Across town, the front door to Sugarcube Corner burst open with a frantic jingle of the shop's bell. The cheery light inside framed the alert outline of a cotton candy pink mare with a tangled frizz of magenta mane. Her limpid blue eyes blinked in tandem, opposed by the flopping of her ears in a very credible imitation of a railroad crossing sign.
She narrowed her fluttering eyes and pawed at the ground. "By the flapping round my snoot, something kooky is afoot!"
A lanky, square jawed yellow stallion in a baker's cap craned his neck out of the kitchen door, releasing a cloud of flour into the air. "Your what says who now, Pinkie?"
The pink mare looked back at him, blinking and fluttering away. "Something kooky is afoot! Well, not a foot. Or a hoof, if you want to say it properly. More like a whole freaky pink pony kinda thingy wearing a propeller beanie."
A round faced blue mare with a twirl of mauve for a forelock joined the stallion at the kitchen door. "You're going out wearing a propeller beanie, Pinkie dear?"
Pinkie Pie somehow managed to roll her eyes amidst all the twitching. "Not ME, Mrs. Cake! A totally different freaky pink pony kinda thingy is wearing the propeller beanie. But I AM going out. I gotta stop her!"
The Cakes exchanged a befuddled glance, and the yellow stallion cocked an eyebrow. "From wearing a propeller beanie?"
The pink pony nodded curtly to her employers. "At the very least. Gotta go!"
With that she bounded forth into the night, leaving the proprietors of the sweet shop shrugging helplessly to one another.
Rarity settled herself down in the tub with a contented sigh as scented candles glimmered in the dim stillness of her bathroom. Her silvery voice echoed off of the tiles as she sang softly to herself with a smug expression on her face. "Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch..."
The elegant unicorn paused as a glass of sparkling white grape juice floated across the jasmine tinged water in an aura of glimmering magic and raised itself to her lips.
She only had a brief moment to savor the tingly sweetness, before juice and bath water exploded in her face with tidal wave force as a bright pink pony wearing a diving mask and snorkel did a cannonball dive into her tub, extinguishing the candles and plunging the room into darkness.
She found herself gripped by the shoulders and roughly shaken as a shrilly shouting voice cut through her disoriented spluttering. "Rarity! It's X The Unknown! The Mystery Cross Twitch! Button Stitch has fallen off the weirdo wagon and is having a relapse!"
The sodden, alabaster mare's horn flared with a blue flame and bathed the room in a lambent glow, and she cast such a fierce glare at the panicked pink pony seated in the tub in front of her that had Pinkie not been up to her withers in scented bath water she probably would have burst into flames as well. "Pinkie Pie WHAT in the lycra and lamé lined depths of prêt-à-porter perdition are you BLATHERING about?" Her flashing sapphire eyes narrowed dangerously. "And how did you even get in here anyway?"
PInkie met Rarity's gaze through her diving mask. "Opalescence let me in, but that's not important right now. The important thing is Button Stitch just turned into Screwball again!" She pointed a hoof to her head, as her eyes fluttered and ears flapped. "Can't you see me twitching? She's probably out painting the town hall PLAID right now!"
The unicorn's pupils shrank. "But... but she's out on a... Oh NO!"
With that she planted a hoof on the edge of the tub and vaulted over, slipping and tumbling across the tiled floor as she scrambled out into the hallway.
Pinkie Pie gave a nod of satisfaction, adjusted her snorkel, and dove under the surface of the water with an abrupt plunk.
Soon Rarity was galloping across the town square with Pinkie bouncing along at her side, her mane inexplicably dry and poofy while the unicorn's locks still clung wetly to her neck and withers.
The alabaster mare cast a sidelong glance toward the center of town, and let out a huge gasp as she jammed her hooves and skidded to a stop. Pinkie stuck a landing next to her and stood with her jaw dropped as Rarity raised a hoof to her mouth.
The fashionista cleared her throat and arched an eyebrow as they stared at Ponyville's town hall, looming distant in the moonlight. "W-well, it really is more of an argyle than a plaid..."
Pinkie's eyes and ears started fluttering again, and she set off springing into the darkness. "C'mon!"
Moments later the two mares stood in a pool of sputtering light cast by a street lamp, scrutinizing a length of black cloth, knotted at random intervals and used to spell out the word "saltine" in cursive with a topaz brooch dotting the "i".
Rarity plucked a stray tatter from the ground with her magic and peered at a seam, crying out in dismay as she recognized the stitching. "Oh no! This was Button's LBD! How dreadful!"
Pinkie Pie cocked her head nearly sideways. "LBD?"
The unicorn rolled her eyes. "Her Little Black Dress." She balled up the bit of cloth with her magic as a look of mortification washed across her face. "Oh dear, now the poor thing is running around without a stitch on!"
Her pink earth pony companion blinked and cocked her head 180 degrees in the other direction. "Rarity? You DO realize that none of us usually wear clothes? In fact, right now we're both totally n..."
She cut off as Rarity silenced her with an upraised hoof. "UT! No time, darling! Can your Pinkie Sense determine where poor Button is right now?"
The pink mare assumed a determined expression, and stood staring off into space. After a moment, she rotated 45 degrees and stood still again. After a third, and then a fourth rotation, her eyes and ears started flapping and fluttering in tandem, and she jabbed a hoof in the direction she was facing and started hopping in place. "That way!"
The trail led them on a zigzag path across town, from site to site of a nonsensical rampage conceived in the mind of a mad housepainter. Aside from the argyle town hall, several of Ponyville's picturesque buildings had been painted in a garish riot of polka dots, checkers, spirals, or bizarre reproductions of Reneighssance masterworks with spiral eyed, pink and purple ponyoids taking the place of the figures in the original pieces.
More alarmingly, a few stunned citizens out for a late night stroll had been similarly vandalized, and stood blinking in confusion with their coats drenched in clashing patterns of dripping pigment as the two mares galloped past, hot on the hunt.
Rarity and Pinkie dove around a corner, ears pricked to the sound of a trombone furiously belting out an inverted version of the Whinnying Tell Overture. They stopped short, face to face with the scowling pink and purple pony thing as it used its tail to write the letters L H O O Q beneath a cryptically smiling self portrait with a black mustache and a pair of crude glasses besmirching the face. The strange being's spiraling eyes narrowed when it saw them, and it bared its crooked teeth and let out a sound like somepony with heavy iron shoes kicking in a plate glass window.
The alabaster unicorn reached out with a hoof, a note of desperation rising in her voice. "Button Stitch! I know you're in there somewhere! Please! Stop this! Let us help you!"
The creature looked around, darted toward a nearby brick wall, and started painting with its tail again. In a few quick strokes a convincing image of a long tunnel appeared.
Pinkie Pie crouched down with her frizzy tail lashing behind her. "She's making a break for it!" Her limpid blue eyes narrowed as she tensed her legs. "I'll get her!"
With that, she leapt toward the spiraling, fuming, ponyish thing. It reared up on its hind legs and began to hop in place, stuck out its tongue with a rapid popping sound, beeped twice, and then rocketed down the road leading into the painted tunnel as if it were real.
Pinkie didn't fare as well, slamming into the brick and flattening against it. Rarity could only watch helplessly, letting out a gasp of dismay as she brought her hooves to her mouth in horror.
After a painful few seconds, the pink and magenta shape peeled back from the painted wall and resumed the form of a three dimensional mare with a muted POP, before landing in a tangle of frizzy hair and splayed legs on the cobblestone street.
Rarity was at her side in an instant, helping her climb shakily to her hooves. "Darling! Are you all right?"
The pink mare shook her head to clear it, producing a sound reminiscent of a maraca. "It only hurts when I don't laugh."
She met Rarity's concerned gaze with a grave expression. "This isn't good! She's upped her game, and if she's headed where I think she's headed, then things are gonna get even more oofty macgoofty real quick!"
The alabaster mare looked around her helplessly, then looked back to her poofy maned companion. "Where do you think she's headed?"
Pinkie tottered over to the trompe l'oeil adorning the wall, rearing up to point at the image of the distant other end of the tunnel. Rarity lit her horn to better illuminate the artwork, squinting her sapphire eyes as she scrutinized it. Dense, twisted trees hung with ragged vines, their trunks choked with almost impenetrable undergrowth, could be seen in the painted archway in an ominous, woodland scene. The alabaster unicorn reared back with a cry of dismay. "Oh my stars and diamonds! Is... is that the Everfree Forest?"
The normally effervescent earth pony gave her a solemn nod. "Yeppers! We'd better get the rest of the girls, pronto!"
The characters depicted in this fiction are copyright and trademarks of Hasbro, Inc. This is a work of fan fiction, and the author makes no claim on Hasbro's copyright or trademarks.