• Published 21st Jan 2015
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The Mailmare - Bad Horse



The Equestrian Postal Carrier's Hoofbook lists three circumstances under which mail service may be suspended. The end of the world is not one of them.

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9. Banter

It was bright on the southern wastes, for the times. The sitting sun was sandwiched between earth and clouds, which reflected its red light back at each other. The four raiders walked in the grass alongside the dirt road.

“How about that one?” Updraft said, pointing to a rut in the dirt that looked like it had been left by a wagon wheel.

Tale Spin stretched his neck toward the road and peered at it. It was hard to tell, what with the sunset casting long shadows in the tracks. He shook his head. “Looks old to me.”

“Nopony’s been down this road in forever but us,” Dust Devil said. “We should hit the farms around Shawneigh. They’ve probably got some new crops in.”

Tale Spin shook his head. “Too soon.”

“Hey,” Corkscrew said, looking up at the dark clouds high overhead.

“Shut up, Corkscrew,” Dust Devil said.

“Somepony just dropped out of the cloud cover,” Corkscrew said.

Tale Spin followed his gaze to where a lone pegasus glided down from above, headed toward them.

“You think he’s seen us?” Corkscrew asked.

“Naw, he’s looking at those wagon tracks,” Dust Devil said. He smacked Corkscrew in the head. “Of course he’s seen us. Ain’t nothin’ out here to see but us.”

“Bold fellow,” Tale Spin said.

“That ain’t a fellow,” Corkscrew said. “It’s her!

A grey pegasus mare with straw-colored hair touched down on the plains in front of them.

“I do not believe this,” Tale Spin said.

He studied her as she drew near, looking for a protruding rifle, or for a threatening bulge in the canvas saddlebags. The bags were different this time; they had “E.P.S.” stamped on their sides. She didn’t seem afraid, but not threatening either.

She walked right up to Updraft, and gave him a letter from her bag. “Sorry, Updraft. She wouldn’t take it.”

The Appaloosan said nothing, just took the letter in his teeth and held it there as if he didn’t know what to do with it.

“I couldn’t deliver yours either, Corkscrew.” She didn’t say why. The blue pegasus looked down and sighed, as if he understood and had been expecting it.

Then she turned to Tale Spin. “I delivered yours.” Her one good eye gave nothing away.

“You didn’t deliver my letter,” Dust Devil said.

“It was addressed to a dragon,” Derpy said.

“That’s racist.”

“It said, ‘This pony is tasty.’”

He cackled like a murder of crows. “You’re getting smart, Bubbles! You just might live a while longer yet.”

“You came back,” Tale Spin said.

She looked down at herself, then back up at him. “Looks like it.”

Tale Spin shook his head sadly from side to side. “You’re an idiot.”

“Probably,” Derpy agreed.

“How’d you find us?”

“Just followed the smell.” She walked over to him and began taking off her mailbags.

“Whoo!” Dust Devil called. “That’s what I’m talkin’ about! Guess those civilized stallions didn’t do it for you, Bubbles?”

Tale Spin stared at Derpy, dumbfounded, as she tossed the bags across Tale Spin’s back. and carefully pulled the straps tight on him. Then she took off her cap and placed it on his head. She took a step back and studied her work.

Dust Devil pounded the ground with one hoof. “Kinky!” he said. “I like it!”

The hard, lumpy bags pressing into Tale Spin's ribs felt distinctly unsexy. “Um,” he said. “These are kind of heavy.”

“They’ve got fifty-five letters headed for Dodge Junction, and twenty-seven jars of Appleloosan preserves,” Derpy said. “One jar per letter to post, minus my half. One more jar or can each on delivery.” She called up to the sky. “It’s them! Come on down!”

Another pegasus appeared in the clouds above, gliding down towards them.

“This must be heaven, because it’s raining mares!” Dust Devil called out.

“If this is heaven, why are you here?” Updraft said.

An older pegasus mare with a cutie mark of rain falling from a fluffy white cloud landed beside them.

“Hmm,” Dust Devil said, looking her over. “Well, beggars can’t be choosers!”

Tale Spin’s jaw fell open and he stared stupidly at the second mare, blinking.

“Mom?”

Summer Rain ran to him and threw her forelegs around his neck. “My baby!” she cried. “My baby’s all grown up!”

“Mom?” he asked again, as if the answer might still change.

“Derpy told me all about your new job with the postal service!” Summer said. “I think it’s so exciting!”

“Um…. yeah.” He glared threateningly over his mother’s shoulder at the other stallions. “My job.”

She pulled her head back. “Let me look at you. So handsome. I hope you boys are careful. There are dangerous ponies out here.”

“So we’ve heard,” Dust Devil said.

“Mom, you shouldn’t be here. It’s not safe.”

“Don’t you worry about me, Tailspin!”

“About that. Is that one word, or two?” Dust Devil asked innocently.

“I had to see you again,” Summer said. “I couldn’t wait until you got back to Appleloosa.”

“Excuse me, ma’am,” Derpy said to Summer. “I need to speak with your son. Postal service business.”

“Of course! Of course!” Summer said.

“You can talk to me, Tailspin’s Mom,” Dust Devil said.

Tale Spin shot him a warning look before stepping a few feet away with Derpy.

“So,” she asked him. “How do you like your job?”

“Twenty-seven jars,” he replied. “That’s a lot of jars.”

“Yup,” Derpy agreed.

“I notice you rounded my half down.”

“Yup.”

“You still hate me, don’t you?”

The glare she gave him with her one good eye made him feel lucky she didn’t have two.

“So why are you here?”

“Because there are ponies down south who need to hear from ponies up north.”

“Yeah, but why us? Why not get somebody else?”

“I would if I could,” Derpy said.

“Guess I can set my own terms, then,” Tale Spin said with a sly grin. He licked his lips in anticipation.

“You’re already getting all the cans you can carry on each trip. What more could you want?"

Tale Spin smiled his smile that he’d practiced on the mares in Shawneigh, back before the sun stopped, and leaned in toward her. “Well, me being new to the postal business and all, I was thinking I might need a little… personal instruction.”

Her eyes went wide, both of them, and she pulled back with a jerk and a sharp intake of air. She looked away from him, not at anything, just an unfocused look. More so than usual.

That was not a reaction he’d gotten in Shawneigh. Maybe he should’ve emphasized the pause less. Less roguish, more casual. He reached down and tore out a mouthful of the prairie grass, not because he wanted the dry, stringy stuff, but just to avoid staring while she stood there looking nowhere, taking deep breaths.

Suddenly she narrowed her eyes and turned her head toward him, her lips drawn tight. “How about this. You can take this job on my terms, or we can have a talk with your mom about how to treat mares.”

He gulped. “On second thought, um, I can probably pick most of it up on my own.”

She kept looking at him with that bulldog stare until he looked back down at the grass.

“You handle the mail between Appleloosa and Dodge Junction. One can per item on collection, and another on delivery. No theft, no opening the mail, no preferential treatment, no jacking up the rates. And,” she said, and gave him that glare again, “no raiding!

Tale Spin looked over to where his mother was talking to Dust Devil, her hooves making broad gestures and her eyes gleaming as they did only when she was telling stories about his childhood. Dust Devil laughed, and turned his head to grin evilly at Tale Spin.

“Well? Do we have an agreement?”

He lowered his ears dispiritedly. “Take my mom back to Appleloosa now, and it’s a deal.”

“Oh,” Derpy said. “One more thing.” She lifted a book out of one of the mailbags and showed it to him.

“The Equestrian Postal Carrier’s Hoofbook,” he read.

She dropped it back in the mailbag. “Read it,” she said. “Find yourself a uniform in Dodge Junction.” She turned her head. “Summer! Say your goodbyes. We hafta hurry and leave before the weather clears!”

“Hey,” he said. “How are you going to get the mail down to Appleloosa by yourself?”

“I was sort of trusting something would turn up,” she admitted.

He snorted. “Smart ponies don’t just trust.”

“I guess the world needs a couple of dumb ponies, then. Hey, Corkscrew!”

The blue pegasus looked over at her and raised his ears.

“How’d you like to come back to Ponyville with me?”

“Me?” he said in amazement.

Him?” Tale Spin said.

“Him.”

“Now, wait,” Tale Spin said. “That ain’t how this movie’s supposed to end. You’re supposed to end up with the tall, dark stallion. Hell, you deserve it.”

She smirked at him. “Shut up, Tailspin. Come on, Corkscrew. Let’s get out of here.”

“But we were bantering!” Tale Spin neighed after her.


“That was some good banter, too,” Tale Spin grumbled as Corkscrew and the mares flew away.

“Pretty sure that was mostly you getting bridled,” Updraft said.

I’ll banter with you, Tailspin.”

“Oh, shut up, Dusty.”

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