Twilight Sparkle did her best not to wake up. Her mind was groggy, her head throbbed with a dull pain, and her body ached all over.††It's as if her whole being had rallied around the single cause of making sure she didn't want to wake up. She had to admit; it had done a good job. She was in no mood to meet the oncoming day, even as the bright morning sun shined in her face.
Twilight grimaced as she tossed; trying to block the sun from her still shut eyes. Why was it so bright? Had she forgotten to shut her curtains the night before? And why was it so noisy all of the sudden? It sounded like a good chunk of the town was right outside her room. Was Pinkie trying to throw another party?
She groaned at the thought. Pinkie was a good friend, but this was not a day Twilight wanted to be celebrating. All she wanted to do today was curl up in her bed and snuggle up with her sheets. Speaking of sheets, where were they? In fact, where was her bed? Twilight started feeling the ground beneath her. It was cold and hard. Had she slipped off her bed while she'd been asleep? That would explain the soreness in her body.
God that thumping sound was annoying. She thought that maybe it was a bird knocking at the window at first, but it was far too unnatural for that. It was like a baseball was hitting a tin can over and over. Couldn't it be another sound? Anything else would be better than thi-
Twilight's eyes shot open as she let out a sound between a shout and a gasp. She was falling, the floor beneath her having disappeared. Her mind raced, the event taking her by surprise. Maybe she could cast a spe-
Cold water surrounded her as she back-flopped into the water. Regaining her senses, she did her best to swim to the surface of the small body of water. Gasping for breath and looking around, she got her first good look at her surroundings.
She was in some sort of small cylinder, the top covered by chain mesh. The bottom part was a small plastic pool; the upper walls was made of seemingly the same mesh as the top. There was some sort of platform above her, set up in such a way that it was mostly covered by the dark plastic of the bottom section. She guessed that it was the platform she'd been sitting on only moments before. With some effort, she managed to pull herself up out of the water. She regretted it immediately.
There were a number of ponies watching her from a far, giggling at the soaked mess of a pony in front of them. A teenage filly was high-hoofing a friend, while others pointed right at Twilight. It was as if she was a part of the circus. It suddenly dawned on her.
"I'm in a dunk booth!?!" Twilight yelled out without meaning to. The insanity of the situation hit her like an anvil. What in the world have I gotten myself into? Twilight thought as she noticed something pink out of the corner of her eye.
"Hey, Looks like miss sleepy head is awake!" Pinkie said in a loud, cheerful voice. She was in what seemed to be an identical dunk tank to Twilight's, the two of them placed right next to each other. She was soaked, her mane still curly despite being wet.
"Pinkie! What is going on? Why are we in dunk tanks?" Twilight said as she did her best to get the water out of her mane.
The pink pony beside her giggled as she responded, "Oh, that's an easy one! We're in here because we've been arrested!" Twilight's mouth practically fell through the floor.
"Arrested!" The purple pony said in a tone bordering hysteria, "For what?!?" The other pony laughed.
"Don't you remember? It was pretty crazy!" Her voice was a peppy as ever, clearly not realizing the fear of her friend.
She's right; this is definitely not something I'd forget easily. So why can't I remember last night? Twilight tried to think back, but all that met her was a throbbing headache.
After a minute, the pony next to her chimed in, "Well, I guess I'm not that surprised that you don't really remember. You did seem to be pretty sauced up
"Sauced up?" The purple pony responded, confused.
"You know, sauced up," Not only did Pinkie add emphasis to the phrase, but she pretended to hold a bottle, taking long swigs from the imaginative drink.
Twilight was quickly on the defensive, "Are you saying I was drunk? Because I'll have you know Pinkie, I do not drink." She said while crossing her arms, putting her snout in the air.
"OK Twi, I believe you." The pink fillies tone clearly said otherwise. "In any case, you were stumbling around town last night. I guess you tried to teleport home, but you were so out of it you teleported right into Carrot Top's carrot stand! The police found you covered in orange vegetables. They booked you for causing a disturbance, destruction of property, teleporting while under the influence
The pink earth pony counted off on her hoof, taking care not to forget anything. Her eyes light up as she remembered the unicorn's last misadventure. "They also booked you for public indecency!"
Twilight scratched her head, "Public indecency? How did I manage that?" Pinkie looked around, gesturing for her friend to come closer.
The pink mare whispered to her, "This may come as a shock, but
" she trailed off, as if trying to build up the suspense on purpose. The other mare gestured for her to continue, a worried look on her face. Taking a deep breath, Pinkie continued, "
they found you running around butt naked!" Twilight gave her a look.
"Pinkie, we're ponies. We're naked all the time!"
"I know!" The pink filly responded, "You should have seen how confused the cops were when they found that law on record!" The Purple unicorn sighed as she went back to trying to get water out of her coat.
As their conversation died down, she noticed someone yelling behind her. She had just thought it was some loud pony in the crowd, but now she could tell that it was far too close for that. Turning around, she noticed a cyan pony with a rainbow mane in a similar tank, yelling at the crowd.
"...re just pathetic! You fillies couldn't hit the broad side of a house! I can't believe you're all wasting your time. None of you could ever dunk me! Not even in a thousand years!" Rainbow Dash just went on and on as the other two ponies watched her.
Leaning on the wire frame of her cage, Pinkie said in a solemn voice, "You know? She's right. I never realized how poor of shots the ponies around here are." Twilight looked back, seeing a volley of poorly aimed shots come nowhere near either of the two pony's dunk buttons. "A dunk tank is no fun if no one is getting wet! If I'd known, I'd have made the buttons bigger!"
"Wait, you made these things!?!" Twilight was shocked. She'd heard tales of the crazy things Pinkie had built, but she never expected her friend to make something like this.
The pink earth pony turned to her, speaking in a cheery voice, "Yep! Before the dunk tank, they would put ponies in these stockade things." She began imitating being stuck in one to drive the point home. "They were no fun at all! So, I asked if they would use these dunk tanks instead. That way, the ponies watching could have fun dunking people, and the people inside would feel like they were at a carnival rather than a jail!"
Twilight opened her mouth to remind Pinkie that they were, technically, in jail, but decided against it. She already had a headache, and there was no reason to make it worse. They turned back to Rainbow Dash, who was still heckling at the crowd.
"...ndma could throw better then you guys! I can't believe how bad at this you guys are, I mean rea-"
It seemed that the Pegasus had been proven wrong, as for a moment she dipped out of view. Quickly though, she popped back up; hovering with her wings. Pinkie suddenly grew slightly pale her voice filled with uncharacteristic worry.
"Oh, she shouldn't be doing that." Twilight turned to her, puzzled.
"Why? What's the worse that cou-"
As if answering her question, a gigantic, oversized boxing glove appeared above the floating pegasus, slamming down and knocking her into the water. The unicorn gasped as the pink mare next to her sighed.
"The guards really like doing that
" Reading the concerned look on Twilight's face, she quickly added, "Oh, don't worry, she's not hurt. The glove's filled with pillows. It's just to make sure that when you're dunked, you get wet."
Suddenly, in another dunk tank to Twilight's right, a voiced yelled out in a high, proper tone;"I told you that wouldn't work! But nooooooo, why listen to Rarity?" The white unicorn whined as she poked her head up to look at her now soaked friend. "Well, now look who's all wet!"
The purple unicorn called out, "Rarity? You're in here too?" Twisting her head around, Rarities eyes grew excited at seeing another person stuck in the same fate as her. The white pony walked over to Twilight, dripping as she went. It seemed that she had already met the same fate as everypony else.
"Twilight! You're awake! Pinkie told me about what happened last night." Twilight sighed as she gave the pink filly a look. "Now darling, I like a glass of pinot noir as much as the next girl, but really," she said in a concerned voice as Twilight turned her look to the unicorn speaking, "you must know your limits. If it's a problem, I know a pony that could hel-"
"Rarity, I don't know what happened last night, but I don't drink" Twilight's tone was serious. "I probably just screwed up a spell last night and it left me a little loopy." It was clear from the white mare's face that she wasn't convinced.
"Twilight, its ok to admit you have a problem. If you need any help, just as-" Before she could finish, a now soaked blue pegasus was dragging herself back up to her platform. Peering over to the unicorns, she yelled in a boisterous voice,
"Hey, you finally woke up! I thought I was good at sleeping; I've never seen someone stay asleep while everypony and their fillies tried to dunk you. Then again, considering how much you must of had last night..." This time Twilight groaned as the Pegasus brought the topic up.
"It's some sort of misunderstanding Rainbow, I don't drink. I've never had alcohol in my life!" Her voice was loud, as she tried to hammer the point home.
"Sure you don't," the cyan pony rolled her eyes. Twilight tried to change the subject.
"So, how did you all wind up in here?" Pinkie raised her hoof and waved it in the air, as if they were all just in school, rather than a carnivals idea of jail cells.
"Oh, oh, let me go first!" Her voice was filled with excitement. Both Rarity and Rainbow Dash shrugged as Pinkie started her story. "Well, I didn't do anything wrong!" The rest of the ponies in the tanks gave her odd looks as she went on. "I just really like being in the dunk tanks!"
Rarity was the first to respond,"Pinkie, don't the guards have a problem with you sneaking into these things? They are for punishment after all," the others nodded.
The earth pony shook her head as she responded,"Nope!" Her face screwed for up a second as she thought on it, "Well, they did a little at first, but the only thing they could do was throw me into the tank as punishment, so they just let me in here whenever I want now!" The other ponies put their faces into their hooves as the collectively groaned.
Her face still in her hoofs, Twilight asked her friend,"Wait, Pinkie, couldn't they just punish you some other way? I mean, putting people in dunk tanks can't be the only way Ponyville handles criminals, right?"
The others responded with a void of silence. Muttering something about "crazy ponies", she turned back to the white unicorn on the other side of her. "So, Rarity, how did you end up here? You don't exactly look like a pony of crime,"
Her question was met by an awkward laugh as the white unicorn spoke, "A pony of crime? That's just silly Twilight! I'm here because of a misunderstanding." Rainbow Dash was unimpressed.
"What kind of misunderstanding lands you in jail?" Rarity shot her a dirty look.
"Well, if you let me finish, I could tell you." The blue mare returned the dirty look, but said nothing more. The unicorn continued. "Well, I was out looking for gems for my newest outfit. I was having trouble finding any when all of the sudden, my horn practically dragged me to what had to be one of the bigger deposits I've ever seen!"
The unicorn's eyes seemed to glow as she remembered them, an excited tone edging into her normally proper speech. "There were enough gems there to make an entire line of new dresses! I started to dig, when a police officer come over and asked if I had a digging permit."
Twilight interjected "Let me guess; you were arrested for violating zoning laws." The other unicorn shook her head. Bowing her head sheepishly, she spoke in a meek voice,
"Actually, I got arrested for hitting the officer in the head with a shovel and running away." The other three ponies were stunned to silence as Rarity giggled uncomfortably. Twilight and Pinkie both gave the white mare in front of them an odd look as the Dash had with a slight look of approval. The pegasus turned to Rarity.
"I have to admit Rare, I never would have thought you had it in you" The white filly didn't seem all that pleased by Rainbow's approval.
Rarity looked away as she spoke loudly and without pausing for breath,"Well, I panicked! The cop was acting like such a ruffian! The last time someone bothered me while gem digging, I was kidnapped by those diamond dogs, and I mean really, I didn't even know Ponyville had a police department! I mean, where have they been any of the other times we've been in trou- "
A well placed throw from an older mare in the crowd abruptly ended Rarity's ranting. After a brief moment of silence, Twilight turned to her rainbow haired friend,
"Well, Rainbow!" Her voice was overenthusiastic as the unicorn did her best to try to forget the ever looming threat of being soaked, "How did you end up in this mess?"
This drew a cocky smile from the pegasus as she spoke in her usual boisterous tone, "Well, I was walking down the street when these ponies started arguing. I ran over to try to break the thing up when all of the sudden, one of them tried to slug me."
Dash imitated the attack as she began getting into her story "Now, I'm not a pony for violence, but no pony just tries to sucker punch me without getting a hove to their face. So, I gave them a HA!" Dash punched forward as she spoke, clearly enjoying herself, "and them they tried a YA, and a BAM..."
Dash went on describing the battle in excruciating detail, only Pinkie paying any sort of attention. After a few minutes, she realized that her audience had grown board as she quickly said,
"So anyway, I beat up like, forty ponies, ten cops, a royal guard, and two dragons. They had to send in an elite guard force to throw me in here."
As the cyan mare smiled at a story well told, a small voice spoke from a seemingly empty tank next to her, "Um, Rainbow Dash? I thought you said that you were arrested for speeding in a school zone..."
Rarity, who had been doing her best to get the new water out of her coat, giggled as Rainbow realized she'd been found out. The top of a yellow ponies head popped up, looking at Dash who quickly became annoyed.
"Fluttershy! I told you not to tell anypony else!" An only slightly audible squeak responded as Rainbow Dash sighed.
Pinkie called out to the still hiding yellow pony,"Come on out Fluttershy! It's not like anyone is going to hurt you, it's just water!" Her cheer seemed to be enough to get the pegasus to lift her still wet head up. Twilight sighed as she saw that not even the meekest and dolce of her friends had avoided this fate.
"Fluttershy, I'm almost afraid to ask, but what could you of all ponies have done to end up incarcerated?" Fluttershy looked away, timid as ever, while Twilight spoke.
After a moment, she turned to the other fillies and said in her usual quiet tone, "Well, I guess I really didn't do anything. I sort of, kind of," Her voice grew more and more quiet as she went on, "took the fall for someone else's crimes." Despite speaking at an almost whisper, every other pony gasped as she finished.
It was Rarity who first responded, "Fluttershy! I can't believe you would, of all ponies, take the fall for somepony else's crime! It's very much unlike you!"
Pinkie was the next to join in, "Who was it? Was it someone we know? Ooo, was it someone important to you? A family member? A friend? A secret love? It was a secret love wasn't it!"
Fluttershy bit her lip as she began to speak again,"Actually, it was..." She stopped speaking as the other ponies looked on, Pinkie munching on a bag of popcorn. Realizing that the others weren't going to let her off without knowing the identity of the true criminal, Fluttershy sighed softly and continued, "it was Angel."
"The rabbit!?!" the other ponies said in unison.
It was the other pegusus who seemed most surprised, "How in the world does a rabbit commit a crime?"
"Crimes. It was more than one." The yellow filly corrected her.
Rarity, face still showing surprise, spoke up, "More than one? What did he do?"
The probing did nothing to build Fluttershy's confidence as she went on to explain in her usual quiet voice, "Well, a while back, I started to notice things would show up in my house that I didn't remember getting. At first it was just small things, like newspapers or a couple of loose bits. I thought nothing of it at the time. Then it got more and more serious. Every morning I would wake up, and there would be something new on my kitchen table!"
"Like what?" Twilight asked.
"Well, anything! I found food, cloths, books, flowers, even gems that I know I didn't pay for! So I stayed up one night and tried to figure out what was going on. It took almost all night, but finally at around four in the morning, I saw someone open my front door, dragging something behind them. I light a candle and there he was, carrying a bag full of stolen things!"
"What did he do with the stuff?" Rainbow Dash inquired with a look of confusion on her face.
The other pegasus' eyes grew large as she responded. "Nothing! I think he just did it for the thrill of it."
Twilight shot the filly a strange look as she spoke in a voice filled with uncertainty, "Are you saying that Angel, a rabbit I may add, is a kleptomaniac?"
The yellow mare waited a moment before responding, "...yes. Yes I am." There was a moment of silence as the others did their best to grapple with the idea.
While the others were thinking, Fluttershy quickly finished her story. "I knew that I couldn't let him get arrested. Being in jail would break the poor bunny, so I turned everything in to the police and told them that I did it, and that's how I ended up in this horrible place."
Silence settled over the group as the pegasus finished her story. Only the sound of poorly aimed shots, and the final crunches of Pinkie's popcorn, filled the tanks as the ponies did their best to try to get their manes in somewhat presentable forms.
As Twilight's eyes lazily scanned around her surroundings, she noticed something odd. There was another dunk tank, this one placed between Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie. She had overlooked it at first, assuming that the thing was just empty. Now that she was really looking at it though, she noticed that ponies were still throwing baseballs at the tank.
She thought to herself, Why would they waste their time on an empty tank? Obviously, somepony had to be in there, but why aren't they talking to us? Most ponies would want somepony, anypony to talk to in a situation like this, unless...; No, she couldn't be in there. That would just be too crazy. And yet, I guess it fit the absurdity of everything else that's happened today...
"Applejack? You're not in that last tank are you?" The other ponies perked up at the mention of the last member of their group.
For a while, there was no response from the last tank, until somepony with a southern drawl said, "Nope, no Applejack here."
Twilight ignored the response as she went on, "Come on Applejack, we know you're there. We're all in the same situation here; we aren't going to think any less of you."
There was another large moment of silence, until the remaining tank uttered a defeated sigh as Applejack stood up. Her trademark hat sagged slightly over her face as she spoke, "I was hopin' that you all wouldn't notice me." Her characteristic twang filled voice held a slight bit of worry as she continued on, "I never thought anypony would ever see me behind bars," she quickly looked at the mesh walls of her tank, "so to speak."
"Well, you've heard every other pony explain how they ended up in jail; I believe it's your turn." Rarity said as the orange earth pony pushed her wet hat out of her eyes.
Fluttershy added, "I'd like to hear it too. If it's not a problem, of course."
Twilight nodded,"I have to admit, I'm sort of interested in what you could have done. The ways we've ended up here have been pretty crazy." The purple unicorn said.
Applejack shot her a sly look. "Like you getting drunk?"
Something snapped in Twilight, as she yelled as loud as she could, "I. Do. Not. Drink! I've never been drunk in my life! I don't own any alcohol; I don't even know where you would buy any in this town! It was a spell, I screwed up a spell. A stupid, stupid spell. I'm a student, they would kick me out if they caught me drinking, I mean this is-"
As the purple unicorn fell into the water once again, Rainbow Dash took this opportunity to take Twilight's place in the conversation. Without missing a beat, she asked Applejack,"So, what did you do? I bet it was something awesome, like
The blue filly stopped as she thought of a crime. Pinkie joined the fun, "Like robbing a bank!"
Rainbow dash nodded before speaking, "Or, she roughed up some of her produce competitors"
Pinkie rallied the train of thought back, "Ooo, maybe she did both! Maybe she's apart of some sort of crime syndicate!"
Rainbow's eyes light up at that,"Yeah, a produce based Mafia! They go around making sure all the stands in Ponyville are a part of the family, and when someone tries to bust in their turf, bam!"
Dash punched the air as Pinkie continued, "Yeah! And they even go as far as-"
A loud clearing of a certain earth pony's throat ended the speculation as both the blue and pink fillies looked on expectantly.
"I was caught jaywalking." Applejack said plainly.
"You what?" The other earth pony asked, confused.
"Does that some sort of mafia code?" Dash asked, holding onto hope.
Still dragging herself back onto her platform, Twilight burst the other pony's bubble, "Jaywalking just means crossing the street when you aren't supposed to."
"There is a law against that?" Rarity asked surprised.
"I reckon so, otherwise why would they lock me up here?" The others nodded at her logic.
"Um, Applejack? If I may ask, why where you so worried about us learning about something so small?" Fluttershy's calm voice caused a small chuckle out of her orange friend.
"Well, I've haven't gotten in trouble since that time I put a worm in Big Mac's lunch all those years ago. Everypony considers me a real upstanding pony, and I don't like letting down that image."
Twilight shook her head before saying, "Oh Applejack, everypony makes mistakes, its fine." The others nodded as the unicorn continued. "In fact, I'm pretty sure the fact everypony ended up here proves that mistakes are unavoidable."
A smile escaped from the earth pony. "Well thanks everypony. It's just too bad that our mistakes are gonna cost us this beautiful afternoon."
Twilight responded with a smile on her face, "Sitting outside on a nice day, talking with my friends? I can't think of many things I'd rather be doing." The rest of the ponies voiced their agreement as they did their best to relax.
Twilight continued, "Plus, it's not like the pony's here are exactly that great of shots." A volley of poor shots hit against the dunk tanks to hammer home the point, "how many more times can they really dunk us?"††
Without warning, Pinkie Pie sat up, pointing at a group of ponies with uniforms on.
Her voice was filled with excitement as she said,"Hey, look everypony! Those ponies in the hats have baseballs for cutie mar-!"