Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 118

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Chapter 118

I’ve just finished setting up the white punching bag, and I give it a few swings. Once I’m sure it’s sturdily attached to the ceiling, I start wailing on it, the bag of sand resisting my punches and pushes. I should probably get some more practice with my sword, but I don’t want to ruin the sack so I just continue beating on it. It really is quite cathartic as I expected.

“Hey, you’re back!” I turn towards the voice and I see Myrna slithering in through my window.

“Nice entrance, creep. You don’t watch me while I sleep, do you?”

Myrna puts on an exaggerated look of surprise. “Of course not! ...As far as you know, at least.”

“Perv.” I unhook the punching bag from the ceiling and toss it at her.

She catches it, but lets out an ‘oof’ at the sudden weight. “I’m not a pervert, you just don’t lock your window.” She holds up the bag and seems to be inspecting it. “This is missing something...”

“Oh yeah, whassat?”

She hums, thinking to herself, then slithers downstairs and comes back with one of Twilight’s inkwells. She gets some ink on her finger and draws a pair of ovals on it, leaving a few white spots. She holds up the punching bag to me and I get a better look at it. I don’t know if I should laugh, or facepalm.

I take the Sandbag knockoff and hang it back up. Myrna admires her ‘artwork’ then turns to me. “Got a baseball bat?”

“Myrna, have I told you how much I appreciate how crazy you are?”

“You could probably mention it a bit more, but yes.”

I roll my eyes, grinning. “So I haven’t seen you around much, even if you don’t count how often I’m gone. Whatcha been up to?”

“Mostly? Just dredging up stone. There’s some metal-bearing stone under Ponyville, but it’s never been mined out for fear of collapsing the town. Those Diamond Dogs don’t care about precious metals, and I can just drag up ton-and-a-half cubes of stone and metal without damaging the structure ‘round here.” she smiles and huffs a laugh. “Of course, that’s just a job, and it still takes about eight hours each day to do it. It’s getting shipped everywhere. Did you know aluminum is super-expensive here? And there’s enough here that I’ll be rich, even with just a thirty-percent take of the profits.”

“Thirty? Don’t you do literally all the extraction work?”

“Nah, I’m just hauling it. Most of the work is in getting the metal out of the stone, and then working, and then shaping it, and so on. Apparently, aluminum is called ‘sky-steel’ here, and naturally carries an enchantment for walking on clouds, when made into shoes and stuff.”

“Wait, so it’s just aluminum, but they turn it into shoes and suddenly it’s magic?” I’m dumbfounded by this. “What happens if they make hats?”

“Idunno. It’s super-light? Apparently, it traps air magic on its own, or something. I couldn’t get past Twilight’s half-hour explanation.”

“Yeah, she can ramble. Her voice-box is probably the most exercised part of her body. Eighty-percent of the time I see her, she’s just sitting around reading. I don’t know if she should be starving, or fat as a whale sometimes.”

Myrna laughs. “Yeah. Say, there’s apparently some sort of festival happening tomorrow, and I was wondering if you and Anne wanted to come with me to it. You up for that? Apparently, there’s all sort of games, but nobody would say what it was about. Probably some weird version of some earth holiday, guessing from the trend with the other holidays I’ve heard of.”

I recall what Berry said when I was last in the Mug. “Hearts and Hooves day. Like Valentine’s day or something, though I doubt it started due to a couple of dead people.”

“Huh. Well, I guess it’s better to go as a group then. I’d hate for people to think we’re... you know.” She blushes. “At least, not yet, y’know.”

“Pfft, like you could do better.” I say sarcastically. “Come on, let’s go get Anne.”

As she follows me down the stairs and out the door, she snorts derisively. “Idunno, Anthony. That Big Mac guy looks like he could be a real charmer...”

“Heh, last I knew, he’s dating RD. She’s so gonna owe me if it goes well. I wonder what I could get from her?”

“Free airshow at your wedding? I figure you’re gonna get married to your ego eventually.”

“‘If not that, then probably your reflection.’” I say, putting my hands to my forehead and faking concentration. “See, I can read minds, too.”

“As if. You’re not blushing enough to have been reading my mind.”

“Oh come on, you can’t blame a guy for trying, right?” We continue on our way. I assume Anne will be at Fluttershy’s cottage, so I’m heading there first.

After a few moments, Myrna edges ahead of me, and gives me a competitive look.

“You wanna race? Think you can top the speed of light?” I return the competitive glare.

“Ha! You’d only win if you did use powers!”

“Same with you. If you count natural abilities from being non-human for me, then I can say the same for you!”

Myrna gives me an evil grin, then grabs me, powering forward. I’d just slip out with a burst of intangibility, but at the speed she’s moving I’d probably roll a few hundred feet before being able to stand, and I’m not actually all that durable. Plus, she keeps going over obstacles, like houses and trees, and simply skating across the stream without slowing down.

“Oh yeah, like that’s not taking advantage of your abilities.”

Myrna just laughs. “Oh come on, all I’m doing is giving you a hug!” she squeezes me as a counterpoint, though it’s much gentler than her food-drunk hugs.

“And I’m not always the best person to hug, miss endotherm.” I heat up my body, but not burning her, just increasing my skin temperature by about fifteen degrees or so. “Pimp’s in the crib, ma!” I grin.

She drops me right there.

I hit the little stream outside Fluttershy’s house at almost twenty miles an hour, and it’s pretty similar to faceplanting on concrete. My skin certainly agrees with this comparison, and I sit up with a wince. My skin feels raw as hell, and is just as red to boot. I look up, and see Myrna smile and knock on Fluttershy’s door. Worst of all, she’s got a ‘butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth’ look.

I can’t do much about the pain, but I at least enter my Heat form to speed up the evaporation process and dry myself off. Silver linings and all, right? I climb up onto the little bridge and walk up to ‘Shy’s door, stopping beside Myrna.

“So, was that a good suggestion you made?” Myrna asks, smirking at me. I look like I’ve got a bad sunburn.

“Eh, I’ll be fine, just gotta wait a bit. I’m not a fast healer, but I can certainly ignore pain easier... sometimes.”

“Heh. Sorry, I just get a little competitive at times.” She pats me on the back, and I can feel a wave of pain roll outwards. An involuntary hiss of pain escapes my teeth right as the door opens, showing Fluttershy.

“Hi.” I say through gritted teeth. After a moment, the wave passes and I feel a bit better. “We were gonna collect Anne. Since tomorrow’s Hearts and Hooves day, we figured we’d all make plans for it.”

Fluttershy looks at me for a moment, then smiles broadly. “Oh! Yes, I’ll go get her.” The little yellow pegasus darts off into her home, leaving the door open. Before I can peek inside and see what’s going on, Anne is pushed out of the front door, which closes behind her. “Haveawonderfuldayyoucancomebackaftertomorrow!” Fluttershy shouts from inside, actually reaching a half-decent volume.

I chuckle. “Yeah, that’s gonna take a bit to get used to.” I turn to Myrna to explain. “‘Shy’s got this crazy idea that Anne and I should get together or something. I figure both of you deserve a chance, but it’s not gonna happen overnight. Nah, you girls want this, you’re gonna have to work for it.” I smirk, and Myrna casually bumps me back into the stream.

“Ha ha, very funny. I’m sexy and you know it!” I climb out once more and dry myself off. The feeling of super-fast evaporation on my bare skin is... a very odd one. Eh, better than being wet.

“Well, Mr. Egotist, maybe me and Anne would be better off together than with you. I mean, at least then our egos wouldn’t be having to fight for couch space.” Myrna gives Anne a predatory look that makes the bronze harpy quail and shrink down. The large snake-woman snatches up Anne and begins to slither off. “Muahahaha! She’s all mine! Can’t catch me!” she shouts, before going vertically up a tree and going along the canopy.

Heh, yeah, somehow I think Anne would find that a bit weird. Especially once she sees Myrna’s teeth. That girl could give a shark fang-envy. Shaking my head, I walk along the ground following them. Well, going in the direction she disappeared in.

I finally get to town again, and get directions as to Myrna’s path from the townsponies. I find myself in the park, and Myrna and Anne are sitting down and eating ice cream. Without me.

“You know, it should be obvious that getting away from someone is hard when you are as stealthy as a thousand-pound green tube.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was just getting Anne some ice cream. Right Anne?” the bronze harpy freezes in mid-lick of the ice cream, looking like she was caught doing something naughty.

“Yeah, sure, and you totally want to date a girl. I seem to recall that one time you got food-drunk and took me home and used me as a body pillow.”

Myrna looks at me. “And that prevents me from being, oh, I don’t know, bi?” She quirks an eyebrow at me and hugs Anne closer, making the poor girl blush a bright patina-blue.

“Of course not, but your orientation doesn’t seem to matter when the girl completely locks up each time you hug her. Come on, I seriously doubt you two would work that well anyway. You’d get along as well as...” I think of a comparison, then the obvious one hits me in the face metaphorically. ”A snake and a bird.”

“Oh, I’m sure we could get along just fine.” Myrna says, hugging Anne again and grinning at me. Anne sorta leans into it, but looks more unsure of what to do more than anything.

“Yeah, sure, whatever you say.” I go to sit down, but then realize that with Anne taking up about half a spot and Myrna taking up three and a half, there’s no room at all. Eh, Myrna doubles as a bench anyway. I just sit down on one of her coils and lay down to relax. “So, what are we gonna do while all the ponies are busy with their holiday?”

“Well, I was thinking we could go to the midway. I hear there’s going to be a bunch of throwing stuff games and a few others. I’m sure we can find something to do there.” Myrna crunches the top of her ice cream cone off, apparently relishing the cold. “Oh, I don’t get brain freeze an-ny-mo-re. I ju-ssst ssslo-ow do-o-o-wn.” her face sort of sags a little as she slurs this.

Anne, apparently nonplussed by Myrna’s cold-induced stroke, licks her ice cream a few more times, then says, “Well, Fluttershy is going to be running a petting zoo this year. Apparently, she runs one every other year because she gets overwhelmed by how popular it is. I’d be fine with going there, if that’s alright with you two.”

I rub my temple briefly. “You spend too much time with Fluttershy. It shouldn’t matter what someone else thinks of your opinion. There’s wanting to be agreeable, and then there’s being just a pushover.”

“Well, if we’re going as a group, I don’t want to be selfish and just go where I want to go. Besides, I never really went out much back home. Getting to go out with friends is really great.”

“Well, here’s a tip. When you’re going out with friends and deciding what to do, usually what happens is that someone can offer an idea and they will probably all do it, and then someone else gets to decide what they do. Don’t act like what you want isn’t important just because you’re in a group. I’m gonna cure you of your little shyness issue, it really isn’t all that healthy the way I see it.”

Anne looks downcast. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be a pushover...”

Waaaaaay too much time spent with Fluttershy. “Oh come on, stand up for yourself. The right response is ‘I’ll be a doormat if I want to,’ not ‘I’ll just do whatever I’m told and accept that I suck’. Oh well, I was planning on bringing you with me on my trip, so we can work on it then.”

“Sorry...” Anne says, looking further downcast, if that’s even possible. I feel the urge to either tear my hair out or hug her until she feels better.

“Yeah, when I head to Chicago, I’m taking you with me. Myrna can stay and dig up rocks.”

“Hey!” Myrna says, sounding only a little disgruntled. “Fine, but only because I can actually keep a job, unlike you.” She gives an exaggeratedly dainty huff and turns away dramatically.

“I can so hold a job, I just quit because it got in the way of the time I want to spend being lazy. Big difference. Anyway, back to plans for tomorrow. So far we have the midway, the petting zoo, is there anything else?” I had an idea forming in my head, but I figured it could wait until it was fully baked. The two shrug and shake their heads.

“Well, I had an idea. A little public concert. I’ve got my powers back, so I can play the Lyre again. I figure I could put on a show for them if they want to watch. Er, listen.”

Myrna and Anne agree that it sounds like a good idea, both mentioning they haven’t actually gotten to hear me play. I just vaguely explain that they are in for a treat.

Next Chapter: Love is in the air, and it won't go away Estimated time remaining: 18 Hours, 6 Minutes

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