Granny Smith stayed in her rocking chair knitting merrily away as all the younger ponies in the parlor leapt to their hooves and went thundering out the front door into the drizzling rain of the darkened courtyard. The wizened mare shook her head and chuckled to herself over the clack of her needles.
Applejack skidded to a stop and started to bark orders, her tail lashing behind her. "Apple Bloom! You go and rustle up as many lanterns as y'can, light 'em up, and git Rarity t' help ya hang 'em in the treetops in a line toward th' barn! Caramel! You come with me to the barn and help me drag th' big hay wagon out into th' yard. Twilight! I need you t' whip up any spells you might think'll help! Stay here and keep an eye peeled, and holler if ya see her! She'll be comin' in hot! Pinkie, you..."
As the other ponies scattered to their tasks, the blond farm mare paused and looked back at Pinkie Pie, who stood jittering up and down on the porch with an expectant look on her face. Applejack pursed her lips with a slight shake of her head. "Pinkie... Carry on!"
The pink mare raised her hoof to her forehead in salute, producing a sound like a woodpecker tapping on a coconut. She winced and lowered her hoof to the porch where it and the other three hammered out a steady cadence, her wide blue eyes watching as the others launched into their frantic preparation.
Pinkie barely sidestepped in time as Apple Bloom came galloping out the door with a half dozen or so lanterns balanced on her back or with their handles clenched in her teeth, with Rarity following close behind her. The young mare stumbled when she cleared the porch steps, sprawling in the mud with her hooves pointing in all directions, scattering the lanterns with some breaking as they hit the ground. She scrambled to her feet, kicking and shattering another one as she stomped her hoof. "Aw, horseapples!"
Applejack's strained, grunting voice sounded out from the barn. "Apple B-bloom, you do NOT use that sorta language when we... g-got company!"
The younger Apple sister, Rarity, and Twilight turned to see the orange earth pony hopelessly entangled with Caramel in the draft harnesses but still trying to drag the huge, tottering wagon out through the barn doors with what legs she could manage to bring into contact with the slippery ground. The tan stallion hung upside down from the wagon's central pole with his hooves in the air, a stunned look on his face, which began to grow red in the cheeks as a stream of expletives issued forth from between Applejack's teeth with rising vehemence and volume.
Apple Bloom shouted across the courtyard at her as she tried to gather intact lanterns. "Applejack! If'n that's the kinda language YOU use around company I don't even wanna think about how y'all talk when yer by yerself! I don't even know what half o' them words mean!"
Rarity turned her attention to the shattered glass on the ground and began to pluck it up piece by piece, while Twilight galloped over to the trundling hay wagon, set her hooves, and sparked her horn to life. The wagon inched along a bit faster, but not by much.
Applejack grimaced at her as they both fought against the haywain's bulk. "Can't your consarned magic pull this dadgummed heap any flippin' faster, Twilight?"
The lavender unicorn gritted her teeth at the strain and screwed her eyes tightly shut. "I'm sorry! I still haven't recovered from that long distance teleport! I'm sorry! This is the best I can do! I'm sorry!" The farm mare lapsed back into a whole new stream of blistering language in response.
Twilight's ears laid back tightly to the sides of her head as she tried to pour on more mystical juice. Behind her, Apple Bloom and Rarity had begun bickering about whether they should light the remaining lanterns or pick up the broken glass, which the white unicorn maintained was dangerous to leave lying about.
Meanwhile, Applejack had exhausted her surprisingly thorough vocabulary of vulgar phrases and had simply resorted to bellowing incoherently at the top of her lungs, which in turn set a disoriented and spooked Caramel screaming in unison and flailing his legs at the sky. Twilight Sparkle's head began to throb, with a feeling like her horn was going to burst like a firecracker, and she joined in the howling chorus with a high pitched shriek of her own.
The unicorn mare felt the tap of a hoof on her shoulder as she paused to draw in a ragged breath, and turned with slitted eyes to see a cyan face cocked quizzically to the side, looking at her through a pair of goggles with familiar, maroon eyes. "Uh... Hey Twilight. What the hay is everypony doing?"
Rainbow Dash ruffled her wings and folded them down alongside her blue and yellow bodysuit, surveying the suddenly frozen tableau with a bemused look on her face. The silvery tinkle of another lantern dropping to the ground and shattering broke the stunned silence, with only the staccato of Pinkie Pie's hooves on the porch and the soft patter of the receding rain otherwise producing any sound.
The rainbow maned pegasus took in the scene, then looked at Twilight and Applejack with a smirk on her face as she reached up and pushed back her goggles. "Wait... Let me guess. You guys were prepping a landing zone for me, right?"
She cocked an eyebrow at her friends as they fidgeted with embarrassment. "Look, I know I deserved the name Rainbow Crash back in the day, but what kind of Wonderbolt would I be if I had a dirt dinner every time I went groundside?" At that, her stomach rumbled, and she blushed slightly. "Speaking of dinner, I'm starved. You guys got anything to eat?"
Caramel's tremulous voice sounded from down by the ground, his hoof waving vaguely toward the farmhouse as the blood rushed to his head. "P-pinkie made pimple knuckles..."
Applejack cleared her throat. "Uh... yeah, I reckon we could fix ya up with some vittles if somepony'd help me n' Caramel outta this..."
At this Rarity tossed her disheveled mane and set aside the glass shards she'd gathered in a neat stack on the ground. She walked up and brought her glowing horn to bear on the straps and buckles lashing the two earth ponies together. "Here, darling, let me help."
Apple Bloom looked ruefully down at her mud caked chest and belly and turned toward the house with a weary sigh. "I'll go draw a bath. Again..." She cast her sister a smug glance. "And I'll be savin' ya an extra cake o' soap for your dinner, big sis."
When Caramel and Applejack had finally been disentangled, with Twilight lending a telekinetic assist to Rarity's deft skill with all things woven, tied, or stitched, Rainbow Dash surged forward and scooped the blonde farm pony along with the two unicorns up in a group hug, smiling fondly as she drew them close and nuzzled their cheeks. "I miss you guys SO MUCH out on tour. It's good to see you."
She looked up expectantly at the porch. "Hey Pinkie, care to... join... us..." She trailed off in disbelief.
The earth pony mare had become little more than a pink blur, shimmering in place to a steady buzzing of hooves on wood that grew louder and more intense with each second. Caramel stood with eyes wide and jaw dropped, uncertain of what to do. If his fiancee was going to explode he wasn't sure if the proper response was to be by her side 'til the end or well clear of the blast radius. Rarity, Twilight, and Applejack all turned and adopted a similar dumbfounded expression.
Pinkie suddenly stopped vibrating and launched into the air, her outline squashing and stretching into non-euclidian contortions for a few reality warping seconds before she snapped back to normal. She bounced to a stop on her hooves with a stunned expression on her face and let out a little "ooh!". Her legs splayed out beneath her and she flopped down onto her belly on the porch, panting for breath.
Caramel galloped over to her and caught her up in a hug. "Oh, sweetheart, are you okay?"
She hugged him back and kissed him on the cheek as the other four mares came trotting up. "Yeah, but my back right ankle is tingly."
Pinkie looked up past her fiancee's shoulder to her mare friends with a knowing smile and spoke in a soft voice. "That means, it's a filly..."
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.