• Published 17th Aug 2015
  • 1,454 Views, 146 Comments

Bruce Wayne, dark knight of Ponyville - ultronquake

Ponyville has changed greatly in fifteen years, most all of the landscape is unrecognizable. But one constant remains, the ponies. After years of training Bruce Wayne is ready to begin his crusade to save the city he calls home.

  • ...

Who's coming to dinner?

It had taken some finnagleing and quite allot of gumption to get everypony to dinner on such short notice, but that was something Silver Spoon excelled at. Everypony had RSVP'ed and the spread was ready, as Filthy was fond of saying, 'Spared no expense.' Bruce had taken the precaution of wearing a full dress suit to mask his recent in-house outpatient surgery. Silver too decided to dress up, donning her scarlet dress that beautifully contrasted her naturally dull fur.

The guests came in packs, first Silver's parents rolling up to the manor in a long sleek roadster from Germaney. Photo Finish and Hoity Toity were dressed as over the top and gaudy as ever, a look not complimented by their now visible signs of aging. Next up was Dimple and his family driving in a beat up wagon, very fitting of a pony living off the salary of a public servant. Soon after them came the commissioner along side his wife and daughter. With the guests arrived it was time to start the feast and everypony was called into the dining room.

Bruce had them arranged in such a way so as to promote conversation and hopefully avoid conflict. Namely having Filthy, Diamond and Screwball placed at the far end of the table away from Oats. With a glass of wine served to each of the guests and a glass of grape juice for the fifteen year old Chaff, Bruce stood up to propose a toast. "I'm truly glad that everypony could be here on such short notice, but our family felt that this was such an occasion that should be shared as soon as possible."

"Here here!" Sounded Dimple.

"We're all well aware of the trials you've had to deal with Screwball so we're not going to bring up any bad memories. What we will do is lay a foundation for health and happiness in this family of friends." Bruce raised his glass as did the others. "To Screwball and Filthy and may their happiness never be cut short again!"

Each took a sip or gulp, though Dimple's father downed the whole glass in one go. "Here we are enjoying this fine wine and feasting our eyes on this delicious looking meal and we haven't even heard from the lady of the hour!" The identically colored mare sitting beside him nudged him in the side to say, 'Shifty your being an oaf.'

Unfortunately her son didn't pick up on that subtlety. "Yes Mrs. Rich, is a speech out of the question?" The others in the room joined in the pleading for speechifying, Filthy was about to speak for her and deny it but Screwball assured him it was fine.

"Thank you everypony, I'm not used to having ponies looking at me as the center of attention so I'll try sum up my feelings the best I can for you all. As I look around I see that I am surrounded by faces both familiar and un, friends from long ago and ponies I hope to get to know soon. I wan't everyone to know that it makes me feel so happy that there are so many who care about me, especially my husband, daughter and son I'm just meeting for the first time. Well, that's about all, dig in I suppose?"

There was some weak clapping and an awkward cough, thankfully Bruce was there to intervene. "Well M-mo- Screwball. Why don't we start rectifying that problem of not knowing the ponies her right away. You of course recognize Photo finish and her husband, but you might not recognize their daughter, who just so happens to be the lovely mare sitting beside me."

"Photo, you had a daughter?! I never would have taken you for a family mare."

"Oh ja, I know darling, I know. But having the baby, what can I say but it was 'the magics.' By the way it is so good to be abble to talk with you when you are not a complete psychopath, keep doing that." Hoity nodded in agreement, he looked pleased though you could hardly tell from behind his big blue designer shades.

"Oh, um, thanks Photo, I'll try." Much as she would like to think otherwise her old friend had always been that blunt. "Well I know I recognize you Oats, though the mustache is new."

"Well if you call twenty years new for facial hair, I suppose." He was trying to play it off as a joke but Filthy clearly didn't find it amusing, instead he only stared at Oats with an icy intensity rivaled only by the icebergs. "*Ahem* Yes it's new. This is my wife Barley Bran and my daughter Wheat Chaff."

"It's a pleasure to meet you Screwball, you have such a lovely home."

"Actually this is the children's home now. I'll be living with Filthy in his apartment in the city."

"Oh dear, I'm sorry, uhh - say something Chaff!"

Wheat Chaff looked to her mother in the level of disinterest only a teenager could manifest, "Ugh, fine. I like your necklace Mrs. Rich, where did you get it?" That wasn't exactly what Barley wanted but it served to change the topic.

"This? I honestly don't know, when I woke up in the hospital the nurses said it was one of my possessions. But I've never seen it before in my life."

This peaked Oats' curiosity, "Do you mind if I have a look at it?" Screwball replied with a 'by all means,' and hoofed it over. "Hmm, the resemblance is strong..."

"What is commissioner?" Bruce asked.

"It looks somewhat similar to an artifact stolen from the Pre-dawn Museum yesterday. No need to worry though, we know for a fact you never came close to the museum before getting admitted to 'Our lady of kindness.' No it's only similar in shape, the piece that was stolen was aged and lacking any of the little carvings on this." Gratefully he gave it back without further thought.

"Thank you comm- Wait, Oats you became a police pony?"

"That's how we met, Oatmeal and I." Barley said with a smile, "I was a refugee from Trotingham when everything I had left was stolen from the camp. Even though it was total chaos he still took the time to track down my stolen belongings and returned them to me. It didn't take too long after that to realize he was the one."

"Aw that's so sweet!" said Silver.

Screwball agreed with the sentiment but a thought occurred to her. "I suppose there's no better pony to ask but, am I going to go to jail? I know i did some nasty things while I- while I wasn't myself. I need to know am I going to go to jail for them?" At that moment all the sound seemed to leave the room, what had been an upbeat discussion suddenly turned sour.

Oats carefully chewed the cud before answering, "Well... You are going to have to come in and make a statement, and it's very likely you'll be brought up on charges. Everything after that is up to the prosecutor's office, but you should really be talking to Mr. Dimple about that."

"Mr Dimple?"

"Sorry I should have introduced him sooner Screwball."

The young pegasi brushed it off, "No biggie Bruce, I prefer to introduce myself anyways. The name is Dimple, Hardnose Dimple, attorney at law for the great city of Ponyville. And these are my folks, my dad Shifty Eyes and my mom Crimson Rain."

"Dimple's been my best friend for years, I have no hesitation saying he's a wizard in the courtroom. So what do you think her chances are Hardy?"

"Personally Mrs. Rich I think you have nothing to worry about. You've had a long, well documented history of mental illness as well as a clean bill of health from Fluttershy. To be honest it's likely your case won't be very high on our list of priorities. Right now the courts are over filled with thefts, drug cases and gang bangers that you might just get a summery hearing. Not trying to sound rude but, the DA's office has bigger fish to fry than one crazy mare who hijacked a balloon." Dimple chugged down the remainder of his coffee and went for more, "My advice would be to hire a good lawyer."

"The company already has several of the best retained." Filthy said with pride.

"Then that's even less to worry about. Take heart Mrs. Rich, once it's all over you'll be free to live your life however you like- On the right side of the law that is."

"You don't know what a relief it is to hear that. Tell me, will you be the the one handling my case Mr. Dimple?"

"Oh no no no, that's completely out of the question. In the interests of fairness I'm excluded from this trial, even if I'm only tangentially related to parties involved there still is the possibility I'd be swayed to 'go easy on you.' But again, don't worry, whoever is assigned will handle things fairly and honestly."

Before anything else could be said on the matter Randolph emerged from the kitchen with a large cake on a rolling cart. Intricate cursive in frosting said, 'Welcome home Screwball' Over cake and tea the conversation transformed into something more casual, the marefolk gushed over new designs by Rarity while the stallions made conversation of hoofball and with some gentle nudging onto the mysterious new vigilante of Ponyville.

"While I have your ear commissioner, do these rumors of a crime fighting bat pony have any merit?" Bruce asked, wording his question very carefully. "Word is you've met him face to face."

"The Batmane? Yes it is true, though he's no bat pony. Just an earth pony trouncing about in a suit, if you ask me he might be more than a little screwy in the head-" That upset Bruce but he was sure not to show it. "-But whoever he is, he seems to have Ponyville's interests at heart."

"So would you consider him an ally then?"

"Tartarus no! His methods are far to over the top." Oats leaned in for a whisper, "*Don't let your father know, but the Batmane was the one who rescued Screwball."

"Well then we should be thanking him!"

"In the process of doing so he used dangerous explosives around hostages and sent a weather control panel falling from Cloudsdale, the darn thing landed in the middle of a busy highway, nearly caused a pileup. Good intentions don't mean much if you're hurting the ponies you're trying to help."

That little revelation rocked his perceptions, was this really how everypony thought of his alter ego? Before he could respond, Oats' daughter wandered off from the other mares. "Papa's just jealous because Batman can actually get something done in this city."

"Oh really?"

"Uh huh! The Batman is soooooooooo awesome! He's got a jet car and grappling hooks and a jet plane and a cape!"

"My daughter's taken a fancy to him ever since I first told her about the way he handled a bust on a mafia held warehouse." There was a certain exasperation in the commissioner's voice, no doubt he was ill prepared for raising a teenage filly. "Why don't you tell Mr. Wayne about the fan club you're starting Chaff."

"Oh yeah! I've been trying to get everypony at my school to join the Batman fan club, I'm it's founding member I'll have you know." The lithe filly seemed pleased as punch over that fact. "SO far nopony has joined, mostly because the only news media covering Batman is the Equestrian Inquirer and nopony takes that trash seriously. I'm sure once reputable papers catch onto how awesome Batman is everypony will want to join the club."

Chaff had a certain enthusiasm that reminded him of his foalhood friend Scootaloo and her obsession with her idol Rainbow Dash, "Sounds like you know quite allot about this Batmane fellow-"

"Bat-MAN!" Chaff rudely corrected Bruce.

He had to admit it was kind of fun being on the other side of the name teasing, even if it was his own. "-Batman, so Chaff. Who do you think he is under that mask?"

"Well he's gotta be really macho, and super strong too! A-and he's gotta have chronic laryngitis or somthing cause papa says he always talks in a really deep voice. And most of all he must be single."

"Oh, and why's that?"

"Cause I'm going to be his fillyfriend dummy!"

Oats nearly spilt the coffee he was drinking all over the Saddle-Arabian rug. "Like Tartarus you are! You and I are having a talk when we get home filly!"

"Ha ha, well I'll keep my eyes open for anypony matching that description." Sometimes he wondered how different it would be if he could do this job without the mask, would it really change anything at all?

As the night winded on more fun was had, Diamond and Silver got an old favorite dance record and tore up the floor. Meanwhile Dimple was practicing telling inspirational anecdotes about his upbringing that he was going to use on the campaign trail, damming facts out his heritage withheld for obvious reasons. And for what seemed to be the first in a very long time, Bruce and his father were having a pleasant non business related conversation, just father and son.

But like all good things it too came to an end, the elder butler had come to steal away Filthy. "Excuse me Master Rich, but you have a phone call waiting for you in the study upstairs."

"Any idea who it is?" he asked as he followed Randolph.

"The gentlecolt did not give a name, he only said that he had business to take care of. He seemed rather perturbed sir."

"Right, I'd better take it then. Could you send my apologies to everypony downstairs for me?"

"Of course sir." Randolph bowed out and closed the door behind him, well aware of the need for privacy in business.

"H-hello?" Filthy asked into the phone.

The voice that answered him on the other end was one he dreaded above all others, one he had first heard upon his incarceration all those years back. "You are late with the payments Filthy, this is the second time this month." The heavy draft's voice was deep and booming, intimidating even over the phone lines.

"I-I-I know Don, I apologize but-"

"But nothing Filthy. When you owe a debt you repay it. If you don't repay it then there are consequences, you out of anypony should know that."

"I know, I don't need reminding. But these money transfers take time and all my times been occupied by my wife finally getting better. You remember I told you about Screwball while we shared a cell." Filthy's voice quivered, his knees knocked and he hoped to Celestia nopony was listening in.

There was a pause on the other end, he could here him drawing on a big ol' stogie, the same kind he'd him hooked on. "Yes, I remember. And we'd be nothing if we're not a family. So you have my congratulations Filthy. Celebrate, reminisce, rock her world, enjoy the night. Tomorrow night I want the money, and your going to hoof deliver it to us."

"Tomorrow is too soon! If I go to fast then my son will notice and-"

"Filthy, look out the window please." The voice was firm and authoritative and Filthy obeyed. "Do you see the house across the road?"

As Filthy was searching in the black night a light flickered on in the attic of a home about five hundred feet from the manor. Now illuminated by the bulb was a familiar pony wielding what looked to be a high powered riffle. "Wave to Mr. Cavallo Filthy." Shakily he did so. "You can rest easy Filthy, Gusippi will only be watching you at the party tonight, we wouldn't want you to have a change of heart and confessing to that pig downstairs would we. Get me my money tomorrow and he won't do anything nasty to you or your son and daughter."

There was no mistaking the intention behind those words, this was a final warning. "Y-yes Don Melody." The light in the nearby house turned off, no doubt the assassin would be gone without a trace long before Filthy could get somepony over there. This was the hell he lived in, owing life and limb to the most notorious crime family in the city, without any way out.

As he sat there with the phone in his lap the dial tone rang on and on, he had completely lost track of time, so much so that he forgot about the dozen ponies waiting downstairs. After a few minutes a soft hoof rapped on the door, "Daddy? Is everything alright?"

"Y-yes princess, everything is fine." He hated himself for saying that. "Just had a call from my business partner, he didn't know we were having a party."

"Oh daddy, you work too hard. Why not tell him to stuff it next time he interrupts us?" He had a mini heart attack at the mention of disrespecting the Don. "Anyway, everypony is getting ready to leave downstairs, could I get you to say goodnight and thank them all for coming?"

"Yes, of course. I'll be down in a minute." Filthy waited till he was sure Diamond had gone back downstairs. "This can't go on, I can't let these thugs use you as a bargaining chip. One way or another princess I'm going to save us." With new found resolve Filthy wiped the sweat from his brow, already an idea was gestating in his mind, one chance at life for those he loved. And by Celestia he would take it, no matter the cost.

Author's Note:

Barley Bran, no relation to Brownie Bun The horse wife

I've been trying to subtly set up Filthy's situation here for some time, I wonder if anyone could tell?