Garden, Garden, Burning Bright by TheLoneWanderer
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It had been a long, tiring day for the earth pony Carrot Top. Thanks to another successful Winter Wrap-Up (managed by Ponyville’s own Princess ‘Checklist’ Sparkle), spring had come to Ponyville, and that meant it was time to plant seeds. As much as Carrot Top enjoyed the beauty of winter, her heart really belonged to spring. That was when she could resume gardening and fill the world with life. She had a remarkable talent for growing things – her vegetable garden was legendary, and she had won prizes in the Ponyville fair for the past five years. If anyone knew how to get the most out of plants, it was her.

Gardening was more than just a talent; it was her passion. It was what she lived for. It was what she was meant to do in this world, and she knew it. As soon as spring arrived she dove into action. Carrot Top plowed and fertilized her field, making sure it was ready for planting. Once everything was perfect she began the exciting work of planting her seeds, and now – after a long week of hard labor – the planting was done and she was satisfied.

At the end of a long day of work she looked over her beautiful garden and felt a tremendous feeling of satisfaction. Her garden was exactly the way she wanted it to be. Everything was pristine, perfectly spaced, and perfectly straight. There was not a weed to be seen or a single clod of dirt that was out of place. The field outside her home was a picture of harmony and order.

Now all she had to do was wait for her crop to sprout. With love and care, watering and weeding, she knew she would have another good harvest. She could feel it in her bones. This was going to be a good year.

When she finally collapsed into bed that night she was tired but happy. As she thought about the harvest she would have that fall, she drifted off to sleep – a sleep filled with happy dreams of growing things.

Around 3 am, though, she stirred. Something had disturbed her restful slumber. As the pony slowly woke up she thought she heard a noise. What was that sound? Was it her alarm clock?

She wearily opened her eyes, rubbed them with her hooves, and glanced at her clock. No, it definitely wasn’t time to get up. Carrot Top liked to rise early, but not this early. So what–

The pony was suddenly jolted out of bed by a large explosion that struck just outside her window. Her entire room rattled and her bedroom was flooded with a bright burst of eerie green light.

Carrot Top groaned. Not again! What is Pinkie up to this time? Didn’t the mayor tell her–

Her thought was interrupted by another bone-shaking explosion. A bit peeved, Carrot Top threw aside the covers and trotted over to the window. Ordinarily it would have been much too dark to see, but thanks to a series of intermittent explosions her room was lit with a much-too-bright green light. When she finally reached her window and looked outside she realized that this time the pink party pony was not to blame.

Down below, on the street, she saw an evil-looking silver unicorn. The stallion’s horn was glowing a sinister green color, and as she watched he shot a beam of dark magic into the night sky. The beam narrowly missed a purple alicorn that was charging through the star-studded sky at a high rate of speed. The alicorn made an arc in the air and fired a blast of purple magic at the pony on the ground. The unicorn tried to run, but the magic struck him and knocked him across the street.

Carrot Top sighed. Really? Again, Twilight? Can’t you save Equestria during daylight hours? Do you have to fight the forces of evil when everypony is trying to sleep? I mean, come on. You’re the most organized pony I’ve ever seen. Can’t you plan these things better?

The drowsy pony watched as the silver stallion struggled back onto his hooves. He shouted something at Twilight, but the words were blurred and indistinct. Or maybe Carrot Top was just too tired to understand. It’s not like the details really matter anyway, she thought to herself. Some villain is causing trouble and monologuing in the middle of the night. Why don’t these things ever happen in Manehattan instead?

The stallion suddenly vanished. Carrot Top blinked, wondering what happened, and then realized he had teleported himself onto the roof of Vinyl Scratch’s condo. When he vanished Twilight temporarily lost track of him – which gave him a chance to hit Twilight with his dark magic. The bolt of magic struck her squarely in the flank and sent her careening out of the sky and out of sight.

Carrot Top stretched her legs, yawned, and made her way downstairs. This fight wasn’t going to end anytime soon, and she sure wasn’t going to get any sleep while all that magic was going on. She might as well go outside and watch. After all, it was the first fight of the new season! Maybe it would be a memorable one. Last month’s fight with that giant marshmallow man had been really disappointing – Pinkie Pie ate the whole thing in thirty seconds flat. It was kind of a let-down.

By the time Carrot Top made it outside, the battle had resumed force. The unicorn (Carrot Top had somehow missed his name) was teleporting from roof to roof, taking pot shots at Twilight. Meanwhile, the purple princess darted around the sky, firing bolts of magic at the poor roofs of Ponyville. Shingles flew through the air, showering debris onto the streets below. If the citizens of Ponyville weren’t awake before, they were definitely awake now.

As Carrot Top watched the fight she was pleased to see that things were about to be kicked up a notch. Across the street Vinyl Scratch was dragging four huge speakers out her front door and setting them up in front of her condo. She then went back inside and wheeled out some sort of sound control box. Carrot Top didn’t know very much about sound equipment, but she recognized Vinyl’s legendary bass cannon when she saw it. This battle was about to get cranked.

As Vinyl wired up her sound system, Octavia staggered outside. The elegant gray pony was wearing a dark purple robe and looked dead tired.

“Vinyl, what in Equestria do you think you’re doing?” Octavia asked.

“I’m providing the sound track, of course,” Vinyl replied, as she plugged in the last wire. “That showdown up there needs some epic bass wubs to go with it, and I’m just the pony to provide them. Do you have any requests, Tavi? I’ve got ‘Wubs Make The World Go Round’, ‘Wub Me Tender,’ and your personal favorite – ‘All You Need is Wubs’. What do you want?”

“I want to go back to bed,” Octavia grumbled. “You’re the craziest pony I’ve ever known.”

“Why, thanks, Tavi,” Vinyl replied, as she slid on her signature glasses. “I do try to be exceptional.”

As the night sky lit up with powerful bolts of magic, Carrot Top trotted across the street. “Vinyl, do you have ‘Beyond Her Garden’?” she asked.

“You got it!” she replied cheerfully. The dj pony pressed a couple buttons and then cranked the sound all the way up to 11. A split second later the epic song reverberated through the streets.

The sound was so loud that it startled the evil silver unicorn, momentarily distracting him. That gave Twilight the opening she needed. She blasted the stallion with a bolt of magic, knocking him off the roof and into the field right next to Carrot Top’s house. Before Twilight could get in another shot, though, the unicorn’s horn glowed a dark green color and surrounded the pony with a spherical field of some kind. Twilight blasted away at it, but the glowing field simply absorbed the rays. The unicorn laughed at Twilight’s frustration.

“You can do it!” Bon Bon called out.

“Yeah, Twilight!” Lyra yelled. “You got this!”

As Vinyl’s epic bass reverberated through the streets (drawing even more ponies out of their homes), Carrot Top began dancing to the music. A moment later her friends joined her. Sure, it was three in the morning. But who could resist? After all, it’s not like she could just go back to bed.

“Block party!” a cheerful voice shouted behind her. Carrot Top turned around and saw that Pinkie Pie had shown up and was sitting in a lawnchair eating some popcorn. “Want some?” she asked.

“Sure, why not,” Carrot Top replied. She trotted over and grabbed a hoof-full of popcorn and began munching it. “So what’s going on?”

“Oh, Twilight caught somepony trying to steal a book from her castle,” Pinkie Pie explained. “She wasn’t very happy about it.”

“No kidding,” Carrot Top replied. Pinkie offered her a chair, and Carrot Top settled down to watch the battle. Since the fight was happening just across the street she had an excellent view. “But Pinkie, after the whole Tirek thing, who would be stupid enough to try to steal a book from Twilight? Doesn’t everypony know how psycho she gets when people touch her books?”

Pinkie Pie shrugged. “Beats me. It sure is entertaining to watch, though, isn’t it?”

Carrot Top watched as Twilight circled the unicorn, who was still protected by a shield of dark magic. Twilight was clearly enraged – in fact, Carrot Top couldn’t remember the last time she had been that mad. Twilight was shouting something but Carrot Top still couldn’t understand her. There was just too much noise.

A moment later Twilight’s horn glowed and a solid beam of intense magic shot out. The beam struck the stallion’s magical shield and began to make it glow. Twilight continued streaming energy onto the shield, making it glow brighter and brighter.

Carrot Top suddenly realized that this battle was taking place in her field, next to her house. The villain – or book thief or whatever he was – was trampling all over the carrot seeds that she had just planted. On top of that, the heat from his shield was so intense that it was starting to set the rest of her field on fire.

Since there wasn’t a single thing she could do about it, Carrot Top shrugged and grabbed another hoof-full of popcorn. “So the lesson I’m getting from this is that you should only borrow books from Twilight during normal business hours.”

“And with a valid library card,” Pinkie Pie added. “And make sure you fill out the right checklist.”

Octavia shouted over the noise of Vinyl’s speakers. “Shouldn’t someone be helping poor Twilight? Isn’t it cruel to just sit here and watch?”

“Aw, Twilight’s got this,” Pinkie replied. “Just give her a minute! The fight’s almost over. She’s doing her finishing move now.”

As Carrot Top watched, the field of dark magic suddenly glowed an incandescent white and vanished. The moment the shield vanished Carrot Top saw a look of pure panic on the unicorn’s face – but then the unicorn vanished in a tremendous explosion.

The explosion was so loud it actually drowned out the sound of Vinyl’s speakers. Soil – the precious topsoil that Carrot Top had just fertilized – was blasted high into the night sky. In the intense light of the blast Carrot Top could even see her seeds – the precious seeds that she had spent all week planting – being thrown high into the air and scattered all over Ponyville.

Then, a second later, it was all over.

When the smoke cleared Carrot Top saw there was a large smoking crater where her garden used to be. She then noticed that the silver unicorn’s body was on the roof of Vinyl’s condo. The fight was finished. Twilight had won yet again – to the surprise of absolutely no one.

Octavia gasped. “He’s – he’s not dead, is he?”

“Nah, of course not,” Pinkie Pie replied. “He’ll be fine. Twilight just gave him a little something to remember her by. She wanted him to think twice before he ‘borrowed’ another book.”

As Carrot Top watched from the lawn chair, Twilight flew over to the unconscious stallion. The princess removed a book from his possession – a book that was now scorched and on fire. Twilight glared at him, then blew out the flames and teleported the book away. She then teleported away herself – and took the unconscious stallion with her.

Octavia walked over to Carrot Top and put her hoof around her neck. “I’m so sorry about your garden,” she said. “There’s nothing left of it now but a crater. That must be so devastating for you.”

“Eh, it’s the third time in three years,” Carrot Top replied. “You get used to it after a while.”

“But what are you going to do now?” Octavia asked. “I mean, gardening is your special talent, isn’t it? Aren’t you lost without your garden?”

“Oh, it’s not that bad, really. I’m just a simple mare with simple dreams, who has an insurance policy that covers this sort of thing. I’ll file a claim in the morning and they’ll bill Celestia for the damages. She’ll then send someone out here to fix it and the garden will be good as new within a week. It’s a bit inconvenient, but it’s not fatal. It’s just part of life in Ponyville, really! You get used to it.”

“That’s insane,” Octavia replied. “How can you live like that?”

“Well, it’s never boring, that’s for sure!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed. She held out a box full of popcorn. “Want more?”

Carrot Top looked around. The roofs of the nearby houses had been blasted apart. Her garden was a crater, and what wasn’t a crater was on fire. It was three in the morning and she was dead tired. However, her friends were all out dancing in the street as Vinyl rocked the night, and the pink party pony had that look on her face that said she was about to kick things up a notch.

Carrot Top smiled. “Sure, why not. Hey Vinyl – do you have ‘Discord’?”

“Coming right up!” the pony shouted.

As Carrot Top’s former garden burned brightly into the night, the ponies of Ponyville partied the night away. Carrot Top had been right after all – it really was going to be another good year. Life in Ponyville was many things, but it was never dull.

 

 


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