Magic unites all. Every pegasus, every unicorn, every earth pony. Equestria really is a place of connections and harmony. They say there's only 6 degrees of social separation between each and every one of us. Yet despite this web of consciousness there are so many ponies you will never come into contact with during your life; who as far as you know never even existed. In some cases it's for the better, and in some cases it's a missed opportunity. But regardless of how many of those opportunities walk by you on the street each and every day, every single one of them will affect you and everypony you will or would have ever otherwise ever met. In that sense your life is determined by those around you far more than by your own hooves. In fact, you might just owe your entire life to somepony you've never met.
Today was already looking clear as crystal. No clouds had formed overnight and the weather team had already posted the day's schedule on the town notice board. The sky would remain empty up until, and including, nighttime. Iron Bridle, the local blacksmith, had decided to take this as an opportunity to fix the roof over his kitchen before the next storm came around. The last thing he needed was another brew of watered down stew. The previous batch had caused an unspoken rift between himself and the missus that only a patchwork of tiles could mend.
The rest of the town was taking to the streets as well. It may have been a small town but when the weather called, the residents were sure to respond on the first ring.
A gaggle of children ran by Iron, laughing together. The scooter the one at the front of the pack reminded Iron of his younger days. He thought back to the endless summers he spent scootering around town, but the only things that came to mind consisted of the phrases 'oh no' and 'ow'.
There wasn't much that needed to be done to the roof. Just a couple of lazy tiles which required some help getting back into formation, and a nail to keep them steady. Iron climbed up the ladder he had placed against the house, and got to work.
The first couple of tiles put up no fight. But now one particularly rebellious tile just wouldn't budge. Something was catching whenever he tried to push the tile under the tile above. He considered spending the next few hours lifting up every tile above this one just to dislodge it. But he figured it must only be a small chip or bump along the bottom that was preventing passage. One good hit should break it off.
He gave the front of the tile a good whack with his hammer and this time the tile actually stuck. It was progress! Iron placed his hoof on the tile and pushed. Although while the tile didn't move, his back legs sure did. Before Iron knew it he was picking up speed and flew off the roof. He already knew how this would end.
“Woah!” cried out Iron Bridle as he suddenly found himself unable to continue his fall. From the angle he was hanging at he couldn't see what was holding him up, perhaps an estranged nail had caught his jacket on his way down. His front legs dangled just several pony heights from the cobble path beneath him. A few of the tools he had been using to the patch the roof had slid along with him, when they were not caught like Iron they simply clattered to the ground. One of the stones of the cobble path cracked loudly under the fall of a hammer. Gently, the older stallion found himself being lowered to the ground where he was able to make use of his legs again. The magic that had been holding Iron by his back right leg dissipated and he looked around for his hero, who happened to be standing right in front of him.
He grabbed his hat from his head and planted it to his chest with a shaky hoof, “T-Thank you so much, ma'am. I should have replaced this whole roof moons ago!” he cried.
Starlight gave him a gentle smile, “Oh it's no problem, I wasn't just going to let you fall now was I?”
As Iron quickly picked up his tools off the ground, Starlight turned the newspaper by her side around to view the front page story. The bold-fonted headline no longer described the gruesome demise of Iron Bridle, but instead now read:
Promise of Blue Skies Garden Competition
Broken in Tragic Snail Invasion
There are some problems even I can't fix, Starlight thought to herself. She was starting to take a shine to this paper business. Yesterday she talked a scared filly out of running away, and today she saved an earth pony from his natural nemesis, gravity.
Despite living in what was essentially the community hub of the town, and being friends with the Princess of Friendship herself, Starlight was still relatively new to the town. As such she didn't actually know many of the local ponies who called Ponyville home. She hadn't even realised just how many ponies lived here. Coming from a town where you could see every citizen simply by looking out your window, it was very intimidating to Starlight.
This new paper of hers was forcing her to go outside and interact with other ponies. Granted it was to help them in their time of need and not socialise. But still, she was interacting with ponies she had never met before. Twilight will be so proud when she hears about this.
“Eh' hum!” A very obvious attempt to attract Starlight's attention had been made, and by the inflection thrown in it hadn't been the first attempt. Starlight looked up from her paper to see who had made the agitated noise. Standing in the middle of the path right in front of Starlight was the hat and cape donned magician, Trixie. She had a somewhat impatient look on her face.
“Sorry,” Starlight cringed apologetically, “how are you, Trixie?”
Trixie threw her head to the side with a flair which could rival Rarity, “Trixie will forgive her closest friend...this time.” She eyed the paper Starlight still had open in front of her, “I take it your magic paper arrived in good fashion then?”
“Yes, actually,” Starlight said as she floated the paper over to Trixie so she could read the printed date written at the top of the front page. Trixie, however, skimmed right over the date; her eyes had been immediately drawn to an article further down the page. Starlight waited for Trixie to take the paper in her own magic as she read. Trixie did not do this.
“Hmmm...” Trixie mused as she read from the paper Starlight was holding for her, “Apparently there's a concert happening today in Canterlot. A once off performance by composer Adagio Concerto,” Trixie sighed, ”Sometimes I wish the music scene here was as lively. All we have is Blue Note's..er..solo saxophone nights.” Trixie made the face of a child who had been told to eat their asparagus.
“I didn't know you were one for music, ” Starlight mentioned.
“Trixie has an interest in all art based acts, it's why I started showbiz in the first place.” Trixie smiled at Starlight, before suddenly remembering something, “Speaking of Canterlot, did you have a chance to pick up those fireworks of mine?”
Starlight had in fact forgot the fireworks somewhere in all the action of the previous day. “Oh, err, I'm afraid not.” She cursed herself for not picking them up while she was actually in Canterlot. Then again she hadn't had any bits on her at the time so she wouldn't have been able to do purchase any anyway. But still...
“Fine, Trixie will just have to go to Canterlot herself and get them.” Trixie said, in an oddly calm manner.
“Oh don't worry about that! I've done everything I need to today, I can make a trip up there right now!”
“While I appreciate it, I'd still like to go. I can take some posters and set them up around the concert.”
Starlight gave Trixie a blank stare. What did the concert have to do with fireworks?
“What for?” Starlight asked.
“Well,” Trixie started to explain, “the audience will enter the concert, during which I place my posters around the theatre, then when they come out they'll be so excited about the show that they will want to see another one and presto! There's another show right in front of them, look at that!”.
Starlight sighed, of course Trixie would want to go just to advertise herself. “And the event organisers are really okay with you using their show to advertise like that?”
“Maybe. I've never actually asked. But their show has finished by that point so why should they care?” Trixie reasoned.
“If you say so...” Starlight said, unconvinced. “Go grab your stuff and we'll meet at the station in an hour.”
“Sure thing, see you there!” replied Trixie, almost skipping away.
Starlight simply rolled her eyes and made her way back to the castle to pack.
Starlight and Trixie stepped out onto the breezy station. It was late morning and the bustling crowds were in full swing. Even though the train was enjoyably quieter than yesterday, the train had still filled up during it's journey from Ponyville station and Canterlot station. Slipping through the hustle they managed to make their way to the station exit. They then traveled down the wooden stairs and onto the brightly coloured cobble main street where the crowds parted to at least a somewhat comfortable distance.
As they made their way away from the station, the sounds of impatient pushing, shoving and steam engines was smoothly replaced with the click-clacking of hooves on stone and whistling wind. The highest of society were out and about making use of the clear day. Many of which, Starlight noted, were looking straight up at the cloudless sky, even while walking.
Along with the fancy dresses and suits were a mix of tourists, workers, and government officials sprinkled throughout the the crowd. Watching them work was like watching a hive of ants. It looked like chaos but there were no collisions. Every pony knew exactly they were and how to avoid everyone around them to get their job done.
“So, fireworks or concert first?” Starlight asked.
Trixie motioned towards her bags, “There's probably time to grab the fireworks first, it wont take long. I just want to make sure I put these flyers up before the show ends so that it's the first thing ponies see when they leave. Could you check what time it starts again, for me?”
Starlight brought the paper out from her saddle bags as the two of them side-stepped out of the way of a small paper boy.
“Hmm, any idea what the time is right now?” Starlight asked Trixie.
Trixie pointed towards a large clock tower over shadowing several smaller buildings and the two unicorns. “According to that clock, eleven fifteen. It can't be too long now.” Trixie patiently waited several moments for a reply, but Starlight was yet to look up from the paper.
“Well?” Trixie asked, “Don't tell me you're getting cold hooves now, Trixie told you it's perfectly legal!” She gently prodded her friend's shoulder.
Starlight jumped slightly under the touch. “Oh! Sorry, have a look at this.” She readjusted the angle of the paper so that Trixie could see what Starlight then pointed to. “I just noticed under this article there is a notice for a missing pony.”
“Oh, okay then.”
“Okay then?” Starlight asked incredulously.
Trixie stumbled, “W...bu....ponies go missing all the time Starlight, just let the guards handle it. That's their job after all.”
“Except that this notice is in tomorrow's paper.” Starlight reminded Trixie.
Trixie caught on to what Starlight was getting at, “Oh! So you think they'll go missing today...and you think you can stop it?”
“I have to try.”
“How come you didn't you see that article earlier? I can't imagine you missing something like that.”
Starlight looked back down at the article. “I guess I was only looking in local news and this is for a pony here in Canterlot. I hadn't even thought about trouble outside of Ponyville...”. It made Starlight pause, of course there would be ponies needing help all over Equestria. Ponyville wasn't the only city in the world after all. She thought of all the cities; Manehatten, Baltimare, New Pegasus. Would she have to keep travelling to each of them?
Trixie bumped herself against Starlight with the best supportive smile she could conjure up, “If you need to follow this I completely understand. I can handle everything else.”
“Are you sure, Trixie? I mean we came up here specifically for you.”
“It's fine, really. Go do your hero thing. You helped me enough finding this concert for me.”
"Well here, take these." Starlight levitated several bits from her bags into Trixie's. “For your fireworks.”
“Thanks, we'll meet back here around sundown?”
Starlight nodded, “That sounds good to me!”
With their parting words the two separated again.
The crowds were growing thick around the theatre where well dressed ponies were waiting in an disordered fashion. Judging by the several uniformed ponies by the door the show was nearing it's start and it wouldn't be long before the crowd would be herded in for preparation of the show. Trixie just had to wait. So to pass the time she sat in the window seat of a small, yet fancy, coffee shop across the street. She had already passed by the fireworks store before coming here and picked up a three dozen fireworks. They were almost spilling out of her bag at this point.
Gently taking a sip from her double strength coffee Trixie picked out several locations for her posters. Places where they would be most noticeable. She had a total of 8 in her bag. Which Trixie decided should be plenty to cover all bases and angles.
Trixie's attention was suddenly pulled towards the doors of the theatre where a commotion had started. The patrons awaiting outside were starting to shuffle forward inside. This was Trixie's chance. She quickly finished her drink and threw her bags over her back. As the last of the audience entered the theatre, the doors were closed. With a flash of her magic Trixie pulled out the first of the posters.
One by one she placed them onto the smoothed marble walls and held them in place using sticky tape she cut from a roll. The first three went up easy enough. They almost blended in with the other posters already present on the wall.
Trixie noticed several ponies watching her as they passed by. Curious about the posters. Trixie marvelled that it was already working. It was just too easy. She pulled out the forth poster from her bag and lined it up on the wall. In her magic she pulled out the roll of tape and cut off a small strip with a pair of scissors. She had just placed the scissors back in her bag and positioned the tape above the poster when Trixie and the wall in front of her was suddenly engulfed in shadow.
“Excuse me ma'am, do you have a permit for public advertising on government property?” A gruff voice asked behind Trixie.
“Sure sure, ” replied Trixie, pressing on the strip of tape.
“I'll need to see that permit then, ma'm.” The voice announced.
This pony had a lot of nerve. Trixie let out an exasperated sigh before turning around to the interruption. She opened her mouth to give them a piece of her mind.
Unfortunately “Uuuuuuuhhhhhh,” was all she managed. In front of her was the most no-nonsense, exceptionally shiny-armoured castle guard she had every seen. The armour was so shiny Trixie could see herself in it. If it wasn't for his penetrating stare she might have stolen a look.
“Well?” The guard asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Yes, right...I have that permit right here in my bag...” Trixie said, thinking fast. There was no way out of them this, she had already committed to the permit excuse, of which she very definitely did not have. Not only was this going to ruin her whole day, it would ruin Starlight's too! Starlight was doing important work, she couldn't let this interrupt that. Which only left her one option.
“Ah, here it is!” Trixie announced, before throwing the object she had pulled from her bag to the ground.
Chaos exploded all around and visibility was suddenly reduced to none as the smoke bomb ignited. Trixie wasted no time bolting as fast as she could. She blasted out the side of the smoke screen, leaving a trail in her wake. The guard cried out and threw his foreleg out to stop her, but his hooves grabbed nothing but hot air. He jumped out of the smoke just in time to see a sky blue tail disappear around a cobble brick shop corner.
The address of the pony who had submitted the missing pony report was written at the bottom of the article. Starlight felt like the writer had made a mistake including that, but decided not to question it as it was exceptionally useful. Fortunately the street was not too far away from the station and after less than half an hour of sign following Starlight was now standing in front of a somewhat large and plain complex building. The building looked like it hadn't been renovated, or cleaned for that matter, since its construction. Strips of paint curled down the outside revealing the bricks underneath. Plants were sparse in the stone covered garden bed along the wall. And the few that were managing to live barely clung to life. A rusted iron fence patrolled around the leaf painted front area. The leaves themselves appeared to have fallen from the single winter-stricken tree inhabiting the centre of the front yard. The previously clear sky now felt empty and cold shadowing this building.
The gate at the front couldn't even muster the energy to let out a squeak, instead opting for a low grumble as Starlight gave it a forceful push inwards. Out of the corner of her vision she noticed some blinds shuffling behind one of the second floor windows. Slowly, Starlight crept up the short concrete steps and to the front doorway. She wished she had brought some clothes, or at least a scarf. Canterlot was cold this high up, and the wailing winds that plagued this side of town certainly weren't helping.
It was noticeably quieter inside the building, only the occasional dull knock or cough could be heard through the walls. The room Starlight had entered appeared to be the reception, complete with a neck-high desk jutting from the far wall and an elevator just to the side of the stairs. An elevator that Starlight really wished had an out-of-order sign on it just to prevent the remote possibility of her using it. There was also a waiting sofa directly to her right. At first Starlight thought it was made of fake leather, but on closer inspection the sewn coverings were simply covered in a fine layer of dust. The smell of rot was starting to settle in her nostrils. She had only been to Canterlot once, but it had been to much more pleasant areas that were closer to the centre. Much more high end apartments and such. If she had any doubt about telling that kid to avoid Canterlot before, it was gone now. Even if it was for vastly different reasons.
Starlight jumped at the sudden interruption to her thoughts. It had come from the door behind the receptions desk. She noticed a small, rust-brushed, bell on the counter. And gave it a light tap.
“Hol-COUGH..on,” the coughing door answered in a raspy voice. After a few seconds of standing in silence a pony shuffled their way into the room. The aged unicorn mare gently rocked side to side as she walked. Multiple layers of scarves hid a frail body beneath. Stopping just behind the counter, she cleared her throat.
“Can I help you?” the mare asked to the centre of the room. Starlight stepped forward so that she was standing in the mare's line of sight.
“Hi there, my name's Starlight Glimmer. I was wondering what room I could find...er...,” Starlight quickly flicked her eyes towards the paper by her side, “...Corn Cob?”
The mare raised her head and squinted at Starlight through her tiny glasses, trying to see something that Starlight couldn't begin to guess. After a few seconds she nodded to herself. “He mentioned you'd be coming around, I was expecting someone older to be completely honest. You kids aren't about old media anymore. Always on those magic spiders and such.” She reached out her hoof towards Starlight, “I'm Bell.”
Starlight reached out and shook the hoof as if it was a wet paper flower. The last thing she wanted to do was injure the gatekeeper to her goal. “Starlight, it's a pleasure to meet you,” Starlight replied, smile taped on face.
“Well come with me and I'll show you to his room, I need to let Corn know there's a package for him here anyway.” Bell shuffled her way towards the stairs while Starlight followed slightly behind. They travelled two stories up. Then made their way down a corridor that was clearly only fitted for one. Several doors down, Bell stopped at an unmarked door and gently knocked twice. The knock was so quiet Starlight wasn't sure if the occupant would even hear it. Apparently it was loud enough, however, because the door suddenly opened a crack. A nervous looking stallion poked his head through the gap.
“He-hello?” The stallion said, his eyes locked onto Starlight.
“Hi, Corn. This young mare was asking to see you,” Bell said.
Corn's eyes flicked to the paper poking out of Starlight's saddlebags and back, “Oh, good. Thank you so much, Bell.” Corn said, relief evident on his face.
“Also there's a parcel waiting for you downstairs in your lock box,” Bell mentioned. “Good luck you two.” With single a nod of her head Bell slunked off back down the hall to return to her door-side post at reception.
Their was a click from behind the door. Starlight finally got a proper view of Corn as the door swung open. The stallion had a strong green coat but a mane so light Starlight almost thought it was translucent at first.
“Please, come on in,” Corn said, stepping aside. Starlight walked into the apartment and was immediately struck with how messy the room was. It was as if someone had turned the room upside down, and then back over again.
“Nice...place you have here,” Starlight attempted to compliment.
Corn looked around the room as if seeing it for the first time, “Oh, yeah. I don't know if I've been taking things too well to be completely honest. Let me get you a drink...” He proceeded to grab a large number of papers off of the top of what Starlight now saw was a couch and moved them to the floor.
“Speaking of being completely honest, Ms Glimmer, I thought Ink Scoop was supposed to be writing this?” Corn asked, offering the couch to Starlight and making for the kitchen.
Starlight accepted the seat, “You mean the article in the paper?”. The statement had confused Starlight.
“Tea or coffee?” Corn asked from the kitchen. Starlight heard the clattering of kitchenware, “And yeah, I'm really thankful you guys are being so quick to do this for me.”
“Coffee thanks, and what do you mean? I just read the article about your missing friend and wanted to ask some questions.”
There was a pause in the kitchen sounds, “...is that so?” Corn finally said. He stuck his head out of the kitchen and looked straight at Starlight.
“Is something wrong?” Starlight asked, unsure what was putting Corn off.
Corn shook his head, “No...no, I was just thinking I might go down and get that package now while the water boils. It could be important. Please, make yourself at home,” he said, walking by Starlight to reach the door. As he closed the door Starlight saw his eyes looking back in at her until the last second.
Starlight frowned, but also felt a tinge of pity for Corn. The loss of this pony, Starlight wasn't sure if they were a friend of relative, must have really been getting to him.
While she waited for Corn to return she gave the apartment around her a closer look. There was a picture of the missing pony on several piles of posters. An earth pony mare from the looks of it. She couldn't tell what colour her coat or mane was because the print was in black and white. Starlight then also noticed a letter on the desk next to her. She knew she really shouldn't look. But it could be important to finding the missing pony. Better to ask forgiveness and all that.
Starlight started reading the letter.
We have received your letter and wish to do whatever we can to get word of this around.
The kettle whistled from the kitchen as the water started to boil. Starlight read further.
If you are available we would like to send over one of our writers, Ink Scoop, to write the article for with your help. We can then fast forward the print to the next day. We understand time is of the essence.
Starlight Glimmer re-read that last line. It took her just a moment to realise why that line was nipping at the back of her mind. Somewhere from the kitchen, the kettle was screaming. She realised something had felt wrong the entire time she was in this apartment. Suddenly what corn had been saying now made sense. Starlight was too early. The article was going to be written today, and then printed tomorrow. The article hadn't been written yet, and Corn thought she was the writer! Not only that, but the writer could arrive any minute. She had to leave now before things got weird.
Starlight bolted for the door. If she was fast enough, Corn would never have to question what had happened. She'd just leave and be on her way.
She leaped over the piles of paper and yanked open the door. Then she froze. The doorway was filled to the ceiling with armour. Armour on tough looking guards to be specific. From behind the guards, Starlight could see Corn's concerned face looking over to her.
“Ma'am, we're going to need you to come with us, “ the guard at the front said.
The scuffle of hooves on stone followed closely behind Trixie as she ran. The smoke bombs she had thrown had provided only a temporary distraction for the trained guards which had now caught up. She darted between crowds of ponies but their cries of shock and surprise left a path of chaos which even the thickest of guards could follow. Fortunately for Trixie, no ponies attempted to be hero of the day and step in her way. This kind of crowd was way too careful about their expensive dresses and suits to do anything of the sort.
As Trixie ducked around a corner she quickly scanned for somewhere to hide. Over the other side of the road was a small gap between a frilly dress outlet and a very plain looking toy store. Within a second she was sprinting down the ally, and jumped behind some bins by the back doors of the stores. It would have been too dim too see anything in the alley if not for the light reflecting off of various puddles which had become trapped between the broken path. Dripping echoed off the tight walls. From the entrance Trixie heard the sounds of guards travelling away from her hiding spot. She had done it, she had escaped. Now Trixie just needed to find Starlight and get out of here.
Trixie took a step out into the alley way and straight into a surprisingly large puddle. The alley water splashed up onto Trixie's coat.
“Bleh!” She cried, “How gross-”. Trixie was cut short by a door opening sharply to her left. In the door way was a brutish looking unicorn staring her down.
“HEY! You're not supposed to be back here!” He said.
Trixie decided this was not the place for her to be right now and attempted to run, but to her horror, found her legs did not obey. Around the edges of her vision she noticed a light cream aura, the same colour, in fact, as the aura around the door unicorn's horn. Then, Trixie saw nothing.
“What do you mean she was on to us?!” A voice yelled out from the hall.
“I mean she was snooping about the door, she was onto us I tell you!” Another yelled back.
“And do you know she was looking for us and not one of the other hundred doors out in that alley?”
“Well...aa...you know...she just had that look about her!”
Trixie had only woken up a few minutes ago but she was already tired of the bickering coming from the other room. “Trixie has no idea who you are or what you are doing!” Trixie yelled out. The two voices continued, clearly lost in their own argument.
“Why do you keep doing this?!”
“Someone has to keep watch, we'd have been caught multiple times over by now otherwise!”
Trixie was just about to yell at them again, but was interrupted by a small sniffling sound somewhere behind her. She would look around to see where it had come from, if she could. But the ties around her hooves and chest kept her sticky-taped to the chair she was sitting on.
“Hello? Is somepony here with Trixie? I demand you release me at once!” Trixie exclaimed.
There was more sniffling, “If I could I would have done so to myself days ago...”
Looking over her shoulder, Trixie noticed the other pony was right behind her, presumably tied to her own chair. Now, Trixie prided herself on being not only a brilliant magician, but frankly a very clever pony in general. And it certainly didn't take a pony with even a fraction of her genius to put two and two together.
“You're the ponynapped pony, from the paper aren't you?! That's perfect!” Trixie laughed to herself.
“What's so good about that? As far as I can tell we're both goners now. We'll just disappear and never be seen again...” The other pony asked.
“Oh! My friend is looking for you, which means she's looking for us.”
“Oh...well then..maybe there's hope...do you know how long it might take her?” The pony seemed flushed with renewed spirit, a genuine smile present in her words.
“Well, soon I'm sure. She's my friend so she's really smart, also she has a magical newspaper that tells the future. She'll just read about where we are!”
There was a few seconds of silence from the other pony, then a sigh.
“...yeah, I'm doomed.” The renewed spirit had deflated just as quickly as it came.
*DUNK* *DUNK* *DUNK*
The guard tapped on the wide cell bars which were keeping Starlight from her mission.
“Just so you know what's happening we're going to start questioning in a half hour. So make sure you think reeeaaally hard about what you want to tell us.” The guard stared in at Starlight, making sure she heard every word.
“Look, you don't understand, there's going to be a ponynapping!” Starlight tried to explain to the guard.
The guard rapped the bars again, “You're in no position to be talking about ponynapping. Mr Corn has already informed us of your attempted extortion.”
“Look, I have a friend here in Canterlot with me! She can vouch!” Starlight said.
This got the guard's attention. “Well, now we're getting somewhere.” He pulled out a notepad, "How do we found this pony?"
“Her name is Trixie, she said she was going up to the theatre area. She should still be around there somewhere!”
The guard dotted down the information as it was given, “And what does she look like?” The guard asked.
“Cyan coat, blue and white mane. Also she wears a cape and a hat with stars.”
“I'll send some guards out, better hope we find her, for your sake at least.” The guard trotted away, leaving Starlight alone in her cell.
“Okay, I have an idea.” announced Trixie.
“Let me guess, you can see the future too?” asked Trixie's unwilling companion.
“Close, but no. I might not have my friend's powers, yet, but I do have something else.” Trixie reached out with her magic to her saddlebags which were laying in the corner of the room. She felt about the bag with her magic, looking for something, and being extra careful not to accidentally activate her new fireworks.
“Ah hah!” She yelled.
“Sssshhhh!” The other pony shushed.
“Oh please, those two can barely hear themselves over the other one.” Trixie rebutted. Sure enough, the yelling had not stopped for a single instant.
“Well? What is your genius plan to get us out of here?” Ask the other mare, unable to see from her angle.
“I got...” Trixie thrust the pair of scissors in front of her unwitting roommate, “These!”
“...you had scissors this entire time and didn't think to use them?!” The other pony practically screamed,
“Well I was using them earlier today and forgot about them until now...whatever your name is!” Trixie frowned. “What er...what should Trixie call you anyways?”
“Clay? What kind of name is that for a Canterlot pony?” asked as she started to snip at her binds. “I expect Clayvoyance maybe, but Clay?!"
“Clay is the type of name for a country girl before she leaves for the big city to chase her dreams. Which I guess at this point was a mistake.”
Trixie was almost through, just a couple of strands remained. “Well, Trixie is not from here either. So maybe Canterlot just doesn't like outsiders...” The rope around Trixie's hooves snapped suddenly as the scissor blade cut through and flung from her forelegs onto the ground.
“Yes!!” Trixie shouted. Her celebration masked by the sounds of a fight that had broken out at some point during her procedure of acquiring the scissors. “Great, they finally lost it," Trixie muttered, "We should leave while they're distracted. If we're lucky, they'll even knock each other out for us.”
Trixie spun around to the other side of the chair and finally got a proper look at her accomplice for the last hour. The yellow earth pony shifted to the side to give Trixie the space to cut her binds. Just as Trixie lifted the scissors to the rope, however, the door was violently thrown open. Trixie dropped the scissors in panic and spun to face the intruders, her horn lighting up in defence.
“STOP RIGHT THERE AND STEP AWAY FROM THE PONY!” The guard at the front of the group commanded. Trixie didn't want to, but Trixie didn't have a choice in the matter as two of the other guards stormed the room and immediately held Trixie down, placing a set of hoof cuffs on her. One of them even flicked her horn, causing her to lose the defence spell she had been preparing.
“Why are you arresting The Great and Powerful Trixie! She demands to know!” Trixie cried out.
“We have reason to believe you are working with the gang of ponynappers. We already have your friend in custody." The guard addressing Trixie smirked, "In fact she's the one who told us you were in the area.”
"I'm really sorry Corn, this is all we can do at this time." The guard said, apologetically. "We have several patrols currently investigating the area we believe the ponynappers may be residing in. But until we know for certain we can only detain..."
"Right...of course. And what of the unicorn mare?" Corn asked, wanting more information.
"Right now she's given us a location. But for now she's just in our custody until we know more." The guard looked at corn pleadingly. "Why don't you head home? Didn't you say you were writing an article with the Early Equestrian? May as well get that sorted, just in case this lead doesn't go anywhere, you know?"
Corn nodded, it made sense. "Okay then. You're right." He gave a quick smile to the guard before making his way towards the exit of the station.
“Trixie did nothing wrong!” Trixie cried out. She was currently in a caravan of guards as they made their way back to the guard station. There was two guards ahead of Trixie walking with Clay, followed by herself and the two ponynappers who were all chained together, and then two more guards behind her. The guard directly behind Trixie was carrying her saddlebags with her fireworks and tape.
“Careful with my bags, you don't know what's in there! Trixie warns you!” Trixie warned over her shoulder.
The guard in question briefly raised an eyebrow, before deciding to ignore the criminal. Trixie turn around to look at the ponies in front of her. Clay was looking all around at the ponies stopping to watch the convoy, a slight smile on her face. She was clearly just happy to be outside for the first time in what was probably days.
The two ponynappers on the other hoof, were attempting to trip each other up in their hoofcuffs. Their ongoing argument had been finally silenced by the head guard who grew sick of it within minutes of leaving their hideout.
Suddenly Trixie found herself running straight into the back of the two criminals, as one of them had finally succeeded in their game of hoofies and tripped forward onto the cobblestone path, the chain connecting the three brought Trixie down with him. Unfortunately the guard behind Trixie also missed this event and tripped over the tripped Trixie. As the guard fell forward, Trixie's bag was thrown from his back. Time itself seemed to slow as Trixie watched her own bag fly over her head and spun like a wheel as it skidded and spun along the ground.
When her bag finally skidded to a stop, Trixie let out a breath she didn't realise she had been holding. Then one of the guards, probably the one behind Trixie, attempted to pick the bag up with magic, and Trixie's bag exploded. Low budget fireworks flew out in every direction, activated by a minimal amount of magic. They crackled, and boomed, and snapped, and sparkled. The entire area was lit up like a disco rave. Everypony on the street turned their heads to look towards the onslaught of colour and light.
Everypony including a light green stallion with hair so fine it wafted like seaweed caught in a rift as the fireworks zoomed past. A stallion who had just been leaving the Canterlot guard station. His eyes, however, landed on something else. Somepony more bright, more important, more amazing than the light show going on around him. Somepony who was also now looking directly back at him through the smoke. A pony who was currently in the middle of a guard convoy. One he had been searching for, for almost a week. The face of his love.
Within in the chaos firing all around the two of them, the world between the two ponies had stopped. In their own bubble of silence, nothing else mattered. Neither said anything as they crossed the distance between them. Corn gently placed a hoof onto Clay's face. The air was heavy with smoke and burning. But neither of the ponies cared. In fact neither had blinked since they spotted each other.
The crowed around them were awed by the sight, many cheering as the two held each other, and kissed, within the smoke and fire. The only pony not in amazement of the sight was a light blue, currently shackled, pony, whose jaw had dropped in disbelievement.
“T...Trixie's fireworks...” was all she managed to croak out.
The two lovers in the centre of the street held onto each other as if it was their last day together.
“I thought I'd never see you again...” Corn cried into Clay's shoulder.
“Neither, “ whispered back Clay.
Within the last cell on the right of the Canterlot jail, Starlight and Trixie sat in silence across from each other. There was nothing to say. Both of their days had resulted in mostly failure. Trixie had informed Starlight her missing pony was no longer missing. But that still left them in jail. Without the ability to bail the other out they simply had to wait for Twilight Sparkle to arrive and use her position to free them. The guards had originally taken Starlight's request for the princess as sarcasm and it had almost resulted in her losing her visitor privilege. Fortunately she was allowed to send one message, so she sent an SOS to Spike. It might be a few days to get a messenger to Ponyville but at least it was something. And on top of that, Celestia knows how long Twilight was still going to be away for. So in the mean time, Trixie and Starlight decided to get comfortable. As comfortable as they could be with two bickering stallions in the cell next to them.
From the hall there was a clip-clopping of hooves. The gate to their cell suddenly shook, attracting the attention of both mares. On the other side was the guard which Starlight had been talking to previously. He looked very disinterested. After a moment of fiddling with the key and lock the door swung open.
“Everything's cleared up, you two are free to go.” The guard announced, in a nonplussed manner.
Trixie and Starlight looked to each other, neither sure if this was a ruse or some sort of strange joke, and then back to the guard.
“Just like that?” Starlight asked, “What changed?” The guard didn't bother replying and simply turned away before leaving. Not willing to risk a change of mind the pair decided to follow suit. They carefully trotted down the hall and into the reception area, feeling like a pair of fish out of water. As they entered the main waiting room, Starlight froze at the sight of the one-mare-party that was waiting for them.
Princess Twilight was standing by the exit, an unimpressed look solidified on her features. Before Starlight could get a word out or even hide behind one of the guards Twilight lurched forward, and into full lecture mode, “Starlight I'm not mad but I left you alone for two days and you managed to get both yourself and Trixie arrested.”
Despite her tone Twilight still reached her forelegs out and gave Starlight a squeeze around the neck. Starlight wasn't sure how to respond to the mixed signals. Fortunately Trixie spoke so she didn't have to.
“Excuse me, Princess, but we had separate investigations. I can get myself arrested just fine on my own.” She pronounced, making a point to look offended. To which Twilight simply sighed and followed after Trixie out the station door.
“Do we have to sign anything or...?” Starlight asked, before following Twilight out the front door.
“No it's fine, I said I would handle any punishment on my own. Although I would personally like to hear your side of things before I deal any,” Twilight said, giving Starlight a sideways glance. Starlight decided to change the topic.
"How did you know we were here?" Starlight asked.
"Spike sent a note explaining everything." Twilight answered.
There was something else Starlight was curious about, “Soooo...,” Starlight began, “What did Celestia need you for?”
“Oh she just needed my help identifying some recent magical disturbances. She asked Discord if he knew anything but he got all cryptic about it as usual.” Twilight answered with a puff.
“Huh, any idea what it could be then?”
“Well I've got all the data we've collected so far but I need to check some of the books I've got back at the castle before I make any conclusions. Actually, maybe you could help me!” Twilight announced excitedly.
“Sure thing, the sooner we get back the better then!” Starlight said.
“Heh-hum,” an annoyed grunt sounded from the unicorn a few meters in front of the two.
“Oh right,” Starlight said, “Would you mind if we made a small detour first?”
Twilight looked to Starlight questioningly.
Starlight grinned back in a completely innocent way, “We need to pick up some fireworks.”