Mission: Implausible

by JohnPerry

Chapter 1: Mob Rules

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Manehattan wasn’t considered ‘the city that never sleeps’ for nothing. Aside from having the highest rates of insomnia in the known world, Equestria’s largest city was constantly alive with activity. Looking down from above, the Midtown area seemed to pulse with light, its great neon signs casting a pale glow down the canyon-like streets that radiated out from the city center. Even as the night grew late and the lights from within the many tall buildings of the world’s greatest skyline went out, the sleek facades of the highrises reflected the ambient light from the street: the many traffic signals, street lamps and flashy advertisements for restaurants, sweets, cider, banks, Broncway shows, cameras, fashion and prescription medicine that treated the effects of overexposure to artificial light.

But far removed from the bright glow of Thyme Square, there was a dark side to Manehattan, both figuratively and literally. Overlooking the bustle of the city in the top floor of a skyscraper was a dimly-lit room. The ambient light from outside cast long shadows over a group of ponies who were seated around a long conference table. The figures, a mix of mares and stallions, were currently listening to a pair of smartly-dressed unicorn stallions who were standing in front of several small white cubes sitting on the table.

“Yes, fillies and gentlecolts!” one of them said enthusiastically. “You won’t find higher quality salt than this! Fresh-cut, all-natural, one-hundred-percent pure salt!

“Extracted from only the finest sources!” his mustached companion added in a sing-song voice. “Refined, nothing short of perfect and tasty to a fault!”

Cause you’ve got...” the two of them broke out into song. “Opportunity! In this very conspiracy!

“SHADDUP ALREADY!” a mare sitting at the head of the table yelled in a heavy Bronclyn accent. “I swear, one more song outta youse and its the fishes, capiche? Mikey!” she added, pointing at a stallion sitting the closest to the two unicorns presenting the salt. “Give it a lick.”

‘Mikey’ was a grey, wiry earth pony who nodded and reached out to pick up one of the small cubes of salt sitting on the table. After carefully scrutinizing it in his hoof with a trained eye, examining the structure, color and consistency of the individual salt crystals, he popped it into his mouth. Only a second after closing his lips, his eyes widened and his face lit up as the salt cube dissolved over his tongue. His eyes watered and he rapidly tapped a hoof on the table before finally swallowing the salt and letting out a loud, whooping cheer.

WOO! That is SALTY!” he exclaimed, snatching a bottle of water that was sitting on the table and quickly glugging it down his now parched mouth.

“He likes it!” a young donkey sitting opposite Mikey chortled. “Hey Mikey, you really likes it!”

“Shaddup, Donny,” the mare at the head of the table grumbled. “I can see he likes it.” She turned back to the two unicorns. “Alright, so you gots a good product. Let’s talk business.”

The pair of unicorns grinned back at her. “Well, you take care of the distribution and we’ll supply the salt, then we’ll split the profits, say...seventy five-”

“Twenty five,” his companion finished.

A mare sitting beside the head mobster eagerly spoke up. “You’ve got a de-”

“Hold it,” the head mare interrupted, thrusting a hoof into her companion’s mouth as she glared at the two unicorns. “Which one of us is getting seventy five percent in this deal?”

“Why us, naturally,” the mustached unicorn of the duo said confidently.

The mobsters were silent for a moment before the head mare spoke. “That’s funny. That’s real funny,” she said, her tone icy and her expression livid. “Only I ain’t amused. Do I look amused to you?” she added aggressively.

“How ‘bout we take seventy five and youse twenty five?” ‘Mikey’ suggested.

“That’s not nearly enough to cover all the costs!” one of the unicorns shot back.

“But we’ll sweeten the deal,” his companion hastily added. “Sixty five-thirty five. And that’s our final offer.”

“I’ve got a better idea,” the head mare said. “I’m a generous mare, so I’ll make you a deal you can’t refuse. You guys get thirty-five percent and as a bonus you get the Donna Corleoneigh-certified guarantee of letting you two live long enough to make a second batch.” The rest of the mobsters extracted daggers and knives from beneath the table and from the inner pockets of their jackets, flashing them threateningly at the pair of unicorns. Donna Corleoneigh grinned savagely. “Do we have an understanding?”

The unicorns gulped. “On second thought,” the mustached one began, grinning nervously as he eyed the many sharp objects being pointed at them, “thirty-five sounds like a very generous offer!”

“Good to hear,” the head mobster chuckled. “Glad to know you see it our-”

She was interrupted by an explosion of breaking glass from the side of the room, which sent shards of glass flying onto the table. Everypony in the room suddenly stood up, staring in shock at a mare who had apparently leaped through the window and was now crouched on the floor. The mare had a dark grey coat, a black mane and was wearing dark clothing that obscured her features. The lower half of her face was shrouded by a mask, with only her eyes exposed, and she was wearing some sort of bodysuit which covered her cutie mark. She was looking up at them with a steely gaze.

“Who the buck is this?” the Donna exclaimed, looking at the new arrival incredulously. “Bugsy, take care of this clown!”

‘Bugsy’ was an impressively sized stallion who towered over everypony else in the room, was very muscular and had a baseball bat for a cutie mark. He lunged forward at the strange mare only to receive a powerful kick to the chest, forcing him to stagger backwards into the table. He looked up at the mare just in time to see her stand up on her hind hooves so gracefully it was as if she was born a biped. Now level in height with Bugsy, she flung one of her forehooves into his face, making contact with his jaw and knocking a couple of teeth loose before he crumpled to the ground in pain.

Two more mobsters drew knives, each with the handle gripped in their mouths as they dove at the mare, who backed up a few paces before reaching behind her neck with one of her forehooves and retrieving a long bow, like those used on musical instruments, from a holder strapped to her back. The two mobsters glanced at each other, one shrugging before leaping at the mare, brandishing his knife.

He was surprised by the sudden clash of metal against metal. His attack was cut short by the bow in the mare’s hooves, which was somehow proving much stronger than he had expected. With a start, he realized that in the place of a string the bow contained a long, thin blade, like that of a sword. His surprise cost him dearly as the mare took advantage of it to withdraw her sword and punch him squarely in the face, sending him to the ground alongside Bugsy.

The other knife-wielding mobster charged at her, but she spun around, placing her forehooves on the ground and bucking with her rear legs, sending the mobster flying into his companion, smashing a couple of chairs in the process. All this time, the two unicorns with the salt merely stared agape at the fight, too stunned to do anything else.

“It looks like we’ve encountered a slight problem, oh brother of mine,” one of them said nervously. “Shall we move on to the next town, Flim?”

“Right behind you, Flam!” his companion answered quickly, already using his magic to throw their salt into a briefcase before the pair of them bolted for the door.

“THAT’S OUR SALT!” the head mobster screamed, flinging herself at the levitating briefcase and grasping it as Flim and Flam frantically tried to use their magic to yank it out of her grasp. However, as another mobster was thrown towards them and smashed into the wall nearby, the two unicorns exchanged a nervous glance and let go of the case, bolting out of the room.

The Donna tumbled backwards, clutching the case between her hooves before looking back and seeing that the strange mare had already disposed of most of her ponies. At the moment, she was fighting the only two mobsters who weren’t lying unconscious or in pain on the ground, on the table or dangling from the lamp hanging from the ceiling. Realizing the gravity of the situation, the head mare took the handle of the briefcase by her teeth and raced out into the hall. The faint ‘ding!’ of the elevator doors closing met her ears and she promptly flung herself at the door to the emergency stairs, galloping down the steep staircase three steps at a time.

Her heart pounded and her breathing became frantic as she continued to race down the stairs. The desperation of the situation quickly dawned on her. She didn’t know who that strange mare had been, but she had a few theories. An assassin hired by a rival salt lord? But if that was the case, she would have been killing them rather than just knocking them out. Besides, every mobster in the city knew better than to muscle in on Donna Corleoneigh’s turf; retaliation was swift and everypony in the business knew better than to break their code. Police? She didn’t know any cops with moves like that. Whoever that strange mare was though, she was bad news.

But the head mobster grew hopeful as she saw the numbers painted on the doors enter the single digits, meaning she was nearing the first floor. At the very least she had made it out with the salt. This was pure, top-notch stuff that would demand a high price, and there was enough even in this one briefcase to make a killing. Her heart leapt when she spotted the large black ‘1’ painted on the door at the bottom of the staircase. She had made it! The Donna shoved her way through the door, galloping out into the hallway.

She barely had enough time to register the club that was suddenly being swung at her head, let alone dodge it. Held in mid-air within a pale blue aura, it knocked her upside the head, sending her falling to the ground and the briefcase flying out of her grasp. She lay on the floor, the world around her now blurry as she struggled to remain awake.

The Donna could make out the sound of approaching hooves echoing down the hallway. Unable to find the strength to lift her head, she gazed across the floor to see a set of white hooves stop in front of her. She glanced up, just able to make out the hazy outlines of a pony with a large pair of shades and a bright blue mane through the fog in her head.

“Are you the cops?” she muttered.

Donna Corleoneigh heard the mysterious white pony chuckle and respond before she lost consciousness. “No ma’am, we’re musicians.”

Octavia walked down one of Canterlot’s grand boulevards, strolling through the capital city of Equestria. She trotted forward with a confident stride, her gaze travelling over the many boutiques and sidewalk cafes lining the street. It was a gloriously sunny day, the kind befitting the most dazzling city in all of Equestria, if not the world. The streets and building facades positively gleamed in the bright sunlight, a constant testament to the vast wealth and incredible power of the shadowy dictatorship known only as the Canterlot Sanitation Department.

The grey mare finally spotted her destination, Café Joé, a very popular restaurant facing a bustling intersection in the center of the city. The descendant of a local donut shop made legendary by students of Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, the restaurant was the result of an attempt on part of the owner to enter the wealthy upper class market that Canterlot was known for. Café Joé promised elites the opportunity to sample commoner fare in a refined, classical setting, with the added guarantee of prices so high no actual commoners would ever be present.

Octavia squeezed through the crowded seating area facing the sidewalk and entered the restaurant, scanning the lavishly decorated dining hall for any sign of her friend. Crystalline chandeliers illuminated by candles hung from the ceiling, and the walls were decorated with large mirrors with silver frames and paintings of picturesque landscapes. Plush couches lined the walls while tables and chairs filled the floor space.

“Octy!” she heard a young mare call out. The cellist turned to see a white-coated pony sitting at a table on the far side of the room and looking very out of place in this setting, with a spiky, unkempt blue mane and a complete lack of the fashionable clothing, accessories or makeup that everypony surrounding her were wearing. To Vinyl Scratch’s credit, she wasn’t wearing the purple shades she almost constantly had on, which for the DJ represented an extraordinary amount of thoughtfulness on her part.

Octavia took her seat opposite Vinyl. “You know, you really shouldn’t use my actual name, shortened or otherwise,” she muttered in an undertone.

Vinyl cocked an eyebrow at the grey mare. “Octavia! Octavia! We’ve got Octavia here!” she announced to the room at large, gesturing frantically at her friend. A few ponies in the room gave the pair a cursory glance before losing interest and returning to their meals or their lunch companions. Vinyl grinned. “Nopony cares! What are you, a secret agent?” she added, giving her friend a knowing smile.

The grey mare glared back, but couldn’t manage the level of severity she was hoping to convey. “Ssh,” she said quietly, smiling despite herself.

“I don’t see why we couldn’t have met at Donut Joe’s,” Vinyl grumbled, taking a sip from the glass of water which represented the sum total of all the food and drink on the table. “It’s all the same food, but way cheaper.”

“This place is closer to my apartment,” Octavia answered, nonchalantly grabbing a menu from the suit pocket of a passing waiter, yet doing it so discreetly that the waiter continued past completely unawares. “So, how was your trip to Manehattan?” she asked, scanning the menu.

“Oh, you know, the usual,” Vinyl shrugged. “Did some sightseeing, checked out the nightlife, really got into the underground scene in Manehattan. Met some very interesting ponies there, did a little clubbing, got in some headbanging... standard business trip, really.”

“I heard that some mobster was arrested while you were there,” Octavia said, still scanning the menu.

“Funny that you should bring that up,” the DJ replied with a grin, levitating a rolled up newspaper out of the saddlebag sitting beside her on the couch. She unfurled it in mid-air and placed it on the table, revealing the headline of today’s Manehattan Times, ‘CORLEONEIGH FAMILY MEMBERS FACE LIFE SENTENCE,’ above a large black and white photograph of a mare named Donna Corleoneigh wearing hoofcuffs and being escorted up a staircase to a Manehattan courthouse.

“Apparently, the police found all kinds of evidence; recordings, documents, that sort of thing,” Vinyl explained as Octavia took the newspaper and began reading it, “that linked the Corleoneigh family to the salt trade, death threats, conspiracy, illegal imports, brutality... the list goes on and on.”

“‘Police officials told reporters that the arrests represented the greatest blow against organized crime in Manehattan in living memory,’” Octavia read aloud from the newspaper. “My, how impressive! So how did they catch them?” she asked, giving Vinyl a sly look as she folded the newspaper and hoofed it back across the table.

“Ah, the article doesn’t say,” the white mare replied, taking the newspaper with her magic and replacing it in her saddlebag. “Very vague on the details. Apparently some kind of undercover operation dug up the evidence, though they didn’t say if it was the police or...somepony else.”

“Maybe it was the Mysterious Mare-Do-Well.” Both of them laughed at the thought.

“Your coffee, ma’am,” a passing unicorn waiter offered, levitating a steaming mug of dark liquid onto the table. “Somepony will be here soon to take your order,” he added before moving to the next table.

Octavia lightly pushed the small plate the mug sat on towards Vinyl, but the DJ stared at it as if it was some sort of enigma. “I didn’t order a coffee, did you?” she asked, looking up at the grey mare.

“Of course not, I just got here,” Octavia pointed out.

“Hey!” Vinyl called out as the two of them turned in the direction the waiter had gone. “We didn’t order a cof-” she stopped in mid-sentence. The waiter had vanished.

The two mares glanced at each other, then down at the mug of coffee. The cup was sitting on a cloth napkin laid over the plate. Tucking out of a fold in the napkin was one corner of a manilla envelope. Vinyl used her magic to levitate the mug into the air as Octavia grabbed the envelope and opened it in her hooves. Inside were two checks, one made out to herself and one to Vinyl, as well as a small note. The grey mare glanced at the note before showing it to her friend.

Nice job. Here’s some compensation for your troubles. Take a break, but keep your schedules open three weeks from now.

Vinyl sighed. “Darn it, Draft Punk is having a show in Canterlot in three weeks. I was really looking forward to that.” She levitated her check out of the envelope and glanced at it, cocking an eyebrow at the amount printed on it. “Still, I guess the pay is worth it, plus it’s not like I can’t just go see them another time.”

She placed the check in her saddlebag before casually taking the note with her magic and subtly levitating it up to one of the candlelit chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, holding the note close enough to one of the candles that it caught fire, quickly dissolving into ashes which then rained down onto a salad entrée a waiter was carrying past, completely unaware of what was happening.

“Well, I suppose that concludes our business here,” Octavia declared, stowing her check away. “Would you like to get something to eat?”

“Yeah, but not here. However, I’ll take coffee if it’s being offered,” Vinyl answered, grabbing the mug and draining the whole thing in a few mighty gulps. Octavia rolled her eyes as the white mare put her cup down, giving a satisfied exhale before tossing a few bits on the table and grabbing her saddlebag. The two stood up to leave, making their way back to the entrance.

They were inside just long enough to hear a unicorn couple, one a pale yellow-colored mare with a rather voluminous mane and pink earrings and the other a grey stallion with a black, curly mane and eyeglasses perched on the ridge of his muzzle, both choke violently on the salad they had just been served.

“Vinyl, are you in there?” Octavia shouted, pounding on the door to the DJ’s apartment. Three weeks had passed since their meeting in Café Joé and the cellist hadn’t heard from her friend the entire time. Vinyl lived in a modest (Octavia was tempted to use the term ‘squalid’) apartment building on the far side of town, well away from the royal palace. The building was only a couple of floors tall, with all the apartments facing outside. At the moment, Octavia was standing on the balcony of the second floor in the afternoon sun. On a whim she tried the handle and realized the door was unlocked.

“Vinyl?” she called out, poking her muzzle through the doorway. Hearing no response, she continued. “Vinyl, the door is open, so I’m coming inside!”

She pushed the door open only to be met with a ghastly sight: the apartment was absolutely filthy. Octavia knew her friend could be untidy, but she never realized the horrifying extent of that simple truth. Pizza boxes and energy drink cans littered the floor, which looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in years. A mottled old couch sat in one corner with all of its cushions in disarray, some of which had stuffing leaking out of them. A coffee table sitting in front of the couch was apparently living up to its name, given the copious number of coffee stains covering its surface, not to mention the stacks of paper which took up any remaining space. Most of the room was occupied by musical and electronic equipment; a keyboard, no less than five different stereo systems, record players, and an assortment of gears, wires, tools and objects that Octavia could only guess at the purpose of. The walls were covered with band posters (many of which were autographed), blueprints and music sheets. If there was an order to this chaos, Octavia couldn’t see it.

She quickly spotted her quarry in the middle of the room. Vinyl was sitting at a small desk, her head resting on the surface as she snored softly. Surrounding her were stacks of paper with scribbles of designs and musical notes, several quills, a styrofoam coffee cup and a container of noodles that was empty save for a pair of chopsticks poking out.

“Vinyl!” Octavia shouted, trotting up to the white mare and shaking her out of sleep. “Wake up! It’s the middle of the afternoon!”

“Hmm-mmm?” Vinyl mumbled, stirring slightly before suddenly bolting to an upright sitting position, her eyes open wide and her entire body rigid as she took a moment to take in her surroundings. She slowly turned her head to look at the grey mare standing beside her. “Octy? ...What are you doing in my house?”

House? You call this pigsty of an apartment your house?” Octavia’s nose wrinkled as it picked up the scent of the DJ’s morning breath. “And what’s more, have you been drinking?”

“Ugh, I drank a lot of things last night, Octy. You’re going to have to be more specific,” Vinyl groaned, massaging her temples with her forehooves.

Alcohol! Did you drink any alcohol?” Vinyl winced from the volume of Octavia’s voice, clearly suffering from the effects of a hangover.

“Uh, let’s see...does beer count as alcohol?”


“Then yes. ...Also a few margaritas. And some cloud kickers. ...And maybe a few rainbow shots.”

“Vinyl, we are leaving for San Franciscolt tomorrow evening! You can’t be inebriated!” Octavia scolded, grasping the white mare by the shoulders. “Come on, you should be in bed.”

“I’m fine,” Vinyl murmured, weakly trying to push her friend’s hooves off.

“You’re going to bed,” Octavia said firmly, pulling the DJ off the chair and to her hooves before realizing something. “Um...where is your bed?”

Vinyl gestured towards one corner of the room and Octavia turned to see a mattress lying on the floor, covered with a tangled mess of sheets and blankets. The cellist gave the white mare a pointed glare.

“...What?” Vinyl muttered, her face blank.

“Forget it,” Octavia sighed, guiding Vinyl towards the mattress. The white mare reluctantly obeyed, leaning on her friend the whole way. The cellist nearly stumbled as she stepped on an empty pizza box. “And would it kill you to clean up this place?”

“You sound like my mother,” Vinyl grumbled.

“You could stand to listen to your mother!” Octavia shot back. The pair reached the mattress and Vinyl unceremoniously flopped down on top, lying on her side and reaching out to clutch a pillow and hug it to her face.

The cellist entered the cramped kitchen to get some remedies for her friend’s hangover. She opened the fridge only to find it completely devoid of food, save for a ketchup bottle, a jar of mayonnaise, a couple bottles of cider, a carton of milk that Octavia suspected had passed its expiration date and a small bag of fruit in the back that was visibly molding. The kitchen cupboards proved equally lacking. The grey mare sighed in exasperation and opted for getting a simple glass of water. “What happened to you last night?”

“Oh, I had a DJ gig at this party,” Vinyl explained, her voice slightly muffled by the pillow. “They shared some drinks and we had a good time, you know?” Octavia returned with the water and offered it to Vinyl, who willingly accepted it after lifting herself to a sitting position.

“So how did you fall asleep at your desk?” the grey mare asked, almost sitting down beside Vinyl before catching herself as she remembered the filthy state of the floor. She opted to clear a stack of objects off a nearby chair and sat down on it instead.

Vinyl made a slurping sound as she immediately downed half of the water in the glass. She then sighed deeply, holding the cool glass to her forehead with the rim touching against her horn. “Well, I got home and I was feeling good, so I figured I’d try and write as much of my song as I could,” she explained, gesturing at her desk. Octavia looked and saw Vinyl’s workspace was covered with musical sheets, many of them with scribbles on them.

“Didn’t get very far, though,” the DJ grumbled, still holding the glass to her head.

“Vinyl, you are supposed to be focusing on the mission! Where’s the dossier?” she asked, referring to the packet of confidential information they would receive prior to each mission.

“It’s...somewhere,” the white mare answered, dismissively waving a hoof at the room at large. “Probably somewhere in that stack,” she added, pointing at the coffee table.

“Have you even read it?” Octavia inquired pointedly, walking over to the table and digging through the stacks of paper to unearth the classified documents.

“I skimmed it,” Vinyl replied with a shrug. “Something ‘bout a baked goods cartel causing trouble over there. I’ll read the whole thing on the train ride over,” she added before catching the scowl on her friend’s face. “What? I retain info better that way! Less time to forget things, you know?”

“Vinyl, we are leaving tomorrow evening. You need to be thinking about the mission, not your music,” Octavia said sternly, finally recovering the dossier.

“The mission can wait until it’s time for the mission! Right now I need to figure out the music!” the white mare cried.

Vinyl!” Octavia shouted. “You need to focus on what is important! And right now, saving Equestria from villains is more crucial than your music.”

Vinyl opened her mouth to reply, but couldn’t think of an adequate response. She remained there for a moment, her mouth hanging open until she finally sighed and lay back down on the bed, grabbing her pillow and hugging it to her chest.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right...” she muttered dejectedly. “I just don’t understand how you handle all this. I’m doing missions, inventing the gadgets for those missions, working as a DJ and trying to write music. I don’t know if I can keep doing this,” she mumbled, looking down at her pillow. Octavia’s expression softened and she took pity on her friend, sitting beside her on the mattress and patting her on the shoulder.

“Look,” Vinyl continued, “I love my job. ...Both of them, in fact. But I don’t want to be a DJ-for-hire for the rest of my life! I need to create! I want to be known for my music! Not as some two-bit musician for parties, but as a real musician! And the only way I’m going to do that is if I write something really good! Something ponies will remember me by!”

“Perhaps it is time you considered quitting your music job,” Octavia suggested. “With the money you make from our missions, there’s no need for you to be a DJ.”

“If I stop being DJ PON-3 I’ll lose my one in-road to the music business. It’s the only way I’m keeping my connections! If I stop doing missions, I’ll lose my only real income. If I stop inventing, I’ll lose the reason I’m a secret agent. And if I stop writing music, then I’ll just stop being. Vinyl Scratch would be no more,” she said in a theatrical tone, lifting her forehooves to the heavens. “A husk of a pony who couldn’t follow her true talent. Woe is me!”

“Oh, stop being so melodramatic,” Octavia scoffed, rolling her eyes at her friend’s display. Her tone grew more gentle. “Listen, I sympathize that you have a lot on your plate right now, I really do. But you are not doing us any favors by wearing yourself out right before the mission. Get some sleep, alright?”

“Okay,” Vinyl muttered, reaching for a small collection of objects next to the mattress and grabbing her signature shades, pulling them over her eyes to work as a makeshift (and very stylish) sleep mask.

“No staying up late,” Octavia demanded firmly. “And no drinking!”

“Yes, mom,” Vinyl answered, smirking.

Author's note: Kudos to RTStephens, who proofread this chapter for me. Also, before you say it - yes, the last scene was inspired in part by that fantastic drawing of Vinyl by johnjoseco, so a thanks to him as well.

Next Chapter: Paradise City Estimated time remaining: 1 Hour, 45 Minutes
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