• Published 17th Sep 2014
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Return of the Mysterious Mare-Do-Well - xSorrow



Mare-Do-Well appeared and disappeared in PonyvilIe, but in the large city of Manehatten, one lone mare stands between right and wrong. Taking up the costume and mantle of her fillyhood idol, Aurora faces injustice as the Mysterious Mare-Do-Well

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Chap. 2- A Startling Discovery

Chapter 2
A Startling Discovery

Manehatten: The Past

"Ah! Rightful! There you are! And this must be little Aurora!"

Glistening Waters greeted his longtime business partner and best friend, Rightful Vice, the latter of whom had brought his filly, Aurora. This was the first time Waters had met the foal. He ruffled her mane as they stepped into his home.

"To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?" Glistening asked Rightful, and then he whispered, "Does she know?"

"No," Rightful whispered back, "Just like yours doesn't know. It'd be best if our fillies didn't know what we do."

"All too true," Glistening agreed, "Now then... Shiny? Where are you?"

"Over here, Daddy!" came Shiny's voice from the living room.

"Aurora, that's Shiny Seas. She's Glistening's filly," Rightful explained to Aurora, "Go in there and play."

"Okay daddy," Aurora said, trotting to the living room.

Glistening watched Aurora leave, and then turned to Rightful once she had gone, "Is this important, Rightful? You seemed quite unsettled on the phone. Is everything going well?"
"I'm still thinking about moving to Cloudsdale," Rightful answered, not looking Glistening in the eye, "I was going to take Aurora there after Evergreen was taken care of. Speaking of which, where's your wife?"

"She's out with a friend," Glistening replied, "But you can't leave Manehatten. What will we do without you? I don't think I could run the whole business myself! We'd all be in some Canterlot dungeon if not for you!"

"It's becoming a serious debate in my mind," Rightful continued, "I like the apartment, but it was going to be temporary until I could find property in Cloudsdale. Aurora and I are both Pegasi. On the off chance that Evergreen may actually be alive-"

"I don't like talking about this, Rightful," Glistening interrupted, "What will you do if Aurora were to find out what you did? Besides... that mare is long gone. Nopony could survive a fall like that."

"Then why wasn't her body there, Glistening?" Rightful growled, "I sent somepony to collect it only 10 minutes after I threw her down. They didn't get there until 20 minutes had passed. No Guard could have found the body and carried it away that fast!"

"It's possible," Glistening shrugged, "You need to relax."

"Maybe you're right..." Rightful sighed, rubbing his eye with his hoof, "Have you got any new inventions to show me?"

"Of course!" Glistening announced, eyes sparkling as he trotted over to a notebook. Rightful noticed there was a padlock on it, keeping the book closed unless you had the key, which Glistening wore in a necklace, "I've been keeping them all in this special notebook. Here, I had a new idea for a sort of radio..."



Manehatten: The Present

Ponies scattered up and down the street in various directions as he stomped out of the bank.

He was quite an intimidating stallion with his shaved mane and burly appearance, but the heavy golden gauntlets that covered all four of his hooves completed the look. Those gauntlets wouldn't work for just anypony! He had been injected with a strange green serum that allowed him the strength to harness the power of the gloves.

He laughed powerfully as his hooves slammed into the pavement, cracking it underhoof easily. Thick bags full of bits and gems dangled from his two front hooves. Up and down the street, chariots had stopped and everypony that wasn't staring wide-eyed was running for their lives. There were few Royal Guards around, and most of them looked like they were shaking in their armor.

Nevertheless, one of the bolder stallions hurried over to him in a vain attempt to stop the carnage.

"Stay where you are!" He demanded, "Take off the... erm, gloves... and stand down!"

He simply stared at the Guard, and almost threw his head back in a laugh. Instead, he glared at the bold stallion and seized him with his gauntlets, holding him up in the air before the stallion could comprehend what was happening.

"Nopony orders around Powerhouse!" He declared, throwing the Guard across the street into an oncoming chariot, which tipped over as its extra passenger slammed into it, "Nopony!"

Powerhouse then knelt down and leapt high into the sky, soaring unlike any Pegasus and taking the bags from the bank with him. He landed on the roof of a skyscraper across the street from the bank. As startled passerby looked up in terror, marveling and cowering at the power that he had within his four golden machines, he turned around once more and shouted into the sky.

"Nopony can stop Powerhouse!" He laughed. Just before he turned and stormed off, leaving a panicked pony public in his wake, one mare who worked as a photographer for the Manehatten Daily Newspaper managed to snap a picture of the mystery stallion. An extra was printed later that day with the bold headline: Who can stop a Powerhouse?

~~~

Shiny Seas' bright blue eyes were drawn down to an innocent-looking paintbrush sticking out of Golden Eagle's saddlebag.

She hadn't forgotten the beating that was endured three days before. Ever since then, Shiny had made sure to keep her notebook at home, with the lock firmly closed. She was close to finishing constructing one of the inventions written down by her father, and Golden had nearly ruined it when she tried to steal the notebook. Shiny was very protective of the notebook because she didn't want anypony to know that only a few of the inventions in the book were hers. She hadn't even told Aurora, instead telling her best friend that she was the one who wrote them all down.

The notebook was all she had left of her father, whom had thrusted the book into her hooves before leaving for the final time.

"Take care of this, Shiny," He had said breathlessly, "I've got work to do..."

"Will you be back?" Shiny remembered saying in her quiet, young filly voice as she hugged the notebook closer to her, an act that would only be repeated as she went on through her school years in order to prevent anypony from finding it.

"Of course I will," He had said, running his hoof through his only daughter's mane, "I'll be back tonight, Shiny. I'll be back to see you again."
He had never returned after Shiny saw him leave.

Shiny blinked, snapping back to the reality of Equestrian History class. The teacher, a mare named Miss Brightline, continued discussing the Shadow Proclamation and its relevance to Nightmare Moon's transformation. It was in this class, sitting behind Golden Eagle due to Miss Brightline's assigned seats, that Golden had stolen her notebook. The paintbrush kept attracting her attention, and she couldn't look away. Upon closer examination, she noticed that the brush had small traces of glistening yellow paint on the very tips of the bristles. As she stared, Golden Eagle pushed the paintbrush deeper into her saddlebag, underneath a Daring Do book: Daring Do and the Ghosts of the Romane Empire.

Shiny became suspicious, and started wondering what Golden had been doing with the paintbrush. One amused thought was that Golden had been painting her coat, and it wasn't actually that golden color. Another was that Golden was helping to paint the mural in the cafeteria that the art team had been working on for the school since Hearth's Warming Eve.

Neither of those theories seemed likely.

It wasn't until after the bell rang, releasing them from their endless class, that the true purpose of the paintbrush had been revealed. Shiny left class and met with Aurora near the latter's locker. As Aurora twisted the combination lock with her mouth, Shiny talked about how boring her classes were.

"At least they're better than mine," Aurora answered, finishing her combination and pulling the locker open, "I've just got out of Study of Ancient Dragon Civilizations. That class is horrible... a step up from Study of Diamond Dogs though-"

"Oh my Celestia!" Shiny cried, putting her hoof over her mouth. Aurora blinked, and looked into her locker. She gasped at the sight of sloppy, yellow paint splattered over her locker door in the shape of words, which read You'll regret it, you whorse.

"That's what the paintbrush was..." Shiny whispered as realization dawned, slowly taking her hoof away from her mouth, leaving an awed expression, "Aurora, you know who did this...?"

"I have an idea," Aurora replied, glaring behind Shiny. Shiny turned around to see Golden Eagle sitting a short distance away on a bench with her hooves crossed and a triumphant expression on her face. As they watched, Eagle got up onto her hooves, turned around, and walked down the hallway, vanishing behind a wall of classmates on their way to class.

"Gross..." Aurora murmured, looking back at the paint.

"Aurora, this has to be the beginning!" Shiny exclaimed, "You knocked Golden Eagle unconscious! She's going to get even somehow..."

"...and her revenge will be worse than just paint in a locker," Aurora finished, "Yeah, I know... I think I'll just ignore her. Eventually she'll feel like a fool."

"I hope so..." Shiny murmured.

"Yeah... anyway, I have to get to class," Aurora said, pulling a large science textbook from her locker with her mouth and putting it in her saddlebag, "If I don't start pulling my grades up, I think I'll fail Chemistry... not that it matters..."

"I don't think you'll graduate without it, Aurora," Shiny murmured.

"Oh... I guess I'll have to start paying attention in that class then... too bad Miss Chemics has such a boring voice..." Aurora mumbled as she looked through her locker, "Huh... where's my Daring Do book? I know I put it in here..."

Shiny felt cold as she flashed back to Equestrian History class and remembered looking into Golden Eagle's saddlebag as she pushed a paintbrush down.

"Oh Celestia, where is it... I borrowed that from Cherry Blossom... if I don't find it...!"

"Aurora, what was the name of that book?"

"I don't know... A.K. Yearling used a lot of history in it... Ghosts of the Romane Empire I think."

Shiny's mind raced back to Equestrian History class again. The book that Golden Eagle had couldn't have been...? And even if it was, wouldn't it just be a crazy coincidence? Somehow, she doubted it. If Eagle had been in Aurora's locker with the paint, it would have been too easy to take the book.

"I think Golden Eagle stole that too," she said after a moment's hesitation, "Aurora-"

"That total HORSE!" Aurora screamed, slamming her locker shut. Shiny leapt back with fright. Aurora had always kept her temper; Shiny had never seen her friend lose control with rage before. Aurora swung her hoof, hitting her locker.

"Aurora!" Shiny gasped, "Calm down!"

Aurora blinked a few times and then looked down at her hoof as though it had turned into a parasprite when she wasn't looking. Aurora sighed deeply.

"I-I'm sorry, Shiny," Aurora apologized, shaking her head, "I'd... better get to Chemistry now. See you later."

Aurora hurried down the hallway, embarrassed at having lost control at a stupid prank, especially when said stupid prank was courtesy of somepony like Golden Eagle. Eagle the savior, Eagle the pride of the football team, Eagle the pony who had knocked Aurora's best friend down and kicked her until Aurora herself had shown up.

Aurora hadn't realized it, but she was grinding her teeth.

She stepped into Chemistry, only to see that half the class had already arrived. Miss Chemics was still nowhere to be found. Aurora started trotting over to the lab table she shared with a (rather handsome, if not a bit dark) stallion by the name of Crimson Moon.

One of Eagle's friends tripped her as Aurora walked by her desk.

~~~

Finally out of Manehatten Penitentiary- Sorry. Manehatten High I mean, Aurora thought, rolling her eyes.

The Pegasus walked out a side door, the same one she had left from the previous day. Everybody else left through the main doors at the front of the school, but Aurora found this to be a quicker route home... not that she was in any sort of rush. After all, there was nothing at home that could compare to the scenic walk she took. It felt good to get away from everypony else and have some Aurora-time.

As she trotted, she could imagine what was going to happen when she finally got home to the large apartment occupied by her and her father. Yesterday had been relaxed, but her father was a serious exercise freak, putting her through a rigorous workout regiment every other day (except weekends), on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so she'd likely have much to do once she finally got home. Naturally, her father had watched her do wing-ups and haunch squats, but he had never done so much as a deep hoof bend; Aurora thought better than to complain. After all, wasn't the exercise one of two reasons she had beaten Golden Eagle (the other reason being her own quick thinking and memory)?

Shiny hurried to catch up to her. Despite her own somewhat-slow trot as she stared at the ground in thought, Aurora had still made quite a bit of progress. She looked back, grinning as Shiny galloped up to her. Aurora wondered if Shiny would bring up her freakout over Shiny's prank.

"Aurora, you've got to see this," Shiny said breathlessly. She held up a newspaper, an extra edition of Manehatten Daily. Aurora squinted at the picture on the front page. It was a faraway shot of a stallion on a roof holding two thick bags. The headline read Who Can Stop a Powerhouse?

Aurora's eyes eagerly flicked back and forth as she read the story, a stallion wearing some kind of high-tech gloves had robbed one of Manehatten's many banks and disappeared after severely injuring a Royal Guard. The stallion was no average pony. The Guards were asking anypony with information to come forward.

"This is like something out of a comic book," Shiny breathed.

"But there's no hero," Aurora said sadly, "If only the Vigilante was still around."

"Maybe Mare-Do-Well will visit from Ponyville and stop him," Shiny offered.

"Probably not."

"Yeah, I guess you're right. They haven't seen Mare-Do-Well in weeks."

"Because she was an imposter..." Aurora sighed. Suddenly, she turned to Shiny with a wide grin on her face, "Shiny, do you think the real Mare-Do-Well will come back? She fought ponies like Powerhouse!"

"Aurora, you know that's less likely than Ponyville's Mare-Do-Well showing up."

"Oh... right," Aurora sighed, this time with a bit of sorrow underneath.

The two continued to talk until that certain street corner where Aurora and Shiny parted ways, Shiny setting off to her home with her mother and Aurora walking through a quiet neighborhood.

Aurora had never really seen anypony outside around the neighborhood she always trotted through, aside from the mare who had fallen the day before. She turned a corner, half-expecting to see the mare sprawled in the road again, but it was as empty and bare as usual. She looked around at all of the broken-down houses, and remembered precisely which house she had helped the mare into.

Before she could consider what she was doing, Aurora was knocking on the door.

There was a temporary pause, and then came the sound of faint shuffling from inside. The injured mare inside was probably wondering who would be at her door. Aurora wondered if she had any family. Next to the door was a window, the shades of which were pulled back as the mare stared out. Aurora smiled. The windowshades were dropped and fell back to where they had been covering the window. There was the sound of the door unlocking, and then the door opened to reveal an unamused-looking mare, leaning heavily on a cane.

"You know," the mare began, "I don't think I ever thanked you for what you did yesterday."

"It was nothing," Aurora answered, "Anypony else would have done it."

"But it wasn't anypony else," the mare replied, "It was you."

The mare hesitated, and then asked Aurora inside. The house was as dark and cramped as she remembered from the day before. The mare limped into the kitchen while Aurora sat down on a small chair, nowhere near as big as the overstuffed armchair that the mare seemed to favor. Aurora looked around, only to notice there were no pictures of family or anything that looked personal. Everything looked artificial and sad. She wondered how the mare spent her days alone in this small house.

"I got, uh, lemonade," the mare said, limping back in with a tray holding two glasses filled with the sweet yellow juice. Aurora thanked her as she took one. The mare placed the tray on a small coffeetable between the two chairs, and sat down in the overstuffed armchair.

"Sorry, I'm just not used to company," the mare said.

Aurora wasn't sure how to respond to that, "It's alright," she answered, taking a sip from the glass. The lemonade was cold and sweet, with a tart undertaste, "Mmm, the lemonade is wonderful by the way."

The mare nodded. "Thank you."

They sat in silence. Aurora stared into her glass because every time she looked at the mare, her eyes were pulled down to the mare's damaged legs. Finally, the mare cleared her throat.

"I don't think I ever told you my name. It's Evergreen... Evergreen Sunlight."

"I'm Aurora." An expression flashed across the mare's face, but just as soon as it had appeared, it was gone. Aurora noticed it, "Is something wrong?"

"No, no, it's just... ah... I used to know somepony by that name," Evergreen took a long drink of lemonade.

"I think I knew an Evergreen a while ago," Aurora murmured, "Or was it Everlight... Everclear? Evengreen?"

Evergreen chuckled, setting her empty lemonade glass on the tray. The tray, which had been slightly unbalanced on the edge of the table, now fell over. The glass fell onto the floor and shattered, spreading glass everywhere. The mare gasped and Aurora jumped up.

There was silence for a second as both of them registered what had happened, and then they both relaxed. The crippled mare started to get up.

"Oh, don't get up," Aurora said, "I can clean it. Do you have a broom and dustpan, by chance?"

"In the closet upstairs," Evergreen said gratefully, motioning at the stairs with her hoof, "First door on the left."

Aurora trotted up the stairs, which creaked beneath her weight even though she was a Pegasus, and therefore was lighter on her feet than most other ponies. At the top, she found herself staring down a small hallway with only three doors: a bathroom, a bedroom, and a closet. First door on the left? More like only door on the left, Aurora thought.

She opened the door to be faced with a single coat hanging up, an overturned vacuum, and boots among miscellanous other things. The broom and dustpan were in the back of the closet. Aurora leaned toward them, stretching out her hoof, and cried out in surprise as she fell forward, tripping over the overturned vacuum.

In her panic at falling, her hooves flailed for something to grab onto. They hit the wall, but instead of stopping, Aurora went through the wall as the back fell in. For a moment, she thought that she had broken Evergreen's wall, but realized (to her shock) that it was a panel concealing a secret compartment.

"Aurora? What happened?" came Evergreen's voice.

"N-nothing! I just tripped!" Aurora called back in the direction of the stairs, "I'm fine!"

Aurora turned back toward the closet, and squinted in the darkness. There was definitely something in the secret compartment. As rude as Aurora thought it was to be looking through Evergreen's private things, curiosity got the better of her. She groped around the closet in search of a lightswitch, and finally found a cord. She yanked it, and a light overhead turned on, illuminating the closet in a vibrant yellow brightness.

Much better, Aurora thought. She looked in the secret compartment, finally able to see inside. Aurora gasped, face turning white. She stumbled backwards as her mouth moved, yet no words came out. The world spun and her heart pounded. She blinked and rubbed her eyes with her hoof to be sure that she had seen it. When she finally looked back in, she realized that it was no lie. No deception; it was real.

Inside the secret compartment was a neatly folded Mare-Do-Well costume, mask sitting on the top over the cape.

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