45w, 5dFokkityfokkityfokfokfok! 4 comments · 179 views
48w, 4dOh, look, a chapter 4 comments · 87 views
48w, 4dOkay, that didn't work 10 comments · 106 views
50w, 3dLet's do this. Again. 17 comments · 160 views
57w, 12hThe people at Equestria Daily are rather cool people 10 comments · 68 views
57w, 2dNew plan! 7 comments · 89 views
60w, 3dAaaaaaand back again! 5 comments · 73 views
65w, 3dChapter eight delayed, come back Wednesday. 4 comments · 93 views
66w, 3dSleep is not overrated 1 comments · 64 views
67w, 3dBooyah! In your face, deadline! 7 comments · 62 views
It was lunchtime in Ponyville. All the ponies had made a good start on their activities for the day, and were now enjoying a well-deserved break from their labours. Friends and neighbours happily chatted as they exchanged stories and beverages over a light meal that was to provide the energy for the hours until dinnertime. The only ponies that couldn't rest easily were the various food vendors providing said meals, but they knew what they were in for when they signed up for the job and considered the satisfied smiles of their customers to be most rewarding, as well as the considerably good business they were doing.
Under this lively yet peaceful atmosphere, two stallions and their stiff gaits stuck out like a pair of sore thumbs, though no one realised this as they didn't know what a thumb was, nor what a sore one feels like. The way they stared at their hooves and whispered a monotonous mantra as they walked turned a few heads, but no one felt particularly obliged to interrupt their break for a pair of curious strangers, so they were carefully ignored.
Starting to feel a little more comfortable atop his four legs, Lucky Chance slowly lifted his head and looked around. He was greeted by an extraordinary scene of colourful buildings, pretty blooming flowers, and nothing but smiles on all the faces he could make out. He was reminded of his childhood, when his father had brought him and his older sister to Disneyland. They had stayed there for three days straight, yet his younger self had still refused to accept that it had been enough. Much like then, Chance felt some regret that they might be leaving so soon. “(Left, left) Dude,” he said, taking care not to lose his beat, “(right, right) are we really in such a hurry to get back home? (Left, right) Why don't we stay for a few days and enjoy the sights a little? (Right, left)”
Midnight Watch slowed to a halt. His driving teacher had discouraged him from talking while driving until he was sure that his car had become an extension of his body. Right now, his own body didn't feel much an extension of anything, so he considered it wise to apply his teacher's philosophy to basic walking. “If we had food and shelter, sure. But right now, we are both penniless and homeless, so we wouldn't last a day.”
“Right, forgot about that,” Chance replied. He tended to forget about the basic necessities of life whenever he was having fun. As he was always either working or having fun in one way or another, he constantly looked like he was starving. The fact that he actually was starving was obvious to everyone but him, but all that cared had long given up on educating him on the importance of three meals a day.
“Good! Now that we're on the same page here, I suggest that we go over the plan one more time!” Midnight continued, with a rather content look on his face as he had arrived at his favourite part.
“The plan to convince Twilight to help us!”
“Dude, I know the plan. I gave you the plan. We go to the library, tell her the truth without looking like jackasses, and hope for the best,” Chance said, a little annoyed at his friend claiming credit for the plan he came up with months ago. Mostly.
“Yes, that's the basic idea. Now, for the plan, we need a more detailed program.”
Chance sighed, rolling his eyes. “Fine, whatever. What's the master plan, Eggman?”
Midnight raised his hoof and started his lecture. “Ok, first, we need to catch Twilight alone. It will be hard enough to make her believe us, let alone any of her more distrusting friends.”
“Second, we tell her the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. There will be no holes in our story. I don't want another 'Faarfaareast' to deal with.”
“Sounds fair enough,” said Chance, while his thoughts started to wander elsewhere. He disliked it when his friend started getting all uptight over simple matters.
“Third, we need to keep in mind that these are incredibly innocent and sensitive creatures. Don't talk to them about anything that involves death, sex or Doritos.”
“Got it, and if they ask directly, we'll sugar-coat it a little.”
“Exactly! Now for the fourth and final point: there is no reason to give these ponies an existential crisis. We do not tell them that, to us, their entire lives are nothing but a cartoon.”
And you call me Captain Obvious, Chance thought. He raised his hoof above his head. "Can I ask a question?”
“Shoot,” Midnight answered, confident that there was no way Chance would be able to point out a flaw in his plan.
“What do we do if Pinkie has already told Twilight about our arrival, including our ridiculous lies, completely destroying our credibility if we were to walk up to her with an entirely different story?”
“Oh, come on. How likely is that?” Midnight snickered at this feeble attempt at criticism.
“Pretty darn likely, as the entire Mane Six is coming right for us,” answered Chance, discreetly signalling for Midnight to look behind him.
The unicorn turned around rapidly, shortly losing the balance that he'd managed to regain by his friend's helping hoof. As he looked into the distance, he could indeed see six mares of a familiar colour palette approaching while happily chattering about little in particular, as girls usually do when they go out together. “Oh, nuts! Quick! Ignore them and walk in the other direction before they-”
“Look! It's those funny foreigners from Faarfaareast I told you all about! Hiiiii, over here!” A high-pitched voice clamoured through the streets as a pink hoof rapidly waved for our heroes to come closer. Never before had they been more unhappy to see a friendly face.
“Well then, General Lee. What do we do now?” Chance asked, with a slight hint of sarcasm.
“We nod, smile, and die of a heart attack before anyone asks questions.” Midnight walked towards the group, wearing a forced grin. His recent bodily conversion hadn't done much for his ability to think on his feet, despite being granted an extra pair.
The two parties approached each other. Pinkie being Pinkie, she immediately started talking, bouncing up and down in front of her new friends.
“Oh, I am so happy to see you again! And so soon! When you said you've travelled all night, I thought you'd be resting all day, but now you're walking here, which is not resting, so you must be fully rested and I can show you around Ponyville!"
Behind her, a white unicorn softly coughed. Pinkie froze up as she remembered that she was in company.
"Oh, let me introduce you to my bestest friends. This is Twilight Sparkle, this is Rainbow Dash, this is Rarity, this is Applejack, this is Fluttershy, and I'm still me! Everyone, these are Lucky Chance and Midnight Watch!” said Pinkie, jumping towards each friend as she indicated them. Or more to the point, she appeared next to each friend she named, moving too quick for the naked eye.
Each of the mares gave the newcomers a short variation on "hello" or "welcome" as their names were prompted, and the stallions reacted in kind. Pinkie didn't leave much room for more elegant conversation, which was something both Midnight and Chance appreciated.
Suddenly, she stood in front of Midnight again. “We were just about to go out for lunch! Want to come with us? We're going to this fantabulicious place nearby! Will you? Will you?” she asked with a huge smile and big expectant eyes.
Being suddenly prompted for input, Midnight hesitantly answered. “Well, we haven't had a chance to get lunch yet,” he said. Chance's stomach growled in agreement. “Or breakfast for that matter. But I'm afraid we don't have any money on us right now.”
“That's okay! We'll split your bill among us! It'll be like a welcome party, and you'll be the guests of honour!” said Pinkie. Everyone behind her nodded in agreement, confirming that there would be no refusing.
“Well, okay, we'll come for lunch.” Midnight surrendered, hoping that there will be something with a particularly large amount of cholesterol on the menu. Everyone let out a cheer, including Chance, who was starting to get rather hungry.
Haute Cuisine stood in front of the mirror, making his hourly check-up. He was known far and wide as one hell of a waiter, and he had to make sure he was worthy of that reputation each moment of the day. Mane? Perfect. Uniform? Spotless. Face? Expressionless. Moustache? Finely trimmed. Having assured himself of his presentation, he went out to patrol on the terrace and see if his clients required his services.
To his satisfaction, he saw a group of his favourite customers approaching his café. Local celebrities, favoured by princess Celestia herself, the sort of customers that always added a touch of glamour to a place simply by being there. Though they have always insisted on being treated like common folk, Haute Cuisine saw fit to at least order an outdoor table large enough to hold six customers.
It appears that they have brought guests this time, he thought; stallions, even. A dark-blue unicorn and a green pegasus were engaged in friendly conversation with the mares. Fortunate fellows, though they do seem a little nervous, as if they were walking on stilts for the first time in front of a spoiled child's birthday party. Haute Cuisine quickly ordered a busboy to add an extra pair of haystack seats to their table, and he himself collected eight menu cards and greeted the group once they were seated.
“Bonjour, Mesdames et Messieurs. Welcome to our café on these fine day. Allow me to offer you nôtre menu,” he said, with his trademarked accent. In reality, he was born and raised in some of the worst neighbourhoods of Manehattan, but he had an image that he would stick to no matter what.
The menu cards were only a token gesture; the mares knew their selection like the backs of their hooves by now, but he didn't want to make the newcomers feel singled out. As expected, the ladies didn't even open theirs, and instead bombarded the gents with so many recommendations that the waiter wondered why he had even bothered with the cards in the first place.
As he returned with the complimentary glasses of water, the group was ready to order. A dandelion salad for Miss Sparkle, always making responsible choices. Hay fries for Miss Dash, who needed the extra energy. Strawberry shortcake for Miss Pie, who always managed to order something different each time, yet still managed to stay true to her character. Cherry pie for Miss Apple, which was a bit of a shocker, but Haute Cuisine figured that apples all day every day would wear thin eventually. Miss Rarity had daffodil crackers, as she had a figure to maintain. Miss Fluttershy had a carrot salad; she always ate like a bird and took any leftovers home for her pet rabbit.
Then he arrived at the new guests. The pegasus ordered a fruit sandwich with no grass. Barbarian, Cuisine figured. The unicorn seemed to have more refined tastes, as he ordered hay fries. Haute Cuisine always enjoyed the looks on the faces of new guests tasting their hay fries; his specially made cholesterol-free frying oil never failed to impress.
With the orders taken, he turned away to deliver them to the kitchen and tend to the needs of the other customers. He still had his ears opened for anything that might happen at the large table. Being an extraordinarily fine waiter, he had mastered the art of turning his attention to any special guests without anyone noticing, especially the guests themselves.
Moments later, he noticed that the large table had fallen silent. He looked in their direction, but it appeared that the problem was not with his service. Instead, the newcomers seemed to have had a little falling out, as the unicorn was attempting to strangle the pegasus. Truly? They were surrounded by six of the most desirable bachelorettes in town, yet they still managed to find something to fight over? Some ponies had no class. Haute Cuisine hoped that they would sort out their differences before their orders were ready; he did not know what was happening at that table, but by Celestia and Luna, he wanted no part of it.
Eventually, the troublemaking duo separated themselves from the main group and took a seat at one of the smaller tables. Haute Cuisine nodded in approval, and went to collect their plates.
“Just what did you do that for?” Midnight sneered. His recent physical exercise had calmed him down a little, but he still wasn't particularly pleased about what had just occurred.
“'The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth'. That was the plan, right?” Chance replied, still rubbing his throat.
“Yes, but not here! Not now!” Midnight countered.
“Oh, come on, dude! You wanted us to keep digging ourselves deeper? I prefer cremation over a burial, thank you very much.”
“Well, I'll be perfectly willing to fulfil your wish if it turns out that they don't believe us! How are we going to pay for food if they don't help us?”
Chance waved away his friend's worries. “Don't worry, dude, we'll figure something out later.”
“May I humbly suggest that you figure something out right now, Messieurs?” said the waiter as he placed their plates in front of them. He hadn't changed expression since they had arrived at the café, but he still managed to give our heroes a menacing glare.
After a short period of awkward silence, Chance shyly lifted his hoof. “I'm an experienced dishwasher?”
“They're lying, I tell ya!” Applejack exclaimed, slamming her hoof upon the table.
“Applejack! You don't know that yet!” Twilight responded.
“Darn tootin', Ah do! Beings from another world? That's crazy talk!” Applejack made a tapping gesture to the side of her head.
“Yeah! It's ridiculous! Not even Daring Do bothers with aliens!” Rainbow Dash said.
“They were terribly awkward, though," said Rarity in her usual refined manner. "Did you see how they sat down? Like they've never seen a haystack before. I don't think I'm particularly gullible, but it would explain a lot. Either they are telling the truth, or they were raised by rabbits.”
“Let's just look at the evidence first, okay? Pinkie, you were the first that saw them. How did that meeting go?” Twilight asked.
“Well, I was out patrolling, and then I heard screams. I thought some fillies were having a screaming match, so I ran to join in, but instead of fillies, I found two new ponies! So I went to say hi, and I did! First to Midnight, but he didn't really talk a lot, but he seemed nice enough. Then Chance started talking, saying something about the weather and my eyes, not sure any more but it was pretty funny. They told me they were travelling ponies looking for jobs or something, and that they were staying here and wanted to be my friend! Then I asked 'Where are you from?' and he said 'Faarfaareast, which is north-west from here'! Then they said they were really tired, so I left them alone. The end!”
“Well, that probably wasn't true. When Pinkie told me, I checked the great Atlas of Equestria, and there was no such place. Though, in retrospect, I feel rather silly for actually checking up on such a name,” Twilight admitted.
“See? Nothing but lies!” Applejack folded her forelegs and aimed her nose at the sky. For her, the discussion was over.
Twilight did not take this close-mindedness kindly and looked Applejack straight in the eye. “Yes, and they owned up to them. They said they only woke up looking like that this morning. Maybe Pinkie scared them.”
Rarity gave this some thought while taking a sip from her water. “I'd like to say that makes a lot of sense. Pinkie can be a little... much, especially if you've never even seen a pony before. No offence, Pinkie,” she said, giving Pinkie an awkward look.
“Sorry, you say something?” Pinkie was back on her cake.
“Well, that still doesn't change the fact that their new story is crazy!" Rainbow Dash shouted from two metres off the ground. "What proof do they have for that? Fluttershy, help me out here!”
“Oh? Ehm, well, I don't know, really. There is something weird about them, though,” Fluttershy softly answered.
Rainbow flew closer to Fluttershy. “Like what?”
“Well, it's probably nothing. Just forget I said anything.”
“Fluttershy," said Twilight, "your opinion is important to us. Just tell us what it is.”
“Oh, okay. Well, I'm sure you all noticed it as well, but, well, you know...”
“No, we don't! Spit it out!” Rainbow shouted, staring into Fluttershy's eyes.
“They don't have any cutie marks!” shouted Fluttershy with flailing limbs, cracking under the pressure.
As if Fluttershy was the mighty Simon himself, and she had just given the order, all five of the other debaters turned their heads towards the strangers, who were currently pretending not to be carefully observing the discussion.
“What's it look like to you, dude?” Chance nervously tapped his hoof on the table.
“Pretty heated, from the looks of it. I guess that's good. That means we managed to get at least a few on our side. But whichever side doesn't believe us seems to have a pretty strong opinion,” answered Midnight, who had been observing the large table from the corner of his eye.
“Works for me!" Chance relaxed and leaned backwards, but quickly bounced back to the table as he had forgotten that their seats did not have leanings. "If even only one or two help us, at least we won't die in the streets, and we can try to find a way home!”
“Yeah, seems we might get lucky after all. Oh, nuts, they're looking this way!” Midnight whispered, as he quickly turned his head the other way. “Are they still looking? What are they looking at?”
Twilight's voice answered Midnight's question from the table. “Hey, you two! Do you two not have cutie marks?”
Midnight and Chance immediately checked. Up to now, they had been a little preoccupied with this and that, so they hadn't thought about details such as cutie marks yet. Unfortunately, they didn't find anything on their flanks.
“I guess not!” Chance answered Twilight, who went back to the discussion. Midnight and Chance looked at each other as they tried to think about the implications of this current discovery. Eventually, Midnight came up with a plausible explanation:
“Dude, we suck.”
“Well, that sure speaks in their favour. Normal stallions of their size and age should have cutie marks,” Twilight concluded.
“They just dyed over it!” Applejack stood up from her seat to strengthen her point.
“Applejack, darling." Rarity took a sip from her water. "I think you are really overestimating the work ethic of common frauds. Do you have any idea how hard it is to dye over a cutie mark? I've heard plenty of stories from ponies with embarrassing marks trying to camouflage them. Eventually, they give up and come to my store to hide it with a dress instead. Even if those two know of a method that I don't, they must have gone through some serious trouble for it. For what goal would they go that far?”
“To support their stupid story, of course!” said Rainbow, gesturing wildly.
“Their story is so stupid, it must be true!” Pinkie suddenly said after finishing her cake. Everyone turned their heads as they tried to figure out what she meant. “It's easy! If they were liars, they would want us to believe them, so they'd make up a good story, but they didn't make up a good story, so it must be true!”
Twilight groaned and buried her face in her hoof. “Yes, very good point, Pinkie.” She didn't like it when things Pinkie said that didn't make sense somehow made sense.
“Oh, come on! You can't just brush it off like that!” said Rainbow, throwing her hooves up in the air.
“They're lying and need ta be bucked outta town! Simple as that!” Applejack slammed the table with enough force to send her empty glass flying.
“Yeah! That's what you sciencey types are always saying, right? Simple answer is the best answer!” Rainbow said, defiantly folding her forelegs.
Rarity was starting to get a little annoyed at the stubbornness of her table-mates. “Then please, do explain to us, in what way is their being conponies with an elaborate master plan from which they could impossibly profit, involving dyeing over their cutie marks with unknown methods, showing up with no money or luggage, and telling unbelievable stories like that any simpler than the idea that they are telling the truth and asking for help?”
Neither Rainbow nor Applejack could argue with that, and silently sat down.
“Then it's settled," Twilight happily concluded. "They are at the very least telling some of the truth and we should help them. Let's go tell them.” Twilight waved at the defendants awaiting their judgement.
“We've decided that you are probably telling some of the truth, and that we should help you,” Twilight proudly declared.
She didn't even finish half that sentence before both did a hoof-pump exclaiming “YES!"
“So, what happens now?” Chance asked once he remembered that their main problem had not been solved yet.
Twilight smiled a little guiltily. “I have no idea. I've never actually heard of a case like this before, and I've read pretty much all the books on magical history in the entire magic library of Canterlot.”
The two stallions hung their heads in disappointment. The trip home would not be as easy as they had hoped.
“But don't worry!" Twilight quickly added. "I'll try to find a way to get you home. I'm sure that my teacher, the great Princess Celestia, will be able to help you.” She smirked proudly as she mentioned Celestia's name. Being the personal student of the Princess has its perks.
The strangers sprung up. “You'd contact the Princess for us?” they asked simultaneously, with huge eyes.
“Of course! It must be awful for you, being stranded on a strange world of which you don't know the first thing about. So I'll do whatever I can to help you. She will probably not be able to respond right away, but in a few days, she'll wisp you right back home!” said Twilight confidently.
Midnight sighed with relief. “Well, thank you very much. But what do we do in the meantime? We're kind of homeless here.”
“That's okay, you can stay with me and my assistant in the library. It might get a little crowded with the four of us, but we'll manage, right?”
Applejack didn't like where this was going. These two strange stallions were about to move in with one of her best friends. Who knows what they might be plotting? she thought. But then, she got an idea of her own.
“Twilight, let me help yah out there! Mah family and Ah have a room ta spare. If you'll take one of 'em, Ah'll be happy to welcome the other as mah guest,” she said, walking up to her friend.
“My, Applejack, really? You were so opposed just now!” said Twilight, eyes wide with pleasant surprise.
“Ah changed mah mind. So, who's coming with me?” Applejack said, turning her head towards the newcomers.
As Chance heard this, he sat up, hid his front-right hoof behind his back, and faced Midnight. “Even, I go with Applejack. Odds, I go with Twilight. Agreed?”
“Agreed,” said Midnight, as he also hid his hoof behind his back. They counted to three, threw their hooves forward, looked at the result, and then smacked their respective limbs against their foreheads.
Twilight looked upon this ritual with curiosity. “What are you doing?”
The stallions answered simultaneously, “Making complete fools out of ourselves.”
Rainbow used the confusion to share a few whispered words with her former ally. “Really? You too, Applejack?”
“Of course not! Whatever their plan is, they probably have ta do it together. We may not be able ta stop 'em from staying, but we can gently convince 'em ta sell their snake oil someplace else!”
Applejack gave Rainbow a conspirational look, to which Rainbow reacted with an impish grin as she got the hint.
(The author is very sorry for this chapter, and will make it up to you with the third. Or the fourth. Anyhow, soon enough)