Teaser: The stars have aligned in such a way that the Grand Galloping Gala takes place the same weekend as the Mysterious Equestria! convention in Canterlot. The pony gang are looking forward to engaging other intellects in their search for clues to their own mysteries. Aurora, on the other hoof, thinks she’s finally ditching the hicks for a night of splendor, romance, dancing, and catty comments about other ponies’ ensembles.
How… how did this happen?
Aurora Jane left Brindlebury in a chartered coach with Dr Sir Jeckyll Steel and her aunt, Arctica Buckminster to attend Aurora’s first Grand Galloping Gala. Her return to Canterlot, attending tea and a dinner party with her family, reminds her of everything she has missed about pony high society. She is a little worried about some odd reactions that her grandfather, Sir Carbonado Buckminster, has to her boyfriend the doctor, but otherwise all seems well.
Meanwhile, Hurryup Ann, Autumn Gallery, Joneigh, Jimmy, and Shucks take the ordinary coach to Dodge Junction, and then the train to attend this year’s Mysterious Equestria Convention. Shucks becomes increasingly nervous about forgetting something important that he wants to do at the convention.
While standing in line at registration, Shucks notices that one of his favorite writers, Hasty Pudding, is listed as an attendee on the voodoo message board. Hurryup Ann says nothing as she collects her badge which bears the name Hasty Pudding. The Brindlebury ponies split up: Jimmy accompanies Shucks to some panels, Joneigh hits the dealers’ den, Hurryup Ann meets with an editor and then the den, while Autumn takes her first tour through the art show, then joins Joneigh in the den. Joneigh finds a tentacle hat, and soon all her friends own one, as well. Then the Brindlebury group meets up for lunch.
Aurora is irritated by the arrival of her brother in Canterlot the next morning, and a bit suspicious that Borealis seems to have changed colognes to match Sir Jeckyll Steel’s favorite choice. She begins to wonder if some earlier signs she saw that indicated Dr Steel and Borealis were more than friends actually meant something, so she sneaks into her brother’s room to check his cologne. He does not own any of the cologne in question, which does not ease Aurora’s mind. After getting her mane done, Aurora goes to a restaurant to meet her mother and Aunt Arctica for a late lunch, and is shocked to see that her old school rival, Ginger Harmony Bullion (of the San Palomino Bullions). She can’t decide whether she is amused or annoyed to learn that Ginger Harmony is to be Borealis’s date for the gala. But then she is distracted as she recognizes the voices of her Brindlebury acquaintances at a nearby table… talking about attending a banquet and dance!
After Arctica arrives, wearing her Guest of Honor badge for the convention, Aurora figures out that her “hick” friends probably aren’t talking about the gala, and is able to focus of the banter battle with Ginger Harmony. She has a few too many martinis, not noticing that Ginger Harmony slips her a few extras. Aurora excuses herself to find a restroom and try to cast a sobering spell. She gets lost briefly, is assisted by the head of convention security.
Hurryup Ann, meanwhile, thinking that perhaps they had embarrassed Aurora, had purchased a drink for Aurora as an attempt at an apology. When she saw Aurora flee the restroom, she snuck away to check up on her. Then, realizing that Aurora was arguing with her own reflection, she imitated Aurora’s voice and encouraged her to go give Ginger Harmony a piece of her mind. Aurora returned to the table, delivered what she thought would be a deeply cutting remark about how long Ginger Harmony has pined for Borealis, how he dumped her in school, but now she’s finally worn him down. Ginger Harmony is devastated… and fires back with the accusation that the only reason Dr Steel was with Aurora was because Aurora reminds him of her brother, and adds that everyone knows it. Aurora loses her temper and splashes the fruity drink that Hurryup Ann had sent into Ginger Harmony’s face.
And she fled.
She breaks down crying on the sidewalk, and is approached by the head of convention security, a buff, handsome unicorn stallion named Moon Ray. Moon Ray comforts her for a while. She winds up going back to his hotel room, and despite learning that he was another old classmate, who was a skinny, nerdy pony everyone called Dew Dropper back then, decides to let him comfort her rather more than she probably ought.
Aurora missed her pedicure appointment, and barely arrives back at her parents’ home in time to get dressed for the gala. Sir Jekyll Steel picks her up as planned, and she finally arrives at the gala.
Meanwhile, Shucks was shocked to find Hurryup Ann sitting behind the autograph table in Hasty Pudding’s spot. He is convinced she’s going to get in trouble, never quite realizing that she is Hasty.
Hurryup Ann’s Uncle, Tom Whately, who is another Guest of Honor, asks Joneigh to be his date to a “little dance” which turns out to be the Grand Galloping Gala. Hurryup Ann, meanwhile, is shocked when a couple of palace guards show up to take her to the gala. She never opened that one envelope that came in her convention packet, and therefore didn’t realize that the princess invited all the convention Guests of Honor to the gala. She grabs Jimmy as her plus one. Shucks sees Hurryup Ann, Jimmy, Joneigh, and Tom being taken away by palace guards, and is convinced they are being kidnapped, so he disguises himself with his MIB (Mares In Black) cosplay, and drags Autumn with him to the Gala.
At the Gala, Aurora becomes slightly concerned that no one seems to want to talk to her. Then Tom, Joneigh, Hurryup Ann, and Jimmy were announced… and then are presented to the princess! Shortly after Shucks and Autumn Gallery crash the gala, someone comes to take Sir Jeckyll to the presentation line, but Aurora’s mother takes her aside and explains that she should not be presented. She informs Aurora that Sir Carbonado has had to pay a large sum of money to prevent publication in the newspapers of the fight between Aurora and Ginger Harmony, and more specifically Aurora’s indiscretion with Moon Ray. Because of Aurora’s behavior, Sir Carbonado wished to send Aurora away, to some post in Neighbraska, but Arctica had intervened and promised to take Aurora back to Brindlebury and help her sort herself out.
Aurora leaves the gala, though she doesn’t go home right away. She finds a quiet spot in the garden to cry. Which is where Shucks finds her, and asks if he can help. She explains that this is a problem only she can solve, and tells Shucks that he can call her Aurora rather than always trying to pronounce Miss Buckminster-Kimblewick. Shucks tells her he was sent to find out if she wanted to go to the dance at the convention. Aurora says she should just go home.
Then Aurora notices an odd aurora-like light, and a voice asked Shucks, “Mr McKorn, have you found your friend?” Shucks informs Her Majesty that his friend isn’t feeling well and can’t accompany them to the dance. Aurora bows to Celestia. When Aurora agrees to attend the dance, Celestia comments that she has so wanted to meet Aurora ever since finding out the Miss Pudding based the character of Miss Bustle-Haunches on Aurora.
The opening night dance of the Mysterious Equestria Convention is a success. Many people are delighted at the mysterious fan who showed up in such convincing Princess Celestia cosplay. Aurora winds up wearing vampire fangs and a few other costume accessories, and finds out she can have fun with the Brindlebury ponies at the ordinary dance.
Shucks comes to Joneigh to ask what a word that the Princess said to him means. Then Joneigh has to calm Shucks down and assure him that the only reason the princess probably mentioned an assassination order was in reference to his Mares In Black costume. It’s a joke, surely. Joneigh is almost certain it is a joke.
When Aurora Jane arrives home, at nearly dawn, she is amused to see Borealis sneaking in through the window, and wonders just how many assignations he had that night. As she is getting out of her costume and gown, she hears an urgent pounding at the main door, and a sleepy servant answering. It is the Canterlot Police, and they must talk right away to several members of the household. They have to determine who it is that last saw Dr Sir Jeckyll Steel alive!
To be continued…!