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Ditzy Doo in: Flashbacks, Fillies, and Finishing School

"And… there you go," said Vinyl Scratch, handing the now autographed saddlebag back to the giddy fan who had asked her to sign it.

"Thanks, DJ!  You're the best!" the appreciative mare squealed.  The turned quickly and galloped off down one of Canterlot's narrow side streets, eager to show her prize to one of her friends.

Vinyl chuckled as she watched the fan go.  She never got tired of that kind aspect of her job.  Making fans' dreams come true was one part of the celebrity glamour that she really enjoyed.

Of course, fans are fans.  What Vinyl really craved was more time to spend with somepony who wanted to know her as regular old Vinyl Scratch, not the legendary DJ PON-3;  somepony who she could start a conversation with on the less exciting things in life, without losing their attention.  And, thanks to the clever aid of a mare named Ditzy Doo, she had found the somepony she was looking for: a classy mare named Octavia.

Vinyl smiled as she remembered the friendly grey pegasus who had helped her meet Octavia.  After the ice was broken between them, the two musical ponies both found the chance they were looking for to expand their interests into unfamiliar fields, and in the process, they had become very close.  And Vinyl knew Ditzy Doo's advice had helped her to get there.

Vinyl happened to be gazing at the sky as she reflected on that happy day a few months back, but she was snapped out of her private thoughts when the very pegasus she had been thinking about fluttered through the sky above her.

"Hey Ditzy Doo!" Vinyl called.

Ditzy stopped in midair, glancing down upon the streets of Canterlot for the source of the voice.  After a moment, she spotted the familiar unicorn and swooped down.

"Hello, Vinyl Scratch!" Ditzy greeted warmly.  "I haven't seen you in a long time.  Are you and Octavia still together?"

"We are," Vinyl answered.  "This whole thing between Octavia and me worked out much better than I ever thought it would.  I'm meeting up with her in about an hour; she wants to take me to some museum."

"That's great," Ditzy replied with a grin.  "I'll let my boss know.  He's always happy to hear that one of our clients' relationships survived into the long term."

Vinyl nodded.  "So, are you on an assignment right now?" she asked.

"I'm on my way back from one, actually," Ditzy replied.  "It was a pretty simple job; my boss probably won't be expecting me back so soon."

Vinyl grinned.  "Wanna hang around and chat for a bit?  I have some time to kill before I'm supposed to meet up with Octavia anyway."

Ditzy shrugged.  "Well, I don't see why not."

Vinyl led Ditzy back to the club, which, as usual, was closed in the middle of the morning.  The unicorn seated herself at one of the tables, motioning for Ditzy to take a seat across from her.

"So how have things been going for you?" Vinyl asked.

"Actually, things have been really good lately," Ditzy admitted.  "A lot has happened since the last time I spoke with you, but to summarize it all, the meanest worker at our company got fired, my daughter just started attending Celestia's Academy for Gifted Unicorns, and I've even got a coltfriend of my own now!"

"Wow," Vinyl laughed, "aren't you lucky?  Everything's going your way."

She magically lifted off her shades, casually cleaning them with a napkin.  "Of course, you deserve all that great stuff.  You spend every day flyin' around making ponies' fantasies come true.  There's a lot of ponies really indebted to you, me included."

Ditzy blushed a little.  "Oh, come on Vinyl.  It's not that big of a deal."

Vinyl insisted that Ditzy share a few tales of her more recent adventures, and the pegasus was happy to recount some of her adventures in the past few months.  The hour wore on quickly, and soon it was nearly time for Octavia to arrive.

"Well," said Ditzy, standing up from the table, "I suppose I should be going."

"Hang on," Vinyl said.  "There's one other thing I've been meaning to ask you.  It's really minor, but it's been bugging me ever since the day you took my assignment."

Ditzy's eyebrows rose, and she waited for Vinyl to continue.

"Do you remember when you were teaching me how to behave like a 'proper' mare?" the unicorn questioned.

Ditzy nodded.

"Well, while we were doing that, you kept telling me you learned it all in your short time in finishing school.  And then you mentioned something about escaping from finishing school, but you didn't have any time to elaborate on that."

Vinyl glanced at the clock.  "So, if you have another ten minutes to kill… you think you could satisfy my curiosity and tell me about that?  It sounds epic."

Ditzy began to giggle.  "Oh gosh Vinyl, I haven't told anypony that story in ages," she said.  "Do you really want to know?"

Vinyl nodded eagerly.

"Well, alright," Ditzy said with a shrug.  "Let's see, it was quite a long time ago…"

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Year of Luna's Banishment 972
Location: Prim and Proper's Finishing School for Fillies


Grey.  Grey was everywhere.  The ground was grey.  The sky was grey.  And the big, foreboding building looming at the top of the hill was grey as well.

Ditzy Doo was naturally a grey filly, but most of the others around her weren't.  Yet the gloomy hue of the surrounding landscape seemed to suck the color right out of them.  Fillies she had met earlier that day, who she knew to be bright blues and greens and pinks all appeared dulled now.  Ditzy glanced at her own blonde mane; she knew it was a bright, playful color in reality, but here, surrounded by so much blandness, it too seemed washed-out.

The carriage bounced and jostled as it was pulled up the rocky dirt road.  The crowd of twenty-odd fillies seated inside did their best to stay in their seats despite the rough ride.  There was an uneasy silence spread throughout the group.  Nopony knew just what to expect, but it was becoming increasingly obvious that the experience they would all soon share would not be a pleasant one.

The movement stopped, and the carriage door opened, revealing the carriage driver, who waited to guide his passengers up the walkway.

In silent single file, the fillies exited the carriage and began the march up to the huge front doors of the establishment in front of them.  The only sound was the rhythmic hoofsteps and a few hushed whispers carrying dreadful rumors about the horrors that lie beyond the looming gate.

"Twenty-two… twenty-three…" the carriage driver mumbled under his breath.  "Good.  They're all here.  That means I can get out of this place."

The fillies watched as he galloped back to the carriage and took off down the road as quickly as he could, leaving them standing awkwardly in front of the fortress-like structure on the barren moor.

Silence reigned for several minutes.  A gentle breeze blew across the plain.

"So when do you think they'll-" Ditzy began.

"Shh!" the filly in front of her cut her off.  "Don't talk!  We'll get in trouble."

Ditzy blinked.  She stared up at the huge door in front of her, wondering who exactly it was that they would be in trouble with.

Suddenly, the huge doors swung open, revealing the interior, which was almost as grey as the stone exterior.  It did contain a few carpets and tacky wall decorations in a different color.  It was one that Ditzy would eventually come to despise during her time here; a dull, pale pink.

"Greetings, students," came a pair of lightly accented female voices.  The fillies' eyes, which had been roving the room, now came to rest on the speakers: a pair of mares so bland that they had initially escaped notice entirely by blending in with the room.

"Welcome, all of you, to our lovely finishing school," the mare on the left said.  "My name is Prim, and this is my sister, Proper.  We are your headmistresses."

Proper nodded in greeting.

Ditzy, (and for that matter, most of the fillies) surveyed Prim and Proper with apprehension.  The two of them matched the atmosphere of the school eerily well.  They were earth ponies, and identical twins at that, both with grey coats and equally grey manes tied into tight buns with a small hairbands which, coincidentally, were the same pale pink as the carpets.  Even their eyes were dull and grey, and both wore small, probably useless pairs of glasses.  The only physical difference between the two mares was their Cutie Marks: Prim's was a frilly doily, while Proper's was a delicately folded napkin.

"As many of you are aware," headmistress Proper began.  "You have all been sent here to be taught the highest degree of culture and sophistication.  Some of you are naturally inclined to such mannerisms, and simply need further guidance."

The mare strode forward, a hint of distaste in her expression.  "Others…" she continued, "…are hopeless ragamuffins who need to be strictly instructed so that they may put their attitudes in order."

Proper singled out Ditzy, motioning for her to step forward.  The filly gulped, and slowly approached the headmistress.

"Here is an example," Proper said loudly.  "Just look at this filly.  No self-respecting young mare should be caught dead with her mane in such a disheveled state."

"Hey, I like how my mane looks!" Ditzy piped up defensively.

There were several small gasps from the rest of the collected fillies.

Proper's nose scrunched up.  "Prim?" she asked.  "What is this filly's name?"

Prim scanned her clipboard.  "That's Ditzy Doo, Proper."

"Well, miss Ditzy," Proper said harshly, "thank you for proving my point.  A filly should not speak out of line.  Remaining quiet unless spoken to is an important habit for young ponies to develop."

She turned away, back to the crowd.  "But don't worry," she continued.  "By the end of the summer, even the most unruly among you will be acting like a cultured young filly should… whether you like it or not."

The huge doors slammed shut of their own accord, as if to emphasize the headmistress's last statement.

"Each of you should have received a room assignment before your arrival," Prim said.  "The dormitories are located down the hall to your left.  Classes begin tomorrow morning at seven o'clock.  Lateness will not be tolerated.  Now, you are excused to your rooms for the evening."

Prim and Proper turned in unison and trotted up a large central stairway leading to the upper levels of the finishing school.  Silently, the fillies dispersed and proceeded to their dormitories.  Ditzy walked as quietly as she could down the long grey hallway, until at last she reached the room she had been told to report to.  A simple plaque hung near the top, displaying the number twenty-seven.  The filly pushed the door open and stepped cautiously inside.

The room was every bit as bland as she had expected it to be.  There were no windows, just a pair of small, plain beds and a single, ancient looking wooden desk.  There was also a small throw rug, not nearly wide enough to cover the floor, lying haphazardly in the center of the room.  It was that same shade of ghastly pale pink that Ditzy was already becoming sick of.

The door creaked, and the sound of quiet hoofsteps sounded behind her.

"Oh.  Are you my roommate?"

Ditzy turned around to find yet another grey filly peering cautiously into the room.

"Yeah, I guess so," Ditzy said.  "Are you really grey, or am I just losing my ability to see color in this drab place?"

"No, I'm really grey," the other filly said, stepping fully into the room.  Ditzy realized she was an earth pony as well.  There seemed to be a lot of earth ponies around today.

"At least you've got a nice yellow mane," the other filly said enviously.  "Mine's just darker grey.  I look almost as bland as this school does."

"Maybe that's not a bad thing here," Ditzy giggled.  "The headmistresses will probably be nicer to you because you're boring like they are!"

The earth filly smiled, and the two new roommates giggled at their joke.

"I'm Ditzy Doo," Ditzy said, extending her hoof in greeting.  "What's your name?"

"Hi, Ditzy," the other filly said warmly.  "I'm-"

The earth filly was cut off suddenly.  As she reached out with a front hoof to shake Ditzy's, the rest of her legs abruptly gave way, and she collapsed onto her stomach with a small 'oof.'

"Whoa!  Are you okay?" Ditzy asked, trotting over to her fallen friend.

The little earth pony just giggled.  "Sorry," she said, regaining her balance.  "I've got really weak legs.  I'm always stumbling and falling down.  That's why my friends just call me 'Totter'."

Ditzy smiled.  "Well, I think both of us are going to need a friend if we want to survive this dreary place.  Totter it is, then!"

The pegasus' smile faded.  "So… do you know anything about this place?  Nopony seems willing to talk about it."

Totter glanced around, as if making sure nopony was listening.  She even peeked out into the hallway to make sure Prim and Proper weren't lurking nearby.

"I live in Canterlot," Totter said in a hushed whisper.  "I've known ponies who have gone to this finishing school.  Before they leave home, they're happy, playful ponies, just like you and me.  But when they return at the end of the summer, they're… different.  Suddenly, the games they used to love are now 'uncouth activities' to them.  They avoid fun like it's a bad thing; they only want to spend time having boring conversations on frivolous topics while they sip tea with all the other stuck-up ponies in Canterlot's upper class district."

Totter shivered.  "I knew one filly who went here last year.  She and I used to be best friends.  But after last summer, all she ever does is chide me for being 'immature', and try to correct my manners every chance she gets.  Before she left, she didn't give two bits about manners."

Ditzy gulped.  "So you're saying…"

"This place brainwashes you!" Totter exclaimed.  "Nopony leaves here the same pony they were when they came in!  It's like a factory for turning friendly fillies into cold socialite snobs!"

"W-what?" Ditzy stammered.  "But… there must be something we can do!  We can't let them do this to us."

"The only thing we can do is stick together," Totter said.  "We need to keep each other's spirits up.  Alone, we'll definitely have no choice but to succumb to Prim and Proper's lessons.  But maybe together, we stand a chance of retaining who we are."

Ditzy nodded solemnly.  "Alright then.  Ditzy and Totter against the school.  Do you think we can do it?"

Totter shrugged.  "Well… I sure hope so.  I know I don't want to become just another snob who never has any fun."

"Me either," Ditzy agreed.  "But if we're going to fight it… then this is going to be one heck of a summer…"

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Location: Prim and Proper's Finishing School for Fillies: Crafts Class

"No talking."

Ditzy cringed as headmistress Prim scolded her.

"Sorry."

"Sorry what?"

"Sorry headmistress."

"That's better," the headmistress said as she continued her slow trot around the room.  "Now return to your knitting.  All fillies should learn how to knit properly."

Ditzy turned back to the disaster area that was supposed to be the doily she was trying to knit.  The poor thing didn't even look like it would hold together, much less present the intricate patterns the headmistresses demanded of them.  If she couldn't fix it, it would mean more etiquette drills as punishment.

Ditzy chanced a quick glance her friend Totter, who was sitting at the next table over.  Totter's doily was perhaps even worse than Ditzy's, probably due in no small part to the poor filly's weak and shaky hooves.  She struggled with the pale pink yarn for a few more seconds before she too glanced up.  She and Ditzy exchanged a quick, sad smile.

"No smiling," headmistress Prim commanded from across the room.  "You must concentrate on your craft if you want it to be perfect."

"Sorry, headmistress," Ditzy and Totter droned in unison.

It had been a week since the fillies had arrived at the finishing school, and already, Ditzy could feel her love of life slipping away, slowly being replaced with the grim reality of a dull and orderly world.  Her happy days playing with her good friends in her hometown, despite having happened so recently, now seemed a distant memory.

Surely, she would have simply given in to the simple demands and mind-numbing ways of Prim and Proper if it wasn't for Totter.  The two of them spent every free moment in their dormitory, the only place in the whole school where they were safe from Prim and Proper's constant scolding.  Together, they exchanged stories of their lives back home, and played simple games together.  Absently, Ditzy wondered if the other fillies did any such thing with their roommates.  A few appeared very miserable, but most just seemed devoid of any feeling at all.  The filly supposed these were the ones who had simply given in to Prim and Proper's strict ways, and simply sacrificed all hope so that they wouldn't have to deal with the misery of the present that came with their fond memories of the past.

They were hollow; they had no personality left, and they silently and obediently did whatever the headmistresses asked of them.  Which meant they were now malleable; each was a willing subject for the headmistresses to mould into what they (rather appropriately) called 'a prim and proper mare.'

Ditzy didn't like it at all.

She never talked with the others; most of them didn't want to have anything to do with her anyway.  Those who had succumbed to the agonizing brainwashing now looked down on her for not joining them in the utter absence of spirit.  Totter was the only one she could trust, but both fillies knew it was only a matter of time.  After all, while it seemed like they'd been locked up in this grueling place for ages, it had in fact been only a week.  And with eleven more weeks to go until the end of the summer, Ditzy feared there was nopony in Equestria who could avoid losing themselves while interned here.

Ditzy strained to see any sort of color left in her classmates.  She knew for certain there had been a rainbow of ponies in the carriage with her on the way here.  But now, each and every one appeared grey.  She assumed that color would return once they left this austere place; after all, she'd seen snobby ponies in plenty of colors.  But while their appearance might eventually return to normal, what was on the inside was being damaged beyond repair.  Ditzy glanced at her own mane, which still held a hint of its cheery yellow; they hadn't broken her yet.  But everything around her existed only in grayscale, except for items colored in that awful, washed-out pink.

Ditzy thought about the various classes, trying to decide if she could even remotely enjoy any of them.  In table manners class, she was constantly chided for her 'barbaric' eating habits.  She was forced to learn all the proper movements of her body, uses of her utensils, and placements of her dishes.  Apparently anything less than this exact system appeared utterly uncouth to high society.  Ditzy had had to set her place at a model table again and again, repeatedly receiving grief from the headmistresses for petty things like an improperly folded napkin or a slightly diagonal fork.

Speech class was even worse.  Ditzy naturally had what could be considered somewhat of a silly-sounding voice, and the very sound of it rubbed the headmistresses the wrong way.  They insisted she 'speak like a ladylike filly', and so she had to be extremely careful in her annunciations.  She envied Totter slightly in this respect; the earth filly had a melodious voice, and she barely had to do anything beyond simply speak normally to impress Prim and Proper.

Crafts class, where she sat now, was perhaps one of the least terrible, but it was still mind-numbingly boring.  This was headmistress Prim's area of expertise.  Ditzy had come to realize that Prim specialized in teaching the actions fillies were apparently expected to perform, such as proper grooming, cooking, and of course, needlework.  Headmistress Proper, on the other hand, specialized in etiquette; she worked to make sure her students behaved like a ladylike filly should.

Of course, that didn't mean one could get away with poor etiquette just because Proper wasn't around.

"Ditzy Doo," Prim warned harshly.  "Stop daydreaming.  And fix that doily, or you'll be making three more for homework."

"Yes, headmistress…"

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Location: Prim and Proper's Finishing School for Fillies: Room 27

"I can't take it anymore!"  Ditzy screamed as loudly as she dared without alerting the headmistresses.

"I know," Totter moaned, collapsing on the starched sheets of her bed.  "It's been two weeks.  We're only one-sixth of the way there…"

Ditzy pounded her hoof against the bedpost in frustration.  "It's not fair!" she growled.  "I can feel them stealing my spirit right out of me, and there's nothing I can do about it!  And have you noticed the headmistresses are actually getting even more picky about our behavior as time goes on?  They expect absolute perfection in the most mundane things!"

"Well, what do you expect to do about it?" Totter asked dully, running her hoof over her pillow.  "The others are lost; none of them have the strength to try to help us.  Heck, a few are already turning into miniature versions of the headmistresses, and all the rest have long since given up."

Totter stood up and slowly walked over to her small pile of personal possessions, stumbling twice on the way over.  She picked up a photograph of one of her family members.  Ditzy had seen the picture the day she moved in with Totter; it depicted the earth filly's friends, all smiling brightly, their eyes twinkling with wonder.  But now, the light seemed gone from their eyes.  Their smiles were still there, but they were fake and polite.  The picture was still the same as it had always been, but somehow, the feeling of it had changed.

"They're corrupting everything around us," Totter sobbed.  "Ditzy… what should we do?  What can we do?"

An insane idea crossed Ditzy's mind, and she clung to it for all it was worth.  After all, after the assault of order bludgeoning her for the past two weeks, trying to force her very thoughts to conform, insane ideas were few and far between.

"I know what we can do," she whispered.  "We can escape."

Totter's eyes went wide.  "Are you crazy?  You've seen this place.  There aren't even any exits besides those huge front doors and that one little hatch that leads out to the backyard, which is enclosed anyway.  Both of those exits are guarded by some kind of security measures, so I've heard.  Not to mention that as soon as we leave the dormitory outside of class hours, we risk being spotted by Prim and Proper and getting punished with more menial chores."

"What difference will a few more chores make?" Ditzy asked.  "We already spend almost all our time in these stupid classes anyway.  Sure, if we fail, we'll have to work a little more, and I'm sure they'll increase the security after the attempt.  But what if we succeed?  We could make it out of this place before they turn us into two more hollow shells."

Totter looked unsure.

"Think about it this way, Totter," Ditzy continued.  "What have we got to lose?"

Totter blinked.  "A-absolutely nothing," she stammered, realizing the truth in Ditzy's words.  "You're right.  We have to at least try.  It's our last chance."

"That's the spirit!" Ditzy giggled, turning a loop in midair.  "We have to strike quickly and unexpectedly.  We could try to do some spying and find out more about the security, but if we get noticed, they'll be constantly watching us.  Our best chance to escape is to just go, as quickly and carefully as we can."

Totter nodded.  "When should we do it?"

"Tomorrow.  After class.  Make sure your things are packed.  The two of us are breaking out of this horrible place."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Location: Prim and Proper's Finishing School for Fillies- Main Hallway

Ditzy stopped, breathing quietly as she peered around the corner.  Totter stood behind her, carrying her small sack of belongings in her mouth and waiting for Ditzy's signal.

"Do you hear them?" she whispered.

"No," Ditzy said, straining her ears.  "But they've got to be around here somewhere.  We have to stay hidden until we're sure we've passed them."

The sound of very faint voices was suddenly audible.  The fillies swiveled their ears toward the sound.

"Yes, most of them are coming along so nicely.  I was most impressed with little Twinkle's needlework.  I think a few of the students may be ready for more complex designs."

"Oh, yes, sister.  I found that Tulip's table manners have increased exponentially since last week.  She makes me so proud, she's becoming such a wonderfully cultured filly."

Ditzy gasped as the long shadows of the headmistresses appeared, signaling the ponies' arrival.  "Here they come!  We need to hide!" she hissed.

She scrambled into a nearby closet.  Totter tried to follow, but just as she arrived, she lost her balance, careening forward into her pegasus friend and sending the two of them knocking into a stack of brooms, which toppled over.

"What was that?" came one of the headmistress's voices.  "Is one of the fillies in the halls?"

"Let's go see.  If we find somepony out at this hour, it's extra doilies for a week and no more crumpets at tea time!"

Ditzy shut the door to the closet.  "Hide!" she mouthed to her clumsy friend.  She scrambled into a cardboard box filled to the brim with still more pink doilies, and buried herself in them as deeply as she could.  Totter hid behind a large stack of musty old books and draped a big, stuffy overcoat over herself.

There was silence for a few moments, and then the closet door opened.  Prim and Proper peered inside, scanning for any sign of intruder.  The closet appeared to be in a bit of disarray, but there were no signs of life.

"I think a broom simply fell over," Prim said.  "Nothing to be alarmed about.  For a moment, I thought it might be that awful little filly Ditzy Doo, trying to stir up more trouble."

"Now, don't worry about her, Prim," Proper said calmly.  "You know we're making progress.  She has a lot of spunk, but soon, we'll manage to get her to act ladylike."

"I suppose you're right," Prim said, shutting the door.

The fillies sat perfectly still as they listened to the sound of the retreating hoofsteps.  Ditzy scrambled out of the box, and quietly told Totter the coast was clear.  Quietly, the two fugitives opened the door and ran as quietly as they could down the wide hallway toward the back of the building.

"Well, Prim and Proper are out of the way for now," Totter whispered.  "But what do we- oof!  Sorry… What do we do next?"

"We have to find out way out to the back door," Ditzy replied.  "Remember?  They took us out there just that once for that stupid exercise we had to do with the parasols."

Totter shuddered.  "Oh yeah…"

Together, the fillies snuck through the quiet grey hallways, past many of the chambers where their classes were held.  Despite their attempt to walk carefully, the sound of their hoofsteps was magnified in the silence, and each time Totter tripped, it created a sound that the fillies feared for sure would be heard by the headmistresses.

At long last, the plain metal door that led out into the enclosed yard came into view.

"It's probably locked," Ditzy said.  "Let's see if there's any way to open it."

The two fillies examined the door from every angle, but there appeared to be no way to undo the complex locks without a key that was likely carried by Prim and Proper themselves.  Pulling on the handle yielded no result; the iron mechanisms were far too strong to be broken by the force two fillies could produce.

"It's useless," Totter sighed.  "We can't get past."

Ditzy glanced at the tiny window in the upper part of the door.  "Totter, do you think we could fit through there?"

Totter glanced at the glass pane.  "Maybe, but it would be a tight fit."

"Well, we're gonna give it a try!" Ditzy announced.  She flew up to the window, turned around, and bucked the glass as hard as she could.  The panel shattered, causing a loud crash that echoed throughout the building.

Immediately, the lights dimmed, and a loud alarm began to blare.

"Great!" Totter groaned.  "The escape alarm is active.  We're caught now."

"No we're not!" Ditzy insisted.  "Not yet!"

Hovering near the ground, she put her forelimbs under Totter's, and slowly lifted the filly off the ground.  With a might heave, she shoved her friend through the small hole.  Totter went halfway through, before becoming stuck, her rear still dangling in the window frame.  Ditzy backed up and flew forward as quickly as possible, crashing into Totter's butt and sending the both of them careening out the window and onto the dirt of the backyard.

"You okay?" Ditzy asked.  "Sorry.  That was the only way."

"I'm fine," said Totter, standing up shakily.  "Do you think you can carry me up over the fence?"

Ditzy had nearly strained her tiny wings just trying to lift her friend through the window, but she had to try.  Lifting Totter up again, she began flapping furiously to ascend over the fence.  She had nearly reached the required height, when she was suddenly stopped by an invisible obstacle.  A ripple permeated the air where her nose had touched the unseen blockade.

"A force field?!" Totter cried.  "Dang it!  Those things are the latest in unicorn technology.  I didn't think the school would actually be able to afford one, though…"

"How do we get past it?" Ditzy asked, lowering her friend to the ground.

"We don't," Totter deadpanned.  "That is, unless you can find a way to shut it off in the next thirty seconds before Prim and Proper get here and capture us."

Ditzy glanced at the decrepit old shed in the corner of the yard.  She yanked open the door, and sure enough, the mechanism that generated the force field chugged away inside.

"Let me see!" Totter said.  "My uncle works with unicorn machinery.  I might be able to figure it out."

"Okay, but hurry up!" Ditzy urged, glancing nervously at the door and flattening her ears in an attempt to block out the blaring alarm.

Totter surveyed the controls.  "Crud!" she announced.  "The only way we can shut it off is with a manual override.  We need to stand here and hold the button down; the second we let go, the force field comes right back."

"Aw…" Ditzy moaned.  "I guess that's it then.  We're caught."

Totter turned; she had a weird gleam in her eye.

"I'm caught…" she said.  "But maybe you're not."

Ditzy gasped.  "No way, Totter!" she cried.  "I'm not leaving you here."

"Ditzy, there's no other choice!" Totter replied.  "I'm just an earth pony; I can't get over the fence anyway.  And if one of us holds this button down, the other can escape the force field and get away from this terrible place.  What's the point of both of us getting caught if one of us can get away?"

"I won't leave you!" Ditzy sobbed.  "They'll turn you into a snobby zombie like all the others!"

Totter smiled sadly.  "Don't worry, Ditzy," she said.  "While it's true that I'm not going to leave this place the same way I came in, even Prim and Proper can't steal away the memories in my heart.  I'll always remember the friendship we had here, Ditzy.  And because of that, although I'll be a stuffy socialite like all the others… there will always be a little spark left inside."

"How do you know!?" Ditzy screamed over the alarm.  "How do you know Prim and Proper can't break you?"

"Prim and Proper can make me do whatever they want," Totter admitted.  "I won't deny it.  But maybe, just maybe, when all is said and done… I won't be quite as boring as all the others."

"But Totter…"

"Just go!" Totter pleaded, slamming her hoof on the button.  "They'll be here any second!  Please, Ditzy!"

Ditzy hesitated, staring into her friend's eyes for an instant longer, and then she turned and ran out of the shed, launching up past the fence and into the cloudy sky.  Behind her, she heard the heavy metal door slam open, and the sounds of the headmistresses yelling angrily.  She couldn't look back; she had to put as much distance between herself and this horrible place as quickly as possible."

A single tear escaped her eye as she thought of her friend's inescapable fate.  She had to keep going, to disappear until the summer was over.  Totter wanted her to.

"I won't ever forget you, Totter!" she cried to the open sky as she flew.  "Please… try to remember me!"

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ditzy finished her story.  Vinyl Scratch removed her shades so that the pegasus could see her shocked expression.

"Well… crud," the unicorn said finally.  "That was a more epic story than I thought it would be."

"Yeah," said Ditzy, smiling sadly at the memories.  "I never did see Totter again.  I'm sure Prim and Proper dealt the maximum punishment to her; she's probably off somewhere right now, laughing at some boring anecdote at a stuffy dinner party."

Vinyl nodded.  "Poor kid," she agreed.  "Sounds like you two were close friends during those two weeks you spent together."

Ditzy nodded.  "Yep," she agreed.  "I know I'll never see her again, but I hope she kept her promise.  I hope she's at least a little less snobby and stuffy than all the other socialites around here."

Vinyl laughed.  "With a mare like you to remember, I'm sure she's not too bad at all."

Ditzy smiled.  "Well, it's been fun, but I really must get back to work," she insisted.  "Besides, Octavia will be here any second."

Vinyl nodded as she replaced her signature shades.  "It's cool.  See you around, Ditzy."

Vinyl watched her pegasus friend soar into the sky toward Ponyville.

"What are you staring at, Vinyl?"

Vinyl looked down, realizing that Octavia had arrived while she was looking up.  "Nothin'," she mumbled.  "Just watching a pegasus buddy of mine fly away."

Octavia nodded.  "Well, shall we head to the museum?"

"Lead the way."

The two ponies proceeded to one of Canterlot's many premier museums.  It was a grand building, situated at the top of a long marble staircase.  Vinyl trotted quickly up with Octavia trailing behind.  A thump caused the unicorn to turn around.  She was greeted by the sight of her friend lying awkwardly on her stomach on the steps.

"Curse these stairs," Octavia mumbled, clambering to her hooves.  "Sorry, Vinyl.  I had a condition as a child in which a vitamin deficiency led to very weak muscles.  It has since been corrected of course, but I still experience moments of weakness now and again.  It's not nearly as bad as it used to be though."

She chuckled to herself.  "My, come to think of it, I was stumbling about so much as a filly that my friends actually nicknamed me 'Totter'.  Silly, wouldn't you say Vinyl?"

"Vinyl?  Why are you looking at me like that?  Vinyl?"
The second bonus chapter of six.

This story... I swear, Shipping and Handling has the wildest changes in mood now and then. One chapter is funny, the next is heartbreaking, then there's a stupid one, followed by a heartwarming one...

I don't even know. All I know is I love this chapter right here.

MLP: FIM is copyright Hasbro and Lauren Faust.
And I'll add Prim and Proper to my list of Fanfiction OC's. That list is getting quite extensive...
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:iconfotland42:
fotland42 Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2013
'Tavi wasn't obvious? That's weird.
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:iconlongshotlink:
LongshotLink Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2012
Just as with another reader, I didn't realize until the very end. That's so awesome. Love these.
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:iconmonjaru:
Monjaru Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2012
First the thing with Dr. Candyfloss in the original story and now this? My god, you are amazing with these story twists. Seriously.

Love it. :D
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:iconartman10101:
artman10101 Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2012
What a twist! <(°□°)>
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:iconyumadeedoo42:
Yumadeedoo42 Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2012
That ending. That just made my day. Honestly, I should have caught on earlier, but it wasn't till right near the end that I realized. You, sir, are awesome. Also, and take note of this cause it's important, the word "ragamuffin" is the best word in the English language. Three thumbs up!
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:iconscrooples:
Scrooples Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Ok, for lack of a better place to say this I'll say it here.

It took me WAY to long to get around to finishing shipping and handling. I had finished chapter 8, it had just come out, life got busy, I forgot about it, then I saw it had updated but i was in the middle of another story, so on and so fifth.

But now, finally, I have finished it. These two bonus chapters also.

I just wanted to say how grateful I am to you for writing such a wonderful story. The Pinkie Pie and Seth chapters had me laughing nonstop, The Vinyl x Octavia chapter (plus this one that I'm commenting on, with "totter") were absolutely great with the fun little mysteries that both the characters and the reader got to solve. Watt is officially my favorite side character in this story and my favorite OC ever. He and Pinkie getting together just made him all the more fun to read. ^-^

To top it all off I could not have asked for a better ending. THANK YOU, PRB, FOR ONE OF THE BEST READS EVER IN THIS FANDOM.

your faithful student,
Scrooples

p.s. you may also have turned me from a hater of screwball in to a fan... maybe.
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:iconpegasusrescuebrigade:
Thanks!
I hope you'll stick around for the other bonus chapters then. I'm working on them, but unfortunately, regular busy life stuff is preventing me from finishing them as quickly as I had hoped. They're coming though, eventually.

In the meantime, thanks for reading!
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:iconscrooples:
Scrooples Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I most definitely will sir. And your next works also. As for real life I feel ya. It can be so hard sometimes to make room for what you love. Hell, I've been dying to start writing myself as I've had idea after idea for stories, but EVERYTHING seems to want to stop me. Anywho, keep doing what your doing, cause you make us smile, you make ME smile, and I like that alot. Thanks again!
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:iconcrestoffire:
CrestOfFire Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
That was... awesome. Truly awesome.

:llama:
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:iconformorian5:
formorian5 Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2012
Well THAT came out of nowhere. Your one of my favorite MLP writers, PRG.
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