• Published 22nd Sep 2020
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Paradise Company - UnkleBumbleHeck

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2: Introductions

Present Day

"...But that still leaves us one short onstage," somepony's voice said.

"I can pick up extra vocals or something," Another pony said. Where was I?

"Besides, Pinkie will be there-"

"Oh sweet Celestia don't tell me you invited her! You know how the boss feels about her type of party!"

I opened my eyes slowly. My eyelids felt like they were stuck together.

"It's a party, Pinkie will be there whether we invite her or not," the first voice said. In front of me was a drop ceiling. I looked right, and saw a window.

"Well at least tell me there won't be any party cannons, we seriously can't afford to get banned from the park," the second voice retorted. I looked to my left and saw two ponies. One was sat next to me in a chair, the other was standing in front of her.

The mare next to me was a pegasus with a light purple coat and an electric blue mane. She was wearing a black tee-shirt and blue jeans. The buck in front of her was a giant of an earth pony. His coat was a sort of bronzed yellow, and his pink mane covered his eyes. His chinstrap beard gave him a very rugged look, along with his outfit of an outdoors-y sort of jacket and cargo pants.

"Listen," the buck said shaking his head. "Everything's pretty much already set. There's just a little left I need to do, like a couple two three things."

I half laughed, half coughed. "Couple two three things. What is that, like six things?" I said.

"Whoa, hey!" The mare said, jumping out of her seat. "You're awake, how about that?" She motioned at the door. "Hey Red, mind grabbing somepony? Nurse or whatever." The buck nodded and went outside the room.

I looked at the mare. She seemed happy to see me awake, her pink eyes wide and mouth grinning. I tried to speak but ended up in a coughing fit. Something was in my throat that had no business being there!

"Easy, easy," she said. I pawed at my face. "You've got one of those breather tube things in you. Just hang out for a minute, somepony should be here soon."

On que, Red entered again, along with somepony else. A nurse, judging by the scrubs and the weird hat. She approached me as I continued to fumble with whatever was down my throat.

After some help from the nurse, I got the tube out of my throat and was able to breathe properly. "Where am I?" I asked.

"You're in Ponyville General Hospital," the nurse told me. "You've been with us for two days." She began checking some sort of equipment I couldn't see. "Just need to check on a few things miss, and then the doctor will be in to see you-"

"No, no doctors." I immediately tried to rise out of the hospital bed I was in. I could see how bad this would get if I didn't get out of here. Where would I go, though?

"You've been unconscious for two days ma'am-" the nurse started, but the big buff guy stepped up to her side and looked down at me. I still couldn't see his eyes through his bangs.

"Relax. You're fine, just need to take care of a few formalities and you'll be out of here, okay?" His voice was firm. He sounded like somepony that spent a lot of time straining his voice. I didn't feel at all up to the task of fighting this wall of muscle, so I laid back down with a huff.

"Can you tell me your name, miss?" The nurse said in a sweet tone. I didn't like that.

I looked at the pegasus mare, who was looking at me with concern now. I didn't like that either. The buck was entirely unreadable with his eyes concealed. His lips were pursed. I sighed. "Azure Ariana Lune, birthday December twenty-first, nine-seventy-two," I said rotely. "I don't have an ID, sorry."

The nurse looked nervous. "We actually did a hoofprint search to see if we could identify you..." she trailed off. I began queueing up spells.

Red put his hoof on my leg while gently pushing the nurse aside. "Relax. Everything's under control. Listen, why don't we have a chat?" He motioned for the nurse to step outside, and she nodded.

"My name's Reid Haywood. This here's Lilac Skyes. She's the one that pulled you out of that wreck. You remember that, don't you?"

I looked at him for a moment before it came back to me. Right, the wreck... I nodded. "Yeah."

"You were pretty lucky," Lilac spoke up. "I saw you go off, must've tumbled half a dozen times. Doctor said you didn't have any broken bones or anything though." I raised my brow and nodded.

"I'll get right to it. You're not in Equestria legally. We know that, the hospital knows that, but we pay some of their bills so it's not gone any further than that." Reid - or was it Red? - walked around my bed to the right side, by the window. Outside I could make out part of a parking lot, but beyond that was just snowfall. We were several floors up. "Also noticed that mark on your neck," he said, brushing my hair aside. I flinched away. The mark he was talking about was a little tattoo of a clover on my neck. It had a very simple meaning: I belonged to the Clover. "I'd like to know a little more about that, but it's not important. Right now you've got a few options. Two, really."

Lilac groaned. "Red, really? She literally just woke up."

"That's why I need to talk to her about it now. If we wait it might get away from us, then it's out of our hooves completely." I gathered Red was a nickname for him. He raised his head and looked down at me. I could vaguely make out his eyes, they looked green. "Option one, you tell us to fuck off, and we do just that. Hospital submits a report to the Royal Guard and you're deported. Option two, you could work for us. All this gets swept under the rug and-" he shrugged. "No big deal. Really, it's no matter either way. On you though, this isn't a decision we can make for you."

I grumbled. I'd never get out of this lifestyle. "Who are you?"

"We're Paradise Company," he replied.

...

After begrudgingly agreeing to his terms, I was given a simple description of my situation by Red. Basically, these ponies - Paradise Company - were the shot callers of this town. A lot of the big goings-ons went through them, and just about every civil service in the town was on their payroll. From the hospital to the police. Because Lilac, one of the associates of this organization, had found me, I was brought to their attention rather than immediately to the police. In short, Paradise Company was the reason I wasn't in hoof cuffs right now.

"Alright, I owe you. Fine," I grumbled after he was done explaining things.

"Hey, hey," he said with a grin. "You're looking at this all wrong. This is the only way we can help you. Look," he sighed. "I know what the Clover are like. I know what that mark means, too. This isn't like that. You're not indentured into servitude to us or anything. But working for us will enable us to help you out of this," he said as he gestured around the room. "Plus, it might be able to settle this illegal alien problem of yours."

I raised my ears.

"Oh, yeah," he continued. "We can get you naturalized. You didn't come to Equestria just to hide from the law all your life, did you?"

He made a fair argument. I still didn't quite like it though. "Hey," Lilac said gently from my other side. I turned to look at her. She placed her hoof on my shoulder. "This is a lot to take in, I know. But really, he's right. There's no other way out of this, Blue."

Blue? I guessed she was referencing my colors. Blue coat, dark blue mane, and blue eyes, I definitely was blue. I looked at Red, who was staring at Lilac. I thought. I couldn't see his eyes, so I wasn't sure. "Alright, you've convinced me. Damn, you're a good salespony."

...