• Published 5th Feb 2021
  • 844 Views, 22 Comments

Hostile History - Jest



Sunset Shimmer's is happy for the first time in a long time. She's accepted, has wonderful friends, and a life many would envy. Or is it all an illusion forced upon her by the very people she trusted? Only time will tell.

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Chapter 23

“Are you sure this is the place?” Rainbow Dash muttered.

The girl’s confusion no doubt stemmed from the rather nice home sitting at the end of a long driveway deep in the hills. Though the surrounding area was mostly wooded and quite rural, the house stood out as a beacon of luxury. Only three stories tall, the structure may have appeared unremarkable if it wasn't for the many windows which had seemingly replaced just about every exterior wall.

Sharp angles, and dark colors replaced the usually white and sloping appearance of the other homes in the area. While they looked the part for their place, this building was like a modern art peice in comparison. The yard was also perfectly orderly, and empty of any of the usual signs of animals or farm equipment which were common for the area.

The only thing that dotted the wide expanse of green save for the house and driveway was a single car garage which stood apart from the home.

“It appears so,” Rarity exclaimed, peeking out from the backseat of Applejack’s truck and showing the other girl her phone.

“Huh,” Rainbow Dash murmured.

“This guy knows were coming right?” Twilight asked.

Rarity rolled her eyes. “For the hundredth time darling, yes. I’ve worked everything out with mister Tell. The only thing I left out was the fact that more than just I would be showing up.”

“So I might have to put the old foot in the door. Got it,” Applejack remarked, pulling the truck back into gear and driving down the dusty road.

“I don't know if that's the best idea. You might get hurt,” Fluttershy whispered.

“Pisha don't worry about it Flutters. Applejack is tough as nails!” Pinkie Pie wound up and slugged the other girl on the shoulder.

“That still hurts ya know,” Applejack muttered, rubbing the spot.

Twilight cleared her throat. “Does everyone remember the plan?”

“Get in. Get some answers and get out before a bad guy shows up. Easy,” Rainbow Dash declared.

Twilight sighed. “And remember that we don't know what happened to mister Tell. He may have been injured or just paid off.”

“That second one seems more likely as this place looks like something designed by Frank Lloyd Wright,” Rarity remarked in awe.

Applejack stopped next to the house and shifted the vehicle into park with a distinct clunk. “Well either way let's keep our ears and minds open.”

“Yeah whatever. Now would you get out already? I hate getting stuck in the middle seat,” Rainbow Dash whined, quickly unclasping her seatbelt.

The six girls all piled out of the vehicle and assembled on the driveway only to stop a second before they were going to approach the door.

Applejack scratched her head. “Wait, how do you even get into this place?”

“The doorbell, of course,” Rarity stated, stepping up to the flat black glass surface and looking around. “I thought I saw it around here somewhere.”

“Why don't we just knock?” Pinkie Pie asked.

“Good thinking Pinkie Pie,” Twilight replied, rapping her knuckle twice against the glass.

The six girls waited patiently for several seconds, until Rainbow Dash grew bored and gave the window three firm pounds.

“Darling please contain yourself,” Rarity implored. “This wall is likely worth more than Applejack’s truck.”

“Hey!” Applejack exclaimed.

“Well it's probably true,” Fluttershy whispered.

“I was careful,” Rainbow Dash retorted.

“I’m coming! Just hold your horses!” Shouted an elderly male voice from within the home.

“Alright everyone, remember to remain calm,” Twilight encouraged.

“We aren't children you know,” Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

“Still, I-” Twilight began, only to be interrupted when the door opened and revealed an elderly light skinned male with a massive salt and pepper beard.

He stood only a mere five and a half feet tall, and wore a checkered shirt along with a pair of black slacks. The years had not been kind to him, as he wore a pair of glasses that resembled twin coke bottles while also walking with a very obvious limp in his right leg. He also had a white hearing aid in one ear, though the six girls didn't initially notice that particular detail.

“Who are you?” He demanded in a gruff voice.

“I’m Rarity. I spoke to you on the phone and we exchanged emails,” Rarity offered.

“What?” he shouted.

The fashionista cleared her throat before raising her voice. “My name is Rarity. I emailed you before!”

“Oh,” he frowned. “And who are these people?”

“We were hoping to talk to you about a textbook you edited twenty years ago,” Twilight interrupted, pulling the aforementioned tome from her bag and pointing to a familiar page. “We had some questions concerning this man.”

The old man immediately lost all color in his cheeks. “I don't know what your talking about. Get off my property!”

“Ahh come on man, relax. We just want to figure some stuff out,” Rainbow Dash added.

“I said get out!” bellowed the male.

The door swung shut, but was caught by Applejack at the last moment who stepped forward and held it open. “I’m afraid we must insist,” stated the farm girl.

The man’s eyes narrowed. “You don't know what yer getting into missy. Best turn around now before you end up too deep.”

“Respectfully sir. We are already too deep,” Twilight added, peeking around the door.

The man’s frown deepened, and after several tense seconds he let out a sigh. “Fine. I suppose if y'all went through the trouble of finding me, you deserve a story or two.”

“Does that mean you’ll talk to us?” Pinkie Pie asked, the girl hanging from Applejack’s arm.

“What do you think I meant when I promised you a story?” barked the man who turned and walked back into his house. “Damn kids these days don't have any sense.”

Applejack grunted, and pushed open the door. “Well ain't that a fine how do ya do.”

“We are invading his home on false pretenses,” Twilight pointed out.

Rainbow Dash slipped inside and quickly wiped off her shoes. “Well were here aren't we?”

“Let's just go. All this dishonesty makes my stomach turn,” Applejack remarked bitterly as she followed Rainbow Dash.

The rest of her friends quietly assembled in the entryway, cleaning their footwear of dirt and grime before making their way deeper into the home. Ascending a handful of stairs, the group entered into a wide open floor that contained within it a kitchen, living room and dining space. It also offered nearly a perfect panoramic view of their surroundings and was broken up by support columns, a spiral staircase and some furniture older than any of the girls.

Though clearly very modern in its layout, the home certainly had a rustic charm, no doubt added by its inhabitant. The smell of a beef based soup wafted from the stove, while a record player filled the space with the dulcet tones of some long dead singer. In the midst of it all the man sat on his couch, a book on his lap, and a scowl on his wrinkled face.

“Don't tell me your just going to stand there all day?” he asked in a gruff tone.

Twilight walked over to the seat across from him while her friends did likewise as best as they could anyway. With only a few chairs, some had to stand, though they weren't about to complain and merely stood or sat quietly.

“So mister Tell. What do you know of this man?” Twilight asked.

“Plenty. He's the one that forced me out of the business in the first place,” the old man exclaimed.

“You certainly seem to be doing well for yourself regardless,” Rarity offered.

The man snorted. “I had enough saved up by then. Nowadays I work just to keep the old mind doing something.”

“He didn't hurt you did he?” Fluttershy whispered.

Mr Tell’s eyes narrowed, and he frowned. “Oh yes. There was plenty of that.”

“I knew it,” Rainbow Dash exclaimed, pounding a fist into her open hand. “We are so kicking his butt after this.”

“Let's not be too hasty,” Twilight remarked, turning back to the man. “You said you had some stories in mind?”

“Oh yes. I heard this first one from the grand daughter of someone who was there on that fateful day,” began the man, whose expression had darkened. “It was a dark and stormy night in the state of Georgia. Our mystery man was going by the name of Jebediah Ackleson at the time and he had just joined the confederate army.”

“Why though? Did he want to maintain slavery or was there another reason?” Twilight questioned.

“Quit yer yappin and let me tell the story already,” the man snapped.

The girl winced. “Err right. Sorry sir.”

Mister Tell cleared his throat. “Right, like I was saying this fella showed up outta nowhere and signed right up. Although a little strange, they took ‘em on without battin an eye as he was tough, and above all, smart. Within only a few weeks he managed to get himself a leadership role, and though low on the totem pole, everyone who met him knew he was destined for something greater.”

The six girls listened carefully, each one drawn into the story being told to them.

“Now, at the time the south felt confident that they could win, and the men were enjoying a last bit of free time before they joined the front lines,” Tell continued. “Him and a bunch of other officers went down to a bawdy house for a little entertainment and-”

“What's a bawdy house?” Rainbow Dash interrupted.

The man blinked, his gaze narrowing. “What? Are you lot, not adults?”

“We are,” Twilight quickly interrupted.

“But I-” Rainbow Dash began.

“It's a brothel,” Applejack whispered in the other girl’s ear.

“-know exactly that is. I just didn't hear you correctly the first time,” Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

The man nodded. “Good. Cus I don't like repeating myself almost as much as I don't like being interrupted.”

“Right. Sorry,” Rainbow Dash murmured.

“Anyway,” Mister Tell cleared his throat. “So this mystery fella and a bunch of the other higher ups were all having a few drinks, and pursuing the local fair if you catch my meaning.”

The girls exchanged an awkward glance.

“Not our mystery man though, he was intent on sampling the most expensive wines and speaking with his other enlisted officers,” Mister Tell continued. “But as time went on a rivalry was born between the newest member of their group, and the man he was serving directly under.”

“Did they fight?” Applejack inquired.

“In a manner of speaking,” replied the man. “By the sounds of this higher up was a right peice of work. Hated just about everyone that didn't look and act a certain way if you catch my meaning.”

The girls all nodded gravely.

“Anyhow. The antagonism displayed by the other officer eventually culminated in a drinking competition between the two,” his face grew sour. “One that would end three hours later with this poor fella dropping dead right there in his cup.”

Several members of the small audience gasped in shock.

“What happened?” asked Fluttershy.

“It wasn't poison was it?” asked Twilight.

Tell snorted and shook his head. “It wasn't nothin so underhanded. Mister Jebediah there just handled his booze a little better than his opponent. So well in fact that he apparently didn't even seem drunk by the end of it.”

“Thats intense,” muttered Pinkie Pie.

“It was ruled an accident, and though there was some suspicion that our mystery man did it on purpose in the end nothing came of the investigation,” Mister Tell crossed his arms over his chest. “In fact he got promoted a week later and within a month had acquired the very same rank of the man who drank himself to death on that fateful night.”

“Why though?” Twilight pressed.

“I’m gettin there,” he snapped.

“Please go on old timer,” Applejack offered.

“Right, but things didn't end there cus you see he was quickly turning into a bit of a staple around the officers tent. In fact it was suggested by his men that the guy never slept, and just spent all day an night working or planning,” Tell continued. “By the letters I was able to find this fella had a habit of keeping tabs on everyone.”

“Sounds like he ran a tight ship and was a big jerk,” Rainbow Dash remarked.

“You could say that,” Tell agreed. “Though by the sounds of it he wasn't interested in runnin a ship, but rather the whole damn metaphorical navy.”

“No way,” Rarity gasped.

The elderly man nodded sagely. “Jebediah there was so intent on knowin everything, and climbin the ranks that some folk thought he was a spy. His loyalty was without question though, and every man who tried to find some dirt on old Jeb came back empty handed.”

“Thats crazy. Do you think he would have changed the war?” Applejack questioned.

“He might very well have, but fortunately for everyone he disappeared near the end of the whole thing,” Tell explained.

“Why?” Rainbow Dash pressed.

“Noone rightly knows, and frankly it doesn't feel like my place to ask,” Mister Tell exclaimed, closing his book. “Though I’ve got my theories.”

“Like what?” Pinkie Pie inquired only to throw up her hands. “Wait don't tell me. He was a secret agent for the british! Or a communist who went back in time to assassinate Robert E Lee!”

“What does the communist part have to do with anything?” Applejack retorted in a confused tone.

“That’s unrelated,” Pinkie Pie replied.

“What in the hell are you going on about?” demanded the man.

“Pinkie is just being Pinkie I’m afraid,” Rarity explained.

“What does her skin color have to do with anything?” Tell asked.

“No that's her name,” Applejack tried to explain.

“Her name is skin color?” Tell replied, scratching his head. “Well thats just silly.”

“I am!” Pinkie Pie proclaimed.

Twilight sighed, massaging her temples in slow circles. “We are getting off track here, let's go back to the part where you were going to talk about your theories.”

“Right, my theories! The big one has got to be that on july sixteenth nineteen sixty nine they faked the whole moon landing business just to one up the reds,” he began.

“Wait really?” Rainbow Dash inquired.

Twilight groaned. “No we were talking about Jebediah.”

“Who now?” he asked.

Twilight stood up suddenly, her eyes narrowing. “The guy we were just walking about two minutes ago! The whole reason we are here!”

“Jeese girl you don't have to yell. My hearing ain't that bad,” remarked the man. “So my other theory is-”

A knock on the door made everyone turn onwards the entrance, their conversation immediately falling away.

“Well would you look at that. Two thirty already,” Mister Tell remarked, rising from his spot on the couch.

“Were you expecting someone?” Twilight inquired, standing along with him.

“Course,” he replied simply, pulling open the door and revealing that Perfect Tempo himself was standing just outside, several plastic bags held in his grip. “Speak of the devil. There ya are you old bastard.”

Perfect Tempo raised an eyebrow at the elderly man. “And what exactly have you been saying behind my back this time?”

Rainbow Dash appeared next to the door, jabbing a finger into the suited man’s chest. “He was telling us all about how you were fighting for slavery during the civil war!”

“And that you killed a guy!” Pinkie Pie shouted.

“What exactly have you told them?” Perfect Tempo demanded, glaring down at the other man.

“Nothing untrue,” Tell retorted, puffing out his chest.

“What have I told you about discussing that time of my history, hmm?” Perfect Tempo exclaimed, his glare hardening.

“I-”

“Hey don't try and intimidate him for telling the truth!” Rainbow Dash interrupted, stepping in between the two of them and glaring back at the taller man.

“That was not what I had in mind,” Perfect Tempo retorted.

“Then what was it, huh?” Rainbow Dash accused, jabbing a finger into the man’s chest.

Rather than be irritated, Perfect Tempo just seemed exhausted, and he looked over at the elderly man with a tired expression. “Could you please tell them why you are not working at your old job and what offer I made you.”

“Cus you hired me to help make sure no one knew of ye,” Tell exclaimed. “And paid me damn well to do so.”

“Wait, I thought you said violence was involved,” Twilight pointed out.

The elderly man blinked. “Well yeah. We were talkin about a war sweetie. The two things go hand in hand.”

“That's not what we meant,” Applejack grumbled.

“Well that's what I meant,” retorted the man.

“So you werent bullied out of your job?” Rainbow Dash asked, scratching her head.

“No. I hated that place anyway,” Tell exclaimed. “Always trying to squeeze the profit margins on a book that was supposed to go to high school. Felt downright unpleasant to work there.”

“But hold on darling. Why would you want your involvement in the civil war erased?” Rarity pressed.

Rainbow Dash perked up. “Hey ya! What were you up to anyway?”

Perfect Tempo shot a glare at the elderly man. “You couldnt start with that part could you?”

“Not nearly as dramatic that way,” mister Tell gruffly remarked.

“Well go on. You tell them about that part while I put away your groceries,” Perfect Tempo stated, before pushing past Rainbow Dash.

“So why was he there anyway?” Rainbow Dash demanded.

“Well mister Tempo here never came out and said it but I figured he was a spy,” Tell exclaimed, hobbling back up the stairs.

“For the north?” Rainbow Dash pressed.

“For himself,” the elderly man stated. “Seems like this fella knew which way the wind was blowing on the war before it even started and wanted to make sure it ended with as little bloodshed as possible.”

“No way. But what about the guy he killed?” Rainbow Dash shouted.

“You mean the man who admitted to killing over a dozen escaped slaves in cold blood including women and children?” Perfect Tempo asked, head still half in the fridge.

“How dreadful,” Rarity murmured.

“How do we know that's true?” Twilight pressed. “All we have is your word.”

“Look up the crimes of Hank Sims,” Perfect Tempo replied.

Fluttershy gasped. “Oh my goodness. He's right.”

Rainbow Dash frowned. “Okay so maybe you were a spy but that doesn't explain why you didn't just use your powers to end the fighting.”

Perfect Tempo sighed, shut the fridge and turned to face the girls. “Do you think this country would be the same if some outside force came in and defeated your enemies for you? Furthermore the existence of magic would have had to come to light and how do you think humans would have reacted to that bit of news?”

Twilight opened her mouth only for the salem witch trials, spanish inquisition and other unfortunate events to come to mind. “Point taken,” Twilight murmured.

“Then why did you disappear?” Fluttershy asked.

Perfect Tempo scowled briefly before quickly schooling his expression. “That fool Celestia dumped a magical artifact in the gulf of mexico which if left undealt with would have likely caused tsunamis to rock the entire east coast.”

“Can we see this artifact?” Applejack questioned.

“Another time perhaps,” Perfect Tempo replied. “Regardless. My attention was elsewhere and I could not pick back up my disguise without issue. A shame really. I was hoping to dismantle the racist power structures I knew would crop up after the war was over.”

The six girls exchanged a somewhat awkward look, with Rainbow Dash appearing the most distraught while Pinkie Pie was the only one unbothered by the revelation.

“Wait if there was no bad guy to beat up this time then can we still get victory milkshakes?” Pinkie Pie questioned.

“I’m certainly getting peckish,” Rarity admitted.

“Yes mister Tell’s soup smells quite good,” Fluttershy added.

“Well thank ya dear. If you’d like I could give you some,” William Tell offered, the man already limping over to the cupboard.

“Oh would you? I may have forgotten about lunch,” Fluttershy replied.

Twilight stood suddenly. “I’d like to apologize.”

Perfect Tempo blinked. “For what?”

“For digging into your history like we have,” Twilight answered.

“Yeah I guess you were doing the right thing after all,” Applejack admitted somewhat reluctantly.

“We are just worried for Sunset,” Rarity exclaimed.

The man waved a dismissive hand. “Nonsense. You all have a right to worry. In fact why don't we remedy this little trust issue, hmm?”

“How would you suggest that?” Fluttershy whispered.

“The next time Sunset goes for another treatment you all can join her,” Perfect Tempo frowned. “Though you would need to be the picture of politeness while your there. I can't see Platinum having the patience for any questions you may have.”

“That would be nice,” Twilight agreed.

“Perhaps then you will actually trust your friend,” Perfect Tempo replied, walking back to the entrance.

“Now wait just a second. We trust Sunset plenty!” Applejack exclaimed.

“Yeah she was like a she demon, not a liar!” Pinkie Pie pointed out.

“And yet you didn't take her at her word,” Perfect Tempo stated. “Now then Willy. I will be back within a few days to discuss some work I may have for you. Until then I wish you well.”

“Sure sure,” Mister Tell replied, extending a hand. “Here ya are dear.”

Fluttershy blinked, accepting the warm container of soup. “Oh thank you.”

“Wait, we don't-” Rainbow Dash began only for the clang of the door shutting behind Perfect Tempo to stop her in her tracks. “Damn. The nerve of that guy.”

“We do so trust Sunset,” Applejack exclaimed, crossing her arms over her chest.

“And yet…” Twilight murmured.

“Now I don't mean to be rude around company but unless we got more business I’m gonna have to ask you to leave,” Mister Tell exclaimed. “All this excitement has left me tuckered.”

Fluttershy closed the clasp on her tupperware. “Thank you again mister Tell. I’ll make sure to return your container.”

“Don't bother. I’ll just buy another,” Tell exclaimed.

“Right let's go girls,” Twilight stated.

Author's Note:

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