• 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!

  • ...

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

At the edge of Whoa-maha, the M-squared-C-squared™ had stopped to take on water and coal, and again, it was the task of the goats, while the others had piled out to get their first look at the city itself.

“Do you always make the goats do all the work?” Trixie asked, trotting out into the hot humid air, right in front of Iron Will.

“‘Make’, nothing! The goats don’t trust anypony or anything else to so much as touch any of the moving parts. Iron Will isn’t even allowed to drive.”

“Baah,” the gray goat pointed out while working a mechanical pump to fill the water tanks.

“That was one time!” Iron Will snapped. “And she got use of that leg back eventually.”

“Ba-ah,” the white goat added, applying machine oil to the hinges of the coal hopper.

“You – you have the nerve to bring that up? That was as much your fault! You didn’t tell Iron Will about the blind spots!”

Trixie decided that she was done listening to this argument, and trotted up to join the other ponies, who currently were all sitting on their haunches, looking up at something. Setting herself between Flim and Flam, Trixie followed their gaze.

Two reasonably tall buildings – eight and nine stories, respectively, brick – flanked the main avenue of Whoa-maha at this edge of the city. Atop each was a billboard. On the left was a painting of a pegasus-eye view of the city, captioned by the calligraphic words “Chez Drover welcomes you to Whoa-maha.” On the right, there was a painted photograph of a tall gray earth pony mare, wearing only a pink bow tie, standing on her back legs in front of a pair of Mild West-style swinging doors – the pony and her long dark mane backlit by a warm, inviting light. The caption for that one read “And Octavia welcomes you to Chez Drover.”

It did not take Trixie long to note which of the two billboards had kept the collective gazes of Flim, Flam, Lyra, and Bon-Bon.

Bon-Bon at least had the decency to keep her jaw closed, and Lyra was not letting any drool run out of her mouth.

“Sweet Luna in a quad of knee socks,” Flim said, when his sensibility, at least to a small extent, returned, “that’s Octavia?”

“The old girl said she was talented and famous.” Flam added, visibly sweating, which could only be partially blamed on the climate. “She didn’t mention that she was a knockout!”

Trixie muttered “She’s not that pretty.” She spoke a bit more loudly and clearly to make her main point: “You know a lot of that’s just good airbrushing.”

“Actually, no,” Lyra piped up, stepping closer. “I saw her in person a few times in Canterlot. I mean, yeah, that’s airbrushed, but if you ask me, she’s way hotter in the flesh. Arrow-straight, though, I never had a chance.” Lyra considered what she was saying, and, more specifically, what she was saying while standing next to whom. “Which is totally for the best, because that way I didn’t miss the chance to meet the love of my life.” She glanced aside to see if Bon-Bon was placated. She seemed to be, at least somewhat.

Trixie sniffed and trotted away, to nopony’s particular notice.

“That class – that elegance – that natural sophistication. And yet it’s so real,” Flim mused. “You see these ads telling us that mares are supposed to look like Fleur-de-lis. You know what Fleur-de-lis looks like, brother?”

Flam had been in conversations like this many times before with his brother, and enjoyed it no less each time. “Like a painted porcelain doll, Flim. Ornate, gorgeous, and you know she’d just break. And that she’s already been bought and paid for by somepony else.”

“But that!” Flim said, pointing at the billboard. “That’s a mare! Beautiful beyond words, and yet you know that she’s just waiting for the perfect stallion to sweep her off her hooves for the very first time, so she can rock his world.”

“Earth pony, too,” Flam said, with a leer in his voice. “Endurance!” The brothers clapped forehooves. Flam looked back down. “Lyra knows what I’m talking about, right?”

Flam held out a hoof; Lyra clapped it. “Oh wow, yeah: it’s so true. Bon-Bon can go for – ow!” Lyra rubbed the back of her head, after Bon-Bon had smacked it hard with her hoof.

“Nopony wants to hear that,” Bon-Bon admonished.

Lyra pointed at the Flimflam brothers. “They do.” The brothers grinned mischievously.

They’re perverts. Did you ever stop to think – ”

The Flimflam brothers twitched, but no musical accompaniment resulted this time.

“ – that you might be making somepony uncomfortable?” Bon-Bon pointed.

Following Bon-Bon’s gesture, Lyra trotted over to Trixie, who was sitting on the grass about twenty yards away, facing away from the billboards and towards nothing at all in particular.

Hearing the approach of hooves, Trixie preempted with a soft-volume but firm-toned declaration: “Trixie is quite confident enough in her marehood to not feel threatened, thank you.”

Lyra stopped just behind her, and tapped her chin thoughtfully. “Oh, that’s good. I was worried that with two stallions just calling you ‘old girl’ all the time and somepony they’ve only seen on a billboard getting all those compliments, I dunno, I was worried that you’d get a bit flustered.”

“Trixie is her own mare, and does not require romantic validation from a couple of con artists.”

“Great!” Lyra said, smiling happily. “That’s really strong of you. I know you spend a lot of time by yourself on the road, right? I’d think that’d get really lonely – I mean, I was in Canterlot for a few months at a time off and on, and even totally surrounded by friends, I could get to feeling really isolated, and without the warm, tender, affectionate touch of another pony who really cared about me now and then I think I would’ve gone stark raving mad, but you’re just so much tougher than I am!”

Somehow, Lyra didn’t hear Trixie grinding her teeth, and although the goats servicing the omnibus did, they thought it was a transmission problem. Lyra continued on, blissfully unaware.

“I mean, you really are a very cool pony. Like, when you came to Ponyville, and the only two ponies who were at all interested in you or what you had to say were a couple of dopey schoolcolts? You totally didn’t let that faze you, and that’s really impressive. And yeah, I mean, you kinda got spanked by Twilight Sparkle, but who wouldn’t be? She’s basically the greatest unicorn of all time. You should be really proud that you even made a showing, up against the likes of her!”

Lyra proceeded to recount the time that she was brainwashed into trying to kill Twilight Sparkle, and how Twilight had defeated her with a wedding bouquet; not noting that Trixie, eyes bloodshot, had stomped back over to the other ponies.

“Trixie is so happy that everypony loves Octavia Sparkle so much - ”

“Uh – ” Flam said, helpfully, noting Trixie’s flaring nostrils.

“ – but since it appears everypony else is so deeply in love with her, it seems only Trixie could possibly recruit her without forgetting herself and asking her to marry Trixie instead.” The Great and Powerful Trixie snorted hot steam.

“Once again, Iron Will is left out of the calculus,” the minotaur grumbled, now standing over the ponies.

Trixie turned on Iron Will, giving him a glare.

“…And Iron Will shall just have to deal with it,” he followed up. “The goats will get the carriage ready for Trixie.”

Sitting in the grass, Octavia carefully opened the lunch she had wrapped, unfolding the white cloth with her fore hooves. A few yards away, the sun was coming down hard on the damp grass, but the city’s oldest park didn’t lack for large oak trees and the cool shady relief they offered.

“Pardon, but do you mind if Trixie – if I join you?”

Octavia closed her eyes for a moment, smiling gently. “I rather thought somepony had been following me.” She opened them again, looking towards the voice. “Do take a seat here; these trees were made for it, were they not?”

Trixie quietly set herself down in the grass near Octavia. Though there were perhaps two dozen ponies in sight, enjoying their lunchtimes in the park, the song of a thousand cicadas provided some privacy so far as keeping things out of earshot. Trixie didn’t often get to the parts of earth pony country where cicadas were common, and certainly never heard them in Canterlot; she wondered how anypony could ever adapt to the constant noise. After a moment’s contemplation on this, she realized that Octavia was gazing at her – perhaps even staring. She looked back, and the earth pony smiled at her.

“I know that I have more admirers than I really deserve, but from the hoof-writing on the fan mail I receive, most of them are other earth ponies. Would you like half this sandwich?”

Trixie’s stomach growled loudly, thwarting her hopes to confidently and politely decline. She accepted, and magically drew it over to herself. “I am not really an admirer – ehm, that is not to say that you are not admirable – ” Trixie gulped. What bothered her most, she thought, was that Octavia was not looking at all disturbed by any verbal misstep; she just kept up that soft, understanding smile, completely contrary to the aloof and stoic look she had on her posters. “My name is Trixie – Trixie Lulamoon, but please, just Trixie – and I represent a charitable interest that is planning a concert.”

“That’s wonderful, Trixie. What is this charity?”

“We’re raising money for repairs to an orphanage in Canterlot. It’s – well, I grew up there, so you can see why this means so much to Trixie.” She noted herself sliding back into the third person, but suspected Octavia was not likely to mind.

“Of course I do; so when is the concert, Trixie?”

The unicorn sweated, as she realized what day it was. “Sometime in the next four days.”

For the first time, Octavia frowned. “Oh. Oh my. That’s not a lot of time at all. And you don’t know when? So you don’t even have a venue set?”

“We – no. We’re still putting the group together. We want you to join us.”

“This soon, and you’re still putting the group together? Am I at least the last element you need?”

“Of course!” Trixie said confidently. “We already have two vocalists, a trombonist, a trumpet player, Trixie on the saxophone, and a double-necked guitar.”

Octavia frowned deeper. “It doesn’t really sound like the sort of group that needs a cellist…although….” Trixie smiled hopefully. “…I suppose my skills on the piano haven’t gone that rusty.” Trixie nodded eagerly. “And drummer, you forgot to mention drummer. You do have a percussionist, right?” Trixie’s smile stayed frozen on her face, though the confidence and happiness had drained from it. “You don’t have a drummer.”

The earth pony sighed deeply, and she set a hoof on Trixie’s shoulder, face to face with her. “I’m sorry, Trixie, I really am, but it seems as though your group is a bit disorganized and hasn’t any real notion of how to plan and execute this thing. If all you have left is four days, your time would really be better spent working on any other plan at all.”

“No – please!” Trixie said, throwing both her fore hooves on to both Octavia’s shoulders. “You’re who we need. Things will come together if we get you on our side!” Octavia’s eyes were flicking to Trixie’s hooves nervously. “We’re – we’re on a mission from Goddess! You have to help us!”

Octavia gently shoved herself away from Trixie. “You do need help, Trixie, but not mine. Now, I really must go home and get cleaned up for work.” She backed away, a few steps at a time. “You’re welcome to the rest of the lunch.” She pivoted on her legs and dashed out of the park at a gait a little too close to a gallop to be properly decorous.

Trixie stared after the retreating mare, and then looked down at the grass.


She did, despite her annoyance, magically grab the rest of Octavia’s lunch to eat on the way back to where she had parked the Flimflam’s carriage.

Trixie ended regrouping with the others at a greasy spoon off the main drag, where, given that Iron Will actually had a few bits to throw at a bill, the party was enjoying a meal. Deeply frustrated, the magician went ahead and had a second lunch.

“I’ll admit, old girl, I didn’t really think it would work,” Flam said, as his magic repeatedly slapped the back of a ketchup bottle.

“Why not?” Trixie demanded, as a plate of chili sin carne on hay fries was set before her.

“She probably gets a lot of offers, and we don’t have a lot to offer.” Flim shrugged. “Had nothing to do with who made the approach.”

Iron Will looked around the table, eyebrows raised. “Wait, so that’s it – we’re done? We came all the way out here for nothing?”

A blob of ketchup comprising the bottle’s entire contents emerged from the glass neck, completely smothering Flam’s grilled mushroom sandwich and half of Bon-Bon’s mane. Flam sighed, before speaking. “Of course we’re not done. We just checked off the first item on the list: ask nicely.”

Bon-Bon irritably dabbed at her mane with a napkin, to not much effect; Lyra intervened with her magic, to only slightly more benefit. “So next you kidnap her?”

The brothers seemed to genuinely be considering this option. As Bon-Bon’s eyes widened, Flim finally announced: “No, of course not.” Flim tilted his head in thought. “Brother, you think maybe the Chihocko Charade?”

Flam stroked his moustache thoughtfully, neglecting his ketchup supper with a grilled mushroom sandwich garnish. “Wouldn’t work. We can’t assume the third premise.”

“Right, right….” Flim gave the matter a bit more thought. “What about a modified Chihocko Charade incorporating the key element of the Salt Lick City Shuffle?”

“The SLC Shuffle? How in the hoof would we do the – ” Flam looked around the lunch table. “Bucking. Brilliant. Brother.”

Half of those not surnamed Flimflam were looking at the other half in confusion; most of the other half were shrugging their shoulders.

As Trixie attacked her dish, vigorously chewing while magically raising another large forkful, she looked down at the table to see that Flam had taken her hoof in his two fore hooves. She looked at him to see that he was gazing into her eyes. Deep into her eyes. She stopped chewing.

“My dearest Trixie – as you sit there, demurely eating those smothered hay fries, silky mane shimmering in the Whoa-maha sun pouring through the single-paned windows, my heart can’t help but to be stirred by the flame of desire and stoked to heretofore unknown passions. Would you do me, your humblest servant, the honor of joining me this evening at Chez Drover?”

Trixie dropped her fork.

The sun was nearly down, and rain was falling in sheets – Flam’s unicorn magic suspended an umbrella over Trixie, as she stepped out of the carriage.

“Thank you ever so much,” Trixie said, as they gingerly stepped through the parking lot to avoid getting too many puddles splashed on their clothes. In a lower voice, she asked, “That check is going to bounce, right?”

“Like a rubber biscuit,” Flam said, nodding. “If it bothers you, try to keep that dress clean, so you have something to return.” He raised his voice as they approached the entrance. “Ah! Good evening, good sir!”

“Madam, monsieur – you are aware that we have a valet service?” asked a white earth pony in a red hat and vest.

“Of course, good sir, of course – I just get very tetchy about anypony else laying a hoof on my carriage.” Trixie smiled and nodded knowingly. “Why, thank you!” Flam added, as the valet held open the door for them.

Past a short entrance lined with oil paintings illuminated by gas lamps, Flam and Trixie joined the very short line in front of the maître d’. They listened patiently as Octavia, standing at a podium, addressed the concerns of the guests in front of them.

“No sir, I am sorry, but Mayor Dahlmane no longer dines here. He is quite dead, sir. Very good; I believe we have a table for you right this way….”

Flam and Trixie moved up in the line as Octavia led the guests to a table.

“Here goes,” Flam said, talking out of the side of his mouth. “Anything I need to know?”

“Just that she really is perfect.” Trixie sighed.

Nopony’s perfect. That’s why this is going to work.” Flam said confidently.

Octavia trotted back up to the podium, blinking her eyes. “Welcome to Chez Drover – oh. Miss Trixie.” Her face was stoic, rather than smiling.

“Octavia? Oh, my, what an unexpected coincidence. Have you given any thought to what we discussed earlier?”

“You have my answer, Miss Trixie. It is quite impossible. Is that all you require tonight?”

“Not at all, dear filly, not at all! Flam here, my associate in charitable enterprise, and I have come here to dine! Trixie assures you, meeting again like this was a mere happy coincidence.”

Flam took off his hat. “Miss Octavia.”

“Come, dear beau, let us adjourn ourselves to the nearest vacant table, and peruse this establishment’s board of fare.”

“Wait! You can’t – ” Octavia started, as the two trotted off to the dining room. “Ah, welcome to Chez Drover!” she uttered hurriedly, seeing more guests arrive at the front of the line. Her eyes flicked quickly between the two unicorns and the two new pegasus ponies who had arrived, and she sighed, and put on her best stoic face. “How many in your party tonight?”

Trixie and Flam sat themselves at a table, smirking. They looked around the dining room, and then back towards the lobby, where Octavia was not about to get less busy.

“Now?” Trixie asked, in a low voice.

Flam nodded, and whistled shrilly. “Yo! Garcon! A little service, here!”

Several desired effects were achieved: the other patrons were staring, a waiter made his way towards them, and there was no question that Octavia heard him.

“What can I get for you?” the earth pony waiter asked, uncomfortably.

“A bowl of corn chowder for myself, a Wooldorf salad for the lady, and a giant bucking plate of spaghetti with falafel – two forks. Whaddaya got in the way of really good blackberry nectar?”

The waiter cleared his throat. “We have the Dun Peregrine at seven-hundred-fifty bits a bottle, sir – the sommelier could assist you better, if you could just wait a - ”

Flam belched, and patted his chest with his hoof. “Dun Peregrine? Yeah, that’ll do, pal. Bring us two, because it’s just been one of those days, know what I’m sayin’?” The earth pony nodded. “Whaddaya waitin’ for? Schnell!” The waiter trotted off at Flam clapped his hooves, and Flam reclined in his seat, scratching his ear with his hooves.

Trixie, meanwhile, kept her eyes flicking about the dining room, looking for opportunity. The place was ripe with it. With a small glow of magic, she moved a chair leg here, a fallen fork there, and – well, mostly, in fact, just a lot of re-adjusted chair legs. The waiters began to find their paths blocked, stumbling, having to ask guests to move.

And then came the golden opportunity: an unfortunate earth pony mare trying to balance an entire platter of fondue pots on her back. It never stood a chance against a bare nudge from Trixie’s magic – hot cheese sauces splattered across an entire dinner party.

As the dining room worked up to an angry hubbub full of discontented and sometimes cheese-soaked guests, Octavia finally had a moment long enough to meet Trixie and Flam at their table.

“I know what you are trying to do,” she said. “And it will not work.”

“This doesn’t have to go on,” Flam said, smiling. “I can make this end at any time. All you have to do is take our offer. A few days; that’s all we need.”


“Your loss, sweet thing.” Flam whistled sharply again. “Hey! Garcon! Where’s that booze I ordered? Shift your flank!”

“I must ask that you behave. You are disturbing other guests.”

“Or what?” Flam asked, as he magically tossed a bread roll into Trixie’s open mouth.

“Or I must tell the two Night Guards in the lobby that you have refused to conduct yourselves in a lawful and orderly matter.”

Flam and Trixie looked towards the front, where two pegasus ponies in uniform were waiting.

“You called the feathers on us already? Dang.” Flam shook his head, and stood from out of his chair. “And here I thought you were cool, Octavia. Well…Trixie?”

Trixie nodded, and stood up. “Flam?”


The two unicorns jumped onto the table, smashing the wood leaves and tearing the cloth, and galloped towards the open-air balcony, leaping from occupied table to occupied table, destroying thousands of bits worth of gourmet food alone before clearing the balcony rail and descending to the rain-slicked street below. The two pegasus ponies in hot pursuit did only somewhat less damage as their hastily beaten wings knocked over dozens of glasses and set off a sneezing fit in an elderly truffle magnate.

With a few hasty directions by Octavia, the staff set into damage control mode, arranging for the replacement of affected meals and the issuing of complimentary gifts to disaffected customers, and after ten minutes, order seemed to return – leaving the maître d’ free to return to the front, where two mares were waiting for her.

“Welcome to Chez Drover, so sorry about the delay,” Octavia said, taking in the two new guests – an earth pony with a pink-and-blue curly mane, and an aquamarine unicorn with a cyan mane. “Just two in your party?”

“Yes,” the unicorn said, rubbing her side up against the other guest. “We were just hoping for a nice romantic dinner here; do you have a table?”

“Romantic – of course, of course. Right this way.” Octavia pondered briefly for a moment whether to tell two obvious out-of-towners that Whoa-maha wasn’t necessarily as progressive in some aspects as one might think. “Still,” she thought, “one ought to trust that they will maintain a reasonable level of decorum; and, the other guests, well, I mean, they’re wealthy ponies who pride themselves on a level of sophistication in a part of Equestria not generally renowned for it, they really should be able to tolerate something as innocent as two mares having a quiet, romantic dinner.” She trotted into the dining room, finding them an empty, non-broken table.

“Thank you very much, dearest,” the earth pony guest said. Octavia offered her graces, and turned to leave, when the earth pony continued. “You know, I’m a member of a certain charitable enterprise that’s going to put on a concert soon.” Octavia froze, her eyes widening. “You really should consider auditioning with them.” She gulped, and resumed her trot back to her podium.

Her heart raced as she waited for more customers. Her cynical angels were telling her to just call in the Night Guard now and to avoid the rush – but then there might be complaints, too. Some of them very hurtful – intolerant, for one, would be a title her reputation in Canterlot might not survive.

Minutes passed, and she began to calm – perhaps things she had misjudged things. She seated another party of guests, and then came in a pair of pegasus Night Guards. The veteran waitstaff said that the Whoa-maha Night Guards always gave good responses to Chez Drover, since the restaurant put so much sales tax into the city coffers, but that the check-ins – especially by stallion pegasus ponies, who were the norm, even out here - hadn’t been nearly so regular before Octavia started working there.

“Evening, ma’am,” the lighter-colored pegasus said. “We heard there was a disturbance earlier, and wanted to make sure everything was okay now.”

“Well, I can’t speak as to your comrades out pursuing the criminals, but we do have some semblance of order back here, thank – ”

A young waiter stuck his head into the lobby. Octavia noted a furious blush on the earth pony colt’s face. “Miss Octavia – um – er – you – uh….”

The maître d’ trotted out into the dining hall, followed by the two Night Guards. Their jaws dropped in unison. Octavia regained control of hers considerably faster than the pegasus ponies, though she still was stammering. “Y-you – you have to – s-stop them!”

“Why?” one pegasus asked, his mind clearly occupied.

“It’s – it’s indecent!”

“Looks pretty decent to me,” the other pegasus said, chortling.

One could not describe what Lyra and Bon-Bon were doing atop their table, one astride the other and with frequent rolling over to reverse positions, as ‘kissing’; not when the chance to use Trottingham dialect like ‘snogging’ was so blatantly available.

Octavia stomped her hoof in fury, and the pegasus ponies sighed. “Alright, you two,” they said, fluttering their wings for altitude. “Break it up!”

For a couple locked so deeply in the throes of passion, they managed to break into a gallop out the emergency exit of the restaurant with startling alacrity, sounding a loud, piercing alarm.

After the alarm was reset, the guests calmed, and a gray-maned busybody’s cardiac distress tended to, Octavia returned to the front podium, a little surprised to still be seeing new guests this late in the evening.

“Welcome to Chez Drover,” she began, taking in the new arrivals before her, a process which involved a fair amount of looking up. She had certainly heard of minotaurs, and supposed that this blue fellow was probably one of them. “How many in your party tonight?”

“Two,” the minotaur said.

Octavia looked down to the minotaur’s companion. “Sir, pets, except for service animals, are not permitted in the dining area of Chez Drover.”

“And this little goat serviced six steam turbines this afternoon.” The minotaur rubbed a hand through the goat’s white fur, vigorously scratching his head right behind the ear. “Iron Will thinks he deserves a night out for such good work.”

“Baaah,” the goat said, thumping his leg on the floor.

Octavia wasn’t certain whether goats generally crossed the line into sapience – they were probably much closer to sheep than cats, though sheep at least spoke intelligibly – but given that the goat was wearing a necktie, she decided not to push it. “Right this way, sirs.”

“Thank you,” the minotaur said, as he took his seat. “By the way, Iron Will hears tell that a certain charitable enterprise is looking for talented musicians for an upcoming concert. You should think about it.”

“Ba-ah,” the goat agreed.

Octavia considered having them ejected on the spot, and realized this would be a case of ‘you and what army?’ – even the bigger stallions on the waitstaff were casting a nervous eye at the minotaur. “Somepony will be with you shortly,” she said, smiling without mirth, as she turned and trotted back to the front.

“Get. The. Guard,” she said, hissing at a waitress who was on break in the front lobby.

“What? Why?” the other mare asked.

“The minotaur – we’ve had a lot of trouble already tonight, and I think he’s going to be more.”

“What, just because he’s a minotaur?” The waitress gave Octavia a skeptical look. “I’m really surprised at you, Octavia. That’s not like you at all.”

“What – no, no, it’s not that, it’s….”

The waitress, who Octavia realized, on reflection, had always rather resented her, trotted off in a huff and harrumph. Octavia sighed and put her face in her hooves, as she leaned against the podium. “Well,” she thought, “even if we can’t get them called, two of them should show up in about twenty minutes anyway.

It was about half that time before a scream came from the dining room. “Your goat ate my hat!” was the follow-up shout, explaining the scream.

“Only yourself to blame, ma’am: you left it out where he could get it.”

Octavia sighed, looking around for the potted plant where the head waiter stashed his corn liquor, even as the first shrill voice replied: “It was on my head!

“Iron Will stands by what Iron Will said.”

Octavia mouthed a clay jug out from under the plant, and plopped it on the podium. The young colt waiter who had been flustered by the earlier mare-on-mare action came into the lobby. “Miss Octavia – the minotaur – ”

“Yes,” Octavia said, popping the cork on the jug, and spitting it out. “Can you physically eject an unruly minotaur?”

“No ma’am,” the colt said.

“Neither can I. We wait for the Night Guard.”

“You called them, ma’am?”

Octavia thought of the ridiculous billboard at the city entrance. “Yes, I do believe so.” She grasped the neck of the jug in her mouth, and upended it. She stopped when it was halfway empty, and listened to hear if the shouting was still continuing. It was. The colt was still staring at her in horror. “Do you drink?” She asked. He shook his head no. She tossed him the rest of the jug. “Start.”

It was only a few more painful minutes before another pair of Night Guards arrived. They raised their eyebrows at the sight of a despondent Octavia, and then at the sight of a young colt in a waiter’s outfit nursing a jug, and then at the next round of shouted arguments between a minotaur and a waiter.

Octavia cocked a hoof toward the dining room, and the pegasus ponies flew off that way.

“You dirty feathers! You’ll never take Great Fortitude alive!” the minotaur shouted. Octavia raised an eyebrow at the change in name, but before she could even ponder the implications, she winced at the sound of broken glass.

She trotted towards the dining room, out of more morbid curiosity than anything else, to see the large picture window next to the balcony shattered, and the Night Guards flying out in hot pursuit. Again.

Sighing in defeat, she said just loudly enough to be heard over what was, in fact, mostly hushed silence: “That’s it. We’re closed. Everypony out.”

As the more junior staff were cleaning up, Octavia sat outside, leaning against the brick outer wall of the building, watching the rain continue to fall. Just as she began to wish that she hadn’t given half the jug to anypony else after all, she caught sight of two silhouettes approaching in the rain. It didn’t take long for recognition to click and for her to jump to her hooves.

“You! And…you! But how?”

The same stallion as before – red and white mane, olive coat, unicorn, same eye color, same bushy moustache – and the same white goat. The unicorn smirked, as he magically suspended an umbrella over the goat.

“Oh, your Night Guards have plenty of experience chasing earth pony ruffians and drunkards around, but they lack experience dealing with unicorn magic,” the stallion said, while smirking. “We can keep them chasing shadows for as long as we need.”

“I’ll – I’ll call the guards – ”

“And we’ll keep giving them the slip, and showing up to dine once more.”

“Bah,” opined the goat.

“Alright! I’ll do it.” Octavia threw up her forelegs. “I’ll take a leave of absence for a few days to recover from this. The owners will understand. And I’ll do whatever the charity needs until the end of the month.”

“There, was that so hard? We’ll meet you at ten to midnight, outside your house, in our omnibus.”

And like that, the unicorn and the goat retreated into the rainy night.

It was eleven minutes to midnight when the M-squared-C-squared™ pulled up outside of Octavia’s rented house – she had already showered, locked up, and left a note with her neighbors; and was now seated outside with her luggage.

The side door opened up, some stairs unfolded, and two unicorns came out to help her with her bags – the mustachioed one and – one she hadn’t seen, though he could have been a twin of the one with the moustache.

As their magic lifted her bags, she stared closely at the one she didn’t think she had seen.

“Yes?” Flim asked, innocently.

“You,” Octavia growled, “have spirit gum on your muzzle.”

Flim grinned. “And there’s a gray goat inside trying to sponge off the flour. Do we still have a deal?”

Octavia rolled her eyes. “Yes.”

“Really?” Flam asked, as he led the floating luggage inside.

“I said your little group didn’t know how to plan and execute. You have most thoroughly corrected me on this matter.” She stepped up onto the stairs, into the omnibus. “It remains to be seen whether we can save your orphanage, but I shall give it my utmost.”

“Yes!” Lyra shouted, pumping her foreleg excitedly. “This is going to be the best week ever!”

Trixie sidled up to Octavia. “Well, Trixie told you the state of things this afternoon. Where should we begin?”

Octavia looked around, as the Flimflam brothers set her luggage near the couch that would presumably be hers. “You still have no percussion section, I presume?” The others shook their heads. “Then take us down Dodge – there’s a club just outside of Colts’ Town, should just be getting ‘hopping’ this time of night.”

She smiled. The other ponies would even have called the smile a sinister one. It looked alien, on her face.

“Vinyl Scratch: I shall not be the only one of us to have had a bad night.”

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