The Long Ride
Over on the sunny horizon, spanning across from eye’s view to all possible directions, flew a brown sparrow; its small wing par pushing the air down to maintain the height and the delegate, yet speedy movement. Pushing itself to the limits, the tiny bird flashed through the thick layer of plumed cloud field, narrowly dodging few pegasi who had their hooves on moving particular forms of compressed air over to Cloudsdale and to near the surface.
And that was also the direction the sparrow took as it planted the brown wings to its sides, halting the forward movement and starting the downwards one with ever so growing fast pace that made it look like it had been swooned in middle air.
Then, some hundred feet up from the surface level and from the place for the dinner, something caught the little birds attention while its black ovals leered out towards along with the feathery wings that altered the birds fall to a new tracks. Over the course of mere seconds, the the black dots formed an image of something long and slender, its body color consisting out of candy flavour colors.
Something that the sparrow very much liked.
With a one swift beat, the tiny bird landed itself on a somewhat narrow piece of wood and eagerly in large hops made the way up to the red wall. But as soon as the beak hit the delicious color, only a faint ‘thump’ erupted out that made the framed bird’s body tremble and stumble backwards. This, nevertheless, only lasted for a minute and instantly the bird leaped back, only now being more careful and meekly pushing itself against the red, sturdy wall in determined mood to get that-
In the instant, the world around the sparrow engulfed in a powerful light which frightened it beyond believe and allowing the primal instincts to take ahold. What followed was that the bird flew high up the sky, deciding it was best for it to look for some other, more peaceful place to dine.
And the bird still dazzled bird disappeared over the clouds.
And the stallion at the window cursed in deep as he realized that the camera hadn’t been loaded and he had just wasted a bulb for nothing. As his cyan hooves fell down from the haunch, so did the silver box fell back to the open saddlepack between his stretched out back hooves. At the same time, the male pony relaxed down his other two hooves to the back of his head, over the felt hat, and over the short, straight cut blond mane that left his forehead hidden yet not even touching his neck. At the bottom, his long tail was barely visible under the dark blue overcoat that currently acted as a temporary blanket for the pony.
Then, the door left from the seat slit opened up to reveal the smiling unicorn conductor.
“Sir, ticket please.” the diligent mare said while walking up to the stallion, now reaching out to the pocket of his coat and soon handing over the golden ticket to which the mare replied with a deepened smile.
“Alright, everything seems alright.” she said while giving back the pierced card “We at Friendship Express like to personally welcome you aboard this trip.”
But the stallion merely nodded and turned his head back over to the window, looking at the countryside image that raced across the field of his vision. Still, he could heard as the conductor walked back over to the door.
“The waitress is standing by at the end of the cart and you can call her anytime you want during this trip, be it food, drinks or just company. You’re quite lucky, there ain’t no other special passengers so the service should be quick.”
With that, the door slid closed and the sounds of steps echoed over but soon vanishing, leaving the fancy passenger cart silent as the stallion on the velvet seat stayed still.
Then, finally, the Earth Pony smirked and closed his violet eyes.
“Now now... Don’t be so upset-”
“Upset? I... am... FURIOUS!! How can you allow Strong Scotch to continue on ruining himself like this?”
“*sigh* What’s the trouble with a little fun?”
“FUN?! You think it’s funny that mare got knocked up? And don’t claim this was only a terrible mistake, both you and I know that’s total bullsh-”
“HOW DARE YOU QUESTION ME! IT ISN’T LIKE YOU'RE ANY BETTER THAN HIM!”
“*sigh* Now, listen very carefully to my offer....”
*Knock knock knock*
Woken up from his deep sleep, the boggled stallion had his head tilted to the source of the knocks. As his eyes laid at the pull-door, so did he note that the train’s movement had halted and that many different incoherent voices filled the air, although very muffled out.
“Sir,” the voice rang out from the hallway “We have arrived at the destination.”
Reaching out towards the window, the stallion carefully raised the red curtain.
In a less than a minute, the door slid open and from inwards of the velvet room emerged the Earth Pony stallion, now wearing the overcoat that covered the cyan coat from neck down to the whole flank while from around his neck hung a black satchel. After re-checking out nothing else had been left over, the pony marched at the end of the quite short corridor where the stewardess stood, carrying a suitcase over her mouth which she dropped in front of the stallion before walking past to open up the door leading....
First thing the cyan pony did was to breath.
Breath in deep of this clean, fresh air that tingle in his lungs accustomed to the dust of the long stone streets where nothing of green emerged expect in gardens and public parks.
It felt good.
“Ponyville....” he mumbled.
But the Earth Pony breath in and out once more before glaring to his left and the stallion got an overlook of the whole station that barely consisted out of a ramp, for the passengers to drop in and out of the train, and actually newish looking building with the word ‘Station’ labelled on the top with black letters. All over the station lots of different ponies either stood, talked or did the two at the sametime, mostly in groups.
In the end, he found it rather peaceful and calm, even in the midst of constant blabber and words that went unheard by everypony near. And as he finally neared the station corner, he found what looked like a small kiosk that sold anything from souvenirs to toothpicks.
He dropped his suitcase up to the bench right next to the open shop before beginning to trot down to the counter where an old geezer sat and read what looked like days old Canterlot Chronicles while on the other side stood a mare about the same age.
“Hmph, bucking nobles; cannot keep their kids straight nowadays.” the clerk over the counter said while flipping a new page over.
The mare snorted “Well, what can you expect from somepony whose father isn’t much better? Don’t you remember how notorious he was from his...side trips.”
“Heh, well at least now that party goer is down for good, at least if you believe his statement over the damages he caused and how he’ll try to get help. But then again; like father, like son.”
A cough rang out and both of the older ponies turned their looks at the cyan pony standing near them, staring at them quite emotionlessly.
“Oh, how can I help you mister?” the clerk instantly responded while paper the paper down to the counter, leaving the front paper turned open.
“Yes, is there perhaps an inn nearby?” the stranger pony said, his face hidden under grey hat and a cyan hoof holding a folded paper “And I’ll be also taking this map.”
From outside, it looked like any other of the most structures in Ponyville with their timber-framed walls with distinct thatched roofs and overhanging upper floors. Maybe a bit dusky, then again it might have been only the dirty walls that hadn’t been cleaned in what looked like eons.
After all, one didn’t really want to clean something bound to get the soiled every single night as the last round was served up and the last drops were dipped down from the mugs to the hot, throbbing throats. Some local residents had started to file complaints over loud music and even about the danger the youth would face with the drunken slards.
But it wasn’t like Berry Punch, owner of the Snoozin’ Speakeasy, cared over the accusations. Luckily, even larger crowd supported her establishment with their hard-earned bits and assuring voices, that told over and over again how well she took care of her father’s prestige spot that had served town since establishment.
Heck, it had been the second building to be raised, and nowadays also one of the few that had survived the harsh competition, in the end being the only proper sanctuary for anypony to search for the hard stuff.
And now the owner of this dandy bar was holding a mop by her mouth and wiping the last mushes of daisy sandwiches off from the floor while heavily panting.
“This...definitely... has to be...dealt... with!” the light purple mare mumbled and let out her final breath, signaling her relief as she eyed over rest of the lounge area that glittered in the show lights. Even the olden, yet reliable stage was clean, something she hadn’t seen a while.
“And I’m damn sure that’ll stay the same. Next time some prick gets the idea to use it as a personal toilet, they’re gonna lick it clean.” Yet Berry Punch smiled at the contradiction in her promise as she knew that by the end of tonight’s Friday show, she’d need to hire the carpenter and ask for that normal discount involving couple of older bottles from under the counter and couple of free chips to the poker table.
Then, Berry chuckled as she had forgotten the most important part of the deal; newest issue of the Playcolt magazine, fresh out of the regular shipment from Canterlot. And as the mare sat down on the bar stool, her eyes moved to the top of the cabins over the counter, where the two distinctive magazines were piled up.
Well, at least the few remaining...
Their popularity laid one cornerstone in the bar’s business as nopony else had the dignity to sell them in their shops without fearing to lose their face in public, and Berry’s father had filled the gap before anypony else had the apples. That, Berry thought, had been the last testament to the old fool’s wisdom.... and his love for bits.
A cling echoed over as Berry popped open the cork from the whiskey bottle and poured a shot for herself while also taking the Playmare’s latest issue for quick read. Even a bartender had her needs and, admitted, many of the model stallions were really hunk-
“Huh?” the startled mare said before glancing forth and at the now opened up door, covering her eyes with her free hoof as the other held the still open bottle. But it didn’t really matter, as the door fell closed and now Berry could make out that somepony was standing close to her leaning frame.
“Sorry, we ain’t open yet. Come back in couple of hours.” Berry replied as she flung over in her stool and back onto tasting her shot to get the actual day started out. She even promptly began to read the Playmare magazine, not caring a bit over the fact some stranger was close to her. But then she heard a faint ‘thump’ echoe over, promptly something heavy hitting the wooden panels.
“Can’t talk, clopping.” said the pissed off mare, however the stallion still stepped forward.
“Actually, I heard you had free rooms available and I’d like to rent out a one.”
For a brief moment, Berry Punch forgot that nothing liquid was meant to be breath in. In the intense coughs that followed as she felt her throat, along with lungs, burst in flames, the mare hastily flung back over to the stranger stallion.
“W-w-wait, for reals? You’re actually interested in renting out a room!?” Berry asked, shocked over the fact somepony actually stood there and was interested in staying. In all sense, it wasn’t that much of a surprise, seeing that this was alongside with being Ponyville’s only bar and gambling den also the last remaining inn that offered room for the travellers.
Too bad there hadn’t been a single wanderer in the past year; no after what happened in the Summer Sun Celebration...
And with the incident of Parasprites.
And over the fact this Goddess forsaken place didn’t holster any interest whatsoever for possible tourists from the big cities, minus the usual business ones dealing with farms like Sweet Apple Acres and Carrot Family Fields.
The blue stallion nodded in an agreement and proceeded to open up a pocket in his satchel. Berry Punch caught a glimpse of something what seemed like a box, but didn’t see much else as the hoof quickly pulled it close and now Berry noted the wallet.
A very thick wallet, to say the least.
In what seemed like a flash, Berry Punch jumped off from her stool and took the suitcase over from the floor before having her hooves turn over towards the stairs at the end of the lounge area.
“This way please; I’ll show you to your room!” the excited mare hummed as she leapt up the stairs, still making sure the stallion was close by and following her trail, until hitting the solid wood of the second floor. Waiting for her guest to arrive, she briefly checked out on the rooms, unhappily finding herself once again coughing up as the lingering dust flew up in a cloud. But as the fine attired pony got up, Berry ended up choosing the most presentable chamber, the one close to hers.
The stallion stuck his head inside the room and looked over while the mare beside prayed he wouldn’t care over the tiny bits of dust looming over.
“Umm, I’m sorry for the current condition of the room but-”
“It’s fine,” the blue pony cut in between and returned back onto the mare “this one will do just fine. But I do expect that you’ll have this room cleansed by tomorrow. And I hope you don’t mind if I pay when I leave, do you?”
Berry, thanking both Celestia and Luna deep within, nodded in a reply and presented the suitcase to him. And before she got to say nothing over the fact of food and bathroom times, the stallion calmly trotted inside and tucked the door close behind.
In a slow motion, the light purple mare pumped her hoof up in the air.
But on the other side of the door, the photographer pony had his breath salvaged. As he calmly counted to three, assuring that the bartender mare had gone back downstairs, he also continued to trace through the small room that consisted out of a single room. At the other end laid the cupboards, yet no microwave oven nor even a simply fridge were present, and... that was pretty much it; other than the oak wardrobe, from the looks barely standing on its legs, and the bucking huge bed right on the edge of the room, taking over fourth of the space
As the numbers faded away inside him and no steps echoed over from outside, his finally let out a sharp breath as he headed directly towards the bed, flinging his suitcase and the hanging satchel on top of the linen cover. It didn’t take him too long to place the few necessities to their respective places around the room and he even dropped his overcoat over to the bedpost along with his hat, freeing little bit of the pressed up mane underneath.
But there was one thing that remained, and that was his own silver encased camera.
Now sitting on top of the bed, the cyan stallion had his eyes locked to the small box. After a while of silent peace, the camera fell back down to the deeps of the brown bag and the stallion sighed as he lowered down onto the bed.
As so, now he's bare flank was visible and that way his Cutie Mark of an open roll film and on it was printed a peculiar black symbol...
The brand logo of his father's media empire; the infamous Playcolt -symbol.
A sigh rang out as the stallion kept looking at the hanging light-bulb, flickering the light in otherwise dark room.
“Bucking family...” he swore inaudibly as his eyes fell down and the world fell truly black.
It didn't take too long for Shoot Off to fall asleep.
“.... Wait wait; what do you mea- Can you even do that?”
“Of course I can; I’m the head of this company by Celestia’s mercy and nopony can tell me what to do.”
“But what about the shareholders? They barely know anything about me, not to mention the press!”
“Far better than being on the headlines of the tabloids every bucking day and night. So; what do you say?”
“WHAT?! Right here?!”
“Hehe, not at all...”