• Published 31st Dec 2013
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Re-Looting - Grazy Polomare



Silverspeed is glad that her days of thievery are over. But with a disapproving family, boring job, and remnants of her past haunting her every step, she might just reconsider an early retirement.

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Chapter 5: Pinot Noire

The great thing about the holidays is sleeping in. That and Mother being civil. I think the latter is actually what makes holidays so jolly.

Anyway, I yawned at the clock, and realized that all my gifts had been left at the bedroom door. Wow, talk about a butler delivery service. I was just thankful these guys didn’t work for just anypony or I’d be out of a job.

I found quite a few gifts. There was of course a gift from the Rich family, although it appeared all of them had been signed and wrapped by Filthy himself.

Thinking of last night made my heart do a little twirl. I’d pretty much shot the father of my sister’s best friend and host to this year’s Hearth's Warming Eve. I don’t even think the Grinch could beat that kind of holiday jeer.

Going through it, I found a small bag signed by Mother and sure enough found a mug from her work. I suppose she figured I routinely smashed these things on an annual basis but then again I couldn’t argue. They made great re-gifts and even better targets.

“Silverspeed!” My sister chirped, running down the hall with what looked like a junkball of newspaper. “Happy Hearts Warming! I saw your present!”

“Oh really?” I grinned. “Betcha ya’ didn’t think big sis’ would get it!”

“I mean, I did sort of think you’d get it.” Silver Spoon turned red. “But I didn’t think you could actually get a limited edition Iron-Will-Sing-Along Action-Figure-Karate-Chop Doll!”

Boy, that was a mouthful and that sounded awfully specific. “Oh really? I had like no idea…”

The thing looked a little...strange to be honest. I mean, every filly needs her doll but this minotaur looked a bit...bulkier than the others I’d seen.

“Ummm, Diamond was like so jealous!” Spoon hopped up and down. “She couldn’t believe it!”

Pulling back the string, the doll gave what was probably a karate chop followed by some garbled static. The joy on Spoon’s face became concern. “What? Is it broken?”

“Here, let me take a look.” I took the doll, examining the back for any scratches or tears. It looked alright, but with my luck, I’d probably grabbed a doll in the reject bin. So much for getting the cream of the crop.

“Can you fix it?” Silver Spoon hopped up to her tippy-hooves. Seeing her with those puppy dog eyes made me break into a cold sweat. If I said no, my budding relationship might sink.

“Pssh, of course.” I waved my hoof. “It probably just needs some...fixing…”

“You’re the best big sister ever!” She squeezed my foreleg, completely ignoring the fact that I was turning red. “I’m going to brag to all my friends that my big sister can get her hooves on exclusive-”

“Hey hey let’s not be too vocal!” I covered my sister’s mouth. “Just think of this as our little secret, okay?” I didn’t need that kind of publicity, and if anypony put two and two together, I’m pretty sure I’d still be in a dungeon next Hearth’s Warming.

“Oh?” Silver Spoon tilted her head. “Okay! Sister Secret locked up in the Sister Exclusive Vault!”

And just when you think you’ve got some alone time with your bratty little sister, her bratty little friend shows up from behind the door. “I still can’t believe your sister got you that doll! My Daddy hasn’t even come back for hot chocolate!”

Filthy Rich not coming back? I knew he was fine when I left him, which meant he must still be at the store. It’d probably be good to check just in case. I’d been in such a rush to leave that I’d forgotten about him and all his guards. Leaving a door open at this time of night, I could only hope they hadn’t frozen themselves.

“Oh Silverspeed?” Spoiled Rich came up the stairs. She definitely seemed a little worried, which was surprising since I figured she could care less about her husband. But then again, she was probably worried about her allowance from Filthy.

“Happy Hearth’s Warming!” I smiled. “I loved the new platinum watch you gave me!”

“Oh?” She looked a tad surprised; probably had expected Filthy to have gifted me some left-over mittens or something. “That’s great to hear! It’s really just the least we can do after all.”

“I heard Filthy is still out?” I asked curiously.

“Oh yes, one of his security guards came back to tell me he’s fine, but such an awful thing happened,” she stated. “Apparently some low-life attacked him! On Hearth's Warming Eve of all nights!”

Well, I guess low-life was a slight downgrade from what she usually called me. Still, I acted just as surprised. “Oh Sweet Celestia! Is he alright?”

“Thankfully, those ruffians just knocked him out, but still you can only imagine what they must have done!” Spoiled looked like she was going to faint.

“I’m sure they’ll catch them.” I smiled reassuringly. “Do you know where Mother is?”

“Oh Silver Bells went out to the store to check up on Filthy.” Oh dear, if Mother was investigating, I wondered if she’d suspect me. Surely, she wouldn’t think I’d have the gall to rob a close family friend, and especially a friend I actually liked.
“I see, well I better-”

“Oh that reminds me!” Spoiled raised her hoof. “Your friend is at the door! Wanted to see you! She sounded very cordial. Is she from Canterlot?”

From that description alone, I already knew who it was before I opened the door. “Glad to see somepony caught up on their sleep, Shoey.”

Shoeshine looked only slightly irritated, which I suppose was the work of the good ol’ holiday cheer. “You shot me.”

I wrapped a hoof around her. “Come on, let’s turn that frown upside down.”

“Then you took my bag.” Her voice was low, but I couldn’t help myself. Seeing Shoeshine this irritated meant she was embarrassed. And that was worth exploiting.

“Your roomie was throwing a party, so I decided to keep it here for you.” I poured her a mug. “Hot chocolate?”

“Why thank you?” Shoeshine snatched the mug, before flinching after the first sip. “Gah! That’s hot!”

By this time, Spoiled had come down with my sis and Diamond, although it looked like they were more keen on finding leftover hayfries then interacting with us. Or maybe Shoeshine looked pissed enough to scared Spoiled away. Either was fine by me.

“Aren’t the holidays just wonderful?” I could tell Shoeshine’s frown was slowly dissolving. It looks like chocolate does have a calming effect on the mind.

“Alright alright, I’ll let you off the hook.” She headed up the stairs. “After all, it’s the holidays, right?”

“Mhmm!” I led her toward my door, making sure Spoiled and the two brats were still chatting downstairs. I’d stuffed the bag under my bed and thankfully, Diamond’s butler hadn’t made up my room yet. “There you go, all your precious loot.”

“My babies!” If there was one thing that’d brighten up Shoeshine’s day, it was bits. Lots and lots of bits and jewels. “Awwww, Momma was scared she lost you!”

Sure, some of you might think it’s odd to have a pony talk to a bag of bits like they were her own children, but you’ve never met Shoeshine. As soon as she steals it, she treasures it like a foal. Honestly, it’s probably turned off a lot of potential suitors. I certainly know it’s garnered her a few rumors in the black market.

“Alright, quit being weird.” I smacked her over the head. “What the hay happened?”

“Maybe if a certain somepony hadn’t decided to wander off on her own, I wouldn’t have been jumped by a guard!” She did have a point. Usually backup stayed with the safe-cracker, but I needed that doll fast and Shoeshine was excruciatingly slow.

“In my defense, your plan was formulated on a pile of crayons and scratch paper!” I crossed my hooves. “I didn’t know if I’d get a chance!”

“And then I came to warn you but you decided to shoot me instead!” Shoeshine facehoofed herself. “I can barely remember, but was Filthy Rich behind you?”

“Ummm, yeah...maybe in front of the dolls so…”

“You shot him?” Shoeshine’s eyes widened. “Like...he didn’t see you, right?”

“No of course not, but…”I scratched my head. “He was playing with the dolls.”

“Well to each pony his own.” Shoeshine dug through the duffle bag, pulling out her book.

“Don’t you think some librarian might find it suspicious you checked out a Burglar’s Manual?”

“Hardly, I bought these in Manehattan.” Shoeshine tossed me a bag of bits. “Besides, it was pure genius of me to turn that sleep potion into a gaseous weapon for yours truly.”

“Yeah, I suppose it has its uses.” I laughed a little. “You should have made them into bombs instead.”

“A bomb?” Now I could tell she was getting lost.

“Yeah, I needed an avenue to get away. So I...threatened to blow up Barnyard Bargains.” Gosh, that sounded stupid. Still, it did work last night so I couldn’t complain.

“What?!” Shoeshine fell back, laughing like a hyena. “I can’t believe they believed you!”

As much as I wanted to hide that fact from her, I couldn’t help but laugh as well. “Yeah! You should have seen his face when I threw it!”

I tried my best to imitate the look of sheer anger and fatigue. “Meddlesome...foals…”

“Oh stop it Silverspeed!” Shoeshine was rolling on the floor. “First you shoot me and now you’re telling me I missed out on the action?”

“Hey, my sister thinks I’m the coolest thing since Sapphire Shores.” I giggled.

“Well my dear friend,” Shoeshine pulled out a pile of bits, “it appears the spirits of Hearths Warming Day want us to celebrate our hard work with a trip to the tavern!”

“Really now, you wanna get drunk this early in the morning?”

“Or we could sing carols with all the other ponies.” Shoeshine smiled. “Which do you prefer?”

-------------------------------------

“I hate you, Silverspeed.” Shoeshine grumbled, burying her face in the book as I tried to hold back my laughter.

To be fair, I’d made a promise to Derpy to go caroling tomorrow, so I didn’t drag her to this just because I wanted to do it. Although, I wouldn’t deny that singing to a family that had worked their way through another year left a warm spot in my stomach. Maybe it was just the spirit of the holidays.

Even Shoeshine, who still looked annoyed, didn’t bother to break up the group or sing off-key. In fact, maybe deep down she was enjoying it too.

By the time we finished, I’d stopped by Derpy’s house for some fresh-baked goodies from the kitchen of Dinky Hooves. Everything from banana nut to fruitcake to even moist dark chocolate brownies littered the small wooden table, which already looked like it was on the verge of collapsing from the sheer weight of baked goods.

From the hoof-made carpets and decorations to the big, cozy arm-chairs, I always felt that Derpy’s house was just rich with warmth and joy all year round.

Her guests were ponies from all walks of life. Mr. Trails was nursing a cup of tea and even Post Haste had showed up, promising to give all of us a taste of his first batch of honey. Meanwhile, Shoeshine was trying to balance a plate of cookies and eggnog.

“Thanks again for letting me bring her.” I’d decided to lean on the counter, watching Derpy pull out another batch of muffins. “You and the girls were great today.”

“Awww, you’re always such a sweetheart!” She was wearing a pink apron that looked liked it’d been stitched by hoof. “Dinky and Sparks love having you.”

“I’m surprised, you know...considering.” Considering that my little sister teased Dinky to no end. I’d tried to knock some sense into her, but it wasn’t like I could do much. And Mother only cared if a teacher was involved, which left me with few options.

“Oh I know but you’re one of the nice ones.” Derpy smiled. “Dinky wouldn’t make you all these cookies otherwise.”

Wow, I really wished more ponies would grow up like that: ignoring the background and just hitting on the pony themselves. Most of the time, I figured I was somewhere between accepted and reclused. On one end, a lot of the low-earning folks ignored me because of my Mother, while the rich class admonished me for the same reason. You can imagine how finding somepony like Derpy was a beacon of hope for a normal life.

“Hey you know, I think you’re going to like the gift I got you.” I reached down, digging through my saddlebags to find my share of the bits. “I know it isn’t much but-”

“Oh Silverspeed, you have a heart of gold!” Derpy’s smile could make a heart melt.

“Awww it’s nothing, besides I got a little something for Sparkler to help pay for some of those tomes.” I remember the time I had to steal two of them from the Restricted Section. Believe me, those books are guarded better than the crown jewels.

“Oh that’s not necessary.” Derpy shook her head. “Sparkler’s got a scholarship and my brother said he’d cover the rest.”

“Really?” I was a bit surprised Derpy had told her brother. In fact, I was surprised the school was covering Sparkler at all. “Last I heard though…”

“Oh I’m sorry! I should have told you! I was just...well with Sparks right there I didn’t want her to feel like I was nagging or anything…”

There was certainly something nagging her right now. Placing my wing over her, I flashed her a reassuring smile. “Is there some kind of trouble?”

“Oh no, not trouble but…” Derpy sighed. “It’s just...with Sparkler moving to Canterlot and all...that means she’d have to leave Ponyville.”

I wanted to crawl into my wings and hide there for the rest of winter. I’d been thinking the problem was with the bits when in fact Derpy just wanted Sparkler to stay here with family. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”

“Don’t worry yourself, I try to make it look like I can run a day without her but sometimes it’s so hard to figure out all the bills and Sparkler’s really good at math. And then she’s always home to foal-sit Dinky and...and...I didn’t want her to hear all of this because I know she’d stay behind.

Derpy sighed. "But this is a great opportunity and I know how much she’s been wanting to go to this school and…” I grabbed Derpy in a hug, letting the tears soak into my chest rather than the muffins.

Sparkler was technically adopted, but Derpy had never acted like she was and honestly I think she treated her adopted daughter better than most parents treat their biological ones.

“You know Dinky’s pretty smart and you know I have your back when you need it.” I smiled. “If you want, we can go hunt for some foalsitters next week.”

“And you still ask why Dinky loves you so much.” Derpy laughed, rising back to her hooves as she got the muffins. “You know, I think you’re the best co-worker a mailmare could ever ask for.”

If only you knew who the lucky one was.

--------------------------------

As it turned out, Shoeshine actually knew Derpy from a few parties back. So what a pleasant surprise to find out, according to Shoeshine at least, that one of her old buddies had come back to live in Ponyville.

I was just happy she didn’t try to make out with more food. But I suppose even a scumbag like Shoeshine wouldn’t rob Derpy Hooves.

“Do you know like everypony in Ponyville?” I asked curiously.

“Mostly everypony but well...let’s just say I’m a mixed reputation mare.” For some reason ‘mixed-reputation’ sounded more infamous than just a few likes and dislikes.

“Maybe you should try to be more charming.” I nudged her. “And maybe you shouldn’t cut in lines anymore.”

“Derpy told you that?” Shoeshine turned to me, her face red. “In my defense, I was just trying to get the rum cake before it ran out!”

“You cut Fluttershy in line.” I shook my head. “And then you got shouted down for it. That must have been embarrassing.”

Shoeshine just continued to trudge through the snow. “It was just that stupid Iron Will and his self-help assertive panels. Give the populace a macho minotaur and all of a sudden they have all the confidence of a rookie guard.”

“You mean the one that actually tried to tackle you in Las Pegasus?” I giggled.

“If I remember correctly, you were tackled too.” She turned back to face me. “If it wasn’t for…”

“Well I certainly hope you have a good alibi.” Mother’s voice pierced the air. I turned around and saw the monster marching right up to us. The way her eyes looked over at my wings, I wondered if she suspected something. Honestly, the job was rushed and while I managed to get us out of an immediate lock up, I failed to clean up.

“What are you talking about?” I decided to play dumb. Sure, Mother might not be as fooled as everypony else, but I wasn’t going to sell myself out either.

“Apparently a few delinquents decided to do a little holiday shopping at Barnyard Bargains.” Mother narrowed her eyes. “The funny thing about this town is that as foalish as the crime was, the perpetrators not only knew how to crack the safe, but also managed to overcome security and a Royal Guard.”

She looked over at Shoeshine. “A friend of yours?”

“Yeah, just came back from Derpy’s.” I answered.

“Uh-huh, just thought you should know.” She leaned into my ear. “Because when I find out—and I will find out— my punishment is swift and final. I don’t give second chances often, Silverspeed.”

It took all the willpower I could muster to stay put. Mother was basically threatening to throw me into a cell. At this point, I was walking on eggshells. “I hope they catch them.”

“Canterlot’s finest is on the case. Shouldn’t be too long before they track down the thieves.” Mother’s eyes darted to my cutie mark. “You wouldn’t happen to know anypony that uses a bow and arrow now...would you?”

“Why?” Play it cool. Mother couldn’t pin it on me if she didn’t suspect anything. I was already berating myself for forgetting about the arrows.

“Just trying to connect a clue is all.” Mother smiled. “Silver Spoon showed me your present today.”

“Wasn’t easy to get, I’ll tell you that.” Well I wasn’t lying. I had to drag that toy and Shoeshine while avoiding any potential witnesses and covering our tracks. All in the middle of the night when the temperature was practically freezing.

“I underestimated you.” Mother said those words with...a hint of approval? Even Shoeshine did a double-take.

“I guess I can still surprise you, eh Mom?” I chuckled.

“Stay safe.” Mother brushed past me. “Wouldn’t want those ruffians hurting my daughter, now.”

“Yowsa.” Shoeshine walked over to me as soon as she left. “I always knew your Ma was tough but that was something.”

Right now, I was a mix of pissed, surprised, and maybe even happy. Perhaps confused was the best way to describe it right now.

“Hey Shoeshine?” I looked up, smiling sweetly.

“Yeah?”

“Where’s that tavern?”

----------------------------

“I swear to you! Pinot Noire is a real thief!” Some purple mare was pleading with the bartender, a rather nice-looking stallion who didn’t seem all too happy that his current companion at the moment was a drunk.

“Don’t worry, that’s just Berry Punch, the local drunk.” Shoeshine tapped the mare on the head. “Why are you pestering the bartender?”

“I saw her again!” Berry Punch grabbed Shoeshine. “Pinot Noire! The famous wine thief! She’s here in Ponyville!”

“Okay, Berry, I think you’ve had enough.” Shoeshine brushed past her, flagging the bartender down. “Get me and my friend here two mugs of Sour Smiths!”

Within seconds, two frothing mugs slid down to our stools. The tavern seemed like a cozy place, with its weathered wood and fireplace giving a nice, antique feel to the place. Perhaps the most modern addition to this establishment was the music box and microphone.

Funny enough, there were a couple of griffons sitting in the far table, apparently arm wrestling with a stallion. Never did understand why that was a thing. Hooves and talons almost always ended up with one getting clawed and the other sore.

“To the future of Barnyard Bargains!” Shoeshine lifted her Sour Smith. “And to old friends.”

“To old friends.” I smiled. My mind went off to my other partner in crime. What had happened or where she’d gone? Was she sitting in a dungeon? Had she escaped from a dungeon? Even then, I still wondered. Maybe not knowing was what made me more tense.

The great thing about taverns are that everypony drops their high and mighty attitude the moment they step in through the door. It was a place to drop your worries, laugh, cry, and maybe even dance.

Sure, we’d kinda mouthed the carols with Derpy, but as soon as we slid the bits in the machine, I’m pretty sure any sober patron covered their ears as we sang every Hearth’s Warming song from the good old retro days to Sapphire Shores.

Eventually, some stallion or maybe a mare dragged us off stage and we were outside and waddling through the snow, laughing at something about a bugbear and a dragon going to Trottingham.

“I think somepony wants your autograph!” Shoeshine pointed ahead. “Looks like they-”

A dark shape suddenly engulfed her, before she toppled forward on the ground.

My gut did a twirl as I raised my hooves. The houses looked unfamiliar. Where was I? I tried to think, but my mind felt hazy.

“Come out and fight!” I swung a hoof.

But something grabbed it and then I felt a sharp pain in my neck.

--------------------------------------------

Normally, I wouldn’t advise walking home alone at night. In fact, walking home while inebriated was a great way to get into some trouble. But seeing as it was the holidays, I’d figured all the thieves and cutthroats, or whoever was considered a mugger in Ponyville, would be doing the same.

So to find myself tied to a barrel of what smelled like apples made me wonder why I never seemed to listen to my own advice. Still, I did feel a lot more sober and Shoeshine, who was across from me, certainly looked both alert and very pissed off.

“Where are you?” She yelled. “You think a small-time punk is going to get the drop on me you-”

A caped figure suddenly landed between us. To be honest, she kinda looked like that costumed hero a while back. Mare Do Well was it?

Just imagining some lunatic vigilante running around foalnapping ponies was frightening enough. But this mare didn’t look like the hero, save for the hat and cape. I could make out a set of goggles, or perhaps glasses. On top of that, the suit itself looked more like a crimson red.

Whoever this nutjob was, it wasn’t the Elements of Harmony.

“Forgive me for being rude.” The mare pulled out a bottle of...wine? Who the hay would foalnap us? And why did she sound like a Canterlot noble?

“I’m going to count to three before I scream.” Shoeshine narrowed her eyes.

“Please do.” She gestured to the room, which looked like a warehouse. “These walls are quite soundproof. And honestly...if anypony comes to help you, I’m afraid you’ll be arrested for trespassing.”

“We’re tied up here!” Shoeshine lifted her hooves, her eyes widening. “Wait what?”

I tugged at my restraints, and realized I was also free. “What the hay?”

“A little concoction I mixed up.” The stranger replied cooly. “Sure you feel tied up...but you are quite free, my new friends.”

Reaching below to her satchel, she pulled out a notebook. “The famous Spotless and Archer, am I right?”

It was one thing to hear Shoeshine say it, and often with a smug smile on her face. But this stranger, with her high-class accent and rather flamboyant execution, somehow pissed me off.

I lifted my hoof to throw a punch but before I could I lost all sense of feeling in my body. “What the buck?” I fell face forward.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t move too much if I were you.” The stranger shook her head. “Oh, where are my manners? Pinot Noire, at your service.” She even took a low bow, like this was some sort of sick performance.

“Pinot…” Shoeshine mumbled. “I’ve heard about you! You’re that wine thief from Canterlot!”

“Wait, you know this mare?” I asked.

“Not exactly…” Shoeshine chuckled nervously. “I mean...sometimes I visit the black market from time to time. I enjoy being updated on current events you know.”

“And I just love being complimented by a fellow professional like yourself!” Pinot clopped her hooves like a filly that was getting candy. “Oh this is just fantastic! I’ve always wanted to meet you two! You really inspired me to pursue my dreams, you know!”

“You sound like you’re the same age as us.” I replied irritably. Honestly, it irked me to be called out by my nickname and not even know the pony across from me. That and she sounded like she came from money. Call me a hypocrite, but I never liked thieves that came from rich families.

“Yes, but you were the real thing back in the day!” Pinot pulled out an old wanted poster. The picture wasn’t really a mugshot as it was a sketch of three mares, all clad in cloaks and one of whom was aiming a bow. “Mine’s a genuine!”

Starswirl’s Beard, she was obsessed. My eyes were looking for an exit, but it appeared Pinot had covered all the doors with barrels. So much for a quiet night out.

Meanwhile, Shoeshine just stared blankly at the poster. “You...oh well that’s...ummm…cute.”

“Archer, Alibi and Spotless! The Tri-City Trio!” Pinot pulled out a few glasses, expertly pouring her bottle. “Although I don’t see Alibi.”

“She’s busy with another project.” I lied. “Listen, how did you find us?”

“Find you?” Pinot Noire chuckled. “I practically knew you back in the day! Sure it was a while back and faces all mesh together sometimes, but I knew the voices! And that robbery at Barnyard Bargains? How many ponies use a bow and arrow?”

Despite all the weapon shops in Ponyville, I always kicked myself for using a weapon that was considered exotic. If a guard wanted evidence, all he’d need to do was look at the back of my flank. Still, with all the griffins and other creatures that came into Equestria, could you really use a cutie mark as the only piece of evidence?

“Yeah well...still seems like you were going on a hunch.”

“Maybe,” Pinot Noire admitted. “But I was right, wasn’t I?”

Part of me wished I’d just played dumb and pretended not to know anything. Honestly, it was embarrassing to be outsmarted by a thief that practically admired you. On top of that, if this had been a setup, I could be facing time in a cell right about now.

“You could have just asked.” Shoeshine grumbled. “I may have even considered giving an autograph.”

“But I thought you liked the idea of danger!” Pinot Noire sounded hurt by the answer, nudging her notebook forward. “Normally, I work alone, but with you girls and me working together, I can’t see how we can fail!”

“Listen,” I stood up, balancing my hooves on the barrel. “I really appreciate the offer but we’re not interested.”

Pinot Noire took a few hoofsteps back at the comment. “Are you sure?”

“Positive,” I replied. “Now if you please-”

“You know,” She interjected. “I was just thinking how embarrassing it’d be for me and all of your fans if somehow...your identities were...tipped off to the guard?”

I nearly crushed the barrel. “Did you just threaten me?”

“What? A loyal fan like me?” Pinot Noire held her hooves up. “I was just stating that hypothetically, such a thing could happen and I’d hate to see talent wasted.”

“Cut the scam, I know what you’re getting at.” Shoeshine stood up, smiling broadly. “You thought about this for quite some time. And I’ll admit, I was surprised to find out you were stalking us.”

“Stalking is a strong word.”

“I don’t sugar-coat, honey.” Was she really considering this? Shoeshine never acted this sultry unless she was interested. “The thing I like about this business is trust.”

Pinot Noire was backing up. “Of course.”

“Without trust, there is no loyalty. No loyalty means no honor and when I meet ponies that have no honor, I don’t feel loyal and when I don’t feel loyal...” She walked right up, so that she was snout to snout. “...I don’t act trustworthy either.”

Judging by the way Pinot was shaking, I’d say she got the point.

“Spotless, play nice,” I broke in, separating the two. “Now that we’ve understood each other, how about this plan?”

“Yeah...the plan...of course! Of Course!” Pinot hurried to the glasses, before passing one to me and Shoeshine. Considering what I’d heard earlier, I didn’t bother to drink. Shoeshine sniffed a little before taking a tentative sip.

For a great planner, there were times even I wanted to smack Shoeshine for being stupid. Still, she hadn’t passed out yet so perhaps I’d re-think it.

“Have you ever heard of the Flim-Flam Brothers?” Pinot Noire asked.

Shoeshine chuckled. “Who hasn’t?”

I had to agree with her, considering how many times they came to Ponyville to try and kick the Apples out. To be fair, I’d just come into town and the cider tasted pretty good for a couple of amateurs. It was only after they tried to settle in that the quality started tasting like mush and Spoons nearly choked on a pebble.

Needless to say, they didn’t last long and from what I’ve heard, they’re still scamming ponies with their products. Not that I’d call them scam artists. After all, some of that stuff does work if you consider the science of placebo effects.

“Well I heard from an indirect source that they might have stumbled upon the Late Griffonia General Von Tartberry’s cellar!”

“You mean the one that tried to overthrow the king in a coup?” Shoeshine asked.

“The very same,” Pinot Noire pulled out a portrait of a very stern-looking griffin. How many pockets did she have in that suit? And how did she fit a bottle and all her posters? “He had an excellent taste in rieslings! In fact, some of the best, most aromatic rieslings were made in his vineyards!”

“Yes, he was also a dictator and considered a threat to Equestrian security.” I answered. Dad had told me a bit about the griffins, and Tartberry was one of the few he recalled from his days as a colt. Back then, things like Discord or Nightmare Moon were still just campfire stories.

“True, but you can’t deny the monster knew his way around wine.” Pinot Noire finished her glass. Seeing that, and for the fact that I was parched, I decided to take a little sip myself.

“How can you even be sure that this is the real deal?” Shoeshine crossed her hooves. “Flim and Flam would have advertised this right off the saddle.”

“That’s just it, they haven’t even carted the bottles into Canterlot! Which can only mean they’re planning to sell it under the table to some nobles! After all, everypony knows a Tartberry Reserve could go for a king’s’ ransom!” Pinot Noire sounded too enthusiastic.

“You sound like you’re one of them.” I chuckled.

“Well, without revealing too much, I do find myself in those social circles.” Pinot Noire waved her hoof. “But honestly, it would be a waste on them! Nobles could never appreciate a fine riesling, and it’d waste away in some cellar never to be found again.”

“And you’d appreciate it better?” Shoeshine raised a brow.

“I have a lab where I could study the ingredients! And reverse engineer it! I could recreate that refreshing, satisfying nectar that was Tartberry’s Private Reserve!”

“So much for a king’s ransom…” Shoeshine grumbled. “Do you even know where it is?”

“I heard it was in Canterlot.” Pinot Noire tapped her hoof. “But if we intercept the smugglers after they have smuggled their loot, we could all make a killing on the profits.”

A trip to Canterlot? For one thing, I had my job to think about and going to Canterlot would raise red flags with Mother, who was already suspicious as is. “There’s no way I could travel. My boss would think something’s up.”

“I’d love to quit Barnyard Bargains, but even my roommate would ask questions.” Shoeshine admitted.

“I’m sure you could come up with an excuse!” Pinot Noire picked up her bottle. “Although it’s a shame you don’t have Alibi to help you! I heard she was the best at that sort of thing.”

“Hey…” I felt my vision grow cloudy. “You didn’t drug us again…”

“Well...technically I drugged all of us!” Pinot Noire answered triumphantly. “I just happen to have a an immunity to most poisons…”

“Poison…”I mumbled, before falling face forward onto the floor.

I really need to stop drinking.