• Published 22nd Feb 2020
  • 156 Views, 3 Comments

Girls' Heist Out - Typoglyphic



With Scootaloo's wedding only days away, the other two Cutie Mark Crusaders kick off the celebrations with a train heist.

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And Canterlot to Cloudsdale

Sweetie Belle's heart was racing almost as fast as when they'd been on top of the train. She hated not knowing what was going on, what the plan was. Everything seemed so clear cut when Apple Bloom laid it all out back in Ponyville. Now…

She hurried after her friend, dodging through the crowd of ponies that ambled around the platform. Apple Bloom was walking too fast, too purposefully. They were going to be caught for sure at this rate. Everything was ruined. Ruined!

They stopped between two train cars, a flow of ponies surrounding them on both sides. Apple Bloom scanned their surroundings, then turned and leapt onto the coupling between the locomotion and staff car. She waved.

Sweetie Belle swallowed down bile and followed her example, slipping through the railing and crouching by the staff car's door. “What now?”

“Open it up,” Apple Bloom commanded.

After a deft wave of magic, Sweetie Belle smiled, stood, and pushed the door open. “Unlocked and uuuuunoccupied,” she said in a jittery singsong.

They ducked inside. The staff car was small, more of a locker room than a space to lounge or congregate. Maybe that was by design.

Apple Bloom immediately turned and began rummaging through lockers and cubbies.

“What are you looking for?”

“What do you think?” Apple Bloom said. She spun around, clutching a folded vest in the crook of her foreleg. “We need to get inside that royal compartment, don't we? Two noponies from Ponyville might not be allowed in Blueblood's car, but he can't keep official, uniformed transport attendees out, can he?”

Sweetie Belle peered at the garment dubiously. “Sure you can find two that fit?”

“Who cares? None of the other train workers look sharp. So long as we can get 'em on.” The train's whistle sounded, and Apple Bloom started to work the vest's buttons open. “Come on, we don't have all day.”

The train jolted and began to roll out of the station.

Sweetie Belle sighed, turned, and scanned the room. Her eyes fell on a rumpled vest that had been tossed haphazardly on top of a locker, and she levitated it down. After giving it a careful sniff—musty, but not too gross—she slipped it on. She smoothed out the worst of the wrinkles, folded the collar, and despite the dubious fit, she immediately felt a bit of her confidence return.

“How do I look?” Apple Bloom asked from across the room. Her vest was a bit tight around the neck and shoulders, and Sweetie Belle had to fix the upper-most buttons with her magic, but all in all…

“This might work.”

“I told you. Now come on! We need to get to the back of the train in…” Apple Bloom turned and peered out the window at the landscape rolling by. “Ten minutes, I reckon. Maybe less.”

They approached the door, and Sweetie stepped forward, ready to work her very literal magic on the lock.

“Hold it.” Apple Bloom stepped to the side and snatched something off the wall. She held it between her teeth proudly. “Key,” she mumbled.

“Oh.”

Sweetie took the key, opened the door, and they began their very casual, but not too casual, march through the train.

How would railroad employees move through their workplace? Slowly but surely. They have nothing to gain from reaching the far end, but they have to keep moving, keeping an eye out for problems. Sweetie Belle set their pace, letting her eyes drift casually over the passengers as they passed.

Other employees… How well did they know each other? It was impossible to guess, really. Perhaps they spent every afternoon of every day on this exact shift with these exact ponies on this exact train. Perhaps they switched tracks and hours and roles so often that they barely knew what to call their direct managers. Sweetie Belle decided that they would suddenly become very busy when they passed other workers. It would do in a pinch, and if all went well they'd be safely tucked away in the princess car before anypony thought to ask questions.

They moved through the first car without incident.

Apple Bloom let out a long breath on the gangway between cars.

In the second car, they encountered a problem. Two steps inside the door, Sweetie Belle drew up short and hissed, “Rarity.”

“What?” Apple Bloom ducked her head and scanned the crowd. “Oh ponyfeathers. That's gonna be a problem.”

Toward the far end of the car, a unicorn mare sat on the aisle seat of a bench. She exuded dignity and composure and, unfortunately for them, boredom. Her eyes flitted around the car, the windows, the ceiling. She must have forgotten her reading material.

“You didn't mention your sister was in Canterlot when we were planning all this,” Apple Bloom whispered.

“I didn't know! And she's in Canterlot all the time. She runs like a thousand stores.”

“Four.”

“Whatever. I'm just saying, Rarity's not as easy to keep tabs on as your family probably is.”

Ponies on the benches nearest them were starting to stare at the two train employees who were huddled by themselves and whispering. As the seconds dragged by, more and more eyes drifted toward them. They needed to do something fast.

Apple Bloom gnashed her teeth. “We don't have time for this. Um, uh…” Her eyes flitted nervously in search of something, anything.

Sweetie centered herself.

The windows of the train were low and wide. Single pane, from the looks of it. Sweetie Belle tested the glass beside them to confirm her suspicions, and yes, it was flimsy, magically reinforced to reduce its cost and weight. A bit of careful spell work, though…

“Get ready,” she said, eyes narrowed on the window beside her sister.

A steady, constant eddy of magic flowed through the glass, pushing and pulling gently at particles just so to prevent cracks or chips. With every ounce of fine control she had, Sweetie punched a tiny hole, thinner than an eyelash, from the middle of the pane to the outside of the train. With some subtle guidance, the strengthening magic flowed out and dissipated into the air.

She coughed, sharply, and then gave the glass a magic shove.

It shattered outward, the crash ringing above the din of the car. Wind rushed in, buffeting ponies, filling their eyes and ears. Pages of books fluttered and loose paper whipped up into the air. Ponies nearby yelped in surprise and nervousness. Those a few seats away began to stand, turn, mutter remarks and questions to nopony in particular.

Rarity, a mare of poise and distinction, but also very much a mare of bombast and flare, leapt to her hooves and shuffled into the aisle. She stared at the empty window frame, her ears twitching as the cold mountain air rushed over them. She took a deep breath, let out a loud sigh, rolled her eyes, and sidled into an empty seat on the opposite side of the car, away from the draft.

By the time she settled into her new seat, two extremely irresponsible train employees had already rushed past and disappeared into the next car.

They only encountered two employees down the length of the train. In car number four there was a stallion in a rumpled uniform leaning heavily against the wall beside the boarding door. The brim of his hat was pulled low, but it was clear from a glance that he was fast asleep. They swept right past him.

Then they reached the final passenger car. An earth pony mare stood at the far end of the compartment, her back to the gangway door that lead to Blueblood's car. Her eyes were hard and narrow, and she was big, the kind of build one would expect to see hitched the front of a vehicle rather than onboard one.

Apple Bloom slowed to a stand-still after spotting the mare. “I don't think she'll let us past.”

Sweetie Belle pinched her lips and looked the other uniformed mare over. No hat, no shoes. Just a vest and a scowl. Sweetie rolled her shoulders, loosened her joints, and sauntered over. “Afternoon.”

The mare raised an eyebrow.

“We just got word that Princess Luna is boarding at Cloudsdale. We need to prep the car.”

That got a reaction. “Princess… Luna?” she said incredulously. “She doesn't use the trains.”

“I guess she does now, so it's up to us to make this a good first impression.” Sweetie Belle nodded back at Apple Bloom, who was still lurking several paces back, then made a move to step around the mare.

She lifted a hoof, blocking Sweetie's way. She ran her eyes over their uniforms and sniffed. “And just how are you gonna 'prep' her car? I don't see any cleaning supplies or refreshments on ya.”

A hoof tapped Sweetie's shoulder. “Maybe we should go get some,” Apple Bloom whispered in her ear.

Time for a gamble. Sweetie shrugged her off and gave the actual rail worker before her a withering look. “The supplies are in the car, genius. We wouldn't keep high quality surface cleaner or aged spirits anywhere else on the train.”

They matched glares for a moment. The other mare's jaw tightened, and for a moment Sweetie half-expected her to throw them both off the train single-hoofed.

But then the mare schooled her face and mumbled a quick, “Right, right, go 'head,” and stepped aside.

They opened the door and moved onto the gangway. Once the door was safely closed behind them, Apple Bloom cursed loudly into the wind. “That was stupid. I don't know how you keep getting away with dumb, half-baked lies like that.”

Sweetie shrugged. “Oh, you know. Raw, natural talent. Imagine if I ever had a reason to practice at it.”

“Uh huh. Cause you're so honest.” Apple Bloom peered away from the train and off into the country side. She squinted. “I think I can see Scootaloo's train's fumes over that there hill. We've got like two minutes before our two rides pull up next to each other.”

“Let's not waste any more time, then.” She removed the key from her pocket, unlocked the VIP car's door, and swung it open.

It seemed a lot less cozy than it had twenty minutes ago.

Blueblood rested on a large chaise in the center of the compartment, a large glass of wine on the end table to his right and a half empty plate of food on a second table to his left. He jerked upright as they entered. “What's the meaning of this?” he said blearily. His eyes took a moment to focus. “Shoe Shine, get rid of them.”

“Shoe Shine?” Apple Bloom muttered.

Their eyes wandered to the corner of the room, where an ancient, suited stallion sat quietly in the corner. He took a breath, as if he was filling his lungs for the first time in minutes. “The prince has requested—” he began in a rusty voice.

Sweetie blew past them, striding toward the next door. “Sorry, your majesty, but Princess Luna is boarding soon. We'll be out of your mane momentarily.”

Blueblood gasped slightly and raised a hoof to his mane, gingerly nudging at his locks as if afraid they'd crumble at his touch.

Shoe Shine trembled and began to move. Apple Bloom winced in sympathy.

Sweetie opened the door and led them out onto yet another gangway. A reassuringly familiar one, she might even say, except that they all pretty much looked the same and at this point she was getting pretty sick of them. She was getting sick of trains in general, actually, and they'd only been on this one for half an hour or so.

She pushed the door behind them closed and turned the key. As she stepped backward, Apple Bloom said, “Hold on, gimme the key.”

Sweetie glanced out at the adjacent track. It was bending closer and closer to them, and now she could plainly see the other train. “Hurry,” she said.

Apple Bloom took the key in her mouth, reinserted it into the lock of Blueblood's car, and turned it sharply. Sweetie could see the muscles in her friend's neck straining. The lock whined, creaked, and then suddenly gave with a tremendous crunch sound.

She pulled the key back out and held it up for Sweetie to reclaim with her magic. “There,” she said. “That should give us plenty of privacy.”

Then they rushed to the princess car, unlocked and opened the door, and darted inside.

Sweetie Belle didn't bother locking it behind her. She tossed the key over her shoulder and shouted, “Whatever happens, keep that door closed!” Then she darted up to the window and slid it open. None of the other train windows would do that, but safety regulations meant little when stacked up against the whims of the princesses.

A tempest roared into the room. Sweetie blinked tears from her eyes and stuck her head outside. She couldn't breathe, but their timing was so tight that she probably wouldn't need to. She forced her eyes to focus.

There, not twenty feet away, was the other train. It was bigger, less friendly than the Friendship Express, as one could guess from the name. A dozen uniform metal cars slowly crept past her.

Sweetie focused on her magic. She knew the exact shape of Scootaloo's presence, the exact pigment of her coat and the precise frequency of her voice. If anyone could do this, it was the two of them.

Finally, in the third to last car, tucked away in a corner seat on the far side of the other train—damn, she hasn't considered that—was the missing leg of the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Sweetie couldn't see her, but she could visualize it plain as day. The pegasus had her nose buried in a magazine or pamphlet of some sort, probably more wedding planning.

Even under ideal circumstances, teleporting other ponies was a difficult feat. Many unicorns could do it, but the strain was so great, and the complications likewise, that few ever tried. Teleporting them any distance was even harder. Teleporting a living creature that the caster couldn't even see, now that was plain foolhardy.

Sweetie gathered magic in her horn and focused every neuron at her disposal. She was about to do all of that while traveling sixty miles per hour on a train she wasn't supposed to be on. Her eyes narrowed, her eyes closed.

Zap!

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