• Published 18th Jan 2020
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16 - AlwaysDressesInStyle



Five years ago, sixteen mares founded a hotel in New Jersey called the Mareiott. These are their stories.

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Prologue

“Good evening everypony and everycreature! I’m Snowcatcher, but you probably all know that. If not, you might be at the wrong coronation.” I unfurled my new wings to shocked gasps from my audience. Oh, how I wished they were real. What little filly doesn’t dream of being a princess, after all? “Whoops, wrong speech.” I used my magic to tear the paper to confetti as my magical virtual appendages faded away. “My bad.”

I made a show of rustling some papers, pretending to look for the correct speech. “I seem to have misplaced my speech. I guess I’ll just have to wing it.” I may not be a princess, but the perk of being a CEO is everypony in the room repressed the urge to groan at that. I waited for the few polite chuckles to die down and held up a few sheets of paper in front of my face. “This is the speech I spent days working on.” I set it down on the podium, and instead sat down on the edge of the stage, as close to the gathered ponies as possible. “But speeches are for audiences. Conversations are for friends, and I’m amongst friends. So let’s have a conversation. None of this would be possible without friends.” I quickly listed the names of my closest friends, coincidentally the cofounders of our company, and used my magic to shine the spotlight on each of them in turn.

“I guess it’s obvious I do things a little differently than what most ponies would consider normal. And I thank all of you for having the confidence in me to lead us in this venture these past five years. Which brings me to the reason I’ve called this conference in the first place. Tomorrow marks five years since the last of the original founders ventured through the portal. And that means we can go home… if we want to. Otherwise we’ve got a little less than two years left on our visas, and it’s time to explore citizenship. And that, my friends, is why I want to have a conversation instead of making a speech. If I could ask my cofounders to join me up on the stage, please?”

One by one they rose from their seats and trotted toward me. Fifteen of us needed to make a decision. Ploomette, on the other hoof, had official duties on Earth, and while she was technically free to leave at any time, things were significantly more complicated than that. As Consul General of New York City, and Equestrian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, she served by appointment. A descendant of Commander Hurricane, she was considered a duchess, though her older sister Star Catcher held the official position in Cloudsdale. Serving on Earth as a representative of Equestria was certainly a far better use of her talents than sitting around waiting for either a tragedy to strike or her sister’s unlikely abdication.

“We’ve had our share of ups and down in those five short years. I certainly didn’t expect we’d reach this point when we first started a ‘hotel’ in New Jersey that could best be described as a bed & breakfast with delusions of grandeur. It’s funny in a way. When I was a filly, nopony expected me to amount to anything.” I turned to the side, to show off my cutie mark. It takes a certain amount of grace to display a cutie mark without inadvertently mooning an entire auditorium full of ponies. It comes with practice, and it’s a skill most ponies acquire within a few days of gaining their marks after shoving their hindquarters in the faces of everypony they know.

“As you can see, I’m no wizard with stars, comets, or other astral bodies on my flank. You know what this represents? My special talent is that I’m really good at catching snowflakes on my tongue. Now there’s a skill in high demand in Equestria.” This time the laughter was genuine. Self-deprecating humor to the rescue! “So here I was, this little filly, and I’m thrilled to finally have my mark, you know?” My audience was primarily comprised of ponies, and they nodded their heads. “And it was disheartening to me how quickly the adults just dismissed it as unworthy. So I decided I’d show them that I could be somepony. I’m lucky to be naturally gifted with a strong field, and I trained hard to build it up even stronger. I wanted to prove the neighsayers wrong, and I did. I graduated first in my class at Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns. And that’s when they went from saying I’d never amount to anything to saying I could be anything I wanted. And do you know what happened?”

I waited for the murmurs and head shakes to stop before continuing. “I became nothing. I had plans and goals for my future, and they were all smashed into crackly little pieces. In the end I came to Earth as a failure. We all have our reasons for coming here, and this is neither the time nor place to go into them, but I think it’s safe to say none of us would be here today if everything was perfect back in Equestria. You don’t make life-changing decisions like this lightly.” The gathered ponies nodded their heads in agreement.

“But we built something here from scratch. We’ve weathered our fair share of storms, and we’ve succeeded against all odds. Our success is just that: our success. Not my success, though many seem quick to assign it to me. We’re a team, and we’re strongest when we’re all together. I don’t mean that literally, as in all of us in the same room as we are now, but figuratively with everybody on the same page working towards the same goals.”

I stomped my hooves to show my appreciation for all their efforts, then waited for the round of applause to die down before continuing. “And that’s why you’re all here. My cofounders and I have a lot of discussing to do, but whatever we decide is going to impact all of us. Will we stay here on Earth? If we stay, now that our five years are up, we can go back to Equestria any time we want. So there’s that. I’m not going to lie, I miss my family and friends back home. And yet I’d miss all of you if I returned to Equestria. I admit, I’m torn. I haven’t made my decision yet. If any of us decide to return to Equestria permanently, there are going to be vacancies that need to be filled. And that’s why this is a conference instead of a private meeting between just the cofounders. What we decide effects all of us. Of course, while we go have that private meeting, the rest of you are free to enjoy all the amenities of The Hotels Horsey: Montreal.”

There was even more applause for that, of course. It was the newest location in the chain, and I absolutely adored it. The history! The culture! The snow! Especially that last one. I'd spared no expense making this the ultimate resort for winter lovers the world over. With a team of trained pegasi on staff, the temperature outside would continue to stay right below the freezing mark on the hotel's property, and there'd always be adequate snow cover for skiing, sledding, and the like. And any time I feel like running out of my office and catching a few snowflakes on my tongue, nopony's going to stop me.

I’d wanted to build in Aspen, but even with our successes, I couldn’t justify the expense. Failing there would drag the whole chain down with it. It was a completely unacceptable risk, so I settled for my second choice. Well, third choice, honestly. But Antarctica has a surprisingly slow tourist trade so I never seriously considered it. Maybe I can figure out a way to retire there when the time comes. Right now though, I’ve got business to discuss. “Come on, everypony. Let’s go to one of the conference rooms. The sooner we get this all over with, the sooner we can get out there and join the rest of friends in enjoying ourselves.”

The others followed me down the hall to the conference room I’d specifically designed for meetings with all sixteen of us. It was the first time any of my friends had seen this room, and I took delight in watching their jaws drop one at a time. Specially designed chairs, personalized with the owner’s cutie mark, were just the start. Even without the chairs, it was blatantly obvious where everypony was supposed to sit. I’d had the walls decorated to best represent all of us. The wall immediately surrounding the entrance to the room was the same color blue as my coat. Decorating this section was a snowy landscape, showing all of us enjoying ourselves frolicking in a winter wonderland.

I took my seat at the head of the table and watched my friends as they trickled into the room. As fascinated as they all were, it took some time for everypony to settle down. “Regardless of what we decide today, I’ve dedicated this conference room to all of us, and to the business we started. But mostly to our friendship. No matter what happens, we founded this chain and no one can ever take away our accomplishments. A wise mare once said that friends are the family you choose. And I consider you all my sisters. At the same time, I know we all have friends and family back in Equestria that we miss tremendously. Five years is a long time to go without seeing loved ones.”

I slid a hat to the center of the table. “If everypony would be so kind as to drop their answers into the hat.” I always insisted on them coming up with their answers in advance. Mostly because it forces everypony to have their own opinions instead of parroting whatever I say. We're a herd species and nopony wants to be the odd one out. Of course I can’t say that out loud.

In theory, typed responses should give everypony a degree of privacy, but in practice it was surprisingly easy to know who wrote what. I could probably guess by the words and phrasing, but instead every single one of my friends had made it easy for me by picking a different font that had remained constant over the years. And that served all of us fine. There was no point in hiding this answer, anyway. The first response I looked at was in the default MS Word font, Calibri. That had to be Dewdrop Dazzle. Hearts over the i’s & j’s? Care Bear Family was my chosen font, as well as Flitterheart’s. Of course, I already knew my answer, so I knew this was hers. Comic Sans? That could only be Cherry Pie, and a quick scan of her response raised my eyebrows. I was usually pretty good at predicting the responses of my friends, but this certainly wasn’t the answer I was expecting. I reread it, just to make sure.

My friends have spoken, and it’s time to let the chips fall where they may…

Author's Note:

Story notes (Prologue/Chapter 1): https://www.fimfiction.net/blog/886276/story-notes-16