• Published 17th Jan 2012
  • 1,855 Views, 106 Comments

The Donors - GoesKaboom

The truth about Pumpkin and Pound Cake's parentage.

  • ...

Information Security

Document File's eye twitched, the charcoal-colored unicorn mare recognizing the stallion striding into the facility like he was on a mission from Celestia. This was the third time that week that Moneybags had come to her, demanding to know information that she was not free to divulge. It seemed he was completely unable to get certain concepts like “confidentiality” through his thick skull. But, she still had to be polite- he was, after all, the Equine Reproductive Project's biggest financial sponsor. “Good afternoon, Mr. Moneybags,” the mare said, carefully schooling her features to avoid betraying her true thoughts. “What can I do for you today?”

“Cut the crap, Document, you already know why I'm here,” Moneybags snapped, not in the mood for pleasantries. “I want that information.”

“We've been over this already,” Document retorted, polite mask dropping away almost immediately. So this was how he was going to play it, was it? Well, that arrogant orange unicorn was about to learn that just because he had an obscene amount of money didn't mean he was above the same rules and laws that everypony else had to play by. When she'd taken this job, Document File had made a promise that she would never divulge any unauthorized information to anypony. There was ponies' lives they were dealing with here- it was going to take a whole lot more than some obnoxious (albeit smooth-talking) asshole of a stallion to get her to break that promise.

“No, we have not 'been over this' already,” Moneybags shot back. “All we've done is see you deny a perfectly reasonable request for no good reason at all. I want to know who is going to be raising my foal, that is all. It is not as though I'm asking you for somepony's Equestria Identification Number or their credit card information. If I wanted that, I wouldn't need to come talk to you, I'd just buy it myself.” Here, he laughed at his own wit. “I'm kidding, of course. I don't need to steal anypony's credit card information.”

“Ha ha,” the mare said dryly. “Very funny.”

Moneybags ignored her. “I only want one thing from you, is that so hard? All I want is the names of the couple that will be raising my foal. Nothing difficult, nothing all that illegal. All you have to do is give me two names, and I'll set it up so that you can take a two-month vacation anywhere in the world. You want to go to some tropical island? Done, I'll pay for it. Or maybe you want to go to Las Pegasus? I'll take care of that. Just give me the names I need and it's done.”

“I'm sorry, but the answer is still no,” Document repeated, slamming her hoof down on the desk. “I can't even access the information anyway, it's all stored in that new computer thing that the government gave us- all my paper records have been digitized, I can't get at them even if I wanted to. Now if you'll excuse me, sir, I am going on my lunch break.” Slamming a sign reading “be back later” onto the desk with her magic, the unicorn mare trotted off in the direction of the break room. She had a salad with her name written all over it.

Privately, Moneybags fumed. Why did this have to be so damned difficult? All he wanted was to know who would be raising his foal, was that so wrong? Considering what kind of a place the world was, Moneybags didn't think so. There was nothing wrong with him ensuring that his foal would not wind up being raised by some psychopath or a pervert. It was actually quite prudent, and the responsible thing to do, he decided, to make sure that his child would be safe. Anonymity be damned- Moneybags would do whatever it took to keep his foal safe, no matter what that was. And he was certain that nopony would fault him for it. Wasn't that the whole point of being a good pony, to look out for the welfare of society's most vulnerable? And what group was more vulnerable than little fillies and colts?

But no matter what he tried, it seemed to Moneybags that there was some wretched mare standing in his way. Lately, Ideal Diamond had been even more irritating than usual, something he hadn't previously thought possible. Apparently, she'd sensed he was up to something. How exactly she managed to figure that out eluded Moneybags, considering that the mare made a parasprite look like a genius, but she had, and she'd been clinging to him over the past few days like ugly on a hydra. He'd only managed to get out of her grip that morning by telling her that he had an important, confidential business meeting to attend.

And technically, it hadn't been a lie, the stallion thought to himself as he left the Equine Reproductive Project. That had been an important, confidential meeting, even if it hadn't gone the way he'd wanted it to. Honestly, what kind of excuse was that? Document File couldn't get into the computers...

Wait a minute. Computers.

Just then, an idea occurred to the stallion. Computers were still relatively rare in Equestria, usually only the very rich ponies or large businesses having them, but he did know a few ponies that might be able to help him. Turning around and cantering off in the other direction, Moneybags hoped that they hadn't moved their location.

He trotted in the direction of his destination, noticing as the structures gave way from shiny new office buildings, high-rise apartments, and high-end, fashionable shops, to run-down, dirty offices, discount stores, and ramshackle apartments. The buildings grew progressively shabbier and more dilapidated, until he finally stopped in front of an old building that looked like one good buck would bring the whole thing down. A faded, scratched sign reading “Computer Cafe” adorned the door.

Moneybags sighed. He could have gone the rest of his life without having to interact with those two again. Hexadecimal and Binary were the best in their not-so-legal business and were virtually untraceable... but their personalities were so warped that it was amazing nopony had offed them yet. But they still did a good business, both with their Internet cafe and with the... other stuff.

Stepping into the little shop, the orange stallion was pleased to note that it was entirely empty, with the exception of a little Earth pony colt, who was playing a game on one of the machines. Recognizing the foal from his parents' yearly Hearth's Warming Greetings, he cleared his throat to get the colt's attention. The colt turned and looked suspiciously at the stallion, taking in his business attire. Moneybags winced, wishing he'd thought to change before coming here. It was probably deeply ingrained in this young pony to automatically mistrust anypony that looked official.

“Good afternoon, Keylogger. Are your parents in?” he asked. The colt jumped, clearly frightened.

“Who are you? How do you know my name? You're not EBI, are you? Because you're in the wrong place if you are! My folks haven't done nothin' wrong!”

“Calm down, kid, I know your parents quite well,” Moneybags said. “We've worked together before, when you were a tiny little foal. Oh, and word of advice- asking ponies if they're with the EBI tends to look a bit suspicious.” The colt looked down at his hooves.

“You just scared me, is all,” he said.

“And I do apologize for that,” Moneybags replied. “But I really do need to speak to your parents- are they in right now?”

“Mama is upstairs sleeping,” Keylogger replied, “but I can get her up. I think Dad's in the basement. I'll go get them. Who should I say is here to see them?”

“Just tell them Moneybags is here with a job.” The colt nodded and dashed up the stairs. A few minutes later, there was a high-pitched shriek, and a rose pink Earth pony mare was cantering down the stairs like Nightmare Moon was chasing her. She caught sight of the unicorn stallion, and the rest was history.

“EEEEE! MONEYBAGS!” she cried, moving so fast that if she'd been a unicorn, Moneybags would have said she'd teleported. Before he had time to react, the mare had enveloped him in a bone-cracking hug. “Ohh~ it's so good to see you again! It's been far too long, we haven't seen you since Keylogger was a foal! That's way too long! How have you been?”

“Hexadecimal... you're... squashing me,” Moneybags managed to get out. Thankfully, the mare immediately released him, stepping back to a reasonable distance to let him catch his breath.

“But really, it's been far too long,” she continued. “Little Keylogger is all grown up and ready to join in the family business! He even got his cutie mark already! Go on, dear, show Mr. Moneybags would new cutie mark!”

Reluctantly, the colt turned so that the businessman could get a look at the USB flash drive that adorned his flank. Hexadecimal beamed with pride. “Just like his old lady, only more relevant to the current time!” she said happily, casting a glance at the floppy disk on her own flank. “Obviously, Binary and I couldn't be more proud of him. And you know,” she added, casting a sly glance at her son, “all the fillies will be getting their sights on him. I'll have to beat them off with a stick! I can't say I blame them, though, what mare wouldn't want to catch a genius computer hacker like my son?”

“Mama, stop...” Keylogger muttered, very embarrassed.

“But I suppose this isn't just a social visit, am I right, moneybags?” Hexadecimal asked, her tone sobering immediately. “What's the matter, you don't have your own personal hackers on staff?” Moneybags glared at her.

“Hexadecimal, I run a legitimate business and you know that. The last time I asked you and Binary for help with my company... well, it was a lapse in judgment, one I will not make again.” The mare opened her mouth to protest, but Moneybags interrupted. “No, I need your help this time for a personal mater, one that is extremely important. Are you willing to help me?”

A predatory glint entered Hexadecimal's eyes. “Oooh, a personal matter... this should be fun! What do you want me to do? Divorce you from that waste of space you call a wife and hook you up with a rival business-colt? Oh, my, how romantic! Star-crossed lovers, divided because they are the heads of rival companies, and still tied to mares they only married to hide their true feelings for each other! Oh, it could just make me cry! Of course, I'll help you, dear! Just let Momma Hexadecimal take care of you!”

Keylogger and Moneybags looked at each other, Moneybags in alarm and Keylogger with rolling eyes. “Don't listen to her, mister,” the colt said. “She gets like this sometimes.”

“Still reading slash fiction online, huh, Hex?” Moneybags finally said. Hexadecimal shrugged.

“Hey, it entertains me and gives me a hobby,” she explained. “Binary doesn't believe me, but Okane ga Neigh is one of the greatest masterpieces of our time. And I never thought that girl deserved you, anyway.”

Moneybags almost made an attempt to defend Ideal Diamond, but then he remembered that she truly was a pain in the flank, and that once the hacker had gotten an idea in her head it was nigh-impossible to get it out. Fortunately, he was spared any more awkward moments by a gangly blue Earth pony stallion stomping out of the basement.

“What in Equestria is going on up here? Hexie, what the buck are you- MONEYBAGS!” he interrupted himself. “Now there's somepony I never expected to see again! How's it going? What can I do you for?”

“Moneybags says he needs our help for a personal matter,” Hexadecimal answered her husband. “Although he won't tell me what it is,” she added as an afterthought. The orange unicorn rolled his eyes.

“Only because your guesses were completely ludicrous,” he replied. “If you're willing to do business with me again, I will definitely tell you whatever you want to know. I trust your usual fee will be enough- 300 bits for each of you?” The mare, however, held up a hoof.

“Not quite,” she said. At Moneybags' incredulous look, she hastily explained. “You see, we recently added a third member to our operation. Keylogger is finally old enough to join the family business, and you're our first, uh, customer since he got his cutie mark. So our fee this time will be 650 bits. 300 for me, 300 for Binary, and 50 for Keylogger.”

The colt's eyes shone with excitement. His first real job, with pay! And 50 bits was more than enough to take that cute purple pegasus filly in his class on a date! This was going to be so awesome!

Moneybags considered it. Yes, an extra 50 bits for the newest member of the team was fair. “Alright. 650 bits it is,” he decided, even though he had reservations about somepony as young as Keylogger getting involved in a shady business like this. But the colt seemed excite about the opportunity, and his mother and father clearly didn't have a problem with it. So he figured it to be okay.

“We need to make time to properly discuss this,” Binary stated. “Would you like to stay for dinner? It's nothing fancy, just salad, but we can talk shop while we eat.”

The unicorn hesitated. He knew from experience that Hexadecimal was a terrible cook, and that Binary was even worse, and he knew that Ideal Diamond was probably lurking around at home, waiting to interrogate him about what he'd done all day. But salad was pretty hard to screw up, and he really did need to lay out the parameters for this job. So he opted to stay.

Over dinner (which, surprisingly, turned out to be quite good- apparently Hexadecimal's culinary skills had improved over time), Moneybags explained his predicament, and the reasons that he needed them to get into the records at the Equine Reproductive Project. When he finished, the family of cybercriminals just stared at him for a moment. Then, in tandem, Binary and Hexadecimal jumped up and embraced him.

“Oh, Moneybags, sweetheart-” Hexadecimal began. “Of course we'll help you with this!”

“Yes,” Binary agreed. “There's no better feeling in the world than being a parent. Not even quadruple overclocking.”

“I'll pretend I understood what that meant,” Moneybags replied, but the other stallion ignored him.

“I don't blame you for wanting to make sure your foal will grow up in safety. Did you hear that horrible story out of Canterlot a few weeks ago?” Binary continued, shuddering. “I cannot believe anypony would do something like that to their own foal. That stallion is nothing but scum.”

“Completely agreed. Why I'd like to... well,” Hexadecimal cut herself off. “I'm not going to go there, there are children present. Anyway, don't worry. We'll get you the information you want. We'll get names, addresses, dates of birth, Identification Numbers, credit card information-”

“Uh, you don't need to get credit card numbers...” Moneybags said quickly. Hexadecimal, however, just winked at him.

“Nopony said we'd give it to you,” she giggled. “Silly.”

Moneybags sighed. There was a reason he'd avoided dealing with this particular family in the past, and that, right there, was why. It was only a matter of time before Hexadecimal or Binary got careless and stole the wrong pony's identity. And as utterly annoying as they could be, Hexadecimal and Binary really were the best at what they did. The seedy underbelly of Equestria would lose their king and queen if those two were ever caught. And apparently, it was now time for the coronation of the crown prince Keylogger.

“Just be careful,” he said quietly. “Your son needs his parents around still, and you can't do that if you're in a dungeon somewhere.”

“No worries,” Binary said reassuringly. “Just come back in a week. You'll get your information then.”

Thanking them, Moneybags began the long walk home. Despite his misgivings, he was becoming more and more convinced he'd made the right choice. Hexadecimal and Binary would be able to retrieve the information easily, and Moneybags would know who would be parenting his foal.

What could possibly go wrong?


Author's Comments:

Ah, I love the hacker ponies. They're so much fun to write. I know they seem kind of random right now, but they're actually very important. Pay special attention to Keylogger and you might get a clue as to what is the catalyst for both of the biological fathers getting involved.

Also, Okane ga Nai is a yaoi manga. It was the first thing that I thought of that would be easy to ponify for Hexadecimal's fangirling.