My Little Pony Monthly Issue 30 (September 1, 1999)

My Little Pony Monthly
Established June 1997

This Newsletter is Child-Friendly

E-mail Tabby ( to be removed from the mailing list.


Issue 30
September 1999

Letters to the Editor Tabby, I just have to say that these stories are GREAT!!!!! I love the ones where you write about both Pokèmon with MLPs, and the girl who crossed the books Thoroughbred with MLPs. It's so-o-o-o cute. Hi, Tabby! You do such a great job as editor of MLP Monthly. The stories get better every issue! Hello, Tabby, we have not said "Thank you" for awhile and I just wanted to say that you are appreciated. All the hard work you do impresses me; and I know it is "fun", but I also know it takes a long time to do all that you do. We love the monthly newsletters. Keep up the good work. I think this is a great newsletter and look forward to it each month. It's a lot of fun to read the stories and they're quite well written. I'm twenty-two and still enjoy them.

A note from Miss Hackney-- What a joy for me to see you fine ponies putting to good use your knowledge of grammar and composition! It makes all my many years of teaching so worthwhile! You have found the pleasure of writing, doing it not for jangles or because it was assigned to you, but simply for the rewarding opportunity to share your talents with others for their enjoyment-- a true giving of self. I'm very proud of you ponies, and look forward to your continued creativity. Love, Miss Hackney


Invento Ponies

Baby Brother Sea Ponies
by Applejack
They all come with nautical-style hair brushes, and their hair changes color in the water and back in sunlight.

Name: Riptide

Body: Dark Blue

Hair: Red (turns to white in water)

Float: Bright Yellow and Red Alligator

Name: Ebbwater

Body: Dark Green

Hair: Dark Yellow (turns white in water)

Float: Dark Blue and Yellow Turtle

Name: Salt n' Sand

Body: Tan

Hair: Blue (turns white in water)

Float: Blue and Dark Pink Fish

Name: Naticus

Body: Blue

Hair: Blue

Float: Dark Green Boat

Name: Tides

Body: Midnight Blue

Hair: Dark Blue

Float: Blue Waves (in the shape of a float)

by Princess Dawn

Name: Sunny

Species: Pegasus

Body: Yellow

Hair: Black

Symbol: A Sunflower

Name: Carrots

Species: Earth

Body: Orange

Hair: Green

Symbol: A Carrot

Name: Kiwi

Species: Earth

Body: Muddy Green-Brown

Hair: Bright Green

Symbol: Half of a Kiwi Fruit

Name: Stinky

Species: Big Brother

Body: Black

Hair: Black with White Stripe

Symbol: A Skunk


Bouncy's Hope
Part 4
by Bouncy

Bouncy stared in shock at Flutter Valley. Just moments ago it had been a beautiful garden paradise, but now it was a burning, charred ruin-- much like Paradise Estate, after Darkness had dealt with it.

Rosedust was the first of the flutters to turn after hearing the loud blast of thunder that followed the lightning. She cried out in sheer agony at the sight of her home being destroyed and had trouble continuing to fly in place.

The other flutters heard Rosedust; and turning toward their once gorgeous home, each cried out in similar pain. The Sunstone wavered in midair as the two flutters holding it began to tremble; then the stone began to tumble, uncontrolled, to the ground.

Bouncy swooped down toward the glowing jewel as it began to plummet. Before she reached it, however, it slowed and stopped, its glowing light flashing blindingly. Finally, it returned to its muted color. Bouncy turned to see Fractal behind her, his face fixed in concentration as he stared at the Sunstone. Relief flooded Bouncy as she asked, "You saved the Sunstone, didn't you?"

Fractal responded, but his musical, golden voice was strained from the effort. "I won't... be able... to hold it... much longer!"

Bouncy realized the gravity of the situation and immediately took charge. "Okay, Fractal, try and find an open field to land in. I'll guide the flutters down one by one. They're in no condition to travel any longer today."

Fractal nodded silently, and then began a rapid descent to the ground with the Sunstone in his wake; it wobbled slightly, but was still in his control.

As soon as Bouncy saw that Fractal had safely landed, she glided over to Rosedust, and, taking her leg with a hoof, guided her slowly and gently to the ground. Rosedust sat numbly in the soft grass, seeing beyond the billowing wave of green into the past, to the height of spring when Flutter Valley had been brimming with a rainbow of splendid blossoms. Bouncy gazed at Rosedust and knew more than ever that no matter what the cost, Darkness must be destroyed.

One by one, she gently helped each of the flutter ponies to the ground. Only Tropical Breeze managed to muster a pale smile and a small "Thank you" for Bouncy.

Bouncy went to check on Fractal. He appeared to be conjuring some sort of stand for the Sunstone. When the gem, with its muted light, had been carefully placed in what appeared to be a marble basin, Bouncy and Fractal turned back to the flutter ponies. Each had lifted an almost lifeless face toward the Sunstone. The golden, shining jewel gave off a warm light that reflected in the eyes of the flutters.

Bouncy slowly began to speak. "What we have witnessed here today was a tragedy, pure and simple. To have one's home destroyed is a momentous loss, but to have Flutter Valley destroyed-- not only was it a home to flutter ponies, but a home to every pony who enjoyed nature's beauty-- and to say that the garden paradise will be missed is an enormous understatement. The pony who destroyed your home is called Darkness. He has the ability to conjure monsters, as well as countless more powers that we have yet to learn about and that I truly hope we never will. This pony began to lay waste to Paradise Estate this morning, and destroying Flutter Valley is only the most recent of his crimes. Who knows how many more ponies have been or will be hurt by this creature?"

By this point, all of the flutters were focused on Bouncy, and many had a look of conviction in their eyes. Bouncy continued, "The only thing we can do at this point is to try to remove this villain from Ponyland. Whether we must destroy or banish him to be finally rid of his dangers remains to be seen, but he must be stopped. Darkness did fail in one thing, however; he wanted ALL of Flutter Valley destroyed, including you and the Sunstone. You are still here, as well as the life force of Flutter Valley; and once Darkness is gone, I know all of the other ponies and I will assist in rebuilding your home and helping it reach heights that were never before imagined!"

The flutter ponies cheered, but then suddenly rose to their feet and stared angrily at Bouncy. No, not at me, she decided after a moment's confusion, it's something behind me. She turned and found herself almost nose to nose with Darkness.

Taking a step back, she said, "You failed, Darkness. You destroyed their home, but you have not destroyed them or their spirit."

Darkness laughed, and then in a rough voice said, "You are right, Bouncy. But mark my words-- I will destroy you, all of you, yet. Your victory is not complete, much as my defeat in destroying the Flutter Ponies is only a minor scratch on my plan. I hope you will come to realize that I am almost omnipotently powerful, and that you have not yet been subject to most of my powers. Soon, Bouncy, but not now." He laughed again, then faded out.

Bouncy turned to the flutter ponies, who were still all angrily standing and waiting to face the one who destroyed their home. The yellow pegasus took a deep breath, then said, "It would probably be best to wait here and spend the night, then fly the remaining distance to Paradise Estate in the morning."

Rosedust nodded in agreement, and then started directing some of the flutter ponies to build a fire.

* * *
Later that night, Rosedust and the other flutter ponies began to excitedly discuss the new plans for Flutter Valley. Fractal and Bouncy sat a small distance away from the happy talk, the fire casting its orangeness over the two of them, making their coats gleam with sunset light.

"I'm glad the flutters are feeling so much better," Bouncy said.

Fractal smiled. "They have something to live for now. Hours ago, it was the end of the world as they knew it; but now, it's only a stepping stone to a brighter future."

Bouncy sighed. "But first and foremost, Darkness has to be defeated. What's the good of rebuilding when he'll only tear it down again?"

Fractal nodded, then said, "That's why we have to fight. That's the only way, I think, that he'll understand that he has no chance of winning over the conviction of ponies. Tearak, the witches from the Volcano of Gloom-- so many other villains with a tyrant complex have all faced the ponies and lost."

Bouncy grinned and then said, "And now that I know I have magic, we have an even better chance of winning. And that reminds me, how did you know I had water magic when even I didn't realize the fact?"

Fractal replied simply, "When you wished me into existence, everything that you knew-- conscious or subconscious-- became my knowledge. The fact that you had water magic was only a tiny piece of that."

Bouncy laughed, relieved. "Good! Please forgive me for saying this, but-- well, for a little while-- I thought you might be Darkness taking a different form."

Fractal's face clouded over. "He is a destroyer of good, a betrayer of all ponies." Then he turned to Bouncy, the firelight making him appear even more earnest. "I'm your friend, Bouncy. I would never betray you or any of your friends."

Wow, Bouncy thought, my accidental wish for a friend really came true after all! "You are a true friend, Fractal," she said. "And now, I really must get some sleep, or I won't be able to do anything besides yawn tomorrow, much less fight Darkness and try to save Ponyland!" she added with a laugh.

Fractal smiled. "I should really get some sleep as well. This whole... life thing... takes a lot of getting used to. But with your help, I should do just fine."

Bouncy curled up in the grass and sleepily said, "Good night, Fractal."

"Good night, Bouncy."

* * *
Bouncy woke on a carpet of lush green grass, blanketed with a pure, clean, morning dew. She sat up quickly, wondering why she wasn't asleep at Paradise Estate, then remembered the previous day. She noticed Fractal, still asleep in the soft bed of greenery. As she watched, he stirred and opened his eyes. "Good morning!" Bouncy said, smiling. "How'd you sleep?"

He rose to his feet and said in his golden, clear voice that matched the morning air, "I think I slept well. Last night, I tried to fall asleep, and then I woke up this morning. But there were these dreams--" He broke off, putting a hoof to his head.

Before Bouncy could ask, the rest of the flutters began waking up. "Good morning, everyone," she said cheerfully. "Sorry I didn't have the foresight to bring breakfast, but I'm sure we can get some once we get to Paradise Estate."

Honeysuckle approached Fractal timidly. "Would you mind carrying the Sunstone?" she asked. "None of us feel strong enough to do so as of yet."

Fractal answered gravely, "I would be honored to carry the Sunstone." He turned to the Sunstone, and, focusing, easily lifted it into the air.

"Everyone ready to go?" Bouncy asked. "Then let's fly!" She leaped into the air and began moving her wings, with Fractal and the flutter ponies close behind.

It didn't take long to reach Paradise Estate, but Bouncy was startled when they did. There was another creature attacking, this time a black gryphon.

"Darkness," Bouncy muttered. She turned to Fractal and said, "Take the flutter ponies and find a place for them to hide, then help me battle this thing."

Fractal nodded, and Bouncy landed. Paradise Estate, instead of being a burned-out husk, was now a pile of rubble, thanks to the black gryphon's sharp talons.

Bouncy took a deep breath, and then soared through the air toward the gryphon. She passed right over its head, and then kicked it with a perfect shot to its ear. The gryphon squealed in pain.

Bouncy pulled around, and, flying under the gryphon's monstrous and very sharp black beak, turned a double-inside-out loop; and with another well-placed kick, she scored on the gryphon's left eye.

The gryphon cried out in pain again and half-blindly swiped its talons through the air. Bouncy tried to dodge out of the way, but felt its claws land on her right shoulder. Weak from the impact, she fell to the ground. She tried to climb to her feet, but winced when her right foreleg gave out under her. She knew there was something she could do to stop the gryphon, if only she could remember...

At that moment, Fractal charged up. The gryphon moved its head low to catch him with its beak, but Fractal turned and landed a kick on its right eye. Blindly, and squealing horrendously, it began to rage and claw furiously at the air.

Fractal ran over to Bouncy, concern visible on his face. "Are you okay?" Then, noticing her cut, he checked it over and Bouncy winced again. "That looks really bad. As soon as we beat the gryphon, I'll heal you. Why didn't you use your magic?"

"Of course!" she said weakly, then equally weakly called out, "Geyser!"

The ground trembled as a spout opened directly under the black gryphon; it then disappeared as a pillar of water burst into the air. Bouncy lowered her head to the ground; then everything went black.

* * *
Bouncy stirred and opened her eyes. The sun was directly overhead in the sky, whereas it had been closer to the eastern horizon when she had defeated the black gryphon. She slowly got to her feet, and noticed her right foreleg didn't trouble her any more. She checked her right shoulder. No cut. Did I dream it? she thought, and then saw Fractal walking towards her with a relieved smile.

"Good, you're awake!" he said. "After you defeated the gryphon, you fell into unconsciousness, so I healed your shoulder. Do you feel okay?"

"I think so," she said, taking a hesitant step. Her leg gave out, and Fractal dashed over and supported her.

"Careful," he said. "I healed your shoulder, but it will still be a while until your leg is up to full strength. Walk on it only when you have to, but right now I suggest you rest."

Bouncy smiled at Fractal. "Thank you," she said softly.

He smiled in return, and his musical voice echoed softly as he said, "What are friends for?" He pulled back a little and said louder, "Okay, test it again. I think the gryphon's talons were poisoned, but I managed to equalize it."

Bouncy gently tested her right foreleg again and it held her weight. "Much better," she said.

Fractal nodded and replied, "Good. Listen, I'll be right back. I'm helping the other ponies check the rubble to see if we can recover anything or find anyone still in there." He walked off to Paradise Estate, then disappeared amidst the tattered walls, destroyed furniture, and other destroyed items that were once a part of Paradise Estate.

Bouncy noticed Glittering Gem walking towards her, guiding a weeping pony. The pony was a yellow unicorn with pink and blue hair. Bouncy could faintly make out her symbol-- a line spiraling in a tightening circle.

"This is Curly-Q," Glittering Gem said. "Last night, Darkness came and attacked her home. Her parents were-- killed-- and Curly-Q barely managed to make it out." Then, referring to a white pegasus with red hair and a First-Aid symbol that was bandaging some ponies, she said, "Healer already took care of her injuries, but she needs to talk to someone. Would you be willing to?"

Bouncy nodded, then brought the sobbing pony over to a patch of grass where they both sat down. "Curly-Q? Why don't you tell me a little about yourself?"

Curly-Q slowly stopped crying; and, sniffling, she answered, "I-I lived on th-the outskirts of Dream Val-Valley with my mom and dad. Th-they never told me why they d-didn't want to live with the o-other ponies, but I always wan-wanted to."

Bouncy said, "Could you tell me what happened last night?" She quickly added, "If it hurts too much to talk about it, then you don't have to."

Curly-Q shook her head several times in quick succession, and she seemed to regain a little more of her composure. "Last night, my parents went to sleep as they usually do; and I w-was on the porch watching the stars, like I have at night for years. I was about to go inside when I heard this low, rough laugh, and I went to in-investigate. It was a black male unicorn with dark eyes and black hair, but the oddest thing about him was that he had no symbol. I asked him what he was doing, and he answered in a p-poem. I think it went like this:

"Revenge, the sweetest gift of all,

"Can make the mightiest powers fall,

"This gift I call on here tonight,

"To burn this building in my sight!

"Then the whole house caught on fire, but it was this strange blue fire. And I started screaming at him, asking w-why he did that, and he said, ‘If you see a pony named Bouncy, tell her this is only a token of power I have, and that I will destroy everything she holds dear.' Then he disappeared, and I tried to stop the fire; but I couldn't, and the house was burned too badly for me to go in; and it's a-all my fault that they're gone!" Curly-Q covered her face with her hooves and started to cry again.

Bouncy began to gently soothe her. "No, no, Curly-Q; it's not your fault. There was no way you could have put out that fire unless you used magic. The pony you talked to is called Darkness, and ever since yesterday he has been trying to destroy all of Ponyland. Did you see anything else that could help us?"

Curly-Q shook her head and said, "Hold on; yeah, I forgot something. Before he left, he changed forms. The other form looked like--"

At that moment, Fractal walked over, smiling and carrying a stack of books. Curly-Q screamed out and cried to Bouncy, "It's him! It's him! Oh, please, get him away!"

Bouncy traded a confused look with Fractal and said, "No, Curly-Q, this is my friend Fractal."

Curly-Q started crying, and in between sobs, she managed to say, "That's the other form he changed into. Please, keep him away!"

Bouncy stood up, then guided Fractal away from Curly-Q. "What is she talking about? You told me you weren't Darkness."

Fractal, bewildered, answered, "I'm not. But--" He shook his head; and despite the fact that Bouncy was desperately trying to get him to say more, he didn't utter another word.

As Bouncy began to walk away, Fractal finally spoke. "Maybe I should talk with her. You know, privately. Maybe she was hallucinating, or maybe Darkness changed forms to look like me."

Bouncy smiled, relieved. "That must be it. I'm sure if you talk to her, everything will get straightened out."

Fractal nodded, then walked toward Curly-Q. She backed away, scared; but Fractal said, "It's okay; I'm Fractal. I'm not going to hurt you. I would like to talk to you, though." She let herself be guided to an outcropping of trees, and the two disappeared amidst the branches.

Bouncy stood for a moment, thinking about the events of the day. Why is it, she thought, that the little ponies recover from their home being destroyed much better than the flutters do? Perhaps because, to us, Paradise Estate was only a building, where Flutter Valley was the flutter ponies' entire life? That must be it! she decided, and then had a flash of insight. Butterfly Gardens... She wanted to tell Fractal immediately, and headed toward the trees.

Bouncy started in among the trunks when she heard Curly-Q crying and a rough voice speaking to her harshly. She crouched behind a tree and peered between the branches, watching what was happening.

The first thing she saw was Curly-Q, sitting numbly on the ground and crying into her hooves. Then she saw Darkness, speaking to her roughly. His face was twisted in rage. Where's Fractal? she thought. She leaned forward and concentrated, try to hear what Darkness was saying.

"...and if you tell Bouncy any more about that night, I WILL eliminate you. I don't want you to say another word about anything. Not the stars, not the fire, not the poem, and ESPECIALLY not about when I changed forms. Got it?" After that, Darkness added in a growl, "And you are not to speak a word of what happened here. You are to tell her that I explained that I'm your friend, that I'm not who you thought I was. Understand?" Curly-Q, still crying, nodded. "And stop crying!" he snarled. Curly-Q lifted her head from her hooves; and, with obvious effort, managed to stop crying. Darkness smiled and said, "Much better. Now, come on. We're going back out to see Bouncy, and I want you to look relieved." He began to guide Curly-Q, while he changed form...

...into Fractal.

Bouncy felt numb. She sat against the tree, feeling tears run down her face and not caring. She didn't care if the world collapsed at that moment, or if Darkness (or Fractal?) knew she had overheard most of the conversation. She sat, her back to the tree, tears rolling down her face, her eyes staring through the world.

Moments later, she heard Fractal say, "Oh, no," and felt a hoof on her shoulder. "Bouncy? Are you okay? Bouncy!!" a light, golden voice asked her, and she managed to turn her head to look at him, a bleak look in her eyes. Tears still poured down her cheeks.

"You heard the conversation, didn't you, Bouncy?" Fractal said, his voice bordering on frantic. He got to his feet, then ran from the forest. Curly-Q stood there, unsure what to do.

Bouncy ignored the young unicorn, thinking, She can take care of herself. Then she chased after Fractal. "Fractal!" she called out.

Without looking over his shoulder, he leaped into the air and began to fly away from Paradise Estate. Bouncy took off after him, trying to get his attention, and noticed he was heading toward the Boundary Woods. He's following the landmarks to the Wishstone, she thought. Look, there's the mountain. Her thoughts came calmly to her, like ripples on a smooth lake, and she knew what he was going to do.

Fractal landed and dashed through the stone entryway to the Boundary Woods. Bouncy followed after him and called, "Fractal! Listen to me!"

He ignored her, and began chanting a rhyme. Bouncy recognized it immediately, and mouthed the words, "By the powers of goodness and darkness mixed,

"I ask for the Wishstone to use betwixt!" Just like she thought, Fractal was calling on the Wishstone.

The stone appeared, hovering in midair with its ever-changing light. Fractal grabbed it in his mouth and concentrated. The stone disappeared, but nothing happened.

Bordering on despair, Fractal said, "I knew it wouldn't work. After all, the book does say that ‘a creature must run the ordinary length of a lifetime'. I've only lived a day so far, so there's no way I can unmake myself." Fractal collapsed on the ground, putting his face in his hooves.

Bouncy knelt beside him, and, moving his hooves so she could look in his face, said, "Why, Fractal? Why did you wreak havoc on Ponyland? Why did you betray me when you promised not to?"

"It wasn't me!" he said frantically, his eyes searching hers. "It was Darkness! I tried to stop him-- really, I did-- but he wouldn't listen!"

Bouncy, confused, could only think of one thing to say, "What do you mean?"

Fractal, still frantic, said, "You know how the poem says that you ask for the Wishstone to use with the powers of light and dark mixed? Well, that's me! I'm the good part, and Darkness is the bad part. And I can't make him stop, just as he can't make me do anything I don't want to do. But he can take over when I don't want. He's been using me, though, don't you see? He wants Ponyland to himself!" Fractal started laughing hysterically.

Bouncy yelled, "Stop it! You're not making any sense!" Fractal continued to laugh like a lunatic, so she conjured a bucket of water and dumped it over his head.

Soaked, his violet hair streaming in his eyes, Fractal stopped laughing and said quietly, "Thank you."

"Now," Bouncy instructed, "explain what you mean! You're not making any sense."

Fractal sighed and began to explain. "When I came into existence, I was created to be good, to be your friend, and to stop the drought on Dream Valley. Unfortunately, the Wishstone always has unwanted side effects, ones that counteract the wish, in a sense. That's how Darkness was created. Since I was created to be good, Darkness had to be created as an evil being, to be a continuous adversary to you and to destroy Ponyland. Together, Darkness and I create one pony in eternal balance, called Lifestream."

"Can I see and talk to Lifestream?" Bouncy asked.

Fractal smiled. "Certainly. Although for any other pony I would not present us in the complete form, for you, Bouncy, I will."

At that, he closed his eyes, and he seemed to separate into two ponies-- Fractal and Darkness. Then the two combined into one pony. The pony had wings and a horn, with gray fur that was almost silver and a mane with light and dark blue interspersed. The pony opened his eyes, which were an incredible shade of unnatural green, and said in a voice that was both harsh and musical, "Hello, Bouncy."

Bouncy took a deep breath and said, "Hello, Lifestream. Tell me something, please-- is there any way to separate Fractal from Darkness?"

Lifestream smiled sadly and said, "I'm sorry, Bouncy, but there is not. To take part would mean not only destroying the whole, but destroying all parts."

Bouncy nodded, equally sad. "Thank you, Lifestream. "That's what I thought."

Lifestream gave another sad smile and replied, "Fractal would like to be separate from the whole, if it makes you feel better. Darkness, however, just feels malice toward you. In fact, he is planning another attack on Dream Valley; and this one, I fear, may be harder to stop."

Bouncy said, "Thank you, Lifestream. May I talk to Fractal now?"

Lifestream nodded. "Certainly. Call on me when you need my help."

"I will," Bouncy said.

Lifestream said, "I am eternally grateful for you wishing me into existence, although what I have caused is not what I would have wished."

"Nor I," Bouncy answered.

Lifestream closed his eyes, then separated into Fractal and Darkness again, both with their eyes closed. The two merged into one, with Fractal overlapping Darkness.

Fractal opened his eyes. He looked sad, but happy also. "Thank for trying to save me," he said.

Bouncy looked at him, regretting having to say her next words, but finding it necessary. "I'm going to have to banish Darkness from Ponyland."

He nodded, his eyes showing of stars and dewdrops. "I know," he said. "And, Bouncy, I'm sorry."

She smiled, crying again. "I'm sorry, too," she said, and Fractal closed his eyes, prepared to be banished with the whole.

Bouncy began to recite a verse. "To banish one from the world above,

"From light, from hope, and even love,

"To stay in the depths of the darkness far under,

"Lest the world as we know it should fall asunder.


She was suddenly cut off by a harsh laugh. It was Darkness. "Nice try, Bouncy; but I can't let you banish Lifestream, no matter that Fractal is willing to give himself up to be rid of me. I won't let you."

Darkness grew a pair of huge black dragon wings and launched into the air, heading towards Paradise Estate.

"I'll get you yet, Darkness, " Bouncy muttered, and leaped into the air, following close on Darkness' tail.

They reached Paradise Estate almost simultaneously, and Darkness landed on the ruins of the building. "Can I have your attention, please!" Darkness announced to all the ponies, triumph in his voice.

Curly-Q ran up to Bouncy. "What's going on?" she whispered. She seemed in much better condition mentally, Bouncy noted. She whispered back, "I don't know. He's about to tell us, I bet."

As soon as every pony was turned toward Darkness, he began to chant. "The blackness that covers the land by night,

"Will once again be in my sight,

"Let it cover the land, let it touch the shore,

"And let daylight vanish forevermore!

"Eternal Darkness!"

All at once, from the direction of the Boundary Woods, the sky began to be covered by a rolling black shape. It covered the clouds, the sun, even the blueness of the sky. Several ponies screamed as the Eternal Darkness drew slowly nearer, and they began to try to run away from the approaching blackness.

Bouncy galloped up to the ruins of Paradise Estate and faced Darkness. He was gazing at the Eternal Darkness with a distracted look as it inched ever closer. "I dreamed last night that I was two separate ponies. I was both Darkness and Fractal, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, if only it could truly be this way, to be able to always have control of yourself.' But I know now that that dream is impossible. A mere flight of fancy." He turned to Bouncy and grinned, returning to his normal evilness. "Not much longer now," he sneered. "Ponies cannot stand evil, which is why you fight me so hard. My blackness-- my Eternal Darkness-- is evil in its purest form."

"Even with that, you can never win, Darkness," Bouncy said quietly. "Ponies don't lose."

Darkness laughed and said with conviction in his harsh voice, "You thought you could win? You can never win! I will always prevail!"

"That's where you're wrong, Darkness," Bouncy said, equal conviction in her voice.

"And what are you going to do?" he mocked.

Bouncy walked away, looking at the sky and the blackness that grew continually nearer. "I don't know," she muttered. "But I'll do something!"

Recalling her earlier thoughts, she pushed a strand of dirty, blue hair out of her face with one hoof and quickly took out a piece of paper and began furiously drawing. After her apparent scribbling was done, across the top she wrote "Butterfly Gardens". Then, folding it, she went to Curly-Q and gave it to her. "Curly-Q," Bouncy said, "hang on to this. It may be the future of Dream Valley."

Curly-Q nodded and said, "I'm not sure what you're going to do, Bouncy, but good luck."

Bouncy nodded in return and walked back to Darkness. He stared at her, amused. Bouncy looked over her shoulder and saw the Eternal Darkness beginning to cover the sky near the copse of trees where she had overheard Darkness and Curly-Q. She turned back to Darkness, and with a steady voice chanted, "In this moment, when all ponies may fail,

"Let lightness and goodness for once prevail!"

She saw Darkness' face twist in anger before he turned into Fractal. She checked over her shoulder, and the Eternal Darkness had disappeared.

Fractal, smiling sadly, said, "Goodbye, Bouncy. It was nice being your friend."

Bouncy said, "Goodbye, Fractal. It was nice having a friend as good as you." Then she chanted the verse she had started earlier, "To banish one from the world above,

"From light, from hope, and even love,

"To stay in the depths of the darkness far under,

"Lest the world as we know it should fall asunder.


Behind Fractal a spinning black hole opened, and Fractal slowly began to be dragged into it.

Suddenly, Darkness was in Fractal's place. "You won't win that easily, Bouncy!" Darkness snarled. He grabbed Bouncy's left foreleg with both of his; then, as he was dragged in, Bouncy was slowly dragged in as well. They both fell in, and the vortex closed silently behind them.


Mystery Pony

Identify the name of this pony:

mint green body; lavender mane and tail; pink and white striped ice cream cone symbol

And once you figure out who it is, also answer the following questions about her:

What breed of pony she is--

What year she came out--

If she was ever featured in the MLP cartoon series--

What other ponies were in the same series with her--

If you can come up with the name of the pony described and answers to all four questions, please e-mail me at! I'll correct your answers, and if they're all right, you'll be mentioned in the next issue.

Congratulations to the Winner!

Pacifica ( was able to correctly answer all the questions on Sugar Belle, an earth pony from last month's mystery pony-- she was released in 1997; the other ponies in her series are Berry Bright, Petal Blossom, Sky Skimmer, Morning Glory, Clever Clover, and Cupcake; and she was never featured in a cartoon (unfortunately). Congratulations!


Silver Swirl's Chase
by Princess Silver Swirl

Princess Silver Swirl was in her castle tower, looking out one of the many windows. That was nothing new. What was new was the furry shape the unicorn saw on the main roof of Friendship Castle.

"Look, Jade!" she called to her dragon. "Princess Twinkle Star's cat, Cataline, is on the roof. I think she can't get down."

Jade fluttered over to see, and then looked at Silver Swirl. What are you going to do about it? the little dragon asked telepathically.

Silver Swirl frowned and considered. Had Cataline been any creature other than a cat, it would have been a simple matter for Silver Swirl to wink onto the roof, pick Cataline up, and wink to safety. However, Silver Swirl was violently allergic to cats. Not the sneezing and nose-blowing kind of allergic; the kind where if she so much as touched a cat she would break out in awful rashes. Not wanting to go through that horrible experience again, Silver Swirl came up with an alternate plan.

"I'll just tell Twinkle Star that Cataline's up there. Then Twinkle Star can fly up and get her." Silver Swirl nodded in satisfaction and winked to Twinkle Star's room.

When she materialized there, the only living creature in the room was herself. Sighing, Silver Swirl trotted over to the room next door-- Princess Trixiebelle's room.

"Hi, Silver Swirl," said the jester. "You're here just in time. I need more funny songs. Could you teach me one?"

"Hmm," said Silver Swirl. "Do you know the ‘Pigs in a Tree' one?"

Trixiebelle nodded.

"Hmm... how about this one?" Silver Swirl went on to recite, "Oh, I went to Cincinnati and I walked around the block,

"And I walked right into a bakery shop,

"And I picked up a doughnut and I wiped off the grease,

"And I handed the lady a five-cent piece.

"Well, she looked at the nickel and she looked at me

"And she said, ‘Hey pony you can plainly see

"There's a hole in the nickel; there's a hole right through!'

"Said I: ‘There's a hole in the doughnut too!' "

Trixiebelle laughed. "That's great! Now, what was it you came about?"

"I need to find Twinkle Star," explained Silver Swirl.

"Oh," said Trixiebelle. "She left to visit the Bushwoolies this morning."

Silver Swirl quickly thanked the jester and winked to the Bushwoolie holes. Lots of Bushwoolies were rushing around in the grassy meadow and the air was filled with excited chatter.

Eager noticed Silver Swirl and scurried over to her. "Silver Swirl!" he exclaimed. "We need your help; yes we do."

"Sure, I'll help you," Silver Swirl agreed. "What do you need?"

"Well," explained Eager, "there's a big baseball game coming up and we Bushwoolies wanted to cheer for it. But we can't make the pyramid part work."

"I'll see what I can do," promised the unicorn. "First, gather up ten Bushwoolies-- four really big ones, three medium-sized ones, two small ones, and one tiny one."

Eager rounded up the required participants, and Silver Swirl showed them how to balance on each other's backs. After a few rounds of practice, the Bushwoolies managed to make a pyramid that didn't fall down. Eager was full of thanks.

"No problem," said Silver Swirl. "Have you seen Princess Twinkle Star?"

The Bushwoolies said that they had. "But she left to take Jolly and Mirthful to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe," added Wishful.

"Oh, thanks, guys!" exclaimed Silver Swirl, and winked away.

"But, Wishful," Cheery protested, "that was hours ago!"

"Oops," said Wishful. "I wish I had a better memory."

Silver Swirl winced when she winked into the Satin Slipper Sweet Shop. Two baby ponies were screaming their lungs out at each other.

"I want the green and pink ones!" yelled Baby Surprise.

"But I want those two! You can have the red and purple ones!" retorted Baby Glory.

"The red and purple ones are ugly! You take them!"

The two youngsters were sitting at a table with Tall Tales, whom Silver Swirl trotted up to. "What happened?"

"I'm baby-sitting them," the other pony explained. "I got four ribbons for them so they could each have two, but they both want the same two."

"Well... I remember something I read in a book that might work. Let me talk to them," Silver Swirl replied. She approached the two antagonists.

"Hey guys, I think we can solve this problem of yours."

"How?" asked Baby Glory sullenly.

"Well, how about this: Baby Glory will divide the ribbons into two groups. Then Baby Surprise will decide who gets which group. Does that sound fair?"

Both youngsters considered for a moment and reluctantly decided that it was fair. Baby Glory ended up with the red and pink ribbons and Baby Surprise with the purple and green. When the problem was settled, Silver Swirl went to talk to Scoops.

The busy store owner said that Twinkle Star had brought the Bushwoolies to the shop, and then she had left for the Pokèmon Center.

Silver Swirl sighed and winked to the Pokèmon Center. She arrived and looked around for Twinkle Star. She didn't see the other Princess, but she did spot Twinkle Star's friend, Dazzle Glow.

"Hi, Dazzle Glow," she greeted the other pony.

"Hi," Dazzle Glow replied sadly.

"What's wrong?" asked Silver Swirl.

"Well, it's my Catterpie's first battle today, against a Nidoran. I'm kind of worried that it might be too much for him; but if I cancel the battle, it'll look like me and Catterpie are both wimps," Dazzle Glow sighed.

Silver Swirl thought about this. "Well, if you really think it's too much for him, you shouldn't force him, especially if it's his first battle. On the other hand, you can't hold him back forever-- he has to get experience sometime. Maybe you should talk to the Nidoran's trainer about it."

"You're right-- I'm not going to put Catterpie in danger just to look good. I'll ask Nidoran's trainer to have Nidoran go easy on Catterpie. Thanks so much for the advice! How many Pokèmon do you have?" Dazzle Glow questioned.

"Actually," replied Silver Swirl, "I don't have any."

"You don't have any?" Dazzle Glow sounded astonished. "Hey, how would you like a Mew?"

Now it was Silver Swirl's turn to be surprised. She knew that Mews were rare and therefore valuable. They were certainly cute, though, she reflected. And it would be nice to have her own Pokèmon. "You really wouldn't mind giving it up?" Silver Swirl inquired.

"Not at all, especially since you were so nice to me. Here." Dazzle Glow fished a PokèBall out of her bag and handed it to Silver Swirl. "I know you'll take good care of her."

Silver Swirl thanked Dazzle Glow and asked, for the fourth time, the whereabouts of Princess Twinkle Star.

"Oh, she was here," the other pony affirmed. "She left a few hours ago."

"Did she say where she was going?" asked Silver Swirl.

"Nope," replied Dazzle Glow.

Silver Swirl moaned and winked back to her tower in Friendship Castle. She looked out the window, expecting to see Cataline. To her surprise, the cat wasn't there. "What happened to Cataline?" she asked Jade.

Twinkle Star came and got her, the dragon replied casually.

"What? You mean all of this searching was for nothing?" Silver Swirl almost shrieked.

Jade shrugged and asked what was in the ball. Silver Swirl remembered the Mew and opened the PokèBall. A lovely, cat-like creature popped out.

Silver Swirl spent the next ten minutes getting to know the Mew, whose name was Melisande. As she talked to her new friend, she thought of everyone she'd helped, and concluded that the day hadn't been wasted after all.


Life According To Applejack
Story One: Poetry Schmoetry
by Applejack

As the clock got closer to noon, my mind got farther away from my literature book and Miss DePony's lecture on Emily Dickenson. Boy, she's boring, I thought. Daydreams of sun, sand, and waves fogged my head, blocking basically eveything Miss DePony was trying to say to me.

But can you blame me? I'm in summer school, for Pete's sake! Well, I should have been paying more attention in English class during the school year... maybe I would've passed instead of the whopping fifty-seven average I had in English last year.

"Ahhh, Miss Applejack, you look like you're riveted by this lecture," Miss DePony said, and I swear by the freckles on my cheeks she smirked at me. She doesn't like me too much. I sat up very quickly very straight.

"When was Emily Dickenson born?" Miss DePony continued.

I sat up even straighter, fishing my brain; I came up empty and I just stared directly in front of me. "I-- I'm sorry; I don't recall, Miss DePony..." I said, defeated, my humble ego deflated.

"Applejack, you never recall; you haven't payed attention since the day you walked in here. You prove it to me by the sunglasses you're wearing," Miss DePony said degradingly.

Okay, I'll give her that I was wearing sunglasses. I should have taken them off when I got to class; I forgot to. My head was so cloudy I couldn't take it anymore. It's tough to be a fifteen-year-old pony...

I took the sunglasses off and put my reading glasses on-- gosh, I loathed these things. I looked over at Salty's book and turned to the correct page. I was afraid to continue daydreaming, so I payed attention. It didn't improve my opinion on poems, though. See, I couldn't write very well. That's one of the reasons I failed English class the first time around.

Miss DePony then said something that made me want to scream. "You will have an assignment that will count for two-thirds of your grade in this summer class. If you fail this, you will fail this class and consequently re-take it next year."

My ears perked up and I dreaded what she'd say next. "I want you to write a poem about how you feel about the world around you. Make it very personal."

I sighed and wondered how I'd get through this with a passing grade. I didn't go to the beach or park that day; I went to my room and tried to write things; nothing would come. Anything I did write was either corny or cliche.

"O-o-o-o-o-o-o-oh! Poetry schmoetry!" I threw my pad of paper on the floor and flopped on my bed. I buried my head in my hooves and fell asleep.

* * *
I don't know how long I slept or why I'd even fallen asleep. I wasn't tired. I opened my eyes, and the house was quiet; everyone else was asleep, I guessed. I looked out my window at Dream Valley. In the distance, at Dream Castle, I saw a single light on.

Now, don't ask me why I did this, because I just don't know. I quietly snuck out of the house and trotted towards Dream Castle.

The drawbridge lowered when I arrived and I saw a younger male pony come out. "Hello. May I ask if you're okay, miss?" the young stallion said.

To tell you the truth, I was struck by how pretty his eyes were and I stumbled on my words. "I... uhh... yes, I'm fine," I stammered .

He smiled shyly and almost giggled at my answer. "Nice to meet you; I'm Prince Chandler. Please call me Chandler. I don't like being addressed as royalty. It makes me feel higher than everyone else, and I'm not."

"My name is Applejack." I tried to say that as coolly as I could, but it came out sounding sheepish.

"It's a pleasure, Applejack." Chandler smiled again .

"I... uhh... uhh... I'm sorry to bother you at this hour of night. I saw a light on over here and I walked over. I'm... I'm not a strange stalker, Prince Chandler, or anything," I said, jumping and tripping over every word I uttered.

"Forget the royalty thing. You didn't bother me; I was in my chamber writing a bit of poetry."

"Oh, I'm terrible at poetry."

"No one is. They just don't realize they're good. I can help you, if you would fancy a lesson."

"Okay," I answered in a small voice that I didn't recognize.

"Here follow me, my lady. We will unlock your poetic talent even if it tires me terribly."

He led me up to a large room, plushly furnished. There was a big desk next to the window. "Sit and tell me how you feel," he instructed.

"Depressed, frustrated," I started. "See, Chandler, I have to write a poem for summer school."

"Write what you feel... it doesn't have to rhyme or make sense. If it's comes from your heart, it's good."

A surge ran through me from mane to tail and I wrote. The words suddenly scribbled down on the paper surprised me, and I smiled at Chandler.

He smiled, too, and said, "See... you are a poet. Give yourself time and credit. But my dear new friend, it's three o' clock in the morning, and you need rest."

I didn't have anything better to give him, so I turned my head and undid the shiny blue ribbon in my tail and laid it down on the desk with my mouth. Chandler smiled and I began to leave.

I didn't get any farther than the drawbridge when I felt the effects of it being three in the morning while being out and about. I basically collapsed under a tree and slept.

* * *
In the morning, I awoke in my room with my poem in my mouth and a note next to me. "Applejack, the royal maids found you under that tree and we took you to town and found your mother combing the streets for you. We gave you and your mom a ride home," the note from Prince Chandler read.

I handed the poem I wrote that night into Miss DePony the next morning. I got a C. Yes, I know that's not great; but, hey, I might pass English now. I owe much more than a ribbon to Chandler for his advice; and when I'm done with the poem I'm writing him, I'll go back to Dream Castle.

Author's note-- Okay, guys, that's my best attempt at a story in a while. If you have any suggestions, comments, criticisms, or whatever PLEASE e-mail me at Also, anyone who reads this... could you give me an opinion on whether I should continue this li'l series or not. Thanks!! --Applejack


Moondancer's Sister
Part 2
By Windy

Moondancer sighed. Her sister, Sundancer, had come to visit her in Dream Valley from the United States. And Moondancer thought her sister would be a pain.

Why did I allow her to come? thought Moondancer as she worked on making a pancake for breakfast. I would have been better off with nobody!

Just then, Sundancer came down the stairs. "Hello!" she said. "I forgot to tell you last night, I--"

"You've found a nice boyfriend, good, good," said Moondancer. "So, just have breakfast."

Sundancer made a face at her twin sister. "Okay, Moondancer," she replied.

"It's LADY Moondancer, got it?" said Moondancer as she finished the first pancake.

"Oooh! Pancakes! My favorite!" Sundancer exclaimed happily.

"Well, I decided that your visit here was something was special, so I thought pancakes would be a nice change," said Moondancer, half-sarcastically.

"Oh, goody-goody gumdrops! I knew you had some heart!" squealed Sundancer.
"Hmm..." mumbled the white unicorn.

"Anyway, I want to go shopping. What's the currency in Ponyland?" asked Sundancer.

Moondancer sighed. She knew she'd have to cough up some money for Sundancer. "Jangles," she said to her sister.

" ‘Kay," said Sundancer. "Can you give me some? I haven't converted my dollars over to jangles yet."

"All right-- here are seven jangles. Don't waste them!" said Moondancer.

"Ooooh, goody!" said Sundancer. "Well, thank you, and so... bye-bye for the time being!"

Moondancer knew Sundancer was bound to try to find more friends. She also knew that Sundancer was also bound to buy or rent a house... sometime. So, she decided to play with Peanuts, her black, tan, and white guinea pig. Moondancer was glad he was kept in her room. Sundancer was afraid of guinea pigs.

Moondancer watched Peanuts run around in his wheel and nibble at the pellets in his food dish. He wiggled his nose at Moondancer. That made the white unicorn giggle. She thought he was just so cute!

The hamster scampered about his cage for a while, then he settled down in the tissue paper and rags bed that Moondancer had made for him. He went to sleep, so Moondancer let him be and went to find her friend, Berry Bright.

Moondancer found Berry Bright sniffing a flower in one of the meadows in Dream Valley. "Hey, BB!" she called out to Berry Bright.

The Friendship Gardens pony lifted up her head-- her nose was yellow with pollen-- and kicked up her heels. "Hi, Lady Moondancer!" she said, trotting towards Moondancer. "May I call you LM?"

"Well..." said Moondancer. "Okay."

"Oh, good!" shouted Berry Bright in her loud, happy voice. "I want to play hide-and-go-seek; do you?"

"Sssh! Anybody could hear you for fifteen miles around!" hissed Moondancer.

"Uh, oops," said Berry Bright. "I lost track of myself..."

The two ponies talked and played until Moondancer saw Sundancer merrily trotting up to her from around a rose bush. "Umm-- bye, BB," she said quickly, and abruptly winked out.

To be continued...


Windy's Pokèmon Trip
by Windy

"AAAA!! AAAA!!! TOILET!!!" Windy screeched as she raced towards her bathroom. Alakazam-- who sitting on the couch and watching TV-- and Zubat-- who was chasing a moth-- both well knew their trainer's habit of screaming that she needed to go to the bathroom like she was going to die if she didn't. Alakazam just held out the remote control and changed the channel.

When Windy came out of the bathroom, she walked towards the kitchen. "Lunchtime!" she announced to her Pokèmon.

There was a loud shuffling as Alakazam, Zubat, Onix (he was out in the garden), and other Pokèmon came to the kitchen (although Onix just stuck his head in through the window). Alakazam climbed up onto the counter and sat down, and Zubat perched on Windy's shoulder screeching, "Screee! Screee! Zubat!" Pikachu stood at Windy's feet and begged for some onion bulbs.

After lunch, Windy went outside with Alakazam. "First, Alakazam, we look for Pokèmon with MT and Tabs. Come on!" Alakazam jumped onto her shoulders and rode piggyback while Windy went to meet Tabby and Merry Treat.

"Tabby?" Windy opened Tabby's door.

"Yup?" Tabby answered, sharing a can of cherry pie filling with Tarquin. "What's up?"

"Nothing, we're just going on a field trip with MT," Windy replied, and stepped in.

"Hi, Alakazam!" said Tarquin.

"Alakazam," Alakazam replied. Then he hopped off Windy's shoulders and climbed up onto a chair to get some cherry pie filling from Tarquin.

"I'm going to do some exploring-- maybe the Purple Mountains, maybe the Dark Forest-- for Pokèmon," Windy told Tabby as soon as she was seated. "Mainly for a Meowth."

"Hmm... that sounds okay," said Tabby, and gulped down her cherry pie filling.

"Then we'll go somewhere else to find Pokèmon. Our goal--" Windy began.

"Our goal is to catch ‘em all!" Tabby interrupted energetically.

"Fine. Afterwards, we'll go back home and party with out new Pokèmon," Windy ended.

"Parties! I love parties," Tarquin said dreamily. "Especially if Tess is there..."

"Ala. Kazam," Alakazam agreed.

"We'll have soda, and perhaps a little music, battling--"

"Battling? At a party?" said Tabby.

"Well... if you don't like that, just erase the battling idea, please," Windy said sheepishly.

Tabby looked as though she wanted to whack the lavender unicorn over the head. "Alakazaaaam..." Alakazam droned.

After Merry Treat was rounded up, the three ponies and three Pokèmon (Tabby's Meowth, Tarquin; Windy's Alakazam; and Merry Treat's Meowth, Tess) went to the Dark Forest. "I don't like it here, Tarquin," said Tess, clinging onto him.

"It's okay," said Tarquin.

"Alakazam, stop pulling my hair!" Windy whined as Alakazam sat on her mane while riding piggyback again.

"Ya know, it's actually kinda hard to find Pokèmon..." Merry Treat said to herself.

"It is? I think I just saw..." Windy began.

But then Tabby exploded, "Look! It's a Machop!" Merry Treat and Windy both stared at the little grey Pokèmon, who was currently running away from them.

"Catch it! GET it!" Tabby shouted.

" ‘Kay! Tess, go!" Merry Treat shouted.

"Right!" Tess replied as she jumped towards the Machop. It dodged, and Tess went sailing right into a tree.

Tarquin ran right after Tess. "Tess! Are you okay?" he asked.

Then Windy remembered she had her Starmie along with her, who she frequently used for battling. "Starmie, go!" she yelled, tossing her PokèBall into the air. The purple star-shaped Pokèmon emerged. "Starmie, Water Gun!" Starmie shot jets of water at the Machop. It stumbled backwards, but wasn't seriously hurt.

"Darn..." Windy growled.

"Tess, scratch him! Scratch him!" Merry Treat shouted. Tess, a little dizzy, slowly approached the Machop, who was getting up.

"No, Tess! Let me do it!" Tarquin yelled at Tess.

"Okay..." said Tess as Tarquin shot past her.

After about a minute of battling, Tarquin had pinned down the Machop. "Tarquin, I'm going to catch it now. It'll be stuffy inside the PokèBall if you don't get off him," Windy told the Meowth.

"Okay," said Tarquin. He moved aside. Windy threw an empty PokèBall at Machop. It engulfed him, and he was caught.

"Great!" said Windy. "That's one. Where should we go next?"

"Um... can I have the Machop? Tarquin battled him so you could catch him! He should be mine," said Tabby.

"Hmph. But I got him in my PokèBall," Windy replied.

"Oh, let's not make an argument of it. Let's go farther into the Dark Forest!" said Tess boldly, pushing Tabby away from Windy.

"Okay," said Merry Treat, Windy, and Tabby all in one voice.

"Look! What's that?" asked Windy after they had walked on for five minutes.

"A black squirrel," Tabby replied without looking.

"Nope. It's too small and round for that," said Merry Treat.

"To me, it looks like a caterpillar, all rolled up" said Tabby, after taking a quick look.

"It's a Venonat!" Windy shouted.

"Cool!" said Tabby.

"Tess, this time you go an' catch it, okay?" Merry Treat asked her Pokèmon.

"Fine with me," said Tess.

"Beware, Venonat is bug-poison type!" Windy warned the Meowth as she came closer to the Venonat. (Windy's Alakazam had fallen asleep and was snoring.)

"Quick! Scratch it!" Merry Treat called. Tabby jumped up and down excitedly.

Tess gave the Venonat a deep scratch after jumping on it. Suddenly, she hopped off, quite startled and hurt. "Ouch! Poison!" she screamed.

"Tess!" Tarquin shouted, and ran to her aid.

"Darn," said Windy. "Starmie has to Water Gun again" She threw Starmie at the Venonat. "Starmie, Water Gun again!" Windy told her Starmie. Starmie shot a jet of water at the Venonat. It fell backwards.

"Good! But this time, I get it!" said Tabby. She threw her PokèBall at the black bug-poison Pokèmon. The ball glowed, then stopped shining as it rolled on the ground. "Wahoo! Another one!" said Tabby excitedly.

"MT!" said Tarquin sadly, and put a fainted Tess down.

"Oh, poor Meowth!" Merry Treat gasped, and cuddled Tess.

"She's been poisoned," said Tarquin. "We have to get home!"

"Hmm... Tess, you're going into a PokèBall." said Merry Treat softly as she put Tess into a PokèBall.

On their way to the Dream Valley Pokèmon Center (where Tabby happened to be head nurse), Windy caught a wild Hypno using Alakazam, a Meowth using Hypno, and a Caterpie using Starmie. Tabby caught a Pikachu using Tarquin, and also a Squirtle (with the help of Alakazam). Merry Treat didn't catch anything (she was busy watching Tess and checking her all over to see how badly she had been poisoned), although Windy caught an Eevee for her.

"Oh, my poor little Tess..." Merry Treat murmured as Tabby checked her in the center.

"She'll need this daily for eleven weeks," said Tabby, and held up a bottle of greenish liquid.

"What is it?" asked Merry Treat. "I've never seen it before."

"Anti-Poison for Pokèmon. It's new," Tabby replied, and poured a little into a small cup for Tess (who was awake by now). "Almost as good as my old magic injections, only it doesn't work near as fast."

Windy's Meowth (whose name turned out to be Tsunami) was having his turn riding piggyback on Windy (Alakazam was perched on the counter). "What happened to her?" Tsunami asked.

"She was poisoned," Windy replied.

"Oh," said Tsunami.

During the following week Alakazam and Hypno became friends and Onix learned to dig out moles from ponies gardens. And Windy (with the help of Clever Clover, or CC, as she called him) caught a Farfetch'd who seemed to hate her.


The Windy and Raspberry Jam Gossip Hour!
by Windy

Windy: So, RJ, whatcha got up your sleeve today?

Raspberry Jam: Can you call me Raspberry Jam?

Windy: No.

Raspberry Jam: *sighs* Fine. What is there to talk about?

Windy: The song I made up to the tune of ‘George of the Jungle' theme song! The words are... *begins to sing* Pikapika of the Jungle, strong as he can be! Pikaaaaaaa! Watch out for that Persian, watch out for that--

Raspberry Jam: Oh, stop it. Did you know that my peach jam won first prize at Boysenberry Pie's Kitchen Contest?

Windy: Eeeeeeeww...

Raspberry Jam: ...and that my petunias won third prize at Posey's garden show...

Windy: *whistles*

Raspberry Jam: ...and that my skill in making jam and jelly made me win at Boysenberry Pie's Kitchen Contest? *rambles on and on*

Windy: Yup, yup, you said that.

Raspberry Jam: Did I?

Windy: We have a special guest today.

Raspberry Jam: Oh, goody! Who is it?

Windy: *grins idiotically* You're never gonna guess...

Raspberry Jam: Pleeeease tell me!

Windy: It's Blade!

Raspberry Jam: Blade? That pegasus who's afraid of heights?

Windy: Uh-huh.

Raspberry Jam: No-o-o-o! You couldn't invite him!

Windy: I'm the owner of this show, so stop whining.


Windy: *whispers to RJ* He tripped on my sock.

Raspberry Jam: He did?


Windy: Not right now. Anyway, did you know we're on the radio?

Blade: We are? AAAAAA!

Windy: Oh, stop it.

Raspberry Jam: He could have tripped on Tsunami's tail.

Windy: Nah.


Windy: *grimaces* Tsunami is just the name of my cat-- Pokèmon, actually.

Blade: *sweatdrops* Oh, that's good.

Windy: Anyway, what's it like being a mascot for Sparkler?

Blade: Horrible. You're always being photographed, you have to be drawn, you have to dress up in fancy clothes...

Raspberry Jam: *giggles* Sounds like you're under pressure!

Blade: What does that mean?

Raspberry Jam: Oh, forget it. Um... next guest?

Windy: What do you mean? Blade's our guest for today.

Blade: I'm hungry.

Windy: Sorry, we aren't running a restaurant.

Blade: YEEEK! WHAT'S THAT! *points at Tsunami, Windy's Meowth, who has just come in* Bye! *speeds out the door*

Tsunami: What is up with that guy?

Windy: I don't know.

Raspberry Jam: I have to go now. Bye!

Windy: See ya!

Tsunami: Leaving so soon? Okay. Bye!


The Evil Dragon
Part Four
by Princess Dawn

As the ponies gathered around the tall spruce tree, Atlas read the message inscribed on the trunk: "When you say these words you may continue your voyage-- I call all magic to transport us to our destiny." Atlas turned around, his friends staring at him.

"What!? The map didn't say anything about magic! I hate magic!" Salty exclaimed, recalling some horrible memory.

"I suppose we should say it all together to make it work," Locket suggested.

"Who said we're going to make it work!?" Salty cried. He was still ignored, and mumbled to himself, "Well, if they won't listen to me, I suppose I'll have to go along with them."

So the ponies and company recited the verse; as soon as they finished, there was a whirling of loose dirt and the group found themselves looking into a hole in the ground. It wasn't a dirty little hole, but a well furnished Hobbit hole.

Suddenly, a small Hobbit stood up out of it. "Hullo! What do we have here?" He motioned for another Hobbit to stand.

"Oh, what pretty little things, though I never saw anything like them," the second Hobbit said, suddenly gasping. "Sam, do you suppose they're spies for the dragon?"

Opal Dreams just laughed. "Why, of course not, you silly little things."

The Hobbit earlier mentioned as "Sam" gasped. "Do you all talk?" The ponies nodded.

"In that case, are you spies?" the still unidentified Hobbit asked.

"No," answered Opal Dreams. "We are traveling with Beauty Bloom and Atlas, who were chosen to help stop an evil dragon from taking over Ponyland; but apparently other places, too, as you mention a dragon here as well!!"

"Well, then," the unidentified Hobbit said. "I am Meriadoc Brandybuck, and this is my friend, Samwise Gamgee; but you may call us Merry and Sam," he said, smiling broadly.

Opal Dreams replied, "I am Opal Dreams, and this is Beauty Bloom." She pulled Beauty Bloom forward. Pointing to the rest of the group, she finished, "...and my other friends are Atlas, Locket, Salty, Brave Heart Lion, Digger, Prime, and Northstar."

"Would you join us to tea?" Merry asked.

"Certainly," Brave Heart answered for all of them, never wanting to miss a good meal.

The group sat down while Opal Dreams told the two Hobbits of their journey. Once she finished, Merry said, "What do you intend to do here? Your map doesn't show our country."

"I'm not quite sure, but we must be here for something. I suppose we should be going now," Opal Dreams said, heading towards the door with her friends.

"Wait!" Sam exclaimed. "Could I please join you? I'm a good carpenter and hunter." His face was the picture of anxiety.

"Well, I'm not sure," Beauty Bloom began.

"Of course you can!" Opal Dreams said

"Oh, all right," Beauty Bloom grudgingly agreed.

Suddenly, the group of (now) ten was swept back to the woods where they came from. "Hullo! Where am I?" Sam asked, rubbing his eyes.

"You're in the woods of Ponyland," Atlas said.

"Where are we supposed to go now?" Opal Dreams said, sitting down on a fallen log.

Beauty Bloom gasped, holding up the map-- or what was left of it. "Part of it's missing; it must have been torn off while we were in that weird sand cloud."

Suddenly, the group of ten started to panic seeing the part of the map they had was where they had just came from, which would not help them continue on to find the dragon's lair.

"Oh, no!"

"We'll never find the dragon now!"

"Ponyland is going to be taken over!"

Sam finally shouted, "Be quiet and stop acting like a bunch of idiots; God must have willed the half of the map be torn off. There is probably some clues or a riddle for us to find in our surroundings."

"Sam's right," Salty said. "God isn't stupid; He wouldn't send us on a wild goose chase. I say we sleep on it; in the morning, we will be refreshed and will be able to think clearly."

So, Sam built a tent and volunteered to be on first watch. After a couple of minutes Sam was tired; it was as if the woods had cast a spell on the wearied group. He fell asleep.

To be continued. Send your comments or criticism to


Silver Swirl, Unipeg?
by Princess Silver Swirl

"He-e-e-e-elp!" a voice screamed. Princess Silver Swirl looked down from the trees she had been examining and gazed around the forest for the source of the voice. In a moment, the source went running past her as it continued to scream.

The voice belonged to a small, pig-like creature who was being pursued be a large Rhydon. Concerned for the helpless being, Silver Swirl winked in front of the Rhydon and spoke in the most authoritative voice she could muster. "What do you think you're doing?" she demanded of the Rhydon, who halted and gazed at her. "This is Queen Sun Sparkle's land, and by law you have no right to be persecuting its citizens!"

Silver Swirl wasn't sure if the Pokèmon could understand her, but she continued anyway. "Since this is a first offense, I'll go easy with you. Leave the premises and do not return until you've learned better manners."

The creature stared at her for a moment, then lumbered away. Silver Swirl breathed a sigh of relief. "Pony?" a voice said. Silver Swirl turned around to see the pig-like creature, who had apparently been hiding behind a tree during Silver Swirl's confrontation with the Rhydon.

"My name's Silver Swirl," the unicorn smiled, not mentioning her royal status; others were often nervous when they found out that they were speaking to a princess.

"Silver Swirl?" the creature mused. "Nice name. You may call me Wissp."

"Pleased to meet you, Wissp," replied Silver Swirl, curtseying.

"I think you may have saved my life," said Wissp rather casually. "You deserve a reward." Silver Swirl started to protest, but Wissp took no notice. "What should I give you? Oh, I know." She closed her eyes and then opened them. "There. Enjoy, and if you have any problems, come back here and stamp each of your hooves thrice."

Silver Swirl blinked, and when she reopened her eyes, Wissp was gone. After looking around for the strange creature, she shrugged-- and felt something strange on her back. She craned her head around to see what it was and gasped. On her back were two delicate, shimmering silver wings. It took a moment for the implications of this to sink in. She, Silver Swirl, was now a Unipeg, a creature out of legends!

Silver Swirl flew back to Friendship Castle. It was difficult, but exhilarating. The wind whistled past her, and she felt like she was in another world. She flew into her tower room and landed rather regretfully.

Jade the dragon and Melisande the Mew stopped their conversation to stare at Silver Swirl. What happened? they asked at the same time, Melisande in Mew-speech and Jade telepathically.

"I saved a piggy-thing and she gave me wings as a reward!" Silver Swirl explained. "Wings, wings, wings!" she sang from pure joy, composing a song:

"Look at me, I can fly,

"Hear the wind whistle by,

"And I feel like I'm lighter than air!

"I can glide, I can swoop,

"Someday I'll loop-de-loop,

"And it's almost too much joy to bear!"

Silver Swirl laughed giddily and flew to the window of the living room of Friendship Castle, where the other princesses were gathered. She swept in and landed rather clumsily in the middle of her friends. "Look!" she cried, displaying her wings.

The other ponies gathered around Silver Swirl while she explained how she'd gotten her wings. The others made sounds of amazement-- except for Princess Twinkle Star, who said nothing. Silver Swirl was so excited that she didn't notice her friend's silence.

The other denizens of Friendship Castle called their friends, relatives, and folks they wanted to impress, telling them about the new resident Unipeg. It didn't take long for the news to spread, and Silver Swirl was soon swamped with requests.

On Monday, Silver Swirl hosted a football game. She had never known or cared anything about football, but the audience was thrilled anyway-- some paid more attention to the Unipeg than to the game.

Silver Swirl was asked to visit a daycare center on Tuesday. She signed autographs until her hoof hurt, and gave rides to about twenty baby ponies, enduring mane-pulling and incessant giggling.

She was exhausted when she was finished, and having the crowds gape at her before she winked back to the castle was just as bad. Many ponies in the crowd were ones she had met and talked to before, but they looked at her as if she were a stranger.

Princess Ivy insisted that Silver Swirl accompany her to the mall on Wednesday. Silver Swirl would have rather spent some time with Jade and Melisande, the only ones in the castle who treated her the same way they had before, but she didn't want to hurt Princess Ivy's feelings. Later, she wished she hadn't been so sensitive-- the mall was teeming with curious ponies wanting autographs, photographs, and various other favors.

The noise and body heat from all the onlookers made Silver Swirl feel ill. After signing twenty-seven autographs, smiling until her face hurt, and agreeing to several requests, she winked back to her tower and spent the rest of the day wishing for peace and quiet.

On Thursday, Silver Swirl took a walk in the forest only to find tons of unicorns and pegasi wanting to know exactly how she had become a Unipeg. Silver Swirl told them every detail she could think of, but they didn't leave afterwards-- they stayed in the hope of meeting Wissp.

When Silver Swirl flew back to the castle, she found several reporters waiting for her. They looked so hopeful that Silver Swirl agreed to a "short" interview, which turned out to be three hours long. When the reporters were finally persuaded to leave, Silver Swirl went to practice her flying skills. It was fun, but she couldn't really put her heart in it-- she was too busy thinking of ways to avoid the multitudes of ponies that wanted her time.

The next morning, Silver Swirl started flying to the Bushwoolie holes. If anyone would treat her normally, it would be the Bushwoolies. On the way, however, two pegasi spotted her and pulled her down to the ground. One of them produced a list of events at which they wanted her presence.

Silver Swirl agreed to go sing at a fund-raiser for needy ponies, since she was good at singing and wanted to help. She then flew back to the castle, abandoning her earlier plan. She knew a place where no one could bother her.

The next day, Friday, Silver Swirl sang at the fund-raiser. She concentrated on the music, not on the crowd. When she finished, the audience cheered; but Silver Swirl didn't find much pleasure in it. Were they cheering because she had a beautiful voice, or because she was a Unipeg?

On Saturday, Silver Swirl made up her mind. She winked to the forest and stamped each of her hooves thrice. Wissp appeared and looked at Silver Swirl questioningly.

"Hello, Wissp," Silver Swirl sighed. "I've been having some problems. I've become famous, and it's awful! Everyone acts like I'm a stranger, even my friends. They never leave me alone. Oh, Wissp, your gift is wonderful, and I love flying; but I don't think this world is ready for a Unipeg. Please... please take the wings back."

Wissp nodded and blinked. Then the wings were gone, and so was Wissp. Silver Swirl felt bare, and her mind burned with a question. Had she made the right choice?

Back at her tower, Silver Swirl tried to think about other things. She paced back and forth before the window she had so often flown through. Out of the force of habit, she hopped out the window!

For one awful moment, Silver Swirl thought she was going to die. Then she realized that she wasn't falling-- she was flying! She looked at her wingless back and laughed. "I asked Wissp to take the wings back, and she did! She just left me the power of flight!" Silver Swirl felt her heart soaring as high as her body.

When the other ponies found out about Silver Swirl's choice, they frowned and shook their heads-- except for Twinkle Star. Twinkle Star smiled at her friend and offered to teach her how to loop-de-loop.


The Music of That Night
by Masquarade

Masquerade and her friends rushed gleefully out of the theater. "I can't believe this! He's really coming!" she exclaimed.

The group neighed gleefully at the thought. "He" was Phantom, a unicorn/pegasus mix who was famous for his many theatre roles. He was not only a brilliant actor, but a marvelous singer as well.

Masquerade and her friends, Speedy and Bouquet, just adored him and dreamed that they'd one day see him in person. Masquerade had even talked her friends into joining Phantom's fan club.

"What am I going to wear?" squealed fashion-crazed Bouquet.

"Knowing you, it'll be something new from Button's Boutique," joked Speedy.

"Ooh, great idea! Why don't we go there now?"

"But the concert is two months away," said Masquerade.

"I know, but it doesn't hurt to prepare early," Bouquet answered. So, off the three went to the boutique for a browse.

On their way there, they bumped into Slugger, 4-Speed and Bangles (Buttons' twin sister). "Hey, why are you three in such a big hurry?" asked Slugger.

"Phantom is doing a concert in Ponyland and we're off to the boutique to get ready for it," informed Bouquet.

Slugger turned to Masquerade. "Phantom? Isn't he the one you traveled to Grand City to see? Hey, do you think he'll actually show up this time?" he asked.

"Yes, it's him; and yes, he'll perform," said Masquerade. Slugger was talking about the time that Masquerade had spent her entire savings and flew across the country to see a musical that Phantom was in. Unfortunately, though, just before Masquerade's arrival, Phantom had been seriously injured in a stunt that went wrong during the show. Poor Masquerade cried her eyes out when she found out that Phantom wouldn't be able to continue in the show. In fact, this coming concert would be Phantom's first performance since his accident two years earlier.

"Well, you three must be thrilled," said Bangles. "Hey, 4-Speed, how about you and I going together?"

"Ack! No way am I going to that! I don't care at all for those mushy old songs he sings," 4-Speed said.

Slugger nodded in agreement with his friend; as far as he was concerned, that kind of music was strictly for girls.

"That's alright, Bangles; you can come with us. We can get good seats through the fan club," said Speedy.

"Yeah, the more the merrier," Bouquet chimed in.

"Sure. It sounds like fun," said Bangles. Then she joined the other three mares, and they all went to the boutique.

* * *
A month later, an excited Masquerade rushed to meet her friends at the sweet shop. She'd just received an envelope from the fan club that contained their concert tickets. "Oh, I'm so-o-o-o-o nervous. I hope the seats are good," Masquerade said shakily.

"Yes, me too. I'm so nervous, I've been chewing my hooves. Just look at my hoof polish!" Bouquet said.

Masquerade opened the envelope and whipped out the tickets for a look. "Oh, my!!"

"What? What? I wanna see!" Speedy yelled excitedly.

"We're in the second row, in the center section!" Masquerade announced.

With that, the four friends started jumping up and down, screaming for joy. They toned down their reaction a bit, though, when they noticed the odd looks they were getting from customers watching them. "How in the world am I going to make it through another month of waiting for the show?" Masquerade wearily asked.

"Just keep yourself busy," said Bangles.

"Yeah, you can help me wallpaper my apartment," added Speedy.

"Um, thanks, but I'm about the last pony you'd want to help you with wallpaper. It's not my area of expertise," Masquerade said.

"Yeah, you should see the mess she made at her mother's when... oops..." Bouquet stopped mid-sentence when she noticed Masquerade giving her an angry look.

* * *
As the concert day drew nearer, Masquerade's anticipation grew. She occupied herself during her free time by watching Phantom's movies and listening to his CDs. Sometimes, she'd pretend she was one of the characters in the show and would sing along with Phantom's voice. She never ever sung around her friends; she was much too shy for that. When she was alone, though, she sang her heart out.

Masquerade continued with her daily CD listening right up to concert day. On that afternoon, to Masquerade's horror, Speedy popped in and caught Masquerade singing while she was baking cookies. "Hey you're really good!" Speedy said as she trotted into the kitchen.

"Have you ever heard of knocking?" asked a very embarrassed Masquerade.

"I did. Four times, but you never came to answer."

"Oh, I guess I had the music too loud. Sorry. Please don't tell anyone that you heard me sing."

"Okay, I won't. It really did sound nice, though."

"Yeah, sure Speedy, whatever you say," Masquerade answered as she took her cookies from the oven.

"Well, are you excited?" Speedy said, trying to change the subject.

"Excited? I'm so hyper, I feel like a racehorse bracing against the starting gate. Imagine only three and a half more hours until concert time!" beamed Masquerade.

"So, then, are you ready to go to the pre-concert gathering?" Speedy asked.

Masquerade nodded as she threw off her apron and flew upstairs to finish getting ready.

* * *
Fifteen minutes later, Masquerade and Speedy were meeting up with Bangles, Bouquet, and about fifty other ponies. They were all fan club members and had gathered at Greatwoods Park for a Phantom-fest.

"Hey, this is so neat," said Bangles.

"Yeah, look at all the merchandise tables! I'm glad I stopped at the bank before I came here," Bouquet said as she made a move towards a table of posters.

Just then the color faded from Masquerade's face. "Oh, no! I forgot to pick up something before I came here."

"Well, things won't be in full swing here for about a half-hour. You should have time to get whatever it was you forgot," Speedy said.

Thankfully, Posey's flower shop wasn't too far, so Masquerade soon got there and picked up her forgotten items... a fresh peach-colored rose and a "thank you" card for Phantom. She stopped under a tree near the store so she could write something in the card.

While Masquerade sat pondering what exactly to write, Slugger saw her and asked what she was doing. "Hey, I thought you'd be in the park with those other Phantom freaks," he said, referring to the gathering.

"I was, but I had to pick up something."

"A thank you card? Who's that for?" Slugger asked.

"Phantom," Masquerade answered.

"Phantom? What in the world would you want to give him a thank you card for?" he questioned.

"Well, you remember all those fourteen operations I had on my back?" Masquerade asked. Slugger nodded and the yellow pegasus added, "Those were very hard years for me. I was in a lot of pain and had no way to escape it. Then, one day, I heard Phantom sing and it was the most wonderful sound I ever heard. It totally lifted me out of my depression. Even now, whenever I'm sad, I just pop in one of his CDs and he always cheers me up. In that way, Phantom has helped me through many hard times. Now I just want the chance to say thanks. The problem is, I don't know what to put in the card."

Slugger smiled at Masquerade. "Well, I think you should just put down everything you told me, word for word. So, this Phantom means this much to you. Maybe he's not as bad as I thought," Slugger said, and then he left so Masquerade could finish her card.

Soon enough she was done, and even added a bit about her singing along with his CDs. She thought Phantom might get a laugh out of it. She quickly put the card in its envelope and returned to the gathering, just in time for the potluck supper.

Everyone had brought something they'd prepared, and it made for a wonderful variety. There were a few international ponies that had come for the concert, and they made foods that represented their countries. Everyone had a blast, time flew, and soon it was time to proceed to the theatre. There were many excited whinnies as nearly three thousand ponies stood in line for the concert. When Masquerade and her friends took note of the size of the crowd, they realized just how fortunate they were to have second row seats.

Once inside, Masquerade glanced at her rose and admired it. It was such a rich, creamy peach color and it looked like it had just started opening that day. It's too bad the flower isn't fully opened, she thought to herself.

Just then, the huge crowd pressed in around Masquerade, and she got separated from her friends. So much for admiring her flower. She eventually made her way down the aisles and found her friends wide-eyed, and sitting in the front row. "Hey, you sillies... we're in row two, not one," Masquerade told them.

"We are in row two. Look! There are only around seven seats in the first row, but there's eighteen in row two, so it sort of curves around row one," Speedy explained.

"Oh my! You're right. This is so amazing!!" Masquerade said as she realized that she'd be sitting only six feet from the stage, with no one to block her view (she wasn't a very tall pegasus, and usually couldn't see anything when someone sat in front of her).

Pretty soon, the lights dimmed, and the thirty-piece orchestra moved onto the stage and began the concert overture. Near the end of the piece, the music softened; and then Phantom rushed onto the stage.

The crowd hastened to stand and burst into applause while Masquerade burst into tears. She was so excited that her emotions overtook her as she sat in her seat shaking. Silly! she thought to herself. If you cry like this all night, everything will look blurry. You won't be able to look into Phantom's handsome face! With that thought in mind, she managed to regain her composure, and sat back to enjoy the music of that night.

It was more amazing than she could have imagined, and Phantom surprised her with how funny he could be. During the night, he told the audience a number of stories that had happened to him, and had the crowd roaring in laughter. Masquerade was laughing so hard that she forgot to cry.

At one point during the concert, Masquerade glanced at her rose again and made an interesting discovery. Her flower appeared to be opening up, which was indeed odd, since roses don't bloom at night.

All too soon, though, the concert came to the very last of its twelve songs and all that was left was the encore, which ended up being one of Masquerade's favorites. It was a very emotional song and, mixed with the fact that this would be the last time she'd hear him in person, Masquerade was in tears once more.

As soon as the last notes floated away, the crowd once more rose up in a standing ovation-- the third one that evening! Masquerade jumped up with her rose and card and rushed up to the stage.

Phantom noticed her and came over. He leaned over to collect the her card and rose, which now was remarkably in full bloom, and said "Thank you" in his beautiful, soft British voice.

Masquerade said "Thank you" to him, too; and then he turned to the rest of the crowd, waved, and left the stage.

The lights came back on as Speedy, Bouquet, and Bangles rushed up to Masquerade, all abuzz with chatter. Masquerade was moved beyond words and was once again a sobbing mess. "My knees feel like Jell-o," Masquerade managed to say.

"That's a typical reaction to Phantom," an elegant-looking unicorn said as she passed by Masquerade.

"What's wrong, Masquerade?" asked her friends.

"Oh, nothing. Everything was just so-o-o wonderful. I just can't believe this was all real!" she stammered. Bangles handed the teary-eyed Masquerade a tissue and then they made their way to the exit.

There was one more surprise this evening, though. As they got near the main lobby, they spotted a familiar face. It was Slugger! The four mares rushed up to him and tapped him on the shoulder. When he turned to face them, they were shocked to see that his eyes were red from crying, too.

"You came?" asked Masquerade.

"Well, you got me curious after you told me your story. I decided to get a ticket and see for myself what makes this singer so special," Slugger replied.

"So, what did you think?" asked Speedy anxiously.

"Well, I actually liked him. The way the audience reacted, it was almost like they were hypnotized. You could have heard a pin drop. It was really a wonderful concert, and then that last song came, it just got to me. It was such a sad song," Slugger said as he motioned to his bandana that he'd used as a tissue.

Masquerade was really amused by all this, but was glad that another of her friends had gotten to enjoy the show. At least Slugger wouldn't be pestering about her liking Phantom anymore.

"Hey, Slugger," teased Speedy. "Want to join us at the sweet shop and chat about the concert?"

Slugger shocked them all and said yes.

* * *
Almost a month later, after a long day at work, Masquerade stopped by her mailbox. Inside was a much unwelcome phone bill and a lavender envelope. Masquerade looked at the latter, wondering who it was from since there was no return address on it.

Once inside her home, she plopped down on the couch and opened the mystery envelope. She slipped out a letter and began reading:

Dear Masquerade,

Thank you for your beautiful letter. It's hearing from ponies like you that makes my work worthwhile. I'm delighted that you enjoy my work; I certainly enjoy doing it!

I've enclosed an autographed photo for you, which I hope you enjoy. If not, I hear it makes a good dartboard.

With love,


P.S. About the singing-- I still get scared when I go on stage, and I've been performing for many years. It's perfectly normal. Don't be afraid of using your talents. You never know what could come of it someday!

Masquerade sat in shock. He'd written to her. Phantom had really written to her! It was just a little letter, but still, he'd written! She started crying and hyperventilating as she read the letter over again.

Then she pulled out the photo and stared into the smiling face of Phantom. His charming blue eyes and wavy reddish-brown mane seemed to sparkle. Then she glanced down at the autograph on it:

To Masquerade

With love, Phantom

She smiled to herself and then rushed to the phone to share her happiness with her friends. After a particularly hard week, Phantom had once again cheered her up!

The End

Author's note-- Believe it or not, everything in this story (except for "Slugger" coming to the concert) really did happen. In fact, there are other things that really happened that I left out (like the tornadoes four hours before the concert) because you'd probably think it was too farfetched! Can any of you guess who "Phantom" really is? You can send answers to Masquerade at


Silver Swirl on the Case
by Princess Silver Swirl

Princess Silver Swirl; her dragon, Jade; and her Mew Pokèmon, Melisande were enjoying a peaceful morning in the forest. Silver Swirl was lying under a tree, looking at how the sunlight made the leaves seem to glow. Jade was sitting silently on a branch, hoping to spot a rare species of bird. Melisande was flying around somewhere.

Silver Swirl was startled out of her trance-like state by a shriek. "That's Melisande's voice!" she called to Jade, startling a rare bird away from the dragon. Using the flying power given to her by a magical pig, Silver Swirl glided in the direction of the noise. Although she looked around carefully, there was no sign of her beloved Mew.

Jade caught up to the unicorn. Where's Melisande? she asked telepathically.

"I don't see her anywhere!" Silver Swirl replied. "Jade, I think she was Mew-napped!" Mew Pokèmon were rare and valuable, and some collectors would pay outrageous sums of money for them. Silver Swirl shivered as she thought of her Mew being sold to some other pony. "We have to find her!"

Any tracks? asked the dragon.

Silver Swirl examined the ground, but didn't see any hoof prints besides her own. "It must have been a pegasus," Silver Swirl concluded. "Let's go back to Friendship Castle and get some help. We have an emergency here-- and a mystery!"

* * *
"So, you all need to keep your eyes peeled for a pony, especially a pegasus, trying to sell a Mew," Silver Swirl finished fifteen minutes later in the living room of Friendship Castle. The other ponies nodded in agreement. After they had dispersed, Twinkle Star approached Silver Swirl.

"I'll help you find Melisande," the other princess promised. "I'm the only pegasus in Friendship Gardens, so it was probably someone from Dream Valley." Silver Swirl agreed and the two ponies, along with Jade, set off.

A while later they stopped at the Pokèmon Trading Inn. "If anyone wants to sell Pokèmon, they'll do it here," Twinkle Star predicted. The two sleuths entered the large, noisy building.

Inside they met Tabby, who was watching a Chansey and a Jigglypuff battling. "Hi, Tabby," Silver Swirl greeted the other unicorn.

"Oh, hi," said Tabby. "Do you want to buy a Pokèmon?"

"Well, not exactly," Silver Swirl admitted. "I can't find my Mew and I think someone stole her." Silver Swirl felt safe telling Tabby about the mystery; she knew that Tabby would never steal Melisande. "Is there anyone around here selling a Mew?"

Tabby considered. "Yeah, Best Wishes mentioned having one for sale."

Silver Swirl's eyes grew wide. Best Wishes was a pegasus! "Thanks, Tabby," Twinkle Star said, but the pink unicorn had already returned to watching the Pokèmon battle.

Silver Swirl whispered to Twinkle Star, "If Best Wishes is the thief, she might recognize me. You'd better go over there and pretend you're interested in buying a Mew." The unicorn watched from the shadows as Twinkle Star went to talk to Best Wishes.

"Hi," Twinkle Star greeted the other pony casually. "I heard you have a Mew for sale."

"Yes, I caught it myself," Best Wishes affirmed. Twinkle Star's ears pricked up. "My Charizard had a hard battle with it, though," the yellow-haired pegasus added. "Are you interested in buying?"

"Um, yeah," Twinkle Star replied.

"It'll be ninety-nine jangles."

"Uh... could I see the Mew for a minute, and talk to it? I want to make sure we'll get along," Twinkle Star invented rapidly.

"Sure," said Best Wishes, releasing a Mew from a PokèBall. Silver Swirl strained to see it and sighed. It wasn't Melisande. Twinkle Star talked to the Mew for a minute and then told Best Wishes that she wanted to look around some more.

"I'm so sorry it wasn't Melisande," said Twinkle Star to Silver Swirl.

"That's okay," Silver Swirl replied. "You did a great job of investigating." The two ponies made their way back to Tabby.

"No luck?" asked Tabby. The other two shook their heads. "Hey, I bet I know who stole Melisande!"

"Who?" demanded Silver Swirl.

"Tex!" said Tabby triumphantly. "I wouldn't put anything past him."

Silver Swirl groaned. Everyone knew that Tabby hated Tex because he had once put worms in her lunchbox. "Well, we'll keep that in mind, but do you know anyone else who wants a Mew?"

"Well," Tabby reflected, "Merry Treat wants to catch a wild one, but she would never steal a Pokèmon."

"Hmm," said Twinkle Star. "Hey, maybe she thought Melisande was a wild Mew!"

"No, that wouldn't work," Silver Swirl countered. "We would've seen hoof prints since Merry Treat's an earth pony. Tabby, do you know any pegasi who want a Mew?"

"Umm... I think Princess Tiffany might've said she wanted one."

Silver Swirl looked at Twinkle Star. It was hard to imagine the vain Princess Tiffany catching Pokèmon, much less stealing them, but they couldn't afford to overlook any possibility. After thanking Tabby again, they began flying to the Royal Paradise, home of the Dream Valley Princess Ponies. Jade, who was getting tired, rode on Silver Swirl's back.

"Oh, how are you?" Princess Tiffany gushed when they arrived. The two Friendship Gardens ponies flopped into chairs.

"We're doing very well," said Silver Swirl. "We realized that we hadn't seen you for a while, so we decided to pop in for a visit."

"Oh, that's so nice of you!" said Tiffany. "Would you like to see the fabulous ruby earrings I bought yesterday? They were very expensive, but worth every jangle!"

"Um, sure," said Silver Swirl, and then added ever-so-casually, "Do you like Pokèmon?"

"Poke-what?" asked Tiffany. "Oh, those things. They're all right, I suppose; although they could never take Theodora's place." She stroked her Bombay cat, whom Silver Swirl was staying as far from as possible (she was allergic to cats).

"Oh, I've heard of Pokèmon," said Princess Dawn, who had been passing by the room. "You know, Gingerbread's been selling a lot of them at the mall. She even has some Mews."

"Mews?" asked Silver Swirl excitedly. "Oh, sorry Tiff, we have to go. I'm horribly allergic to cats, you know. Bye!" She, Twinkle Star, and Jade raced out the door. Tiffany fumed behind them.

The Dream Valley Mall, as usual, was bustling, but the two princesses quickly found their way to Gingerbread's booth. "Hello, may I help you?" the pretty Twinkle-Eyed pony asked.

"Well, yes, actually," replied Silver Swirl. "I'm taking a survey on where sellers get their Pokèmon. Do you buy yours from another pony or do you catch them yourself?"

"Actually, a friend of mine catches them for me," Gingerbread answered.

"Oh, anyone we know?" Silver Swirl tried hard to sound nonchalant.

"Her name is Minty," stated Gingerbread.

Silver Swirl sighed; Minty was an earth pony. "Thank you for your time," said Silver Swirl politely. She and Twinkle Star walked away.

"I guess we'd better be getting back to Friendship Castle," said Twinkle Star. "Maybe the others saw something." Silver Swirl agreed reluctantly.

When they arrived at the castle, Princess Trixiebelle rushed to greet them. "Melisande's back!" the jester cried jubilantly. Silver Swirl dashed into the castle, where she hugged Melisande.

"Where were you?" she asked her Mew, stroking the creature's silky fur.

"Well," Melisande began, "I was flying around in the forest when a baby pegasus grabbed me and flew away with me. She didn't seem to mean me any harm, although she wasn't overly gentle. I didn't want to hurt her, so I waited until she had brought me to her house. She called me ‘Kitty' and gave me some disgusting cat food. I waited until she left the room and then flew out the window."

"What was her symbol?" asked Silver Swirl.

"A purple balloon," replied Melisande.

"Oh, it must have been Baby Surprise! She really wants a cat. Oh, Melisande, I'm so glad you're back!"

Several days later, Silver Swirl told Tabby what had happened. "I knew a baby pony was the culprit!" said Tabby. "I wouldn't put anything past a baby pony."


Starbow's Chronicles
Part Two
by Happy Hopper (Jill)

Author's note-- Sorry I haven't written in for a few months. Basically, in Part One of Starbow's Chronicles, Baby Starbow and her best friend, Baby Christmas, decided to do something wonderful for Ponyland. This idea was sparked by Starbow's sisters, who were doing mane-styling in order to keep out of mischief. Starbow bet that she and Baby Christmas could do something good for Ponyland without getting into mischief if they had a few months. That very day, the two rebellious baby ponies set off on their journey and realized that they needed help... a form of transportation. The two met up with Tricky Tails, a Fairy Tail Bird who had gotten her tail cut off for getting into mischief. Part One ended with the three flying off. Now, without further ado... Part Two!

Tricky Tails had barely taken off when Baby Starbow saw two baby sparkle ponies running as fast as they could on the ground below. "HELP! HELP!" they cried.

"Head down, Tricky Tails!" Baby Starbow commanded. "We may need to do some rescuing before we head out of Ponyland."

"I'll say!" added Baby Christmas, pointing. Baby Starbow and Tricky Tails looked down and also saw that the two baby sparkle ponies were being chased by a herd of other baby ponies. Baby Starbow's sisters and the two other baby sparkle ponies could be seen in the bunch.

As Tricky Tails descended, Baby Starbow could see that her sister Baby Brightbow's mane had been cut short! Tricky Tails swooped low and picked up the two baby sparkle ponies with her feet. "Hang on!" the bird called to Baby Christmas and Baby Starbow. Tricky Tails flipped in the air and somehow caught the sparkle ponies on her back.

"Oh, THANK YOU!" the sparkle babies said.

"No problem," replied Tricky Tails. "What's all the hubbub about?"

"We were at the pageant of the Dream Beauties," said one pony, who Starbow now recognized as Baby Gusty, "doing manes. Baby North Star and I decided to try using scissors to style manes, like the adult ponies do. But we messed up and cut Brightbow's mane all short. Now the baby ponies all hate us, and they'll tattle to the adults, and North Star and I caused a big commotion during a beauty pageant a-a-a-and we'll be in big trouble!"

"Not if you stay with us!" Baby Christmas supplied. "Starbow, Tricky Tails, and I are on a mission: Beyond Ponyland!"

"We're determined to do something wonderful for Ponyland," Baby Starbow explained. "Something that will go down in Ponyland history. We'll discover things even greater than Pokémon! Greater than Tea Bunnies! Greater than getting Sailor Moon and her violent people-friends to stay off our turf!"

"Sounds like fun," Baby North Star admitted, though she half wished that she and Baby Gusty could go back to their peaceful mane-styling in Ponyland.

"We have ourselves a real team now," Tricky Tails put in. "Five of us. And besides, if we had any more ponies on my back, I wouldn't be able to fly as high or as fast!" With that, Tricky Tails sped ahead.

* * *
An entire week of flying and exploring deserted islands went by. At first, Tricky Tails enjoyed flying in fancy loops and zigzags... something she was never allowed to do at home, as it was considered showing off. Also, at first, the Baby Ponies enjoyed exploring deserted islands and looking for signs of inhabitants.

Now, after a week, the team was bored of this sort of stuff. Tricky Tails flew only in a straight line, since her wings were tired from flying four ponies around. The baby ponies looked around deserted islands listlessly, as if there were no hope left. Worst of all, Baby Starbow wasn't exactly sure what they were looking for!

As the team journeyed farther away from Ponyland, the islands became fewer and farther between. The climate became foggier and the air was colder. When everyone stopped at an island to wash off, the icy seawater chilled them. Food was becoming scarce.

"Maybe we should go back," Baby Gusty sighed, washing her mane in the sea. "My mane is all tangled. I need a better comb."

"I'm hungry," Baby North Star added as she gathered a few fruits and added them to the meager pile. Baby Christmas was off somewhere in a desperate search for fresh water, and Tricky Tails was trying to start a fire for some warmth.

"NO!" bossed Starbow as she constructed a shelter out of fallen branches and large palm leaves. "It's too late to turn back after an entire week! Can you imagine what punishments we'll get for running away?"

"I don't even know if I CAN find the way back!" Tricky Tails admitted. "It's getting foggier every day."

"We'll just have to keep going," Baby Christmas said as she appeared out of a thicket. "Eventually we'll find an inhabited island. I think we might be getting closer... I noticed that the water is slightly warmer on this island than it was on yesterday's island."

"I didn't," muttered Baby Gusty as she swished her mane in the sea.

"I'm talking about the fresh water," Baby Christmas said. "There's a whole lake of it."

"Definitely a good a good sign!" Baby Starbow pointed out, even though she wasn't so sure.

* * *
After a night of sleep and a breakfast of fruit and leaves, the team hopped onto Tricky Tails' back and started off. Baby Starbow and Baby Christmas were sullen, losing hope. Baby Gusty was annoyed with the situation and she wished to have the comforts of home once again. Tricky Tails was more tired than ever. Baby North Star, however, was beginning to enjoy the adventure and she was thinking less and less of mane styling... especially when she noticed... "The fog is breaking! I see sunlight!"

Only minutes later, the five had flown out of the fog completely. Sunlight washed over their backs and made the sea below them sparkle like a thousand diamonds. By evening, Tricky Tails landed on another island. This one had sandy beaches-- not just dirt-- on its shores. The palm trees were tall and healthy-looking, and they were brimming with coconuts. No one could see beyond the coconut tree glade, as the trees made a dense forest.

"We'll have plenty to eat and drink tonight!" Baby Christmas exclaimed, climbing a tree for coconuts. Baby Gusty, of course, wanted to wash her mane.

"The water is warm!" the yellow baby cried joyously.

"Guess we won't need to make a fire," Tricky Tails said, perching on a tree to rest her wings. After washing in the warm sea and eating a large dinner, everyone went to sleep right on the soft sand.

* * *
The next morning was warm as well, and the baby ponies were all set to explore beyond the coconut thicket. They ate coconuts for breakfast and then headed into the forest, with Tricky Tails flying above them to watch for danger.

Gradually, there were less coconut trees and more banana trees. By midday, the baby ponies reached a clearing-- another beach. This seemed to be the center of the island, as the beach was a circle that surrounded a freshwater lake. The lake had a cliff on one side, out of which poured a waterfall. A large rainbow was visible around the waterfall.

"We can head up the cliff after lunch," promised Tricky Tails. "I need to rest my wings some more." The baby ponies drank from the lake and feasted on bananas. Finally, Tricky Tails beckoned for them to hop on her back so they could see what was at the top of the cliff.

"Let's stop here first," Baby North Star pleaded on their ascent. "On this ledge." She pointed to a ledge in the cliff, from which the waterfall poured. Tricky Tails landed, and the baby ponies watched the waterfall in awe. It spilled out of a hole in the cliff side, starting from who-knew-where.

"Let's dive down into the lake!" exclaimed Baby Christmas. Without waiting for an answer, she sat in the path of the waterfall and it pushed her down the cliff. She landed with a tremendous splash in the lake. Shrugging, Baby Starbow followed; and after her came Baby Gusty and Baby North Star. Tricky Tails hated swimming, so instead she swooped down along the cliff, beside the waterfall.

"Look at the rainbow," breathed Baby North Star as she bobbed in the lake. The rainbow appeared to start in the lake where the waterfall ended, and then wind around behind the waterfall. North Star peered behind the waterfall and gasped.

"You guys," she called, "look at this!"


A Typical Day
by Windy

Tsunami, still sleepy, yawned and stretched as he woke up on a rainy Wednesday morning. He smoothed out the wrinkles dotted here and there on his blue blanket with pink pawprints printed on it. Windy was still asleep. Musn't have heard the alarm clock, as usual, Tsunami thought.

Then he went to the door, quietly opened it, and went downstairs. Pikachu was already in the kitchen, jumping around in front of a cupboard. Alakazam, being one of the smartest Pokèmon around, was getting bowls down on the table.

"I suppose we better make breakfast," said Tsunami, and dragged the cereal from the cupboard. "Windy didn't hear the alarm clock again today."

Alakazam nodded. Pity. She'll be late for work, he told Tsunami.

"Yeah," Tsunami agreed. "Maybe we should get Onix to go up into her bedroom."

Nope. Get Mew. He's bound to wake her up, said Alakazam.

"Hmm... good idea!" said Tsunami, pouring corn flakes into a bowl. Pikachu hopped up onto the counter and nibbled a flake of corn that had missed the bowl.

Just then, Machop broke out of his PokèBall, which was lying on the floor. He looked at what the other Pokèmon were doing, but decided to do something else and left the room.

Windy woke up suddenly when Machop came noisily running into her room and jumped onto the bed. "You little..." she started. Then she looked at her clock. "EIGHT O' CLOCK!!! I SHOULD'VE BEEN UP HOURS AGO!!!" She rushed out the door, leaving her Machop looking confused.

Windy rushed down the stairs to have breakfast. "Thanks, guys," she said quickly, grabbing a bowl.

Alakazam sighed. Oh, boy, here she goes again. Get the dustpan to sweep up the broken pot when she knocks over her ginko tree, he said, and shook his head.

Windy did knock over her ginko tree when she got up from the table. "O-o-ops," she said even quicker than her last comment.

In a flash, Alakazam was sweeping up the remnants of the plant and pot. He dumped them in the garbage. Windy rushed back to the table and started gorging down her breakfast.

Alakazam held up some medicine that Windy used when she got a stomachache. However, Windy started to hiccup. "Alaka-- hic-- zam-- h-h-hic-- g-get-- hic-- me so-- hic-- me wat-- hic-- er," she gasped.

Alakazam nodded, put the medicine down on the table, and went to get some water. After Windy cured herself of the hiccups, she rushed out the door. Machop came down the stairs. "Bye!" she called as she sped down the street to work at Pets and Pokèmon.

Let's play cards, guys, said Alakazam.

"Yeah!" said Tsunami.

"Pika, chu," said Pikachu.

"Machop!" said Machop. So, the Pokèmon each played a game of solitaire.

* * *
When Windy came back, the Pokèmon were busy making dinner. "Thanks, guys," Windy gasped and collapsed onto an armchair.

After dinner, Windy and her Pokèmon watched TV-- all except for Alakazam, who was busy practicing battle attacks with Squirtle.

During a commercial, Windy went over to her cabinet where she kept the Water Stone and Fire Stone that she had found. "Here, Squirtle," she said.

"Squirtle, squirt... le," said the Pokèmon, cautiously approaching Windy, who was holding out the Water Stone. "Squirt?" he questioned, slightly confused.

"Come on, touch it!" Windy encouraged. Squirtle's blue hand reached for the stone. It had barely touched it when he started to glow. While he was glowing, he started to change.

The first thing Windy noticed was his ears-- they shot out of his head like a bullet. His body didn't change much. Then his tail changed-- a few more curly tails sprouted. When the glow faded, Windy's Squirtle had evolved. He had evolved into a Wartortle.

"Well done!!" said Windy.

Wartortle just turned back to Alakazam. "War! Tortle!" he exclaimed, then began to find out his new attacks.


Classroom Confusion
by Sugarberry

A murmur of conversation filled the schoolroom as the class prepared for the start of a new day. When Miss Hackney entered the room, the students respectfully quieted down and gave her their full attention.

"Good morning, children!"

"Good morning, Miss Hackney," the chorus of voices chimed brightly.

"I hope every one of you will be on your best behavior today," Miss Hackney smiled across the array of alert faces before her. "I'm happy to announce that we are having a special guest after our first class period.

"Who is it, Miss Hackney?" asked Baby Pineapple eagerly.

"Clever Clover, who has a degree in archaeology and studies ponies and objects of the past, will be bringing some ancient artifacts for you to observe."

"All right!"


"Artifacts? What are artifacts?"

"I expect you to be courteous and alert while Clever Clover is speaking with you," Miss Hackney reminded her students.

"Yes, Miss Hackney."

"Now, before Clever Clover gets here, we are going to discuss evolution," began Miss Hackney as she adjusted her glasses squarely across her nose. "Is anyone here familiar with that word?"

A virtual sea of hooves waved wildly in the air as every pony in the room raised his or her hoof.

"My, what a precocious class you are!" Miss Hackney beamed proudly. "Can anyone tell me what ‘evolution' means?"

Baby Paws immediately stood up by his desk and volunteered. "It's when creatures change and look different."

"Good, Paws," Miss Hackney responded. "Scientifically, it's a theory that some ponies believe explains a change that develops in plants and animals through successive generations.

"Let's take the example of the horse," Miss Hackney continued as she wrote a really big number on the blackboard. "About sixty million years ago, the animal that eventually became what we call a horse was a dog-like creature about the size of a fox. And their feet--" Miss Hackney paused for effect. "--had four toes at the front.

"By thirty-five million years ago--" She inscribed this new number on the blackboard. "--the ancestor of the modern horse had grown bigger, and the toes to the side had regressed. At various other stages down to seven million years ago, the toes were completely gone. So, you see, class--" Miss Hackney pointed to the figures on the board. "--the theory of evolution is based on changes that occur over a vast stretch of time."

This statement of Miss Hackney's caused a titter of laughter to ripple across the room. Baby Bows raised her hoof.

Miss Hackney frowned at the interruption. "What is it, Bows?"

"Evolution happens real quick, like when Ponyta changes into Rapidash. There's just a brilliant flash of light and it changes."

"Ponyta?" Miss Hackney looked confused as she glanced over her notes... Eohippus, Mesohippus, Merychippus, Pliohippus... "There is not Ponyta in the evolution of the horse, Bows. But you are correct in saying that evolution sometimes occurs more suddenly.

"In some instances, a mutation in the genes actually speeds up the course of evolution, but the change still takes a very long time."

"Like Eevee," Baby Whirly Twirl piped-up, "when he's exposed to one of the stones. Only it still happens fast."

"Or maybe mutation explains Psyduck," Baby Gusty giggled.

"Eevee? Psyduck?" questioned Miss Hackney.

"Everybody knows Eevee," Baby Whirly Twirl scoffed.

"Psyduck," Baby Gusty replied, "he always has a headache and he's..."

"Well, I'm sorry he's not feeling well; and there has never been such a creature as an Eevee, but that has nothing to do with our topic now, does it, Whirly Twirl and Gusty?" Miss Hackney dismissed the interruption.

"Now, class, how do you think scientists can learn about animals that lived sixty million years ago?"

"They could drop into a cave through a hole in the ground and end up with prehistoric creatures all around them," ventured Baby Fifi.

"That's imaginative," Miss Hackney smiled stiffly, "and a cave might be a good place to start looking. But you wouldn't find live animals, Fifi. You'd find fossils, which are the remnants or impressions of animals of the past that have been preserved in the earth's crust."

Several hooves flew up simultaneously.

"Yes, Paws?"

"But Ash found living things."

"And they tried to hurt him," offered Baby Gusty, fearfully looking around as if expecting a ferocious denizen of the past to materialize in the classroom.

"Ash wasn't the only one who saw them," Baby Crumpet corrected. "Team Rocket was there, too."

"Children, let's stick to the facts," Miss Hackney reprimanded as the young ponies began to whisper to one another concerning their knowledge of evolution as compared to Miss Hackney's apparent cluelessness of the situation.

Fortunately for all concerned, a rap sounded at the classroom door. Miss Hackney breathed a sigh of relief. "Why, that must be Clever Clover now!" she exclaimed. Moving across the room, she opened the door to admit the purple pony from Friendship Gardens.

"Yo, Miss Hackney," greeted Clever Clover as he tipped his hat to her. He was carrying a satchel bulging with off-shaped parcels.

"Welcome to our school, Clever Clover," responded Miss Hackney. "The children are looking forward to your presentation." She smiled apprehensively. "They have some novel ideas on the topic of evolution."

Clever Clover moved to the center of the room, and dumped the contents of his bag onto Miss Hackney's orderly desk. "Greetings, fillies and colts," he said merrily as he lifted one of the objects off the desk. "Can any of you tell me what this is?" He held up a yellow, ancient-looking bone.

"I know! I know!" bubbled Baby Bows. "It's a monkey's hand!"

"It's an appendage, all right," verified Clever Clover. "But it didn't belong to a monkey."

"Miss Hackney told us horses had toes once," Baby Whirly Twirl theorized, "so I bet it's an early horse foot!"

"Excellent!" praised Clever Clover. "This bone of an early horse called an Eohippus shows us that horses once had toes." He held the bone next to his own hoof. "And see how much smaller it is compared to my limb? That tells us that horses and ponies have gotten bigger over the millions of years that have passed since the Eohippus walked the forests of North America."

"Wait!" declared Baby Crumpet. "Miss Hackney told us in history class that their weren't any horses in North America until the Spanish brought them over from Europe."

"And that's true, to a point," clarified Clever Clover. "The evolution of the horse, however, did occur in North America." He held up a series of artifacts that showed how the early horse's foot gradually lost its toes as merely vestigial digits until it evolved into a solid-hoofed animal, or solidungulate." He wrote that new word on the board.

"Now remember, this took, like, fifty million years to accomplish. That's a long, long, long time." She stretched his hooves farther and farther apart until he nearly toppled backwards.

After recovering his stance, Clever Clover continued. "At this point much of the world was covered in an Ice Age which made it possible for animals to migrate between the continents, so many of these solidungulates crossed into Asia to become the horses, ponies, and zebras we are familiar with. In America, however, the solidungulates died out. So Miss Hackney was right. There weren't any horses in America when the Spaniards arrived. Any questions?"

A number of hooves went up. Clever Clover pointed at a pink filly. "You there. What's your question?"

"You said it takes a long, long time to evolve," Baby Cotton Candy pondered.

"Yeah, and Miss Hackney said so, too," Baby Pineapple added.

"But it doesn't take long at all," declared Baby Whirly Twirl.

"That's right. It just takes enough experience," agreed Baby Paws.

"Or the right stone," stated Baby Fifi.

Clever Clover had listened to this volley of comments in utter confusion until this last statement caused comprehension to hit him like a brick.

"Pokèmon evolution!" he cried. "That's what you foals are talking about." Clever Clover laughed heartily.

"Isn't that what we were learning about today?" questioned Baby Crumpet.

"Not exactly," snickered Clever Clover, still overcome by the mix-up.

Miss Hackney stood at the back of the room wondering where she had lost control of the situation.

Clever Clover grinned at the class. "Pokèmon evolution is somewhat different than the scientific theory of evolution." An idea hit him as he talked, and he felt for the backpack which he always had on him.

"I just happen to have my Pokèmon with me. How about, with Miss Hackney's permission, of course..." He winked across the room at her. "...we move this class outside, and discuss the evolution of Pokèmon with the real participants."

With that said, he proceeded to the door and held it open as the laughing and shouting children passed through, followed by a somewhat skeptical and nervous Miss Hackney.

Once out on the open playground, Clever Clover removed a red and white PokèBall from his backpack, and commanded, "Rattata! I choose you!"

And much to Clever Clover's dismay and the children's delight, Miss Hackney blinked twice, and fainted on the spot.


Windy Goes to Hawaii
by Windy

"T-shirt and shorts, check. Sun lotion, check. Swimming suits, check. Life jacket, check. PokèBalls, check. Towels, check. Toothbrush and toothpaste, check. Pajamas, check. Notebook, check. Camera, check. Diving suit, check," Tsunami mumbled as he scribbled down notes on his list.

Windy was busy hoarding things into her suitcase, because she and some of her Pokèmon were going to Hawaii. "Baseball equipment, check. My basket, check. Toys, ex. Poster, ex." Tsunami heaved a deep sigh. "We still need my toys and your poster packed," he announced.

"We're not bringing those, dummy!" said Windy as she stuffed another towel into the suitcase, and then opened up another empty one. "What else?" she asked.

"We need the parasol, your briefcase, the postcards, your pen, your transformer-- whatever that is-- your dress, your photo album, some videos, and books," said Tsunami.

"I'll pack the telephone, too-- actually, no, there's bound to be on in the hotel. So, can you continue the checklist?" said Windy.

She sighed as Tsunami started again, "Parasol, check. Briefcase, check. Postcards, check. Pen, check. Trans-whatever, check. Dress, check. Photo album, check. Videos, check... and books, check," the Meowth finished. "Are we staying by the sea?"

"Yup," said Windy. "There's bound to be Parrotfish, and seahorses, and coral, and sea slugs, and those aggressive Clowfishes. And anenomes, jellyfish, octopuses, rays, sharks..." she rambled on while Alakazam snuck a packet of mints into the suitcase. Windy worked as a whatever-you-call-those-guys-who-study-the-sea-and-its-life-forms. "And o-o-o-oh, boy, is it going to be hot!" she finished her speel.

"I don't want to meet sharks," said Tsunami.

"You won't. We're just going out to fifty thousand meters."

"AAAAA!" Tsunami screamed. "Now I'm definitely not going!"

"Sharks don't attack you unless you provoke them," said Windy soothingly.

"Really? In Jaws, the--" Tsunami began.

"In Jaws, that was a realistic robot shark. And a fiction-based story. Real sharks don't attack for nothing," said Windy, trying to sound like a professor.

Tsunami was not impressed. "Hmpf. I'm still not going," he said, and stuck up his nose.

"You better, or else you'll have to go stuffed up in my suitcase with a dozen other things!" said Windy in a warning tone.

"I don't care," Tsunami retorted. Then he scurried under the couch. Alakazam and Windy both shrugged and went about their business.

* * *
On the airplane, Windy was busy playing with the maze the air hostess had given her. Alakazam kept on pointing out the correct paths for her (he was one of the world's smartest Pokèmon, after all).

After Windy finished that, she gazed out the window. "How I wish that I was down there swimming in the Atlantic..." she murmured as she fell asleep.

* * *
Alakazam woke Windy up as the ponies and people were leaving the plane. "Whew! Thanks--" Windy yawned. "--Alakazam!" she gasped as she picked up her luggage (which included the reluctant Tsunami) and got off the plane.

"HELLO-O-O, everybody!" Windy yelled as she entered the house where her relatives, Sugar and Sea Storm, were living. Sugar was a white earth pony with a rainbow mane and tail. Her symbol was a group of candy. Sea Storm was a blue male unicorn with a light blue wave as his symbol. He had light blue-- almost white-- hair.

"Why, hello! Welcome to Hawaii!" Sugar exclaimed.

"Hi!" said Sea Storm. "We're just preparing lunch. Want some?"

"Yes, I'm starving!" said Windy. "I've also brought my Pokèmon." She pointed to Alakazam.

"Yes, we know of them. Everybody's in the Pokèmon craze these days. Even the food business. There's Pikachu plates and cutlery," said Sugar. "We own a Squirtle, but that's all. We don't want him to do anything battling. He's a good pet."

Windy nodded. "I had one, too," she explained, "but I evolved him."

"Anyway, now for lunch!" Sugar set a tray she had been carrying down on the table. On it was sandwiches, shrimp, and glasses of milk.

To be continued...


A Responsible Silver Swirl
by Princess Silver Swirl

Dear Journal,

A lot has happened since I last wrote in you. I have a Mew Pokèmon named Melisande. She's adorable and very smart. I have flying power too-- a magical pig gave it to me. I found a great new book series by an author named Marianne Equina about a pony whose job is to explore this undersea cavern. It's really neat because the pony, Liora, meets magical creatures who live there. They're called Kandilos and--

"Silver Swirl!" At the call of her name, Princess Silver Swirl stopped writing in her journal. It was the first time she'd written in it since three months ago.

"What is it?" Silver Swirl shouted back. The voice calling was that of Princess Twinkle Star, one of Silver Swirl's best friends.

"Come see the new Pokèmon I got!" Twinkle Star answered. Silver Swirl shut her journal and scampered down the stairs to Twinkle Star's room.

"This is Flareon, this is Abra, this is Horsea, and this is Seel." Twinkle Star released the four creatures from their PokèBalls.

"They're so cute!" cried Silver Swirl with delight. "Especially Flareon. I'll tell Melisande to come down here and meet them later."

"Are you going to get more Pokèmon?" queried Twinkle Star.

"Well, I've been sorely tempted," Silver Swirl admitted, "but I don't think so. I'm too irresponsible to take care of a whole bunch. Besides, I want to be able to give enough attention to Melisande and Jade."

"I don't think you're that irresponsible," objected Twinkle Star.

"Are you kidding? I can't get out of bed until almost noon, I always forget to write in my journal, my drawers are full of junk, and I'm constantly losing things," Silver Swirl replied. "How much worse can one get?"

"Well, a lot of ponies say they're irresponsible, but they really just don't try hard enough to be otherwise," Twinkle Star explained.

"I do try, once in a while, but I always forget that I'm supposed to be trying."

"Maybe you just don't try enough," persisted Twinkle Star. "I think that if you made a serious effort for a day you'd be surprised at what you could accomplish." She sounded very confidant.

"You want me to try for a day? Okay, I'll try really hard tomorrow. At the end of the day, we'll see if it's irresponsibility or lack of effort." She sounded equally confidant. "Deal?"

"Deal," agreed Twinkle Star. The two ponies shook hooves.

Silver Swirl almost forgot about her deal with Twinkle Star for a while the rest of the day. She was busy playing hide-and-seek with Jade and Melisande in the forest. Silver Swirl, of course, promised not to wink from one hiding place to another. Jade was the best hider since she was the smallest and her green scales camouflaged against the leaves of trees. Melisande was a great seeker because she had very sensitive hearing. Silver Swirl felt like an amateur beside her two friends, especially since her horn tended to stick out of hiding places.

When the three got tired of playing, they flew back to Silver Swirl's high castle tower. The unicorn read to her two friends out of the newest book by Marianne Equina until dinnertime. The dragon and the Pokèmon loved stories, and Silver Swirl was working on teaching them to read-- at least, she worked on it when she remembered to.

Around the dinner table, the ponies of Friendship Castle told each other about their respective days. Ivy told about her new ball gown, Morning Glory mentioned a picture she was painting, and Lady Cupcake informed the others about her latest donation to charity. Trixiebelle hinted about the show she was going to put on and Lady Light Heart told jokes. After describing her various new Pokèmon and how they were settling in, Twinkle Star mentioned the deal she and Silver Swirl had made.

Silver Swirl explained in greater detail. "So don't worry if you see me acting rather strangely tomorrow!" she added. The other ponies laughed.

Before going to sleep that evening, Silver Swirl had Melisande help her to set an alarm clock for eight-thirty the following morning. Silver Swirl had a dream that night that she laughed to herself over after the fact. She dreamed that she had become Sandina, a very responsible character in a Marianne Equina book.

The next morning, Silver Swirl was jolted awake by a horrible noise. After a moment, she realized that it was not a fire alarm or Jade screeching-- it was only her alarm clock. She fumbled wildly for the "Off" button until Melisande came over and helped her. Melisande had read a book about electronics and now claimed to be an authority on the subject.

Silver Swirl resisted the temptation to go back to sleep, remembering that she was supposed to be responsible for the day. Instead, she winked to the kitchen and prepared a quick breakfast for herself, Jade, and Melisande. Then she went back to her tower and got herself ready for the day. She even made her bed without being reminded. Afterwards, she looked around for something responsible to do. She decided to write in her journal.

Silver Swirl spent the next hour telling her journal all that had happened in the last three months. She wrote about how she'd gotten Melisande, the big drought and the rain that had finally ended it, the full story of how she'd acquired her flying power, her visit with the wonderful pony she was secretly in love with, the summaries of various books she'd read, her plans for the future, and-- of course-- the reason she was suddenly writing in her journal. She even described the dream she'd had the previous night.

After Silver Swirl had written everything she could think of to write, she decided that organizing her room would be the next thing she'd do if she were a responsible pony. This took about three hours. She designated different drawers for different things, like Sandina did in a book, and hung up some baskets around the room for miscellaneous objects. She put the books on the shelves and displayed her many collections on the little tables that had been previously covered by books.

Jade and Melisande helped her clear out the area under her bed. Silver Swirl discovered all sorts of junk and treasures that she had thought lost years ago. She was almost sidetracked about fifteen times, but each time she remembered her deal with Twinkle Star or was reminded by her little friends.

When the room was finally fairly organized, Silver Swirl threw herself onto the bed. Being responsible was incredibly hard work-- she didn't know how other ponies managed it!

Silver Swirl figured that teaching Jade and Melisande to read was a responsible thing to do, so she wrote some simple stories and helped the dragon and the Pokèmon to sound out the words. She got bored a few times, but the recollection of her deal with Twinkle Star kept her on task. She knew she'd forget to be responsible sooner or later, so she decided to hold out while she could-- after all, she was getting a lot done.

Jade and Melisande were coming along very nicely with their reading. They helped each other along with difficult words like "cake" and "squirrel". Silver Swirl listened to them and realized what a difficult language English was. Even easy words didn't have much of a reason or rhyme to their pronunciation. I probably didn't learn to read as easily as Jade and Melisande, she thought to herself.

After a while, the three of them decided that their brains needed a break. They went down to the kitchen to pack a picnic lunch. Silver Swirl almost forgot to put away the leftover food, but remembered in the nick of time. Carrying the picnic basket, the unicorn flew off with her friends close behind her.

Silver Swirl landed on a lovely little hill. Jade and Melisande helped to spread out the food. Silver Swirl had packed things she knew they would like, and all three had a satisfying meal. Afterwards, they cleaned up the garbage.

As they were about to leave, Melisande spotted something. "Look!" she whispered excitedly. "A Clefairy!" Sure enough, a small winged Pokèmon was hiding in the bushes.

Silver Swirl knew that Clefairys were fairly rare. "I'll tell Twinkle Star so she can come and catch it!" Silver Swirl planned, and then she and her friends flew home.

Back at the tower, Silver Swirl spent a while trying to think of more responsible things to do. Then she suddenly remembered that she hadn't watered her orchid the previous day. She quickly filled a watering can and gave the plant its life-sustaining fluid. The orchid was not doing very well because Silver Swirl often forgot to water it. She always felt guilty when she saw its leaves turning brown. And that poor little bonsai tree she'd had a couple of years ago-- it had simply withered away. Silver Swirl and plants generally did not do well together.

Silver Swirl washed the watering can out and put it away instead of leaving it sitting around like she usually did. Then she, Jade, and Melisande had another round of reading lessons.

By dinnertime, Silver Swirl was very tired out. Responsibility definitely did not suit her. She winked to the eating room and settled down in a chair. Then she remembered that she hadn't been on serving duty for weeks, so "Silver Swirl the Responsible" set the table and served the food.

Twinkle Star grinned at the unusual sight. "And how are you, Miss Hopelessly-Irresponsible?"

"Exhausted," replied Silver Swirl. "I wrote in my journal, organized my room, gave Melisande and Jade reading lessons, watered my orchid, and woke up with an alarm clock. Oh, and I found a Clefairy on the little hill for you to catch sometime."

"O-o-oh, a Clefairy? Oh, thanks so much for the tip!" Twinkle Star clapped her hooves. "But about our deal... it looks like you were able to stay quite responsible for a day."

"Well, I guess I did pull it off," said Silver Swirl in surprise.

"So it looks like you could be responsible," concluded Twinkle Star.

"Now, wait a minute! I might have been able to manage for a day, but I could never do this on a regular basis!"

"No?" asked Twinkle Star.

"No way!" asserted Silver Swirl. "It takes too much energy-- I'm twice as tired as usual. You proved yourself right about today, but I'm never going to change!"

Twinkle Star simply sighed in defeat.


The Insane Crossover Story
Chapter Four
by Tabby, Merry Treat, and Barnacle

Tabby, Merry Treat, their Pokèmon, and several new friends continue on their quest to seek revenge on an evil reviewer snake... or was he an evil reviewer king? Of course, maybe he's one of King Movie's hiss men. Well, anyway, whoever they're out to seek revenge on, they're continuing onwards...

"Is it just me, or do these woods look terribly familiar?" Tabby asked Merry Treat off-handedly as the group tromped through a forest of tall, foreboding-looking trees.

"Yeah, I don't think we're on that Naboo planet any more..." Merry Treat trailed off, and suddenly halted.

"So interesting, how we can change planets without noticing anything different," Tabby pondered aimlessly.

"Do you suppose we're... lost?" Merry Treat gulped.

"What's that? Are evil movie kings attacking?" He-Man called out.

"Oh, no, we're not being attacked," Tabby assured the group cheerfully.

Tess looked relieved at that statement, but huddled closer to Tarquin nonetheless.

"...we're just lost," Tabby continued in an equally cheerful voice.

"Lost!" Whimzee gasped.

"Meesa no be likin' this..." Jar Jar said slowly.

"Just consult my map of the universe I gave you," Orko instructed Tarquin.

"I already did," Tarquin sighed. "It doesn't say anything about woods anywhere around Naboo. I don't know how we got here."

"Spear. Row," Spearow said nervously.

The whole group gathered around Tarquin's map, which he spread out on the ground. Tabby scanned it over impatiently. "Where's Naboo? I can't even see that."

"It's right up there." Tarquin pointed towards the top of the map.

"Where? I still can't see it, Tarkie. I hate maps. You can't ever make any sense out of them..."

"Unless..." Merry Treat murmured to herself.

"I just wish L.B. was here to cart me around," Tweeg mourned. "Oh, good L.B.!"

"I betcha we took a wrong turn and wound up in these creepy woods, which are probably haunted by some--" Ursa Minor was abruptly cut off in mid-sentence.

"Oh, my stars!" Whimzee suddenly shrieked out in alarm. She had been pushed to the edge of the group while they were consulting the map, and had brushed up right against some bushes. "What is that?!" Quivering, she jumped behind Jar Jar for protection, as he happened to be standing next to her.

"What's what?!" Merry Treat rushed to the aid of her startled friend.

"Th-th-that thing in the bushes!" Whimzee timidly peeked out from behind Jar Jar, who looked very confused.

"Yousa bein' very skittish, methinks," was all he said.

"If anything dares make a sinister move towards you, I'll slash them with my sword!" He-Man said solemnly, drawing his large sword from his back.

"Oh, brother! Not this again!" Tarquin groaned and rolled his eyes.

"Row," Spearow sighed along with his friend.

"What in the world are you guys muttering about?" Tabby pushed through the bodies until she was next to Whimzee and Merry Treat. "So, what is it?"

"It looked like a... like a... big, yellow worm," Whimzee said, trembling, "with a horn on its head. Oh, dear, and I'm sure it's still there!" She covered her eyes with her hands.

Merry Treat pushed aside the leaves where Whimzee had been standing. This reminded her of the time they had encountered Grubby the Octopede... she hoped the ending of this incident would turn out the same, as well. The pony gasped in surprise when she saw what was there. It was exactly what Whimzee had described... "It's a Weedle!" she exclaimed.

"Wassa Weedle?" Jar Jar asked suddenly in a curious tone.

"It's a kind of Pokèmon," Merry Treat explained, not moving from her position. "And I think Ursa Minor was right in her theory. If we are where I think we are now, we'll be seeing a lot of strange creatures, Whimzee."

"What do you mean?" Tabby threw Merry Treat a questioning look. "This can't be..."

"It must be the Dark Forest," Merry Treat said affirmatively.

"But the Dark Forest... that's right next to Dream Valley," Tess said, confused.

"This must be a trick of the evil King Movie," He-Man declared recklessly.

"No, it's not really a farfetched idea," Merry Treat murmured, walking back to the map. "Yes, we were looking at it all wrong. I assumed we were going west. But we weren't-- we were going east, and then kind of looped downward. And so--" Merry Treat pointed to the map. "--voila, there's the Dark Forest, and here we are in it."

" ‘Dream' Valley? And yet you've never had a good dream, Tabby?" Tweeg questioned.

" ‘Tis the sad truth," Tabby nodded. "Names can be deceiving, you know."

"I knew my map wouldn't fail us!" Orko said jubilantly.

"Anyway!" Tarquin positioned himself at a good spot to view the whole expanse of the map. "We're pretty much positive we're in the Dark Forest-- and there's this path we've been following-- and if it's the path that's shown on the map, it should lead us straight into Tea Bunny Land if we keep following it," he declared, rolling the paper back up.

"Oh, that sounds like a delightful place!" Whimzee said, cheering up a bit. "I would think Tea Bunnies would be hospitable. It doesn't seem like a place that would be in the Dark Forest, though."

"We've met up with the Tea Bunnies before!" Tabby exclaimed. "They are nice little bunnies-- and as long as they serve any drinks besides tea, we should have a nice stop there."

"Yipee!" Ursa Minor cried out cheerfully. "Let's get going! I gotta see these Tea Bunnies! Is tea all they eat?"

"They have delightfully wonderful donuts and cakes and such, too," Tabby said, glancing cautiously at the baby bear.

"That's good, ‘cause I'm starving for something good to eat!" Ursa Minor shot down the path, leaving the others far behind.

"Sheesa is goin' to get into trouble if weesa don't catch up to her," Jar Jar predicted.

"You're right," Whimzee sighed. "Come on, gang. To Tea Bunny Land we go!"

* * *
Sooner than they expected, the group arrived in Tea Bunny Land. They marveled at all the quaint teacup-shaped shops, beautiful flower gardens, and the all-over pastel brilliance of the village.

"Told ya it was a nice place," Tabby bragged.

"Where do we go for food? Where do we go for food?" Ursa Minor began whining.

"Well... I've never actually been to Tea Bunny Land before," Tabby confessed. "I only met two of the bunnies. But somebody in one of these places will know where to go."

"I could go for a nice, big slice of chocolate cake myself right now!" He-Man added.

Tabby trotted up to the nearest house-- a pretty pink place that appeared to be a hat shop, according to the sign hung above the door. She knocked on the door, and it was quickly opened to reveal a pastel pink bunny who blended in nicely with her shop. There were bight pink roses on the tips of her ears, and she wore a dainty white dress patterned with pink flowers and an ornate, creamy straw hat.

"We would like to be directed to the nearest bakery in town!" He-Man boomed from behind Tabby.

The petite bunny surveyed all the creatures on her doorstep, and looked slightly surprised. "Ah... yes... the bakery. You're new to these parts?"

"Yes, we're traveling, to seek revenge on somebody," Tabby confirmed. "We're just stopping here to freshen up."

"Wonderful!" The bunny smiled. "We do love entertaining visitors so. You must be from Dream Valley, of course. Where do the rest of you hail from?"

"Oh, all sorts of places," Merry Treat said quickly. "But first, who are you?"

"I am Rose Bonnet," the bunny introduced herself. "I own and run the Just Ears Hat Shop here. However, the bakery is--"

"They don't make gold there, do they?" Tweeg asked cautiously (he didn't want anyone else to discover the ancient recipe of making gold from buttermilk).

"Oh, no!" Rose Bonnet giggled. "The bakery is just two shops down the street from here. And if you'd like to spend a night or so, there's the hotel over--"

Rose Bonnet was suddenly interrupted by a commotion outside. "My! What is that noise?" she asked in fright.

Tabby and the rest of the gang whirled around. There, just parked in the middle of the street of Tea Bunny Land, was a rather noisy and battered Desoto car with a black-and-white paint job. Several other Tea Bunnies were peering out of their shops, wondering what was going on. Everyone held their breath to see who would emerge from this unsightly vehicle.

First to leap out of the car was a brown, humanoid dog clad in a worn, gray suit complete with a spiffy hat and a not-so-spiffy tie. Next to jump out was a furry white bunny (wearing no clothes), walking upright, and with large teeth. They both struck a pose before the confused crowd.

"Well, here we are in Tea Bunny Land," the dog commented.

"The over-abundance of flowers here is shocking," the bunny agreed.

"That's because these are a simple people who have not yet realized the wonders of modern civilization-- such as free market economy, senseless violence, and corn dogs," the bunny's companion replied.

"Not to mention pollution and toxic waste," the bunny agreed. "Sam, tell me again why we're here?"

"How soon you forget, little buddy. The inhabitants of this quaint little village are-- by some strange twist of fate-- your relatives, and we're here for a visit," said the dog.

"Oh, yeah, I do keep forgetting," the bunny commented.

While the two newcomers had been conversing, the Tea Bunnies and adventurers had watched, their eyes opened wide, without saying a word. Tabby was the first to break the silence. "Who in the world are you, and what in the world are you doing here?" she demanded.

"We're Sam and Max, freelance police," the dog clarified.

Before anyone could comment on that, a lavender Tea Bunny with purple-and-white striped petunias on her ears rushed through the crowd and engulfed the bunny (now known as Max) in a warm hug. "Why, it's little Max!" she exclaimed.

Max squirmed away from the purple bunny in distaste. "And just who would you be?"

"Your mother's second cousin on your father's side fifth roommate was my niece's hair stylist!" The bunny paused, smiling broadly. "But you can call me Aunt Petunia Petal."

Sam turned to his pal. "I always knew your Uncle Fred would do this to you, Max," he commented.

"The plot thickens," Max said with relish.

"You must tell me all about what you're doing now, little Max," Petunia Petal continued on. "You've grown so much! And who's this... dog that's with you?"

Tabby and Merry Treat were beginning to feel a bit awkward. "Eh, is this a bad time to be stopping in Tea Bunny Land?" Tabby queried.

"If this is a family reunion, maybe we'd better be on our way," Merry Treat agreed.

"Oh, no, don't go on Max's behalf!" Rose Bonnet piped-up quickly. "We never refuse hospitality to visitors."

"Plus, with no one around to view our mindless antics, they become that much more pointless," Max agreed.

All of a sudden-- as if Sam and Max's arrival hadn't been sudden enough-- a pastel blue Tea Bunny came running up, looking rather hysterical. "AHHHH!!!" she screamed, but stopped when she noticed the presence of the Desoto car. "Oh, is this that Max you mentioned, Petunia Petal?" she questioned. "Now, what was that I had to say? Oh, yes." The bunny continued on. "Somebody is robbing the bank!!!!!"

"Is life always this exciting in Tea Bunny Land, or is it just because we're here?" Tarquin pondered aloud.

"What perfect timing!" Sam said. "We're here no more than five minutes, and already a situation arises which is so perfectly suited to our unique aptitudes."

"Ooh! Oh! And I thought this trip was gonna be boring!" Max exclaimed gleefully. "Sam, is ‘aptitudes' a real word?"

"Iris, Iris, calm down," Rose Bonnet was consoling the blue bunny. "You said the bank was being robbed, did you?"

"Yes, it is!" Iris Bouquet shrieked. "I was working behind the counter-- like I always am at this time of day-- and the most awful creature came in, and--" With that, the bunny staggered forward a step, and promptly fainted.

"Oh, dear," Rose Bonnet lamented, holding the limp body of Iris Bouquet up. "Petunia, get somebody to do something about the robbery. I shall attend to Iris." Rose Bonnet swiftly pulled her friend into the shop to revive her.

"Sam and Max, you have to help us," Petunia Petal pleaded.

Sam-- who, along with Max, had been watching the scene before them with interest-- pulled out a gun. "As duly designated freelance police of whichever town it is we come from, it's our duty to bust criminals and cause as much property damage as possible, all in the name of the law!" he said forcefully.

"Yeah, just tell us where this bank is!" Max added.

"Oh, it's right around the corner, here," Petunia Petal said, thoroughly flustered. She took off running, and Sam and Max followed. All members of the remaining group looked at each other.

"It must be an evil snake reviewer!" He-Man declared.

"Let's not jump to conclusions," Tarquin cautioned.

"It's unfortunate that there aren't any banks in Grundo to rob," Tweeg said thoughtfully.

"Wassa bank?" Jar Jar questioned.

"Whatever's going on, I say we follow ‘em," Tabby commanded. And so, the adventurers continued onwards around the corner, on which sat the Tea Bunny Land National Bank.

Just as Tabby and Merry Treat skidded to a halt on the sidewalk, they saw a figure coming out the front door of the bank, carrying several large money bags. It was a humanoid figure-- but with green skin and long nose and fingers. She wore her gray hair in a bun atop her head, and was dressed in a purple robe covered with a yellow shawl.

Sam and Max were just encountering the robber as well. "Drop the dough, or we'll be forced to use lethal force," Sam called to the villain.

"Please don't drop it," Max added.

"She looks vaguely familiar," Tabby murmured softly as she watched the slim figure stop and glare at the freelance police.

"No one will use lethal force on Eleanore Tweeg and get away with it," she declared in a loud, clear voice.

"It's Mommy!" Tweeg cried out, pushing his way to the head of the group. "Mommy, what are you doing here?"

The bank robber-- who had identified herself as Eleanore Tweeg-- turned around. "Tweegie, my boy!" she said. "I was wondering when I'd run into you."

"Evil reviewer king!" He-Man exclaimed, drawing his sword and running towards Eleanore.

"Stop it! Stop it!" Tabby cried, leaping out in front of He-Man (again). "Sam and Max, you too!" She sensed a kinship between Tweeg and this Eleanore, and no relation of Tweeg could be all bad.

Eleanore critically eyed this pink unicorn. "I can see this friend of yours can identify a good villain when she sees one," she commented to Tweeg. "I wonder how you got to hanging around with her."

"But Mommy, I'm-- I'm--" Tweeg paused. "--I'm going to seek revenge on somebody! Isn't that a worthy crime?"

"So that's what you're doing," Eleanore sniffed. " ‘Going to seek revenge'. I stopped by the tower and L.B. told me you'd run off with some pastel-colored ponies and an assorted bunch of strange creatures. I was following you to see what you were up to this time."

"But-- aren't your proud of me?" Tweeg pleaded with his mother.

"We'll see what comes of this revenge business," Eleanore rebuffed him. "I saw this wonderful bank here just waiting to be robbed, and couldn't resist. Now, any proper villain would have thought of that the minute they got into town." She glanced sharply at her son.

"Looks like we have another family reunion on our hands," Sam said, sticking his gun away. "Ain't it beautiful?" He wiped a sentimental tear from the corner of his eye.

"Yeah, I think I'm gonna throw-up," Max said in repulsion.

Everyone stared around at everyone else for several moments in silence. No one really knew what was going on anymore.

"Tweeg, is your mother a villain?" Merry Treat finally spoke-up timidly.

"Not only a villain, but a member of M.A.V.O. as well," Eleanore clarified proudly. "Well, I'd better be going now. Tweeg, I hope you've done some nasty deeds by the next time I see you." She turned to walk away... still holding the stolen money.

"Stop, you evil villain!" He-Man cried out, grabbing onto Eleanore to restrain her. "I believe you haven't returned that money yet."

"Get your hands off me, you-- you--" Eleanore spluttered.

"I believe he falls into the species australopithecus afarensis," Sam said knowingly.

"Well, you did steal it," Tess said, ignoring Sam's remark.

"And nobody should ever take something from anyone else," Ursa Minor said promptly.

Tabby shot a poisonous glance towards the baby bear. "She's probably taken more than one thing in her life and gotten away with it," she muttered.

"What do I do with her?" He-Man questioned.

Petunia Petal had been fretting ever since she'd led Sam and Max to the scene of the crime. "As long as you return the money, we won't press charges," she told Eleanore politely.

"Ooh! Ooh!" Tabby squealed. "Eleanore, if you give it back, then you can come along with us!" She'd taken an instant liking to Tweeg's mother.

"And then you can see how evil I really am," Tweeg added.

"Hmm, that's an interesting proposition," Eleanore considered. "What is it exactly that you're doing?"

"I think we're seeking revenge on some snake-thing," Whimzee explained, "from what I've heard."

"No, it's some movie reviewer-guy," Merry Treat corrected.

"All right," Eleanore finally consented. "Here, take the money back." She handed the bags over to Sam (but not before secretly hiding some of the money bills under her cloak). "And get this brute to unhand me!"

Sam handed the bags over to Max. "Hang onto this, little buddy; I already have more money than we'll ever need."

"What, pray tell, am I supposed to do with this?" Max questioned.

"Oh, just put it wherever you put everything else you have," Sam replied.

"There, you are free," He-Man said gallantly, releasing his hold of Eleanore's shoulders.

Eleanore brushed her cloak off. "There now. That's better," she said, satisfied, and turned towards Tabby. "I think you have the true makings of a villain in you, whoever-you-are, even if you are disgustingly-pastel colored."

"You really think so?" Tabby gasped, clutching her front hooves together dramatically. "Oh, Eleanore, that's the best praise I've received all day!"

"I've given up hope on making anything out of my son here," Eleanore continued, "but with a bit of training, you might be M.A.V.O material."

"Cool!" Tabby beamed. "The name's Tabby, by the way."

Tarquin rolled his eyes. "Just what she needs," he whispered to Tess, "this Eleanore training her to be a villain!"

"Tex had better watch out when we get back home," Tess giggled.

"Sheesa looks kinda evil, methinks," Jar Jar said to himself.

"Uhh... welcome to the team, Eleanore," Merry Treat said tentatively. "Don't forget about the rules, Tabby."

"Ah, yes," Tabby nodded in remembrance. "Just sign this quick," she directed, thrusting a paper and pen at Eleanore.

Eleanore scanned over the paper and scrawled down her name. Merry Treat wasn't sure the villain was going to hold up her end of the bargain, but hopefully Tabby knew what she was doing.

Right before Tabby was going to stick the paper back in Tarquin's backpack, Sam spoke up. "Well, I guess we have no choice but to sign up with your demented band as well."

"And why do you say that?" Max asked.

"That's quite simple," Sam explained. "Since our show got canceled, the critics obviously didn't like it much. So I think it only makes sense that we accompany these persons on their quest for revenge."

"As always, your logic is as faulty as a Godzilla movie, but since we have nothing else to do, why not?" Max agreed.

"You crack me up, little buddy," Sam commented.

Merry Treat smiled at the two, grabbing the paper back from Tabby. "Here it is," she said cheerfully. "At least we'll have some police with us now," she added as a side-note to Tarquin.

"Something tells me these aren't your ordinary police," Tarquin predicted.

Petunia Petal stepped up and cleared her throat. "I think I'd better go along as well if you're going, Max."

"Why?" Max questioned cautiously.

"You need someone to watch over you," Petunia Petal said promptly. "We'll make a proper Tea Bunny out of you yet, Max."

"I'm scared, Sam!" Max cried out in terror.

"Buck-up, Sam-- I mean, Max," Sam reassured him. "It can't be any worse than that time you got disintegrated on the moon by giant cockroaches."

"I was just managing to forget about that," Max complained with a smile.

Anyway, with four more on the team (even if some of them still held reservations towards Eleanore Tweeg), they all walked along merrily towards the bakery Rose Bonnet directed them to in order to get their long-awaited treats. Rose Bonnet and Iris Bouquet (who was feeling herself again after the scare of the robbery) waved as their friend, Petunia Petal, and the rest of the group disappeared down the street.

After Sweet Azalea's bakery had nearly been emptied of all her cakes, cookies, and other fancy confections, everyone finally had their fill. Tabby was impatient to move on, as always. "Let's get going," she urged.

"Thanks for putting up with us, all of you Tea Bunnies," Whimzee said, not forgetting her manners.

"All in a day's work," Sweet Azalea laughed.

And, as all chapters in this story end, the group once again set off.

To be continued...


The Pony Trap
by Steamer

It was a bright, sunny day in Ponyland. The ponies had not had to fight off any enemies for quite some time. Firefly and Medley were taking a flight over a big pile of rocks when all of a sudden, a lasso-like object, made of a laser material, enveloped them and started pulling them downward, towards the pile of rocks.

No matter how hard they tried, they could not free themselves. When the two pegasi were down on the ground, they were face to face with a sinister-looking man. Too frightened to speak, they just stood there and watched him.

"Ah, perfect, two splendid specimens," said the man. "My pet just loves the pretty ones-- but the ones with wings are his favorite." He chained them to the wall with metal rings around their necks, and with that he pulled a lever.

A secret door opened, and what lay inside was the ugliest creature Firefly and Medley had even seen. They both gulped. Firefly looked at her friend and saw the fear on her face, and she had a feeling that her face showed the same thing.

Fortunately for them, there were bars separating the creature from the rest of the room, which turned out to be some sort of laboratory. The man escorted them to a cell, and chained them up again.

* * *
Back at Paradise Estate, Baby Firefly was anxiously waiting for her mother to get back from her flight with Medley so she could teach Baby Firefly the double-inside-out loop. What she did not know was that her mommy and her mommy's friend were being held captive in a secret laboratory.

At that moment, Cherries Jubilee ran up with an anxious look on her face, out of breath. "Cherries Jubilee, what's wrong?" asked Posey who had been working in her garden and keeping an eye on Baby Firefly until her mom got back.

Cherries Jubilee caught her breath before answering. "I just saw Firefly and Medley being pulled out of the sky by some kind of lasso made from a laser!" she reported.

This resulted in a gasp from everyone that had gathered around when Cherries Jubilee had arrived. Baby Firefly slowly walked up to Cherries Jubilee. "Mommy not coming back?" she asked with a frightened tone in her voice.

"You don't worry about your mommy, Baby Firefly; we're going to form a search party and find and rescue her and Medley," said Cherries Jubilee. She then looked at Posey. "Posey, isn't Circle Dancer here from Dreamland visiting Truly?" she asked.

"Why, yes, she is," said Posey.

"Good, invite her along for our search party; we may need her strength," said Cherries Jubilee. "Oh, and get Steamer to come along; we may need his teleportation power," she added.

Posey set off to find the two ponies. She found them quite quickly, and told them what had happened; and explained that Cherries Jubilee would like the two of them to join in on the search. Posey, Steamer, and Circle Dancer then ran back to Paradise Estate to begin the search.

* * *
Soon Cherries Jubilee, Steamer, Circle Dancer, Heart Throb, and Gusty set out for the rocks to rescue their friends. They explored the rocks until they found a wooden door set into a large boulder; they opened it cautiously and peered inside.

Seeing the coast was clear, they carefully walked in. They came upon a locked door that was marked "Dungeon".

* * *
Meanwhile, Firefly and Medley were in their cell, thinking the same thing-- What was going to happen to them? Was this man going to feed them to his monster, or what?

They paused in their thoughts as they heard footsteps outside. "Uh-oh," said Firefly. "Here he comes."

A moment later, however, Circle Dancer knocked the door in. "Medley!" Firefly hissed. "It's our friends!" The rescuers came in, and seeing their friends tied up in a cell, tried to figure out what to do.

"Are we glad to see you guys," said Medley. "There's a mean scientist here, and he has such an ugly creature, and we think he's going to--" She gulped. "--feed us to him," she continued.

"Not if we have anything to say about it," said Cherries Jubilee.

And with that, Circle Dancer bent the bars on the prison apart and went in to untie Firefly and Medley. Then the group carefully made their way to the exit.

* * *
Back at Paradise Estate, there was a joyous reunion as the other ponies welcomed Firefly and Medley home. Baby Firefly came up and gave her mother a big hug. "Me miss you," she said.

"Oh, Baby Firefly, I missed you, too," said Firefly, giving her daughter another hug.


Silver Swirl's Balloon Trip
by Princess Silver Swirl

One lazy summer morning, Princess Silver Swirl of Friendship Castle woke up early. This was very unusual, and generally happened once in a blue moon. The moon was ordinary now, without the slightest tint of azure. So why the early rising? Silver Swirl was excited.

"Jade! Melisande!" Silver Swirl awakened her dragon and her Mew Pokèmon. "It's balloon day!" The two small creatures rose groggily.

Silver Swirl, we don't start ballooning until this evening. Why did you have to wake us up now? complained Jade telepathically. Melisande seemed equally disgruntled.

"Oh, sorry," said Silver Swirl, somewhat abashed. In a moment, however, her spirits were high again. For this very evening, she was going to do something she had dreamed about for months. She was going to ride in a hot air balloon across the night sky. The moon would be full, the clouds would be silvery, and...

"Snap out of it!" said Melisande.

Silver Swirl blinked and left her daydream behind. "Sorry," she said. "Here, let's go down to the kitchen and get some breakfast."

All Silver Swirl could talk about that day was the balloon voyage, which was planned to begin after sunset and last till dawn the next morning.. She chattered to her friends about how wonderful it would be, how much she was looking forward to it, and how she would tell them all about it the next morning.

"Better try to take a nap before you go," advised Princess Morning Glory. "You wouldn't want to fall asleep in the balloon."

"Bring a book in case you get bored," suggested Princess Twinkle Star. "And a blanket in case it's chilly."

"Don't forget snacks," reminded Lady Cupcake. "It would be hard to enjoy the scenery on an empty stomach."

"If you have a really good time, maybe I'll try ballooning-- so make sure you remember what it was like," Princess Ivy added.

Princess Crystal looked worried. "Be careful, Silver Swirl. I foresee strange happenings on this trip."

"Oh, come on Crystal. You worry too much," scoffed Lady Light Heart.

Nevertheless, Silver Swirl promised to heed the advice of all her friends. She carefully selected equipment to bring on her odyssey. She packed two blankets, a book by Marianne Equina and a flashlight to read it by, six Balance bars (Silver Swirl's favorite snack), a camera, her journal in case she had time to write, and a thermos of milk.

Finally, evening came. Silver Swirl, Jade, and Melisande climbed into the basket of the balloon with all of their paraphernalia. Melisande had read a book on ballooning and claimed to know exactly how to handle it. Sure enough, the balloon lifted off when the Mew did her stuff. All of the other ponies waved goodbye as the balloon began to drift away.

Melisande piloted the balloon in the direction of the ocean. The sounds of the earth below them hushed to a distant murmur, and then to pure silence. Silver Swirl gazed at the strange new world around her.

It was everything she had imagined and more. The moonlight reflecting off of the clouds made them look glowing and solid, like silver islands in a black sea. The stars were much brighter and bigger than when seen from the ground. Jade, who was into astronomy, pointed out various constellations in a whisper. None of them dared to raise their voices; it seemed that to do so would shatter the magic of this dream world.

Silver Swirl silently passed snacks to her friends and munched a few herself as the balloon sailed over the shimmering ocean. The night was rather chilly, and Silver Swirl was glad of the blankets she had brought. She thought of her camera, but she knew that no picture could show the true wonder of this trip. Besides, the night might not appreciate mechanical devices interrupting things, and Silver Swirl was beginning to think of the night as a living being.

Silver Swirl saw that Jade and Melisande were asleep in the basket of the balloon. In the night's magic, she forgot that Melisande was supposed to be the pilot and did not wake the Mew. With the two small creatures asleep, Silver Swirl and the night had this whole world to themselves.

The unicorn, who had forgotten to take a nap before the nocturnal journey, found herself getting very sleepy. She kept blinking her eyes open, trying to concentrate on staying awake, for she didn't want to miss any of the midnight splendor. Suddenly, she was jolted out of her thoughts by a horrible whooshing noise as the balloon began to move very fast-- much faster than it was supposed to.

"Melisande, Jade, wake up!" Silver Swirl shouted somewhat hysterically. "There's something wrong with the balloon!" She shook her two small friends out of their slumber.

Melisande checked their status. "There's a big hole in the balloon, and I don't know where we are! I think we're going to have to abandon ship and wink back to the castle!"

"Wait!" declared Silver Swirl. "I see a little island down there! Let's pull the balloon over to it and see if we can fix it, and figure out where we are."

The dragon, the unicorn, and the Mew flew towards the island, pulling the balloon behind them. The balloon was bulky and made flying difficult, but all three were determined to reach the shore. They landed in a grassy glen and tied the balloon to a tree.

"It's too dark to do anything now," said Silver Swirl. "Let's sleep here for the night and check the balloon in the morning." She made a sort of nest out of the blankets. She and her exhausted friends curled up next to each other and fell asleep.

* * *
The next morning, Silver Swirl's first thought was that she was surrounded by baby ponies. She examined the small creatures gathered around her and-- as her vision cleared-- she realized that they were not baby ponies but small pigs, in various shades of pink, purple, blue and green.

"Uh..." Silver Swirl was unsure what to say. Then she was struck by the creatures' resemblance to someone she had once met. "Hey, is there one of you named Wissp?"

The pigs whispered to each other excitedly. Then a green pig stepped forward. "There is. Why do you seek a pig by that name?"

Silver Swirl could tell that she was in a touchy situation. "Oh, I'm not seeking her; it's just that she's the only one of you I've ever met. I'm a friend of hers, sort of." Silver Swirl had once saved Wissp from a Rhydon, and the magical pig had rewarded her with flying power.

"Silver Swirl?" A purple pig pushed her way through the crowd. "It really is you!"

Silver Swirl recognized the pig. "Wissp! It's good to see you."

"Silver Swirl once saved me from a large, hostile creature," Wissp explained to the other pigs. "She is a kind pony. We have nothing to fear from her or her companions."

Silver Swirl was relieved that Wissp seemed to be smoothing things over. "My friends and I were taking a ride in a balloon, but it crashed," the unicorn explained. "Maybe you could help us get home."

The pigs looked very serious. They conferred with each other for a few minutes. "I'm afraid we cannot do that," finally replied the green pig.

"Oh," said Silver Swirl. "That's all right. We'll just wink back." Silver Swirl grabbed hold of her friends and closed her eyes, visualizing the palace. She reopened her eyes. Nothing had happened.

"What happened?" Silver Swirl was very confused. Winking was a method of transportation used by unicorns for centuries. It had never failed her before.

"There is much about this place that you do not know," said the green pig mysteriously. "Sit down. I will do my best to explain this situation to you." The rest of the pigs, including Wissp, vacated the area. Silver Swirl, Jade, Melisande, and the green pig sat down in the shade of a tall tree.

"We of this island are formally called My Little Piggies, although we are usually just referred to as piggies," explained the green pig, or rather piggy. "We have lived on this island for longer than we can remember. Our legends say that we once inhabited a far larger place, and shared it with your kind, the Little Ponies. Then somehow, the ponies and piggies had a disagreement. Our ancestor piggies, being timid folk, left their homeland to seek another sanctuary.

"After much traveling, the piggies reached a green and beautiful place. However, it soon proved to be inhabited by horrible monsters. The terrified piggies used the magic powers they possessed to flee, settling at last on this island. Wanting only to be left in peace, the piggies created a powerful spell to keep creatures from entering or leaving the island by magical means.

"Since then, we have lived in harmony here on our island. No matter what, we must not let anything endanger our lives here. So that is why we cannot let you leave," the green Piggy finished.

It took a moment for Silver Swirl to fully understand. "But you have to let me leave! This place is nice, but I can't stay here! I won't bring monsters, I promise! I won't tell anyone! Not a soul! Please, you've got to let me get back!"

The green piggy cut through Silver Swirl's babbling. "I'm sorry, but this is the way it must be. You will learn to like it here. I will have Wissp show you around." With that, he disappeared.

After a few hectic minutes, Wissp appeared with four other Piggies-- two pink ones, a blue one, and a green one, all smaller than Wissp and very excited-looking.

"Wissp, the piggy in charge won't let me off this island!" Silver Swirl informed the purple Piggy.

"I know," Wissp replied. She looked almost as unhappy as Silver Swirl felt. "But try to be happy here. It's nice on this island, and maybe the authorities will change their minds. They really aren't mean, just very cautious. Come on, my friends and I will show you a great place to swim."

Wissp led the way out of the grove and across a field to a beautiful, calm bay. The piggies proceeded to paddle around merrily. Silver Swirl, Jade, and Melisande just sat and watched. The piggies were surprisingly good swimmers for their portly shapes.

They seemed to be playing a game of tag. One of the pink piggies was chasing after the other ones, who were all laughing. The blue piggy fled to an area near where the bay emptied into the ocean. Suddenly, a large creature arose from the depths and lunged toward the helpless piggy.

"Shark! Shark!" screamed the other piggies. Without thinking, Silver Swirl flew over to the shark and tapped it on the head. When it turned to see who was behind it, Silver Swirl snatched up the blue piggy and carried him to safety.

The piggy panted and thanked Silver Swirl again and again. Wissp and the other piggies comforted the blue one, whose name turned out to be Yorui.

"Come on, Yorui; Jinji and I will take you home," offered one of the pink piggies, and Jinji (the other pink one) agreed. The two of them stood next to Yorui and all three disappeared.

"Thank you, Silver Swirl," said Wissp softly. "Yorui is my little brother, and I don't know what I would have done if the shark had gotten him." She closed her eyes and seemed to be thinking, or meditating, or maybe praying. Silver Swirl hugged Jade and Melisande to her. Things could be worse. At least they were together.

"Silver Swirl," Wissp's voice cut through the silence, "I believe that you are trustworthy. I believe that if you get off the island, you won't tell anyone about us piggies. I believe in you, so I am going to take you to the one place on this island where you can wink back home. Come," she beckoned.

Silver Swirl, astonished, stepped toward her with Jade and Melisande. Then they all vanished from sight and reappeared on a mossy tree stump. On the stump were Silver Swirl's journal, Marianne Equina book, thermos, and flashlight.

"The piggies who made the island magical knew that someday, piggies might need to escape from here. So they left one place where winking-- or teleporting, as we call it-- could be used to get off the island," Wissp explained. "Good luck, Silver Swirl. I think we will meet again someday," the piggy finished.

"I hope so," replied Silver Swirl. She held on tight to her two friends and all of her possessions and winked back to the castle.

When she got there, she was pelted with cries of "You're alive!" and "Where were you?" and "We were so worried!" Silver Swirl calmly explained that they had gotten lost and had had to wink back to the castle. It was true, of course, and Silver Swirl figured that what the other ponies didn't know couldn't hurt them.


The Merry Treat and Tabby Gossip Hour!
by Merry Treat and Tabby

Merry Treat: Hello-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!!

Tabby: Hello, hello, hello!

Merry Treat: So, what's been going on this month?

Tabby: Tarquin and Tess caused a bit of trouble at Tamara's most recent cat show.

Merry Treat: O-o-o-oh! Do tell! Do tell!

Tabby: Well, all the cats that were going to be in the show the following day were kept at the Royal Paradise the night before in their carriers.

Merry Treat: And...?

Tabby: Tarkie n' Tess felt sorry for them, however... they snuck in the room that night and let all the show cats out of their carriers to minger-- minger? Is that the right word?

Merry Treat: ~shrugs~ I don't know if it is a word, myself.

Tabby: Ooh, wait, I got "mingle" mixed up with "linger". Try saying "mingle linger" three times fast.

Merry Treat: Mingle linger-- mingle linger-- mingle lingle! Whoops!

Tabby: You got farther than I did, that's for sure.

Merry Treat: Tee hee!

Tabby: Anyway, Tarkie and Tess let all the show cats out to mingle, as they felt sorry for them being locked up in their little carriers all that night.

Merry Treat: That was sweet of them!

Tabby: But Tamara sure was mad when she checked on the cats the next morning. And the owners, too, once they found out about it.

Merry Treat: Hehehe! It's fun to tick your cousin off!

Tabby: But sweet little Tarquin apologized to everyone on behalf of both Tess and himself once he found out how upset everyone was.

Merry Treat: That's good.

Tabby: *sighs happily* Don't those two make a cute couple? Tarkie and Tess, that is.

Merry Treat: Yes, they are perfect for each other.

Tabby: What's this I heard about you and Salty, anyway?

Merry Treat: ~gasps~ Who told you that!? Uhm, I mean... errr...

Tabby: Come on, MT, out with it!

Merry Treat: ~sighs~ Oh, I may as well tell you. We broke up a few days ago...

Tabby: Ooh! You must tell me the full story!

Merry Treat: There's nothing to tell. I got sick of him ignoring me, so I just ended it. It's that simple.

Tabby: Fascinating. I do wish Tamara would've stuck with Butch.

Merry Treat: Hmm? You did mention that the other night at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe... tell me the whole story.

Tabby: Eh... just trying to preserve the family name.

Merry Treat: Preserve the family name? Okay, I'm curious now...

Tabby: Well, I wouldn't want Tex on my family tree, would I? No self-respecting pony would.

Merry Treat: Ugh! Good point! Did it work?

Tabby: No, no, not at all. *sighs* Tamara forgot all about Butch in favor of Tex in the end.

Merry Treat: That's terrible! ~faints~

Tabby: *revives her friend* Well, anyway, let's get onto a new topic.

Merry Treat: Like what?

Tabby: Uhh... Vanguard has started his job at Pony Pride University as the head math guy, or something like that.

Merry Treat: O-o-oh! My dad is trying to become math teacher.

Tabby: What part of Ponyland does he hail from?

Merry Treat: Oh, he lives just a few miles out of town

Tabby: Hmm, you'll have to introduce me to him someday.

Merry Treat: Will do. Where does your dad live?

Tabby: Umm... umm... well, Mom's widowed...

Merry Treat: Widowed? That's sad...

Tabby: Yes, quite. Mom makes up for the sorrow, though, by trying to get me married...

Merry Treat: Hmmm... she obviously hasn't succeeded yet, I see.

Tabby: *tosses mane* Of course not. What would you expect from me?

Merry Treat: I think you should stop stalling and go marry Thomas.

Tabby: *poses her hoof, ready to strike* Don't you dare start suggesting that!

Merry Treat: ~laughs~ Kidding, kidding! ~holds up her hooves to block the attack~

Tabby: Anyway! *darts a final poisonous glance at MT* Chocolate Chip gets to talk to Vanguard a lot at school, as she's taking a lot of math classes this semester.

Merry Treat: ~smiles mischievously at the expression on Tabby's face~ Cool!

Tabby: Plus, she and a bunch of her buddies are organizing a school-supplies drive to benefit poor ponies around Ponyland.

Merry Treat: School! Ugh! I always hated supply shopping!

Tabby: Aw, it's kinda fun. They have Pokèmon folders this year!

Merry Treat: Oh, yeah! I saw those!

Tabby: So, Chocolate Chip has a box for donations at Bushwoolie Bargain Books. Frilly Flower convinced Fifi to put one outside the Perm Shoppe.

Merry Treat: Cool! I'll have to remember to give some donations!

Tabby: And a bunch of other donation spots. The Brilliant Brothers and Sweetheart Sisters are quite ambitious.

Merry Treat: Cool!

Tabby: Chocky is still hanging out with Current a lot.

Merry Treat: I think they have a thing for each other, don't you?

Tabby: *smirks* That's what you say about everybody.

Merry Treat: Not everybody! Just a few people! ~shouts in self-defense~

Tabby: *raises an eyebrow* Whatever you say, MT... hey! Did I tell you Mom sent me a European My Little Person?

Merry Treat: What!? Oh, you lucky!

Tabby: Her name's Camille. She has the most beautiful dress!

Merry Treat: O-o-oh! What does she look like?

Tabby: She has long, black hair with a long, sparkly purple evening gown on, and sparkly bows in her hair. And she comes with a little kitty figure, too.

Merry Treat: O-o-o-oh! ~closes eyes dreamily~ She sounds gorgeous!

Tabby: I guess Mom is finally accepting the fact of my insanity over collecting toys... or else she's just sending me these European My Little People to bribe me into going along with her match-making schemes.

Merry Treat: I hope she's not trying to do that! She's gonna fail horribly!

Tabby: ‘Cause she's not getting me married that easily!

Merry Treat: She sure isn't, if I know you! ~grins~

Tabby: Nobody knows me, Merry Treat.

Merry Treat: Well, I know enough about you to know that you're right. ~grins~

Tabby: *looks slightly annoyed that someone has her figured out so well* I hear from Sugarberry that she's not up to much these days.

Merry Treat: Interesting!

Tabby: And what have you been doing lately?

Merry Treat: Me? Oh... nothing much... spending time with someone... ~gets a far-away look in her eyes~

Tabby: Someone?

Merry Treat: Yes... someone... ~says distantly~

Tabby: And who is this mysterious someone?

Merry Treat: Oh... just an old friend... ~doesn't sound very convincing~

Tabby: Do you know what Quarterback had the nerve to do?!

Merry Treat: What... ~still in a very distent voice~

Tabby: *looks indignant* He is taking Merry Moments to the Cranberry Festival this year, but he's not letting me go along! I gotta get to that flea market!

Merry Treat: Hehehe! Idea! ~suddenly snaps back from whatever planet she went to~

Tabby: Idea? Idea?

Merry Treat: Disguise yourself, and spy on them! ~says insanely~

Tabby: I don't want to spy on them. *sniffles* I just have to get to the flea market at the Cran Fest and see what My Little People I can find! Quarterback usually took whoever out of the gang wanted to go-- it's in his home town-- but this year he's only taking Merry Moments!

Merry Treat: You don't need Quarterback to take you!

Tabby: But it's so far away and I couldn't get there on my own!

Merry Treat: I'm sure that Baby Fox will be glad to take us!

Tabby: Ooh, ooh, really?

Merry Treat: If I can convince her, at least.

Tabby: YIPEE!!! That would be wonderful!!! I'll show that Quarterback he's not the only one who can make it there from Dream Valley!

Merry Treat: Yup-yup-yup-yup-yup-yup! ~sounds like Ducky~

Tabby: Does Baby Fox have a cart of her own to take us in?

Merry Treat: Well, she still has to get her learner's permit; but once she gets that, we'll be A-okay!

Tabby: If she wants to take us in the cart, she'll have to get her learner's permit by the middle of September.

Merry Treat: Hmmm... well, I don't know how long it will take, but if it takes longer then that, we can always go next year.

Tabby: No!! I can't wait another year!! *sobs*

Merry Treat: ~pats her shoulder~ Well, you could always hitch a ride on the bus, Tabby.

Tabby: Oh, well, I'll figure something out.

Merry Treat: I'm sure you will.

Tabby: Tiffany supposedly did a good deed the other night.

Merry Treat: Tiffany did a good deed?

Tabby: Well, she and Toby were dining at the really fancy place. And somebody at a nearby table started chocking on a chicken bone-- I think it was Lofty.

Merry Treat: Poor Lofty! What happened then?

Tabby: Toby started to do the Heimlich maneuver on her. Tiffany supposedly stood near and acted as nurse.

Merry Treat: Oh! Was Lofty okay?

Tabby: Yep, she came out of the incident fine. Tiffany was bragging about what a good nurse she made, but I think she just stood back and watched the whole ordeal.

Merry Treat: Figures.

Tabby: Yeah, I know. You got any news to share?

Merry Treat: ~grins~ You mean, like me meeting the best guy ever?

Tabby: Spill it, MT! Who is this guy?!

Merry Treat: His name is Marcus... ~gets a dreamy expression~

Tabby: I've never met him before. What's he look like?

Merry Treat: He's a white stallion with light brown hair and dark brown eyes-- oh, those eyes-- his symbol is a sword and shield with a red-and-gold pattern on the shield. He always wears a crimson scarf.

Tabby: Hmm, it sounds like he almost looks like Thomas.

Merry Treat: Mm-hmm... ~has gotten a distant look in her eyes again~

Tabby: Except for the symbol, we won't be able to tell ‘em apart.

Merry Treat: Yes, but Marcus isn't a unicorn

Tabby: True. I think I have seen this Marcus dude before, come to think of it, but I thought his name was Billy-Bob.

Merry Treat: You did? Hm... why did you think that?

Tabby: I dunno, he just had that Billy-Bob aura about him.

Merry Treat: ~shrugs~

Tabby: So, how'd ya meet up with this guy?

Merry Treat: Oh... I met up with him in, like, January.

Tabby: And he had a major crush on you all the while you were seeing Salty?

Merry Treat: Yes, he did.

Tabby: Gosh, I wonder how I guessed that.

Merry Treat: ~shrugs again~ He was in love with me all the time while I was with Salty...

Tabby: Eh... planning on marrying him anytime soon?

Merry Treat: Oh, no, not yet.

Tabby: Why aren't there any pegasi stallions around?

Merry Treat: Toby's a pegasus.

Tabby: He is?!

Merry Treat: ~laughs~ No, I'm just messin' with your head!

Tabby: Are you as confused as I am?

Merry Treat: I think so...

Tabby: The correct answer was, "More so." *has been playing Sam and Max too much*

Merry Treat: Huh? I didn't now there was a wrong answer to that...

Tabby: Weird...

Merry Treat: Yes, very much so.

Tabby: No, no! *shakes head* Correct answer: "Creepy." *obviously enjoys annoying people with lines out of Sam and Max*

Merry Treat: ~gives her a clueless expression~ Yousa be crazy, methinks. ~enjoys annoying people by talking like a Gungan~

Tabby: MT, I think we should be signing off. It's nearly time to go to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe.

Merry Treat: Okie-dokie! See ya laters, ponies!!!

Tabby: Buh-bye!!


by Windy

Here's a poll for you to try-- after you've decided on your answers for each question, check the "Result Panel" to see what kind of a pony person you are.

1. Have you spent...

(a. ...over $3,000 on mint-condition ponies and accessories?

(b. ...over $3,000 on not-so-mint-condition ponies and accessories?

(c. ...over $1,000 on ponies?

(d. ...over $1,000 on pony accessories?

(e. ...less then $1,000 on ponies or accessories?

(f. money on ponies or accessories at all?

2. When you find a mint-condition or mint-on-card pony for sale on the internet, you...

(a. ...kiss your computer a zillion times; pick up your calculator and purse; drool; then immediately e-mail the seller before anyone else can.

(b. the above things, but find references on the seller before deciding to buy the pony.

(c. about the seller, consider the price, and then decide whether to buy it or not.

(d. ...say, "Nah, the price is too high."

(e. ...say, "Nah, I'd much rather trade."

(f. ...exit eBay out of boredom.

3. If someone refuses to sell you a mint-on-card Night Glider, you...

(a. ...go into a rage and send out so many e-mails to your online buddies complaining about it that your e-mail system goes down.

(b. ...keep on begging the person to sell the pony.

(c. ...feel like inflicting pain on something.

(d. ...say that you'll give her five hundred of the rarest ponies, but send them only after you've gotten Night Glider.

(e. ...mail her several live frogs.

(f. ...shrug and say that you hate Night Glider anyway.

4. You have an extra Satin n' Lace that you're really picky about giving away. You...

(a. ...decide to sell her for as much as possible, so you'll have more money to buy more ponies you need.

(b. ...sell her for $66.99, then say "It's over and done with" while sitting down on the couch to watch the My Little Pony cartoon.

(c. ...sell her for $3.99 and jump up and down saying "She'll be gone in five seconds... I KNEW IT!!!"

(d. her for a rare or valuable pony, just so you'll be able to brag about owning another rare pony

(e. ...give her away in the end.

(f. ...keep the extra of Satin n' Lace, but brag about owning two of her without offering to sell.

5. What's your favorite type of pony?

(a. All ponies are beautiful!

(b. Unicorns and Pegasi.

(c. Earth Ponies.

(d. Sea Ponies.

(e. Windy Wing Ponies and Flutter Ponies. ("They're not bad...")

(f. Beddy-Bye Eyed Baby Ponies. ("Definitely.")

6. If you could change your name, you would change it to...

(a. ...Sundance, High Flier, Skydancer, Night Glider, Crumpet, or Butterscotch.

(b. ...Megan.

(c. ...Molly.

(d. ...Danny.

(e. ...hmmm... Tex?

(f. ...Hydia, Reeka, Draggle, or Sonambula.

Result Panel...

...mostly A's: You go nuts over ponies-- you practically ARE a pony! You spend half-- no, all-- of your salary on ponies!

...mostly B's: You take time to eat, drink, do work, and sleep; but the rest of your day is devoted to PONY stuff! Half of your salary goes-- zit-- for ponies!

...mostly C's: You're modest with your love of ponies. You do your work, THEN have time for ponies. A quarter of your salary goes towards your pony collection.

...mostly D's: You're not really big into ponies. You spend time playing with them only if there's nothing else to do.

...mostly E's: You're practically in the mist about ponies. You have lots of pony accessories, but not many ponies to put them on.

...mostly F's: EEK! Ponies practically run away from you! You abuse them from morning ‘till night!


An Interview with Jar Jar Binks
by Merry Treat and Tabby

Time of Interview: Sometime in May

Place of Interview: Merry Treat's house

Tabby: Hee hee! *giggles* Hello, Jar Jar! Though I'm the one conducting this interview, Merry Treat was kind enough to let us use her house for this.

Merry Treat: Sometime in May?!

Tabby: *looks down at the date she had scrawled down* Eh... oops, my calender must've flipped down again like it's apt to do... anyway...

Jar Jar: ~waves~

Tabby: And, you're still interested in an interview, aren't you, Mr. Binks?

Jar Jar: Yessa.

Tabby: So, Mr. Binks, how do you like the looks of Dream Valley?

Jar Jar: Itsa okay.

Tabby: Do you enjoy poking Baby Fox with your staff? Merry Treat tells me you do that for her when she gets annoying.

Jar Jar: Itsa fun, methinks!

Tabby: Do you have any plans to become a Jedi?

Jar Jar: Nope... meesa be too clumsy, methinks.

Tabby: However, Mr. Binks, if you weren't so clumsy, do you think you'd have fun being a Jedi?

Jar Jar: Meesa wants a lightsaber! Meesa likes those things!

Tabby: And our the rumors true about you marrying Queen Amidala?

Jar Jar: Nope.

Tabby: Do you have plans to marry anyone?

Jar Jar: Nobody wants an outcast, methinks.

Tabby: Aw, come on, you're not an outcast!

Jar Jar: Yes meesa is!

Tabby: You'll find a Gungan like yourself someday. *pats him on the shoulder*

Merry Treat: *pops in the room again* Yeah, you will.

Tabby: Don't be sad, Jar Jar!

Merry Treat: Yes, cheer up!

Jar Jar: Maybe someday.

Tabby: But, Mr. Binks, doesn't your own mother even put up with you?

Jar Jar: Yes, shessa does.

Tabby: Do you have any siblings?

Jar Jar: No.

Tabby: What do you work at for a living?

Jar Jar: Meesa be general of the Gungan Army.

Tabby: Is it a well-paying job?

Jar Jar: Not really, but itsa very exciting.

Tabby: With a title like that, I'd think all the Gungan girls would be swarming over you.

Jar Jar: ~shrugs~

Tabby: Well, do you have any stories to tell us of being a general?

Jar Jar: Not very many...

Tabby: Say, Mr. Binks, do you do much web-surfing?

Jar Jar: Meesa doesn't have a computer.

Tabby: Do you collect any eighties' toys?

Jar Jar: Meesa collects G.I. Joes!

Tabby: Cool! How big is your collection?

Jar Jar: Meesa has twenty-nine.

Tabby: That is a good number. They sell G.I. Joes on Naboo, then?

Jar Jar: Yessa! Meesa gets them whenever meesa can!

Tabby: Are any you own Naboo-exclusive figures?

Jar Jar: Meesa does not know.

Tabby: Did you play with them as a child?

Jar Jar: Hee hee! Meesa still does!

Tabby: Have you been able to keep most of their small accessories?

Jar Jar: No... those are very easy to lose, methinks...

Tabby: Were My Little People sold on Naboo?

Jar Jar: Meesa thinks so...

Tabby: Would you be able to get your hooves-- your hands-- whatever you have-- on any for me?

Jar Jar: Meesa'll try!

Merry Treat: What about me?!

Tabby: Just split the ones you find half n' half between us, Jar Jar.

Jar Jar: Okie-dokie. ~nods in agreement~

Tabby: What do you think of those people who don't like you?

Jar Jar: Thatsa their problem, methinks!

Merry Treat: Well said!

Tabby: Yeah, Jar Jar! Stand up for yourself!

Jar Jar: Meesa will!

Merry Treat: Great!

Tabby: That must be a very powerful staff you have, Jar Jar.

Jar Jar: Yes, itsa very cool.

Tabby: What store did you buy it at? Wal-Mart? Target? Kay-Bee?

Jar Jar: Hmm...

Merry Treat: Well?!

Tabby: Yes, Jar Jar! We must know!

Jar Jar: Nowhere, somebody made it by hand, methinks.

Tabby: In China?

Jar Jar: No! On Naboo!

Merry Treat: Cool!

Tabby: I'm impressed! I wish I didn't have wet hair. Jar Jar, you're lucky not to have hair to wash.

Jar Jar: Uh... thanks... meesa thinks...

Tabby: How often do you shower, Jar Jar?

Jar Jar: ~shrugs~ Whenever meesa can, methinks.

Tabby: Say, Mr. Binks, would you like to interview me for a change of pace?

Jar Jar: Hmm...

Tabby: C'mon, c'mon, ask me a question!

Jar Jar: Uh... whatsa your favorite food?

Tabby: Chicken! And cherry pie filling, and strawberry sundaes...

Merry Treat: I like blueberries myself.

Jar Jar: Right.

Merry Treat: Ask another!

Tabby: Yeah, yeah!

Jar Jar: Uhm... wheresa yousa live?

Tabby: Dream Valley.

Jar Jar: Uhm... does yousa like... movies?

Merry Treat: Yes!

Tabby: I like some movie, like Star Wars Episode One.

Merry Treat: I love that one!

Jar Jar: That was a movie? Ooh... strange...

Tabby: *nods* You'll have to watch it sometime.

Merry Treat: You don't know about your own movie?!

Jar Jar: Meesa doesn't need to watch it! Meesa was there!

Tabby: Aw, come on, you can watch what happened without being so scared to know what was going to happen next!

Merry Treat: That made no sense, Tabby-chan.

Tabby: I thought it didn't. My mind is going.

Jar Jar: Why issa your mind going?

Tabby: Because... because... I don't have much of a mind, and it easily slips away.

Merry Treat: Well said!

Jar Jar: O-o-o-kay...

Tabby: How much of a mind do you have, Jar Jar?

Jar Jar: Meesa doesn't know... meesa knows that meesa not stupid.

Tabby: Let's just call this to a close and go to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe.

Merry Treat: Yeah! Jar Jar, have you been there yet?

Jar Jar: Meesa no thinks so... what issa the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe?

*Tabby and Merry Treat run off, dragging Jar Jar along with them*


Butch Versus Tex... Again
by Tabby

Tabby was just getting off work at the Pokèmon Center. She skipped along out of the door with Tarquin following behind.

"It's so exciting to have a Mew now, isn't it, Tarkie?" Tabby chattered excitedly to her Meowth. She was still enthralled that she had managed to get a Mew of her own at the new Pokèmon Trading Inn weeks before!

"And all those others," Tarquin added. "Vulpix, Venonat, Squirtle, Pikachu..."

"Ah, yes," Tabby nodded. "My number of Pokèmon is really going up!"

"Why don't we go into the Dark Forest someday just by ourselves and see how many we can get on our own?" Tarquin asked eagerly.

"Now, that would be interesting..." Tabby murmured.

"I told Tess I'd drop in and see her after we got done at the center," Tarquin said after a pause.

"Yes, yes, go along," Tabby responded, smiling slightly. She simply adored her Meowth, even if he abandoned her nearly every evening to see Tess, Merry Treat's petite and pretty Meowth.

"See ya later!" Tarquin called as he ran off on the well-trodden path to Merry Treat's house.

By this point, Tabby had forgotten about Pokèmon. Now, let's see, once I get home I'll scan in those Tweeg pictures for my webpage. Then I can try reorganizing my room a bit. And then go over to Sugarberry's for supper, she plotted out to herself.

All of a sudden, Tabby was aware of hoofsteps coming up behind her. She whirled around to face... Butch? Hmm, what was he doing in Dream Valley? He spent most of his time out in that shack of his in the Dark Forest. Tabby hoped this confrontation didn't have anything to do with the "evil" (in her opinion) duck he owned. "What do you want?" she queried cautiously.

"Oh, I thought you were Tamara," the dark blue stallion mumbled. "Sorry, Tabby." He turned to walk away.

"Was that meant as an insult towards me?!" Tabby demanded.

"Oh, no, not really," Butch said quickly.

" ‘Not really'?" Tabby shrieked in outrage.

"Never mind that," Butch said distantly, turning away again. However, he abruptly stopped and faced Tabby. "Say, does Tamara ever mention me?"

Tabby was still a bit miffed from Butch's so-called "insult" towards her. "I might be able to give out that information, depending on your reason," she said haughtily.

"I just want to know-- what she thinks of me," Butch stuttered.

"Oh," Tabby said thoughtfully. "To tell you the truth, she's never mentioned you."

Butch looked crestfallen. "Well, then, I'll just have to see her myself."

"She's seeing Tex at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe tonight, so she won't be home after five," Tabby informed him. What was all this talk of Tamara? Unless...

Butch sighed. "She still sees a lot of him, doesn't she?"

Tabby's eyes lit up as her suspicion was confirmed. "You're in love with Tamara, aren't you?" she declared dramatically.

"I didn't say that!" Butch protested, and then paused. "But-- oh-- you're right."

"And you want Tex out of the picture so you can have her all to yourself," Tabby continued.

Butch cleared his throat. "Umm... yes."

Tabby contemplatively walked onwards for several moments, her eyes glued to the ground in front of her. "I know exactly how to help both me and you out," she finally declared.

"What would you get out of it?" Butch eyed her suspiciously.

"Just think, if, say, Tamara ever marries Tex," Tabby began to explain. "Can you imagine what the name ‘Tex' would look like on my family tree?!"

"Rather short, I reckon," Butch decided.

Tabby sighed. "He's my arch-enemy. I must uphold the family name!" she said dramatically.

"Tamara doesn't have your last name, and you've never liked yours, anyway," Butch pointed out.

Tabby gave him a sideways glance. Somebody was always making fun of her dramatic lines. "It's the principle of the thing!" she blustered. "I don't want Tex to be a relation to me in any way, shape, or form."

"Oh," Butch nodded, still not getting the gist of Tabby's speech.

"So, you see, if you can get that cousin of mine to forget about Tex-- voila! My worries are gone!" Tabby said.

"Interesting theory," Butch commented. "Do you think I actually have a chance against Tex?"

Tabby winked at him broadly. "Trust me; of course you have a chance. After all, I am her cousin. Now, I know just what you need to make her start thinking more of you. I'll just have to find it..."

Butch breathed a sigh of relief. At least Tabby was being cooperative with him, even if her logic was a bit trivial.

Tabby ran ahead; they were now near her house. She jumped up the porch steps. "I'll be right back," she promised, opening the door and swiftly disappearing inside before Butch could get in another word.

Tabby glanced up the hallway. Now, what was it I was going to get? she momentarily pondered to herself. Oh, yes! The necklace! She headed up the stairs and into her room.

Once there, she tried to remember what in the world she'd done with that precious emerald necklace of Tamara's. Tamara had taken it off in the house once, but Tarquin had found it and given it to Tess. Tamara was heart-broken after it was lost. Tess, however, discovered afterwards that the necklace was Tamara's, and had given it to Tabby to give back to her cousin. However, that was weeks ago; and as far as Tabby remembered the necklace was still floating somewhere around her room, wherever she'd placed it the evening Tess gave it to her.

Usually, Tabby would've just forgotten about giving the necklace back to Tamara altogether-- not because she liked it and wanted it for herself, but because her cousin was never around when she thought about it. However, this necklace might help Butch out in catching Tamara's eye, and therefore be valuable in keeping Tex off her family tree.

After digging around in her desk drawers, her containers for keeping My Little People accessories, and on her bookshelf, Tabby had failed to unearth the precious necklace. "Argh! It's got to be here!" she wailed in despair. "I was sure I'd stuck it in with my people accessories!"

She finally noticed a promising sight: light glinting off a golden chain just showing from underneath Tabby's bed. Tabby triumphantly snatched the brilliant necklace studded with beautiful emeralds up in her hoof. "I knew it was here," she said smugly. This was Tamara's necklace, all right. Tabby didn't know exactly how it'd gotten under her bed, but she suspected Callie might have batted it under there in one of her playful spurts.

Tabby skimmed back down the stairs and out the front door, displaying the fine jewelry piece to Butch, who was still waiting outside. "Here. Tamara'll be eternally grateful to you if you give her this," she said triumphantly, handing it over to him.

Butch held it up in the light. "It's certainly pretty. Is it something you own?"

"Oh, no, it's actually Tamara's. But she lost it, and has been desperately searching for it for months. I just happened to run across it this morning," Tabby fibbed nonchalantly.

"You said something about her being at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe tonight?" Butch questioned, tucking the necklace away for safekeeping.

"She's meeting Tex there," Tabby clarified. "However, I know Tamara will get there earlier than Tex. She always does. You just have to make sure you give the necklace to her before Tex arrives, and he'll be the last stallion on her mind."

"And what time is ‘early'?" Butch furrowed his brow.

"Oh, probably five-twenty," Tabby assured him. "It'll work out great; you have nothing to fear."

"But what'll she do when Tex does get there?" Butch demanded.

"Don't worry; you'll have me backing you up," Tabby winked again, heading back up the porch steps.

Butch sighed. Somehow, that didn't exactly make him feel confident.

* * *
Butch arrived at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe at five-fifteen, to be on the safe side of catching Tamara early. He waited. And waited. And waited...

"Can I help you with anything?" Scoops finally questioned.

Butch shook his head. "No... I'm waiting for someone."

The clock on the wall finally hit five-thirty. Butch groaned. He knew he shouldn't have taken Tabby's advice... except for the necklace. Now, that might have been a good idea after all. He pulled it out and inspected it... and suddenly, he was aware of two ponies entering the shop.

"Oh, Tex, it was so nice of you to let me work with you at the salsa shop today," Tamara's voice bubbled excitedly.

"Next time, I'll let you try your hoof at actually mixing up a batch of salsa," Tex promised.

Butch stiffened. Now he knew he shouldn't have taken Tabby's advice. Tex and Tamara appeared not to notice him as they walked right by him on their way to a table. Butch glared at his arch-enemy from a distance while pondering what he was going to do to Tabby the next time he saw her.

However, he didn't get time to decide. At that moment, Tabby's piercingly-cheerful voice cut into his thoughts. "Hey-hey-hey, Butch! Whatcha doin' just hanging around, hmm?"

Butch cast the pink unicorn an annoyed glance. "Look for yourself," he muttered, pointing towards the booth Tamara and Tex had picked out.

"O-o-o-oh," Tabby nodded slowly in recognition. "Well, I told you to get here early."

"I did get here early," Butch hissed. "They got here together. Is that what you told me?!"

"Well," Tabby said after a pause, "I don't see why you can't still give the necklace to Tamara with Tex there. Why, you can even give him a piece of your mind while you're there!"

Butch glanced at her murderously. "Can I really listen to you this time?"

"Of course," Tabby said sweetly. "Tamara is my cousin. It'll work out great. Now, go!" She gave him an abrupt shove towards the booth. "And remember, I'll be here to back you up!" With another wink, she was quickly off to join up with the rest of the gang.

By this time, Tex and Tamara had noticed something was up. Butch put a stiff expression on his face as he realized it was too late to back out now. He began walking the rest of the short distance to the booth.

"Hello there on this fine evening, Tamara," Butch addressed Tabby's cousin. "I've been meaning to--"

Tamara swiveled her head around in surprise. "Butch? What are you doing here?"

"Yes," Tex said, eyeing Butch coolly, "do tell."

Ignoring Tex's comment, Butch looked towards Tamara and outstretched a hoof towards her, on which rested her beloved emerald necklace. "I found this, Tamara, and heard it belonged to you," he said cordially. "I thought you'd probably want it back."

Tamara squealed in delight. "My necklace! My lost necklace!" She primly took the item from Butch's hoof. "Butch, however did you find it?"

"Never mind about that," Butch said quickly. "Here, let me help fasten it." He came to Tamara's rescue as she was fumbling around with the necklace latch, and in a smooth motion secured the difficult fastener.

"And just how do we know you didn't get the necklace by... stealing?" Tex asked accusingly.

"What would I have to gain from stealing a necklace just to give it back to the owner?" Butch said icily.

Both stallions knew exactly what they would have to gain, but remained silent. Tamara gave them both a demure look. "Now, Tex," she said reprimandingly, "I wholeheartedly agree with Butch. There's no reason of blaming him of thievery when he never did anything in the first place. Butch, why don't you sit down?"

As Butch slipped into the seat next to Tamara, he realized Tabby had been right about the necklace-- he sure was winning Tamara over with it. Tex continued to glare at his foe.

Tamara was seemingly oblivious to the tension in the air. "Butch, I'm so glad you found my necklace for me." She looked at him adoringly. "How can I ever repay you?"

"Wait just a sec--" Tex started.

"All I ask is a date with you tomorrow night, Tamara," Butch said smoothly, chancing a triumphant glance at Tex.

"Name the time and the place, and I'll be there!" Tamara beamed.

Tex was in no position to say any more against Butch-- he couldn't risk having Tamara think even less of him then. He simply sank into a moody silence.

"Can you get to Wig Wam's casino in the evening... eight o' clock, let's say?" Butch went on.

"That sounds wonderful," Tamara gushed. "I've always wanted to go there... Tex never brought up the idea, though." She paused to look over at Tex meaningly. "Can you pick me up at my house, Butch?"

"Of course. I wouldn't do any less for such a fair lady as you," Butch said in a steady voice.

"Tamara," Tex interrupted, "I was taking you to the Estate Manor tomorrow night."

"Oh, you won't mind if I back out just this once, will you, Tex?" Tamara said in her sugary-sweet voice.

"Sure. Waste your time with that loser," Tex muttered to himself.

"What was that you just said?" Tamara asked sharply.

"Umm, nothing," Tex said quickly.

"I believe you were saying something degrading about Butch again," Tamara said primly. "Well, you'll just have to get over that. Butch, will you walk me home now?" She fluttered her eyelashes at the blue stallion.

"Why, certainly, Tamara." Butch took her hoof in his, and the two companionably exited the shop, leaving Tex alone at the table.

"He should have stayed in Bolivia after I'd dealt with him," Tex scowled.

* * *
Late the next afternoon, Tabby was in the middle of a strange scene in her living room; she was surrounded by creatures of all sorts: a cream-colored cat walking upright on his hind legs; a small blue ball-shaped creature with long, green leaves apparently sprouted out of its head; a sphere-shaped pink animal with large, blue eyes; a small orange fox with six tails; a dainty, pale pink cat; a round, fuzzy black bug-like creature; a cat-sized yellow rodent; and an aqua turtle with big, cute eyes.

No, it wasn't an alien invasion; these were just her Pokèmon. In previous months, she had kept them in PokèBalls most of the time; however, Tabby had discovered how fun it was just to sit down and have a conversation with all of them. Tabby was currently shrieking with laughter over a story she was telling them. ", Clever Clover answered that Friendly was..."

All the Pokèmon were chortling with laughter after hearing the full account. That's the way to deal with salesmen! Squirtle said in his own Pokèmon-language, which Tabby could easily understand now.

Tabby, you've been very secretive over something since last night. What's up? Mew questioned, abruptly changing the subject.

"Secretive?" Tabby opened her eyes wide in innocence. "What do you mean by that?"

Mew's right, Oddish agreed. You keep grinning to yourself for no reason. You always do that when you have something up your sleeve.

"I suppose I can confide in you guys," Tabby said reluctantly. "Just don't tell anybody else-- why, if Sugarberry found out, I know she'd be disappointed in me." She paused. "Well, I guess I've already done a zillion things she didn't approve of; but, that's not the point--"

What is the point? Jigglypuff demanded.

"It's simply to uphold the good family name," Tabby explained.

Tarquin groaned. "Tabby, does this have anything to do with the fact that Tamara is going out with Butch tonight?" (Tarquin was Tabby's only Pokèmon who could speak English.)

"I'm only getting Tamara to forget about Tex, lest he somehow get on my family tree," Tabby said in defense.

O-oh! Clever idea, if I know what you're talking about! Vulpix said excitedly.

"I just know it'll work out for me," Tabby said confidently.

What about for Tamara? Venonat prodded.

"It'll work out for her, too," Tabby assured him. "She'll be better off with Butch. He's a zillion times better than Tex."

If you think so highly of Butch, maybe you should be the one to start dating him, Pikachu tittered.

Tabby gave Pikachu a sharp glance. "I would never--"

"--because you're already in love with Thomas," Tarquin finished for her.

"Hmpf." Tabby simply tossed her mane back as she got up from her seat on the couch. "Come to the kitchen, guys. We must prepare our own supper tonight, as Sugarberry isn't home this evening."

Are you going to ruin the main course like you did last time? Squirtle couldn't help but ask.

"No," Tabby said confidently, "because we're going to have cold, leftover chicken."

* * *
"Next time I should leave more leftovers," Tabby sighed a little later as she and her Pokèmon made their way to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe.

Venonat stole half my piece, Jigglypuff complained.

That's because my piece was very small, Venonat defended himself.

And that's because there was not enough leftover chicken for all of us, Mew finished.

"I'm sorry..." Tabby apologized.

It's okay, Oddish consoled her. We're just glad you're buying us all ice cream to make up for it.

"Well, yes, it's the least I can do," Tabby agreed.

Why, look! Mew suddenly exclaimed excitedly. Up ahead! I believe it's a Hitmonlee!

"A Hitmonlee?" Tabby gasped. Why, yes, ahead of them on their path-- walking the same direction they were-- was a muscular brown figure, similar to a human in shape, but with a rounded upper torso that engulfed his head.

He has his back turned to us, Vulpix added. Let's get in a quick surprise attack.

"Right!" Tabby nodded her head quickly in agreement. "Tarquin, go get hi--" She paused. "Wait, no, Tarkie. You're weak to fighting."

Decide quick, Pikachu urged. He might get away, or else notice us and get in the first kick.

Tabby, however, stopped in silence for several more moments. "Mew, you go get him!" she finally decided. "He ought to be weak to psychic-types like you."

What attack should I use on him first? Mew questioned, eyeing her opponent.

"Umm... umm... just use your strongest funny mysterious psychic power!" Tabby exclaimed suddenly. "Just do something, Mew! He's almost out of sight!"

"All right..." Mew started floating towards the tough-looking Pokèmon. However, just then he turned, showing his large, beady black eyes.

"So much for the surprise attack," Tarquin gulped.

"Hit... mon... lee!" the Pokèmon cried, leaping towards Mew with a long leg outstretched, prepared to kick out at her.

Mew, agile as she was, expertly jumped out of the way. She floated silently in air, appearing to be concentrating heavily on something.

Yeah! Go, Mew! Squirtle cheered.

You can knock ‘im out! Vulpix cried.

"What's she doing?" Tabby asked softly, eyeing her Mew.

"Preparing to attack, I think," Tarquin said.

Just as Hitmonlee was preparing to attack again, he was suddenly surrounded by a strange, purple glow. Confusion showed in his eyes as he was suddenly lifted into the air, unable to move.

Mew patiently remained in her present position with her eyes closed. All of a sudden, the purple aura that surrounded Hitmonlee began to suddenly move him backwards. He hit hard into a large tree-trunk, and dropped to the ground. His eyes slowly closed. "Mon... lee..." he murmured weakly.

Catch him, now! Mew instructed, opening her eyes.

"Here goes nothing..." Tabby took out an empty PokèBall and aimed to throw it at the still form of the Hitmonlee. It hit him straight on the head, and he was engulfed in the strange red glow which emanated from the ball. He disappeared into it in a blinding flash of light.

Tabby watched in apprehension as the ball slowly tottered around over the ground, a red light still showing on it. The light finally shut off. "I got a Hitmonlee!" she cried jubilantly, running towards the PokèBall and picking it up in her hoof. "I never really thought about wanting one; but, hey, I'm not complainin'!"

It was a simple task, Mew said modestly.

"And now that he's mine," Tabby said happily, "I'll get him out again so we can all get acquainted." She held the PokèBall high. "Alright, Hitmonlee, come on out!"

The brown fighting Pokèmon reappeared in another flash of red light. "Hitmonlee," he said grudgingly.

"Aw, it's okay," Tabby said, patting her new Pokèmon on the back. "You'll do fine with me as your trainer."

Hitmonlee still looked rather gloomy; but, he did know that he had been fairly defeated and walked along with Tabby and the rest of the Pokèmon as they continued their journey to get to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe.

"So, Mr. Hitmonlee, what were ya doin' out in Dream Valley?" Tabby asked cheerfully.

"Monlee," he replied regretfully.

"Gosh!" Tabby said in surprise. To Tarquin, she whispered, "What'd he say? I haven't picked up on the Hitmonlee language yet, ya know."

"He said... he said he was on his way to get ice cream," Tarquin translated in surprise.

"Hit... mon," Hitmonlee nodded.

Why, Hitmonlee, this is the best thing in the world that could have happened to you! Oddish exclaimed.

That's exactly where we were headed when we ran across you-- to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe, Pikachu added.

"Hitmon?" The Pokèmon apparently perked up.

And Tabby goes there every night, Squirtle went on. If you like the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe, Tabby's the perfect trainer for you!

"Hitmonlee! Hitmonlee!" he exclaimed joyously. "Hitmon! Hitmonlee!"

"Yep, I think we're going to get along quite well," Tabby said to her new Hitmonlee. "Why, here we are already at the good ol' Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe!"

And so, the rather mish-matched group entered the shop-- chicken leftovers and Mews getting in the way of ice cream forgotten.

* * *
However, another soul already in the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe was not happy at all. Tex gloomily stared down into his ice cream. There was no Tamara to share the evening with tonight. And all because of that Butch, he thought bitterly to himself. As if he hasn't done enough already, and now he has to go and try to steal Tamara from me.

Tex was just about to come across a valuable ally in his new battle against Butch, though. As it happened, Tiffany passed by the table he was sitting at right then. "Good evening, Tex," she greeted him cordially. "Tamara running late tonight?"

"She's off with Butch..." Tex mumbled.

"Butch?" Tiffany's eyes flew wide open. "Butch? What is she doing with Butch?"

Tex scowled. "They're at Wig Wam's casino."

Tiffany was still a bit shocked over this piece of news, and took the liberty of taking the seat across from Tex. "Now, how did it happen that Tamara decided to go with Butch tonight?" she demanded.

"Well, he stopped by our table last night, and gave her that necklace she'd lost," Tex sighed. "That really won her over; and, well, now she's at the casino with him."

"Something has got to be done about this," Tiffany said firmly. "Tamara can't end up with Butch. She just can't! Why, Butch, he just-- he just lives in a dilapidated shack in the forest." She shuddered at the thought. "We can't let Tamara get involved with someone like this."

"I already know that," Tex said regretfully.

"Since she is an honorary princess, it would make all of us princesses look terrible if word gets out one of us is seeing a shady stallion from the Dark Forest!" Tiffany continued.

"I remember the night she was declared a princess." Tex smiled at the memory.

Tiffany was silent for several moments, thinking. "Now, you say they're at Wig Wam's casino," she finally said. "Has Tamara ever mentioned that place before?"

"No," Tex shook his head. "She did hint last night, though, that she'd always wanted to go there."

"Then, I think the course of action is obvious," Tiffany declared. "You must top whatever Butch does."

"And how do I do that?" Tex demanded.

"Buy her a necklace that's even better and more expensive than the one Butch gave back to her last night," Tiffany started.

"That'll win her back?" Tex asked skeptically.

"You'll have to go further than that," Tiffany continued. "Fly her to Las Vegas for the weekend."

"Las Vegas?" Tex echoed.

"Of course," Tiffany said knowledgeably. "If she likes gambling, she'll have even more of a blast in Las Vegas than at Wig Wam's little place."

"Tiffany, you're exactly right!" Tex exclaimed. "That's great advice. Butch won't be able to beat that! I've really got to look into this now. Good evening!" With that, he abruptly got up from his chair and left the shop.

"I can pick a necklace out for her, if you'd like," Tiffany called after him. "You can just pay me back later."

"Yes, do that, please!" Tex replied, stepping out the door.

* * *
Early the next morning, while Tabby was still preparing for work, the doorbell rang. Tabby set down her hairbrush. Who could it be at this time of day? she mused to herself as she trotted downstairs to the door. Unless Sugarberry has found out about my scheme and has come to... Tabby gulped at the thought.

Luckily for Tabby, however, it was only the mysterious cloaked flower deliverer standing on the porch. "A delivery for Miss Tamara," the figure said simply as he pulled a long, white box from a concealed place in his cloak.

"Tamara, eh?" Tabby mused as she took the white floral box from him. The flower deliverer gave a quick nod and disappeared from the porch and into his delivery cart in the blink of an eye. Tabby didn't think anything of this; she had gotten used to his mysterious ways.

Walking back into the house and closing the door, Tabby couldn't resist looking into the box to see who had sent the flowers. She was hoping it was Butch.

Lifting off the lid revealed a large bouquet of brilliantly-colored chrysanthemums. Tabby skimmed over the attached card and smiled in satisfaction. Yes, they were from Butch as a gift to Tamara.

Tabby quickly put the card and lid back in place as she heard Tamara's hoofsteps coming down the stairs. "Was that the doorbell I heard?" Tamara questioned, yawning.

"Ah, yes. The flower deliverer dropped off these for you," Tabby explained, shoving the box into Tamara's hooves, and waiting around expectantly.

"Oh? Flowers?" Tamara's ears perked up as she peeked into the box. "Aren't they beautiful?" she gasped, pulling the bouquet up into the air.

"Who'd you get them from?" Tabby prodded. She had to find out what Tamara's opinion on Butch was by now.

"Butch," Tamara replied dreamily, sticking her nose into the bouquet and inhaling deeply.

"Butch? Is that who you were with last night?" Tabby interrogated.

"Yes. We had a wonderful time at Wig Wam's casino," Tamara sighed happily. "I'm not a half-bad gambler."

"Mmm," Tabby said thoughtfully. "What's with seeing Butch all of a sudden?"

"I've only gone out with him once, Tabby," Tamara said primly. "Although... he is rather fun to be with." She let out a high-pitched giggle.

"We'll just see how long it takes until you get sick of him," Tabby said in a bored tone.

" ‘Get sick of him'!" Tamara sniffed. "Oh, Tabitha!"

Tabby just retreated to the kitchen. She hoped her taunting would have the desired effect. Now that Tamara thought Tabby believed her obsession with Butch wouldn't last long, Tamara was bound to stick with him longer!

* * *
"You will never guess where I'm going, Tabitha! You'll just never guess!" Tamara squealed in an over-excited tone as her cousin got back home from the Pokèmon Center.

Tabby paused for several moments, thinking. She hated questions like that. "Just tell me," she finally said, impatiently.

"Tex just came over and said he's taking me to Las Vegas for the weekend!" Tamara exclaimed.

"Tex?" Tabby opened her eyes wide. "Las Vegas?"

"Yes! Oh, this is just so thrilling, I can't stand it--"

"That is one of my lines," Tabby informed her loftily. "Don't use it too often."

Tamara raised an eyebrow. "I had no idea you had your lines copyrighted, Tabitha."

"You're not going to do anything... rash there, are you?" Tabby gulped.

" ‘Rash'?" Tamara raised as eyebrow. "What do you mean by that?"

"Anything besides... gambling?" Tabby squeaked.

Tamara eyed her cousin strangely. "We'll eat, of course. Anyway--" She reverted back to her high-pitched voice. "--I must go and call Tiffany and all the other princesses and-- well, anybody else I can think of-- right away!" Tamara giddily ran into the living room.

With Tamara out of her sight, Tabby stood in the hallway for several moments, waiting for her heart to stop beating so hard. Tex, taking her to Las Vegas for a weekend? Tex hadn't been that jealous of Butch taking Tamara out that one night, had he? They weren't going to get married in Las Vegas, were they?

Tabby scurried into the kitchen. Tamara hadn't sounded as if she was hiding something, but you never knew. She must try to do something! Tarquin was already in the kitchen, checking on the supply of cherry pie filling. Normally, this was the time of day Tabby would get all her Pokèmon out, but she was too annoyed with Tex at the moment. However, she had an idea.

"Tarquin," she said to her Meowth sweetly, "I need your help."

Tarquin quickly slammed shut a cupboard door and jumped down to the ground. "What with this time?" he queried.

"With the Tamara scheme," Tabby explained quickly. "Tex is taking her to Las Vegas for the weekend and we must do something about it!!"

"Oh," Tarquin nodded knowledgeably. "Want me to claw him over the face or something?"

"Hmm, that might work, but not now-- it might get complicated," Tabby considered. "I want you to go talk to Tamara's Persian while she's busy on the phone-- while Tamara's busy on the phone, that is."

"I can do that..." Tarquin said thoughtfully. "What am I supposed to say?"

"You must convince her to convince Tamara that she must not go with Tex to Las Vegas-- or anywhere, after this-- at any cost," Tabby said. "Persian doesn't like Tex much either, you know."

"Alright, I'll try." Tarquin noticed the urgency in his trainer's voice and slipped out of the kitchen and up the stairs to Tamara's room (formerly his room) where Persian always hung out.

"Persian?" Tarquin said quietly as he discreetly entered the room.

The sleek white cat Pokèmon was napping on the windowsill. What do you ask of me this time? she yawned in her Pokèmon-speech while lazily opening an eye.

"We know you don't like Tex all that well," Tarquin began.

He is a low-class peasant. I have no need to be bothered with talk of him, Persian said in dismissal.

"But what about talk of getting him out of the picture?" Tarquin said coaxingly.

That I might listen to. Persian elegantly leaped onto the soft carpeting of the room. You have a plan?

"Tabby has a plan," Tarquin corrected. "The plan is for Tamara to begin seeing Butch and forget about Tex."

Interesting prospect, Persian purred. Tamara was talking to herself about a certain Butch last night. Exactly what would I do?

"Tex doesn't like the fact of Butch intruding on his territory, and is taking Tamara to Las Vegas for the weekend," Tarquin supplied.

Las Vegas... Tamara did not mention anything of marriage, did she? Persian questioned.

"Well... I don't know. That's why it's necessary that you try to convince her that Butch is better than Tex."

Very well, Persian concluded. I shall try to get across to Tamara. Please leave me in peace now; the afternoon rays of sun are fast disappearing and I cannot afford to miss my sun-bathing today. In a fluid motion, she jumped back into the windowsill and made herself comfortable, obviously closing the conversation.

Tarquin shrugged and walked downstairs to update Tabby. He had tried, and hopefully Persian would, too.

* * *
"I'm leaving for Vegas tomorrow with Tex!" Tamara squealed to Persian later that night as she hunted through her closet. "This will be one fantastic weekend!"

Persian snootily stuck her nose in the air in distaste and walked away from Tamara, trying to get her message across: You needn't waste time with that stallion.

"I'll have to take all my best jewelry... and make-up," Tamara hummed to herself happily.

"Per-sian!" Persian yowled.

Tamara glanced over at her Pokèmon. "I hope you're not going to start screaming like that as a habit."

Persian ground her teeth. It was a simple message: Tex is boring!

"I do hope Tabby will take good care of you while I'm gone," Tamara said, flopping down on her bed. "And please don't pick up any bad habits from that Tarquin. That's not where you're getting the yowling from, is it?"

Persian let out a low growl. "Per-per-sian." Listen to Tabby. Tex is evil. And if you marry him, I'm going to scratch you over the face.

"Goodnight, Persian," was all Tamara said as she switched off her bedside lamp.

Sometimes... Persian muttered under her breath.

* * *
The weekend passed slowly for Butch, and quickly for Tabby. Butch was depressed from having Tamara gone. Tabby had convinced herself that Tamara was not planning on marrying Tex in Las Vegas, so she busied herself hanging out with the rest of the gang in the Bushwoolie holes watching Friendly play computer games, or else bragging about her new Hitmonlee. Why, she'd almost forgotten about the current situation with Tex and Butch.

That is, until Tamara got home late Sunday evening. She was flushed with excitement as she came home that night, lugging her suitcase. She was bubbling over with details to Tabby as soon as she walked in the door. Tabby went quite pale in the face, desperately hoping Tamara had no earth-shattering news to share.

"My room in the hotel was positively spacious, Tabby! You wouldn't believe the space. I simply adore big-city living-- not that I don't like Dream Valley, of course. Gambling the days away..." Tamara's eyes got a far-off, dreamy look on her face. "...with Tex by my side." (Author's note-- Tex and Tamara were not sharing a room. They each had one of their own.)

"Eh... eh... oh, for Pete's sake, Tamara, you didn't marry Tex, did you?!" Tabby finally came straight-out and demanded.

"You do get the strangest delusions, Tabitha," Tamara sighed.

Tabby smiled to herself. At least that was cleared up now, and she could go back to her regular taunting. "Las Vegas is so... is so... is so..." Tabby groped for the right word.

"Busy? Fascinating? Wonderful?" Tamara supplied.

"It's so... un-classy," Tabby frowned. "I can't believe you spent a weekend there."

Tamara gave her cousin a disapproving look. "I suppose to you ‘class' is the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe," she sniffed.

"Well, obviously," Tabby said promptly.

"I suppose I won't give you all the details, as you wouldn't appreciate it," Tamara sighed. "I'll just have to wait until tomorrow when I can visit Tiffany. Oh! You wouldn't believe the necklace Tex gave me! Did you see it yet?" Tamara lifted a stunningly bright chain off her neck. "Isn't that the most beautiful thing you ever saw?!"

Tabby looked at the ruby-and-diamond encrusted gold chain, and was unimpressed. "That just plain emerald one you have looks better," was all she said.

"Well, yes, that one's nice and all," Tamara said neutrally, "but..." She suddenly sighed dreamily. "Oh, I remember the other night when Butch returned it to me. It was so considerate of him, don't you think?"

"Actually, it was," Tabby said in full agreement. "It's a lot more considerate to return a lost one than to just buy a new one."

"Maybe you're right..." Tamara murmured. "I'll have to get in touch with Butch tomorrow, too..."

* * *
"Butch," Tabby hissed into the phone receiver once Tamara had gone up to her room, "she's back!"

"Finally!" Butch said in relief. "It seemed like weeks without her."

"It was only two days; but that's bad enough, because she was with Tex all that time. She says she's going to get in touch with you tomorrow."

"Where should I take her next?" Butch asked anxiously. "Where would she like to go? You should know."

"Take her... take her to see Star Wars Episode One!" Tabby said triumphantly, after a pause. "That outta still be playing in theaters. And better send some more flowers."

"Will do," Butch said breathlessly, quickly hanging up.

Tabby yawned. Perhaps she would have a conversation with her Pokèmon, thought it was already late it night. She quickly had them all gathered in the living room.

"How much longer do you suppose it'll be until Tex gives up on Tamara?" Tabby mused.

He won't give up too easily, Vulpix predicted.

"I thought that's what you'd say," Tabby frowned.

Think about it, Mew added. If someone wanted one of your plush Tea Bunnies, you wouldn't part with them after even two offers, would you?

"Well... no," Tabby said, after pausing to meditate on that fact. She sighed. "You're right. It does take a lot of work to uphold the family name."

"We've all got villains on our family tree, I'm sure," Tarquin said in consolation.

"That may be so," Tabby said in a sudden burst of energy, "but I won't give up without a fight, either!"

* * *
While eating supper the next evening-- she hadn't seen Tamara at all in the morning-- Tabby noticed a note on her refrigerator:

Tabby, gone to a movie with Butch. Will be back later. By the way, I got another bouquet, and set it up in the entryway with the other. Tah-tah! Tamara

"Very good," Tabby said in satisfaction, and looked around at all the Pokèmon seated there as well. "Two bouquets and two dates with Butch, and only one weekend with Tex."

It will be interesting to see how this turns out, Oddish commented.

"It'll turn out just right," Tabby assured them all for the millionth time, and then got up from her chair. "Ahh, there's the doorbell. I hope it isn't Tex dropping by to see Tamara..."

She apprehensively opened the door. It was... the mysterious cloaked flower deliverer? Again?

"A delivery for Miss Tamara," the cloaked human figure said, as he always did; and handed over the long white box, as he always did; and disappeared back into his cart, as he always did.

"They're from Tex," Tabby moaned, taking the liberty of lifting the flowers from the box instead of Tamara.

Tarquin had followed after her. "Hide them, so she never sees them," he suggested.

"If Fluff were my cat, I could just have him eat them," Tabby mused, but then shuddered. "...and then he'd throw-up..."

"I'll stick them under the couch for now," Tabby said, heading towards the living room, "and dispose of them better later." With this deed done, she trotted back to the kitchen. "Come on, guys, into your PokèBalls! I do regret not being able to take you to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe every night, but..."

* * *
"What were you doing tonight?" Tabby asked, as usual, as soon as Tamara entered the front door later that evening.

"With Butch..." Tamara smiled. "He took me to see that new Star Wars movie."

"You hadn't seen it before tonight?" Tabby yawned. "I did months ago, with Spike n' Cleve Clove n' Friendly n'--"

"I've never been that into sci-fi," Tamara said, interrupting Tabby, "but with Butch by my side, the movie was so exciting. He even held my hoof." She sighed dreamily.

"I'm getting sick of your dreamy sighs," Tabby sighed in annoyance.

"And I'm getting sick of your sighs of annoyance," Tamara responded, walking towards the living room.

Tabby's eyes immediately opened wide. She hoped Tamara didn't notice anything out-of-place in there... she had meant to find a better hiding place for the flowers before now, but she'd forgotten...

It was too late. Tamara had stooped down next to the couch and was extracting the flower box from underneath. "What in the world did you stash down here?" she sighed in exasperation.

It is so interesting, Tabby thought to herself, how very many kinds of sighs there are. There are dreamy sighs, annoyed sighs, exasperated sighs, happy sighs, sad sighs, surprised sighs, bored sighs-- She was suddenly snapped back into her present dilemma. "Wait, wait!" she cried, dashing over to snatch the flower box from Tamara. "Those are private papers of mine inside," she said defensively.

Tamara made a grab back for the box and swiftly opened it. "Hmm, they look a lot like flowers," she mused, suspiciously glancing at Tabby. "Not like personal papers at all. Especially this card attached that reads from Tex to Tamara..."

"Well, I thought that's what was in it..." Tabby said, attempting to sound innocent, but she knew her cousin had her cornered.

"Next time, don't let me catch you messing with my flowers," Tamara said calmly, walking into the main hallway with the box.

Tabby sighed. She wished the box hadn't stuck out from under the couch like that...

A few moments later, she heard a shriek come from Tamara. "Tabitha! That scuzzy barn cat of yours was nibbling the leaves off my first bouquet!" she screamed.

Tabby rushed to her cat's rescue. "She's not a scuzzy barn cat," she said defensively, "and she was only eating those leaves for dessert."

"She is not be caught eating leaves or flowers again," Tamara said coolly, setting up Tex's bouquet next to the first two from Butch. Then she stormed off up the stairs.

"Callie," Tabby said, stroking her fluffy cat as she made her way into the living room, "you can nibble on Tex's bouquet; just not Butch's, okay?"

* * *
Tiffany had invited Tex over to the Royal Paradise that same evening to scheme over Butch. "Tamara has still not been repelled by his lack of good upbringing, has she?" she questioned of Tex.

"I'm afraid not," Tex sighed.

"Taking her to a movie is so lower-classed," Tiffany sniffed. "I know what she'd really enjoy."

"What's that?" Tex asked eagerly. He was always willing to take advice from Tiffany on this latest dilemma.

"There's a traveling orchestra group coming through Dream Valley tomorrow night," Tiffany advised him. "The tickers were hot sellers, but I managed to get two for myself." She extracted two slips of paper from her purse.

"Tamara would love an orchestra performance!" Tex said breathlessly. "Aren't there any tickets available now?"

"Unfortunately, no," Tiffany told him. "However... I would be willing to sell these two to you for the price I paid," she added quickly.

"You're a great help, Tiffany!" Tex exclaimed. "I know Tamara'll see Butch's true side sooner or later."

"But we can't let her forget about you in the meantime," Tiffany added. "In fact, since I know it's for a good cause, I could give you a slight discount on the price of these tickets. Of course, it'd be a good idea to send another bouquet to her, but even better than the one you sent earlier today..."

* * *
Tabby's head was spinning a bit all throughout the following week. Butch had started off with taking Tamara to Wig Wam's casino; then Tex took her to Las Vegas. Butch took her to Episode One, but Tex got his hooves on some tickets to a fancy orchestra. Then the bowling alley. Then dinner at the Estate Manor. Then a swim at the river. Then a trip to the Dream Valley Water Park...

Of course, the flowers hadn't stopped coming, either. Tex had topped Butch's chrysanthemums with dahlias. Butch had topped Tex's dahlias with hydrangeas. Then Tex went with calla lilies. Butch went with sweet peas, Tex with gladiolus. Next, Butch sent roses. Red roses.

"How will they top roses, Sugarberry?" Tabby commented to her friend one evening when she was visiting.

"I think we're about to find out," Sugarberry noted, glancing out the window and seeing the mysterious cloaked flower deliverer's cart parked outside.

Tabby sighed. This had been a regular practice for the past six days. A bouquet in the morning, and another in the evening. It was expected of Tabby to immediately set them up in the main hallway.

"It's beginning to look like a funeral parlor in here," Tabby said cheerfully, adding the latest addition-- yellow roses (to match Tamara's "beautiful eyes") from Tex-- to the display.

"Oh, no, it looks bright and cheerful!" Sugarberry exclaimed. "I'd love a room in my house to look like this!"

Tabby stood back and surveyed the effect. "Bright and cheerful on the outside, yes. But the ulterior motive under it all is war."

"War over a single unicorn," Sugarberry nodded in agreement. "But still, the flowers are pretty..."

Tabby hummed to herself as she trotted over to her bookshelf and extracted a volume. "We," she declared, "shall consult in here and see what would top yellow roses."

The book Tabby had picked was the Anne of Green Gables Treasury, which had a chapter in it soley devoted to flowers and their meanings in Anne's time. "Great idea!" Sugarberry exclaimed, and looked over Tabby's shoulder as she read.

" ‘Pink roses are love hopeful and expectant,' Tabby quoted from the book. " ‘White roses are love dead or forsaken'. Red roses are ‘love triumphant'."

"Tamara already got red roses," Sugarberry mused, "and you can't really get better than ‘love triumphant'."

"And they said nothing of yellow roses, which Tex just sent." Tabby slammed the book shut and replaced it on the shelf.

"It's what's in the heart of the giver, and not the meaning in a book," Sugarberry reminded Tabby.

"Oh! Oh! Tamara's home!" Tabby squealed, hearing the front door open.

"Since when are you so overjoyed at Tamara getting home?" Sugarberry asked, eyeing her friend suspiciously.

Tabby swallowed and tried to look intelligent. She had forgotten that Sugarberry hadn't managed to find out about her little scheme yet-- and Tabby certainly didn't want to give it away now! "Oh, I just have to ask her something," she replied primly.

Sugarberry wasn't completely satisfied with this reply, but kept quiet. Tamara was now in the house, admiring her latest bouquet. "Oh! Yellow roses! To match my eyes! Isn't that sweet of Tex?" she cooed to her cousin.

"Red roses are better than yellow," Tabby said bluntly. "Besides," she added slyly, "red matches your mane."

Tamara extracted one of the yellow roses from the bouquet and wandered down the hallway, clutching it in her hoof. "Oh, but the yellow seems to have so much more meaning."

Tabby was somewhat infuriated that Tamara still seemed to be preferring Tex this late in the deal, but kept her mouth shut from any further comments. Butch would win her over-- she was still certain of that!

All of a sudden, the doorbell rang. This doorbell ringing was really getting on Tabby's nerves, having to listen to it at least twice a day for a straight week. "Tamara, you get it," she said simply, stalking into the living room. Sugarberry followed after.

"Something seems to be on your mind, Tabby," Sugarberry prodded, taking a seat in one of the chairs.

"I am just sick of ringing doorbells," Tabby snapped, and continued on without thinking. "And scheming for Butch. For Pete's sake, can't he come up with any ideas on his own?!"

Sugarberry's eyes flew open. " ‘Scheming for Butch'? Tabby, are you the one that started this war?"

"Butch did," Tabby went on fluently. She felt like ranting and raving, after keeping all this a secret from her best friend for this eternity. "But I only helped him along for the sake of the family name."

"The good Fershund name, huh?" Sugarberry rolled her eyes. "I think I see the basic outline of the plot."

"However," Tabby hissed, "Tamara is still leaning towards Tex. And I simply can't bear to think of-- possibly--" She shuddered in mid-sentence. "--him being on my family tree someday."

"It would be a tragedy, I'm sure," Sugarberry agreed, humoring her friend.

"You're just saying that to make me feel better," Tabby scowled.

"You are caught in the most interesting plots," Sugarberry said in amusement, "but some things are just better not messed with, no matter the cost to your family tree."

* * *
Meanwhile, Tamara was oblivious to Tabby spilling out her whole under-hoofed plot, and was heading towards the door. She opened it slowly and lady-like, and was a bit surprised by who was waiting on the doorstep. Butch and Tex.

"We both arrived here at the same time," Butch explained curtly, glaring at Tex.

"Well... why don't the two of you come in?" Tamara said brightly, not forgetting her manners... whatever the situation.

"Butch, I only have to see Tamara for a minute," Tex said steadily, "if you'd be so kind."

"Of course," Butch muttered, his eyes staring straight at the ground.

"Why, certainly, Tex," Tamara invited him in, still holding one of the yellow roses. "What is it you have to see me about?" She closed the door securely behind him.

There were several eavesdroppers on Tex and Tamara's conversation, however. Butch found he could hear what they were saying by just putting his ear up against the door.

Tabby was still ranting on about all the details of her wonderful plan to Sugarberry when she abruptly turned towards the entrance to the living room. "Who is that at the door, anyway?" she muttered somewhat to herself, peeking around the corner and into the hallway.

"Who is it?" Sugarberry asked curiously.

Tabby made a sour face. "Tex," she whispered. "Don't make so much noise. I've got to find out what they're saying."

Sugarberry shrugged. This scheme of Tabby's would disappear in a puff of smoke soon, she predicted. Taking a stance similar to her friend's, they both inconspicuously listened in.

"I see you got my roses," Tex commented, staring at the one in Tamara's hoof.

"Oh, yes... and they're... beautiful," Tamara stuttered, blushing.

"What I wanted to say, Tamara, is..." Tex cleared his throat.

"What is it?" Tamara looked at him expectantly.

"Well... that is... if you like Butch that much, that's okay, and I'll leave you alone," Tex said in a rush. "And I'll fend for myself."

Tamara's heart was extremely softened by Butch's great sacrifice... and the bouquet of roses that matched her eyes, that is. All of a sudden it hit her that she wouldn't be able to stand giving up Tex... certainly, Butch was nice and all, but he wasn't Tex. And Tex was... Tex was... "Oh, Tex!" she said in a sudden burst of sentimentality. "Don't even think about it! I would never dump you for Butch!"

"You wouldn't?" Tex looked relieved and puzzled at the same time.

"Well, it just came to me now, but it's true!" With that, Tamara threw her forelegs around Tex's neck. "You're a zillion times better than Butch!"

"There she goes, stealing my lines again," Tabby hissed to Sugarberry.

"Well... I'm flattered," Tex finally said, still amazed at how easy it had been to win Tamara back.

"I'm never going to think about Butch again!" Tamara declared.

"That's wonderful and all, but he's standing on your front porch," Tex said slowly.

"That's my front porch, loser," Tabby whispered venomously.

"That's right; I am," a new voice rang out in the hall. Butch threw open the door. "Tamara, is this what you'd planned all from the start? To humiliate me like this in front of Tex?"

"She has every right to change her mind," Tex retorted, turning to stare at his enemy.

"I really hate war zones," Tabby sighed, "especially when they're in my house."

"Do you really suppose we should be eavesdropping any more?" Sugarberry asked quietly.

Tabby shrugged. "Butch was. I don't see why we shouldn't."

Tamara gasped slightly. "Oh! Butch! I didn't know you were... listening."

"I was listening, all right," Butch hissed, "and I think it's just plain cruel of you to have led a guy on like this."

"That's not what I was planning," Tamara said after a pause, "and it's not that I don't like you or anything, but..."

"She doesn't need to explain everything to you," Tex came to Tamara's defense, "and if you stand here one more second throwing insults at her, I'm going to--"

"Oh, for Pete's sake," Tabby muttered. "I am going to go out there and whack him over the head pretty soon."

"I don't see why I'd want to hang around any longer," Butch retorted, "now that Tamara has shown her true side to me." With that, he stomped out the door.

With that taken care of, Tamara turned to Tex and batted her eyelashes. "Tex, that was so brave of you," she cooed.

"I knew you'd find out sooner or later that Butch was nothing but trouble," Tex said in satisfaction. "Tamara, would you like to go to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe with me?"

Tamara giggled. "Why, of course, Tex. I'd love that." And so, the once-again happy couple proceeded out the door.

"I think," Tabby said slowly, getting up and stretching after staying in that crouched position for so long, "that Butch had better get ready to send some white roses out."


After being shown a vision of a dark future for Ponyland by the mysterious flame-maned unicorn, Epona, Brightblade set out to recover the legendary Warrior's Horn to prevent the vision from coming true. Having recovered the Horn, Brightblade now travels with Epona and the warrior raven, Breeks, to confront the source of the darkness. Now the three travelers stand at the very brink of the heart of darkness.

Brightblade Warpony
An Epic

Recorded by Clipper as dictated by the bard Ramon

Chapter 18

The three adventurers crept through the passages of the dark fortress. Brightblade was sure they were lost; all the passages looked the same, but he was positive they had passed the same intersection several times. He had no idea where they were going, however, so all he could do was trust and follow Epona, who seemed confident in her leadership.

Several times they had to duck into a side passage to avoid the denizens of the fortress, but they never came into conflict. It seemed like they had been sneaking about the dark hallways forever when Epona finally spoke. "The time is nigh for your final challenge. Beyond the doors in the next chamber sits the ogre-lord who is behind the threat to Ponyland. It is he and he alone you must defeat." Brightblade nodded in response.

Next, Epona strode confidently out of the passage into a large chamber. Its high ceiling came to an arched peek. The dark openings of several other passages opened into the chamber. On one wall was a huge double door. When Brightblade and Breeks entered the chamber, they noticed numerous creatures-- goblins, imps, and shades; all of whom seemed oblivious to the intrusion to their realm.

The heavy door seemed an impassable barrier to their progress but Epona seemed undaunted. She stepped up to the doors and touched her horn to them. The doors swung inward-- even though the hinges were made to swing outward-- and reveled the innermost chamber of the dark fortress. Across from the doors-- on a throne of stone upon a raised dias-- sat the lord of darkness, attended by his entourage of creatures.

The lord himself was a hideous sight-- a huge ogre with fangs, horns, pointed ears, and a massive belly that hung over his belt. His scaly skin was mottled sickly green and black. He wore naught but a loin cloth, though a pile of leather and steel armor lay beside his throne. A heavy iron sword lay across his knees.

"So, Epona," the ogre spoke as he waved away his attendants. "You have seen fit to stick your nose into my business once again. I have been expecting you." The ogre rose and swung the sword about his head. "Well, let's be on with it. Which of these is your champion? The bird or the faux unicorn? Ha-ha! Either way, it will hardly be worth the effort to slay him!"

Brightblade stepped forward and Breeks flew from the Warrior's Horn, where he had been perched, to the top of one of the doors. The Warpony spoke. "I am the champion not only of Ponyland, but of all the world of Light!"

"Humph! A brash young champion. He will not live long enough to learn better!" The ogre raised his sword and swung it at Brightblade's neck. The Warpony jumped back and brought the Warrior's Horn to meet the blow. When blade met horn there was a blinding flash of light; blinding, that is, to all but Brightblade.

When their vision cleared, the spectators gazed in wonder at the ogre's sword, or at least what remained of it. Where the blade had struck the horn, it was melted through; the severed edge of the blade still glowed bright red. The ogre threw down his now useless sword-hilt.

"You've much power, Warpony. I'll take great pleasure in squeezing it out of you!" The brute lunged at Brightblade, grasping for his throat. The pony stepped backward and to the side, leaving nought but thin air for the ogre to squeeze. The ogre howled in rage and lashed out again and again, but he could not catch the pony.

Brightblade grinned. "You fear my power, but even without it, you cannot touch me." The ogre growled and lunged again. Brightblade sidestepped and slapped the ogre's backside with the Horn as he passed. "Abandon your mad plan, ogre, or you shall have to face the full power of the Warrior's Horn!"


As the ogre lunged, Brightblade tripped him with the horn. The ogre fell to the ground with a slosh and a thud. Brightblade stood over his fallen opponent. "I gave you a chance to end this. Now you leave me no choice." The Warpony lowered his Horn and touched the ogre's chest. There was another flash of light, brighter than the earlier, but it blinded only the creatures of darkness. Time seemed to stand still as the chamber seemed forever bathed in white light. As the light slowly subsided, the ogre was nowhere to be seen. Upon regaining their sight, and seeing their master gone, the creatures of darkness fled and disappeared into unseen holes.

"He has been sent to another realm, one where he can cause no pain; at least not for the moment," Brightblade explained. "Ponyland is safe."

"You have done well, my champion. Now we may leave this place and have peace in the knowledge that harmony and light will continue in Ponyland."


All submissions are expected to stay true to the sweet, innocent nature of the MLPs. This means nothing immoral and nothing violent. I shall reject any submissions I do not think meet these requirements.


My Little Pony Monthly is a publication of Nematoid (Electronic) Publishing.

Our next issue will be sent October 1st.


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