• Published 20th Jul 2013
  • 3,178 Views, 61 Comments

Bottom Of The Ladder - GeodesicDragon



Sequel to Top Of The Charts. Freshly released from jail, Anon has returned to Ponyville. The townsponies don't want him back — but there is another, far more pressing, issue to contend with.

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Situational Awareness

After dancing the horizontal tango with Vinyl, you are now sitting in Octavia's living room with her by your side while Octavia puts away the groceries she brought back. You offered to help, but she insisted that you stay with Vinyl which, given her tight grip, you had no choice but to do.

Confined to the couch you pass the time waiting for Octavia by petting Vinyl's mane while she lies on your lap, occasionally nuzzling your leg and giggling like a filly. It's a sound you've missed a lot during your incarceration, and to hear it again fills you with a joy you haven't felt in years.

"Finally," Octavia's voice, followed by her hoofsteps as she enters the room, distracts you from your memories. "Sorry I took so long, I just had a lot of stuff to put away. Unexpected house guests tends to mean more shopping."

"Uhh, yeah," you reply sheepishly. "I wish I could have let you know of my arrival, but I didn't want to risk a certain somepony finding out." You gently poke Vinyl as you say this. "Mind you, that didn't stop Pinkie Pie from somehow finding out."

"Nothing gets past Pinkie Pie," Octavia laughs. "She has some kind of sixth sense for these sorts of things." She pauses for a moment before sighing. "But enough about that, you said you wanted to know about why the Royal Guard is out in force?"

"I do indeed," you nod. "There's far too many of them out here just to watch me, so I'm guessing there is something else to it?"

Octavia sits on her haunches and clops her forehooves together. "A few months ago, the local Diamond Dogs began raiding Ponyville for new slaves to work in their mines. Nopony knows where the poor souls have been taken, as the only entrance to the Diamond Dog den that we know of has been blocked up."

"So the Guard is here as a deterrent, to try and stop the fuckers from trying shit?" you reply, to which Octavia nods. "All right then. So... what are they doing about finding them?"

"They're sending out patrols to try and find the den," Vinyl says from her position on your lap. "And once they do, they apparently plan on storming the place to get the prisoners out. Simply put, Anon, you came back to what could very well become a war zone."

"Well, shit," you sigh and rub your temples. "Well, as long as nopony gets badly hurt, I guess. Now, moving on to other matters, how are we going to deal with the locals? As Pinkie Pie said, not all of them will be happy to see me again."

"Buck 'em," Vinyl growls. "If they don't want to accept you then so be it. They can't do anything about it, so they're just gonna have to learn to live and let live."

"Easy, Vinyl," You hold a hand out in a calming gesture. "I'm not interested in making any more enemies, so I hope to find a solution that will make everypony happy. And if that means I have to kiss the collective flanks of the entire town, then so be it."

"Oh yeah?" Vinyl snorts. "And how do you plan on doing that? These ponies are not gonna want you to get on their good side because as far as they're concerned, you're just a murdering scumbag who killed a stallion in cold blood."

"Yet I have served my time for that 'crime'," you spit the last word out. "So I have paid my 'debt to society' as it were, and should now be seen as a reformed man. And I will gladly tell that to anypony who gets in my face, as well as the fact that there is fuck all they can about me being here."

"Actually," Octavia interjects. "There is something they can do. If enough ponies were to sign a petition demanding your exile from town, then the Mayor would have no choice but to act on it."

Nothing is said as you let these words sink in. You glance at Vinyl, who has a worried look on her face. You then look at Octavia, who immediately looks away in shame.

"So basically..." you mumble. "I have to either kiss everypony's flank, or get mine kicked out of town?"

Octavia nods. "I'm sorry to have to tell you like this, Anon, but I'm pretty sure somepony else would have mentioned it to you sooner or later. But at least I did it in a... somewhat elegant fashion."

"Yeah," you chuckle. "Because if somepony else had told me, they would have done so with a lot more venom, and maybe even a little saliva thrown in for good measure."

"So just stay here then," Vinyl suggests, as she gets off your lap and sits next to you on the couch. "That way nopony can say or do anything stupid."

"I'm not going to become a recluse, Vinyl," you snap. "No, I'm going to face those ponies with all of my dignity. I won't let them rile me up, and I won't give them the satisfaction of making me do something which will give them an excuse to hate me even more. The road to reconciliation is a long one, ladies, but I intend to walk every single mile of it."

Vinyl sighs. "Not alone you're not," she says. "I'll help you with this, Nonny, even if it does mean resisting the temptation to buck somepony's head in."

"And I shall help as well," Octavia adds. "Vinyl and I are both well respected in Ponyville, despite our association with you, so if we tell the town that you mean well they will hopefully listen."

"And if all else fails, then we get Luna to come and help," you say sarcastically. "I think a speech, delivered using the Royal Canterlot Voice, would sway everypony's opinion of me."

The two mares giggle at your joke and, after a moment, you join in. For now you are content to stay here with your marefriend and best friend, but you know that sooner or later you will have to step up and look at the bigger picture.

You just hope that it's a good one.

***

The next morning brings with it something you never expected to hear in a quiet place like Ponyville — angry shouting. Sitting bolt upright in your makeshift bed, which in turns sends Vinyl crashing to the floor, you crane your neck to try and hear what's going on.

You can't make out much — but from what you can hear it would seem that somepony is venting their frustrations about something or other, while somepony else tries to calm them down. Deciding that it's none of your business you pick Vinyl up off the floor, not that she even noticed she was there to begin with, and lie back down with her snuggling into your chest.

Then the front door opens and you hear quiet hoofsteps, followed by the sight of a nervous-looking Octavia doing her best Solid Snake impersonation. Upon realising that you're awake she stops and coughs sheepishly.

"Morning, Anon," she says. "I didn't know if you'd be awake, as a lie-in would probably have been high on your list of priorities."

"It's fine, Octavia," you reply with a dismissive hand wave. "I had to be up around this time while I was in prison anyway. I guess old habits die hard." You chuckle. "So, where were you?"

"I had a morning meeting with my fellows in the Royal Canterlot Orchestra," she grumbles. "I can think of better ways to spend a Saturday afternoon." You look at her blankly and she sighs. "Some members of the orchestra don't understand the meaning of 'civilised discussion', Anon. They feel that every little thing has to be voted and agreed on by everypony."

"And I guess this causes more arguments than it's supposed to?" you offer, to which Octavia nods. "Is that what all the shouting I heard outside was all about?"

"Oh no," Octavia says with a small gasp. "That was actually something entirely different. Lyra was having an argument with a couple of the Royal Guards about something involving her friend Bon-Bon. I didn't stick around to find out what, though, as eavesdropping isn't exactly something I enjoy doing. But whatever it was, she was very upset about it."

"Yeah," you grumble. "I kinda gathered that from all the screeching she was doing. But you're right, it's no concern of ours."

Octavia nods solemnly but just as she is about to reply an all-too familiar voice fills the air as somepony comes stomping into the house, making enough noise to wake the dead — as well as Vinyl, who looks around in confusion as Lyra barges into the room.

"Octavia, I need you and Vinyl to help me find—" she stops abruptly upon noticing you. "What's he doing here?!"

"Never mind that," Vinyl snaps. "What in Tartarus are you doing barging into our house, you crazy bitch?!"

"Well, I was going to ask you to help me find Bon-Bon," Lyra replies. "But I think I'll wait, while you explain to me why this murdering bastard is back in our town."

"Nice to see you too, Lyra," you grin, which is answered with a glare. "I'll have you know that I have been released from prison on parole, so my sentence – for a crime I didn't commit – has been served, and my apparent 'debt to society' repaid in full."

Lyra's scowl darkens. "You do realise that you're not welcome here, right?" she snarls. "Once I tell everypony in town that you're back, they're not going to be best pleased about it. So enjoy your time here while you can, killer, because you won't be here for long."

Without even bothering to explain why she bothered barging in to begin with she sweeps out the door, leaving you and the girls feeling flustered — and in Vinyl's case, pissed off.

"Who the buck does she think she is?!" she yells. "Coming in here and spouting all that crap? I oughta give her a good hard—"

"You'll do nothing," you interrupt. "I've only just got back, Vinyl, so you can safely bet that I don't want to lose you again." Vinyl mutters curse words under her breath. "And even if they do start a petition, it can still be overruled by the Princesses. I'm not saying Luna will, but you never know. It'd be good if she did, though, since it would put these idiots in their place."

You start laughing, which Octavia and Vinyl join you in doing after a moment of silence between them. Looking at the three of you together, you begin to see this as the start of a new chapter in your life. You may not have the support of the town, but you do have two great mares in your life. And that fact alone is worth more than anything else.

But the simple truth is, all is not well in your comfortable little world. Between the Diamond Dog threat and the angry ponies, you've got a lot to think about.

But you decide that thinking can wait...

At least until you've finished enjoying this moment with your lover and your best friend.