LINK TO FIMFICTION: http://www.fimfiction.net/story/60378/Obsessive-Collection-Disorder
Obsessive Collection Disorder
"Okay, so I'll put the hydra card here. My timber wolf card here. Hm...where should I put my fairy card?" Twilight put her hoof to her chin as she thought, looking down at the flat piece of cardboard showing the image of a fairy (what looked like a tiny pegasus with a flowing blonde mane and crystal-clear gown). It was one of the many cards Twilight, as well as three-fourths of Ponyville, collected as a part of the "Creatures of the Everfree" card series-the latest collector's fad to hit Equestria.
"Ah-hah! Right here!" Twilight thought in triumph, sliding the fairy card into an empty slot, "Gotta be organized for when I show you to my friends, just as soon as I finish my collection."
About two years before, a group of three scientist unicorns from the Canterlot University of Scientific and Magical Research spent an enormous sum of money studying the various plant and animal life in the Everfree forest, hoping to record all known life that resided within.
From their many months working in the Everfree, studying and recording every animals and plant found, the three were able to hatch the idea for a card game. It would be centered on the creatures and plants of the mysterious forest, taking into account their individual strengths and weaknesses. Thinking this was a solid idea, the three scientists put it into effect and began to create cards out of their homes that they would then sell to anypony that was interested. Based on the local success in Canterlot, many rich ponies took a liking to their cards, the science ponies knew that they'd rake in a respectable amount of dough, but they had no idea just how high their profits from the cards would be.
By the following year, the "Creatures of the Everfree" cards had become extremely popular with the general Equestrian public. From Appleloosa to Dodge City, from Las Pegasus to Manehatten, ponies everywhere started to enjoy the latest collector's fad. This helped the scientists not only succeed in paying off their research loan debts, but also bringing them so much money that they were able to quit their jobs at the university and live off the money they made mass-producing the cards, as well as the eventual merchandise that started to be produced, like t-shirts and baseball caps.
From that moment on, it was all five-story Canterlot mansions and supermodel marefriends for the three former scientists.
Due to the enormous success of the cards everywhere else in Equestria, it should come as no surprise that nearly every pony in Ponyville, from old Granny Smith to young Apple Bloom, jumped onto the "Creatures of the Everfree" bandwagon and started their own card collections.
The first of her friends that Twilight discovered was collecting cards was Rainbow Dash. Apparently the sky-blue pegasus wasn't just interested in collecting the cards, but also dueling. Dueling was a game where two ponies battled their creatures against one other using the cards, while the plants were mostly used to heal or to cause damage. The only exception to this rule for plants was the fifty-foot tall mega Equestrian fly-trap, which could potentially defeat a hydra.
Naturally, this form of competition was an immediate draw for the cyan pegasus, who boned up on the rules and started to collect cards to build her strength. Soon, she was by far the best dueler in Ponyville, still almost undefeated after playing for months. It didn't take long for her excellence in dueling to become known throughout town. She was soon known as "the fastest flier and the best "Creature" dueler in all of Equestria". It was something she took great pride in, almost as much as her flying ability, so whenever she got into a duel she treated it like life and death.
Applejack was the next to give in to temptation. At first she saw card collecting as a waste of time and money. But then she saw Rainbow Dash's ego start to swell like a giant balloon. Sick of her braggart friend, Applejack caved and bought a couple of packs for herself. She had one goal in mind: work towards wiping the smug grin off of Rainbow Dash's muzzle. She didn't think it would be too hard. After all, it was the same goal she had when she was one of the Mysterious Mare Do Wells-bring Rainbow Dash back to earth.
Though this time it would be in a much less mean-spirited way.
Later on, Twilight discovered that Pinkie Pie was into the "Creatures" as well, though the pink mare said that she felt it was just a cheap rip-off of some obscure card game involving things called "Pocket monsters" or something. Nopony ever heard of it, but since Pinkie was so adamant its existence, others accepted it. Well, either that or forgot about it-realizing it was Pinkie Pie that they were dealing with and trying to bring logic into any situation involving her was like trying to use gasoline to put out a forest fire.
Fluttershy also eventually gave in to the collecting herd, coaxed into giving it a shot by Rainbow Dash after the speed pegasus beat Applejack at yet another duel-making Applejack question her earlier assumptions regarding the easiness of her task.
But even as Fluttershy collected the cards, she thought that the idea of dueling with the creatures was cruel, even though they were imaginary and no true harm would come to any flesh and blood creature as a result of the game. To the timid pegasus, partaking in the peaceful activity of collecting the cards was enough.
Rarity didn't cave until Sweetie Belle, Apple Bloom and Scootaloo
brought a huge binder of cards over to her boutique. The trio of mischievous fillies went into Sweetie Belle's room and started to duel with the cards they had. When they first got into the game, they stove to become "Cutie Mark Crusader Card Collectors", but eventually realized, after several instances involving fire and exploding plastic penguins, that they weren't cut out for it. Now, they were onto their next cutie mark attempt-becoming "Cutie Mark Crusader Card Duelers".
At first, Rarity was utterly perplexed by the young girls' interest in the cards, as well as that of the entire population of Ponyville. This led to a great sense curiosity. What was it about this card series that drew in everypony around town? She pondered this until she laid her azure eyes onto the surface of the cards laid out on the carpet in the center of the fillies.
Almost immediately, the white unicorn found herself drawn to the sparkly cards, so similar in their appearance to the diamonds she so desperately loved to collect. It only took her a couple of days before she found herself needing the assistance of the Cutie Mark Crusaders to free her from the mountain of shining cards she bought. Thus giving them a chance to become "Cutie Mark Crusader Rescue Squad Ponies".
Soon, it seemed like everypony in town was into the"Creatures" card series.
Everypony, that is, except for Twilight.
The lilac unicorn was the last of her friends to give in. This was mostly because she, like Applejack, saw it as a waste of time that would only interfere with her studies and magic practice. Unlike Applejack, however, she managed to avoid caving for months, watching as her friends conversations started to become increasingly centered on their "Creatures of the Everfree" card collections, and recent card duels they had against each other with said cards.
One day, the six friends were all sitting in Twilight's library, enjoying a nice, relaxing lunch. Or at least most of the ponies were, Twilight's sanity started to slip away. Her friends wouldn't stop talking about the game and it was driving her mad. Here Twilight slaved over this lunch, and they were talking about a topic that she had no interest in. It was incredibly rude!
Sure the lunch was easy-to-make daisy sandwiches and apple slices that Applejack cut for Twilight...but it was still rude!
"I'm telling you AJ, my manticore could totally rip your hydra apart!" Rainbow Dash said, giving her friend a competitive smirk from across the table.
"Yeah, yeah. Big talk, but can ya follow through on it?" Applejack said, laughing.
"I for one love the new look of the holographic phoenix card." Rarity held up her card, the glimmering image of a phoenix, wings outspread and eyes directed at the card-holder. "It's simply dashing, wouldn't you agree Fluttershy?"
"Um yes," Fluttershy said, looking down at her own card, one with a cute little parasprite on it. "But I still think the parasprite is the best."
"Huh?" Rainbow Dash asked, looking over at her friend, "What are you talking about? Except for the grass card, a parasprite card is the lamest one you could have!"
"I know, but I don't duel, remember?" Fluttershy rhetorically asked, looking down at the card with a smile. "Besides, I think they're the cutest little things ever."
"Yeah, and they nearly destroyed all of Ponyville." Rainbow Dash interjected.
Fluttershy nodded, "I know Rainbow Dash, but they're still so cute. And with the card game, I can have all the adorableness of a parasprite without the dangers." The pegasus rubbed her cheek against the image of the parasprite, imagining that it was a real one...that couldn't multiply and destroy the town.
"Here, here! Now, enough chit-chat!" Pinkie Pie said before hauling up a massive binder that had the thickness of one of Twilight's magic texts. "Can we start dueling now or what?"
There was unanimous agreement, save for anti-duel Fluttershy and anti-card game Twilight. The unicorn's head was pressed face-down into the table as her head started to throb.
She was sick of it, sick of feeling left out of her friends' social bubble of conversations. Sick of feeling alone because she didn't go out of her way to collect, what she believed to be, stupid playing cards that served no purpose other than give little fillies and colts something to do when they were bored. Slowly her rage dissipated and she was left in a state of almost complete exhaustion. Exhaustion from being self-conscious, from obsessing over the situation.
Slowly, she lifted her head, eyes glazed-over from boredom.
"Hey girls, is there anything else you want to do besides..." she was silenced by a pink hoof to her mouth that tasted like strawberries.
"Quiet!" Pinkie Pie said, leaning closer to Twilight's ear, "Rainbow Dash is about to make her first move!"
Twilight pushed her friend's hoof away from her mouth, "I don't care. I'm sick of you guys not wanting to do anything other than play with and collect those stupid cards! Do you know how left out I feel right now?"
"Um, darling. Don't you think this problem would be better solved if you just tried collecting the cards?" Rarity suggested.
"Yeah, Twilight. Come on, it ain't as stupid as ya are making it out to be." Applejack said with a kind smile, "In fact, it's more fun than ya think. Just give it a shot."
"Oh come on Twilight, you don't know what you're missing!"
"My answer was no, and I refuse to change it." Twilight crossed her hooves and looked away from her friends. Pinkie Pie turned to Twilight and leaned towards her so closely that their muzzles touched.
"Please?" Pinkie Pie said, but Twilight stayed resolute.
"No!" The unicorn said with an Applejack-like stubbornness.
"No, no, NO!" Twilight slammed her hoof onto the table, the cups and cards shifting a bit from the vibration, "I told you one-hundred times before and I'll tell you all again, I will NEVER collect those cards and that is final!"
Twilight slammed her hoof into the table, causing the legs to wobble a bit and her friends to flinch. Eventually, their composure returned and all eyes were drawn to the heavily-breathing unicorn, her hoofs both on the table as her rage slowly subsided.
"Come on Twi. Just because you're into something simple like card collecting or playing doesn't make you dumb." Rainbow Dash spoke up, her voice and face not taunting, just concerned.
"Yeah! Stop being Miss-Boring-Pants and try it out! It's fun!" Pinkie Pie said, grinning. She opened her binder and pulled out what appeared to be a recently-bought pack of cards, "Here, you can look have this pack to start off."
She tossed the cards over to her friend, who glared down at them like it was poison.
"I'm sorry, Pinkie. But I'm going to have to pass." She pushed the pack back towards Pinkie Pie, who stopped it with her own hoof and shook her head.
"I'm not taking these back, they're my gift to you!" she said happily, "besides...there's only so much curiosity one pony can take before she needs to sneak a peek!"
Pinkie Pie squinted one of her eyes and bulged the other, peering directly at Twilight as a goofy smile spread across her pink face.
Twilight opened her mouth to retort, but stopped herself from speaking back. Sighing, she plopped her head back onto the table, looking up to watch her friends play their game. Her mane kept getting in her eyes, forcing her to keep blowing up to move it out of the way. She could have been annoyed by her stubborn bangs, but she was so bored that she was thankful for them-it gave her something to do.
When the game was finished, and Rainbow Dash and her Manticore were, as usual, victorious, the five ponies bade farewell to one another, thanked Twilight for lunch, and left.
Once alone, Twilight let out a sigh of relief, the stress of sitting in the same spot and watching her friends play the card game she had no interest in had both physically and mentally exhausted her. It felt wonderful to have the place back to just herself and Spike, who was organizing books in the other room.
Twilight started to clean off the table. She noticed the still-unopened pack of cards lying out. She tried her best to ignore them, their dazzling silver packaging, the bold print that read "Creatures of the Everfree" on the front, and the mystery to what was inside.
She tried to keep her focus on washing the dishes, but kept glancing over her shoulder at the solitary card pack. It was like the cards were sirens, beckoning out to her for freedom, to sneak a peek at them. The temptation was great, and Twilight was finding it more difficult to resist their imaginary call. She even took a few steps back towards the table where the cards lay before she caught herself and stopped. Shaking her head, trying to rid herself of the temptation, she turned back to the sink and continued to wash the dirty dishes. She took a couple of deep breaths, trying to relax herself and forget about the cards.
"No, Twilight. Remember, you don't need to know what's inside the cards. You don't have to give in. You don't...."
"Oh cool! A pack of 'Creatures of the Everfree!' cards!"
Twilight turned off the sink and looked back to see Spike holding the pack of cards in his claws, tearing the foil off and pulling the thin, cardboard cards out of their prison.
"Gah!" Spike shouted, tossing the pack of cards into the air. The collectibles spread out in the air and landed onto the floor.
Twilight face-hoofed, "Ugh, Spike! Why would you open that?"
"S-sorry Twilight, I didn't know you...wait..." Spike looked up at Twilight suspiciously. "Why do you even have "Creatures of the Everfree" cards? I thought you said it was a stupid foal's hobby."
"Yes I did, and I stand by that statement." Twilight said, using her magic to lift the scattered cards up and organize them back into a nice, even stack. She then levitated the stack over to her to properly even it out, "Pinkie Pie left this pack here to try and convince me to give in, but I refuse."
Spike put his claw to his chin and thought. He then looked up at Twilight, "Well then...could I have them?"
Twilight stared at her assistant with the utmost confusion, "What?"
Spike pointed to the still-floating deck of collectible cards, "The cards. I mean, if you don't want them, why waste them? Why not just give them to me? I've wanted to start a collection ever since I saw the ones Snips and Snails started."
Twilight shook her head, "No, Spike."
Spike's jaw fell, "Aw come on, why not?"
"Because it's a waste of time and I'm not going to let you get involved with this childish, unproductive hobby." Twilight scorned when her eyes landed on the cards floating in front of her, specifically the one facing her.
"But I'm a baby dragon."
Twilight raised her eye-brow, "Really? Because I remember you telling me that you weren't a baby so I would let you see that horror movie."
Spike shuddered at the memory of the hacked limbs and screaming ponies as the dreaded "Blood Smear" hunted his victims and in the movie. The poor dragon still had nightmares about it.
"That was different."
"Really? How so?"
"Um..."Spike opened his mouth to retort, but stopped. His expression fell to one of annoyance, tired of trying to defend his desire to collect, and realizing he had no way to beat Twilight in this argument. He still thought she was in the wrong, but her debating was so solid he knew if he continued he'd only be digging his own grave. "Shut up."
Twilight grinned, "Ah, can't fight against my logical proof, can you?"
"Whatever, if you need me I'll be upstairs doing something 'productive'." Spike said, his voice dripping in sarcasm as we walked upstairs to take a nap. He failed to notice how much Twilight's face had softened, her violet eyes focusing on the cards floating in front of her-specifically the first one in the pack.
"Huh, a manticore card." she thought.
The card showed a manticore, in all its savage glory. Its yellow coat glistened as he bellowed a mighty roar that was silent in reality, but deafening to the imagination. for being a small piece of cardboard, the card was extremely beautiful- even Twilight had to admit this.
"I wonder what else is in here." Looking from side-to-side, making sure she was alone, Twilight got back to shuffling through the desk, admiring each and every card caught in her force-field. There was a card with a hulking Minotaur on it-much more terrifying and wild than Iron Will, it was a tribal and wild Minotaur-one of a strange creature with a head covered in snakes, a Cerberus and more. Twilight was amazed at the quality designing of the cards. The graphics were unbelievable, the shine they had to them made them all the more appealing to her eyes.
They were also very colorful, not only limited to grimy colors of black and green, but also vibrant shades of orange and cool shades of blue.
Before she knew it, she had already gone through the entire pack-seven cards in total. She sat on her flank and levitated the pack towards the table where she lowered it gently back onto the smooth surface.
"Wow...those cards are pretty cool. I can see why everypony else is into collecting them." she thought with a chuckle. Biting her lip and looking around, making sure nopony saw her brief moment of shame. She then stood up and looked towards the door, "I suppose buying a couple more packs wouldn't hurt nopony."
Grabbing her saddle-bag, Twilight crept out of the library like a thief trying to sneak away with the goods. Quick glance to her right, then to her left, and Twilight left, closing the door ever so gently to buy one more pack, just to satisfy her curiosity and desires.
Unfortunately for her, both her curiosity and desires were far greater than she estimated.
It had been two months since Twilight first started collecting the trading cards. She admitted her affection for the cards about a week after the lunch debacle. Her friends took it pretty well, and she was thankful they weren't the type to berate her for being a hypocrite. Still, something was missing. Even though she was more included in the discussions, she continued to feel of great distance between her and the others. She pondered what it was for a while until it finally dawned on her.
Their card collections were complete while her own was not.
There were one-hundred and fifty cards in total, and Twilight knew that her friends had already collected each and every one of them, with Fluttershy being the last to do so. Meanwhile, Twilight was still on card number twenty-five, a relatively pathetic number of cards for a collector. True, she knew about each of the one-hundred and fifty creatures and plants and was able to engage with her friends when discussing them, but when it came to discussing collecting or taking part in duels, Twilight was out of luck .
If she ever hoped to feel like one of the group again, she needed to catch up. And thus began Twilight Sparkle's personal mission to own the entire set of cards as soon as possible.
After spending countless weeks, hundreds of bits and neglecting dozens of letters and assignments from the princes, Twilight finally was only one card away from having the entire set. She could finally feel equal with her friends again.
"And now I have the cockatrice. Okay, perfect! That makes my card number up to one-hundred and forty-nine! Yes! Only one more to go!" she thought, clapping her hooves together in joy. Meanwhile, Spike was laying on the couch, trying to read the latest Daring do novel-something Rainbow Dash had recently gotten him into-but found it incredibly difficult to do when his mind was on Twilight. He was worried about her, the messy mane, the twitch in her eye that often appeared when she became obsessed about something; she really let the whole card collecting thing get to her head.
Spike pig-eared the page he was on and hopped off of the couch.
"Ugh, Twilight maybe you should take a rest from the card collecting and do something else." Spike said, concern in his voice. "Heck, at this point I'd recommend that you read something boring, like the "History of Paint Drying" or some other boring book."
"Unlike Daring Do, she's awesome." Spike thought, his eyes drifting towards the book that lay on the couch, seeming to beckon to him.
"Now, now Spike, patience is a virtue."
"Of which I don't have." Spike sighed.
Twilight ignored her assistant's interruption and continued. "But this collection is important to me. If I can't finish collecting all 150 cards after putting so much time and energy into it, I don't know what I'll do." Twilight looked down at the last, empty spot in her card binder. "Besides, I need to complete the collection so I'll have all the cards, just like the rest of my friends do."
"And why is it so important that you get all the cards now? Heck, I've started collecting them too but you don't see me obsessing over it to the point of lacking sleep and forgoing on my hygiene."
Twilight turned to Spike and lunged at him so they were face to face, her nose pressed against his.
"Because I've got to have them ALL! And if I'm the first pony to get to the store WILL have finally reached my goal! Do you understand how huge that is!?!" she shouted, her warm breath and saliva smacking Spike in his face, which remained unfazed-even by this outburst and his friend's close proximity. He'd seen Twilight lose her mind enough to not become bothered by it-his face still showed worry and some annoyance.
"Seek help, Twilight." the baby dragon said.
Twilight rolled her eyes and backed away. "Whatever. Now if you'll excuse me, I must go out and acquire a parasprite."
Twilight trotted out of the library, not noticing as Spike face-palmed and shook his head in disapproval before he walked back over to the couch, ready to resume his book.
Twilight trotted at such a brisk pace to the collector's shop it only took her two minutes to get there from her library, and it was almost at the center at town. At first, before she discovered the convenience of the collector's shop, she acquired the cards by purchasing pack after pack at one of the local convenience stores. When she first started collecting the cards, it was fine. She'd find two to four new cards in each pack. But as her collection grew in size, she started to get packs of nothing but, doubles-sometimes triples or quadruples-of cards she already owned. By far the biggest waste of money Twilight had ever spent.
Out of desperation, she began to search for loopholes, such trying to find spells that would give her the ability to peek into the card packs to see what was inside.
Eventually, she found the "see through spell" or, as it was called in Canterlot, the "plot peeper spell"-so aptly named due to the recurring instances of unicorn stallions using it to peer into the homes of unsuspecting mares as they showered or did other private things.
Unfortunately for her, the game series makers were smart, and put a magic canceling spell onto the foil that concealed the cards from view. Her lack of success with the spell angered her, and she was sick of spending money on packs of cards she already had. She felt like she was going to lose it.
But before she could go on a rage-induced magic rampage through the streets of Ponyville, she found a small collector's shop across the street from Bon Bon's sweets shop. It was almost always vacant, save for a couple of ponies looking forward to buying a card. But what made the store so convenient was the large counter with glass doors behind the cash register. Inside said counter was each, individual card, meaning she could find the ones she was missing and spend money on them. Deciding not to spend all her bits at once, she purchased a couple of cards the first day and left, planning to return the next for more.
So for the following few days, she returning to the same shop, buying the last cards until there was only one left.
The weak, despised parasprite card.
According to one of the employees, a nerdy-looking stallion with a grey coat and pair of thick-rimmed glasses, the shop's owner hardly ever bothered to sell parasprite cards to customers because of how unpopular it was, which was caused by its weakness in duels. In fact, the collector only had one parasprite card in his shop per week, figuring that he needed to keep at least one for the hard-core collectors. He told Twilight that Wednesdays was the "Parasprite Card" day and suggested she stop by then to grab it.
And today just happened to be the Wednesday Twilight had been waiting the past couple of days for.
The unicorn looked up at a nearby clock, high on a metal pole. It was three minutes to eleven-the time when the owner would arrive. She looked around. Because it was Saturday, the streets were mostly clear. Activities and stands often didn't open on Saturdays until around two or three, giving everypony a chance to sleep in from Friday night's "pleasantries" hard cider chugging and amnesia plagued romances.
Smiling, Twilight began to imagine her friend's faces when she showed up later that day with a completely full binder. She could finally feel like an equal with them when it came to the "Creatures of the Everfree", no longer would she feel inferior to them. She wouldn't be a newbie anymore, she'd be a full-fledged collector of the "Creatures of the Everfree", and she was so super excited she couldn't help but let out a tiny squeal in anticipation. She even moved her hooves up and down like she was trotting in place.
"Oh my gosh this is it. I'll finally complete my collection! Working hard these past couple months are about to pay off!"
Suddenly a flash of green appeared to her side. She looked up to see the familiar sea-green face of Lyra Heartstrings, her golden eyes gazing anxiously into the shop. She was biting her lip in anticipation, her saddlebag bulging on one side and Twilight could see why, there was a thick, white binder poking out of the top. It looked like the binder she used to hold cards, and Twilight couldn't help but feel a little intimidated by her presence.
Swallowing, Twilight cleared her throat to speak.
"Hey Twilight, what's up?" Lyra said, not taking her eyes off of the door.
"Nothing much, I'm just here to get my hooves on a parasprite card so I can finally complete my collection."
Lyra turned to Twilight, "Parasprite card?"
Twilight slowly nodded, "Yep. Parasprite card."
"Huh," Lyra nodded, her eyes narrowing. "You don't say?"
Twilight nodded, still nervous. "What about you?"
Lyra scowled at Twilight before looking back at the door.
"Please don't say parasprite card, please!"
"Just getting a card." Lyra finally replied, face still showing determination.
Twilight's eyes flared open and her heart began to race like there was a jackhammer inside.
"THAT'S A GENERIC ANSWER! GENERIC ANSWER! SHE'S GOING FOR MY PARASPRITE! THAT HUMAN OBSESSED MULE!"
Scowling back at the sea-green unicorn, Twilight turned her face back to the door. Inside, she could see the counter at the back. Behind that was the promised land. The glass-door guarded set of shelves that held the "Creature" cards.
The two employee ponies walked into the front of the store from the back room. One of the employees, the nerdy stallion Twilight knew, took his place behind the counter. He was holding a ring of keys in his muzzle. He then placed one of said keys into the keyhole of the counter and used it to open the glass door. He put a card inside before closing the glass door.
Even from the distance they found themselves at, both Twilight and Lyra knew it was the parasprite card that they both longed for. The sprint to the counter would be somewhat long, about twenty yards from the entrance to the back of the store, so it would truly be a hoof-race between the two desperate ponies. Even more challenging was the sleek, tiled floor and the pyramids of collectible supplies stacked up along the shelves that lined the one-way shot to the register, and the much-needed parasprite.
The second employee made her way to the door. She was a beautiful mare with a yellow coat and white mane. In her mouth, she held a set of keys, jingling as she made her way over. She put them into the lock, rubbing her hoof against her tongue to rid it of the metallic taste left behind.
Twilight and Lyra got into position, their haunches flared up and their bodies low to the ground, eyes determined and competitive scowls on their faces. The employee mare looked down at the two unicorns and let out a sigh.
"Every bucking Wednesday."
Bracing herself for what she knew was coming, the employee mare unlocked the door and closed her eyes just as the two unicorns pushed it open and sprinted in, sending the mare to the ground.
The two unicorns didn't stop to make sure she was okay, their minds were solely focused on the parasprite card that called to them from behind the glass divide. Lyra nudged Twilight to the side, sending her slightly off course. Shaking herself and regaining her composure, Twilight turned to Lyra, who was sticking her tongue out.
Angered that Lyra would use such dirty tactics, Twilight nudged the green unicorn back, sending her a bit astray. But, as Twilight had, Lyra quickly got back on track, and was no longer willing to play timid-it was time to give it all she had.
Lyra gave Twilight one, huge shoulder shove, sending the purple unicorn tumbling to the floor, sliding across its smooth surface before coming to a stop about ten yards from the counter. Looking up Twilight could see Lyra was almost at the counter.
"Oh no you don't."
Twilight's horn started to glow, creating a magenta force-field around a large stack of boxes-mostly minted action figures- and sent it falling onto Lyra, who slid to a stop only to be buried under the mound of collectibles. Twilight used this momentary advantage to get to the counter. Lyra managed to free herself from under the minted Bat-Mare and Daring Do action figures and get to her hooves in time to start running after Twilight. Finally, Twilight reached the counter, a mere millisecond ahead of Lyra. Both unicorns were panting and breathing heavily, their manes messy and eyes baggy. The sight of the two exhausted unicorns, panting and sweating, was enough of a sight to make the stallion employee turn a bright shade of red.
"Um awesome job you two, but...Twilight was here first." he muttered, still blushing.
Twilight grinned and shot Lyra a look of pure smugness. Lyra stuck out her tongue in response. The victorious unicorn turned to the glass counter, her excited eyes landing on the parasprite card that was locked away, but in plain sight. She stuck her hoof out towards her goal, so close and yet so far-but the gap was about to close.
"I'll take your parasprite card today, please."
"Darn it!" Lyra said, stomping her hoof onto the floor.
The stallion, finally out of his lovey-dovey state, nodded and went to retrieve the card from its confines behind the glass door.
"I was so close this time too!" Lyra muttered under her breath. The cashier grabbed the card and put it onto the counter for Twilight.
"That'll be three bits sweet-lips."
Twilight's looked up at the cashier, bewildered. "I'm sorry, what did you say?"
"I said that'll be three bits, please." the cashier said, laughing nervously. Twilight knew exactly what he really said, but was too happy to confront him. Twilight happily paid for her prize as the cashier continued to blush. The mare employee walked over, rubbing her head that had begun to swell from its impact with the hard floor.
She pointed her hoof at the cashier, "Next time, you're getting the door."
The stallion shook his head, "Sorry no can do. My brain is more important to me than your brain is to you, and I cannot afford to damage it." the geeky stallion said with a grin. "It's too perfect."
The mare scowled at him, grabbed one of the fallen Daring Do action figure boxes and hurled it at the stallion, hitting him in the head and sending him to the ground.
"You okay dude?" the mare asked.
"I'm...I'm...turning into a slug." the stallion muttered, clearly disoriented from getting hit in the head with the projectile. "I'm a slug."
She grinned, "Well now that your brain's no longer perfect, I guess you can open the door."
The stallion stood up, rubbing his head, his mental clarity finally returning. He shot a glare at the other employee and handed Twilight the card, who took it with her magical grip.
"Thanks!" Twilight said, levitating her new card up and happily trotting out of the shop, grin plastered on her face as she made her way towards the exit.
The cashier looked down at the disheartened Lyra, whose eyes filled with tears.
"I was so close this time, too." she whimpered, tears running down her cheeks.
"Aw, come on Lyra." the mare employee said, putting a reassuring hoof onto the sad pony's shoulder, "next week we'll give you first dibs on the parasprite card, how about that sound?"
Lyra looked up at her and smiled, "That sounds good. Thanks."
The cashier, head now hurting less, spoke up. "Well as long as you're here, would you like to purchase anything else today?"
Lyra put her hoof to her chin in thought, "Do you have any 'My Little Human' figures?"
"You're in luck. And also, they just released cards for that particular series, would you be interested in me getting some from the back? They come with a free pair of plastic hands."
Lyra's grin grew even bigger and her eyes widened to the point of almost bulging out of their sockets.
"Not such a bad day, I guess." she thought excitedly, imagining the merchandise she was about to receive.
Twilight could see Applejack's barn rapidly approaching. There was a hop in her trot, a pep in her step; an overall giddiness to her movement, like she was literally walking on air. She was ecstatic to finally be done with the collecting, her full binder bouncing up and down in her saddle-bag.
"I can't wait to show them my binder!" Twilight let out a mental "squee" as she knocked on the barn door. It swung open, Applejack standing in front of her. Behind her-sitting at an old, round table with the collector's cards spread out over the surface-was Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie and Rarity.
Fluttershy was absent, but Twilight assumed that was because the mares were dueling each other. Rainbow Dash's typically cocky demeanor was replaced with one of nervousness, as Pinkie Pie leaned back against her chair, grinning like a Cheshire cat-clearly getting the upper hoof on her athletic friend.
"Why howdy there Twilight," she said, smiling, "what can ah do ya for?"
"Oh not much. There's just something I wanted to show you girls that I think you'll enjoy."
"Great, well then come on in." Applejack motioned her friend into the barn. Twilight started to walk in when Applejack closed the door behind her and trotted over to her side, "He-he, ah think ya will appreciate how much Pinkie Pie is putting the hurt on Rainbow Dash."
"Hey!" Rainbow Dash shouted defensively from where she was siting, "She isn't 'putting the hurt' on me! We're tied!"
"Yeah, yer just nervous that yer streak without losing is about to end." Applejack sneered before looking over at Twilight, "So, what did ya want to show us, sugarcube?"
"Right!" Twilight said. Her horn glowed and her thick binder levitated from her saddlebag before plopping down onto the table, covering the cards that were spaced out.
"Hey, watch it darling! You're messing up our table!" Rarity scolded, using her magic to lift the binder off of the cards so she, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie could move them out from underneath before carefully lowering the binder back onto the table.
"Oops, sorry." Twilight said, blushing. "I wanted to announce to you that I have finally succeeded in collecting all of the cards!"
There were unanimous "reallys" and "wows" said by her friends, only making the unicorn blush more.
"I must say Twilight, that is quite impressive. I still have fifty-eight to go." Rarity said.
"Yeah! I have..." Pinkie Pie began before she began to think, mouthing off numbers until she hit the golden one. "Right! I have to get forty more cards."
Twilight suddenly became confused, "What? I thought you guys had them all."
Before either Applejack or Pinkie Pie could respond, the sky-blue pegasus interrupted.
"Hey Twi?" Rainbow Dash called out
"Yeah?" Twilight responded.
Rainbow Dash flipped through the binder to the last page and looked up at her friend.
"Where's your jackal card?"
Twilight tilted her head to the side, giving her pegasus friend a look of confusion.
"Jackal? There wasn't a jackal."
Rainbow Dash nodded, "Yes there was. Also, where's your diamond dog card? Or your eastern wildebeest card?"
"What are you talking about, there aren't any cards for those?"
Suddenly, Rainbow Dash's eyes went wide, "Wait, Twilight. How many cards do you have?"
"I have them all."
"No, because if you had them all I'd see a jackal, a diamond dog and countless others. Now how many, I want an exact number."
Twilight rolled her eyes like it was the most trivial question, "Duh, one-hundred and fifty. All of the cards in the series."
Rainbow Dash's mouth curled into a smile and she started to snicker. "Um...Twilight..."
The purple unicorn groaned, "Ugh, what now?"
"You didn't collect all of the cards."
Now Twilight was starting to get annoyed. "Yes I did Rainbow Dash!"
Rainbow Dash's smile grew wider, her laughter more unstable. She shook her head, hoof to her mouth as she tried to hold back.
"No, you just finished collecting the first generation!" the pegasus released all her laughter, falling off of her chair and kicking her hooves up in the air like a child.
Twilight's jaw dropped, "Wait...what!?!"
"Um, Twilight." Applejack said, walking in front of her friend with a smile, "Ya do realize there was another generation of creatures and plants released last week. Don't ya?"
Twilight's eye began to twitch. "There's...there's more?"
"Yep! One-hundred more to be exact!"
"One hundred...." Twilight trailed off. Slowly, her sanity came back to her, her rage built up.
"Erm, Twilight. Sugarcube, are ya alright there?"
Now, Twilight wasn't the kind of mare to just up and quit when the going got tough. She was persistent, strong, resolute and always worked towards achieving a goal, no matter how difficult or impossible it seemed. But after weeks of feeling inferior to her friends because she didn't have the first 150 cards. She was on the verge of tears, miserable that after putting so much hard work into finishing her collection, she was still the "loser" of the group when it came to the "Creature" cards.
"Buck it." Twilight levitated the binder over a nearby trash-can and released it, letting all her hard literally go to waste. She sniffled. "It's a silly hobby anyway."
Her voice was quivering as she tried to hold back her tears. was about to leave when Applejack jumped in her way.
"Whoa there Twilight. What's the matter?" Applejack asked.
Twilight could feel her tears running down her cheeks, "It's just...I was so sick of being the only one of you five that didn't have all the cards, and I worked my flank off to get them all . And now I hear there are one hundred more, after I worked so hard to get the ones I have? I'll never catch up to you guys! I'll always be the pathetic loser of the group that's behind everypony else."
Twilight looked away from Applejack, who extended her hoof and placed it gently onto Twilight's shoulder.
"Twilight, you're anything but pathetic. You're an amazing friend and the smartest pony I know. So what if you don't have all the cards we do, that doesn't make you worth any less to us." Applejack then sat down, her eyes now filled with guilt, "and if we made ya feel that way because we're so into this game and made ya feel left out, ah'm sorry."
Before Twilight could respond, she felt a pair of hooves wrap around her waist from behind and pull her into a hug. She turned to see Pinkie Pie looking at her, her face serious.
"So am I."
A cyan hoof landed on her back, as did a white one.
"Yeah, me too Twi." Rainbow Dash said, patting her friend on the back.
"I am as well." Rarity added.
"And ah bet if Fluttershy was here, she'd say the same thing." Applejack said. Twilight looked up into her friend's warm, green eyes and smiled.
"Thanks girls, this really means a lot." Twilight said, "but you don't have anything to apologize for."
"Yeah we do," Rainbow Dash said, "we shouldn't have pressured you into collecting the cards like we did."
"We were selfish for being so inconsiderate of your feelings Twilight." Rarity added.
Twilight felt the sorrow slowly evaporate from her shoulders. Her happiness returning and her tears finally stopping so the only moisture came from her already tear-streaked cheeks.
"Thanks guys." Twilight said, wiping the tears away from her eyes, "that means a lot."
"Group hug!" Pinkie Pie shouted, though she already had her hooves around Twilight. She released Twilight and brought all of her friends into the embrace as the others did the same. The five ponies giggled before breaking off and looking at each other.
"So, what do you want to do now?" Twilight asked, rubbing the back of her head.
The four ponies looked at each other, smiling as they came to a silent agreement.
Applejack turned her attention back to Twilight, her green eyes reflecting the kindness so typically displayed by the earth pony.
"Actually Twilight, how about we do what you want to do?" she said, the other four ponies looking at Twilight expectantly, waiting for her to give them a response. Twilight started to blush, flattered by her friends' generosity.
She smiled shyly at Applejack. "Um...want to go have a picnic or something?"
Pinkie Pie gasped, "That sounds super-duper! Wait here, I'll grab my picnic bazooka!"
Pinkie Pie raced off, leaving a pink trail of what seemed to be some kind of dust in her wake. Rainbow Dash then flew over to the trash can and pulled the binder out. It was surprisingly clean for having been in the garbage. Rainbow Dash brushed it off and flew it back over to Twilight, holding it out for her friend to take.
"And Twilight, please don't throw this away. It took way too much effort to collect these cards only to toss them aside like some used tissues."
Twilight took the binder in her aura. She lowered it into her hooves, feeling the weight of the binder, the mass representative of how hard she labored to fill it's clear pages with the colorful cards. The pride she lost after discovering the second generation returned, and finally recognized the true measures of her success. She set a goal, and, for the most part, achieved it, and that in itself was an impressive feat.
She looked up at Rainbow Dash gave her a warm smile. "Thanks Rainbow."
Rainbow Dash waved it off, "No problemo."
Twilight looked up to see Rarity standing before her, her eyes now filled with genuine interest and curiosity.
"So, darling. You simply must tell us how you managed to get the first generation of cards."
Twilight's friends all peered at her, wide-eyed as they readied themselves for a story. Twilight could feel her embarrassment returning, but it was a good ensnarement so she didn't complain. Besides, she loved to tell stories when she had a good one on her mind.
"It's a long story. But I'd love to tell it anyway." Twilight cleared her throat and began, "This story involves me, a 'see-through' spell, a collector's shop, and a sea-green unicorn with a strange obsession with humans."