• Published 18th Jan 2013
  • 4,316 Views, 157 Comments

Dysphoria, Arc 1: Introductions - thedarkprep

Applejack finds a pony at death's door during one of the worst storms of the year. He is bleeding, his wings are broken, and he's unconscious. This new pony has secrets he wants to hide, but as the saying goes, all things must come to light

  • ...

6. Avoidance

6. Avoidance

If one were to look at the library on this particular night they would not have noticed that something was amiss. The books all sat neatly shelved, both alphabetically and by section, across the library walls with the exception of a few tomes, which were currently resting on a work desk in front of the window. The work desk itself was less extraordinary, with a collection of quills, blank parchment, and notes carefully organized across its surface area. Upstairs, the bed was made, the telescope was put away, and a small dragon slept in his basket. Downstairs, the floor was free from any debris, the kitchen was immaculate, and a purple unicorn sat on her favorite chair. There were no signs of danger, no messes, and no objects that should not be there. However, something was indeed wrong within the walls of the library. To notice this, one would have to have stopped looking at the things that were there, and instead have focused on what wasn’t, namely the sound of pages turning or of quill scratching parchment, which were as commonplace in Twilight’s home as the books that surrounded her.

On this night, like in the past two nights, Twilight was unable to study. Whenever she attempted to do so, she would lose track of her place or catch herself getting distracted by her thoughts. It wasn’t that she no longer found the information fascinating; the book on the medical discoveries in the field of biomedicine during the Neighpolionic era was probably one of the most captivating books she had ever read. No, the problem was that she had something else on her mind that was commanding her undivided attention. Using her magic, she levitated her last “to-do” list over to where she sat and began to analyze it. The list had every entry crossed out with ink, rendering it unreadable, with the exception of the final entry.

Meet Applejack’s and Pinkie Pie’s new friend, Script.

Though this list was the only one in which she had written this down, she had been attempting to meet the stallion ever since Pinkie Pie’s cancelled housewarming party.

At first it was because she felt sympathy for the pony. Twilight still remembered what it had been like for her before she allowed herself to become friends with the girls. Moving to a new town, even if it was supposed to just be for a little bit, was a huge change for her. She had known no one, and she could only imagine that being in a similar situation, this Script fellow would need some assistance. Pinkie had assured her that he would come to them when he was ready, but Twilight was not convinced.

Before Twilight had moved to Ponyville, and even in the first few hours after her arrival, she did not understand the need for friends. In her mind, she did not need them. She convinced herself that she felt no loneliness, and she used her studies as a way to put off having to interact with anypony. If the girls had not forced themselves on her the way they had, she would probably still be back there, in Canterlot, alone. Twilight had agreed that sometimes it’s best to give ponies their space, but with somepony as shy as Script seemed to be, she figured it might be a good thing for him to have some socialization, whether he was ready for it or not. As such, Twilight sought him out for the simple reason of wanting to give him the same chance her friends had given her. However, she had not been able to find him. Every time she checked in on him at his house no one was home, and whenever she went to Sweet Apple Acres to try to find him at work, she was informed that she had just missed him. She even asked around and found that nopony had seen the pony in question. In fact, aside from the one-pony house on the square and the word of her two friends, Twilight had found no evidence that this pony existed. This troubled her.

It wasn’t just that there was a new pony in town that she didn’t know. Ponies moved into Ponyville all the time and she never met all of them. When she and her friends talked they would often mention new arrivals in conversation, a new farmer that AJ had met, a mare Rarity helped find a new dress for, a new pegasus that lost a race to Rainbow Dash, and the like. Twilight knew she would probably never meet any of them, and this did not bother her at all. No, it wasn’t that she hadn’t met him, but the effort this stallion was putting into not being met, that worried her.

“That’s not normal, right?” Twilight asked herself. It seemed obvious to her that the only ponies that were that good at hiding were those with something to hide. For all she knew, Script could be dangerous. She thought back to Applejack and Pinkie. They trusted him, so he couldn’t be that bad. AJ was the element of Honesty: if Script had lied to her, she’d be aware of it. And yet, she was still worried.

She decided that the next day she would stop by the farm and try to find him again. It wasn’t that she thought her friends were wrong in trusting this new pony, but she needed to find out for herself, it being very apparent that she would not be able to stop worrying until she met the pony and made sure he wasn’t a threat.

Blowing out the candles, Twilight went to bed.

Twilight rose early the next day, taking care of a few morning chores before heading to Sweet Apple Acres. A fierce anticipation gripped her stomach as she walked the familiar dirt road leading to the barn.

“What if he isn’t there,” Twilight thought to herself. There was a short pause, “What if he is?” Twilight was shaken from her thoughts by the sound of Applejack talking to someone.

“…I guess it depends on how many barrels you think we should sell them. I understand that we’d get a bigger profit that way but I do want to have enough here at the farm to be able to sell it ourselves.” It sounded like she was discussing a business plan. That meant that there was somepony else with her, either Big Mac, or Script.

“50/50 shot,” thought Twilight, “I like those odds.” Twilight sneaked up to the door hoping to be able to enter without drawing attention herself. She did not want him to have any warning. However, as she stepped within view of the frame, Applejack noticed her, turned, and waved.

“Hey there, sugarcube, what are you up to?” the farmer asked.

Twilight tried to look and sound as casual as possible.

“Oh, nothing. Who are you talking to?” Twilight asked as she walked into the barn.

“I was just talking to…” Applejack turned and saw she was standing alone. “Now wait a minute, when did he…”

“Let me guess, Script?”

Applejack nodded and responded, “He was here a second ago but he’s always disappearing when I get distracted. I swear that Pinkie’s been teaching him some of her tricks or something.”

“Seems like it, “said Twilight, not caring to hide the bitterness in her voice. “I actually came to meet him but I guess I missed him again.”

Applejack looked at her friend with a questioning look.

“Um… Twilight? Are you alright?”

“Of course,” responded Twilight before her composure dropped. “I mean no… I don’t know.”

“Want to talk about it?” asked Applejack.

Twilight nodded.

“I don’t know; the fact that I haven’t met Script is starting to bother me. No, let me rephrase that; it’s not that I haven’t met him. It’s that nopony has. That pegasus is too good at avoiding attention…” She turned to look at Applejack. “I know you trust him, AJ, but I can’t help but feel that he’s hiding something.”

Applejack looked at her friend and smiled.

“Of course he’s hiding something, Twilight, but that doesn’t make him untrustworthy.” Applejack saw the confused look on Twilight’s face, so she continued, “I could tell that from day one he’s been lying to me about quite a few things; he has a habit of staring away whenever he’s lying which makes it pretty obvious, but I can also tell that he’s not doing it for the sake of lying. He’s scared of something. Still, despite lying about himself, he has been nothing but kind, hardworking, and responsible around me and my family. So yeah, I trust him.”

Twilight looked unconvinced, but nodded.

“I guess that makes sense, and if you trust him I know I should trust him too. I’d feel better if I had met him, but I guess I can try to move past it.”

Applejack nodded.

“If it helps you any, I’ll talk to him next time I see him and I’ll try to convince him to meet you.”

“Thank you Applejack, I’d like that,” said Twilight. She then left the barn and started her journey home.

Not long after she left, Script came back carrying a saddlebag filled with papers.

“Where did you go?” asked Applejack.

“Well, you were talking about wanting a breakdown of how many barrels we should sell to the stores, so I thought it’d be best if we had actual figures in front of us, rather than going from memory.”

“Uh huh, ‘cause you haven’t got those memorized?”

“Just wanting to be thorough,” responded Script with a smile.

Applejack sighed.

“That’s fine. Anyway, that was a friend of mine, Twilight, just now. She wanted to meet you.”

Applejack noticed a strange reaction from Script, as if he had just been blindsided. He gave a hollow laugh.

“Of course you’re friends with her.”

Applejack’s ears perked up at this and she rounded on Script.

“Now wait just a minute, I’ve been fine with you keeping secrets to yourself, but Twilight is my friend. If there is some conflict between the two of you, you might want to let me know now.”

Script calmed his breath and waited for a minute before responding.

“I honestly can’t tell you. What I can say is that she’s one of the ponies I’m avoiding on purpose the most, but that it has more to do because of a potential threat she might be to me, rather than anything I have against her. I don’t really have anything against her. The problem is that she’s from Canterlot and right now, ponies from Canterlot are very dangerous to me…”

Applejack judged his answer. She could tell that he was still hiding something, but he was being honest in what he did say. He wasn’t a danger to Twilight, and aside from refusing to meet with her, there was no ill will there that she could catch. She gave a deep sigh.

“Fair enough. Now let’s get this done so that we can each go home.”

“Yes, lets,” said Script, bringing out blank paper on which to write their options. Applejack looked at the saddlebag full of the Sweet Apple Acres production figures.

“You ain’t gonna use those?” she said.

Script smiled sheepishly.

“Don’t need them; I have them memorized.”

Baked goods of every flavor and make surrounded two ponies as they hungrily contemplated their choices. Very few ponies appreciated the art that could be found inside Sugarcube Corner. Sure, it took some knowledge and know-how to make delicious baked goods, like cupcakes, pies, cakes, muffins, éclairs, and the like. However, it took a real artist to turn those same baked goods into the creations that decorated the shop from their display cases. The wide variety of colors alone was breathtaking to behold. Still, as was often the case, the ponies did not stop to appreciate the wider picture, instead focusing on each small piece as they selected their lunch.

After finishing working for the day, Applejack decided to come eat lunch at Sugarcube Corner, stopping by to invite Twilight along the way. Though her conversation with Script had not yielded many answers, she was still going to follow through in letting Twilight know the results. Besides, she never needed a specific reason to hang out with the purple mare. Hanging out was reason enough. After making their selection and paying Pinkie, they found a table and began to eat. The conversation started off light enough, but there was no postponing what was clearly on Twilight’s mind.

“So, did you talk to him?”

Applejack finished chewing and swallowing her cupcake before responding.

“Yeah, I did. But I don’t have much to tell you,” Twilight sighed.

“I guess he didn’t want to meet me then.”

“He did not,” Applejack responded, “and he’s still hiding a lot of things, but he did let me in on something.”

Twilight perked up, giving Applejack her full attention.

“For some reason he’s afraid of ponies that have any connection to Canterlot. He didn’t explain why, nor did I really try to get him to, but he seems to see y’all as dangerous.”

Twilight looked confused.

“That’s oddly specific… Why Canterlot?”

“I don’t know, but I do know that he’s hiding because he’s afraid, not because he means harm to anypony,” responded Applejack.

“Still, maybe I could write to Princess Celestia, see if anything’s happened in Canterlot in the past few months that might…”

“TWILIGHT!” Applejack cut her off. Twilight was startled at seeing such a serious look on her friends face.

“Look, I told you what I know to ease your mind, not to help you go around investigating a pony you don’t know. Whatever is going on with Script is his business until he decides to tell us. Not sooner. For all you know, you might inadvertently cause whatever he’s afraid of. If whatever he’s hiding is dangerous, we’ll deal with it when it comes up. Until then, try to let sleeping dogs lie, ok?”

Twilight gulped. What Applejack was asking of her was no easy feat. Her curiosity was part of who she was, as was her capacity for worry. Still, Script had trusted Applejack with that information just like Applejack was now trusting her, and she couldn’t break a friend’s trust.

“Fine, I promise.”

“Good,” Applejack finished off the last of her pastries. “This lunch was delicious. What are your plans for the rest of the day, Twilight?”

“Oh I don’t have any. I might go back to the library to see if I can get some studying done, or I might just take a walk around town.”

“May I make a suggestion?”

Both mares turned to look at Pinkie Pie.

“Yes, Pinkie?” said Twilight.

“Well, remember that mare that Rarity and the others helped with the dress? Rose? Well, Rarity told me that she has never ever ever been to Sugarcube Corner or had one of our cupcakes, so they’re bringing her here to surprise her with cupcakes and they promised me I could meet her. If you stick around you can meet her too! There’s only one problem though: they wouldn’t tell me why but they were very clear that Script couldn’t be around when they came in, I think Rose and him have a history or something and it might be awkward, so I can’t invite him, and you,” pointing at Applejack, “can’t invite him either.”

“Well that suits me just fine. Script wouldn’t show up anyway because he’s terrified of meeting new ponies, so it’s no trouble at all. Besides, all I was going to do anyway was to fix up a couple of things in my room, and I can do that tomorrow.”

“Yeah,” said Twilight. “At least I’ll get to meet one new pony today.”

Author's Note:

And the final piece is set.

The next two chapters (which I'm releasing on Thursday and Friday this week) will make or break this story, so wish me luck ^_^
No, seriously, wish me luck, I'm rather nervous.