The blue unicorn in a cape and hat entered the soda parlor at a sluggish pace. She went up to the counter, where an orange earth pony stallion with an unkempt black mane smiled at her.
"The usual, Miss Trixie?" he asked.
"You know it's too early for my usual. Get me a birch beer with a shot of cream soda," she said, handing the stallion a silver bit to cover her drink.
She stopped and looked forlornly at the cabinet behind the counter where she knew the bourbon was imprisoned. The Ponyville soda parlor was a pretty decent hang out place; the advanced soda fountain allowed for all sorts of mixes that you couldn't find elsewhere, but more importantly after 9 PM it would turn into a proper bar where liquor could be added to those same mixes. Sadly for the unicorn, it was still too early to be reunited with her good friend Mr. Bourbon. She could really use his support right now, but in the meantime her pony friends would suffice.
She waved weakly at two of them sitting near the small stage in the corner of the room. The stallion put her order next to her, and she grabbed it with telekinesis before heading toward the table her friends had selected. Trixie flopped on her seat with a groan, putting down her glass of birch beer gently at the same time, and looked at her two tablemates.
"You're late," said Lyra, who was seated across from her in that creepy slouch Trixie always found disturbing.
"I'm just five …" started Trixie before she glimpsed the clock on the bar's wall. "Okay, twenty-five minutes … yeah, I'm totally late," she finished, landing her chin on the table.
"And you look incredibly stressed," said Bon Bon from her seat beside Lyra.
"It's all that stupid paperwork I have to do! Who knew there was so many reports to do for bucking Ponyville! Did you know that every time Rainbow Dash skips on her duty I have three different forms to file out? Five if someone on staff complains about it! I'm just glad I got out of there before I found myself filed under 'B' for 'buried'!" She brought her hooves over her eyes. "I'll never have enough time to practice for my Eventime Festival show at this rate!"
Lyra took a slow sip of her drink, a lime soda and grass juice mix that was almost the exact same color as her coat, before she looked at Trixie again.
"Sounds to me like you could use an assistant to help you out."
Trixie's head went up immediately. "Of course! That's perfect! Plus you're still looking for a job, right?"
Lyra raised an eyebrow and stared at Trixie as she broke into an uncharacteristic smile. The magician aimed a pleading look at the other unicorn pony.
Lyra stared. Trixie smiled.
Lyra blinked. Trixie's grin faltered.
Lyra stared. Trixie's expression turned sheepish.
"I'll give you five bits if you put up my help wanted ad around town?" Trixie finally suggested.
The green unicorn sighed and closed her eyes. "I guess I can do that."
Ahh ahh ahh ahhh...
My little pony
Friendship never meant that much to me
My little pony
But you're all here and now I can see
Stormy weather; Lots to share
A musical bond; With love and care
Teaching laughter; It's an easy feat,
And magic makes it all complete!
You have my little ponies
How'd I ever make so many true friends?
The Element of Magic was pacing in her office while looking at the clock on the wall. It was almost 2 PM, the hour her ad said she would start receiving interviewees for the job of Administrative Assistant to the Representative. She hoped the complicated title would attract somepony serious. This was the first time Trixie would ever hire somepony, and, even though she would never admit it to a living soul, she had no idea what to look for in a candidate. She briefly wondered why the residency hadn't come with a staff and if Princess Luna hadn't just invented more forms for her to file as a type of punishment.
"We are most displeased! We must punish Trixie Lulamoon!" declared Luna to her assembled Night Court as they seemed to melt in from the darkness.
"Off with her head!" called a fat earth pony mare with a complex beehive hairdo and a brightly colored carnival dress.
"Send her to the Griffon Kingdom!" called a battle-hardened pegasus pony in outdated armor and scarred from battle.
"Neigh! Those brutish methods are hardly befitting punishment for the perverse trickery and humiliating failure Lulamoon is responsible for!" said Luna, casting the two members of the court into shadows.
"Erase her first name so that she may forever be known as Lulamoon!" declared a pegasus pony mare that looked suspiciously like Trixie's second grade teacher, complete with small sharp glasses and the ruler cutie mark.
The alicorn seemed to consider it for a moment. Finally Princess Luna waved a hoof, dismissing the pegasus to nothingness. "Nah, too cruel."
"Give her nothin' to do so that she drinks herself to death! On account of her bein' so bored," proposed an earth pony stallion who seemed to have stepped out of an old gangster two-reeler, complete with black and white coloring and Tommy gun slung around his neck.
"Better, but we are not willing to have her gain the support of Mr. Bourbon."
An old unicorn stallion with a white coat wearing a shirt with a ridiculous amount of medals pinned to it and sporting a monocle stepped forward. It was obviously the baron Duke Blueblood, the previous representative, that Trixie had never met but replaced.
"Then instead flood her with nonsensical forms and endless paperwork! Trap her in a never ending cycle of bureaucracy until all that is left of her is a dried husk in a pile of pencil shavings!"
"Perfect!" declared Princess Luna before bursting into an evil laugh, soon joined by the gangster, Blueblood, a pirate, a clown, and, even more frightening, a mime!
Suddenly the baron stopped laughing. "Oh my! I appear to have been backstabbed by my own kin! Well done, you may claim my monocle," he declared, falling on the ground to reveal a dagger buried deep in his back.
Another Blueblood unicorn, looking exactly the same as Duke Blueblood except lacking medals and with a blonde mane rather than gray, stepped forward from the darkness to claim the eyepiece and join in on the evil laughter.
This paranoid, and somewhat off-kilter, fantasy was interrupted by a spirited knock on the door that nearly made the blue unicorn jump out of her cape. She took a moment to set her face into a dignified and serious expression before trotting to the door.
Trixie opened the door to find a grinning Pinkie Pie standing on her stoop, the help wanted ad clutched in her mouth. Trixie closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and smiled at Pinkie. Then she slammed the door with her magic.
This was off to a gloriously bad start.
"So, tell me, Snails … why do you want this job?" asked Trixie, looking decidedly unimpressed by the young colt.
"Because I think you're just so dreamy and so pretty, Great and Powerful Trixie … I just want to spend more time with you! Can I have another autograph?"
"Job?! I came here for … for a … for a drink!" said a dark orange mare, obviously drunk.
Trixie wondered why she even let the obviously tipsy pony in. "This isn't Berry's bar!"
"Well, ya know, dude …" began the tan stallion, moving a lock of bright blonde mane from his eyes. "… I mean dudette … it's not cheap to go catch the waves down at Cayo El Bayo or Pasadenag. It's totally tubular, but it's, like … real harsh on the bits, ya know? So yeah, I want some good moolah to pay my trips. You dig, dudette?"
The blue unicorn shook her head to clear her mind of confusion. "Sure I can … dig … but tell me … Mister Coconut, what special skill can you bring to this function?"
Coconut's brow furrowed in concentration for a few seconds, just long enough that Trixie was beginning to doubt he had even understood the question.
"I can make a really radical hay shake!" replied the earth pony, pumping his hoof up in the air.
"Daddy says I'm, like … an expert at using a credit card? Says that it's why I gotta, like … get a job. So I guess that's, like, what I'm really good at?" said the blue earth pony mare as she twirled a strand of her orange-yellow mane in her hoof.
Trixie facehooved, but managed to stay the course and ask the next question on her mental checklist, more out of a desire to finish quickly than to really know the answer.
"What previous work experience do you have?"
"Well daddy asked me to keep an eye on, like, my little brother, ya know? So I did but then my, like, friend Emerald River came by and she had, like, these totally stylish new saddlebags, and I'm like, 'Girl, where you get that?' and she's like 'Girl, there's a sale downtown!' and I'm like 'No way!' and she's all 'Yes way!' so I totally had to, like, ditch the little brat and go shopping, but when I got back, daddy was all, like, 'You'll never watch your little brother again,' so I was like 'Yay promotion!' but then he, like … grounded me for a week. Adults are, like, totally weird, ya know?"
"Sir! I was part of the Third Flying Pikemen Brigade, Sir! Until a griffon spear clipped my left wing, Sir!" said the dark green pegasus stallion with a buzz cut green mane.
He was standing at attention in the middle of the room, looking straight ahead. Trixie could see that his left wing had indeed been badly damaged and was probably useless for quick military maneuvers.
"Uh, please call me ma'am, not sir," she said, having gotten tired of it already.
"Ma'am, not Sir, as you wish, Ma'am, not Sir!"
Trixie groaned in frustration. "I suppose your special talent is following orders to the letter?" she said with a certain venom in her voice.
"Ma'am, not Sir, I'm the best of the best at following orders, Ma'am, not Sir!"
"No, my cutie mark doesn't mean I'm good at making pillows; it means I'm good at taking naps! I can nap anywhere! In fact, if I wasn't talking to you right now, I think I would …" The light pink pegasus mare stopped her explanation to yawn. "I would fall asleep right here; those are some darn comfy pillows."
Trixie's face hit her desk with a loud banging noise.
"Oh my gosh! Are you okay?" asked the pegasus pony, walking up to her desk.
"Yeah, but I think I need a nap myself," replied Trixie, her face still pressed against the hard wood of her desk.
She got up and gently escorted the pony from her office to her front door. "Well, thank you for your interest in the job, Miss Featherbrain …"
"Miss Featherbed, I'm sorry. Now I still have a few interviews to go today, so I'll let you go on your way. I should make my final selection in a few days; if you end up selected I'll be sure to let you know." Trixie pushed the mare outside without letting her point out that Trixie hadn't actually taken her contact address down.
"Have a nice day!" the unicorn finished as the door closed.
She collapsed on the floor in front of the door. Three hours of incompetents, whack jobs, and general idiots. She just wanted to sit down and have a nice quiet drink. Too bad she couldn't hire Mr. Bourbon for the job; things would go so much more smoothly. Then again, she doubted the paperwork would end up correctly filed; Mr. Bourbon tended to file everything under 'F' for 'fun'.
"Confound those idiots; they drive me to drink!" she muttered.
She was interrupted by a quick knock at the door. She slowly and reluctantly got up from her nice comfortable spot on the hardwood floor and went to open the door with her best professional face.
The Element of Magic found Pinkie Pie, a basket of cupcakes held in her grinning mouth, standing beyond the door. On the basket was pinned the help wanted ad. Trixie smiled, grabbing a cupcake with her telekinesis.
"No," she said, slamming the door closed.
At least she got a free snack out of this ordeal.
A soft knock came from the door. Sighing and not even bothering to hide her displeasure, Trixie swung the door open.
"Pinkie Pie, I told you …" She stopped as she realized she wasn't talking to Pinkie Pie. Behind the door stood a white unicorn mare with a bright red mane in delicate curls. She looked a bit hesitant at the outburst she had received. Trixie quickly offered a clumsy smile.
"I'm sorry, Representative; is this a bad time?" the white mare asked, with a slight accent that reminded Trixie of Stalliongrad and its barren frozen fields.
The blue unicorn shook her hoof in front of her in a frantic dismissal gesture. "No no no! I'm sorry; I just thought you were somepony else! Please, what brings you to my residency?"
"Oh, well … Hello! My name is Moondancer and I just got into town from Baltimare. I saw your flier up at the train station and was wondering if the position was still available?" said the white unicorn, pointing at the flier hovering beside her head in a halo of lilac light.
"Very much so, I'm afraid. Why don't you come in to my office and we can discuss this further?" said Trixie, stepping aside to let the other unicorn enter her house. Trixie noted that the unicorn's cutie mark was a soft blue moon crescent surrounded by five lilac stars. Ponies with a moon as part of their cutie mark were usually considered lucky; Trixie felt that a little more luck in her life might not be a bad thing.
They settled on the cushions on each side of her desk, and Trixie went through her list of questions in short order. Quickly she learned that Moondancer was, well, a dance teacher, but that the jobs she could find were only part time. She had worked in the public library in Baltimare for a while and didn't mind the office work at all; she claimed to be really good at remembering the purpose of each form and bringing up the right one in a second if prompted. She was also a coffee snob, and she would be willing to bring some of her own bean mixes to the job rather than let her boss drink what she qualified as 'instant dishwater'. She told Trixie of dancing under the moonlight during festivals and how she had earned her cutie mark that way.
"Miss Moondancer, I think you've got exactly what I need for this job! When can you start?"
"Wow, thank you, Representative Trixie! I'll do my best not to disappoint you!" The unicorn then put a hoof to her chin. "Hmm … I just got in town so I'd like at least a day to unpack; will the day after tomorrow work for you?"
"Absolutely!" said Trixie with a beaming smile. The sooner she could get help with those blasted papers, the better. She had a magic show to prepare and didn't want to disappoint any of the children; that just wouldn't do.
Trixie escorted her new assistant back to the front door while talking work schedules, salary, and promises of great coffee in the coming days. Trixie had a genuine smile as she bid farewell to Moondancer and closed the door before skipping to her kitchen for some needed food.
Trixie didn't hear Moondancer let out a sinister chuckle as she left the residency ground.
Author's note: Many thanks to FredMSloniker for help editing my horrible mistakes out of this chapter!
Author's note: Thanks again to FredMSloniker for his patient proofreading and editting of my horrible mistakes, and also for teaching me some proper use of comma in English (among other details I never grasped before). Chapter 1 has been editted again by the way, it should be a smoother reading experience.
Moondancer took a moment to survey the office, running her pale blue eyes all over the room. A comfortable cushion in a dark midnight blue color sat on each side of the representative's desk. Just behind the desk was a small low cabinet that was open partially, revealing a box of fresh scrolls and a couple of ink bottles. The cabinet itself was plain, smooth pale wood and had probably arrived to the residency packed flat with a sheet of incomprehensible instructions. In one corner stood a coat rack made from a dead tree painted black; on one stubby branch hung Trixie's star studded cape and hat , while Moondancer's own white fedora hung on another. When Moondancer had last visited the residency, the pegasi were forming a cloud cover for a light spring shower, but today the sky was clear and the sun could glare menacingly down at Equestria unhindered. It was no time to go around without a hat.
Against one wall stood a short bookcase, clearly an older piece of furniture donated by some local artisan long ago, filled mostly with law books and registries of some kind and framed on each side by a metal filing cabinet with drawers labeled with letters. Only two books on the shelves stood out from the impersonal mass: a worn out copy of Don Rocinante of Equestria and a much more recently purchased book on transmogrification magic.On the very top of the bookcase, at eye level, was a series of knickknacks: a model street car from Neigh Orleans, a deck of playing cards, a small portrait of a younger Trixie with Princess Luna, an empty bottle of some exotic liquor, another small portrait of Trixie with Princess Mi Amore Cadenza, a stack of business cards (including one for a candy store), a trio of brass cups stacked on top of one another, yet another portrait of a young Trixie, standing proudly at the forefront of a litteral rainbow of children of all tribes and of various ages being looked over by a dark blue unicorn mare and an orange pegasus stallion, a deer-made black stone walrus sculpture, and finally a fourth portrait, this time showing Trixie with the other Elements of Harmony and Princess Luna.
Those portraits were expected; what wasn't was the large one hanging on the wall behind the desk. It depicted a young, bare-flank, Trixie with an older earth pony stallion who appeared to have the same cutie mark Trixie now sported. On the ground beside the supply cabinet, leaning against the wall, was a large framed map of Ponyville. Moondancer deduced that the large portrait had taken the place of the map only recently. She went over and, with the soft touch of her telekinesis, moved the portrait aside to reveal the wall safe underneath. She smirked.
Moondancer quickly dropped the portrait back in place and turned to face the open doorway leading into the hallway when she heard the sound of Trixie's voice calling her to the basement. The voice had obviously been a ghost sound spell, because Moondancer had heard her clearly but Trixie didn't sound like she was yelling at all.
In the dusty basement that seemed to serve as storage space for unused residency equipment, Trixie led Moondancer to a small desk she had uncovered. Moondancer had to briefly wonder what official function necessitated a carton of rubber duckies as she side-stepped the opened box. The desk wasn't much, two drawers and a small working surface with a groove to put an inkwell in, and it had obviously seen better days.
"Phew... it's a bit dusty but I think it'll do until I can do another request for new furniture," said Trixie.
"I know that form; I had to send a request for new shelving units back in Baltimare, I know how to trick them into processing it faster," said Moondancer, coming closer to her new boss.
"Good! I'll go fetch some cleaning supply and you bring this up to the office. I'll be waiting," said the Element of Magic, trotting back upstairs. "Try not to scrape the wall; the paint is new."
Moondancer wiped her brow of sweat with a handkerchief. The desk had proven a lot heavier than it looked, and the tight corner at the top of the stairs leading to the basement had proven tricky to navigate. By the time she had gotten to the office, Trixie was calmly munching on a carrot, looking over some scroll. Without looking up from her reading she pointed a hoof to a rag and a bucket of hot water in the corner of the room. The smell of pine-scented cleaner wafted through the air, tickling Moondancer's nostrils.
"All you need to make that desk sparkle like new!" Trixie said.
Moondancer rolled her eyes but went to work wordlessly. She quickly finished with the top of the desk and was about to move to the interior of the drawers when she realized one of the two drawers was incredibly hard to open. After first trying with her hooves she decided to use her telekinesis.
"Wha...Why is there a pair of dumbells in there?!" she asked no one in particular, indignation in her voice.
The rest of the morning went by relatively quietly, with Trixie showing Moondancer the reports to file when someone petitioned the Representative officially, the way to officially transmit a Royal Edict to the town council and mayor's office, where to find the supplies, including a large stack of unfolded boxes for the weekly shipment of paperwork to Canterlot. Finally they moved to a series of forms related to the weather patrol.
"Why are the weather-patrol-related report filled under 'R' rather than 'W'?" inquired Moondancer.
"Not all of them are under 'R', but so far this month I've yet to do any paperwork not related to Rainbow Dash," said Trixie, obviously annoyed.
"Rainbow Dash?" asked Moondancer.
"Rainbow Dash," repeated Trixie, nodding.
"Who's Rainbow Dash?"
"Oh right...new in town. She's the weather manager. She skips out on her work all the time! I swear someday it feels like she's doing it just so I have more work to do. Problem is she's still really really good at her work and nothing is ever late. Normally this sort of filing would fall on members of her team, but the Ponyville Weather patrol is too small to have a dedicated administration department, effectively making me the pony ressource manager for the weather patrol. I learned that the hard way when I ended up having to send the apology letter for our late Winter Wrap-Up. I'm not sure what was bigger, the pile of paperwork I had to do after that or the pile of snow that needed to be melted. So I'm the one who has to notify the Equestrian Weather Services whenever Rainbow Dash is too lazy to come in to work, because they might dock her pay for those day off." Trixie shook her head and walked back to the cushion by her desk "At first I would do one report each day, but then I realized I was just giving myself too much work, so I just wait until the end of the week, count the number of days she wasn't there, and just pretend she took all those days in a row. It's simpler that way."
The other pony nodded in understanding. "Okay... anything else we didn't cover?"
"There's a bunch of disaster related forms I'm supposed to know... emergency relief fund request, that sort of thing... but nothing ever happens in Ponyville, so I don't think either of us needs to know about those. The information about those is in the red book in the bookcase anyway," Said Trixie, waving in the direction of said red book.
Moondancer nodded. “Nothing else?"
"Oh right... the third drawer on my desk holds my personal correspondence with Princess Luna, so that drawer is off limits, but the rest is just boring work stuff so no problem there. Also, don't touch my Don Rocinante book; its really precious to me."
"As you wish Representative."
Moondancer took a quick glance at the old book, then back to the portrait of Trixie with the earth pony, and finally down at the large dark wood desk. The corner of her mouth twitched, threatening to break into a sneer.
The two of them worked in silence for a little while, Trixie completing a few forms and her new assistant putting them away in the respective folders. Moondancer also completed the request form needed to either get a new desk or the budget to acquire it. The clock sounded off midday with a glum toll of its chime.
The blue unicorn looked up from her work. "Time for lunch! Would you like a dandelion sandwich?"
"Oh, that would be wonderful; I forgot to pack a lunch," said Moondancer.
"Good! There's some bread and dandelion leaves in the kitchen, go fix us up a sandwich each. Oh, and put some sliced sweet potato in mine with...some Dijon and ketchup. Lots of ketchup. Oh, and a pickle if there is any left. Feel free to put whatever you want in yours," said Trixie.
Moondancer felt like she was growing green around the gills. What kind of recipe was that? She headed toward the kitchen before her new boss could add some other bizarre ingredient to her sandwich.
"Call me when it’s ready. Feel free to boil some tea or something," added Trixie, the subtext that she wanted tea with her lunch being plain as day.
Moondancer grumbled but didn't let any of it show when she replied with an enthusiastic, "Yes ma'am!"
Darkness had fallen over Ponyville hours ago, and everypony was sleeping soundly, feeling safe within the calm embrace of Luna's night. In the crisp spring night, the moon hung silently in the sky, full and beautiful, like a jewel on a star-studded curtain of silk.
The lock of the backdoor of the official residency opened with the softest of clicks. Being mindful of any creaking noise, a unicorn mare wearing a midnight blue cat suit and mask entered. The only thing discernable besides the ice-cold eyes of the intruder was her white horn poking from a hole in the facemask. A dark green sash was wrapped around her midsection, holding the fabric of the cat suit tightly against her body. With nary a sound, the pony made her way into the office and surveyed the room. On the smaller desk was a neat pile of paper, an inkwell with a quill, and carefully aligned pencils, while the bigger desk had two messily assembled pile of paper, an empty glass, and a bottle of bourbon. The moonlight was flooding the room with its soft glow, so the unicorn had no trouble making her way toward the bookcase, avoiding the deck of card that had been, somehow, strewn around the room.
Without using her magic the intruder took the worn book in her hooves and started to flip through the pages. There was a bunch of scribbles, notes, and drawings in the margin; comments about words, a blue unicorn filly added to pictures present in this edition, and someone had taken a blue pencil to underline the phrase 'the great and powerful' with a few bold lines. But that was all the book revealed.
"The Great and Powerful Trrrrrixie!!!" At the sound of the ridiculously loud voice, the masked unicorn jumped high in the air and dropped the book. She landed, eyes frantically moving from doorway to doorway while she stood in a martial arts stance.
The unicorn tried to stop panting. The sound of a fanfare came from the second story of the building.
"For her next trick … a volunteer … banana … Princess Trrrrixie … Mystery! … Magic and … My assistant, Mister Bourbon …Friendship!" said a voice, coming from upstairs, rising and falling constantly in volume.
The unicorn's eye bulged when she realize that this was Trixie's voice. Not only was Trixie speaking in her sleep, she was sleep casting! A few sparks of light coming down the staircase showed that Trixie was also casting illusions in her sleep. The unicorn took the book back into her hooves and placed it back on the shelf before making her way back toward the door.
"Embrassez moi, Monsieur Bourbon!" shouted Trixie as the mysterious unicorn closed the door.
"Wait...what are you doing?!" asked Moondancer, staring at her boss "This is blasphemy! An affront to nature! You can't possibly be doing this!"
"What are you talking about?" said the Element of Magic, pouring chocolate-flavoured soy milk into her coffee.
The other unicorn looked aghast. "You didn't even taste the coffee! And you're putting chocolate soy milk in it! You'll drown out all the subtle nutty undertones and the dark arabica notes!"
"I like soy milk in my coffee," said Trixie, raising an eyebrow.
"Yeah, well, for some reason I can't find strawberry-flavoured soy milk in Ponyville. It's like someone buys it all before I ever get to the store. My bet is Pinkie Pie," said Trixie, glaring in the general direction of Sugarcube Corner.
"Straw...strawberry soy milk...in coffee?!"
Trixie shrugged and brought a jar from the kitchen counter over to her.
The white unicorn's sky-blue eyes grew to the size of dinner plates. "And you're adding honey?!"
The weather so far that day had been quite lovely, and the two mares had decided to leave the front door open to let the fresh air of spring come into the residency. A friendly orange-topped head poked into the doorway.
"Hi, Trixie! Ready for our appointment at the spa?" asked Carrot Top.
"Sure thing! Wait for me outside; I'll be there in a minute!" said Trixie.
She levitated a stack of paper about an inch thick over to Moondancer's desk as she got up from her seated position. "Here, darling, take care of these for me. I'll be back in an hour. I have a... meeting on agricultural policy to attend to."
Moondancer stared blankly at her employer. "Agricultural policy...at the spa?"
"Why yes, it's all the rage in Canterlot. Everypony who's anypony has meetings at the spa!" declared Trixie, putting her cape and hat on.
"Wait! I don't even know what to put on those!" called the white unicorn as the star studded representative disappeared down the hallway.
"Just put whatever you think sounds good; nopony ever double-checks those! As long as it’s plausible, it'll be good."
"Moondancer!" called Trixie, calling her assistant back from the kitchen "What is this pile of horse apples?!" she said, pointing her hoof at the paper levitating next to her.
"The report you told me to file while you went to your meeting?" caid Moondancer, in a voice that surprisingly betrayed no sarcasm of any kind.
"It's random mumbo-jumbo and the penmareship is horrible! Do you want to make me look like an incompetent? Do it again!" she said slamming the pile of paper back on the desk.
"Moondancer! We're out of toilet paper; run to the store to buy me some!"
The door to the small apartment flew open with a blast of lilac magic and a bang. An angry looking white unicorn with a red mane walked in, gritting her teeth. She slammed the door closed again before heading for the bedroom, mumbling threats of dismemberment aimed at a certain Representative of the Night Court.
As she went from the shadow to the brightly lit area created by the window, her mane changed color to a soft lavender and suddenly deflated, while her cutie mark no longer showed the crescent moon surrounded by stars but only a black envelope. She stopped in front of the ornate mirror standing on her dresser and concentrated magic into her horn. Her image in the mirror started to melt away as a new image appear, that of a shadowed room where a unicorn stallion stood in shadow, his face impossible to make out.
"Have you uncovered anything?" said the stallion with an obviously disguised voice.
The modulation spell couldn't hide the prim and proper Canterlot accent.
"Yes, that the personal student of Princess Luna is an insufferable little witch!" growled the pony known as Moondancer.
The sound of a hoof hitting a wooden surface was heard. "This is no time for your petty concerns! You know what I mean! Did you find any leverage?"
The mare shook her head. "My first intrusion didn't reveal anything. I'll go back tonight to check my second lead, this one might be a little trickier but I doubt she'll notice anything is amiss. I will not fail you my lord."
"You would do well to remember that you cannot afford to fail me. Lest you want your tainted lineage be brought to light," said the stallion.
"The money you are paying me is motivation enough. Besides, I doubt you could really prove anything." said the mare.
"Don't underestimate me Zizanie. I have more resources at my disposition than you realize."
The mare's eyes narrowed. "And don't you underestimate me, dear Viscount Blueblood."
The stallion in the mirror visibly stiffened, much to Zizanie's delight. "Or maybe your title is too formal? Would you prefer I address you by your first name, Prince? Or perhaps a nickname? How do you like the sound of ‘Bluey’? Come now, you did not expect me to just take your fancy mirror without finding out where it came from, did you?"
The reply came, full of scorn and hatred. "You know nothing, Discordian scum!"
Without further niceties the magical connection was cut, and Zizanie was left fuming.
"Canterlot swine! Arrogant foals, all of them!" she said, pulling a midnight blue cat suit from under her bed.
The night was quiet; not even a cricket was stirring, and all was peace. Zizanie slowly and silently made her way to Trixie’s desk. Tonight there were no cards strewn about the place, no empty glass and bottle on the desk, and decidedly smaller piles of paper on it than the previous night. (Then again, the pile on Moondancer’s desk was visibly thicker this time around.)
Zizanie delicately pulled the third drawer of the desk open. It contained four sheets of paper in an uneven pile. This made it difficult, but not impossible, for the unicorn to sift through the paper without disturbing anything.
The first sheet was a letter dating back to Trixie’s appointment as Representative and was fairly dry and impersonal. With a shine of her horn, Zizanie caused the first sheet to turn translucent, revealing the second letter underneath.
The second letter was an invitation to Canterlot, dating back to the aftermath of Corona’s return and subsequent defeat by the Elements of Harmony. Princess Luna was personally inviting Trixie to receive a decoration and reward at her castle. Briefly Zizanie wondered why Trixie wasn’t showcasing the medal she had obviously received that day. Surely the medal would be in full view in her office. She dismissed the thought and cast her spell once more.
The third letter was upside-down, hiding its text from her eyes. A second spell brought the letters into view, albeit inverted. Zizanie could read an upside down newspaper in a mirror at thirty paces; she had no problem deciphering the text. The letter described how Trixie could acquire her stipend and other technical details, once again dating back to Trixie’s arrival in Ponyville.
The fourth letter was a lot more personal, but also incredibly short. In it, Princess Luna instructed Trixie to assist the unicorn Rarity during the then upcoming Winter Wrap-Up. Apparently this was to apologize for Trixie’s actions during the days leading to the latest Longest Night celebrations.
With a flash, all the letters returned to normal, and Zizanie pushed the drawer closed without a sound. She was fighting with the urge to grumble out loud.
Personal correspondence, my flank! she thought.
“Anything you can do, I can do better! I can do anything better than you …” sang Trixie, still in her shower.
Moondancer put her hooves to her ears. When the mare had shown up for work, Trixie had just woken up and still had bed-mane when she came to open the door. She had been in the shower for the last five minutes, constantly singing the same couplet of that song, apparently unable to remember the rest. Normally, a pony’s voice sounded better under the shower, but it was as if Trixie was singing off-key on purpose!
This day was off to a gloriously bad start.
“I thought you said those boxes had to be mailed weekly?” asked Moondancer, using her magic to balance the four boxes of paperwork precariously balanced on her back.
Trixie shrugged. “I got held up with stuff.”
“But it’s almost midday,” complained the white unicorn, pointing to the clock.
“Yeah, well, these boxes are late enough already; they need to make the 1 PM train to Canterlot, so you better hurry,” replied Trixie.
Moondancer resigned herself to head for the door. “As you wish, Representative.”
The door slammed behind Moondancer as she entered the Residency in a hurry. She was still panting when the clock sounded off noon. Corona was no longer in the sun, but the unicorn still didn’t feel safe under its harsh glare, and, more importantly, neither did most of the residents of Ponyville. Zizanie couldn’t afford to stand out from the masses.
“Just in time,” said Trixie from the kitchen. “I just tossed together a salad from leftovers; join me in the kitchen for lunch.”
Moondancer made her way to the Residency’s kitchen where she saw that, indeed, Trixie had prepared lunch. Two plates of simple salad, mostly made of dandelion leaves, sweet potato slices, and carrots, stood on each side of the small table. Trixie was busy putting tea in boiling water.
“Dig in; the tea will be ready in a second,” she said.
“Thanks, Miss Trixie!”
Well, this was a pleasant surprise, thought Zizanie. She sat at the table and took hold of a fork with her telekinesis and jabbed it into her food. The salad was topped with red salad dressing; a slightly spicy smell tickled at the unicorn’s nose when she took a bite.
“I was out of salad dressing, so I improvised by mixing mayonnaise with hot sauce,” said Trixie.
Moondancer’s eyes bulged out. She jumped in the air, flames spouting from her open mouth as she cried for water. Diving for the clear pot of water in Trixie’s telekinetic field, she gulped it all down. It took her a second to realize she had just poured boiling water into her mouth.
It was a few hours later, and Moondancer was still nursing a glass of ice-cold water. She shot daggers at Trixie, who seemed to be too busy shuffling her deck of cards to notice.
“Let’s stop with the boring official work for today,” the Representative finally declared after the other unicorn had glared at her for a minute. “How about you help me practice for my Eventime Festival show? I have this great trick in mind; it involves cards and a throwing knife!”
Zizanie couldn’t hide the look of sheer terror in her eyes.
“I’m starting to doubt Trixie Lulamoon possesses the sort of information you are looking for, Viscount,” said Zizanie, once again in a conversation through the enchanted mirror.
“I pay you to acquire confidential information, not judge its usefulness,” Replied Viscount Blueblood, still in shadows. “You are only backing down because your attempts have resulted in failure.”
“Blackmail is my specialty, and I’m telling you, Bluey,” she replied, making the Stallion growl at the nickname, “this is a bad caper. Plus I’m pretty sure she’s crazy!”
The shadowed stallion rubbed a hoof against his chin. “Raid the safe tonight; if there is still nothing worthwhile, we’ll use more … aggressive methods to ensure Miss Lulamoon’s cooperation with us.”
Zizanie sneered; the kind of aggressive methods she was currently contemplating were probably not exactly the same that Prince Blueblood had in mind, but they were quite fun to contemplate nonetheless.
Unlocking the back door of the Residency without a noise had become routine by now, and so was the short trek through the kitchen toward the office. Things were pretty much the same as when Moondancer had left earlier that day, with the same piles of papers and the same throwing knife still embedded in the wall by the doorway.
Facing the large portrait of Trixie and the earth pony stallion, Zizanie briefly considered drawing a mustache on the face of her annoying boss. She finally decided against it and took the framed picture down gently with her telekinesis, revealing the wall safe behind. She placed an expert ear to the door and quickly found the combination to open it. She swung the door open and looked upon her prize.
Carrots. Lots of carrots.
“Not quite what you expected, Moondancer? As if that were your real name,” said the voice of Trixie from somewhere behind the intruder.
She whipped around in time to see Trixie appearing as if her colors were bleeding in from the ether. The blue unicorn stood proudly, her cape fluttering and her hat perched upon her head.
“Don’t bother to deny it. I, the Great and Powerful Trixie, have seen through your clever disguise. The Great and Powerful Trixie must commend your mastery of subtle illusions, capable of fooling even the passive senses of the Great and Powerful Trixie. If the Great and Powerful Trixie hadn’t been suspicious, she might have never bothered to perform a more active examination. It was very clever of you to change nothing but the color of your mane and your cutie mark,” declared Trixie, putting a hoof to her chest.
Zizanie glanced toward the bookcase. “I put the book back wrong, didn’t I? That’s how you knew!”
Trixie let out a mocking laugh. “Don’t underestimate the Great and Powerful Trixie. The Great and Powerful Trixie was already watching you on that night. No, you gave yourself away the very day you first approached the Great and Powerful Trixie!”
The intruder’s eyes bulged at that declaration. “What? How?”
“Pinkie Pie,” said Trixie with a smirk.
Zizanie blinked a few times. “Pinkie … Pie?”
“You claimed to be new in town; however, even after two days, Pinkie Pie had yet to organize a party to welcome you to Ponyville. Pinkie Pie never misses such an occasion,”said Trixie, glaring at Zizanie. “It made the Great and Powerful Trixie suspicious, and she followed you home, where she witnessed your transformation to your true form and your attempt at finding out her secrets. This is not the first time that somepony has attempted to gain sway over the Night Court by spying on the Great and Powerful Trixie; she is, after all, Princess Luna’s faithful student!”
The other unicorn growled in anger. “Is that why you were such an insufferable boss? You were trying to chase me away? Punish me for spying on you?”
Trixie looked confused. “What are you … I mean … yes! The Great and Powerful Trixie is normally a much more benevolent employer.”
Zizanie’s left eye twitched in anger. That was an obvious lie. She could have accepted Trixie being a jerk for the sake of punishing her—it would have been par for the course—but Trixie hadn’t actually changed her behavior. Zizanie growled in anger as she charged magic into her horn. With a shout, she threw a bolt of energy at the form of the gloating Trixie.
She gasped when the bolt flew right through her and harmlessly dissipated against the wall next to the coat rack. Zizanie realized her mistake when she noticed the hat and cape were still on their peg.
This was an illusion, and the real Trixie was still invisible!
The masked unicorn tried to flee just in time to avoid the full brunt of the attack the still invisible Trixie aimed at her head. She felt the invisible hooves graze her shoulder, causing her to stumble into one of the filing cabinets. The illusionary Trixie was laughing, laughing at her! The real one was still invisible and could be anywhere. It was better part of valor time.
Zizanie crashed through the window of Trixie’s office, landing on the grass below in a shower of glass shards.
“Not again!” shouted an indignant Trixie.
Zizanie took a second to get back up and shake loose the bits of glass still stuck in small painful cuts all over her body. She found herself surrounded on all fronts by multiple Trixies, all of them lacking the hat and cape.
“Now the question you have to ask yourself,” began one Trixie, “is if I am one of those unicorns,” continued a second one as it took a step toward her, “or if I’m still simply invisible,” finished a third one with a satisfied sneer.
Zizanie considered her options. Looking beyond the ring of Trixies, she could see windows lighting up; soon the townsfolk would be upon her, ready to defend the Element of Magic from the masked intruder. She was also still extremely mad at the annoying unicorn. This was foolish and she knew it, but she still relished the thought of giving the unicorn a lesson.
“Don’t underestimate me, Great and Pompous Lulamoon. My name is Zizanie, and one day you will regret ever meeting me,” she said, closing her eyes.
When she opened them again, the left one was completely yellow with an orange iris. With an audible popping noise, all of Trixie’s illusions shattered into fleeing moths, while the real one appeared. The real Trixie looked up in surprise as a moth flew from her forehead, then noticed something was missing.
“Aaaah! My horn! My horn! My horn is gone! Aaaah!” she shrieked, dancing about in panic.
After five seconds or so, a pinging noise brought her attention back to her forehead, where her horn had reappeared. The masked unicorn had taken Trixie’s moment of panic to disappear into the night; her neighbors were beginning to come out of their homes to find out where the commotion was coming from.
A few blocks away, in a secluded alley, Zizanie was leaning against the wall, panting. She had ran quite far to flee from the Residency ground; however, it was not the only reason exhaustion was gripping her. Sweat was beading on her forehead; as she roared in pain, the cloth covering her right front hoof exploded into shreds. Rather than a hoof, it was the large muscular paw of a white tiger that landed on the soft ground, sharp claws digging into the earth.
“No …” said Zizanie, tightly closing her mismatched eyes in concentration. “I’m a pony, I’m a pony, I’m a pony. I am a pony!”
When she opened them again, two sky-blue eyes stared at a naked hoof.
“Thank you again, Windowpane,” said Trixie as she escorted the earth pony stallion back to the door.
“Anytime, Trixie! I’m always ready to do emergency repairs for my best customer,” replied the stallion.
The unicorn waved to the stallion as he hitched himself back to his wagon full of panes of glass. How did she wind up on a first name basis with the window repair guy anyway? Sadly, this was not the most profound mystery of the day. All of the mysterious unicorn’s belongings had mysteriously disappeared by the time Trixie had calmed down from the frightening experience of losing her horn. There was not a speck of dust left at the apartment. The Moondancer identity had also been a dead end. The real Moondancer had perished in a tragic train accident a few months back. Trixie had hoped to catch the unicorn contacting someone that would lead to her employer, but apparently she had instead used some impressive magical means to keep in touch. At least it narrowed it down to only the unicorn families present at the Night Court. Trixie couldn’t recall exactly how many there were that potentially had access to such enchanted items; somewhere around twelve, or, in other words, too many.
There was nothing left for Trixie to do but hire another assistant. She did not look forward to it. When the first knock came at her door, she dreaded opening it, but went anyway.
“Pinkie Pie,” she said, not surprised in the least. “I should thank you for your indirect help.”
“Thank you, Miss Lulamoon!” replied Pinkie, making Trixie cringe at the use of her last name. “I’m not sure what I did, but does that mean I get the job?”
Trixie sighed. “Pinkie Pie, why do you even want this job? You already work at Sugarcube Corner!”
Pinkie Pie’s eyes grew in size, and she gasped as if a grand universal truth had been revealed to her.
“By Luna’s beard, Miss Lulamoon! You’re right! I have so much fun at Sugarcube Corner I forgot it was a job! Wow! I have a great job! Forget the assistant thing … See you later, Miss Lulamoon! Time’s a wasting, and I gotta get a-baking!” And with that, the pink pony ran off. Trixie had to chuckle at the display as she closed the door again.
It didn’t take long for another knock to come. She went to open the door and found a dark blue unicorn stallion with a pale, almost white, blue-grey mane. His horn looked incredibly sharp.
“Greetings! I saw your ad in town and wondered if the position was still available?” asked the stallion.
“It is; please, come in, mister …” began Trixie, stepping aside to let the unicorn come in.
“Pokey Pierce, but everypony in town just calls me Pokey.”
Trixie looked at his cutie mark, an opened safety pin decorated with a heart. “A safety pin? Are you some sort of baby safety inspector?”
He chuckled. “Not really, no. You see, my special talent is the ability to pierce anything with my horn! I am constantly looking for new challenges, perfecting my sharpening spell, and I won’t stop until I’ve pierced the heavens themselves! Rocks are already beginning to be too easy for me.”
“That’s certainly a grandiose dream,” continued the mare as she sat down. “I suppose it doesn’t pay the bills much, right?”
Pokey smiled. “That much is obvious. I actually took classes in administration in Fillydelphia and came back to my hometown recently. I just finished a short apprenticeship program at Rich’s store, but the retail environment just isn’t my forte.”
Trixie pondered for a few seconds. “Well, that sounds good. It recently has come to my attention that I might not be … the perfect boss. Would you be willing to put up with the ungrateful job of being my assistant?”
“Ah yes, everypony in town tells me you’re a jerk nobody wants to be friends with,” said Pokey, smiling as she flinched at that, “but I can put up with it. I think Filthy Rich was a pretty pompous boss, but I didn’t let that bother me. If you become too much, I’ll be ready to bring you back down with a … piercing remark.”
Trixie groaned, “Just for that horrible pun, I have half a mind not to hire you!”
“And the other half?”
“The other half is telling me that you start tomorrow,” said Trixie, reaching to shake his hoof.
Cue end credits!