• Published 23rd Mar 2020
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Do Ponies on Earth have Magic Dreams? - Tiki Bat

The story of an optimistic young night pony, the special pony that enters his life, and how the two of them follow their dreams to make the world a better place!

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Chapter 44: Deception is a Dangerous Thing…

Stanley felt a growing uncertainty as he stared off into the sunset on the horizon. This bittersweet reflection was only undercut by the odd excitement that the talks with both Silver and his inventor friend had brought on. The idea that they had a plan B if everything went wrong admittedly took a huge weight off of the night pony’s conscience… but he still had his lingering doubt. Spreading his wings, he leaped off of the village’s large stone wall and his worries briefly faded away as he increased his altitude to the point where he could see the sprawling Grand Canyon in the distance. A sense of longing filled him as he eyed the clouds with a twinge of envy that he couldn’t just sit up on a cloud and watch the sunrise forever.

It wasn’t that he disliked being a night pony, but he had to admit that he’d gladly become a pegasus if he ever had the chance— not that he ever would. Still though, he had to figure that if he was a pegasus then maybe he wouldn’t be dealing with some of the same issues he was dealing with now. It was a silly fantasy but one that often made him think about how different his life might have been if he hadn’t been turned into a night pony.

Would he have decided to come out this far out of a lack of companionship? Would he have seen such a radically different pony in the mirror every morning than the human he used to be? How much of his old self would have been retained if he wasn’t so driven by his instincts? He wouldn’t have been exactly the same as before of course, but would he have at least resembled more of the human who was so afraid of everything that he had once been?

There was no way to know, and no way he’d ever know for that matter, but he still couldn’t help but let his mind wander. He supposed that ETS changed him for the better in the long run, even if being a night pony had inadvertently placed him in the role of a divided village’s mediator. With a sigh he shook his head and dropped into a quick dive, letting the adrenaline clear his scattered thoughts.

As Stanley pulled into a tight landing, he shook off his wings and trotted towards his unsteady home. And as he slowly passed through the calm and quiet village he couldn’t help but feel a mounting sense of unease, because while everything was calm and peaceful right now, Midnight had been working behind Dawn’s back to give the earth ponies what they wanted. Her real plan, as she had explained it, was to give them what they wanted up front while hiding that from Dawn until she could slowly ease the unapproved changes into normalcy.

The way she had explained this was logical enough, make little changes that slowly enveloped parts of what they wanted so it all looked good on the record, but while giving them the full control they desired too. Midnight’s plan in essence was to play the long con, which could totally work, but it was also incredibly risky if you considered how nosy Dawn could be. Midnight had already had at least two close calls with Dawn wanting to review the current growing schedule and inspect the farm personally. The first request had been easy enough to deflect— all Midnight had to do was simply write up a fake schedule. The second however, had been a very close call.

Dawn had been making her usual morning rounds before retiring for the day, and had unexpectedly broken her usual routine to give the farmers a surprise visit. Some quick thinking and a sudden avalanche of a local trader’s wares had pulled her attention away from the farm visit. After lending a hand with organizing the Knick-knacks and other hoof made tools and trinkets, Dawn had been too tired to bother with her visit, but such a lucky break wouldn’t last forever. As he passed through the doorway to the town hall he greeted Midnight with a warm smile.

“You slept in a bit,” Midnight observed.

“Just for a little while,” Stanley corrected. “Had a quick call to make, about some of the stuff we talked about.”

“And what were you two talking about?” Dawn curtly asked as she trotted in from the council’s chamber.

“Stuff that isn’t really any of your business,” Midnight casually replied.

“But if you’re wondering, it's just possible vacation stuff, nothing really interesting.” Stanley interjected.

While Midnight’s response wasn’t outright aggressive, it was the kind of response that might elicit a negative reaction from the normally stoic mare. Not wanting to give her a chance to read into it further, Stanley instead shifted his voice into the most cheerful tone he could muster and continued his explanation.

“I wanted to call a friend and see if he’d let us crash on his couch for a while in case we wanted to go visit in a few months.”

“I see,” the burnt orange mare nodded. “Sounds like it was my business then after all. Were you going to ask for that time off or were you just going to spring it on me?”

“We were going to bring it up when it was right to,” Midnight ran with his story. “In fact, we’re just now barely even planning some of it out.”

Dawn raised an eyebrow, “You haven’t even planned any of it?”

“Nope. We’ve got a few ideas, but there’s not really anything concrete yet and things could change at any moment.”

Trying to do his best to keep the conversation neutral and calm, Stanley continued from Midnight's explanation. “Trust me Dawn, we’ll keep you in the loop once we actually know what we’re doing. Right now we’re just thinking about what we actually want to do and making sure we can actually crash somewhere first.”

“We were gonna ask you if you wanted to join us, but we figured it’d be better if the entire administration team wasn’t off chilling at some beach.”

Midnight let out an audible laugh, “For real though, we’ll let you know in advance, I promise.”

“I’d appreciate that.”

“So what’s on the agenda tonight, Dawn?” Stanley asked, changing the subject.

“A lot of the usual, and speaking of which I have a meeting with head mage Indigo coming up soon.”

“Oh yeah? Well what’s Indigo up to nowadays?” he continued.

“About what you’d expect from him. The crazy old unicorn’s apparently got some breakthrough with his organization spell that he’s been insisting he show me and I’ll never hear the end of it if I’m late.”

“That’s alright Dawn,” Midnight interrupted, “Stanley and I can cover for you. I think you just had to talk about reports with the earth ponies and pegasi right?”

“Correct. But you don’t need to worry about that.”

“No,” Stanley interjected, “we probably don’t, but we will. You don’t need to overstress yourself, and we all know that Indigo’s ten minute demonstration is going to really be three hours.”

Dawn hesitated for a moment, taking a quick glance outside. With a warm smile she nodded, “Thank you. I guess you’re right.”

No need to thank us Dawn, it’s what we’re here for.”

Dawn nodded once more and turned towards the door. “In that case, you two have a nice evening. We can talk over the reports later.”

Stanley bowed his head in respect to her, “Sounds like a plan.”

The fiery mare trotted off and left the two in peace, though Midnight still seemed to carry herself with a sense of caution and suspicion, as if she was afraid that Dawn would return at a moment’s notice. Stanley couldn’t blame her, the mare wasn’t one to just make a greeting and run off. No, she was the kind of pony that loved to hear about your day and talk all about your plans. If anypony were to stick around and return unannounced, it would one hundred percent be her.

Almost as if she had been reading his thoughts, Midnight glanced around to make sure that Dawn was actually out of ear shot and turned back to Stanley. “So what did your friends say then?”

“Do you want the long story or the short one?”

“Long one is probably best to be honest. I’ve got some stuff I need to talk to you about too and it’s probably a good idea to at least know what’s on your mind.”

“Right, we’ll for starters we’ll have a place to go if things don’t work out here.”

The truth of the matter was that there wasn’t a clear guarantee that they would take whatever deal was being proposed, but Silver seemed to be confident in it and so Stanley was willing to take a risk on this.

“That’s good,” Midnight commented. “So what’s the place like then? And can it handle all of us?”

“It should. The place they’re moving to eventually is an old mining town out near the Verde Valley that’s basically abandoned. The two ponies in charge of it are a couple of inventors and I don’t know what they’re doing out there, but it’s a place that might give us all what we really wanted here. It’s going to need a lot of work to fully set up yet so they would really appreciate all of the extra help, and they don’t really mind the idea of setting it up as a functional village. They just need it for some experiment and as long as they can do that then they’re good.”

“Right…” Midnight considered this for a few moments before raising a skeptical eyebrow, “and we can trust them?”

Stanley paused for a moment and thought about the impression he had gotten from the pony he had talked to, Tinker. He hadn’t actually met the stallion, but his voice carried the jolly, optimistic tone that gave off the distinct impression that he was the kind of pony that could be anypony’s friend. This obviously wasn’t a sure fire thing to go off of, but Silver seemed to trust him well enough and Stanley trusted Silver enough to take his word.

“It might sound super sketchy and maybe a little dumb, but one of my closest friends trusts him so I’m going to trust him too.”

Midnight sighed and nodded, “I’m just worried about everything, you know?”

“Still tied up on whether we should try and make things work here or just go our separate ways?”

“Yeah. I really am,” she admitted.

Stanley walked closer to her and sat down, laying a wing over his friend. “I know this is a hard decision to make, but I’m with you either way.”

“I know. As much as I want to just make things work here we really need to look out for the ponies that need it more.”

“Mhmm. Well tell you what. What if we get Gizmo and his ponies together and we all vote on that once I know for sure whether my friends are getting their place or not. If they vote to move there then we move there and just cut ties peacefully.”

“And if they don’t?”

“Then we do whatever we need to do. I think the important thing is giving them what we can within reason, and if some want to stay and argue with Dawn then so be it. But we need to make up our minds on what side we’re on.”

Midnight slumped over and sighed, “It’s hard to choose that, you know? Dawn’s not a bad pony but she’s also misguided and clearly doesn’t want to compromise. This is also my home too though and it feels like a lot to just abandon it because we can’t see eye to eye.”

“Then look at it this way, is the stress you’re feeling now worth it? And if it isn’t then what do you want to do about it?”

“That’s hard to answer too. Everypony here has a purpose and a role, I can’t just step back from what I’m doing now but I also can’t just stick around doing it forever.”

“Because you’re burned out and it’s eating away at you?”

“Yeah. That’s it exactly. But then I’m also stressing about whether moving hundreds of miles away is a good choice too, because what if it isn’t? What if that village just falls apart too?”

“That’s the hardest thing to predict. But what I’m seeing is a whole bunch of ponies that aren’t happy trying their best to bargain with a leader who isn’t willing to budge on her idealistic dream. Maybe it isn’t my place to say, but I think at that point we need to cut our losses and move on so we can all be happy instead of falling into this looping cycle of unhappiness.”

“So you’re saying we should go?” Midnight looked up at him with an uneasy and anxious look on her face.

“If things don’t improve? Yeah. The plan you’re working on now works, but what happens when Dawn catches wind of it? What happens if she isn’t willing to just gradually buy into it?”

“She’ll snap and shut everything down and we’ll be right back where we started.” Midnight answered. “Okay, then I have an idea.”

“Please do tell,” Stanley reassured her, “I’m really curious what it is.”

“We have our vote, and we come clean to Dawn. If she still has an issue with that then we’ll move on and see what happens. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t, but whatever happens you’re right. We can’t just stick around just to stick around.”

“You want to come clean to Dawn?”

“It’s going to hurt her probably but we should. Ponies shouldn’t lie to their friends, even if the truth is going to hurt them.”

Stanley nodded, “I see… well should we go talk with Gizmo then and figure out when to take the vote?”

She nodded, “Yes. We need to take a trip over to the farm and have a talk with him, he should be waking up soon anyways.”

“Let’s do it,” was his only reply as he stood up and made for the door.

The feeling of worry and unease echoed back into his mind as he realized that their days in Sanctuary were more than likely numbered, and even though they wouldn’t be without a home for long, Stanley still couldn’t help but worry about the future ahead of him. Not just for his or Midnight’s sake, but for half a village’s worth.

Stanley didn’t know it at the time, but the following week would be his last spent in Sanctuary…

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