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8w, 3dSecret Project 'Firefly: Whole New Verse' released and Cover Image for 'The Dresden Fillies: Great Power'!35 comments · 740 views
15w, 5dAMA and a Request.31 comments · 537 views
Hello, it's your friendly neighborhood psychicscubadiver.
Work has kept me busy here for a while, but despite a few setbacks I've managed to get a bit in the way of writing down. Still, nothing's quite ready for publishing and I don't like leaving y'all hanging for too long. An AMA seemed like a fun way to interact and satisfy any of the burning questions you have. Just leave a question or two in the comments and I'll answer. My answer may consist of nothing more than a Cheshire grin and 'I'm not telling you' if would spoiler Great Power, but that alone should tell you when you're onto something.
Oh, and the request is for a bit of help. I've been looking for a story image for one of the new stories I'm writing and can't seem to find what I want. I'd like a human or anthropomorphic member of the Mane six dressed in a Victorian outfit. If any of you have seen such a thing I'd love to request permission from the artist to use it as a story image.
Edit: The replies to questions are in the comment section. Also, I will continue to accept questions so long as people ask them.
12 comments · 419 views
Eyup. One of the reasons I made the Dresden Fillies: Extra Stuff was because I had more odd story ideas for the Dresden Fillies than just the original three. Ditzy Dream is an alternative perspective on some of the the events in False Masks and an alternate perspective on 'Blackstone', himself. There will probably be more chapters added to Extra Stuff here and there though they'll appear semi-randomly whenever I have an idea and the time to write it.
For anyone concerned about the final chapter of False Masks, don't worry. It's still on track, I just took an afternoon off to write Ditzy Dream.
Now, on to the future plans. Both the final chapter and epilogue of False Masks should be done before the end of May. After that I will take a short break for writing Dresden Fillies and focus on a couple of stories I've been wanting to do. They're both novella length so hopefully I can finish both of them by the end of the summer. Then with that done I'll focus on 'Great Power' the end of the Dresden Fillies trilogy. After that's done... well, that will be a while. In any case I've got plenty more story ideas. So one way or another, I'll be writing.
29w, 7hJust a quick update22 comments · 479 views
I'm putting the finishing touches on the newest chapter of Dresden Fillies: False Masks and it should be up within a week or so. After will be two more chapters, which I hope to finish before the end of April and an epilogue to finish the story and set the stage for the end of the trilogy, The Dresden Fillies: Great Power.
Thanks again for all the support.
38w, 2dThe Dresden Fillies: Extra Stuff5 comments · 532 views
Someone suggested that I remove 'Present Chapter' from False Masks and post it as it's own story as it disrupts the flow of the regular story. I agreed, but posting it all on it's own seemed excessive. However, that got me to thinking. As I not only have 'Present Chapter', or 'Holiday Present' as it is now called, but other one-off bits of Dresden related distractions that I have written when bored, this seemed to be the perfect place/time to combine them. They're all non-canon, though some have wished certain ones to be otherwise. The current roster sits at three, though depending upon whims and boredom more chapters may be added later. The ones we have now are:
'Holiday Present': In which Harry Dresden becomes the Seventh Element, defeats Nightmare Chrysalisombra, proposes to Twilight and the reader discovers who has been writing bad fanfiction about our favorite wizard. This was originally published as 'Present Chapter' on Christmas Day 2013.
'Foolish Mistake': In which Twilight overhears something she'd really rather not, and someone discovers why she is not to be trifled with. This was originally added to a blog post as an unnamed bonus scene a bit more than a year ago.
'Kindred Spirits': Mac runs the best tavern in Chicago. Come autumn, he gets his usual shipment of cider from an unusual supplier. Brand new to this anthology, this story has been sat around in 'My Documents' without a place to put it for too long.
Happy Reading, I hope y'all enjoy them.
Written by: Psychicscubadiver
Edited by: frieD195 and Tanaki Wolf
Disclaimer: Hasbro owns My Little Pony. I do not ... yet. This fanfic is intended for comedic purposes only and other uses may result in injury. Any resemblance of these characters to real people, living or dead, is entirely on purpose. Please don't sue me, thank you.
“I don’t know, but I’ve been told.”
“I don’t know, but I’ve been told.”
“Eskimo ponies are mighty cold.”
“Eskimo ponies are mighty cold.”
“They are cute.”
“They are cute.”
“Cute to me.”
“Cute to me.”
“Cute to you.”
“Cute to you.”
“I don’t know, but I’ve been told.”
“Uh, hey Twilight?”
Twilight stopped reading, setting her latest book next to her breakfast plate and long empty tea mug. Spike sounded worried.
“What is it?”
The small dragon stared out the window, transfixed by whatever he was watching. “You’ll have to see it to believe it, but there’s a group of … creatures on the front lawn.”
Puzzled, Twilight looked out the window. It was a good thing she’d finished her tea or she would have sprayed a mouthful over her number one assistant. She was silent for a long moment before finally gathering her wits enough to ask a hopeful question.
“Spike? Did you put something in my tea?”
Twilight sighed. “I was afraid of that.”
Her yard was full of tall, vaguely ape-like creatures arranged in a five-by-five square formation. They stood on only their hind legs, all in the same posture with their forelimbs tucked behind their backs. Their clothing was almost identical, pants of some rough blue material and shirts the same purple as her coat. A pile of large, mottled green packs, filled with Celestia knew what, rested next to them. Twilight stared at them in wonder; she wouldn’t have thought anything could be fully bipedal without a tail to balance it.
By all rights the creatures should have been falling over left and right, but they held their poses without any sort of tremor, waiting for something. The way they stared at the library made it painfully obvious who they were waiting for. A small crowd of ponies had begun to gather, watching the strange creatures and whispering to each other. The ponies occasionally shouted questions or greetings to the creatures, but no responses were given.
Twilight watched both crowds thoughtfully before speaking again. “I don’t suppose I could just flip the sign to ‘Closed’ and ignore them, could I?”
“Twilight!” Spike glared at her.
“Why not?” she asked, gesturing to the strange creatures waiting for her. “Ponyville goes through a different crisis every other week. Can’t I sit one out for once?”
Spike shrugged. “Only if you want to see how patient those creatures are, and I don’t think standing around for hours improves anypony’s temper.”
Twilight sighed. “You’re right. I just wish you weren’t.” She trotted over to the door of library, her magic wrenching it open.
“Let’s get this over with,” she muttered under her breath. Twilight stepped outside, instantly becoming the center of the creatures’ attention. All of them watched her intently, and she couldn’t help but wonder how similar their facial expressions were to ponies. Every one of them looked like a filly on Hearth’s Warming Eve. Some hid their excitement better than their peers, but Twilight was getting the same vibe of barely repressed joy from the whole group.
This was weirder than she had expected. They watched her, waiting for something. She wanted nothing more than to go back inside, but with a sigh, which seemed to be a theme for the morning, she addressed them.
“Hello. Who and what are you? Please identify yourselves.” Then she had a horrifying thought. “Um… you wouldn’t happen to speak our language, would you?” Wouldn’t that be just her luck if they didn’t? Fortunately, the creatures were better prepared than that.
The individual in the center of the front row stepped forward. While she knew she was assuming, Twilight believed the creature to be male, an opinion reinforced by its deep voice.
“Hello. To answer your questions in order: we are the Brony International Guard, our species is human, and yes, we can speak your language.”
This announcement was met by absolute silence. Until a triumphant voice in the crowd broke it. “Aha! Told you they were real, Bon-bon! Who’s the crazy pony now?”
I’m about to be. Twilight thought grimly. But this wasn’t the time for negativity. She needed to consider her next question carefully. These creatures were obviously well prepared, and well organized. They also seemed to have more than a few screws loose given the way they were eyeing her. It would take careful diplomacy to navigate these waters.
Twilight cleared her throat. “Ahem. Do you mind if I ask why you have come to Equestria?”
The leader’s face brightened even more, and he broke into an open smile. “Not at all. I was hoping we’d get to that soon.” He paused for a moment. “You see, all humans devote themselves to something they admire. It can be a nation, a set of ideals, another human, or even just themselves. The point is that every person finds something they love and does their best to spend their life in service to it. We’ve heard many stories of you, stories of your wisdom, magic and courage.” He fell to one knee, his head bowed, with a fist planted on the ground. In a motion so smooth it had to have been practiced, all of the other creatures did the same.
The leader continued speaking from his kneeling position. “Thus, we have chosen to devote ourselves to you, Twilight Sparkle. Will you accept our service?”
“You what?!” Twilight could not − would not – believe what she was hearing. The world began to fade into blackness, and Twilight realized she was hyperventilating. Through the disorientation she could vaguely hear two voices from the kneeling mob of humans.
“Reaction scenario fifteen. Told ya,” one voice said.
“Yeah, yeah,” a slightly deeper voice replied. “We’ll see, Mark. It’s not over until the fat pony sings.”
Through sheer force of will Twilight composed herself and slowly the world regained focus. The humans were still kneeling but their faces had turned up, and they were watching her with concern.
Eventually she got her mind together enough to speak. There were plenty of good questions Twilight could have asked. How did you hear those stories? is a good one, or maybe What would this devotion and service entail exactly? Unfortunately, she wouldn’t think of those until later, so for now she merely blurted out what first came to mind. “Why me?”
The leader opened his mouth to speak, but another voice interrupted him. “Because we really like your mane!” And the humans just lost it, laughing so hard, some of them actually fell over.
These creatures are insane, Twilight thought, panicking. I’ve got to get some help.
“Well,” she said, pretending to consider their offer. “That’s a big decision. Do you mind if I think about it for a while?”
The leader had recovered, though his face was still flushed with laughter. “Of course,” he said, bowing his head again. “Take as long as you need.”
“Thanks,” she returned sarcastically. Then with a short flash of light she vanished. The humans all began murmuring at that, some worriedly others excitedly. Spike came out from the library, curious about the creatures Twilight had confronted.
He stared at the humans as they stood up and began to mill amongst themselves, breaking formation. The leader noticed Spike and walked over to him, giving a small bow. “Hello, Spike. It’s an honor to meet you.”
The other humans took notice, and Spike soon had a line of creatures waiting for an introduction. “Wow,” he said after the third or fourth handshake, “you guys are great! Why’d Twilight run off?”
The leader pondered the question. “We offered to serve and obey her for the rest of our lives. She panicked slightly and asked for some time to decide. She probably just wants to talk to the rest of the mane six.” He paused. “If so, she’s in for a surprise.”
“Then you all want to be Twilight’s assistants?” Spike’s eyes narrowed. Owlowiscious had been bad enough, he wasn’t going to put up with all these weirdoes as competition.
“No, more like a cross between the Royal guard and servants. People who protect her and perform whatever tasks are beneath her.”
Spike thought about that for a moment. “So, since I’m her number one assistant,” he began, bringing a smile to all of the humans within earshot, “would you all have to listen to me?”
The group looked towards their leader, and he considered the question carefully. “Yes, but only within reason.”
Spike rubbed his claws together grinning widely. “Excellent.”
Meanwhile Twilight moved at a steady trot toward Sugarcube Corner. These creatures are crazy, and if anypony knows crazy, it’s Pinkie Pie. While that wasn’t something she’d ever tell her friend, it was true nonetheless. I’m sure she’ll know what to do. Maybe she can talk them into leaving me alone. Or, failing that, just lead them out of town the same way she did the parasprites.
In reality, there was no way of predicting just what Pinkie would do, a fact that asserted itself forcefully as she rounded the corner and came within sight of her goal. Pinkie was lounging on a crude, but large, throne assembled out of crates, boxes and other odd items. She sat with a proud and regal expression, slowly stroking the gator next to her. In and of itself that sight wasn’t too odd; she was Pinkie Pie after all. However, the long line of humans, each holding a pastry laden tray, was definitely outside the norm. Another crowd of ponies, this one smaller than the bunch at the library, had gathered to watch. The humans were similar to the group she’d left behind, but instead of purple shirts this group was wearing a shade of bright pink that matched Pinkie’s coat. Twilight was beginning to sense a pattern.
“Another pastry!” Pinkie demanded imperiously. The next human in line approached the throne, kneeling. The female, as far as Twilight could tell at least, offered her a tray on which a single slice of pie sat. Pinkie eyed the treat thoughtfully before actually picking it up and taking a single bite.
“Mmmmm,” she said, devouring the rest of the treat in the blink of an eye. “That was delicious.” The human started to smile, but her expression was cut short by Pinkie’s next statement. “But unfortunately you used a pinch too much cinnamon. Guards!” A pair of humans Twilight hadn’t noticed before stepped out from behind the throne. They watched Pinkie, waiting for an order. She didn’t disappoint. “Tickle her!”
“Yes, your highness,” they replied in stereo. The hoots and laughter from the tickling began to draw an even bigger crowd of ponies to the spectacle.
“Let that be a lesson to you,” Pinkie said to her line of supplicants. “Only the best will satisfy the Queen of Sweets.”
“Yes o’ sugary one!” they shouted in return. Most of the humans tried to hide their smiles, but a few laughed outright.
“Pinkie?!” Twilight yelled. What is wrong her? Did power really go to her head that quickly?
But as Pinkie saw Twilight her face brightened, losing its haughty expression. “Hey, Twilight! We’re playing a game! Do you want to join in? You could be the royal magician protecting the Queen of Sweets from the terrible machinations of tooth decay and other villains. Oh! Where are my manners? Everyhuman pay attention!” she yelled to her followers, as though they’d been doing anything else. “This is my bestest friend ever, Twilight Sparkle! Twilight, this is the Pinkie division of the B.I.G. which spells ‘big’ which is funny because they are big!” The gathered humans waited until Pinkie was done rambling, then bowed to Twilight.
One of the guards approached Twilight and gave another short bow. “Hello, Twilight. I’m division leader Rick. Nice to meet you.”
Twilight nodded in reply then turned her attention back to Pinkie. “What are you doing? Did they ask to serve you, too?”
Pinkie gasped. “Wow, that’s right! I was baking when Mrs. Cake called for me. She sounded really worried, but it was just Rick. He wanted to know if the B.I.G. could swear life-long devotion to me and I said ‘sure, okay’ and now we’re all friends and I’m going to throw a huge party for all the humans next Saturday!”
Twilight just blinked. “Pinkie, you couldn’t organize a party for fifty ponies that soon, much less fifty creatures you just met today.”
Rick cleared his throat noisily. Twilight turned to face him. “It’s actually two-hundred fifty.” Twilight was speechless. “Less if the non-Ponyville divisions don’t come.”
“Oooo. That many? We’d better get cracking then!” She turned to face her crowd of followers. “Does anyhuman want to help me plan a party?” The hand of every human present shot into the air. Pinkie giggled. “Then follow me!” She bounced back into Sugarcube corner, abandoning her throne. The humans obeyed, streaming into the bakery, and Twilight wondered how Mr. and Mrs. Cake were reacting to that. But she didn’t have time to ponder, she needed more information.
“Rick, would you mind answering some questions for me?”
The human paused, shooting a longing glance at the rest of his group before smoothing his expression and facing Twilight.
“Yeah, sure. What would you like to know?”
Twilight thought. She had so many questions. “How did all of you come to be here?”
“Well, all humans devote themselves to something−”
“I’ve already heard that speech,” Twilight interrupted. “I want to know how you learned about us and our language when we've never even heard of creatures like you before.”
“Oh,” Rick said, his eyes widening in understanding. He thought for a moment. “The answer’s pretty complicated. Do you mind if I give you the short version?”
Twilight motioned for him to continue. Anything was better than nothing.
“Where we’re from, storytelling is an art form. How the people who tell your stories discovered them we don’t know, but we believed Equestria wasn’t a work of fiction. So, we made traveling here our goal. Everyone said we were crazy, but through ingenuity and obsessive dedication we finally got here.”
Twilight’s mind boggled. “You mean we have hundreds of human fans? Individuals we never even knew existed have been listening to our adventures and looking up to us?”
The human chuckled. “Try hundreds of thousands of fans, but few of them are as dedicated as us.” Twilight’s mouth almost hit the ground. Rick shrugged. “There’s a lot of humans, but even then your popularity was surprising.”
Hundreds of thousands. Despite Twilight’s knowledge of mathematics that was a difficult number to grasp when applied to something like living beings. She’d almost come to terms with the impossibility of the situation, when her train of thought was derailed.
“Hurry up, Rick!” Pinkie called popping her head out of one of the bakery’s windows. “We can’t start without you.”
“Coming!” the human called back. He turned to go, but Twilight put a hoof on his arm, making him pause.
“But I’ve still got dozens of questions!” Twilight exclaimed.
Rick shook his head. “Pinkie needs me, but your division leader would be more than happy to help.”
“I’m kind of trying to avoid him.”
Rick frowned. “Then try Jason. He’s the division leader over at Sweet Apple Acres.” He turned, hurrying back to his sugary sovereign. Twilight thought she heard the human mutter something about ‘scenario fifteen’, but it was too faint to be certain.
Going to see Applejack was a good idea though. If there was anypony with a solid head on her shoulders it was the practical farmpony. Twilight had no doubt her advice would come in handy. Besides, Division leader Jason was the only lead she had, and her questions weren’t answering themselves.
So she began the trek towards her friend’s farm, hoping somepony could make sense out of all this mess.
Spike crossed his fingers as the human read over his list. He finished with a nod. “I think we could handle this.”
“Yesssss!” Spike cheered.
“Except for one task on the list,” he said.
Spike stopped mid-victory dance and frowned. “Which one?”
The division leader checked the list again. “Item number thirty-four.”
“Refresh my memory.”
“We will not, and I quote, ‘Help you get your groove on with Rarity’.”
Spike was crestfallen. “But that’s the most important one!”
Okay. If I cut through the meadows, instead of taking the path, I think I can reduce travel time by five and a half minutes. Twilight calculated as she left Ponyville. She didn’t really need the time, she knew, but she was in a hurry to see her friend. Besides it was lovely day to take a trot through the meadows. The weather was warm with a soft breeze blowing. The flowers were in bloom, filling the air with their sweet perfume. The birds were chirping, the bees were buzzing, the humans were shouting−
Twilight crested a small hill and she discovered she had correctly identified the strange noise. It was another crowd of humans in the meadow below, these ones wearing light blue shirts. Twilight could guess who they belonged to even before she saw Dash hovering over them.
“Okay, we’ll try it once more,” the blue pegasus said to her fans. “I’ll do the Super Speed Strut, but you guys have got to get the timing right on the special effects.”
“Sure thing, Boss,” chimed a trio of humans wearing heavy gloves and metalworking goggles.
“And I want to see some real pep in the routine, girls. I want to hear you from six hundred feet up!”
“You got it, Dash!” cheered four humans. Their small, revealing shirts made Twilight confident they were females. The upper abdomen was an odd place for udders, but Twilight didn’t know what else those could be.
Dash took off, rocketing into the sky and preparing her trick. The trio in goggles threw themselves into their work, adjusting and re-positioning a lot of equipment on the ground. While they were working, Twilight got to see the routine Dash had been referring to.
The four girls lined up and began to cheer, swinging rainbow colored pom-poms in time to their words. “One, two, three, four! Who’s the pony we adore?”
“Rainbow Dash! Rainbow Dash! Rainbow, Rainbow, Rainbow Dash!” The rest of the crowd roared in response. Twilight’s ears folded down and she fought the urge to cover them with her hooves. If Dash can’t hear them, she’s deaf. But they weren’t done yet.
“Five, six, seven eight! All her tricks are so first-rate!”
“Rainbow Dash! Rainbow Dash! Rainbow, Rainbow, Rainbow Dash!”
“The fastest flyer there’s ever been! Tell us who it is again!”
“Rainbow Dash! Rainbow Dash! Rainbow, Rainbow, Rainbow Dash!”
“The girl who knows just where it’s at! Clears the sky in ten seconds flat!”
“Rainbow Dash! Rainbow Dash! Rainbow, Rainbow, Rainbow Dash!”
The cheering girls dropped their pom-poms and gave Twilight an impressive display of agility and balance. After a running start they flipped multiple times, their hands letting them spring back to an upright position. Then three of them picked up the fourth and flung her high into the air, demonstrating excellent strength and coordination. Twilight gasped as the human flipped and spun, but the three below safely caught her at the last moment. The crowd erupted into more cheers, and now that her audience was thoroughly prepped Dash made her entrance.
Twilight had seen this trick before, but never like this. Every time one of Dash’s hooves touched the ground a burst of fireworks would explode nearby leaving a glimmering trail as she zipped across the meadow. At the very front of the crowd, she braked, pulling off a seemingly impossible stop. Dash struck a proud pose wings fanned outward as flames in all colors of the rainbow erupted behind her. Twilight thought she had heard the loudest the humans could offer, but it turned out she was wrong. The noise they were making now was somewhere between deafening and ‘Dear Celestia, my ears are bleeding!’.
Dash nodded happily, preening in front of her latest fans. “Not bad, everypony. We’ll take a ten minute break then start looking for a volunteer for the new Buccaneer Blaze. Whoever we get, try to make sure it’s somepony sturdy.”
You know what? Twilight thought. Maybe, the main path would be a better choice after all.
“Get back, hell beast!” the human screamed at the monster before him. The horrible gelatinous blob hissed as the humans darted closer forward, hemming it in. How the thing hissed in the absence of a throat, vocal cords or even a recognizable mouth was a question no brony felt interested in discovering.
The thing reared back and spat pieces of itself at the advancing humans. The division leader ducked and the projectile went flying over his head. A muffled thump told him not everyone was so lucky.
“It got Martin! He’s out cold,” shouted a panicked voice to his left.
“Then pick up his taser and hold the line, damnit!” He bellowed back. “We’ve got to force it back through the portal!” Diving forward he managed to touch the creature with his stun gun. The horrid screech was just as strange as its earlier hiss, but at least it retreated further.
Spike sat on the stairs, sulking because the humans wouldn’t let him help. “You know,” he told the embattled humans crossly, “there’s a reason I said not to mess with anything in Twilight’s lab.”
Twilight stopped just outside the gate of Sweet Apple Acres, breathing heavily. She wasn’t used to making this journey at a trot. I really need to get in shape, she thought. Working as a librarian was rewarding but rarely did it give an opportunity for exercise.
“Hey, Twilight. Can we help you?”
It was another pair of humans, these ones wearing orange shirts. They were carrying various tools and a few pieces of lumber. One crouched to address Twilight face to face, while the bigger of the two set about examining the old gate.
Twilight slowed her panting. “No thank you. I’m just a little winded.” Then she eyed the pair of creatures. “Let me guess. You two are sworn to Applejack.”
They nodded, and the shorter one spoke again. “Yep, and she asked us to fix the gate, so it doesn’t stick anymore.”
Twilight sighed. This wasn’t any easier to face the third time. Am I the only one of us who didn’t say yes? She wondered. Her pessimistic side said ‘yes’. Her optimistic side … wasn’t saying anything at all. “Could you tell me where Applejack is?”
“Sure. She was in the South fields, but I think she’d be at the farmhouse by now. Lunch isn’t too far away,” replied the same human. The bigger one just nodded again as he started working on the gate.
Twilight’s stomach rumbled at the mention of lunch, and she decided the farmhouse was definitely the place to check first. “Thanks,” she said as she began to trot away.
The two took one last look at the retreating unicorn, and the larger human held out his hand, eyeing his shorter companion. His friend gave a sharp glare in response. “Yeah, yeah. I’ll pay up later, you conniving bastard.” He sighed. “I can’t believe she went with reaction fifteen.”
Twilight, unaware of the money riding on her, continued deeper onto the farm and found Granny Smith and Applebloom setting up a veritable feast on a long trestle table. Twilight’s stomach rumbled louder, catching the attention of a certain filly.
“Well howdy, Twilight. What brings you to Sweet Apple Acres?”
“I was hoping to talk to Applejack about Ponyville’s newest … guests.”
“You mean the who-mans? Well shucks, they’re great! They’ve been helping out here on the farm since early morning. They were kinda scary at first, but they’re real nice once you get to know’em.”
Twilight eyed the younger pony. Nice wasn’t the word she would have used to describe them, but there was no sense starting an argument. “So they came here early this morning? How early? And did they ask Applejack for anything?”
The filly pondered the question. “I dunno, they were waiting fer us outside the farmhouse when I woke up. It scared Granny something awful, but Applejack and Mac went outside and had a talk with’em. Applejack says they’re nuttier than a pecan tree, but since they wanted to help out she ain’t gonna stop’em.”
“Y’all talking about me?” Twilight turned around to see Applejack leading a large group of humans to the long, heavily laden table. The cowpony smiled at the sight of her friend. “You wanna join us fer lunch, Twi?”
“I wouldn’t want to be a bother-” she began, but a rumble from her stomach interrupted her.
Applejack laughed as her friend blushed. “Don’t you worry none, another mouth ain’t gonna make much difference.” She turned towards the sweaty bunch of humans and gestured to Twilight. “This here’s my friend, Twilight, and she’ll be joinin’ us fer lunch. All y’all say howdy to her, then get yourselves washed up.” She pointed to a low trough filled with water at the side of the barn and trotted that way herself.
The humans bowed to Twilight then followed Applejack. They’re as bad as the Royal Guards, she thought. You’d think they were serving a Princess instead of a farmer and student. Big Mac and a few more humans trickled in while the first group was still washing. The line vanished as the red farmpony approached, the humans insisting that Big Mac go first.
Twilight shook her head and walked over to where Applejack was talking to her younger sister. “And make sure you set some aside fer the two working on the gate. Oh hey, Twilight. You wanted to talk about somethin’?”
Twilight nodded. “Yes, I do.” She hesitated for a moment, but took the plunge. “Did you really agree to let them follow you? I mean I can understand Pinkie, and even Dash, doing it, but you’re one of the most sensible ponies I know, Applejack. How could you when we don’t know anything about these creatures?”
Applejack’s face set into stubborn lines, and Twilight was afraid she’d said too much. But the farmpony just sighed, and readjusted her hat. “I can see where you’re coming from Twi, but the farm could use the help. They’re offerin’ free labor and they’ve all got some skills that are useful. We could finally get Big Mac a better plow or Granny Smith a new hip. Hay, I’m plannin’ on loaning out some of ’em to my cousins once Applebucking season starts. Besides I looked each of them in the eye and asked if they were being honest ‘bout helpin’ us out. Every last one was as sincere as they come. Sure they’re weird, but I ain’t gonna turn’em away.”
“No buts,” Applejack interrupted and this time she really was set. Twilight wanted to argue further, but she could see it would be a waste of time. Applejack had decided, and as far as the farmer was concerned that was that. Twilight sighed; she could still talk to the division leader at least.
Applejack turned to yell at the milling group of humans. “Come an’ get it, y’all!”
Twilight called as well as the humans began to move towards the table. “Is there a Jason here? Rick said to talk to you.” One human, noticeably thinner than the rest, separated himself from the group.
He bowed to her and spoke, “Hello, Miss Twilight. I’m Jason, what do you need?”
Twilight nodded and gave him a smile. “I’ve got some questions that I need you to answer. Could you stand next to me at lunch?” There were a couple adjacent places left empty next to Applejack. More deference to their ‘superiors’ I suppose. It annoyed her, but right now, she had more important things to focus on.
The two helped themselves to some of the pastries Granny Smith had made and the human sat down, putting him at Twilight’s eye level. “Jason, could you tell me more about your species?” Twilight asked, munching on her apple turnover.
Jason set down the pastry he’d almost bitten into and responded. “Well, humans are intelligent, bipedal primates. We’re naturally omnivorous and can eat a wide variety of fruits, grains, vegetables, and animals.” He grinned showing off a pair of small canines. Twilight gave him a disgusted look and he laughed. “But everyone here agreed to become vegetarian.” Placated, Twilight took another bite of her lunch and motioned for him to continue.
“We can’t do magic, but our hands, especially our opposable thumbs, let us manipulate tools and objects with precision. We’re an inventive and adaptive race, and can live in almost any climate. Modern humans are mostly peaceful, but we can be aggressive when provoked.” He finished and reached for his lunch, but Twilight shot another question before he could touch it.
“What about the Brony International Guard? What’s a brony, how is it international, and why is it a guard?”
Jason sighed. “A brony is just a term for a pony fan. Most bronies are young men like me, but there are some girls and older adults as well. As to the international part, most of us are from America, but there’s a few Brits and Canucks mixed in.” He shrugged, a gesture interestingly similar to a pony’s. “But mostly we called it that because we liked the acronym. And we’re a guard because we didn’t want to overwhelm Ponyville with a chaotic mass of bronies.”
Twilight frowned curiously. “What do you mean by that?”
“Well,” Jason continued, “as soon as we discovered we could travel here, we realized that the only way multiple people could come to Equestria was if we organized ourselves. Otherwise you’d have a flood of people without a leader, plan, or means of self-support severely disrupting everything. Besides, you and your friends face a lot of dangerous creatures so you could certainly use a guard.”
Twilight raised both eyebrows and gave Jason a look that managed to perfectly convey the thought, and I’m certain your help will be invaluable, complete with sarcastic tone.
Jason laughed again. “Not that we don’t think you can’t take care of yourselves, but everybody needs help sometimes. That’s actually our main goal; we want to be useful in everypony’s day-to-day life.” Twilight opened her mouth to ask for info on that, but she was cut off by the sound of yelling from further down the table.
“Yeah? Well, who died and made you Princess?!” One human yelled at another across the table, rising to his feet. The second responded in kind.
“Shut the hay up or I will dropkick you to the freaking moon!” The two growled at each other, and Twilight was afraid they would actually start fighting.
“HEY!” Jason bellowed in a tone of absolute authority, and slowly stood up. Every human stopped in their activity and silence ruled the table. Twilight was surprised at the slim human. She wouldn’t have thought he had it in him.
“Love and tolerate, brony. We’re in Equestria now.” His voice was softer, but still just as stern. The two bickering humans considered that strange remark, and their faces grew shamed. They turned to each other, all traces of their earlier hostility gone.
“I’m sorry I acted like that. Brohoof?” the first one asked, sticking out a fist.
“No, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have been such a jerk. But, yeah. Brohoof,” the second confirmed, bumping his fist with the proffered one. They sat back down and the rest of the humans started a small round of applause.
Jason turned to Applejack. “Sorry about that. It won’t happen again.”
Applejack chuckled. “Shoot, everypony argues sometimes. I’m just glad there ain’t any hard feelings.” Applebloom, though, caught Twilight’s eye and made a corkscrew motion around one temple. Twilight tried not to laugh as Jason settled back into a sitting position.
“Where were we?” he asked.
Twilight thought for a moment levitating another pastry from one of the rapidly dwindling stacks to her plate. She couldn’t remember what she had been about to ask, but another question occurred to her. “Why us, though? I know there are stories about us, but how did that convince all of you to leave behind everything you knew to swear service to us?” Jason opened his mouth to speak, but Twilight wasn’t quite finished. “And I’ve already heard the explanation about humans devoting themselves to what they love.”
Jason’s mouth shut promptly, proving to Twilight that she’d guessed correctly. He chuckled and began speaking. “Okay, I won’t give the standard answer, but the real reason is different for every person. Some of us never fit in back home and just wanted a fresh start, some of us think Equestria is the closest thing to heaven this side of the afterlife, and some of us really do just love ponies so much we want to spend our lives with them. You’ll get a different answer from every brony you ask. We’re united in purpose, but each person has their own story and motivations. I’m afraid I can’t answer for everyone.”
Twilight blinked in surprise at the answer. It was odd to think of the humans as real individuals. Until now they'd just acted like two-dimensional characters, and annoying ones at that. Realizing they actually had depth didn't make her suddenly like them, but it was different to think of the humans as people instead of problems to solve.
Twilight’s thoughtfulness wasn’t lost on Jason, who reached once more for his lunch. He almost had it when she spoke again. “I hadn’t considered that. But I have to ask, what are your reasons?”
He paused and considered, “I see Applejack as a role model. She’s honest, dependable, and dedicated. She stands for what she believes in and always works her hardest.” He grinned widely with a mischievous gleam in his eyes. “I want to be like her when I grow up.”
Twilight laughed, almost choking on her turnover, but paused after a moment, her expression darkening. “That was a joke, right?” If the humans actually got any bigger than they were now, that would be … problematic.
He nodded. “Yes, we’re all fully grown even though we don’t act like it.”
Twilight heaved a sigh of relief. That worry relieved she turned back to her questions. “So what exactly did you mean when you said that the B.I.G. intended to help out in everyday life?”
“We all learned some skills and trades that we thought would be helpful to the ponies we follow. Everyone here has a skill set that’s useful on a farm. Pinkie’s division is mostly bakers. Your team is all scholars, mostly science majors. Dash’s crew is a motley combination of athletic trainers, stuntmen, cheerleaders, pyrotechnic experts and firework makers. Rarity has a bunch of tailors, jewelers and other such. Fluttershy’s followers are mostly vets with some−”
“Fluttershy?!” Twilight shouted. She should have realized it before, but of course there was a group dedicated to the quiet pegasus too. Poor Fluttershy! She’s probably holed up in her cottage, afraid to even step out, Twilight thought. Even I was afraid of them at first and Fluttershy is scared of her own shadow. The unicorn devoured her remaining pastry in scant seconds and rose to leave.
“I’m sorry to eat and run, Applejack, but I need to make sure Fluttershy is all right.”
“That’s alright, sugarcube. Looks like just about everypony’s already done anyhow. You give Fluttershy my best and come back when you can.” The farmer leaned over and drew her friend into a quick hug. “Don’t get your tail in a knot over all these humans. You worry too much sometimes.”
Twilight smiled. “Thanks, Applejack, and thank you, Jason. You were very helpful.”
He smiled, and rose to give a shallow bow. “I aim to please.” Twilight only laughed in response and hurried towards the gate.
Jason watched as the lavender unicorn broke into a canter and vanished behind the rows of apple trees. He sighed softly to himself, but quickly brightened and licked his lips. “And now that there are no more distractions.” The human looked down at his plate to find a yellow filly staring up at him.
“Aw, you ain’t hungry?” Applebloom asked looking at his untouched apple turnover. Before he could say a word, she hit the plate with one hoof neatly flipping the whole pastry into her waiting mouth.
“Too bad,” she said, muffled through all the food in her mouth, “Granny makes a mean turnover. Just ask your friends.” She gestured with one hoof to the empty platters and satisfied humans along the rest of the table. She turned back and frowned quizzically. “Hey, are you okay? Your eyes are watering up something fierce. Did you get dust in ‘em or somethin’?”
Spike wandered into the lab, watching the humans mess around with a bunch of their stuff. He turned to the nearest one.
“Hey … umm what’s your name?”
“Philip,” he answered, “or just Phil for short.”
Spike nodded, at least one of them had a normal name. “So Fill-up, what are you guys doing?”
“Well,” Fill replied, “we’re setting up some experiments and devices from home. I’m working on a device that spins a coil of copper wire surrounded by magnets which−”
“Wait, magnets? How do those work? Hey! Why’s everybody laughing?” Spike glared until the room was quiet, well until the noise was at a manageable level. “Really, how?” Still chuckling, Fill launched into a strange and convoluted explanation that lost Spike after the first three words. “Okay, never mind. Geez, that’s boring. Anything interesting?”
“How about an experiment proving the Microorganism Theory of Disease?”
“The Monty Hall Paradox?”
“More like the Boring Hall Snoozadox.”
Fill shrugged. “We’ve got a baking soda and vinegar volcano we were going to present at Cheerilee’s next science lesson.”
“A what?” Spike gasped. Fill poured some powder and red liquid into a small model of a volcano and within moments bright red lava was bubbling out of the top.
Spike watched, his eyes glimmering, and nodded solemnly. “Now, that’s science.”
“Next chance I get,” Twilight gasped, “I am learning the long distance version of that teleport spell.” At least there hadn’t been any more surprises on the way here. In fact Twilight was pleased to note there weren’t any humans around the outside of Fluttershy’s cottage, just the usual menagerie of animals.
It was good to see that she’d beat them here. She could explain the situation to Fluttershy, and help her deal with the humans when they did show up. Twilight waited until her breathing was back to normal and walked up to the door. She was about to knock when she heard a voice from inside.
Twilight paused, frowning,. That voice didn’t sound like Fluttershy’s. Fearing the worst, Twilight banged on the door. “Fluttershy? Are you home?” There was a nervous squeak that could only be Fluttershy, and the sound of a lot of hurried movement. After almost a minute of listening to that nonsense, Twilight was debating between knocking again and simply breaking the door down. Before she could decide, the door opened a crack, and Fluttershy peered through the narrow opening.
“Oh, h-hello Twilight. Did you need anything?” Fluttershy was acting more timid than usual. Twilight knew something was up in that cottage, but what? Her mind flashed unbidden to some of the worst possibilities. Twilight shook her head, willing away the thought, but all the same it wouldn’t hurt to be sure.
“Fluttershy,” Twilight said, dropping her voice to an almost inaudible level, “blink twice if you aren’t free to speak and need my help.”
“What?” Fluttershy stared at her in confusion. “Why wouldn’t I be able to speak to you? I’m doing it right now.”
Twilight face-hooved and managed not to sigh. Returning to her normal voice she asked plainly, “Can I come inside Fluttershy?”
The yellow pegasus looked over her shoulder quickly and then darted back to Twilight. “Umm … that wouldn’t be a good idea. We could talk outside, if you don’t mind, I mean.”
There was the faint sound of more movement inside. Twilight wasn’t an animal expert but whatever it was sounded a lot bigger than any of her friend’s pets. There weren’t a lot of possibilities for a creature that size and Twilight could guess what it was.
“Fluttershy,” she said, staring at her friend sternly, “are you hiding something from me?”
The shy pegasus eeped softly and mumbled something. Twilight sighed. “Fluttershy, are you hiding a bunch of humans in your living room?”
Fluttershy’s jaw fell open, and she barely managed to speak. “How could you tell?”
Twilight rolled her eyes. “Thus far they’ve shown up at everypony’s I visited. I couldn’t think of anything else it might be.” She paused frowning. “Why did you want to hide them, though? I would have thought you’d want my help.”
Fluttershy blushed and opened the door to let her friend in. “Well, it’s just I thought you might be mad.” She turned to the rest of the room and softly called out. “It’s okay you can all come out now.” Twilight watched in amusement as the humans came out of their impromptu hiding spots. Most of them were painfully obvious like the one beneath the couch or behind the curtains, but some were impressive, like the human who somehow managed to fold herself inside one of Fluttershy’s cabinets.
Once assembled, dressed in the expected yellow shirts, they waited for further direction. Fluttershy coughed delicately. “Do any of you mind making tea for Twilight?” Two humans nodded and disappeared into the kitchen, the taller one bumping his head on the door jamb. “So why did you stop by, Twilight? Is Owlowiscious all right?”
Twilight waved the question away, taking a seat on the sofa. “He’s fine. I came here because I wanted to warn you about the humans in town, but it looks like you’ve already met them.”
Fluttershy smiled and blushed slightly, eliciting a soft ‘d’awwwww’ noise from the humans. Twilight wanted to pursue that tangent, but Fluttershy was already speaking. “Well, it was just one at first and even then I was really nervous, but he had a poor little doggy that needed my help. We worked together for a little bit then he asked me if he could introduce me to his friend. Then we met another of his friends and another. I was really nervous, but I did what Dash said and acted assertive.”
Wearing what she probably thought was a fierce smile, Fluttershy stomped a hoof down to punctuate her statement. The stomp, though, was so light it barely raised a tiny puff of dust. This action was met by the humans with some of the goofiest smiles Twilight had ever seen. Spike had looked less ridiculous when Twilight caught him flexing in front of the mirror.
But Fluttershy had her back to them and was unaware of the melted hearts, and brains in Twilight’s opinion, behind her. “And here’s the best part, Twilight, they want to stay here and help me take care of all the animals in Ponyville. Oh, we’ll be able to help so many more poor bunnies and birdies than I ever could on my own. Isn’t that great?”
Twilight forced a smile, trying to be happy for her friend. “That does sound great, Fluttershy, but how will you afford it? Caring for that many animals couldn’t be cheap.”
“Oh.” Fluttershy’s shoulders slumped, and she stared at the floor. “I hadn’t thought about that.” The pegasus sniffed softly and Twilight had to deal with guilt on one front and the glares of the assembled humans on the other.
The front human cleared his throat and stepped forward. He adjusted his glasses and spoke in a quiet tone. “If I could say something?”
“Of course,” Fluttershy said, then sat bolt upright. “Oh! Where are my manners? I forgot to introduce everypony- er everyone.” She nodded to Twilight. “Twilight, this is Conor, the division leader. Conor, this is Twilight, my friend and Ponyville’s librarian.” Conor gave a small bow and Twilight nodded in response. “Twilight, this is Chris−”
Fluttershy introduced all twenty-five humans as Twilight tried not to yawn. At least her tea had arrived halfway through. She had to admit the blend was very tasty. I wonder if any of my humans can brew like this. Wait, did she just think of them as her humans? You can’t get attached to them; they are not staying. She told herself sternly.
Eventually, Fluttershy finished, and Twilight nodded awkwardly, trying to pretend she’d been paying attention. The pegasus turned to the human still standing beside her. “Sorry I interrupted. What did you want to say?”
He adjusted his glasses again and smiled. “Just that you don’t need to worry about the cost. The B.I.G. has more than enough to pay for all the extra animals. We wouldn’t want to burden anypony.”
“Really?” Fluttershy asked, her eyes widening and a shy smile growing on her face.
“Really, really,” he replied.
Fluttershy smiled widely, giving a small squeak as she did, and clapped her front hooves together in joy. The humans treated Twilight to another round of sappy expressions, and she fought the urge to roll her eyes. Still, she had more questions yet unanswered.
“So where are all of you planning to live? I don’t think there’s anywhere in Ponyville with enough room to house all of you.”
“We’re camped out in some of the fields north of town, but that’s just until we can get some proper barracks built. I think the boss man should be talking to the construction company and giving them the down payment today,” Conor replied.
Fluttershy frowned. “Oh you poor dears. You could stay here. I wouldn’t mind.” A look of temptation washed across the face of every human there.
Conor seemed more tempted than any of them, but he sighed and shook his head. “No thank you. We don’t want to be a burden to anypony, and the weather’s scheduled to be fine.”
Twilight, meanwhile, was busy running figures through her mind. She shook her head, it just wasn’t adding up. Even if the humans supplied their own labor, went with the cheapest materials and made their barracks as spartan as possible, the cost would still be too large to house that many. And it wasn’t like any of them would have paying jobs. Not to mention their offer to provide for all of Fluttershy’s new animals. How the hay did they expect to pay for everything? Puzzled, she put the question to the division leader.
He shrugged. “All the finances are being handled by the Rarity division. I’m afraid you’d have to ask them about it.” Twilight frowned. She had planned on visiting Rarity anyway, but she hated the delay. But that brought another question to mind.
“Just who are all of the divisions sworn to? If there’s twenty-five of you in each and two hundred fifty total there must ten divisions. The Elements of Harmony only account for six of those.”
Conor nodded. “You’re right. We had a lot of choices, but we narrowed it down to just ten ponies. It disappointed some people, but we didn’t want to bring along too many. Like you said, we’ve got divisions devoted to each of the Elements, then we’ve got Trixie’s division−”
“Wait,” Twilight interrupted. “There’s a Trixie division? As in the showmare who called herself the Great and Powerful Trixie?”
“Eeyup,” he replied. “The boss man wanted to head up that one, but we convinced him to stay in Ponyville. Then we’ve got a Derpy Hooves group−”
“Derpy?” Fluttershy squeaked, then blushed. “Oh, sorry. I was just … umm kind of surprised.”
Twilight nodded in agreement. She had thought a group dedicated to Trixie was the most ridiculous thing the humans could have come up with, but this took the cake. It wasn’t that she didn’t like Derpy, but the scatterbrained pegasus needed help looking after her own foal. Imagining her in charge of a quasi-military group of foreign creatures was difficult to say the least.
“Not to be rude, but why her?” Twilight’s eyes narrowed. “If you’re doing it just to be mean, I will remove you from Ponyville.” The way she glared left no doubt that she wasn’t talking about telling the Princess.
Conor gulped audibly and held up his hands in a placating gesture. “No, not at all. We love Derpy, because she reminds us that no matter how bad things seem, or how badly we mess up, you have to stay positive. Nothing seems to go her way, but that never stops her from trying her best.”
Twilight sat back and considered the surprisingly deep answer. “That’s,” she began, “something I’ve never thought about before. I guess she really does deserve her own group of fans.”
“The fact that she’s absolutely adorable every time she derps helps.” Conor grinned and the rest of the humans murmured their agreement.
Twilight sighed. The humans seemed to swing wildly between bizarrely wise and just plain bizarre. “All right I guess I’ll be going then. I just wanted to check in on you, Fluttershy, and everything seems fine.”
“It was my pleasure, Twilight,” Fluttershy answered. “I always enjoy when my friends stop by.”
Twilight hugged her briefly and rose to go. She was about to walk out the door when a nagging thought reminded her that she’d forgotten something. “One last thing before I go. Why were you afraid, I’d be mad if I found out about all of your humans?”
Fluttershy studied her hooves. “Well, one of the humans from Pinkie’s group stopped by to deliver invitations to her party this Saturday. He said it was probably better that they hide if you came by. It was something about…” She turned to another human. “What was it called, Chris?”
“Reaction scenario fifteen.”
Twilight’s expression froze and she softly shut the door. The barrier, however, wasn’t thick enough to stop those inside the cottage from hearing her angry tirade of which the words ‘cryptic’, ‘apes’ and a large amount of cursing were the main components.
“Please, Spike. Just this once? For me?”
Spike hadn’t known what to expect when the human had dragged him into the dark closet, but it wasn’t this. She was insistent though, and Spike was starting to get uncomfortable.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I mean, you’ve got to admit it’s kind of odd.”
“I guess you’re right, I just really… never mind.” She slumped and Spike felt his more chivalrous side rear its head. She wasn’t Rarity, or even a pony, but a gentlecolt didn’t hurt the feeling of any lady.
“I suppose I could.” Her face lit up and even in the darkness Spike could see her smile. “But only if this it’s just this once. Agreed?”
She nodded happily, and he sighed. “Well, let’s do this.” He reached down and grabbed a piece of paper and a quill.
“Dear Princess Celestia,” the human began.
Twilight took her time getting to Rarity’s. She wasn’t in a hurry this time, and truth be told she was still tired from her running earlier.
Carousel Boutique looked the same as always, but at this point, Twilight would have been surprised if it wasn’t full of humans. One knock on the door later and her cynicism was justified. Not that the meeting was entirely without surprise, though.
All of the other humans had worn simple, short-sleeved shirts and rough pants in various shades of blue. While the shirt this human was wearing matched her chosen pony, the similarities ended there. The shirt was a long-sleeved button down and appeared to be made of silk. Instead of pants, the human wore a long skirt of jet black. The whole outfit was completed by a black bow tie and bowler hat. Twilight knew she wasn’t very aware when it came to fashion, but even she could tell this human’s outfit was cut above that of her peers.
“Welcome, Lady Twilight, to Carousel Boutique where every item is chic, unique and magnifique. Are you here to see Lady Rarity?”
“Yes, please.” The human bowed again before holding open the door for her. Twilight fought back a sigh. Of course Rarity’s division would be even more prim and mannerly than any of the others.
The inside of the shop was humming with activity. Three pairs of humans were working on new dresses. Another set were organizing and inspecting an array of fabrics. A close knit group was arguing over a set of designs, two more were sketching, a trio was knitting and gossiping and one lone human was examining and categorizing Rarity’s extensive collection of gems. Instead of the uniformity she found in every other group, no two of these humans were dressed alike. They all wore something white, but that was the only thing that linked them. Every piece of their clothing, though, was immaculate and Twilight suspected Rarity had a hoof in their attire.
“Lady Rarity, Lady Twilight is here to see you,” announced the human who’d lead Twilight in.
“I’ll be down in just a moment, darling.” There followed some rustling, a few moments of silence and Rarity called out again. “Tell me what you think, Twilight. I want your honest opinion.”
Twilight was speechless, a reaction she thought she was past at this point. Rarity looked like an Empress of Ancient Roam. Her toga was ivory white, hemmed in gold, and fit her perfectly. Various pieces of jewelry, all of it done in gold and opal, shone from her throat, horn and hooves. However she was not walking down the stairs in the unbelievable outfit. She was lounging in it on a curtained palanquin being carried by four humans. They were dressed solely in white kilts, the traditional Roaman outfit for servants, and somehow they managed to hold the platform perfectly level as they descended the stairs.
“Well, out with it. How does it look?” Rarity asked, her eyes shining.
Only Twilight’s years of mental discipline allowed her to work past the impossibility of the situation and respond. “Don’t … uh … you think it’s a bit” tasteless “flashy?” Twilight forced a smile trying not to hurt her friend’s feelings.
Rarity, though, just tittered. “Darling, the point of a costume party is to look flashy.” She paused, considering the purple unicorn’s expression. “Didn’t you get your invitation to Pinkie’s party? Maybe she made a mistake sending runners instead of going herself. Though, I imagine planning the event is leaving her short on time.”
Twilight shook her head. “Pinkie’s throwing a costume party for all of the humans in town? I knew she was planning something earlier today, but I didn’t expect her to work that fast.”
“Oh, I know,” Rarity agreed. “But what brings you to my humble shop? I thought you wanted to order a costume but since you didn’t know about the party that can’t be it.”
Twilight nodded. “Actually, I’ve been trying to find out more about the humans, and I was told your division handled their finances. Is the division leader here?”
“That would be me. What do you need?” asked the human carrying the front right of Rarity’s palanquin.
Twilight stared at him. “Um… thanks. I’m Twilight.”
“Nice to meet you,” he said, smiling. “You can call me C−”
“Lady Rarity!” called out one of the humans discussing the designs. “Can we get your input on this? We seem to have hit a snag.”
“Of course. Put me down please, gentlecolts.” She nodded to Twilight. “Maybe after you’re done talking to him we can discuss your costume. I’ve got some ideas that you would look simply fabulous in.” Twilight smiled and nodded, trying to think of something that would excuse her from whatever plans the fashionista was hatching.
“So,” Twilight said, trying to restart the conversation, “I didn’t know Rarity owned a palanquin.”
“She didn’t.” The human told her. “We brought it with us.”
Twilight stared at him in confusion. “Why do you have a palanquin?”
The division leader stared back equally bewildered. “So we can carry around Lady Rarity. Why else would we have one?”
Twilight shook her head. Trying to understand the alien logic humans seemed to use was a lost cause. Instead she needed to get back on track. “Never mind. I wanted to ask how the B.I.G. is paying for everything. Not only would building enough barracks for all of you be costly, but there’s a list of other expenses to account for also.”
The human thought for a moment. “When we first discovered how to get here, we sent a few scouts to be sure we had the right place. They brought back several gems. We sold those and used the funds to bankroll the operation.”
“How much were those gems worth?” Unless they took a lot more than he had made it sound, the numbers still didn’t add up.
“If I’m converting the currency right, then all together they were about two million bits.” He shrugged. “Honestly, a couple of them we had to sell in pieces simply because jewels that size don’t exist where we’re from.”
Twilight nodded numbly. The only thought she could manage was that Rarity would be a billionaire if she ever set up shop trading with whatever land these humans were from. At least, so long as the market held, assuming she had exclusive trade, and−
Twilight shook her head, trying to snap it out of the advanced economic formulas it was trying to run. “So, that’s why your division is in charge of finances. Not only do you have access to gems but also the jewelers to make use of them. It also means that you still have secure contact with your homeland and have kept the source of those gems, and therefore your travels here, a secret. If not, we’d be flooded with humans trying to strike it rich.”
She paused, hardly noticing the wide-eyed stare the human was giving her. “However the same would hold true if ponies realized they could become wealthy that easily. I would suggest that you don’t tell this to anypony else.”
The division leader simply nodded. “Sure thing, Twilight.”
Twilight smiled. “Thanks for the answers, Mister …” with an embarrassing pause, she realized she didn’t know the human’s name.
Picking up the hint he put a hand to his forehead. “Oh, yeah. We got interrupted last time. My name’s Cer−”
“Fifteen! It’s got to be fifteen!” yelled a human from across the room.
The division leader glared at the brief interruption. He turned back to finish introducing himself, but only gave a small, choked sound. It could have been several things that lead to his sudden muteness, but Twilight thought it was probably her expression of pure rage.
Twilight turned from him and stomped over to the human who had just spoken. His back was to her, so while he didn’t see her approach, the rest of his group did. Their growing looks of fear were his first clue that something wasn’t right. He turned around, and Twilight gave him a look that would have shattered glass. Taking in a deep breath, she tried, and failed, to ask calmly, “Just what the hay do you mean by that anyway?!”
The human simply stared, too frightened to look away. “I-I just thought that this fabric would look better. I m-mean number six is nice, but fifteen just fits better…” he gulped audibly. “P-please don’t hurt me.” He would be ashamed to say he whimpered, but there was really no other way to describe how he addressed the angry mage.
Twilight stared at him for a moment more before the embarrassment set in, and she flushed bright red. Rarity had heard the commotion and hurried to her friend’s side. “Are you all right, dear? I hope nopony said anything unkind.” She shot a glare at the human Twilight had frightened, and he flinched.
Twilight just shook her head. “No, I just misunderstood something he said.” She sighed. “I know you wanted to talk Rarity, but I’ve had a really long day. Right now I really just want to go home.”
“If that’s what you want then by all means go on. I’d hate to keep you.” She paused, “Though would you ask one of your humans to return the tools they borrowed? Just whenever they can bring them back is fine.”
They’re not my humans. Twilight thought, but she was too tired to argue. “Okay. Thank you, Rarity. And thank you, division leader.” Twilight still didn’t know his name, but now she found it hard to care. She opened the door and walked out.
“You’re welcome,” called the division leader as she left. “Oh, and my name’s Cereal−”
The slam of the front door cut off the rest of his sentence. Twilight knew she was being rude, but she just wanted to go home, write Princess Celestia a letter and relax with a good book. Maybe when she woke up tomorrow, she’d find it was all a dream and that Equestria wasn’t really being invaded by a bunch of strange apes dedicated to her and her friends.
Her trip back to the library was without incident thankfully, and she didn’t even see the humans hanging around outside. For a brief moment she was at peace with herself. Then she heard voices from within the library, voices that didn’t belong to any pony.
Trying to stay calm, she counted off the ten nearest stars, but astronomy failed to soothe her this time. They were in her library uninvited, doing Celestia knows what. She pulled open the door and stomped in, surprising Spike and the group of humans he was conspiring with. They smiled and moved, blocking her view of whatever they’d been doing. They looked about as innocent as the Cutie Mark Crusaders in the middle of a big mess, and Twilight was instantly suspicious.
“Spike,” she asked. “Why is my library full of strangers? And why are you helping them with whatever they’re doing?”
Spike’s eyes darted side to side, trying to avoid Twilight’s stare. “Well, it is a public library, and you left it open.”
A noise came from downstairs, and Twilight glared at the little dragon harder. “And I suppose my lab is public too?” Spike squirmed, but the division leader came to his defense.
“It’s actually our fault, Twilight. We convinced him to let us in. If you’re going to blame anybody, blame me.”
Twilight transferred her look to the human, and he winced. After a moment she stopped. She was just tired of the whole thing now. “Spike, go to your room. And the rest of you just get out,” she said in a monotone. “Get out and don’t come back.”
Spike gave the leader a sympathetic look and began slowly climbing the stairs. The humans just stared at her in disbelief. Some looked like they were trying not to cry. “B-but,” one began, but his leader cut him off.
“She gave us an order. We will follow it.” His voice was calm, but Twilight could hear the pain he hid. It made her feel guilty, but it was necessary. The group started for the door, a few calling downstairs to their comrades.
Twilight watched as they went, then turned to clean up whatever mess they’d made. She was surprised to see that the library was almost spotless. The floor had been swept and mopped, the unshelved books put away, and every shelf had been dusted. The only thing out of place was a collection of cardboard boxes and other odds and ends in the middle of the floor. Most of the boxes had been painted dull gray and several had dials set into them. Twilight stared for a moment, “What’s all this?”
She hadn’t expected a response, but the division leader overheard. “We were working on your costume for Pinkie’s party. Spike said you liked ‘The Hitchpony’s Guide to the Galaxy’, so we wanted to make you a Marevin outfit.” He smiled. “We thought it would be funny.”
Twilight sat down staring at the thoughtful gift, thinking about the work they’d done and the kindness they’d shown her. And then she thought about the way she’d treated them. Sure, they were strange and annoying, but they had looked shattered when she told them to leave.
“You did all of this for me? Why?”
The human smiled sadly. “Because you taught us the magic of friendship, Twilight. You’ve touched every one of our lives and made them so much better. We’d do anything for you, even if that means leaving.”
Twilight’s face flushed. She’d judged them without even giving them a chance. Hadn’t she criticized all of her friends for doing the same thing to Zecora? They had all gotten along with their humans and seemed as happy as ever. Why hadn’t she?
“Maybe,” she began, working up the nerve to say more, “maybe all of you can stay for now. I’m not saying yes to your offer, but I’m not saying no either. Let’s say my decision is contingent on a trial run, so I’m making an informed decision.” The division leader just stared, hope starting to turn his lips into a smile.
He leaned out the door and called to the rest of the humans. “Boys and girls, we’re back in the herd!” The humans let out a cry of joy that beat even Dash’s cheering section. They flooded back into the library and stood happily at attention.
Twilight sighed, but their enthusiasm was infectious. She couldn’t help smiling. “So, what do we do now?”
The division leader gestured and one human handed him a checklist. “Well,” he began, examining the paper, “We’ve set up some experiments and scientific devices from home in your lab, there’s also all of the books we brought with us to add to the library, we still need to work on your costume, and some of us wanted a chance to examine and measure your magic at work. Of course, if there’s anything you’d rather do, that becomes priority number one.” He showed her the list and Twilight noticed it had an empty place in the top position.
Twilight nodded, impressed by their organizational ability. “I’d love to start looking through the books. I suppose the rest of you can keep working on the costume, but first, can any of you brew good tea?”
Two humans saluted and moved to the kitchen, while the rest gathered around the half-finished costume. Twilight followed the leader downstairs to a towering stack of books they’d put on the lab’s landing. She stared hungrily at the new books, feeling her mouth water. The human was suggesting something, but she hadn’t caught it.
“Sorry, but I didn’t catch that. Or your name now that I think about it.”
He chuckled and picked out a book. “I was saying you should probably start with this one. And as for my name? You can call me Seth.”
Twilight nodded and levitated the book out of his hand. “Nice to meet you.” She turned to go up the stairs and start reading, but a thought struck her. “Say, who do the last two divisions follow?”
Division Leader Jeff sighed moodily. The twenty-four bronies with him were feeling similarly unhappy. The day had started out fine, and even when things took a turn for the worse, they’d remained upbeat.
But now the reality of their situation was sinking in, and nobody knew what to do. He fidgeted, trying to find a more comfortable spot on his rock.
At least Princess Luna had seemed pleased by her division. He could only wish that things had gone so well for his team. Of course, everything had started off fine enough. The Princess was cordial and willing to listen to their story. But damn, she is unforgiving; I mean, it was a slip of the tongue. I just called her Trollestia once. The air was still, dead, and even the most cheerful of the group had fallen silent by now.
He sighed again, staring morosely at the lunar landscape. Yeah, that did not go as planned.
Author's Note: To whomever it may concern, I finally made good on my promise and wrote a sequel, The Brony Guard Unlimited. Thank you all for reading and hope to see you for the next story.