The Equestrian Eating Emporium

by Zealous Shift

Starting Off

“Hiya kids, my name’s Pinkie Pie!”

“Hi Pinkie Pie!”

Michael Schmidt’s heart warmed at the adorable sight. He had just signed up to be the new nightshift security guard at the Equestrian Eating Emporium. Fifteen dollars an hour, from midnight to six in the morning, and he was set. It was going to be easy too - who in their right minds would try and steal from a children’s restaurant?

“Just sign right here, Mike,” Johnathon Trotter, his employer, said, “Formalities and such, just to know you understand the risks involved.”

Taking the paper in hand, Mike quickly skimmed over the document. It went on for three pages, but most of it seemed like the default notices and clauses for a security job. "You will not hold the company responsible for any break-ins, you will not tamper with the animatronics at night, you will not leave the building under any circumstance unless acting in the interests of the Emporium, etc…" Skipping over the entirety of the second and third pages, Mike signed his name at the bottom. Jonathon’s smile grew larger as he handed it back to him.

“You can familiarize yourself with the store if you want,” Johnathon added, giving him a pat on the back, “Your shift doesn’t start until tonight, but you’d be better off knowing where everything was before it gets dark.”

Nodding, Mike turned around in his seat and looked back to the show.

The Equestrian Eating Emporium, or the EEE for short, despite its intricate workings was quite simplistic in layout. The west wing of the restaurant was the proper Emporium itself, where the children could interact with the pony animatronics and eat. The east wing was filled with kitchens, washrooms and staff facilities. The security office was between the two, a hallway leading to either side. While he probably should’ve been drawing out a mental map of the interconnecting hallways and the camera blind spots, there was still plenty of time in the day for it. He had come in for the job at about four in the afternoon, after all.

“Yes, I have some of the superdeeduperiest best friends in all of Equestria!” Pinkie Pie exclaimed happily, “Would you like to meet one?”

“Yes!” the children cheered in response. There must have been around two dozen of them sitting around the stage area where the Pinkie Pie animatronic usually spoke. That wasn’t even counting the others in the eating area, or their parents. The Emporium was renowned for its family friendly environment.

“That’s great!” she yelled, “because I think I can hear one of them coming!” True to her word, the faint sound of hooves could be heard behind the curtain. It steadily got louder until a familiar orange character leapt out from the crimson veil.

“Howdy everyone!” Applejack waved, a bright smile across her face.

Mike was always fascinated by the animatronics. The EEE was quite popular around the city, but its popularity had never reached beyond that. How they could afford to build such smooth moving animatronics with advanced AI like that was beyond him. The way they moved and acted, one would assume that they were alive. Jonathon had told Michael that his brother worked at a robotics firm and helped develop the six characters. It was an ingenious idea if there ever was one, as practically every visitor was a return customer. They spared no expense in making sure the characters behaved properly and were in the best of conditions. Unfortunately that meant that they had to reserve excess power quite heavily, particularly at night, but the investment was definitely worth the cost.

“Dinner isn’t done cooking yet, but the folks back in the kitchen gave me these!” Applejack called out, taking a tray of apple fritters off of her back, “Who wants one?” The answer was immediate, every child there, even some who were still eating snacks in the dining area, raised their hand for an apple fritter.

“Alright, make way!”

Pinkie Pie continued to speak to the audience, telling a few jokes and asking a couple questions towards the children. At one point, she even allowed a little girl to ride on her back. Applejack meanwhile spent her time trying to give the kids their treat, even handing some out to the parents. Just as she was about to put the tray back, she was nudged by her pink compatriot. Mike was a bit confused, as Pinkie Pie then pointed towards him from the stage while whispering into her ear. A couple of the kids turned to look at him, but their gaze didn’t last that long. The Stetson wearing pony slowly trotted back through the crowd, holding up the tray for him.

“Care for an apple fritter partner?”

“Don’t mind if I do,” Mike responded, taking the last one from the tray.

He expected Applejack to go away after he took the pastry, but she continued to stand there. Bright smile never tarnishing, her green eyes hardly moving. They blinked once or twice, but the pupils never moved. It was a tad uncomfortable, to say the least, but Mike took it as a simple bug. He’d have to call Johnathon over to have a look at her, nothing was ever perfect after all. He finished the apple fritter, wiping his mouth with a napkin from the table.

“Pinkie tells me that you must be the new guy here.”

There was a brief pause as Mike looked down at the orange pony, an awkward smiling spreading across his face. So Applejack wasn’t actually bugged, just didn’t quite have the proper social cues. That much was expected at least.

“Yes, I am,” he returned, “I’m the new security guard.”

“Well shucks, it sure is nice to have a new person workin’ here. To be honest, I'm kind of glad to know that there’s some security round here.”

Mike furrowed his brow, looking more closely at her. The smile she bore was slightly less cheerful, almost forced. What bothered him was that in all the times he had dropped by with his niece, he had never seen one of them mention security. Or anything that wasn’t related to celebrations or food really. To have one of the characters speak about such a thing, and to seemingly change moods because of it, was unusual.

“You think this place needs security?” he asked, a serious look forming on his face. Making sure to keep his voice low, he leaned in closer to hear the response. Even if she was an animatronic, they were programmed to be honest and act in the store's best interest. If they had seen something that they thought was suspicious, chances are it was legitimately suspicious.

“Yeah,” Applejack whispered into his ear, “sometimes at night, I see a pony walkin’ around real hurt. I mean, really hurt, like their leg’s all busted up and stuff. Sometimes their fur’s ripped off. Fluttershy fixes them up the best she can, but I still see one at least once a week.”

“I’ll speak to Mr. Trotter about this,” Mike replied, “For now, you just keep the kids happy, because I think a few of them are looking this way. I’ll make sure no one else gets hurt, alright?”

“Got it sugar cube. I’ll see you ‘round later, Michael.”

Getting up from his seat, he went to go have a word with his boss.


“Getting used to the place?” Johnathon Trotter asked as Michael entered the room. His pleasant demeanour suddenly changed as he noticed Mike’s deep frown. Before he could ask what was wrong, his worker began talking.

“I was just speaking with Applejack,” he declared in a somewhat angry tone, “and she commented on how the animatronics kept on getting damaged. You never told me that there had been regular break-ins.”

Johnathon paused for a moment, trying to think of the proper words to describe the exact situation of the Emporium. Seconds went by without a response, provoking Michael to continually adopt a deeper frown. Sweat formed on the back of his head, until he finally found the right way to explain.

“You are familiar with our characters, right?” The question hung in the air for a moment before Michael nodded in agreement.

“Well, in order to prevent their servos and gears from seizing up we let them ‘roam’ during night time.” The employee’s eyebrow rose up in confusion as he crossed his arms. He didn’t object or say anything, which left Jonathon to continue.

“Usually they stay by the stage, close to where they can recharge, but sometimes they happen to bump into something particularly sharp or rough in the kitchen or around the store. One time, poor Twilight Sparkle found herself outside, and got hit by a truck. We try to keep them well repaired and in good spirits, but they need to have the free roam or else they can’t function properly in the morning. We placed the cameras and hired security guards to make sure that they don’t go running off and getting hurt.”

“Do you expect me to believe that?”

The two men stared at each other, the employer with a look of worry, the employee with indignant anger. Silence had once again fallen upon them and there wasn’t a proper response. Clasping his hands together Jonathon leaned forwards in his desk, sighing heavily. Working his jaw slightly, he began to speak again in a very low, but calm, voice.

“It’s hard to believe, I hardly believe it myself to be honest, but that’s what happens. We did have a break in last week, but our former security officer captured him with the assistance of some of the animatronics. I didn’t release any news about it because if parents knew that they were strong enough to help apprehend a criminal, they wouldn’t want their kids playing with them. The characters are kind, but they don’t realise their own strength. The world needs protection from them as much as they need protection from the world.”

Michael stood there, his face contorting for several moments. He opened his mouth to speak, but didn’t say anything. Turning around, he walked out the left door towards the stage. Thankfully he didn’t slam it, a sign that he wasn’t particularly angry, but it didn’t take a psychiatrist to tell that he was upset. Jonathon could only hope that he decided to stay however. Michael seemed like a good man, and good security officers were in little supply. Most didn’t keep their jobs for very long.


Mike wasn’t quite sure why he decided to stay, but something compelled him to at least go through the first night. There was a set of instructions left on the desk for him to go over. The rest were fairly obvious, but there were two in particular that stood out to him.

First of all was the rule about doors. As a part of the roaming mode that they went into, the animatronics tended to wander. Apparently, closing the doors for long periods of time, thereby closing them off, agitated them. It was a long line of technical nonsense, but basically it boiled down to them starting to run into things inside the area that they were trapped in.
Secondly was the lighting. Due to the amount of money required to successfully keep the animatronics repaired, they had to conserve electricity. The lights had to be turned off in most of the restaurant at night to make sure it balanced out the massive drain during the day. Only one or two could remain on for an extended period of time.

The doors and lights could be controlled automatically through the control panel on the security desk, meaning he wouldn’t actually have to go around the restaurant all night. The security cameras unfortunately did take up a good bit of power, so he’d have to be conservative even in door usage. Unless he wanted to go wandering around in the dark to shut a door with a flashlight that hardly worked, he’d have to just keep an eye on the cameras and keep them clear off going into the kitchen and other ‘risky’ areas too often.

The clock ticked over to midnight, signifying that his shift had just begun. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see a red light flashing to his left. A message was left on the answering machine, but it hadn’t been there before.