Canter-Con (Part 2)

Word-Count:1,733 Content Warnings: N/A Written: November 2019 Last Edit: December 5, 2019

"I'm sorry, we only allow Artist Alley vendors to have one helper badge," said the security officer at the loading dock with an apologetic shrug. "You other ladies will need to pick your up your badges at the regular registration line."

"Oh, uh," Sunset Shimmer began. She turned over her shoulder at her friends. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay," said Rainbow Dash a nonchalant flip of her hair. "We'll go get our badges and meet you inside. How long could it take when we ordered the badges in advance?"

"I don't want to be the bearer of bad news," Twilight Sparkle said as she adjusted the large box of prints she was carrying in her hands, "But the preregistration line is actually longer than the on-site registration line."

Rainbow Dash slumped. "Oh."

Rarity patted Rainbow Dash on her shoulders, "It's fine, really. You two go on ahead, since you've got all of the artwork. We'll meet you inside."

"It's probably better that we get in line as soon as we can," added Applejack. The other girls agreed with nodding and affirmative mumbles.

"Okay, see you soon!" Sunset Shimmer waved as everybody but Twilight Sparkle walked off the loading dock. Twilight and Sunset lugged the heavy boxes into the large open room. Other artist's had already arrived and began setting up enormous displays.

"Look how many prints they have!" Twilight Sparkle gasped. "They've even got a whole wire tower to hold them!"

"Yeah, it's... amazing." Sunset said after a moment of hesitation.

"Of course," Twilight quickly picked up on Sunset's nervous tone, "It's not just the quantity that matters."

"Here we are," Sunset said as she dropped the heavy box onto the emtpy table with a loud thud. "And it's okay, Twilight. This is my first convention... It's something I will learn from, no matter what. I have all of you here, too!" She was reassuring herself as much as her friend. It wasn't that Sunset didn't believe her words, but it was just hard to shake the nervous feeling.

Twilight nodded. "Yes, it doesn't matter what happens as long as we're..." Twilight paused and crossed her arms. When she continued, it was quieter and slower. "...together. We'll always learn the most from each other."

"Is everything okay?" Sunset Shimmer asked.

"Oh! Of course!" Twilight clapped her hands, and then rubbed her arms. "It's just... cold. Actually, it's very cold!"

The artist at the booth next to Sunset Shimmer's table, who had already set up their booth to a sparkling perfection, chirped up. "Oh, conventions are always super cold. It'll warm up once they let the crowds in."

"Oh! Hello, I'm Sunset Shimmer." Sunset extended her hand to the friendly girl next to her, who took her hand and shook it with no hesitation. Sunset was startled, but gave a genuine beam. She didn't have the horrible history reputation here that she did back at Canterlot High School, and it was something she enjoyed feeling was behind her. "This is my friend, Twilight Sparkle." Twilight waved politely.

"I'm Technicolor Pop," said the other artist. "This must be you're first convention."

"Is is that obvious?" Sunset replied sheepishly. She laid a orange-gradient tablecloth across the table.

"Oh," Technicolor Pop grinned. "No, I just heard you talking. I'm kind of nosy. You'll do great, though. Your art looks cute!"

Twilight Sparkle was laying some of the Happy Hippo prints on to the table in an orderly fashion.

Technicolor Pop pointed. "So, I see you're real big into Happy Hippos. That'll be big this time, since the new movie just came out... even if got bad reviews."

Twilight Sparkle scrunched her face awkwardly. Sunset caught the expression from the corner of her eye. "I thought it was a pretty good addition," Sunset Shimmer said loud enough for Twilight to notice.

"You want to make sure you're always on top of the trends," Technicolor Pop nodded. Sunset was relieved she didn't want to talk about the Happy Hippo movie. Twilight seemed very sensitive about the criticism, for some reason.

Sunset and Twilight continued to set up the small, but respectable booth in silence.

"Oh!" said Technicolor. "Here they come!" The doors to the Artist Alley opened up and the crowd poured in like a dense wave.

"Let me through, let me through!" A voice cried above the others. Pinkie Pie popped out of the crowd and darted over to Sunset Shimmer's table. "Oh my goodness, Sunset! This looks amazing! I want one of everything!!"

"Pinkie," Sunset began with a blush. "I'm pretty sure you've already bought everything I had before we even got here."

"Well, then I want two of everything!" Pinkie insisted.

"Mmm..." said Sunset. "I think maybe you should look at some of the other booths, first. There's a lot to see!"

"There sure is!" Fluttershy snuck behind the table. "Just while we were waiting in line, we saw a whole lot of people in costumes. Cute costumes, scary costumes.... skimpy costumes..." She blushed and seemed to shrink under the back of Sunset's chair.

"Ha ha, you'll have to get used to that," said Technicolor Pop with a hearty laugh. "Some people love the excuse to show off- whether they should or not!"

Fluttershy squeaked in surprise. "Oh," Sunset added. "This is Technicolor Pop. Technicolor Pop, this is my good friend Fluttershy... and Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash." She pointed at her friends as she named them.

"I just don't understand how you could stand to wear something like that when it's so chilly!" said Rarity. "It's positively freezing in this building."

"It'll warm up," Sunset repeated her table-neighbors words.

"I hope so," said Applejack. "I didn't bring my heavy coat."

"I saw you had a coat in all those bags you packed," Rainbow Dash said with a light pfft. "You had almost as many bags as Rarity!"

"But that wasn't my heavy coat! I knew I should've been more prepared." Applejack balled her hand into a fist and padded her palm.

"Oh sweet!" A voice interrupted the conversation. A chubby man pushed Applejack to the side to get closer to Sunset's table. "They've got Hopsy!" He pointed at a button of the character.

"Are you a Happy Hippos fan?" Sunset Shimmer pushed a wide smile onto her face, determined to be polite to this costumer despite his rude behavior to Applejack.

"Huge fan," he said proudly. "I know everything there is to know about Happy Hippos. I'm Quibble Pants, I won the trivia contest last year."

"Cool!" replied Sunset. She made a wide gesture at her other buttons. "I have almost every single character from the movies. I've got Flopsy, Mopsy, Holly, and even some of the Twinkle Fairies!"

"Ew," said Quibble Pants with a sharp tone. "The Twinkle Fairies aren't really part of Happy Hippos."

Sunset Shimmer fought to reply first. "Oh, that's okay, they come separately!"

She was too late, though. The other girls had heard the comment about the Twinkle Fairies.

"I know, right?" said Rainbow Dash. "They're barely even in the movie! What were they thinking?"

Sunset hoped she could ignore them. "I also have characters from Mini-Mutts over here and-"

"What I don't get," said Technicolor Pop loudly, "Is why so many fans are so upset about the Twinkle Fairies when all of Happy Hippos is pretty out-of-nowhere. They're hardly the worst part about that series!"

"Woah!" shouted Rainbow Dash.

Quibble Pants shook and shuttered. "What gives you the right!?"

Rainbow Dash, Quibble Pants, and Technicolor Pop continued to bicker. Sunset Shimmer leaned over her table, resting her face in her hands. She muttered under her breath sourly, "Oh no."

Fluttershy was still hiding behind Sunset's chair. She tapped lightly on Sunset's shoulder. "It's okay, Sunset. I think the Happy Hippos are cool, too."

"Thanks Fluttershy," Sunset said with a slight smile. She leaned in closer to her friend to whisper, "It's not about me though...I'm just worried about Twilight. She seems... really sensitive about the whole Twinkle Fairy debate."

"I've noticed that, too," said Applejack, stepping closer to Sunset's booth. "Twilight's always got her nose in a book, but she's never been this concerned about made-up stories before."

"Wait a minute," Sunset Shimmer raised her head up. She looked over the table, around the table, and even quickly under the table. "Where is Twilight?"

Fluttershy and Applejack's eyes widened. They swung their head around, but couldn't see any sign of their friend either. "Oh no!" Fluttershy squeaked.

"I didn't hear her say she was going to the bathroom, did you?" asked Sunset.

Applejack and Fluttershy shook their heads. Applejack poked at Rarity's shoulder, getting her attention to ask, "Have you seen Twilight Sparkle?"

"No, I'm afraid I was too distracted with... this." Rarity gestured loosely at Quibble Pants, leaning over Technicolor Pop's table and loudly explaining the cultural merit of the Happy Hippos franchise. Rainbow Dash stood behind him, arms crossed and nodding, occasionally adding a affirmative "yeah!" to the argument.

Pinkie Pie turned with Rarity. "Is Twilight not here?" She asked.

"We don't know where she went!" Fluttershy squirmed anxiously.

"I'm afraid she left because she was upset about the Twinkle Fairies, again." Sunset added. "I can't leave my table though."

"We'll find her!" Pinkie Pie said. She pulled a telescope off the pirate costume of a person next to her, looking through it determinedly. "Oh, this is just a prop. Whoops!" Pinkie Pie carefully handed the telescope back to the pirate. "Sorry!"

Rarity raised a lone eyebrow "Should we get Rainbow Dash?" She asked.

"I think she might be too preoccupied." Applejack scowled. More con-goers had gathered around Technicolor Pop's table. Quibble Pants pounded on the table, as Technicolor Pop herself leaned back with a smug smile and shrugged lightly. Rainbow Dash was talking to some other people who had walked over to spectate the scene. All of them were gesturing wildly.

"If this is about the Twinkle Fairies, maybe it's better if Rainbow Dash didn't come." Sunset groaned. "Please, go find her! With all these people, I'm worried."

"I think I have an idea of where she might be," said Rarity. "Come on, ladies, there's no time to loose!"

"Can we stop by the hotel room, too?" Fluttershy asked. "I want to get my bear onesie-pajamas... my arms are like ice!"

Pinkie Pie helped Fluttershy to a standing position, "Missing friends, first!! Fuzzy costumes, second!"