• Published 4th Sep 2012
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Flim and Flam Save an Orphanage - KFDirector

They're not gonna catch us. We're on a mission from Goddess!

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Flim, Flam, Trixie, a New-Found Passion, and Iron Will

Still an hour before the sunrise, the Mobile Motivational Command Center rumbled across the desert, all its occupants awake: one goat at the helm, another goat with a set of metal-working tools trying to extricate the Flimflam’s carriage from the ceiling, and the four creatures capable of normal speech reclining in the lounge of the omnibus, sipping at beverages in metal cans.

“You asked for my honest opinion, good sir, and I must give it to you,” Flim said, magically setting the can down upon a coaster. “It tastes like you took distilled all the worst parts of tea into a chamber pot, and then cut yourself on a rusty spoon and bled into it. Other than most of the things that touched my tongue when I was a colt dumb enough to fall for Trixie’s ‘open your mouth and close your eyes’ game, it may just be the most vile substance I have ever tasted.”

Iron Will snorted. “It isn’t meant to be a pleasant flavor. It’s assertiveness! In a can! It’s meant to challenge you! Iron Will was thinking of calling it ‘Blue Bull.’”

“Well, don’t, chum, not until you change the recipe.” Flam bounced his beverage can off a wall and into a waste-bin. “It’s making my horn tingle most unpleasantly, and I imagine if I were a pegasus pony, my wings would be near to falling off.”

The minotaur considered this as a slogan. “‘Blue Bull takes your wings and gives them to somepony more worthy!’”

Trixie shook her head. “No. Just no. And we’ve really gotten off-topic here.”

Not being interested in sleeping, after the fever dreams they had awoken from as the omnibus was pulling away from Burning Mare, and needing time to think, the unicorns had asked their host for “tea, or coffee, or something of that nature.” To their regret, Iron Will had seized on the third option.

“So,” Flim said, clearing his throat. “What we’ve decided is that what we need to do is put on a show – ”

“Excellent! Iron Will plays a mean trombone.”

The unicorns, all reclining in a row on a couch opposite from their host, stared for a moment. Flim tried to regain control of his train of thought. “Well, I mean, if you really feel that is your greatest talent – compared to oration – ”

“Iron Will’s completed the speaking circuit this year, got to leave the customers hungry for next year.”

“ – or working a stage production – ”

“The goats handle most of that.”

“ – or pumping up a crowd – ”

“That only takes a minute.”

“ – or break dancing.”

“Break dancing?”

Flim shrugged. “For some reason, I just looked at you and thought you could break dance.”

The minotaur frowned, folded his arms, and looked away. “Again with the profiling. Iron Will thought you were better than that, Flim Flimflam.”

“I’m – sorry?”

“Iron Will shall play the trombone.” He harrumphed.

“That’s all there is, then.” Trixie summoned a piece of her luggage. “Trixie shall just have to play the saxophone.”

Flam sputtered. “T-the sax, old girl? Not, you know, your magic?”

“Well, with Iron Will on the trombone, it certainly doesn’t sound like we’re doing a talent show, now, are we? We’re a bit more of a band, putting on a gig. So Trixie will play the saxophone.”

“But – but – you are the Great and Powerful Trixie!”

Trixie smiled. “Good of you to recall, Flam.”

“Everypony will expect magic from you – you have an act already!”

She sighed, lowering her head sadly, resting it on her outstretched forelegs. “They may expect it, but they won’t pay for it. Trixie has been paying attention to her receipts. Do you have any idea how many months it’s been since one of her shows has grossed more than a hundred bits?”

Flam’s moustache drooped. “Has it really been that bad? I thought you were just in a slump getting work after the wreck of Canterlot….”

She shook her head quietly.

After half a minute, Flim reached over and rubbed the back of her head with his hoof, rumpling her mane. “I don’t see a problem, brother. Playing the saxophone as well as the old girl does – that’s magic itself, isn’t it?

“I suppose so,” Flam said, pondering. “Ah, I see now – the lure of our show isn’t our raw musical talent – though we certainly possess it – it’s these well-known names stepping outside their known fields to play music! Ponies would come just for the novelty of it!”

“Exactly!” Flim felt the fire of a winning idea. “We just need a few more names – and, well, a little more musical backing. We sing and dance, but no matter how good these two are, the sax and slide horn just aren’t going to carry us unassisted.” Trixie smiled, beginning to perk up.

“Sapphire Shores?” Iron Will suggested.

The brothers shook their heads in unison. “Too big,” they said together, after which Flam deferred to Flim. “We couldn’t get to her in time, not through her agents, lawyers, and managers, and they’d take too big a cut of anything we put on.”

The four thought for a bit.

“Octavia,” Trixie said.

The brothers and the minotaur looked quizzically at Trixie.

“Earth pony musician, performs mostly in Canterlot – she’s actually more famous back in earth pony country, because of how well she’s done for herself in a field dominated by unicorns.”

Flam nodded enthusiastically. “I don’t even care if she’s any good, we could use that: somepony like her on the playbill would really pack them in. So she’s in Canterlot now?”

Trixie grimaced. “Not since the Canterlot Symphony got shut down by the Chrysalis Invasion. The gossip is that she’s moved to Whoa-maha for a year.”

“Whoa-maha?!” was the incredulous cry of the three males.

Even the grey goat, who was passing through the room to retrieve some more tools, offered an incredulous “ba-ah?!” before proceeding.

“That rural backwater? Has she gone to farm corn? Oats? Or perhaps hay?” Flim shook his head in disbelief.

“None of the above – the classiest restaurant in the city recruited her as a celebrity maitre d', and the city is also apparently the center of a new wave in music – something Trixie didn’t quite grasp about the Whoa-maha Sound. With months before the Canterlot Symphony can return to operations, she went there to get well paid for just being herself while informally studying with all sorts of underground musicians and soaking up the new sounds at the clubs.”

“Blast,” Flim said, pondering the implications. “Sounds like a very good deal to have, if one can get it – we’ll have a dickens of a time tearing her away from it.”

“Trixie, old girl,” Flam asked, “how do you know all this?”

“Trixie and itinerant musicians share at least two things in common – poverty, and tastes in discount campgrounds.” The brothers nodded, understanding; they had never been members of a bachelor herd themselves, but their nomadic lifestyle and chronic cash flow issues meant they usually trotted the same roads and called the same stables home – until they were destroyed under mysterious circumstances, anyway – and so they could share quite a few stories of which they were not themselves a part. “So, shall we get her?”

“Yes, yes, we must try,” Flim said, thinking. “But it’s a long way to Whoa-maha. Is there anypony between here and there we could also get? Not just names, talents too.”

Iron Will stroked his chin. “It sounds as if we’ll be driving through the Canterlot-edge of earth pony country. We’ll pass right by Ponyville.”

Trixie shuddered. The brothers didn’t look much happier. Flam made their position clear: “Yes, and we should do just that – pass right on by.”

“Are you sure of that? Because Iron Will learned about some real solid musicians there while doing the circuit. One unicorn I’m thinking of – Lyra Heartstrings.”

“Oh,” Flam said. “I’ve never heard of her.”

“Indeed, that’s a relief,” Flim added. He had made notes on all of the ponies who had joined with the Apples during that unfortunate incident, the prologue to the disaster in Fillydelphia that had gotten them arrested, and was certain none of them were named Lyra or Heartstrings.

“What does she play?” Trixie asked.

“According to her partner, lots of things. She’s even invented her own instruments.”

“Sounds talented, delightfully quirky, and, most importantly, as if she has no reason to hate us personally. Let’s give her a shot.” Flam and Trixie nodded agreement with Flim.

Iron Will leaned back on his own sofa, putting his hands behind his head. “There’s our plan. We should get to Ponyville around noon. Now, Iron Will thinks that sleep would be good.”

“And Iron Will is welcome to it, but Trixie will be staying awake.”

“Same here.”

“And I.”

The three unicorns looked at each other, wondering if they were all worried about the same thing, and then looked away, deciding to think about anything else at all.

“Suit…” Iron Will breathed deeply. “Yourselves….” His eyes closed.

And with the minotaur’s snoring joining with the steady road noise, the unicorns remained still, sharing a couch and yet avoiding eye contact.

Nickel Guise was no stranger to one-way mirrors and interview rooms, and was more annoyed than intimidated at being shoved into one by the Night Guard. Waiting for him was a rose-colored unicorn in white stretch trousers and a red sweater. The lawyer rolled his eyes, and took a seat opposite her at the wooden table.


“Mister Guise.”

“I’m familiar with my rights, Pearl. I thought you were in Parole now? What are you doing on a trespassing case?”

“Well, this isn’t really about trespassing, now, is it? After all, the last owner died with no heirs months ago – and it won’t escheat until the Royal Government does the paperwork, so that means it was more or less nopony’s property, don’tchaknow.”

Nickel Guise pounded his hoof on the table. “Exactly! See, that’s what I was telling those pegasus ponies the whole flight over! Since you’ve worked out that I’ve been doing nothing wrong, do you think you can let me go?”

“Yah, like I said, sweetie, this isn’t about trespassing.” Pearl magically slid three photographs out of a file folder – a glossy playbill for the Great and Powerful Trixie, mug shots for Flim and Flam. “This is really more of a triple homicide, now, isn’t it?”

Guise’s eyes went wide. “Get me a lawyer.”

“Oh? Can’t afford yourself, sweetie?”

“Ask every client I’ve had in months – apparently, nopony can afford me.”

The M-squared-C-squared™ was pulled over to the side of the road, on a hill overlooking Ponyville. The goats were servicing the turbines, and the others had stepped out to stretch their legs. The sun was creeping up towards zenith.

“So we take the carriage and go incognito?” Flim said, looking through binoculars – he had found them in the goats’ luggage, and had chosen not to ask why.

“Iron Will agrees.”

Flim looked back at the minotaur. “Ah, no offense, good sir, but you do kind of stand…out…in Ponyville. Also, up. Over most things.”

“So? Iron Will is not hated in Ponyville. That’s all you three.”

“Yes…” Flam admitted, “But we rather not have anypony else looking at us at all, and your presence would thwart that. Just keep an eye out, in case we need your assistance.”

The minotaur thought on that. “That can work. Iron Will has a plan.”

“Are you bucking serious?” Nickel Guise cried, slamming both his forehooves on the table again. “Of all the clients who stiffed me on a bill, you think I’d kill those two bums? Yeesh, at least if I’d whacked Jet Set I could’ve hocked his gold watch and maybe rode the train back to my office as a pony instead of a parcel for once, but the Flimflam brothers?”

At the other side of the mirror, El Jefe nodded in satisfaction to a dark-colored pegasus. “Let him go, but keep him under surveillance.”


“We’ve confirmed his alibis on the things that matter, and look at that glint in his eye – he’s as mad as hay, and he’s going to lead us right to the Flimflam brothers.”

“I feel so naked,” Flam said, as the three unicorns got out of their carriage.

“You are naked,” Trixie reminded him. “And that is why nopony is going to recognize you.”

You’re wearing clothes,” Flim pointed out.

Trixie bristled. “Ponyville has seen Trixie naked.” The brothers had by now caught on to quite enough subtext to realize that there was a metaphorical layer to that statement as well. “Trixie has not been seen like this.”

A passing purple-and-green baby dragon gave her an odd look, but continued with his errands.

“They’ve also heard her call herself that a lot, so maybe Trixie should try and remember how the first person works.”

“Shhh,” Flam admonished his brother, as he pushed open the door to the shop – the bells rang, and a distracted voice called for them to take a seat at the counter.

Forty-two Flavors was the name of the shop, and on their wall was a menu, a price list, and a row of pictures celebrating local residents – including one, framed and signed, heralding a certain purple unicorn’s fifth-place finish in the Running of the Leaves. Trixie scowled, but joined the brothers at the counter.

After a moment of sitting, an earth pony mare with a two-toned curly mane – pink and dark blue – came out to meet them. “Hey, hons, what can I get y’all?”

Flam sweated, having not thought this part through. “Do you have…cider-flavored ice cream?”

“Out of season, costs extra. Still want it?”

“Why, yes – ” He stopped and thought, and it occurred to Flam that he probably shouldn’t plan on skipping out on the bill when he was trying to leave a good impression. “ – actually, no. What is cheap?”

The earth pony pointed a hoof at the menu.

“Vanilla, one scoop, then.”

“For me as well.”

Trixie stared hard at the menu.

“Any time you’re ready, hon,” the earth pony prodded.

“One scoop mocha, one scoop peppermint, one scoop pumpkin, on a banana split, drizzled with hot chocolate sauce and a dusting of rose.”

The earth pony wrote that down. “Y’all want anything on that?”

“No, ma’am.”


“Chocolate sauce and rose.”

“And to drink?”



“Large Truffle Julius.”

It occurred to Flam that he should probably have verified that Trixie was also not planning on skipping out on the bill.

The earth pony nodded at the three unicorns. “Be up in a minute.”

She walked to the back room.

“Lyra, girl,” she shouted over the noisy freezing machines. “You’ll never guess what three bums just sat their flanks down in our shop.”

“Who’s that, Bon-Bon?” the green unicorn asked inattentively, as she pounded condiments into hard slabs of ice cream with her magic.

“We got the Flimflam brothers out there, buck-naked, thinkin’ I won’t recognize the two who put rocks in my drink, orderin’ vanilla ice cream ‘cause the cider flavor costs too much.”

Lyra smiled. “And the other bum?”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie herself, dressed up like a giant chicken!” Lyra started giggling, distracting her focus from the ice cream. “Well, go on! Get a look at them ‘fore they wise up and run away!”

Lyra trotted out to the counter, saw the three, and began laughing hysterically. “Oh – oh wow – oh – hee hee hee!”

Flim and Flam and Trixie kept a stoic look on their faces. On Trixie, the effect was somewhat diminished.

“You know you two got a lot of nerve coming back here,” Bon-Bon said, trotting in after Lyra. “Just the other day, Applejack made a little posse with Twilight Sparkle and Rainbow Dash to go hunt you down.”

Flim and Flam gulped; Flim got his composure back first.

“I know there’re a lot of ponies here who are mad, still, but our cider days have nothing to do with this.”

“That’s right!” Flam said. “We’re putting on a concert or two in a few days, a real special event, and we need to be working with the most creative musicians in Equestria!”

Trixie started to join in, but Flim cut her off. “You don’t get to join the pitch until you lose the chicken outfit, Trixie. You’re ruining it for us.” Grumbling, Trixie used her magic to begin undoing the various zippers and buttons involved. “Lyra Heartstrings, not only have rumors of your talent spread far and wide, we heard that you invented your own musical instrument.”

Lyra’s eyes lit up. “Yeah, I have! You wanna see?”

“Of course we do! The ice cream here is renowned, but it’s you we’re here for!”

Not having far to go for it, Lyra summoned her case from under a table and pulled out the instrument, setting its strap around her neck. Bon-Bon sighed in exasperation.

“It’s!” Flim started excitedly, hoping somepony would fill in the blank.

“It’s?” Flam continued, unable to do so.

“It’s a double-necked guitar! Here, six strings, here, bass! I can be two roles at once!” With a magical glow, she demonstrated by playing scales on both necks at once.

“Brilliant!” Flim shouted.

“Fantastic!” Trixie cried, having finally discarded the chicken costume on the floor.

“Economical!” Flam yelled.

“My dear Lyra,” Flim said, wishing he had his hat so he could take it off, “we are putting together a dream team, and it simply won’t be that unless you join us.”

“You really want me?” Lyra asked, happily. Her musical ambitions had been quite diminished lately, what with the Canterlot Symphony not even employing its own members, much less accepting applicants, and now she felt them at last surging back.

“Now what the hay are you on about?” Bon-Bon said, stepping up to Lyra.

Lyra gulped. “Now, don’t get riled, sugar,”

“Don’t you ‘don’t get riled, sugar’ me! Now, you not goin’ back on the road no more – and you ain’t playin’ in no more two-bit sleazy dives in Canterlot hopin’ to get talent-scouted. You livin’ with me now, and you not gonna go slidin’ around with some hoodlum unicorns.”

“My dear ma’am,” Flim said, “Would it make you feel any better if you knew that what we’re asking Lyra here to do is a holy thing?”

“You see…” Flam continued, sternly.

The brothers had arrived at this phrasing after careful discussion. Between Luna’s command to redeem themselves, and the epiphany received at the Summer Sun Celebration, they agreed that one of the two royal pony sisters was responsible for what they were doing. They also agreed that it was unlikely that more than one of them was involved – if both were in on it, they probably wouldn’t be facing nearly so many difficulties.

So they could have said ‘We’re on a mission from a Princess’ or ‘We’re on a royal mission’, but then there was also Princess Cadence, whose portfolio was primarily romantic love and therefore was probably not involved, and if she was involved, she was probably responsible for an incident of alleged snuggling that they agreed hadn’t even happened, so there was that. Needing to distinguish between Princesses, they had chosen ‘Goddess’, which everypony would understand to refer exclusively to the bringers of day and night, Celestia and Luna.

And they finally decided that it made them sound weak and uncertain to say “a Goddess” – while they indeed couldn’t agree as to which it was, nopony else needed to know that, so they deleted the indefinite article altogether.

In conclusion, Flam finished his sentence with:

“…We’re on a mission from Goddess.”

Bon-Bon was not amused.

“Don’t you blaspheme in here! Don’t you blaspheme in here! Now this is my mare, this is my ice cream parlor, and you three are gonna just trot right out that door, without your scoops of vanilla, without your mocha-peppermint-pumpkin banana split, and without Lyra Heartstrings!”

Lyra stepped up to Bon-Bon, her face determined. “Now you listen to me. I love you, but I’ve still got a mind of my own and I’ll make the decisions concerning my life.”

Bon-Bon leaned closer to Lyra’s face. “You’d better think about what you’re saying. You’d better think about the consequences of your actions.”

Working the counter of another sweet shop, across town, Pinkie Pie’s tail suddenly twitched, followed by a sneeze and a hip gyration. Her eyes went wide with realization.

“Mr. Cake! I need half an hour off right now!”

Carrot Cake gasped. “Not now, Pinkie, we need everypony on deck! This is the lunch rush!”

“But somepony’s about to break into a random song to resolve a domestic dispute and I need to be there to justify why such a thing could ever happen!”

“They’ll just have to soldier on without you, Pinkie!” Cup Cake said, thrusting a stack of orders at her. “More smoothies! Stat!”

“I’m so sorry, whoever you are,” Pinkie whispered, as she loaded the machine with milk and hay. “I’ll be there as soon as I can!”

Lyra scowled. “Oh, hush up, mare!”

You’d better think!” Bon-Bon sang as she stuck a hoof in Lyra’s face.

The Flimflams and Trixie jumped when they realized that there had been musical accompaniment, and were still in the air from that jump when they noted that three other earth pony mares, seated at the counter – two with light pink coats, one with a very pale yellow coat – had also raised their left forehooves and chimed in with a sung “(Think!)

Think about what you’re trying to do to me, ye~ah, think!

The three customer mares had stood up to join Bon-Bon as backup dancers.

The Flimflam brothers regarded the song playing out in front of them. “She’s got quite a set of pipes on her, Flam.”

“Very much so, brother. Too bad we already cast ourselves as the vocalists.”

Oh freedom (freedom), freedom (freedom), freedom (freedom), yeah freedom!

Flim looked around. “Where did Trixie go?”

Freedom (freedom), freedom (freedom), freedom (freedom), ooh freedom!

Trixie had appeared, perched on the counter, her saxophone now present, and she began to play.

Bon-Bon and the back-up dancers continued to pursue Lyra around the floor of the parlor, musically admonishing her.

Ponies walk around every day, playing games that they can score…” Flim and Flam pulled away from the counter, as Trixie was cantering dramatically down it while jamming on her sax, and they wanted to give her plenty of space.

You need me! And I need you! Without each other – ain’t nothing ponies can do!

The song flowed into its bridge, and as the three back-up dancing mares continued to admonish Lyra with “(Think, think about it)”, Bon-Bon pulled from off the wall a trumpet and joined her own accompaniment.

“She plays the trumpet, too,” Flim pointed. “Pretty well, really. Does that overlap with Iron Will’s trombone?”

“Not at all,” Flam said. “Totally different horns, different ranges, different parts.”

Through dizzying work, Pinkie Pie had seen that every last customer in the rush was served in record time, and her apron she had thrown to the floor, as she darted out into the streets.

What if I’m already too late?” she wondered, even as she offered up breathless-but-cheerful greetings to her fellow villagers. She galloped harder.

Lyra was firmly pressed into a chair, prodded by the accusatory hooves of four separate earth ponies, who were building to the finale.

(To the bone – for deepness! To the bone – for deepness!)

Flim and Flam looked at each other, nodding, whispering.

(You had better stop and think before you)

“Think!” Bon-Bon shouted, slowly lowering her hoof from Lyra’s face, as the music ended.

Lyra’s eyes were wet. “Bon-Bon…that was beautiful. I had no idea you felt that way…or that you were such an incredible musician.”

“She really is,” Flam said, standing up. “Let’s vamoose.”

“But – ” Lyra started.

The front door of the shop slammed open as Iron Will forced himself inside. “Both of you are coming with us! Now!”

At the sight of the hulking figure, Lyra and Bon-Bon leaped, shrieking, not yet recognizing him – nor getting an opportunity to do so before he had seized each of them and taken them under his arms.

“Move move move!” Flim shouted, as the brothers, Trixie, Iron Will, and the two abductees vacated the premises.

Flim, the last one out, lingered just a moment on the threshold before waving at the stunned back-up dancers: “Store’s closed – turn off the lights when you leave.” With that, he joined the ponies and the minotaur on the carriage, and wheels spinning, they vanished.

“So, uh, should we call for help?” Daisy asked.

“Uh, hello? Free ice cream!” Rose pointed out.

Their gazes turned to the unattended counter when the door slammed open again, startling them so badly that they fell off their seats.

Pinkie Pie looked around the room, wild-eyed, breathing heavily, before realizing the horrible truth and falling to the floor.

“Nooo!” She sobbed. “I’m too late!”

“Iron Will?” Bon-Bon asked, confused, upset, as the carriage sped too fast down the roads for her to consider leaping to freedom. “I don’t understand!”

“This is for a good cause, my little pony.”

“We didn’t lie to you,” Flam called, as he whipped around another curve. “We really are on a mission from Goddess.”

Bon-Bon shook her head, and then looked over to see how Lyra was doing. Bon-Bon was expecting fear, nervousness, a thousand-yard-stare – anything but a grin of almost delirious joy. She prodded Lyra with her hoof, to see her reaction.

“Isn’t this awesome?” Lyra asked in response to being poked.

“…awesome?” Bon-Bon echoed.

“I’m going to go play music at a big concert, using my own instruments, beside the mare I love, who has been secretly hiding amazing talent from me. This is basically what I dream about every. Bucking. Night.” Lyra giggled.

Flim turned around in his seat to face Bon-Bon. “We’ll only keep you a few days, and I’m…certain…we’ll make enough to cover any losses you might have suffered and more besides.”

The carriage approached the back of the omnibus, which the goats had modified in their absence, so that the back now had a hatch and ramp which could open and admit a vehicle to drive directly into it. Which was, in fact, just what was starting to happen.

“Fine, fine,” Bon-Bon said, resisting the urge to put her hoof in her face. “But this isn’t for you, and this isn’t for your mission from Goddess. This is for her.”

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