The bar, the place that was a bar, goes drip, drip. Spilled ale drips, drip, drip onto the floor. The soda gun, swinging off the hook, drips, drip, drip into the gutter. The pony that was the bartender, splayed out across the bar, drips, drip, drip onto Bakewell.
All Bakewell had wanted was a quiet drink in his new town. That had been two hours ago. Now, Bakewell whimpers as he cradles his broken leg. He listens to the soft, incoherent moans of Shady Skies, and he prays that the thing that is not a unicorn, the thing that cannot be a unicorn, will not notice him.
The thing that is not a unicorn walks into the place that was a bar, under a thick, dusty coat and a dark leather hat, carrying a musical instrument case. She sits down at the bar, brushes her badly-dyed blue hair from her eyes and places her instrument case, which looks almost like a squashed guitar case with the neck cut off, onto the bar. The patrons give her uneasy glances, and the bartender asks her name. She does not reply. He asks what she plays.
That is a mistake
Bakewell is alive. Shady Skies is alive. The thing is alive, if it can truly be called living. Whiskey the bartender is dead. The Pear twins are dead. Mulekick is dead. The sheriff and his two deputies are dead. Gonzo is dead. Dale is dead. The thing moves towards Shady.
Shady Skies does not move, he can only squirm. He has a hole in his gut, seeping thick blood, and two holes just like it in his hind kneecaps. He can only squirm as the thing that is not a unicorn takes a pool cue and spreads his wings straight out across it, then tapes the wings securely in place with sticky, silver tape. He can only squirm as he is hauled, like a pony on a crucifix, over to the one remaining table in the place that was a bar. Bakewell can see everything. He prays the thing does not notice him.
Their faces change ever so quickly as the thing that is not a unicorn flips open her lyrist's case, and reveals the arsenal inside. Bemusement changes to horror as she levitates two revolvers in the air. Whiskey, the only sober pony, is first to go for his weapon. If he grabs his shotgun, if he is fast enough, he will survive. He is not fast enough.
The thing that is not a unicorn towers over Shady Skies, who can only squirm, and speaks. "I heard a fairy-tale once," she says, not in the voice of a cruel hitman or savage drifter, nor one of the cruel pit-fiend Bakewell knows she must be, but a clean, educated, almost friendly one. It speaks of music lessons, forty hour weeks and perfectly ordinary ambitions.
"I heard a fairy-tale once," she repeats, "About a happy mare who had married a fair stallion and was a successful merchant. She left town on business one day, and whether from jealously or pure spite, another merchant decided she would ruin the happy mare's life. The happy mare returned a month later to find her store looted and burned, her name slandered and her precious lover dead. She could find no justice, for the authorities had been turned through bribes and blackmail, her friends had been turned against her and other merchants would not risk their reputations by associating with her."
Whiskey the barpony does not have to worry about the revolvers; they are not for him, and in three quick flashes the sheriff and his deputies lay dead. His eyes are drawn to the revolvers, all deafening thunder, gleaming under the dull light of the bar. He does not see the bottle shatter in the pale green glow of unicorn magic. Before he even touches the shotgun, the bottle drives into his throat.
The Pear twins have watched action movies, and they flip over a table for cover. Two shots pass straight through it and end them both. Another shot kills Gonzo. Dale draws, but fumbles and takes a bullet in the eye. Mulekick actually gets off a shot, but it goes wide, and takes the shocked Bakewell's chair out from under him. Bakewell's leg folds with a sickening crump. One shot takes out Mulekick's left front leg, and another rips through his neck.
Shady Skies has a chance to draw. He might even have a chance to hit. But he looks into the things face; stares into her eyes. This is a mistake. It earns him two bust kneecaps and a hole in his gut.
Shady continues to squirm and Bakewell continues to pray and the thing that is not a unicorn continues to talk. "The mare quickly found out who plotted her downfall, but she couldn't merely find and kill her. The plotter had razed her life and salted the very ground it was planted on, and she had not done this alone. Everypony involved would have to face punishment." Her horn lights up and levitates three little candies over from her not-a-lyrist's-case; hard toffee sweets in blue and green wrappers. "The mare made a list of everypony involved, of everypony who helped the plotter ruin her life. They would all suffer or die one by one, the plotter saved for last, left to stew from the fear of the inevitable."
Shady can only squirm as the thing that is not a unicorn forces his mouth open, unwraps two of the candies, and shoves them between his back teeth; forcing his mouth wide open. "The guards who took bribes not to investigate. The thugs hired to kill her lover. The mayor, who told them where to find her lover, unarmed and defenceless. The editor, who slandered her. There were so many names on that list, I can barely list them..." She looks up and stares into the distance, a wistful little smile on her face.
"Oh, how could I forget," she says, unwrapping the last candy and levitating it over Shady's open mouth. "The errand-colt who took the blackmail threats from the plotter to the ponies."
She pushes the bon-bon into the back of his mouth, and keeps a hoof on his throat to stop him swallowing. Shady Skies can only squirm as he chokes. He lasts a minute. Bakewell sees everything. Only Bakewell and the thing that is not a unicorn are still alive. He shuts his eyes hard and prays she does not notice him. The thing makes little, clinking noises as she packs away her tools.
Bakewell knows from the steady clop, clop of hooves on the floorboard that his prayers went unanswered; the thing has noticed him. He opens his eyes to see her towering over him with half a pool cue, then his vision goes blank with blinding pain as his broken leg is wrenched terribly. He whimpers and sobs, and prays again that his death will not be drawn out like Shady's.
The thing stands up and the pain fades a little. Bakewell opens his eyes. All the thing had done was put his leg back in place. She was staring at him with a wan smile and tired, golden eyes. "I can't stay, but Doc Sawbones will be 'round here soon. Dodge Junction's a small town. He'll have heard the shots." Unicorn magic ruffles one of her pockets, and she takes out a few hundred-bit notes. "That should cover the bills, and a little more for your night out," she says, dropping the money in Bakewell's lap. With that, she turns to walk out.
Against all logic and survival instincts, Bakewell calls out to her, still reeling from shock. "Who- What are you?"
"I'm Lyra Heartstrings. And I've got a long fuckin' list."