Sparky slowly and carefully trotted down the stairs from her room to discover the sound of voices from the living room. The first one belonging to Grandma V, of course, and the other belonged to Shortfuse. Sparky slowly trotted into the room and looked around. Grandma V looked up at her from her spot on the sofa and grinned.
‘Ha! Told you she’d wear it! Pay up!’ Grandma V jeered at Shortfuse.
Shortfuse turned around to discover that Sparky was indeed wearing the dress that she’d dropped off and let out a sigh. ‘Fine’, she hissed towards Grandma V, as opening up her bag and pulled out a five Equestrian Pound note and pushing it over towards her.
Grandma V took the note in her telekinesis and stuffed it into a small jar sitting on the table besides the sofa before getting up and walking over to her Granddaughter.
‘You two bet on me!?’ Sparky cried out.
‘Yeah, on whether or not you’d actually wear the dress. I THOUGHT I was making the safe bet by saying you wouldn’t...’ Shortfuse said, muttering several more statements of annoyance under breath.
Grandma V merely chuckled. ‘Goes to show you, nothing ventured, nothing gained’, she said with a grin as looked Sparky over. ‘Well, now, to quote an old friend of mine... “You look smashing! Darling!”’ Grandma V said with a grin, and raising the pitch of her voice a few octaves.
Sparky looked at her grandmother oddly as she continued to grin at her. ‘You still bet on me...’
‘Hey, I’m the one who had faith in you that you’d step out of your comfort zone!’ Grandma V said continuing to grin. ‘Anyway... you girls have fun tonight, I’ll be seeing you...’ she added as she trotted off into the kitchen.
Shortfuse rose from her seat, still looking somewhat annoyed at what had just happened. She too, was wearing a dress, a red one not unlike the one that Sparky was wearing. ‘Hey Sparky... ready to go?’
‘Almost’, Sparky said as she took a deep breath and jabbed Shortfuse in the flank with one of her hind legs as she passed.
‘Ow! Hey!’ Shortfuse cried out
‘That’s for being a jerk’, Sparky said calmly. A smug look appeared on her face. ‘Now, were exactly are we going?’
‘Oh... you’ll see’, Shortfuse said simply. ‘You’ll see’.
Sparky never liked riding in Shortfuse’s car. It was a nice, sure, but she didn’t really like it. Shortfuse drove a Volkssturm 811, a luxury sports car import. Because it was an import, it was configured for right hoof traffic, while the roads in Equestria were set up for left hoof traffic.
Ordinarily, that wouldn’t matter because even imports had VI controlled autopilots. There wasn’t anything keeping these kinds of cars from being illegal. The problem with the autopilot in Shortfuse’s car was that she never used it, even now while they were on the motorway. While it was no longer the peak hours, and she could legally operate the car herself, it did not mean that Sparky wasn’t terrified of Shortfuse’s driving.
Sparky looked over to her friend as she expertly adjusted the sliding holographic panels on her control console as she manoeuvred the car from lane to lane and took the turns in the motorway a little faster than she would have liked. Shortfuse loved this car because it was fast, and she was certainly going fast, Sparky caught a glimpse of the speedometer, it read 125 kilometres per hour. The legal limits were 110.
Sparky knew better than to say anything about it, asking Shortfuse to slow down would have her speeding up, the best Sparky could do was just sit here and hope that Shortfuse didn’t decide to go faster.
Sparky felt gravity began to press down upon her; the car had started into an upward climb and she looked out the window trying to see where they were going. The motorway had taken them out of Ponyville’s limits and now they were headed north east up a hill towards the mountains.
‘Where are we going?’ Sparky asked.
‘Canton’, Shortfuse said.
‘What’s in Canton?’ Sparky asked.
‘You’ll see’, Shortfuse said.
After the Princesses had been overthrown, and Canterlot had fallen down onto Whitetail Wood, it was decided that a new city would be built in its place. Canton was that replacement. The mountain that Canterlot had been built into was no longer there, at least, not really. Construction crews flattened it out into a plateau. Though it would never achieve the prestige or importance of its predecessor, and it couldn’t grow as large as Ponyville had, Canton was still an important financial centre. Home to the Canton stock exchange, Canton was one corner of the Equestrian Rhombus, the term for the four major financial cities of Equestria, at the top corner was Manehattan, where the high end corporations had their headquarters. The next two corners were Ponyville, the home of Equestrian manufacturing, and Canton, with the stock exchange, of course. And the corner opposite Manehattan was Fillydelphia, the second most important warm water port in the entire world, to carry Equestrian goods across the vast oceans to markets abroad.
To Sparky’s relief, Shortfuse began to slow down when they hit the Canton city limits. Canton was quite a bit smaller than Ponyville, and because of a lack of new building space on the artificial plateau, the city was a one hundred per cent planned city, horizontal space was rare, so instead of building out, Canton was forced to build up. Every so often, an entire building would be torn down and a newer, taller one would be built in its place in order to house more ponies. As a result, it was very expensive to live here, and so, not very many did. Canton’s permanent population was about fifty thousand, as opposed to Ponyville’s population of four and a half million.
Shortfuse’s car began to slow as they reached their destination. She looked over to her dashboard and spoke aloud to it. ‘Pilot? Up and at em!’
The car’s VI popped up on the holographic display, Sparky rubbed her eyes making sure that what she saw before her was actually before her. Then she remembered, this car was an import and the VI was in the form of a Schäferhund.
‘Ja fräulein Shortfuse?’ the VI asked.
‘Find a parking space and send it to my MIP, please’, Shortfuse said as she opened her door in front of their destination.
‘Ja fräulein Shortfuse!’ the VI said. Sparky too got up from her seat and stepped outside. Schäferhund were a race of dire wolf like canines native to eponymous nation Bundesrepublik Schäferhund, on the continent of Europa across the ocean. It made sense that the default auto pilot VI would appear as a Schäferhund, as the car was Schäferhund in origin, but Shortfuse was a computer programmer. Why would she keep the default?
‘I keep it because it’s funny’, Shortfuse said.
Sparky opened her mouth to ask how she knew what she was going to ask.
‘You’re so easy to read, Spark’, Shortfuse said with a grin, causing Sparky to close her mouth.
She looked up at where they were. ‘We’re at a bar?’ Sparky asked unenthusiastically.
‘No... this is a club, where there will be much drinking and dancing!’ Shortfuse said. ‘And you will be having fun, even if I have to kill you to do it’, Shortfuse added with a grin.
She led the way inside; Sparky found that she was inside a large, dimly lit room with a smoky atmosphere. Strobe lights flashed in sync with the heavy bass of the music, Sparky felt as if her brain was being rattled with each passing step as she followed Shortfuse over towards the bar.
‘Bartender! I will have two of your strongest!’ Shortfuse asked of the smoke coloured earth pony bartender, practically shouting at him over the music.
‘Our strongest is the Pan Equestrian Gargle Blaster. Would you like to reconsider?’ the bartender asked. Shortfuse’s eyes widened at the statement, Sparky was confused, she hadn’t the faintest idea what that even was.
‘Bartender! I will have two of your second strongest!’ Shortfuse shouted back.
‘Good choice!’ the Bartender shouted back as began to skilfully mix a drink with his hooves. Sparky had to admit as she watched him, that as an earth pony without telekinesis, his ability to make Shortfuse’s drink was quite impressive.
Sparky realised something, this gargle thingy was a drink that Shortfuse refused to drink. This was her chance to show her up. The bartender looked over to her. ‘And what can I get for you?’ he asked.
‘I’m going to have the gargle thingy!’ Sparky shouted.
‘... Okay’, the bartender said as she poured her a drink.
Sparky took a look at it for a moment, inspecting the glass before taking a drink. She brought it under her nose and smelled, that turned out to be a mistake, her nose burned from the strong smell of alcohol, lemon, and... gold? Yes, it was gold!
‘You have no idea what that is, do you?’ The bartender asked.
‘Uh... no...’ Sparky said honestly, giving him a small shrug.
The bartender couldn’t help but let out a chuckle. ‘Then giving that to you was definitely irresponsible... and I totally don’t care, this is going to be hilarious’.
Sparky looked at him in confusion and was about ready to drink it when Shortfuse turned back around. ‘Sparky...? What is that?’ she asked.
‘Uh... gargle thingy?’ Sparky said with a shrug.
Shortfuse’s eyes widened again. ‘Sparky! No! Don’t drink that!’ she cried out.
Sparky looked at her and flared her nostrils in annoyance. She tilted the glass back and swallowed the entire thing in one gulp, simply out of spite.
‘Uh...’ Shortfuse said. ‘You probably shouldn’t have drank that so quickly...’
In an instant, Sparky became overwhelm with a feeling of intense pain, as if her brain had just been smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick, and she promptly passed out onto the floor.