The Ballad of Twilight Sparkle

by Gravekeeper

Chapter 11: Pony Trainspotting

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The Ballad of Twilight Sparkle
By: Gravekeeper
Chapter 11: Pony Trainspotting

“No, no, no, NO.”

“Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!”

The Great and Powerful Trixie opened the door with her magic; she was so involved in the argument that she didn't notice the quick sounds of shuffling and retreating hooves coming from the other side. “No!” She stamped her hoof for emphasis, but that did little to quell Twilight Sparkle's insistence... Or her bed-bouncing. 'Where did you get so much energy?! You were crying your eyes out a few moments ago!'

The showmare stepped out of the room, then walked down the hallway and into the kitchen where she was met with a poorly-constructed scene of normalcy: Rainbow Dash had her head buried in a magazine that she was holding upside-down; Applejack was pretending to drink from an obviously empty mug—she was even moving her throat as if she were actually gulping down her pretend coffee; Fluttershy was nervously washing a still-grumpy Spike in the kitchen sink even though he was already clean; Pinkie Pie was sitting in the middle of the kitchen hunched forward on a tall stool, right foreleg resting on her left rear leg and bent upwards at the elbow to support her chin as she stared at nothing, seemingly deep in thought.

Before Trixie could begin to comment on their terrible acting, Twilight bounced out of the room and began hopping circles around the blue unicorn while happily chanting “Yes-yes-yes-yes-yes!”

Trixie stared wide-eyed and slack-jawed at the merry lavender pony for the two minutes or so it took for her to stop her yessing and bouncing. Twilight Sparkle came to a halt at Trixie's side and threw her forelegs over the showmare's back playfully. “I don't hear a 'Nooooo'!” she giggled, before noticing the azure mare's silence. “Trixie? Are you going to show me? I really want to...” it was then that the bookworm noticed the four ponies staring at her. “...see... you are... you guys are... all here.”

Quickly realizing she was still half on top of Trixie, Twilight swiftly used her magic to physically and forcefully fling the blue unicorn back down the hallway. “H-HEY!” A loud crash reverberated within the apartment.

Wincing at the sound, the studious pony quickly recovered and tried to put on a casual, cheerful face despite her intense blushing. “G-good morning girls! W-what um, what a surprise to see you all here!”

Spike shooed Fluttershy away as he climbed out of the kitchen sink, dripping water everywhere. “Nuh-uh! Rarity's not here yet!”

Applejack chuckled. “Ain't you worry none 'bout Rarity, Spike. 'Cordin to Miss Spelling, Rarity got 'erself booked someplace fancy after she couldn't get in to see lovergirl over here.”

LOVER—” Twilight quickly turned back to check if The Great and Powerful Trixie was within earshot; peering down the hallway, she could see the door to the bedroom was on the floor and Trixie's hind legs were visible under the bed. “Lovergirl?!” whispered the lavender unicorn as she stepped close to the farmer. “AJ, did you tell everypony about what we talked about yesterday?

“'Course not, Twilight!” Applejack winked at the unicorn. “Ah don't have to tell nopony anything they done fig'red out fer themselves!”

Twilight Sparkle's unruly bed-mane became infinitely more frazzled. “Ohmygosh GUYS!” The nervous nerd pony quickly looked back down the hallway again. “Ok, ok, OK! Look, I don't know what you guys think I may or may not feel about Trixie, but she can NOT find out!”

If Rainbow Dash were to smile any wider, she would need more face. “Find out what?”

Twilight turned to the colorful pegasus, eyes neurotically wide. “That I—that you guys think I like her! Promise me you won't say anything!” she hissed.

Pinkie Pie quickly hopped from her seat over to the lavender pony. “Ooh! Ooh! Can we Pinkie Pie Swear?”

Twilight's horn began to glow. “Yes! Yes you can! You have to!” Using her magic, she lifted everyone in the room and placed them in a small huddle around herself. “Go!”

Spike rolled his eyes and Fluttershy giggled as the group brought their right hooves (and claw) together at the center of the huddle, before beginning the chant. “Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!” finished the group, everyone performing the motions.

“OW!” Twilight quickly fell back from the group, landing on her haunches and covering her left eye with both hooves.

“Oh my, are you alright, Twilight?” Fluttershy broke from the group and knelt beside the downed unicorn.

“Geez Twi, stop hitting yourself!”

“Ain't that hard to do, Sug—ya'll are s'pposed to close yer eye first!”

“Hi Trixie!” Pinkie waved happily at the pony just entering the kitchen. The pony in question seemed equal parts dazed and enraged as she unsteadily walked towards Twilight, horn glowing brightly.

Applejack turned to face the blue unicorn. “Ya know, I've been meanin' to ask, but... S'there any particular reason y'all first came out of that room tarred n' feathered?”

The Great and Powerful Trixie blinked—she didn't understand at first, but the horrified look of embarrassment on Twilight's face made the showmare quickly give herself a once-over. Pancake crumbs, chocolate chips, and strawberry syrup covered her mane, coat and tail; wherever there was syrup, pegasus down from the disintegrated pillow had stuck to her body. The silver-maned unicorn blushed as she glared at the explosive pony that caused it all. “YOU DID TH—”

“WOW SUCH A MESSY EATER YOU ARE, TRIXIE!” Twilight instantly teleported to Trixie's side, before picking her up with her magic. “You really could use a shower!” she chuckled nervously, quickly crossing the living room with Trixie in tow and making her way to the same bathroom Spike had made his body-art discovery an hour earlier.

All four ponies and one dragon stood in silence, looking towards the hallway both unicorns had disappeared to. Ten seconds is all it took for them to hear the bathroom door slam open, and a voice screaming loudly, “Out out out OUT!!” as Twilight Sparkle came into view again, magically flung from the bathroom, down the hallway, and into one of the walls of the living room. The unicorn's body peeled off from the wall where it left a deep imprint, before doing a slow forward flip and landing in an upright sitting position on a sofa below.

Applejack and Rainbow Dash winced as Fluttershy and Spike quickly made their way to Twilight's side; a cheerful Pinkie Pie held up four large, square pieces of paper, each with a number written on it—10, 9.5, 5.5, and 9.0.

- - -

Miss Spelling adjusted her glasses. “Forgive me fillies and gentlecolts, but considering the way the studio has handled the film thus far, I just can't comprehend the zealousness with which you are all clinging to what will probably amount to insignificant changes to the studio's profit.”

“Ms. Spelling, twenty percent is not an insignificant amount by any stretch of the imagination. These residual payments are unheard of!” The graying unicorn stallion in the business suit shook his head, looking disdainfully at the young orange unicorn mare sitting at the very end of the table full of shareholders and legal team members.

Miss Spelling lowered her head slightly as she rested her chin on her hooves, the sunlight coming in from the large windows somehow reflecting from her glasses and making them glare brightly at everypony present. “Taking into account the near-biographical nature of this film in relation to Ms. Twilight, I would say that her contract is more than fair for what amounts to her stake in this Intellectual Property.” The unicorn raised an eyebrow behind her bright spectacles. “Besides, I can't help but point out that if the studio was somehow worried about the profits this movie was going to make, they would have put more effort towards realizing and promoting this project.”

A second stallion, a pegasus with a strange and almost combed-over mane, spoke up. “Ms. Spelling, just what are you implying?”

“Mr. Baulking, I assure you that I am being quite explicit—I am stating that this film is being treated by Metro Goldmane Brayer as exactly what it is: a contractual obligation to the studio's independent film label and nothing more.” Miss Spelling leaned back into her seat, glasses still shining. “Ponies of the Board let us not mince words here—I know full well that none of you wanted this movie to get made. It's been an uphill battle against all of you from day one because, let's face it, you only needed a movie to be released—it didn't need to be particularly successful for the studio to profit from it after taking advantage of Trottingham's film production tax breaks.”

“Miss Spe—”

“However, we are two months away from release and other than the billboards and posters that I personally managed to secure, I have not seen any real effort from the studio to promote this film in any way, shape or form, which leads me to believe that Metro Goldmane Brayer expects very little from this movie.” Miss Spelling used her magic to pour herself some water from the pitcher that was resting in the very middle of the table. Taking a drink, she continued. “And yet here you all are, pecking away at this contract like carrion-eaters fighting over the tiniest shreds of food in the desert. I'm sure you all worked very hard to bury this movie, so why are you trying so hard to make a profit out of it now?”

- - -

Holly Diver leaned back into the plush booth at Spurbucks, sipping on her overpriced cup of iced mocha lavender and sunflower-seed coffee. She had been carrying the stupidest, most satisfied grin ever since she had left the shareholder meeting with Miss Spelling.

“Holly, I am not paying you to smile, you may stop at any moment.” The red-maned unicorn was currently face-down on the table, forelegs around her head, half-eaten slice of chocolate cake and unfinished hot chocolate besides her.

Holly Diver smiled even wider now—she knew full well that Spelling could feel the mirth radiating from the pegasus. “There's a lot of things I do for you that I don't get paid for.” She instantly caught the orange unicorn's barely perceptible twitch. “Missy, I know the only reason you're hiding your face is because you don't want to give me the satisfaction of seeing your smile, but if you don't finish your cake I'm gonna do it for you.”

Miss Spelling quickly raised her head and grabbed her plate, bringing it close to herself; she knew for a fact that Holly Diver never made idle threats about food. “I am willing to give you a 20% raise effective immediately and retroactive to the past six months if you forget what you saw today.”

“Not gonna happen.” the pegasus answered cheerily. “I thought that was pretty boss when you called those suits carrion-eaters... But afterward, that hour-long tirade about how unhappy and avaricious and Sunless they all were? Pure gold!” Taking a sip from her too-sweet coffee, she continued. “Oh, and that bit about how you where gonna stand them all up in a single file and then run the entire filmstrip in through their mouths and out the other end along the entire line of ponies—that was just classy right there! I didn't think you had the imagination!” The Ponytrain Projector was a mental image that was going to stick with Holly Diver for the rest of her life.

Miss Spelling had her eyes closed as she quietly finished her cake. “Momentary lapse in judgment, I've been under a lot of stress with this movie. Frankly,” a sip of her tepid chocolate, “I'm surprised I didn't get fired right then and there.”

“I saw a couple of them crying on the way out... That might come back to bite you later.” Holly added, gauging the unicorn's expression.

“Is that so?” Miss Spelling asked, not realizing the tiny smile that was forming at the corners of her mouth.

- - -

“I don't understand Twilight, what're we doing in here?”

Twilight Sparkle used her magic to close the door to one of the smaller bedrooms in the penthouse apartment. This was the room where she had left her saddlebag the previous day, before she left with Trixie to join the contract meeting, and where the purple reptilian had apparently spent the night. “I need you to take a letter, Spike.” she answered, using her magic to float a pen and a legal pad towards Spike.

The young dragon flipped through the first few leafs. “What's with all the Applejack drawings?”

Twilight blushed. “Never you mind, Spike. Just use another page.”

“Okay...” Spike gave the unicorn a quizzical look as he found a blank page.

“Now, let us begin. 'Dear Princess Celestia, I write to you seeking counsel on matters of grave importance.'”

The scribe blinked. “'Grave importance'? Seriously?

“Spike, you are writing a letter, not editing one.” Admonished the unicorn, ignoring the eye-roll thrown her way. “'It has been brought to my attention that some of my friends have arrived at a most precipitous conclusion about myself—'”

“Presi-whatsis?” Spike started chewing on the back of the pen.

“Pre-ci-pi-tous, Spike. Anyways, '…precipitous conclusion about myself based upon wholly unscientific observation of my past behavior pertaining to one specific pony that shall remain nameless.'” Twilight began pacing from side to side as she dictated. “'Though hopelessly unprofessional and lacking any sort of rigor or qualitative research, my friends have nonetheless produced an unsubstantiated theory based mostly on conjecture.'”

Spike nodded. “Uh-huh.” He had already given up trying to ask for clarifications most of the time, resorting to just writing the words as he heard them whenever Twilight got like this.

“'They speculate that I have somehow developed feelings similar to friendship, but on a more personal and deeper level, for this specific pony. They have based their supposition on the specific pony's disappearance, and my resultant search for the missing equine. Though laughable, the hypothesis is not entirely without merit; as such, I would like to pursue this investigation in a controlled, scientific manner—I trust that Your Highness may be able to impart some of her endless wisdom on how to best proceed with this experiment? Your student, always faithful, Twilight Sparkle.'”

Oh brother... You know Twi, maybe you should just talk to Trixie about it...”

Twilight chuckled condescendingly as she pet the small dragon. “Oh Spike, that would ruin the control! Now c'mon, hurry up and send the letter.” Spike rolled his eyes once again as he set fire to the leaf, watching the magical smoke escape the room by slipping under the door. A few moments later, both unicorn and dragon stepped out to join the rest of the ponies having breakfast in the kitchen. Twilight blinked. “Where's Rainbow Dash?”

A hat-less Applejack looked up from her plateful of pancakes. “Lil' firebrand got called downstairs while y'all were in the room. Somethin' about a request for her legal services.” the farmer shrugged, continuing on her breakfast.


- - -

Police Officer Bobby Flat-Hoof yawned as he rubbed his eyes; after the previous day's long hours, Detective Horseshoe had dragged him to the gym, where the bubblegum pink-maned mare had beat the ever-loving stuffing out of a poor, defenseless punching bag all night long. He had never seen the level-headed pony so worked up over a perp before; the mare was widely known for her Luna-may-care attitude—every little thing just seemed to slide off of her impossibly cool shoulders.

It was morning now and he had just gotten the message that the perp's attorney had been brought in to the station a few minutes ago. Making his way around the numerous desks and down the stairs to the front desk, he could see his partner chatting away with a very colorful pegasus pony in a cowpony hat. 'Nopony's ever gonna mistake her in a police line-up!'

“C'mon, you gotta tell me, I told you mine!”

Gummie chuckled—she loved comparing scar stories. “Alright, alright... It was my first day on the force, and we were chasing this pegasus purse snatcher—he thought he was gonna get away, but I had climbed to the roof of a nearby building when I saw him commit the crime.” The detective was energetically mimicking the same actions she was recounting. “As I expected, the criminal took flight as soon as he saw my partner chasing after him down the street—but the perp never expected an earth pony to get the jump on him from above!”

Flat-Hoof finished his trot down the flight of stairs and joined the two lively mares. “Not that story again, Horseshoe...” the dark blue stallion shuddered. “...I still have nightmares about it.”

The detective pony brought a hoof to her aviator shades and lowered them a bit, eyes peeking out over them, eyebrow raised. “Don't be such a gelding, Flat-Hoof; it was just a little blood!”

The officer paled a bit. “It was most of your blood, Gummie!”

Rainbow Dash's eyes were sparkling with adoration. “Most of your blood? Oh man, that is so cool!”

Detective Horseshoe blew a large gum bubble before letting it pop. “Yes, yes it was.”

Officer Flat-Hoof rolled his eyes. “Right, if you ladies are done comparing the size of your brushes with death, we still have a pony to interrogate.” The serious earth pony turned and started making his way down a hallway that led deeper into the first floor of the police station.

“Yeah yeah...” deadpanned Horseshoe, as both she and Rainbow Dash turned to follow him. “Don't let him fool you...” Gummie turned back to wink at the pegasus. “...He likes to act like Equestria's most boring cop, but if you knew the crazy bull—”


- - -

Rarity watched in annoyance as Rainbow Dash's smile grew wider and wider. They were sitting in the bleak interrogation room again, where the unicorn had been given a small amount of time to talk with her 'attorney' before the interrogation. The reason for the pegasus's deepening smile was the copy of Rarity's arrest report that she’d been given—it seemed to be greatly entertaining to the cyan pony.

Rainbow Dash looked up from the stack of papers she was reading. “Rare, I know I don't usually say this but...” The pegasus blushed slightly. “Laying waste to a battalion of rent-a-cops? I...” The pegasus bit her lip. “...I'm proud to be your friend.”

Rarity's eyes became wall-eyed for a moment; the honest sentiment had caught her completely off-guard. “B-behaving like a ruffian is no reason to be p-proud of—”

“So!” Interrupted the pegasus, “Did you see a judge about your bail? I think getting out on your own recognizance is probably a no-go, but this is probably your first offense, right? Or, do you get into huge brawls often?” Rainbow Dash's eyes sparkled once again. “Oh dude, are you part of an underground rodeo club that meets every week just to duke it out because you all feel disenfranchised and alienated by society?”

The unicorn looked completely scandalized at the suggestion. “Rainbow Dash, where are you getting these ridiculous ideas from? Have you been listening to Pinkie Pie's stories again?” Rarity cleared her throat as she sought to calm herself down. She reminded herself that she had decided to ask for Rainbow Dash's help out of her own volition. “As for your original question, yes, bail has been set for me—and what a dreadful experience this has been!”

“Pfft, tell me about it! Hey, have you tried using magic with that thing on?” asked the pegasus, pointing at the brace that encircled her horn and neck.

Rarity had almost started getting used to the thing; it had been attached to her as soon as she had been arrested and had not been taken off since. “I have not, R—”

“Good! ...Don't. That thing is just gonna send the magic back into you... I've heard it hurts like an applebucker.” Rainbow Dash leaned back into her uncomfortable chair. “Anyways, I've got money to pay for your bail, and I know you'd never do anything like this...” The pegasus tapped the police report in front of her, “...without reason, so how about we get this interrogation thing done so we can get you to an arraignment?”

Rarity looked at Rainbow Dash with extreme confusion. There was something very, very wrong here, and it wasn't just the fact that the unicorn had been wrongfully detained. She had chosen the pegasus because she was the only one available at the moment—Rarity had not been expecting any sort of competence to come from the simple-minded acrobat, yet here she was, talking Rarity through the motions, almost as if... Rarity blinked when the realization blindsided her. “Rainbow Dash... You've been arrested before, haven't you?”

Rainbow Dash's sudden twitch sent the papers she was holding flying off the table. “WHA- huh, what? I... Pfffft, that's not... Who told you... I mean, define 'arrested'?” she chuckled nervously.

End Chapter 11

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