• Published 17th Jan 2012
  • 1,979 Views, 106 Comments

The Donors - GoesKaboom

The truth about Pumpkin and Pound Cake's parentage.

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Paved With Good Intentions

Chapter Twenty: Paved With Good Intentions
Please note: this chapter contains a somewhat graphic description of an industrial accident. It is not particularly gory but sensitive readers might want to tread with caution.

Outside of the school gates, a unicorn colt and a camel waited for their friend, watching the other students walk by into their classrooms. “Check out what Double Espresso is wearing!” Dark Star snickered, pointing a hoof in the direction of an (admitted very oddly-attired) unicorn filly. “I didn’t even know they made hats out of old coffee cups!”

Saffron rolled her eyes. “Will you grow up? I am sure that Double Espresso thinks her hat looks nice, and you are being rude.”

“Aw, c’mon, Saffron, you have to admit that it looks ridiculous. And you have to know that the teachers are gonna make her take it off.”

“Yes, alright, fine, it looks ridiculous. But I’m not going to make fun of her for it!”

Dark Star opened his mouth, as though he was going to argue the point even further, but closed it immediately as he spotted another pony out of the corner of his eye. “Hey! Keylogger!” he called, oblivious to the fact that the Earth pony colt looked like he’d been run over by a stampede, his mane and tail in complete disarray and an empty, hollow expression on his face. “Get over here and check out Double Espresso’s hat! It’s hilarious!”

“Are you alright, Keylogger?” Saffron cut across the other pony. “You do not look well. Are you sick? I know Freshwater Pearl was out earlier this week with the pegapox!”

“Unicorns and Earth ponies can’t get the pegapox, stupid,” Dark Star rolled his eyes.

Ignoring both Saffron’s query and Dark Star’s rather obnoxious correction the former’s misconception, Keylogger turned to his friends and muttered very quickly under his breath. “You two… I might have done something very, very bad last night. Come on, let’s go to Dolomite’s, I really need to talk to you two in private- somewhere we won’t be overheard by anyone from school, or who might know anything.” Both of his friends looked shocked, but for entirely different reasons. Saffron, because Keylogger was suggesting that they skip school, and Dark Star, because of the place he’d suggested they skip school at.

While ponies (as well as camels, zebras, cows, buffalo, and several other sentient species) were entirely herbivorous, there were several others that were omnivorous. Dolomite’s Deli, a little-hole-in-the-wall restaurant run by an elderly female Diamond Dog, was one of the few restaurants in all of Equestria that catered to her omnivores as well as herbivores. It was a popular stop for visiting dragons, griffons, Diamond Dogs, and even the occasional visitor from the Penguin Nation. Most ponies avoided the place like the plague, although Saffron liked it, because she felt like less of an outsider there. Plus, Dolomite made, in Saffron’s opinion at least, the best hay fries ever, and at her request, the Diamond Dog proprietress learned how to make halwa, a dessert popular in Saddle Arabia that was unfortunately not well-known in Equestria.
Dark Star looked at his friend in horror. “What do you mean, you want to go to Dolomite’s Deli? The owner will cook us into soup!”

“Honestly, you are so paranoid,” Saffron rolled her eyes. “Ms. Dolomite is nice. She does not eat ponies. She will not eat you. The other customers will not eat you either. I just want to know what happened that we cannot discuss it here! We will get into trouble if we skip school!”

“Look, guys, I did something really stupid last night and I can’t talk about it here. No one from school ever goes to Dolomite’s and I can’t talk about it at home because my parents might overhear. Please?”

“Fine,” Dark Star sighed. “But if I end up in Unicorn Soup I’m blaming you.”

Dolomite Diggington had, in eighty years of life, seen some odd things. She’d also become quite familiar with teenage angst, having raised six puppies on her own, as well as having multiple grandpups and, as of the week prior, a great-grandpup. She was also used to herbivorous species being afraid of her restaurant. But this had to be the most ridiculous thing she’d seen in at least a decade. During school hours, no less, that sweet little camel cow was coming to the shop. But this time, she had friends with her- two colts, an Earth pony and a unicorn. The Earth pony looked slightly apprehensive, which was common for her pony customers, but somehow, she could tell that it wasn’t the store that was making the pony uncomfortable. The unicorn, however, looked ready to bolt at any second, his ears flat against his head like he was expecting an attack at any time.

Inwardly, the elderly Diamond Dog sighed. It was unfortunate the more obnoxious members of her species were the ones that ponies thought of as the default, and that they were so frightened by the idea of omnivores in general… never mind that Equestrian law strictly regulated the sorts of meat that could be consumed by non-herbivores, they all seemed to think she’d jump over the counter at any second and try to eat them. Internally she smirked at that. Her arthritis was so bad that she probably couldn’t jump over the counter even if her tail was on fire.
Fortunately, as the main financial hub of Equestria, there were enough visitors from other lands to Manehattan, who wanted a taste of home, to keep her business afloat.

“Good morning, Saffron dear,” Dolomite greeted, once the camel and her friends were seated at a table. “Is school off today?”

“Um…” Saffron stammered, not sure how to respond to that. Dolomite laughed.

“Don’t worry, dearie, I won’t tell anyone. Celestia knows I skipped enough school growing up, and I had the hardest time keeping my puppies in the classroom when they were your age. Everydog at your age wants to spend time with their friends, not study a bunch of dusty old books.”

Unable to help himself, Dark Star blurted out, “Diamond Dogs go to school?” Saffron instantly sucked in a breath while Keylogger facehoofed.

“You dumb-flank…” the Earth pony colt muttered under his breath.

Dolomite, fortunately, just laughed. “Of course we go to school. Despite what the television programs- as well as not a few ponies- want you to believe, we are not all savages. How do you think we are so good at geology and finance? We don’t have our own country, exactly, but the Equestrian government allows us to govern our own affairs. You’ve heard of Haxonite University, right?”

“Yes,” Dark Star replied. Haxonite University, towards the northern border of Equestria, before it became the Crystal Empire, was a school world-renowned for its geology and geomancy programs.

“Haxonite University is one of the best in the world,” the Diamond Dog continued, “and while it’s technically in Equestria, it is under the direct supervision of the Diamond Dog government. Now, I know ponies think of us as dangerous criminals, and I know I probably can’t change that. But I just want to let you know that I don’t eat ponies. Never have, never will. You would probably taste nasty anyway,” she laughed. “Now what can I get for you pups, on the house. I know you must have been afraid to come here like so many of your peers, even if Saffron here reassured you.”

“Uh, ma’am, I apologize for my friend,” Keylogger spoke up. “He’s usually not this much of a gigantic dumb-flank.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Dolomite waved his concerns off. “At least he was up-front about it. And I know your friend Saffron well enough to know she’s a good judge of character. Now, what can I get for you?”

At Saffron’s urging, all three adolescents got the halwa and the coffee. As Dolomite set about to making the food, Keylogger began explaining everything, but not before aiming a kick at Dark Star for being a prejudiced idiot. “You’d kick the flank of anypony who said anything like that about Saffron! What the buck made you think that was appropriate?”
“Sorry,” the unicorn colt muttered, chastened.

“Anyway,” Keylogger continued, “I might have done something really stupid. You know how last night I was talking about that docu- uh, information about the stuff and telling Lavender Blast about it?”

“Oh Keylogger…” Saffron breathed. “You did not.”

“Uh… maybe I kinda did?”

The camel swore under her breath in Bactrian before turning back to her friend. “She did not take it well, did she?”

“Well…” the Earth pony colt fidgeted. “I don’t really know. I didn’t find Lavender. But I think I might have met her mother. Do you know anything about Lavender Blast’s family situation? It looked like her mom might have been in some kind of accident. Since she was a pegasus, I think she might have been working at the weather factory when it, you know…”

Once again, the camel muttered something in Bactrian that did not sound complimentary. “Please tell me you did not.”

“I didn’t! At least, not directly anyway. When I ran into that mare I made my excuses and got out of there as soon as I could. But, uh… I may have dropped the paper. When I got back home I couldn’t find it. And I think I might have dropped it at that apartment.”

“Oh for the- Keylogger, you bucking idiot! Your mom is gonna kill you! And then you’re all gonna get arrested, although I don’t know if you can arrest a dead pony. Maybe they’ll bring you back as a zombie and then arrest you! I told you it was a stupid-flank idea!”

“Yes, thank you, Star, it’s not like I had already figured that out on my own,” Keylogger retorted sarcastically. “But now I don’t know what to do!”

Lavender Sugar’s life had never been particularly easy. Born seventh into an already over-large family, her parents had never been able to give her an especially easy life. At age fifteen, the minimum age for dropping out of schooling, she had done so and gone straight to work in the Manehattan weather factory. It was there that she’d met her future husband, Steel Seethe, another pegasus from the same inauspicious background as herself, while he was changing the locks on the chemical storage area. They’d had a daughter together, Lavender Blast, and they’d eked out an existence barely enough to be considered above the poverty line- it probably didn’t help that Lavender Sugar insisted on her daughter getting a top-quality education at a very expensive private school, but she thought it was worth it. She would make sure her daughter had a chance for a better life even if it killed her.

And then, it nearly had, that fateful spring day nearly a year ago now.

Lavender Sugar had gone to her job that day at the weather factory, checked her assignment for the day. Clouds. Clouds were easy enough, she thought back bitterly. All she had to do was mix the components into the barrel of the machine, and said machine would do the rest. It was one of the easiest, safest jobs in the factory.

At least, it was until the rotating mechanism jammed.

The forestallion on duty, North Wind, had attempted to fix the problem. And he did fix the problem- with his wing in the way. Sugar was certain that she would never forget the stallion’s dying scream as the machine tore his wings from his body, the feathers clogging up the gears yet again. The mare remembered her coworkers rushing past the stallion as he exsanguinated all over the floor, hoping to hit the emergency shut-off button before the catastrophe would get even worse.
Unfortunately, they were too late.

All Sugar remembered after that was a lot of screaming, smoke, and a loud booming sound. Then pain. Nothing but pain. Pain that still lasted to this day.

And then, there was the guilt- she’d sustained some of the same injuries as her boss had. But she had been rushed to Manehattan General Hospital in time for the medical ponies to save her life. North Wind? Everypony had left him to die. Herself included.

She never thought she would feel worse than she did the day she regained consciousness, remembering what had transpired and then reading further details in the newspaper.

And then, the previous night’s incident with that little Earth pony colt happened.

Lavender Sugar was used to ponies being uncomfortable around her, ever since the accident. It was quite rude, honestly, but she knew she was disfigured and that it was disconcerting for the average pony. But that colt’s reaction had been different from the typical ignorant revulsion. He had seemed almost ashamed of something. But that didn’t make sense. Then colt had then stammered out an explanation that he must have read the address of the apartment he was looking for wrong, then shot off in the opposite direction like there was a rocket tied to his tail.

The pegasus mare might have been able to write it off as a fluke, but then she’d noticed that the colt had dropped something. Picking up the paper, she read it, and immediately went into shock.

Her husband had apparently fathered a foal with another mare, although not in the traditional way. If she was reading the paper right, he’d apparently clopped into a test tube or something, and his genetic material had been used to impregnate some random mare.

And he appeared to have done it to either afford her medication, or their daughter’s school tuition.

It was then that Lavender Sugar broke down and cried for the first time since the accident. If only it hadn’t been for that damned accident, Steel Seethe wouldn’t have been driven to such desperate measures. Even with this knowledge, however, a small part of her couldn’t help but resent him for what he’d done. He should have discussed this with her first? Did Steel think she would have objected?

Maybe she would have.

“Oh Celestia-“ the mare whispered to herself. “This is all my fault.”

And now, she had a… a step-child, possibly? Was that what it was called? Certainly her husband had another child now. But what did that mean for her family? Would Steel Seethe want to be a part of that foal’s life? Would she even be able to accept the foal, knowing that it was the offspring of her husband and another mare, even if she knew her husband hadn’t been unfaithful to her in the technical sense? They could barely afford one foal as it was, would they have to pay for this one too? What would their daughter say? At thirteen, Lavender Blast had been given the birds and the bees talk and knew where foals came from, at least in theory (well, Lavender Sugar hoped it was only in theory). But that was a very different thing from understanding all of the complexities of adult relationships. How would the filly view it?

Sugar stared at that damn piece of paper again, before finally making up her mind. She would confront Steel about it, get his side of the story, and then go from there.

“Dear? Is something wrong?” Speak of the devil… there he was. The blue-gray pegasus stallion was at the top of the stairs that led to his locksmith workshop, peering at his wife. Abruptly forced to respond, the mare turned to look at her husband.

“Yes. I’m fine. Why do you ask?”

“It’s just that you’ve been staring at that paper for a while. Is everything okay?”

“Oh. That.” Sugar hesitated, not ready to admit the truth to Steel quite yet. Yes, she was going to tell him. But not yet. “It’s… uh… it’s a letter from Legal Loophole, the lawyer representing everypony who was in the accident. He was wondering if I’d be willing to go and testify for the suit.” And that part, at least, wasn’t a lie- Legal Loophole had, in fact, sent a letter a day ago asking the same thing. Steel Seethe’s face darkened at that.

“Again? Doesn’t he have any compassion?” the stallion, well, seethed. “Why would anypony who survived that want to go to court to relive it?”

“I know,” Sugar soothed. “I’m not going to do it. I’m not feeling well enough to do so anyway.”

“Good,” the stallion glowered. “Don’t dwell on it too much, dear. Why don’t you take your medication and have a nap?”

“Yeah,” Sugar agreed, folding the paper in on itself so that her husband wouldn’t see it. “I’ll do that.”

Yes, she would tell her husband. Eventually. Soon. But not now.

“That has got to be the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard!” Keylogger was on the verge of screaming. Dark Star just winced.

“Well, I was just saying that maybe you should go stay with a relative for a while. My neighbor went to go stay with some of her cousins for a while because some little nags in her class were tormenting her because she doesn’t have her cutie mark yet.”

“Ugh. Are foals still that immature?” Keylogger said, disgusted. “Don’t they know that a cutie mark can appear at any time during a pony’s life?” Then, he shook his head. “But never mind that! You’re forgetting something. My dad was an only foal. My aunt Starlight is in a psychiatric ward, so unless I start thinking there’s a human in my closet or that Nightmare Moon is telling me to do things, I can’t really move in with her. And no one’s seen my uncle Unplugged Cable in years,” he added.
“Well, there’s more to an extended family than just aunts and uncles. Don’t your parents have cousins or something?”
“Um…” Keylogger actually thought about that one for a while. “My mom has some cousins, but I think they’re government attaches to the Equestrian embassy in Griffondale. My dad has a cousin in Detrot, but I don’t really want to go to Detrot. And I’m not entirely sure what their name is. I don’t know how to bring it up without looking suspicious.”

Saffron, who had been quiet throughout this entire exchange, finally spoke up. “What if you had a reason for being out of the house all the time? What if you had a job?”

“Uh, Saffron, I already have a job,” Keylogger pointed out. But the camel just shook her head.

“No, not one with your family. A different job. You could tell your parents it is to get more money for something big that you want. They will not object to that.”

“But where am I going to get a job? You know any places that are hiring foals in their second year of secondary school?”

“I might be able to help with that.” All three adolescents jumped, not realizing their conversation was being overheard. Dolomite was grinning at them, the elderly Diamond Dog nodding her head. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. But these old paws are getting arthritic. I could use an assistant around here to help with things like dish-washing and ingredient preparation. I’d get the grandpups that still live in the area to help me but one just had a puppy and the other is completely useless when it comes to these sorts of things. Mulia Mild she’s not. I can’t pay you much, but it would be a big help to me, and it might help with your little dilemma.”

Keylogger looked tempted, but still unsure of the offer. “Uh… I won’t have to handle any, you know, meat, will I? Not that there’s anything wrong with you eating it, of course,” he added quickly. “I just don’t really want to…”

“Of course not!” Dolomite looked offended by the very suggestion of such a thing. “I don’t sell that much of it anyway and I’d never ask an herbivore to prepare it!”

“Sorry ma’am. I just thought I would check. I just have one more question.”

“Well, spit it out, then.”

“When can I start?”
To Be Continued

Author's Note:

Fun fact: a female Diamond Dog would be called a bitch. I wanted to write something involving that in here for comic relief, since it's kind of a serious chapter, but it didn't end up fitting. Maybe in a future chapter.

Poor Keylogger just keeps digging himself deeper, doesn't he? And now Lavender Blast's mother knows about the whole situation.

Also, I want to state that I've been working on a family relationship chart so that it's easier to keep track of who's related to who. They're not quite finished and I don't intend to release them yet because there's some spoilers in it, but if you're curious and don't care about that, let me know and I'll get around to finishing them.