Tabby's Battle Against the Giant Squid
written by Tabby

Tabby stared at the express mail letter clutched in her hoof as she sat on her porch steps. The mysterious cloaked figure had just dropped by to deliver it.

"There's only one pony in the world that would use that name on a letter to me," Tabby muttered to herself as she ripped into the envelope with a foreign postmark on it.

Tabby read over the paper inside, and shoved it back in the envelope. "How interesting," she said to herself. "No bother. I'll just see what the gang thinks at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe tonight."

* * *

Clever Clover tried to hide his peals of laughter when he looked at the outside of the envelope. "Tabitha Fershund. How quaint," he snorted.

Tabby glared across the table at him, like she did most every night. "I cannot help it if my mother still insists on calling me that," she said loftily.

"The letter's from your mother?" Sugarberry asked curiously.

"Exactly," Tabby confirmed. "I haven't heard from her for years, but she's--"

"My, I remember the days of our childhood when she still lived in Dream Valley," Sugarberry said nostalgically. "And then she moved away after you were through collage-- where is she now?"

"I think somewhere in Spain," Tabby said critically. "Or was it Italy? It might be France, too..."

"Try checking the postmark," Thomas suggested, a smile playing across his face.

"Postmark? Hmm, I never thought of that. I'll check later."

"Here, just let me see it," Clever Clover interrupted.

"It'd probably take ten minutes for her to find the postmark on the envelope, anyway," Spike whispered to Clever Clover.

"Ah-hem, but I need advice--" Tabby started.

"A hem is the edge of a piece of clothing," Clever Clover said promptly. He and Spike broke out laughing.

Tabby glared at Clever Clover again. They really were good friends; they just argued all the time. "As I was trying to say before I was so rudely interrupted..."

"What is it?" Thomas asked attentively.

"Yes, tell us," Sugarberry agreed.

"My mother--" Tabby paused. "Spike, give that envelope back to me!" After a short skirmish, Tabby pulled a slip of paper out of the envelope. "My mother wants me to visit her for two weeks in--well--Spain or Italy or France." She displayed the plane ticket."

"Two weeks?" Thomas echoed.

"That's a long time," Sugarberry fretted.

"What about the Pokèmon Center?" Clever Clover demanded.

"And your cat, Callie?" Spike added.

"Two weeks isn't that long," Tabby contradicted.

After the initial shock had worn off, her four friends were able to think more clearly on the matter. "I didn't mean to sound discouraging, Tabby," Sugarberry quickly apologized. "You really should take up your mother's offer."

"You still can't forget about your job at the center, or the Pokèmon of your own," Clever Clover accused.

"That's right," Spike agreed. "Don't let all those Pokèmon down like that."

"And I've already figured that out," Tabby yawned. "I'm sure Merry Treat will be happy to fill in for me at the center for a couple of weeks."

Up to this point, Thomas had been silent. "And when exactly do you have to leave?" he questioned.

"It says the plane leaves at eight o'clock tomorrow morning," Tabby said promptly.

Sugarberry gasped in alarm. "Eight?!...but that's hardly no time at all!"

"Your mother didn't give you an earlier notice?" Spike said skeptically.

"It's nothing to get alarmed over," Tabby said in dismissal. "It won't take more than five minutes to call Merry Treat, and another ten to throw a suitcase together."

"I think you're taking this too lightly, Tabby," Thomas warned.

"Of course she's taking it lightly," Clever Clover whispered to Spike. "She refuses to take anything seriously."

"I heard that, Cleve Clove!" Tabby shrieked.

"Whatever you say, Tabitha," Clever Clover smirked.

"Why, you little--" Tabby snarled.

"Uhh, Tabby," Sugarberry interrupted the argument, "if you're serious about going, shouldn't you get home and start making arrangements?"

Tabby snatched up her plane ticket and pushed back her chair. "I suppose I should! Buh-bye!"

She was just about to jump up from her seat when Sugarberry held her down. "I'll stop in at your house in the morning to see you off," she said tearfully.

"Uh-huh, uh-huh," Tabby said impatiently. "And you'll give a sentimental speech and all that. It's not like I'm never coming back."

"But what if you don't?" Sugarberry sobbed. "You'll get caught up in the European lifestyle, and we'll never hear from you again!"

Tabby sighed. "I'll be back in two weeks, alright?"

Sugarberry managed a smile. "If you say so," she said weakly. "See you tomorrow."

"And now I'm off," Tabby said briskly, standing up.

"I'll walk you home," Thomas offered quickly.

Tabby nodded in reply, and the two set off. Thomas was rather silent, and Tabby just stared at the envelope with an insane grin on her face (and not really watching where she was going).

Thomas hesitated as they reached Tabby's porch. "I suppose I'll say my goodbyes now." He forced a smile. "Have a good time in...well...Europe."

"Don't worry; I won't," Tabby said cheerfully; she had to keep up her pessimistic views. She eyed him critically. "Say, you don't look too happy."

"You're only going to be gone for two weeks," Thomas said sarcastically. "You can't expect your friends to be totally thrilled over it."

"They don't have to act like it's the end of the world, either," Tabby retorted. "I'll be back in two weeks.

"The way you change your mind, I wouldn't be surprised if you decided to stay there," Thomas said accusingly.

Tabby's eyes lit up with anger. "Why, that's--I wouldn't do that! You--you..."

"We'll see what happens in two weeks," Thomas stated simply.

"Indeed we will!" With that, Tabby stomped into her house, and slammed the door in Thomas' face.

"Hmph!" Tabby stood there fuming for several moments.

Tarquin walked through, rubbing his eyes as if he'd just woken up from a nap. "I figured it was you with that slamming door." His eyes lit up. "Hey, is that a special delivery envelope?"

Tabby immediately forgot about the argument. "Oh, Tarkie, It's so exciting!" she squealed. "My mother sent me a ticket to go visit her for two weeks!"

"But...I don't have to go with you, do I?" Tarquin said after the information had sunk in.

"I suppose you could board at Merry Treat's if you wanted to," Tabby figured. "Along with Jigglypuff and Oddish."

"Merry Treat's?" Tarquin's face lit up even more. "For two weeks? Yeah, I'm staying in Dream Valley!"

"I'll call her in a few minutes," Tabby yawned. "I leave tomorrow at eight in the morning."

"I get to start my stay with Merry Treat tomorrow? Yipee!" Tarquin cheered. "Of course, it's not that I don't like you, Tabby," he added quickly.

Tabby smiled and patted him on the head. "That's okay. You'll like being with Merry Treat better than being in Europe." Merry Treat also owned a Meowth who was good friends with Tarquin.

Tarquin hovered around as Tabby made the call. "Hey, Merry Treat! I need you to take over for me at the Pokèmon Center for two weeks and watch my Pokèmon."

Merry Treat blinked slowly. But then, she was used to hearing things like this from Tabby. "I think I can do that," she said cautiously. "You're not quitting, are you?"

"Of course not!" Tabby exclaimed. "I'm just going to visit my mother."

"Ohhh!" Merry Treat said in awe. "You get to go to Spain? You're so lucky!"

"Yep," Tabby confirmed. "Or, it might be Italy or France..."

"I'll be happy to do the Pokèmon stuff for you," Merry Treat said graciously. "How about if I come over tomorrow morning to pick-up Tarkie and the others? Or is that too soon?"

"That'll be perfect; my plane leaves at eight."

"You'll have so much fun!" Merry Treat squealed. "See ya!"

After hanging up, Tabby turned to Tarquin. "It's all settled," she informed him. "Merry Treat will come by tomorrow."

Tarquin clapped his paws together in excitement. "I can't wait!"

"Now, where's Tamara?" Tabby questioned. "She's not out, is she? I have to set some things up with her."

"In her bedroom," Tarquin said promptly.

"Great!" Tabby said brightly. "Now, you can go off and pack whatever you might need.

Tamara was indeed in her bedroom. "One of my necklaces is missing!" she wailed as Tabby entered.

Probably the one Tarquin found lying around and gave to Tess, Tabby reasoned to herself. To her cousin, she said quickly, "You'll have to watch over Callie and be sure her dishes are full while I'm gone for two weeks."

Tamara frowned. "You'll be out in the wild catching Pokèmon, won't you?" she sighed. "Really, that can't be good for your complexion."

"As a matter of fact," Tabby said lightly, "I'll be or Italy or Spain."

Tamara blinked slowly. "Europe? You're going to Europe?" she exclaimed. "Since when did you want a vacation there?"

"Since Mom sent me this plane ticket." Tabby waved the tiny slip of paper through the air.

"Aunt Agatha?" Tamara echoed. "She invited you to visit? What about me? Doesn't she want me to come, too?"

"There's only one ticket, and she wants me," Tabby said in dismissal. "I'm leaving in the morning at eight. Like I said, be sure to watch Callie. Merry Treat is taking my Pokèmon, so you don't have to worry about them." With that, Tabby abruptly stepped out into the hallway and closed the door, leaving Tamara to complain to herself.

"Now the only thing left to do is pack my suitcase," Tabby said cheerfully, entering her own room. Digging a suitcase out of the depths of her closet, she scrutinized her room carefully. What should she take?

The first items in the suitcase were some of her favorite My Little People, Pokèmon, and Teddy Ruxpin videos. Next was her beloved plush ‘Koosa, Brownie. Of course, Tabby couldn't forget her two plush Tea Bunnies and Kitty Brite...Tabby went around the room, pulling out her favorite toys from her different collections.

After preparing for bed, Tabby decided to throw in her toothbrush. Sugarberry would really rip into me if I forgot that, she thought reasonably.

With that taken care of, Tabby collapsed into bed.

* * *

"Hey, hey, hey!" Tabby exclaimed to herself as she woke up the next morning. "I get to go to Europe today!"

There was something nagging at her memory from last night...but Tabby didn't stop to think about it. She leaped out of bed and looked at her clock: seven o'clock.

Plenty of time, she thought as she went through her morning ritual. She was just finishing breakfast as Tarquin entered the kitchen.

"I've packed what I needed," he said eagerly. "Will you bring me back something from Europe?"

"Mmmmph." Tabby struggled to swallow. "Oh! A souvenir? Certainly, and I'll find something for Tess, too."

Tarquin grinned broadly. "You're a great trainer, Tabby," he said sincerely.

"All in a day's work," Tabby proclaimed.

"Tamara is sulking in her room," Tarquin informed her.

Tabby yawned. "Figures. She should be happy that I won't be around to insult Tex."

"And she'll have complete rule over the house," Tarquin added.

The doorbell rang. Tabby grabbed her suitcase (and she had even remembered the plane ticket) and ran to the door. "It'll be either Merry Treat or Sugarberry," she told Tarquin as she twisted the doorknob.

It turned out to be Merry Treat. "Tess and Spearow can't wait to see you, Tarkie." She bent down to pet the Meowth and turned to Tabby. "I'll be sure to take extra-good care of your Pokèmon. And the center."

"Here are Jigglypuff and Oddish," Tabby said as she handed two PokèBalls to Merry Treat. "I'm sure they'll be fine with you."

"I don't mean to rush off so quickly," Merry Treat said apologetically, "but I've got to be sure to get to the Pokèmon Center on time. Have a great time! Be sure to send me a postcard!" She winked and started down the porch steps.

"Buh-bye, Tarkie, Merry Treat, Jigglypuff, Oddish!" Tabby called after them. "I'll be seeing you!"

Then Sugarberry trotted up the walk. "Hey, hey, Sug!" Tabby greeted her.

"Good morning," Sugarberry said. "Is there anything you need help with before you go?" She put on a brave smile.

"I've got everything in this suitcase," Tabby assured her friend.

"You remembered a toothbrush, didn't you?" Sugarberry asked suddenly.

Tabby rolled her eyes. "Of course, Sugarberry."

"Well, goodbye," Sugarberry sniffled. "Though I'm not sure how good I'll be as secretary at the clinic for these two weeks."

"You'll be okay," Tabby assured her, but then her face suddenly fell. That's what had been nagging her memory...her argument with Thomas last night.

"You okay?" Sugarberry asked in concern.

Tabby blinked. "Oh! Yes! I was just thinking that I'd better be heading to the airport now!" She ran down the walk. "See ya!" she shouted back at Sugarberry, who waved in return.

Once Sugarberry was out of sight, Tabby slowed her pace to think. I hope he's not too mad, she mused to herself, remembering last night. But to think I wouldn't come back! Hmph! She marched resolutely on to the airport.

* *

Upon arrival at the airport, Tabby realized she had never flown on a plane before. I may not come back alive! she thought to herself in alarm, but quickly reassured herself. Well, it can't be any worse than a walk through the Dark Forest.

The next thing Tabby realized was that she had no idea what to do now. She did have her ticket...maybe she had to do something with that. Hmm...a desk was on the far side of the room that Tabby was in, with an official-looking pony standing behind it.

Tabby dug frantically in her suitcase for the ticket while walking towards the counter. "Here," she said briefly, pushing the ticket over to the other pony.

The lavender pony in a cap which bore the emblem of the airport glanced at the ticket for a second. "Gate 5," she yawned.

"What about Gate 5?" Tabby asked impatiently.

"That's where you wait for your flight," the ticket-taker explained in a bored tone of voice.

"Alrighty!" Tabby skipped along on her new quest to find Gate 5. "Let's see...Gate 4, Gate 5, Gate 6, Gate 7..." She paused. "Gate 7?! But seven is after five. That can mean only one thing." Tabby took a deep breath. "Gate 5 does not exist. Unless...unless! Perhaps I missed it!"

Eventually, Tabby did find her way to Gate 5 and seated herself. Though the airport hadn't seemed very busy, there were quite a few ponies waiting as well.

After two minutes of waiting, Tabby was already bored out of her mind. As she was concentrating so hard on how bored she was, she was only dimly aware of a voice over the loudspeaker... "Gate 5 now loading..."

Hearing the commotion of hooves trotting across the floor, Tabby looked up. "Is that Gate 5 loading?" she exclaimed to herself. "Well! They didn't even tell me!"

* * *

I hope it doesn't take long to get to...err...France or Italy or Spain, Tabby thought, staring out her window to the ground below. She had been lucky enough to get on the right plane.

The plane should crash just about now, Tabby figured to herself. And all my beloved videos will be lost forever!

The flight was uneventful, but it took much too long to reach its destination, in Tabby's opinion. She wished she had Clever Clover to bug about how much longer it would be until landing. It sure was fun, stealing his pocket watch and wasting five minutes figuring out what positions the hands were in.

Barnacle n' Cleve Clove n' Spike n' Friendly'll probably watch Pokèmon again tonight, Tabby sniffled. And I won't be there!

Tabby looked out the window again. There was... ocean under the plane. She shuddered. The ocean reminded her of giant squid, and she was petrified of giant squid. Tabby was still scared silly that-- someday-- a squid would emerge from the drainhole in her bathtub.

Tabby settled herself back in her seat, and whimpered quietly. Thinking of giant squid had made her ill at ease. Monsters from the Dark Forest were better than giant squid...

* * *

"Hey, hey! I made It!" Tabby debarked the plane and merrily skipped along, swinging her suitcase in the air. "Sorry," she quickly apologized as she swung it into someone's leg.

"Tabitha! Tabitha!" A pastel blue unicorn was waving frantically at Tabby.

"Hey, hey!" Tabby pushed her way through the bustling crowd of ponies. "Hey! Mom!"

"Oh, Tabitha, it is you!" Being silent for a moment, the unicorn embraced her daughter in a tight hug.

"Mmmff. Err. A-hem!" Tabby struggled to entangle herself. "And that's ‘Tabby,' Mom."

"Hmm, well..." The blue unicorn frowned for a moment, but quickly brightened. "Come, let's get outside and we can think more clearly. My house isn't far from here," she said quickly, leading the way.

"Alrighty," Tabby obediently trotted after her mother. She wouldn't mind getting out of all this noise, either.

"Now, then," Tabby's mother sat down on a park bench after walking a ways. Looking Tabby up and down, she said happily. "You've grown to be so beautiful, Tabitha!"

"Tabby," Tabby reminded, and sat down next to her mother--a pastel blue unicorn with dark blue hair and the symbol of two dark pink cats (it ran in the family). "It's actually quite a bother being beautiful. All my friends are always trying to get me dressed up, or have my hair done." She sighed.

Her mother raised an eyebrow. "I would think you'd like to keep your looks up...but that doesn't matter now. You only brought one suitcase?"

"Yep." Tabby nodded and held up her case for display. "I only brought my most treasured possessions."

"You must have a wonderful jewelry collection," her mother said gleefully. "I can't wait to see it. But, we'd better get to my house. You'll certainly want to rest after that plane ride."

Not bothering to correct her on the jewelry collection, Tabby just fell in step behind her mother.

* * *

The house actually wasn't that near the airport. Tabby's hooves were sore and she was tired of gripping onto her suitcase by the time they reached a residential section on the outskirts of the city.. and a rich residential section by the looks of it. Tabby stared in awe at all the expensively-decorated mansions surrounding her on the slope of a hill.

"And here we are," Tabby's mother announced, pausing to open a gate in the fence surrounding one of the homes. "This is where you'll be staying for the next two weeks."

To Tabby's satisfaction, the house was painted in vibrant shades of blue. She had always despised houses which were-- in her way of seeing-- "dull colors." Tabby figured if you had bright colors like blue, purple, and pink, why should you choose a color such as white or tan to side your house with?

"You do like it, don't you?" her mother asked critically.

"It's wonderful," Tabby said exuberantly. "The blue paint looks excellent." She skipped up the stone path leading to the porch. Tabby looked out across the spacious lawn. It appeared that her mother did not let any flowers grow except for those of the color blue, judging from what was growing in the flowerbeds.

The light blue unicorn fit right in with all her blue surroundings. "I'll show you your room now," she explained, opening the front door that-- appropriately-- had panes of transparent blue glass.

"That's a... lot of blue, isn't it?" Tabby stepped inside the hallway. The carpet was pastel blue. The walls were dark blue. Pictures on the wall were hung in blue frames.

"I didn't want the place looking gaudy," Tabby's mother said logically. "Too many colors can give that effect."

Everywhere Tabby stepped, there was blue-- blue-- blue! It was rather strange. She'd never had an experience like this before.

Walking up a flight of stairs to the second floor and turning to the right, her mother opened a door-- an aqua door. "Here you are," she announced, waiting for Tabby to catch-up.

"That's a big bedroom," Tabby gasped, peering inside.

"Freshen up a bit, and when you're ready, you can come back downstairs," her mother instructed. "I'll be in the parlor. It will be so much fun finding out what you've been doing all these years!" She waved as she skimmed back down the hallway.

Tabby tentatively stepped inside her room. It was-- blue. "I have the feeling I'll be sick of blue in two weeks," she muttered to herself as she flopped down on the bed and dropped her suitcase to the ground.

Tabby surveyed the room with a critical eye from her vantage point. There was a tall dresser, a desk, the bed, a bookshelf. Nothing out of the ordinary, she thought to herself, except the room's so large. Even with the pieces of furniture, it didn't cover up half the floor space in the room.

Then, something more interesting caught her eye. A trunk-- very antique by the looks of it-- sat in one of the corners. Curious as a cat, Tabby sat up. "I must check that out later," she said out loud. "But for now, I've got to unpack." Whipping her suitcase open, she quickly found homes for everything-- Brownie, Kitty Brite, and the Tea Bunnies went on top of the dresser; the videos she lined up neatly on the bookshelf. That just left her toothbrush. Tabby flung it on her desk; she didn't have to do anything with that now.

Next, Tabby noticed something even more interesting than the chest: another door within her room, next to the desk. This could not wait to be explored! She leaped off the bed and turned the doorknob. Oh, but what if there's a giant squid behind it? she thought in alarm.

As it was, her concern wasn't too far off-- the door revealed her own private bathroom. It's somewhat nice having a rich family, she mused to herself, except for the fact that they're all fashion-crazy, as well. The bathroom, like everything else in the house, was rather large. Just to reassure herself, Tabby stared down the drainhole in the bathtub. I hope squid don't live around here, she worried.

Tabby was not one bit worn out by the plane ride. She splashed some water on her face and then prepared to go back downstairs, noting the time on the clock. "It's already afternoon?" she exclaimed out loud.

She carefully descended the stairs. Her hooves were still sore. Tabby peeked into several rooms on the ground level as she looked for the parlor. "Kitchen... dining room..." she mumbled to herself. "Ballroom?!" she shuddered. "I hope Mom is not going to throw a party while I'm here."

Finally, there was the parlor-- furnished with blue chairs and couches, of course. Her mother was sitting erectly in one of the chairs, reading a book. "Hey, hey!" Tabby greeted her as she sat down on the couch.

Tabby's mother abruptly set her book down. "Oh, good, you're back," she said delightedly and pushed a plate towards Tabby. "You must be starving after the plane ride."

Tabby suddenly realized how ravenous she really was. She munched contentedly on one of the chocolate chip cookies as her mother started asking questions.

"And are you still into veterinary work, Tabitha?"

Tabby cocked her head. "Basically--- sort of. And Mom, call me ‘Tabby'!"

Her mother sighed. "You always did like to go by that nickname. I thought you would have learned to like your full name after all this time."

"Nope." Tabby shook her head vigorously. "Anyway, I'm the Pokèmon nurse in Dream Valley now."

"Pokèmon? I've heard of those," her mother contemplated. "Is the pay good?"

"Three thousand jangles a month," Tabby boasted.

"I'm so glad you've made a name for yourself," her mother said proudly. "But still not married?"

Tabby tossed her head in defiance. "Of course not," she said bluntly.

Her mother frowned for a moment. "Someday, Tabitha, someday... well, do you still have that calico cat? Callie, was it?"

"I've still got her," Tabby declared. "And three Pokèmon, too," she added brightly.

"It must be delightful for you to have Tamara around again," her mother said blissfully. "You two look so much alike."

"But I have the better eye color," Tabby defended herself quickly. "Say, isn't there anyone else living in this area?"

"Certainly!" Her mother waved her hoof through the air. "You saw all the other mansions on this street. All the affluent families live around here."

"And are there any giant squid living down the drainhole in my bathtub?" Tabby demanded.

Her mother seemed to ignore that question. "There are several stallions who I'm sure will be pleased to make your acquaintance," she informed her daughter.

"Hmph." Tabby stuck her nose in the air and searched her mind for a question to change the topic. "What does that trunk in my room have in it?"

"The trunk?" her mother exclaimed. "Oh, dear, I was going to move it to the attic before you came. It has been here since I moved in. The previous owner's diaries are in it, I think."

"Oh," Tabby yawned. She wasn't exactly thrilled by diaries, either. "Hey, how about watching some Pokèmon episodes with me?"

"You mean to say you still watch cartoons?" Her mother looked shocked. "I mean, I'm having a friend over this afternoon. You can watch them alone, if you please."

"Alright," Tabby sighed. It was always fun getting new ponies addicted to Pokèmon. "I'll go do that, then." She trudged off to get her video supply.

* * *

The next morning, Tabby was staring out her bedroom window at the surrounding terrain. She could see a tall, peaked mountain in the distance-- really not that far from the house, considering. I wonder what that weird red glow around the top is, she wondered to herself.

"Tabitha, good morning!" Her mother walked into the room just then. "How was your first night here?"

"Are you sure there aren't any squid in the bathtub?" Tabby asked skeptically. She had experienced nightmares about giant squid while she slept.

"Certainly not!" Her mother looked horrified. "Anyway, would you like to do any sightseeing today? Or shopping?"

"What sights are there to be seen?" Tabby questioned.

"There's always Mt. Vesuvius and the ruins of Pompeii." Her mother pointed out the window at the same mountain Tabby had been looking at a moment before.

"Are there any thrift stores in town?" Tabby prodded further.

"Really, Tabitha! The clothes they sell in those places are so outdated!"

Tabby decided not to mention the fact that she'd be looking for toys. "I'll go see the mountain thingy," she decided. "I don't need a guide, do I?"

"You may go on your own if you please; it's really very easy to get to," her mother said cheerfully. "Just don't stay too far into the afternoon. You'll want to get washed-up before six."

"Why?" Tabby asked curiously.

"You'll find out when you get back," her mother said quickly. "I'll pack a lunch for you."

As Tabby headed out, she pondered what country she was in. She still hadn't found out. That's something she had to remember to ask her mother.

Tabby carefully walked up the hilly slopes. At least her hooves felt a bit better from the walk yesterday. And she didn't have to worry about giant squid here in the mountains.

This is my second day here, she figured to herself. That leaves twelve more to go-- if I'm calculating that correctly. She thought some more. Would Sugarberry still be heartbroken over her departure? Was Tamara still jealous that she couldn't be in Europe? Had Cleve Clove and the rest finished watching all the Pokèmon episodes? On that topic, had Cleve Clove figured out a good recipe yet to make for the gang? And was Thomas still mad at her?

Then she got around to worrying about squid again, but by that time she had reached her destination. What had her mother called the mountain? And she had said something about a city, too. Obviously not a modern city, she thought to herself, staring at the old, crumbling ruins surrounding her.

Tabby wandered around on the ancient stone roads and cocked her head to get a better view of the mountaintop. That red glow certainly was eerie. She paused in thought. What in the world could have emptied out a city like this?

Peering into the foundation of one of the ruined buildings, Tabby noticed a perfectly preserved skeleton of a small dog. "Poor thing," she whispered. It reminded her of a story she had read in school way back in seventh grade, but she couldn't quite remember the plot.

Investigating the ruins of the old town made the time fly for Tabby. She remembered to stop for lunch sometime along the way; and after more exploration, Tabby sensed the day was growing late. Perhaps she'd better head back home. Back she ran.

* * *

"Tabitha," her mother said sternly, "you have very little time to get ready for the party."

Tabby blinked several times. "What party?" she finally asked.

"The one I'm sponsoring tonight to introduce you to all the affluent ponies in town," her mother declared dramatically.

Tabby groaned. "I don't like parties," she protested.

"All the stallions would be disappointed if you didn't show up," her mother said firmly. "You only have half an hour to get cleaned up! And you're a mess!" She picked a bit of rock out of Tabby's mane. "Now, up to your room, and be in the ballroom in presentable condition by seven o'clock!"

Grumbling, Tabby stomped up the stairs. This was not going to be a fun night; she could sense it already.

* * *

Tabby did not look like a whole new pony as she entered the ballroom as her mother had hoped. She looked just like before... except less dusty.

Tabby's mother pulled her to the side of the room. "Tabitha," she said in discouragement, "you don't have any jewelry on."

Tabby noticed her mother's sapphire necklace and earrings. "Jewelry is just a bother. You waste time worrying about whether it's fallen off or not."

Her mother just sighed. "Now, look, the party is in full swing already. You were fifteen minutes late."

"If I'm already fifteen minutes late, I could just forget about this party and go back to my room," she suggested.

"Not so fast, Tabitha!" Her mother grabbed her foreleg and started dragging her across the room. "There are some ponies you must meet."

"I don't want to meet anyone," Tabby muttered.

"That's not a good attitude," her mother chided, still pulling Tabby behind her. "Ah-hah! Here's someone." She abruptly stopped in front of a stallion, causing Tabby to stumble and end up sprawled on the floor. "Good evening, Guido!" she addressed the light yellow stallion. "And this is my daughter, Tabitha."

Tabby flipped the mane out of her eyes and snobbishly refused Guido's hoof to help her up. "And that's ‘Tabby'," she informed him coolly, struggling to get back on her hooves.

"A pleasure to meet you," Guido said formally.

"And Tabitha, this is Guido," Tabby's mother finished the introduction.

"What was that? Weed-o?" Tabby smirked, not refusing the chance to rip the pronunciation of someone's name apart. "Sounds like a weed repellent. Hello, Mr. Weed-o."

Tabby's mother looked horrified. "Tabitha!" she gasped.

Guido appeared to be taking it calmly. "No, it's not pronounced as in ‘weed,'" he explained.

"Whatever you say, Weed-o." Tabby waved a hoof through the air in dismissal.

"I'm very sorry, Guido," her mother apologized quickly. "Tabitha is not feeling her best tonight."

"Oh, no, this is how I always act towards overly charming stallions," Tabby said bluntly. "Perhaps if I was sick you'd like my behavior better."

Tabby's mother set her mouth in a straight line. "Tabitha, you can help me get something from the kitchen. Guido, you'll be able to see Tabitha later." She flashed him a smile as she walked off with Tabby in tow. Tabby just scowled back.

"Do you realize what you said back there?" her mother reprimanded Tabby once they were in the privacy of the kitchen.

"Uh-huh," Tabby said truthfully. "And it was just what I wanted to say."

"Well!" her mother fumed. "I would not be surprised if Guido never speaks to you again!" She looked out the doorway. "Why, he's dancing with Battista now!"

Tabby rolled her eyes. "I don't care," she yawned.

"There are others, of course," her mother continued. "Come, let's go back out." She paused in the doorway and looked her daughter in the eye. "Any more insulting of any of the guests, and I will rip all your precious videos apart one-by-one!"

Tabby gulped. She wasn't sure anyone could rip videos apart, but she did not want to find out. Unwillingly but silently, she followed her mother back out into the crowd of dancing ponies.

* * *

Later that night-- much later that night-- Tabby was back in her room brushing her teeth furiously. She wasn't exactly brushing her teeth furiously to get them clean; it was more because she was... well... furious.

The names of all those stallions her mother had introduced her to kept running through her head... Benito, Jacopo, Giovanni, Domenito. And not a single one of them had any class, in her opinion-- even if they were rich. Thomas was much better company than any of them, and he'd probably never speak to her again-- at least that's what Tabby told herself, being a pessimist and all.

Before jumping into bed, Tabby quickly checked the bathtub. Nope, no squid.

* * *

Tabby felt rather like she was breaking the law as she spread out a bright pink rug in the middle of her all-blue room. She grinned mischievously to herself.

She'd bought it while out shopping earlier that afternoon-- her mother had shown her around to all the best shops. Unfortunately, they hadn't gone to any thrift stores. Tabby had been lucky enough, however, to find one of the new My Little People dolls she needed in a toy store-- now she even had a package printed in a foreign language. What language it was, she still didn't know.

It was now after supper (Tabby had convinced her mother's cooks to fix chicken, and they did a good job of it) and Tabby was closely inspecting her purchases. Gleefully, she opened the My Little People package. She couldn't read the foreign name, but she knew from seeing pictures in a Dream Valley flier that her name was Elaine.

Just as Tabby was untangling Elaine's blonde hair from the package, she could hear voices from the main entry hall. She opened her door to see if she could hear any more. Her mother's voice drifted up the stairs... "Yes, Guido, I'm sure she'll be pleased to see you!"

Tabby abruptly slammed the door shut. The Weed-o guy was back to see her? And she thought she wouldn't have to worry about stallions any more on this vacation!

Just a moment later, Tabby's door opened again. "Tabitha!" her mom declared jubilantly. "Guido has come to visit you!"

Tabby closed her eyes and lay back on her bed. "Tell him I'm busy," she yawned.

Hearing this, her mother stalked over to the bookshlef where Tabby had placed her videos. She selected one of the Teddy Ruxpin videos-- "Teddy Outsmarts M.A.V.O.," which happened to be one of Tabby's favorites-- and threateningly waved it through the air. "Remember what happens to your videos if you're not polite!" she warned.

Tabby's eyes opened wide, and she gasped as she saw which video her mother held. "No!" That's one of the best ones!" she wailed, trying to grab it back.

"Then you will not say anything rude to Guido?" her mother interrogated.

"Yes," Tabby whispered.

"Alright, then." Her mother set the video down. "Guido is waiting in the parlor." With that, she left the room.

Tabby carefully placed the video back in the line-up, and exited the room to meet her fate-- but nothing was worth losing her videos.

* * *

"It has been a pleasure visiting you, Miss Tabitha," Guido said as his closing remark.

Tabby pushed him towards the door-- making it look polite, of course-- and smiled fakely. "Yes, goodnight," she said in relief as she pushed the door shut after him.

Her mother nodded in approval. "Very good, Tabitha. I'm pleased with you."

"Just as long as he doesn't come again," Tabby scowled. "He's such a snob."

"But rich," her mother reminded her.

"All he did the whole evening was brag about all the expensive stuff he had," Tabby complained.

"Don't be critical of him, Tabitha," her mother said. "I'm sure you said plenty."

Tabby thought back. "No... no, he didn't really let me say that much."

"Have some cherry pie with me before you go to bed," her mother suggested. "Pica made it this afternoon. And we can plan what to do tomorrow..."

* * *

After an entire day of shopping for beauty accessories with her mother, Tabby was annoyed enough. But then Guido came by to take her out to dinner. Tabby felt like whacking him over the head, but the thought of her videos held that urge back.

"My computer business makes billions every year," he boasted.

"You already said that yesterday," Tabby muttered.

"In fact, I'll probably add another division by the end of this year," he continued.

"Wonderful!" Tabby yawned.

"... and that'll rake in even more cash. Next month I'm buying an even bigger house..."

Tabby decided she would just nod and smile every few seconds. That required no thinking, so she could daydream about other things in the meantime. Would this evening ever end?

* * *

It appeared that it would never end. All of Tabby's days were almost exactly the same until there were only about two days left in her vacation. Each day, her mother would take her shopping all day to make sure her daughter had all the accessories that were most in fashion. And each evening she would have to visit with "the Weed-o guy" as she secretly referred to him.

For Pete's sake; he says the exact same things every night! Tabby moaned in exasperation to herself. Luckily, one of her mother's friends was visiting this morning, so she didn't have to go shopping.

Still, Tabby's love of those videos kept her from putting her hoof down on seeing Guido. And, in only about two days, she'd be home, and would never have to think about Weed-o again.

Of course, she thought pessimistically to herself, everyone in Dream Valley will have forgotten about me by now. She sighed. Her mother had kept her too busy to even write a postcard home. Plus there was the fact she had forgotten her address book.

Today, she declared to herself, I shall wander around the house and be bored. Pleased with her decision, she decided to do just that.

How can ponies talk so long? Tabby pondered to herself. Her mother and her friend had been talking for at least an hour.

As Tabby passed by the parlor again, her mother caught sight of her. "Tabitha!" she greeted her. "Would you mind terribly if I send you to find that book I was telling you about earlier? It's in the other room."

The other pony, a bright orange pegasus, looked up. "Yes, your mother has told me about it, and it sounds so interesting!" she giggled.

"Certainly," Tabby said cheerfully. It would help her waste about ten seconds. Dashing into the library, she quickly located the needed book: The History of Fashion.

"Figures," Tabby muttered to herself as she returned to the parlor and handed the book to her mother.

"Thank you, Tabitha." Her mother nodded appreciatively and turned to her friend. Tabitha will be leaving early tomorrow afternoon."

"I'm sure you will miss this place. It's such a wonderful house, and so close to the good shops," Maria-Giuseppe gushed.

"Couldn't I leave early?" Tabby wheedled her mother. Maybe-- just maybe-- she could get out of seeing Weed-o this last time.

"Oh, but I've already bought your return ticket," her mother explained. "You'll have to wait until tomorrow. Besides, you may find you want to stay longer," she winked.

"Alright," Tabby sighed, and continued her walk around the house.

* * *

That afternoon at three o'clock, Tabby was heading towards the kitchen for a snack. Now, some raw pie crust would be good.

What in the world? Maria-Giuseppe's still here?! Tabby thought to herself. She could still hear their voices coming from the parlor, but the door was now closed.

Tabby leaned towards the door. What were they talking about now? She could just catch one line her mother said: "... a suitable husband for my Tabitha..."

Tabby's face immediately turned red with rage. So that was it! This wasn't just a simple visit; her mother was bound and determined to get her married. And Mr. Weed-o was the best match she could find.

But he's rich, she thought sarcastically to herself as she stormed back to her room. Well, I'm not going to give in to this plan of Mom's!

As she slammed her door, she came up with a solution that would enable her to give someone a piece of her mind and save her videos, all at once. It was rather simple, as she thought about it.

"I'll hide them," Tabby said to herself smugly, "in that trunk in the corner. Mom wouldn't take it that far." She gulped. Or would she?

Anyway, Tabby immediately set to work throwing all the old diaries-- her mother had been right about that-- out of the trunk and onto the floor. Then she carefully placed all her videos inside. To be on the safe side, she put Brownie, Kitty Brite, and the Tea Bunnies in as well. She didn't bother with her toothbrush.

The diaries still have to go someplace, Tabby contemplated. I'll just throw ‘em in the bathtub. Who cares if a squid eats ‘em?

With that task accomplished, she stood back and surveyed the room with a smug look on her face. This time, she'd get her way!

* * *

"Tabitha!" the ever-familiar voice came through Tabby's door.

"Come in!" Tabby called out cheerfully.

Her mother entered. "Guido is here to see you!" she said happily.

Tabby yawned. "Tell him I'm sick," she suggested.

Frowning, her mother turned towards the bookshelf. "Did you pack your luggage already?"

"I can tell him for you, if you'd like," Tabby suggested, inching toward the door.

"Tabitha! You mustn't act like this tonight!" her mother wailed.

"And just why is it that you want me to cooperate so badly?" Tabby prodded.

Her mother sighed. "I never really would have ripped your videos in half, you know," she said apologetically. "But please come down, Tabitha. You won't regret it."

"Won't regret it? Won't regret it?" Tabby echoed. "Why, of course I wouldn't regret whacking ol' Weed-o over the head if he has the nerve to propose to me!"

Her mother's eyes opened wide. "How... did you find out about that?" she stuttered.

"I have my sources," Tabby said mysteriously. "Now, go. Tell him I never want to see his face again."

"I suppose there's no reasoning with you." Her mother half smiled. "But I was the same way once. Very well, Tabitha. If that's what you want." And with that, she left the room.

Tabby sat back, satisfied. Her work here was done. And soon she would be back home, whether or not there was a giant squid down the drainhole.

* * *

"Guido is gone from the vicinity," Tabby's mother informed her the next morning.

"Good," Tabby grinned mischievously. "You never really liked him, did you, Mother?"

"Well... no," her mother smiled. "Except for the fact that he was handsome and rich. But it just wasn't meant to be."

"You're right," Tabby nodded in agreement. "Do you mind that there are now a bunch of old diaries thrown in the bathtub in my room?"

"Tabitha, dear, you hid your stuff in that trunk?" Her mother chuckled. "You really thought I would destroy everything, didn't you?"

"I didn't want to take the chance," Tabby giggled.

"And here's your return ticket." Her mother handed her the slip. "You should be at the airport by twelve-thirty."

"Would you happen to have any souvenirs around the house I could take home?" Tabby questioned. "I need something for Tarquin, and something for Tess."

"Tarquin and Tess?" Her mother looked curious.

"Pokèmon," Tabby explained. "They're Meowths. And very nice."

"They're cat-like, I suppose? How about a yarn ball?"

Tabby clapped her front hooves together in delight. "Yarn balls from Europe? I love it! They will, too, I'm sure."

And so, mother and daughter spent the remainder of the morning swapping stories, picking out just the right two yarn balls, and naturally having a good time.

* * *

Tabby was rather proud of herself. She had boarded the plane home without getting confused over the gate. And she had arrived back in Dream Valley. Ah, it was good to be home! Still early in the evening, too-- only about four o'clock.

Tabby skipped along the familiar path through town leading to her house. There was Pony-Mart-- she'd have to check and see if they had the Pokèmon beanies in yet. Oakly's Grocery Store-- well, who bothered buying groceries? It was easier to drop in at a friend's house at supper time. The library-- the latest "Cat Who" mystery was probably still checked out. The... Vet Clinic-- and a familiar figure exiting it for the day.

Tabby broke-out running ahead at full trot and ended up dropping her suitcase in the process. "Thomas! Hey, hey! Thomas!" She hollered. "I did come back, see?"

Thomas turned around and grinned at the sound of Tabby's voice. He caught her as she nearly fell face-flat on the ground again. "I knew you could never stay in Europe, Tabby," he declared. "Unless you got lost at the airport," he added mischievously.

"Oh, it's so good to be called Tabby again," Tabby sighed blissfully. "I had to put up with nothing but Tabitha for two weeks."

"And you didn't fall for any rich stallions over there, did you?" Thomas questioned, retrieving Tabby's suitcase from where she had dropped it.

"Not a chance, Thomas. Not a chance," Tabby assured him. "None of them had a bit of class."

"And that's good," Thomas said softly.

Tabby blushed slightly, for what might have been the first time in her life. "Well... the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe didn't close while I was gone, did it?" she said brightly.

"Of course not," Thomas laughed. "I suppose you haven't had a strawberry sundae for two weeks, either. Come on, then."

"Terrific!" Tabby exclaimed, walking along beside him. "And has the Pokèmon Center been okay? How about Tarquin? He hasn't decided to stay with Merry Treat permanently or anything, has he? And Callie? Tamara had better not have evicted her from the house because she's not a purebred. And--"

So ends the story of what happened on Tabby's visit to her mother in Italy or Spain or France, and also how she escaped being eaten alive by a giant squid.

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