Bottom Of The Ladder

by GeodesicDragon


Day 2,428 in Equestria.

You stand before a small town, idly watching the townsponies going to and fro. They seem oblivious to your presence, which is good – you don't want them spoiling the surprise you have in store. But given how things work around here you still decide to stealth your way – as best as a six foot tall man can stealth in a town populated by three to four foot tall ponies – to your destination.

You begin your approach, sticking as close as you can to walls and alleyways, ready to dive for cover at a moments notice. You want to get to the club as soon as you can, and surprise your special somepony with your early release from jail.

As you crawl along the ground, doing your best Solid Snake impression, you begin to take notice of the several squads of guards patrolling the area.

"Shit," you whisper. "Are they here to keep an eye on me?"

You stand up and hide behind a large bin, poking your head out to watch as the guards – looking as stoic and miserable as ever – walk around with their weapons in easy reach and full view. It would seem that a lot has happened since you've been away. Now you just have to find out what.

You wait for the patrol to pass by before stepping out into the street. Sadly your attempt at resuming your stealth mission fails miserably when a sudden weight on your shoulders sends you crashing face-first into the ground.

You reach up to throw the weight off, only for it to hop off your shoulders and take the form of a bright pink pony.

"Hi, Anon!"

You get to your feet and look down at your would-be assailant. Yep, that's definitely Pinkie Pie. Seems like you can't do shit around here without her finding out about it. She is beaming from ear to ear and hopping on the spot.

"Hi, Pinkie," you groan. "Look, I was kinda hoping that I wouldn't be seen. I wanted to surprise Vinyl with my early release."

"If you wanted to surprise Vinyl, silly, then you're heading in the wrong direction!" Pinkie replies. "She lives with Octavia now."

You blink in surprise. Vinyl never mentioned this in any of her letters. Pinkie giggles at your confused expression.

"Octavia lives in her house on Saddle Street," she says, pointing a hoof in the direction. "You can't miss it, Anon, because the mailbox has her cutie mark on it. You go there, and I guarantee that you'll find Vinyl. And then you can kiss and I can throw your welcome back party! Oh, and maybe we can even get all the townsponies to start liking you again!"

"Thanks for the directions, Pinkie," You reply. "I'll head over there now and— I'm sorry, but did you say 'get the townsponies to start liking you again'?"

"Yep-a-roonie!" Pinkie exclaims. "A lot of them are a bit hung up about the fact you killed Tech Beat."

"I didn't kill him," you growl. "He killed himself, and I just happened to be holding the thing he used to do it with."

"I believe you, Anon," Pinkie says comfortingly. "But a lot of ponies don't. When word gets out that you're back, prepare yourself."

"Thanks for the warning," you mutter. "Anyway, I'll head over to Octavia's place now. Any chance you could keep my arrival a secret for now? I'll reveal myself once I'm ready."

Pinkie – quite literally – zips her mouth shut and nods enthusiastically before disappearing in a puff of streamers. After staring at where she was for a moment with a dumb look on your face, you shrug and resume your sneaking mission. It's only once you get a bit closer do you realise that you forgot to ask Pinkie about the increased Guard presence.

Entering Saddle Street you see a row of very swanky-looking houses. They're nothing compared to what you had in Canterlot, but by Ponyville standards they're the dog's bollocks.

You glance at the mailboxes, trying to find out which one is Octavia's. Thankfully it doesn't take long, as one mailbox appears to have had a sticker attached to it — which shows Vinyl's cutie mark. With a large grin on your face, and your surprise arrival probably ruined by now, you approach the door and knock.

Hoofsteps in the hall tell you that somepony is coming, so you quickly dust yourself off and straighten your hair. The door opens to reveal Octavia. Well, it is her house, so of course it would be her.

"Good morning," she says. "How can I—"

She cuts herself off when she realises she is looking at a leg instead of a pony. She raises her head and looks at you.

"Hi, Octavia," you reply. "Long time, no see."

"Anon!" she gasps. "You... you're out of jail!"

"I got out early for good behaviour," you grin. "And I figured I'd come back and see my two favourite mares."

Octavia smiles and nods, gesturing you inside with a forehoof. You take your shoes off as a mark of respect and stand in the hall. Octavia points towards the living room — and the white shape curled up on the couch.

"Vinyl hasn't heard anything from you for days, Anon," she whispers solemnly. "She's worried that something has happened."

"Yeah, I had to go a whole week without communications," you whisper back. "As you probably know, all mail sent to prisoners is read first. The last letter I got from Vinyl said something about 'clamps' — the powers that be thought this was code and revoked my mail privileges while they investigated."

"I see," Octavia nods in understanding. "Well then, I think you had better tell Vinyl that."

You slowly walk over to the couch, watching Vinyl as you do. She looks nothing like the wild party animal you met on your first day in Equestria. Instead she looks pitiful and defenceless, like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a truck.

You make your way in front of her and clear your throat. She doesn't respond, so you start talking.

"Hey, Scratchie," you tease. "I was in the neighbourhood and decided that I would grace with you my presence. But if you're not going to show some appreciation then I can—"

Another weight landing on your shoulders sends you crashing to the ground – on your back this time – and you find yourself being crushed in a hug by your marefriend.

"It's been too long, Nonny," Vinyl whispers. "Far too long."

"Far too long indeed," you reply. "But I'm back now. Sorry I never wrote to inform you of my impending arrival, but your last letter to me raised a red flag. They thought you were sending me coded messages or something, so my mail privileges were suspended."

"Really?" Vinyl groans. "Sorry, Anon; I was simply trying to tell you what I was planning on doing to – and with – you when you got back. Speaking of which..." She turns to Octavia. "Hey, Octy, any chance you could make yourself scarce for a while?"

"I guess I could go shopping," Octavia replies. "After all, it would seem that I have a new house guest to take care of."

"Thanks, Octy," Vinyl beams from ear to ear. "You're the greatest." She turns back to face you and grins. "Right, Nonny, you owe me at least five years of conjugal visits."

"No, Vinyl," You reply. "I think you'll find that you owe me five years of conjugal visits."

"Can't you wait until I leave?" Octavia pleads as she puts her saddlebags on her back. "And for Celestia's sake, Vinyl, make sure you use that sound-proofing spell you learned. I can't imagine that the townsponies would be happy if they learned of Anon's return in such an... extravagant fashion."

"That reminds me," you say. "I noticed a hell of a lot of guards in town on my way here. What's up with that?"

"I'll explain everything later," Vinyl replies. "Now get your flank up and into that bedroom, mister!"

You stand up and unceremoniously dump your stuff on the floor before following Vinyl. Octavia rolls her eyes and leaves, closing the door behind her. You stand and watch Vinyl as she focuses some magic into her horn.

"Now, Nonny," she coos. "How about you come over here and open your 'Welcome Home' gift?"

With a grin that could rival Pinkie's you nod, closing the bedroom door behind you.