• Published 14th Feb 2020
  • 3,695 Views, 494 Comments

What have I done to deserve this? - Cackling Moron



Every obstacle in the path of a Queen is the fault of some nefarious other party, and no fault of her own.

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---ELSEWHERE, SHORTLY---

Author's Note:

Richard's kind of an idiot, but then is any of us perfect?

Despite the camping trip being over, Starlight was back out in the woods.

She was only out again because she had - foolishly - misplaced the hat that Applejack had so thoughtfully lent her for the trip. Or she thought she had, at least, and was now casting about for it. Applejack had said not to worry but Starlight was, and this way at least she could say she tried.

So far no luck on the hat front.

What she did find though, wandering through the trees, was something she had never seen before. Something tall and weird. With a shopping bag.

It came lumbering up out of nowhere and, on seeing her, double-took and came to an abrupt halt.

The two of them stared at one another. Very, very slowly Richard - for it was and could only be Richard - raised a hand and waved. Starlight, equally slowly, waved back. Richard then lumbered in her direction.

“The day to be in the woods, it seems,” he said, by way of hello.

Starlight decided to be a little more practical:

“What are you?”

A fair question, albeit a little direct. Not that Richard seemed to mind.

“I’m human. Not from around here. Really not from around here, I mean. Other dimension or something unlikely-sounding like that. Long way from home, me.”

Normally this wasn’t something you heard said in such a blase fashion.

“Oh. How did you get here?”

“The usual way,” Richard said.

Couldn’t really argue with that, and before she could formulate any followup questions (there were a few she could think were worth asking) he’d extended a hand in her direction.

“Richard,” he said as she awkwardly kind of just inserted a hoof into his hand they had a brief shake.

“Starlight Glimmer,” Starlight said, and Richard frowned to himself in the way one does when trying to remember something. A second later he nodded, having got it.

“Ah. I’ve heard about you,” he said.

Not what she’d expected.

“You have?” She asked.

“Yep. You’re the one who helped pull that hippy-dippy hoodoo on the hive, right? Brought the whole place down? Sent Chrysalis away swearing revenge? I heard about you.”

“Oh, that. Heh. Yeah, that was me. Well, kind of, a little bit. Wasn’t all me. How, uh, how’d you hear about it?”

Him not being from around here and all.

“Chrysalis told me,” Richard said. That made sense.

“Right, right, Chrysalis- wait!”

Her horn immediately lit up, but not faster than Richard flipping a ten pence piece into the air, just to her left.

“Catch,” he said.

And in the time it took for Starlight’s eyes to flick from him to the coin and back again he’d bent down, reached out and put a hand around her horn, a thumb on the tip. And like that, the magic just went flumf. Poof. Doused.

Something of another surprise for Starlight.

“What?!”

“Yeah, don’t ask me,” Richard said.

She tried to pull back from his grip but he was having none of it and she wasn’t going anywhere.

“How does that even work?!” She asked, frustrated, magic sparking and failing to catch. Richard shrugged.

“No idea.”

“How did you know it would work?”

“Because it works on Chrysalis. But don’t tell her I told you. She’ll yell at me.”

He’d only ever done it once. Chrysalis had bitten him.

Again Starlight tried to escape but Richard’s reach was long and his grip secure.

“Let go of that!”

“I’d love to, trust me, but if I did you’d probably just flash away to go get your friends or pick me up and carry me about and, frankly, neither option works out great for me,” Richard said.

He had her number on that one, those had been her two top options.

“Okay…” She said, thinking on her hooves. “If I promise not to do either of those things, will you let go? It feels weird.”

“Will you do something else to my disadvantage?”

“I promise not to do anything other than talk,” Starlight said.

“Fine by me,” Richard said, and almost at once he let go, shaking out his hand. As it had with Chrysalis, while a neat trick it kind of left his whole arm tingling. At least she hadn’t bitten him. She was, instead, just looking at him oddly.

“You’re very trusting.”

“I like to take people at their word. I also have more coins,” he said, patting his pocket.

“Don’t think I’d fall for that twice.”

“I’d aim for your nose this time.”

That got a chuckle out of her at least. Didn’t do a whole lot to puncture the blanket of awkwardness that had settled across both of them.

“So…” she said, to get the ball rolling.

“So…” said Richard. “Take it there isn’t a whole lot of love lost between you and The Quee- Chrysalis, then?”

Starlight raised an eyebrow at him briefly before answering. Quite the odd slip, she felt.

“Well, her and just about everypony, really. Few reasons. But, uh, she might maybe have a thing against me personally,” she said, scratching the back of her neck.

This was putting it lightly.

“For the hive thing?” Richard asked, unnecessarily.

“For the hive thing, yeah,” Starlight said, nodding.

“She has mentioned it once or twice.”

Again, this was putting it lightly.

“And you’re her…?” Starlight asked, leaving a nice big gap for Richard to fill as he saw fit.

“Gopher. Dogsbody. Assistant. She’d say servant but, well, she would. Suppose it wouldn’t be wholly inaccurate.”

This begged a pretty obvious question, at least in Starlight’s mind:

“Why?”

Richard shrugged, again, emphatically this time. It wasn’t something he’d given a particular level of thought to. He’d just done it, and was still doing it. Didn’t seem much reason to dwell on the whys of how he’d got into it. Some things just were.

“She had openings available. Looked like she needed company too, I suppose” he said.

“I offered her a chance for something like that - well, not the servant thing, but company I mean - and she just...ran away. To plot revenge. And I kind of know how that goes. Not the healthiest of things...” Starlight said, remembering that moment and all and everything about it, wincing.

Speaking from experience here was Starlight as well, at least regards revenge plotting. Richard himself had never sworn revenge against anyone but could imagine how it might put a kink in a healthy and relaxed lifestyle.

“Yes well, that likely wasn’t one of her finer moments. But that’s life, isn’t it? And I know a lot of people like to cut their losses at a second chance, but I figured that if I’m around I might as well offer a few more. No skin off my back,” he said.

“Think that’ll work?” Starlight asked, delicately, touch hopefully. Richard went through a brief face journey as he considered the answer. A multifaceted issue. This, by contrast to his own service, was something he had actually thought about at some length.

Had to think about something while cleaning up.

“I like to think so. Am I right? Who knows. She puts a lot of effort into being out-and-out evil but I think it’s misplaced energy, really. I think she just knows how to do one thing, and doesn’t want to be seen as having just wasted her life by admitting she was perhaps ever wrong. Or maybe I’m the one who’s wrong and she’ll gut me like a rainbow trout one of these days. She always says she will. Never has so far, though.”

Personally he wasn’t even sure how the mechanics of it would work. The horn, he supposed. Kind of difficult though. Mean, she could do it, but it’d be messy. Like trying to open a carton of apple juice with a knitting needle.

Perhaps he’d given this one more thought than it warranted...

“That does sound like her. Why don’t you just...leave?” Starlight asked. Starting for no apparent reason was one thing, to continue in the face of threats of disembowelment was quite another. To her surprise Richard didn’t even have to think about that one, he answered immediately:

“Oh, I couldn’t leave her all on her own. She says she doesn’t need me, but I think if I left she’d end up talking to herself. Or to bits of wood or something. I couldn’t really forgive myself. And - don’t tell her this part either - she’s got kind of a cute, squishy face. Gets me every time.”

Whatever train of thought Starlight had been happily tending promptly derailed. All passengers died. The wreckage caught fire. It was a disaster, speaking in terms of trains of thought.

“...cute...squishy...face…?” She about managed. Richard looked a little embarrassed for having let that one slip, but it was too late for regrets. And he hadn’t been lying, importantly.

“I’m a man of particular tastes,” he said.

“...so I see.”

Both parties here took a moment to reassess where they stood relative to one another, both figuratively and literally. Richard then continued:

“We all have our vices. Anyway, I should probably be getting back. If she wakes up and I’m not there she gets anxious. But don’t tell her I said that.”

“So she’s, ah, hiding out in the forest somewhere, then?” Starlight asked, going for casual but coming across about as subtle as a brick through a window. Richard wagged a finger at her.

“Ahbaba, no hints, sorry. This conversation was hint enough. Probably catch it in the neck when she finds out, but oh well. Just maybe be a little extra-watchful for a bit. But don’t come looking, please. She’s very fragile. Uh-”

“Don’t tell her you said that?” Starlight asked, flat. Richard smiled obligingly.

“If you’d be so kind. Now I really must dash. Got to get this food put away,” he said.

Starlight eyed the bag he was carrying. It was bright orange, wrinkled and very, very beaten up. It looked like he’d fixed it up a fair few times. Had a faded name written in white on it she didn’t recognise. Alien artifacts...

“How do you shop without anypony asking questions?” She asked.

That one was easy.

“If you act like you’re where you’re supposed to be doing what you’re supposed to be doing, you can get away with just about anything,” he said with a wink.

Starlight found this a very hard line to swallow, but he was the freakish alien with the shopping, so maybe he was onto something?

And by the time she’d thought about it he’d already shambled off deeper into the woods.

“Wait,” she called out, trotting up.

“Hmm?”

She floated over the ten pence piece he’d flicked at her which she’d then picked up and carried over.

“You forgot your coin,” she said.

“Heh, you keep that. Nowhere accepts it around here anyway. Consider it a souvenir of an odd conversation. Have fun now, Starlight. Be seeing you,” Richard said, waving the coin back to her and following it up with a rather unusual o-over-the-eye-then-down hand gesture.

And with that he disappeared into the trees, leaving Starlight on her own again. She looked around. No sign of any hats. Likely a write-off, that one. She’d get Applejack another one to say sorry. In the meantime, other issues.

“...should probably mention this to somepony…” she mumbled to herself.