Chapter 21: Zero Dark Thirty.
Pinkie looks up at me from the bed. The mare smiles innocently, “Wow...”
I nod, I had just finished telling her what the note from Rarity said. “So, I gotta sleep here tonight.”
I start walking towards the bed and Pinkie tilts her head, “Don't try any funny business with me mister, keep you hooves and body parts on your side of the bed. I don't want you doing anything that would make that other mare be mad at me.
I pause, “Pinkie, I'm not going to do anything... but I just told you, Rarity said it was okay. This is all her idea.”
Pinkie shakes her head, “Forget Rarity, I mean your wife, Cadance! You do remember that you’re a married stallion, right?”
I hop on the bed and roll my eyes, “Shining Armor is married, yes. But I’m not actually him.”
She chuckles, “I’m pretty sure that you are.”
I smile softly, “Look, Pinkie, we’ve been over this. We’re humans and some spell or something turned--.”
Pinkie looks me in the eye, “No. A cast of a spell didn’t turn us into ponies.”
I blink, “What?”
She nods, “Think about it, someone would have to cast a spell on us right? Don’t you think we would remember that? This all started at our birthday party, and no one was there to curse us or hex us or anything. We were all alone, and then this just started. No one was there to cast a spell, so no spell did this to us.”
I raise an eyebrow, “But we turned into ponies, so there had to be some spell...”
She giggles, “Open your eyes honey, you know what triggered this change, it happened to each of us right when we turned 25. There was no sorcerer around there when we started changing, it was just time that triggered it.”
She looks up at the ceiling, “So it wasn’t a new spell put on us. Time expiring, then us changing shape means some spell was wearing off. Come on ‘Rachel’ you played MMOs as much as I did, you should know this.”
Pinkie says something else, changing the subject to ice cream flavors, but I’m not paying attention. My mind is still looking at Pinkie’s argument and searching for flaws. I didn’t see any though... what the hell?
Pinkie starts explaining why peanuts work in chocolate ice cream, but not vanilla. I just stare ahead and mumble “Pinkie... you’re brilliant.”
She looks over at me, “No I’m not, my name is Pinkie!” She giggles and goes back to explaining ice cream. I just shake my head and lean back into the bed, barely paying any attention to her. Don’t get me wrong, I adore her little rants about sweets, it’s just that my mind is elsewhere at the moment. She was right, a time expiration leading to our bodies changing fits the description of a spell wearing off, not a new one being cast. So where did the spell first come from? And were we really ponies all along?
Pinkie’s ears swivel, “Ooo! Text message for Pinkie!” She hops off the bed and trots to her phone.
I’m speechless, “Um, Pinkie? You still get texts? From who? It's like 11pm!”
I glance up to see her work the touch screen with her nose. She giggles, “I always get texts!” A few nose taps later and she canters back to the bed. “Okay! All done, where were we?”
I shake my head, “Ice cream flavors.”
The next hour passed by quickly. Pinkie just wouldn't stop talking about sugary dairy treats, then I turned on the TV. Turns out there was a Dexter's Lab marathon going on and Pinkie loved that show.
We finish the second episode and I see Pinkie flick the lights off. I raise my eyebrows, “Going to bed?”
Pinkie glances at the time, “Yeah, I need to sleep.”
I raise my eyes, “What? There are cartoons! And it's not even midnight, most nights we hear you up all night long.”
She shrugs, “Not tonight. I wanna sleep.”
I raise my eyebrows, but don’t question her. I really can’t complain, she was actually really cool about this whole thing tonight where I have to share the room with her. Still though, it seems unlike Pinkie to be acting like this and going to bed so early. Oh well, I am actually pretty tired. I use my magic to grab the remote and turn off the TV. “G’night Pinkie, thanks for, well, not being too crazy with me tonight.”
She giggles, “Yeah, it was nice. Rarity is going to be so disappointed though.”
I smile, “Who knows, maybe all along Rarity just wanted me to watch cartoons with you.”
The royal guards and I march out to Celestia’s last location near the volcano. With me is an entire legion of our finest guards... I sigh, not this dream again. It’s the only dream I get these days, and I can never change the outcome. It’s like I’m not even in control of what happens here, I’m just here watching it unfold through Shining’s eyes. We march to the volcano, no one is there, I send out scouts, I’ll feel that Twilight is in trouble, I’ll tell the guards to return to the castle. Talk about boring.
The dream passes by as always, and I get to the part where a decorated pegasus near me salutes, and tells me he will fly back to check on Twilight and get there before I do. I shake my head following the preset script, “Your bravery is commendable, but there’s no need for that flight, I’m going myself. I’ll meet you all there when you arrive.” I start to charge my horn and prepare to teleport back. Teleportation is an exceptionally tricky spell, the number of ponies that can do this could be counted with a single breath. Truth be told, the spell was probably beyond my natural talent, but my sister painstakingly taught me this spell.
One of my personal unicorn guards realizes what I was doing and runs up to me. I temporarily halt my spell as he speaks up, “Sir, please, you can’t go by yourself, you have to wait for some of your guard to arrive! It’s too risky to go there alone!”
I grit my teeth, “Look, we don’t have time for this! It’s going to take us over an hour to get back on hoof. That’s too slow! I need to teleport back now! If something happens to me when I’m saving my sister, well then that’s--.”
The noise of a door closing rings in my ears and I suddenly sit up in bed, shaking away the last bits of my sleep. I squint across the dark hotel room, Pinkie is at the door and she is locking it behind her. “Pinkie...?”
She looks up at me, “Oh... hey Shining. Sorry about waking you, wind caught the door before I could close it.”
I rub my eyes with my fetlocks and check the clock, “Pinkie, its 2am. What are you doing by the door anyway?”
She shrugs, then trots back to bed. “I just needed to get some air, that’s all.”
I’m too tired to make heads or tails of her story. Made sense though, the windows here don’t open, gotta go outside if you want fresh air. I shake my head, “Right, well, be careful, someone out there might see you.”
She snuggles up close to me, “Don’t worry, I was careful!”
“Mmhmm.” I feel the bed shift as she climbs in. I close my eyes and instantly fall back into sleep.
The day comes and before long I’m in the middle of recapping last night to Rarity.
“You did what?” Rarity squeals, “Oh come on!”
I chuckle, somewhat surprised that Rarity would be disappointed to hear that Pinkie and I didn't do anything sexual last night. I guess Rarity really wanted me to do something with her, oh well, I certainly shot that attempt of hers down. In any case, at least talking to Rarity about what Pinkie and I did do gave me something to talk about. It’s pouring rain today and Rarity got a text from her parents saying they were staying one more night in their Seattle condo. So it’s a wasted day really, it’s almost 3pm already and not much has happened. Pinkie’s been watching cartoons in her room all day, Twilight is reading the show bible cover to cover in her room, and Rarity and I are playing cards. Well the cards thing is sort of an excuse I used, in reality I just wanted to hang out with Rarity for several hours. So we played some card games and told Rarity about last night. Granted, I did leave out the part where Pinkie suggested us becoming ponies was an old spell wearing off and not a new spell. I’m still not sure what to think of that, it brings more questions than answers.
“And that pretty much covers it, after that Pinkie wanted to call it a night.”
Rarity seems taken aback, “What? Already? After just two cartoons!?”
I nod, “I know, right? That's what I said! A Dexter's Lab marathon was on too!”
Rarity scoffs, “Well I never really got into that show, but Pinkie? I expected her to watch that all night!”
I shrug, “Yeah, I sort of did too. It’s fine though, we caught up on sleep.”
She nods, “I suppose so. What about in the morning? Anything special?”
I smirk, “Speaking of that. Rarity, how come you never do anything special for me in the mornings? Hmm?”
She gently nudges me, “Oh shush, I’ve only been a girl for like three days, I'm not going to do anything like that.” She pauses for a moment, “But no, really, what did Pinkie do to you when you woke up?”
I nod, “Sorry to disappoint milady, but we didn’t do anything like that. It was nice though, I awoke to see Pinkie watching cartoons while eating some prepackaged donuts. She looked back at me and said ‘Wakey wakey sleepy head! Here, I got you some coffee’. Then I looked on the nightstand to see another pack of small donuts and a cup of steaming hot coffee.”
Rarity tilts her head, “Where did Pinkie get coffee from?”
“That’s what I said! Anyway, she told me each floor of this motel has a vending machine, and a little before I woke up she slipped out and bought the donuts and coffee there. She even made sure to tell me that, yes, she was very careful when she did it and no one saw her. The coffee was watery, vending machine coffee, but hey it was coffee!” I smile at the thought, I give Pinkie a lot of crap, but she’s a great pony.
Rarity frowns, “I didn’t think Pinkie had any cash...”
I raise an eyebrow, “Hmm? She’s poor, but I doubt she’s flat broke. The coffee was probably like 50 cents.”
Rarity shakes her head, “No, I mean I’ve seen the vending machines here, they only accept cash. And earlier when we talked about debit cards being ubiquitous, I thought Pinkie told us specifically doesn’t carry any cash on her.”
I shrug, “I guess she had a few bucks, I don’t know.” My stomach growls, “Speaking of vending machines, what are we doing for dinner?”
She checks the time, “Twilight said meet in her room at 5pm for pizza. We’re going to order it online and tip the guy extra with the directions to leave it outside the door.”
I grin at the thought of pizza, “Sounds great!”
She frowns, “Not really, it’s only 3pm, and it’s still raining outside. We have to wait another two hours yet, urgh, I hate being stuck indoors all day.”
“Well, I for one, absolutely love being stuck inside.” I whisper in her ear, “Go Fish?”
“You’re insatiable!” Rarity remarks, before laughing and grabbing the card deck once more.
“Can we order another pizza?” Pinkie begs.
“Tomorrow.” Twilight answers in monotone.
I laugh, “Here Pinkie, you can have my last slice.”
Rarity raises an eyebrow as she sees me hand it over, “You don’t want it?”
I look at Rarity, “Not that hungry... ate too many of those vending machine donuts today.” I pat my belly.
I glance at Twilight to see if she heard the remark. The alicorn seemed pretty preoccupied with her phone though, “Crime solvers closed the case of the guy with the red pony ears in Chicago.”
“Oh?” We all turn to Twilight, excited for news.
Twilight frowns, “They said after all these time they still had no leads, so they closed it for ‘lack of evidence’.”
I sigh, “Damn, any other leads?”
My sister taps her chin, “Well, I was thinking about that Twitter post.” She turns to Pinkie, “Remember that tweet you got from that person asking about your cutie mark tattoo?”
Pinkie nods, “Wha abow tit?” She tries to speak through a mouth full of pizza, failing for the most part.
Twilight rolls her eyes at the gesture, “Well I went back and looked at their Twitter account. Last New Years she posted saying ‘Yay! Auld Lang Syne everyone’ at what would be 12:01am central time.”
Rarity nods, “So this guy with pony ears is seen in Chicago, and the tweet asking about other people with pony marks comes from that time zone. Could it be the same person? ”
I raise my eyebrows, “It’s a stretch... but it might be something.”
Twilight nods, “I agree. In any case, I made a new Twitter account and sent that person a message. I replied to that first tweet they sent about the cutie mark, and I said I had the same problem I think they have.”
I scratch my head, “What makes you think they will believe you? How will they know you’re a pony?”
Twilight beams at me, “I left them a clever clue, if they read it they will know we are ponies!”
I raise an eyebrow, “Go on...”
Twilight continues to smile and taps her hooves together excitedly, “In the tweet I said ‘Finding a cutie mark would really stirrup the emotions’!”
“...Really?” I stare at my sister, as does Rarity.
Twilight nods eagerly, “You see, it’s a pun! I used the word stirrup which normally means--.”
I throw my hooves in the air, “I know what it means! Honestly Twilight, a pun? That was your great idea!?”
She frowns, “I thought it was clever.”
Rarity pats her on the back, “Well it’s... something. Um, good work though? I mean, you still did more productive work than any of us did today.”
Twilight sighs, “Thanks Rarity.” She goes on to mumble something about people not appreciating the cleverness of a good pun these days.
I stand up on all fours and yawn, “Well, thanks for ordering the grub sis, it was really tasty pizza. Good idea with checking up on the tweet too. Anyway, I’m headed back to my room, getting kind of late.”
Pinkie looks over at me, “It’s only 6pm!”
I shrug, “I’m, uh, tired?” I glance at Rarity, “What do you say Rarity? Time to hit the hay?”
She laughs softly, “Sure thing.”
Twilight shakes her head as she watches both of us leave, her mind running wild with what we could be doing to each other in that room. She comments as I leave the room, “Since when is my brother such an animal?”
Pinkie laughs, “Ah ha, you made another joke! That was a really good one!”
Twilight sighs as I close the door, “Pinkie...don’t patronize me.”
“Okay, slowly, I think it will fit this time!” Rarity moans and I slide the block into place. We were playing reverse Jenga where you take a Jenga tower that's half empty, and then try to slide to blocks back in without knocking the tower down. Earlier we watched some TV while cuddling, then played a game of Twister (surprisingly hard as a pony) and now that it's about 11pm we moved on to the real game: Jenga. We found normal Jenga was too easy since we can use magic to pull out the blocks, but reverse Jenga? Getting those blocks in there without knocking over the tower, yikes.
I slide it in another inch, “Is it still looking okay?”
She bites her lip, “Fuck yes! Oh, pardon my language.”
I laugh, then test the waters, “Oh? The little girl scared of some bad words? Can't handle a man's game?”
Rarity sighs “Shining, I've been a guy longer than you have.”
I feel a shiver down my spine, in that moment it felt like I was talking to Tom, the male friend I had for so many years. I often forgot him and this Rarity were one and the same. It can be jarring to suddenly be reminded of it. “Oh, s-sorry.”
Rarity scoffs, “I do apologize for breaking character darling, now come on, get that block in there, the tower can take it!”
I smile “Of course milady!” I push it in the rest of the way, and to both of our delights the block fits all the way in.
Rarity claps her hooves, “You did it!”
I beam, “Of course I did!”
She smiles, “So, how does tonight compare to the games you played with Pinkie?”
Watching cartoons with Pinkie was great, but it's not even close to as much fun as playing these silly games with Rarity. I blush as stare downwards, “Everything is just better when you do it with someone you love.”
Rarity blushes herself, “And you really do love me?”
I lean forward and kiss her on the cheek “Of course, darling!” I smile as I mimic her vocabulary. “Rarity my dear, I love you more than any pony I have ever loved!”
She raises an eyebrow, “And any human?”
I pause for a second to catch her drift, “Oh, right, when we were humans. Sure, I love you more than I loved any human.” I laugh at myself, that was easy, I never really had any good boyfriends as a human.
She hugs me “I feel the same way Shining.”
I feel myself blush, this is awkward. I just admitted to a pony that I love her more than I loved any human in my life. She reciprocated that love to me too. What happens when we change back? Won't it be weird knowing how we confessed our love to some equine?
“What’s wrong darling?”
I grin and hug her right, “Nothing, just, well I think I'll actually miss this life when we change back to humans.”
She cuddles into me arms, “I know what you mean, I want to be with you, like this. If we’re going to be stuck as these ponies... If I’m going to be stuck as a mare... I would actually be okay with that as long as we can be together”
A tear rolls down my cheek and I kiss her forehead, “I know the feeling Rarity.”
The royal guards and I march out to Celestia’s last location near the volcano. With me is an entire legion of our finest guards... Great, what a surprise, the same freakin dream. God this sucks, why can’t I have cool dreams? You know, dreams where I’m skydiving or surfing or something? Nope, all I get is this crap dream about going to the volcano and ordering the guards around.
Sure enough we reach the volcanic outcrop and everyone is surprised Celestia and Discord are missing. “Get me three of our scouts, and check the perimeter to make sure we aren’t missing anything.” I command lazily. I knew that in about two minutes they scouts would come back, they would report they saw nothing, then I’d get that feeling that Twilight is in danger...
Out of nowhere I feel a jolt of magical panic. I blink, wait a second, I’m getting the bad feeling now? I look around, the pegasus scouts hadn’t even taken off yet. This doesn’t make sense, I’ve had this dream a hundred times, and the panic about Twilight in danger always happens later on... What the hell? Did the dream changed, or is it something else?
“Gah!” I clutch my horn, this is different. It feels more real than normal. Something is going on, something’s wrong. This isn’t supposed to be happening! This isn’t part of the dream.
Pain and fear shoots down my horn once more and it becomes more clear. The danger isn’t about Twilight this time, someone else is in trouble--
“PINKIE!!” I yell as I sit up with a start. Sweat drips off my face and my horn continues to pulse with an unsettling feeling. “Pinkie...”
Rarity awakens at my side and puts a hoof on my shoulder, “What is it darling?”
I glance at a clock, it’s 2am. “Pinkie... something just happened to Pinkie!”
Rarity nickers softly, “Still thinking about her I see?”
I glance back at Rarity, “This is serious Rarity, she’s in trouble. Like, real trouble.” Rarity raises her eyebrow, but I hop off the bed. “I’m going to go check on her. Where is that second key card for her room?”
Rarity gets up slowly, “How do you know she’s in trouble?”
I shake my head, “Special talent I guess? I don’t know, but I gotta get over there right now.”
Rarity pulls the key out of her bag, “I’m coming with you.”
I pause, I didn’t think I wanted her going with me. What if it’s dangerous? Gah, screw it, no time to argue. “Fine, let’s go. Now!”
Rarity looks at herself, she’s wearing her night lingerie. She magics over a skirt, “Well, I would really prefer if I change out of this evening wear, but I guess I’ll just cover it with a skirt. And, alright, I’m done, let’s go.”
I fling open the door and do a light canter down the hall and over to Pinkie’s floor. I would move even faster, but I don’t want to wake up half the hotel with the sounds of two ponies running at full gallop.
I eventually arrive at Pinkie’s door with Rarity right behind me. I charge my horn slowly and grit my teeth, ready to face any trouble that lies on the other side of the door. Rarity slides the key in the lock and flings the door open!
And nothing, the room is empty. I lower my guard and trot inside but Pinkie is nowhere to be seen. Rarity leans into my side, a touch of fear creeps into her voice, “Shining... where is she?”
“I don’t know.” I sigh as the magical pain continues to track down my horn. Wherever she is, she’s still in trouble. “Rarity, hit the lights, there’s gotta be some note somewhere that explains where she went.”
She flicks on the light and we start flipping over the blankets and pillows, looking for some sign, any sign of where she is. After a minute or so we examined every aspect of the tiny room. There were no notes anywhere, no clues of any kind. The only thing we found was her cellphone, which I suppose might be useful.
I grasp the phone in my hooves and turn it on, only to see it's password protected. “Damn, no luck with the phone, it's locked.”
Rarity trots beside me and takes it in her magic, turning it over as she studies it. “How did Pinkie get the supplies to decorate her phone so much?”
I look at the phone, Rarity had a point, the phone has a pink case and on the back is a sticker of Pinkie's cutie mark. I shake my head. “Can't explain the Pinkie. However... seeing as how her phone is 100% Pinkie themed, maybe we can guess the password? It’s probably something like ‘sugar’ or ‘balloons’.”
Rarity nods, then looks around her. “Darling, do you have a stylus with you?”
We used tablet styluses, held with magic, to operate our touch screens since hooves don't work on them. I look down at my 'evening wear' boxers and sigh. “I don't have mine on me, I keep mine with my phone and those are back in my shorts.”
Rarity nods, “Likewise.”
Without another word, we leave Pinkie's empty hotel room and head back to our room. As we move, I glance over at the phone Rarity was still holding in her magic. “I still don’t understand how Pinkie even uses a phone without a stylus? Like, she uses her nose or something?”
She chuckles, “I thought we both agreed not to question the Pinkie.”
I want to laugh with her, but I can't in this mood. I still can’t shake this really bad feeling about this. I grimace as we near our room, “Just, um, start thinking of passwords she would use.”
Rarity nods and gets silent as I pull out the keycard and unlock the door. I wave a hoof for Rarity to stand back, then I open the door carefully and dart my eyes around the room to look for intruders. Rarity walks past me casually and enters the room. “Calm down James Bond, pretty sure no one broke into our apartment in the three minutes we were gone.”
I sigh, I know I'm edge, but I don't see why Rarity has to make fun of my caution, I know something bad is going on around here. I lock and bolt the door behind us, then see Rarity place the phone and her stylus on the table next to me, “You give it a go Shining, I need to use the little filly's room.”
She makes her way to the bathroom and shuts the door as I take the stylus in my magic and decide to start guessing passwords. For starters, let's try the word 'Pinkie'.
The phone chirps and the unlock screen goes away showing me the phone's homepage. I can't help but facehoof, I really needed to talk to Pinkie about computer security. Well, at least Pinkie’s terrible password choice let me access her phone, I should be grateful. “I got the password!” I cry out to Rarity.
“Splendid.” Rarity calls out from the bathroom.
I check her call history, announcing the results to the mare, “Pinkie made no calls in the past week.”
I hear the toilet flush and the sink turn on, “Mmhmm, what about texts?”
I tap the stylus about, “She texted two people recently, an unknown number and...” I grit my teeth in anger, “Starbreezer.”
The sink shuts off and the door opens, Rarity cleans her front hooves with a towel before trotting towards me, “Starbreezer? The RP guy from the park? How did he get her number?”
I click on the contact history, anger boiling in my veins. That creep did something to her, didn't he? “He must have gave it to her right as I left. They talked for a few seconds in private before I noticed Pinkie wasn't following me.”
Rarity holds a hoof over her mouth, “Oh no... what did they text about?”
I clear my throat and start to read the text history between them. “Last night Starbreezer said, 'Thanks for being kind to me Pinkie, I had a lot of fun seeing my first pony'. Pinkie then replies, 'No problem, it was fun, thanks for the apples.' Starbreezer replies 'I can give you loads more apples, so would my friend! He loves Pinkie, seeing you in person would just make his life complete... can you come over to our place?”
Rarity holds a hoof over her mouth, “Oh no... she didn't?!”
I read on and nod, “Oh yes... she did.” I clear my throat and fill in Rarity, “Pinkie replies, 'Umm, maybe? I don't know if Shining would let me.' The human replies, 'Where are you staying? I can drive over and pick you up at night when he's asleep.'”
I shake my head I can't believe she fell for their ruse. These humans were probably going to do bad things once they had her! I sigh and read on, “Pinkie then responds telling him our motel address, and tells him to pick her up at 1am. Then the human confirms that he'll be there and she's going to have so much fun over at their place. He tells her that he'll give her a hundred bucks cash and some more food as a reward for going.”
I look up from the phone and see Rarity pacing in a circle, “This is bad, this is very bad, those brutes have Pinkie!”
I nod, then realize something, “Wait, this was from last night.” I skim the rest of their text history, “They sent another text to Pinkie at 9am, it says 'Thanks so much for coming last night Pinkie. I have never seen my roommate so happy, talking to you and petting your mane was the best thing to ever happen to him. Pinkie then replies, 'I had fun, I'm happy to cheer him up. And thanks for the food and cash guys, I'm going to use it to buy my friends donuts!'”
Rarity stares at me, “Wait, so it really was just a friendly meeting? Pinkie was fine?”
I nod slowly, as confused as her, “Yeah, and that was their last text exchange, they had no plans to meet tonight... Their only meeting was yesterday. So where is Pinkie?”
Rarity tilts her head, “You said there was another number she texted?”
My eyes light up and I tap the phone with the stylus again, “Oh yeah! There was an unknown number...” I feel my heart clench in fear, just looking at the entry title I could feel something was off. I click it and read the exchange from the start. “Pinkie gets a text from this number saying, 'You're Pinkie Pie right?' Pinkie replies asking who this is, the number says 'A friend of a friend that you met yesterday. You make house visits?'” My blood turns to ice, I don't know if it's my special talent or something else, but I can tell this guy is not like the two other humans. I pray to god that Pinkie didn't reply back, but part of me already knows what happened.
I swallow and read on, “Pinkie says she just did that other one as a favor. The human replied 'Can you do one more? Please, I'm really sad over here and I would love to see you.' Pinkie replied saying she is unsure. Human then beseeched her, 'Come on Pinkie, I'll have cake and balloons and streamers, it will be a lot of fun.' Pinkie replied saying she really shouldn't go, human replied with his address...”
Rarity taps her chin, “That address is less than a mile from here.”
I nod, “That's what Pinkie said. She then says since it's so close she'll stop by tonight, but only for a little bit. The human says that would be perfect.” My heart pounding, I scroll up and read the final entry. “Last message was one sent from Pinkie, 'Leaving now I'll be there in about fifteen minutes.'”
I put the phone down, already knowing what happened when she got there. Rarity looks up, “When was that sent?”
I close my eyes, “1:50am”
“And when did you wake up, feeling she was in trouble?”
Rarity does the math in her head, “...Buck.”
Too concerned about Pinkie to even notice Rarity's uncharacteristic vulgarity, I shake my head, “Whoever is at that address, they don't want Pinkie just to pet her and give her some apples. I can feel it, Pinkie walked towards some serious trouble at that address...”
I stand up and make for the door. Rarity stands up behind me, “Where are you going?”
I start unlocking the door, “I'm going after her! I have her phone and I know the address where she is.” I open the door.
Rarity uses her magic to slam the door shut, “No. What if something happens to you?”
I grit my teeth, “What if something happens to Pinkie?”
Rarity bites her lip, “Can't we wait until morning?”
I shake my head, “They must know others would find her phone, this address is probably a temporary one. If we wait until morning whoever has Pinkie might be long gone, with Pinkie.”
I hear a sigh then Rarity's magic glows again, this time opening the door. “You're right, let's go.”
I step into the hallway, then turn back as my brain processes her words. “We? Oh no, you're staying here.”
She shakes her head from the doorway, “No way, you don't know what's out there, two ponies are safer than one.”
I look at her and think for a moment, she has a good point. From a security standpoint, sending one person into an unknown conflict is not ideal. Things are safer if you have a partner with you. But no, not Rarity. If there's an ambush waiting for us I can't have Rarity there with me. If I get caught, I can live with that. But if Rarity gets captured too? No, no I can't have that.
I grit my teeth, “Sorry Rarity, it's too dangerous. You're the girl, I'm the guy, let me be the one to risk myself.”
She matches my expression, “Shining, you've been a guy for like three days! I spent my entire life as one, I can handle myself out there!”
I sigh, “I don't want you in harm's way Rarity.”
She steps out into the hallway next to me, then closes the door behind us. ”And I don't want you in harm’s way either, but it looks like we're both going.”
I don’t like this neighborhood, if Seattle had a part of the town where crack houses are, it would be here.
“Why would Pinkie come here?” Rarity whispers as she trots at my side.
I shake my head, “Maybe she saw it looked scary and she turned back.” No sooner do I say those words before I know they weren’t true. My magic is telling me Pinkie got in trouble, it makes perfect sense that this is where it happened.
“There’s no greenery out here, this place is terrible!” Rarity looks around as we walk. I nod in agreement, not so much caring about the aesthetics, but worried about the lack of cover. The houses are all right up on each other, there are no alleys and really no way off the street. If we had to leave, it would be down a quarter mile of pavement before we would reach a spot where we could get off the road.
I look up at the house numbers then turn to Rarity and whisper, “That’s the house up ahead.” It’s about 100 meters away, it has it’s lights on, and there appear to be a three guys standing by the far side of the house.
Rarity looks it over, “So... what do we do exactly?”
I shake my head, “Not sure. Well, I guess I can sneak up to one of the windows on this side, and then take a peek inside? Maybe confirm if Pinkie really is here, as well as see what she is doing in there.”
I take a step forward, only to have a hoof tug on me, “You’re going by yourself? I thought we agreed to do this together?”
I gesture at the three ‘guards’ standing on the far side of the house. “They might see or hear us if we get close. Sending two ponies means twice the noise and twice the chance of getting caught. You can watch me from right here, I’m just going to look in the window and come right back. Okay?”
She nods, “Fine, be careful.”
I give her a quick kiss, “Always.”
I trot towards the house, getting as close as I dare. Damn this white fur of mine, a black coat would be so much better for this. I sigh as I wait for the guards to turn away so I can close the last distance and move to the side of the house. And... there! They are slowly walking away from me and have their backs turned, time to run!
As quietly as I can, I canter down the weed filled lawn and move to the side of the house. Phew, made it! Now, to find a window so I can look inside and get some intel. I move towards the closest window, then quietly magic an empty crate over to me so I can stand on it and look inside. I rear up and two legs and see..
Holy shit, Pinkie is in there surrounded by about ten guys, none of them looking like the type of person you would want to meet in a dark alley. They are wearing assorted clothing, and it looks like Pinkie has a collar on. The guys are all arguing about something. Hmm, I wonder--
Everything goes dark.
“Hmmmff!” I mumble through a mouth full of cloth as I feel some bag go over my head.
I feel strong hands grab my sides and throw me down, I land painfully on my side. Another pair of hands grabs my legs, tying them together with something. “Ha, I told you I heard fucking hoofsteps dude.”
I try casting a spell, but it’s useless. I am totally blind, I can’t cast spells if I don’t know what to aim at. Another deep voice chimes in and my front legs get tied, “Should have known that pink cunt would have friends.”
I feel my front half get lifted. “Yep, well, grab his back half and let’s carry him inside an-- AHH!!”
I fall back to the ground and I hear sounds of a struggle. Then there is the sound of something hard hitting soft flesh, and I feel bodies fall to either side of me. A moment later I feel the dark cloth being lifted off my head.
Rarity’s worried face looks down at me, “Are you okay? I came as soon as I saw them move towards you!”
I take a deep breath and gasp for air, looking around me at the downed bodies. “Jesus Rarity, you knocked out both of them!?”
She looks around, fear in her eyes, “Yes, I told you I could handle myself darling.” She quickly unties the rope on my legs using magic. “But there’s one small problem.”
I pull my legs free and stand up, “What’s that?”
Rarity looks at me, “The third guard? He ran into the house when he saw me take out these two.”
The mechanical screech of a garage door opening fills the air, followed by the sound of dozens of hurried footsteps. “Rarity...”
She looks around, “Oh buck?”
“RUN!!!” I scream, kicking up dirt behind me as I take off myself. Rarity is at my side as we gallop down the grass and get back on the main road. I glance over my shoulder to see over ten guys pour out of the house and start yelling as they point at us.
I look over at Rarity, ensuring she is keeping up with me. She cries out, “This was a stupid, stupid idea Shining.”
I gesture ahead as we gallop, “Rarity, we’ll be fine! We just gotta run a bit, get off the road, and we’re safe! Ponies can outrun humans!”
I almost believed we would be fine, but then my ears swiveled as they pick up the sounds of a car starting and the engine revving. Rarity looks at me, fear in her eyes, “Shining...”
I gallop harder, “Just a quarter mile Rarity, there’s bushes there and we can get off the pavement and lose them, we can make it...”
Tires screech and I look over my shoulder. A beat up old BMW is roaring towards us, the guy is probably flooring it. “Rarity, gallop faster!”
She looks back and cries out, “We won’t make it!”
I slow down a little so she can catch up to me, I glance ahead, we are over halfway there. We’re so close, just another fifteen seconds or so!
The hair on the back of my neck stands up as I hear the car pull up alongside us, I glance over at it and see both windows on this side roll down. I yell out to Rarity, “Stay away from the car, they’ll probably try to grab you or--” I cut myself off as I see the driver pull out what looks to be a pistol.
“Are they going to shoot us!?” Rarity scream in panic.
“Nah, that’s stupid, why would they?” My eyes widen in shock as I see the guy in the back seat pull out a weapon and aim it right at Rarity. He aims down the barrel and I watch as he fires it directly at her.
“No!” I cry out and pour sheer willpower into trying to save her from being shot. After a second, I glance back at Rarity fearing the worst. She is still fine though, she’s still galloping and is looking at the air between her and the car. I follow her gaze and I spot it, suspended in mid air, caught in my magic glow, is a tranquilizer dart. I caught it in flight? Holy shit. Well, good thing those dart guns only have one shot, I think we’re safe!
My back leg stumbles mid gallop. That’s strange I can’t feel my flank anymore. I glance at the car and the see the driver grinning at me, then I remember he had the second gun...
Rarity passes me, happiness in her voice, “It’s right here Shining, we made it! And look, the car is backing off!”
“Yeah, go, get off... the road...” My head starts to get woozy and I stop running. I look at my side, jabbed right in the center of my cutie mark is the second tranquilizer dart. Looks like I saved Rarity, but couldn’t quite save... myself...
Rarity stops and turns around, “Shining!! Come on!”
My front legs give out and I fall to my knees, “Rarity... run.” Through my haze I see the car spin around and start heading back towards us. “Run...”
She trots over to me, grabbing my limp legs with her hooves as tears stream down her face, “Shining, come on, you can make it, look! We’re RIGHT HERE!” She gestures at the patch of grass and the brush that is not 10 yards away from where I fell.
My eyelids get heavy, “Rarity, run! Go! Please just go!”
She tugs on me some more, “Get up Shining, come on, you can make it!”
I focus the last bits of my energy into my lungs, “Goddamn it Rarity, SAVE YOURSELF!”
I hear the car stop about 10 feet away, car doors open, and I lose consciousness.
“Urgh, my head” I mumble through a dry mouth, then reach a hoof to my face to hold back my throbbing headache. My hoof brushes past something on my neck, and I’m suddenly aware of an uncomfortable accessory. I touch it with my hoof and to confirm my fears: I’m wearing a collar.
My eyes shoot open and I look around, I’m in some sort of makeshift cell. The room we’re in is small, about the size of kid’s bedroom, and in it are two metal cages that each take up half the room. I’m in one of them, and as I look left I can see Pinkie and... Rarity in the other. I swear to myself, Rarity should have gotten away, she could have made it if I didn’t fall and distract her. I look over at the mares, they are both sitting, staring at the wall. It looks like all three of us have collars on.
I feel a flash of anger, “What the hell is this?” I yell out. Outside the cages, a human I hadn’t seen before glances at me, then pushes a switch on the wall.
I howl in pain and the collar shocks my neck with a burning jolt. The human lets off the switch, “Now now, don’t raise your voice at me silly pony, just stay quiet. Do you notice the collar? It’s designed for cattle, so I’m guessing its powerful enough for ponies. Alright, here are the rules: One, if you try to take off your collar, you get shocked. Two, if you yell, you get shocked. And three, if you leave this room, the collar will automatically and continuously shock you until you return.”
My heart drops, what the hell are we here? I thought they were just some sick fucks that wanted to mess around with ponies for a night. But this whole fancy setup? For what? I hear a shuffle next to me and Rarity speaks up, “Let him go. You won’t get much for him, he’s not one of the main characters.”
The humans laughs, then sits back down. “Well sure, we can probably make much, much off of you two girls, being part of the "mane six" and all. God knows how many bronies out there will want to see you. But don’t worry, even the stallion here will still fetch some nice fees from people wanting to see and pet him. I’m sure there are little girls out there who would to put a saddle on him and ride him around their lawn too.” The human tosses a hand in the air, “Or maybe some young cowboy would want him as their steed, hey, I won’t judge.”
The dots connect in my mind and I feel like I’m going to throw up. These humans, whoever they are, captured us so they could sell us? And just to turn a profit on having us do meaningless activities for them? I glance sideways at the mares, only now realizing that Rarity’s skirt and other underwear was missing. I snorted, they probably wanted her to look “show accurate” so they had her take it all off. I wince knowing how exposed she must be feeling. I look down at myself, confirming that I was also missing my boxers. Great, just great. They are probably going to take some pictures of us next, then start trying to find a buyer...
The human leans back in his chair and smiles, “It was nice of you two to show up by the way. We planned on making the pink one talk until she told us where we could find more ponies, but you just walked yourselves here. Ah, we’re going to make millions off of you as the years go on.”
For a moment I am relieved that at least my sister is safe. It sounds like these, for lack of a better word, slavers didn’t know about her. But then I realized just how broken that connection really is. We didn’t leave a note or anything. Not only that, we took Pinkie’s phone with us. Twilight will have absolutely no idea what happened to us, or where we are! My heart fills with dread once more, not only are we in serious trouble here, but Twilight will have nothing to go on. We’re totally on our own.
I look around at the cage, it was solid metal, there is no way I can break out of this thing. Maybe I can bluff? ”Hey, you better let us go. We’re unicorns, we can blow this cage apart if we wanted to! We--”
I twist over and fall on my side as the pain blinds me. It subsides and the human chuckles, “Oh sorry, were you saying something? And no, Pinkie over there already spilled the beans on the strength of unicorns when we first captured and threatened her. She said you can do some telekinesis and other small stuff. Pretty cool I guess, but you will notice everything in this room has been bolted to the floor or to the wall. So unless you can rip the steel bars out of the floor... yeah, let’s just say I’m not concerned.” The human smirks, “And let’s not forget our friend the shock collar, shall we? You can only remove the collars with a key, so even if you break out of the cage you can’t really leave can you?”
He laughs and stands up, reaching a hand through the bars to pat me on the head. I grit my teeth and contemplate biting him right here, but I knew it wouldn’t get me anywhere. I need him to lower his guard, not realize I am dangerous. He pets me a few more times, “There’s a good pony. Now get some sleep, customers are going to start visiting tomorrow and you need to look your best for them! And don’t worry about your current accommodations, we are moving you someone more secure tomorrow.”
He turns and walks out of the room, whistling to himself. The second he leaves I run to the side of my cage, “Pinkie! Rarity! We gotta get out of here!”
Pinkie stares at the floor, “Figure that one out all by yourself, did you Sherlock?” A tear drops from her eye and hits the floor.
Rarity frowns and looks me in the eyes, her own filling with tears, “I know Shining... but I just don’t see how. You’ve been asleep for about an hour while me and Pinkie discussed this. These humans are not idiots, this cage is really secure. And even if we break out of here, and somehow get the collars off, they would still just chase us down outside just like before!” She sighs and stares at the floor just like Pinkie, “Our only hope is a nice human buys us and lets us go.”
I shake my head, “No, we gotta get out now. I know most humans are good people, but we can’t risk it. What if someone from China or Europe buys you Rarity? I would never see you again, and we would never be able to turn back into humans!”
She bites her lip, tears falling from her eyes, “Well then please tell me if you have a plan for our escape, I don’t think we have much time.”
I sit and try to think. I glance at the clock on the wall, it’s almost 4am and I am still deathly tired. I think those tranquilizer darts might still be in my system. I sigh, it’s no use fighting this sleep, I’ll take a small nap and hope for the best when I wake up...
The dream comes quickly, and once in it, I glance around. Much of the royal guard had left Canterlot with me as we trotted the volcano. I groan as I realize I’m still having this damn dream. Even now when our lives are at risk, I’m stuck in the same stupid dream. It proceeds as normal and the part arrives where I realize I need to go back to ‘save’ Twilight...
A decorated pegasus near me salutes, “Sir, I will fly to Canterlot myself. I will arrive before the bulk of our forces, but I will find and protect Princess Sparkle with my life.”
I shake my head, “Your bravery is commendable, but there’s no need for that flight, I’m going myself. I’ll meet you all there when you arrive.” I turn to the pegasus next to me, “I’ll meet you all there when you arrive.” I start to charge my horn and prepare to teleport back. Teleportation is an exceptionally tricky spell, the number of ponies that can do this could be counted with a single breath. Truth be told, the spell was probably beyond my natural talent, but my sister painstakingly taught me this spell. Under her detailed lessons, I learned every nuance and trick needed to perform it.
One of my personal unicorn guards speaks up, “Sir, please, you can’t go by yourself, you have to wait for some of your guard to arrive! It’s too risky to go there alone!”
I grit my teeth, “Look, we don’t have time for this! I’m teleporting back and that’s final!”
I feel the magic from my horn start to envelop me. I mutter the incantation of the teleport spell and as I do so I feel a flood of passion. My sister took the time to teach me this spell, and now I can use it to save her. I remember how long it took her to teach me, and how she explained every single step and every incantation that is needed...
I awake with a gasp. I look around, it’s still night time outside the window, and the clock tells me its 4:30am. The dream is still clear in my mind, in the show Twilight taught Shining Armor how to teleport, and in that dream I recite that same spell. Would this really work, can I really just try casting a spell that I remember from a dream? That sounds like a profoundly stupid idea, teleporting would be very hard to do, and one misstep and I’ll probably rip myself in half trying it.
I would have to do the spell perfectly, it’s too risky to just try it randomly using some parts from a dream. That being said, I had that dream a million times, I know exactly how Shining in the dream casts it...
I hear a whimper and look to my left. Pinkie and Rarity are still awake and are just sitting there. Pinkie is still crying, and perhaps even worse than Pinkie’s tears is Rarity. She always told me she would rather die before she would wear a collar, and here she is, collar around her neck and living in a cage. Her face doesn’t show sadness though, it shows utter defeat. There is no fire in her eyes, no anger, just a sad realization that this is probably her life from here on out.
A wave of anger floods me, screw the personal risks, I had to try this teleport spell! I can go and get Twilight. Then together we would lay siege to this place, rescue these girls, and burn this damn place to the ground! My mind made up, I take some deep breaths and start to get ready to try the spell from my dream.
I glance sideways to see if the human is in the room, but the chair is empty. We are alone. My horn starts to glow and Rarity looks up at the light, “Shining, what are you doing?”
I take a few deep breaths “Trying something drastic.” I glance at her, “Rarity, if this doesn’t work, well, at least I tried. And if this does work... I’ll be back for you Rarity, I promise.”
She takes a step back as my horn glows even brighter. My legs shake as I focus and recite the spell exactly like Twilight taught me. I love how my sister took the time to do this, it was back in Canterlot she... wait, no, it wasn’t my sister Twilight, it was the Twilight from the show. But I feel the same way about her as I do to my own sister... wait a second... are they?
I shake my head, can’t think about that, I have to focus on the next part of the spell. This spell is more a less a ‘teleport home’ spell so I just have to mutter this incantation. Then, as my sister told me, I just have to allow myself to ‘let go’ from where I am standing and--
A spark, a flash, and I suddenly find myself in a familiar room. I blink to clear my eyes and look around, laughing in jubilation. “It worked! Sister, I love you!!”
My smile soon fades. I was in my bedroom. Not my hotel room, no, my BEDROOM. I am back in Canada, a good 200 miles from where I need to be to save my friends.
“Buck.” I glance around, checking myself in the mirror. At least I was in one piece! The collar is gone too, it didn’t follow me through the teleport. I smile a little, taking the small victories as I get them.
I walk to the window and confirm I’m back in Vancouver, “Okay, so just need to do a minor adjustment. Instead of teleporting here, gotta teleport back to the hotel.” I take a few deep breaths, “Okay, here we go!” I close my eyes and picture my hotel room, then do the spell as I was taught it. I mutter the nonsensical incantations, then let go and---
A spark, a flash, and I find myself in the same room. I teleported about three feet, from the window back to the center. My heart drops, I had a bad feeling this would happen. As my memory serves me Twilight taught me this spell “So I could always go back to my home.”
I facehoof, I have no idea how to change what I consider ‘home’ and this is the only teleport spell I know. I’m sure Twilight in the show probably had dozens of teleport spells, but she only taught me this basic one that sends me home. It was probably because it was the easiest one to learn... I look out the window again, then slam a hoof into the windowframe, “FUCK!”
I pound on the frame again, teleporting just made things go from bad to infinitely worse. I literally had no way of getting across the border. I suppose I could hoof it and start running, but 200 miles? I knew that actual horses who are trained to be distance runners can sometimes run 60 or 80 miles in a day. But I need 200 miles, and I’m no horse trained to run distance, I’m a freakin pony.
I open the door to my bedroom and start walking down the hall, “Great, this is just great, isn’t it? I was right there next to the mares I was supposed to be protecting, and I just sent myself about four days travel away from them!” By the time I get back to Seattle my sister will have probably left the motel to go somewhere, and Rarity and Pinkie will probably be sold and shipped off to the Philippines or Las Vegas or something.
I arrive in the living room and feel the draft coming through the still broken windows. I swear again, “I fucked up... I’ll never see them again. I just single handedly condemned Rarity and Pinkie to the life of slavery.”
The floor creaks behind me and my hair stands up on end. I snap my neck around, “WHO'S THERE?!”
I squint my eyes into the darkness, the sound came from the other hallway. “This is my house, show yourself!” My nerves are so frayed I am ready to kill the first human I see. My horn starts to glow, ready to attack whoever broke in here. “I SAID WHO’S THERE!?”
A hoof comes into view as a pony turns the corner. “Captain of the Wonderbolts, first pony to do a Sonic Rainboom, and the Element of Loyalty herself.” She flashes a smile, “Rainbow Dash, at your service.”
My horn stops glowing and my jaw drops, she is decked head to toe in custom made gear. Small black saddle bags are on her sides and she has on a black vest with holes for her wings. A velcro bracelet is strapped to one forehoof and a smartphone is strapped to the other. A small bluetooth headset in one of her ears completes her look.
“Shining Armor.” The pegasus does a slight nod at me, “Sounds like I came just in time.”