Key Gear

Private Pony Mystery Theater: Exit Trixie, Stage Right.

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Berry had been quietly listening to all of this. As he drank his coffee in silence, noting that he was not recognized as being significant allowed him to slowly regain a mental account of everything that had been said and was being said. As dusky spoke, he found his way to some rather questionable food items. As he took up one food item randomly. He may not have been looking at the ponies sitting at that table, but he heard the words. And there was one pony who seemed... odd, to him. As Dusky began his talk of the philosophical nuances of good, the more odd that pony in particular seemed. “What sort of life has this pony lived that has given him such a twisted, lazy vision?” Berry chomped into the food, chewing slowly, not really tasting it except noting it's odd flavor. He briefly pondered what he was actually eating. He reasoned that it must be exotic food. His expression grew serious as his mind was fueled by the food. He listened as Magicon and Flow departed before he slowly turned around, finishing off his coffee before taking a slow deep breath. He made certain to look as bored as possible as he looked upon the darker of the two ponies now seated at the table. He raised his eyebrows faintly at this tall dark pony. Even sitting down, Dusky seemed imposing. He eyed the other pony, and found him to be almost the polar opposite. “Darkness, despair, and hopelessness... and seated nearby is order, hope, and... perhaps a light. How intriguing, what an intriguing dynamic. Yes, this is good. Very good, perfect.”

 

 

He thought these things as he turned his gaze back to Dusky and moved to stand slightly behind him at this point, but more to Dusky's right as he cleared his throat in a gruff unceremonious measure, that caused him to break into a cough. He hacked and wheezed for nearly a minute before humming a little, and regaining his composure. He speaks in as neutral a tone as he can, aside from some slight hoarseness.

 

“You're wrong, actually. I'm not sure if you realized it but, you are wrong. The idea that good is... merely a mental construct and they don't actually exist is in reality, an oversimplification of a... well, simple matter in theory. Let me tell you what these things are. They are, intrinsic traits of environmental bias. To explain that, I'll claim that indeed, it's due to environments that cause people to end up how they do. Events, that... shape our ideologies and beliefs. They exist not just in the mind of ponies, my dear dark one, but in reality, they exist because they are specific traits within us that make one side of reality easier to dwell in compared to another. Now lets discuss traits. Some ponies have certain talents and ambitions that make them more prone to doing bad things because it is in fact easier for them to understand and grasp. Everyone can be good if they really wanted to, or bad if they really wanted to. It's all about willingness to participate in third-party self depreciation of perceived morality. Because morals are all about perception. Something good, to me... may not be good for others. The key to living in this world, is respecting that there is good, and there is bad, but both can be explained. To oversimplify the issue of, good and bad, tarnishes the... glory, of the fight. Because of course without a challenge life is meaningless to begin with. Without a purpose we're just an essence of dust. Former glories being overshadowed by a tarnished existence filled with confusion, violence, and the perpetual lack of environmental equality that perforates society. In all of this, it makes us connected. It's what makes us alive, ponies, and on this train at this very moment. Good and bad... law and disorder, they are all connected by environment. As, an experiment, set a pony with chaotic traits in a neutral environment. You will obtain someone who has the ability to get what they want with little care to how their actions will be perceived by others. Because it's a neutral environment, so they won't be judged. You see? It's simple in theory, but in relative terms it can go on forever. That's the beauty of it, you see... it's not just good and bad anymore now is it? Much to simple to be any fun.”

 

He coughed once, whether it was intentional or not is hard to say, but there was something... a light in his eyes that seemed dim before. His posture during his speech had become less feeble, and more assured. He stared at Dusky with an indifference as a teacher correcting a student. “I didn't mean to interrupt... just wanted to correct you because, it was a mistake. Mistakes, aren't good to make, you know? They always just, come back. You and I, we're very much alike I think. Perhaps we both looked into the abyss. The true difference in our perceptions, is because when you looked into the abyss... you blinked.” His expression remained constant as he spoke.

Edited by Something Interesting
  • Brohoof 6

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In which he then bumped into the conductor. "Oof... Oh, um... Sorry, sir..." he uttered apologetically, looking at the brown earth pony. "I, uh... I wasn't watching where I was going, I guess, heheh..."
 

Vim didn't recognize the voice immediately, so he shot a formidable glance over his shoulder. He never particularly liked unscheduled stops, because they were always an opportunity for ponies to try jumping aboard with no ticket and without checking with him first. When he saw that it was Electrobolt that had collided with him, his expression morphed into a smile. He was going to say something to the young colt, but when he noticed that Bolt was in a hurry, he decided that he would wait until later on.

However, not long after that, his ears jumped up as he thought he could hear something thumping. "What in Equestria is making that noise...?" he muttered barely loud enough for anypony around him to hear. He then looked around the room, wondering where the noise was coming from.
 

After a certain age, a pony's hearing just isn't the same as it once was. Vim could only barely catch what Electrobolt had said, but he recognized the appearance of a pony that had heard something unexpected. Standing in the hall, trying to hear what had attracted Electrobolt's attention, Vim's old ears heard nothing. He shook his head and waited.

After looking around for a little longer, he eventually stopped in front of one of Trixie's boxes. This box looked different from the others, not to mention it was the only one with a lock.   

 

When he leaned closer to the box, he could clearly hear the noise. Curious, he inspected the lock. It seemed rather weak, but he didn't want to break it off, at least, not unless the conductor didn't mind. Looking back to the conducter, Electro spoke up, "Um... There seems to be something in this box here, but it's locked... That's pretty odd, considering how this is the only box that's locked, wouldn't you think so...?" Looking back at the lock, he added, "The lock doesn't even look sturdy... I bet if I hit it, the lock would fall off..."

Vim followed Electrobolt to Trixie's boxes. Now, he could hear the noise, and while his hearing wasn't good enough to allow him to locate the box, he could tell that *one* of the boxes was making the sound. His eyes surveyed the boxes, and he located the box with the lock on it at the same time that Electrobolt did. "Well, now... This is definitely something odd..."

 

Normally, for security purposes, a locked box would have been reported to the conductor and the assistant conductor, but Vim had no knowledge of this locked box. Vim's eyes narrowed. This box and its contents were of great interest to him. When Electrobolt mentioned breaking the lock, Vim nodded. It would have to be done. This lock was completely unauthorized, and this box definitely shouldn't have been making any noises. 

 

His curiosity taking over, he turned around, facing away from the box. Looking over to Vim, he said, "You might wanna back up... Who knows what might be in this box..." Then, with a sigh, he looked in front of him, before shooting his hindlegs up as the impact knocked the lock off. He then quickly turned around, ready to defend himself and the two other ponies should a monster emerge from the box.
 

Vim raised an eyebrow when he realized that Electrobolt was going to be breaking the lock right then and there. When he had met Electrobolt and spoke with him outside of the train, he'd felt that this colt had the stuff of leadership, and, to Vim, taking the initiative was one of the most important parts of being a leader. In his mind, he raised his estimate of Electrobolt.

 

Vim didn't take a step back, though. He took a few steps forward. The last thing that he wanted to happen was for some trap from Trixie to result in the young colt getting injured. Now, standing side by side with Electrobolt, Vim watched the box warily.

 

So he got closer to them and asked out loud. "Umm... is something going on here?" The white mailpony, his face a big question mark.
 

Vim spoke fast. "Arcanel, you may want to get clear. There's something wrong with this box..." Vim trailed off and stood, shocked with his gaze fixed on the strange inhabitant of the box.

 


 

The box sprang open, and Springer popped half-way out of it like a cardboard cutout. Facing away from Vim and Electrobolt and still in the box, he waved his forehooves around wildly in the air as he babbled hysterically. "The duties of a conductor! To ensure compliance with orders, especially orders for delicious food! To monitor signals! Monitor all kinds of signals! Rules! Rules! Rules! OH YEAH!!! And regulations and stuff! To enforce railway regulations! RIGHT! To ensure the safe operation of the train and the continued safekeeping of all chickens on board!"

 

The pitiable pegasus seemed to twitch for a moment, and then continued even more wildly than before. "SECTION 242 PARAGRAPH 7 of the railway code!!! The definitions! Oh yeah, I know ALLLL OF THEM!!! A conductor is a pony that is runs a train or yard crew! I LIKE TRAIN! A CREWMEMBER is a pony that reports DIRECTLY to a conductor! A medical examiner is made of CHEESE! A passenger conductor is what you need when the conductor is an idiot!!! I'm an IDIOT! I NEED A PASSENGER CONDUCTOR TO HOLD MY HOOF!! HAHAEHWHWEHAA!"

 

Gaping in shock and horror, Vim stared at the mad pegasus. Springer was covered in dust, and his feathers looked ragged. He had neither his conductor's uniform or his trademark conductor's hat. Springer's blue mane was completely and totally disheveled. As he continued to rave and rant, Vim took a quick, concerned look at Electrobolt and then took one step forward, putting himself just slightly closer to Springer than Electrobolt was.

 

Springer span around in his box, and bounced up and down frenetically like a broken jack-in-the-box with wings. Vim grimaced. The pegasus was grinning wildly, and his eyes were wide open with pupils that were unnaturally small. Vim's own eyes focused on Springer like a hawk watching a cat approach its nest. Vim spoke with a steely, neutral tone that carried just the slightest hint of a warning. "Springer..."

 

The pegasus twitched again and then sprang out of the box towards Vim. Vim tensed, but Springer didn't take any more steps forward. Instead, he babbled mindlessly. "Father! Hey! I thought you said you'd wait at home! Where's mom!" Springer looked around the room aimlessly before his restless eyes settled on Electrobolt. Vim took another step forward and spoke again. "Springer."

 

Springer continued even more excitedly. "MOMMY! Hahahaha! Hey! Guess what? I passed the conductor's certification test! I'm now really an assistant conductor! The conductor's certification exam! That was easy... Aren't you proud of me!?" Springer's red eyes started to tear up, and he took a step towards Electrobolt. "Aw come on mom, aren't you gonna give me a hug!"

 

Springer's wings unfurled. While they looked messy, they were in working condition. With a quick motion, Springer launched himself at Electrobolt. With an even quicker motion, Vim was between the two of them. Wings thrashing, Springer collided with Vim's side. The pegasus was a smaller than the conductor, and he was in poor condition. Vim absorbed the impact like a rock wall, and Springer bounced off and rolled noisily.

 

In a second, Springer was back up on his hooves. "Hey hey! That was fun! Let's do it again!" Springer started to pace randomly around the room. Intermittently, he would make a mock attempt to dash in Electrobolt's direction. As he moved, Vim shifted his own position just enough to be in a better position to block him. Springer laughed wildly. "This really is FUN! I haven't had fun in a long time! THIS IS GREAT!"

 

Vim was both frustrated and confused by Springer's madness. In all of his long years as a conductor, he had never seen anything like this. His auburn eyes seemed to be glowing as he growled loudly at Springer. "Springer! What in Tartarus are you trying to do? Is this how you want to end your career? With your last major accomplishment being locked in Trixie's box?! Don't you want to be a conductor one day?" 

 

Springer stopped. "I... Yes... I would like that..." He blinked slowly. "Trixie. The box. Wait..." The pegasus looked over his shoulder and out of the window. "Wait... Why... Why has the train stopped? This stop was... Unscheduled... I need... To get those rooms unlocked? But... Wait... None of this makes any sense... I could swear I felt the train move... Uh... Vim..." Springer looked at Vim with a concerned expression. While he was still distant, there was no hint of the wildness that had infected him just moments before. "Ummm... Vim, I would like to request an emergency leave of absence. I feel unwell." Springer collapsed.

 

For once, Vim was not sure of what to make of the situation. He trotted over and looked in the box. He saw nothing but dust and feathers, but he also noted that the box, if shut, was probably airtight. Springer's behavior started to make more sense to him. Vim then turned to Electrobolt. "Electrobolt, I'm sorry that you had to get tied up in all of this. But then... I'm not sorry. You know, if you hadn't opened this box, Springer would've probably suffocated to death. Who knows how long he could have waited while nopony heard him. You saved his life." Vim squinted at the fallen pegasus. "Hopefully he'll thank you later... Without the hug."

 

@@Arcanel,

 

Without looking away from Springer, Vim addressed Arcanel. "Arcanel, you remember when you said that you wanted to help out. Well, could you do a favor for me, now? I need you to go check with the station master and see if you can get a doctor, nurse, or something over here to check on him. He's still breathing, but I need to know if I'm going to need a new assistant conductor for this journey. I'd go myself, but... I think I need to make sure nothing crazy happens between him and any other passengers when he gets up again."

 


So she was no stranger to the words Ambrosia spoke. For a very brief moment, Asteria's eyes lost their youthful glimmer. What she had seen in her travels had made her just the slightest bit fearful. But never one to be sad or scared for longer then necessary, quickly returned to her normal cheerfulness.
Ambrosia didn't miss the disquieted look that had appeared in the filly's eyes. The moment it had appeared, Ambrosia worried that, perhaps, she had given Asteria too much information too quickly. However, as quickly as the look had appeared, it had vanished, leaving no trace. Ambrosia sensed that while the filly was world-wise beyond her years, she still had the joy and courage of youth. With just a little looking after, she'd be fine.
"Wow, that all sounds so amazing. And you weren't scared at all? Me, I would have been a little frightened. But Lapis would have been there, so I know he would have reassured me. And this detective guy sounds tough, as well as Magicon too. I'd like to meet them later and ask them about their experiences. You could arrange that, right?" she asked with a twinge of wonder in her voice. Even though she felt a little nervous on the inside, she knew it would all work out in the end. With Lapis along with those unicorn stallions, surely they could get to the bottom of things.
Ambrosia smiled awkwardly. In truth, she had been too busy being curious to feel fear at the time. Now, looking back on all of the events, she knew that she would have been terrified if she had actually been aware of her surroundings. She reflected on this for a few moments before speaking. "Well... Actually... I had been too busy looking into things to be afraid... If I had stopped and actually realized everything that was happening, I probably would've been afraid. Maybe even really afraid... You're right though, with Lapis and the others, we should be fine. Actually, ya know... We really should get some kind of meeting together."

 

Ambrosia stopped talking to eat her food. Thankfully, everything tasted just right. While she was eating, she thought about how she could organize a meeting and which ponies should be invited. Asking Daylight and Magicon about their experiences was a good thing to do, but who else could be invited... Ambrosia remembered Electrobolt and Key Gear breaking into Trixie's room, and she decided that they would definitely have to attend. Springer had never really explained his strange plan for Trixie, so a meeting would give him a chance to tell everypony what he knew. 

 

The more Ambrosia thought about the idea, the more she liked it. Finally, when she had finished her food, she stood up from the table and spoke. "Asteria, I think that we should probably go see Lapis, and... We really should try to organize some kind of meeting so that everypony that knows something can say what they know. If we did that... Then... Well, maybe we could figure out what's going on with the train?"

 

Ambrosia started trotting back towards the train and continued talking conversationally. "This whole thing is like the start of a mystery book. Just a bunch of confusing things all jumbled together with just a hint of danger, like a dash of spice. You know, I loved mysteries when I was your age. I guess maybe that's why I'm so curious all of the time." Ambrosia laughed, and she realized that it was the first time she had felt normal that entire day. Secretly, she was thankful that Asteria had seemingly appeared out of nowhere. There was something about the filly that really did seem familiar to her, even though they had just met.

 

When they reached the train, Ambrosia went straight in, hurriedly. They arrived back at the train and were going through the baggage car just in time to hear Vim speaking with Electrobolt. Ambrosia glimpsed to the side, and she saw that Springer seemed to be out cold and Vim looked very unhappy. If she hadn't been traveling with Asteria, she would've inquired about what had happened. With her present circumstance though, she really preferred to awaken Lapis before getting tied up with another strange situation. Asteria was right, he would know the right course to take...

 

Happy that Vim's back was turned to her, Ambrosia quietly, quickly trotted through to get to the first passenger car. Due to having glanced over the list of passengers on the previous night, she knew that Lapis was the resident of room 1. Ambrosia knocked on Lapis's door. She knocked loudly, but not loudly enough that Vim and the others would hear it.

 

 

 

(OOC: Well, @Arcanel, I've setup a situation to take advantage of your writing style. Feel free to write out the journey to the station master in whatever way you want to do so. Heck, you can even describe him or her in whatever way you want to do so. Just stop short of finding a doctor. I have somepony in mind... Thanks, buddy!

 

Also... I didn't post for Key or Dusky. I'm waiting on a word from @Dave247. I'm interested in seeing a glimpse of some Daylight. Eh? I hope I'm not the only one. :P

 

Speaking of light... I'm feeling more comfortable with Lapis about to wake up as well. This is nice... Everything is rolling along smoothly......)

 

 

Edited by Scootacool
  • Brohoof 6

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As he remained on his guard, Electrobolt noticed that, instead of backing up like he had requested, the conductor instead got closer to him, standing next to the young colt. To be fair, he didn't know what would be in the box, so having somepony around just in case something went awry actually comforted him. When he heard a voice speaking up, asking what was going on, he remained focused on the chest, although the conductor spoke up, mentioning the name Arcanel. However, as soon as the box's lid sprung open, he was not ready for what came next.

 

Just like a jack-in-the-box, this one pony just sprung out of the box, beginning to babble complete nonsense about rules, regulations, and the like. A look of confusion was plastered on the young colt's face, though when the pony said 'A medical examiner is made of CHEESE!', he nearly let a laugh slip out. He managed to hold it back, however, although his face slightly betrayed his efforts to remain steady. As he looked at the pony, who was now bouncing around, he noticed that not only was he rather dusty and messed up, but he also looked like the pony from the other day, who was raving on about Trixie.

 

It was then that the conductor called out to this insane pony, who was apparently named Springer. But then, Springer had hopped out of his box and began talking to the conductor pony, calling him dad. Confused, he was watching on, before the eyes of this pony locked onto his own eyes. Although the conductor tried calling out to him, Springer instead exclaimed in excitement, calling Electrobolt "mommy". This caused the young colt's eyes to shoot wide open in shock. "Wh... What???" he stuttered out, completely surprised at all of this.

 

As Springer continued to babble on about the "conductor's test" he took, he then asked if "his mom" was gonna give him a hug, at which he started to toss himself at the young colt. Flinching at the inbound hug, he closed his eyes and tried to brace for the impact... Only for there to not be any impact at all. When he opened his eyes, he saw the conductor in front of him, having blocked the pegasus from attacking him. To Springer, however, this all seemed to be a game as he continued to try and get to Electrobolt, to hug him.

 

The conductor, however, did not want to put up with any more of this, as he suddenly growled out at the pegasus, asking if this was how he wanted to end his career, and if he wanted to be a conductor one day while including mention of him being in Trixie's box.  This seemed to snap Springer back to his senses, as he then began to ask about why the train had stopped. Eventually, however, the green pegasus had collapsed on the ground after asking the conductor, named Vim, for an emergency leave of absence. Although he was glad that Springer had stopped attempting to hug him, he couldn't help but worry about him. Just then, Vim had spoken up to the young colt.

 

Vim then turned to Electrobolt. "Electrobolt, I'm sorry that you had to get tied up in all of this. But then... I'm not sorry. You know, if you hadn't opened this box, Springer would've probably suffocated to death. Who knows how long he could have waited while nopony heard him. You saved his life." Vim squinted at the fallen pegasus. "Hopefully he'll thank you later... Without the hug."

 

Electrobolt listened to Vim as he looked back to the conked-out Springer. Had he not heard the thumping, and had he not gone ahead and knocked the lock off, the lack of air would have gotten to him. He would have died, trapped in Trixie's box. So he was grateful that he bumped into Vim when he did. When Vim added that Springer would hopefully thank him later without the hug, he nodded.

 

Before he could say anything though, Vim went over to the mailpony, named Arcanel, and asked him to look for the station master, to find somepony who could give the green pegasus some medical attention. Although his stomach grumbled at him, the young colt was still worried about Springer. After the conductor was done talking to Arcanel, Electrobolt approached Vim and asked, "Um... Vim, was it? Uh, thanks for what you did earlier, what with stopping Springer from hugging me and all... But um... If you don't mind, I'd like to stay with him for now to make sure he's alright, at least until assistance arrive, anyways..."

  • Brohoof 6

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"Well... Actually... I had been too busy looking into things to be afraid... If I had stopped and actually realized everything that was happening, I probably would've been afraid. Maybe even really afraid... You're right though, with Lapis and the others, we should be fine. Actually, ya know... We really should get some kind of meeting together."

 

Asteria giggled a little. This mare probably got too wrapped up into things that she did. One had to be extremely determined to forget to be scared. But she didn't think any less of her for it. Everyone forgets something sometimes. But forgetting to be scared seemed so silly. But she stopped thinking about it when she heard mention of Lapis's name. As well as the possibility of a meeting. She just loved to get ponies together to discuss stuff. Lapis always said that 2 heads are better than one, so by that logic, the more heads the better!

 

Ambrosia had seemingly finished what she had been saying and had gone back to her meal, so Asteria followed suit. She finished before the mare, so she just sat there and stared off into space. She had a tendency to do that, to daydream. While she did, she hummed softly to herself. She thought back to the incident at Cloppenhagen. The two of them, her and Lapis, had been enjoying the atmosphere of a museum when they had gotten dragged into a mystery. They weren't detectives, but they were observant. They had helped the museum find their missing relics, ones that the two of them had actually uncovered and submitted to the facility. So it was slightly personal on some level.

 

She sighed as she returned to reality. It had been a fun day. There was no real mystery though. The silly ponies had simply misplaced the artifacts. She could still recall the annoyance in Lapis's voice. It was funny how he liked to reprimand others if they fell short of expected intelligence. Although she considered that a bit mean, since not everyone was smart, she still took a sort of pleasure in hearing him talk that way. She just hoped he wouldn't take that tone with her. That would be no fun since she'd hoped he'd be happy to see her.

 

"Asteria, I think that we should probably go see Lapis, and... We really should try to organize some kind of meeting so that everypony that knows something can say what they know. If we did that... Then... Well, maybe we could figure out what's going on with the train?"

 

Asteria nodded her head. That sounded like a very clever plan. She doubted Lapis would have figured out a way to actually accomplish the organization of such a meeting. The cook, being a member of the staff after all, could probably get a meeting together without a hitch. But first, to get to Lapis. *Ready or not, here I come.* she thought mischievously.

 

"This whole thing is like the start of a mystery book. Just a bunch of confusing things all jumbled together with just a hint of danger, like a dash of spice. You know, I loved mysteries when I was your age. I guess maybe that's why I'm so curious all of the time."

 

Asteria thought about that sentiment. Lapis had told her that life was not like a book and that things don't just fall into place. After learning that lesson the hard way, she had taken his words to heart. But she respected Ambrosia's curiosity. She was just a cook, not a field researcher. While a little curiosity was important, too much could lead to trouble. Unfortunately, both her and Lapis had an unquenchable desire to learn. Just like before, with the box. Lapis would have gone to investigate immediately, especially if he had her by his side. Asteria could have erected a barrier the moment any danger revealed itself. And thus, they would have learned what was in the box. Sometimes you had to charge into things, but at other times it was best to do things carefully. Lapis would have gone with the prudent choice no doubt. So maybe he would have waited to open the box too.

 

Ambrosia's laugh made her sound like she was not on edge as much as she was when they had first met. She was still very visibly tired, so she still wasn't at her best. It was sad to think that she would have to arrange that meeting later. Hopefully, she would be rested by then. Asteria would have hated to see the poor mare collapse. She seemed like she would overdo things, just because she wanted to help get to the bottom of this mystery. If this was a mystery that is. Asteria knew never to jump to conclusions. All this could be some strange misunderstanding.

 

As they passed into the baggage car, the green earth pony from before could be seen talking with Vim. On the ground it appeared that the green pegasus, who was most likely Springer, had passed out or something. But Asteria had no time to look. Vim might catch her, and she needed to get to Lapis. She followed Ambrosia anxiously as she approached room 1. The mare went up to the door and knocked loudly, just enough to wake him up or get his attention, whichever was the case.

 


 

Lapis Lazuli stood before the dragon as it awakened. Its soulless red eyes watched him with restrained hate. "Why do you dare to wake me foolish mortal." the half conscious beast rumbled. But Lapis did not move an inch. He stood his ground, firm in his knowledge that the dragon was weakened. He knew that in this state, while being half awake, the dragon was no more dangerous than a lost kitten.

 

"I've come with a request. You are no more than a pathetic worm you know. I could easily crush you. But I have other plans in mind." he said with the utmost confidence. He grinned to himself. The beast had no choice but to agree. But the dragon was clever, and Lapis knew this. The gleam from the torch attached to his saddlebags caught light on the creature's grey scales. For a moment, he was taken in by the pure beauty of its body. Perhaps he should just leave the poor beast alone...

 

Shaking his head, he readjusted his mind. He would not be taken in by its evil manipulations. He had come to rob the dragon of its soul. With it, he could grant his deepest desire. The life of a hero was very dangerous. It was not all cheering and lovely mares fawning all over him. He'd witnessed death a thousand times over. It was time for a change.

 

Suddenly, his young companion, the adorable and clever Asteria, trotted up behind him. "So boss, are we gonna slay the dragon?" she said in that funny accent of her's. He could never place it, but it was cute all the same. Since she had lost her parents during a Diamond Dog raid on her village, Asteria had become like a daughter or maybe a sister to the warrior. He loved her more than any other pony in the world. He would protect her with his life.

 

It was a little sad how she always insisted on joining him on all his adventures and missions. Sometimes he could convince her to stay home, but he wished he could get her to just stay there for all time. Not that he hated her company though. She was cheerful and a dreamer. She brightened up his otherwise dark existence. And now, in the face of a dragon who refused to give him what he wanted, she might be the extra push to drive him forward.

 

The truth was, he hated the life of a warrior. Always fighting, always in danger. These times were extremely dangerous. He just wished there was some sort of escape from it all. He had heard the legends of the power of a dragon's soul. How it could be bound to a pony and manipulated to their desires. He had tracked this one wide and far, slowly fighting it along the way. But the trick to it was, you couldn't kill the dragon to get its soul. It had to give it to you.

 

The dragon watched curiously. Why would a warrior like this blue earth pony let himself be accompanied by such a weak looking little unicorn? He scoffed as he continued to rise. As his consciousness returned to him, he recognized the pony immediately. He was the one who had been attacking him. A powerful fighter no doubt, but a nuisance all the same. The dragon was far too weak now to continue fighting though. This pony was unlike all the others. He had the heart of a hero, a burning desire to protect those who he loved and the ponies of the countryside as well. It was the dragon's time to die. He'd put up a fight, but it would be no use in the end. He even doubted he could kill the unicorn. She looked crafty, and the dragon knew never to take a unicorn for granted. They weren't as easily read as the others.

 

"Well? You know why I'm here. Or perhaps you don't. I am here to claim your soul. But I'm not going to kill you. Just pass along your ancient power to me, and I shall allow you to live." he said solemnly. The dragon stared back at the two of them, confusion in its eyes. Clearly it had expected to die. "Very well mortal, I shall give you my soul..." it said with what seemed like a bizarre grin. Asteria looked at her master in horror. "I thought we were here to kill it. What's this about a soul exchange? Lapis, what did we come here to do?!" she said, fear creeping into her voice as Lapis began to glow with an evil-looking aura.

 

"It's alright my dear little friend. I'm going to make a new world for us. No more sorrow, no more pain, no more fighting!" he said becoming more deranged with each word. He let out a laugh that would only fit a madpony. Something definitely wasn't right here. Asteria could do nothing but watch as the stallion she had come to love as a father slowly changed into something unholy and strange. He flesh began to rend, and what lay beneath were scales and tentacles. His face morphed as well, soon reflecting the appearance of a monstrous hybrid of pony, dragon, and unknown horror.

 

"Don't you see my darling unicorn child, this world is worthless. I can make it anew. And unless you will help me, I shall have to remove you..." he said with a dark edge to his voice. Asteria shivered with fear. This was not the pony she knew. Lapis Lazuli was a kind and noble pony. A little misguided yes, but he just wanted what was best for everyone. The Lapis she knew was dead now. Whatever this creature was, he was certainly not Lapis Lazuli. She stared beyond the monstrous being to find that the dragon had disappeared. Whether that was something good or bad, either way, she had to run now or never.

 

But the horror was faster. As the little unicorn began to run, its tentacles reached out and grabbed hold of her. It dragged her towards it and held her up into the air. "Now, now, deary. I would never hurt you, so you have no reason to fear me. I love you, remember?" it said, its voice a nightmarish mixture of Lapis's, the dragon's, and something beyond comprehension. Asteria tried to pretend this wasn't happening, that Lapis hadn't been so foolish as to seek out a dragon's soul or whatever it was that he had just absorbed. The creature brought her close to it, embracing her in what seemed like a cruel perversion of a father's hug. "Shh my child, no need to fear..." it said as she was pulled into its body, slowly merging with it.

 

As her life force died, she let out a horrible scream, one that echoed the cavern. The monster let out a laugh to match the dying scream, one that did not echo though. Its form began to change to match the new configuration. A purple horn appeared upon its forehead, and it used its newly achieved magical powers to teleport away. The world would be made perfect, but first the creature had to cleanse it with fire...

 


 

A loud knocking awakened the dreamer from his nightmare. Groggily, he got up from his bed, dream mostly forgotten. "Yes, yes, I'm coming. Be patient." he said, even though there had only been a single knocking. He opened the door to find the cook staring back at him, barely awake herself. "Ah, Ambrosia, did you want to see me about something?" he asked right before he was sent onto his back.

 

For a second, he thought the mare was attacking him. But a quick look at his attacker revealed her to be a small purple filly. On her head, there was a equally purple horn, with the slightest curve to it. Whoever this pony was, she was clearly a user of defense magic judging by her horn. Sudden realization struck the half awake stallion. Almost unconsciously, he wrapped his forelegs around the little filly in a tight hug.

 

After he let go of her and stood up, he addressed the issue with this set of circumstances. "Asteria, what in the name of logic and knowledge are you doing on this train? Didn't I tell you to go home?" he asked with an intense gaze. She wavered a little, but responded evenly. "I didn't want you to go on an adventure without me. I love adventures, and you're my best friend." she said with wide-eyed innocence. 

 

Lapis watched with some confusion. "But you were the one to tell me to go on the train by myself. If you wanted to come, why didn't you say so? I did offer to just go somewhere else, or do something else. Is there something I'm missing here?" He knew something wasn't right here, and the quicker the truth was out, the better. Asteria stopped with the act and sighed lightly.

 

"Okay Lapis, here's the truth. I knew you wouldn't of had the money. I knew the moment I saw the poster. And I knew I could get you to go without me. But I would come along anyway. I've always want to stow away aboard a train. Just so that I could say that I had done it. 'Course, I didn't think past the actual getting on part. I knew I could go home anytime and all, but I still wanted to go to Los Pegasus too. I mean, sure stowing away was fun and all, but getting to go to the Applewood Festival in the same adventure would have made it a less boring story to recall." Asteria smirked mischievousness for a moment before walking toward Lapis and looking up at him sweetly. "You aren't mad, are you?"

 

Lapis Lazuli stared at the filly with contained amusement. Asteria always had to come up with such ridiculous little plans. They sometimes put her, and even himself, into deep trouble. But he was sure nothing could go wrong this time. Well, the conductor would certainly be mad, but Lapis would reason with him. Or maybe just find some money to pay for a ticket. There were a few solutions to this problem, so things could move on smoothly from here. He was somewhat happy to see her again. He had been sensing danger on this train ride, and it had only been a single day so far.

 

"Asteria, I have much to tell you." he said. Asteria nodded enthusiastically. It was clear Lapis wasn't even miffed. Just as she had planned. She knew he would just go with the flow in this case. Well, maybe just her heart knew even if her head didn't. "I've got some stuff to say too, and maybe I should go first. Ambrosia had told me about what's been going on. So it will save us some time just to go over what either of us don't know yet." she said before telling him all about what she had been told, and what she had seen.

 

As she finished telling him about Ambrosia's meeting idea, he nodded slowly. "Yes, very good. Very good indeed. I was speaking with the engineer, Dusky, last night and he provided me with some very interesting information." He went over to his nightstand and retrieved his notes. "All here on my notepad." he said proudly. Asteria grabbed the notes with her magic, its green aura surrounding the notepad.

 

As she flipped through it, her eyes widened with excitement. "Wow, that is some pretty cool stuff. He's a really good story teller." she said impressed. Lapis sighed and explained about the book and the purpose of the story. Asteria tapped her chin with her left forehoof thinking it all over. "Okie dokes! I'm sure you'll come up with a plan, and maybe the other ponies can help too!" she exclaimed cheerfully.

 

Lapis Lazuli looked over to find that Ambrosia had been standing there the whole time. "Oh, terribly sorry. I'm sure you have some input as well, yes? And, I'd like for us to get that meeting together soon." he announced, hoping he hadn't been rude by ignoring her during his reunion with his beloved assistant. Then, his stomach growled, and he realized he hadn't eaten yet. "Oh, and perhaps you can help me get some food before then. You wouldn't mind making me breakfast now, would you?"

Edited by Berry Pie
  • Brohoof 7

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For a while, Flow spent her time outside exercising by flying around the train station, exercising is one of Flow's favorite past times where she believes that it would lead to a longer life,  "Oh yeah!! Nothing like some good exercise to keep me going, I've been aching to open my wings since I stayed inside the train, okay! Time to stop for another breather, then it's time to get back inside!"

 

As soon as she lands on the ground, Flow relaxes from her activities while thinking about the ponies she met on the train "Sigh, what a day, I really thought that I would find Trixie on this train, I've really thought that she learned from what happened in Ponyville, instead she had grown into something worse. Also some of the train employees I've met are pretty nice, and some are just plan rude, especially the one named Dusky. He wasn't really interested in what happened on the day before, he just wanted to find a way to annoy me and Magicon! He even called me weak! Was he really listening to my explanation? I said that Trixie's magic was too strong for me!  Sigh, I was that close to punching him, but I didn't want to create a scene in the morning. Yeah, leaving was the best solution to that insanity. Now to Trixie, is she an idiot? Risking someponie's life for fame?!? That was stupid of her, and then..."

 

Suddenly, her thoughts were cut off after being reminded of the nightmare she had last night "...k...kk...No.....pant....pant...Why...why did I dream of that? Could it...Could it have to do...with my anger against her? No way...Yeah  I hate her a lot.....but not to the extent where I want to see her dead!...No! Sigh....I guess I should tell someone about my nightmare, but who? I don't even know somepony on this tr-.....Oh wait, there's Lapis! Yeah I can talk to him about it, but another problem is...where is his room? Great, maybe I'll have to knock on every door to find out." 

 

@@

 

Once Flow got back inside the train, she goes searching for Lapis' room "Okay, I guess I should start with room one" Upon arriving at the doorstep to room one, she was surprised that he was there, along with Ambrosia and a filly she never seen before, just outside the door she began "Oh! Morning guys! So uh, Lapis, this is your room? I never knew you'd stay in room one! Um..I have something I wa-" She stopped at the sight of the new filly, and despite being a tomboy, Flow has a soft spot for cute stuff. "O....Oh...my..gosh..She's so cute!!"

Edited by Narutardedscum
  • Brohoof 4

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The Previous Night...
 
@
 
Clarity had taken Alex's hoof, and they both left the parlor car right after the show had come to its abrupt end. Throughout the entire duration of the show, she had found her thoughts dwelling on Ponyville... Everything that had happened there, the continuing pain that she felt as a result of it all... It bothered her, nagging at her. When Flow had been thrown into the portal, Clarity felt terrible. She felt bad for Flow, yes, but she also felt bad for herself. The portal, to Clarity, it was like Ponyville. She had been cast into the abyss...
 
When Magicon saved Flow, Clarity had been shocked, both by the event onstage and also by her own thoughts. Watching Flow's rescue, she found herself wondering if maybe there was a pony out there that could rescue her from her own situation. But, if Flow's situation was reminiscent of her own, then who would save her? She took Alex's hoof after the show, because, briefly, she had considered that perhaps this random pegasus would be the one... However, just as quickly as the idea had come, it vanished. 
 
She needed to spend some time alone, thinking. She also needed some sleep, and... Absentmindedly, she had taken Alex's hoof and they had wandered towards the last passenger car of the train, which was where Alex's room was. Her room was room 2, all the way at the front of the train. She was embarrassed by the mistake. "I'm sorry, Alex, but... My room is room 2, it's at the front of the train. I... I'll... Well, we can talk tomorrow, maybe..."
 
Early On The Current Day...
 
With that, she departed from Alex's company and went to her own room. With little ceremony, she fell asleep. That night, she dreamed. When she awoke in the morning, she couldn't recall the exact substance of her dream, but she knew what she needed to do. All of this time, she had been sitting on the train, wasting away in sorrow over the events in Ponyville. Yet, the answer, the solution for her sorrow had been right there the entire time. She needed to go back to Ponyville, to pick up the pieces, to speak with Leaf Shade again. 
 
Looking out of her window, she was stunned. Clarity could see the familiar signs of the Ponyville train station, and the train seemed to be stopped. After staring for long enough to convince herself that she wasn't dreaming, Clarity started packing. Clearly, fate approved of her decision to return. After just a few moments, she was ready to leave the train, but... She stopped before venturing out. She had forgotten something. Quickly, she levitated a quill pen and some paper from her luggage and wrote out a note to Alex. 
 

 

Dear Alex,
 
Thank you for your kindness yesterday. As you could probably tell, I was a bit distracted at the time.
 
I'm not on the train today, I've gone into Ponyville to take care of some things. I won't be boarding before the train departs, and I don't really know where I'm going to go from here.
 
The only thing that I know is that I'm never going to be as sad or upset as I was on this train again. 
 
Yours truly,
Clarity
 
With a sigh, Clarity took the letter and headed down the hall. It was in the early morning hours of the day, so nopony was in sight. Outside of the door, she took a look at the letters that had been left in front of every passenger's door. She didn't bother reading them, it didn't matter. Instead, she trotted towards Alex's room. When she reached Alex's door, she dropped her note on top of the letter. Then, she left the train. She knew exactly where she would go.
 

 
The Present Moment...
 
Key industriously chomped through her breakfast, but she couldn't help but reflect that she had tasted better meals from the garbage. She was happy that at least the orange juice seemed to be untainted by whatever strangeness had affected everything else. While she ate, she listened carefully to what Dusky was saying. At first, she listened to his words, but soon she found herself ignoring them, focusing on the voice instead. 
 
Dusky had an interesting voice. He spoke in quiet tones but his voice carried across the room easily. His voice was strange - humorless, brooding, and cold. His body language was also unusual. He betrayed almost no feelings or emotions while he spoke. What little he did portray seemed, to Key at least, to have been carefully selected for effect. This pony was not one to be trifled with. 
 
As she listened to his monologue, her ears were at full alertness. She caught every inflection, every hesitation. The effect was almost hypnotic. Key blinked as she realized something remarkable. The engineer's voice was eerily similar to the voice that she had heard twice on the day before. In Trixie's room and in her dream, she had heard a voice that had possessed the same dark, humorless coldness. The only difference between the two voices was that Dusky's voice lacked both the distance and the power that she had heard the day before. 
 
Key finished her food, took one more drink of her juice, and then pushed her plate away. She would have to speak to Daylight later. For now, she needed to find some way of finding out more about this train engineer. As quietly as she had entered the room, she now made her way out of it, heading back to her room. In her mind, some connections were beginning to form that didn't, on the surface, seem to make much sense. Key figured that if she could find evidence to support the most unlikely of the connections, then maybe everything else would fall into place.
 
She reached her door and tried the handle. The room was locked. Key stood, dumbstruck, for just a few moments as she thought back to the previous night... She couldn't remember locking her door when she left. In fact, she was pretty sure that she hadn't even closed the door behind her before she made her dash to Electrobolt's room. Frustrated by the delay, she returned to Electrobolt's room and paced the floor. 
 
Her head was a cloudy mass of thoughts. Her missing lock pick set, the strange engineer, the locked room - it was as though she was trying to solve a puzzle while somepony kept hiding the pieces. Key stopped pacing, and looked wistfully at the bed. She needed sleep, sleep and cookies, but for now, she would have neither. Her thoughts were too active and hazy to allow her to fall asleep, and Bolt was nowhere to be found with her cookies. Key spoke out loud. "Ponyville isn't a big city, how long does it take to get cookies anyway." She sighed and continued pacing.
 

 

Electrobolt approached Vim and asked, "Um... Vim, was it? Uh, thanks for what you did earlier, what with stopping Springer from hugging me and all... But um... If you don't mind, I'd like to stay with him for now to make sure he's alright, at least until assistance arrive, anyways..."

 
Vim spoke grimly. "Electrobolt... I don't mind at all. In fact, I appreciate it. You know, kid, normally this is the time that I'd be making rounds through the train, talking to passengers, and asking them how the train ride has been for 'em. But... I don't even need to do that now. I already know what the answer would be. It's like this train is cursed. Broken doors, crazy magicians, this water leak... Everything that could possibly have gone wrong seems like it is going wrong. Even my train crew... Even Springer..."
 
Vim turned his attention back to the fallen pegasus. Springer didn't look like the diligent young assistant conductor that had shown so much promise. He looked like a wreck. A flash of sadness obscured Vim's visage for just a moment, then it was gone. He continued speaking, and his voice didn't carry its normal energy. Vim was tired. "Honestly... I'm thinking about just calling this journey off. Without an assistant conductor... I have a bad feeling about continuing. Kid, Springer was... Sometimes a bit annoying... But he knew how to get stuff done. He was trustworthy, reliable, and... Ah, just listen to me. I'm sure he'll be fine, but... He won't be able to help out on this journey." 
 
Vim wasn't a doctor, but he knew that Springer would be in no condition to act as the assistant conductor during the remainder of the train's journey. This was a problem, because Vim needed an assistant conductor. His crew was already small - the minimum required. Without his assistant conductor, he was dangerously short on the staff needed to deal with an emergency. In the past, he had dealt with similar situations by filling in for the missing staff member himself, but Vim already felt tired. He was getting older, and he wasn't entirely certain that he still had what it took to do the job of two ponies.
 
Of course, Vim knew that he could always ask the station to loan him an assistant conductor, but Vim had memories of terrible experiences with these "rent-a-conductors" in the past. The likelihood of getting one that wasn't lazy was not high. As much as Springer had annoyed him sometimes, Vim knew that the pegasus was easily the best assistant conductor out there... And, Vim had trusted him. Reflecting on Springer again, Vim realized that it was the trust that was the most important thing. Even when they disagreed, he knew that he could trust in Springer to do the right thing.
 
Now deep in thought, Vim tried to think of a pony, anypony, that he could trust. After his disappearing act on the previous day, Dusky had endangered his reputation with Vim. That left only Ambrosia, and she already had her hooves full with the kitchen. Suddenly, a thought occurred to Vim. He did know a pony that was trustworthy, one that was probably capable of rising to the challenge of becoming an assistant conductor. Vim smiled, and he looked from Electrobolt to Springer and then back again. 
 
When he finally spoke, he was no longer subdued or distracted. He sounded like himself again. "Electrobolt. You know, I really do think that there is something that you could do that would be much more useful than sitting with me and foalsitting Springer while he takes his nap." Vim cleared his throat. "You know, when I first met you, I talked about how well you had done in that tournament. Looking out from the crowd, I saw a colt that had some real promise in life. Here's the thing though, if you want to really be the best that you can be, then you need to, every once in a while, do something a little crazier than what you would normally do."
 
"You know, when I was around your age, kid, I did crazy things all of the time. Sure, I worked on learning more about what I loved, the railroad, but I took any opportunity that I could to broaden my horizons. I remember this one time I was looking for a job to earn some money on the side. I actually tried my hooves at being a cook in this little restaurant for a few months." 
 
Vim laughed. "Electrobolt, I don't know what I was thinking! I could cook, but I wasn't a chef... I didn't have any experience at all. Even before I took the job, I knew that I'd be in over my head, but I didn't let that stop me. I wanted to learn, I needed the money, and there was this one filly that I was trying to impress... Ah, but that's a completely different story." Vim coughed.
 
As Vim continued to talk, he was growing progressively more animated. "Well, anyway, I remember that first day. The manager told me that they needed me to work double shifts right outta the gate. Not only that, but the head cook hadn't shown up that day, so I would have to fly solo. Hah! You could've knocked me over with a bit of hay. Here I was, just getting started... And I was just thrown straight into the fire."
 
Vim smirked. "You know, I had some fire of my own when I was that age. At the start of the first shift, I'd already recovered from the shock. I was looking forward to the challenge. Electrobolt, I was so confident. But... That first shift, it was a disaster! I mean, I had a cookbook and I was following the recipes exactly. The food wasn't turning out half bad, but I was too slow. That's right. I was too slow. Can you believe it!" 
 
"Customers were getting up and walking out. The manager of the place was furious. See, I had a reputation for being fast and efficient. That's the only reason that he had hired me, and here I was making a fool of myself. After that first shift, I trotted out back and I thought about just calling it quits right then and there. I was pretty badly shaken up... But, you know, I couldn't do that. It wasn't my style, especially not with my reputation on the line. I had to think of something, anything. I couldn't though, not on my own."
 
"Crazy thing... That was just about the time that my pal from school, Berry Nut, came wandering by. He was like that, you know. Cool, quiet, smart but random as hades. So, I told him the problem. When I was done, he asked me to show him the process, cook a meal. So, I went back in. We were between services, so I had some time to burn. I started putting something together. About halfway through, he stopped me. I'll never forget it... He told me that I was doing it all wrong. I was going fast and I was being efficient, sure, but... I needed to do more than just that. I needed to multitask, do more than one thing at once."
 
"Berry took over the preparations. He put a whole bunch of things on the stove at once, kept track of all of them, and then somehow kept adding more stuff to the mix. Funny thing was that he wasn't fast at all, but... Because of all the stuff that he was putting out there at once, he finished faster that I could've ever hoped to have. Then... He wandered off. Yeah, he does that a lot too... It was alright though, I was ready."
 
Vim grinned at the memory. "Second shift... Electrobolt, you know you should've been there. I had food, literally, flying out of the kitchen. It was night and day." Vim stopped for a moment and looked over at Springer. The pegasus had rolled over in his sleep. Vim continued more quietly than before. "Electrobolt, what I'm saying is that, on that day, I learned a valuable lesson, earned some pocket change, and picked up a few new skills. The only reason that I'm saying that is because I think that maybe you could use the same opportunity?"
 
Vim's eyes twinkled. "Kid, how would you like to be an acting assistant conductor? Springer needs to take a few days off, at least a few days. In the meantime, I still need an assistant conductor. I'm not asking you to volunteer for no pay either. You're gonna get some bits for your trouble. I just need your help for today, tonight, and a few hours tomorrow morning. Normally, that'd be a day and a half's pay, but I'll pay you for three days work as an assistant conductor because this was sorta sprung on you without much notice." Vim chuckled at his own bad joke.
 
"Don't worry, you won't be swimming like a blind seapony. If you say yes, then I've got some simple things that you could do right now. Then, as the day goes on, you'll have plenty of guidance. If you're fast and diligent, and I know you are, then you'll have no chance to fail. Here's what I need. I need somepony to check all the rooms and see which ones are empty. Passengers always leave the train during these unscheduled stops. I don't know if they get cold hooves or what, but it is what it is. Anyway, if a passenger has left, then you need to straighten up the room enough to be used by another passenger."
 
"You can check all of the rooms, but you'll probably not want to be bothered with the train crew rooms. My room is room 18, Ambrosia's is room 15, Dusky has his own little area in the train engine, and Springer's room is 17. I mean, you can check in those rooms anyway, but we're all here so it wouldn't be the efficient thing to do." Vim shrugged and then continued. 
 
"After you'd do that, I need you to deliver a message to Dusky Coal, the train's engineer. He's back in the dining car, probably making a play at being a kitchen philosopher. He can't help himself, he's got this thing with theoretical junk that I've never understood. You know, I didn't mind though, because he was a good engineer. Then, yesterday, he vanished. Yeah... I need you to tell him that, Vim says, he needs to get serious. We've got to pick up the pace and make good time towards Los Pegasus. I want this train going as fast as it reasonably can. Period. No excuses. No more disappearing acts. No naps in the caboose. Tell him that if he wants to sleep, then take his nap in the train engine with his hoof on the throttle."
 
Vim shook his head slightly. "Funny thing about this whole mess and this stop in Ponyville... You know, Dusky was actually part of the design group that planned out this train. From the interior layout to the engine, he knows this train inside and out, and he had a say in its construction. Ultimately, if this water leak is a defect, then he should've caught it in the planning stage. This stop in Ponyville is partially his responsibility. He did seem distracted at that time. I'd put it down to nervousness, but maybe it was something else. He hasn't seemed nervous to me on this train ride... Just even more sleepy, dreamy, and head-in-the-clouds than he normally is. The grit is gone, and I'm not happy about this. Not at all. You know, Electrobolt... Let Dusky know that if he has a problem with anything you say, he can take it up with me."
 
"Anyway, after you drop that message with Dusky, check in with Ambrosia. She's filled in as an assistant conductor and did well. She'll tell you all the little stuff that'll make your job easier. Of course, before you do any of that... You'll need to be official. If you head up into the train's engine, you'll find a conductor's hat. You'll want to wear that. Funny thing is that conductors and assistant conductors wear the same hats. A lot of folks think it should be changed, but I don't. I think it's symbolic. If you're the assistant conductor... You carry a lot of responsibility, as much as the conductor in many cases." Vim nodded his head. "Besides the hat, you could grab Dusky's set of the master keys while you're up there. He won't be needing them anyway. I need him at his post."
 
Now, Vim stopped. Stepping back from Electrobolt, he seemed to take stock of the colt again. "Electrobolt, you know, I think you'll make a fine assistant conductor. And, you know what, maybe I can rope Arcanel into helping us both out while he's around, he's got some experience with deadlines and working under pressure... Maybe I can get two assistant conductors instead of one?"
 
Vim smiled and seemed to mull over the idea of two assistant conductors for a few moments before he continued speaking. "Well, do you accept my offer? I'll tell you what... If you do a good job, you're sure to learn a few things... Maybe you'll impress a few fillies as well, eh?" Vim laughed heartily. In his mind, he wondered what his granddaughter would think of Electrobolt if he told her about him being an assistant conductor. 
 

 
Ambrosia watched the entire scene between Asteria and Lapis with a goofy smile on her face. It was immediately clear to her how much the two ponies cared for each other. They were rather like a brother and sister that had been reunited after having not seen each other in quite sometime. Ambrosia was a sentimental mare, these kind of scenes were always moving for her. Her smile only faded when she heard that Dusky had been speaking with Lapis. 
 
On hearing Asteria exclaim that Dusky was a "good story teller", Ambrosia raised an eyebrow. Dusky was many things, but she had never figured that he was imaginative. To her, he always seemed so cold and precise. To her knowledge, Dusky never told stories.   He just wasn't the storytelling type. Even the thought of him reciting a story from memory with any feeling seemed alien to her. As Lapis explained both the book and its story, Ambrosia found herself wondering what, exactly, the notes contained. 
 

Lapis Lazuli looked over to find that Ambrosia had been standing there the whole time. "Oh, terribly sorry. I'm sure you have some input as well, yes? And, I'd like for us to get that meeting together soon." he announced, hoping he hadn't been rude by ignoring her during his reunion with his beloved assistant. Then, his stomach growled, and he realized he hadn't eaten yet. "Oh, and perhaps you can help me get some food before then. You wouldn't mind making me breakfast now, would you?"

 
Ambrosia laughed cheerfully when she heard Lapis's stomach growl. Her laugh was distracted though, because her thoughts were still focused on the notepad. Her curiosity was nearly overpowering. "Don't worry about it, Lapis. I don't really have too much input to give actually, but I am certainly interested in reading that notepad. After all, if I read it before the meeting, then we would both be able to answer questions about it, and... Well, maybe I might see something in the story that you couldn't? I do know Dusky because of the time we've worked together..." Ambrosia was interrupted by the sudden arrival of Flow.
 

Once Flow got back inside the train, she goes searching for Lapis' room "Okay, I guess I should start with room one" Upon arriving at the doorstep to room one, she was surprised that he was there, along with Ambrosia and a filly she never seen before, just outside the door she began "Oh! Morning guys! So uh, Lapis, this is your room? I never knew you'd stay in room one! Um..I have something I wa-" She stopped at the sight of the new filly, and despite being a tomboy, Flow has a soft spot for cute stuff. "O....Oh...my..gosh..She's so cute!!"

 
The excitable pegasus managed to snap Ambrosia out of her reverie. Laughing normally, this time, Ambrosia spoke to Lapis and then greeted Flow. "Then again, Lapis, I think I'll just look over the notepad after breakfast, I'm going to have some questions probably. Good morning Flow! I'm happy to see that you are doing to well after what happened yesterday!" Ambrosia stopped and looked thoughtful for a moment. "What exactly were you going to say though?"
Edited by Scootacool
  • Brohoof 8

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While Vim spoke to Electrobolt, he could hear the grim tone in his voice, and looking at his face, he could see a similar expression. Listening to Vim detailing all the things that had gone wrong so far, he could understand what he was trying to say. The broken door that he had seen, and then the whole deal with Trixie, it was just ridiculous. Though he didn't know about the water leak, he knew it set them back for a while. The conductor then addressed even his crew, Springer included, as one and the same.

 

And then Vim looked back to Springer, saying he might just call the whole trip quits. This surprised the young colt, not because of the attitude the conductor was taking up, but also because of how he sounded. He had been so full of energy when they had seen each other when he first boarded the train. Vim didn't quite seem like himself right now, and as his eyes remained locked on Springer, he started speaking, saying things about the assistant conductor. How he was trustworthy and how he could get things done, even if he was a bit annoying at times. After finishing his little speech, he went silent, almost as if he was lost in thought.

 

Not wanting to bother him, Electrobolt remained silent as the conductor remained in thought for a while. However, after a bit of time, Vim smiled as he looked at the young colt, then Springer, then back to him again. As the conductor began to speak once more, Electro could notice the tone in his voice changed again, this time back to how he sounded when they first met. Glad that the conductor was back to his old self again, he listened on. Apparently, he had thought of something the young colt could do for him, as opposed to just watching over Springer. But before that, he listened to Vim's story about his past.

 

As Vim told his tale, Electrobolt's ears were perked up. He was curious about what the conductor was saying, not to mention curious about his adventures at trying to be a cook. On his first shift, he had been in way over his head, going it alone with little to no knowledge on how things ran, yet between shifts he had help from a friend of his. His friend, Berry Nut as he called him, had told him what he was doing wrong and showed him the better way of cooking. And on the second shift, Vim started once more, only this time he had improved greatly. After having told his story to the young colt, the conductor then asked if Electrobolt would like to fill in for Springer as an acting assistant conductor.

 

This had caught the young colt to be caught off-guard, not knowing what to say. He had been thinking about working on a train only yesterday, but to hear this just the next day? This had taken Electro by surprise. As Vim continued, he said that he wouldn't make the young colt work without pay, and that he would pay double for his work. Even though he would have been alright with less than normal pay, this stunned him. He could use the bits, along with the ones from his tournament winnings - what was left of it - to get him into a school so that he could be properly qualified to work on a train should he choose to do so.

 

Vim then went on ahead to say that he wouldn't be going in blind, and that he had some things he could do. While he was intently listening, the conductor told him what he would be doing. First, he would have to check all the rooms, and see if they had some vacancies. He also took note of the rooms that the train crew slept in so he wouldn't look in their rooms. After checking the rooms, he would be sure to report to Vim. Afterwards, he would deliver a message to Dusky, and then speak with somepony named Ambrosia, as she has some knowledge on the matter of being an assistant conductor.

 

He then heard that, if he was up to the task, that it had to be official. Vim then told Electrobolt that there was the conductor's hat in the engine room, along with the master key set to check on the individual rooms. After that, Vim then made a remark, saying he's sure to make a fine assistant conductor. This made him blush, if only slightly, as he wasn't sure if he'd be very good. But he took the compliment anyways, as he smiled.

 

Vim smiled and seemed to mull over the idea of two assistant conductors for a few moments before he continued speaking. "Well, do you accept my offer? I'll tell you what... If you do a good job, you're sure to learn a few things... Maybe you'll impress a few fillies as well, eh?"

 

Electrobolt nodded at this remark. If he were to work as an assistant conductor, even if only for a day and a half, he would be able to take this knowledge with him, in turn helping him if he does go to school to learn to be a conductor. Standing at attention, he then responded, "I accept your offer, and I won't let you down!" With that, he moved past Vim, entering the engine room as he put the hat on, and then grabbed the keys. Afterwards, he left the engine room, master keys in his possession and conductor's hat on head, as he moved past Vim once more, entering the first passenger car.


 

Upon entering the passenger car, as he looked to his left, Electrobolt noticed an open door. Seeing that this was room one, he looked in, seeing the pegasus mare, a lemon-colored mare with a plum mane, and a blue stallion, with a young filly with them. Although he was curious about the filly, he shrugged it off as he returned his attention to the lemon-colored mare. Recalling in his mind that she was the cook, and remembering that Vim had said Dusky was the engineer of the train, he figured that she was Ambrosia. Deciding to leave them be for now, Electrobolt turned around and chose to check room two.

 

Knocking on the door first to make sure anypony inside knew he was there, he then opened the door, unlocking it if needed. Once he opened the door, he saw the room was empty, no luggage or personal belongings whatsoever. The room also seemed to be spotless, so he just closed the door behind him, leaving it unlocked. After that, he moved to the next set of doors. Looking to his right at the door to room four, he realized this was the door that had been broken down. Knocking on it first before opening it, he looked inside and saw it was clean, save for the floor. Noticing strands of lavender hair, he sighed. "Who would be so inconsiderate to do this..." he said before starting to clean the floor off.

 

Once he was done, he left the room and closed the door, leaving it unlocked as he moved to room three's door. After he knocked on the door, he opened it up, as he looked inside. Seeing how the room was rather messy, he walked in and tidied it up, making the bed and cleaning the floors. After that, he closed the door, making sure to leave it unlocked. After that, he looked back to the doors in the passenger car. All the rooms, save for room one, were now unoccupied. Although he was curious about this, he chose not to worry about it and move into the next car.

 

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Entering passenger car two, Electrobolt looked around the car. This time, he began on the right side, with room six. Knocking on the door first, as usual, he wanted to make sure the passenger was aware of his presence. Afterwards, he opened the door, unlocking it if need be, before horror filled his eyes. The room was an absolute disaster. His eyes were attracted to the floor, as he saw pieces of the table that used to be there all over the place. Not just that, but there were also glass shards. No way was he willing to go one hoofstep into this room, so he quickly closed the door and locked it tight behind him. "I need to tell Vim about this later..." he muttered under his breath.

 

Shaking his head and getting the disaster room out of his mind for now, he moved over to room five's door, knocking on it before opening the door. When he peeked inside, he saw there were personal belongings inside, so he left the room alone, closing the door behind him. Moving to the next set of doors, he recalled door eight, Trixie's room's door, was wide open when he had left. So looking over to the door, he noticed it was still wide open. Now that it's been some time, and the staff were most likely occupied, he was beginning to wonder. He would have to tell Vim about this.

 

Looking to the other door in the car, he knocked on it before opening it up. After opening the door to room seven, he looked inside. The room seemed to be rather neat and tidy, almost as if nopony had been inside at all. Seeing that no clean-up will be needed, he simply closed the door, leaving it unlocked. As he looked at the doors in passenger car two, he had a confused look on his face. What is up with room six, and where was Trixie...? Something is pretty strange about this passenger car, and he would definitely be letting the conductor know once he was done.

 

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Upon entering passenger car three, his first thoughts were on his sister, Key Gear. Looking at the door, he figured she was still in the dining car, as he tried to open the door. Yet it was locked. Confused, he wondered whether Key was inside or not. Then, remembering he was holding the master keys, he unlocked it and then opened the door. However, looking inside, he saw the room was empty. Curious, he just walked in and opened his saddlebag, leaving the bag of cookies that he got for Key, along with her lock pick set, on her bed. He then closed the door behind him, leaving it unlocked. Now, facing his room, he opened his own door.

And when he stepped in, he immediately noticed Key Gear, standing in his room. "Oh, um... Hey sis..." he spoke up, now noticing she had been waiting for him. "Uh... Sorry for keeping you waiting, but... I got held up, and some things happened... So um, yeah... I found myself becoming a temporary assistant conductor for now. Also, I noticed your room was locked when I tried to drop your items off, so... I unlocked it for you. Also, your cookies and the set are sitting on your bed." Taking his saddlebag off and setting it on the table, he added, "Um, I'd love to talk some more, but I have things to do right now." He then, after waving, left the room, leaving the door open for his sister.

 

@

After leaving his room, he moved up to the next two doors, doors eleven and twelve. Knocking on room eleven's door first, as always, he waited for a minute. Afterwards, he opened the door, unlocking it as he peeked in. When he looked in, he noticed there was a pony still sleeping in bed. Knowing it's getting rather late in the morning, he cleared his throat before saying, "It's time to wake up, Sleeping Beauty!" Closing the door behind him, he chuckled slightly, a smile cracking on his face as he checked the door in front of him. After knocking on it, he opened it up and looked inside, seeing nopony in the room, but also noticing personal belongings inside. Satisfied, he closed the door before moving out of the third passenger car.

 

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As Electrobolt entered the dining car, he looked around the room. He noticed the unicorn from when he had left the train when he left Ponyville. Recalling how Vim seemed to be friendly to him, he figured the unicorn was Berry Nut. But until he knew for sure, this was just an assumption. Looking over to the table that the dark blue unicorn was next to, he noticed Daylight and a grey unicorn talking with each other. Remembering how Vim said the train's engineer would most likely be in the dining car, he figured the grey unicorn was Dusky, the pony whom had invited him to breakfast.

 

Now that he knew who Dusky was, he would speak with him later. For now, though, he had to continue with his task of checking each room and seeing which ones were available for anypony to use as their room. As he was walking through the dining car, though, he had noticed a table filled with food. Suddenly, his stomach grumbled loudly at him, but he sighed. *No, stomach... Not now, not until we finish our tasks at hoof...* he thought, trying to hold on for a little longer. Eventually, he passed through the dining car, and into the parlor car.

 

Once Electrobolt set hoof into the parlor car, he looked around. The very first thing he noticed was that this room was back to it's normal size, and it wasn't set up like it was the other day. Then, he recalled the events of the show, shuddering slightly. He did NOT enjoy getting zapped by Trixie. As he moved through the room, he tripped over one of the chair legs and fell over, also knocking the hat off of his head and the keys loose. "Oof! Ugh..." he muttered, pulling himself up. "Argh, I need to watch my step next time..." he mumbled to himself, picking up the hat and putting it back on his head before grabbing the keys again and moving on to the last passenger car.

 

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Now that he was in passenger car four, Electrobolt recalled what Vim had told him, that rooms fifteen, seventeen, and eighteen belonged to the train's staff and don't need to be inspected. Looking to his left, his eyes met with the door to room thirteen. So walking up to the door, he knocked on it and, after a few seconds, opened the door, unlocking it if needed. After opening the door, he peeked in and saw nopony inside and no personal belongings, yet it needed neatened up. So walking inside, he cleaned the room up and neatened up the bed. After that, he left the room and closed the door behind him, leaving it unlocked.

 

@

After closing the door to room thirteen behind him, he walked up to door fourteen. Knocking on the door, he then tried opening the door, only to notice it was locked. Taking the keys and unlocking the door, he carefully pushed it open. As he looked inside, he could see another sleeping pony in bed. Electrobolt smiled as he saw another pony who needed a push in waking up. So taking in a quick breath, he then called out, "Good morning, sleepyhead!" After that, he closed the door behind him, letting a chuckle out like when he called out to the pony in room eleven.

 

@@Magicon

After that, he moved over to the next set of doors, looking to his left. The door had the number fifteen on it, so he knew right away that this room didn't need to be checked out. Looking to his right, he saw room sixteen's door. After giving the door a quick knock, he proceeded to open the door, before seeing a pony already inside. This pony, he recognized easily from the other day. Apologizing for the sudden intrusion, the young colt quickly said, "Oh, um, I'm sorry if I'm intruding, Magicon... I was inspecting the rooms to see if any had opened up. Again, I apologize for interrupting anything, and for intruding." Closing the door quickly but quietly, he sighed.

 

Looking to his right, he saw there was another door, so he went through it, and into the caboose. As he looked around in the caboose, he only noticed two doors, for rooms seventeen and eighteen. Figuring this was the end of the train, he nodded to himself as he was done with inspecting the rooms. Instead of rushing back to the front of the train, however, Electrobolt decided to calmly walk to the front. As he was passing through each car, he felt pretty good about how he thought he did. He could even see himself seriously being an assistant conductor. But this was only the beginning...

 

After a bit of time, Electrobolt finally made it to the baggage car. Approaching Vim, he stood firmly. "I've inspected the rooms, sir. Rooms two, three, four, seven, and thirteen are empty and clean, ready for new passengers. Room six is empty, but... Well..." As he was trying to explain the details of room six, he looked towards the floor. "Room six... It's a total mess... There's glass all over the floor and the table is broken, too... Also, about Trixie's room... It's been open since this morning... Not only that, but I didn't notice Trixie in her room." As he said this, his eyes opened slightly. Not only was the showpony not in her room, but he also didn't notice her while on the way to the back of the train. "Come to think of it... I didn't see her while on my way to the back of the train. I don't know where she could be..."

Edited by Electrobolt
  • Brohoof 6

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Water Opal sprang up with a jolt, his head banging against the wall of the bed behind him. He quickly reached up with his hoof and rubbed it, staring groggily at the door, which had been closed once more. His gaze switched to the window, where light shone in, onto the floor. He estimated that it would be nine o'clock. "Sleeping beauty, very funny," he muttered, standing up and readjusting his mane.

 

He left the room and looked down the aisle toward the parlor car, right next to him, conventionally. He opened it up and stepped through, the few seconds he crossed between the cars over the tracks not worthy of being noticed as usual. He sat down on a table, resting his head on a table and nearly falling asleep. He forced himself to wiggle his hoof to prevent himself from napping, and he sat up and eventually stared at the small corner that was supposed to be the kitchen. He hardly noticed he was even hungry, but staring at the kitchen, the only reason he even came to this car was because he wanted to eat something. He approached the door that led to the kitchen and knocked on it, looking left and right, his eye catching on a painting hanging on the wall that displayed farm scenery. Those plants seem dry...like my lips.

 

The sudden, random thought surprised him, and he felt his lips again. "I am thirsty," he said allowed, for now specific reason. He looked around, figuring he could eat later, and instead looked around, forgetting that he was a unicorn who had control over water. A strange sight, I admit, as his cutie mark his a drop of water, he decided to stay at the kitchen door he had knocked on, waiting for it to be answered so he could ask for a cup of water.

  • Brohoof 5

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When he had finished speaking, Dusky said nothing. Instead he just picked up his coffee and took a long sip from it, and appeared to be thinking about something while he savoured the coffee with a broad smile on his face.
 
Minutes passed, in which Daylight just took sips of his own coffee while continuing to eat his breakfast but constantly keeping a close eye on Dusky to watch for any strange behaviour. When Dusky finally began to speak, it was slow, relaxed, and casual. Instead of immediately answering is questions that he had himself asked; he began to talk in great detail about coffee, specifically about how he added sugar to his own coffee as it was bitter.
 
He as sure there was some hidden meaning behind what Dusky was saying so he listened very carefully and thought in great detail about what he was saying.
“Hmm… well first of all it’s obvious that Dusky likes his coffee without any sugar in it. The way he describes it though… I’m sure he’s not just a coffee eccentric.” He pondered. “If I understand this right… the blackness of the coffee is the mystery, as it reveals nothing by just looking at it. Then the aroma leads one on to certain expectations of the coffee and they start to draw premature conclusions to the taste when they haven’t even tired it yet.
 
Dusky took a moment to inhale the smell of his coffee before continuing, which allowed Daylight to prepare for the next statement.
The appearance of the coffee along with the aroma teases you with a mystery of what the coffee must taste like but the real mystery comes in with the taste. Something becomes amiss, as the coffee is bitter but the only thing to suggest so is the taste, while the look and the smell suggest two different things. Indeed, it is a perplexing mystery…” He thought as he continued to listen to Dusky.
 
This time Dusky frowned as he took another sip of his coffee before continuing.
This is where I come in… he was obviously displeased with what I did but why? Let’s see… following the point he’s been making so far… he thinks that by what I did I’m abandoning the mystery… while he just accepts and enjoys it for what it is without worrying about the details. But what about this other option though? Exploring the mystery to uncover the truth… Hmm…” He pondered once again.
 
Dusky shook his head, before giving his final thoughts on the matter.
As I thought, he confirmed himself he does not like sugar. However, he stills holds some respect for those who still use it, and as he puts it… unwilling to embrace the mystery. Little does he know though I have neither embraced nor abandoned the mystery…
 
The whole time Dusky had been talking, Daylight had been taking regular sips of his own coffee. As he took a moment to look down on it, he admitted to himself he did make it sweeter then he normally would, and in turn, it ruined the taste of the coffee. He set it down on the table with the intention of not picking it back up again.
He then heard Magicon whisper something in his ear.
 

He turned to Daylight and whispered, “Have any idea what the heck this pony is going about?”

 
He turned his head to quickly whisper to him, “Don’t worry, I got this.”
 
He then turned back to Dusky to see him smile to him before finally starting to answer the questions he had almost forgotten he had asked. He had been too wrapped up in deciphering Dusky’s cryptic lecture about coffee.
Hmm… he claims to be like me… a detective? No… it goes deeper than that… An observer seeking knowledge and understanding of things to learn… And he is an engineer so as he said his thought process would provide useful…” He thought. This was the important and complex bit of information he needed to focus on.
 
He sat back in his chair staring at Dusky, going over everything he had said in his head. When he noticed his glaze flicker away from looking at him he turned too to see that Key had entered the room. He also noticed that there was a pony that he had not seen on train before sitting and eating breakfast. He did not have time to ponder over this as he looked back to as Dusky began to speak again, picking up where they left off.
 
Again, Daylight made sure to focus closely on what Dusky was saying in case there was a hidden meaning. This time though, he was much more clear and conversational then cryptic. He thought over what Dusky was saying. His whole point was that the word good was meaningless, as strength was the only thing that mattered, and was correct. He frowned. Although the two of them might share the same views he could tell Dusky was not a “good” pony… in his own sense of the word at least. His frown only increased when he went on to discredit the work of what he referred to as the “strong” while Daylight knew he was still actuality referring to, according to him, society’s misguided interpretation of a “good” pony.
 
As he listened to the next part, his frown turned into a look of disgust. It was very clear exactly who he was imposing as the two characters in his story, as they were sitting at the table with him also listening to what he was saying. He looked over at Magicon, who was glaring profusely at Dusky with his anger being very apparent. He then looked over to Flow who also seemed displeased with Dusky’s example. He waited to see what Dusky’s final statement was before making a final judgement himself.
 
As Dusky spoke, his smile sickened Daylight. It was apparent that to him, it was things like what Magcion did that he thought was wrong with civilization. Thinking over everything Dusky had said, it was clear he was obsessed with strength, and this skewed his whole outlook on life. Dusky then closed with putting forward the offer that he was open to other viewpoints, which greatly surprised Day and made him completely change his expression.
 
He heard Magicon speak up politely excuse himself at this point, but as Day looked at him, he could still see the look on his face that betrayed his anger. Flow then left after him, still displeased but not to the point Magicon was. Day thought about leaving himself… just leaving this crazed pony to live out his life with his twisted perceptions of it… but he knew he couldn’t. It wasn’t the right thing to do. He had the opportunity to make a change, and he had to take it.
 
Daylight started piecing together a response in his head for exactly what he was going to say to Dusky when he was distracted by a loud noise of somepony clearing their throat. He looked up to see the unknown pony who he had seen eating breakfast earlier, now standing next to Dusky coughing profusely. This made him concerned but every time he opened his mouth to say something the pony would just cough and wheeze again loudly cutting him off which made him doubt that the Pony would be able to hear anything he said unless he shouted it, which he wasn’t going to do as Dusky was sitting right next to him. Luckily though, after close to a minute had passed the coughing subsided and the pony recovered his composure. Before daylight got an opportunity to say anything the pony began to speak in reply to what Dusky had said. He didn’t like him just coming over and interrupting their conversation but he had no choice to just listen and wait from him to finish.
 
He listened closely to what the pony was saying… but got quickly lost rather quickly. The longer he listened in for it just made his head start to spin so he tried his best to shut it out and focus on this strange pony instead. He was old, quite old that it clearly showed on his face. “These are not just the signs of a pony that had aged normally though…” he thought, sitting back studying the aged stallions face carefully. “No… this pony has definitely seen things… experienced things…” Lost in thought mulling over this perplexing aged stallion, Daylight only snapped out of it when he realised it had become silent.
 
He looked over at the old pony to see he had indeed stopped talking. It felt like a rock fell in his stomach when the realization hit him it was his turn to speak. He had been quiet for the entire conversation since he first spoke; it was as if he wasn’t even a part of the conversation any more. He cleared his throat briefly and politely to indicate he was about to speak. He politely ignored the aged stallion, for the time being at least and began to respond to Dusky.
 
“Let me start with the first few things you said. If I understood you correctly… for one thing it is clear that you do not like sugar, as you said so yourself. However, the main point I believe you were trying to make was that coffee… is just like a mystery. You gather evidence by looking and smelling the coffee, but then that evidence is cast into doubt when a more critical piece of evidence, the taste, does not line up with the other two. You said that you simply accept it for how it is and ignore the confliction, which I believe is a mistake. Even though you accepted it, you have still given up on trying to solve the mystery, which you claim I have done as well by pouring sugar in my coffee. I disagree however.”
 
He took a moment to take a breath before continuing.
“In order to fully understand the mystery, or in this case coffee, you need to experiment and change it, like putting sugar in it for example. I admit that my coffee…” He gestured at his coffee mug that was still sitting on the table untouched since he had put it down.
“Is a lot sweeter then I would usually drink it but it has given me a better understanding of the taste, and thus gotten me a little closer to solving the great mystery of coffee. Thanks to your views though, next time I have a cup I will make sure to add less sugar than usual in order to continue the experiment.”
 
He picked up his cup and took a sip, but was disgusted with it though. By now it had gone cold and all the sugar was residing on the bottom making the last bit unpleasant to drink.  He put it back down again and pushed it to the side.
 
“It is true we may be similar in some ways as we both seek knowledge and understanding, but I seek it in all things. I never accept anything just for what it is as that is the easy way to miss important parts of information as you didn’t bother to inspect it carefully and question it. The reason I do that is simple, I don’t do it for the sake of knowing or understanding something, I use those two things as tools to help me to discover what is really important… the truth. It is only by discovering the truth that you can truly understand something.”
 
“Now as for the second part of what you said…” He paused and frowned. He wasen't sure how he was going to go about saying this as there was way too many flaws in this section to address, and some of them were best left untouched.
“All I’m going to say is… I hope you’re happy and that you live a long and fulfilled life.” He said then crossed his arms and looked at Dusky displeasingly.

  • Brohoof 6

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(edited)

Vim spoke fast. "Arcanel, you may want to get clear. There's something wrong with this box..." Vim trailed off and stood, shocked with his gaze fixed on the strange inhabitant of the box.

 

 

The moment Arcanel heard those words, his first instinct was to inquire why would Vim say that. But then he saw that the conductor's face was a very serious one, and he also remembered the other pony's almost fighting stance, so he took a few steps backwards while still looking at the box both ponies were staring at, just in case. *Enough times I've learned to act instead of think...*

 

 

 

As he took his last step, the box suddenly opened and a pony sprung out from it. "What the...?!" was all the mailpony was able to spurt as a green stallion with a blue mane came out of the box. He had a disheveled mane and looked as if he had been inside the box for quite some time. But the most anormal thing in the moment was the pegasus' behavior. He looked completely insane and spoke things that made sense... yet were very random at the same time. *What in the wide wide world of Equestria is wrong with him?! It's like, he totally lost his mind!* were the thoughts of the white pegasus. He didn't stop keeping an eye on whatever the crazy pegasus would do. He then heard the conductor's voice in the room, also hearing a name.

 

This made him wonder slightly, faintly looking at the conductor before returning his gaze to Springer. *Does Vim know this pony? Is this Springer a friend his? A passenger even?* he pondered, trying to figure out what was going on as well. When he had entered and joined the train, this was NOT the entrance he imagined. *It's like that storm in my first day all over again, only this is definitely weirder.* Arcanel thought as he remembered his storm on his first day in the job all those years ago. The situation got even stranger when the green stallion, or rather Springer, spoke to what could have been his almost younger self, as the colt had the same colors of mane and fur, as if the colt was his mother. *Wha-... I can only imagine what that colt is going through...* had been the white pony's only thoughts, as he silently praised for the colt to be okay after all this ordeal. That's when Springer spreaded his wings, which while looking slightly beaten up, looked still functional and went straight to the green colt.

 

"Oh no you don't!" shouted Arcanel as he went to interrupt and block Springer, only for Vim to stand right in front of the colt and blocking Springer with his body as if it was nothing, which threw Springer to the ground. "Woah..." was all Arcanel could let out as he saw how the conductor had taken an impact from a full grown pony and shrugged it off. *I mean...Springer looks weak... or... so I'd think, compared from him's to Vim's current state, but still... for his age, that could have gone worse... note to self: Do NOT underestimate Vim. Ever.* He mentally noted, still in slight shock by the show of Vim's sturdiness, despite his age. After the small moment, Springer got back on his feet and started spurting more words, claiming it to be fun. *Okay... this is starting to get scary now...* Arcanel thought, as his worries increased. That's when he heard the voice of Vim, who seemed like he was disappointed and angry. Always a bad combination. But instead, the words brought the white pony an interesting tibdit of information. *Wait a minute... Springer... to be a conductor? And he has a career? That means... he is probably working right here on this train... but... why was he in the box...?* he wondered in confusion. Why would someone who was working in the train be trapped in a box? *Unless...* before Arcanel could think of anything else however, Springer spoke once more. But this time, he sounded sane, and not wild and mad like before. And after he finished spoking something about taking a leave of absence and feeling unwell, the green pegasus colapsed.

 

At that moment, the mailpony released a sigh he didn't know he was holding. *Well... I'm glad that's over but... whatever happened to him? And is he okay?* the white mailpony pondered, trying to figure out a reason over what had happened. It was all too strange, and Springer, when he had calmed down, had actually seemed like a perfectly normal pony. Before any other thoughts invaded his mind, he heard more words from Vim, which this time made the mailpony turn to look at who he was talking to, only to find the orange stallion speaking to the green colt who was almost assaulted by Springer. Hearing what Vim said, brought a lot of things to Arcanel's mind. *So... Springer was in a airtight box... which is probably why he was insane. The lack of oxygen in his head probably ended up making him go mad. Then, the green colt is called Electrobolt... which is good, as now I can properly introduce myself to him when we meet in the train, as now I'm fully sure he is a passenger... and... without the hug? What does th-... ohhhh..so that's what Springer was going to do... since he had called Electrobolt his mommy, a hug would technically make sense in his head. Now I understand.* He thought. The white pegasus tends to be a good listener and gets the small details, and given his thinking mind, can think something from them very fast. Something that sometimes had caused him to space out too much in front of people. However, before any other thoughts formed, Vim spoke once more, but this time to him.

 

 

Without looking away from Springer, Vim addressed Arcanel. "Arcanel, you remember when you said that you wanted to help out. Well, could you do a favor for me, now? I need you to go check with the station master and see if you can get a doctor, nurse, or something over here to check on him. He's still breathing, but I need to know if I'm going to need a new assistant conductor for this journey. I'd go myself, but... I think I need to make sure nothing crazy happens between him and any other passengers when he gets up again."

 

 

While this was unexpected and shortly surprised Arcanel because of being asked something so important, he didn't think it twice and answered. "Yes I can Mr. Vim, I'll do my best!" the mailpony shouted, making a salute sign with his right foreleg, and promptly exited the train. While he thought it silly to make a salute to someone he had barely known yet, the conductor had shown a lot of trust in him after he told him his story, and now had given him a very important task. It was his way of telling the pony in front that he would do it. He also learned one last piece of information. "Wait... Springer is the assistant conductor?!... That explains why Vim knew him... but the question still stands... why in Equestria was he in the box? What happened to him? Or even... who could have put him there?" were all questions Arcanel had said out loud, but for now, he had to focus on getting help for the same pony, and so went to clear his head and focus on his task.

 

After he got out, he went straight for the train station to find the train master. This however, proved to be a more difficult task than he initially thought. "Ooooookayyyyy... so this station is much bigger than I thought it was. This might be slightly difficult. Especially because this is my first time in Ponyville." The white pony groaned, realizing this was going to be much harder than he thought. This wasn't exactly how he expected to go sightseeing in Ponyville after all. "Well, I first thought I'd have time to slightly go look in Ponyville before leaving. Now I do, but with a time limit, so to speak. Well, gotta look at the positive side." He reminded himself and started looking around the station. He also took around the way the building was constructed. While it looked like the train station in Vanhoover, or rather had the "train feel" he remembered from it, the construction was different, It looked more rustic and less of a city which rumbled with ponies everyday. "Well... as far as I know, Ponyville isn't a big town exactly... but...  this definitely looks nice!" he exclaimed, getting slightly lost in the architecture of the building and the light brown colors of the building, as this was still the first time he had left Vanhoover.

 

However, he shook his head and regained focus. "Come on Arcanel... you have a job to do, and a very important at that. You'll go sightseeing on another time." The white pony reminded himself once more, and went faster in looking for the pony who would look like the train master. With not such luck initially. "Argh... where in Equestria IS that pony! It's only my luck that it's so early that barely anypony is around here so I can't ask them where he would be." Arcanel lamented before letting a sigh. "But I can't let that stop me! There's som- oh wait I think that's him!" The pegasus interrupted himself as he saw a pony with the kind of hat anypony working to something train related would have. *If that isn't him, I swear I'm going to scream.* He mentally said as he was getting tired of looking for the pony in the station and trotted to the pony's position.

 

When he came up to the pony he tried to get his attention. "Um, excuse me... are you the train master of the station?" the white pony asked, in hopes of finally finding the pony he was looking for. As the pony turned to look at him, he looked back to Arcanel with a small confused face before answering. "Er, yes I am. Do you need anything?" the stallion, who had blue fur and a white mane, asked back with a small smile. The second Arcanel had heard those words, he silently shouted in joy. *YES! I FOUND HIM! GREAT CELESTIA IT TOOK A WHILE!* was his joyful, loud mental shout. This however, did not avoid him from letting a somewhat big sigh. After it though, the white pony composed himself and spoke again. "Um... sorry. I had been looking for you for a big while now. This is the first time I'm here, actually." He quickly said, trying not to speed his speech and somewhat succeeding. Before he could speak again, he took a small breath, and spoke again, not even letting the other pony react. He felt himself in far too much of a hurry. "Excuse me for bothering you sir, but do you know if there is a doctor, nurse or similar around? I'm kind of in a hurry. The train that just stopped has a crew member in need of assistance right now." He explained as fast as he could. While it seemed Springer would be mostly okay, he wanted to get assistance as fast as he could. The pressure however, tended to make him speak too fast.

 

Meanwhile, the train master, could only look in slight surprise. "Oh... ummm... sure... er, I think the local nurse, Nurse Redheart is somewhere past Sugarcube Corner, I believe..." the blue stallion answered with a small delay in his response. He was still slightly shocked that such a request came to him at this early in the morning. After Arcanel had processed the information, he quickly spoke to the train master. "Oh, thank you very much! Thanks for the help!" and promptly exited the station he so wanted to go out of after looking so much through it.

 

The train master was left with his eyebrows slightly raised. "Well, that was interesting. Wait... if this is his first time here, will he even know how to get there?" he suddenly thought out loud. But when he looked to find the pegasus, he was gone. *Well... I can only hope he will find the way... I know Ponyville is a small town compared to others but still...* he thought as he prayed to Celestia to guide the pegasus through Ponyville before returning to his activities.

 

"Well, that's done! Now all I need... to... do... is... DOH!" was all the white pony could exclaim before strongly facehoofing. He had forgotten something very important. "I have no idea where Sugarcube Corner is... (sigh) me and my impatience. And my lack of focus. And my- COME ON KEEP IT TOGETHER ARCANEL!" the mailpony had hoofed his head in the midst of his guilt trip before shouting to himself. "I need to stop doing that. (Sigh)... gotta keep focused. I will probably take a whole while to find the train master again, and I don't want to waste more time. Well... I would think that a place called Sugarcube Corner is easy to find, right?" he said, filling himself with hope. "Well, no time like the present to find out!" the pegasus exclaimed raising his hoof to the air before spreading his wings and start searching for the place where Nurse Redheart would be.

 

What started as a hopefully easy search however, turned into something much more difficult for the second time in the day. Arcanel had gone street through street trying to look for a place that could even look as "Sugarcube Corner", only to find nothing at all. He had even almost wondered into the forest that was in the outskirts. "I still can't believe I almost got out of town. How did I even do that?" the white mailpony asked himself, trying to find an explanation for his luck. "I mean, I SHOULD see the outside of the town. Right? Gah... no matter. I still haven't found something even remotely similar to something called "Sugarcube Corner". What am I going to do?" he said, starting to believe he was never going to find Nurse Redheart. He had also underestimated the size of the town. While it was definitely smaller than Vanhoover, it was bigger than he expected. "Then again, this IS my first time out of Vanhoover, so I don't really have any comparisons to make..." he sighed, his mood getting down very fast. And that was not the only thing happening, as he also heard his stomach growl. "Argh... not now stomach... please..." the white pony begged looking down to his stomach. As in response, his stomach growled again. "Yes, I know, I haven't eaten anything big in a good while, I also haven't drank much in a while, and I'm also getting tired. But come on! We've been through worse than this!" he exclaimed, as if his stomach was another pony. Truth be told, he didn't remember if there had been such a worse situation, but he had been doing this job for years, so he supposed he had. His memory was always a tricky part of his mind.

 

After flying a bit more, he went to land so he could rest his wings a bit and try to locate the place. It was then when he saw a place that looked as if it was made of candy. Once more, his stomach growled. "No, bad stomach, bad! That's a building, not candy! Although... it does look delicious... NO! No time for that! This is probably Sugarcube Corner, which means I finally found it! YES!" he shouted, giving a small backflip in the air to celebrate. After he did that, he squinted his eyes to see if he could see a sign that a hospital was close, and sure enough, he saw a red cross down the street. "WOOO! I finally found it! Mr. Springer, hold on!" he exclaimed, starting to run to the place. While Springer was the one pony who looked completely insane before, he now knew it wasn't his fault and he WAS the assistant conductor, and he also didn't want anything bad happened to the green pony.

 

As he got to the brown door in the grey building with the red cross, a place that looked slightly small for being a hospital, he calmed himself down and entered the hospital. As he entered he saw what looked like the typical grey walls of the hospital back in Vanhoover, complete with receptionist. As he saw the pony, he realized that there was a white mare with a pink mane attending in the hospital. *Good thing this is a hospital, where it is technically always open.* He thought before walking up to the receptionist. "Um... excuse me... do you know where Nurse Redheart is? I'm kind of in an emergency." He said, trying to calmly explain this time, as opposed to before. *Last thing I need is for the ones in the hospital not to understand me.* he reminded himself.

Edited by Arcanel
  • Brohoof 7

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“Who does that pony think he is?” Magicon roared as he angrily paced in his room. He had rushed out of the dining car with Flow not far behind, yet she exited the train for what Magicon assumed to get some air while he rushed through the parlor car and back to his room. He had slammed the door shut and was now angrily pacing the floor his cape trailing behind him whichever direction he turned in his small chamber.

 

“It’s one thing to have different opinions and voice them, but, oh, quite another to insult ponies directly. It’s not me that I’m so much concerned about, but Flow. Nopony should be insulting her like that after such an experience and then he goes on and insults my abilities. My abilities? I showed up Trixie, for Celestia’s sake! How many unicorns can do that, especially now after she had grown so powerful? Very few, I’m sure of it. I am one of the few and yet rather than thanking me or acknowledging my abilities he insults me and the pony that I rescued!

 

“I should’ve told him why I wanted to stand up to Trixie. I should’ve made Dusky regret his words. I didn’t do it for selfish reasons; I did it to teach her a lesson. But even more important, I did it to save a pony from freezing to death from Trixie’s evil magic. Evil actions like that cannot occur without consequences and I was that consequence. I saved Flow, even if it meant upstaging Trixie. Yet he calls me weak because I had the kindness to save a fellow pony. If he thinks he can just insult ponies after such experiences, well he’s got another thing coming.

 

“I should’ve challenged him to duel. Make him prove his words and show his lack of compassion towards his fellow ponies. Wait, get a hold of yourself Magicon, you know better than to just dive into a things hot-headed. If you wanted to do that you need to observe Dusky and see how strong his magic is. You already know what his philosophy is, but you don’t know his skills. Never underestimate ponies, they’ll surprise you.

 

“And what was all that about the coffee. Who gives a buck? I don’t like coffee to begin with, but what was he going on about? I couldn’t even follow it. It all went over my head, but it doesn’t matter anyway. Daylight seemed to be interested and I suppose that was Dusky’s point. I don’t even know why he invited me and Flow other than to insult us. And where was Daylight during all of this? He just sat there and drank his coffee. He didn’t even care. He didn’t try to defend me or Flow or stop Dusky. He just let him go on talking. Some pony he turned out to be. I guess I misjudged him. Dusky, well, there is no misjudging him next time, because if he insults me I’ll make him regret it. Oh, he’ll regret it worse than-”

 

Magicon stopped short and spun around as he heard a knock on the door and its swift opening. Magicon’s face flushed red with embarrassment and horror, as if he had caught red-hoofed for murder. He froze as he saw the green pony that had been with Key for most of the journey entered the room. He was wearing a conductor’s uniform and Magicon would’ve been puzzled about it, if he were not overwhelmed with embarrassment by the pony’s entrance.

 

He looked at Magicon, slightly surprised to find the unicorn there, and Magicon knew that he had heard at least some of Magicon’s rant, if not the whole thing. He gritted his teeth as he worried about how much the pony had heard. Fortunately, the colt didn’t question Magicon and simply stated,

"Oh, um, I'm sorry if I'm intruding, Magicon... I was inspecting the rooms to see if any had opened up. Again, I apologize for interrupting anything, and for intruding."

before quietly closing the door, leaving Magicon once again to himself.

 

 

He stood there for a few minutes confounded by what just occurred. He had expected the colt to look horrified or concerned about Magicon and his statements. His last ones would concern anypony, but instead the colt seemed preoccupied with other matters and it dawned on Magicon that he was wearing a conductor’s uniform.

 

“Why would he be wearing one? Why did he come in here to begin with? Why isn’t he with Key Gear?” The questions flooded his mind, but an answer came to him: Vim. “The conductor will know, he is in charge of the train after all and if this young colt is wearing a conductor’s uniform he’ll know where Vim is or if anything’s happened to him.”

 

Summoning his courage he opened his door and peeked outside. Nopony was there and Magicon let out a sigh of relief, exited his room, closed his door, and proceeded to find Vim or the young colt, determined to get some answers. He made his way through the parlor car, still shivering from the events from last night, and entered the dining car. He froze when he still saw Daylight and Dusky talking.

 

“I can’t go through this car like this. Dusky will see me and say something again and it’ll be insulting and I don’t know if I’ll be able to control my actions. Oh, this is not good.”


Deciding not to risk it, Magicon stayed out of sight of the two, near the entrance to the dining car, hoping that their conversation would end quickly so he could move forward.

 

  • Brohoof 6

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(edited)

Once again, Flow was lost in the world of her enjoyment, where she was at the beginning of experiencing another episode of great love for cute things....to put it simply, she really loves cute things to the extreme, its when she starts imagining what she would do to the unicorn filly which was cuddling her tightly "Kya!! This filly!! She looks so adorable!! I want to cuddle her!! Ahahaha!" Flow exclaimed in joy. It seemed like what she wanted to do was inevitable, and she went with it, approaching the filly, who was reading some stuff written on a memo pad. She was about jump on her for a hug, till a familiar voice greeted her.

 

@@@Bari,

 

"Good morning Flow! I'm happy to see that you are doing to well after what happened yesterday!" A lemon colored earth pony spoke with a thoughtful face and looked at her for a moment "What exactly were you going to say though?" It was only those words that managed to stop her from suffocating a young filly, it managed to give her a wake up call from her fantasy "...H-Huh?...Oh! Ambrosia! Right...Uh yeah, I had something to tell Lapis, but um....I kinda forgot what to say, err....give me a minute please.." She answered, sweating a bit. "Oh yeah...I had something to tell Lapis, err well I guess Ambrosia should hear it too, but the big problem is, I...I forgot what to say....sigh, great I have to figure out something to say, err....aha! Maybe I should go with Dusky's behavior! Yeah! That's something that should concern Lapis and Ambrosia. But also, who is this filly?"

 

And so, Flow went with explaining to them about Dusky's rambling, "Oh yeah, Um..you know Dusky? Err...I really thought that he was a nice pony, but he actually is a cold and snobby pony! He called me and Magicon weak for some reason! I don't know what's his problem! He even went to ramble about the word 'good' in his ugly and twisted view! All that made me want to punch him, but I didn't want to cause trouble in the morning, plus the idea of assaulting an employee will surely get me kicked of the train, so I ended up leaving instead. Sigh, well?..What would you say about that?" She asked, "Oh and by the way....um..who's this cute filly? She's so adorable! I want to cuddle her tight, but I don't want to bother her right now, ehehehe!"

Edited by Narutardedscum
  • Brohoof 2

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On the Night of Trixie's Magic Show...

 

"I'm sorry, Alex, but... My room is room 2, it's at the front of the train. I... I'll... Well, we can talk tomorrow, maybe..."
 

 

Alex looked towards her as she spoke.  She seemed a little distracted, which had been obvious to Alex as she seemed a little distant despite his attempts to make a conversation that lasts more than a minute.  "Okay, Miss Clarity.  I'd like that.  I just hope you haven't been too distraught about that show."  Alex said understandably to her.

 

After she went off, Alex jumped onto his bed to head off into his dreams.

 

The time was spring and the colts and fillies were out to play.  One blue Pegasus colt stood out from the others, since he is standing between a small filly and three colts that were bigger than him.  "Mind your own business before you get yourself hurt, Feathers..."  One of the Earth pony bullies warned him.

 

The young blue Pegasus colt just gave him a smirk.  "Must really be such a wuss if you're going to pick on a young filly who doesn't want to fight..."  The Pegasus colt said cheekily to him.

 

That was it for them.  The three of them charged towards the Pegasus, unaware that they were going to miss him and smash into each other.

 

"Good morning, sleepyhead!"

 

Alex woke up in that instant when he heard a voice call out to him.  He turned over to catch a glimpse of an green Earth Pony colt he saw at the Dinning Car the last night.  "Ugggghhh, okay..."  Alex groaned as he got out of bed and proceeded to the door.  He noticed that the train wasn't moving at the moment.  He also noticed that there was a note on top of another note on the door inside his room.  He pulled off the one on top and read it.

 

Dear Alex,   Thank you for your kindness yesterday. As you could probably tell, I was a bit distracted at the time.   I'm not on the train today, I've gone into Ponyville to take care of some things. I won't be boarding before the train departs, and I don't really know where I'm going to go from here.   The only thing that I know is that I'm never going to be as sad or upset as I was on this train again.    Yours truly, Clarity

 

Alex read it to find out that it was from Clarity and that she would no longer be on the train.  Alex felt a little saddened by this, but smiled a bit when he realized that she was going to repiece her life together.  "Hmmmmm, sounds like somepony I know..."  Alex said to himself vaguely as he put the note aside, hoped that she will find whatever it is that she is looking for.

 

He read the other note that stated that somepony named Dusky requested his presence for breakfast today.  "Well, let's go make trouble."  Alex said breezily, not getting tired of saying his catchphrase ever.  He exited from his room to proceed to the dining car.

  • Brohoof 4

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When Dusky finally finished, Magicon, attempting to hide his anger behind his politeness, stated, “Well, Dusky, you’ve certainly made your point. But I must be heading back to my room. Thank you for the invitation.”

Dusky took a small sip of his coffee, smiled softly, and then replied to Magicon as he left the table. "You're welcome."

Then, she saw Magicon leave the dining car, it was clear to her that he wasn't enjoying Dusky's talking, it also prompted her to leave too.

At Flow's departure, Dusky shook his head softly. This was not exactly what he had intended. There was no grand matching of wits, no great battle of minds, nothing. He felt disappointed. While he tried to hide his disappointment, his expression noticeably faded slightly. He hungered, thirsted for something more than what these two ponies had presented to him.

 

In his mind... He took their departures as confirmation of what he had already suspected. Flow was weak. Magicon was weak. Weakness simply begat more weakness. It was abominably disappointing. In particular, he was unhappy that Magicon had been unwilling to concede to his viewpoint. To Dusky, it was simplicity itself. Only a foal could fail to see the beauty of his ideas. They certainly deserved discussion, debate. How else would he gather knowledge if not through discussion.

Daylight started piecing together a response in his head for exactly what he was going to say to Dusky when he was distracted by a loud noise of somepony clearing their throat. He looked up to see the unknown pony who he had seen eating breakfast earlier, now standing next to Dusky coughing profusely. This made him concerned but every time he opened his mouth to say something the pony would just cough and wheeze again loudly cutting him off which made him doubt that the Pony would be able to hear anything he said unless he shouted it, which he wasn’t going to do as Dusky was sitting right next to him. Luckily though, after close to a minute had passed the coughing subsided and the pony recovered his composure.

Shaking off his disappointment, Dusky now looked to Daylight for a response. He could see that the detective was poring over what had been said, thinking about how to build a response. Dusky was intrigued, and he leaned forward slightly. His sleepy eyes sparkled with interest and expectation. Unfortunately, before Daylight could respond, a strangely loud sound shattered the poignant silence. With annoyance, Dusky turned to see the source of the noise was. It was an older unicorn that was now sputtering like a sickly train engine. A look of disgust manifested on Dusky's face. Hopefully, he turned to Daylight and saw that he was opening his mouth to speak. Dusky leaned forward again. Just then, another series of sounds came from the older unicorn.

 

Dusky whirled to the elderly unicorn. He had every intention of using his position as the train's engineer to kick this random moocher out of his train. But then... The unicorn spoke.

You're wrong, actually. I'm not sure if you realized it but, you are wrong.

Dusky smiled broadly and leaned forward. He couldn't remember the last time when he had been challenged in such a way as this - so directly. With extreme interest, he listened to the old pony speak. The old pony rambled, a bit, but Dusky understood completely what was being said. Not only did he understand, but he also appreciated. While he may have disagreed with what was being spoken, that didn't stop him from appreciating the craft of the argument. He loved it.

“I didn't mean to interrupt... just wanted to correct you because, it was a mistake. Mistakes, aren't good to make, you know? They always just, come back. You and I, we're very much alike I think. Perhaps we both looked into the abyss. The true difference in our perceptions, is because when you looked into the abyss... you blinked.” His expression remained constant as he spoke.

At this final note from the old unicorn, Dusky started to lick his lips, but he caught himself halfway through the action and his face morphed into a smile that seemed disproportionate to his face. His sleepy demeanor was now completely gone. His eyes were open, sparkling with energy and vitality. Dusky was wired, wide awake. It was almost as if the words of this older pony had done something, awakened a sleeping dragon. At the sound of another pony clearing his throat, Dusky looked to Daylight.

 

@@Dave247,

 

Dusky listened to Daylight, silent and unmoving, held in rapt attention by Daylight's words. They were captivating to Dusky. Like a cat transfixed by the motions of a brightly colored hummingbird darting effortlessly through a field of flowers, Dusky was frozen by the grace through which Daylight navigated his argument while, at the same time, advancing his own. As Daylight drew closer to the end of his argument, Dusky raised an eyebrow and his smile faded into disbelief. The argument was beautiful, metaphorical. It was, in every way equivalent to his own, but... It was different... Yet, there was, undoubtedly, some overlap. Recovering his calmness, Dusky nodded as Daylight drew to a close and sat, in expectation, to hear how Daylight would address the second part of his remarks.

“Now as for the second part of what you said…” He paused and frowned. He wasen't sure how he was going to go about saying this as there was way too many flaws in this section to address, and some of them were best left untouched.

“All I’m going to say is… I hope you’re happy and that you live a long and fulfilled life.” He said then crossed his arms and looked at Dusky displeasingly.

@@Electrobolt,

 

Dusky laughed. His laugh sounded both soft and metallic. Dusky was only slightly disappointed by Daylight's lack of more detailed commentary. He was more than satisfied with the response that he had received, and he was pleased, very pleased, to see that Daylight had not risen from the table and departed from breakfast with the other passengers. He was impressed, and he began to formulate a response, but the sudden appearance of a young, green colt wearing a conductor's hat and carrying a familiar set of keys distracted him for a moment. With a look of intense confusion, Dusky's eyes followed Electrobolt as he crossed through the dining car. After sitting for a moment, staring into space, Dusky managed to regather his thoughts.

 

Holding out one hoof to Daylight and another to the older unicorn, Dusky spoke in a strangely friendly fashion, as though he were speaking to family. "Forgive me, but I must say. I find the dichotomy present by your perspectives to be remarkably intriguing. Each of you... Addressed, in full, completely different elements of my argument, and you did so in different ways. Daylight, your response to my discussion of coffee was elegant, concise, and, dare I say, even beautiful. You..." Dusky gestured at the older unicorn as confusion flashed across his face. "Whoever you are... Your argument was abstract, esoteric, and, even for me, somewhat intimidating."

 

Dusky laughed again and folded his hooves while leaning back in his chair. "Why, just about the only thing that you both have in common is that you are both, in your own ways, mistaken. Elder, I will address you first. If you excuse me, I will not quite rise to your same level of discourse. I freely concede that I lack the ability. However, I will try as much as an humble engineer, like myself, can do." Dusky smirked.

 

"Morals are not about perception. There is no room for perception. There is right and wrong. There is strength and weakness. We cannot seek comfort in the flexibility of our meagre experiences. That is what is wrong. I did not oversimplify the nature of good and bad. I merely made them real, understandable, by illustrating the mechanism through which they are defined. I'm an engineer, I understand this type of system. Strength and weakness are both the engine and the fuel that defines the good and the bad."

 

Dusky tilted his head slightly. "Now, as to your allegation that I have made an error. Please. There is no abyss, and I didn't look into it. I didn't blink. In fact... If you've been watching me carefully, you would perhaps notice that I don't blink very often at all. I have an engineer's eyes. Eyes hungry for the details that might be missed through a lapse in attention or... A coughing fit?" Dusky smiled mischievously. "I only speak for myself, though. For you... Looking at you and, if you excuse me, your decrepit state... I feel that perhaps you not only looked into the abyss, but you mistakenly teetered over the edge and fell in. That is, of course, merely the perception of a simple engineer..."

 

Dusky cleared his throat and turned to Daylight. "Ah Daylight, you know... I am something of an ardent follower of your adventures in Manehattan. Your remarks, your argument. They were what I expected to hear, but... They were more powerful than I could've supposed. Now, I feel that I must confess that I am something of an amateur sleuth myself. I have a love for the complex. You know, all complexity is inherently mysterious. I find the challenge of the indecipherable to be irresistible. Thanks to this challenge, I can say that I am indeed living a life that is both long and fulfilled. Thank you for your well wishes, I wish you a life that is, also, long and fulfilled. I see that your coffee has gone cold. Allow me to retrieve another glass." Dusky stood, trotted over to where there was warm coffee, poured Daylight another cup, and gave it to the detective.

 

Dusky cleared his throat. "Now, to the substance of your argument, I have not much to say. In fact, as you, yourself have said, you were admittedly wrong in your initial... Experiment. However, I have given you another chance, another opportunity to prove yourself. It is only through the exercise of prudence that you can become truly great. Intrinsic in prudence is restraint, even in experimentation. This is something that... In fact, you had reminded me of. While you were wrong and this older fellow was also wrong... I was wrong as well. I presented a limited number of choices. The idea of looking the problem through another facet... From another angle... I did not consider this. So... Thank you, Daylight."

 

Dusky sipped the remainder of his coffee. It was delicious. "Now, see... This is why we discuss. This is the purpose of dialogue. So that we may all grow in enrichment due to the sharing of perspectives. As the gears of a train turn, propelling the whole forward, so to does the flow of discourse move the elements of thought towards a higher plane. This forward motion. It is the healing refuge of the strong, but the weak, as we have seen, lack the stomach for such a process. The grinding gears, pressing out the fault in arguments... They terrify those that are less sure of themselves. They flee to safety, leaving the grinding gears of pure knowledge to work unabated by their sorrowful lack of cognizance."

 

@@Electrobolt,

 

Dusky turned to the elderly unicorn. "Friend, if I may inquire... What is your name and for what purpose are you here aboard this train? Finally, I would..." Dusky was, again, distracted by Electrobolt's crossing through the dining car again, this time heading back to the front of the train. Staring at Electro, Dusky recognized the keys as his own. Dusky blinked. "Ah... I see... This random colt... He's taken possession of my keys... All of them. Now... He's a... Conductor? I don't understand what this is. Wonderful. Simply grand. This is not amusing. Not at all. Where is Springer... Vim... I... I think that now I need a glass of coffee." Dusky sighed and looked down at his empty cup.

 


 

Now that Electrobolt was gone, there was nopony but himself and Springer. The pegasus was still lying on the floor not far from where he had landed. He had stirred several times, but never enough to shift his position much at all. Vim felt sorry for him, but Vim also fully intended to carry on with his journey. Earlier, when he had mentioned the possibility of canceling the train ride, that had been a moment of weakness. Looking back on the moment, Vim felt vaguely embarrassed.

 

He was losing his edge. Even just ten years ago, similar adversity would never have prompted him to doubt his chances of success, but now... He was feeling his age, and he hated it. All of his life, he had been known for his power - both in action and in strength. Now, like the setting sun giving way into night, he was in decline... Slow, meandering, unstoppable decline. Vim sighed, and comforted himself that the stars would still light the night in his absence. There were others, young and energetic, that he could help to find their way in the world so that his legacy of strength would not end with him.

 

In Electrobolt, Vim saw one of these stars. Indeed, to Vim, Electrobolt was one of the brightest of the stars that he had seen. In truth, he saw something of himself in Electrobolt. Like Vim, the young colt pursued his talent in life with a ferocious intensity. When Vim had looked out from the crowd at the games tournament, he hadn't seen just another young pony playing video games. He had seen a pony that thrived on the competition, the challenge. He had also seen a pony that was respectful, both in victory and in loss. He had seen, in many ways, a glimpse of what he had once been. The feeling of respect that he felt for the colt were the products of his own self-examination.

 

He had trusted Electrobolt intrinsically. He knew that the colt would do a good job, because he knew that he, himself, always did a good job. While he continued to carefully watching Springer, Vim allowed his mind to wander through memories of years gone by. His career of excellence, his increasing obsession with the railway, his alienation from his remaining friends, the tragedy that had struck in his family, his reaching out to help in the care of his granddaughter. This last point had been a turning point. As he visited the memories, time passed quickly. Electrobolt's prompt arrival surprised Vim.

 

After a bit of time, Electrobolt finally made it to the baggage car. Approaching Vim, he stood firmly. "I've inspected the rooms, sir. Rooms two, three, four, seven, and thirteen are empty and clean, ready for new passengers. Room six is empty, but... Well..." As he was trying to explain the details of room six, he looked towards the floor. "Room six... It's a total mess... There's glass all over the floor and the table is broken, too... Also, about Trixie's room... It's been open since this morning... Not only that, but I didn't notice Trixie in her room." As he said this, his eyes opened slightly. Not only was the showpony not in her room, but he also didn't notice her while on the way to the back of the train. "Come to think of it... I didn't see her while on my way to the back of the train. I don't know where she could be..."

Disguising his surprise with a cough, Vim turned to look at Electrobolt. At first, he had a quizzical expression. He had certainly been lost in his thoughts, but he was still aware enough to note that Electrobolt had returned surprisingly quickly. Springer, himself, would have only been marginally faster. Vim's quizzical expression became one of silent approval. He had made the right choice. He nodded his head as Electrobolt provided the tally of the rooms. There were more empty rooms than he had expected.

 

At the sound of the condition of Room 6, Vim frowned deeply. It sounded outrageous. He could dimly remember inspecting the ticket of a rather large, darkly colored unicorn that was supposed to have been the resident of room 6. Vim nodded when he heard about Trixie. "Maybe Trixie left the train? After all, her show was a real train wreck." Vim smiled grimly. "Electrobolt, I'm going to go take a look at room 6 myself to see if we could possibly salvage it. I have... No idea why it would be like that. Keep an eye on Springer, but I'm certain he's out cold." With that said, Vim trotted down the hall towards room 6 and Trixie's room.

 

He reached the rooms after just a few moments. First unlocking and inspecting room 6, he confirmed that it really was a disaster. Not only that, but this was really something that would have to wait until Los Pegasus to deal with. For now, he relocked the room. Conveniently, Trixie's room was located just next door to the ruined room. It was, just as Electrobolt had described, completely without the stage magician. There was more though. All of Trixie's belongings were still there, within the room. Vim was surprised. Even if she had been upset enough to leave the train, Vim hadn't figured her for the type of pony to leave everything behind and just vanish. He returned to Electrobolt.

 

"Electrobolt, I just had a look at room 6. We can't do anything about that mess for now, let's just consider that room to be completely off limits. With all of the glass on the floor, it is a huge safety hazard. I can't believe anypony would destroy a room like that." Briefly, a look of intense anger flashed across Vim's face, but he controlled it. "As for Trixie... Really, I don't know what to make of that whole mess. First she terrorizes passengers, now she's gone, leaving everything. I could understand it if she teleported herself and her junk off my train but this is odd. I mean... She just doesn't seem like the type that would leave everything like that. Hmmm... Well, maybe she did." Vim shrugged.

 

With a tone of reserved approval, Vim continued. "Anyway. You know, actually... You did a great job, kid. A really great job. You made darned good time, actually. Even Springer would have just barely come in a bit faster. You've got the speed and efficiency. I can tell just by the time that you didn't bother with checking crew rooms. Good call! It's the little things that count. Now... You get to try your hoof at some leadership. I need you to go deliver my message to Dusky. Now... Where in the blazes is Arcanel?!"

 


 

 

As he saw the pony, he realized that there was a white mare with a pink mane attending in the hospital. *Good thing this is a hospital, where it is technically always open.* He thought before walking up to the receptionist. "Um... excuse me... do you know where Nurse Redheart is? I'm kind of in an emergency." He said, trying to calmly explain this time, as opposed to before. *Last thing I need is for the ones in the hospital not to understand me.* he reminded himself.

Nurse Redheart was busy reading over some medical charts when Arcanel first addressed her, but she put them down and looked up immediately when she heard the word "emergency". While she was busy and she had a hospital to run, she cared dearly for ponies that were in trouble. She spoke fast. "An emergency? I'm Nurse Redheart, what's happened?" Her baby blue eyes opened wide with concern, but her tone remained calm.

 

While Nurse Redheart had been speaking, a rather large, cream-colored tabby cat had ran up to Arcanel and was now swatting at his feathers while purring melodically. Redheart spoke with disapproval. "Dawn, please remove your cat from the lobby. We have an emergency here!" Redheart's tone softened. "Besides, somepony might be allergic." From one of the rooms, a baby blue colored unicorn with a blue-violet mane stepped out and spoke to the cat in a soft, youthful voice. "Flo, you silly kitty, leave the nice pegasus alone." The cat bounded over to her and curled up by her side.

 

Dawn spoke to Arcanel and Nurse Redheart. "I'm sorry Nurse Redheart. Mr. Pegasus, I hope you aren't allergic to my kitty?" Both Dawn and her tabby cat looked greatly concerned. "What type of emergency is it?" Nurse Redheart spoke. "Well, he was going to tell me. Dawn... Since you're here, though, this may be a good opportunity for you to learn." Turning to Arcanel, Nurse Redheart continued. "Please forgive the interruption, do continue."

 


 

 

And when he stepped in, he immediately noticed Key Gear, standing in his room. "Oh, um... Hey sis..." he spoke up, now noticing she had been waiting for him. "Uh... Sorry for keeping you waiting, but... I got held up, and some things happened... So um, yeah... I found myself becoming a temporary assistant conductor for now. Also, I noticed your room was locked when I tried to drop your items off, so... I unlocked it for you. Also, your cookies and the set are sitting on your bed." Taking his saddlebag off and setting it on the table, he added, "Um, I'd love to talk some more, but I have things to do right now." He then, after waving, left the room, leaving the door open for his sister.

Key stared openmouthed, but she didn't question the strange sight that greeted her. There was her brother with a conductor's hat on his head. The room keys that he had with him made a delightful sound as he moved about. After recovering from the shock of the sight, Key grinned. This was a strange turn in fortune. Now, effortlessly, they had access to every single room on the train. At the mention of cookies, Key's grin widened even more. Forgetting her thoughts on Dusky and her lock picks for the moment, she happily waved at Electrobolt as he left. "Thanks bro! We'll talk later."

 

Key trotted to her room. Sure enough, it was unlocked, and the saddlebag and its delicious contents were completely free for her to take. With an acrobatic sideflip and a giggle, Key jumped on her bed and began munching cookies with a wild enthusiasm. Crumbs flew as she ripped through two cookies in a split second. She stopped though, as suddenly as she had began. Looking down into the saddlebag, she saw a remarkable variety of cookies. Sugar cookies, chocolate chip, peanut butter, and more... Key smiled. "So... He listened when I mentioned variety. Hmmm..."

 

Hesitating for a few moments, Key took the saddlebag and set it on the floor. She loved cookies, in fact, she loved them quite a bit, but... She loved her brother more, a lot more. Somehow, the thought of eating the cookies that he had purchased without him being there didn't seem right to her. Sitting on the edge of her bed, looking at the saddlebag, Key was surprised at her own actions. Key thought about how, if she had found such a bag lying around in Manehattan, she would probably have taken it and eaten everything. Now, here she was, just looking and nothing more. Key talked to herself out loud. "What's happened to me anyway..."

 

In truth, she didn't know the answer to her own question. Because she'd been by herself for so long, Key was accustomed to just diving into whatever food was available as quickly as possible, but... Now it was different. She wasn't by herself, and she actually found herself looking forward to whenever Electrobolt returned from his duties as an assistant conductor. Key shook her head, the entire thing seemed so surreal. She found a brother, he became the assistant conductor. Now, she was sitting there with all of the cookies in the world at her hooves, and instead of eating them, she was waiting so that she could share them with her brother.

 

Key's thoughts wandered back to Electrobolt. In her head, she reviewed what he had said when he popped in to tell her about the cookies. She was trying to return to her earlier thoughts, but... A sudden realization distracted her, again. Bolt had called her "sis", and, to her knowledge, that was the first time. Key beamed and fell backwards onto her bed. Once again, she spoke her thoughts out lout. "He called me his sister... I really do have a brother... An AWESOME brother. I wonder how he managed to become the assistant conductor. Wait... I bet he still hasn't eaten breakfast, so he's probably hungry. I should bring him something... Wait. What about my nap!? Oh geeze, what's wrong with my brain..."

 


 

 

And so, Flow went with explaining to them about Dusky's rambling, "Oh yeah, Um..you know Dusky? Err...I really thought that he was a nice pony, but he actually is a cold and snobby pony! He called me and Magicon weak for some reason! I don't know what's his problem! He even went to ramble about the word 'good' in his ugly and twisted view! All that made me want to punch him, but I didn't want to cause trouble in the morning, plus the idea of assaulting an employee will surely get me kicked of the train, so I ended up leaving instead. Sigh, well?..What would you say about that?"

Ambrosia was embarrassed to hear about the treatment that Flow and Magicon has received at Dusky's hooves. She knew that Dusky had a strange habit of talking about really complicated things, but she wondered what had gotten into him to direct insults to passengers. Before replying to Flow, Ambrosia waited a moment to review her own thoughts. She could tell Vim, or she could try to handle Dusky herself. She wasn't certain what she was going to do.

 

On one hoof, she would have liked nothing better than to go to the dining car and put Dusky back in line. On the other hoof, her own eagerness to get into a conflict worried her. She figured that it was most likely the impact of her continued exhaustion. Of course, telling Vim wouldn't really be the most straight-forward solution. She would have to explain Asteria, and Vim was already busy with... Springer? Ambrosia wondered what had happened to the pegasus. The sound of keys behind her caused her to look around just in time to see Electrobolt wearing an assistant conductor's hat. Ambrosia blinked. The unexpected sight did nothing to clear her thoughts.

 

After a few long seconds, she decided that she would do what she probably should have done from the beginning. She would ask Lapis. Turning to the intelligent earth pony, Ambrosia awkwardly explained her problem.

 

@@Bari,

 

"Umm, Lapis. I think it's because I'm still feeling a bit tired, but I can't figure something out right now. If what Flow says is right, then Dusky is making a mess of things in the dining car. Should I speak with Vim, or should we all just go to the dining car now? I know Vim's a bit busy right now... But I'm not sure if I have the presence of mind to deal with Dusky... I don't want to make a scene. What do you think I should do?"

  • Brohoof 6

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Lapis nodded carefully as Ambrosia explained how she should read the notes. It made very good sense after all. He looked over the notes while Asteria went over them again. He honestly could not make heads or tails of it beyond the fact that it seemed more like a story than the recounting of ancient events. He felt like there was something about what was written down that held a deeper meaning. He wasn't sure why though.

 

As he was about to give the notes to Ambrosia, Flow suddenly appeared and interrupted him. "Good morning to you." he began before Flow started to gush over Asteria. With wide-eyed curiosity, he studied the young mare. She thought the little filly was cute. It was a normal response, but he had never seen somepony react so strongly to Asteria before. He sighed inwardly when he heard Ambrosia say that the notes would have to wait. It was disappointing, but not everything was easy in life.

 

Asteria ducked out of sight. This cream colored pegasus was being odd. *She thinks I'm cute?* she thought, a little scared. It wasn't normal that someone would be so vocal in their acknowledgement of her adorableness. In truth, she'd been told many times in the past that she was quite adorable. But never like this. She peeked her head around the door frame after Ambrosia had began speaking to the mare.

 

Lapis listened closely as Flow recounted what had happened in the dining car during breakfast. It seemed like Dusky wasn't exactly a polite pony. Lapis had thought of him strange and given to daydreaming. But this revelation disappointed Lapis. He had hoped, despite the stallion's highly unusual behavior, that they could become colleagues or something along those lines. Then Flow directed his attention to Asteria, asking about who she was.

 

"Flow, this is my assistant, Asteria. Technically, she shouldn't be on this train, but that is a story for another time I suppose. I think it would be best for us to get to the dining car. I don't like the idea of a member of the staff insulting the passengers. I may not be a member of the staff myself, but Ambrosia is the cook, and the dining car is her domain." he said. From what he remembered from yesterday, Ambrosia had her own set of values and morals. It was very likely she'd confront Dusky, if just to confirm Flow's story. He never liked jumping to conclusions, so he hoped the mare would use the same caution as he would.

 

Asteria tried to make sense of what this mare, who was apparently named Flow, was saying. It was clear that this 'Dusky' character was a member of the staff since Flow had basically stated as such. All this seemed a bit odd. Why would a member of the staff pick a fight with passengers. It kind of frustrated Asteria. Ponies who work on a train are supposed to make the ponies who ride on the train feel comfortable and welcome.

 

And with that, Lapis Lazuli went straight for the dining car. He didn't care if Ambrosia or Flow were following him. Next to him, Asteria faithfully trotted along. Like always, she was there by his side. He had to get to the bottom of things. He felt as if Flow had just skimmed over what had really happened out of perhaps anger or something like that. There would definitely be a few questions to answer. The duo approached the dining car to find Dusky and a few other ponies. He seemed a little preoccupied, but Lapis chose to speak anyway.

 

He cleared his throat and spoke loudly enough so that the engineer would hear him. "Dusky, I've heard you may have been giving some ponies a hard time. While this may or may not be true, I'd like to hear what you've been talking about. It may interest me greatly. Also, Ambrosia may also like to have a word with you." He watched curiously for the unicorn to face him. If he recalled correctly, Dusky had shown interest in him. So this would perhaps be a strange but interesting exchange.

 

Asteria looked it awe upon Dusky. His dark grey coat had a marvelous appearance. It was like the color of something deeply mysterious. His eyes looked almost dead, yet full of something else entirely. He sparked her imagination. A pony like that would have a story or two. Then she recalled that Dusky was the one who had told Lapis the story about the hero and the monster. Even if he was just reciting something, perhaps he was still a good story teller. Anypony could recite something, but it took finesse to tell it right. This was somepony to learn from.

  • Brohoof 6

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After Electrobolt had finished his report to Vim, he kept his attention on the conductor, noticing he seemed to be thinking about something for a moment. Afterwards, he heard Vim say that perhaps Trixie left the train, seeing as her show was a flop. Then he said that he would be checking room six himself, see if it could be salvaged. After Vim left, requesting Electro to stay and keep an eye on Springer, he nodded. Once the conductor departed, he looked down to Springer as he noticed something.

 

Aside from the wings and the darker coat color, the assistant conductor looked similar to Electrobolt. Recalling back to when Springer had called him mom, the gears in his head started to spin. Perhaps his mother shared a similar appearance to his? But then again, he doesn't know if Springer's mother was a pegasus or not, although he was pretty delusional because of the lack of air from being locked in that box. For a brief moment, he had a look of concern on his face as he kept watching over Springer, but that moment soon ended when he heard Vim coming back. Looking back to the conductor, he listened to what had to be said.

 

"Electrobolt, I just had a look at room 6. We can't do anything about that mess for now, let's just consider that room to be completely off limits. With all of the glass on the floor, it is a huge safety hazard. I can't believe anypony would destroy a room like that." Briefly, a look of intense anger flashed across Vim's face, but he controlled it. "As for Trixie... Really, I don't know what to make of that whole mess. First she terrorizes passengers, now she's gone, leaving everything. I could understand it if she teleported herself and her junk off my train but this is odd. I mean... She just doesn't seem like the type that would leave everything like that. Hmmm... Well, maybe she did." Vim shrugged.

With a tone of reserved approval, Vim continued. "Anyway. You know, actually... You did a great job, kid. A really great job. You made darned good time, actually. Even Springer would have just barely come in a bit faster. You've got the speed and efficiency. I can tell just by the time that you didn't bother with checking crew rooms. Good call! It's the little things that count. Now... You get to try your hoof at some leadership. I need you to go deliver my message to Dusky. Now... Where in the blazes is Arcanel?!"

 

As he feared, the room was too much of a disaster area to possibly be restored at this moment. Electrobolt was also curious about who, or why anypony would go and make a wreck of a room, especially a nice one like the ones on this train. Vim then resumed, talking about Trixie. When he mentioned that she had left her belongings behind, he recalled seeing some of the boxes in her room. He was confused about why she left her belongings behind, but then Vim went on and continued, complimenting the young colt.

 

As Vim went on to praise Electrobolt, saying that he made very good time, he smiled slightly. He also added that Springer would have made it by just a little bit of a faster time, but that Electro had the speed and efficiency. He even added that it was a good call, not checking on the crew member's rooms. Now was his next task, to deliver the message to Dusky. Standing firm at attention, Electrobolt nodded. "I'll get right on it, sir!" he spoke out, before beginning to move back to the dining car.

 

On his way through passenger car two, he stopped for a second as he looked at the door to room six. Recalling how disastrous the room had looked, he couldn't help but shiver at the thought of somepony going wild. Moving a few steps forward, near passenger car three, he looked into Trixie's room. Sure enough, it was similar to how things had been the last time. *Where did Trixie go, I wonder...?* pondered the young colt, before shaking his head. He could worry about that later. For now, he had a message to deliver. So he resumed, moving once more to the dining car.

 

After a little more time, Electrobolt entered the dining car as he looked around, before eying the table where Dusky was, Daylight still seated there. He also noticed the blue earth pony from before, in room one. He seemed to be speaking with Dusky about something, but he wasn't going to wait to deliver the message. As he calmly approached the two ponies, he recognized the blue pony from when they were dining yesterday. He still didn't know his name, but that didn't matter right now.

 

As soon as he got up to them, he looked over to Dusky, then the blue stallion, and then back to Dusky. With his attention on the grey unicorn, he spoke up, "Um, Dusky, right? If I'm interrupting anything, I apologize. Ah, right... Seeing how Springer is currently in no condition to fulfill his duties at the moment, at Vim's request, I am filling in as the assistant conductor. Ah yes, speaking of Vim, he also requested that I deliver a message to you..." Stopping after saying this, Electrobolt cleared his throat, before taking a deep breath.

 

After he finished taking in his deep breath, he began to deliver the message. With a straight and collected face, he stated, "Vim says that you need to get serious. He also said that we need to pick up the pace and make good time towards Los Pegasus, and to get this train going as fast as reasonably possible, with no excuses or breaks. At all. Also, no more napping in the caboose. If you want to nap, then take it in the engine room, with your hoof on the throttle." As he finished, he took in a quick breath before remembering something. "Ah, right. Vim also said that if you have a problem with anything I've said, to take it up with him. And again, if I interrupted anything, I apologize."

  • Brohoof 6

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"Dusky, I've heard you may have been giving some ponies a hard time. While this may or may not be true, I'd like to hear what you've been talking about. It may interest me greatly. Also, Ambrosia may also like to have a word with you." He watched curiously for the unicorn to face him. If he recalled correctly, Dusky had shown interest in him. So this would perhaps be a strange but interesting exchange.

 
Dusky recovered slightly from the sight of Electrobolt and looked up from his coffee cup at the sound of Lapis's voice. He started to smile, but the effort failed when he saw the purple filly by Lapis's side. Instead, he sighed again. When he spoke, his tone was steady. "Ah... Good morning, Lapis. I can assure that I have given no ponies a hard time. I merely spoke at some length concerning my own worldview and perspective. The same viewpoint that I spoke with you about on the previous night. I won't deny that some may find this to be... Controversial? But, you yourself heard what I had to say, and I think you would agree that my perspective, while unique, is always well presented. I merely looked for discussion. It was never my intention to cause harm to others with my words."
 
Now, Dusky smiled. The memory of his earlier conversation with Lapis was unexpectedly pleasant to him. "Really, my dear Lapis, why should you limit yourself to just a word? I enjoyed our earlier conversation. I should like to, at some point, speak volumes with you. We shall talk of some of my adventures and some of your adventures with your assistant... With Asteria?" Dusky raised an eyebrow quizzically. "Hmmm... Lapis. This purple filly... She is Asteria, is she not? Ah wait... How impolite of me to not address her directly..."
 
Dusky observed Asteria with a catlike gaze. He didn't fail to notice that she seemed to be awestruck by his appearance. While he showed no reaction at this, he appreciated her awe. The filly, herself, seemed singularly unassuming to Dusky, but he could sense both her curiosity and her intelligence. "Good morning young pony, it is a pleasure to meet you. Allow me to formally introduce myself, I am Dusky Coal, the train's engineer. Judging by your cutie mark, I can see that you are a writer, perhaps? I have a strong appreciation of the hoofwritten word, myself. Though... You could hardly tell this by my present occupation." 
 
Dusky chuckled silently and then continued. "If you are a friend to Lapis, then you are a friend of mine. I have only rarely come across a pony of such intelligence and wisdom of Lapis. Now, if I may ask, what is your name, child?" Dusky's tone seemed strangely gentle, his voice was almost hypnotic.
 

As soon as he got up to them, he looked over to Dusky, then the blue stallion, and then back to Dusky. With his attention on the grey unicorn, he spoke up, "Um, Dusky, right? If I'm interrupting anything, I apologize. Ah, right... Seeing how Springer is currently in no condition to fulfill his duties at the moment, at Vim's request, I am filling in as the assistant conductor. Ah yes, speaking of Vim, he also requested that I deliver a message to you..." Stopping after saying this, Electrobolt cleared his throat, before taking a deep breath.

 
The sudden arrival of Electrobolt, again, distracted Dusky from his conversation and wiped his smile from his face. This time, Electrobolt approached him directly and spoke. Annoyed by the interruption, Dusky spoke at the same time as Electrobolt did. His intent was to end the conversation before it began. "Yes, yes I'm Dusky, what do you want? Yes, you were interrupting something. I would appreci... Springer is what? Wait... Oh, you are? Indeed. A message from Vim? Fine then. You may speak." Dusky watched Electrobolt with a mildly exasperated expression as the colt cleared his throat and took a deep breath.
 

After he finished taking in his deep breath, he began to deliver the message. With a straight and collected face, he stated, "Vim says that you need to get serious. He also said that we need to pick up the pace and make good time towards Los Pegasus, and to get this train going as fast as reasonably possible, with no excuses or breaks. At all. Also, no more napping in the caboose. If you want to nap, then take it in the engine room, with your hoof on the throttle." As he finished, he took in a quick breath before remembering something. "Ah, right. Vim also said that if you have a problem with anything I've said, to take it up with him. And again, if I interrupted anything, I apologize."

 
After Electrobolt delivered his message, Dusky was temporarily stunned. His mouth was wide open, his eyes were frozen on Electrobolt in disbelief, and his whole form seemed to slump in his seat. For a strangely long time, he sat like that, completely inactive, then a change took place. In a flash, his eyes glowed intensely black and his lips curled into a sneer. It looked as though a shadow passed over him, but after just an instant, Dusky shut his eyes. When he opened them again, he was normal, and he wore a cheerful smile and a friendly demeanor. 
 
Gracefully, Dusky shrugged and then stood, speaking lightheartedly. "Well, this is quite the surprise. I was not aware that we were on an expedited schedule. I assume that this was a recent change in events? Hmmm... Of course, that would explain why I didn't know. Probably, it is connected with Springer in some way... I think that... I will need to go to speak with Vim concerning this. After all, the train is, at this very moment, undergoing repairs. They should be finished shortly, but we would have to travel at a rather fast rate of speed to make up for this delay and to arrive early. It would be a challenge, but then... What isn't? Goodbye, everypony."
 
Dusky made his way towards the exit, but stopped when he stood next to Electrobolt. Lowering his head until he could speak directly into Electrobolt's ear, unheard by the others, Dusky spoke hurriedly but in calm, soft tones that carried just the smallest hint of menace. "You ignorant grass colored insect, this isn't one of your games. When you lose here, you can't play again. Have your fun as assistant conductor, but if you make a mistake... I will be there. And, when next we speak, you will address me with respect or I swear by night's beauty that I will break you and leave nothing left. Vim is a leader, you are a foal. Remember your place, and be careful..." Dusky smiled sweetly as he spoke. 
 
Finally, Dusky stepped away from Electrobolt, and finished speaking out loud, in a completely friendly voice. "Just some friendly tips from an humble engineer! I wish you all of the best in your efforts Electrobolt, and I trust Vim's judgement. If he says that you are the assistant conductor, then I back this decision fully. You seem capable enough to me." Dusky nodded his head to acknowledge Ambrosia and then made his way to the front of the train. He strode powerfully, with his head carried high.
 

 

"Flow, this is my assistant, Asteria. Technically, she shouldn't be on this train, but that is a story for another time I suppose. I think it would be best for us to get to the dining car. I don't like the idea of a member of the staff insulting the passengers. I may not be a member of the staff myself, but Ambrosia is the cook, and the dining car is her domain."

 
Ambrosia tilted her head to the side as she considered Lapis's words. Ultimately, she was the cook and the kitchen really was her domain. She didn't need to speak to Vim. If Dusky was back in the dining car being rude and obnoxious to other ponies, then it was her responsibility to put a stop to things and to make things right. Really, she didn't have to worry. It wasn't as though she would have to face the rather intimidating engineer on her own. She would be there with friends. When Lapis made his way towards the dining car with Asteria by his side, Ambrosia followed just slightly behind the two of them.
 
@
 
Waiting around in the hall, she saw a familiar looking blue unicorn from the previous day, one of the passengers. "Excuse me. Are you waiting for breakfast? You look like you're starving. I guess I can't blame you for not eating Dusky's food. He's not exactly the best cook, I think. I don't know why I ever thought to let him make breakfast. I guess that's what happens when you're tired. Just wait a moment, and I'm going to cook again, feel free to grab a chair in the meantime."
 
While Lapis confronted Dusky, Ambrosia listened carefully. Despite what Flow had said, it didn't seem as though Dusky was being particularly aggressive. In fact, it seemed to her that he was being fairly friendly and sociable in comparison to his normal behavior. His greeting to Asteria seemed especially unusual for him. Ambrosia tilted her head to the side and watched Dusky with interest. She'd never known him to care much about younger ponies.
 
Just then, something green passed her in the hall. It was Electrobolt, again. Ambrosia shook her head. He was just like a wingless Springer - friendly, awkward, and always moving. She listened to the first part of Electrobolt's message, and she nodded. In her mind, Vim had made a good decision. Despite her earlier misgivings about him, Electrobolt really did seem to be just as dutiful as Springer was. She smiled at Dusky's obvious discomfort at being interrupted. It was a rare expression for him.
 
However, the message from Vim that Electrobolt delivered resulted in Ambrosia being just as shocked as Dusky. Nopony had ever spoken to Dusky like that except for Vim. Dusky respected Vim, but as far as Ambrosia knew, Dusky was unfamiliar with Electrobolt. Speaking under her breath, she spoke. "Oh gosh... This won't end well..." When Dusky's eyes lit up with darkness, Ambrosia slipped around Lapis just in case... But, she wasn't needed. The tall unicorn seemed to snap out of his strange state just as quickly as he had entered it, and he was now addressing them all like a true gentlepony. Then, Dusky started to leave.
 
Ambrosia breathed a sigh of relief, but cut herself short when Dusky stopped next to Electrobolt. She couldn't hear the words that were spoken, but she could feel the tension in the atmosphere. Dusky's smile did him no favors, Ambrosia bristled. If Dusky was saying anything like what she suspected that he was saying, then she would never let him hear the end of it. She eyed Dusky suspiciously as he nodded at her and then made his way out of the dining car. Trotting up to Electrobolt, she spoke to him kindly. "Electrobolt? I realize that was a private conversation of sorts, but what did Dusky tell ya?"
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After Electrobolt had delivered the message, he continued to look at Dusky with a straight face. Looking at the engineer's reaction, he could tell he was surprised. Maybe he should have softened the message up, as opposed to laying it out as Vim had said. However, as soon as the engineer shrugged it off, he spoke up, saying this was quite the surprise. Dusky then mentioned he would go and speak with Vim about all of this, as he started to head off to the front of the train. However, just as soon as he moved, the grey unicorn had stopped right next to him.

 

Lowering his head until he could speak directly into Electrobolt's ear, unheard by the others, Dusky spoke hurriedly but in calm, soft tones that carried just the smallest hint of menace. "You ignorant grass colored insect, this isn't one of your games. When you lose here, you can't play again. Have your fun as assistant conductor, but if you make a mistake... I will be there. And, when next we speak, you will address me with respect or I swear by night's beauty that I will break you and leave nothing left. Vim is a leader, you are a foal. Remember your place, and be careful..." Dusky smiled sweetly as he spoke.

 

As Dusky began to speak, his face no longer showed the same calm and collected expression as it had before. No, this time, his expression was one of utter shock. Although his mouth wasn't gaping open like Dusky's was when he was surprised, his eyes were shooting wide open. Not only did the engineer give out a threat to him, but his voice... Suddenly, the young colt's mind brought back flashes of what had happened to him in Trixie's room, with the creature that he had seen. He then recalled the cold, earthen voice of the creature.

 

That voice, it was similar to Dusky's tone when he threatened the young colt. Now, as the engineer began to depart from the room, Electrobolt was still in his state of shock. His breathing began to rapidly increase while his eyes remained huge, almost like saucers. Suddenly, he began to feel several chills running down his spine as he began to shiver ever-so-slightly, the memories of what had happened last night flooding into his mind. However, the horrors ended quickly as a sweet and kind voice spoke up, addressing the young colt.

 

Trotting up to Electrobolt, she spoke to him kindly. "Electrobolt? I realize that was a private conversation of sorts, but what did Dusky tell ya?"

 

As soon as this voice had spoken up, Electrobolt blinked before shaking his head. As he looked at the pony whom had spoken to him, his eyes met upon Ambrosia. Although he recalled that she had gotten down on them because of earlier, right now, she seemed rather gentle and potentially concerned for him. Recalling that the cook had asked him what Dusky had told him, he was showing worry on his face. On one hoof, he wanted to keep his mouth shut. But on the other hoof, if he doesn't say anything, it would stay on his mind and he would wind up having nightmares constantly.

 

Electrobolt closed his eyes and let out a long sigh. He really didn't want to, but this was the only way. Plus, the lemon-coated mare had seemed caring enough to be worried about him. He needed to speak up, he needed to let Ambrosia know what Dusky had said to him. Looking back to the dining car door behind him, making sure Dusky was gone, he turned back around to face Ambrosia. But he didn't want to say anything out loud, just in case Dusky was lingering around, listening in on what he might say. So instead, he approached Ambrosia, before leaning his head in closer and speaking in a hushed tone, "Um... To put it simply... Dusky had threatened me... He didn't give any friendly tips as he had said..." Although he was sure Dusky didn't hear him, he quickly turned his head around, looking back at the door. What the engineer had said had left him paranoid.

  • Brohoof 6

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Magicon silently observed the events in the dining car as they unfolded. He made sure nopony noticed him, especially Dusky. He would not listen to another word he had to say. Instead, Magicon waited for their conversation to end. But as Daylight and Dusky talked with an older blue stallion, that Magicon only now noticed, a realization came to Magicon: he wasn’t just longing for answers, he was longing for someone to talk to. He realized he wanted to have a nice conversation with somepony. So far on the entire train he hadn’t had a decent conversation with anypony, either because of interruptions or the busyness of the train and its staff. But part of it was himself. He was never the most social of ponies, but he longed for a close friend. He had Archie, but Archie was more like a little bother to him. He never really had a close friend and he realized that maybe, just maybe, he could make one on the train.

He could see himself talking with Daylight; he seemed like an agreeable type of pony. Or Vim, though he doubted the conductor would have the time to carry out a decent conversation and Magicon couldn’t blame him for his busy schedule as the train’s conductor. But an image at the other end of the car darted his mind from Vim: more ponies were entering the car.

 

He saw the cook reenter the car, as he remembered her from last night with two other young ponies that seemed to have a close relationship. Magicon shrugged, feeling no negative feelings from or toward them. Yet one of them began speaking with Dusky and was now involved in the conversation with him. Everything had grown quite quickly and Magicon was simply observing. He had no reason to enter and had no desire to. As long as Dusky was there, Magicon would not be the target of his assaults and insults. Yet he felt the need to protect those young ponies, like he had done with Flow. He didn’t want them to be hurt like Flow had, but as he examined their expressions he saw that weren’t hurt, yet.

 

Fortunately the pain didn’t come as the green colt entered the dining car and spoke with Dusky directly. Magicon then realized it was time to make his move. He saw the green colt’s expression: quite serious and Dusky’s become more irritated until his jaw dropped and his eyes froze on Electrobolt.  Magicon’s stomach dropped as he saw Dusky’s eyes blacken and his lips curl and he prepared himself for anything that Dusky might do. Yet as quickly as the expression had appeared, he closed his eyes and it vanished. He appeared to be his normal self again, though Magicon didn’t like that self to begin with.

 

He rose from the table and overheard him say,

Well, this is quite the surprise. I was not aware that we were on an expedited schedule. I assume that this was a recent change in events? Hmmm... Of course, that would explain why I didn't know. Probably, it is connected with Springer in some way... I think that... I will need to go to speak with Vim concerning this. After all, the train is, at this very moment, undergoing repairs. They should be finished shortly, but we would have to travel at a rather fast rate of speed to make up for this delay and to arrive early. It would be a challenge, but then... What isn't? Goodbye, everypony."

 

Magicon was about to sigh as Dusky headed toward the exit but stopped next to the green colt and whispered something in his ear. The colt froze and his eyes betrayed their sense of calm, replaced by fear and anxiety. He could see the colt tense up and Magicon instantly knew that Dusky was putting thoughts in the young colts head: dangerous and scary ones. Magicon was about to intervene when Dusky broke off and said,

"Just some friendly tips from an humble engineer! I wish you all of the best in your efforts Electrobolt, and I trust Vim's judgement. If he says that you are the assistant conductor, then I back this decision fully. You seem capable enough to me."

 

The statement confirmed numerous things for Magicon. One, the green colt was named Electrobolt (saved Magicon from embarrassing introductions); two, Dusky had indeed said something that frightened Electrobolt and was covering it behind a mask of “friendly advice”; three, Electrobolt was filling in for Springer as the assistant conductor, but Magicon had no idea why. He realized that he no longer needed to see Vim. Electrobolt would have the answers he needed.

 

Once Dusky left Magicon approached the group and stood alongside the ponies, hoping he didn’t startle anyone. As Electrobolt calmed down she heard the cook ask,

"Electrobolt? I realize that was a private conversation of sorts, but what did Dusky tell ya?"
in a very kind voice.

 

It took Electrobolt a few moments before he answered, no doubt still very worried about Dusky’s statement. He sighed and whispered something to her, inaudible to Magicon. Yet Magicon knew what Dusky had said and walked up to Electrobolt and said quietly, “Listen, Electrobolt. I hope I’m not frightening you with my sudden appearance but I don’t think I’m scaring you more than Dusky. Whatever he said I know it scared you and you shouldn’t be scared. I’m on your side and if anything, anything at all, arises that makes you feel uncomfortable with Dusky, just let me know.”

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(edited)

@@Bari, @,

 

 

"Flow, this is my assistant, Asteria. Technically, she shouldn't be on this train, but that is a story for another time I suppose. I think it would be best for us to get to the dining car. I don't like the idea of a member of the staff insulting the passengers. I may not be a member of the staff myself, but Ambrosia is the cook, and the dining car is her domain." And with that, Lapis Lazuli went straight for the dining car. He didn't care if Ambrosia or Flow were following him. Next to him, Asteria faithfully trotted along. Like always, she was there by his side. He had to get to the bottom of things. He felt as if Flow had just skimmed over what had really happened out of perhaps anger or something like that.

"Asteria, oh! That's a great name!" She complemented her "So she's your assistant huh, that's so cool!" Flow then approached Asteria "Hi there! My name is Flow, and I guess I'm the first pony to talk to Lapis aboard this train, woah you must be very lucky to be working alongside a smart one like him, oh yeah I heard that....your not allowed to be here...I don't like this....I don't like it because I don't want you and Lapis to be separated again, I don't want you to be sad, erm....maybe I'll try to convince the conductor to let you ride along with us," She told her. Next she turned to Lapis, "Eh? You're going to confront Dusky? Err, um...take care.." She said as he leaves along with Asteria, then Ambrosia follows suit, which convinced Flow to follow them too,

While going through the halls, Ambrosia stopped to talk to a fellow passenger, but Flow continued to follow Lapis and Asteria, once there, she sees him talking to Dusky, and she slowly observes them.

 

 

 

 

"Ah... Good morning, Lapis. I can assure that I have given no ponies a hard time. I merely spoke at some length concerning my own worldview and perspective. The same viewpoint that I spoke with you about on the previous night. I won't deny that some may find this to be... Controversial? But, you yourself heard what I had to say, and I think you would agree that my perspective, while unique, is always well presented. I merely looked for discussion. It was never my intention to cause harm to others with my words."

"Yeah right, you did want to cause harm you egotistical jerk. Why don't you try experiencing what I've been through and you'll learn how horrifying it was, haven't you thought of that? Jeez, he's much worse than the green pegasus"

 

 

 

 

 

The sudden arrival of Electrobolt, again, distracted Dusky from his conversation and wiped his smile from his face. This time, Electrobolt approached him directly and spoke. Annoyed by the interruption, Dusky spoke at the same time as Electrobolt did. His intent was to end the conversation before it began. "Yes, yes I'm Dusky, what do you want? Yes, you were interrupting something. I would appreci... Springer is what? Wait... Oh, you are? Indeed. A message from Vim? Fine then. You may speak." Dusky watched Electrobolt with a mildly exasperated expression as the colt cleared his throat and took a deep breath.

@@Electrobolt,

Flow was astonished at the arrival of a green earth pony in a conductor's hat "Is that the one from last night? Nah it can't be, he has no wings, so...that's the one named Electrobolt?!? But why is he wearing a conductor's hat? Where's the green featherbrain employee?"

 

 

 

 

 

After a little more time, Electrobolt entered the dining car as he looked around, before eying the table where Dusky was, Daylight still seated there. He also noticed the blue earth pony from before, in room one. He seemed to be speaking with Dusky about something, but he wasn't going to wait to deliver the message. As he calmly approached the two ponies, he recognized the blue pony from when they were dining yesterday. He still didn't know his name, but that didn't matter right now. As soon as he got up to them, he looked over to Dusky, then the blue stallion, and then back to Dusky. With his attention on the grey unicorn, he spoke up, "Um, Dusky, right? If I'm interrupting anything, I apologize. Ah, right... Seeing how Springer is currently in no condition to fulfill his duties at the moment, at Vim's request, I am filling in as the assistant conductor. Ah yes, speaking of Vim, he also requested that I deliver a message to you..." Stopping after saying this, Electrobolt cleared his throat, before taking a deep breath. After he finished taking in his deep breath, he began to deliver the message. With a straight and collected face, he stated, "Vim says that you need to get serious. He also said that we need to pick up the pace and make good time towards Los Pegasus, and to get this train going as fast as reasonably possible, with no excuses or breaks. At all. Also, no more napping in the caboose. If you want to nap, then take it in the engine room, with your hoof on the throttle." As he finished, he took in a quick breath before remembering something. "Ah, right. Vim also said that if you have a problem with anything I've said, to take it up with him. And again, if I interrupted anything, I apologize."

"So that's why he's wearing that, but what happened to the green one...better yet Springer? This is odd, what's going on?" She wondered. Next, she watches Dusky stand up and whisper into Electrobolt's ears, seeing a look of fear on his face, just that made her feel uneasy. "Great, what is he saying? This jerk is scaring me." Soon after, he leaves the dining car, leaving him with an expression of shock and regret. It wasn't long till Ambrosia asked what Dusky said, and Magicon telling him,

 

 

 

 

“Listen, Electrobolt. I hope I’m not frightening you with my sudden appearance but I don’t think I’m scaring you more than Dusky. Whatever he said I know it scared you and you shouldn’t be scared. I’m on your side and if anything, anything at all, arises that makes you feel uncomfortable with Dusky, just let me know.”


Flow agreed with what he said, so she told Electrobolt "He's right, you shouldn't be afraid, you can talk to Magicon or me about Dusky because we both have problems with him, oh yeah my name's Flow, it's nice to meet you,"

Edited by Narutardedscum
  • Brohoof 4

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(edited)

Lapis thought over what Dusky was saying. He had been telling these ponies about what he had said to Lapis himself last night. His head felt foggy, and he really couldn't remember. It had been something about a perfect world, and how the weak were worthless and only the strong survive. That really didn't sound like something you'd actually say aloud. Weakness was an imperfection, but it did not mean that one shouldn't protect them. But then Lapis thought back to the story, of how the guardian had tried to protect the weak, but ultimately ended up worse for his troubles. It was a rather complex issue, and he could see why Dusky would hold his view point. It still wasn't polite though.
 
Dusky's offer of further conversation intrigued Lapis. He should have asked more about the book last night, but he was just so tired. And a discussion of his adventures would definitely be an enjoyable experience. As Dusky addressed Asteria, Lapis felt a chill go down his spine. But Asteria did not take notice of it. She continued to watch Dusky with childlike innocence. And to her, his gaze didn't seem as cold or analytic as it was presented.
 

"Good morning young pony, it is a pleasure to meet you. Allow me to formally introduce myself, I am Dusky Coal, the train's engineer. Judging by your cutie mark, I can see that you are a writer, perhaps? I have a strong appreciation of the hoofwritten word, myself. Though... You could hardly tell this by my present occupation." 

 
"Hello mister Dusky sir, it is very nice to meet you. And I guess you could say I'm a writer. But really, I just write down notes for Lapis. It's easier and faster to write with magic as I'm sure you know. That's really cool that you have an appreciation of the written word. So, do you write stories yourself?" she said watching him with admiration and wonder. He seemed to give off an aura of power and command, yet a sense of sensibility. She would have to get him to talk about himself later!
 

Dusky chuckled silently and then continued. "If you are a friend to Lapis, then you are a friend of mine. I have only rarely come across a pony of such intelligence and wisdom of Lapis. Now, if I may ask, what is your name, child?" Dusky's tone seemed strangely gentle, his voice was almost hypnotic.

 
It had seemed like the stallion had simply ignored her innocent question. But perhaps he was embarrassed about his stories and just didn't want to talk about it? And he was clearly very interested in Lapis. It was usually the other way around, Lapis interested in others, so she just had to give a little giggle. "I could always use more friends. You can never have too many, ya know? Oh, right, my name. How could I forget! My name is Asteria, and as you may or may not know, I am the one and only assistant to Lapis Lazuli Ore, travelling researcher, and someone who I respect a great deal!" she chirped with exuberance.
 
Lapis closed his eyes and a very light pink tinted his cheeks. "Asteria, please don't say stuff like that. You make me feel very silly when you do." he sighed while trying to regain his composure. He opened his eyes to see if Dusky had noticed his embarrassment, but suddenly the green colt from yesterday was beside Dusky, trying to get his attention. The two of them spoke one after the other, and it was a little hard to follow along. But he understood anyhow. This colt was now the assistant conductor, and Springer was out of commission.
 
After a minute of hasty interruption, Dusky allowed the colt to speak freely. His message was startlingly harsh and direct. The look on Dusky's face more than confirmed it. But Lapis's face remained calm. Asteria looked on a little worried. What if Dusky got mad at the green earth pony? She recognized the colt from nearby the restaurant and back at the baggage car. But now with his hat, the colt looked rather silly. The way Dusky sat there frozen in disbelief frightened Asteria. And yet, after only a moment, he shifted to a cheerful attitude, as if it hadn't happened.
 
Lapis had been watching more carefully. That brief instance of change that had occurred startled Lapis. He would have never thought such a lackluster pony as Dusky would react like that. As if he had had a lapse in his mind. But the way Dusky quickly became cheery and maybe even the slightest bit pleasant definitely troubled the stallion. Dusky even went on to pretend it was nothing, as if the colt hadn't just reprimanded him, an older and more experienced pony. If it had been Lapis, he would have told the colt his mistake. It just seemed unnatural to him how Dusky could simply shrug it off like that.
 
As Dusky went to leave, the scholars tilted their heads forward as way of goodbye. But they watched as Dusky said one last thing to the colt. Something that could not be heard by either of them no matter how hard they strained their ears. As Dusky finished up, he made one last statement before he left.
 

"Just some friendly tips from an humble engineer! I wish you all of the best in your efforts Electrobolt, and I trust Vim's judgement. If he says that you are the assistant conductor, then I back this decision fully. You seem capable enough to me."

 
So it was made known to the scholars that the colt's name was Electrobolt. A fine name no doubt, fitting of a plucky young colt. The way the engineer left, a cocky sort of trot, made Asteria wish to reconsidered the admiration she had attached to the stallion. But it could well be forgiven. And yet, the look on Electrobolt's face told Lapis and Asteria that what Dusky had whispered to the colt may well not have been advice at all. Lapis closed his eyes once more. Dusky was turning out to be an annoying individual to say the least. He didn't seem to have much respect for others. He sighed lightly as he opened his eyes, only to find Asteria looking at him with a questioning expression. He shook his head and she faced the way she had been before. It was best she didn't know for the moment. If she couldn't figure it out for herself, she might as well continue to believe Dusky was somepony to admire.
 
Ambrosia came into the dining car and began to speak with Electrobolt in a kindly manner. Simply stated, she asked him what Dusky had told him. He leaned in close to whisper in her ear. Lapis made no move to try and listen in, and he put a restraining hoof on Asteria. The way Electrobolt was acting was proof enough. It would be a waste of time to try to hear what he was saying. And the way the colt looked around worried Lapis. Whatever the engineer had told him, it had clearly bothered the colt deeply.
 
When Magicon entered, Lapis cocked his head curiously. He had not seen him come into the dining car, so he was mildly surprised to see him come from seemingly nowhere. But the stallion offered some helpful words of advice, as well as revealing his distrust of Dusky. Very interesting. But Lapis remembered that Flow had said something about Magicon attending the breakfast and leaving just as she had. Asteria took that moment to whisper to Lapis. "Hey, Lapis, who's that guy?" Lapis recalled that she knew the name and what the pony had done, so he simply replied, "That is Magicon." and left it at that. Asteria stared in awe at the unicorn. She seemed to have a tendency to do that. Anytime she saw a pony whom she thought was interesting, it was typical of her to look upon them with some degree of respect or admiration.
 
As Flow went up to Electrobolt to say her piece, Lapis started to remember Ambrosia's idea. Many of the passengers were in the dining car already, and he had seen Asteria place the notes into her saddlebag. Taking the risk, Lapis went up to Electrobolt. "Hello Electrobolt. My name is Lapis Lazuli. You may not know me, and perhaps you are still recovering from whatever troubling thing Dusky said to you, but I must ask a small favor of you."
 
Lapis took a deep breath before continuing. If this colt refused, then the meeting would take longer to organize as Lapis had no idea who had stayed in what room. He wasn't sure why, but to him, the quicker it got done the better. "Since you are the assistant conductor, and know who is in what room, could you possibly round up the rest of the passengers if there are any not in this car? But please do not inform Vim. My assistant here, Asteria, is not actually supposed to be on this train. It is a long story I guess, and time is of the essence. Please do not ask why, but what I have in mind needs to be gotten together as soon as possible."
 
He turned towards the other ponies in the dining car and addressed them all loudly enough to get their attention. "As you can see, I'm trying to organize something, and it will require all of your participation. If you all could please go sit there at the middle tables, then we can get close to starting. As soon as I know everyone is here, then I shall begin." He sighed again just a bit louder than before. What he was about to do might shake up some of the passengers. The evidence he had was most certainly not concrete, but something definitely odd was going on aboard this train, and he hoped he could get to the bottom of it, if just to feed his desire to know and to learn.

Edited by Bari
  • Brohoof 5

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(edited)

"An emergency? I'm Nurse Redheart, what's happened?"

 

 

*Great! I found Nurse Redheart! Thank Celestia she's already here! Now, to tell her the situation!* Arcanel thought in relief, before going straight to the point. "Well... huh?" the pegasus started saying, but before the mailpony was able to continue, he had got distracted by a sudden strange feeling at his wings. As he looked down, he looked at a cat that was swating at his feathers. When he saw it, he couldn't help but let out a small "D'aww". *Haha, that cat seems to be having fun there.* He thought in amusement. Before anything else happened though, he heard Nurse Redheart's voice again.

 

 

Redheart spoke with disapproval. "Dawn, please remove your cat from the lobby. We have an emergency here!" Redheart's tone softened. "Besides, somepony might be allergic."

 

 

While the sudden seriousness of the nurse had somewhat startled him, he shook it off, as this WAS important. "Oh, it's okay Miss Redheart. I didn't mind it." The pegasus said, trying to avoid anyone from getting chastised. As he said that, he saw a filly with blue fur and a bluish purple mane come out, calling to what seemed to be her pet cat. *D'awwww that's so cute... and the cat is called Flo... which is also cute... I can't resist this many cute things...* he thought as he saw the cat curl at the side of the filly, which now he realized was called Dawn, as Nurse Redheart had said before. One of Arcanel's weaknesses was the cute things. Anything able to make him go "d'awww" had him head over hooves in wanting to just hug them. That's when he heard the filly speak.

 

 

"I'm sorry Nurse Redheart. Mr. Pegasus, I hope you aren't allergic to my kitty?" Both Dawn and her tabby cat looked greatly concerned. "What type of emergency is it?"

 

 

The way the filly had put on such a serious face had weakened Arcanel even more. *Oh Celestia, I can't resist that cute face. For Luna's sake, I almost feel guilty for being somewhat an indirect reason to her being chastised!* the white pony thought, trying to avoid getting distracted for the sake of informing the filly he was okay. "Oh, don't worry my little pony. It's fine. I'm not allegic at all!" he said, trying to reassure the filly as much as possible. Before he had a chance to explain the emergency however, once again, the white nurse spoke.

 

 

"Well, he was going to tell me. Dawn... Since you're here, though, this may be a good opportunity for you to learn." Turning to Arcanel, Nurse Redheart continued. "Please forgive the interruption, do continue."

 

 

When he saw the way Nurse Redheart had addressed Dawn, he inmediately thought of a theory. *Dawn is probably learning to be a doctor or nurse in the future... probably why she was addressed like a filly attending school. Regardless, cuteness aside, I have a situation to inform about. And a mare waiting to hear about it.* the white mailpony thought in determination. "Right! Here's the thing. Um... how do I explain this... well... There is a pony in need of medical assistance in the train that is stopped in Ponyville right now. The pony is a stallion who seems to have been trapped in an airtight box for too long, and when he got out, it made him act slightly... well... out of the ordinary. But after a small while, he collapsed and is now unconscious. Do you think you could come and take a look and help him out? The train also seems to have stopped unexpectedly because of a problem, and the conductor is running on a schedule. And I don't know how okay is Springer, the stallion, really is." Arcanel explained to the nurse. He wasn't sure how much he should have needed to reveal, but the more the nurse found out without exactly telling her the details of what happened in the train car, the best it would be for everyone. *After all, there she should probably not known that Springer in the middle of his madness called a colt that was similar to him his "mommy". That'd probably not be good.* The white pegasus figured out. He however, could only hope he did his best job for the nurse to understand, and that she could come to help. After all, Vim and Springer are counting on him. *And I can't exactly return empty-hooved...* he thought. Not only would Vim be disappointed in him, but Springer really needs help. He CAN'T let them down. Before any other thoughts entered his mind however, he spoke again to not make the pause too long and tense.

 

"So... um... do you think you can come, Miss Redheart?" the mailpony asked one more time, hope filling his heart.

Edited by Arcanel
  • Brohoof 7

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"Oh, don't worry my little pony. It's fine. I'm not allegic at all!" he said, trying to reassure the filly as much as possible.

 
Dawn looked relieved, and her cat seemed to be as well. Flo yawned absently and started to chase imaginary mice. Dawn had never thought about the possibility of her cats causing another pony to become ill. Mentally, she made a note to be more careful in the future. She still had so much to learn about medicine. 
 

"Right! Here's the thing. Um... how do I explain this... well... There is a pony in need of medical assistance in the train that is stopped in Ponyville right now. The pony is a stallion who seems to have been trapped in an airtight box for too long, and when he got out, it made him act slightly... well... out of the ordinary. But after a small while, he collapsed and is now unconscious. Do you think you could come and take a look and help him out? The train also seems to have stopped unexpectedly because of a problem, and the conductor is running on a schedule. And I don't know how okay is Springer, the stallion, really is."

 
As Arcanel described the situation, Nurse Redheart looked progressively more concerned. She had heard about the train that had stopped in Ponyville earlier that day with a water leak. She didn't know much more than this, though. If she had, then she would have wasted no time in getting to the scene. Earlier, in the previous year, there had been a case of a foal getting accidentally locked in an airtight container while exploring the kitchen. When her parents had arrived, it was nearly too late. The poor thing was completely unconscious. Redheart had only barely managed to get to the scene in time, and, without magic, it was something of a miracle that she had been able to resuscitate the young pony. Thankfully, there had been no residual damage.
 
The memory came back to her in a flood. That had nearly been one of her saddest moments as a medical pony. Now, she was hearing of almost the exact same situation, this time with a stallion that apparently became delirious. On one hoof, if he was active, then this meant that his life was likely not in danger. On the other hoof, his being delirious could possibly hint at some type of residual effects due to oxygen deprivation. Redheart looked over at Dawn. The younger pony's eyes were with open and trembling at the sound of Springer's predicament. Internally, Redheart sighed. She remembered when she too had been both inexperienced and easily rattled. Those days were long gone, and that was a good thing. She knew firsthoof how medical situations required calm thought and steady nerves. Dawn needed that knowledge.
 
While Dawn was a young mare and not a filly, her actions and her words made it extremely hard to tell. She seemed to be rather shaky and lighthearted for a pony that gave the impression of being so advanced in her studies. Dawn had just arrived that morning, extremely early, showing up at the hospital with her cat in tow. Dawn had introduced herself as a visiting medical student from Canterlot. They could always use some extra hooves around the place, so Redheart had been happy to welcome the youthful pony. It was a good decision. While Dawn had only been there for roughly half the day, she had already demonstrated a remarkable proficiency for medical magic. Dawn was a prodigy. She had even been able to teach some spells to a few of the far more experienced unicorns in the hospital.
 

"So... um... do you think you can come, Miss Redheart?" the mailpony asked one more time, hope filling his heart.

 
Nurse Redheart had seen more than enough medical emergences to know that the time for action was now. Redheart opened her mouth to speak, but she was interrupted by Dawn's excited rambling. "Oh no, no, no, no! He's unconscious? That's bad, really bad. We should go, we need to go now! Come on!" In an instant, Dawn had galloped out of the hospital. Redheart smiled, shook her head, and spoke seriously and quickly. "Yes, I will have to go. Your friend was active when he came out of the box, so he isn't in life threatening danger, but there may some lingering effects due to the lack oxygen. He may need emergency care, and he will definitely need to be looked after. Dawn's right, we need to move quickly." 
 
While talking, Redheart had been briskly trotting towards the door as well, but right when she was about to open it, it flew open and nearly hit her. Redheart jumped backwards to avoid being hit. Dawn was back, and she looked extremely sheepish when she saw what had nearly happened. "Ummm... Oh gosh... Sorry... Which way to the train?" She had only narrowly avoided the impact, but Redheart was nonplussed. "Dawn, please take care. Medical ponies can't help others if they injure themselves. Follow me to the train, I heard about it this morning, so I think I know my way to it. If not, then this kind pegasus can show us the way."  Redheart picked up the pace as she headed for the train station. While she trotted, she spoke to Arcanel again. "Are there any other details about your friend's behavior that we should know? It won't take too long for us to reach the station, so the more information we have, the better we will be able to diagnose his condition."
 
Dawn fell in behind Nurse Redheart, but she looked as though she still felt terrible about nearly hitting Redheart with the door. She brightened up considerably, though, when her cat, Flo, wandered up to her and gave an inquisitive meow. She spoke to the cat. "Oh, don't be silly Flo! This is an emergency. What's that? Your paws hurt? Aww... Well... I'll ask him then." Dawn whispered, rather loudly, to Arcanel. "Mr. Pegasus, sir, could my cat ride on your back? She promises that she won't be bad, she likes feathers and she likes to fly, so... Would it be ok if you carried her to the train and maybe hovered a bit?" Dawn's eyes sparkled pleasantly as she spoke. The cat meowed, again. 
 

 
Dusky sighed. Magicon, Flow - they had both disappointed him. He hadn't had a chance to continue in his conversation with the elderly pony and Daylight. He hadn't been able to speak with Lapis. His food had received only lukewarm reception. This was not his morning, and the day was unlikely to become more pleasant. Undoubtedly, Ambrosia would arrive at some point to chastise him for his remarks to Electrobolt. They had to be said though... It didn't make any sense to Dusky, the colt should never have delivered that message verbatim. He needed to be warned... That was prudence... Dusky's thoughts wandered. A chirpy voice echoing in his head seemed oddly distracting...
 
Dusky stepped into the baggage car and immediately caught sight of Springer's prone form and Vim standing watch. Vim's back was turned to Dusky, so Dusky cleared his throat to make his presence known before speaking. "What's happened to Springer?" Vim shook his head and spoke. "He was in one of that crazy unicorn's boxes. The thing was locked up tight. When he came out of it, he really wasn't himself... I asked Arcanel to go get a doctor. He isn't here yet though, so I don't know." Dusky didn't recognize the mailpony's name. "Arcanel?" Vim replied quickly. "He's a mailpony. Needs to get a letter to Los Pegasus. That's why we need to pick up the pace, to help him out."
 
The lanky pony blinked in surprise. "We are picking up the pace to help a mailpony deliver a single message? Just one message? Really?" Vim glanced over his shoulder, and studied Dusky. Then, he spoke. "Yeah, we are... Look, Coal, look at you... You look like your train broke down in the Badlands." Dusky shook his head. "Vim it's not the message. If you say we need to do it, then that is what it is." Vim looked back at Springer to hide his smile. "So... I think that Electrobolt delivered my message just like I would've?" Dusky frowned. "Vim, he hasn't earned the right to address me like that. Was that really necessary?"
 
Vim turned to face Dusky with a look of disbelief on his face. He spoke with a fire in his voice. "Coal, since when have you been upset about something like this! Yes, it was necessary. That colt has the makings of a leader. You gotta give him a chance to earn his stripes. Sending one of my messages to you? Coal, you're one of the most intimidating ponies out there, but look how he handled that. Like a pro! Now, that was leadership. And, you come in here to... What? To complain? What's going on with you? Listen to yourself, you don't sound like a brilliant engineer, you sound like one of those schmucks working on a passenger line in the middle of nowhere. Worried about your ego? Upset? Get over it. Coal, there's no time for that. Not now! I need you to do what you're paid to do and stop mucking around."
 
While Vim spoke, Dusky's face had become a mask, with his head held high, he showed absolutely no emotion. His reply was similarly lacking in feeling. "Yes, sir. I'll improve." Vim frowned, and he softened his tone somewhat. "I'm worried about you, kid... Coal. You're slipping, getting sloppy, making mistakes. I used to be able to count on you through any circumstance, but yesterday you were gone. Do you have any idea how long I sat around here waiting for you? Did you know that I thought for a while that you'd somehow left the train? That I'd be standing around, like a dummy, without an engineer? What were you doing, eh? Napping? You know, that's not what you normally do. Since when do you take a nap? What's wrong? Is there something on your mind?"
 
Dusky winced. Vim was right. His horrible morning was symptomatic... Something really was distracting him. Dusky glanced around to verify that they were alone before speaking. "It's my dreams. Well... Hmmm... When I sleep, I used to have a particular dream and it always went in a particular way, but now... It is different. There are flowers, Vim... Flowers everywhere... I can't sleep like I used to, everywhere I go... Everything is always... Different. I can't quite describe it, but I know... I can feel the difference. I'm not sure I like it."
 
Vim squinted at Dusky. Of all of the things that he had expected to hear, this had not been one of them. For a few painfully awkward moments, he struggled to piece together a response. Finally, he shrugged his shoulders and decided to just talk. "Coal, I've never hear anything quite like that. But, really, what's so bad about flowers, eh? I mean, I'm not jumping in 'em myself, you know? But, still... That's not something to be worried about. Flowers are just flowers. Maybe you've got them in your dream because something good is going to happen soon?"
 
Dusky raised his eyebrows. "I doubt... I very much doubt that... But... There is something else, unrelated, that I would like to talk to you about. I've seen a purple filly onboard this train, Asteria, she is the research assistant of Lapis Lazuli, one of the passengers." Vim scowled. "Does she have a ticket?" Dusky responded simply and with a straight face. "Well. No, sir." Vim shook his head. "Then, get her off. Nopony goes aboard my train and makes themselves at home without my permission. I'm the conductor. She should have gone through me. That's a life lesson worth learning, you know? She could be Princess Celestia's research assistant and I wouldn't care. My train. Follow the rules."
 
Dusky licked his lips. Strategically, he decided to avoid mentioning the older unicorn in the dining car and to try a different tactic. "Well... You should care. Railway regulations are clear on..." Vim cut him off sharply. "Coal? Are you reading the regs to me? You know, I wrote the rule that you're about to quote. The intent was to help research expeditions with funding issues to be able to get where they need to go. It was not to allow freeloaders to skip right by the conductor like they own my train." Dusky carried on calmly, unaffected by the harsh interruption. "Perhaps not... However, if we wish to bring in the original intent, then I thi..." Vim cut him off again. "This isn't logic school, Coal. This is my train. You know, you really are getting sloppy. Sloppy and technical is a bad combination."
 
Despite Vim's antagonism, Dusky smiled. "Hmmm... Well... Hmmm... Vim. I have another solution. As the engineer, I can buy a ticket from the conductor to take an available room at any time. Well... I have some bits... Let me buy the ticket. Then give the room to her. The rules are remarkably clear that this is permissible." Vim's mouth fell open and he stared in shock. When he recovered, he spoke quizzically. "I was going to ask you to look after Springer while I went to check for Arcanel, but you may need some looking after yourself. Coal, are you sick, you feel ill? What the Hades is going on with you?"
 
Dusky nodded and turned to leave. "Nothing, Vim. I'm fine..." With his long stride, it only took a few moments for him to get to his area in the train engine and grab his saddlebag. Heading back to Vim, he handed the conductor the cost of a ticket. Vim tucked the bits into the pocket of his uniform, and looked at Dusky like he was trying to find his way through a maze. The shadowy pony spoke again. "I need to go to town, but I will be back shortly. I need a few parts in preparation for our accelerated schedule." He left again without waiting for Vim's response. Once in the station, he asked around for the location of a hardware store and then continued on his way.
 

 
The green pegasus felt terrible, to put it mildly. All of his thoughts were colliding in his head as though he was in a maelstrom. Of course, he had never been in a maelstrom. He was a terrible flyer, and he preferred to use his wings for hovering so that he could get to places faster. His thoughts continued to toss and turn around his head. Dimly, he thought that he could hear voices having some kind of argument. He tried to open his eyes, but they felt as heavy as boulders. He tried to groan, but he was too tired to make the sound. Instead, he just laid there, on the floor, completely inactive. 
 
Attempting to search his memory, the last thing that he could remember was speaking to a rather intimidating red unicorn about possibly helping to unlock one of the doors. He couldn't remember why, though... He couldn't even remember his name. In fact, he could hardly remember anything. The thoughts were there, but they were not yet his to have, and the effort at fighting his weakness and finding his thoughts made him feel nauseous. He wasn't a very strong pony, and he felt as though he was somehow slipping away even further. It was taking far too much effort to fight back.
 

 
Waiting around in her room, Key had dozed off, and she was snoring again, loudly. This was normally around the time that she took her nap anyway. Because she was normally active for most of the night, her sleep schedule was strange compared to most ponies. She needed naps, lots of naps. While she slept, she dreamed, a rare occurrence for her. Her dreams carried her to a time that seemed as though it was ages ago. She was a foal again, her parents were there, and there were others as well...
 
While she dreamed, Key could hear things that were being said as though she was there. She could feel the emotions that she felt as a foal. The entire dream felt just like a memory, long dormant, that had been awaiting the proper time to surface. Her parents, they didn't spend much time with her. They seemed distracted, saddened by something. They kept leaving and returning. Sometimes, they would be gone for weeks. All of this for a map. Some kind of map. Key couldn't understand why they would consider a map to be more important than she was. She was their child...
 
Cash, her family's benefactor, was there as well. He was a large, friendly pony with earthen colors and a stack of bits for a cutie mark. Key had always found that to be a rather uninspired cutie mark. He was oddly apologetic about something. There was some conflict between Cash and her father. That was when the dream became extremely difficult to follow. All of this for a map... Yet, something didn't seem right about this map. Nopony ever talked about where it led. In fact, they seemed to be talking about it as though it was a living, breathing pony. Somepony that seemed to be just as special as she was. 
 

 

So instead, he approached Ambrosia, before leaning his head in closer and speaking in a hushed tone, "Um... To put it simply... Dusky had threatened me... He didn't give any friendly tips as he had said..."

 
She felt terrible. Terrible and terribly upset. She also knew that she was going to something about this, and she knew exactly what it was. She would confront Dusky. Enough really was enough. Ambrosia took a deep breath and started to speak, but the sudden appearance of the unicorn from the night before caused her to jump a little. She wasn't naturally fearful, but she was low on sleep and the red unicorn with his startling raven black mane had seemingly materialized out of nowhere. She thought to herself that he was just as quiet as Dusky.
 

“Listen, Electrobolt. I hope I’m not frightening you with my sudden appearance but I don’t think I’m scaring you more than Dusky. Whatever he said I know it scared you and you shouldn’t be scared. I’m on your side and if anything, anything at all, arises that makes you feel uncomfortable with Dusky, just let me know.”

 
Ambrosia nodded. For a pony that looked so intimidating, Magicon seemed both wise and kind. Now, she took her time to speak. "Electrobolt, he's right. We are all on your side, you don't have to be afraid of Dusky. And... Don't worry, I'll speak with both him and Vim later on. That wasn't right, not at all."
 

He turned towards the other ponies in the dining car and addressed them all loudly enough to get their attention. "As you can see, I'm trying to organize something, and it will require all of your participation. If you all could please go sit there at the middle tables, then we can get close to starting. As soon as I know everyone is here, then I shall begin."

 
Ambrosia didn't bother taking a place at one of the middle tables. Remembering Lapis's earlier request for breakfast, she wanted to put together something for hungry ponies to eat. Something that didn't taste quite as lifeless as Dusky's food. She wandered into the kitchen and started working on a meal.
  • Brohoof 6

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(edited)

Daylight was surprised by Dusky's reaction when he had finished talking. He was uncertain about how what he said was funny as he had not said any jokes so it must of been something that he said that had pleased him...

Watching Dusky closely, he noticed something had caught his attention once again, but this time for a much longer period. Daylight followed Dusky's gaze, to see Electrobolt walking though the dinning car headed for the caboose wearing what looked like to him a uniform that closely resembled the one he saw Spinger, the assistant conductor wear. Pondering on what Electro could have gotten himself into, he looked back to Dusky when he started to speak again.

He started by addressing the arguments they had made against him, in a very well put and respectful manor, which was entirely the opposite of how he had spoke before. He started off with addressing the aged pony, which Daylight didn't pay that much attention to as he didn't understand the argument in the first place. Dusky then turned to him and began to speak. It intrigued him when he heard that Dusky had been following his adventures which he only saw himself as menial cases just so he could pay the bills. "Why would he be so interested in all things me? If he was purely interested in mystery's surely there would be other detectives in Equestria with more interesting stories to tell then mine..." he mulled over in his head. he couldn't put a lot of thought into that at the moment though as Dusky continued to speak.

Dusky then followed that with a compliment regarding the last thing he himself had said to him. Daylight only politely nodded with a stern expression still on his face as Dusky got up to get him another cup of coffee. He smiled slightly at the thought that it appeared that he had taught Dusky something, but for he he knew he could just have been saying that and not truly believed it himself. Only time would tell if he did indeed learn anything. However, as they both admitted they were wrong what was it that he learned...?

Dusky then sipped the last of his coffee. He looked down at his own cup, completely unsweetened and knew what he had to do. He picked it up and slowly took a sip fully expecting what was to come. As he swallowed, he made a face of pure discomfort but made sure it had gone down all the same. "This is going to take some getting used to..." He dreaded.

Daylight shook his head and tried his best not to focus on the now bitter taste left in his mouth as Dusky said his closing statement. Dusky valued discussions very much, even if he had a strange way of going about it. It would take a pony with a lot of guts to not be offended by him in some way...

Dusky began to talk with elderly unicorn again, but was distracted a second time by Electro walking back though the dinning car headed for the engine. This time Day noticed Electro had a set of keys attached to his uniform too, which Dusky mentioned was his. Daylight looked at him as he stared down at his empty cup. He seemed deeply troubled by Electro's presence as a conductor. He wasn't sure why but he began to feel... pity for Dusky as he just sat there.

He was about to get up himself and pour Dusky a cup as he had done for him when two ponies entered the dinning car and one of them started talking to Dusky accusing him of giving the other passengers a hard time. The one taking was the bluish stallion he remembered from dinner and the show yesterday talking with Ambrosia but the younger filly standing at his side he had not seen before. Daylight facehoofed as he spoke. Somepony, probably Flow, must of told him what Dusky had been saying earlier. Although he couldn't really blame her this time this did not help the situation by coming and confronting Dusky directly.

Because of Dusky addressing him he was able to catch the stallions name was Lapis., and that the younger filly was Asteria, who introduced himself as Lapis's assistant. She seemed very happy and chirpy, and was either uninfected or unaware by Dusky's general demeanor. Also by the way Dusky was speaking with Lapis they had conversed previously and most likely at great length for him to show respect like that to another pony.

Before Day could say anything else though, Electro reappeared and this time spoke to Dusky directly, apparently delivering a message to him from Vim, the conductor. Day flabegasted at what the content of the message was. "Is Electro really that daft that he didn't think to soften it up a least a little bit!?" He thought. he was sure Dusky wouldn't take this well...

Day watched Dusky as he sat there, completely stunned and shocked. He became worried when he saw a dark look pass over him, but it was only for a second before he remained the same cheerfulness he had earlier. Dusky got up, and politely said a goodbye but stopped to whisper something to Electrobolt on his way out though. He couldn't hear what was being said but he could tell by the expression on Electro's face it wasn't pleasant. Dusky then left in the same friendly way, Leaving Daylight frowning.

He wondered what it was that Dusky had said to Electro but wasn't sure if he should ask. Lucky Ambrosia who had been standing nearby watching the whole thing asked instead. When he heard Electro say Dusky had threatened him, Day's from only intensified and he shook his head. He wasn't going to stand for this, and neither did anypony else for that matter it seemed as since Dusky had left Flow and Magicon had entered the room showing their support to Electro having witnessed everything.

"What now I wonder..." Daylight thought still sitting in the same spot with all the other ponies standing around. His question was quickly answered though as he heard Lapis announce to the group that he was organizing a meeting, and for Electro to go and gather everypony who wasn't already in the dining car. Lapis seemed like the intelligent type to him so Day guessed he had something important he wanted to share with everyone. As Day got up, and saw Ambrosia move to the Kitchen to most likely prepare Breakfast. He looked down at his mostly uneaten food. He had to admit what Dusky had cooked wasn't that bad it was just too... plain and that bitter coffee taste still in his mouth... he couldn't concentrate sitting here in the dinning car with everypony talking so he decided he needed some fresh air.

@@Electrobolt
Day walked over to Electro to show his support to him too.
"Don't let Dusky bother you Electro he's... a strange one he is and is not somepony who should be trifled with. You should watch yourself around him from near on you hear?" He said rather seriously to him.

@@Bari
Day then turned to Lapis to speak to him.
"I'm going to go for a walk off the train so I can clear my head before the meeting. I assure you I'll only be gone a short while though" He said. he began to walk towards the door, when he remembered that he still wanted to speak with Magicon, and now would be the perfect time.

@@Magicon
He walked back over to Magicon so he could easily speak to him.
"I'm going to be going for a short walk of the train, and I'd like it if you'd join me. I haven't gotten to properly speak to you since yesterday after... and you probably don't think much of me after not saying anything before you stormed off today, which I apologise for. We can talk about all this in detail as we walk." he said in a friendly way while smiling.

He then turned and exited the dining car into the third Passenger car expecting for Magicon to follow.
"So Magicon..." He began, but is interrupted and distracted by a loud familiar snoring. "Excuse me for a moment,,,"He said to Magicon. Day traced the noise to be coming from Key's room. "Hmm... Electro's in the dinning room so that must mean..." He said to himself as he quietly and carefully opened the door of room 9 to take a peak of who was inside. As he expected, it was Key, fast asleep on her bed with one of Electro's saddlebags there and her bed a mess of crumbs, and snoring loudly. Day then quietly shut the door so not to wake her. "Hmm... that's interesting... but what does it mean though?" he thought out aloud while rubbing his chin with his hoof. Day then remembered Magicon was standing there, watching and waiting for him.

"Oh, sorry about that Magicon. Let's continue walking shall we?" He said as he turned and continued to walk to the front of the train.
"So Magicon... I'm sorry for not sticking up for you but there wasn't much I could do as you stormed off before I could say anything in reply. I agree what he said about you and Flow was rather insulting which was why when you were gone while I was replying to Dusky I basically said nothing about that as there was no one left to defend and I didn't want to anger Dusky unnecessarily. There was just... too many things wrong about that part to correct" He said shaking his head.

He stopped at this point, as they had reached the baggage car and the exit to the train. Day saw Springer lying unconscious on the floor with Vim standing watch over him. He had nothing to say to Vim at the moment so he just gestured to Magicon and stepped off the train.

They walked in no particular direction around Ponyville at a slow pace
"Now, about the coffee part... that was Dusky just being cryptic about conveying a point. Some ponies are like that, and not all have the thought process to be able to dissect the meaning behind the words. I believe I got the general idea of that part... but you should of heard the ramblings from that elderly unicorn after you left. Even that was too deep for me." he said with a slight chuckle.

As they walked, Daylight thought he saw a pony that looked a lot like Dusky enter one of the store's in the corner of his eye but when he looked properly he saw nothing. He just shrugged it off and continued talking to Magicon.
"As for yesterday's events... I don't care why you really chose to do what you did but the fact remains you chose to sacrifice your own energy to save Flow. That is the role of a hero, and a good pony, despite what Dusky might think. Not all heroes start off with a pure heart and a clean soul, some have the tough journey of having to discover what it is that makes them who they really are." He said seriously.

Day then stopped at a boutique to some of the examine some of the flowers.
"Hmm... this plum coloured one looks rather nice..." He said to himself.

Edited by Dave247
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(edited)

While Electrobolt was looking back at the door, a familiar voice spoke up and just about made the young colt jump, but he didn't. Instead, turning his head around quickly, he saw Magicon as he began to try to comfort the young colt. Apparently he had seen Electrobolt's expression earlier, but... How did he know his name? He then heard a mare speaking up as he looked over to the pegasus, whom she introduced herself as Flow. The two of them, along with Daylight and Ambrosia, had comforted him a little, but he was still confused on how Magicon found out about his name.

 

"Hello Electrobolt. My name is Lapis Lazuli. You may not know me, and perhaps you are still recovering from whatever troubling thing Dusky said to you, but I must ask a small favor of you."
 
Lapis took a deep breath before continuing. If this colt refused, then the meeting would take longer to organize as Lapis had no idea who had stayed in what room. He wasn't sure why, but to him, the quicker it got done the better. "Since you are the assistant conductor, and know who is in what room, could you possibly round up the rest of the passengers if there are any not in this car? But please do not inform Vim. My assistant here, Asteria, is not actually supposed to be on this train. It is a long story I guess, and time is of the essence. Please do not ask why, but what I have in mind needs to be gotten together as soon as possible."

 

At this moment, the earth pony stallion had approached Electrobolt and introduced himself as Lapis Lazuli. Yet again, another pony knew his name, yet he never said anything. This was getting more and more confusing as time goes by. He listened to the stallion though, as he explained that he wanted to gather whoever was left for a meeting of sorts. He then mentioned that the filly, his assistant named Asteria, wasn't meant to be on the train, too. Recalling that Dusky went to talk to Vim, and that he saw Asteria with Ambrosia, he wouldn't want to go in Vim's direction anyways.

 

Looking around the room, he saw everypony was in the room, except for the pegasus that was sleeping in, as well as his sister, Key Gear. He then overheard Daylight saying something about going out to get some fresh air, before asking Magicon if he'd want to walk with them. Once they left the car, he shook his head before looking back to Lapis. Although he still didn't know how the stallion, or Magicon, knew his name, but he needed to respond to him. "Um, sure, I'll get started on that right now." Electrobolt then turned around and started to go to the door, leaving the dining car to go check on Key.

 

As he was walking through the hallway to room nine, Electrobolt was deep in thought. "Magicon somehow found out my name..." he whispered to himself. "Lapis did too... But, how...? I never told them my name... And Dusky... His voice and his threat... It's like he--- Wait...!" His eyes opened wide as he finally pieced things together. Dusky, as he was leaving the dining car, had said his name. Yet, much like Lapis and Magicon, he never told the engineer his name. In fact, this was the first time he saw the train's engineer. But his voice, it was just like the voice in Trixie's room.

 

He also recalled that the voice knew his name, and now he realized Dusky knew his name as well. Something's not right with Dusky, this much he knew. Moving quickly, he got to Key's door and tried to open it without unlocking it. Fortunately it was unlocked so he didn't need to use keys. Once he got inside, he quickly closed the door behind him before locking it. Turning around, he then saw Key sleeping as she snored loudly. Shaking his head, he approached Key as he saw that she had already gotten into her cookies, yet only took out a few of them. Once more his stomach growled, yet he quickly shook his head. *No, those are Key's cookies. You can wait just a little longer...* he thought, before he nudged Key gently.

 

However, his nudge did nothing to wake the filly up, so he wondered what else he could do to wake her up. As he pondered, he recalled how Key went crazy over cookies. Looking over to the bag of cookies, he slowly reached a hoof out, before grabbing the bag and shaking it enough to make a noise, yet not break any of the cookies. At the sound, Key suddenly woke up as he chuckled, before setting the bag down. "Hey sis, um... There's a meeting about to take place soon, and you're needed. But..." He sighed as he closed his eyes. "But first, I need to tell you something..."

 

Taking in a deep breath, he opened his eyes as he looked at Key, a flash of worry on his face. "Well... You remember last night... In Trixie's room...? Well... I heard that voice again... Only this time, it came from Dusky... But that's not all... Just like that creature, Dusky somehow knew my name..." Looking back to the door, in case Dusky was around, before shaking his head, he continued. "Um, also... Dusky threatened me..." He then proceeded to tell Key what Dusky's threat was, word-for-word. After that, he stopped to catch his breath as he let the information sink in.

Edited by Electrobolt
  • Brohoof 5

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