The Ballad of Twilight Sparkle
Chapter 5: Counselor Dash has the Stand
Slowly, the slow elevator slowly ascended ever so slowly; painfully so for Rainbow Dash. It didn't help that the stupid thing was stopping at every... other... floor... for everypony and their mom to get in or out. Rainbow Dash tapped her front hoof impatiently, exhaling a sigh upwards and flitting her colorful locks, becoming more impatient every second that crept by. She glared at the security pony that was escorting her through the building and to the meeting room—the lazy colt had balked at Rainbow Dash's request of just running up the seventy or so flights of stairs to where Twilight was probably getting sued for all she was worth. ’Probably more.’
Rainbow Dash frowned; so many months ago Twilight had stopped the pegasus from chasing after Trixie and giving her a well-deserved thrashing for making her friends, and more importantly, herself look stupid in front of all of Ponyville. ’Shoulda let me do it!’'Twilight had actually believed that Trixie would eventually come back after having realized her mistakes, apologize, and then they would become friends and write to Princess Celestia together about it. 'For a supernerd you're not that smart, are ya, Twi?'
Of course, when that didn't happen, the stubborn unicorn had started letting her mind run with thoughts of what might have happened to Trixie, and it wasn't long before she'd worried herself into personally searching for the azure mare. Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes; against her better judgment, she had acted as Twilight's eyes in the sky during those searches, even as she continued to complain to the worried unicorn that the faker was not worth the effort. Rainbow Dash sighed, ’Once you set your mind to something...' she mused, recalling how compelled Twilight was to find out what made Pinkie Pie tick.
Rainbow Dash realized that her escort had stepped out of the elevator and was holding the door open for her. Spotting a '75' printed on a black plate on the metal frame surrounding the door, Rainbow Dash stepped out and followed the lazy guard as he lead her down a fancy hallway. 'Don't worry Twi... Nopony messes with my friends—'specially not The Lame and Stupid-Face Trixie!'
The guard came to a stop and directed the rainbow-maned pegasus into a spacious lobby occupied by a single pegasus mare—a secretary sitting at her desk next to a large, wooden double door. Rainbow Dash licked her lips and pressed down on Applejack's hat, tilting it slightly to her left so as not to damage the pale flower still pinned to her mane. “Showtime!”
- - -
Twilight Sparkle was deeply regretting her refusal to partake upon The Great and Powerful Trixie's vast collection of spirits; she could really use a drink right now. She blinked,'Does that make me an alcoholic? Oh Celestia, as if I didn't have enough things to worry about now!' The unicorn lowered her head a little, willing herself not to hyperventilate. She looked to her right, where a now-dry Trixie sat in silence, simmering with barely-contained ire. Twilight's ears drooped, 'How are we ever gonna become friends at this rate?'
Looking around the room once more, Twilight could hardly conceal the dread that was chilling her to the bone. The meeting room was unnecessarily big, and just as ostentatious as the rest of the building. The heavy, agarwood table took up minimal space set in the middle of the luxurious corner office. The location afforded the room with two windowed walls, providing an expansive view of the Manehattan skyline, a rainbow streak cutting right through the mostly-gray horizon of buildings. 'We are definitely not in Ponyville anymore...' she thought, glancing at the dour, dull-colored, unhappy businessponies that she supposed were judging her every living, breathing second; their silence was stifling. 'And now Rainbow Dash is on her way here?' the lavender pony brought both hooves to her face; this was not going to end well for her mental well-being.
As if on cue, the meeting room's large, oaken doors slammed open, causing the door handles to crack and chip paint off of the walls, and startling most of the ponies gathered there. “Miss, I told you to please remain seated while I announ—”
Twilight's right eye twitched. 'Oh Luna I hope that's not—'
“Howdy, ya'll!” greeted Rainbow Dash, trotting into the room, her posture commanding and confident. “Rainbow Dash The Second, Esquire, at your service!” she bowed theatrically. Standing a few paces behind the colorful pony, the secretary held her hoof in the air and her complaints in her throat, both useless against Rainbow Dash's forwardness.
Catching up to its counterpart, Twilight's left eye began twitching as well. 'Oh Celestia she's wearing Applejack's hat why is she wearing Applejack's hat what is she doing here how did she find out I was here why did she say lawyer she's not my lawyer I should get a lawyer but not Rainbow Dash because she's not a lawyer why is she wearing Applejack's hat?'
Completely ignoring the looks directed her way, Rainbow Dash made her way to stand at Twilight's side, before raising an eyebrow. To stand. “Huh.” she uttered plainly, before taking a quick glance about herself, then calmly taking a trot around the table, making passing comments to each businesspony she walked by. “Nice suit bro... Your mane looks funny... Does your mom dress ya...? Have we met?... Watch your tail, I almost tripped!... You can look but not touch, babe...”
With each comment, Twilight sunk just a bit lower in her seat, embarrassment settling in once more—though not nearly as deeply as it had settled during The Incident. Twilight reddened. 'Aaaand now I'm thinking about THAT again. Great.'
Rainbow Dash finished her circuit around the seated ponies, making sure to glare rusty, poisoned daggers at Trixie as she passed her by at the end—if looks could kill, Trixie would have died of tetanus if not promptly treated. The colorful mare looked around the room, annoyance clear on her face at apparently not having found what she was looking for. “S'cuse me fillies, gentledudes.” Rainbow Dash breezily flew out of the room, seemingly impervious to the solid block of tension that occupied the atmosphere in it.
All eyes turned to Twilight once more. Before anything could be said, a loud scraping noise filled the hall outside, the source quickly becoming apparent: with great effort, Rainbow Dash was using her head to push a large, extravagant sofa into the meeting room, Applejack's hat resting on the plush seat. The secretary behind her meekly pleaded with the determined pegasus. “Uh, Miss, that's for the guests, Miss...!”
Rainbow Dash closed the double doors on the secretary and continued to push the sofa towards her client, the scraping sound piercing everypony's ears and at the same time ruining the carpet and marble tile underneath. Twilight Sparkle rubbed her temples, as her apparently permanent blush intensified. 'Okay, this is very nearly just as embarrassing as public premature casting now.'
The acrobat pony stopped pushing as soon as she felt the sofa bump Twilight's chair. With a satisfied smile, Rainbow Dash picked up Applejack's hat and put it back on—and while still completely ignoring the looks directed her way, Rainbow Dash took her seat at Twilight Sparkle's side. “Much better!” she exclaimed, making herself comfortable.
Miss Spelling—already on edge thanks to a number of reasons mostly revolving around Trixie and the mounting financial costs of her antics—was having a very, very hard time containing her anger. “Are you quite done—”
“OBJECTION!!” Rainbow Dash slammed her hooves on the table; one businesscolt loosed a girlish yelp as he fell out of his chair, his toupee landing a few feet away.
“WE ARE NOT IN COURT!” screamed Miss Spelling, standing on her chair, her chest heaving. Quickly realizing her loss of control, the mare sat down, straightened out her hair, and took a gulp of her glass of water. “Counselor Dash, perhaps you have not been told what this meeting is about.” she ventured through gritted teeth.
“Oh yeah? Well what's it to ya?” challenged Twilight's self-appointed attorney, leaning back into her sofa, hooves folded behind her head.
As her pegasus friend began arguing with Miss Spelling, a humiliated Twilight wanted nothing more than to teleport far, far away. In her mind, she toyed with the notion of perhaps warping to the moon; it's probably quite beautiful this time of year. At least all eyes were now on Rainbow Dash instead of herself—or so she thought; turning to her right, Twilight realized that The Great and Powerful Trixie was looking straight at her. Twilight's face reddened to a warm glow, her thoughts a mile a minute. 'Ohmygosh she's smiling at me why is she smiling at me?' Among the other emotions she was feeling at the moment, Twilight felt some small relief in seeing that the magician didn't seem to be angry at her anymore, but that only lasted for a second as she squinted and came to a quick realization about Trixie's temper turnabout. 'Wait... she's grinning...? My embarrassment is funny to you?!'
Twilight's mouth hung open indignantly, her eyes small dots as she stared at Trixie with unmasked ignominy. “This is not funny!” she mouthed silently at the simpering azure mare as soon as she found her what was left of her wits.
The Great and Powerful Trixie was smirking from ear to ear. “Oh yes it is!” she mouthed back, nodding vigorously.
Twilight shook her head, “Nuh-uh!” the lavender bookworm was trying hard not to take part in Trixie's infectious smiling.
“Yah-huh!” Trixie pantomimed dramatically, finding Twilight's tiny, embarrassed smile terribly cute.
Twilight lightly kicked Trixie under the table as she continued her silent argument with the showmare, not caring that her own smile now mirrored Trixie's. “Stop it! It's not!”
“Oh it's on, little filly!” Returning Twilight's kick, both magical mares became fully involved in their game of hoofsie. It took them all of ten minutes to realize that Rainbow Dash and Miss Spelling had stopped arguing quite a while ago and they, along with the rest of the ponies at the table, were watching the playful unicorns with varying degrees of disdain or approval.
Twilight and Trixie wore matching, glowing blushes as their schoolfilly giggling abruptly cut out, washing the room once more in dead silence. Turning to her friend for support, Twilight came face-to-face with Rainbow Dash's insufferably cheeky, smiling pucker, eyes full of mirth. “D'awwww!” the rainbow-maned wonder cooed, not being able to resist teasing her unicorn friend, even as she foaled around with the enemy.
Miss Spelling adjusted her glasses. “Ms. Sparkle, Ms. Trixie; are you two quite finished, or do you have any more delays planned for this meeting?” Receiving no answer from the mortified ponies, the orange unicorn continued. “Now, as I was trying to explain to Counselor Dash, Metro Goldmane Brayer Studios will be releasing to the public a motion picture based on an original story by Ms. Trixie.” Looking to her right, Miss Spelling watched as Rainbow Dash nodded while scribbling on a legal pad she had at some point procured forcefully from the secretary outside. “Now, this original story is a semi-autobiographical account involving ponies, situations, and locations that Ms. Trixie has encountered—as seen through her eyes.”
Rainbow Dash and Twilight both had to roll their eyes at that last part. Looking at her friend, Twilight was less than pleased to see that Rainbow Dash wasn't taking notes as much as she was drawing Applejack all over one page.
Miss Spelling gave The Great and Powerful Trixie a meaningful glance before continuing. “As to why Ms. Sparkle's presence was required—the main conflict in this film involves the antagonistic dynamic between its two main characters, two unicorns based on Ms. Sparkle and Ms. Trixie. We at Metro Goldmane Brayer are prepared to compensate Ms. Sparkle for the use of her likeness in our production and its related products and advertisements.”
Rainbow Dash raised her hoof but Miss Spelling anticipated her question. “All the specifics are already detailed in the contract provided for Ms. Sparkle. Everything should be in order, seeing as this is a pretty standard consent form; all we need is her signature.”
Twilight looked down at the table, where the neigh-unreadable contract stared back at her with arcane legalese. She had tried reading through it, but its language was more mysterious than any ancient tome she had ever perused in her life. Really, she was about to sign the thing anyways, figuring her character's part in Trixie's movie was minuscule at best. Despite what Miss Spelling may be claiming, The Great and Powerful Trixie was not the kind of pony to give equal billing to anypony so easily—whenever this movie got around to getting made, Twilight fully expected her character to be on screen for all of ten seconds before being crushed, eaten, or crush-eaten by an Ursa Major. “Right then...”
“Wait a sec, Twi!” Rainbow Dash stopped the unicorn from reaching for the nearby pen. “You gotta let me look at the contract before you sign it, dude!”
Twilight regarded Rainbow Dash with a questioning look. 'I suppose it would make sense, if we're gonna keep up this farce...' Twilight nodded. “Right, right... How could I forget my legal counsel, after I called you all the way over here?” she chuckled nervously. The unicorn magically handed her friend the large stack of papers.
'Is she... speed-reading?' Miss Spelling sighed as she watched Rainbow Dash apparently skim over the entire contract in less than five minutes. “I suppose we could take an hour's recess for Counselor Dash to review the conditions of the contract, but I would like to advice the Counselor that time is money, and we cannot simply halt production so that she can nitpick numbers on what is an industry-standard contract.”
'Oh no...' cringed Twilight, closing her eyes.
Rainbow Dash's wings spread menacingly. “An hour?! You callin' me slow, Four-Eyes?”
The unicorn leaned away slightly from the threatening body language, until she realized what she had been called.“Four-eyes?!” she asked incredulously, leaning forward and glowering at the cyan mare.
“Yeah, you heard me, Butt-Face!” spat Rainbow Dash, standing on the sofa.
Miss Spelling's horn glowed dangerously. “Counselor Dash, please behave yourself!”
Rainbow Dash beat her wings and hopped up on the table, glowering back at Miss Spelling. “Hah! You gonna sprinkle your unicorn pixie dust on me, Four-Butt-Eyes-Face?! Try it, see what happens.”
Twilight Sparkle stood up from her chair brusquely, knocking it to the floor. “DASH! What's gotten into you? Stop t—” The unicorn's words caught in her throat as soon as the cyan pegasus turned back to face her.
Rainbow Dash's face, her eyes—she wasn't out of control—her confident gaze pierced through Twilight's own with a clear intent. 'Trust me.' The exchange was not lost on Trixie.
Breathing and finding her center, Miss Spelling relaxed and removed her glasses, floating a napkin to clean them. She didn't particularly like the fact that the lawyer pony could get her worked up so easily; she was glad Holly Diver wasn't present to witness the spectacle. “Please don't make me call Security, Counselor Dash. Return to your seat.”
The pegasus turned right back to the orange unicorn. “Go ahead and call 'em! Maybe they can help you take this bogus contract and shove it!” A chorus of whispered gasps from the businessponies followed Rainbow Dash's outburst. “Twi, these chumps are trying to play you for a chump!” The pegasus shoved her hoof accusingly into Miss Spelling's chest. “Trixie and Four-Eyes didn't bring these goons here as lawyers! Ya think I don't know a group of bullies when I see one?”
The Great and Powerful Trixie stood up from her own chair, about to complain. “Trixie did not bri—”
Rainbow Dash continued, ignoring Trixie. “These suits are here to scare ya into signing the contract! You don't need 20 ponies to witness the signing! And where's the script for the movie? Were you just gonna sign your name away and let them write whatever about you?”
Twilight stared at Rainbow Dash in surprise and admiration. She had been having an emotional day, to say the least—so much so that she had not had the presence of mind to actually question anything about this whole mess. Twilight felt disappointed in herself for not having fully analyzed and deconstructed the situation the moment she got to Manehattan. Right then, the unicorn came to the same painful conclusion the pegasus was just arriving to.
“You've got them by the docks, Twi!” many tails twitched at Rainbow Dash's declaration, “You got all the power here—they can't start making the film without your permission, so why're they trying to force you to sign right now? Unless they're totally hidin' something from ya—go ahead, ask Trixie the Rat!” Rainbow Dash spun around to point accusingly at the mare magician.
The Great and Powerful Trixie looked incensed. “Trixie is not—”
“Trixie.” the showmare's heart sunk when she heard Twilight's tone. “Trixie, have you been lying to me?”
The Great and Powerful Trixie had never felt as meager and powerless as she did at that moment. Try as she might, Trixie could not get her words out—she was trying hard to say something, anything to stop Twilight from looking at her like that, but her throat and vocal chords were currently refusing to cooperate and let any lie or, worse yet, any truth come through. The showmare could only see abject disappointment and betrayal in Twilight's bright, purple eyes. Her bright, teary eyes. 'Well done you stupid mare, you made her cry.' Trixie reached tentatively for the lavender unicorn. “Twilight, Trixie is—”
Twilight flinched away from Trixie. “Dash was right about you. Everypony was right about you.” she spat out poisonously, before disappearing in a sparkle of magic.
- - -
Though something of an usual sight nowadays, the denizens of Ponyville had to hand it to six special ponies for always coming up with ways to provide shock and awe to the sleepy town nearly every afternoon. Lining the streets, the crowds watched with confused wonder at the sight—down Main Street and coming from the east, a purple baby dragon ran as fast as he could, pulling behind him a large hot air balloon that was barely floating off the ground. From the west on the same street were three ponies heading straight for the balloon, seemingly with great urgency.
In front of the pack and leading the charge, Ponyville's pioneer dressmaker galloped, looking meticulously and perfectly coiffed as well as gallant and heroic, a sword and shield slung against her back, and a halberd tip on her horn shining in the sun. Behind the seamstress, Ponyville's Premier Pink Party Pony hopped airily and happily, easily keeping up with the leader of the pack. Bringing up the rear, Ponyville's most celebrated drinker as of last night half-galloped, half-fluttered, struggling to keep up with her friends' haste.
“Oh no!” cried the pink earth pony, suddenly changing expressions.
Rarity looked back at Pinkie Pie, never breaking stride. “What it is, dear? Is something the matter?”
“They made Twilight cry!” whimpered the party pony, settling into a gallop.
Rarity didn't have time to reply—Fluttershy had quickly picked her and Pinkie Pie off of the ground, and flapped speedily towards Twilight's balloon. The unicorn's eyes widened for a second, spotting the angry look the meek pegasus carried on her face.
“Um, please hurry, Spike.” Fluttershy requested as she deposited her friends into the pink wicker basket.
“You don't have to tell me twice, Fluttershy!” the young dragon quickly made his way to the throat of the balloon's envelope, plopping down on a small seat attached to it. Without hesitation, Spike started breathing fire into the envelope, quickly heating up the air inside and causing the aircraft to lift off. Fluttershy stayed outside of the basket, holding onto it with her forelegs as she flapped her wings to give the balloon some forward propulsion as her friends cheered her on.
- - -
Miss Spelling was having a bad day, undeniably. The meeting, after finally getting started, had very quickly spiraled out of control. The Great and Powerful Trixie's most amazing act of magic, the orange mare concluded, was the way she could make massive sums of money just disappear from Metro Goldmane Brayer's bank account on a daily basis, just by being herself. It was a mathematical wonder to witness how, with the addition of two acquaintances, Trixie had possibly managed to exponentially increase her staggering cost to the studio in the space of four hours.
Miss Spelling was not pleased. She was not pleased with a lot of things, actually. First and foremost, the colorful but astute attorney had been entirely right and justified in her rant. The studio had asked Spelling to settle this matter cleanly and quickly, and against her better judgment, she had tried to do so. It did not please Miss Spelling, but it was her job, after all. This was the second thing the bespectacled unicorn was not pleased with, her job.
'Not that it matters, now.' The red-maned mare had already taken a risk by pushing so hard for this movie to get made against the wishes of most of the shareholders. She had started digging her grave by vying to give the unicorn magician complete creative control of the project. She had continued to dig herself deeper by bankrolling The Great and Powerful Trixie's very public, very controversial public persona. And now, in front of the entire (useless) Metro Goldmane Brayer legal team, she had spectacularly failed to settle a potential and potentially-costly lawsuit-in-the-making.
Miss Spelling magically brought a napkin to herself, compulsively cleaning her already-clean glasses. ’Lawsuit or not, and whether the movie is released or not, my rump is fired.' The orange unicorn blinked in enlightenment as that thought settled in.
“ALRIGHT!” she shouted, getting everypony's attention. “I want everypony but Ms. Trixie and Counselor Dash OUT OF THIS OFFICE!”
Trixie and Rainbow Dash both looked up from where they had been scuffling on the floor after Twilight had teleported away. Trixie had been angry at herself and at the pegasus, and had quickly thrown herself at Rainbow Dash, who was more than happy to oblige the request to throw down.
“NOW!!” yelled the orange unicorn, magically pulling the chairs out from under every businesspony gathered there. Miss Spelling smiled as she watched the herd of pettifoggers trot out of the meeting room with haste. Turning back to the blue ponies still on the floor, she adjusted her glasses.
Miss Spelling felt liberated. She was going to be fired either way, so it was time to do things right, starting with the truth.
“Counselor Dash, I... Metro Goldmane Brayer is prepared to make any changes you deem necessary to your client's contract. Please, do not be shy about what you believe your client rightfully deserves.” Motioning to the sofa Rainbow Dash had helped herself to, she continued. “We seem to have gotten off on the wrong hoof—perhaps I am to blame for that. May I speak candidly with you? I believe there are some things you must know about this production...” Miss Spelling's smile was bright and cheery...
...which kinda creeped Rainbow Dash out.
End Chapter 5