Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 159

Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Chapter 159

I managed to escape Twilight’s various questions. Apparently, when she’s in full-on scholar mode, she’s immune to embarrassment and asks some really uncomfortable questions.

It’s kinda weird how she can be super emotional, or the typical ‘scientist’ type at random intervals. I have a feeling there’s more stuff in her head than just lack of social interaction... but then, that could be said for pretty much everyone around here. Or it’s just that they’re ponies. I guess I’m the weird one.

Well, as long as I don’t wake up to an angry mob wanting to burn me alive, I’ll be fine. That said, I could certainly go for some human interaction. I seek out Clark and find he’s with Fluttershy again. Is she, like, the unspoken babysitter of all the newcomers? I mean, Anne, Discord, now Clark... Eh, guess it’s just coincidence.

“Hey, Anthony. How’s it been?” Clark asks, sitting on Fluttershy’s couch with the aforementioned pony on his lap.

“A bit hectic. Nothing I can’t handle, but... I guess I should introduce you to the rest of the ‘people’ I know around here. It’s kinda weird how much stuff I get myself wrapped into.”

“I can understand. There’s a surprising amount of folks who just need a little manual dexterity to fix a bunch of problems. I’m trying to form something of a ‘nest egg’.”

“Okay... sign one that I’ve been off Earth too long. I can’t even remember what that phrase means...” I roll my eyes at my forgetfulness. I guess I really have been gone longer than I thought.

“It’s not actually that common of a phrase, regardless. A ‘nest egg’ refers to getting money together so that you can metaphorically leave the nest, and set up elsewhere. Used to refer to people who’d make a fortune and then set it aside for their kids to be able to go to college, start their own jobs, etcetera.”

I nod. “I know a few jobs I can do but none of them speak to me. Even the ones that I quite literally have an affinity for. Is there a phrase for a skilled person with no idea what to do?”

“Yeah, it’s ‘bored’. Or ‘vagrant’, depending on how bad their situation is.” Fluttershy shoots him a mildly disgruntled look at the comment.

“Yeah, you’d know a thing or two about vagrancy. Funny, between now and then... I think I’m the only one in our old circle of friends that was never technically homeless.” I think about what I just said. Clark also looks thoughtful, but also more dour. “Well, I mean, I guess technically I started without a home, but with total weather control, no pollution, and everyone being a good person twenty-four/seven... being homeless isn’t that big a deal, I suppose.”

“Yeah. Oh, that reminds me, d’you think Twilight has any contacts in Canterlot? I hear that’s the capital and all, and I need to ask some high-up questions.”

I give him a look, but then recall that he’s still kinda new around here. “Well, she’s kind of important I guess... Considering she’s the star pupil of one of this nation... country... whatever you’d call Equestria... anyway, Celestia’s her teacher and Twi’s basically taken the term ‘Teacher’s Pet’ to a whole new level without actually being a pet...”

Fluttershy looks disgruntled at me, and I roll my eyes. It’s all true, and I’m not going to feel bad about saying it.

“Well, let’s hope she’s got some contacts with the lower and upper nobility. There’s questions I need answered, and nobody around here is properly situated to answer them. Anyways, off of business. You gonna go to that parade-a-ma-jig in a few days? I hear there’s a bunch of homemade floats involved.”

“Maybe, I don’t really know what the parade is for, but I guess I might. Not really much else to do around here. Though Canterlot is even worse... unless you’re rich, a pony, important enough, and you have a stick up your rear.”

“Now now, not everypony in Canterlot is stuck-up.” Fluttershy counters, sounding vaguely miffed, “There’s just, uhm... a lot who are.” Fluttershy squeaks out the last word, and Clark scratches her behind the ears, resulting in her metaphorically melting on his lap.

“Yeah, so far I know three Canterlot ponies who are worth talking to. Aside from them and the princesses, it’s not the most friendly place. I’m not even really sure what the main populace thinks of me...”

“Well, you’re probably alright, given that I keep hearing good things about you from every single pony in this town.” Clark responds. “And I mean that almost literally. There’s only been a few who don’t like you, of the ones that’ll talk to me.”

“Yeah, let’s compare country-folk to high-class city-folk. I’m sure they have the exact same feelings and attitudes. Because, you know, since when has there ever been class separation?”

“What, class separation? That’s totally not a thing.” If Clark dripped any more sarcasm, he might dye Fluttershy’s coat with it.

“Anyway, I guess if we’re gonna head up to Canterlot, we may as well talk to the princesses. I must say one thing though, Celestia... isn’t as worth meeting as her sister is.”

“Oh? Hmm... well, I was planning on asking Twilight about that. Still, seeing as how she’s reigned the longest consecutively, I’ll want to speak with her anyways. Say, speaking of going places, where all have you been to in this wide world of ponies?” Fluttershy’s feathers are slightly poofy as she snuggles into Clark’s lap.

“Manehattan for community service... I can explain later. I was also in Chickago for a while, but that’s outside Equestria. There are obviously more places, but I’ve only heard of them.”

“Huh. So, what you’re saying is, you have a vast pool of powers that could aid you in just... traveling. And you’ve never just taken a sprint down the tracks to see another city? Asked for some aluminum shoe inserts, and taken a gander at Cloudsdale?” Fluttershy fluffs her wings as Clark shifts in his seat.

“No... I haven’t. I’m actually not big on moving around much unless I really have to. Most places I end up going to I don’t exactly enjoy myself.”

“Well, that’s a shame. Anyways, what’cha want to do for now? I think Fluttershy’s asleep, so that kinda limits my movement for now.” He shifts in place again, and I hear soft purring-like sounds from the butter-colored pegasus.

“Yeah, ponies get like that when you pet them. I think it’s got something to do with the fact that they can’t do it themselves or something. Whatever it is, it’s probably the same reason as with cats or dogs.”

“Makes sense. Ah well. Hey, I have something for you to do, a few days after the parade and stuff. I’m working on something, and Twilight said I’d have to send it someplace in Canterlot. Might you be willing to take it up for me?”

“Hey, you know me. I’m always up for a sidequest or two.” I grin. “What’s it for?”

“I have some ideas about a few things from earth, but I don’t have the equipment to look it over here in Ponyville, even with the disgruntled scientist in the public library. Twilight said there’s a lab she often sends things to that can do what I need.”

“I just want them to invent the electron microscope. Then I can laugh in Twi’s face when I prove they exist.”

“Assuming they do exist here. Ever thought that ‘elemental particle’ might be a bit more literal here than earth?”

“Well, I suppose, but come on, it just makes more sense. Maybe they’re doing what we did and call it magic since it can’t be seen? Heck, I’m pretty sure there are a few folks who still believe that diseases are contracted simply by having bad karma.”

“According to Twilight, they’re either caused by insect bites, or by dangerous magical spirits. Considering that some of their diseases have active magical effects, and some can even cast actual spells, according to the texts I’ve looked over... there’s apparently a parasite that can cast better than a unicorn and drains its host’s magical pool to do it. Y’know, things like making a shield to protect its host or fireballing everything its host can see, stuff like that. I’d dismiss it as excuses, except that there’s been rabbits, earth ponies, and even an infection of a tree by this parasite.”

“Still, until they disprove scientific facts with solid proof, I’m gonna keep on thinking that magic isn’t the answer to everything.”

“Alright. Oh, did you know there’s some kind of real ecosystem with rock-creatures and plant-creatures included?”

“Not surprised. I’ve been told of tecto-rantualas and timberwolves. I’m willing to bet there are other forms of rock or plant creatures around.”

“And apparently, there’s something that eats the Timberwolves. According to Twilight, they don’t actually eat, they just put seeds into fresh fertilizer- the freshly killed variety.”

“No worse than Australia.” I hand-wave his comment with a grin. “Anyway, have you seen Discord around? I haven’t seen him much lately.”

“Last I saw, he was gagging and retching at me and Fluttershy being snuggly here. He said something about needing some brain bleach, and then poured apple juice on his head. Then he left.”

“Sounds like Discord alright. Oh, have you met Babs? I’m pretty sure she’s staying for a few weeks.” I explain my meeting with her at the train station.

“The little brown one with the pink bowl-cut? Yeah, I’ve seen her. Thought she was local, alright. I still don’t know the kids around here too well.”

“You haven’t even met Cheerilee yet, as far as I know. Well anyway, Babs is Applebloom’s cousin and it seems she’s been recruited into the Crusaders as with every markless new arrival. Still, I kinda like Babs, I think she’ll make a good impression on the rest of them. Certainly more down to earth for one thing.”

“Well, that’s good. They seem... energetic. I hope they can hold onto that if they grow up.”

I roll my eyes. “I sure hope not. Can you imagine a bunch of grown ponies trying to launch paint out of a cannon?”

Clark thinks it over for a moment. “Not sure about ponies, but I think I remember hearing something like it from some frat boys a while back, before everything... happened.”

“I tried talking them out of firing that cannon.” I sigh. “Didn’t work, Discord had already hyped them up too far. Those kids are crazy sometimes.”

“Sometimes? I think you’re underestimating. Oh, have you seen Anne lately? She’s taken to heading out whenever I show up here. I hope I’m not disturbing her.”

“If you mean you haven’t been seeing her around, then she’s probably still around. She has this weird power that makes her invisible or something. She’s probably around, you just don’t see her. She sometimes doesn’t notice that it’s on, but she can still hear and see everything. I doubt she’s running off on you.”

At this point, the front door of the cottage opens, and Anne steps in, then looks around at the assembled folks around the living room. She glances at Clark, and strides upstairs as fast as her bird-like legs will allow.

“Or she’s just being antisocial... No idea what her problem is, honestly. I doubt she hates you though.”

“Uh-huh... well, I guess I should go, then. I’ll just wake Fluttershy and get up. Seeya later, Ant- er, Anthony.” He gently sits up, sliding Fluttershy to the couch to let her lay down on his warm spot.

“Wake her? Hey c’mon man, don’t tell me you forgot about this already?” I spark up and go intangible, pushing a leg through the chair I was sitting on.

“Eh, this works.” Clark says, having moved Flutters already, and she simply snuggles into the depression on the couch, curled into a little fluffy ball of feathers and fur. After a moment of looking at her, he turns and leaves, a look I can’t parse on his face as he does.

I figure I should get an answer about Anne being so evasive, so I walk up the stairs to chat about her ‘people issues’. Next Chapter: Chapter 160 Estimated time remaining: 10 Hours, 6 Minutes

Return to Story Description


Login with