they both ran towards it, the Main Six coming up behind them. When they reached the top of the hill, Sonic and Tails looked down towards the other side, the girls looking over or around them to do the same, and they all gasped in surprise. Near the foot of the hill, Dr. Eggman, Orbot, Cubot, and a familiar draconequus were lying on the ground, one of them not moving.
Eggman groaned as he sat up, “Oh, my head… What just happened?”
Orbot and Cubot both popped out of their closed state, the latter grunting and whirring for a moment before saying, “Ah don’t know, but Ah reckon it hurt a bit. Mah head feels kind of funny too.”
Orbot looked at him and sighed, “It would appear your voice chip is stuck on cowboy yet again.”
Eggman, not realizing where he was, began to stand up as he growled, “Ugh… great. As if Discord fiddling with his voice chip all the time wasn’t bad enough. He just couldn’t settle on something that wasn’t annoying and permanently set him to that, no! He had to try EVERY voice setting!”
Orbot spoke, “Speaking of which, Boss, it looks like Cubot isn’t the only one who’s back to where he started.” Eggman turned to look at him, about to yell at him since he was sure he was referring to him, but he stopped when he noticed the red-headed robot wasn’t even looking at him. He followed his gaze to see Discord lying on the ground, his body turned back into stone. Looking his petrified partner over, Eggman saw that his pose resembled the one he had been locked in when he had been retrieved from the Canterlot statue garden, except his tail was pressed flat as though he’d been sitting on it, his legs stuck straight out just like his arms, and, while his head was facing forward, his eyes were looking off to the left, possibly at where Sonic and the Element Bearers had been after their attack on the Time Eater. Also, the stone encasing him appeared to be a darker shade of gray and both his arms and legs appeared to be mixed up.
“My, he just can’t seem to avoid having his face freeze like that, can he? Still, those Elements do pick such fine stone to imprison him in,” Orbot commented.
“Yep, and this here stone looks stronger than the old one, Ah reckon. Still, Ah’m glad the same thing didn’t happen ta us,” Cubot replied.
“I wouldn’t have minded, especially if it would’ve fixed you two,” Eggman grumbled as he stood up straight. He then walked over to Discord and stood at his side, placing his left arm atop the draconequus’ chest/neck and leaning on him while looking at his face. He then spoke, “Well Discord, I hope you’re pleased. When you agreed to our partnership, I was expecting you to bring your A-game, but instead you spent most of your time free messing around and amusing yourself. Still, you were the best choice out of all of Equestria’s villains. Working with Rouge in the past has made me averse to trusting girls with any of my plans, and even if there was anything left of King Sombra, I’d never work with him because he’s a psycho!”
He shuddered for a moment at the thought of what he’d learned about the former Crystal Empire king before he continued, “That’s why I set you free: to help me and share in the spoils of the end results. Alas, it seems the only thing that really mattered to you was enjoying your freedom, so I hope you did, because you know what? I’m never helping you out again, you clown!” As he was speaking, he raised his right fist up and brought it down on Discord’s neck as he finished. A second later, Orbot pointed and started laughing at him as he hopped in place while clutching his hand and crying, “OW! My pinky!”
Orbot’s laughing abruptly stopped when a familiar pink pony popped up out of nowhere on Discord’s other side, Eggman falling backwards in shock with a yelp and the others, still on the hill, looking on in confusion. “Ooh! I just heard my name! But don’t be silly, Eggy; I’m not your Pinkie!” she said.
Eggman glared up at her. “How did you get back there?!” he exclaimed.
“Science… FICTION!” Pinkie grinned. Cubot looked at Orbot in confusion, the red-headed robot shrugging, also confused.
Eggman growled, “Great. I lose one clown just to get stuck with another.” Pinkie just continued to grin at him. A second later, Sonic ran up behind Eggman and stood there, prompting Pinkie to wave at him. “What are you waving at?” Eggman asked. He got his answer a moment later when Sonic cleared his throat and Eggman turned his head to look back at him. “Gah! Sonic?!” he cried.
“Hey, Eggman. I don’t remember seeing your name on the list of surprise party guests,” the blue hedgehog replied while untying the ribbon on his chili dog, holding it between his left index finger and thumb as he raised the gift to his mouth and began taking the last bites of it.
Pinkie looked at him with wide eyes, “Did you say party?!”
Before Sonic could answer her, Eggman turned over, getting on his hands and knees and pointing at Sonic as he yelled, “You cocky little…! You think you’ve defeated me, but this day’s not over yet! You still want a fight, Sonic?! I’ll give you one right now!”
After finishing his chili dog, Sonic waved the ribbon in Eggman’s direction as he smugly replied, “I think I’ll take a rain check on that, Doc. It looks like some of our guests have a few complaints about your brand of entertainment that they’d like to ‘discuss’ with you.”
Eggman looked confused by that statement until he turned his head to look up and to the left at the hill. “…Oh…” he muttered as his anger quickly evaporated at what he saw. In addition to Tails and the other five mares, he saw that everyone else was now standing at the top of the hill, all of them glaring angrily down at him, some, like Knuckles and Gilda, already making it clear that they’d have no problem tearing him a new breathing hole.
Orbot spoke up after a moment, “I believe the expression is ‘discretion is the better part of valor’.”
Cubot looked at him, “Meanin’…?”
Orbot replied, “As you might put it…” He grabbed Cubot’s right arm with his left and suddenly shot away from the gathering, saying, “Let’s get the heck outta Dodge, partner!”
Some of the group members stared in surprise at this sudden action. Taking advantage of this, Eggman stood up and ran after them, yelling, “Get back here, you cowards!”
Sonic turned his head in Eggman’s direction, watching him run but deciding not to go after him. He looked back at Pinkie Pie a second later when she asked, “Is there a party going on somewhere?!”
Sonic opened his mouth to answer her, but Rainbow interrupted him before he could start with a shout, “Hey!”
Spitfire pointed a hoof, “After them! Don’t let them get away!” She, Soarin, Rainbow Dash, and Gilda all spread their wings and took off, flying after Eggman and his henchbots while (mostly) everyone else turned their attention to the new Discord statue.
A few minutes later…
“Okay, he’s almost there! You ready over there, Big Mac?” Vector asked as he stood on Discord’s left side while the red stallion stood near the other side, Sonic and Espio behind the draconequus, Knuckles and Applejack in front, and Tails and Fluttershy hovering near the head as they tried to fine-tune the angle for Celestia to set him down as she held him with her magic.
“Eeyup,” Big Macintosh answered, both him and Vector ready to step up in case Discord started leaning when he was set down. Pinkie was standing at the Princess’ side, doing the surveying while Sonic, Applejack, Knuckles, and Espio corrected the statue from the bottom and Fluttershy and Tails corrected it from the top. It was close to touching the ground now, so they wanted to make sure it landed properly.
“Hmm… Okay, a little~ to the left with the tail and slightly to the right up above!” Pinkie called while holding her hooves up in front of her. Knuckles, Espio, and Fluttershy moved forward at that, making the adjustments. “Um… maybe just a smidge back to the right a bit now,” Pinkie said when they were done, Sonic and Applejack carefully making the correction. Afterwards, Pinkie tilted her head to the side a bit before saying, “Okay, make sure he goes down like that!” At that, Tails flew a bit above Discord, almost getting his tails caught in the tree branches, and pushed down on his head to simulate the pull of gravity. Pinkie nodded, “Perfect! Okay, Princess, let ‘er rip!” Celestia nodded and set Discord down, releasing her magic grip on him.
For a second, Discord seemed to sit just fine on his tail, but then a breeze blew and he started leaning towards Big Macintosh! The red stallion quickly rushed towards him and pressed his side against him, pushing as Sonic, Applejack, and Tails moved to help him. Once they stopped the leaning tower of Discord, Espio, Knuckles, and Vector moved forward to help right him again. “All right, guys, easy… not too much!” Vector called as they tried to find Discord’s center of balance. After a few moments, they managed to get him under the nearby tree just enough that the branches and leaves caught his horns. They then backed away slowly, watching, but the branches and leaves overhead helped hold him up. “All right, there we go!” Vector said.
Sonic gave Big Macintosh a playful punch at his side while saying, “Pretty cool, big guy! You’re one tough Apple workhorse!” Big Macintosh gave him his usual calm, quiet smile at that.
Celestia nodded, “Very well. That will do for now until we can get a proper pedestal for Discord.”
Knuckles stepped away from Discord along with the others and turned to look at him. He wiped his forehead, “I know he’s tall and all, but I never would’ve guessed a guy like him was so heavy.” Applejack chuckled at that.
Luna glanced up at her sister, “Celestia, did we really need to prop him up? He would’ve been fine if we’d left him lying down.”
Fluttershy asked, “Oh, but wouldn’t it be rude to just leave him like that, Princess Luna?”
Shadow grunted, “Hmph, it doesn’t matter. Either way, he’s right where he belongs. He has some power, to be sure, but unless he learns how to use it properly, he does not deserve to be free. He’ll have to learn his lesson if he wants to earn his freedom.” The black hedgehog’s words may have been harsh, but nobody wanted to argue with him, especially since he was, to some degree, correct.
Sonic looked up at Discord’s face, once again frozen in a look of terror. “He was manipulative, he tried to break ponies apart, he turned their lives upside-down when they didn’t want it, he went along with Eggman’s scheme, it seems like he’s got a ways to go before he’ll understand what it’s like having friends and feelings, and Shadow’s right. He does need to learn a little restraint. Even so…” He continued to stare up at the draconequus with his arms crossed, still thinking he might be, at the very least, a halfway decent guy deep down, but disappointed that, for all the things he wanted to change, it seemed he didn’t want to change himself.
Celestia noticed the look on his face and thought to herself, “Hmm…” She’d been quietly listening to everything that was just said, particularly what Shadow had said. The look on Sonic’s face, however, reminded her of her reign when Luna was imprisoned in her beloved Moon. It was the look of someone thinking about what had been and what was going to come in the future. Looking back at Discord’s statue, she began to wonder to herself, “Maybe…”
Before she could get too absorbed in her thoughts, Rainbow Dash, Gilda, Soarin, and Spitfire returned, Celestia and the others looking up as they landed, all of them looking tired, especially Soarin and Rainbow. Blaze stepped forward and asked, “What happened to Eggman?”
Spitfire panted, “He got away, along with his robots.”
Spike and everypony looked surprised at that. “They got away?!” Twilight exclaimed.
Rainbow threw her hooves up, “I can’t believe it either! He’s a fat guy; how can he run so fast?!”
Sonic sighed, “Never quite figured that one out either.”
Gilda stood up straight, walked over to him, and poked him in the chest with a claw, all the while saying, “Yeah? And what were YOU waiting for, an invitation?! Why didn’t you try to catch him?! He’s your enemy, for crying out loud!”
Sonic shrugged, “I don’t know, Gilda. I just don’t feel right attacking the guy when he’s got nothing to defend himself with.” He then lowered his arms, “Besides, given how fast you can fly, what’s your excuse for not catching him?”
Gilda growled at that. She then said, “At least I’m not the one showing signs of weakness!”
Espio cleared his throat, causing Gilda and Sonic to look over at him. “To show mercy is not weak; it is a sign of true strength,” the chameleon stated while he held his right index and middle fingers up near his horn. Gilda just cocked an eyebrow at this.
Suddenly, Pinkie popped up between her and Sonic, Gilda backing away quickly with a yelp while Sonic stared at the pink pony in confusion. “Super! So now can we go to this party you mentioned earlier?!” Pinkie asked while placing her hooves on Sonic’s shoulders and staring into his eyes.
Rarity cleared her throat and said, “Pinkie, darling, I’m sure it was just a figure of speech, just like before.”
Before Pinkie could express her disappointment, Sonic spoke, “Actually, Rarity, it wasn’t.” The pink earth pony perked up again at that.
Tails nodded, “Yeah, um…” He looked over at Twilight and Rainbow and asked, “Twilight, Rainbow, you remember how back when we first met at the library, I said we were having a friendly get-together when the Time Eater showed up?”
The unicorn and pegasus in question glanced at each other for a moment before they remembered and nodded, Rainbow saying, “Yeah, Twilight referred to it a friendly gathering or something. Why?”
Tails replied, “Well, it’s just… what I actually meant was we were having a party for Sonic. You see… it’s his birthday today.”
That little tidbit of information was met with a number of wide eyes and surprised gasps, particularly from the Equestria residents. Pinkie Pie even did one of her famous floating gasps. Rainbow flew up to Sonic and asked, “Your birthday’s TODAY, Sonic?! Why didn’t you say something?!”
Sonic scratched his head, “Because time being messed up was a bigger thing to worry about than what day it was?”
Marine turned to Blaze and yelled, “Blaze! Why didn’t you tell me Sonic’s birthy-day was coming up?!”
The cat sternly replied, “I TRIED to tell you, Marine. I sent you a letter, I sent a messenger; I even personally visited you when I didn’t receive an answer from you. I tried to tell you then, but you kept talking about your most recent adventure and the newest one you were setting out on and you hardly listened to me. In the end, I was left with no choice but to go without you if I wanted to make it in time for the party.” Marine blushed and grinned weakly at this explanation.
Nearby, Fluttershy murmured, “Oh my goodness…”
Twilight looked at Sonic and asked, “How old are you?”
He answered, “Uh... sixteen.”
Rarity began panicking, “No, no, no, no, NO! This simply will not do! How could I have not known it was a friend’s birthday today?!”
Applejack raised a hoof to her chin as she muttered, “Do we have any cider left over…?”
Pinkie cheered, “Oh my goody goodness! This means we can have a really super duper HUGE party to celebrate!”
Wave spoke up above the noise, “Hm, doesn’t look like much of a party, if you ask me.” That caused a lot of the frantic and excited talking to die down almost instantly.
“Ooh…! You just had to go and ruin the mood, didn’t you?!” Amy angrily said to Wave.
“Well, you can’t blame her. If this is where you guys were having a party, it sure doesn’t look like it,” Jet smugly answered for his teammate.
Blaze spoke up, “We did have a party all set up before. We had everything: the cake, the decorations, the refreshments, and the snacks.” Looking over at the empty picnic table, she added, “But when that Time Eater creature showed up, it took everything we’d prepared.” She looked down at the ground and said, “And it looks like we’re not going to get any of it back.” Sonic’s friends looked sad or upset at that.
Sonic scratched the side of his head, “Sorry, guys…” In any other situation, he’d do his best to perk his friends up and help them look at the bright side of things, especially if it’d been a party set up for everyone. But his friends had put a lot of work into setting up a surprise party for him, and he knew they all wanted to enjoy it just as much as he did. At the moment, he wasn’t quite sure what to say to them.
Tails shrugged sadly, “I guess we’ll just have to have a plain party instead. It would take too long to bake a new cake and get new decorations and everything.”
Pinkie Pie popped up beside him with a smile on her face and patted him on the head with a hoof while saying, “Don’t you worry about a thing, Tails! Your Auntie Pinkie Pie will take care of everything!” She then trotted away, everyone looking at her with confusion and curiosity.
Tails looked at the others a moment later, “‘Auntie Pinkie Pie’?” Spike and the girls just shrugged at him, all of them looking back at Pinkie Pie a few seconds later.
Everyone watched as the pink pony happily walked past the fence, towards the lake… and into a portal that was in front of the lake! “Hey, what’s she doing?” Vector asked.
“Where’d she go?” Charmy wondered.
Tails opened up his radar and pointed it in the direction of the portal. After a few moments, he said, “It looks like that portal leads back to Equestria. Maybe Pinkie knows that too.”
Silver asked, “Why’s she going back, then? And after what she said just now.”
Sonic shrugged, “Maybe she’s going back to Sugarcube Corner.”
Blaze held a hand to her chin, “To prepare another party? Surely she must know that it will take time, even for her.”
Gilda smirked, “Oh, this should be good to watch.” Spike and the ponies didn’t say anything; they had a feeling Pinkie would surprise them all.
Seeing that nothing seemed to be happening and everyone else was mostly silent for the moment, Shining looked over at Shadow and (carefully) walked over to him. The black hedgehog had his arms crossed as he looked at the portal Pinkie had disappeared through from under the shade of the tree. Sonic and Twilight noticed what the unicorn stallion was doing and turned their heads to watch him.
Once he was right next to him, Shining quietly asked, “Uh, Shadow?” The black hedgehog turned his head to look up at the stallion, the expression on his face as stoic as ever. Shining winced slightly at this, but he pressed on, “Listen, I, uh… I’m sure it’s nothing like what you went through, but I nearly lost one of the most important ponies in my life to Eggman and Discord, and I could do nothing to stop them. I… well, I walked a mile in your… shoes, and it really showed me a few things. So I’m sorry for what I said to you. You didn’t deserve a word of it.”
Shadow stared up at him for several tense moments, his expression not betraying a single thought going through his head. He eventually turned away and said, “Fine.” Shining frowned at that and looked back over his shoulder at Sonic for help. The blue hedgehog shrugged, having not heard what was said between the two, and gestured the stallion to come over.
Twilight glanced at Sonic as her brother walked back over. She understood just as well as Shining did what that gesture meant. She looked back at the white stallion as he came to a stop in front of them. Sonic looked up at him and asked, “So what’s up?”
Shining replied, “I was just saying sorry for what I said to him earlier, but all he said was ‘fine’.”
Sonic gave him a sympathetic smile, “Well, then don’t worry about it, dude. That pretty much means he’s not going to hold what you said to him against you now. That’s about as good as most of us get when he doesn’t have something to say.” Shining briefly glanced back in Shadow’s direction before giving Sonic a small smile.
Suddenly, everyone heard Pinkie’s voice call, “INCOMING!” They all looked back at the portal to see her party cannon pointing through it. It fired a second later, causing nearly everyone to get down and cover their heads. As they stayed like this, the party cannon fired several more times, yet nobody seemed to get hit by whatever was being shot out of it. After a couple of seconds, following one last shot, they all heard a loud thump along with several smaller thumps followed by Pinkie saying, “Ta-dah!” Everyone uncovered their heads and began to stand up at that, looking around. What they saw amazed them.
Stretched across the side of the tree facing everybody was a white banner that read ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY SONIC’, each word colored in red, yellow, and blue respectively, and some smaller decorations hanging from the leaves. Pinkie stood across from the tree, in front of a white unicorn mare whose mane and tail were similar in color to Shining Armor, was wearing dark purple sunglasses, had a double quaver for a cutie mark, and was standing behind a turntable, grinning like nothing weird had happened, and a gray earth pony mare with grayish hair who wore a pink bowtie with a white collar, had a purple treble clef for a cutie mark, and was holding a cello with her left foreleg and a bow for it in her right foreleg (she looked considerably more surprised about this whole situation). But what was on the picnic table was particularly amazing.
The table now had plates filled with cupcakes, candies, other sweets, and, amazingly, chili dogs as well as cups and refreshments, including a few jugs of the Apple Family’s famous cider. At the center of it all was a large three layer cake frosted and decorated to look like the Green Hill Zone. Topping the cake were what appeared to be the Chaos Emeralds and the Elements of Harmony, most likely made of hardened sugar or candy, and going around the cake atop the layers below were little plastic figures of Sonic, Tails, Spike, the Main Six, and everyone else who was at the party. It may not have been an MMMM, but it still looked delicious all the same.
“What… How in the world…?” Blaze stammered.
She looked at Twilight when the unicorn spoke, “Don’t worry about it too much, Blaze. It’s just Pinkie Pie.”
Sonic looked at her for a moment before smiling, “Yeah, you’re right. That is Pinkie Pie.” He then looked over at the party pony and asked, “So, what’s this all about, Pinkie?”
In an instant, the pink pony zipped around the table and passed Gilda, who was giving her a glare that she probably didn’t even notice, and wrapped her right foreleg around the blue hedgehog’s shoulders while standing on her hind legs. She then smiled at him, “That’s easy, silly! I LOVE throwing parties; it’s my special talent, don’t ya know! And when Blaze said the party she and your friends had prepared for you was ruined, I just had to fix that! And now we’ve got a real doozy of a party, and you know why?”
Sonic looked back at her without answering, so she explained, “First, it’s your birthday; that’s why your name is all over it! Second, everypony and everyone is TOTALLY invited to it! And finally, and this is most important now, you’ve got such good friends! They put so much effort into preparing a surprise party for you, only to have it ruined by those meanie pants! So this party is definitely for them to enjoy too!” Despite how fast she had explained it all, they all seemed to get it, as Sonic and (almost) everyone else began to smile at her.
Of course, there were a few party naysayers. The Babylon Rogues proved to once again be the sour apples in the bunch as Jet said, “Yeah, uh, no thanks. We helped you guys and all, but that’s it for us. We’ve got better things to do.” With that, he, Wave, and Storm (even though he looked like he really wanted to stay) turned to leave.
They didn’t manage to get very far, however, before Pinkie suddenly rose up in front of them, causing Jet and Wave to hide behind Storm, both of them peering out from behind the albatross at her, all of them suddenly afraid of her. It was not her sudden appearance that shocked them; it was the grin and wide eyes she was making at them as she stood in front of them. “STAY… FOR… THE… PARTY,” she stated slowly in no uncertain terms. Storm, Jet, and Wave slowly began to back away from her at that, Pinkie slowly following them and making it clear that anyone else who tried to leave would suffer the same fate.
Back with everyone else, Luna looked up at Celestia and begged, “Oh sister, can we please stay for this party? Please? It will be a fine private celebration for time’s restoration and Sonic’s birthday!”
Celestia let out a sigh, but then she smiled to let her sister know she was joking as she said, “Oh, very well, Luna. Sometimes, you can be such a foal.” Shining and Cadance smiled at each other at that, figuring that meant they could stay as well.
Scootaloo grinned at her fellow Crusaders, “A Pinkie Pie birthday party! This is gonna be awesome!”
Apple Bloom looked at Babs and said, “Pinkie Pie throws amazin’ parties, Babs! You’ll really like it!”
The orange filly uncertainly replied, “Uh, if you say so, ‘Cuz.”
Sweetie Belle asked, “Is something wrong, Babs?”
Babs rubbed the back of her head with a hoof as she replied, “Well, no, but… I kinda told my folks I’d come straight home after me and the other Cutie Mark Crusaders were done at the meeting. I was heading home when all this happened; how am I gonna explain this to them?”
Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle looked sad that they wouldn’t be able to hang out with Babs until Applejack stepped forward and placed a hoof on the filly’s shoulders. When Babs looked up at her, she smiled, “Now don’t you worry about a thing, Babs. Just stay and enjoy the party. When it’s over, Ah’ll go with ya back to Manehattan, and Ah promise you right now, Ah’ll make sure you don’t get in any trouble.” Babs smiled uncertainly up at her at that, but it became more sincere when she looked back at her cousin and her friends.
Braeburn looked over at Little Strongheart and said, “Say, Little Strongheart, if ya want, when we get back to Appleloosa, Ah’ll go with ya ta help ya find yer fellow buffalo. Ah feel mighty awful about you gettin’ yanked away from ‘em like that. You won’t mind, will ya?”
Little Strongheart smiled at him, “Not at all.”
Omega whirred, “PARTIES… DO NOT COMPUTE. HOWEVER, I WILL STAY AND OBSERVE A ‘PARTY’ TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THEM.”
Rouge smirked over at Shadow, “So what are you going to do? Are you going to take a chance and try to sneak past Pinkie Pie?” Shadow just grunted in annoyance, but deep down, he actually did want to stay.
No one else had any major objections to staying for the party, so Pinkie leapt back into the midst of the guests and said, “All right, then!” She pointed a hoof over at Vinyl Scratch and Octavia (who appeared to have recovered from suddenly being fired out of a cannon), the former grinning and placing a record on her turntable, a song already starting to come from her speakers. “LET’S PARTY!” Pinkie cheered.
Meanwhile, in a field far away
Eggman, with his hands on his knees, panted as he looked down at the grass below him. “Blasted pegasi… and that griffon… I can’t remember the last time I had to run so fast…” he breathed.
Orbot and Cubot hopped up behind him and opened up, Cubot saying, “It’s been a while, ain’t it? Ah reckon not since the days o’ blast processin’, back when you were more involved with Sonic’s blastin’ and processin’ o’ yer machines.”
Eggman turned around slightly to glare back at him, “What?! What does that even mean?!”
Orbot said, “Boss, please. You just nearly ran a marathon for your latest escape. Don’t agitate yourself further.”
Eggman growled and clenched both hands into fists, thumping them against his knees. “Rrrgh…! I just can’t believe Discord couldn’t act serious for more than five minutes when it really counted! Him and his games…” He let out a loud shout to the sky and then exclaimed, “I need something to do! Preparing a new scheme, getting a bite to eat, watching cartoons… anything!”
Orbot perked up after a moment and said, “It sounds like you could use a vacation, Boss, or at least a break from planning misdeeds.”
Eggman grunted, “More like I need a vacation from you two.”
Orbot wagged a finger at him, “Now, now. Sonic’s surely spending time with his friends, both old and new. Why not spend some time with some people you know? For some time now, you’ve been taking a night off every week to go somewhere that you haven’t told us about; you could start by doing that.”
Eggman held a hand to his chin, thinking about it for a moment before saying, “That’s not a bad idea, actually. I’ll have to check when they’re meeting next, but that could do me some good. Getting together with old faces, talking about what’s been happening lately… and of course imparting a few pearls of wisdom! I always enjoy telling people what to do!” He grinned upwards while Orbot facepalmed and Cubot stared at him curiously.
A familiar voice spoke up a second later, startling them all, “Yes, that’s one thing I’ve noticed about you, Doctor.” The three of them turned to look behind them, where they heard the voice coming from.
Orbot and Cubot looked around in confusion, not seeing anything, but Eggman saw a familiar figure standing across from him. “What… Discord?! But how?!” he exclaimed, shocked to see a transparent version of the draconequus standing there at his full height while smirking down at him.
Orbot and Cubot looked up at Eggman in confusion, both of them thinking he was talking to nothing. “Um, Boss?” Orbot asked.
Discord spoke before he could say anything else, Orbot and Cubot hearing him but not seeing him, “Those Elements of Harmony delivered a rather powerful blast. It seems they knocked my spirit clean out of my body.” He stretched, “Mm, feels good to still be able to move.”
Eggman asked, “So you weren’t actually back there, only your body?”
Discord replied, “Well, I’m not going back to it right away! I’m sure it’s with Celestia, those ponies, and her new, I suppose, allies right now. I want to listen to as little of whatever they have to say as possible; means less wanting to roll my eyes but being unable to.” After a moment, he let his arms drop to his sides and sulked out loud, “Now if only I could use my chaos like this, it would be perfect.”
Eggman grunted, “Oh, I feel so bad for you, Discord. I guess that means you’ll have to delay the pleasure of doing what you want to do yet again, hm?”
Discord crossed his arms, “Hey, I played my part, Doc! I did what you asked me to do! The only complaint I had was that you weren’t thinking big or chaotic enough. So why don’t you use that big brain of yours to come up with a way to free my body? Like… oh, I don’t know, find six creatures to really make a mess of Twilight and her friends. Make it something really chaotic!”
Eggman replied, “As I already told your body, I’m not helping you out anymore! I thought your chaos would be helpful, but it proved to be just as much help as it was trouble! You spent entirely too much time goofing off when you could’ve been helping me get started on rewriting history! Well, you can stay in that statue for the rest of time for all I care! Besides, I can’t just automatically think up a plan and carry it out! I’m going to have to do some research first! Maybe I’ll come across something mysterious that’s worth investigating.”
Discord rolled his eyes, “Blah, blah, blah! You know, Doc, you think about things WAY too much and don’t plan for the unexpected. If that brilliant plan that you came up with had more chaos in it, it would’ve worked perfectly.”
Eggman said, “Don’t you start preaching to me. Your chaos caused far too much trouble in the end since even YOU couldn’t predict what happened with Sonic and he ultimately burned both of us. A little more thought on your part would have been much appreciated.”
Discord turned away from Eggman, his arms still crossed. “Leave it to a scientist to discount the value of unpredictability, despite how common it is,” he muttered.
“I heard that!” Eggman exclaimed.
Discord looked back at Eggman, “Tell me something, Doc.” He turned around fully, “Have you ever won before?”
Eggman hesitated for a moment before saying, “There are times where I’ve come close! Very, very close indeed!” Orbot and Cubot looked at each other knowingly at that.
Discord raised an eyebrow, “So… no?” Eggman didn’t answer him, instead shooting him a sour look. The draconequus sighed, “Well, that’s encouraging. At least I’m not as big a loser as you are.”
Eggman retorted, “Oh yes, because sitting as a stone statue for a thousand years is SO much better! At least I’ve had time to come up with and put into motion many different plans instead of randomly causing trouble and assume that no one can stop me like you did before! The only plots you come up with all have your enjoyment at the center of them! I, on the other hand, have plenty of experience when it comes to plans.”
Noting the proud, tall way the human stood, Discord smirked, “Ah yes, what was I thinking? Of course you have experience, not to mention muscle like you said before, because you’re constantly being foiled by a meddlesome hedgehog and his friends. Let’s see… they’ve wrecked nearly every base and plan you’ve come up with, an ancient water monster turned on you, your grandfather nearly destroyed you along with this planet, several of your own creations have turned on you, and…”
While Discord was talking, Eggman’s anger had been growing with each word he said, and now he couldn’t take it anymore. In anger, he ran towards Discord and swung his right fist at him while shouting, “OH, SHUT UP!” Discord jumped back to dodge it, despite the fact that it would’ve gone through him anyway, causing Eggman to spin once on one leg before falling onto his back.
Discord laughed, as did Orbot, and said, “Look at that! Another ingenious scheme concocted by the brilliant Dr. Eggman!” He then lifted off the ground and, while floating above it, began to stroke his arms and legs while he was on his back, almost like he was swimming. And he did in fact start floating away from Eggman, who began to stand up soon afterwards. Orbot and Cubot watched in silence as Eggman angrily ran after the draconequus’ spirit, shaking his fists and screaming the entire time.