• Published 4th Sep 2012
  • 4,272 Views, 171 Comments

Saddlebags, Sun, and On the Run (Book 2) - LotusTeaDragon



Applejack, Rainbow Dash, and the rest of the Mane Six travel to Los Pegasus on vacation together.

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Welcome to the Hotel Cowlifornia

CHAPTER TWO
WELCOME TO THE HOTEL COWLIFORNIA


"Dashie! Applejack! Wake up! We're here! We're here! We're here! LALALALALALALA!"

"Pinkie..."

"Wakey! Wakey! Muffin Bakey!"

"Pinkie."

"Rise and shiney, rubber hiney!"

"Pinkie!"

"The Sunshine Siren is calling! Upsey Daisey! WOO!WOO!WOO!WOO!WOO!"

"PINKIE PIE!!"

Rainbow Dash's voice cut through the pink pony's wake up call. Pinkie Pie's bouncy buoyancy came to a halt, and she eased back to the ground, only slightly defying gravity as she did.

"Oh, good! You're awake!"

With that, the party pony bounced away toward the front of the train car.

Rainbow Dash sat up and gently shook her sleeping companion. "Hey, AJ, we're here. Better get up before Pinks decides to find another way to do it, and if I know her it'll probably involve confetti."

Applejack bolted upright. "I'm up!"

Rainbow Dash laughed and punched Applejack in the shoulder. "Let's go get our stuff and get outta here! I've gotta stretch my wings!"

She stood on all fours, and leaned backward, her rear end sticking up in the air as her wings stretched outward. Applejack raised her eyebrow, and taking her hat off of her head, quickly smacked Dash right in the flank. "Yeehaw, little pony!", she called out.

Rainbow Dash jumped straight into the air, and bonked her head on the ceiling. She fell back onto the bed. Sitting back up, she rubbed the back of her head with her foreleg. "Gah! You could have caused me brain damage! Oh no, I'm blind! I can't see!"

Applejack, suddenly alert, leaned over toward Rainbow in a panic. "Oh, sweet Celestia! Ah never meant for that ta happen! We gotta get ya to the hospital, Rainbow!" She leaned in and waved her foreleg in front of Dash's face. "Can ya see anythin' Rainbow? How many hooves am ah holdin' up?!"

Dash, face panicking, looked past Applejack. "I don't know! Lean closer, maybe I can make it out better!"

Applejack leaned forward, and right at that moment, Rainbow Dash grabbed her, and pulled her down on the bed. "Oh no!", the cyan mare called out, giggling, "I'm being attacked by a crazy pony! Help! Somepony call a medic! Somepony get the Royal Guard!"

Applejack, stuck in Dash's grip, placed her muzzle on Dash's warm, fuzzy chest, and begin to vibrate her lips. Dash, unable to contain herself, started laughing.

"Ack! Stop! I... can't... breathe!", she called out between giggle fits. This only caused Applejack to redouble her efforts. Rainbow Dash's grip let go, and Applejack brought her muzzle lower, over the pegasus' belly. At this, Dash's legs kicked out, and she lost all control.

Applejack brought her hooves up and started tickling Dash's sides.

"N-! No! That's...that's cheating!" Dash said, her voice choked with laughter.

The sound of a male voice clearing his throat broke into the sounds of silliness, followed by a polite question by that same voice. "Uh, excuse me?"

Applejack and Rainbow Dash froze. Slowly, Applejack turned her head.

Standing three meters away, and watching with great interest, was the Conductor, Engineer, and two medic ponies.

"I'm sorry", the Conductor began, "are we interrupting anything? We heard cries for a medic and the Royal Guard, and while we don't have the Royal Guard on hand, we certainly have medical assistance."

Applejack's cheeks turned blood red, and she was too embarrassed to speak.

Rainbow Dash, on the other hand, had no such qualm. She took on an air of laissez faire disinterest. "Oh, I'm not sure where you heard that. My marefriend and I were just leaving. It must have been some other pony. You should check the other train cars. They're probably halfway to Dodge City by now."

She rubbed a hoof against her chest, as if unconcerned by the witnesses to her fun with Applejack.

The four ponies stared at her for a moment, before the Conductor replied. "Ooookay... well, then, if that is all, then I suggest you ponies disembark, as we're about to onboard for Seaddle."

Without a second to waste, Applejack and Rainbow Dash grabbed their saddlebags and lit for the train car exit.

Stepping out of the boxcar, they saw the others standing away from the platform, by an information booth, Twilight consulting the guide pony there. They hurried over, relieved to find that no pony had noticed their absence.

Twilight turned away and thanked the guide pony, taking a map of Los Pegasus and Applewood and placing it in her saddlebag. "It's a good thing I checked. Spike forgot to take our map!" she said cheerfully.

Spike's eyes shifted left and right as he said, "Yeah... forgot."

Twilight remained oblivious to the baby dragon's poorly hidden fib, and instead turned toward the curb and began waving down a taxi.

"So, where are we all stayin'?" Applejack piped up. "Ah hope it ain't too fancy schmancy. I mean, gollee, look at this here town!"

Above them, and all around the train station, was the massive city of Los Pegasus. Skyscrapers stood like giants, hundreds of meters high, made out of glass and steel. Billboards blared at them from every direction, carriages zipping past on their way to posh destinations. Palm trees lined the streets in every direction, and amongst it all, a sea of ponies everywhere.

Applejack was overwhelmed.

Rainbow Dash put her foreleg around Applejack's shoulders. "Don't worry, AJ. I won't let ya get lost. After all, I have a flawless sense of direction." She kissed the orange earth pony on the cheek.

Applejack smiled and put her head on Dash's shoulder.

Fluttershy saw this, and let out a tiny squeak of delight. She had so much joy in her heart seeing two of her best friends so happy together. It was no secret, amongst gossiping ponies at any rate, that Fluttershy had more than a slight crush on Big Mac.

The butter yellow pegasus would dream about him as she fed the animals, tilled her garden, and in snug in her bed late at night. She had never gathered the nerve required to ask him anything remotely personal like who he fancied as a partner. Still, as she stared quietly at the two love ponies, her heart wondered.

A moment later, Twilight managed to flag down a carriage, and the ponies (and baby dragon) climbed aboard. Twilight leaned in toward the driver. "The Ritz-Colton Hotel, please", she asked, in as polite and professional a manner as possible.

The driver nodded, and trotted out into the heavy traffic, moving toward the main thoroughfare of downtown Los Pegasus. The mares, and one dragon, were in awe as they took in all of the sights, their carriage moving about in the bustling traffic. They began to talk over one another in their excitement.

"Sweet Celestia! Look at the size of that stallion. You should ask him out on a date, Rarity!"
"Perish the thought, Twilight! He looks to be all brawn and no brains."
"Oh my! Look at those lovely trees!"
"Don't even go there, Fluttershy. You remember what happened last time."
"Aw yeah! Look! The Wonderbolts are going to be at the Los Pegasus Sports Arena this week!"
"Where do y'all think anything is in this crazy mess o' ponies?!"
"Hey, AJ, look at that giant cowboy hat!"
"What an odd place to put a jewelry store. It's positively garish."
"That's not how you spell oregano!"
"Hey Twi, I think that's the hotel up ahead!"
"I think you're right, Spike! There it is, everypony!"

Twilight pointed in the direction of their hotel, as everypony went silent. The edifice was enormous. It was almost as grand as the Royal Palace in some ways, and as their carriage was drawing near, Twilight could see that the pylons holding up the huge awning in the front of the hotel, were made from marble, and carved in the likeness of ancient griffons, each one holding up a corner.

The carriage pulled up to the curb, where a doorpony greeted the exiting ponies. While Twilight paid the taxi driver, the others stretched, and brought their luggage down from the top of the carriage. A bellhop grabbed their bags, until he saw Rarity's luggage, and called for assistance. Finally, with luggage in tow, the six mares, one baby dragon, and five bellhops made their way into the lobby of the hotel.

Everypony's jaw dropped at the same time.

True to form, right in the middle of the lobby was a fountain that had to be at least 20 meters tall, the water cascading down what appeared to be a crystal rock formation, that flowed into a marble pool churning with crystal clear water. The bellhops urged them on, and as they passed the fountain, Applejack took a moment to dip her hat in the water.

"Applejack, what are you doing?!" Rarity said in a hushed, panicked voice. "You can't just drink water from the public fountain, that's rude!"

Applejack plopped her wet hat back onto her head and grimaced at Rarity. "Since when? Ah do it all the time in Ponyville!"

Rarity rolled her eyes. "If you haven't noticed, we're not in Ponyville. We're in what must be the most beautiful and grand hotel in all of Los Pegasus. While you may not be much of a civilized pony, at least have some etiquette!"

Applejack huffed and sat down, crossing her forelegs, as the rest of the mane six, and Spike, made their way up to the front desk.

A graying caramel colored pony with black mane (obviously dyed), raised his snout and asked in a thick accent, "Hello, and Welcome to the Ritz-Colton Hotel. I assume you are here as the new kitchen staff?"

Twilight blinked in surprise. "Er, no. Actually, we're here to get rooms. We have reservations."

"Coincidentally enough, so do I."

Twilight ignored his rejoinder. "I'm Twilight Sparkle, understudy and protege of Princess Celestia. This is Spike, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy.. We have three rooms reserved for the next three days at this establishment."

The desk clerk stared at her for a second, snorted, and replied. "I'm sorry, but if this is a joke, I do not find it to be funny. If you are kitchen staff, please get to your posts, otherwise, cease this poor attempt at humor and exit the hotel. The door is that way." He finished, pointing behind them, while keeping his gaze trained on them.

Before Twilight could respond, Rarity stepped forward and raised the brim of her sun hat. "Excuse me, Sir", she said, her tone dripping with condescension and contempt, "but you are treating the honored guests of Princess Celestia with ill manners, disrespect, and a dire lack of aplomb. I find your attitude toward us to be discourteous, lacking, juvenile, and quite impertinent. Surely you can clamp that large, and hoof filled muzzle shut long enough to simply check your reservations list and see if our names are there."

The clerk was stunned into silence only for a moment, his eyes wide as he stared, dumbfounded at the erudite and assured mare. A raised eyebrow, and a light exhale, and he resumed his haughtiness. "Very well, please wait a moment while I check the reservations list. Do NOT leave this desk."

As he cantered over to the registry, Pinkie Pie spoke up. "Well, what a mean, meany mean pants he is!" she said. "That's no way to treat friends!"

Twilight leaned in toward the pink mare. "Pinkie, I don't think he wants to be our friend. I'm not sure I'd even want to be his friend, to be honest."

Pinkie Pie gasped. "Why, of course he could be our friend! He just has to loosen up and relax!" She beamed a smile at Twilight, who could only chuckle in return.

A few moments later, the clerk returned, a smug smile on his lips. "I'm sorry for the confusion", he began, "it seems I was mistaken."

Rarity harrumphed. "That's better", she said.

"Yes, quite", he continued, "it seems you're not kitchen staff or on our reservations list. Good day, and please make haste for the exit."

Twilight's mouth dropped. "Excuse me?! We have reservations! Princess Celestia made them for us, and paid for them, just so we could relax on this vacation!"

The clerk raised an eyebrow, his expression skeptical. "If that is true, then all I can do is request verification from the Princess or her royal clerk. That will take two days at best. Until then, I suggest you find accommodations elsewhere. Good day." With that last word, he snapped the ledger shut, and walked away, leaving them at the counter, mouths agape.

Applejack was the first to speak up, "Well, tarnation! What do we'all do now?!"

Twilight thought for a moment, and then perked up. "Wait! Spike can send Princess Celestia a letter explaining that the hotel lost the reservations!"

Grabbing a piece of paper off the front desk, Twilight quickly jotted down a note, rolled it up and handed it it to Spike.

"Send it on out, Spike! We'll get this fixed in no time!"

Spike exhaled, breathing his magic green flame onto the scroll. The message floated away as a gossamer wisp of smoke.

"Once she sees what's happened, she'll fix it in no time!" Twilight beamed.

A few seconds later, Spike's gout of green flame signaled Princess Celestia's response.

Twilight caught the letter with her magic and opened it, reading aloud:

"Dear Miss Sparkle, I regret to inform you that Princess Celestia has flown to Germaney to help her sister, Princess Luna, in their increasingly heated negotiations with the local government there. In the interim, she has asked me to reply to all necessary correspondence. I will see what I can do about the hotel reservations, however, without Princess Celestia to authorize the transaction, I cannot force them to validate them. She will likely be returning by tomorrow, at which time I will approach her to resolve this situation.

Sincerely,
Urgent Notice
Mail Steward"

Twilight sighed and tossed aside the letter, disappointment in her voice as she spoke to the others. "I guess we get rooms somewhere else. I have a couple hundred bits. We'll see what we can find."

The disappointed mares, and one dragon, headed for the exit, followed by a line of beleaguered bellhops.

-(/)*(\)-

Two hours later, they arrived at their destination. "We're here", Twilight stated, her voice filled with apprehension and uncertainty as they gazed upon the building where they would be staying for the next several days.

The hotel, if it could be called that, was a bright pink stucco, with a neon sign that said "Los Pegasus EZ Rates Hotel", though the broken sign merely flickered the words "LO PEGA EZ RAT HO".

They made their way inside, though light weeping sounds could be heard somewhere among the group of dismayed ponies.

After checking in with the desk clerk, who was also the hotel barber and pawnbroker, the six mares and one tired dragon finally made their way up to their rooms. Opening her door, Twilight stepped into their room, with Pinkie Pie and Spike following closely behind. Light spilled in from the open blinds, which gave a view out onto the street, from their third floor vantage point. Twilight could see several hobo ponies dancing for bits on the corner. Sitting her saddlebags on the springy mattress, and to satisfy her curiosity, she walked over to the window and stared out at the pool below.

The water was almost a light blue, save for some dark green cloudy areas in several spots. On the side, where the walkway met the courtyard, and next to a tattered umbrella, was a chalk outline of what appeared to be a unicorn pony. She quickly stepped away from the window, and made her way over to the bed. She sat down, and was launched off the side and into the floor. She heard Spike from the bathroom.

"Hey Twi, are we supposed to have rat butlers? Because if not, um..."

Twilight's eyes went wide, as she sat up on the spinach green shag carpet floor. "Spike, you get out of there right now, and don't touch anything!"

Pinkie Pie, for her part, was bouncing on her broken down bed, which seemed to be stuck in vibrating mode. "This...is...fuuuuun!" she said, her voice quaking as the bed continued to vibrate.

Meanwhile, across the hall in room 34, Rarity was in tears, as she stood on her suitcases, terrified to touch anything in the room. Fluttershy, for her part, had already begun to make friends with the rats in their bathroom, and they had kindly helped her pull the shower curtain out of the toilet and rinse it off.

"It's okay once you get to know them", she said to Rarity, who merely kept staring from one heinous abomination of cleanliness to another. Fluttershy opened her saddlebags, and began taking out some clothes. She turned to the stained wooden dresser, and opened the top drawer to place them inside. A bat flew out and escaped the room through a hole in the corner of the ceiling above the light fixture.

"Oh my", she whispered as she watched it fly away.

Rarity, on the other hand, simply passed out.

Over in room 33, Rainbow Dash was already laying on the bed, flipping through the channels on the television, while Applejack was putting their clothes away in the dresser drawers.

"Hey Applejack, this hotel doesn't have any good channels. All they have is ENN and FOX news."

Applejack glanced over to her cyan friend. "Did ya already put your gear away, Rainbow?", she asked.

Dash yawned. "Yeah, it only took a few seconds." She didn't tell her that those few seconds involved shoving everything into one drawer. If she needed anything, she was sure she could find it somewhere.

A few moments later, Twilight peeked into the room. "Hey, you two, are you ready to go find something to eat? The others agree that we don't want to spend any time here than what we really have to" she said, a grimace appearing on her face.

Before Applejack could turn toward the door, Rainbow Dash had already bolted out and down the stairs.

Applejack chuckled. "Ah'd take that as a yes."
She grabbed her hat from the bed, and followed Twilight out the door.

-(/)*(\)-

Two blocks up from the "hotel", they came upon a sidewalk cafe. Rarity noted it's small size, but was appreciative of the decor. "It has a lovely rustic coziness, wouldn't you say?", she asked her friends.

"It ain't fancy, and there don't seem ta be no waiters puttin' on any airs, so ah like it!" Applejack said, as she and Twilight pulled a couple of chairs up to the table so they could all sit together.

The glass and stone table wasn't very large, and there was a large, blue umbrella right in the middle of it which cast shade down upon the seated ponies, but was adequate enough to accommodate them. Rarity ran her hoof along the outer edge of the table, and was pleased to find that the table was relatively clean for being near such an atrocious area.

"It seems to bring in a fair amount of business", she added, glancing around at the packed little bistro. She watched as children chased each other around a couple's table, knocking a glass over the side, where it shattered on the brick patio below. A chestnut mare glared at the children, who cowered and ran off toward the other side of the cafe.

"I wonder if any celebrities eat here?", Spike was asking, as he looked around for notable faces.

Rarity chimed in. "Oh, goodness no, Spike. I don't think celebrities would visit a small establishment such as this one. While it does have a certain charm and flair, it lacks the subtle and refined atmosphere that would usually attract the wealthy, and elite."

"I guess so", Spike replied, disappointment in his voice. "Still, maybe we'll get famous! I could be a star!", he added, at which point he took out his sunglasses, and mustache, and applied them to his face.

The six mares around him giggled.

"Ooh, look at him, he's so precious!" Rainbow Dash said, her voice going higher as she pressed her cheeks together and blew kissy faces at him, which caused him to frown.

"Oh, Spikey, you look so absurdly adorable! I could just squeeze you!" Rarity cooed, which turned his frown upside down.

A gossamer voice amongst the group squeaked out a "d'aww", and then everypony at the table giggled, mustachioed Spike included.

A few moments later, a waiter arrived to take their order.

As they ate, they discussed their plans for the day.

"As it turns out", Twilight was saying, in between bites of a daisy sandwich, "I have planned our entire itinerary. Did you know Los Pegasus has five natural history museums, and three libraries?! Every moment of every day from now until we leave is filled with fun and exciting adventure that are all opportunities for learning!", she finished, her voice triumphant.

Opening her eyes, she saw several uneasy expressions on the faces of her friends.

"Well, you see..." Rarity began, uneasiness creeping into her voice, "Twilight, I, thought that we could... you know..."

Before she could continue, Rainbow Dash jumped in, "Yeah, uh, it's not that we don't want to learn borin-er-educational stuff, it's just that we kinda wanted to, you know..." she trailed off.

Applejack finished. "We kinda want ta see the sights, Twi. Ya know, like Applewood, and go ta the beach, and all that."

Pinkie Pie chimed in. "Yeah! Not to be a clowny frowny downy face, but we need to have a party! I mean LOOK! We're in a totally awesome city with lots of ponies all around! We have to have FUN! The author's probably on his knees praying for some kind of action!"

The last comment drew confused looks for a moment, but was quickly ignored.

A soft voice cut in. "Oh, your idea sounds fun, Twilight, but I wanted to swim with the dolphins at the Los Pegasus Marina. Um... you know... if you're okay with that...". Fluttershy's voice trailed off.

For a moment, all was silent. Then Twilight sighed. "I'm sorry, everypony. I just assumed that I would organize everything. I didn't even stop to think for a moment whether any of you would want to do those things with me."

Rarity spoke up, "Darling, we love to do things with you, that's why we're here. Let's simply try to listen to one another, and we can all agree on where to go. As we do, we'll do our best to give everypony a chance to do something they like."

A chorus of agreements answered her comment.

Twilight smiled, her posture returning to that of a cheerful unicorn. "Thanks, everypony. So, what do we do today?"

Everypony answered at the same time. "Applewood!"

-(/))*(\)-