• Published 19th Nov 2013
  • 9,790 Views, 90 Comments

Soft Diplomacy - Bastinator



After arriving in Equestria, Anon was at the mercy of life. He has a crap job, a boring life and he can't even speak up for himself if his life depended on it, but books have always been there for him. What if they got the attention of royalty?

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Chapter 12: Family Ties

“Please Mr. Ambassador, I can assure you that we are only thinking about what’s best for both our countries.”

”Whenever we meet it’s always the same. You say you look out for our interests, but it has become abundantly clear that you only care for yourself.” The talks with the buffalo ambassador aren’t exactly going as planned and you’re on the edge trying to keep him calm. ”I ask for rights to the Breezelands and you decline. I request you limit your construction near our borders and you decline. Each time you claim it not to be in our best interest. What is our interest then , Anon?”

You wipe the sweat from your forehead, a brief sting as a consequence for using the wrong hand. “We live in troubled times sir. Were it not for our relations with the gryphons-“

”The gryphons have been more than hospitable as of late. We spoke of our need, and they relished the opportunity to aid us. My people begin to doubt the charity and harmony your country so relishes to advertise.”

Rinn… Ever since that day things have been going down the shitter. In every conference you step into it seems Rinn has already been there, spinning lies and turning them against you. You know that the only way to appease the ambassador is to give him what he wants, but with Rinn in charge you need those resources now more than ever. There’s no knowing what that traitor is up to. In fact you do know, but it’s nothing you wish to dwell upon.

”If all you’re going to do is lead me and my people around like a dog then we shall have none of it. We’re done here.”

“I’m sorry we couldn’t come to an understanding.”

”Me as well sir.”

~~~

“Well that worked out as well as a fucking train wreck.”

Gilda and Iron Will turn as you enter the room, “What happened?”

“I’ll tell you what happened! I fell on my face and flopped around like a dead fish.” You’ve never been this bad before. Things were go so fucking well until that asshole stabbed you in the back.

Iron Will gets up and places a reassuring hand on your shoulder, “Do you want to talk about it?”

“No… No I’m just a little tense right now. Sorry for yelling.”

”If there’s anything we can do…” You’re taken back months ago when you previously said those words in Aviaris, the very same that torment you now. How could you have been so foolish? Everyone else saw the truth while you bought into the lie. You had to go to that meeting… He knew you too well…

”Anon?” Gilda peeps up with obvious concern, “You sure you’re alright?”

”No he isn’t. It’s those muggers isn’t it? I can see it in your eyes.” He grabs your arm and inspects your hand, “Iron Will’ll make’em pay.”

“It’s nothing. I’m fine, trust me. Work’s gotten to me, that’s all.”

”At least you’ve got the Gala tonight, right?” Gilda asks, “That’ll wring out some tension for sure.” To be honest you’re not entirely looking forward to it. You’ve never been a party guy yourself, and with recent events being around others isn’t your idea of a good time right now.

“I guess.”

Iron Will excuses himself and you head up to the balcony outside. From here you can see the Gala’s already being set up, tables are being drawn out and there’s a stage nearing completion just outside next to the hedges. Hopefully it’ll be as remarkable as it sounded when you first arrived. There’ll be fireworks and dancing, the finest cuisine as tasted by you yourself and the Wonderbolts. It’ll bring in nobles of all sorts together in a single splendorous event. And you won’t have a person as your number two. You hear Gilda join you in your silent gazing.

“So I take it you two already have plans.”

”Get shitfaced and sleep it off the next week.”

“So the usual?”

”Yeah,” she laughs, “I guess you’ve got us all figured out huh?”

“There’s only so many activities that involve being drunk and sleeping.”

She playfully hits you causing you to hold onto your arm painfully, “Shit I’m sorry. I forgot, honest.”

“It’s ok…” It’s not even that she hit you hard, but the memory that it brings back up. Pain and Agony, the two friends that you never want to meet again. She grips the railing and looks down, obviously still guilty about hitting you. “It’s just a reflex, I don’t blame you.”

”I should’ve known better.”

“I shouldn’t have gone out at night, but what’s done is done.”

”Sorry bro.”

“It’s all good broette.”

”The Gala looks like it’ll be a bore- I mean blast.”

“You were right the first time.”

She waves at Iron Will down below when he comes bumbling out of the castle, “What a klutz.” Rubbing your hands on the railing you gaze off into the distance, not anywhere in particular just, off. How long is this going to last? How much longer can you keep up with this ride? Everyday feels longer than the last as you trouble to play catch-up. Going cold turkey… It’s not easy and you’re beginning to wonder if you’ll ever get over it.

A line of smoke and lightning comes flying off in the distance, the VIPs already starting to arrive. “Looks like the Wonderbolts are here.”

”Wonderbolts, more like Blunderdolts.”

“How long’ve you been saving that one?”

”A good year.”

“It shows.”

She lets that one slide by as the fliers make their touchdown, “Aren’t you going to head down there?”

“Not yet. I’ll wait until I can sneak in, if I go at all…”

”If you go? What talk is that? You’ll have a good time, you need it.” You just don’t see the point anymore. It’ll be all those uptight suits and fancy talk. Every once in a while you just want to talk without having to bring up the recent economic recession in the east. Guess this is how Celestia feels too… ”Iron Will worries you, you know. We both do.”

“Ha,” you laugh, “You don’t have anything to worry about.”

Gilda looks at you straight-faced, “How many times have you left this place for anything besides business?” Twelve times. Someone needs to buy groceries after all. ”How many times did you go out to hang out with us?”

“…Far less than I should’ve.”

”Exactly, too little. I know that you’ve been down since that night, but you have to move on.” It’s not that simple, but it’s not like you can tell her that. You failed Gilda, Celestia, your country and yourself. You don’t just move on. ”Promise me you’ll go to the party tonight.”

“Surrounded by booze and all the things I-“

”Promise me… Please.” Oh shit she dropped the P word. If she stoops this low, how can you say no?

“Alright, I’ll drop by, promise.”

She smiles and gives you a brief hug, “If you don’t I’ll have to kill you.” That crazy bitch’ll do it too. Ahh, Gild certainly has a way with words. ”Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to make sure Iron Will doesn’t start the party without me.” With a flare of her wings and spring of her paws she soars out after her boyfriend. Those two really are something.

Maybe she’ll go with you, if you ask? You’ll never know unless you ask right? What if she says no? Judging by the trend of things that’s becoming more and more of a certainty. Tearing yourself away from the view you suit yourself up, the typical look it seems to be. The cloth brushes against your still-recovering arm and sends small shivers up your arm. It’s mostly healed up, but a few splotches are still open and that red tint might never fade from your skin.

Gilda always says chicks dig scars. Maybe you’ll have to move to Gryphonnia then, tyrant and all. Petal wouldn’t care about it though. She never did care much for looks. That’s probably why she put up with you for so long the dumb- No, she put up with you because she liked you. You were just too much of a coward to say anything back, and when Chain Mail came along he gave her the attention she needed. Deep down you hope they’ll be happy in the end, even though you still wish Chain Mail would fall off a rollercoaster and break every bone in his body. Unfortunately you don’t know of any theme parks to send him to.

You finish with your tie and look at yourself in the mirror. The perfect gentleman, bags under the eyes, skin dry with signs of wear, still puffy around the jaw. You really are the spitting image of the old man, right down to the core. At least he won’t leave you…

~~~

”I tell you Anon, were it not for those meddlesome earth ponies looking for handouts our fine country would never see such times.” The sea of suits and dresses fills the dining hall to the brim nearly suffocating you. ”Put a few good stallions with the knowhow behind that division and they’d be right on track I tell you.” You pretend to listen to their idle gossip, nodding and smiling like a dummy as you search for your opportunity to escape. ”Tell us Anon,” one the noble unicorns sounds in his gold-lined tongue, “What is Celestia’s solution to this issue?”

“She plans to fix the issue with the same conviction she’s held for countless years she’s ruled. You have to hit it at the source to fix the problem, Celestia knows that better than anyone.” All this fancy talk has gotten you quite skilled in saying absolutely nothing to answer a question.

One the mares chimes in as well, “And what about yourself? What would be your solution?” Question after question they’ve bombarded you and no matter what you do they never seem to stop.

“I’d just lob off the head and be done with it.”

A few ponies hush when they overhear this violent proposal, “You can’t honestly think that would be best way.”

“You asked, I answered,” you wipe your brow and grab some water from a traveling server.

”The council that regulates this activity has been employed since before many of us could speak. To ‘lob off’ the head would bring the whole system down.” Ugh… It’s like arguing with a fucking four year old.

“The entire reason they’re in this crisis is because of that ‘council.’ Half of them have been taking bribes on the side since they stepped into power.”

”Baseless criticism,” one noble tries to state, “You have no evidence-“

“Their financials have been monitored for the last ten years. The only reason their mayor hasn’t taken action is because he’s too much of a coward to make his move.” You mange to rile up some the nobles with this, likely because their hail from that region. Even so, they don’t look it. Those prim and proper douchebags never pulled a plough or planted the grain they claim to produce. Not a speck of dust settles on their spa-temped coats.

”Do you have any clue what this rumor could do to their reputations?”

You look at the noble with barely contained disgust. “Why should I care? They made their bid with the devil. Let it come back to bite in the flank. Excuse me.”

You don’t let him get in a second word before you wedge through the crowd in search of some air untainted by their penny-pocketing cologne. When you finally get out of there and hit the outside you feel your head clear. The chit chat of the nobles still hangs on the breeze, but with every step, you take it further away.

~~~

The Winter Blues are starting to bloom, the sky blue petals a welcome sight to your eyes. Canterlot was always home to some of the most beautiful fauna you’ve ever seen and it keeps its reputation handily. ”Out for a stroll as well?” you hear someone ask.

Time stands still as you freeze up becoming little more than a statue of flesh and bone. Your eyes search the garden frantically passing over the statues and hedges until you come to the shimmering fountain, a purple unicorn smiling at you.

“Oh Twilight, you scared me,” you break out of your trance and hold your chest.

”You gave me quite the scare as well you know. Not many ponies come out this way during the Gala.” You don’t doubt it. They wouldn’t want to get their mane’s dirty. You walk over to Twilight who’s looking quite nice with the dress.

“You look great.”

”Thanks,” she blushes before complimenting you as well, “I’d love to keep you, but you probably want to get back to the party.”

“You’re right about a lot of things, but that isn’t one,” you sit down next to her.

”I thought you’d find it comfortable being amongst the nobles and intellectuals.” If the Gala were a month ago she’d be right, but a lot has changed since then.

“I could say the same for you, but in the end where are we?”

Twilight nods in agreement, “I like coming out this way whenever I’m alone. There’s something about just that soft trickle of the water that seems to calm my nerves.” Back when you were a janitor you’d venture out here when you had the free time, of course that was about an hour a week. ”How about you?”

“I can’t stand the Gala’s company. There’s something about discussing market projections and regulations that kills the mood.”

”I know how that feels,” she laughs, bringing a smile to your face. ”Can I ask you something Anon?”

“Shoot.”

Twilight looks into the pool of water, “Do you ever feel… inadequate?” That’s in one direction you certainly weren’t hoping she’d go.

“Well, for men that’s quite a persistent thought. We need to feel-“

”Not like that,” she clarifies with a light snicker. Oh… You blush at the rather obvious misunderstanding. “I mean, do you ever feel like you’re not good enough?” There’s something bothering her and eating her up inside.

“What’s wrong, Twilight?”

”It’s just-“ this time it’s her turn to blush, “I sometimes feel- Do you remember when we first met?”

“That’s not a time I want to remember. I was a massive dick to everyone that trip.”

”Not that time. When we very first met, back here in Canterlot.”

“You mean the time when you asked me where the Ancient History section was and I nearly passed out?”

She laughs at the memory, “I’d almost forgotten about that, but no. During my meeting with the gryphon ambassadors.” The blood drains from your face at the mention of them.

“I definitely don’t want to remember that.”

”Well I do,” she admits, “Every day since that meeting.” Why would she even care about that?

“I’m not sure I understand.”

”For as long as I can remember I’ve been by Celestia’s side. We went through so much together, she’s almost related it feels like, and I’ve always been her favorite student.” Still not putting the pieces together here… ”When we had that meeting I thought I was prepared for everything, but I was so very wrong. We would’ve lost if you hadn’t showed up, and the way Celestia looked at you…”

“You- You were jealous of me?”

”And why shouldn’t I have?” she continues to redden in frustration, “Celestia was everything to me and it was as if you stole her away.” All this time you were jealous of her… and it seems she felt the same way towards you. ”She didn’t need my help anymore. She had you now. Do you know how it feels for the person who’s been there for you to be stripped away?”

“More than you know.”

She stares at her reflection in much the same way you do in the mirror, “I’ve been beating myself over it since we meet. All these doubts came flooding in that I haven’t felt since before I moved to Ponyville.” She was smart, talented, renowned, happy, confident and all the other things you ever wanted. To think she’d felt like this all along. ”Am I not good enough for her anymore Anon? Is there something wrong with me?”

“No, there’s nothing wrong with you.”

”Why then? Why does she covet you so much while she leaves me in Ponyville?” There are dozens if not hundreds of books to explain this, but for the life of you none come to mind.

“Twilight, what if I told you that everything you just said, everything you’ve felt, is what I’ve felt towards you?”

This garners her attention as she looks to you, “I’d say you were lying.” An easy assumption to make. You’d grown accustomed to piling on lies to sate another’s palette, but not this time.

“You may not remember this but I remember the first time I saw you walking with Celestia well over a year ago. The two of you were laughing, I couldn’t tell what, but I remember the tinge of loathing I’d felt.”

”You hated me?”

“And why shouldn’t I have?” you quote her with a smile, “You had everything I ever wanted, everything that was stolen from me.”

”I still couldn’t believe you,” she replies looking away.

“In all my life I never imagined I’d get where I am today, to have what you did, but that anger I kept bottled up inside me… It’s not good for you, trust me.” Twilight bows her head ashamedly at her feelings, and it’s clear that even know she’s beating herself up. “Hey, look at me,” you raise her head, “There’s no one, no pony, no gryphon, no being to my knowledge that’s more talented or smart than you will ever be. No one’s more deserving of Celestia’s grace than you, not even me.”

You wipe the tear from her eye and stroke her mane, “No. You deserve this. You worked for it.” How you wish that was the case…

“I’m not the man you should be jealous of. I’m no better than anyone else.”

She pulls your hand away, “Don’t say that about yourself. You’re a good man.” If only she knew… If only anyone knew… Perhaps she should be the first. You grab the cuff of your sleeve and begin rolling it up your arm, “Anon?”

“Would a good man do this to himself?” Reaching your elbow you pull it up that last inch, the reddened puncture marks showcased in full view.

She covers her mouth at the sight, “Anon… I- Why would you do this?”

“I binge drank Twilight. I shot up Star Spice to focus my mind. Are these the things a good man would do?”

Her horn shimmers as she forcibly rolls your sleeve back down, hiding the sight, “You have to stop this. Do you know the consequences if anyone found out?”

“They’d strip me of job and title. Mandatory week sentence in the dungeon if the judge used to be a Teletubby. I might as well be dead otherwise.”

”I- I can get you help. I know some of my friends-“

“I don’t need help,” you state plainly, “My last shot was a week and a half ago, and the only reason I did-“

‘Should you speak to anyone of our encounter, and I will know, it won’t just be you I’ll go after.’ His words twirl around your mine like a boa, suffocating any thought of defiance from your mind.

“You don’t want to know…”

”What’re you going to do? If you’re off of it- you are off of it right?” You nod and look up at the stars, “This isn’t good Anon.”

“Do you wonder if there are other worlds out there?” you ask unexpectedly, “How many others could be just like this one?”

”What does… I never really thought about it.” A passable response you’d say. Millions of stars all twinkling light-years away.

“I wonder if mine is out there somewhere. I wonder what they’re up to.” Probably nothing, the boring sods.

”How long do you think this is going to last before-”

She’s interrupted by the sound of hooves pattering along, a messenger pony catching his breath before he spots you, “Ah Anon!”

“Oh… Hey Clip Clop. What’s the rush?”

”I’ve got a message for you,” he rummages through his pack before picking the note out with his teeth. You take it out, as gross as it might be and thank him, “Just doing my job.” He’s off again like lightning. You’ll never get where he keeps all that energy. The note’s a light beige, finely produced by the quality paper and freshly scented save for Clip Clop’s lingering breath. You turn it over and find yourself confused by the two words written on it.

”What does it say?”

“Get out.”

The two of you sit there in silence a fierce cheer from the party breaking it up. ”That’s rather ominous isn’t it?”

It’s one to describe it alright. The last time you got a note like this… “I think I should go.”

”Go, because of this letter?” She hovers it closer to her, “That seems a bit silly to me. It’s obviously a prank.” The last time you thought you had it figured out you ended up with two fractured ribs. ”Anon you’re shaking.” In fact you were, the very fiber of your being knew something was coming no matter how much denied the thought.

“I-I have to go. I’m going to catch a cold.”

You try and stand, legs giving out on you as you stand forcing you to the grass, “You have to calm down, it’s just a note.”

“Have to… go…” you cringe as you use your bad arm to push your chest up, Twilight trying to help. Plate mail, heavy, hooves plated as well, the soft crunch of winter grass beneath the armor, you can hear them yards away. Come on body don’t fail me. Please just hurry up. They get closer with every second you waste trying to stand while your limbs lay petrified.

”Get up Anon. Come on, let’s- Uh oh…” Don’t look up Anon. Humph… It doesn’t matter does it? You already know what lies before you.

”Anon sir…”

“Evening Veil, Sunder. Working hard?”

”Quite sir.” No jokes this time. At least you tried.

Twilight swallows hard, “Anon and I were just having a walk when he took a tumble. I think he might need medical attention. We’ll just-“

”That is quite enough Twilight,” you hear Celestia’s overbearing tone ring out from behind the guards.

“Celestia,” you crack a nervous grin, “ I thought you’d be greeting the guests.”

”An urgent matter had come to my attention and I was forced to abandon that position.” And by urgent matter, she meant you. ”I have been informed that one of my subjects has… taken certain substances.”

“Advil’s over the counter these days isn’t it.”

Celestia is in no mood for your jokes and her patience is clearly tested, “I told them that they must be mistaken. This subject would never do such at thing.”

“I’m sure whoever she is, is sorry.”

”He, Anon. He, should be sorry.” You push yourself up to standing, your legs still shaking violently, “I thought I would go talk to him first because I need to see it in his eyes, not another’s.”

”Celestia please-“

”This is not the time Twilight… Anon, look at me.”

You raise your eyes to hers, the regiment of guards at her side as ready as ever. She’s never looked this angry at anyone, not that you’ve ever seen. ”Please Anon, please tell me that they were wrong. Tell me that this is just cruel gossip spun to demean your character.” Move… move lips, please don’t do this now. A lump forms in your throat that halts your speech and no magic could free you from this hell. You watch as her eyes alter from anger to sadness, the soft glow of her irises pitying you, “Please…”

You step back, calves hitting the stone fountain’s base the guards beginning to spread out. ”Just tell me what I want to hear Anon and we can put this behind us.” By now this little scene has caught the attention of the Gala’s residents, hundreds of ponies gathering about as spectators. It’s the most interesting thing at the event you’d wager. “Anon, I trust you. Just say that you’re innocent and I’ll believe you.” Hundreds of eyes settle on you, the man from another world, the fugitive who’s about to take that last leap.

Twilight looks up to you with that same look, “Please.” You scan the crowd with a growing scowl, the guards each wanting to be the one to take you down. There’s no way out of this that will allow you to keep your honor. Either way you’re out, but one way ends in prison. No way in Tartarus are you going to prison… Twilight still looks up to you, the entire crowd hinging on your next move. When you look to her you see a bit of yourself, or do you see a bit of her in you? Either way, she still has her shot. There’s hope for her. Maybe if she could be… If she could become what you wanted perhaps… It would be a victory, a small one maybe, but a victory nonetheless.

You grin and rest a hand on her head. “Twilight, don’t be like me.”

”Anon just tell me!” Celestia yells in desperation.

“And quit drinking,” you joke referring to her hidden stash back home. You step back onto the fountain’s edge and look around, the garden completely surrounded by the royal guard.

”Please…” Celestia dribbles out, Twilight rushing over to her.

You spot Shining Armor make his way through the crowd. ”Don’t run Anon. We have the grounds covered. Don’t be foolish now.” You weren’t born with a box of wits now were you? This one’s for you old man. You twist around and sprint for the gap in the hedges, two guards quickly blocking the exit. ”It doesn’t have to be this way!” Yes it did.

Gathering speed you lead with your should and plow through the two guards sending them on their asses. ”Fliers! Sweep down!” A row of Pegasi lifts off into the air and train in on you like a set of missiles. With the average wing speed and flight training you won’t have a large window to escape now. Quickly dodging one of the guards who tries to tackle you, the others galloping on their way. Wait, the pegasi are too close. If you can knock one astray… Swiftly prying a helmet from one of the dazed guards you prepare it for flight. Your dad always wanted a football player… *clunk*

It clips on the pegasi’s wings and causes him to crash into his peers setting off a domino effect of battered guards. Jumping through the hedges the last thing you hear is a massive crash followed by a series of groans. ”What did I say? Ten Hooves apart at all times, after him!”

You’re doing it, oh god you’re actually running away from the royal guard. This is so wrong, but you won’t end the same way he did. You won’t let them take you away again… Sprinting away you hit the castle wall, the towering stone obstacle something you hadn’t planned on. It goes up dozens of feet and that’s just the interior wall, the exterior goes up for hundreds. There’s no way you can climb… There’s a gate dammit!

Wasting this time has allowed the others to catch up with you, the mass pouring out from the hedges like an army of iron-clad rabbits. So close, once you reach the city you can easily find your way out. You raise your arm and smash through a third guard, a piece of his armor piercing your already wounded arm. The chip breaks off in your arm but you don’t have time to rest, they’re right on you. ”Anon, stop!” So close it’s just right there. You can almost taste freedom it’s so close. *snap*

A green flash blinds your view followed by a brief snicker and when you clear your eyes you’re met by a wall of stone, your exit blocked. No! Dear god… It can’t be… You turn around, a hoof catching you on the jaw and sending you to the floor. ”Don’t hurt him,” you hear Twilight cry out, another hoof hitting you in the ribs.

Shining Armor ignores his little sister, “Get him up. It didn’t have to be this way.” He wouldn’t be the first one to say that to you. You find strength left in your arms and frantically try to pull the guards off of you. ”Easy Anon, don’t make us hurt you.”

“Get off of me! Let me go!”

The swarm of guards, though they are smaller than you, manage to clasp your arms behind your back, Shining Armor casting a binding spell on your wrists. ”Whatever got into you?” he asks himself as you still struggle to break free.

“No! I- GAH! I swear to all you hold dear if you don’t-“ Celestia looks on from afar, Twilight standing next to her, the teacher and the student. She’ll get there for you. She can make it… “AH!” you screech as one of the guards puts too much pressure on your arm.

”Easy now boys. He’s not going anywhere.”

“Celestia!” you shout out unable to break away, “I’m sorry! I never wanted this to happen!”

”Save it kid,” one of the guards sneers and pushes you along.

“I can change! Don’t let them do this!”

‘Please don’t take him away! I’ll do anything, please just give me another chance!’

”Can we shut this guy up?”

“It was my fault! Just give me a second chance!”

”Buck this,” a guard suffers enough of your yelling and clobbers the back of your head with his hoof.

Your eyes fall closed at the hit as you begin to lose consciousness. ‘It’ll be alright Anon. We’re going to take you to a better place now.’

~~~

You stand at the window, bars shutting you in from all sides. A bright flash of light erupts in the sky followed by another, soon dozens exploding into a vibrant unison of fireworks. The cold walls force a shiver down your spine as you pull out the chip in your arm, stowing it in your pocket, you never know when you might need a little protection in here. It was inevitable you’d wind up in here. You always knew that. You had nowhere to go perhaps if you’d gotten that note sooner…

The note… That paper, the scent, how did you not recognize it? The paper of Equestrian royalty. She tried to save you… But there’s no protection from Rinn. He knew just when to strike. ”So what are you in here for?” the stallion asks in his cot just behind you.

“Foolishness.”

Maybe you’d have escaped were it not for a certain someone’s interference. After all, you’d recognize that chuckle anywhere. ‘The seeds of chaos have long lied dormant in that heart of yours. I can only hope to wonder how they grow.’ He had you read the moment he met you. That bastard just sped it up a few chapters. Well, he was right. You’re just like him, a selfish manipulating deceitful callous bastard, and this place’ll eat you alive if you’re anything but. Might as well live up to the reputation. ”So what’s your name?”

“Anon, and you?”

”Pablo.”


What are the odds…