• Published 13th Oct 2011
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Miss Sparkle Goes to Canterlot - Fon Shaolin



Can Equestria survive Congresspony Sparkle?

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Chapter 5

One thing that the average pony would not know about “Miss Realist” Twilight Sparkle was that she kept a dream journal. It was a simple book of a hundred or so pages filled with random scribbles from a sleep-addled mind. Most of the entries were silly things like descriptions of colors and feelings; some were of bizarre scenes like a garden full of thorn bushes and lush fruit.

Once in a while, though, there was the odd dream that Twilight could recall with crystal clarity. The young unicorn yawned and rolled over in her bed, already reaching out with her magic for her dream journal. The quill flew to her with practiced ease and the nightstand next to her bed gave up the book itself.

It had been a most terrible dream, Twilight thought as she dipped the quill in her bedside inkwell. Her nightmares were always bad – more so after her episode a few months ago with Smarty Pants, but tonight it was worse than usual. She put the tip of the quill down on the page and began to write about her ordeal, only to find that the words wouldn’t come. In fact, nothing was being marked on the page at all.

She dipped the quill again with the same results: no words, no ink, and still no marks. Frustrated, Twilight maneuvered the inkwell over to her and peered inside. There was ink at the bottom, but it was a red soup of miniature waves lapping at the side of the little glass jar. Captured by the scene, Twilight bent her head over to get a better look and tipped – off the bed and down, down, down into the black bottle and into an ocean that had not looked so deep and wide from so far above…

Twilight snapped awake with a yelp loud enough to echo on the stone walls of her room. She was panting and sweating so the pony threw back the thick blankets and tried to slow her breathing. It was only as she was trying to get her breath back that the filly noticed her surroundings.

Twilight wondered where she was. It was still the castle, she could tell from the stonework, but it was unlike any the young unicorn had seen. Rich tapestries of blue and pink flowed down all four walls like rivers of color and the massive four-post bed she was in dominated the room. Twilight sat up on the soft down mattress and tried to will the fuzziness in her mind to dissipate. Something about this place seemed so familiar though Twilight was certain she’d never set hoof in this room before.

The large wooden door at the far end of the room opened with a loud creak, answering her odd sense of familiarity with the room. A very familiar head peaked around the corner of the door clad in a golden helm.

“Shining Armor!” Twilight exclaimed. She tried to jump to her feet, but her legs shivered and she slumped back down on the bed.

Her brother took a few tentative steps into the room and looked around, giving the windows more than a cursory glance. “Are you alright? I thought I heard you yell.”

Twilight shook her head. “Sorry, bad dream.”

“That’s what Cadance said, but you know me: big brother to the rescue.” His helmet came off with a yank of magic and he gave his sister a quick nuzzle. “Don’t worry us like that again, Twilight,” he muttered.

Twilight chuckled. “It was only a bad dream. I used to have lots—”

“I’m not talking about the dream! They had to call me in to get you from the steward’s office because you fainted. Do you have any idea how worried Cadance and I were?”

“I fainted?”

“In Sol Shard’s office. Don’t you remember?”

Suddenly everything tumbled back down on Twilight like a flood. “I remember,” Twilight whispered. Oh how she remembered. What little good cheer she had gotten from seeing her brother so unexpectedly was gone. “Am I still in the castle?”

“You’re in our room. The minister wanted you to wake up here so that there wouldn’t be a…an…”

Twilight finished the sentence. “Another ‘embarrassing episode to the crown’ like the one I put on in front of the tourists downstairs, right?”

The guard captain ducked his head. “Something like that. I’m sorry, Sis.”

Sorry seemed to be the word of the day for Twilight. Sorry that she was an inconvenience to the princess, sorry that she had cause such a scene, and sorry she had ever opened her big mouth on election day.

Apparently, though, Twilight would have one more thing to be sorry about as Princess Cadance followed her husband in at just that moment. The normally bubbly princess looked sorely upset and there were the beginnings of bags under her eyes. This time Twilight did manage to get to her feet, if only to properly greet her sister-in-law with a nuzzle.

The Princess of Love gave her friend a tired smile. “I didn’t think you would be up for some time or I’d have been here for you. I thought you were having another nightmare.”

“How long have I been sleeping?” Twilight asked.

“Two and a half days if you count today,” Shining Armor answered. “If you had been out for much longer I would have taken you to the hospital, steward be damned.”

Cadance saw that Twilight looked confused. “Sol Shard said we couldn’t take you to the hospital in case there were paparazzi around.”

Sol Shard this, Sol Shard that. Truthfully Twilight was getting sick of hearing that old stallion’s name. He’d always been kind and courteous before, but after basically telling Twilight she wasn’t welcome in the castle he’d more than burned that bridge. Now that the initial shock of it all was over with, Twilight couldn’t imagine the princess saying anything like that to her. Celestia had been her teacher for close to two decades – the bond they shared was stronger than politics, of all things!

A fierce determination lit itself deep down in Twilight’s stomach. She’d get to the bottom of this right now!

“Cadance! You’re a princess, right?” The pink alicorn recoiled as Twilight tapped her on the chest with her hoof. “Would Princess Celestia really say that I’d be a liability to her? Me, her best and most dedicated student?”

The poor princess gulped and eased away from the accusing poke. “Twilight,” she began, low and measured, “I don’t think for a second that Celestia actually said anything like that. Likely, it was just Sol Shard being what he is – the Castle Steward. You have to understand how these things work…”

Twilight’s lips twisted into a scowl. “You’re taking his side?” she asked, incredulous.

Cadance blanched at Twilight’s tone. “No! I’m not taking anyone’s side, Twilight! Just…just try and see how this looks to everypony else. You were Celestia’s private student, you’re from a well-to-do Canterlot family, and I’m your sister-in-law. That makes you a distant crown relative yourself. Put that on top of beating one of the most talked-about candidates in recent memory and the news story practically writes itself.”

Cadance shrugged hopelessly at her husband when Twilight slumped back onto the bed. “I know it’s not what you wanted to hear, but better it come from us than some tabloid. If you just wait a few months it’ll all blow over and then–”

Twilight’s head snapped up suddenly. “What if I resign?” she asked. “Would things to back to normal?”

Resign? Are you kidding? Sis, this is the biggest opportunity you’ve had since Princess Celestia picked you to become her apprentice!” Shining Armor stamped his foot on the thick carpet, but it was enough to make Twilight jump. “You can’t stay in Ponyville your whole life, Twilight. Don’t you want to get out there, in the real world, and make your mark?”

“I want to stay the princess’s apprentice!” Twilight snapped back.

Her brother let out a grunt. “Mom and Dad are worried about you, Sis. They don’t know what you’re still doing in that little town, running a library. You were Celestia’s personal student and now you’re a graduate of her private school – you can do better than that!”

Twilight saw red. “Don’t bring up our parents, Shining Armor! Don’t you dare do it!” She found her legs again and rolled off the bed. Though Twilight only came up to the stallion’s chest, she came as close as she could to shoving the larger pony. “You ran off to join the Guard when you were half my age! Do you know what that did to Mom and Dad? I remember going down to the barracks and demanding the guards there to give you back because Mom wouldn’t stop crying!” Twilight’s hoof clanked against her brother’s polished breastplate as she gave him a few hard taps. “Don’t you give me the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ routine.”

Cadance quickly pushed herself between the two. “Twilight, stop this!” she said, rounding on her sister-in-law. “Shining Armor is only trying to help you. We both are. Celestia doesn’t wish you to spend the rest of your life in Ponyville anymore than your parents or Shining Armor does. I know that she’s proud of you, Twilight. I know that. The last time we spoke you were all she could talk about. You just have to give this some time until everypony stops seeing plots in every corner.”

Twilight wanted to scream and demand how long that would be. Why should she care what other ponies thought was going on? Her job didn’t include making friends with paranoid politicians! “Why is the princess even dealing with ponies like that?” she asked. “I just…” Twilight felt the tension and stress pile onto her shoulders. It made her legs shake and she sat back on the carpet with a thump. “I just want to help her. That’s why I went through with this. Now I can’t even do that.” She wouldn’t cry. She would not! The clench of her eyes was proving her a liar, though. Cadance sat down beside her and pulled her close, but she wasn’t what Twilight wanted: Cadance was too small, her mane too rough. She didn’t smell of flowers and sunshine.

Why doesn’t anything ever go right? The election had been a disaster; she’d only wanted to ask a few questions about policy to help decide which pony to vote for. Instead, she’d been pulled up on stage in front of all those ponies. They had clapped and whistled and voted. She’d ended up taking the job because the princess had written that she was proud. Twilight had been all too eager to take the honor then. Now, though, it was as if she were the second coming of Nightmare Moon for all Celestia cared.

“Maybe your library was best for you. At least for a few more years,” Cadance murmured. Twilight didn’t know if the alicorn was speaking to her or not, but she nodded into the princess’s neck regardless. If she had just turned this down she’d be writing a friendship report to Celestia right now about and it’d just be another episode in the life of Twilight Sparkle. But, no, her friends had insisted, the princess had congratulated her, and it was all so new and exciting! This wasn’t exciting, though. This wasn’t fun or new. This was getting underfoot and that was something Twilight hadn’t done since she was a filly.

Shining Armor let out a sigh. “Twi, it’s not going to be that bad. I promise. In a few weeks you’ll be too busy drafting laws and arguing with other senators to worry about what a few trash tabloids think of you.”

“I don’t care what they think of me now,” she mumbled. It’s the princess that cares what they think.

Cadance nuzzled the unicorn she’d known for years. “It won’t be that bad, Twilight. You’ll see. Shining Armor is right about how busy you’ll be. I don’t think that you’d have very much time to see Celestia anyway for the first few weeks. By the time you get settled it will be much easier for you to get appointments.”

Appointments. The very word raised Twilight’s heckles and she pushed away from the alicorn she’d known for years. Cadance sounded like Sol Shard.

“Then I guess I’ll see her in a few weeks,” Twilight curtly replied. She wiped her eyes and got up off the floor. “Like everypony has been telling me, I have duties that are going to keep me busy.

Shining Armor and Cadance shared an uneasy look and a part of Twilight wished that they would say something, anything, out of place. Instead of driving the point on further, though, Twilight’s brother gave her a tight smile.

“That’s my little sister. You’ll have a lot more to talk about after your first real session. It’ll be great.”

“Yeah, great. That’s what this whole situation is for me, Shining Armor – Great.”

The stallion didn’t lose his forced smile. He pulled out Twilight’s traveling suitcases. Twilight took her saddlebag from him but otherwise let her brother do most of the heavy lifting. He waited for her out in the hall while she said her goodbyes to Cadance.

“Everything will work out,” the Princess of Love whispered as they embraced. “I know it seems like everything is changing, and it’s not going to be easy, but it will be a good journey for you. You’re all grown-up now and it’ll take some getting used to. For all of us.” She looked over at Shining Armor as she said that, though Twilight could tell that the princess was hurt.

Twilight practically slinked out of her brother’s apartment. She felt lower than low – lower than dirt. The guilt that had only been a tiny voice was now jumping up and down on her back like Spike used to when he was little. It hurt almost as much, too. Cadance didn’t deserve to have Twilight angry with her.

The pair’s walk through the royal apartments was quiet for the most part. It was late in the morning so most of the castle’s permanent residents were already gone for the day. Twilight wanted to ask her brother why he’d moved into the castle or when, but she couldn’t get her voice to work. With every step she felt like Shining Armor was getting angrier and angrier with her and why shouldn’t he? She’d made his wife nearly break down in tears for just trying to help.

“So, what did Dad have to say about you coming back to Canterlot?”

Twilight’s nose scrunched up at the odd question. “Dad? I haven’t talked to him yet.”

There was a hitch in the stallion’s steps. He slowed his pace to cast a look over his shoulder at the trailing unicorn. “So, what, you just got off the train and ran to the castle?”

“Because it’s where I had to drop my luggage. I was counting on being able to get my old room back, in case you didn’t realize it.” The moment the flimsy rationalization left her mouth Twilight knew Shining Armor could see right through it. She heard him snort, loudly, and had to step up her pace to keep up with him.

He didn’t say anything else to her for the rest of the walk. For that, Twilight was glad. The question had both surprised and upset her. Was Shining Armor trying to suggest she’d neglected their parents? They had a three page letter describing nearly every mundane moment from when she was pulled up on the stage to be elected until she set foot on the train! Twilight dismissed Shining Armor’s sentiments for what they were – his attempt to make her feel even guiltier. It wasn’t going to work on her. Her bother couldn’t guilt her into feeling foolish for wanting to talk to the princess about the biggest change that’s ever happened in her life. Twilight spent the rest of the trip resolutely ignoring her brother and instead trying to guess just where they were going. They had already gone down three flights of stairs and the hallways were getting darker and older the further they went.

Finally, after yet another decent, Shining Armor stopped next to an old iron door. The light was so low here that he had to keep his horn blazing just to fit an old blue-iron key into the lock.

The door opened, surprisingly, without a squeak, reveling one of the far corners of the castle gardens. Shining Armor floated Twilight’s luggage through the door and Twilight followed.

“Since you missed orientation someone will be waiting to give you a tour at the Assembly Hall when you get there. They’ll show you your office and things.”

Twilight nodded. Whenever she was troubled in Ponyville Twilight would throw herself into her work to forget; hopefully it wouldn’t be different here. Cadance’s promise of “a few weeks for things to settle” was bouncing around in the unicorn’s head. She could bury herself for a few weeks. At least, that’s what she told herself.

Shining Armor was still standing at the door when Twilight levitated her suitcases. They awkwardly stared at each other for a few moments and Twilight’s ears drooped when the stallion didn’t say anything.

“Well, I guess this is goodbye for now.” The awkward silence tugged Twilight’s lips into an even more awkward smile. “Make sure you take care of Cadance. Tell her I’m sorry and –”

Twilight breathed a sigh of relief when her brother finally pulled her in for a hug. “I thought you were going to just kick me out without a proper goodbye,” she sniffed.

“Never. You’re my little sister, aren’t you?” He pulled away with an honest smile on his face. “Just…take care of yourself for a few weeks. The reason we’re using one of the secret entrances to the palace is because some paparazzi have been sniffing around. You know how to get out of the gardens without anyone seeing you, but you can’t avoid them until the story blows over.”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “I’ve been dealing with the news ponies in Ponyville for two weeks now.”

Shining Armor didn’t look convinced. “It’s different, Twi,” he insisted. “You were a hero in Ponyville – now you’re just another Canterlot politician. They’re really out for blood with the elections fresh on everyone’s minds.”

“Alright, alright.” Shining Armor being about her was a good change from being mad. Twilight promised that she would be extra careful when dealing with the press. “Forget the reporters for a second, though. Are we alright? Still my BBBFF?”

The seriousness of his face scared Twilight for a moment. “Well, you’ve been a bit pig-headed your whole life,” he said. The stallion couldn’t keep his pokerface forever, though. “What’s one more time to your big brother?” Twilight let out a happy sigh when her brother ruffled the top of her mane. “If you can’t find a place to stay tonight, my old place is still empty. You know where the spare key is.”

“About that, why are you here at the castle? Wanted a bigger looooove nest for Cadance?”

Shining Armor awkwardly chuckled. “Yeah, something like that,” he said, confusing Twilight.

“You’re hiding something, aren’t you?”

“If I am you don’t have time to wring it from me. Don’t’ want an even bigger tardy on your record, do you?” He ducked behind the door when Twilight went to swat him. Twilight heard the heavy deadbolt slide closed and she was left only with her brother’s annoying chuckling dogging her until she was a good distance from the door.

********

It was only a little before noon when Twilight finally arrived at the Assembly Building. She had dropped her luggage off at the baggage claim at the train station after slinking out of the gardens rather than draw further attention to herself just in case Shining Armor’s warning about the paparazzi came true.

The Equestrian Parliamentary Building was close enough to the castle that Twilight hadn’t lost too much time dropping her things off at the station. Like every other building at the summit, the Parliamentary Building was splashed with the same extravagant carousel colors of the castle. What distinguished it, though, was the large domed roof that dominated the Canterlot skyline. It managed to be quite imposing even overshadowed like it was by the castle towers.

What it had in common with the castle were the gold-clad guards standing beside the door. Twilight gave them a wary look as she stepped inside the main foyer area of the Assembly. Her horseshoes clicked against the polished marble floor as she walked past various displays; she was very nearly tempted by the original Canterlot Charter, though.

Everything was still and quiet. Twilight looked around for whoever was supposed to show her around and didn’t see anyone. There was, however, another guard post further into the hall. Two massive stallions stood watch on either of a hallway leading deep into the building.

“Excuse me,” she called out. The guards didn’t show any sign of actually listening to her but Twilight knew they were. “I’m Twilight Sparkle, the Representative for Briarwood. Is there…is there someone waiting on me? I’m supposed to meet—”

One of the guards cleared his throat. “All the way down the hallway then turn to the left. Fourth door on the right,” he said. Twilight didn’t quite understand what kind of direction he was giving her and she didn’t feel much like arguing with another guard after what happened at the castle. She mumbled a quick “thank you” and hurried past them as quickly as she could.

Inside the Assembly the halls all looked the same. Each one had the same expensive carpeting, flashy red rug running down the middle, and evenly-spaced doors that confused Twilight to no end. She had to count them in her head until she reached the one the guard had indicated. Twilight lightly tapped on it with her hoof and got no response. She tapped slightly louder and heard a muffled voice, but nothing else.

Maybe they want me to go on in? Twilight swallowed the lump in her throat and pushed the door open. She just hoped that missing orientation hadn’t been too bad.

As Twilight stepped through the door, over a hundred sets of eyes locked onto her. Rather than being in the office she had expected Twilight had stumbled through the Assembly Chamber side door. Both houses of the Royal Assembly were gathered: the Assembly of Nobles and the Assembly of Commons. The two Assemblies were mingled on benches that filled the major part of the large circular room. At the front were the raised desks of the Assembly Leader and, to Twilight’s complete mortification, Princess Celestia. The alicorn’s face was too far away to make out so Twilight didn’t know what kind of expression her teacher was wearing but the unicorn guessed it mirrored the looks of aggravation she could see on the ponies closest to her.

Twilight had no idea what she should do now. Obviously her knocking had ground the entire session to a halt. Worst of all, she couldn’t even run to her seat and hope to melt into the floor – she didn’t know where to sit! No one had told her anything yet! And Celestia was there, watching and judging and probably thinking that it was a very good idea to distance herself and that she’ll never have to bother with this sad, pathetic little pony again and…and the room was shaking so horribly and her ears were starting to fill with cotton.

“Twilight Sparkle, there you are.” Twilight latched onto the strong voice like a life preserver. From the middle of the aisles a well-dressed unicorn broke whatever spell had been cast over the Assembly by getting to his feet. “I was afraid that I’d miss you. Come, come! I’ve got your seat right here.”

It was Reinhoof. The overwhelming gratitude that Twilight felt for the stallion at that moment was indescribable. Focus on him. Don’t look at anypony else, Twilight told herself. If she did; if she looked at their faces again Twilight was sure she’d stumble and not get back up. She walked up the aisle as fast as her shaky legs would take her and sank down next to her friend from the train. The noble’s smile was languid as he politely dipped his head to the Prime Minister and Celestia in turn before retaking his seat.

Slowly, like old gears struggling to grind against one another, the Assembly started moving again. Somepony at the front cleared his throat and turned back to the Prime Minster. He was talking about something about how grateful he was for being here. Twilight could barely hear him through the stuffy feeling still constricting her head.

“It appears our parting was a brief one. Well met, Miss Sparkle,” Reinhoof said, just loud enough that it blended in with the rest of the low chatter in the chamber. No pony on their bench was paying them any attention; the noble had given Twilight his aisle seat and he shielded her from the rest of the bench.

Twilight gulped and slumped down lower in her seat. “I’m so, so sorry for embarrassing you like that. I don’t think I can repay you for this, Ser.” Her face was still burning.

Reinhoof looked to be in his element – much more so than Twilight Sparkle was. “Nonsense. All you succeeded in doing was liven up an otherwise droll day. I should be thanking you.”

There was a shuffle around the chamber as the speaker closed. “And now we stand,” Reinhoof suddenly instructed. Twilight awkwardly got to her feet and mirrored her friend. “Bow once to the Prime Minister and once to Princess Celestia.”

Twilight had barely finished her bow when it was time to retake her seat. “That’s how we start each session,” Reinhoof said. “The nobles trade off on who has to do the daily address – today was Ser Pirouette’s turn.”

Pirouette was so prodigiously large that Twilight actually saw him pant a few times when he finally arrived back at his second-row seat. Nevertheless, there was a smattering of polite applause that managed to eclipse the low buzz of whispered conversations.

The loud crack of a gavel finished off the rest of the chattering. The Prime Minister, a middle-aged unicorn stallion, brought the chamber to order. Dressed in fine silk robes he looked nearly as regale as the alicorn sitting behind him.

The Princess of Equestria was seated on a rater drab throne situated next to the Prime Minister, though still towering over the normal-sized stallion. This far away it was impossible to catch the alicorn’s eye, but Twilight tried to nonetheless. She desperately wanted to see if Celestia was angry at her. Please, Twilight thought, give me some kind of sign. Just a wink or a smile.

Reinhoof glanced over at her. “Is something the matter? You look quite put-out.”

“It’s nothing.” Celestia hadn’t looked her way even once. Twilight turned her attention away from the goddess and back to the chamber floor. Another pony had taken the central podium and was reading out the minutes from the last Assembly session. Of course, none of it was familiar to Twilight. “Did I miss that much because I wasn’t at the orientation?” she asked.

“Oh no, that’s was the last regular Assembly from before the elections. Orientation was just a chance for the reporters to snap their pictures and inflate some egos,” Reinhoof replied.

“Don’t I need to know the rules and procedures?” Twilight whispered back, still trying to pay attention to the official goings-on. She’s already missed a lot.

The stallion dismissively waved a hoof. “All of that business is in the Assembly Rules Compendium. I’ve already requested a copy to be waiting for you in your office. Right now, you should be focused on meeting your colleagues.” He subtly pointed to the fat stallion that had been in charge of the opening address – the one Twilight had so rudely interrupted. “Ser Pirouette is the noble whom the Lake Alfalfa Logging Consortium leans on in the Assembly. I can introduce you to him.”

“The…the Lake Alfalfa Logging Consortium?” Twilight had no idea what Reinhoof was talking about.

“Yes, that’s right. Ser Pirouette has been leaning on other members to support his push to bring back up the Lake Alfalfa Accords. I’m sure you know, but the Logging Consortium supports a renegotiation of the new tax levies – something I recall you campaigning on.”

Twilight wasn’t sure she’d her remarks an actual campaign, but it was certainly one of the things she wanted to talk to someone about. The question was how had Reinhoof known about it? Twilight’s curiosity was piqued enough that she was distracted from the dull ache at not being acknowledged by her mentor. “How did you know that?” she asked.

Reinhoof clicked his tongue in a tut-tut manner. “I would not be much of a friend to you if I couldn’t help with a few small things such as this,” he said. “It only took the briefest of mentions to my own staff to get a good sampling of local stories in the papers that cover most everything you said during the election. Even the Canterlot Standard ran a biography of sorts on you a week ago.” Twilight’s surprise must have shown on her face as he added, “If I had known our corresponding interests on the train I would not have brought this up in such a delayed fashion. It is unfortunate that my westward travels prevented regular delivery of the Standard.”

“We have ‘corresponding interests’?” Twilight questioned.

“We both want to see that private economic prosperity is brought back to the Lake Alfalfa region,” the noble explained.

While the pair had been talking, the floor had been given to a string of petitioners and representatives were roaming around the chamber in roving cliques of legislators. Reinhoof got to his feet and Twilight hesitantly followed as he made his way across the aisles. Twilight couldn’t help but spare a look at her mentor once again as Reinhoof’s path was taking them closer and closer to the front. At this distance she could clearly make out the alicorn’s face as she listened to the petitioner, occasionally craning her neck to hear one of the Prime Minister’s comments.

Suddenly their eyes met. Celestia had looked up from the Prime Minister at just the right time to catch Twilight’s own gaze. While Twilight stopped in the middle of the aisle, Celestia’s expression didn’t change. She looked placid as ever, betraying no indication that her attention wasn’t solely directed at her petitioner. Twilight thought she could see the edges of her mentor’s eyes narrow, but she couldn’t be certain. If she’s angry at me…

“Is something wrong?” Reinhoof asked. He had come back over to see what was holding up his colleague.

Twilight glanced away for just a moment and the spell was broken; when she looked back she found that the princess’s focus was back on the old mare standing at the podium. “No, it’s nothing,” Twilight sighed. She was emotionally drained from trying to figure the princess out and the unicorn wouldn’t let her personal problems ruin her first day on the job. There were ponies back home who were counting on her.

Pirouette was unmoved from where he had first sat down. The generously large pony had his own little group around him and Twilight had to stifle a small giggle when she likened it to moons orbiting some large planet out in the night sky. Certainly, they were captivated enough for the analogy; they seemed to hang on every word that came out of Pirouette’s mouth.

Nevertheless, Twilight let her noble friend lead. Reinhoof easily broke into the ring of representatives and nobles to claim a standing spot near Pirouette. The hefty noble interrupted one of his hangers-on mid-brownnose to throw his forelegs open when he saw Reinhoof.

“The rascal himself comes to see me! I half expected you to miss the first day playing plantation owner out in the provinces.” Pirouette laughed and his fine-tailored suit rolled on his gut like the skin of a water balloon. He sounded much different than the pony Twilight had walked in on; deeper, more authoritative. “Don’t just stand there like a yokel. You,” he pointed to one of his group sitting near him, “give my good friend some room to sit.”

Reinhoof motioned for Twilight to take a seat with him and Pirouette noticed her for the first time. He actually leveraged himself from his bench to trot over to the unicorn and gave her a dramatic bow – as dramatic as Pirouette could make it considering his figure, that is.

“I see my old friend has brought something far more interesting to discuss than his little cowpony trip. How are you this fine morning, Madame?”

“I’m…good?” Twilight quickly glanced over at Reinhoof to see how to handle this. To her consternation, the noble was simply stroking his mustache and was seemingly waiting to see what she’d do.

Twilight remembered her trip on the train and Reinhoof’s earlier lesson on how important Pirouette was to her future initiatives. Recovering from her earlier confusion, Twilight put on her widest smile and slipped out of her chair to give the rotund noble the same formal bow she had given Reinhoof when they had first met. “It is a pleasure and honor to meet you, Ser. I am Twilight Sparkle, Representative of Briarwood.”

“Delightful! Simply delightful! My children could learn a thing or two from you!” Pirouette declared. When he heard dutiful agreements from his crowd, he turned to them with an upset look. “What are all of you still doing here? Can’t you see we have work to do?” Pirouette rolled his eyes when they practically fell over each other to get out of the cramped aisles. “Clerks,” he muttered.

“This is not simply a personal visit, my friend,” Reinhoof reminded. “I believe I’ve potentially found a wonderful new co-signer to your bill in Miss Sparkle.”

Pirouette plopped back down onto his bench. “I certainly wouldn’t turn down any help at this point. Those tree-hugging types are blocking everything I do these days. What sort of ideas do you have to get the bill un-stuck?” He waggled his eyebrows at the younger unicorn. “Got anyone good to lean on?”

I had the best before I got this stupid job. “I’ve only just arrived in Canterlot and the only pony I know so far is Reinhoof. He’s been nice enough to get me used to things here.”

The noble tapped his hoof on his chin thoughtfully. “Of course, of course.”

“Every vote will help, Pirouette,” Reinhoof added. “I think that with the most talked-about representative of the cycle we can mount a good push to at least get the new regulations back on the debate docket.”

“Yes, but what good is debate if we can’t convince any of these fence sitters! By Celestia I wish I could give them a good boxing!”

Twilight looked between the two nobles. “Are things really that bad at the lake?” she asked. “The new laws were only implemented last spring, weren’t they?”

“Yes, but revenue is already down a quarter for some of the businesses there. I can’t tell you how much of a hit it’s been to Neighport. How much were you telling me you’ve lost already in Fillydelphia, Reinhoof?”

Reinhoof’s mustache seemed to bristle as he added in his head. “I’ve already had to close three warehouses and one of my restaurants has cut its staff by half. Simply not enough dockworkers coming in these days.” He shook his head “I can only imagine what the shipping companies are going through with the new tolls and tonnage taxes.”

It certainly did sound dire. Lake Alfalfa was Briarwood's largest tax center. Neighport, Trottingham, and Ponyville all depended on the taxes on goods going through the lake. If the new Canterlot taxes were too much, then businesses might find it better to avoid shipping altogether and move things by wagon, cutting into the amount of transport taxes the cities and towns in her district could levy.

This was her chance! Twilight felt slightly lightheaded as she realized that this was a real problem that she could fix. Tax laws and debates were part of her job. If she did a good job here then maybe, just maybe, Twilight would prove that she was good at this position and not a complete gaffe-prone fluke!

It would prove that she belonged here.

She licked her dry lips. "We're going to need to come up with a proposal. We can do graphs and statistics." Her mind was whirling with ideas and dreams of presenting an air-tight argument in front of all these ponies. It was a scary prospect, but also exciting. "If I have all of the tax information I can do the math! We can just show everypony how much it will hurt the economy. I can even do projections year by year!"

Pirouette slapped his hoof down on the bench. He had grown more and more interested as Twilight spoke and by the end he was practically stomping his hooves. “By thunder, that’s the kind of attitude we need around here!”

Twilight would have wilted at all the new attention Pirouette’s outburst was getting her if the looks hadn't been genuine curiosity. A few ponies went back to their work, but more were starting to work their way over to the tightening ball of congressponies.

“Clerks? Clerks! Where are my clerks?” The crowd parted as several young colts rushed back to their large boss. Pirouette clapped the nearest one on the shoulder. “You, you’re going back to my office and personally taking my Lake Alfalfa renegotiation draft to Miss Sparkle’s office. If you lose even a single page you’ll be cleaning inkwells until your coat is black.”

“I knew that you were a pony of action the second I saw you! Reinhoof, the bandit, probably wanted to keep you to himself. He didn’t count on Pirouette, did he?”

Reinhoof gave Twilight a knowing look and rolled his eyes. “You are far too cunning for me, old friend. I was going to introduce her to you at my Fall Ball, but I do not know if she’ll have time to make it, what with all of her duties.”

Pirouette looked floored. “Not going? Miss Sparkle, the most powerful ponies in the city will be there! You said you don’t have anyone to lean on? Well, I guarantee that after a night with Pirouette guiding you that you’ll have a larger social circle than I.”

Everypony around them was looking at her now and not because she had embarrassed herself again. It was a good feeling. The bill would take a lot of work, but so what? These ponies actually wanted to listen and spend time with her. “My situation has changed since the ride over,” she quickly explained. “I would be very honored to attend your ball.”

As Pirouette and Reinhoof expressed their delight at the prospect, Twilight realized how at ease having friendly ponies around made her feel. She wished her friends were here with her. Would Applejack be able to explain all these complicated tax laws better? Maybe Pinkie would know how to act at a high-class party? Rarity would surely be able to pick out the best outfit for her and Rainbow Dash would know just what to say to break the ice. Without her circle of friends, though, and without the princess, Twilight only had one avenue to explore that would teach her the ins and outs of what she needed to know for Reinhoof’s Fall Ball.

It was time to take Shining Armor’s advice. It was time to visit her parents.

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Comments ( 14 )

>implying I'm a lazy author :pinkiecrazy:

1530871

What!? It's only taken 40 weeks! Surely that's not -

Okay, it is a little lazy.

And Twilight hasn't even read what's going on and already she's chomping at the bit to sign it.

Hmm. It seems like Twilight might be falling in with the wrong crowd...

its possible, I'll give her train friend the benefit of the doubt, but it does seem like she is getting rangled in for push support

<- Really excited to find another good story to follow.

Sees this post

1531011

i0.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/original/000/003/617/okayguy.jpg

Fon lives!

If the story follows it's namesake of course Twilight would be taken advantage of by her "friends" in the congress. Then again there really wasn't a relationship analogous to Twilight and Celestia's there.

So glad you're writing this again Fon, really hit a drought on really good stories recently. It inspired me to watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington tonight. I forgot how heavy the anti-fascist/totalitarianism message was in the film. I guess I just focused on the corruption and youth angles before.

1532618
Well, in a way another story helped me get inspired to write this one. It'll be a bit of a balancing act, especially considering how lazy I naturally am, but a new story of mine should hit the site in a few hours. I think they'll balance out nicely and eat up all of the plot ideas I normally couldn't put into a single story so I stay motivated to update something.

And yes, Mr. Smith is an excellent movie. What I took from it, though, was the sense of spirit that he brought to an otherwise stagnant place. Fresh ideas, fresh thoughts, fresh perspectives. That's what I want to do with this story. Shake out some of Canterlot's cobwebs, so to speak. It's also kind of funny how everyone is already saying Twilight has fallen in with the wrong crowd or that anyone in this fic is who they appear to be. I happen to be a big fan of moral relativism. :pinkiecrazy:

1532648
Very true, from what we've been shown both of her fellow representatives don't have any sort of sinister motives for the legislation they're trying to pass. Some self interest mind you, their own businesses are involved, but its not as if they're scheming to rape the land and oppress the workers(that we know of). I do wonder how Fluttershy would react to her friend be allied with a group know as the logging consortium. At least in my head she's one of those "tree huggers" you mention. One further way for Twilight to be stressed, her friends trying to tell her how she should vote on various things. With their various backgrounds and jobs there's liable to be some conflict in the suggestions as well.

I’ve got a very bad feeling about this. Hopefully Twi will go into the Dissection of Politicians mode quickly.

Wish I'd seen this earlier. It's a pretty unique idea (I've only seen one other fic involving Twilight up for an election and it ends with her happily declaring herself ineligible on a technicality), and the execution isn't half bad either.

1532887

She strikes me as the type to be sharp enough to catch any shenanigans in actual bills/laws/amendments/whatever even if she is a terrible judge of character (though she may be good at it once she settles in to the job).

Now, see, this is why you don't get into politics. It alienates you from your loved ones, obliterates your morals, drains your emotions from you leaving you an empty husk of a creature, takes you away from doing the things you love, and corrodes your soul.

Twilight, meet me at camera three.


...


Oh, heh...hi, Twilight.

Okay, so, there's still time. You can still make it out of here with your hope intact and your idealism unharmed. All you have to do is follow these simple steps.

1) Write a speech that is nothing but three minutes of you saying the word "No," over and over.

2) End your speech by announcing your resignation.

3) Grab a top hat and cane out from underneath your desk/podium.

5) Put on said top hat and cane.

6) Loudly declare "Play me out, Celly!"

7) Do the Michigan Rag all the way out of the room.

8) If ponies continue to press the subject or hold a grudge, threaten to release Discord.

If you follow these simple steps, I guarantee that there will be no pony out there with the balls to ever even bring up your brief stint as a representative.

Because honestly, you can't really make Americanesque politics any more of a joke than it already is.

1583216 she's an excellent judge of character compare with most ponies, actually. Zecora and Luna spring to mind. Her weak spot is that she's a poor socialite. Her words would easily become twisted and misquoted, and she wouldn't know how to handle it.

This is a great idea but the treatment of Twilight is really turning me off. This is a brilliant idea but the idea that they would honestly feel it was appropriate to send Twilight off on her own after knowing her issues, not to mention the fact that it would be pretty likely for her to head to Celestia and nobody seems to have noticed and everyone caring more about what she can do in terms of social climbing just feels too off to me. I'm really sorry but I'm walking away.

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