Gilda Griffon flew swiftly amid a clear cerulean sky, the wind whistling and howling through her snow-white feathers. She had business near to Ponyville for the remainder of the week, although she normally went out of her way to stay clear of that damnable little village. Her current path kept to the outskirts by several miles which was sufficient to avoid spotting hide or mane of a single pegasus. Such comfort was worth the delay, despite the addition of a good fifteen minutes to her travel time.
“A whole town of stupid pony dweebs,” Gilda grumbled to herself, bruxating her beak with unquenchable resentment. The griffon was still sore that her former close friend Rainbow Dash would choose to spend time with those other lame-o ponies rather than hang out exclusively with her. Couldn’t that stupid pegasus see how important it was to her… Dash’s rejection hurt her more than she cared to admit (especially to herself). Unconsciously, Gilda scanned the sky nervously for any rainbow-colored blurs. An encounter with her former classmate was something she would take great steps to avoid at the moment. The griffon careened around the few tiny, puffy clouds hanging in an otherwise clear sky, swooping to and fro with aggressive gusto, as though she were back training in flight school once again. The past seemed so simple by comparison. Whatever happened to the good old days, she thought? She quickly buried the feeling of sentiment before it had a chance to bloom. Stupid ponies.
Suddenly, her eagle eye caught a glimpse of something small and pony-shaped, several hundred meters below her, still many miles distant from Ponyville. She tensed for a moment in fear, then shook off the sudden case of nerves. This was clearly not Dash. The pegasus pony was flying too slowly, too erratically, and too low to the ground; and its pelt was a bluish-grey, with a short blond mane and tail.
“Oh, this is too precious,” Gilda spat, rolling her eyes. “It’s… that pony. The queen of all the dorks.” The griffon paused for a moment as an evil grin crossed her flexible beak. She might not have the will to take on her former compatriot, but putting some stupid doofus in her place would sure hit the psychological spot right now. It wasn’t like all those ponies didn’t deserve a good swift kick it the so-called ‘cutie marks’ for being so weak and co-dependent and mamby-pamby. “I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them even had the name Mamby Pamby. That would be a perfect pony name,” she chuckled.
“And for that matter,” she continued, addressing the empty sky itself, “what a stupid name for a magical tattoo. ‘Cutie mark?’ Wow, these ponies are something else. I wonder what kind of idiot thought that one up. ‘Hay, a magic tattoo just appeared on my butt and it seems to represent my purpose in life. Let’s name it something really freaking queer,’” Gilda said out loud, using her best ‘dweeb voice’ to sound like a pony. She then paused and looked around her, feeling more than a little self-conscious about talking to herself in a silly voice. Fortunately, nopony was around to hear her.
“Birdcrap. Even being within eyesight of one of those stupid feathered mares lowers my IQ,” she deflected. “Alright. Now it’s time for some fun,” she smiled, flexing her powerful leonine legs and avian arms before diving at breakneck speed toward her intended target. With expert agility, she pulled up at the last second, nearly slamming her body into the tiny mare, who reacted with a yelp.
The pegasus pony cowered slightly for a second, then looked this way and that. “Oh, it’s a griffon,” she said, brushing her blond bangs from her forehead with a hoof as she hovered in place, only about ten hooves off the ground. “Hello there Madam Griffon!” she added cheerily with a slight waving motion of one wing, an act which sent her dipping sideways for a moment. One of her pretty hazel eyes was fixed right on Gilda’s face, while the other one stared off to the side, giving her a very silly expression. It was all Gilda could do to keep from cawing in laughter.
“Heh,” said Gilda, drawing close. “You’re that pony they call Derpy. That must mean stupid or something, huh?” she insinuated, flying right up next to Derpy with her puffed-up feathery chest right in her face.
“Yep!” said the little mare, looking upward to Gilda. “I mean, I’m Derpy, yeah. It’s not stupid though, it’s just my name,” Derpy insisted. “But I’m too busy to talk Madam bird-lion-lady, so I have to say goodbye for now unless you want to follow me some,” she added, and flew gently around Gilda as though she weren’t a threat of any sort.
The griffon narrowed her stare icily and flew backwards along Derpy’s path so she could look her in the eyes (or, one of them, at least). “Look, dweeb. I don’t want to follow you. I just want you to know how much you suck,” she snarled. “Surely I’m not the first person to tell you that. Even those dorky Ponyville ponies are smart enough to know a dumb little clutz like you when they see one.”
Derpy paused for a moment in midair, thinking. “Well, sometimes ponies can be mean, but most of the times they’re nice,” she said, renewing her slow flight. “And the only ponies whose opinions matter are your friends, so it doesn’t really matter what other people think.” The grey pegasus pony smiled brightly.
Gilda raged inside, but held the emotion down, letting Derpy fly past her for a moment as she decided to switch to a new tactic. Intimidation didn’t work: probably because her victim was too stupid to be afraid, she mused. She couldn’t let little ‘happy-go-dorky’ get the best of her, so it was time to use her secret weapon. The griffon had been practicing something special for weeks, ever since the incident at Ponyville: ‘the ultimate comeback’, as she called it. She had been saving it for Dash, but Derpy would make great target practice. Just ask the mare a simple question about what she’s doing, Gilda thought, and when she responds, I’ll show her just how stupid she is.
A pony might think the griffon could simply be ignored or shunned, but Gilda knew a lot about pegasus culture from her time in flight school. Anyone who went through any sort of flight training knew proper flight etiquette, and the first rule of flight etiquette is identify yourself. Who are you, what affiliations do you have, and where are you headed? Failing to respond appropriately when approached, while overhead of, say, Canterlot Castle, is a direct invitation for a catapult beat-down. All pegasus ponies knew to respond with accurate information when asked their business, and after a while it became automatic. Derpy should be no different. Gilda’s trick was simple: plan for any reasonable response to a simple question. Pegasus ponies were more easily fatigued than griffons, and rarely traveled long distances unless training or travelling to a major population center nearby. The cynical griffon had spent many long hours planning a ridiculously harsh set of insults and curses for every major city or forest a pony in this area might claim as a destination. Planning verbal confrontations was a strange pastime, to be honest, but certainly no lamer than cloud sculpture or feather-weaving or any of the stupid crafts pegasus ponies typically took up.
The griffon turned around and zoomed forward, catching up with the flighty mare in seconds. Derpy seemed more preoccupied with gawking at the scenery around her than racing to get anywhere, which made no sense at all to Gilda. But nonsense was generally what she expected from ponies.
“Just one more question,” Gilda said, flying in front of the pony a second time to block her path, then turning her head fully to the side to stare at her with one ogling eye in a subtle mockery of the pony’s minor disability. The motion was rather bird-like in appearance. “Where are you headed, anyway?”
Oh, please say Canterlot, thought Gilda, grinning darkly. She had a string of invectives a mile long ready to trash the Princess herself, something that would easily make any pony’s jaw drop. Their precious ‘Princess’ maligned like that…it was too perfect.
Derpy smiled. “Wherever the wind will take me,” she simply responded.
“Ha!” barked Gilda, energetically. “Well, maybe you… uh…” and suddenly stopped, beak open, but no words came forth. She’d been completely thrown off of her game by the atypical response. How could the ditzy pony not be going anywhere at all? It was senseless. Her mind raced, trying to think of something, anything crushing to say in return…
“See you later Madam Griffon,” Derpy said, and flew around the chimeral beast as Gilda simply stared at her own talons, still trying in vain to dream up the right killer comeback. Furious (with herself as much as with her escaped prey), she flew upwards as far as she could to escape the encounter. She looked around the mostly-empty sky until she found a tiny cloud to rest in.
“This isn’t over,” she said to herself, out loud. “It shouldn’t be this hard to get one dumb little pony’s goat, especially for that one.” And with that resolution, Gilda spent the better part of the next three hours thinking up the perfect response to Derpy’s bizarre reply. Oh, the delightfully evil retort she came up with! It was awful in all the best of ways: hurtful, slanderous, piercing, and all of it, the harsh truth. If only she had been ready with this earlier! The wind in Derpy’s wings would provide no refuge for her now. But Gilda noticed the sun was setting, so she decided she’d need to bide her time, and catch the pony tomorrow instead.
On the following day, Gilda hung out in a cloud nearby where Derpy’s path had crossed hers previously. She peered over the edge, carefully scanning the ground below. Sure enough, just before noon, the ditzy pony was ambling back toward Ponyville. Gilda grinned and dove to the ground below, screeching to a halt just before reaching her prey.
“Oh!” said Derpy, not even startled this time. “Hello again Madam Griffon,” she added. “Are you still in a bad mood?” Both of Derpy’s eyes momentarily fixated on Gilda’s face before the left one began to wander off comically.
“No, Derpy,” she responded coldly. “Now, where are you headed today?” Gilda asked, cutting through all the bull. She was ready for something stupid and noncommittal about the wind, and she was ready for the obvious response as well, seeing as the pegasus was making a beeline back to Ponyville. She had at least a dozen crippling insults prepared for anypony headed for that city of idiots. She grinned with anticipation.
“Wherever my feathers might lead me,” replied Derpy, chipper as ever.
“HA!” shouted Gilda. “Then the wind had better… wait…” she interrupted herself, and her face fell as she realized the perfect insult she’d prepared made no sense at all for the ‘feathers’ response. Stunned and crestfallen, she stared into space and tried to come up with something, anything, but Derpy had already moved on by the time she snapped back to reality. It only took her the better part of a minute to realize how to modify her planned rant to fit Derpy’s new response, but the critical moment had already been lost.
“Argh, this is so infuriating!” screeched Gilda, flying back up to the clouds. She began pacing back and forth on a large cumulonimbus. “Okay, okay, it’s time to think, birdbrain. I just have to make the burn apply to a general case. If I have a snappy insult that works with any stupid ‘nowhere in particular’ response, then I’ve finally got her,” she pondered, and then suddenly remembered her previous plans which she had been neglecting. “I can’t keep wasting time like this on a stupid pony. I have better fish to fry. I’ve got to get her tomorrow, and get her good,” she decided. This would be her last chance, and Gilda planned to make it count.
This time around the griffon stayed up well into Luna’s hours, planning the nastiest, most effective tirade of profanity and hatred her avian brain could possibly conjure, and it was some high-quality ego-shredding material indeed. If the pony had no specific destination in mind, she’d tell her what a directionless foal she was, never getting anywhere in life, and so on…only with a lot more cursing and screaming interleaved between the insults. She planned to go on for about ten minutes of yelling and belittling, maybe more if she decided to “wing it” at the end.
The following day was a cloudy day. Gilda had no trouble finding the perfect hiding place: a vantage point to where she’d seen Derpy on the previous two days, with no chance of being discovered by anypony else who might wander by. As morning turned to afternoon, the griffon was starting to worry her victim wouldn’t show up again. What a missed opportunity this whole mess would have been! She was mentally kicking herself for screwing things up twice in a row already.
But Gilda’s patience paid off as she finally spotted Derpy below her. The stupid pony was flying so low to the ground this time she might as well be walking, thought the griffon. She appeared to be headed toward Ponyville, which meant she must have wandered away from town in the middle of the night, or perhaps she slipped by earlier in the morning when the raptor wasn’t looking in the right place. No matter, thought Gilda, as she prepared herself for the assault, her choler rising within her breast already. She descended quickly, just as before; only this time, the griffon landed with a loud slam on the ground just beside Derpy’s flight path. Her entrance sent dust and loose dirt flying in all directions, which made Derpy wrinkle her muzzle in an odd, cute manner, but had no other discernible effect on the little pony.
“Hyy Mzz Grffn,” Derpy said. The pegasus had a small piece of paper sticking out of her mouth.
“That thing in your mouth makes you sound dumber than normal. No, wait, what am I saying? There’s no ‘normal’ for you. Let’s try dumber than typical,” Gilda corrected herself, flexing her wit with that nasty opening salvo. She didn’t really care what the paper had on it, of course, she just wanted to warm up her victim for the mane course to come.
Derpy descended to the ground and looked up to Gilda from below. The griffon towered over her at more than twice her height and at least a dozen times her mass. The little mare just stood there, as though waiting patiently for something. Fine, then…I’ll have to oblige her, Gilda thought, smirking inwardly.
“Where are you headed?” she asked, pronouncing each word crisply and clearly. She licked her beak with anticipation of the taste of tears and victory. This was going to be good. There was nowhere left for her to go that she wasn’t fully prepared to tear apart. Ponyville, Cloudsdale, Trottingham, Canterlot, Appleoosa, Fillydelphia, or even ‘Nowheresville’ where the little wall-eyed dork belonged: Gilda had a series of barbs planned for any location. And if the little mare even dared decline to respond or fail to provide a legitimate answer, that unthinkable level of rudeness would be especially easy to crush in her strong talons, not to mention all the malicious the gossip she would spread after the fact about the dweeb not even having the simplest flight etiquette. Derpy would have to say something, after all. It was simple common courtesy of the skies, even if both flyers were currently standing on the ground.
Derpy flew upwards a couple of hooves so she could look Gilda directly in the eyes before responding. For a moment, Gilda was actually astonished at the gall of the little pony before her. Facing off with a griffon; is she insane? Then, Gilda saw what the pony was holding in her mouth, what she had apparently flown up to show her. The thing in her mouth appeared to be a newspaper clipping with a picture of a muffin on it.
Derpy shifted the paper in her mouth so she could speak freely, and her eyes focused directly on Gilda’s. For a split second, Gilda saw in her eyes what looked like an unexpected glimmer of intellect, and…was that…naughtiness? It was as though the mare had been planning for this final meeting as well, but, that was simply impossible. This was the dumbest pony of them all!
“Muffin shopping,” Derpy answered, in a voice so sweet it had to be sarcasm. The pony flew away while Gilda simply stood in stunned silence.