• 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 From Cloudsdale Onward

For a moment, Scootaloo was sure that she had just died.

In her defence, while rail travel is considerably safer than most other modes of transport, it was mathematically more likely for her train to spontaneously combust and snuff out every single passenger than for her to be teleport-kidnapped off a moving train just minutes outside of Equestria's capital.

The bench beneath her disappeared, leaving her suspended in mid air for a split second. The image of the seat in front of her, functional blue upholstery marred by pockmarks where rude ponies had stuck their chewing gum, was replaced with a view of a decadent, richly decorated suite, complete with paintings, ornate wood mouldings, furniture fit for a castle, and two strangely familiar railway employees.

Scootaloo barely managed to snap her legs out and land on her hooves. She stumbled, one of her knees buckling, and she staggered over to the nearest wall. Her head was spinning, her stomach churning every so slightly, and while all her instincts screamed that she was in danger, that she should be tense and alert, she instead squeezed her eyes closed and waited for things to go back to normal.

“Scootaloo?” asked a sweet, pitch-perfect voice.

She swallowed down a bit of bile and dared to open one eye a sliver and look up. “Sweetie?” And then, “Apple Bloom? What in Equestria—”

Then she was engulfed by two hugs from two different directions. Her limbs gave out, and they tumbled together in a pile of fluff and nerves.

“We actually did it!” Sweetie squeaked. “I was sure that when we got stuck outside—”

“—wouldn't believe the stunts we pulled to getcha!” Apple Bloom said over top of her.

“And now we can go—”

“—ride it 'till Manehattan—”

“—Manehattan for the what is certain to be—”

“—best night ever, I reckon!”

Scootaloo managed to untangle herself and escape her friends. She took a few steps back. “Jeez, one at a time guys.” She looked around, getting her first good look at the room. “Whoa, where… I'm still on a train? And this is…” The personal touches on the walls gave it away. The top half of a ponyquin tucked into a corner, with an oversized horn and a long, graceful neck. A ceiling covered in little twinkling, painted stars. A plaque mounted over the buffet that depicted the moon and the sun at their nadirs.

“Is this the Princesses' car? Are we on the Friendship Express?” She hurried over to the window and peered outside. She had to crane her neck and squint, but yes, there in the distance, receding further and further, was her train headed to the Crystal Empire.

She rounded on her friends, who were only now climbing to their hooves. “What the feather is going on? Is something wrong? Cutie mark business? End of the world? What?”

The other two shared a sidelong look.

Wait. “Manehatten? Best night ever?” Her face fell and anger walked its way up her veins. “Is this about your dumb bachelorette party? I told you, I'm busy! We'll have plenty of time to hang out after I get married.”

“Oh come on!” Sweetie shouted. Her eyes were still a bit starry from the taxing spell she'd just cast, but she still managed to look indignant. “We went to all the trouble of sneaking onto a train—”

“Sweetie,” Apple Bloom warned, biting her lip and glancing back and forth between her two friends.

“—stealing uniforms and nearly filleting my sister—”

“It was safety glass,” Apple Bloom corrected

“—all so we could have one night to hang out and stuff before the wedding! It's not a hen night if you're already married.”

Scootaloo raised a hoof to her face and rubbed her eyes. “First of all, please don't call it that.”

“Oh, sorry,” said Sweetie.

“And second, why does everyone keep acting like everything changes after we get married? We're already living together, we're already in love, we already spend most of our spare time together. This is just making it official.”

Apple Bloom was already rolling her eyes at the words coming out of her own mouth. “It's just a tradition, Scoots. We know you and Flash Fire are strong and steady, but this is supposed to be a big thing, and we'll all be sorry later if we skip it, I know it.”

Scootaloo opened her mouth, only to be interrupted by a loud bang from outside the car. Muffled voices shouted, more bangs rang out, and both Sweetie and Apple Bloom spun on their heels to stare at the door. Scootaloo really took in their clothing for the first time, the tense, nervous jitter to their limbs, their casual references to their actions onboard the train…

“What did you do?”

Sweetie cleared her throat. She didn't turn around. “We maaaay have taken an unorthodox route to get here.”

“You two didn't pay.”

“If you really think about it, didn't we pay with our time and effort slipping past all the ticket inspections?” Sweetie said sweetly.

There was another loud bang outside. Metal crunched.

“That must be our big burly friend,” Apple Bloom said. “Takes a special metal to stand up to an earth pony like that, and I guess these hinges ain't it.”

They backed away from the doors, toward the very rear of the train. Scootaloo watched her friends' faces.

Apple Bloom was surprisingly calm—pensive even. Cooking up the next move, the next strategy, no doubt weighing Scootaloo's willingness to cooperate. This being the last car, there was no other exit, and luxurious as it was, there wasn't really anywhere to hide three full grown ponies. Options were very limited.

Sweetie Belle's lips were moving silently, sorting through excuses and demeanors and lies at the speed of thought. Even she would have a tough time talking her way out of this one. Whatever she had claimed to get this far, the ruse would fall to pieces when they saw a third stowaway to match the other two.

Scootaloo glanced around the room, sighed, and resolved that next time she'd let these two learn their lesson. But this time… well, Scootaloo had never been the responsible one.

“Seems like time's up,” she announced. She trotted over to the side of the room, hooked her forehooves around the legs of a heavy, fancy wooden table against the wall, and tugged. “Help me drag this over to the window.”

They seemed unsure for a moment, exchanging dubious looks. Apple Bloom finally walked over, slid her shoulder under the table, and hauled it clear across the room in a few solid shoves. It smacked against the mahogany paneling with a dull crack.

Scootaloo squinted at the window, the height and width of the table. “Perfect. Now rip the legs off of that side,” she said, pointing to the legs closest to the window.

“What?” Sweetie said, appalled. “Do you have any idea how much this table must cost? Cause I sure don't, but if it's in this car then you can bet it's worth more than our sorry flanks.”

“It sounds like you've already broken a window and a door. What's a quarter of a table more?”

The sound of the car's door jostling as somepony tried the handle curtailed any further discussion. Sweetie Belle squared off against the door, horn glowing. “Make it quick, I can't hold it closed against that mare for long.”

Apple Bloom nodded. With Scootaloo holding the table steady, she quickly snapped the legs off with two carefully aimed bucks, and Scootaloo slid the end of the table through the window and halfway outside. Apple Bloom's eyes widened when she realized what Scootaloo was planning. “You can't be serious.”

Scootaloo grinned. “I'm always serious when it comes to stunts. You know that. Now, grab something heavy to weigh down this end.”

Together they managed to drag a large grandfather clock away from its place in the corner and tilt it over until most of its weight pressed down on the edge of the table. The course was complete. Now, time for a trial by fire. She hopped up onto the table and leaned against the grandfather clock. “Get up here, Sweetie. We need all the extra weight we can get.” She turned to Apple Bloom. “No offense.”

“Didn't take none till you pointed it out,” the earth pony said gruffly.

Sweetie Belle backed up against the table and careful mantled on top, shoulder to shoulder with Scootaloo.

Apple Bloom took a long look at their setup, then sighed and hopped up as well. She crawled toward the window frame. The surface of the table stuck out from the side of the train like a diving board. A narrow, violently quivering diving board over a blur of rock and dirt instead of water. She looked back at her friends and shouted, “Scootaloo! If this goes wrong… happy wedding and all! Sorry we messed it up!”

And she tiptoed out the window and out of sight.

The table shuddered under their hooves. The grandfather clock groaned and clanked against the floor. Sweetie Belle vibrated. “I can't keep the door much longer,” she shouted.

“Just hold on until Apple Bloom's up!”

“Up?”

“Well yeah, where else do you think we're going? Even I'd break my legs if I tried to jump off at this speed.”

Sweetie Belle's eyes darted from the door to the window. “We'll get blown right off the top!”

“Don't worry about that,” Scootaloo said with all the confidence of a pony who had climbed on top of her fair share of fast-moving objects. “You've got a pegasus with you now. I may not have the best wings, but I can keep us safe from the wind.” Hopefully.

The table flexed violently, and its back feet lurched an inch off the ground before slamming back down. Suddenly the weight was gone. “Your turn,” Scootaloo said.

“The door.”

“Don't worry about it, just go!”

Sweetie complied. She slipped awkwardly through the window, her long, graceful unicorn legs suddenly less of a gift than usual, and disappeared.

Scootaloo braced herself. She turned to look at the door just in time to see it crash open and reveal a large earth pony mare in a fancy red vest just like her friends. The mare stood in the threshold, her eyes bugged and jaw agape as she took in the disaster that was the royal car. After a long second, the initial shock seemed to pass, and she started to charge forward.

“Wait! Stop!” Scootaloo pleaded, letting just a trickle of fear into her voice. The earth pony skidded to a stop, ears pricked and eyes darting.

Scootaloo felt the table sink slightly beneath her end. Just in time.

“Sucker!” she shouted, and dove for the window. The table rattled and rocked beneath her, and immediately the wind tried to rip her from her perch. She rolled her shoulders and shifted her weight and kept moving, hoof after hoof. The table bounced and twisted like a cheap ruler.

Scootaloo reached the end, pivoted, and leapt skyward. She cleared the top of the train with all four hooves and landed neatly in a crouch beside two very windtorn and equally flightless ponies. They both clung to the car's roof with all their might.

Her jump must have been enough to dislodge the clock entirely. The table pitched down, its tip touched the ground, and in seconds it was ripped out the window altogether and flung off into the distance behind them, bouncing and flipping and splintering away.

She leaned down close to her friends' ears and shouted, “Follow behind me! Keep your body low and your face turned down.” She turned and set herself, then spread her wings and turned her body to best cut through the wind and create a safe wake behind her.

Their pace was slow and cautious. After several long seconds peering over the edge to check for spectators, Scootaloo leapt from the princess car to the roof of Blueblood's. She turned around, ready to help either of her friends if they failed the jump, but all of sudden they didn't seem to be having all that much trouble keeping up. Apple Bloom launched herself across, and Sweetie's jump was graceful and neat.

They continued halfway down the train until finally Scootaloo pulled up short in the shelter of the train's large “Ponyville Express” sign. The other two fell into place beside her.

“So what's the plan now, geniuses?” she asked.

Apple Bloom coughed. “Ahem, uh, well… Manehattan, I guess?”

Sweetie Belle nodded encouragingly.

Scootaloo crossed her forelegs and huffed. “I'm not spending all day on top of this dumb train, and I'm not going all the way to Manehattan for a party I didn't want in the first place.” Then she glanced over the three of them and groaned. “None of us have any bits, do we?” She fixed Sweetie with a glare. “Would it have killed you to teleport my saddlebags over with me?”

“Hey, teleporting a naked pony is hard enough. If you knew how close I was to dropping you under the train, you wouldn't be complaining.”

Her frown deepened. “I don't know, Sweetie, I think I actually would be complaining. I don't think 'my friend doesn't want to go to a party' justifies almost killing her.”

“Oh come on, you're fine.”

Apple Bloom nudged them. “Come on, y'all, give it a rest.”

The wind whipped past them. Hills rolled by.

“You're right though. We don't have any bits,” Apple Bloom answered. “We didn't really plan anything past getting to Manehattan.”

“I figured we'd crash at my sister's store and borrow some bits for the trip home. Coco's cool like that,” said Sweetie.

Scootaloo sighed. “Okay, what's the next stop.”

“Uh… I don't know if there really is one?”

Apple Bloom stuck her tongue out and stared up at the sky, deep in thought. “There aren't any major towns between Canterlot and Manehattan on this track except Cloudsdale, and we passed that a while ago. But there is another stop. Hollow Shades.”

Scootaloo let her head fall back against the sign. She groaned. “And let me guess, we'd be at the train station in the middle of nowhere for hours waiting for the return trip to Canterlot?”

“Probably,” said Sweetie.

Apple Bloom sighed. “Faster than going all the way to Manehattan and back, though. Still doesn't solve our money problem.”

The sun was starting to set. Scootaloo had expected to arrive in the Crystal Empire by dusk. Sweetie and Bloom had probably planned for the three of them to slide into Manehattan at around dinner time. But now it was mid-afternoon and they were stuck right in the middle.

Sweetie Belle suddenly perked up. “Hold on, maybe I can fix this. Let me focus for a second.” She closed her eyes. Her horn glowed. All was silent for a moment or two. The unicorn's ears twitched. The train rocked and jolted. “No bits,” she muttered.

Scootaloo looked over at Apple Bloom, who shrugged.

Finally, Sweetie stiffened and clenched her eyelids closed. Her horn flashed, and two paper-wrapped packages appeared in the air beside her. She cracked her eyes open and grinned. “Four-bean burritos!” she proclaimed. “They were just sitting in a locker a couple cars ahead!”

Apple Bloom looked put out for a moment, but then relaxed her shoulders and reached out for one of the burritos. “I guess stealing somepony's lunch isn't the worst thing we've done today.”

The train rolled through the country. The sun was bright and warm in the sky above, and the wind that whipped at them from around their shelter was more refreshing than anything. They sat and ate and rested, gathered themselves after the intensity of the day.

Scootaloo's gaze wandered northward, to the dim silhouette of snowy mountains just barely poking over the horizon. Flash Fire would understand, of course. She always understood. But she was already doing so much of the wedding work, and here Scootaloo was, lazing on top of a train headed in nearly the opposite direction of her fiancé, eating stolen junk food and watching the afternoon slip away.

She'd make it up to her. A little warm buzz swirled through Scootaloo's body at the thought, and she felt a bit of the tension between her eyes loosen. She had years and years to look forward to, a million little moments with her future wife, and it would be blissful.

She dropped her gaze from the distant horizon down to the grasslands flying past them, then down further, to the warm metal under her flank, and the two ponies sharing the ride with her. Sweetie Belle was happily tucking into her half of one burrito. Apple Bloom had already finished two thirds of the other. Scootaloo slid closer, grabbed Apple Bloom's leftovers, and took a bite. It was filling and flavourful, although clearly of a fairly low quality.

Sweetie Belle broke nearly twenty minutes of silence. “Are you still mad at us?” Not accusing or defensive, but open and a bit apologetic.

Scootaloo leaned her back against the sign and looked up at the sky. “Not really. I still wish you hadn't done it, but… Listen. You two know me better than anyone. Even Flashy doesn't know me like you do, yet. On any other day, I would have loved to stow away on a train with you, or disappear for a weekend to party in Manehattan. But this wedding is really important to me, and I guess that's a new thing about me that you girls didn't know about. And that's okay.”

“We should probably have assumed though,” Sweetie said.

“Maybe.”

Apple Bloom shifted closer and rubbed her shoulder against Scootaloo's. “I don't even want to get married, but I get you. Sometimes two things are both important, but one of them is more important right now.”

“That's a good way to say it,” Scootaloo said.

Sweetie moved closer on her other side and said, “And it's Flash Fire we're talking about. Nopony in Equestria would blame you for prioritizing her.”

Scootaloo rolled her eyes. “Oh Celestia, here we go.” But a grin was already growing on her face.

“I've said it before and I'll say it again,” said Sweetie. “I don't even like mares that way, but Flash is something else.”

Apple Bloom also rolled her eyes, but she finished her part. “I don't like anypony that way, but yeah, Flash Fire lives up to her name.”

“You both suck,” Scootaloo said, her tongue extended. “Leave my fiancé alone.”

“Can't,” said Apple Bloom. “Sorry, but she's marrying our best friend. She's stuck with us, for better or worse.”

“Definitely worse,” Sweetie said with a sharp nod.

Scootaloo finished her burrito. The sun was near the horizon. The hills gave way to scraggly woods, the woods bristled into a forest, and the forest stretched up above to nearly blot out the setting sun on the horizon. The train slowed, the wind started to die, and the warm sunbeams that had heated the top of the train were smothered.

Scootaloo stood up. “I think that's Hollow Shades,” she said, pointing to a line of blocky shapes in the distance.

Apple Bloom nodded affirmative. “They'll be checking for us, so we'll need to get off quick and hide.”

“Do you think they recognized us?” Sweetie asked.

“Not enough to get us in real trouble,” Apple Bloom replied. “We might get a few stares the next time we take the train, but I reckon that's all.” She cleared her throat. “Assuming we don't get caught when we get off. Then we might have some serious explaining to do.”

The train slowed and slowed as it pulled into Hollow Shades.

The town had grown a bit more hospitable since the return of the Pillars and Princess Twilight's second coronation. It still wasn't pretty. Gloomy forest hung over the perimeter, raining needles down on the buildings and threatening serious damage whenever strong storms rolled through. The streets were paved with rough gravel, the horizon perpetually obscured, and the sky always a bit darker than it should be.

But at least the roads were intact, and the train station was clean, and there was a general store and a doctor's office to serve most of the residents' needs.

Scootaloo eyed the nearest line of houses opposite the train station as they rolled in over the last hill. They would have less than a minute to cover a hundred yards or so. She felt her pulse speed up in anticipation.

The train's brakes squealed, and the car beneath them lurched as the train slowed down to approach the town. A deserted platform slid up beside them. The train hissed and clamoured until finally it fell silent.

In near perfect synchronicity, three ponies approached the edge of the train and leapt. Their hooves punched deep into soft, damp grass. The setting sun cast long, fantastic shadows across the field, the orange sun flickering at the corners of their eyes as they passed trees and rocks and buildings and hills.

Scootaloo had pulled into the lead, so she slowed down just a bit and looked over her shoulder. A skinny pony in a red vest stood atop the train and stared back. Scootaloo hopped into the air and spun in a complete circle, giving him a friendly wave as she whipped around.

They broke the treeline in unison and stumbled another few yards into the thicket, twitchy hooves bouncing against branches and stumps. Apple Bloom yelped as the ground gave way beneath her and she tumbled down a short incline. Sweetie Belle grunted as every stray twig she passed bumped and nicked her legs.

Scootaloo dug her heels in and slid to a stop, a massive smile on her face. Her chest heaved, her breath was hot and lively, her tail and mane were tousled. She could feel tiny bruises and cuts all over her body from their mad dash through the trees.

The other two stumbled into her, and together they fetched up against a fallen log and fell into a pile. Scootaloo found herself pressed flat against the forest floor. She inhaled long and slow. Hollow Shades smelled different from the forests around Ponyville, but they still had an unmistakably earthy note that brought back years of memories.

She rolled away from her friends and clambered to her hooves, only to wince as bits of her coat clumped and matted together. She looked down at herself and burst out laughing.

“What's so funny?” Apple Bloom asked. She was laying on her back, glaring upside down at Scootaloo.

The pegasus ran a hoof through a sticky patch of fur on her own chest. “Tree sap.”

The other two stared at each other for a moment. “Oh Celestia,” said Sweetie Belle. “I really thought that was a thing of the past.”

Apple Bloom stood up and sat against the log. “I live on a farm, y'all. I'm covered in tree sap every weekend.” She spoke in a deadpan, but her grin was as wide as the others.

In the distance, a train whistle sounded, and the faint rumble of the engine followed soon after.

The sudden scale of the world—how far they were from anything, how wild and mysterious every inch of the land was, snatched the breath from Scootaloo's lungs. She hadn't felt anything like it in years.

Her train, her wedding, all of it seemed a bit less dire. She'd get to the Crystal Empire tomorrow, or the day after. Flash Fire wouldn't be mad. In fact, her fiancé would probably laugh herself silly. Their wedding would be beautiful and memorable, but it wouldn't be everything. Her life would change, but life wouldn't.

Scootaloo reached out and wrapped her friends in a warm, sticky hug.

“I really missed you girls.”

Author's Note:

The biggest possible thanks to Chaotic Dreams for his constant, enthusiastic support, and to the Enchanted Library patreon server for organizing the event and keeping it fun!

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Comments ( 2 )

I admit being a bit confused by the sequence of the CMC escaping from the Princess Car. Besides that, that was a really sweet ending.

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Thanks for checking back in on the ending, and I'm really glad you enjoyed it.

Re: the action scene, very fair. Blocking has never been my strong suit. Hopefully it didn't break the narrative flow too much.

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