• Published 17th Dec 2011
  • 8,852 Views, 624 Comments

Banishment Decree - Neon Czolgosz

Gryphon warriors don't get fired, they get banished.

  • ...

5. Book of Names, Part 3

I'm suddenly back in the hotel room, dry heaving. We’d left a teleportation beacon in the room in case we needed to get back quickly; Twilight must have activated mine.

This is very bad. The meeting had been attacked by one of Dash and Twilight’s friends. They were more than likely working together. Twilight pinned me with telekinesis like it was foal’s play and Dash seemed very sure that the purple librarian was more than a match for Trixie. Best case, they just wanted to scatter me and Trixie while they escaped with two million bits and an equally valuable set of documents. Worst case Twilight wanted me out of the way while she takes a clear shot at Trixie, before coming after me. I won’t give them that chance.

I bolt for the door, but a bag appears in front of me in a violet flash. It's my equipment bag. Weapons, gas grenades, gas masks and all. Either they weren’t planning on slotting me, or Dash’s sense of fair play is a lot bigger than I remember it being.

Suddenly the rest of the equipment teleports into the room. A roll of duct tape bounces off my head. Then, Dash, Twilight and Trixie appear.

Trixie had been talking mid teleport. “-what about the portable holes we left-”

“Don’t worry, they’re charmed to disintegrate when the main portals close, they leave no trace” says Twilight, cutting her off. Dash is not as used to teleportation, and is clutching her stomach, looking ill.

I am now seriously confused. Beakball-season-afterparty-and-two-pints-of-Everfree-Everclear confused. Twilight and Trixie are sorting their arcane equipment and Dash is rummaging around inside the minibar.

“Would somepony mind telling me what the buck happened back there?” I yell.

“Sure” says Dash, mixing up a pair of vodka screwdrivers “We were watching some crooks swap a bunch of documents for a bunch of money, and then Pinkie Pie ballistically breached the door, stole the documents and the money and dived out of a window. That’s the long and short of it, Gilda.”

I do what any reasonable griffon would do, and punch her in the face. At least, I try to. My arm is held in place by telekinesis again. I try punching with my other arm, and that's locked in place too. I think about kicking, but look around first. Twilight has a guarded expression as she keeps up the spell. Trixie is staring at Twilight, and is rooted in place. She has a terrified look in her eyes, but her cheeks are flushed and she's biting her lip. Dash looks worried, like she did the few times we genuinely thought we were getting kicked out of flight school.

I sigh. “Fine, I’ll break it down more slowly. We were watching a meeting and some crazy pony in a mask attacked it,” I say, “And supposedly, this crazy pony is your friend Pinkie Pie.”

“Yup” say Dash and Twilight in unison.

“The clingy pink one with the balloons and the parties? She did this?” I ask flatly.

“You ever hear of Mare-Do-Well, Gilda?” ask Dash.

“Yeah, that vigilante in Manehattan a few years-” The bit drops. “Pinkie Pie is Mare-Do-Well. Right.”

“Ah, you’re learning not to question the ways of Pinkie” says Dash with a grin. “It takes some ponies longer than others to do that” she says, glancing at Twilight who nickers softly.

I rub the bridge of my beak. “Okay, give me the long version because this is batshit crazy. Give me a drink too. A strong drink.”

Dash rummages around the minibar some more and says “See, a while after we last met I basically became the hero of Ponyville after heroically rescuing a bunch of ponies. It kinda went to my head a little bit, so my friends came up with Mare-Do-Well, who went around being a bigger hero than me.

“Twilight had her magic, Fluttershy had wings, Applejack was her freakishly strong self, Rarity made the costumes and Pinkie had Pinkie sense. Anyhoo, I learned a valuable lesson, wrote up the friendship report, yada yada. The uniforms got shelved and we forgot about it.”

Dash passes me a vodka screwdriver. I take a drink, it is freakishly, perfectly strong. Dash gulps down a mouthful of her drink, then continues: “A few years later there was the Manehattan crime wave and a DJ friend of Pinkie’s got beaten up badly in a mugging. Pinkie took a sabbatical from the bakery and went to sort out Manehattan. She broke half the gangs in the town and left the rest running scared until the crimewave faded away. She got training and support from us, but it was really Pinkie’s one pony war on crime. If we’re lucky, she’s started another one and we can work something out. If she’s working as a free agent...” She trails off and stares forward.

“I thought Pinkie might have been involved as soon as Trixie mentioned birds in the ventilation" comes Twilight’s voice from behind me. "We built a device together to mimic just that.”

“Okay, there’s something you dweebs are missing, because we’re talking about a clingy extrovert who works in a bakery you two look like you’re scared-” I say, before Twilight grabs me and turns me to face her with telekinesis. “Will you stop doing-” She shuts my beak with telekinesis.

“Gilda, I'm sorry to keep doing this with the telekinesis, it's very rude and I know you can probably break out of it if you fight hard enough, but there are things I've got to tell you that may be crucial to your continued survival. Well before the Manehattan crimewave, Pinkie Pie already had an inscrutable form of precognition, mild influence over the spacetime continuum allowing quasi-teleportation, a strong affinity for tinkering, mechanics and technomancy, ingenious pranking abilities, immunity to covert surveillance and boundless levels of energy. All that was before Dash, myself and the other elements turned Pinkie into a true crimefighter.

“Dash taught her military tactics from weapons handling to room entries. Applejack trained her physically and adapted her precognition, or ‘Pinkie Sense’ as Dash calls it, to fighting and wrestling, allowing her to dodge blows and avoid holds with minimal effort. Fluttershy taught her first aid and tracking skills. Rarity provided outfits, disguises and equipment modifications.

“I gave her information on everything from interrogation to basejumping to explosive chemistry. I customized her equipment, changing it from a random selection of useful bits and bobs to a set of specialized devices designed for all her crimefighting needs. I used my analyst skills to find her targets, acquire surplus military equipment, carry out interrogations and put her in he right place at the right time to stop the maximum number of criminals.

“Pinkie led indirectly to the imprisonment of four hundred ponies and directly to the imprisonment of three hundred more; as well as the deaths of the cupcakes killer and of crime boss Mare Gnocci. Without the training and assistance we gave her, she wouldn’t have a third of those numbers. We turned a lone vigilante into a machine that runs at optimum efficiency, and with that she was able to fight a one pony war on crime and win.”

Twilight then pulls me so close with her telekinesis that our faces touch. One of her eyes twitches a little. “So when we watch her waltz into a room filled with six vicious criminals and two trained spies and then incapacitate seven of them without taking a single blow - a ratio that tells you everything you need to know, by the way - to steal four million bits worth of paper; when she hasn’t mentioned starting a new war on crime, might be working as a free agent and appears to be working against us - you’re Nightmare-damned right we’re scared.”

She releases her telekinesis and drops me on the floor. I'm glad I'm part-cat what with the whole always-landing-on-your-feet thing. Sprawling to the floor after being levitated would be straight-up undignified. “Pinkie Pie is very dangerous, don't try to beat the location of the case out of her, got it,” I say “Can we steal it out from under her?”

Dash gives me a look. “Gilda, we're not stealing anything from Pinkie without knowing the full story.”

“She stole it first! It's important to the job I'm doing, she's basically costing me eight grand as it is!” I say.

“Six grand” says Trixie, looking up from the bag of arcana she was sorting through.

“Say fucking what Trixie?” I say.

“The Wise and Highly Prepared Trixie found out about the job, had it reserved for us and brought it to your attention, therefore she deserves a slightly larger share,” she says airily “It's S-O-P for independent contractors.”

Everypony in the room is trying to give me an aneurysm. “Trixie, four grand is not a slightly larger share, and 'horseapples you made up on the spot' is not the same as S-O-P” I say. She gives an indignant nicker and goes back to her sorting.

“Can we at least watch her to see what she wants the case for?” I ask, exasperated.

Twilight gives a short, harsh laugh. “Pinkie Pie is impossible to surveill covertly. She'll occasionally play along, but she always knows when she's being watched.”

“That makes absolutely no sen-”

Dash cuts me off. “And you were doing so very well. Don't question things like that when Pinkie Pie is around, it never ends well. Besides, I've got a way better idea.”

“Shoot” I say.

“We ask her. Hear me out, I saw her jump from that window as Mare-Do-Well. We tell her we want to join in whatever crimefighting operation she's running, ask her what she's been doing,” says Dash “If she's just back to being a vigilante, she'll tell us. If she's doing something bad, she probably won't.”

“What happens if she's not just being a vigilante?” I ask.

“Me and Twilight will get the rest of the elements together and sort it out. Pinkie's done crazy things before, all of us have. For the meantime, you'll just have to deal with not being on Brickbat’s Hearth Warmings card list.” Rainbow Dash downs the rest of her drink.

“Great. Just bucking great.”

* * *

The espionage game isn't a straightforward, shitty pulp novel by a hack writer; with all the situations exactly how you need them, simple solutions to your problems and no ambiguity or unknowns. You don't always get to choose your intelligence sources. The information you need might be held by a camel slave trader, a griffon traitor, or a bright pink migraine-incarnate who moonlights as a vigilante.

The four of us are walking down Escrow Street, wearing cheap business suits. If you dress like a paralegal or an accountant in Filly, no one assumes you're anything but. Both Buttercup, Blueberry & Lemondrop LLC and Booksworth & Page Auditors were based here along with several cafés, restaurants and delicatessens. Both firms treated Escrow Street as a company cafeteria and suits came from all over town for lunch here, giving the street its nickname: The Trough.

“Here we are, the Big Brioche” says Dash.

I look through the window, which had 'BIG BRIOCHE' written on it in huge gold letters. The restaurant is well lit and airy, with cream walls and upholstery, oak flooring and art on the walls. There is a large mechanical conveyor belt set in a circle, with three ponies on the inside preparing food and many ponies sat on the outside picking up small plates of food as they pass. This is where Pinkie Pie is doing her consulting. We go in.

The maître d' smiles warmly at us. “Good afternoon gentlemares, do you have a reser-”

“DASH! TWILIGHT!” Pinkie appears in front of us, cutting off the stallion. “You're here, this is awesome! You brought Trixie too! And Gilda!” She stops, and looks a little nervous. “Wait, Gilda?”

That's me, bitch.

Dash's pink friend looks different since I'd seen her last. Same manic voice, same spastic poof of hair, but now there are muscles under her big pink pillow of a body, bags under her bright blue eyes, a slim sheen of sweat on her forehead and her mane looks a little teased out. She's been a busy filly by the looks of it. I put on an easy smile and stop myself from crossing my fingers as I speak.

“Hey pink stuff, I came to apologise for being such a nag last time I saw you. You and Dash are pretty cool ponies, I really hope I can make it up to you guys” I say. I can do sincere when I need to.

Her face immediately lights up and her mane poofs out. “Aww, that's the nicest thing ever! Stay for lunch and you're totally forgiven,” she says, turning around “Come on guys, there are booths upstairs!”

We all follow her past the conveyor belt of food and to the stairs. Upstairs looks very different. There are two dozen wooden booths, with paper screens to stop you from seeing who was inside. A buscolt is removing plates from an empty booth in front of us, which looks like it could seat eight ponies.

“We got all these booths when we found out that some ponies prefer privacy, which I think is a bit boring but I could totally see why if you were talking to some headhunters trying to hire you away and then your boss walks in and sees you because that would be totally awkward and you'd probably get fired and wouldn't want to come and eat here again” says Pinkie in one breath “and that would be terrible because we do the best lunch in Equestria at reasonable rates for the average businesspony. Anyway, Dishy's just finished up, file in my little ponies!” We move into the booth as the colt goes off with the plates.

The booth is softly lit and has plush seats, a glass table and a painting of Fillydelphia at night on the wall. “Wow, this is really nice Pinkie,” says Twilight “You've outdone yourself.” Pinkie giggles and pushes a black button on the wall.

“Can we get a radish and jalapeño pizza with extra cheese, a beanburger and hayfries, and a seafood platter to booth 12 please” says Pinkie, before releasing the button, “Gilda, I just need to head to the kitchen to sort something out for you, back in a minute!”

“Mare, Pinkie always knows exactly what I want to eat. Do you think it's Pinkie Sense?” says Rainbow Dash. I can hear her stomach rumbling.

“I think it might be, since she's never eaten with Trixie before,” says Twilight.

“Actually, Trixie eats here a lot, especially since Miss Pie started working here. Pinkie has done a lot with the place and is a fantastic hostess, if a little eccentric,” says Trixie “I provided her with pyrotechnics and recommended her some up-and-comers in the illusion scene for an event she was hosting here two months ago.”

“Wait, you recommended an illusionist who's not you?” asks Dash, raising an eyebrow, “That doesn't sound like the Trixie we all know and lo- Well, like the Trixie we all know.”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie is the most skilled entertainer and illusionist alive, but this does not mean she poops where she eats, metaphorically speaking,” Trixie says, “Besides, the neophytes in my field have yet to show me up, so I'm not afraid to give them a boost when they're in need.” She smiles sweetly at Rainbow Dash.

“First off, neophyte isn't even a word” says Dash, “Second off, you're fishing and you've got no net, so stop wasting your time and shut it.” Trixie just smiles, takes out a small comb and brushes her hair.

Pinkie comes back into the room with a tray of drinks on her back, which Twilight lifts onto the table. “So how much longer are you guys in town for?” asks Pinkie.

“Well, at first we just came here to sightsee and give you a visit, but we found out something that we need to talk to you about” says Dash. She leans over the table conspiratorially “Is it safe to talk in here?”

Trixie's horn glows and the air in the room ripples oddly. “It is now” she says.

“Pinkie, I was flying past the Sunny Skies building yesterday. I saw Mare-Do-Well. Tell her we want in,” says Dash.

Pinkie's eyes go wide. “Gasp! You guys saw me yesterday?”

“Just me, but I told the guys about it and we want to help” says Dash.

“How did Twilight and Trixie and Gilda not see me?” asks Pinkie, puzzled, “They were inside the building, doing surviellance. I heard you all talking about it on your headsets.”

Twilight looks horrified. “That's impossible! I was using thaumatic scrambling as well as conventional cryptology, the only way you could listen in on us apart from getting an MIT super-anayltical engine would be a headset with the exact same private key as-” Her expression shifts from horrified to deadpan. “I never changed the private key after we worked Manehattan.”

“Yeah, that's pretty much what I thought” says Pinkie. “So, what were you doing watching that meeting with all that cool surveillance stuff?” She's still smiling with wide, innocent eyes, but there is a tiny edge behind her voice. The atmosphere in the room had just taken a very cold turn.

When your cover is blown you have a few options depending on how much the other bird knows, how important they are to the operation, and whether you need to gain their trust or liquidate them before they cause you real problems. Assuming a crossbow bolt to the face isn't an option, you're left with coming clean or telling a bigger lie. You have seconds or less to weigh up the likelihood of your lie being caught, the consequences of telling the truth, the loss of trust if you get caught out lying again, the problems that loss of trust will cause; as well as fabricate a half-convincing lie or figure out exactly how much truth you're going to dole out. There are a lot of variables is what I'm saying. My old flight school calculus professor ain't got shit on me.

My old calculus professor wouldn't have started thinking about it the moment Pinkie said “guys” plural.

Truth it is. “Me and Trixie got a job providing security for the donkey delivering the case of documents and the case itself. The donkey was doing a swap for an unknown third party. Dash and Twilight came along to give a helping hoof, since I got into a sticky situation about-”

“You were banished” says Pinkie, same bright tone. My jaw drops.

“Wha- How?” I sputter.

“I'll tell you later, carry on.”

“Uh, right. Um, after you bust up the meeting, I wanted to see if you could give the case back and get out of town and lay low if you couldn't. Twi and Dash said you were probably doing something worthwhile and wanted to tell you the whole thing. I was paranoid and insisted we told you as little as possible in case you were doing something sinister and planned to slot me and Trixie because we were working with the donkey. I've known security procedures less stringent.”

It wasn't the greatest spin I've ever come out with. Still, it makes Twilight and Rainbow Dash look more trustworthy and doesn't reveal any information that I couldn't afford to give her.

Pinkie looks thoughtful for a moment. “Do you know what was in the case?” she asks.

“Apart from a bunch of documents worth about two million bits in treasuries, no. We were hoping you'd tell us,” I say.

“Actually there were about five million bits of securities in the other case, there were some stocks and some higher denomination treasuries. I was a good little filly and returned them to the banks they were stolen from.” She pulls a copy of today's newspaper out from her mane. 'BANKS RECOVER STOLEN MILLIONS' was the front page headline.

“So” says Pinkie, now grinning from ear to ear, “Do you ponies and bird want to know what was in that case? Do ya? Do ya? Do ya do ya do ya?!” She leans over the table and draws us close.

“Do you fillies know what a 'Book of Names' is?” she asks, almost whispering. Twilight blanches and Trixie sits bolt upright, looking terrified.

“No, there's no way” I say “Twilight and Trixie's horns would have felt anything like that, let alone their surveillance equipment. Hell, I would have felt something like that in the same building. Plus, they're written in blood and made from gruesome things like parchment and dragonskin and horseglue. Paper, ink and staples aren't really a future grim shade's style, unless Lloyd Blankflank has a new grisly plan for immortality.”

“Wait, they actually exist?” says Trixie, panicked “I thought they were a horror story to scare unicorn foals!”

“Oh they exist, or they did” says Twilight darkly “Princess Celestia destroyed the last known one a century ago. Gilda, how do you even know about them?”

“A perk of working in intelligence is that your knowledge of a magical artefact is proportional to the number of times somepony has tried to take over the world with it,” I say, “The last was destroyed before our time, but we've been briefed on them in case another ever shows up.”

A book of names is a magical artefact of frightening power. It is essentially a list of 'true names' of demons, sprites and other similar beings. These true names can be used to summon, bind and sometimes even control said beings. Fortunately for non-demonologists and the fabric of reality itself, true names are very hard to record and tend to just disappear off the page they were written on. Unfortunately, some bastard of a unicorn found that by binding his soul to a book and using the magical energies of many unicorns being tortured to death, he could record true names in a book without them disappearing. That unicorn became an immortal grim shade while his soul was bound in the names of the book; and would stay that way unless the book was destroyed or somepony read the names, causing them to disappear along with a chunk of his soul.

This was another reason that the case didn't contain a Book. No angry grim shade stomping into the meeting trying to find his soul before some idiot paralegal speed-read the whole thing out of existence.

“Oh no, it wasn't an actual book of names” says Pinkie “That would be more of a job for the Princesses than the Mare-Do-Well. It's like a Book of Names but without the demons or the torturing or the evil shades.”

“So nothing at all like a Book of Names then,” says Twilight.

“Silly Twilight, I'll show you!” Pinkie presses the black button on the wall again. “Kitchen, this is Pinkie Pie, can we have the food for booth twelve sent to my office please? Thanksies!”

* * *

Pinkie's office was a lot more Pinkie than the rest of the building. The walls were striped white and pink and decorated with helium balloons and paper chains. The entire room was littered with strange devices and junk. There was a vivarium on the desk with nothing but an adult massager inside, a contraption of gears and wires and iron labelled 'Ro-Butler 6000', document boxes filled with candy and several in-trays full of documents. The pink mare shuts the door behind us with her tail, and sits down behind her desk. Everyone starts asking questions at once.

“How are those documents like a book of names?” asks Twilight.

“Why is Mare-Do-Well back? I thought you were helping the Cake nieces with their restaurant,” says Rainbow Dash.

“Who the fuck told you I was banished?” I ask.

“Can I get a refill?” asks Trixie, pointing to her empty mojito.

“All your questions will be answered in time” says Pinkie, “Except Trixie's which I'll answer now: Press the picture of a mojito on the Ro-Butler over there.” The blue illusionist trots over to the machine and presses a picture on the side. The machine shudders and judders and groans for ten seconds, before going 'Ding!' and dispensing a drink. Trixie takes a sip.

“Passable” she says.

“I could never get it to muddle the mint properly” says Pinkie with a small frown, “Anyway, I'll start from the beginning.

“Back six or so months ago, Mr and Mrs Cake come talk to me after closing time. They're all 'we gave our nieces some start up bits for a restaurant in Fillydelphia, it was doing well for a while but now they're really struggling, you know city business better than we do, could you go down there as a restaurant consultant.' I was like, sure, why not right? I've been rented out as a consultant by the Cakes before, I know all about hospitality and I throw the best parties in Equestria. Simple job.”


“So I arrive at the Big Brioche with a smile on my face and a bunch of extra capital from the Cakes to be spent as needed. Lemon Drizzle and Chocolate Cake show me around, and the thing is, the restaurant is pretty darn well run. I fired a cook who couldn't actually cook and just used the job as a front for dealing moondust, replaced him with someone from Ponyville who could cook and would also cater to non-pony tastes, added the private booths upstairs and did a lot of promotion for Big Brioche, but those are the only obvious changes they needed. Lemon and Chocolate have really got it together, they're not like other places I've been where the owners are silly ponies who don't know that grease traps need cleaning out or don't bother to get a booze licence; but they were still losing money.

“After a week I knew exactly what the problems were. Ponies from four different gangs would come into Big Brioche whenever they wanted, trot straight into the kitchen and demand protection bits from the chef or the bartender or whoever else was about. I'd try to change a vendor for hay or for fruits, or even just negotiate prices, and a bunch of ponies in cheap suits would show up, tell me there were no other vendors in town. If I found a new vendor and changed anyway, the new one would have the wheels stolen off his cart and his delivery-colts would be mugged on the job. It was crazy! I hadn't seen criminals coming after a business this hard since Manehattan.

“Lemon and Chocolate told me that it had started out really small, just one or two creepy vendors. It got steadily worse since, and it's happening to everyone. All the honest vendors are being harassed or turned into fronts for the gangs. The police can't or won't do anything, and when a deli owner down the street got some extortionists arrested, fwoosh, his shop was burned down within a week.” Her front legs go up in the air.

“So I was all like 'Crime is killing this neighbourhood! What do I do?' and then it hit me like a sack of flour: The Mare-Do-Well! The first thing I did was track down and take out every pony making collections in the neighbourhood, about twelve I think. Most of them I just set up to be arrested in the middle of a crime, but I hospitalised one who had beaten up a waitress at Morning Sunshine Cafe. I thought the collections would end at least.”

“I take it that didn't happen,” says Dash.

Pinkie shakes her head sadly. “'Fraid not, Dashie. The charges didn't stick for half the ponies arrested, and they just sent even more enforcers in place of the ones they lost. Then I spent months going after the higher ups. I was putting more ponies in hospital than a dozen ambulances. Went after the little bosses, the owners of fronts, but it didn't matter. The gangs would just get worse and worse. Every time I took out ponies from one gang, ponies from two others would pop up like parasprites to take the spoils. It was turning me into a crazy pony.”

“So what happened?” I ask.

“This happened.” Pinkie pulls a letter out from one of the desk drawers. “I was in Fat Parsley's flat trying to set her up for possession of illegal arcane paraphernalia. She had it stored in her wall safe. It's a letter from a certain mare from Manehattan. Nicker Cavallo.” She grins.

“It was a letter telling Fat to get a team together for a bank robbery pronto, on pain of a painful death” she says, “Some super-valuable documents were coming onto the market in Filly. I was a sneaky-pie, and stopped framing and beating up ponies and started tracking and listening in on ponies.

“It took about two months of interrogations and listening to random ponies' pillow talk, but eventually I found out exactly what the documents were. See, this crime boss called Sparks decided he didn't want to be a crime boss any more, so turned all of his money towards legal businesses. Sparks had a itty-bitty problem though, two in fact. One was all his old enemies who would come after him and his businesses if he turned legit. The other was all his old friends, who suddenly wouldn't have jobs any more and wouldn't stay friends for long. He took care of both problems at once and made the not-a-Book of Names. Here's the contents page.”

Pinkie takes out a few stapled together pages and passes them across the table. We all crowd close together to take a look at it. The headings are the names of local gangs, large and small, and different varieties of independent contractors. Under these headings are dozens and dozens of names. I know some of the names, all criminals. A few names are blacked out.

“This is a list of every single criminal and semi-legitimate business-unguate in Fillydelphia. If this is just the contents page...” Trixie looks awed.

“Oooh, would you like some more? Here's the part for that donkey Fourleaf” says Pinkie, handing over another couple of pages.

Everything you could possibly need to know about Fourleaf the donkey was in these pages. Who his family were and where they lived. What he did. Where he ate and drank and slept. Who he'd killed. What he'd stolen and who he'd stolen from. Who he'd worked for, what jobs he'd done and when he'd done them. What weapons he carried, who his contacts were, how he hid his crimes.

“You could have this donkey wrapped around your hoof with information like this... You have the same for all of these ponies?” asks Twilight.

“Yup. See, Sparks got his criminal friends to spend a whole year doing nothing but spying on every other criminal in Fillydelphia to make the not-a-Book-of-Names” says Pinkie, “His friends who did a good job on this job got their legitimate jobs with Sparks. After he got his businesses nice and established with lots of fancy security, he decided to sell the book, and I thought I'd pick up a copy. I was going to just use it as a meanie-defence shield against any pony who tried to mess with the Cakes, but now you guys turned up, I have a waaaay better idea! So long as Gilda and Trixie want to work with me I guess.”

“What's in it for us?” I ask.

“Well, for starters you'll get 25k bits and to sweeten the pot, I'll give you your files from the not-a-Book-Of-Names.” She's grinning widely now.

“Wait, we have files in there?” asks Trixie.

“Sure. How'd you think I knew Gilda was banished?”

“Sounds interesting. What's the plan?” I ask.

"Simple," says Pinkie, grinning widely. “Take out every gang in Fillydelphia.”