Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 112

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Chapter 112

I wake up and immediately look at my arms. Thankfully, I had fingers. Just to be sure though, I pulled the covers off of me and sure enough I was completely human. With a sigh of relief, I get my clothes on and walk downstairs, where Twilight and Spike are having breakfast. I am going to get my revenge on that damned mare, but I want to do it when it’s not expected. Let her think she’s forgiven, then wham!

At the moment though, I’m hungry. I find myself missing a certain food I enjoyed for breakfast back home. “Man, I wish you guys had hotdogs.”

Twilight and Spike look at me quizzically. I clarify, understanding how the name could be so strange. “A hotdog is just a name for a length of meat served in a bun.”

“So... it’s made from dogs?” Spike asked.

“Nah, people don’t eat dogs or cats. It’s mystery meat.”

“What’s mystery meat?” Twilight this time.

“It’s what we call meat when the animal the meat is made from is unknown. it could be pork, beef, venison... heck some people think it’s the parts of the animal we don’t eat.”

“What parts do you not eat? Most carnivores eat everything but the bones and cartilage. Sometimes the cartilage too.”

“Yeah, same with us, though to a lesser extent. Some body parts don’t have a lot of meat on them so they get cut off and tossed out. You know, like the head, claws, hooves, beaks, talons, scales, that kinda thing.”

Twilight blanched at my mention of hooves, but Spike seemed rather interested. “So how do you not know what animal it’s made from?”

“We get most of our meats second-hand. There are hunters and farmers who sell the dead animals, and the people that buy the animals do whatever they want with them. It usually gets sold to a place where it’s cooked or whatever, packaged, and sold to the public. In the case of a hotdog, when it’s really just a small tube that can be made from any source of meat and still look the same, we have no idea what it really is.”

“You guys are so interesting.”

“I guess. On another note, I’m gonna be heading up to Canterlot today.”

“What for?”

“I was hounded by some reporters last time, and I told ‘em I had a message for all of Equestria. I’m gonna tell them to stop spreading all those stupid stories about me and the princesses.”

Twilight looks thoughtful for a moment. “I have a free day today, and I haven’t seen my parents in a while... I think I’ll go too.”

When we got to the train station and got our tickets, we noticed that the train itself was pretty much full.

I do see a spot just big enough for me, so I take that, but Twilight protests. “You can’t just take up two seats on a packed train like this! Now there’s no room for me- I mean, no room for anypony else!”

“Your attempt to avoid seeming selfish is pathetic.” I pick Twilight up and lay her down on my lap. “Let me give you some tips on social interaction.”

Twilight scoffs. “You? I’ve read plenty of etiquette books and I know how to act in a public setting, thank you very much!”

“Too bad, you’re listening anyway. If you’re going to say something mean, say it with some confidence. Besides, how can anyone know what to improve about themselves unless you criticize them?”

“It’s really annoying how you try to justify your actions when you act like a jerk.”

“I’m a younger brother, being annoying is something I was born to do.”

Twilight just rolls her eyes and makes herself comfortable for the trip. This involved a very catlike display of curling herself up on my lap.

I let my mind wander for a bit, but I’m snapped back when I hear a strange humming sound. I then realize that I’ve been subconsciously petting Twilight, and she’s doing that purring thing ponies do when I pet them. I really don’t understand it, guess it’s just an animal thing.

I keep petting Twilight and look out the window. Seeing a few landmarks I recognize, I figure we’re about two minutes from Canterlot. Guess I zoned out longer than I thought..

“Hey wake up, we’re almost there.” Twilight yawns and stretches, again just like a cat. “Have a good nap?”

“Oh be quiet.”

“Never.” I grin and scratch her ear, and she lets out a content sigh. Then she leaps off of me and to the floor of the train car.

“S- stop doing that!”

“Oh you like it, I know you do.” She blushes and looks around at the other passengers, some of them were giggling.

I see one of the mares nudge another and stage whisper, “See, this is why I’m dating a gryphon. Their claws can do amazing things.”

I can’t help but smile and laugh, especially with Twilight quite obviously trying to eject the mental image from her head as we leave the train. Yes... yes, first the embarrassment, then later... the punishment.

We decide to go see Twi’s parents first because I figure I can give my message afterward. No rush. As long I don’t get any requests along the way. Fortunately, it seems I’m being generally ignored aside from the usual double-takes. Ah, to be considered abnormal. It’s rather satisfying.

After some walking, with Twilight evidently taking in the ol’ hometown, we arrive at a small manor. And by small, I mean in comparison to the nearby manors, which take up almost all of their manicured estates, rather than only three stories and at least eight rooms wide.

I just turn to Twilight and look at her. “Why do you live in a friggin’ tree again?”

Twilight shrugs. “I’m paid to live there and read books. Also, it’s really cozy. And Celestia asked me to, so that’s three good reasons. Why?”

“Because... well, I guess the first two work. Come on, don’t you ever get tired of doing everything the princesses say? If she told you to light yourself on fire and run through town in a banana suit-”

“Then she’d probably have a good reason for it! I trust her.” Twilight stuck her nose up a little, and began trotting steadfastly towards her parent’s door.

“Would you do it if I paid you?” This gets her to stop, and she looks at me with a look of confusion.

“Why would I?”

“For money. I said ‘if I paid you’ so that’s obviously the reason why you’d do it. Why I’d like to see it... well, for the sake of seeing it.”

“No! That’s a stupid idea, and a stupid reason.” Twilight sighed dramatically. “Please be on your best behaviour? Please?”

I put on a look like I’m thinking hard, just for the sake of being dramatic. “Well... since you asked nicely... maybe.” I give her an evil grin. “No promises.”

Twilight gives me a level glare, but I can just smile it off. I was going to be civil unless I got bored. And Twi’s parents should be at least a bit interesting... right?

Twilight knocks on the door, and after a moment it opens, revealing a butler. The butler looks at me, an eyebrow raising for a moment. As Twilight requests he invite us in, his eyes flash green for just a moment, and Twilight doesn’t catch it. I have to fight back a smile at the little indicator of his species.

Rich ponies have vaulted ceilings and large doors. This pleases me. As we stepped into the manor, I get a good look around the place. There a prevalence of dark blues, purples, and silvers, with a dominating stripe of pink-purple used as an embellishment. If I didn’t know Twilight wasn’t a super egotist, I’d say she had the place designed based on her color-scheme.

We’re directed to a sitting room, where I can see Shining Armor, Cadence, and two other ponies seated near a fireplace. One of the two ‘other’ ponies is a navy blue stallion in a burgundy bathrobe and smoking a... bubble pipe? Uh... okay.

The other pony is a pink mare with a two-tone white-and-purple mane, cut in the exact same shape as Twilight’s. As in, exactly the same. It’s beyond eerie. It’s about then that I put two and two together; the house is decorated in their colors, which happen to coincide with Twilight’s. Makes sense. Mostly.

The sitting room is tastefully furnished, and Cadence’s eyes light up when she sees who’s arrived. We’re directed to a small loveseat by the pony who I assume is Twilight’s dad. He puffs a few bubbles from a pipe, then sets it aside.

“So, you must be the ‘Anthony’ we hear so much about. What brings you and my daughter here to Canterlot? Just up to see us?” The stallion gives me an appraising look. Cadence is urgently whispering into Shining’s ear, and making eye motions at me, her grin rather large.

“Eh.” I shrug. “That was more Twilight’s goal, but I figured I might as well meet the parents of the girl who I’ve been spending most of my time with, y’know? Two years is a while to live with somebody and not get to know their folks, right?”

The stallion smiles, and nods. “Very true. Say, have you ever heard what I used to do when I was younger?” The navy pony lifts a pipe, this one different than the other, and puffs a few bubbles from it. They lazily drift around the room on the fire’s thermals and currents.

I think of a good answer to his question and, looking around the room which could only belong to someone wealthy and well-employed. I then came up with the perfect, appropriately silly response. “You... worked on a Tater-Tot farm?”

“Hmm? No, can’t say I’ve done that, though it sounds educational. No, I used to be in the Equestrian Border Operations, before it was broken up.” The stallion waved the pipe, in a vague way usually connected to ongoing exposition.

“I see. So what did you actually do?”

The stallion smiles widely at the invitation. “Well, I’m glad you asked. You see, before the Guard became what it is today, I was on the front lines, defending Equestria from the secret threats that assaulted it from every direction. We’d never have had a changeling super-hive ambush a wedding in my day, nosiree!”

I can see Shining face-planting into Cadance’s shoulder, as she smiled indulgently. Even Twilight appears to have stopped paying attention.

“Yeah, sure.” I say somewhat derisively. “And I’m guessing you’d also walk up to the queen, grow to about fifteen times your size, and stomp her into pulp. No wait... that was me.”

“Hmph. I would’ve used a sling charm and cored her head from the top of Mount Canter with an anti-magic crystal to make sure she can’t regenerate or activate any contingency spells. Direct confrontation? That just leads to collateral damage.”

“Sure, whatever. I’m just saying, you’re not the only one who could kick butt.”

“Maybe not anymore, but I could still whoop you.” The stallion smiles challengingly, and his wife throws up her forehooves.

“Okay, colts, you can stop the pissing contest already! Sweet Celestia... Can you do anything but butt heads with him, Night?” She shakes her head. “Now please, dear, tell me what is your occupation?”

“Uh...” I think for a moment before responding. “Bum.”

The mare blinks, then smiles again. “That’s um... nice, dear. By the way, I’m Starlight Glimmer, but you can just call me Stars.”

“Alright then, so what’s your handle?” I ask, turning to Twi’s dad.

“My name is Night Light. Surely Twilight’s told you of her beloved father?” He looks mildly saddened, raising yet another pipe to his lips for a bubbly puff.

“Nope. She didn’t even say anything about her having a brother. Didn’t find out ‘til after Cadence introduced me to him.”

Twilight looks surprised, then confused. “Wait, I forgot to mention Shiny? Huh, I could’ve swore it was checked off of my list for you...”

“I probably wasn’t paying attention. You tend to ramble a bit so I tune you out sometimes.” Her expression turns to a glare, and she huffs and turns away. For some reason, this makes her parents make weird little cooing noises. I don’t get it, maybe just a parent thing.

“So yeah, I’ve been living with Twi since I got here somehow. No idea how I did, but I’ve been just hanging around, making her life... interesting.”

Twilight blushes and cringes as her parents both turn to her with eerie stepford smiles. “Well, Twilight, that’s wonderful news! To think you have such a close friend in mister Anthony is a genuine delight!” Night Light says.

I think for a moment on my relationship with Twilight, especially recently, and I figure that his statement needs correcting. “Well, actually, to be honest I’m not sure if ‘close friends’ really is the best way to put it...”

I begin pressing myself into the back of the small couch as Twilight’s mom turns her grin from ‘stepford’ to ‘raging psychopath’ and points it at me. “Well, of course not. I’m sure you’re just being modest. Why, I’m sure it’s been wonderful for you two, minus the rocky parts and bumps in the road. But I’m sure your ‘friendship’ is plenty secure after those hardships, right?”

“Yeah, I guess. Though she didn’t help much when I was dealing with the demon who went around burning ponies alive.” I pick up Twilight and pet her like a dog. “But that’s okay, I don’t expect too much from her, after all.”

Twilight’s mother nods in sympathy. “I know, it’s the same as with my husband here. Just be sure she doesn’t starve herself by accident while working on a project; Nighty here occasionally forgets he doesn’t have a drill sergeant to breath down his neck to start mealtimes anymore.”

“Eh, that’s more Spike’s job. I’m not her caretaker or anything. Though if you ask me, she could stand a bit more exercise.” Twilight blushes brightly, though she doesn’t try to escape my grasp as I continue to stroke her mane. It’s very soft, though not as soft as Fluttershy’s.

Both of Twilight’s parents nod to each other, before turning to the two of us, and ask in unison, “So, how long until you’re getting married?” and “When can I expect grandfoals?”

My eyes go wide. “Married!?” and then it feels like everything in the entire universe just shuts down.

Next Chapter: Chapter 113 Estimated time remaining: 19 Hours, 10 Minutes

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