Trixie opened the door to find Ditzy and Silver Script standing there, the post master still carrying the Love & Tolerance bat.
"Look if this is about that time I tried to reuse stamps, I promise it won't happen again."
The two postal workers stared at her for a moment. Silver Script then let out an awkward cough. "Actually we're here cause Ditzy needs a safe place to be right now."
"Oh right, come in, come in."
Silver Script turned to Ditzy. “Now you stay here and explain to the representative what’s going on. I’m going to go see if I can get some help with the creep problem. When I get back we will go get Dinky from school. Stay here until then. Understand?”
Ditzy nodded before giving Silver Script a hug. “Thank you.”
Silver Script disengaged from the hug and opened his wings, ready to take off. “Just looking out for my own.” The postal worker then took off.
“Ditzy?” There was obvious concern in Trixie’s voice. “What’s going on?”
Ditzy sighed as she entered the house.
“I’m not entirely sure but I will tell you what I know.”
Silver Script landed at Sweet Apple Acres and saw Applejack bucking some nearby trees. The farm pony stopped what she was doing and came over to great the post master but immediately went into an attack position when she saw the baseball bat Silver Script was still carrying.
"Dag nab it Script! Don't you threaten me!!" Applejack said in a warning tone. "I told ya, we don't return apples ya haven't used. I don't care if ya misjudged how many ya'd need for yer bake sale."
Silver Script stared. "Actually I'm here to see your brother. Is he here?"
"Yeah sure, I'll call him. HEY BIG MAC!!! SILVER SCRIPT'S HERE TO SEE YA!!!" Applejack glanced again at the bat. "I THINK IT'S BOUT THAT OVERWEIGHT PACKAGE YA TRIED TO SEND!!"
Big Mac came over, took one look at Silver Script and one look at L&T. "Worker being harassed?"
"Why does no-pony else get that?"
Big Mac held up a hoof, indicating for the post master to wait a moment. The red stallion let out a sharp whistle. Soon Caramel came trotting up to them.
"Look Mac, I know you’re proud of that whistle but there are better ways to call me..." Caramel trailed off when he saw Silver Script carrying a baseball bat. "Look, I know rent on the post office box is overdue but I promise, if you wait til next payday, you'll get your money."
Big Mac rolled his eyes as he started to lead Silver Script to a spot where they could talk in private. On the way, Silver Script had a quick word with Caramel.
"Just remember I know when Sweet Apple Acres pay their workers, if I don't have the money by the end of the next day I'm coming for you."
The Post Master had never been one to mince words and was very quick to bring the two farm workers up to speed about the situation with Ditzy. From the description, it was obvious that two of the three assailants had been the ones Big Mac and Caramel had seen at the market but two stallions decided to keep that fact to themselves for the time being.
"And that's all I know." Silver Script explained. "Now seeing as I technically work for the government, I would never ask you to do anything illegal. That said, if you could find these scum-bags and ‘inform’ them that Ponyville isn't worth staying in, I would be really grateful. Think you could help?"
Big Mac and Caramel gave each other a meaningful glance before turning back to the Post Master. "Eeyup."
After seeing Silver Script off and telling Applejack where they were going, Big Mac and Caramel got out the saddle bags that carried their bounty hunting gear.
“So what’s the plan?” Caramel asked. “Knock on the door and ask them politely?”
“Eeyup.” Big Mac fastened the badge that showed he was acting in official bounty hunting capacity.
Caramel nodded, pretty sure where this was going but still feeling the need to check. “And if they refuse?”
“Knock on their heads,” Big Mac paused before adding, “politely.”
Caramel smiled as the two headed to town. “And this is why I like working with you.”
“Alright class, today we are going to be taking a look at griffons.” Cheerilee pinned a side on picture of a griffon on the wall.
The whole class seemed genuinely interested, possibly because not too long ago there had been an actual griffon in town.
“Now, aside from appearance, one of the key differences between a griffon and say a Pegasus pony is the fact that griffons are primarily carnivores. Can any pony tell me what that means?”
Before any of the foals were able to answer a strange tube came flying in through an open window, landing in the middle of the classroom. Suddenly smoke burst out of the tube and soon the classroom was filled. The panic broke out.
“My little ponies *cough* *cough* stay calm *cough* cover your mouths and noses and follow *cough* my voice.”
Despite Cheerilee’s best efforts, the sound of screams and coughing became almost deafening as the terrified students tried to get out of the smoke filled classroom. The ensuing chaos was the perfect cover for a figure to sneak in, his grey coat blending in almost perfectly with the smoke.
Dinky was stumbling blindly, trying to find her way through the smoke when suddenly she was grabbed and stuffed into a bag, her screams being drowned out by all the other frightened school kids. The figure held on tight to the bag and bolted out the door, running right past Applebloom, who had been trying to use her bow to cover her face, and being long gone before any pony came to investigate what the strange smoke was.
Trixie opened the window as Ditzy finished explaining to her about the strange stallions. “I wished you had come to me sooner about this.” The regret was evident on Ditzy’s face. “But the important thing right now is to keep you two safe. Silver Script is right, you and Dinky need to lay low until we figure out who they are and how we can get rid of them.”
Trixie started to pace, trying to come up with a plan of attack, these Manehatten ponies didn’t seem like they were in the mood for talking. While she would do anything to keep Dinky and Ditzy safe she was also well aware that she was currently 0-1 when it came to trading blows with earth ponies and the last time had only been against a musician.
She was starting to regret having given Pokey the day off. Honestly, how important could a grandma’s 80th birthday be? “The first thing we need to do is get Dinky out of class. The sooner the better.”
Ditzy nodded, she didn’t like pulling Dinky out of class, knowing how important an education is, but it wasn’t worth the risk. She looked out the window to see if Silver Script was back yet and instead saw smoke rising up. The weird thing was that it wasn’t coming from any of the nearby chimneys but was instead coming from the same direction as...”
Ditzy shot out the window before Trixie had a chance to stop her.
When she arrived at the school she saw all the students as well as various adults were outside as the smoke that was coming out of the school started to dissipate. Ditzy franticly looked around, trying to find her daughter. Finally she found Cheerilee trying to calm down a bunch of students.
"I'm not sure." Cheerilee's voice was hoarse from smoke inhalation and trying get the students out of the class. "Somepony set off a smoke bomb. I'm still trying to find every pony."
Trixie, who had given chase, arrived just in time to see Ditzy flying into the school.
Once inside, the grey mare frantically scoured the class room, desperately calling out her daughter’s name. She stopped when she heard something snap under her hoof.
She looked down and her breath caught when she saw that it was a stick with Dinky's picture tied to it.
Big Mac and Caramel, having seen the smoke as well, had instantly changed their route and arrived at the school shortly after Ditzy had. Big Mac scanned the area and found nurse Redheart tending to some students, including Applebloom who came racing towards him when she saw her brother.
"Big Mac! It was terrible." She wailled. "Ms Cheerilee was teaching us about griffons but then a strange tube flew in to the class and then it filled with smoke and then..." the rest drowned out into incomprehensible sobbing as Big Mac held her close.
"It's okay." Big Mac stroked Applebloom's mane, trying to console her.
The two siblings stayed liked this for a couple of minutes before Applebloom forced herself to back away slightly from her brother. "I think Dinky is in trouble."
"After the smoke started and I was trying to get out, I heard her suddenly scream and then something big and grey ran past me and I haven't seen her since."
Big Mac and Caramel looked at each other and then quickly rescanned the surroundings and couldn't see the young unicorn filly anywhere either. Caramel cursed under his breath while Big Mac tried to formulate a plan. Every instinct was telling him to stay and take care of his sister but he knew that there was a small window of opportunity to find Dinky that was rapidly closing.
"Applebloom...I..." He was cut off by Applebloom starring up at him with her big pleading eyes.
"Please Big Mac, you've got to help her."
Big Mac scooped Applebloom up into another quick hug. "Love ya sis." He then turned to Caramel. "Home. Now."
"You got it boss." Caramel replied as he stood beside Applebloom. "I'll catch up after I get her home."
At that reassurance Big Mac ran off, hoping to pick up the trail before it was too late.
Parley was lying on the bed reading a magazine.
He looked up and saw the door had been knocked clean off the hinges and standing in what remained of the doorway was an extremely angry looking Ditzy. “Where. Is. Dinky?”
Parley got up from the bed and looked at the mangled door. “You know I ain’t paying for that.”
Ditzy flew in and pinned the stallion against a wall. “WHERE IS DINKY?!!”
Parley, while not amused by the mailmare’s antics, did not feel the least bit threatened. “Listen lady, you don’t get to make calls. You gave up that right when you decided that we had to do this the hard way. So unless you want us to mail that little brat back to you one piece at a time, hooves off.”
Ditzy reluctantly let go of Parley and took a step back, still looking like she was ready to strike. “What did you do to her?”
“Your daughter is fine. My associates are busy securing an alternate means of transport for her.” Parley dusted himself off, more out of show. “Now I know here is the part where you threaten me, ask what I want and demand that I give your daughter back. Let’s skip all that and just move to the part where I explain what’s going to happen. The train for Manehatten leaves in one hour. We will both be on that train. You will sit quietly in your seat next to mine. When we arrive at Grand Central Station Dinky will be waiting for you with cotton candy and a big red balloon.” Parley looked Ditzy in the eye to let her know he wasn’t kidding. “Anything outside that plan results in Dinky not being your problem anymore.”
Ditzy let out a growl. “Your mother would be ashamed.”
“My mother is a senile old bat who I dumped at the nearest rest home first chance I got.” The stallion replied. “But is now really the time to be worrying about my family problems? You’ve got packing to do.” He then pointed to an imaginary watch on his wrist. “Tick tock.”
Ditzy, angry beyond belief but knowing there was nothing she could do, walked out without saying another word. She made it just out of reception when Trixie ran up to her.
“Thank Luna you’re alright. You should have waited for me. I’m scared for Dinky too but now is not the time to start flying in without a plan.” Trixie then noticed that Ditzy was still walking off. “Where are you going?
“Home, I need to pack.”
Plomo watched from the shadows as Ditzy walked away from the motel with Trixie chasing after her. He was about to continue following them and make sure Trixie didn’t interfere but found himself flung against a wall. Before the grey stallion had a chance to retaliate, Big Mac pinned him down and started to twist one of Plomo's fore legs in a way it wasn't supposed to twist.
"Listen closely.” Cheerilee said to the pinned stallion. “We will ask questions. You will give answers. Understand?"
"Oh right you speak Caballerian." Cheerilee cleared her throat before trying the interogation again. "Escuche atentamente , voy a hacer preguntas y usted contestara ¿Entiende?"
She then noticed Big Mac look at her with a raised eyebrow.
"What?" Cheerilee asked. "You've been around enough to know the benefits of being Bilingual. Besides, who doesn't like a cunning linguist?"
The two stallions stared at the mare.
"Señora loca." Plomo muttered. "Me gustes...EGRK!!"
Big Mac had responded by twisting Plomo's foreleg further.
Trixie made it back to Ditzy’s place in time to see her filling up a suitcase.
“What are you doing?”
“They have Dinky.” Ditzy didn’t stop packing. “If I’m not on the train that leaves in less than an hour, they’ll...” She couldn’t bring herself to finish.
“And you’re going to go with them?!” Trixie asked in dismay. “Ditzy, they smoke bombed a school!! Who knows what they're capable of.”
“Exactly and right now they have Dinky.”
“Look, I want to save Dinky too but if you get on that train you’ll be playing right into their hooves.” Trixie argued. “Just stop and let’s come up with a plan. If we get our friends together I’m sure we can...”
“There’s no time.” Ditzy shot back as she closed the bag. “All that matters is making sure that Dinky is safe and I won’t gamble her life on some hair brained scheme.” She picked up the suitcase and started to head for the door, but Trixie ran in front of her and blocked the path. “Get out of my way.”
“NO! This is a very bad idea and I’m not going to let you go through with it!” Trixie levitated the suitcase out of Ditzy grip. “If you get on that train it will be too late for both of you.”
Ditzy didn’t try to get the suitcase back but instead just looked away in resignation. Trixie slowly approached the grey mare. “I know this seems hopeless but if we just...” Trixie never got to finish as Ditzy’s hoof collided with the side of Trixie’s face.
Trixie stood in a daze for a brief moment before both her and the suitcase she had been levitating fell to the ground. Ditzy went to the laundry cupboard and pulled out a spare blanket and pillow.
She put the blanket over the unconscious mare and carefully placed the pillow under her head.
“I’m sorry.” She whispered, a single tear flowing down her cheek, before picking up the suitcase and leaving.