• Published 5th Dec 2012
  • 9,274 Views, 1,302 Comments

Tangled Roots - Bad_Seed_72

The CMC know that Babs Seed was bullied in Manehatten, but how bad could things really have been?

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Diamonds And Rust

Diamonds and Rust

A city’s true nature is known only at night.

When the streetlamps and fireflies come out to play, all facades of normalcy drop and shatter. During the day, anypony can put on a smiling face, bustling through the busy streets to their places of work and learning, but at night, there is no more hiding.

Manehatten in the daytime was a glorious city to behold, a pulse in the heart of Equestria itself. Just as Canterlot was the refuge of wealthy and influential unicorns, so was Manehatten a haven for Earth ponies whom were similarly blessed. Beautifully constructed shops lined its streets, offering a myriad of wares, from the bare essentials to the most grand of luxuries. Merchants with carts made from expertly-forged steel and painted with wondrous colors offered snacks, meals, drinks, and event tickets to all passing by. The market road was bustling from dawn to dusk, bits being gleefully exchanged and counted all the while.

Beyond the marketplace, in the hills, laid estates of all sizes competing with each other in a true pissing contest of wealth and prestige. Manicured lawns, enormous gardens, and trains of hired help displayed themselves proudly at the gates of their masters, each home in an unspoken race against all others. The hills were a testament to capitalism’s success, to inheritance and affluence, a beacon to all those below who were not yet worthy of living on Manehatten Hill.

Such was Manehatten in the daytime.

At night, the truth crawled and seeped through the streets like demons peeking out from under the rug of repression. As soon as the streetlamps began to be lit by the sore hooves of the city’s light-tenders, the merchants, vendors, and shopkeepers quietly packed their wares and bolted their doors for the evening. Ponies made their journeys home, traveling in groups of no less than two, eyes watchful and cautious for the dangers of the dark.

By the time the streets were empty of the daytime lies, the nighttime truth began to stir, stretch, and smile.

Now came the undercurrent of Manehatten, the river under the deep facade flowing and gushing through the Earth to rain upon the night.

Gangs of Earth ponies, composed of both fillies and colts of all ages and sizes, roamed the streets at night. Most of them were mere juvenile delinquents, engaging in petty theft and vandalism or gathering in parks to drink cider or smoke sticky plants that took away their fears. Some of those gang-ponies were much more malicious, and the lesser groups steered far clear of them.

Card Slinger was one of those ponies.

A strong, proud colt, Card Slinger was not even a grown pony. Yet, he led a small group of four other ponies on their night romps through the dark streets of Manehatten. A blood-red colt with a mane black as night, Slinger had years of street fights and petty crime tucked behind his ears. His cutiemark was a pair of cards—“Big Slick,” or an Ace and a King—crossed on his flank. He had been blessed with his cutiemark early in his colthood. Now he was in his later years of school, where a cutiemark was not so much a sight to behold as it was an expected milestone. All of the other fillies and colts at the Manehatten school had their cutiemarks now.

Well, except for one.

Tonight, two of their members were home sick, but that did not stop the gang from their traditional romp of mischief. Card Slinger and his two followers trotted slowly through the cobblestone streets, Luna’s moon rising boldly through the night sky. The two other ponies with him, a filly and a colt, kept a watch on all compass directions as they strode. Gang rivalries were a mere fact of life for the Manehatten toughs, and constant vigilance was required on their outings.

Lucky Toss, an orange colt with a white mane and a cutiemark of a pair of dice, whispered, “Slinga? Slinga… what’s on the agenda fo’ ta-night?”

“Youze remember the new bar dat opened at the end o’ town?” Slinger hissed back, voice low, ears pricked for hoofbeats in the dark.

A beautiful young mare with a pink coat and a white mane, a cutiemark of a pointed flail adorning her flank, gasped and replied, “Oh! Youze mean ‘The Waterin' Hole,’ right, Slinga?”

Chuckling, Slinger said, “Youze got it, Fencer. I figure we can get ourselves summat dat there cider from the dock. I’m feelin’ a hot buzz ta-night.”

“As long as we don’t run inta some hot fuzz, I’m down,” Lucky said.

“Me too,” Fencer added.

Slinger laughed as they reached their destination, rounding the bar and slipping through an alley to the loading dock area where the vendor carriages were kept. “Youze fools forgettin’ where youze at? Dis is Manehatten, city o' angels an' demons. An' the angels are all tucked in their beds fo’ now.”

The other two couldn’t help but laugh along with him. The eyes of the law in Manehatten were keen and wide for daytime drama—petty thefts, arguments between merchants and customers, even the occasional domestic dispute—but, at night, they were slow and weary, if open at all.

After forming their little group and taking the streets every night for about a year and half, this gang of Manehatten juvenile delinquents had only seen uniformed law-ponies twice. Both times, they had seen the boys in blue from the safety of a bush or dumpster, and watched as the eyes of the law took hold upon a mare of the night and led her to back to their offices.

That was all the proof they required. There was no law in Manehatten at night.