• Published 26th May 2013
  • 1,430 Views, 162 Comments

No Heroes Part II - The Journey Home - PaulAsaran

Fine Crime and Princess Luna have chosen their team. Now there's just the minor problem of bringing them together. Every team needs a base of operations, and what place better than Ponyville?

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Nye's Nights

Princess Luna

Good news! My brother’s new business is going smoothly. Who would have thought a combination repair business and mechanical engineering firm would be so necessary in a little place like Ponyville? He does more repairs than engineering, but he seems happy and that’s what matters.

But honestly? I envy him. He’s finally moving away from our father’s shadow, and I still feel like I’m drowning in it. I never could find something I was particularly enthusiastic about, as you know, which is why I accepted work at the station. It pays, keeps me busy. But I’m just not… happy.

I wish I could find something to be enthusiastic about. I’m a lazy pony, I admit, but if I just found something interesting that might change.

Sorry. I wanted this to be a happy letter, and here I am being all depressing. Don’t worry about me, Princess.

But what’s going on with you? Haven’t heard from you in a while, ever since that eclipse festival. They say you went to the Everfree Sea to investigate something. One of those hush-hush things you can’t share, I imagine. But you have to tell me something; I worry.

Your friend,



He blinked, shifted, sat up from his spot in the shade of the shrubs. Just down the hill was Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy, the former levitating a picnic basket just above her head and Spike riding her back.

“Ladies,” he waved with a smooth grin.

They glanced at one another. Twilight's expression was unpleasant, Fluttershy's worried.

“Aren’t you supposed to be at the station?” Fluttershy asked.

He glowered and flopped onto his back once more. “Yeah… I suppose.”

“Skipping work again?” the purple unicorn demanded critically. “You’re going to get fired.”

“I’m not sure I care anymore,” he confessed, staring up at the leaves.

Twilight let out an annoyed sigh. “You have got to be one of the most irresponsible ponies I know.”

He waved a dismissive hoof. “Yeah, well my brother’s the responsible one.”

“I understand you have plenty of bits to survive on,” Fluttershy noted in her usual quiet voice, “but surely you don’t intend to spend your life lazing about all the time.”

“What I do with my life is my own business,” he grumbled, turning to lie on his side.

“I’m sorry to say it, Nye,” the Twilight declared harshly, “but that’s truly pathetic. Come on, Fluttershy, let’s find somewhere else to eat.”

He tilted his head to watch them leave out of the corner of his eye, noting with particular satisfaction the swaying of the yellow mare’s flanks. But no amount of equine beauty could keep his mind off their words; he slumped back down and basked in his own boredom.

Pathetic. He was pathetic, wasn’t he?

But the thing that really bothered him was that he didn’t know what to do about it.

He didn’t want to work at the station anymore. Not at all. It was boring and unrewarding. Yet he remembered his old attempts at other jobs. Disasters, every last one. Even the jobs he could do he recalled as being no less dull. There just wasn’t anything out there that excited him anymore.

And then there was Jimmy. He was working, had his own business even. It was small, but it was successful. Nye was glad for his brother, but even so the envy gnawed at him constantly. Why couldn’t he have that? Why did he always linger behind while Jim surged ahead? If he could find one thing, just one good thing…

He sat with his chin on the counter, his eyes roaming his brother’s workshop. It was very clean, very organized. He couldn’t see his brother; the pegasus was on the floor, working to fix the broken axle of a taxi carriage.

“So All Aboard finally fired you, eh?”


“No offense, bro,” Jimmy declared, “but I’m surprised it took so long.”

“Me too,” he confessed.

His brother sat up, wiping his hooves of grease with a towel. “If you didn’t like working there, why didn’t you save him the grief and just quit?”

“I dunno,” he mumbled.

“There,” his older twin said with a pleased look at the axle, “that should do it.” He went to put the towel in a collection bin, then went to his brother. “So what are you going to do now?”

“I dunno.”

Jimmy raised an eyebrow. “Is that all you can say?”

“I dunno.”

The pegasus sighed, patted his brother on the shoulder. “I get it, Nye; you’re depressed. But you have to find a way through it.”

“Easy for you to say,” the younger brother grumbled. “You’re doing something you like.”

“You could, too.”

“No,” he countered quietly, “no I can’t.”

Jimmy raised his hooves in exasperation. “But why!?”

Nye cast his eyes up at his brother sourly, but then relaxed his expression once more. “Don’t you get it, bro? This entire mess is because of my cutie mark. We’d be with dad right now, perhaps even as a happy family, if not for that. Our entire lives got screwed over because of it. I don’t want anything to do with cobbling, not anymore.”

Jimmy stared at him quietly for several long seconds. “Having a different cutie mark wouldn’t change who Pops is, Nye. Things wouldn’t have been any different.”

But Nye shrugged. “I’m not sure I can believe that.”

Jimmy considered this, opened his mouth to speak… and was interrupted by a bang from the wall. Somewhere near the door.

Two seconds later the door opened and Rainbow Dash walked in, her pet tortoise Tank riding on her back. “Pinkie Pie, you are so random.” The pink pony appeared behind her, looking just a little dizzy but giggling anyway.

Nye perked up instantly at the sight of the blue pegasus. “Hey Dashie, what’s up?”

“And what the heck was that bang?” Jimmy added, turning to greet the two mares.

“Hey guys,” Rainbow said, “Pinkie’s just being Pinkie Pie again.”

“I see,” the elder twin declared as if this were all the explanation he needed. He eyed the tortoise on her back, then saw the propellers. “Did Tank get his blades caught in your tail again?”

She blushed with a smile. “Nah, not this time. Altitude problems; he just suddenly went straight up and smacked a tree limb.”

“Yeah, I saw it,” Pinkie announced cheerily. “One minute he’s going bzzrbzzrbzzr,” she hopped sideways a few times as if to imitate the tortoise’s flying, “and then suddenly whooop!” she stretched as tall as she could, a feat that made the twins wonder how her bones were still connected, “and bang! Right into the tree!”

Rainbow rolled her eyes. “Uhh, yeah, thanks for the graphic explanation.”

“No problem,” the earth pony replied, leaning against the counter with a satisfied smile.

“Hmmm,” Jimmy picked the tortoise up and set him on the counter before removing the harness that held his propeller. “These blades have got to be replaced.”

Rainbow winced. “Again? How long is it gonna take this time?”

“Fortunately for you,” he replied smartly, “I learned my lesson from your last five visits and went through the trouble of making a whole bunch of spares. Five minutes and Tank’ll be in the air again, promise.”

“Whew, that’s a relief,” the Pegasus declared happily. “I think the problem’s in the magic guidance, so I’m gonna take him to Twilight after this to see if she can tweak the spell.” She eyed Nye. “Wanna come with me? I was gonna visit the pond later.”

Ah, nap time. But Nye ducked his head meekly. “I think I should avoid Twilight for today. I saw her a couple days ago and we didn’t exactly have a friendly conversation. Might still be mad at me.”

“Mad at you?” Pinkie asked, “Why would she be mad?”

“’Cause I’m lazy,” he admitted unhappily, “and, as she said, irresponsible.”

“Is it because you got fired?” she asked.

“What?” Rainbow hopped into the air. “Fired? When!?”

He wanted to disappear into the floorboards. “Umm, this morning. How’d you find out so fast?”

“Well I was as at Sugarcube Corner when Miss Cake asked me to go looking for you and I knew you worked at the station so it’s the first place I went but All Aboard said you weren’t working there anymore so then I went searching for you at your house but you weren’t there either and so then I went walking all over Ponyville and found Octavia because I know you like watching her…”

Rainbow set a hoof to the pink mare’s mouth, which kept moving despite being muffled. “I think you get the picture.”

“Eeyyyeah,” he admitted with a blush.

“So what are you gonna do now?” she asked seriously.

“I dunno,” the twins said in unison, Jimmy earning an annoyed look from his brother.

The blue pegasus seemed genuinely concerned, so Nye added, “I’ll think of something. Don’t worry about it, Rainbow.”

She sighed, glanced at Pinkie, removed her hoof.

“…but you weren’t there either so I left Zecora’s and trotted all the way back through the Everfree Forest and that’s when I bumped into Fluttershy and I know how much you like her flank so I thought…”

The hoof was replaced.

“…anyway,” Rainbow muttered, “you can’t ask me not to worry. It’s what friends do.”

“There, shiny new propellers,” Jimmy declared, displaying the finished device with a smile before attaching it back to Tank. The tortoise almost immediately floated into the air, a slow smile coming to his face as he began to fly circles around Rainbow.

“Thanks Jim,” the pegasus said, “give me a sec; it’s hard to get the bits when I’m keeping this thing dammed up.” She motioned with her head to Pinkie, whose mouth was still moving under her hoof.

“Two bits this time,” the elder twin announced.

“Only two?” she asked I surprise, “that’s a lot less than the last few times.”

“I didn’t have to spend an hour making the blades this time,” he announced kindly. “Besides, at the regular price and how often you come in that turtle’s going to cost every bit you earn, and then some.”

“Tortoise,” Nye corrected.


Rainbow paused, gave another curious glance at Pinkie, removed her hoof.

“…and finally I found Rainbow Dash ‘cause you two are such good friends and she said she was coming here and I realized I hadn’t tried here yet so here we are!” She grinned at them all, caught there bemused looks. “Did you get all that? Need me to explain again?”

“No no, we got it,” Jimmy insisted.

“Yeah, thanks for clearing it up,” Nye agreed.

“Oh, kay then.”

Rainbow let out a relieved sigh and grabbed the coins from a pouch on Tank’s harness.

“So anyway,” Pinkie added, “I was looking for you, Nye.”

Oh yeah, she’d said that hadn’t she? “What for?”

“The Cakes have a problem,” she admitted. “We get customers in every day looking for Lunar Metropolises and Sonic Rainbooms and Moonlight Specials and Rising Dawns, but the Cakes don’t know how to make them. They were hoping you’d come by and give them a recipe or two.”

Nye stared at her in surprise. “They want to sell my drinks?”

“Everypony wants to order your drinks,” she replied with a hectic nod. “They’re super popular, ever since you started making them for my parties everypony wants more!”

“Oooh.” Rainbow gained a hungry expression, “I could really go for one of your Rainbooms right now.”

Nye grinned. “For you? No problem! Uhh, Jimmy?”

“Go ahead,” his brother insisted, gesturing to the break room and kitchen at the back of the building, “I should have everything you need. While you’re at it why not whip me up something. Surprise me.”

So he did, leaving the three up front to work his magic. There was a certain pleasure in this little activity, a chance to be creative and think up new things. Over the last two years he’d practiced and found out how to juggle the bottles – a minor fortune lost in broken ones, but money well spent he thought. It was fun.

And now he knew that ponies really liked his creations. It was rather thrilling! Maybe he could go work at Sugarcube Corner as a flair bartender. Well no, not a bartender, that didn’t really suit Sugarcube Corner. But something like that. Maybe he’d ask the Cakes about it when they got there; it would be nice to have a clientele to try his creations whenever he came up with them.

Speaking of which…

“Hey, this isn’t a Sonic Rainboom,” Rainbow noted at the colorful drink he set before her.

“Nope,” he admitted with a grin, handing Pinky a Sweet and Elite and Jimmy a Moondancer. “I thought of it while I was back there. I hereby dub it: Cider Rainboom!”

She blinked, grinned. “Did you say… Cider Rainboom?”

“Yeap,” he nodded, “I know how much you love cider, so I thought I’d put a twist on one of my older drinks.”

“Hey!” Jimmy looked as if he were going to accuse him of something, paused, reconsidered. “Where… where’d you get the cider…?”

“From the stash under the floor closet you thought I didn’t know about.”

“I knew it!”

You drink cider?” Rainbow asked him with an amused, mockingly critical grin.

“Oh he’s a total alcoholic,” Nye declared with a grin.

“I am not!” Jimmy glanced at the mares in horror. “I just… every now and again… well… you know… It’s Apple brand…”

They laughed, and Jimmy only sat there looking flustered.

“Ooooh yeah,” Rainbow groaned after taking her first glug of the Cider Rainboom, “good stuff. You’ve outdone yourself this time, Nye.”

“I want another,” Pinkie announced energetically, her oversized glass already empty.

“That’s enough sugar for you,” Rainbow informed her gravely.


“Nye… this is it.” He glanced at his brother inquisitively, and Jimmy gestured with his hoof to the glass. “This is what you can do.”

He smiled. “I thought that, too. Maybe when me and Pinkie get to Sugarcube Corner…”

“No no,” Jimmy interrupted with a shake of his head, “this is it. You can start your own business with this. You love mixing drinks!”

Nye stared at his brother. “A business built around mixing drinks? I dunno…”

“He’s right,” Rainbow added encouragingly, “that could really work. I mean come on, think of BuckStars!”

He laughed at the thought. “Me, run a business? Come on guys, I’m too lazy!”

“You sure I can’t have another?”


“You’re not sure?”

“Nye,” Jimmy ignored the mares, “if you like it you’ll want to do it. Trust me on this.”

“Well,” he admitted, “I’d like to give it a shot…”

“Then try it,” Rainbow ordered before turning on Pinkie. “Bad Pinkie Pie, no!”

The pink pony slunk low, eyes big and sad and moist with faked tears.

Nye sighed with a smile. “Why don’t I go ahead and make her another? Won’t take but a second.”

Rainbow pointed a threatening hoof at Pinkie before she could properly explode in excitement, causing the earth pony to deflate and sulk a little. Then she turned that same hoof on Nye. “You wait until the sugar rush hits, then tell me you want to give her another!”

“Nye’s Nights?” Twilight asked at the new counter.

“Catchy, no?” he asked with a grin, bottles flying through the air as he made her a drink on the house.

It was opening night, just thirty minute before the doors would open. There was already a small line of excited ponies outside. They’d built the small coffee shop adjoining Jimmy’s workshop, so that his brother’s quick-fix clients could have a drink while they waited.

Twilight glanced around curiously. “Why is it so darkly decorated? Love the starscape ceiling, by the way.”

“The entire place is themed on Princess Luna,” he announced happily. At her questioning look he added, “I thought she deserved some extra attention. There are places all over Equestria paying tribute to Princess Celestia, so why not Princess Luna?

“She knows I’m opening a shop,” he added, setting the completed, sparkling Starscape before her. “I didn’t tell her about the theme. At least I assume she knows; I’ve not heard from her in about two weeks.”

The unicorn rolled her eyes - like most she doubted his claims of knowing the Princess personally - and gave the glittery violet drink a suspecting look; she’d never had one of Nye’s creations before. She took a careful sip through the straw and her eyes went cross. “Whoooaaaa…” And then she sucked down a big gulp. “…yeah, you might make this work.”

“Glad you like it!”

“But why’d you invite me to the opening?” she asked uncertainly.

“Well,” he answered, leaning against the counter, “I remember our last conversation, which didn’t go so well. Think of it as an apology.”

“And Fluttershy?”

“I went to apologize to her at her cabin,” he admitted. “I didn’t think this was her kind of thing, though I did invite her.”

“What about the treats?” she asked, gesturing to the row of baked goods on display.

“It’s thanks to Sugarcube Corner that this idea came about,” he explained. “We worked out a deal; I sell some of their treats here for a share of the profits, that way ponies can have something to go with their drinks. In return the Cakes get a portion of the profits from their goods, which is great for them because Nye’s Nights will be open later than Sugarcube Corner.”

“Ah, savvy.”

“It was Pinkie’s idea.”

Twilight choked on her drink. “Pinkie? Seriously?”

“Yes indeedy,” the pink mare declared, entering the room from the door leading to Jimmy’s shop. Rainbow Dash and Jimmy were right behind. “I thought it would be great if ponies could have some sugary baked deliciousness to go with the drinks!”

“You ready for this?” Jimmy asked his brother.

“I really am,” he admitted, casting a pleased look at the slowly-growing crowd. “This is going to be great!”

Rainbow leaned leisurely against the counter and formed what had to have been her most charming grin. “And with a super awesome star like moi present at the grand opening, it’s sure to be a success.”

Twilight giggled and took another sip of her drink. “I have to say, Nye, I’m impressed. I didn’t think you had it in you.”

“Neither did I at first,” he admitted, “but now I’m totally psyched!”

“So what are we waiting for?” Rainbow asked, flying her way to the doors. She opened them wide and cried out “Come on in, everypony! Nye’s Nights is open for business!”

Princess Luna,

Where are you? If you don’t want me to worry, send me a note or something! The silence is starting to make me nervous.

Anyway, Nye’s Nights is a smashing success! I’ve got so many customers I had to hire some extra help. Can you imagine me being somepony’s boss? A week ago I’d have laughed at the thought. But here I am, running a business of my own. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier. Of course Jimmy takes care of most of the legal stuff and accounting. I just don’t have a head for numbers. He doesn’t mind, though. He’s just happy we’re both doing something with our lives.

Someday I’ll have to show you this place. Maybe if business keeps up I’ll open a second store in Canterlot, just so you can try my signature drinks.

Drop me a line, would you? Before I start thinking your cheating on me with another stallion.

Your friend,


Jimmy was busy. Very busy. He was in his office, methodically planning out his design for a custom air conditioning unit. It was his first major client outside of Ponyville, an architect needing something to heat and cool his newest design. He was happy for the work, it meant his name was getting out there. He’d become more of a repairpony than a designer in the past two months, but he found getting back on the drafting table was like riding a bike.

Nye’s coffee and cocoa shop had been open barely a week and was making more money than the repair shop. Jimmy was proud of his brother for finally finding something to apply himself to. Together they were earning a tidy profit that was already beginning to pad their childhood accounts.

The bell above his head chimed, signaling a customer’s arrival. He took careful stock of his work, finished a few lines, then set his drafting tools aside. It had been a slow day for repairs, which wasn’t a big deal. This new design, if successful, would more than make up for the lost income.

He exited the office and froze. There, standing before the counter in that impeccable brown suit, was Stikin Stone.

His father.

“Jimmy.” The white-coated, silver-maned stallion glanced around the shop mildly. “You’ve been hard at work, as always.”

“P-pops…” he answered feebly, approaching him from behind the counter. “W… what are you doing here?”

Stikin smiled in his smug manner. “Does a father need a reason to come visit his son?”

At that Jimmy grimaced. “After what you did? Yes, yes you do.”

The big stallion sighed, shook his head. “I am sorry about that, Jimmy. Really, I am. But I thought you should see how hard the world can be.”

“I was doing fine before you interfered,” Jimmy snarled.

“Were you?” Stikin’s expression was hard. As always. And Jimmy was intimidated. As always. “Were you really doing fine, son? Look at you. I threw one little roadblock down and this is what you’ve become. A repair pony.”

“I’m a mechanical engineer,” Jimmy corrected darkly. “I’m finally working with my special talent, like I was always meant to.”

Stikin huffed a mocking, short laugh. “Mechanical engineer, of course. Face it son, you’ll never build a legacy on this.” He waved a hoof at their surroundings in disdain. “You used to want my legacy. You still do, don’t you?”

Jimmy sneered and turned away from him. “What do you want, Pops?”

“For you to come home.”

That made the pegasus pause. He gave his father an alarmed look. “Come home? After all that’s happened?”

“You still have a weakness for your mother’s desires,” Stikin declared sympathetically. “I understand that. I admit, I was angry when you left. But I can forgive you, son. Come home, and be part of the Stone family once more.”

“You selfish prick,” the younger stallion snapped, turning away. “You actually think I’m the one in need of forgiveness? Leave.”

But Stikin would not be deterred. “Don’t be ungrateful, Jimmy.” His tone was harsh. “I am your father, and I know what is best.”

“Erasing Nye from your life was the best thing?” Jimmy countered, turning on his father angrily. “Blocking my path so I couldn’t get a job anymore, after you demanded I spend all those years studying in the field?”

But then he paused; the look on his father’s face was cold as ice. That look, that horrible look. He fell back, suddenly as intimidated as he’d been as a child.

And then Nye entered the room from his shop. He’d been in the middle of saying something, but then he caught sight of Stikin and his words froze.

Stikin gazed at Nye, jaw locked and face hard. Jimmy was still cowering before him, but the elder brother was no longer the target of that menacing glare.

And Nye wasn’t bothered by it at all. He calmly closed the door behind him and approached. “What are you doing here, old stallion?”

“Family business,” Stikin answered ominously. “It doesn’t concern you. Get out.”

“No.” Nye stood before the taller stallion and, to Jimmy’s shock, matched him glare for glare. “This is our establishment. You get out.”

Stikin’s eyebrows raised, but it didn’t soften his expression. “So you’ve grown a backbone.”

Nye took another firm step forward, so that he was in Stikin’s face. “I finally found something you wouldn’t even let me look for: a life of my own. I have friends, my brother, a new career, happiness. I found it all because I got away from you, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let you try and steal it away from me.”

But Stikin only sniffed derogatorily at his solidarity. “As if you could do anything to me. Jimmy, we’re going home.”

But Nye stood between his brother and his father. “He’s not going anywhere with you.”

Stikin glared, those hard green eyes sending shivers down Jimmy’s spine. “No?”

Nye stood his ground. “I used to hate you. Now I’m just ashamed of you. Go and screw with somepony else’s life. Take your legacy and forget we ever existed.”

“I already forgot about you,” their father declared menacingly.

And then Nye did something that rendered Jimmy’s mind blank: he turned around and bucked their father.

Stikin let out a surprised cry, rearing back and covering his bloodied face. When he landed he could only stare at his sons in shock. “You… you actually…”

“OUT.” Nye landed another hard kick against the stallion’s chest.

All his life Jimmy had thought of his father as a great beast of a stallion. He was huge, he was sturdy, he was ominous. To see Nye – lazy, unathletic, laid-back Nye – chasing the him out of the shop like that was a monumental moment. Stikin Stone had actually appeared scared of his life, and judging by Nye’s expression that was probably a good thing.

Jimmy’s brother stood at the door, huffing angrily. After several seconds he returned, letting the door slam closed behind him. Jimmy stared up at his twin, completely speechless.

“Sorry…” Nye muttered.

Sorry? “No…” Jimmy stood and gave his brother a hug. “No, Nye, that was amazing! I didn’t know you had the guts. I sure didn’t.”

Nye held him at arms’ length, face hard. “What did he want?”

Jimmy sighed. “To rescue his legacy. He wanted me to come home.”

Nye turned his head away, expression menacing. “Bastard wants to ruin everything we’ve managed to do here. We can’t let him.”

And then Jimmy laughed, and it surprised him. “I think after what you just did he won’t be bothering us again anytime soon!”

“Don’t be so sure,” Nye grumbled. “This is our father we’re talking about. To him, this means war.”

“What’s he gonna do?” Jimmy asked, setting a calming hoof on his brother’s shoulder. “Thank you, Nye. You’ve helped me realize something about our father: under all that soldier-like posing he’s just another stallion, and he can bleed like the rest of us.”

At that Nye’s stern expression finally cracked into a smile. “You make him sound like he was a god or something.”

“I guess in my mind he sorta was,” Jimmy admitted. “But he’s been deposed, you might say. I think I won’t have any more trouble dealing with him.”

Nye laughed and knuckled his brother’s head. “Good, ‘cause I can’t be here all the time to rescue you from him!”

Jimmy escaped and whacked his brother on the head playfully in retaliation. But then he sobered and glanced at the door. “Do you think we’ll be seeing him again?”

“If we do,” Jimmy answered darkly, “he’ll be going back to Manehattan in an ambulance. Now come on, I’ll make you a drink. I think we could both use one.”

Stikin’s face hadn’t recovered all that much when he was shown into the mayor’s office; it was covered in blue bruises with stitches running down the left side of his muzzle. Mayor Mare was not just a little alarmed at the sight of him. “My goodness, Mr. Stone, what happened to you?”

He sighed, worked his mouth experimentally, grimaced; it still hurt to speak. But speak he must, so he did. “It’s… just a little accident. Thank you… for seeing me on such… short notice.”

“Must have been some accident,” she muttered, studying his face with scrutiny. “Please, take a seat, try to make yourself comfortable.”

He did so, moving slowly so as not to put undue pain in his chest. Once he’d relaxed she spoke again. “Can I get you anything? Water, juice, cider, perhaps some wine?”

He shook his head tenderly. “No… thanks.”

“Well,” she went on, hooves on her desk, “when I heard that the great Stikin Stone wanted an audience with me first thing in the morning, I was rather astounded. Tell me sir, what can Ponyville do for an elite pony such as yourself?”

He tried to smile, winced in pain, gave up. “I’ve been… paying attention, Mayor Mare,” he said slowly, painfully. “Ponyville is a fine town, very… fine indeed.”

“You’re too kind,” she said, but by her expression he could see that she wasn’t lulled by the praise.

“I… I like what you’ve… done here, but… but I’ve noted that… you’re barely holding on to… to the budget. One little… little mistake and Po-Ponyville… will be in the red…”

She frowned, removed her glasses to stare at him hawkishly. “The fact that we aren’t in the red is a testament to this town, Mr. Stone. So many towns as small as our own have to survive on government funding.”

“I can… I can help you with that…” he wheezed. “I am inter… interested in donating… to Ponyville’s treasury.” Her eyes lit up at this offer; he had her. “You can… can remodel the school… build a bi… bigger town hall… whatever you want…”

She leaned back, amazed. “You would do that? Why?”

“Because… because I respect… this place…” he began.

“Mr. Stone,” she interrupted, eyes going sharp, “do not take me for a fool. You want something, something you think I can offer. So cut to the chase and tell me what it is.”

She was smarter than she looked. Fine; he struggled to lean forward, holding a hoof to his bandaged chest as he did. Once he was in position he looked her straight in the eyes. “Are you aware of the… of the brothers Stone?”

“Your sons,” she answered simply, nodding.

“Get rid of their business licenses.”

Her eyebrows rose in alarm. “I beg your pardon?”

“Use… whatever legal j-jargon you… you want,” he breathed. “Crush them. Crush them and… and the money is yours.”

The mayor stared at him, face expressionless, for nearly a full minute. Finally she put her glasses back on and spoke, her tone formal. “Mr. Stone, I understand that you’re a big city pony, accustomed to doing business in places like Manehattan and Las Pegasus, so let me tell you about how we do things in a small town like Ponyville.

“In a town like this, everpony knows everypony else, and their business. We have our differences, but in times of trouble we come together to solve our problems. Perhaps we don’t have the finest school, or the nicest town hall, or the most modern roads. But we make do with what we have, through hard work and companionship.

“Jimmy Stone has been a hard-working, devoted citizen of Ponyville for over a year now. His brother might not be so hard-working, but he is well liked and helps when it matters the most. They are both law-abiding, good ponies, and their presence here signifies good things for this town.

“There is a thing called loyalty, Mr. Stone. It might not mean much to you, but here it means a great deal. Now you want me to put the twins in the oven and burn them to a crisp, but if you think I’m going to destroy two decent, beloved members of this town for your money you are sadly mistaken.”

He stared at her, unable to believe his ears. She only stared back. She wasn’t glaring, or grimacing or angry in any way. She looked more like a very patient teacher. And he was astonished.

“Name your price.”

She shook her head. “This isn’t Manehattan, Mr. Stone. This is Ponyville, and here we have morals. I will not agree to any such deal, no matter what.”

He stood, slowly, painfully, to give her the full effect of his glare. “Oh yes… you will,” he breathed. “You have… have no idea… what I can do to… to this town. In a month… you’ll be… run out of town. In a… in a year this place… will…”

But the mayor stood and interrupted his ragged sentence. “Clearly you aren’t understanding me. This is Ponyville: we stand by our own, and your sons are most certainly our own. And I know what the laws entitle me to: I have powers at my disposal as well just like you. If anything bad happens regarding this town or those boys, and I get so much as the tiniest sniff of your involvement, I will go straight to Princess Celestia. The Stone Company will be marred in legal injunctions and government investigations for years. A ruined reputation, assuming you even survive.”

He gaped at her, saw that she was dead serious. For the first time in his life he found himself before a wall he didn’t know how to blow up.

“Now, Mr. Stone,” she said, sitting down calmly, “kindly remove yourself from my office and town. Immediately.”

A long silence fell between them. Stikin's amazement was slowly relaced with fury. "T-this... isn't over..."

The Mayor smiled pleasantly. "We shall see, Mr. Stone. Now please, don't make me call security."

It was a busy night, and Nye was having a blast. He mixed drinks with practiced speed, sliding them down the counter to waiting ponies. His four servers were darting to and fro, delivering cakes and drinks and collecting tips. Jimmy, his shop closed for the night, sat next to Rainbow Dash before him. Big Macintosh and Applejack were at a table in the corner, laughing along with Rarity, Pinkie and Spike. Twilight was in a quiet corner, reading and enjoying her Starscape. Even Fluttershy was present, sitting between Rainbow Dash and Octavia with a bemused look on her face as she tried Jimmy’s latest creation, the Staremaster.

A busy night. Dozens of guests, music beating in the air just below the bustling noise of the patrons. Nye was certain he couldn’t have been happier.

He was proven wrong.

The front doors opened, somepony gasped. For a moment the entire place went silent. Nye waited to finish making Rainbow’s third round before looking up… and almost dropped the glass.

His latest guest was Princess Luna.

She stared at them all regally, the music bumping overhead in stark contrast to the silent stares.

And then she smiled. “I hope there’s room for one more.”

Cheers of welcome erupted through the crowd. Nye was over the counter and standing before her in an instant. “You came! Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?”

“It’s called a surprise, Nye,” she declared happily.

“Princess Luna!” Twilight was beside Nye, beaming. “Welcome! Whatever brings you here?”

“I wanted to show my support to my good friend,” she announced, gesturing to Nye.

That earned him a shocked stare from Twilight, not to mention a few others. “You mean… you... know… one… another?”

“Come on, Princess,” the earth pony offered, leading her away from a paralytically-speechless Twilight, “welcome to Nye’s Nights. I can’t believe you’re actually here!”

“As part of my apology for the long silence,” she told him, sitting before the counter happily next to a gaping Jimmy Stone. “Besides, I haven’t had a break from my Royal duties in some time, and I owed you a visit.” She cast a knowing glance around the place. “I think I recognize a theme.”

Nye blushed as he returned to his spot behind the counter. “Yeah, well… I just thought it’d be nice. Y’know, if people would appreciate you more. Got tired of all the praise going to your sister.”

She laughed pleasantly. “I am honored.” Then she noted Jimmy, who was still staring at her. “Umm… is this pegasus alright?”

Nye laughed and tapped on his brother’s head. “Hey, Jimmy, wake up! You’re not dreaming, bro.”

Jimmy shook himself as if coming out of a trance. “You’re really… I mean… I always thought Nye was just… How did you two…”

Nye grinned. “Princess Luna, my brother Jimmy. I don’t think he ever really believed I knew you.”

She smiled and nodded to Jimmy politely. “I am pleased to meet you, Mr. Stone. Nye has told me much about you in his letters.”

The elder brother made a weak sound, nodded with wide eyes, then turned to the counter. “Jimmy, I think I need another drink…”

“Yeah yeah, stay with me,” Nye agreed, grabbing all the necessary bottles. He felt the need to show off and put on a complicated display of flair bartending for the Rising Dawn. It earned him some applauds from all around, including from the Princess.

The drink in his brother’s hooves, he turned to Luna. “Might I make a recommendation?” She nodded, and a moment later he was putting on another, albeit more brief, show. “Luna in the Stars,” he announced, setting the black drink before her. Before she could touch it he dropped a tiny sprinkling of something over it, and a second later the entire drink was glistening in the dark light of the shop as if filled with stars, a frothy purple foam forming at the top.

She watched it for a moment with wide eyes, then sighed appreciatively. “Continue things like this, Mr. Stone, and you’ll start to embarrass me.”

“Try it.”

She did, and when her lips left the glass she had violet foam all around her mouth. She licked it off with a pleased smile – Jimmy averted his wide eyes as if he were seeing something not meant for public display. “Delicious! You truly have a gift, Nye.”

He bowed flamboyantly. “You’re too kind.”

She set the glass down. “This is all appreciated, Nye. I am so very pleased that I came to show my support – and my endorsement.” She winked knowingly. “Imagine what that will do for business.”

He blinked, realized what she said, grinned. He’d not thought of that. Suddenly her visit was a lot more welcome, which he’d not thought possible a moment ago.

“And… I have a special gift for you.” Her horn glowed, and a moment later a plaque appeared between them.

It landed on the counter gently, and he took a moment to study it. He blinked, not comprehending. “What is this?”

“Mayor Mare contacted my sister,” the Princess explained. “It seems your father tried to squeeze her into interfering with your business.” He glowered, but before he could really process this information Luna continued. “Celestia knows of our friendship, so she brought the situation to my attention. This,” she set her hoof on the plaque between them, “is a seal proving that this establishment – and its neighbor – are under the official protection of the Princess Luna.”

Nye only stared uncomprehendingly. She had Jimmy attention, too.

She smiled at their matching expressions. “The legal jargon is rather tedious. Simply put, it means both your businesses are secure from economic threats. Threats like your father.”

“You mean Pops can’t touch us?” Jimmy asked in amazement.

She nodded. “You are both free to expand and develop as you desire – within the boundaries of law, of course.”

Nye and Jimmy gave one another long, shocked stares… and then hugged from across the bar. “You hear that?” Nye cried happily, “we’re out of his shadow!”

Jimmy turned to the Princess and bowed his head to her, the best he could do with the limited space. “Thank you thank you thank you! You have no idea what this means to us!”

She laughed at their excitement. “Oh I have an idea, Mr. Stone.

“Believe me, I have an idea.”

Lightning Dust let out a long yawn, stretched, rolled over on her cloud. She wasn’t ready to greet the day yet. It would just be another disappointment. But the morning sun was in her eyes, and she knew she wouldn’t be able to stay asleep.

Finally she pushed herself up into a sitting position, smacking her lips to get rid of the dryness and stretching one more time. In the distance she saw a small town atop a hill. She tried to recall where she was in her drowsiness, but couldn’t. It didn’t really matter anyway; another day to earn a few bits for her daily bread and move on to the next place. She would just keep travelling, searching for some place that might give her some purpose again.

She started to stand, felt something crumble under her hoof. Startled, she took a look and was surprised to see a scroll. She glanced around the sky, but she was alone. How had it made it up here?

Cautiously, she picked it up… and dropped it again; it bore Princess Luna’s crest.

No. No no no, she wasn’t falling for that again!

She considered leaving the damn thing where it lay, flying off and forgetting it ever existed. But then she thought about it a little more, and found herself curious. It couldn’t hurt to at least see what it said, right?

Lightning Dust,

I wish I could come to you in person to explain the importance of this, but I have no time. Something is very wrong, and despite the best work of my agency we can’t seem to figure out exactly what is happening. All we know for certain is that foals are disappearing in the night. It is my hope that you can solve this mystery.

Lightning Dust, Foal Mountains is in danger. Your friends, your cousin. You must go home before anypony else disappears. And hurry: I don’t think there is much time.

Fine Crime

She stared at the scroll for several long seconds. Fine Crime. A name she didn’t trust in the slightest.

But Foal Mountains, in danger? The orphanage kids, her cousin?

She crumbled the scroll, a horrible anxiety coming over her. This might be a trick, some sort of gamble set up to try and convince her to work with him again.

But what if it wasn’t?

She let out an infuriated scream and darted into the sky, a streak of lightning in her wake; she just couldn’t ignore it. She had to go home.

But first she had to find out where she was.

Author's Note:

A Princess Luna, I do love thy cameos. :ajsmug:

And oh, look, my other favorite pony (Fluttershy) finally showed up. What took so long?

The Mayor Mare/Stikin scene was entirely improvised and thrown in as filler to pad the story's length. I'm not entirely happy with the flow of it... but at the same time I really, really like the concept behind it.

The next chapter will be dark, and may warrant upgrading the rating to 'Mature.' We'll see. It's also going to require a little research, because I want to be damn careful about how do it.