• Published 25th May 2012
  • 5,212 Views, 441 Comments

A Cog in the Machine - ManlyDerp

The Flim Flam brothers have a secret; a live secret that breathes fire. Please, listen to my tale.

  • ...

Chapter 3: To Be Seen

Chapter 3, To be Seen

“…Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How about now? Are we there yet?”

“Shut up shut up shut up!!

“Ha! Make me!”

“Clam down, Flim... she’s just trying to get under your coat. Just ignore her like I’ve been doing, brother of mine.”

I laughed and spoke to Flam, through the walls of the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000, in a singsong-y voice. “Ooooohhhh, it looks like you're starting to slip up, Flam! More ‘she’s’ and less ‘its’... you're losing your touch, old man!

"… Or is it old stallion? Old colt?" I shrugged the best I could in my prison. "I haven't a clue of which it is myself, so why don't you tell me, mustachio?”

“…” Flam returned to being mute.

I answered with a resounding "Ha!”

“Grrrrrr…" Growled Flim. "How can a hatchling talk so much, and why haven’t we changed her lips yet, Flam?!”

Flam sighed. “We need all the magic we can if we’re going to make it to Baltimare before our rations run out. We’re only just coasting on reserve dragonfire as is, and I don’t have the strength in me to zap that damn thing again...”

I was the closest one could be to 'bouncy' when chained to a wall. “Which is why I’m able to ‘chat’ with you two without repercussions!” I laughed again. “I’m so glad we can finally exchange some words! It’s too bad you’re already so set on torturing me instead of letting me work with you. We could have been the best of friends… instead, well, I really hate your guts! Ha! That reminds me… are we there yet? Are we there yet? How about now? Huh huh huh?!”

Flim continued groaning. Meanwhile, I was having the time of my life! The day after we left the campsite I discovered why the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 was considered 'incomplete'... They hadn’t soundproofed the walls yet!

I decided, right there and then, that I was going to make these twos' lives a living hell.

That's what they did to me, so it only seemed fair.

Being the eldest of five boys, I’ve had some, well, experience with the many ways a single person could be as annoying as humanly possible. I made quick work of deploying my entire arsenal on these two, save for some things that I personally felt that the Geneva convention should outlaw. I want to annoy them, not kill them!

Yeah... probably not the smartest thing to do with your wardens, but what are they going to do about it? Cut back my food supplies? They need to keep me relatively fed and healthy if they want me to breathe fire...

Outside of that… what can they do?

Torture me?


Don’t make me laugh… no really, please don’t.

I-it hurts...

The only reason I haven’t broken out my collection of annoying songs yet is because my throat won't allow it. I’m only just barely speaking over all the noise inside this thing: inside my metal prison… but trust me when I say it’s worth it.

Exiting my dark thoughts and returning to a near Pinkie Pie state of bliss, I hummed to myself a bit as I tried to plot out my next course of action.


My mind suddenly came up with a brilliant idea.

Clearing my throat, I began. “Oh, you know what I could go for right now, you two?”

Pause for dramatic effect...

... Meat! Delicious, mouthwatering, juicy meat! Oh, I’d put cheese on it, and lettuce, and put it between two delectable wheat buns… but what animal would I slaughter to make such a wonderful meal?”

I made an audible humming sound. “…A cow? Well, that’s what I would normally do, but ponies suddenly sound really good!” I smacked my lips noisily, making sure they could hear me. “Oh, but how am I going to get everything set up? Weeellll… I guess first I’d have to rip out the vocal cord with my fangs, can’t have it screaming after all!” I let loose a loud chortle.

“Oh, and then I’d have to gut it with my claws! Ha! I call them McStabbystab and Frank, by the way! And then I have to get a fire going... ah, but how am I supposed to do that?” I hummed again before faking a gasp. “… Wait, I know! I can breathe fire! Hahah! Silly me! Oh, hey! Did I ever thank you two for teaching me how to do that? I really should... it’s quite helpful!”

Slamming my tail down as hard as I could, I finalized the ‘plan’. “Okay, it’s settled; I’m going to have a BBQ, and you’ll both be invited! Heck, we should hunt down Iron Will and invite him and the goats as well! I’m sure they’d love some meat! So guys, how does that sound?”

My answer was the sound of Flim vomiting. The noise was still quite audible despite the metal walls separating us. Yeah... totally worth the pain. Ha!

“By Celestia’s ancient beard, brother! We’re doing Equestria, neigh, the world a favor by taking this sick thing in!”

“I agree, Flim. It truly is a morbid little thing... but at least it was kind enough to draw attention to the lack of soundproofing. I would have completely forgotten about it if it hadn’t started talking! That would have been awkward at our first showing, haha!

“Haha! Indeed it would have, brother of mine! Haha!”

... Wait…

They actually forgot about soundproofing the walls?! I thought it was because they were out of time! So, if I had just kept my mouth shut until later on…

... Ah pony feathers. I am not a clever dragon... Oh well. I still stand by my earlier comment about it being totally worth it.

“Let’s rest here for the night, Flim. My magic reserves are depleted.”

“As our mine, Flam. I’ll get the tent.”

“And I’ll get the sleeping bags, brother of mine.”

I yelled out from within the machine. “And I’ll get the S’mores!”


“You know you want one~!”


“Hehe. Hey, can you blame a girl for trying?”

They spoke in unison. “Yes.”


The sounds of hoofsteps grew fainter and fainter, until I was alone. Letting out a sigh of relief, I finally found myself with some time to myself and my thoughts.

This was also the perfect time to rest my voice. Despite the pain, I had managed to annoy both brothers all day long. Well, specifically I annoyed Flim all day long. Flam was a bit more reserved then his brother and didn’t respond to my comments as often as Flim would.

I’m starting to see the subtle differences between my two wardens. Flim is a bit more talkative and seems to be easily set off. I guess that explains why he tried to take down Trixie a few days back instead of thinking the encounter through logically. As Flam described it, Flim is the showstallion of this duo. He’s the one I remember putting the most work into the slogan and seems to be the one with the most 'pony skills'... Not that Flam is lacking in said skills, its just that he's a bit more aloof and allows Flim to do most of the actual selling.

Flam is, again as they described on my second day, the idea pony. He’s the business savvy one and the one who seems to have the technical and magical prowess needed to make the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 possible. Again, Flim isn’t too bad off either, but it’s Flam who wrote up the schematics and he’s the one who had the sense to keep looking through the dragon manual for relevant information. They’re both so alike yet so different... no wonder people tend to get them mixed up. I know I did before this whole… thing.

The two brothers are also quite close, and rarely did I ever see the two apart during my time in the doggie carrier. If they ever did separate it was because one of them had to grab something from their home in Trottingham while the other had to stay behind to keep an eye on me. I’m actually kinda envious of their relationship, as I’m close with my own brothers as well but not as much as I’d like.

Dylan is the closest to me in age, but he has his own life and doesn’t seem to want me in it. The other three aren’t even out of elementary school yet so there’s not much I can do for them. I try my best when I can, but I always feel like I could do better. They would rather play video games then pick up a bat and play ball with me… maybe I’m just old fashioned.

Ha, old fashioned at age 21... Oh Nathan, you are hilarious. Well... at least Caleb would play with me… although he's the middle child and thus has a serious hunger for attention, as all middle children do.

Still… I miss him. I miss all of them… -sob-, h-how much longer will I be here? I j-just want to go h-home…

Shaking away tears, I roared out a fierce, “Ugggghhhh damn it all!” at the top of my abused lungs. A bit melodramatic, I know, but it’s necessary in order to shake off these moments of weakness. Thankfully, I don’t think the brothers heard me.

I’ve been finding myself breaking down more and more with each passing day, and I don’t think I can blame the surprise sex change anymore. I guess one could assume that I’m just a weak-willed person, but I really don’t want to accept that answer just yet.

Well, whatever the reason may be, I need to knock it off. It’s not helping anypony here. If anything, save the waterworks for the eventual rescuers… whenever they decide to show up.

“Yaaaawwwnnn!” All righty then, enough with that nonsense for tonight. The boys are asleep so that means its bedtime for baby dragons. Time to go through my nightly rituals.

First, I used my forked tail to make an indent in the wall left of me. It’s probably not the smartest thing to do, but I’ve taken up the habit of keeping track of how many days I’ve been here. Sure it’ll be a constant reminder of how long it’s been since I last saw my family, but on the flipside I can view it as a hobby and lord knows I need a hobby.

It’s that or else I’d go insane.

Let’s see now: including the seven extra marks I made to include my first week in Equestria, I am now up to nine days here. I left around the first week of October, so Halloween… oh, sorry, I guess I mean Nightmare Night, is still a few weeks away. If I know her like I know her, my mom will try to call me at some point to tell me what the kids' costumes are. She’ll call my phone, think something’s amiss when I don’t pick up, and then send dad down to see what’s up. Good, I've got that sorted. Next…

I inhaled a large gulp of air, and then exhaled a large funnel of my personal orange fire, successfully completing the second step of my night time procedures. I learned this morning that the brothers won’t bother waking me up with lightning if their magic tank is already full, so by breathing out fire before going to bed the automatic vacuum within the machine will suck it up and store it for later. The machine goes through it rabidly if it’s performing any other actions outside of moving, but if it’s doing just that then filling it up beforehand (beforehoof, beforeclaw?) grants me some extra sleep time, which I desperately need.

And now for the last step: getting comfortable. It might come as a shock to you, but hanging from a wall by your arms is not that relaxing. Thankfully neither my spines nor horns have become bothersome while I'm so close to the wall, but hanging off the wall itself is still very uncomfortable. I’ve tried to make things more pleasing by wrapping my wings around myself like a blanket, but it just wasn’t enough.

I decided to try using my tail last night to see if it would relieve some of the stress off my arms. The plan was that I would stiffen it on the floor and attempt to lift myself up with it. Surprisingly it worked, although my tail slackened in the middle of the night and caused me to stir from my slumber, so the whole idea turned out to be a failure.

Tonight, I’m going to try laying my tail out like a mat and stand on it with my feet. Let’s see here; I just have to wrap it up like this, aaaannndddd, done.

Oh, wow, that feels much better… although now my tail is starting to hurt. Looks like I traded one pain in the tail for another... um, pain in the tail…

... Okay, I’m obviously way too tired to think straight anymore. I can live with this for now, I guess.

Sleepy time for Ms. Dragon.

… Hopefully I won’t wake up traded to slavers, again.



Ha, big surprise. I was woken up from my dreaming through the help of magic lightning, fire escaping my throat, and the sound of my own screaming.

You know, just an average morning.

Speaking of the screaming; at this point I think it’s the screaming that damages my throat and not the actual fire, but I can’t for the life of me stop screaming after they hit me with their magic. Maybe it’s a specifically designed torture spell? Whose the sadistic pony who came up with that one? No, more importantly... what would such a pony’s cutie mark look like?

“Did it work, Flam?” Asked Flim.

“I have no idea. Hit it again, Flim.”

“Got it.”

“Did what wo-AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!” I tried to ask, before being hit by another bolt.

I could hear Flam humming to himself. “Let’s see… magic levels are increasing so it’s hitting her, yet I don’t hear a thing, brother of mine! It looks like we’re ready to go!”

“All right, Flam!” Flim responded happily.

My eyes widened. "W-what? Oh no, please tell me they didn’t soundproof the walls already!" I tried to get their attention. “Flim! You’re a smelly flankhole! Flam! Your mustache is bad and you should feel bad!

Silence. It looks like they weren't lying... Well, thank goodness I can still hear them when they're close to the machine. I think I’d go crazy for sure if I had only the inner steam workings to listen to…

... Not that I really want to listen to these two all the time, but it’s still better than being completely blind to the outside world.

For instance, I thought that they needed to get to Balitmare in order to get the charms necessary to do such a thing. At least, that’s what I overheard in the few instances where I faked being asleep so I could listen in on them. Did I really just sleep through the rest of the trip there and their modifications to the machine?

Damn... I knew I was a heavy sleeper, but that’s just insane! It must be a baby dragon thing… something I’m not sure if I like.

Well… now what?

“Well… now what, brother of mine?”

Yeah, what Flim said.

“Well we can’t return home now, Flim, and it’s too late to modify the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 to use oranges, tomatoes, or any other kind of fruit like we originally planned. We would need to honker down for a while in order to make such additions... but we are now currently homeless, so the first order of business is to get into some business, brother of mine!”

“Excellent! Soooo... where should we start, Flam?”

“Hmmm… we can only make apple cider right now. That’s no good, as we would need to buy apples first before we sell it as cider. Unless we overprice the end result we’re only going to be breaking even... What we need to do is collaborate, brother of mine, with an apple farm and use their apples instead!”

Apple farm?


I grinned. “And thus the seeds of their downfall have been planted. Huh... I didn’t think cider season would be right before Nightmare Night, but oh well.”

I better start forming an escape plan for when they reach Ponyville. The actual day I escape matters too, as I want to be able to make it out of this machine right before they're 'run' out of town, but not before the competition. Any sooner and they'd be able to spot that I'm gone, and any later and I'll lose my chance to find somepony who can help m-


The sound of Flim’s hoof stumping down on the wooden platform cut off my train of thought.

“Work with an apple farm, Flam?! Are you crazy?!" He roared. "The only apple farms in Equestria are owned by the Apple family! Last I checked, brother of mine, they weren’t too keen about members from our neck of the woods!

“They still accept the Oranges so why not us, Flim?” Flam asked.

Flim stomped again. “The Oranges are earth ponies though! Same race! As soon as our branch of the tree ascended into unicorndom... BAM! Suddenl-”

“Yes yes" Flam cut him off. "suddenly we’re blacklisted and removed from the Hearts Warming Eve cards. I was there for that talk as well, Flam, when momma Shim told us about how earth ponies are stuck up and jealous of our superiority... but we still need them for their food and especially now when we need apples for our machine! We’re going to need the Apple’s help on this brother: we’re going to have to work with one of the farms in order to get off the ground.”

“... Ohhhh, your right, Flam!" Flim fumed. "But I still don’t think we should tell them we’re related! They’ll try to take our cut and say it’s for ‘the good of the family’. Bleh! Let’s just go by the Flim Flam brothers and not Apple Flim and Apple Flam, brother of mine.”

“Sounds like a plan, Flim”

I simply blinked at this revaluation. Whoa... well that was a twist! And the Apple family is racist too? As hilarious as the mental image of a racist Apple Bloom is, I’m not so sure if its true...

Racist or not, my life has surprisingly become more of a soap opera then it already was. Next thing you’re going to tell me is that I’m pregnant, and that Fluttershy is the father!

I jokingly spoke to myself to lift my spirits, and attempted to imitate a meme face. “Ugh, brain? Why you give me great fan fiction ideas while I’m not even in the same dimension as my computer?!”

The brother's continued their conversation. “Let’s take a look at the map, Flim.”

“Yes let’s…okay here. The closest apple farm is right here, Flam.”

“No no that won’t do. That’s the one in Trottingham! We can’t go there...”

“Okay, well then… there. What town is this one?”

“Well that’s, let’s see… Ah! That’s Oaklahoma! According to this, its a small unicorn town with an even smaller earth pony population. That means that it’s country enough to have the normal variety of hicks, but also sophisticated enough for the majority to appreciate our speedy service! Perfect target!”

Haha Oaklahoma. I see what you did there, universe. I’d say keep up the good work... but I’m still strung up to the wall of a machine and being treated like a battery, so you’re going to have to do better than tree puns to win me back...

“Well then, I’d say we’re set, Flam! Let’s head out!”

“Lead the way, brother of mine!”

I felt the machine rumble before it propelling itself forward. A pair of familiar whistles tweeting away.

Toot… shee… toot… shee...


The trip took us a few days. During that time, I used my new found privacy to explore my prison and consider my options.

“Okay" I spoke aloud, as had become a habit of mine. "so there’s a lot of room in here, but most of it is occupied by that giant vacuum when it comes down to suck up my flames. Let’s see how far that thing reaches… Spit-to-wee!

I shot out a volley of fireballs toward the adjacent wall. They move pretty fast, so I was hoping I could hit either the back wall or the vacuum itself before it dropped down...

... But the vacuum dropped down almost immediately and sucked up my babies. Aww nuts. No good there then, and I was so proud of myself when I figured how to shoot fireballs in the first place!

“Okay... let’s try this.”

I turned my head slightly to the side and tried to roast the wall to my right. The hose dropped down again and sucked up my fire for the second time… but this time it took longer to drop down.

Good, the vacuum isn't perfect. Let’s try a fireball now... "Spit-to-wee!”

Ha! Pay dirt! It was too fast for the vacuum so it instead struck the wall, resulting in a sweet blast! Smoke was everywhere.

… But once the smoke cleared, I was able to see that the attack didn't even so much as warp the wall. All my hard work resulted in was a single black scorch mark... Well of course it would be fireproof. Why wouldn't it be? Didn’t hurt to try though...

So blasting and melting the walls over time is out of the question… what about the ceiling?

I lift my head up. I can see the hatch out of the room above me. It seems to be made out of a different material then the walls and floor… maybe I can reach it from here?

Let’s try…“Fwoosh!”

Aw dang it! I can hit the ceiling, but I can’t crank my head up far enough to hit the hatch! Stupid ear horn things...

I sighed. “Well that’s out too. I guess fire in general is out of the question… or is it?”

I looked up at the metal cufflinks that hold me to the wall. They're probably fireproof too… or they might not be. Seems like such a small thing: maybe the brothers forgot about it like how they forgot to soundproof the walls?

... It’s a stretch, but let’s try it. “What could possibly go wrong?”

I inhaled and blew fire at one of the bindings…“Fwoo-”

… And then proceeded to scream like the little girl I had become.


Okay... so that wasn’t my brightest idea. I'm glad for the soundproofing now... but yeah, what the heck?! Spike could jump into a pool of lava and live: how is it that my own breath can hurt me?! Is it because it’s magic fire? Are my scales only strong against natural fire and lava?

“O-owie…" -Sniff-

Well whatever the case, once I blew away the flames I was able to tell that I just stupidly burned my claw up pretty badly. It hurts to move and it’s currently gone from green to a nice golden brown. I’m really grateful for that super healing now. I don't think I'll be able to use it for awhile, but its not like I was using it now anyways.

Great, so now I can officially cross fire off from my lis-... no, wait! The cufflink’s metal is slightly warped now! It’s still pretty sturdy, and I don’t think it’ll give way yet, but if I were to keep trying…

… I’d lose the ability to use my claws.


Um, let’s save this as a plan B.

What else do I have at my disposal? My spines are useless: the most I’ve been able to do with them is to scratch the wall behind me. Big whoop. Its the same deal with my horns: they can be regarded as useless as well.

I mean, they only let me hear. Big deal.

What else is there... wings? My wings haven’t been used much outside of helping me eat and keeping me warm at night. It’s truly a shame: I can still taste the air I got when I glided off that mountain! It was amazing… up until the tree bit. I wish I could learn how to fly sometime after all this is over, before I find a way home...

... Ugh, I'm getting distracted. On top of being unable to fly with them, my wings aren't really sharp and I can’t manipulate them in the same way I’ve seen pegasi manipulate theirs in Trottingham: I can’t treat them like hands and hold things in them. What this means is that my wings are also off the list of possible escape options.

I'm starting to run out of body parts here. My sore tongue has gotten more than enough exercise thanks to all the abuse I’ve been giving it just to eat, but I don't see it being very useful. I can reach pretty far with it, but not far enough to touch the ceiling or anything silly like that. Spike can wrap his around his body from what I remember from the show, but I don’t see mine being able to do that either. He also had pockets too, so I guess the show wasn't that accurate.

I actually tried to pick the locks with my tongue once, only to discover that these things holding me to the wall don’t have locks and are instead magically sealed. There is a visible crease where the cuff is supposed to open up, but I can’t slide my tongue in there. If I could just get one claw loose…

I groaned at what my stupid brain was cooking up. "... You're thinking about charbroiling your claw again, aren't you, Nathan? Stop it."

Stupid brain. Even if I did do that, the nerves would be too dead for me to manipulate my claw enough to open up the other cufflink. I would have to burn both claws and pray that a fireball could blow the hatch wide open for me, or else I’d be boned.

That just leaves my tail… but I'm not sure what to do with this thing. It just kinda lays there on the floor, swishing back and forth on its own. It’s only when I concentrate on it that it does what I want it to do and assists me with eating. I really wish it wouldn’t move on its own like that: it tends to knock my bowl and plate around and sometimes it goes through the pile directly under me.

My… ahem, thing pile.

I sighed. “Well, great... so I’ve got nothing. I guess all I can do is wait...”


“Well, brother of mine… we've made it.”

“We sure did, Flam. This might be the start of the rest of our lives.”

“Haha. That’s a bit unlikely, but it’ll still be good practice for future showings, Flim.”

“Oh brother of little faith: what’s stopping this from being our big break?”

“Our lack of experience, our lack of stage presence, our lack of our own source of apples...” Flam deadpanned.

Flim snorted at his brother's lack of enthusiasm. “Fine fine, whatever you say, Flam. I’m still going to remain optimistic.”

“Whatever helps you sleep at night, brother of mine. Make sure the dragon is awake and well feed before we head into town square.”

“Got it.” Flim replied.


The squeaky hatch above me opened up and a small shower of rusted screws and bolts rained down on my head.

“Owowow!" I screamed. "Do you have to pour that on me every time?!

“Hehe indeed I do! Be grateful we’re out of glass!” Flim laughed some more before engulfing the hatch door in a green glow.

I shouted up. “Hey! Flim! Wait a second…”

Cranking my head up as high as I could, I saw out of the corner of my eye that he had stopped moving.

"Spit it out." He demanded.

Surprised that he actually stopped to listen, I told him that “I-I just wanted to say, break a leg out there.”

Flim remained rooted where he was. I was unable to make out his face from the angle he was at, but his voice suggested that he was surprised by my sudden encouraging words. “That’s… surprisingly kind of you, you horrid little thing.”

I smirked. “Yeah, well, I really mean it. Go break a leg out there, Flim! All four of them! Ha!”

Flim groaned. “And there it is. Like mama always said: 'Never trust a talker'.”

He then slammed the hatch door shut again, returning me to darkness as I continued to laugh. Ohhh... what’s that expression my dad used to say? 'Don’t poke the bear?' Heh, well I tried using kindness with these two dolt colts already, so the only thing left for me to do is to poke the bear! Have to get my kicks somehow! Ha!


… I... have to keep on laughing and smiling somehow. I can't let them break me...

"... All I really need is a smile smile smile~"




“Okay, I’m back, Flam.”

“Did you get the bag of apples?”


“Is the machine ready?”


“Was there a good size crowd in the center of town?”

“Check and check, brother of mine. We are good to go.”

“Then let’s go, Flim!”

I gulped. “Well… I guess it’s show time.”

I mentally prepared myself for the abuse I was about to receive.

The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 rocketed forward at a brisk pace: just a hair slower than normal traveling speeds. The whistles were blaring.

Toot… shee… toot… shee...

I started hearing the voices of other ponies as we moved further along. I assume we’re moving deeper into the center of Oaklahoma, as the voices became louder and more numerous the longer time went by. After a few more minutes I saw a stray spark of magic bounce along the ceiling and head towards somewhere out of my line of sight.


The air was filled with the sound of static playing on a gramophone.


And that, I assume, was a needle dropping on a vinyl record. My heart dropped as it began to play, releasing a very familiar tune.

Flim lead the charge. “Well, lookie what we got here, brother of mine, it’s the same in every town! Ponies with thirsty throats, dry tongues, and not a drop of cider to be found. Maybe they’re not aware that there’s really no need for this teary despair!”

Flam stepped in. “That the key that they need to solve the sad cider shortage you and I will shaaaarrreee!”

I sighed. “I used to like this song.”

Together they sang. “Well you’ve got opportunity in this very community~!”

“He’s Flim!”

“He’s Flam!”

“We’re the world famous Flim Flam brothers! Traveling salesponies nonpareil!”

… But nopony asked what nonpareil meant, so Flim went along with the rehearsed lyrics.

“Well what’s 'nonpareil' you ask and that’s exactly the reason why, you see.” Flim picked up. “No pony else in this whole place will give you such a chance to be where you need to be! And that’s a new world, with tons of cider; fresh squeezed and ready for drinking…”

“More cider than you could drink in all your days of thinking~!” Flam finished. Nopony said ‘I doubt that!’ I braced myself for the next part.

“So take this opportunity…”

There it is…wait, silence? No, ‘…in this community!’ from the crowd? I only heard it from the fake, generated crowd in the prerecorded record... That's really weird: I thought ponies liked to add in to these songs... Flim said as much when he wrote it up!

The music continued without their input, either way.

“…travelling salesponies nonpareil!”

“I suppose by now you’re wondering, about our pecu-"

“Okay. That’s enough, you two.” A scruffy voice called out from the crowd of (what I assume was) ponies surrounding the machine.

Another spark entered my room and the music stopped.

Flim cleared his throat. “Well, good day to you, my good Ox! I see that you’ve taken an interest in our wondrous machine!”

A deep voice could be heard through the walls. “Interest is such a… strong... word. I’m more interested in knowing why you’re making such a racket in front of our stalls.”

Flam answered. “Why, so we can show the good ponies of this town our Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000!”

Flim kept going. “It’s only the most highly advanced cider brewing machine this side of Equestria! We thought that a demonstration would be in order, and we specifically chose the good town of Oaklahoma to be the first place to experience such a luxury!”

There was silence from the three speakers. I could hear murmuring coming from the crowd, followed by… laughing?

“I… we… don’t see what’s so funny. Do you, brother of mine?”

“Not a clue, Flim.”

The deep voice chuckled. “Boys... I’m guessing your more of the tinkering type then the agricultural type, so let me tell you straight up... No one here is going to want to buy cider when it’s not in season.

“N-not even one cup?” I mentally pictured Flam’s mustache drooping, despite it being Flim who said the line.

“Not a single one. Besides, where are you planning on getting all those apples, boys?” the Ox asked.

Flam spat out a response. “W-well we’re here to work with the Apple family of Oaklahoma, of course! We’ve had a deal set up with them for months now!”

“F-Flam?!” Flim sputtered out.

Flam spoke under his breath, something I’m amazed that I caught. “Just roll with it, Flim.”

The Ox spoke up. “Oh really? How’d you manage to do that then?”

Flim chuckled awkwardly. “Haha. I’m afraid that's a trade secret my good, um, stallion?”

“That’s right, brother of mine." Flam finished, before he went back to addressing the Ox. "Sorry to disappoint, Mister…?”

“They call me Blue.” The Ox answered harshly.

“Well then Mr. Blue... my brother and I need to be on our way. Lots of business with the Apples and what not, right Flim?” I imagine Flim nodded his head in response before Flam went on. “Right. So, would you be oh so kind as to point us in the direction of the Apples' farm, Mr. Blue?”

The Ox’s voice grew stern. “I don’t think that’ll be necessary, boys. After all, you’re both lying through your teeth.”

“… What did you just say you damn ta-” I imagine Flam must have put a hoof in Flim’s mouth there, as he was cut off midsentence.

Being in the dark is starting to suck...

“Haha, oh that brother of mine, always a kidder. But in all seriousness: what is it your trying to insinuate, Mr. Blue?”

I could hear Mr. Blue spiting something on the ground. “I’m sorry, boys, but only my friends get to call me Blue. You aren’t my friends, so you get to call me by my full name: Blue Apple. The farm here’s mine, and I don’t recognize you as ponies I’d like to do business with.”

“A damn Ox is an Apple?!”

Silence fell across the crowd at Flim’s comment. I pictured Flam facehoofing.

Me? I was laughing my tail off. “Hahahah! Oh this is going to be good!

Blue Apple broke the silence. “… Is that a problem, boy?

Flam began the backpedaling. “N-no no, Mr. Blue Apple! He was just… surprised by the revelation, you see! We were under the impression that the Apples were, well, an earth pony only kind of group!”

Pride filled Blue Apple's voice as he responded to that by saying “Well it isn’t. Anything on this soil that has the will and heart for the job can join the family. What we don’t take kindly to, however, are liars. So I suggest you take your fancy machine and your fancy singing and get out of my sight.

I heard a collective gulp from the brothers, followed by cheering from the townsfolk. Looks like the Apples family isn't as xenophobic as the brothers thought they were! Awesome!

Also, Blue Apple is now best Ox.

I felt the machine start to push itself in the opposite direction. The voices of the citizens of Oaklahoma grew fainter with each passing second.



Silence reigned supreme for several hours after that…

... Well it did for the brothers, at least. In my cell, on the other claw, I was still laughing up a storm.

“Hahahaha…hahaha…ha… phew! Oh man, that was too rich!

Oh come on: it’s a little funny, right? The whole reason their treating me like an animal is because I’m a ‘talker’, and now their first gig was ruined because of that same racism! Even better, this instance has brought to their attention the fact that their bigotry can be detrimental to their future business! I bet that’s why they’ve been so quiet: they have a lot to think about.

“… Brother of mine?”

“... Yes Flim?”

“I… we blew it pretty bad there, didn’t we?”

“... We sure did, brother of mine.”

Ha! Called it. Now then... what did they learn~?

“Oh, we were foals, Flam!”

“I know, Flim!”

I grinned widely. I spoke, uncaring if they heard or not. “Foals about what, dare I ask?”

“We should have known that cider wasn’t in season!”

“I’m still kicking myself for that too, Flim!”

My smile dropped. “... What?”

“Well that’s going to throw a wrench in our plans! What do we do now, Flam?”

“We’ll just have to try another hick town, Flim! Preferably one where they’re ignorant of the seasons!"

“It should also be a place where they have enough common sense to not hire a Celestiadamn talker as a farmhand!”

“Ha! I’ll drink to that, brother of mine! Turn on the machine!”

“After you, Flam!”

I felt an electric charge strike my body. I let loose a strong blast of bright orange fire.


I screamed from the pain… but I think a good chunk of it this time came from my own frustration.


The following morning the boys pulled out their map (I could hear it ruffling from here) and debated possible choices for a bit before deciding to try their hooves in a town called Horseton. Something about it being a mix of all three races was their excuse, and that this meant that there wouldn’t be that many ‘talkers’ there. I wonder how that makes any sense... would the other races feel threatened by the presence of all three pony races in a single point? Would it discourage them from living there? That might explain Ponyville a bit, I guess.

Finishing up my latest 'meal' (as well as I could in this bumpy thing, at least) I glanced at the wall to my left, which was now adorned with sixteen marks. This tally includes everyday but the days that I apparently slept through. Nightmare Night must be fast approaching, so that must mean that Halloween is almost here as well. By this point I’d assume someone must have discovered I’m gone. I didn’t have many friends in the town I moved to, but the friends I did have might have tried calling me by now to see what’s up... I hope.

I also hope this isn’t causing all of them too much stress…


Urg... it’s not healthy to dwell on this. I should instead center my thoughts on trying to escape. I came up with a couple new ideas last night while contemplating how stupid these brothers are. Now’s the perfect time to try them out.

Okay, lets give idea number one a shot. Should be simple enough, all I have to do is trigger a Greed Growth.

Again, simple.

Basically, the idea came from a stupid thought I was having. I was comparing myself to a Magikarp (I was thinking about how ‘When I grow up I will murder you all’) when I realized that I didn’t have forever to grow into could-eat-a-pony-in-one-bite proportions.

Well... actually I guess I do have forever, but I really don’t want to wait that long.

Anyways, it was at this point when I remembered one of the few Spike themed episodes, and about how in said episode bronies learned that baby dragons have the power to grow into the size of adult dragons in a short amount of time if they give in to their greed. The downside of the transformation is the regressing and general dumbing down of the mind… but at this point if I can just grow large enough to accidentally step on those two, I don’t really care what happens afterwards.

Great, sooooo… how do I do this then?

I glanced around my prison. “Um… this bowl is… mine?”

I gingery pick up my doggie bowl with my tail.

I took another sweep with my eyes. “... These screws are mine.”

I used my tongue to pick up the screws left in my hair and place them in the empty bowl.

“This glass is mine.

I found a piece of glass left over on the floor and pick it up with my toes. I brought it up high enough to put it in the bowl as well.

“These scales are mine!

I put the bowl down momentarily and picked up a few of the fallen scales that lay discarded in my… thing pile, using a combination of my toes and my tail.

“This… um… room! This room is mine!

I gave the floor of my prison a few taps with my forked tail.

"These, are, my, things! Mine!"


… Nothing. Well shoot... worth a shot, I guess. I kinda figured that I would need more material possessions in order to trigger something on Spike’s scale, but I was so sure I could grow just a little bit with what little I had here. Maybe if I stockpiled ‘food’ for a week…


Seems like my stomach doesn't like that idea...

Well, Greed Growth was a bust... heh, and that segues nicely into my second plan: causing the machine to explode.

Let’s see... I’m no magical engineer, but I don’t think this thing is structurally sound enough to hold a massive quantity of magic fire. There has to be a limit... and I’m going to find it, right now!

I took a massive breath of air, and exhaled as hard as I could towards where the vacuum drops down.


The vacuum quickly began its duty of sucking it up and storing it. I pushed harder for a good two minutes before I began to get lightheaded.

-Huff-… -huff-… -gulp- "A-again!”

I took another gulp of air and exhaled another funnel of fire. "F-fwoosh!" This one lasted only a minute b-before I-I… oh boy… before I had to stop again.

“I-I-I…" -Gulp- "I n-need to… to… keep going…”

Another gulp and another… another fire blast. "F-fwoosh..." Sooooo lightheaded now…

“O-One moooorrreee…" -Gulp- "One more time!"

I inhaled…

... And then proceeded to black out.


I woke up to the sound of music.

“Ugghhh… ow my head… How long was I out for?”

“Non-par what?”

“Nonpareil, you ask and that’s exactly the reason why, you see…” I heard Flim through the walls… but I didn’t recognize the girl’s voice. Oh my gosh: did they make it to Horseton while I was asleep?!

“So take this opportunity…”

“… In this community~!”

By the sound of that cheering… yes. They did make it here while I was asleep.

Daaammnn. That little stunt of mine quite literally knocked me into next week! The trip was supposed to be four days long and bumpy, so again, daaaammmmn!

Note to self: don’t fight the machine, it will kick your ass flat out.

The cheering continued. “Oh, we got opportunity in this very community! Please Flim, please Flam, help us out of this jam! With the Flim Flam brothers' Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000~!”

Looks like this town seems to be falling for the slogan and singing this time. Good for them, I guess...

... Oh no, wait… crap. I remember this part!

From Flim’s voice came “Mr. Spectrum... I would be ever so honored if you might see fit to let my brother and I borrow some of your delicious, and might I add spell-bindingly fragrant apples, for our little demonstration here?”

A voice, which I assume was Mr. Spectrum, spoke up. “I suppose I can allow that.”

The crowd went wild. “Opportunity, in our community…”

“Ready Flim?”

“Ready Flam!”

I whimpered.

I heard the twinkling of unicorn magic, then together the two sang: “Let’s bing-band zam!”

Twin arcs of lightning bounced violently throughout my room before they combined and, well, bing-band zammed me.


When Flim zaps me, it hurts the outside of my body and makes me scream. When Flam zaps me, it hurts the inside of my body and makes me scream. When they both zap me at the same time, the pain is just… inhuman. My everything feels like it’s on fire and that feeling lasts for hours after the attack. It makes me physically ill as well, so I have that to look forward on top of the nightmares.

Speaking of sick… “Ah… ah… a-h… Umbh!

... Please be grateful I haven’t described what it smells like in here…

There is a method to this madness, however. The brothers aren't just simply doing it to be crueler then usual. As Flam described it back at their camp, they need to hit me together during this part of the song so that they can generate enough energy to run all of the instruments for an extended period of time. It makes sense to do this if they were about to open up for business and serve a massive amount of ponies... but during the slogan song, though, I think it’s just to show off.

I've said it once, and I'll say it again. These guys are flankholes.

Flim picked up. “Now, here's where the magic happens, right here in this heaving roiling cider press boiling guts of the very machine, those apples plucked fresh are right now as we speak being turned into grade-A top-notch five-star blow-your-horses-off one-of-a-kind cider!”

Guts? What guts? I’m in the guts and even I don’t know what they’re talking about.

... Now that I think about it, where is the cider made in this thing? I don’t even remember what this thing does with the bad apples! Also... blow-your-horses-off? What the hell are horses supposed to be in this universe anyways?

Oh dearie me, I’m missing the song. For shame.

“Well Spectrum, I’m glad you brought that up, good sir, I say I’m glad you brought that up. You see that we are very picky when it comes to cider if you’ll kindly try a cup…”

I heard a sipping sound.

Flam chuckled. “Yes, sir, yes ma’am this great machine, it’s just the very best. So whaddaya say then, Spectrum? Care to step into the modern world, and put the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 to the teeeesssst?”

Mr. Spectrum laughed goodheartedly. “Hehe, okay okay, you two. I’m convinced.”

The music finally stopped.

I heard Flim’s voice. “So then, you acknowledge the wonder of our Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000?”

“Well I wouldn’t go that far yet, but I can tell you that this is one fine cup of cider! It might not be in season, but I think we can work something out for the spring when it is in season. But I have to say... this cup sure is toasty yet still pure tasting... What’s your secret?” Mr. Spectrum asked.

Flim chuckled again. “Haha. Why, it’s magic, my good stallion!”

Suddenly, the entire crowd went silent. Deathly silent. I’m starting to get a feeling of Déjà vu.

Mr. Spectrum broke the silence. “…What did you just say, boy?

Okay, serious Déjà vu here.

Flim chuckled nervously. “Um, that it’s magic?”

“… Mr. Flim, Mr. Flam... this might sound irrelevant, but I can see that you’ve both got a fine pair of apples on your flanks, so maybe you can identify the one on mine.”

Flam decided to test his luck and answer. “Oh, well… it appears to be a, um, rainbow colored apple, sir.”

“That’s correct, Mr. Flam." Spectrum replied. "This here’s a zap apple. Do you know how one is grown?”

The boys were silent.

Spectrum chuckled again. “That’s what I thought. Flim, Flam... zap apples are grown through a magical process involving the nearby Everfree forest. My family figured out how to properly harvest such a fruit many generations back, but that’s not what I’m getting at here. What do you think my cutie mark means?”

More silence.

“Hehe, not even going to guess? It’s a magic apple sons: my talent is magic.

“But you’re an earth pony!”

The crowd started to usher forth a stream of angry sounding protests. Boy, Flim just can’t keep his muzzle shut, can he?

Despite the anger, potentially bloodthirsty sounding mob around him, Spectrum proved to be even more intimidating. “Mr. Flim… magic isn’t just reserved for you unicorns. You’d be best not to forget that... Understood?”

Both brothers answered very timidly. “Yes sir…”

I let out a low whistle. This must be a very scary pony. Wish I could see…

Mr. Spectrum continued in a softer voice. “But, I’m not a selfish pony. I wouldn’t deny this town something that they obviously want, right Horsetonites?!”

Wild cheering broke out from the crowd. From anger to joy in the blink of an eye... this guy must have the town wrapped around his finger, hoof, whatever.

“I’m not about to let my own feelings get in the way of business." Mr. Spectrum went on. "So then, Flim Flam brothers: let’s talk business!”

Flim returned to the conversation in full force. “Oh boy, now we’re getting somewhere!”

Spectrum chuckled. “Hehe, yes we are... so let’s open up negotiations with you sharing your real secret.”

The boys were silent again.

Flam spoke up. “W-what secret?”

The Apple pony’s voice grew rough for the second time. “The secret behind your cider, boys. The laws of magic wouldn’t allow you to generate such a warm beverage with your magic without contaminating it. It can’t be from a steam process either, as that can potentially ruin the drink as well. Based on the flow of magic coming off your horns earlier, I can wager a guess and assume that you didn’t simply push your magic into your elaborate machine. Instead, I'll throw out a wild guess here and say that you casted a spell... Lord Luminaire II’s lightning spell, if I’m not mistaken: a spell used in the olden days of ponydom to squeeze information out of those deemed traitors to the crown. Residual magic energy left in the air also suggests that you weren’t just using that spell to power your machine: you were hitting something and it, I reckon, is what makes your machine tick. From here its just a guessing game, as it could be a variety of thing; a manticore on a treadmill, a decapitated hydra hatchling in the process of regenerating, a baby dragon...

"... Am I getting warmer, you two?”

The brother’s jaws effectively hit the floor, and that’s not a guess. I can state that confidently because my jaw joined them. Heck, I think I heard a small clanking noise accompanying it as well!

More chuckling came from Mr. Spectrum. “As the kids say these days: you’ve been schooled, sons. So, want to share your secret now? I’ve got a few more theories of my own, most of them are pretty morbid and last I checked illegal. I’d hate to have to summon the royal guards on you good boys but I will if something fishy is going on.” I heard Mr. Spectrum spit. “So, anything to say for yourselves?”



“… Flam?”

“... Yes Flim?”

“Next town?”

“…Next town, brother of mine.”

With that the machine rocketed away from Horseton.

The last I heard of the town was Mr. Spectrum shouting “Pleasure doing 'business' with you! Ha!

Toot… shee… toot… shee…


“Damn it damn it damn it!!

I know how Flim feels: why hadn’t Mr. Spectrum pushed harder?! I could have been free by now if he had just pushed a little further! Damn it damn it damn it, indeed!

“Calm down, Flim!” Ordered Flam.

Flim snapped at him. “No, Flam, we’re doomed! We should have known this wasn’t going to work…”

“Flim, it was only our second stop! You can’t expect us to be a huge hit on the first few tries!”

Flim continued to complain. “But we were so close last time, brother of mine! We would have nailed it if it wasn’t for that stupid Apple pony!”

“Well, every failure brings forth knowledge, Flim." Reassured Flam. "We just have to learn from our mistakes and move forward. Never surrender, brother!”

“... Heheh. Never surrender… You're right, Flam! We can’t give up!”

Wow... that was quick. This must have not been that big of a deal... I’ve got to admit, though, that's a good attitude to have. To remain optimistic, no matter what the situation is... Never give up… yeah. I think I’ll try to keep that attitude as well. “Never give up…”

“Hey… Flam? What’s that town over there?” Flim suddenly asked.

“Town over where, Flim? Oh... that one…? I don’t recognize it, brother. Let me just consult the map… Well I’ll be a son of a cannon. Either this map is outdated, or that town doesn’t exist!”

“That can’t be right, brother of mine! We purchased this thing in Baltimare after all! It’s current, so it’s got to be right… yet there it is... It’s pretty close to the Everfree though, Flam.”

“Yeah I see that. Real close, Flim... It’s almost like it’s in there, but that’d be crazy, brother of mine.”

“Well… what should we do?” Flim asked.

“Hmmmm… let’s try it, Flim! Third time’s the charm after all!”

“Are you sure, Flam? It seems kinda decrepit looking...”

I imagined Flam shrugging. “I can spot ponies though, brother of mine! Decrepit or not, ponies have to wet their whistles at some point!”

“Ah, good point. All right then... After you, Flam!”

“Right away, Flim!”

I could feel with my body that the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 had changed its course and was now heading off.

My mind, meanwhile, was running at sonic rainboom speeds. “A decrepit town? In the Everfree? Not on any maps, and full of ponies… Oh please don’t tell me that 'The Story of the Blanks' is canon!”


I think we entered the town, but I have no real way of knowing. The music was blaring again, and the brothers had started singing... but I wasn’t hearing anything from the citizens of this mysterious town. It was silent again like it was in Oaklahoma…

… But I could feel it in my scales. Something was different this time. This silence was too quiet, if that makes any sense.

Despite being inside the machine, it felt like everyponies’ eyes were on me... looking at me. I knew that this should probably be a good thing, but something told me it wasn’t...

“Well you’ve got opportunity in this very community...”

I could tell that the brothers were picking up on the weird vibes also. Their voices were quickly growing shakier. What was going on out there?

“H-he’s Flim…”

“H-he’s Flam…”

“We’re the w-world famous Flim Flam b-brothers. Traveling salesponies nonpareil…”

“Nonpareil? What doesss thisss word mean Missstersss?”

Finally, someone from the town spoke up… and she seems to have a bit of a lisp.

The brothers seemed to cheer up a bit and the song grew steadier. “Nonpareil, you ask and that’s exactly the reason why, you see…”

The song continued at its normal pace, but the crowd still didn’t join in, even as the song ended. I’m unsure how the song goes if nopony joins in, as I wasn't paying attention. I’m sure if I had paid attention I would have heard how they did it, but I was too enticed by a sudden low buzzing sound to care. I've heard this before somewhere, but where exactly...?

Flim finished the song. “... So? What do you say fine ponies of… um…"

The girl from earlier answered. “We call thiss place the Nurssery.”

“Oh, right." Flim chuckled nervously. "Well what do you say then, fine ponies of Nursery?”

“We sssay that thiss will nourisssh usss greatly.”

... Wait.


Low buzzing sound?

Extended S’s?


Oh dear God! I hope my active imagination is wrong for once!

“So you like our cider then, Miss…?”

“We are Legion.”

I began sweating. Since when has that ever been a normal name, even for a pony?!

Flam finished his sentence. “Ah yes. So you liked our cider then, Ms. Legion?”

'Ms. Legion' giggled lightly. “Aahhhhh, no. We have no need for cider, but you will ssstill provide excellent nourissshment for our sssswarm.”


... And now all the pieces fit.

Flim shakily asked the question that I would not have been stupid enough to ask. “A-and what, exactly, are you referring to, my good filly?”

The girl chuckled. “Why, your love of courssse! We can feel the brotherly love flowing through the both of you. Why, we dare sssay that it’ll be more than enough to lassst usss through the winter!”

Yup, just as I thought... Changelings. Gulp. “W-well, maybe it’ll be easier for me to escape once those two are shriveled up corpses...”

The girl, whom I now identified as a changeling, continued... by answering me.

“Oh, and don’t think we can’t sense you as well, little one. If you can hear me, then know that we can feel an incredible flow of hatred coming from you~! Thisss pleasssesss usss.


“Hmmm yessss." Legion continued. "Hatred is not asss sssweet asss love, or asss kind asss fear, but there’sss just ssso much of it here! You boysss mussst have really angered whatever it isss you’ve got locked up in your little toy.”

The buzzing sound from earlier then intensified, and I could hear popping noises accompanying it. Based on the gasps that escaped the brothers' lips, I can only assume the changelings must have just dropped their disguises.

“W-what are they, Flam?!”

“No idea, Flim..."


"... But I’m not sticking around to find out!”

I was then struck with a magic lightning bolt, causing me to breathe fire. The machine vacuumed it up and then rocketed forward at speeds I didn’t know it could pull off.

Legion called out "After them, my prettiesss!"

... My pretties? Really?

Ignoring the comment, I instead tried to focus on the noises around me, so that I could figure out what was going on. The sudden buzzing sound grew faint for a brief moment before it returned a hundred fold, signifying that the chase had begun. I was able to pick up the sound of magic energy flying through the air; a mixture of the brother’s sparkling unicorn magic and the changeling’s ectoblastic shots were being exchanged just above my head.

I could barely hear Flim over all the noise. “They're gaining, brother!”

“Kick the dragon into overdrive, Flim!”

Ah crap.

I was then struck by probably the hardest bolt Flim could muster.


Despite the power behind that strike, the machine continued its pace. After taking a real quick breather, and decided that I should probably do my best to continue filling up the machine by myself, as to avoid getting electrocuted that badly again.

Plus, I’m sure the brothers need to use all the magic at their disposal in order to keep themselves, and by extension me, alive.

Roughly ten minutes passed, and the buzzing was starting to grow fainter and fainter. As long as we can maintain this speed, we should be just-

“Brother, look out! Cliff!

-fine “Oh come on!”

Screw you, universe.

I felt the machine make a sharp turn to the right, and I could hear the wheels beginning to skid. All three of us spoke in unison. “Don’t drop don’t drop don’t drop oh for all that is good in this world don’t drop!

After five grueling seconds we started to slow down, the scraping sound grew weaker, and finally we stopped all together. Crisis avoided.

We took a collective breath of air…

"We crave your love and hatred, poniesss!"

… And then continued fleeing.

During the chase I kept up my fire blasting. I did my best to pace my breathing, this time, so that I wouldn't to pass out like I did during my earlier marathon. Despite the distance we had gained earlier, the buzzing grew louder by the second. Crap, things aren't looking goo-


All of a sudden, the wall behind the vacuum exploded in a green blast of energy. The force of the attack caused the entire machine to shake momentarily, and once the dust settled I was able to see that a massive hole had been blown into the wall. This hole granted me my first real look into the outside world in almost two weeks.

I only wish that the sight was just a tad less grim.

We were rushing, at high speeds, through a forest. The time of day was unknown to me, as the tree cover was too thick for any sort of light to make its way through. I took note that we weren’t on a path at all, and instead the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000 was actually knocking down trees as it went along. In spite of this, we didn’t lose any forward momentum.

Wow. I guess I know what the cowcatcher was for now... this thing’s a power house!

I also took note of the huge black swarm of changelings that were closing in on us. They kept firing at the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000, and in return a few bolts of pure magic energy were shot out in response. A few lightning bolts were also tossed out as well, from somewhere overhead, for what I can only assume was crowd control.

That was all I was able to make out, however, before my viewing hole was quickly sealed up by the black shape of a changeling flying into it. It made its way inside my room and began crawling its way forwards while speaking in a very familiar voice.

“Aaaahhhh, a baby dragon." It hissed. "Ssssuch sssstrong hatred for one sssssso young... Thissssss pleassssesss Legion!”

I 'welcomed' my new guest in the most civilized way I could...

... By shrieking at the top of my abused lungs.

"Oh sweet merciful God!"

Legion looked like a normal changeling… and changelings are freaking hideous in real life! Their more bug-like then pony-like, their eyes are freaky as hell, the holes on their bodies leak with what I can only describe as ectoplasm, and the smell! Dear lord the smell! I thought it was bad in here already, but this was just, ugh, pure volatile stank!

Legion took a step towards me, horn aglow. With each step she took, I could feel myself grow weaker. What little strength I had was quickly fading...

Obviously, I was scared out of my mind. “P-please d-don’t come any closer…”

Legion took another step.

“I-I-I’m warning you! Take another step a-and… and I’ll b-breathe fire!”

She(?) simply laughed at me. “Hahah, foalissh little one. I can sssmell your fear... You lack the focusss to perform sssuch a dark tassssk.”

She came closer. S-she can’t be right, right? I attempted to blow out a warning fireball at her hooves… but my fire wouldn’t come out! Oh nononono, not now! Oh please not now!

Before I could even register it, the changeling had closed the gap and was now l-licking my face…

“Cry ssssome more, little one.”

“P-p-please." -Sniff- "D-don’t…”

Flim's voice broke me out of my fear induced trance. “We need to go faster, Flam!”

“Kick the dragon again, Flim!”

Their words caused my eyes to widen in shock, as I realized what was about to happen. “Y-you need to b-back up, right now!”

Legion only giggled in response. “But you’re much too deliciousss, dear. I sssimply can’t resssissst! Haha!”

“B-but…” I tried in vain to squeak out a warning.


Out of the corner of my eye, I caught the sight of the green spark of magic. I began to panic, and with the last of my courage I barked out to Legion "G-go! Run, d-damn it, before-"

My warning was cut off by the lightning bolt striking me, causing me to scream.


... But, for once, my scream was drowned out by an even louder one...

... One that came from Legion, who had been standing right in front of me... and my open mouth.


I watched with fearful eyes as the changeling drowned in my flames. She bounced around, back and forth, between the walls of my prison, desperately trying to extinguish herself. She kept this up until her tiny wings burned up and became useless. Running out of options, she started rolling around on the metal floor, but this proved equally as futile. Finally, her horn flared green in an attempt to cast some kind of spell...

... But it was all for not. Only a second later did her horn stop glowing, her eyes darken, and her body laid still.


Throughout the whole ordeal, she never stopped screaming.


It was the most horrific thing I had ever seen in my entire life…

... And I was the one who caused it.

I had just killed someone.

“I-I-I" -Sniff- "D-didn’t m-m-mean to." -Sob- "I-I’m s-s-sorry! I’m" -Sob- "S-so sorry…”

I-I had just killed someone.

I had just killed someone…


“I’m" -Sniff- "So sorry…”

… Had just killed a creature I had once wished was real…

A rock in the machine's path caused my prison to jerk upwards. Legion’s corpse bounced up as well and went tumbling out of the hole she herself had created. The swarm of changelings, that had been following us up to this point, stopped in mid-chase and went to her side. I heard a collective cry of anguish from the creatures...

... And that was the last I saw of them.


The brothers rode for hours after that. They never stopped, never looked back, and remained silent.

Hours later, my eyes were still transfixed on the hole where Legion’s body had come and gone. The brothers kept shooting me in order to get me to breathe fire, but I was numb to the world around me. I knew I screamed, and I knew I felt pain... but I just wasn’t here.

I wasn’t in Equestria, I was back on Earth.

I wasn’t a dragon, I was human.

I wasn't a girl, I was four kids’ brother and a father’s son.

I wasn’t chained to a wall, I was studying for a stupid accounting job.

And I wasn’t capable of murder…

I was just…

… I was me.

The machine finally stopped and the brothers finally spoke.

“… Is it safe now, Flam?”

“I hope so, Flim. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that before, brother of mine. I've never seen a creature like it! It was like they came from the mouth of Tartarus itself…”

“… Brother of mine?”

“…Yes, Flim?”

“In fear of having nightmares about this incident, let’s never speak of it again.”

“Couldn’t agree with you more, but we have to at least inspect the damage first before we can set all this behind us.”

Flim sighed. “I suppose you're right, Flam. We can’t let everything we’ve worked so hard for fall to pieces over something as frightful as this.”

I heard grass crunching as Flim trotted around the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000. The familiar twinkling sound of magic followed him as he scanned the machine. I’m surprise that he still has anything left in him after all... that.


When he finally came up to the hole in the back of the machine, he cut off his magic and peered inside. He looked just as badly as I assumed I looked. His hat was beat up, his shirt was ripped, and I think a section of his tail had been taken off. His mane was a mess, and he even had a few scratches along his coat.

Despite all this, I knew for a fact that I looked worse. He hadn't been crying for the last few hours, after all.

Flim looked at my crying form with an unreadable face as I weakly pleaded to him one final time.

-Sniff-… -sob-… "P-please… Flim… let me go…”

“… Flam?”

“... Yes, brother of mine?”

“... There’s a hole that needs patching up back here.”

“Oh… is the dragon in one piece?”

Flim glanced at me one last time. “... Appears to be.”

Flam trotted up along side his brother, and took a look for himself. “... Good. We’ll get this hole sorted out before our next gig. Haha, next time it’d better be in a listed town, Flim!”

Flim brohoofed Flam. “Haha! I hear that, brother!”

The brothers then trotted away and continued their scans of their 'masterpiece', and it was at this point, three hours after the fact, that I realized what the true tragedy of this event was. It wasn't the horrific loss of life, it wasn't the death of the person who was potentially the mother of many, and it wasn't my grave sin...

... It was the fact that I saved those two bastards in the process.

They live on...

Because of me.

And thus I cried myself to sleep that night



“Well, brother of mine, we’re all patched up but we’ve got nowhere to go...”

“I know, Flim. Oaklahoma didn’t work because they were too stuck in their old hick ways, and Horseton didn’t work because they weren’t stuck in old traditions and instead were too smart. Looks like we gained some valuable information: we now know that we have to hit a happy medium if we want to succeed!”

“… Somewhere full of stupid ponies who think they're smarter than they really are? Hmm... I think I get it now, Flam!”

“Haha! Now you’re thinking like a true businesstallion, Flim! Well then... where are we going to go now?”


The sound of paper flowing in the wind.


The sound of a horn igniting.

“… Well lookie what we got here, Flam.”

“Hm? What is it, Flim?”

“Hehehe, I’m surprised we didn’t think of it earlier, brother of mine! Someplace full of stupid ponies who think their smarter than they really are, have lots of money to spend, have access to apples, don’t care about the season, and are about to celebrate a major holiday... This one place has all these qualities! It’s perfect!”

“Well don’t leave your brother in suspense, Flim! Tell me!”

“Heh, Flam... we’re going to the city for Nightmare Night! We’re going to Manehattan!