• Published 26th Sep 2011
  • 3,163 Views, 60 Comments

Marehouse 13 - Parchment_Scroll

Warehouse agents in Equestria? Somepony's not going to be happy about this.

  • ...

Steep Learning Curve

Marehouse 13
Steep Learning Curve

Claudia frowned. "You know," she told the unconscious Agent Lattimer, "you really could have thought this through." She looked around the clearing for some water to splash him with. It might not be very effective at waking him up, but it would give her something to do besides trying to slap him awake with her hooves, as tempting as that may have been.

As she craned her neck, looking around, her ears twitched. Is that...? She started walking towards the sound that had triggered the reaction, trying to identify it. Yes! Running water!

The stream wasn't far at all, but presented a whole new problem. Okay, Claudia, how are you going to scoop up water in your hooves? The maroon unicorn's horn began to glow as she pondered the problem. While she considered her limited options, a small orb of water, about eight inches across, separated itself from the stream and floated over to her.

Behind her, Pete groaned. As she turned to check on him, she found herself face-to-rippling-surface with the floating water. She stared at it, finally becoming aware of a strange tugging sensation in her forehead. The sensation was somehow connected to the orb, she realized. Experimentally, she concentrated on raising the water higher.

A native Equestrian unicorn could have warned her not to use too much effort. An experienced, educated unicorn could have told her the expected consequences of essentially using all her strength to direct something upwards. Without that information, Claudia was doomed to make a classic blunder many burgeoning magic users are wont to make. She and Pete would later -- not much later, as it happens -- come to be extremely grateful she'd made the mistake with water instead of, say, a rock.

"Ugh," grunted Pete again, dragging himself to his hooves. Claudia gave up searching the sky for the vanished water orb and trotted over to him. He gaped at her, blinking as though to clear his vision. "Claudia?"

She sighed. "Yeah, Pete, it's me."

"Okay... You're... you're a pony." He shook his head. "Why are you a pony? And why do I hurt all over like I've been Tesla'd?"

Claudia smirked at the supposedly more experienced agent. "A) Because somebody who shall remain Pete decided to start playing with toys when you knew one of them was an artifact, and B) because you've been Tesla'd."

Pete winced. "Who shot me? Did we get 'em?"

"You shot yourself, Pete," said Claudia. "So I guess we did get 'em, huh? I don't know what possessed you to try picking my Tesla up with a hoof of all things, but you set it off while you were trying to get it out of my bag. Lucky for you I keep it set at the lowest possible setting." Claudia shuddered at the thought of what could have happened.

"Well, before that, I don't suppose either of us figured out where exactly the artifact sent us?"

* * * * *

"Whoa," Twilight called out. "We're off course." As she veered to the right, and Applejack followed, the earth pony frowned.

"Y'all ain't exactly the most trail wise o' ponies, Twi. Are ya sure?"

Twilight Sparkle nodded matter-of-factly. "Definitely, Applejack. I may not know these woods as well as you, but you didn't feel the massive surge of magic that just happened this way."

Applejack trotted up alongside her friend. "Ya think we got another tourist so soon after the one we're lookin' fer?"

"No," Twilight said, taking a moment to levitate a map of the area into view and make notes on it as she talked. "What I felt was unicorn magic. My guess is whoever just came through was experimenting and put their all into some spell."

Applejack frowned. "That's bad, right?"

"Well, it could be, depending on the spell, but I think whatever it was was pretty simple. Levitation, most likely."

Applejack nodded, then stopped, holding out a hoof. "Whoa up a sec, Twi. Ah hear somepony' up ahead."

As she came to a stop, Twilight heard it too -- two pony voices talking: a stallion and a mare, and both adults.

"Well, can you describe the artifact? I don't remember picking it up," the stallion said.

"Because you Tesla'd yourself," the mare replied. "Which is to be expected from someone dense enough to start playing around when we're looking for an artifact. Artifacts are not toys, Pete."

"In my defense," the stallion replied, "I remember we were in the toy section of the thrift store, so this one probably was. Right?"

Twilight Sparkle frowned. The longer this went on, she realized, the more awkward it could become for them. She nodded to Applejack and stepped out into the clearing, coughing slightly to get the two ponies' attention. Applejack followed, just in time to see about a gallon of water fall out of the sky to drench the two newcomers.

* * * * *

Five minutes later, it became clear that everypony in that clearing had a completely different attitude about the situation. Twilight Sparkle looked on it as an opportunity to share the magic of friendship with somepony new, as that had proven true in the past. Applejack eyed the two fully-grown (and in the stallion's case, definitely handsome) ponies with suspicion. The new mare, Claudia, was clearly exasperated.

The stallion, who effusively introduced himself as Pete Lattimer, was a "tourist" pony of the type Twilight had begun to dread - a fan. She really didn't know how to take the knowledge that somewhere out there, complete strangers were watching her and her friends. It felt like an invasion of privacy. And they all wanted her and her friends to say some of the strangest things, it seemed.

"Lemme see if I got this straight," Applejack was saying. "Y'all work fer the government where y'all come from."

"Right," Claudia answered, with a roll of her eyes at Pete, who was just grinning at Twilight Sparkle oddly. "And we--"

"Y'all're lookin' fer some kinda dangerous magical artifact thingamajigger, and that's what sent y'all here?"

"Exactly, and we're really not supposed to interact with any of the locals while we're here."

"What?" Pete and Twilight Sparkle simultaneously turned to look at Claudia.

"What are you talking about, Claudia? How can we pass up an opportunity like this? I mean, Equestria! Ponyville!" Pete grinned and waved a hoof at the lavender unicorn. "Twilight Sparkle!"

"You are really starting to weird me out there, Pete."

"Creepy fan gushing aside," Twilight Sparkle interjected, "everypony else who's come here from your world has interacted with us. They stick around at least long enough to learn something about the magic of friendship before they leave Ponyville."

"The magic of friendship," Claudia repeated, deadpan. "You're serious about this."

"It's the most powerful force in the world," Twilight Sparkle said. "It's saved Equestria twice so far, and that's not counting the little day-to-day events that come up."

Claudia facehoofed, groaning in frustration. "Pete, back me up here."

"She's right," Pete said, finally shaking off his ecstatic mood and returning to the subject at hand. "We can't leave without at least visiting Ponyville."

"No," Claudia groaned again. "Back me up. You remember what Artie said when we got trapped in that pocket dimension. Protocols."

"Did we ever find out what those protocols were?"

"Well, I clearly remember not interacting with the locals being one of them."

"And how well did that work out?"

"I got kidnapped by a horror comic monster and we ended up getting involved in a cheap rip-off of I Am Legend -- the, uh, book. Not the movie," Claudia admitted.


"And we found another artifact in that pocket dimension and saved that world from a genocidal madman."

"So... protocols?"

"We should ask Artie," Claudia said after a moment's consideration. After a bit of concentration, her horn began to glow a deep green color, and her Farnsworth communicator levitated out of her saddlebag.

"I'm impressed," Twilight Sparkle said with a grin. "It usually takes a lot more practice to learn that kind of control over unicorn magic."

"Yeah, well, I'm a fast learner," Claudia said before turning her attention to the device.