• Published 8th Nov 2011
  • 5,511 Views, 163 Comments

The Border - Cabal



The adventures of Dr. Moss and a perilous crossing of the divide between Humans and Ponies.

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Chapter6: Coffee

Summer 51, 22XX
It's official, I am banned from the border.
We did arrive as planned and the students got to see humans, but I am afraid that their perception of them despite the humans allowing us into the Human Learning Center, is shattered forever. While inside of the building one of Cheerilee Students (who shall remain unnamed) licked one of the RoH's standards. Her reason?: SHE THOUGHT IT WOULD TASTE LIKE PEPERMINT!!! Dear sisters! And for some reason it made the humans very mad.

Though, I don't blame her. She is after all a little filly, and the majority of the RoH standard is striped red and white... I wonder what the red and white stripes mean? Better add it to my list of things to discover about humans...

I'm getting off track... They detained Silver Arrow for awhile because of that... I won't go into detail but we did get him back thanks to the griffon peacekeepers who explained the situation to the Human Border Master. I have never seen a human be anything but serious, but she absolutely laughed like somepony told her the world was made of cheese... then suddenly go back to being serious... If I didn't know any better I 'd think that she was on the Bean or she had mental problems.

Before Silver Arrow was released, I finally found out why there was an air a familiarity around her, she was the exact same human who unwittingly helped me with my dexterity paper. And she remembered me down to my Quill and Paper Cutiemark. She darkly warned me personally that if I ever showed up near her border again her guards would be ordered to personally pursue me into Equestrian territory just to kill me regardless of circumstance.

This angered the Captain, but he made assurances to his counterpart about me. By his order, I am not to be within two miles of the border-line ever again. And given the circumstances, a visit to the Dragon Incident memorial was out of the question.

As soon as the Human Delegation left, Silver Arrow was released. But his tail was cut off and now all that was left was a silver-haired stub. He said that this was for biting the hand of one of the guards. Cheerilee was a bit annoyed but was mostly overjoyed to have her student come back unharmed.

I wish I could end the journal there, but where one complication closes, another opens. Berry Shine has elected to drop my class, she stated that she wanted to go back to wine making. Which now brings my class size to zero until next semester. Quite the opposite of what I need to avoid being demoted and subjected to the likes of Light Wood. I fear that I may be ruined unless I do something drastic...

Just unpacking has made me completely exhausted. I think I shall go visit Fizzy Bubbles tomorrow. She would be absolutely interested in the self-inking quill I managed to swipe from the negotiation table that the Border Master left behind. It writes remarkably well...

=+=+=+=

There was a sharp knock at the door.

“Oh my goodness, who could that be?” Fizzy Bubbles asked herself as she opened her door to none other then a green stallion with a slightly messy black mane.

“Gentle Moss!” Fizzy squeaked joyously. “Please come in! Make yourself at home. I hope that the lunch time traffic didn't faze you to much...”

“Funny you should ask,” replied Gentle Moss as he trotted in. “I almost got squeezed between two carts!”

“Doesn't surprise me in the least.” Fizzy acknowledged. “Would you like some tea? I was making some for my brother who is in the living room.” She pointed a hoof to blue stallion with a close cropped brown mane sitting on Fizzy's brown recliner chair. The stallion looked wiry and a bit tired as he smiled a mischievous grin back at them. Fizzy leaned towards Gentle Moss's ear, “He just got out of prison. So forgive him if he seems... odd.”

“Yeah,” began the reclining stallion “being stuck in a cell with no contact with the outside world for two months can really make a pony odd.” He then crossed his eyes and stuck out his tongue, “Oh noes! My face is becoming odd! Help help!”

“Bubble Wand you stop that this instant!” Fizzy Shrieked. “We have a guest, and making faces isn't polite!”

Instead of stopping, Bubble Wand decided to escalate by crossing his eyes outwardly and making a sad face that truly show no remorse. Gentle Moss chortled at the display while Fizzy Bubbles fumed “Very mature, Wand.” she said coolly. She then turned to Gentle moss, with an apologetic face, “I am so sorry. The rest of the family is out of town and since he can't be trusted alone I offered to house him until he gets a job and moves out.” She directed that last bit towards Bubble Wand, who rolled his eyes.

Fizzy sighed and helped Gentle Moss with his saddlebags. She then went into the kitchen, leaving Wand and Moss alone in the living room. As soon as he sat down on the couch, Bubble Wand said “You're not half-bad there good-lookin', Gentle Moss was it?”

“Um yes...” he replied. He wasn't sure if Bubble Wand complimenting him or hitting on him.

“So have the hots for my sister huh?”

Gentle Moss' eyes went wide and he whinnied as he shook his head, “What?! No. No no no, you have it all wrong. I am actually a Co-Worker with Fizzy at the University of Canterlot and a good friend.”

Bubble Wand snorted, “Sure you are. But the way that Fizzy fusses over you, one would have thought differently.”

Gentle Moss quickly decided that Bubble Wand was not a very nice pony, and given his tone he was looking to start an argument to bully him and possibly annoy Fizzy. He changed the subject, “So, your sister mentioned you were in prison, what for exactly?”

“Possession of Coffee,” Bubble Wand said as he adjusted himself in his chair. “It was my third offense, and judge Cabal was tired of assigning Community Service. So then he said that a month in prison was going to have to do. I then called him a 'colorless breed'. He then got mad and gave me two months in prison, and told me to write a thousand page essay on 'equality'.”

“You brought that upon yourself!” Fizzy squeaked from the kitchen, “And you still need to write that Essay, and if you expect to stay here, you will also write an apology letter to the judge!”

In response, Bubble Wand then made a retching sound like he wanted to vomit. Then he smiled at Gentle Moss.

Gentle Moss rolled his eyes. Bubble Wand was indeed a very bad pony who still needed correction. But the Coffee charge peaked Gentle Moss's interest. “Coffee is grown in the south of the Republic of Humanity, isn't it?” he asked.

“Sure is.”

“How does a pony exactly get the Coffee over the DMZ?” Gentle Moss asked. “I mean, the DMZ has to be the most heavily guarded and most dangerous place in the world.”

A look of excitement spread over Bubble Wand's face. “Let me just say this, drinking the coffee to get the caffeine high is just half the fun. Sneaking around under the Royal Guards and those wind-up monkeys in the blue suits is just a rush... oh boy...”

Gentle Moss raise both eyebrows in surprise, “You've actually been inside the RoH?”

“Ha ha... no.” said Bubble Wand flatly. “But I know a pony...”

At that moment Fizzy Bubbles came in floating a tray of cookies, crackers, cheese and little bags of green and black tea leaves. As she sat the tray down on the living room table, Bubble Wand exercised his magic to pick up one of the black tea bags. Then Fizzy took her pink hoof and slammed the floating bag back on the tray.

“No!” She squeaked. “No Caffeine. Period. You may have the Green Tea instead.”

“Oh come off it, Fizzy!” Bubble Wand barked. “I just got out of prison and hadn't had anything good for months! One cup of black tea won't turn me back into a coffee loving psycho!”

“No!”

“Arrgh!”

Both siblings looked ready to fight each other. Gentle Moss decided to intervene, “Fizzy, I don't think the amount of caffeine in black tea is substantial enough to drive Bubble Wand back to coffee.” he stated calmly. “I know you love your brother, and being the good chemist you are in trying to control what he consumes, you can't protect him from everything caffeinated. Just let him have his tea.”

Fizzy made a contortionist look on her face, as if she was debating with her inner demon about what Gentle Moss just said. In the end, she sighed and lifted her hoof off of the now flattened tea bag and let Bubble Wand take it away with his magic. Bubble Wand mouthed a thank you to Gentle Moss as Fizzy became distracted in pouring hot water out of the kettle and into three cups.

As they became settled with their Tea, Fizzy Bubbles asked “So Dr. Moss, what brings you to my busy corner of the city?”

Finishing his sip, Gentle Moss replied, “I am glad you asked.” He then reached out with his magic to the saddlebag on a hook and undid the buckle, which out came the self-inking quill, and floated it over to himself.

“This I managed to get by chance,” he decided to withhold the truth that he stole it from the human Border Master, “and it appears to be a self-inking quill made by our clever neighbors across the DMZ. You see, it just seems to never run out of ink, and you never have to dip it. Let me show you.”

He then levitated a piece of parchment from his bag, uncapped the pen, and began drawing wild circles on the parchment it in front of Fizzy, and indeed it seemed the ink would never run dry from the quill.

“Fascinating...” Fizzy stated with awe. She took the pen with her own magic and scribble out the simple formula for water: H2O. Satisfied, she then twirled it around in front of her face, trying to decipher how it work. “Looking at the groove in the metal tip, which looks like it is made tin mounted on a copper or brass tube, it seems the ink is stored in the tube which acts for the ink's container, so its not really endless, it has to run dry at some point during normal use...

“But when it does run out, how is it filled again?” She asked aloud. “I don't think its a 'one and done' type of invention.” She then noticed a small lever on the pen, “Hmm...” she then lifted it, and immediately she would regret it. Ink suddenly spurted out the tip of the pen and sprayed all over her face.

“It's pressurized!” she squeaked, completely blinded by the ink.

Bubble Wand, who was watching quietly first began to giggle, which quickly evolved into a roar laughter, which caused him to drop his tea and his own body fall on the floor, gasping for air. “Ohoho, my sides... ahahahaha!”

While Bubble Wand continued to laugh, Gentle Moss fetched a cloth from Fizzy's kitchen to help her wipe off the horrible mess the pen made to her face. Fizzy looked wholeheartedly embarrassed having to be cleaned up like a Filly. Dr. Moss felt the embarrassment and said “Well, we now know how to empty it and fill it now...”

“Bwhahahaha...” continued Bubble Wand.

“Shut up, Wand!”

=+=+=+=

After cleaning up the mess the pen made and patiently waiting for Fizzy Bubbles to finish arguing with her brother about cleaning up the spilled tea (which took 20 minutes), Fizzy accepted Gentle Moss's invitation to go out to dinner. At the Charlie Horse they were seated by a good window overlooking the cliff valley that the castle sat upon. It was a beautiful site as the cliff below the castle was basked in the castle's golden light.

The chef and owner Carrot Cut, actually surprised them, “Hello young couple! How are you doing tonight?”

Gentle Moss and Fizzy Bubbles shifted uncomfortably, “Oh, we are not a couple...”

“Ah! Say no more!” said Carrot Cut. “But may I ask what the occasion is?”

“A thank you dinner.” replied Gentle Moss. “My College here actually helped save my research and my department.”

“Oh, you both teach at the University?”

“Indeed.”

“What department was it your lovely companion saved?”

“Humanology.”

Carrot Cut face suddenly went from pleasant to curious. “Are you Dr. Moss?”

“Yes...?”

Carrot Cut curious look went back to Pleasent. “Ah yes, I thought it might be you. You were mentioned in the paper today. My word, I had no idea those humans could be so... uncouth. Cutting off that poor young stallion's tail.”

Fizzy Bubble then looked at Gentle Moss, “What?”

“And there was that student who was interviewed... said that she was done studying humans?”

Gentle Moss looked extremely uncomfortable at this point. Fizzy Bubbles was still confused, and then asked “What is he talking about?”

“Anyway, I have brought out this nice salad for you, on the house!”

“I have lost my appetite...”

=+=+=+=

Out in the street on the was home, Gentle Moss explained what happened with his trip to the border.

“Oh. My. Stars!” Fizzy belted out. “That's absolutely horrible!”
“I know...” Gentle Moss sniffed, on the verge of crying. Now that whole class is going to grow up with that horrible experience and especially poor Silver Arrow. And to make everything worse Berry Shine has left the class...” He pulled out a handkerchief from his dinner jacket. “There is now going to be a whole generation of ponies growing up with wanting nothing to do with humans, and I am ruined for sure!”

Tears streamed down his face now. Fizzy sighed as she watched a Good Professor become a sobbing mess. She allowed him to lean against her on the way back to her home. She secretly was looking forward to inviting him in tonight, but the mood was ruined, no thanks to Carrot Cut. Once they reached her home, she said a few comforting words to Gentle Moss and bid him good night. Gentle Moss slowly made his way home, depressed and head hung low.

As he turned the corner and passed an alleyway, he heard a familiar voice.

“And it squirted all over her!” said a echoy Bubble Wand. “I was half expecting them to find the lever on it like I did that one time when we visited that check point.

“Must of liked her a lot.” replied a gruff voice.

There was a snort, and then a cackle. Gentle Moss knew it was wrong to eavesdrop, but the last bit interested him. He had seen human quill before? Checkpoint? Gentle Moss entered the alleyway as quietly as he could and came upon a dimly lit dumpster, with Bubble Wand facing a much larger and musclebound earth pony wearing a black leather jacket, with a brass ring necklace around its neck. Surreal.

“Anyway,” Bubble Wand wiped a tear away from his eye. “I was wondering if you could hook me up with something.”

“Back to bad habits I see,” replied the gruff the pony. Chuckling as he dug through his pockets. “I thought you'd quit, see how this time the judge locked you up last time. But oh well...” He fished out a small bag of a brownish color. Coffee grounds! Gentle Moss thought to himself.

“That it?” Bubble Wand eyed the bag with distaste. “You could barely drink a damé with that!”

The larger pony chuckled, “I know it small, but you could mixed with hot milk and make whats called an espresso. The richer humans are doing it. If you wanna wait, I am going on a run next week with the crew to the checkpoint to get more, and then you can get more.”

“Eh... I suppose it will do for now...” murmured Bubble Wand. “How much?”

“Fifty squared”

“Fifty?!” exclaimed Bubble Wand. He then suddenly became self-conscious of how loud he was being and looked around. Gentle Moss hid himself more behind the dumpster he was listening from.

“Sweet Celestia, Wand! The larger pony screamed whispered as he looked around as well, “That loud mouth of yours is going to get us in trouble.”

Bubble Wand, now slightly more subdued, whispered barely enough that Gentle Moss had to strain his ears to here. “...is just ridiculous.”

“Look wand, as I said, business got harder as of late. And the Royal Guard has been more buddy-buddy as of late with the humans cracking down the coffee trade.” the large pony said sternly. “The last run never arrived because they got blown to bits by a trip-mine. And we almost got whacked by a SAS Balloon.”

“SAS?”

“The human Special Air Service.”

“Oh... buck...” Bubble wand cursed. His eyes really wide with the vision of being turned to a pseudo-changling by an Air Marine Autogun. “What are they doing so close to the line? I mean... I thought they weren’t allowed... isn't it a no fly zone?”

“I don't know, and quite frankly it was enough to make me want to go straight... Do you want it or not?”

“…Fine, for the cause.”

There was a tinkling of coins, and then Bubble Wand said, “When did you say you were getting more?”

“Next week. Wanna come? Might be fun... just like old times.”

“I'll have to cut you a rain-check” replied Bubble wand as the transaction completed. “Fizzy has been unbearable since I got out. I'm still not even half done with the apology letter, not even started on the equality essay, and I still need to find a job. Plus based on what you told me, I don't think I want to ride along to the border right now.”

“Luna forgive, what did you do to piss her off?”

“I called the judge a colorless breed.”

There was a chortle, “Only you Bubble Wand.”

“Yeah, hey, catch up with you later?”

“Later.”

Gentle Moss quietly left the alley and waited on the corner to Fizzy's for Bubble Wand. Bubble Wand was whistling a merry tune as he strolled out of the alley and accidentally bumped into him.

“Oh sorry, my mistake. I wasn't watching... Gentle Moss?”

“Hullo Wand.” Said Gentle Moss flatly. “I have a proposal for you.”

“Whoa, big words!” chuckled Bubble Wand. “And I thought you had the hots for Fizzy, guess you like bad colts? Sorry but I don't swing that-”

Gentle Moss used his magic and picked up Bubble Wand and slammed him hard against the light pole. As Bubble Wand watched little birdies fly around his head, his saddle bag clip was undone and out came the small bag of coffee.

“What were thinking!?” shouted Gentle Moss sternly as he hovered the illegal substance against in front of a dazed blue pony. “I am sure if I showed this to Fizzy she would not be too pleased. And the judge is sure to send you back to jail.”

Wand shook off the head bang, and his eyes went wide with fear. “Oh no... please. I don't want to go back to jail!”

“Then listen closely,” Gentle Moss began, putting on his angry face like he did when a student didn't complete his work, he hoped it was convincing. “My career is in shambles, and unless I do something drastic to save it, I am ruined for good. And this is what I want to do, and you are going to help me...”

He then explained his plan.

Bubble Wand just shook his head. “Are you completely bucking insane?!” he asked. “Did you... whats the word... selectively hear what my friend said in that ally? SAS. Super. Angry. Psychopaths. Patrolling the line. There is no way in heck you could survive.”

“I have nothing left, and neither will you for awhile if you don't let me come with you and your coffee addled friends.” threatened Gentle Moss.

“...fine.”

Gentle Moss picked up Bubble Wand off gthe ground, patted off the dirt and levitated the illegal substance back into his back. “Man, moss. I never knew you could be such a bad ass, I wouldn't mind you marrying my sister.”

“Shut up, Wand.”

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