It Only Burns Twice Chapter 1

Mar 3rd, 2013
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  1. Day It Only Burns Twice in Equestria.
  2. Chapter 1
  3. >You used to work odd jobs for bits. That was a long time ago. Now you are the mayors right hoof man. You deal with information, and there’s a lot more than pony skeletons in the mayor’s closet.
  4. >You perform your morning ritual.
  5. >You turn on Equestrian Radio; the only government sanctioned radio station. The princess is giving a monologue about how she is rebuilding Equestria, and just needs more time.
  6. >Usually, it plays what you assume is patriotic Equestrian music.
  7. >At night you can hear a pirate radio station. It’s just a mash of revolutionary politics and wubs. You can hear it better some nights. The station itself must be moving constantly.
  8. >Discord did more than just cause chocolate rain during his short reign. He gave ponies the apple of knowledge. Since that day, the princess has been losing control over her subjects.
  9. >Yellow Quiet is in the kitchen making you breakfast. You used to try to stop her, but now you overlook her awkward advances. She does most of the domestic stuff in your house. It makes things easier for you.
  10. >”The princess is really making progress isn’t she?” Yellow Quiet says, as she puts your meal at your place.
  11. >You nod, not wanting to tell her what you know.
  12. >The fact of the matter is, the ponies have been thinking of revolution. They want to put a new princess in power.
  13. >A princess sympathetic to their way of life.
  14. >Some even talk of bringing the Griffin prince to rule over Equestria. If the princess falls, there is sure to be a power struggle.
  15. “I think everything will be fine soon,” You say as you scratch behind her ears. She smiles.
  16. >Some days you wonder if a new princess would make things right.
  17. >You have kept those blasphemous thoughts to yourself.
  18. >Better to not bite the hoof that feeds you.
  19. >It’s 8:25, and time to go to work. You put on your coat and head toward town hall.
  20. 1/8
  22. >You find the mayor slumped over her desk. She’s already drinking. The red curtains cast a pink glow over her form
  23. >You knock on the open door and she jumps awake
  24. >”Oh… good morning Anon,” she says as she pour herself another drink. She motions, asking you if you want a drink as well
  25. >You shake your head.
  26. >You go to the next room and sit at your desk. Its small. Too small.
  27. >The mayor promised that you will get a new desk soon enough. You start reading your mail.
  28. >Most are typical requests for an audience with the mayor, or letters demanding justice for some slight.
  29. >Sometimes Yellow Quiet mails you pictures of herself.
  30. >The last letter was different. It had no postage stamp, just the mayor’s name typed cleanly.
  31. >You open it.
  32. >There is a picture of Scootaloo. She looks tired, and beaten. The letter reads simply, “ur a faget.”
  33. >You put the letter back into the envelope, and gather letters worthy of the mayor’s attention.
  34. >She’s awake now. Her morning medicine has taken effect. You put the letters on her desk, but hand her the letter with her name first.
  35. “I think you want to read this one.”
  36. >She takes the letter and reads it. Her jimmies are clearly rustled.
  37. >She takes off her glasses.
  38. >”Anon, I want you to find whoever did this and bring them to me,” she says. Her tone is sharp.
  39. >You have other duties to attend to, but you say nothing. You don’t get paid to argue. Just to take care of things
  40. >You take the letter to your office and examine it closely. No pony hair. No hoof prints.
  41. >Whoever did this, took the time to make sure they couldn’t be tracked.
  42. >That doesn’t bother you very much. What does bother you, is that there is no ransom note.
  43. >This letter is just to taunt the mayor for her ineffectual leadership.
  44. >You put the letter and picture into your coat.
  45. >You’re going to need help on this one.
  46. 2/8
  47. >Somep0ny who knows the underground.
  48. >Some shit eating pony staring down at the end of a long rope.
  49. >Somep0ny with nothing left to lose.
  50. >And you know just the one.
  51. >
  52. >It’s too early to look for Berry Punch. She doesn’t come out until dark.
  53. >You go to school. Cheerilee is giving a lecture about fruits. The bell rings. The fillies jump up and run out of the small room. It’s recess.
  54. >You walk up and make eye contact with Cheerilee. She smiles.
  55. >”Hello Anon. How are you?”
  56. “I’m fine, thanks,” you say, eager to get over pleasantries.
  57. “Have you seen Scootaloo?”
  58. >She thinks for a moment. “No, I haven’t seen her in a week… maybe two weeks?”
  59. “That doesn’t strike you as odd?”
  60. >She shrugs. “Lots of fillies take vacation, or get sick. I didn’t see Silverspoon for a month once. When she came back she had lots of stories.”
  61. “Well, Scootaloo can’t exactly afford a vacation.”
  62. >Her eyes narrow. “Is everything alright?”
  63. ”Everything is fine. The mayor just wants to see her,” you lie.
  64. >No point in getting everyp0ny upset.
  65. >Not that anyone would care. Not really anyway.
  66. >Scootaloo is just a sad orphan.
  67. "I'm not familiar with what she looks like. Do you have a recent picture?"
  68. >"We haven't taken the class photos yet this year."
  69. "Who does she spend time with?"
  70. >"Anon, you wouldn't ask me that if she was fine."
  71. >You frown at her.
  72. "Can you keep a secret?"
  73. >She nods.
  74. >You move closer to her.
  75. "She's missing. Any information you can provide will be helpful."
  76. >Cheerilee thinks for a moment.
  77. >"Scootaloo spends time with Applebloom and Sweetiebell. Do you want to talk with them?"
  78. >You look out the window.
  79. >Cheerilee points them out to you.
  80. "They never told you she was missing?"
  81. >"This is the first I've heard of it."
  82. >Are they hiding something?
  83. >You quickly correct yourself.
  84. >Why would these fillies do that?
  85. "Not right now. I'll visit them at their homes later."
  86. 3/8
  87. >Cheerilee jots down their addresses for you.
  88. >You thank Cheerilee for her time, and excuse yourself.
  89. >
  90. >You walk to the orphanage. It’s a warm day, so the door is open. All the fillies are at school. You let yourself in.
  91. >Its run down and smells. The wood boards holding it together are old and tired.
  92. >The princess doesn’t waste bits on social programs. Her picture hangs in the atrium.
  93. >It’s the only thing that looks decent in the entire place.
  94. >A nondescript pony trots up to you.
  95. >”Can I help you?” she says. Her eyes show worry, but she keeps her tone level.
  96. >She must have been expecting this visit.
  97. “I’m looking for Scootaloo? Do you know where she is?”
  98. >”Scootaloo?” she says slowly. “She must be in school.”
  99. >You smirk. Why do they always lie to you?
  100. “I’ve already visited Cheerilee. She hasn’t seen her either.”
  101. >The pony thinks for a moment.
  102. >”She must have run off then. She’s always getting into trouble. I can hardly keep count of the fillies that run away to the circus.” She waves her hoof. “They always come back though.”
  103. >That’s true. Every now and then fillies will run off to see the world, but they don’t send dirty pictures back.
  104. “Let’s not make this difficult. I know you haven’t seen her for at least a week. I also know you didn’t report this.“
  105. >You walk around, not looking at her.
  106. “Now I have to wonder to myself, why? Why would this mare not report a missing filly?”
  107. >You turn to her.
  108. “When I start wondering, sometimes I make the wrong connection. Do you understand?”
  109. >”I don’t know what you are talking about,” she replies indignantly.
  110. >You sigh. Threatening usually works.
  111. >Better try a different angle.
  112. “How does this place make money?”
  113. >”We receive a small stipend for every filly we house, but as you can see it isn’t nearly enough.”
  114. >Clearly. You feel empty just walking into the place.
  115. 4/8
  116. “So when one goes missing, you have one less mouth to feed, and you keep receiving a check?”
  117. >”Sometimes… records aren’t updated as quickly as they should be…” she agrees.
  118. >She thinks for a moment.
  119. >“But, they always come back," she adds.
  120. >You nod, understanding what she means. This place needs all the bits it can get.
  121. >You stand in silence.
  122. >Some ponies find silence awkward. They will often try to fill it with something; anything.
  123. >A few seconds later, she relents.
  124. >”I haven’t seen her in two weeks. She sometimes goes to Ponyville Tower to be alone. I already checked there, but I didn’t find her.”
  125. “Has she been acting strange lately? Is there anyo—p0ny, who doesn’t like her?”
  126. >”No, she is too friendly for that,” she shakes her head.
  127. >“You aren’t going to tell anyp0ny about this, are you?”
  128. >You start walking toward the door.
  129. “We’re keeping this quiet.”
  130. >You don’t look back.
  131. >
  132. >You are at Ponyville Tower
  133. >The clock has long since been abandoned. It’s once bright brick exterior is now dull. There is stencil graffiti of a pony throwing a pie.
  134. >The door to the clock’s inner workings is open. You climb the narrow staircase.
  135. >At the floor, just below the bell you find layered cardboard. It was probably used as a bed by vagrants.
  136. >In the corner is a scooter. It looks vaguely familiar.
  137. >You step on it without putting your weight on it, as if you were going to ride it.
  138. >It’s about the right size for a filly.
  139. >You continue looking around, but don’t find anything else of interest.
  140. >You fold up the scooter, and carry it back to your office.
  141. >
  142. >Mayor Mare is gone.
  143. >You sit at your comically small desk, and look at the note again. Nothing.
  144. >You look at the picture next. Still nothing.
  145. >You look around and the coast looks clear. You smell the picture.
  146. >”Is smelling photos your fetish anon?”
  147. >You curl you lip.
  148. “Fluttershy – just stop. We’re past that.”
  149. 5/8
  150. >She frowns, but puts your lunch on your desk.
  151. “Thanks”
  152. >“Will you be home early today?”
  153. “No.”
  154. >She bows her head slightly. You shouldn’t be so cold with her.
  155. >Fluttershy leaves.
  156. >You start thinking about the orphanage.
  157. >They are all the same.
  158. >Institutions for unwanted foals.
  159. >Where everyone who touches you knows you are worth less than nothing.
  160. >Orphans don’t even have a family to avenge them if filly foolers cause them harm.
  161. >You stop yourself from remembering.
  162. >It still burns.
  163. >
  164. >You find Berry Punch at the Saloon.
  165. >She notices you, and returns to her drink.
  166. >You imagine she’s trying to make herself smaller.
  167. >Maybe she thinks you won’t notice her.
  168. >You walk up.
  169. “I’ll have two ciders. One is for my friend here.”
  170. >The bartender nods and pours the drinks.
  171. >”What do you want?”
  172. “Is that a way to greet an old friend?”
  173. >”You were never my friend.”
  174. >You grit your teeth.
  175. “I’m not here for that.”
  176. >Berry is the lowest form of scum, but she’s useful.
  177. >Sometimes you overlook things.
  178. >Sometimes you forget.
  179. >She relaxes slightly.
  180. “I need your help.”
  181. >”Can’t you see that I’m busy?”
  182. >So drinking counts as busy now?
  183. >You put a small bag of bits beside her drink.
  184. “I’ll be over there.”
  185. >You sit in the corner of the bar and wait.
  186. >Berry downs her drink, and orders another one.
  187. >Eventually, she makes her way over.
  188. >”I’m listening," she says as she takes her place.
  189. >You slide the picture of Scootaloo across the table to her.
  190. >She chuckles at you.
  191. >”I didn’t know you liked this kind of stuff.”
  192. “I don’t.”
  193. >”I can get you one if you want.”
  194. >You ignore her.
  195. >You aren’t here to bring her in.
  196. >If word got out that you cuffed informants, then you will never be able to call in a favor.
  197. 6/8
  199. “This filly went missing a week, maybe two ago.”
  200. >Berry takes the photo and examines it.
  201. “Her name is Scootaloo. She lives in the orphanage – or did rather.”
  202. >”Professionals?”
  203. "Maybe for the smash and grab,” you offer, “but professionals don’t send pictures.”
  204. >You point at the photo.
  205. “This is recent. Whoever did this is taunting us.”
  206. >”So this filly fooler wants to get caught?”
  207. “Maybe… or he could just be a sick fuck who gets off on knowing that he holds all the cards.”
  208. >She nods.
  209. >“So, do you want me to look into filly foolers, or coltnappers?”
  210. “Coltnappers for now. Tell them that I’m looking for someone to grab a kid.”
  211. >You take a drink from your glass of cider.
  212. “I’m just working as a go between… the target isn’t for me.”
  213. >”They won’t buy it. Everyp0ny knows about you and –“
  214. “It’s just business. Money makes a man do strange things,” you interrupt.
  215. >”I’ll ask around.”
  216. >
  217. >The next day, at the Carousel Boutique.
  218. >You've explained the situation to Rarity.
  219. >You just need to ask little Sweetiebell a few questions.
  220. >Rarity has the same story as Cheerilee.
  221. >This is the first she's heard of this.
  222. >You've been waiting for an hour or two.
  223. >Rarity has tried to make your wait more pleasant.
  224. >She made some coffee, and showed off some of her works in progress.
  225. >No doubt she is trying to get you interested in ordering from her.
  226. >"I just don't know what is taking that filly so long," Rarity says.
  227. >"She's probably at her club house."
  228. >You nod.
  229. "Can you talk to her when she gets in? I need to see her and -"
  230. >You look at your notes.
  231. "Applebloom."
  232. >"Of course."
  233. >Rarity moves to show you the door.
  234. >"I'll bring Sweetiebell to the mayor’s office tomorrow morning."
  235. 7/8
  236. >Somewhere.
  237. >You are Scootaloo.
  238. >You’ve been raped and beaten … you don’t know how many times.
  239. >You live in a dark basement.
  240. >All you eat is stale bread and water.
  241. >Your captor told you that he is going to sell you soon.
  242. >Every time he rapes you he whispers, “I’m doing this for your own good.”
  243. >He loves that - making you try to see things from his perspective.
  244. >You hate him.
  245. >You hear the lock opening.
  246. >He’s coming.
  247. 8/8
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