• Published 10th Feb 2018
  • 1,902 Views, 171 Comments

Watch! Watch! - horizon



A crime wave is gripping the sleepy town of Apple-Morepone. Then "Rainbow" Dash of the City Watch meets a batpony (adopted) named Carrot. The town will never be the same. (An homage to the City Watch of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels!)

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3. In Which The Limits Of Gently Phrased Requests Are Discovered

Apple-Morepone Town Square was, by Apple-Morepone standards, rather beautiful. It had some rather comely bushes and a large fountain. Carrot and Dash crouched in the former and stared at the dun-colored earth pony next to the latter.

"Are you sure he's doing something illegal?" Carrot whispered. "I don't recall anything like that in the regulations."

"Yeah," Dash whispered back. "That's Dubious Scheme, and he's loan sharking. Celestia banned that a few years back."

"I'll take your word for it." Carrot stood up. "Let's do this. Remember, Miss Rainbow, gently phrased requests."

The two of them marched up to Scheme. He was fiddling with a crank attached to a rope, which threaded through the gigantic wooden frame he'd constructed over the fountain.

"Good evening, Mister Scheme," Carrot said.

He glanced over his shoulder, then turned the crank another quarter turn, spooling the rope out. "Good evening."

"Good evening, ladies," Chum said from up above them, where he was hanging from the other end of the rope.

"Graaagh," said the shark in the fountain below him.

Chum went very still. "I don't suppose," he squeaked, "that you'd consider releasing me now that we've got company?"

"I don't suppose," Scheme said, "you're going to give me that embarrassingly large loan at negative interest rates?"

"As persuasive as your business partner is, that still doesn't strike me as a sound financial proposition."

"Then please allow my partner another opportunity to change your mind." Scheme spooled out another few inches of rope.

"Graaagh," the shark said, swimming back and forth.

"Here goes nothing," Dash said under her breath, then took a languid step forward, wearing a rather too-large smile. "Schemie. Old buddy. Old pal."

Scheme glared at her. "We aren't friends, watchie."

Dash put a hoof to her chest. "You wound me, Scheme. After all the times I've coincidentally wandered the opposite direction while you worked?"

Scheme snorted. "Saving yourself paperwork, you mean?"

Dash's expression wavered, and she redoubled her smile. "You do know that loan sharking is illegal, right?"

"Yeah, and?" He stood up and faced her, grinning. "Whatcha going to do about it, take notes?"

"Not today," Dash said, then leaned forward nose to nose with him. "I've been authorized to gently ask, please, because we like each other so much, if you would let Mister Chum go."

He paused.

"What, really?"

"Yep," Dash said. "All by the book and stuff."

"Huh," Scheme said. "Alright."

Dash blinked. "What, really?"

Scheme's face contorted with laughter. "Pfft, no," he said. He scuffed some dirt at her boot, whirled abruptly around, and crouched over the device again. "Go do useful Watch things."

Dash's eye twitched.

"Thank you regardless, Corporal Dash," Chum said politely. "I do appreciate the attempt."

"Well, Carrot," Dash said, struggling to keep her voice level, "now what's the plaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand you're gone again."

Dash glanced around. Yep. Nowhere in Town Square.

"You do realize," she shouted, "the one getting hazed is supposed to be you?"

No response. Dash facehoofed.

"Are you quite done?" Scheme said irately. "You're spoiling the mood of villainous foreboding."

The sludgy coffee filter of Dash's brain tried to wring the last drops of inspiration out of the old set of metaphorical grounds.

"Nothing says I can't gently phrase requests more than once," Dash said slowly. "Let him go, please?"

"No."

"Pretty please?"

"No."

"Extra pretty rainbow-sprinkles please?"

"Tell you what," Scheme said. "Tie yourself to the end of this rope, and I'll think about it."

"Scheme, loan sharking won't work on me, I'm a pegasus."

"And I'm creative. I'll think of something."

Dash felt sweat prickle at her brow, and took a step back. "Seriously, Scheme. Do you know how much paperwork is involved if a Watchmare is a crime victim?"

"Yes, indeed." Scheme grinned wickedly, and began to advance on her with the rope.

A throat cleared behind him.

Dash and Scheme turned to look. Carrot was leaning calmly against the wooden contraption.

"Pardon me, Mister Scheme," Carrot said cheerfully. "Before you do anything rash, will you take a moment to hear out my apology?"

"Apology?" Scheme turned to Carrot, instantly suspicious. "For what?"

"I'm afraid that I might have been gossiping with some ne'er-do-wells at Ruffian's Corner, and accidentally mentioned that there was, in my professional opinion as a crime observer, an easily muggable individual here. One who apparently was about to come into possession of a significant number of bits."

"What."

Carrot smiled extra sweetly. "Might I gently ask for you to consider an abrupt departure, in the name of keeping the peace and protecting the Equestrian populace—which is to say, at the current moment, you?"

Scheme felt warm breath on the back of his neck. He slowly turned around.

A wall of white muscle was looming over him.

"Yeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaah," Bulk said.


WHAM! The door to Watch Headquarters dramatically slammed open right at the start of Night Shift.

Then there was some scuffling in the entryway, and the inner door flexed inward, and the outer door closed, and WHAM! The inner door dramatically slammed open as Corporal Dash burst through.

"GALS," Dash shouted. "CARROT STOPPED A CRIME."

The room went silent. Dubious faces peeked from around piles of paperwork. Even Captain Rhymes leaned out from her cell.

"I'm totally serious this isn't a prank the newbie and I went to Town Square and Scheme was loan sharking and—" the madly grinning Dash grabbed Bongua and pulled her in nose to nose—"she was all hello please stop sir and then yeeeeaaaaahhh and pshzow and he ran. HE RAN. Do you have any idea what this means—"

WHAM-WHAM! The doors to Watch Headquarters exploded into fragments as Bulk Biceps walked through them, Corporal Carrot trailing behind and wincing.

And the room, too, exploded into motion.

Once Carrot had run the gauntlet of eager Watch corporals begging for the whole story—a story which she told, over and over, modestly and with sparse detail—she tried to sidestep over to her desk, only to run into a wall of unamused zebra. "What manner of fresh pony hell," Captain Rhymes said, "now brings to us this ne'er-do-well?"

"Captain," Carrot said politely. "I've discovered that Mister Biceps is an upstanding citizen whose talents were being wasted on the wrong side of the law. He was a valuable asset in my last mission. Accordingly—and in accordance with the broken-chain-of-command rules of CC 4,144—as a Watch officer in good standing I've deputized him as an Acting Constable."

"Yeeeeeaaaaahhhh!" Bulk shouted.

Rhymes slowly lowered her face to her hoof. "I should have known I'd soon regret the moment in which we first met. The paperwork will be a chore. At least, I guess, he fixed the door."

Carrot nodded thoughtfully. "You sound sober, if you don't mind my saying so."

"A certain equine reprobate discovered how to liberate the combo to the number lock which held my private liquor stock." Rhymes shot a glare at the comatose pile of Dobby sprawled in a corner of the office.

"And she's been rhyming up a storm since!" Bongua said, with a gentle Applelachian accent. "It's been crazy! It only took us an hour to fill up her retirement jar."

Rhymes sighed aggressively. "Even more than scrump or beer, I'll savor when I leave from here. But truly, simply leaving soon would not be a sufficient boon. Till memories can be erased, this place will leave a bitter taste."

"Yeah, whatever," Dash said, bouncing in a manner far more often associated with pinkness. "We can fight crime now, gals." Her voice rose to a squeak as she squished her cheeks in her hooves. "This is so awesome!"

Bongua raised her eyebrows. "Hunh," she said. "I suppose it would be nice to make a difference."

"I know, right?!"

"Miss Bonnie?" Carrot cut in. "Not to interrupt, but…you sound different?"

Bongua pouted. "Is this really the time to talk about my condition?"

"Condition?"

"She's a freak," Lyra said loudly.

"I'm a ponpony," Bongua shot back. "That's nothing to be ashamed of."

Carrot blinked. "A what?"

"Did I stutter?" Bongua said, voice cold.

"That's what I'm trying to figure out."

—She Is A Pony Who, Owing To An Ancient Magical Curse, Turns Into A Pony Under The Light Of The Moon, Tom said, his voice sounding much closer to his normal gravelly pitch.

"Which, despite all my protestations, is actually really hot," Lyra whispered.

The room went silent. Bongua's face went beet red.

Lyra froze. She glanced around, then blushed. "Oh, plot. Was that my outside voice?"

Bongua whirled and grabbed her. "You," she growled throatily. "Me. The bushes outside. Now."

The door to the restroom swung open as they were leaving, and a sea-green unicorn stepped out. "OH MY BUCKING ALICORN, REGINALD," Lyra shouted, lunging at the pair with murder in her eyes.

Dash grabbed her halfway, still vibrating with excitement. "Lyra. Lyra. Forget them. Did you hear? Carrot stopped a crime."

"Wait, what? Really?"

"Really."

Lyra's eyes went wide. "Holy fingertips. Does this mean that we can actually fight back against The Cult now?"

Dash rolled her eyes. "For the last time, Lyra, nopony is hiding any so-called 'evidence' that an evil Sunset Shimmer is leading an invasion force of 'humans' against Celest—" She blinked. "Oh. The Cult, not The Conspiracy. Yeah, we should do something about them."

"Apple-Morepone has a cult?" Carrot asked.

—Yes. The I-Dislike-How-Zoning-Regulations-Force-Me-To-Trim-My-Hedges-Back-From-The-Sidewalks Society. They Meet Every Night In The Basement Of Criminal Mastermind, A Nefarious Unicorn Who Has Written Several Grossly Unpleasant Letters To The Editor Of The School Paper.

"That fiend," Dash hissed.

"Oh, sure," Lyra muttered. "They get fourteen hyphens."

Carrot pressed one hoof to her forehead, and raised the other one.

"What is it, Carrot?"

"I think I've heard of their plot," Carrot said. "Are they behind some sort of crazy scheme involving casting a spell on a dragon which then goes on a rampage, causing panic that forces the current ruler onto a path of direct intervention, ultimately leading to a new royal being crowned?"

"Of course not," Dash scoffed. "What sort of unoriginal hack would do that?"

Everyone looked at Dash.

"…What?"

—They Are Certainly Up To Something, Though, Tom said. Their Meetings Are Now Being Protected By A Pack Of Hired Ruffians. And I Do Not Believe It Is Coincidence That Rates Of Vandalism, Theft, And Aggravated Skulduggery Have Recently Skyrocketed.

"Well, you know what?" Dash smacked one forehoof into the other, grinning. "We've got law, muscle, and gently phrased requests on our side. Let's crash their party."


"Can we please crash your party?" Dash asked.

Caballeron—standing in front of Criminal Mastermind's basement door—crossed his legs. "No."

"Come oooooonnnnnn," Dash whined.

"Mees Dash. Meester Biceps. Mees Carrot." Caballeron nodded politely to each in turn. "I owe you a debt, but thees ees no longer a matter of muffins. Thees is a matter of pride. We are henching now, and our job ees to keep out everyponee except cultists, henchponees, and untrustworthy ponees seeking employment as henches."

"Yeeeaaaaaahhh," Constable Bulk grunted.

"Sadly no, Meester Bulk." Caballeron pointed to the crayon-on-tape name badge that Dash had hastily assembled for him. "You have gone leegit."

Dash pouted. Then her muzzle slowly spread into a smile. "Okay, Carrot. We tried it the easy way. Now work your magic."

Carrot shook her head. "I'm afraid we're stuck, Miss Rainbow."

Dash croggled. "Wait, what?"

"Short of a search warrant—which is equally as out of reach as arrest powers are—they're well within their rights to keep us off of private property. Similarly, there is neither ambiguity nor illegality in their orders." Carrot turned around. "It was a lovely thought, but this is a dead end."

Dash zipped in front of Carrot. "Whoah, hoss. Where do you think you're going?"

"Back to headquarters, to get started on today's paperwork."

"Yes you are, and no you're not." Dash leaned in, fire in her eyes. "You told me not to give up on my dreams, Carrot. You know what not giving up looks like?" Dash straightened her helmet, narrowed her eyes, and hoofed at the ground. "Me telling you that you won't know how to get through that door until you try."

Carrot looked at Dash, then gave a slow, almost imperceptible nod, a smile spreading across her muzzle.

"Then I think, Miss Rainbow," she said, "it's time to do some reading."

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