Chapter Fifteen: Trial of Honesty
Again, many thanks to Silver Wrench for co-authoring!
Silver walked into Ponyville, with absolutely no idea of where he was going. He’d never been here before, and had no real idea what was where. The only thing that he could think at that moment was that he needed to find either Twilight, or preferably Phantom and Fluttershy. He probably should have asked Applejack to come with him, but he’d wanted to repay her for her kindness in letting him stay at the farm, and now seemed like the time to do so.
He’d been wandering the streets for a couple of minutes when a thunderous blast of trumpets resounded through the town, reverberating off the walls, and making his ears hurt. It almost sounded like trumpeters announcing arriving royalty. He saw a crowd up ahead of him, on what he guessed was a major street, and moved forward to join them.
A large chariot, pulled by four bat winged pegasi, and carrying a very large purple pony with a flowing black and blue mane landed in the clear spot in the center of town. The ponies on either side of the *street gasped and immediately bowed their heads.
“CITIZENS OF PONYVILLE, WE HAVE DECIDED TO MAKE A VISIT TO YOUR FAIR VILLAGE.” The large pony spoke with such force that ponies close to her were physically pushed back. Silver was impressed, and while he wasn’t too sure about her accent here, on earth, it meant that she was probably royalty.
“Does she have to shout,” A nearby green unicorn asked.
“It’s just the way she is. Even after Twilight helped her out with fitting in last Nightmare Night, she still has that voice when addressing crowds. You should see what it’s like in Canterlot. Princess Luna just has some catching up to do.” Her friend replied.
Silver was just stunned. He had been right that the pony in the chariot was royalty. He sat down on his haunches to wait for the street to clear. He was close enough to the road that he would be able to see when the chariot moved, and luckily for him there was Nopony in front of him. He was taking his time admiring the uniforms of the obvious guard ponies that were just now landing around the chariot.
The one that caught his attention the most was a pale brown Pegasus, with dark brown hair who was almost as tall as the Princess. He had a very intense gaze, and was looking around alertly. It wasn’t hard for Silver to imagine him as a fellow Marine. It was very much the same look that Marines who’d served for years had when on duty. Somehow, it made him feel a little more at home.
Just a moment later, he was reminded of why he’d come into the town in the first place, as he saw Phantom and Fluttershy approaching the Chariot. He was too far away to make out what they were saying, but from Fluttershy’s body language, which wasn’t hard to read at all, she was very uncomfortable with being that close to the Princess. Phantom and the Princess were having a conversation, and it looked like it was a very serious one. The Princess stepped out of the chariot, and motioned for her guards and escort to leave. Only the serious looking one stayed behind
“Have a good day everyone.” The princess smiled as she turned to leave. The difference in her voice was shocking. Silver wouldn’t have believed that it was the same pony speaking if he hadn’t seen her mouth moving. As the little group started to leave, Silver panicked, and began to quickly trot after them. Unfortunately, he didn’t have much experience trotting, and in short order, tripped and knocked down a flower cart that he crashed into on the way down.The group turned to see what the commotion was, and the tall one rushed forward.
“Alright assassin. I’ve got you now, there is no escaping me!” His voice was deep and angry.
“You’ve got the wrong guy!” Silver shouted in panic. Phantom’s ears perked up as he recognized the voice. He ran over
and stepped between Silver and the other pony.
“Lieutenant, I know this pony. He wasn’t trying to kill Luna; he must have tripped, right?” Phantom looked directly at Silver as he finished his statement obviously expecting Silver to agree. Silver did the only thing he was capable of at the moment as he was trying to disentangle himself from one of the cart’s wheels, and nodded.
“Very well,” The Lieutenant said, “and I would appreciate it if in the future, you would refer to Her Majesty as Princess Luna.” Silver swore that he could hear the capital letters.
“Now now Bubbles, relax. He is my son after all.” Princess Luna herself had come over with Fluttershy, and was failing miserably at her obvious attempts to hold in her laughter at the entire situation.
“Your Highness, you know that I hate that name,” Bubbles said sadly. Nopony seemed to pay attention to him.
“You’ll have to forgive Bubbles, but ever since the changeling invasion he’s been worried that a changeling assassin will try and take my place.”
Silver, having now successfully disentangled himself from the cart, and standing on his own hooves, was grateful that the Princess found it all funny. “It’s alright. I’m sure he didn’t mean anything by it.” He turned to Bubbles. “I understand that you were just doing your job.”
“Thank you. At least Somepony gets it.” Bubbles said with a glare at Luna. It was obvious that protecting the Princess was not the easiest thing to do, and her own attitude towards the protection could not have made the job any easier.
“I still feel it’s not necessary, but my sister does and so I tolerate it. Not that your services are not appreciated Bubbles.” Bubbles seemed like he couldn’t make up his mind and kept switching back and forth between looking angry and proud at the same time. “As for you, call me Princess Luna, or just Princess. I can’t stand all the titles. A year ago I would have praised you for it, but I’ve grown past that by now.”
Silver nodded, and turned to Phantom. That’s when a part of the earlier conversation hit him like a ton of bricks. “Wait a minute. She’s your mom?”
Phantom sighed. “Yeah, it’s a really long story.”
Silver didn’t really want to know that right now. He had a bit more pressing mission. Right now he had to find Twilight. “Hey, I’d love to stay and chat but, no offence meant to any of you, but I’ve really got to go see Twilight. The only problem is that I’m not sure where she lives.”
Fluttershy stepped forward and for the first time that day spoke up. “Oh, it’s not far really. It’s the library just at the end of the road.” She pointed him in the right direction and gave him a general description of the place. She also apologized profusely that she couldn’t take him there, but she had things that she just had to do. Silver understood, thanked her, and set off for Twilight’s Library.
Silver came up to the front door of the Library and was immediately presented with a dilemma. Should he knock on the door or not? Every library he’d ever been to was a public building, but from what he’d come to understand from Fluttershy, Twilight lived in the library. He also wasn’t sure how a library fit into a tree, but in this world he decided that it would be easier to just accept it for now, and deal with the twitching later. The mission at hand had him a little preoccupied anyways.He didn’t actually have to make the decision after all, as Spike opened the door a moment after Silver had gotten there.
“…I mean how badly could you need new quills anyways? Oh hello.Silver, right? Going in?” Spike held the door open for Silver, and Silver took the opportunity to just walk right in.
“Thanks Spike.” Silver still didn’t feel quite okay around Spike, and while his right eye was twitching, it wasn’t noticeable enough for Spike to have said anything. Twilight however, took immediate notice of Silver’s presence.
“Welcome to the… Oh! Hello Silver. Everything okay?” Twilight saw the look on Silver’s face, and not quite understanding Silver’s problems in simply dealing with everything in Equestria, took the look on his face for one of being upset.
“Well, not really…” Silver launched into an explanation of what had happened that morning between Applejack and the Flim Flam Brothers, and the conversation between Applejack and Granny Smith. Twilight was patient and listened well. “…and that’s why I came here. I mean, the Apples were nice enough to take me in when I didn’t have anywhere to go, and I want to repay them. I thought I’d have a little more time to do so, but this seemed like the time, and I know they could use the help.”
“I agree. Although, why isn’t Applejack with you?”
“She doesn’t know I came. She was still yelling at Granny when I took the opportunity to leave. I heard enough during that fight as I was leaving to know that they don’t have enough to buy the farm. So I decided to try and help raise the money by asking their friends. But to be honest, I don’t even know where to start. Could you help?”
“Yes I can. And I have a plan!” Twilight smiled at Silver. Spike walked back in at that moment, his small arms filled with bags of quills.
“These should be enough quills to – yah!” Twilight grabbed Spike with her magic, and flew him over to where she and Silver were sitting. Faster than Silver could have, she explained the situation to him, and shortly afterwards, the three of them were off.
Silver, Twilight, and Spike had spent almost the entire day going from house to house in the town asking for bits to help the Apple Family. No one in Ponyville wanted to see the Flim Flam Brothers get Sweet Apple acres, and every pony had donated. As the evening had come, Twilight suggested that Silver head back to the farm, while she’d go to the last few houses that she needed to go to.
And so, Silver found himself outside of the farmhouse that he’d called home for the past few days, dreading walking inside. He took a deep breath and steeled himself. He was wondering as he opened the door if Applejack and Granny Smith had stopped fighting yet. The scene inside told him all that he needed to know. Big Mac and Granny’s voices were drifting into the living room through the partially open door to the dining room. But over by the fireplace, her trademark Stetson sitting crumpled at her feet, Applejack sat crying. Silver’s heart wrenched, and he did what felt right.
“Applejack?” He asked softly as he walked over to her. He sat down on the other side of the fireplace, not wanting to be too close, or have his actions mistaken for an attempt to pick her up. Applejack didn’t say anything, but just looked up at Silver, the shining streaks of tears lining her face. Silver felt horrible. He instantly began beating himself up mentally. You should have been there for her you moron, why did you go running off to the town anyways? There is no guarantee that what you did helped at all, but rather than get attached, you did what you always do, you ran away….
In the space of about five seconds Silver had an entire conversation with himself, realized that he cared for Applejack and had done what he always did to avoid getting involved, run away. He also decided that he was going to make this different, and since he had nothing to lose, except a place to stay, which as of tomorrow might be gone anyways, he would make things right.
“Applejack, I’m sorry I disappeared.” Even with his sudden epiphany, Silver still didn’t know quite what to say.
Applejack stopped crying for a moment and slapped Silver. “You idiot! I thought you’d gone to fight them, or just run off or…” A sudden wave of sobs cut Applejack short. It pained Silver to see the strongest mare he’d ever met look so weak and vulnerable. “I…I just don’t know what I’d do…. I mean… You’ve been so much help these last couple of days…. And with Big Mac laid up…. Guess it was all a waste…. I’m sorry for wasting your time”
“Don’t you dare apologize! If I could go back, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. The time I’ve spent here since I arrived in Ponyville has been some of the happiest time of my life.” Silver wasn’t lying either. He honestly couldn’t remember ever being this at ease with himself, or life. “I didn’t mean to scare you, I just needed to get some air and get some time to think.”
“I understand.” Applejack had calmed down for the moment, but it was there in her eyes, the storm waiting to come again.
“What did ya think about?”
Silver laughed a little, he’d figured out this lie the entire way back to the farm. “I wanted to figure out a way to fix this mess, but all I could think of were ways to make the harvest go faster.”
“Really? I’d like to hear that.” Applejack was actually smiling a bit. Silver high fived himself mentally for being able to steer the subject away from the mess with the Flim Flam Brothers. Silver launched into an explanation of the things that he’d been thinking about for the past couple of days as he’d worked. Movable conveyer belts, windmill and water power to move them, self washing machines, in short all the apparatus that modern farms on earth had, and then some. He still hadn’t quite figured out the magic thing, but he knew that somehow magic could also be used to help as well.
The two of them talked for hours, until the early hours of the morning and fell asleep side by side in front of the fireplace.
Silver and Applejack didn’t get to sleep long before they were rudely woken by a knock at the door. Applejack stood up and groggily stumbled towards the door. She opened it and was greeted with a sight of all her friends.
“Darling, we’ve heard about what’s happening, and we simply won’t stand for it.” Rarity stepped in past a yawning Applejack. Twilight, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Phantom followed, and all moved to sit down near the couch. Silver still snoozed by the fireplace, and Rainbow Dash couldn’t help herself. She walked over and brought her face mere inches from his.
“BOO!” She shouted. Silver jumped up and back and rather painfully slammed his hind legs into the wall. Rainbow laughed, and Twilight sighed. This was going to be a very serious morning, and everyone was already tense, but that was no excuse for pranks like that.
“So, I guess y’all came here to help us pack?” Applejack said, slumping to the floor. Silver, who was now wide awake, caught the gaze of Twilight, and smiled as he saw her wink directly at him. He wished he knew exactly what was going on, but he’d just go with it for now. Perhaps it had something to do with the houses that she’d visited alone.
“Not at all. In fact we came to help you keep Sweet Apple Acres. You see, we have a plan but we just need the Flim Flam Brothers to be here.” Twilight had the look of a warrior at that moment. It was almost as if she was contemplating all the horrible things that she could do to them, but of course she wasn’t.
“Yeah, they are such meanie pants! Oooh I just hate those guys,” Pinkie Pie chimed in.
They didn’t have long to wait. Twilight kept the conversation upbeat, and any time it turned towards what was going to happen, she deftly maneuvered it back to other topics. In less than an hour, the sound of the Flim Flam Brothers machine steaming up the driveway could be heard.
To everypony but Silver, it was an evil and obnoxious sound. Silver however, heard magical machinery that he would love to get his hooves on, if only to learn the basics of how it works. Something about the rhythmic whumping that was gradually growing louder piqued his curiosity. There was a tone in it that he couldn’t quite hear, but that he could almost feel was there. That tone was one that he’d never heard before, but would later describe (much to the confusion of anypony that was listening to him) as a cross between the high pitched whine of a television, the sound of a ship’s engines suddenly reversing direction, and an opera singer trying to hit a high note that was just a little bit out of their range.
The entire group got up and walked out front, each making their own little preparations to meet the Flim Flam Brothers. Silver was watching intently for the mysterious machine that had caught his interest. Applejack was nervously kicking back and forth with a hoof unintentionally. Fluttershy and Phantom were avidly staring at an apple tree and trying to ignore the machine that was gradually drawing closer. Rarity was pulling at her mane to make sure that the hairs were curled just so. Pinkie was sitting down and trying to remember where in her mane she’d put her emergency party cannon. Rainbow Dash was fluttering her wings and staring with an intense look down the dirt road. Twilight was just standing calmly waiting for the Brothers to arrive.
It wasn’t long before the Super Speedy Cider-Squeezy 6000 ™ pulled in and came to a stop just in front of the house. Granny Smith, Big Mac, and Applebloom were poking their heads out an upstairs window, wondering what was about to happen. They’d learned enough about Applejack’s friends to know that whatever was about to happen would not necessarily be healthy to directly take part in. As the Flim Flam Brothers stepped off of their machine, Twilight stepped forward to greet them.
“Well looky what we’ve got here Brother of mine!” Flim said with a sneer.
“It looks like they’ve gone and put together a posse to try and run us out of town!” Flam replied. The two brothers laughed at their own joke.
“Either way they have to know by now that it just won’t work. We own this land fair and square.”
Twilight took that as her cue. “Actually, you won’t officially own it until the ponies from the bank arrive and the deed is officially transferred to you.”
Flim’s mouth opened and closed soundlessly. She’d got him there. “Well, the wait won’t be long. The realtor from Pony Financial should be here soon.” In fact, just as he spoke, everypony saw a small dark speck appear in the sky, a speck that seemed to be gradually drawing closer. They all waited in silence as the speck came closer, split into two distinct specks, and formed into two pony shaped specks. One grew larger faster than the other, and soon a pale brown Pegasus with a three bubble cutie mark was standing in the middle of them all.
Silver thought he recognized the Pegasus, and took from the look on Twilight’s face that this was exactly what she’d been hoping for. He didn’t speak but turned toward the smaller speck and spread his wings. The speck grew quickly, and in short order became the familiar shape of Princess Luna. Luna landed, and held back a laugh as the Flim Flam Brothers stood with their mouths agape.
“Good morning Everypony.” Luna’s voice was not at the earsplitting volume she had used at first in Ponyville, and for this everypony was incredibly grateful. “Now, what would seem to be the problem here? It’s obvious to me that something is going on here.”Twilight and her friends were quiet, only Flim see fit to answer the Princess’s question, although he responded from a position a few steps back from where he’d been.
“Well your Highness, this land is still unowned, and my brother and I are intent on purchasing it. We are waiting only on the realtor from Pony Financial to arrive so that we may finish the deal.”
“Ah, I see. Well, there does seem to be the problem of the Apple Family currently residing on the property.”
Flim seemed to gain some courage and stepped forward towards the Princess. Lieutenant Bubbles took a step forward, a terrifyingly angry grimace on his face that Flim seemed to be oblivious to. “Well, my Brother and I have given that very problem some consideration, and unfortunate as it might be, we would have to ask the Apple Family to leave willingly. If they don’t we’d be forced to evict them, as we plan to reside here, and to run this place as Flim Flam Fields.”
Luna seemed to be considering what Flim had said. She turned and whispered something confidentially to Bubbles. Twilight took this opportunity to speak up. “Princess Luna, I can prove that the Flim Flam Brothers have attempted to take this land before, without going through the proper channels.” Luna turned to Twilight and raised an eyebrow. Nopony would have guessed that this had all been rehearsed. “About two years ago, these same ponies came to Sweet Apple Acres and attempted to take control of the property through a bet over cider making. A bet which they attempted to cheat at winning by making cider that was not only bad tasting, but actually harmful to drink. One young mare actually found rocks in her cider.” Applejack smiled at the memory of beating those two at the cider contest.
Luna looked horrified. “Is this true Applejack?”
“Yes Ma’am. We entered into competition with them, and while we lost the competition by not making as many barrels of cider as they had, we managed to keep the farm when everypony got angry with the poor quality of cider that they had produced using the very machine behind them.”
Everypony turned to look at the Super Speedy Cider-Squeezy, and much to everyone’s astonishment, Silver was half in the machine tossing out random gears and parts, muttering to himself. He’d managed to get over there without anyone noticing while Luna and Flim were talking. Twilight used her magic to grab him by the tail, and pull a rather bewildered Silver out of the machine.
“What just happened?” Silver asked bemused, a couple of cogs, and what might have been a gear shaft in his hooves. Flam walked over and put his foreleg around Silver’s shoulders.
“You wouldn’t have been trying to sabotage our machine now would you?” He asked in a falsely cheerful tone of voice.
“Take your arm off me.” Silver replied. All he had been doing was making a valiant attempt to reverse engineer the machine to better understand how it worked. He’d managed to get enough that he had a few dozen ideas of how to make machines to do similar things for Applejack here on the farm. He just hoped that he’d be on the farm long enough to make them.
“Now why would I want to do that?” Flam asked, tightening his grip.
Silver’s military training kicked in, and even though he was in a body that he was not entirely familiar with, he managed to turn and flip Flam over his shoulder, and get him on his back. Nopony said anything as Flim turned and rushed in to help his brother. What happened next, Nopony is really sure of, mainly because of the immense amount of dust that was kicked up by the scuffle, but once the dust had settled, Silver and Lieutenant Bubbles were walking away with the two Brothers now lying rather beaten in the dust. Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and Pinkie couldn’t hold it in, and burst out laughing. Luna however took a look at Lieutenant Bubbles, and the wonderfully clear hoof print that was on his flank, and decided to do away with all the little back and forth conversation that she and Twilight had come up with the previous night.
“That’s enough. Flim and Flam, you have assaulted a pony of the Royal Night Guard, a crime that is punishable by banishment, or even time in a Canterlot Prison. However I am feeling generous. You two are hereby forbidden from entering the town of Ponyville or any lands within one hundred miles by royal decree. Any breach of this decree will see you rot in a cell in Canterlot.”
There were cheers from on the porch, and Apple bloom shouted something that would not be appropriate to repeat in polite society that made Granny Smith slap her.
“Furthermore,” Luna continued,” In recognition for their continued service to both myself and my sister, Princess Celestia, I award the lands and property of Sweet Apple acres to the Apple family in perpetuity. Not only have they had a pivotal role in assisting with stopping many of the greatest disasters of the past few years, they are also partially responsible for the founding of this town in the first place.” Luna turned to face Flim and Flam. “It would behoove you to leave immediately. Bubbles, make sure that they are gone within the hour.”
“Gladly your highness.” Lieutenant Bubbles seemed positively excited at the prospect of violence, and so much so that he completely forgot to complain about the name which he hated. Flim and Flam looked positively downcast as they stepped onto their machine and began to roll down the hill. There was nothing that they could do which would outweigh the word of a Royal Princess. Their machine bucked and swerved, throwing the occasional gear. As they neared the first gate, they happened to swerve a little too far to the right, and took out a small length of the fence.
“We’re gonna send you the bill for that!” The voice of Granny Smith yelling from the upstairs window echoed across the orchards. Everyone laughed at the thought of Flim and Flam receiving a bill for what had just happened.
Later that evening at a very fancy Pinkie Party being held in the barn, Twilight was relating to the group exactly what she’d
planned with Princess Luna.
“…and then Luna came up with the idea that she could just award the lands to the Apple Family. All the money that Silver and I raised is going to the farm for repairs.” Twilight’s story was interrupted by a rather loud yawn from Spike. “Well, I guess I’d better get him to bed. He’s taken to snoring, and with it the occasional burst of fire lately, and I’d hate to see the barn get burned down.”
Everypony thanked Twilight, and almost all of them asked her to finish the story later. Soon after Twilight left, the others started to go home too, all of them exhausted by the events of the day, and by the day long party that was just now coming to an end. Pinkie was the last to leave with a burst of confetti as she sneezed, and she rolled a cart heavily laden with unused party supplies down the hill.
Only Applejack and Silver were left in the barn. Together they looked around at the scene of devastation left by the party. The streamers and confetti littered almost every available surface, and a few that should not have been available, and there were the almost endless sea of cups that were nesting in a corner.
“We can always clean this up tomorrow,” Silver suggested. Applejack wasn’t thinking about the mess.
“Was that why you disappeared yesterday? Did you really try to raise the money to buy the farm?” Silver just nodded. Applejack walked over and kissed him on the cheek. “That’s the sweetest thing anypony has ever done for me. Thank you Silver.”
Silver didn’t respond. He didn’t have to. He simply blushed, and the two of them walked back to the house side by side, enjoying what was now, without question, the Apple Family home.
END OF PART 2
SOON TO COME! THE COMBINED PARTS 3 AND 4!!!!