“What do you mean ‘you can’t let off fireworks in a residential area’?”
“I’m sorry, but the regulations are clear-”
“But Twilight, how can the Great and Powerful Trixie possibly hope to wow the crowds without a grand pyrotechnical display?”
“I’m sorry, Trixie, but fireworks have been banned within Ponyville limits ever since that horrific fire," Twilight said, waving her hoof dismissively. "You’ll just have to do your show without them.”
As she turned and trotted off, Trixie fell onto her haunches, dejected.
“Hey, it’ll be okay,” said Starlight, trying to cheer her up. “I’m sure you’ll put on an amazing show without them.”
Trixie was silent for a moment, before looking up at her friend. “It isn’t that,” she said. “I'm more worried about what I'm going to do with the half a ton of fireworks I bought.”
It was only then that Starlight noticed the small arsenal of explosives next to Trixie’s wagon.
“You’re sure this is a good idea?”
“Of course it is!” said Starlight. “There’s always demand for illicit fireworks.”
“Even in Ponyville?”
“Especially in Ponyville. It’s hard being so peaceful and harmonious all the time. The quietest ponies are the ones who most want to blow something up every once in a while.”
“Well, if you’re sure...”
But Trixie wasn’t convinced. Starlight said she’d spread the word about their new business – illegal fireworks, Dark and Suspicious Alley, midnight – but whether anypony would really come remained to be seen. Actually, now that she’d come to think about it, why were they doing this in an alley, and not out the back of her wagon? And why did Ponyville even have a street named ‘Dark and Suspicious Alley’, anyway? Surely that was asking for trouble.
Trixie’s thoughts were interrupted by the soft sound of approaching hooves. She felt herself take a sharp breath, and looked at Starlight nervously. It seemed like they had a customer. But what sort of dangerous pony would be out buying illegal fireworks in a back alley, late at night?
It must be some kind of hard-as-nails criminal, she thought, probably out to buy fireworks for some nefarious purpose. It must be a pony with no regard for the law, or authority. It must be-
“Eep!” squeaked Fluttershy, as she hid behind her mane.
A few seconds of uneasy silence passed. “So... err, what are you doing here?”
“Oh, n-nothing. What are you two doing here?”
Trixie looked awkwardly at the huge pile of boxes behind her, which had fireworks sticking out the top and the word ‘DANGER’ written down the side in red lettering. Then she looked back to Fluttershy.
“Well, you know, we’re just... hanging out.” She gave a nervous laugh.
“Oh, that’s nice,” said Fluttershy. “By the way, I don’t suppose you’ve seen somepony selling, erm, fireworks? They’re supposed to be around here somewhere.”
“Wait, you’re here for the fireworks?” asked Starlight.
“Well,” began Fluttershy, “it’s Harry’s birthday this weekend. And we have this little tradition – every year, us and some of the other animals will go into the forest, and we’ll set up a nice little picnic, with tea and sandwiches and cakes...”
“Right...” said Trixie, wondering how in Equestria this related to fireworks.
“And then, after the sun goes down, we all sit and look at the stars for a little bit,” she said, speaking so nonchalantly that she might as well have been reading her shopping list. “And then we always like to unleash several pounds of Neighjing hellfire over the edge of the Everfree Forest. It’s always very pretty.”
Trixie and Starlight just stared at her, open-mouthed.
“But the laws in Ponyville are so restrictive that it’s sometimes difficult to get what we need. That’s why, when Harry and I heard that somepony was selling them down here tonight, I just had to come. Do you girls know who it is?”
Neither of them answered for a few moments longer, until Trixie realised she was about to lose a sale. She shook her head and got back into showpony mode.
“If you’re looking for great and powerful fireworks, you’ve come to the right place. Come on and step right up to-” err, had they decided on a name yet? “-Trixie’s Back-Alley-at-Midnight Firework Shop!”
“Oh. That’s... catchy,” said Fluttershy.
“Indeed it is! So, step right up, step right up. What would you like to buy?”
“Oh, not much.” She considered for a moment. “I’d like two boxes of Huizhoof Annihilators, three boxes of Marechurian Boomsticks, five boxes of Yakyakistan Tartarus-crackers...”
Trixie slowly counted the bits that Fluttershy had given her. There were a lot of them.
“Are you sure it was safe to let Fluttershy carry that lot all by herself?” asked Starlight.
“She’ll be fine,” said Trixie, dismissively. “Now look how much money we made!” Who would’ve thought that selling illegal fireworks would prove to be such a profitable venture?
“Trixie!” Starlight scolded. “I’m talking about ethical responsibility here, not just- ooh, that’s a lot of bits.”
“Just think about all the cheese and crackers we could buy!”
The pair were so engrossed by the pile of gold, that they didn’t hear their next customer approaching. Well, customers.
The sound of somepony clearing their throat got Trixie’s attention. She turned around, but there was nopony there.
Trixie looked down towards the floor, where the three Cutie Mark Crusaders were standing.
What were they doing here? “Are you lost?” she asked.
The three fillies whispered among themselves, and then Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle pushed Applebloom forward. Apparently she was the designated speaker. She rubbed her foreleg nervously before beginning. “We were – ah – wonderin’ if it was true what we heard – that y’all are sellin’ somethin’ you’re not supposed to-”
Starlight stepped out from behind Trixie. “Girls, I’ve told you before. I won’t buy alcohol for you. I’m sorry, but it just wouldn't be right.”
“No, no!” protested Sweetie Belle. “We’re here about fireworks.”
“Fireworks? Oh, yeah, of course,” she said. “What would you like?”
Now that the CMC had gone, the bit pile was even larger, and the firework pile even smaller.
“Should we have asked where three fillies got so many bits from?” said Starlight.
“Or what they were planning to do with all those fireworks?”
Starlight looked around, and yawned. “We’ll probably have to pack up soon," she said. "It’s getting really late; I don’t think anypony’s still around.”
Right as she spoke, however, a black figure suddenly descended from the sky, landing just in front of them. It was a pony, cloaked and hooded, and almost darker than the night around them.
“Greetings, citizens,” she said. “We - I mean, I – wish to make purchase of many fireworks.”
Starlight shook off her shock to respond. “Well, you’ve certainly come to the right place... wait, do I know you?”
The figure froze. “That is unlikely!” she almost yelled. “I am not from around here, and so I do not know thee, Starlight Glimmer.”
Starlight raised one of her eyebrows. “Really, are you sure? Because I could have sworn you’re-” She shook her head. “No, that would be crazy. I must just be imagining it.”
“Yes, it would be craziness to suggest that We might be a princess of the realm, clandestinely buying fireworks to throw a secret party without Celly’s knowledge. Utter craziness.”
“You’re right,” Starlight agreed. “It would be. I can’t believe I even considered it.”
“Indeed,” said the figure, nervously. “Now, about those fireworks...”
“I can’t believe we sold everything in a single night,” said Trixie. She and Starlight were back in her wagon, with a pile of gold coins spread out before them.
“What did I tell you? There are few ponies more repressed than in Ponyville. They're always looking to unwind.”
“I guess you were right. We made almost a thousand bits from that.”
“Hey, perhaps we should do this again,” Starlight suggested.
“Maybe. It certainly pays better than the stage shows.”
“We would need a good name for our business, though. It’s the most important part of building a brand.”
“A name?” Trixie tapped her chin with a hoof.
“What did you tell Fluttershy it was called? 'Trixie’s Back-Alley-at-Midnight Firework Shop'? That could work.”
“No, that was just something thought up on the fly. Our name needs to be big and bold, to really capture ponies’ attention.”
“And what were you considering?”
“’Trixie’s Clandestine and Secret Firework Stand’!” she stood up and shouted.
Starlight wasn’t impressed. “I’m not sure something automatically becomes secret just because it has ‘secret’ in the name. And anyway, we need ponies to know about us if we want to drum up business.”
“Alright, fine. What about... ‘Trixie’s Illicit and Illegal Firework Stand’?”
“I think we’d lose some element of plausible deniability when the Royal Guard come knocking, if we call our shop ‘illicit and illegal’.”
Trixie sighed. “Fine, 'Trixie’s Back-Alley-at-Midnight Firework Shop' is alright. Although I still think it lacks flair.”
Starlight smiled. “It’ll do for now,” she said.