• Published 1st Jul 2012
  • 5,441 Views, 332 Comments

A Hard Bargain - Zap Apple Smash



Lunaverse. Ditzy is approached by some ponies from Manehatten with an offer they doubt she'll refuse

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Carrot

"It's very kind that you thought of me." Cheerilee said. "but it just wouldn't be fair of me to leave this school and my students in the lurch like this."

Big Mac nodded his head. He obviously could respect job loyalty as well as Cheerilee not wanting to undermine his sister's education.

"And though this position is nice," Cheerilee looked again at the sheet of paper listing her potential pay as well as other benefits she would receive. "Very, very nice. I'm just not ready to leave Ponyville. You do understand, don't you?"

"Eeyup."

Cheerilee smiled as she placed her hoof on top of Big Mac's. "But thank you for letting me know about it." the teacher said sincerely. “You're such a good friend." She looked at the clock. "Well I should probably start getting ready for class."

"Eeyup." Big Mac stood up and took his leave, almost walking into Trixie. He gave her a brief nod before going on his way.

Trixie paused as she watched the stallion walk off. "How is it that I go from never seeing that stallion to running into him twice in one day?"

"Did he start wearing a mirror?"

Trixie glared at the School teacher before deciding to retaliate. "So does Carrot Top know that you're getting cosy with one of the Apples?"

"Carrot Top wouldn't care," Cheerilee replied. "And I'm not getting cosy with Big Macintosh. He is just a good friend..."

"Really?" Trixie sat on the desk. "How good is he?"

Cheerilee pushed the blue mare off. "...he is just a friend that decided to stop by, bring me lunch and tell me about a *ahem* " she gave a subtle cough and tried to mumble the last part. "job offer."

Trixie unfortunately heard her loud and clear. "The Apples want to hire you?"

"Not the Apples. There’s a school in Fillydelphia that's wants to expand and are looking for more teachers." Cheerilee explained. "Stop that."

"Stop what?"

"I know that look, you think this is another Octavia thing."

Trixie shrugged "Well maybe I do, a friend stops by out of the blue to offer you a job that means you'll have to leave Ponyville. See a pattern?"

"Yes and there are also some key differences, the job is in Fillydelphia, Big Macintosh told me about it because an old school mate of his works there and had asked him if he knew any good teachers, the school is publicly owned so it’s not some Duke pulling the strings and, most importantly, I told him no and he accepted it."

"Good but just to be safe you better give me the name of the school."

Cheerilee sighed as she handed over the job description "So are you going to start assuming that every time one of us gets a good offer it's some elaborate scheme by Duke Bluegrass?"

"Firstly, it's Duke Greengrass," Trixie retorted. "Bluegrass retired from active politics last year to spend more time on his banjo. Secondly Greengrass is dangerous but he's not the only one that would like to get a hold of an element." Trixie levitated the apple that was sitting on desk and took a bite out of it. "Right now it's safer to assume that everyone carries an ulterior motive."

"Like the blue mare that just stepped into my class?"

"Oh I absolutely had my own motives, I wanted your help with this policy that the mayor told me about, but that's not important right now." Trixie peered into the paper bag. "Hey are you gonna eat that jelly roll?"

Cheerilee grabbed the paper bag and held it possessively. "Thank you for your concern, but everything is fine. Class is about to start soon so I need to get ready. I'll drop by your place after dinner tonight and help you with that policy."

There was a finality in the teachers voice that Trixie didn't dare argue with. "Alright, I'll see you then." The blue mare walked out, the partially eaten apple floating behind her.

Cheerilee shook her head slightly, trying to refocus. There was still ten minutes before recess was over and she was ready for the afternoon lessons but she still wanted some time to enjoy her jelly roll. She had taken it out of the bag and was about to take the first bite when Dinky ran in.

"Ms Cheerilee, you better come quick. Applebloom is accusing Trixie of stealing your apple."

Cheerilee groaned slightly, briefly wondering if waiting until she had finished her treat would make her a bad teacher. "They're not using bad language are they?"

"No but Applebloom's convinced the rest of the class to join in." Dinky explained. "They've tied Trixie up and Scootaloo said something about 'Water-boarding' her."

Cheerilee groaned again.


The mail bag bounced happily against Ditzy’s side, considerably lighter than what it had been at the start of the day, as the grey mail mare headed back to the Post Office to drop off the outgoing mail and to pick up the next load.

“Excuse me Ms Doo.” Ditzy turned to see a shorter than average earth stallion with a chocolate coloured coat, a styled back bluish-grey mane and a golden hourglass with black wings as a cutie mark. “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Parley.”

“You don’t need someone’s permission to introduce yourself, silly.” Ditzy said with a giggle. “Who are your friends?”

Parley tilted his head slightly, “Friends?”

“Those two guys you were talking to before you came over.” Ditzy explained. “The ones that are still looking at us.”

Parley turned back and saw two large, almost identical earth Stallions. Both had dark gray coats and shortly cut charcoal manes. The only main difference was that one had a silver coin for a cutie mark while the other had a lead weight. Both were also trying, and failing, to look inconspicuous.

Parley resisted the urge to let out a frustrated groan but instead did a beckoning gesture with his hoof. "My apologies, we didn't want to seem as if we were crowding you. These are my associates, Plata and Plomo."

"Wow you have 'Associates'." Ditzy said. "Almost everyone here just has co-workers."

Parley wasn't quite sure if he was being mocked or if Ditzy was genuinely impressed. "I was wondering if we could have a word. I wanted to talk to you about your future."

"Well, I'm not supposed to spend too long chatting with ponies when I'm on my route." Ditzy paused as she checked the time. "But I've only got to drop off the outgoing mail and then I have a bit of time before I have to start my afternoon route. I could talk to you then."

"Oh please do." Parley said cheerfully. "Trust me; you'll be glad you did."

The three stallions waited outside the post office while Ditzy went in.

"Hey there Ditzy!" Post Haste greeted cheerfully. "Want to make a head start on the next pile?"

"Not today." Ditzy replied. "There are some ponies outside that want to talk to me about my future."

Post Haste tilted his head slightly. "What? Like fortune tellers?"

Ditzy thought about the three ponies that were waiting outside for her. "I don't think so. I'll be right back."

She stepped out and found Parley waiting for her, with Plata and Plomo waiting a bit further away, though this time not bothering to act inconspicuous. "I figured it would be better for us to have bit of privacy." he explained. "Though you know I could really go for a Blueberry Muffin right about now. Interested?"

Ditzy was always interested when muffins were on offer but she knew she couldn't. "Sorry but I don't have that much time before I have to get back to work."

"So you mean on top of being a skilled and diligent worker you also know how to time manage." Parley sounded genuinely please. "Ms Doo, your resume is ticking all the right boxes."

Ditzy stared. "Resume? Boxes? What are you talking about?"

"Oh so sorry, getting a head of myself. Well you see Ditzy...is it alright if I call you Ditzy?" Ditzy nodded. "Well you see Ditzy, the ponies I work for sent me here because they want to offer you a permanent consultancy position at our Manehatten head office." Parley pulled out a business card and handed it to Ditzy.

Stronghold Construction & Architecture

"We're a growing organisation that's aiming to be a world leader in construction and innovation." Parley explained.

"But why are you coming to me?" Ditzy asked. "I don't know anything about construction or architecture."

"But you do know air currents,” Parley replied. "You don't realise how vital that talent is."

Ditzy stared at the business pony. "How is knowing air currents vital to building?"

"Well in a town like Ponyville, it's not that important because you're only building two/three storeys high at most. But in Manehatten, we are pushing the boundaries of what we are capable of and striving to build bigger, better buildings, meaning that we need to account for a whole bunch of previously thought of as trivial factors. Like air currents," Parley meaningfully nodded his head to Ditzy. "Do you know how many building projects have failed just because the designs hadn't factored in the effect the wind would have on it? A lot."

"Wow." Ditzy had honestly never realised how important her talent could be aside from weather.

"Wow is right." Parley agreed. "We are able provide training and resources but we still need somepony with the raw talent. That's where you come in."

"Me? Work in Manehatten? I don't know, it's very far away, there's no way I could do there and back every day."

"That's the best part. We're not just offering you a job in Manehatten. We're offering to help you move to the greatest city in Equestria. Plata will be helping you with the financial side and Plomo is really good at helping ponies relocate. Day after tomorrow you will be going to bed in your beautiful new home. Overlooking the splendours of Manehatten."

"But Ponyville is my home." Ditzy argued.

"And it is lovely but I can promise you that Manehatten is in a league of its own. Besides, how nice can this town be if this..." Parley gestured to the Post Office "...is the best it can offer you."

"Hey! I like my job." Ditzy argued

"Really? What do you like about it? The long hours? The sub par pay? Tell me, how much do you make as a mail mare?"

"We're not supposed to talk about our earnings," Ditzy replied. "It’s against policy."

Parley tsked disapprovingly. "You know what sort of companies make policies like that? Ones that know they're short-changing their employees but don't want them telling anypony about it. You know how much you could earn working for Stronghold?" Parley leaned forward and whispered the figure into Ditzy's ear, taking great satisfaction from the look of shock on her face when he pulled back. "And that's just the starting salary, in six months you could be earning twice as much. Not to mention a shorter workday and flexible hours. What that adds up to is a lot more time and money that you'll be able to spend on the important things in life. Like that beautiful daughter of yours."

Parley paused to gauge the reaction mentioning Dinky had on Ditzy. "You know, my mother was a single parent too. Growing up love was one of the few things that our family had. Mom would work long and hard in a crummy job just so that she could provide for us, working herself to the bone so that we had food on the table. We meant the world to each other but some days I barely saw her. She would have gotten a better job if she could but no one ever gave her a chance."

The stallion then closed his eyes and turned his head. "That job robbed years from her life and finally, on her death bed, she told me that she wished she had spent more time with me growing up and be the mother she thought I deserved." Parley opened his eyes and looked back at Ditzy. "I loved her more than anything else in the world and seeing her die with such remorse and guilt broke my heart." He took one of the Ditzy’s front hooves and held it. "I don't want that to happen to you and Dinky."

A stunned Ditzy took back her hoof and stuttered out a reply. "I...I...I've got to get back to work."

Parley smiled sympathetically. "I understand, it's a lot take in. Why don't you sleep on it and we'll speak again tomorrow?"

Ditzy nodded and went back into the Post Office without another word.

Parly turned and rejoined his associates wearing a triumphant smirk. "We got her."

"You sure?" Plata asked, looking somewhat unconvinced.

"Trust me, unless she's as dumb as she looks there is no way she'd refuse the carrot we're dangling in front of her is if."

“And if she does say no?”

Parley shrugged. "Well that's what you two are here for."