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[ANON IN EQUESTRIA] The Hero Help Desk

By Nebulus
Created: 17th December 2020 08:33:58 PM

  1. Originally uploaded to Pastebin: July 8th, 2016
  2. ---
  3.  
  4. Update - 02/12/2020
  5. After much (actually very little) deliberation I've decided to change the tag for this story from [FLUTTERRAPE] to [ANON IN EQUESTRIA].
  6. Whilst the story was initially written for FR, in retrospect it's far better suited for AiE, as the FR elements within are minimal.
  7.  
  8. ---
  9.  
  10. >Twilight Sparkle is dead.
  11. >Whilst one might think this would be cause for great alarm, it's actually not that big of a deal.
  12. >So said the residents of Equestria upon rising one morning to find that the newly appointed Princess of Friendship had kicked the royal bucket.
  13. >'She fell heroically in a battle against the dark forces at work against Equestria' is what Celestia told the public.
  14. >What actually happened was that she got a wicked nasty paper-cut and lacerated a major artery during a marathon study-session, and rather than calling for help, tried to finish the chapter she was on.
  15. >To her credit, she had smashed the previous record of 28 hours and was rapidly approaching 40 before her life was cut brutally short by the only thing she'd ever loved.
  16. >But when all was said and done, the funeral delivered, the body buried, and the tears dried, the citizens of Equestria went back to their normal lives.
  17. >Truthfully, everyone was over it about 4 hours after the funeral.
  18. >In the words of one mare: "We never really liked her all that much anyway. Too preachy."
  19. >But it left one pressing question on the lips of the now concerned and worryingly vulnerable masses.
  20. >Who would protect them?
  21. >With Sparkle gone, the remaining Elements of Harmony went back to their day-jobs, unable to fight the enemies of Equestria without their magical powers.
  22.  
  23. 1/?
  24.  
  25. >Princess Celestia reasoned that perhaps this was a golden opportunity to move past the shackles of the past.
  26. >To stride forward with a renewed sense of purpose, and to rely on pony ingenuity, cunning, and diplomacy to tackle the many threats Equestria faced, rather than constantly falling back on ancient powers beyond comprehension.
  27. >This idea was quickly swept aside in light of Princess Luna's objectively superior idea to defend Equestria from the spectres that lurk in the night...
  28.  
  29. "Hi, welcome to the Hero Help Desk. What can I do you for?"
  30. >"Uhh, hi, uhh, I'm uhh, a hero...?"
  31. "Hello A Hero, what can I help you with?"
  32. >"Umm. I need uh, a uh, quest?"
  33. "One quest coming right up!"
  34. >You look at the 'in' tray behind your counter.
  35. >A single battered sheet of paper lies in it.
  36. >Pinch it between your fingers and lift it out carefully.
  37. >Squint at it for a second, then look at the stallion facing you.
  38. >He's short, skinny, can barely hold the axe he's carrying, and has a serious sweat going on just from talking to you.
  39. "A Hero, how do you feel about killing giant spiders?"
  40. >"Uhh, Spi- spiders...?"
  41. "Yes. Big, black, hairy, extremely venomous. You up for it? There's a hundred bits in it for you."
  42. >He chews his lip.
  43. >"H-how big are they?"
  44. "Eh, the slip says they're huge, but that's just to scare newcomers. They're tiny, really."
  45. >Four feet tall is tiny, right?
  46. >"Where um, are they?"
  47. "West of the Everfree Forest, past the Bloodied Gulch, on the other side of the Netherwastes, just short of Discord's Blight. There are a... 'few' dozen of them that need taking care of. How about it? Honour and glory await!"
  48. >"W-well okay! Sign me up, s-sir!"
  49. "Faaantastic! Well I'll just need your signature here, address here, and next of kin here along with their contact details."
  50. >A Hero fills out the form in shaky writing.
  51.  
  52. 2/?
  53.  
  54. "You're all set, kiddo. Knock 'em dead."
  55. >He nods nervously and stumbles down the road, struggling to balance his axe on his back.
  56. >You watch him go with a smile.
  57. >Then put his slip in the 'deceased' tray.
  58.  
  59. >Princess Luna's master plan to save Equestria was, in short, genius.
  60. >At length, it was a massive propaganda campaign to galvanise Equestria's youth into going on dangerous adventures for the good of the nation, and profit.
  61. >All the perks of a military, without the excessive costs that go into training, routines, discipline, weapons and armour, pensions, research and development, or any sort of severe financial burdens that would otherwise create an effective fighting force.
  62. >Instead, unemployed, disillusioned youths and the elderly were eagerly signing up to fight the good fight for a quick buck.
  63. >'As long as it gets them out the house' seems to be the broad public opinion.
  64.  
  65. >"So I just... take this across town?"
  66. "Yes. The quest clearly states that you are to take this box of goods across town to Sugarcube Corner and deliver it to Mrs Cake."
  67. >"But that sucks! I wanna fight monsters!"
  68. "Sorry kid, not had any monster alerts in today."
  69. >You glance at your frighteningly large pile of monster alerts, a few of which have [URGENT] written along the headers.
  70. >Glance back at the 10 year old before you.
  71. >"My mom said I could be a hero!"
  72. "You are being a hero. If these goods don't get to Sugarcube Corner in time, the whole business could crumble, leading to a food shortage and ultimately starvation, and in the aftermath Ponyville will become divided into warring factions of cannibal tribes vying for dominance over this region and it'll all be your fault."
  73. >The colt tenses up.
  74. >"R-right! Yeah! I got this!"
  75. >He grabs the small box with his teeth off the counter before you and gallops away.
  76. >You watch him go with a neutral expression.
  77. >It's just taking a box to the other side of town.
  78. >He won't die, right...?
  79.  
  80. 3/?
  81.  
  82. >You purse your lips.
  83. >Then slowly place his form in the 'deceased' tray.
  84. >With a sigh, you let yourself relax.
  85. >The standard Equestrian weather of beaming sunlight and a cerulean sky hang over you, warming your face as you give out a little yawn.
  86. >Your stand, which is little more than a wooden box with a front desk instead of a door, rarely sees much activity at midday.
  87. >Most adventurers show up on the weekends.
  88. >That's when you have a good shot at selling a dangerous monster hunt to a group of drunken teenagers looking to 'party hard'.
  89. >Sometimes you wonder if all this is worth it.
  90. >If sending disillusioned youths off to die is really the best choice.
  91. >Surely a better state-funded education, a curriculum centred around critical thinking, rationale, and emotional control combined with a stronger emphasis on encouraging the creation of small businesses to boost the job market, and to inspire the pursuit of science and technological discovery could solve Equestria's problems.
  92. >...
  93. >Nah, because then you wouldn't get paid.
  94. >You look left at the poster of Luna on the wall.
  95. >She's spread over a large beach ball giving you a huge cheeky wink.
  96. >The caption "Work harder - or else." is sprawled along the bottom in playful cursive.
  97. >You give it a little mock-salute and look back out over Ponyville.
  98. >Your stand is on a dirt road leading out of the town.
  99. >The view over it is always pleasant.
  100. >It's nice here. It's quiet, and gives you a lot of time to think to yourself.
  101. >There's also the increased chance of snagging a few dimwitted adventurers into doing your jobs.
  102. >Oh, just your luck.
  103. >Here comes one now.
  104. >You put on your winning smile and straighten your back.
  105. >The adventurer hovers over to you, her wings lazily carrying her.
  106. >"Sup. This the help desk?"
  107. "...Rainbow Dash...?"
  108. >"Yeah, hi."
  109. "What are you doing?"
  110. >"Got fired. Need money."
  111. "Wow, I didn't think you could get fired. Doesn't your dad run the weather patrol?"
  112.  
  113. 4/?
  114.  
  115. >"Uh huh, but I got caught napping so... you know. Need money."
  116. "So rather than get a job you decided to become a hero."
  117. >"Yup."
  118. "Even though you're likely going to die."
  119. >"Yup."
  120. "...Well today's your lucky day, young lady! I have -just- the job for you!"
  121. >"Awesome! Anything cool enough for me?"
  122. "Damn right there is!"
  123. >You give her a form.
  124. >"...Watchmare?"
  125. "That's right! All you have to do is watch over a VIPs goods for a few hours each night and prevent anything from tampering with them."
  126. >"So I'll just, like, be stood still and waiting?"
  127. "Yup."
  128. >"That sounds boring."
  129. "Oh it'll be terribly boring."
  130. >"Haven't you got anything... cooler?"
  131. "Ehhh, I dunno, I might have -one- more alert."
  132. >You pluck one of your [URGENT] alerts from your frighteningly large pile.
  133. "This is the only other one; you'll just have to like, go west, past Ghastly Gorge, and take care of a few monsters in that general area."
  134. >"Oh cool, so I'll get to beat some stuff up?"
  135. "Yeah...! Beat 'em up... So uh, you up for it?"
  136. >"Sure! Where do I sign?"
  137. >You let Rainbow Dash write out her details whilst you subtly cover the job's details with a strategically placed pair of hands smothering all of the text.
  138. >"Okay okay, so I'm just flying west and beating up whatever monsters I see there, right?"
  139. "Well, there's some old ruins and I think someone maybe saw a few ghouls lurking around, you'll be fine."
  140. >"Sweeeeet, thanks Anon! Catch you later!"
  141. >You beam and wave as she goes.
  142. "Good luck!"
  143. >...
  144. >You look down at the form.
  145. >' ANCIENT HATEFUL LICH-GOD ESCAPED FROM TARTARUS -- IS CURRENTLY RAISING NECROTIC LEGION OF UNDEAD BEAR-WARLOCKS, FUCKDEMONS, AND BLACK MAGI TO END ALL LIFE IN EQUESTRIA -- NEED LEGENDARY HEROES IMMEDIATELY! '
  146. >...
  147. >She'll be fine.
  148. >Pop her slip in the 'completed' tray and sigh contentedly.
  149. >Business is booming.
  150. >Fold your arms on the counter and rest your head on it, closing your eyes and enjoying the sun on your face.
  151.  
  152. 5/?
  153.  
  154. >Maybe you can enjoy a quick nap before some other poor sap comes along.
  155. >With that, you drift off into the most tranquil of sleeps.
  156. >...
  157. >"Hey mister!"
  158. "Buh?"
  159. >Quickly raise your head, pretending to inspect the polished wooden counter.
  160. "What's up kid? Wanna fight some dragons?"
  161. >The blurry youngster scrunches up his face as everything comes into focus.
  162. >"N-no, I'm here with a quest!"
  163. >Rub your eyes and stretch, trying not to yawn.
  164. "...Come again?"
  165. >"I've come to complete a quest here!"
  166. >That's not right. You didn't give him a quest, and you're the only help desk in this region.
  167. "Let me see that--"
  168. >You swipe for the paper the colt was gingerly offering you.
  169. >' give the cutie at the help stand my best regards '
  170. "Uhh. Sorry kid, I'm not into... seven year olds."
  171. >The colt scowls at you.
  172. >"Have you had her best regards?"
  173. "You have no idea what you're doing, do you?"
  174. >"Um, no? Yes?"
  175. "No."
  176. >"No..."
  177. "Who did you even get this from?"
  178. >"The dagger lady!"
  179. "What dagger lady...?"
  180. >"Her!"
  181. >The kid points a hoof down the road further out of Ponyville.
  182. >Another stand is there.
  183. >That wasn't there before.
  184. >This vexes you greatly.
  185. >A minty green face peers out, sending a sly wink your way.
  186. >...
  187. >Only bad things can come of this.
  188. >"She said she'd give me three whole bits if I gave that to you!"
  189. "Uh, great, well hurry on back and tell her to stay off my turf, I have an agreement with the agency that mine is the only branch in this area."
  190. >"Okay!"
  191. >The colt hurries off back to the other stand.
  192. >You watch him go with vague interest.
  193. >He hurries back, red in the face.
  194. >Though that might just be his coat colour.
  195. >"She says she's not with the agency and that she's there to support heroes!"
  196. "Alright then, tell her to fuck off."
  197. >The kid nods excitedly.
  198. >...
  199. >"She told me to watch my language!"
  200. "Anything else?"
  201. >"Also she has a permit from the Mayor!"
  202. >Dammit.
  203. "Alright, fine. Thanks for letting me know, kid."
  204. >"Bye mister!"
  205.  
  206. 6/?
  207.  
  208. >The colt runs away down the dirt road.
  209. >You watch the other stand with suspicion.
  210. >After a thought, you pop an 'out to lunch' sign on the desk and leave via the back door.
  211. >March over to the other stand, ready to argue.
  212. >Standing in front of her display, it's almost identical to yours.
  213. >Slap the bell on the desk, whilst noting that you need to get a bell for your desk.
  214. >A mint coloured pony appears instantly from under the counter.
  215. >"Hi the-- oh, it's you~"
  216. "Oh it is, -Lyra-."
  217. >You say, spitting her name out.
  218. >Lyra Heartstrings grins at you.
  219. >"Guess who's helping you ooout?"
  220. "Not you, I hope."
  221. >"Don't be so mean. I'm here to give the heroes you recruit weapons and armour!"
  222. "Why?" you ask with suspicion.
  223. >A distant look of determination crosses her face.
  224. >She gazes past you and into the trees, her eyes misty and reflecting the seriousness of her task.
  225. >"When I see those brave heroes, rushing off into unseen danger to combat the forces that threaten our fair land, I'm just filled with the urge to assist them as best I can. So here I stand, a humble servant of the realm. My work might not seem like much, but I'll sleep better knowing that I made a difference in this cruel and uncertain world."
  226. >She holds a hoof over her heart and tries not to cry.
  227. >You give her your flattest look.
  228. "...Alright, so why are you -actually- here?"
  229. >"I reckon I can scam a few idiots into buying a dagger or two."
  230. "There it is. Well as long as you don't interfere with my business you and I will get along fine."
  231. >"Oh I -know- we'll get along fine~"
  232. "We're not going down this road again, Lyra. I've told you enough times."
  233. >"Come ooon, we made a cute couple!"
  234. "I jus-- look, there's someone coming, and they look like they've just dropped out of college, I need to get back to work."
  235. >You hurry back to the stand and snatch the lunch sign off the counter just as a pony with dreadlocks and a funny smell about him lumbers up to the stand.
  236.  
  237. 7/?
  238.  
  239. "Welcome to the Hero Help Desk, how may I assist you?"
  240. >"So like, is this the desk where heroes get help, and stuff?"
  241. "Why yes! Yes it is!"
  242. >You fumble around for a high-chance-of-fatality monster form under the counter.
  243. >"Khool, so like, can I just sign up, and stuff?"
  244. >Glance at the form in your hand.
  245. >' Wereponies sighted in the Everfree. *MUST POSESS SILVER* '
  246. >Yes. This will do.
  247. "Indeed, might I ask, do you have any silver on you, buddy?"
  248. >"Silver? Nah bro, I'm broke, you know?"
  249. >He starts laughing at his own comment.
  250. >"Like, no money at all, dawg! Hahaaaaaaa..."
  251. >...
  252. "Excellent! Well I have a nice, easy mission here for you with a handsome reward."
  253. >"Radical, what do I need to do?"
  254. "Just walk into the Everfree Forest and wait until tonight. You'll know what the mission is once it starts."
  255. >"Sounds khool, sounds so khool..."
  256. >Your eye twitches.
  257. "Just ah, sign here and you'll be well on your way to fame and fortune my friend!"
  258. >He slowly accepts the pencil you give him and starts to fill out his details.
  259. >It takes you a moment to realise he's drawing a flower as his signature.
  260. >"What's like, 'next of kin' supposed to mean? Because I identify as a cat, bro, you feel me?"
  261. "Oooh, that's not important, just leave it at your name."
  262. >"Sweet, alright I'm like, gonna go now, peace and love, bro, peace and love."
  263. >He shuffles off.
  264. >Lyra leans out of her stall as he walks away (in the wrong direction: back to town), shouting after him.
  265. >"Hey there! Wanna buy a dagger?"
  266. >"I don't believe in daggers, dude, they keep the working classes down."
  267. >With that, he disappears.
  268. >Lyra glares after him.
  269. >Then looks at you.
  270. >Then at her stand.
  271.  
  272. >"I just think this is a better arrangement. It's more efficient."
  273. "Moving your stand next to mine is a gross violation of my personal space."
  274. >"Hey Anon, our stands are touching."
  275. "I'd feel disgust but after our second date I think my disgust already reached its peak."
  276.  
  277. 8/?
  278.  
  279. >"Aww come on, it was just a salad!"
  280. "It was not -just- a salad you fucking--"
  281. >"Excuse me?"
  282. >You both stop bickering.
  283. >A mare has stopped before your stand.
  284. >She smiles, and adjusts her helmet.
  285. >"Hello! My name is Yearning Sunrise! I would like to see your list of quests, please!"
  286. >You blink and stare at her.
  287. "Uhh."
  288. >Yearning Sunrise doesn't lose her smile.
  289. >"Is everything alright?"
  290. "It's just... you're an adult."
  291. >"Aha, well, yes, I am, is that a problem?"
  292. "Not really, I'm just more used to seeing kids and the unemployed come here, not..."
  293. >You look her over.
  294. >Shaped armour, sharpened blades neatly arranged at easily reachable locations on her body, a firm looking helmet sat on her light yellow mane, a sturdy spear strapped to her lilac coated side.
  295. "...Actual heroes."
  296. >Yearning smiles even wider.
  297. >"Well today's your lucky day!"
  298. >Aww man, she stole your line...
  299. "Just a sec, lemmie see what I've got..."
  300. >As you sift through your pile, Lyra leans across her desk.
  301. >"Hey there friend, need a dagger?"
  302. >"Oh my, I was looking for a replacement, yes!"
  303. >"Hows about this beauty? Yours for just a hundred bits."
  304. >"This is a butter knife. And I'm not paying a hundred bits for it, are you trying to scam me?"
  305. >Lyra glances at the knife quickly.
  306. >"...Whatever gave you that impression?"
  307. "Ok, here we are."
  308. >You slide a pile of jobs over the counter.
  309. >Yearning Sunrise happily starts sifting her way through them.
  310. >"I just came here from Stalliongrad, you know."
  311. "Yeah? How are things over there?"
  312. >"Well the merchant district got taken over by a death-cult before I left, but otherwise they're doing quite well!"
  313. "You from there?"
  314. >"Nope, I'm actually from Canterlot."
  315. "Ah, thought so, the accent was a clue."
  316. >"Aha, that obvious?"
  317. "'Fraid so, darling. You been to Ponyville before?"
  318. >"I haven't actually! It's lovely over here, do you get a lot of trouble?"
  319. >You think back to Rainbow Dash.
  320.  
  321. 9/?
  322.  
  323. "...The odd monster alert now and then."
  324. >"Must be nice, Canterlot's a bit hectic these days."
  325. >She wets her lips and a pauses, looking at a slip.
  326. >"Nothing's really grabbing me here, I'm afraid, I'm a skilled warrior if that helps at all."
  327. "You sure you want to go fighting? I can hook you up with something simple like uh, watchmare duties?"
  328. >"Oh my, that sounds terribly boring."
  329. "It really is. Alright look, I have something here that I can't seem to get rid of."
  330. >You pretend to search for a form under your desk.
  331. >After a moment you take the top form off your frighteningly large pile.
  332. >Casually slide it over the counter to her.
  333. >She takes a second to skim-read it.
  334. >"Trolls?"
  335. "Yes, actual trolls. Not seen them in a while, but a family of them has moved into the area and is ransacking outlying farms."
  336. >Yearning Sunrise develops a confident look.
  337. >"I'll see to it that they never harm another pony!"
  338. >She pulls out her own pencil, signs the form, and takes it with her as she gallops off down the road.
  339. >You watch her go with surprise.
  340. "...Wait, I'm supposed to -give- them the form...?"
  341. >"Wow, she was a bitch."
  342. >You remember your neighbour.
  343. >Lyra sneers after Yearning Sunrise.
  344. >You let out an exasperated sigh.
  345. "Here we go, every other female is a bitch, you know what your problem is Lyra? You just can't handle other people giving me attention."
  346. >"I meant she wouldn't buy my dagger, stop making this about you."
  347. "Lyra that -is- actually a butter knife."
  348. >"You just can't appreciate craftsponyship."
  349. "More like crapsponyship."
  350. >"Top-tier joke. Look, you can talk to other mares all you want, I'm not jealous or anything."
  351. "Lyra you go red when you're lying."
  352. >"So?"
  353. "You're bright red. Come to think of it, that might be why you can't sell anything, she knew you were conning her."
  354. >"Well, I'm new at this so I get to make mistakes."
  355. "Funnily enough you're really good at making them."
  356.  
  357. 10/?
  358.  
  359. >"Whatever, Anon, you just couldn't handle me in the bedroom."
  360. "Whatthefuck-- who's talking about sex? I was just saying you're a bad liar and always fuck things up."
  361. >"Be honest, I fucked -you- up pretty good."
  362. >She winks at you.
  363. "This is why we got divorced."
  364. >"What? I'm just making a joke, stop being so anti-fun."
  365. "Now lemmie get one thing clear, I'm fun as hell, you're the one that stabbed the mailpony."
  366. >"She was making passes at you! I had to assert myself!"
  367. "She was giving me a hug! Derpy's a saint, you psychopath!"
  368. >"She recovered well enough!"
  369. "Three months in hospital is not 'well enough', Lyra, you stabbed her in the fucking ribs."
  370. >You look at her counter.
  371. >...
  372. "That's the fucking butter knife you stabbed her with!"
  373. >"It's an effective piece of field-tested military hardware!"
  374. "Don't even think about making a dick joke."
  375. >She splutters.
  376. >"BUH!"
  377. "I can read you like a book, Lyra Heartstrings. I know what you're thinking and I know how you operate."
  378. >She scowls at you.
  379. >Then smiles.
  380. >"See, I missed this~"
  381. "Oh don't fucking start."
  382.  
  383. >"Morning, partner!"
  384. "Since when were we partners, Lyra? Also good morning."
  385. >"Since two years six months and three weeks ago."
  386. >Stare at her.
  387. >"I'm over it. Honest."
  388. >Stare at her harder.
  389. >"...Well, I figured we have a pretty good thing going here; you trick suckers into getting themselves killed, I trick suckers into buying my crap, then I track the suckers down and repossess my goods once they're dead!"
  390. "Alright, that took a really dark turn there and I don't like where you were going with that, but as long as you don't drag me into anything illegal I suppose we can do this."
  391. >"I knew you'd see it my way~"
  392. "Your way is the worst way. Of all the ideas you've ever had, about four of them were good. One of them was letting me break up with you."
  393. >"And another was getting you this."
  394. >She slides a brown paper bag over to you.
  395. "Oh come on..."
  396. >Open the bag up and look inside.
  397.  
  398. 11/?
  399.  
  400. >Try not to smile.
  401. "You seriously still remember?"
  402. >"Duh. I remember everything about my snugglebuggywubbyhubs."
  403. "I'll forget you said that. Thanks, by the way."
  404. >You reach into the bag and fish out the applesauce pastry.
  405. >They're a weakness, and Lyra knows it.
  406. >"You're quite welcome, paaartner~"
  407. "Why do I get the feeling you don't just mean business partner?"
  408. >"Because I still love you, numbskull."
  409. "Knock it off, horse, we have a customer coming."
  410. >"Knock 'em dead, dear."
  411. "Shut the f-- Hello! Welcome to the Hero Help Desk."
  412. >The stallion shifts nervously before you and Lyra.
  413. >"U-Um, can I have an adventure?"
  414. >Lyra pipes up.
  415. >"Sure can! Carrots, vaseline, make sure no one else is at home. Trust me."
  416. >She winks at him.
  417. >He gives her a nervous look.
  418. >You do as well.
  419. >She huffs.
  420. >"Just making a joke..."
  421. "Uh, yes, we-- I can get you a quest, if that's what you want, friend."
  422. >He nods sharply.
  423. >"Y-yeah..."
  424. "So what's your preferred method of adventuring? Combat? Exploration? Deliveries?"
  425. >The stallion smiles.
  426. >"W-well delivery sounds nice!"
  427. "Excellent!"
  428. >You reach behind the counter and place a large black fragment of obsidian before him.
  429. "This is a piece of a Saddle-Arabian war golem. Back in the day the Arabians made these things by the thousands for their little disputes, but the problem was that every golem they made had a small chance of being completely unhinged."
  430. >He gulps.
  431. "Even though the risks of creating these golems was often touted in the royal courts, the Arabian king decided to keep going. Eventually they made a golem that was to be the ultimate weapon of war, a huge marvel of arcano-engineering that was to finally end the constant bloody conflicts."
  432. >You lock eyes with the stallion.
  433.  
  434. 12/?
  435.  
  436. "Unfortunately it ended up being one of the one percent of golems that went a bit mad. The golem they created was so evil and full of hate that it nearly wiped out the Saddle-Arabian empire before they destroyed it. It is said that the golem was so gripped with unfathomable anger that merely touching a piece of it would drive ponies mad."
  437. >The stallion, now white with terror tears his eyes from yours and fixates on the fragment.
  438. >"A-a-and th-that...?!"
  439. "Oh. This is just from a regular golem."
  440. >He blinks.
  441. "Yup. Nothing wrong with this."
  442. >You pick it up and wave it around for effect.
  443. "You just need to take it to the royal museum in Canterlot."
  444. >Smile to reassure him.
  445. "Everything alright?"
  446. >His eyes jump between the fragment and your smiling, rosy face.
  447. >"Y-yeah, f-fine. Where do I sign?"
  448. "Here, here, and here, fill out these details, next of kin, blah blah blah..."
  449. >As you instruct him, Lyra gets out her 'stock'.
  450. "There we are! Now you take that form with you, you'll need it once you get to the museum."
  451. >Something you didn't know until you read the employee handbook for the first time last night.
  452. >Turns out you actually get paid based on how many ponies -come back-, not on how many you send out.
  453. >Before the stallion can leave, Lyra speaks up.
  454. >"COUGH COUGH HI HELLO COUGH."
  455. >He jumps.
  456. >You cover your face with a palm.
  457. >"Say, friend, travelling all that way to Canterlot might be dangerous for your health!"
  458. >"Oh um, I was just gonna take the train." he says with a shrug.
  459. >Lyra puts on her best salespony smile.
  460. >"Even so, trains are prone to breaking down and being filled with dangerous vagabonds! You'll need a weapon to defend yourself in these trying times."
  461. >"Okay?"
  462. >"Come, look at my extensive collection of artisan weaponry."
  463. >"These are all butter knives."
  464. >"Ah, to the simple-minded they are! But these are inconspicuous weapons used by master assassins the world over!"
  465. >"...Are you okay? You've gone bright red."
  466.  
  467. 13/?
  468.  
  469. >"I-It's the heat. Buy a knife please."
  470. >"...Okay."
  471. >You sit bolt upright and bewildered.
  472. >Lyra's jaw drops.
  473. >"Wuh-- excellent! That'll be fifteen bits."
  474. >He winces.
  475. >"And you're sure that these are good weapons...?"
  476. >Lyra reaches over the counter and places a hoof on his shoulder.
  477. >"My friend, I would never lie to you."
  478. >"...You are -really- red right now."
  479. >"It's menopause. Or flu. Fifteen bits."
  480. >Lo and behold, the stallion gives Lyra 15 bits.
  481. >He takes one of the many butter knives and slides it into his saddlebag along with his form.
  482. >With that, he sucks in some air and gives you a nod.
  483. >"Th-thankyou sir, I won't let you down!"
  484. >And with that, he's gone.
  485. >...
  486. >...
  487. >You slowly contort your face into a grimace and turn to face Lyra.
  488. >She's staring straight at you, a look of unfiltered joy stretched across her features.
  489. "Don't say a word--"
  490. >"I SOLD ONE!"
  491. "God dammit."
  492. >"YOU SAID I COULDN'T DO IT BUT I DID!"
  493. "I never actually said that."
  494. >"I MADE MONEY!"
  495. "Yup."
  496. >"ACTUAL MONEY!"
  497. "You did."
  498. >"ARE YOU PROUD OF ME?!"
  499. >You give your 'partner' a good hard stare.
  500. >She can barely contain herself.
  501. >Sigh and rest your head on a hand.
  502. "Yes, Lyra, I'm proud of you."
  503. >She bursts into tears.
  504. >You spend the next 20 minutes or so listening to her wail about how she knew she had it in herself and that she just had to believe in capitalism.
  505. "Are you going to do this every time some poor dumbass buys a knife?"
  506. >"I-I don't think I've ever been this happy!"
  507. "You said that about me saying yes to dating you."
  508. >"This is better than you!"
  509. "Gee whizz, outdone by a knife."
  510. >"EEEEEEEE!"
  511.  
  512. >"Moooorniiiing~!"
  513. "Mornin'."
  514. >You sit down on your chair behind your counter.
  515. >Lyra was already in her seat, inspecting her inventory.
  516. >"So how are yooou?"
  517. "I'm alright. What's with the cloth?"
  518. >"I'm giving my goods a clean! I bought some silver polish with the hard-earned money I acquired yesterday~"
  519. >She develops a smug look.
  520.  
  521. 14/?
  522.  
  523. >"Despite some people saying I couldn't do it."
  524. "I never said you couldn't. I think. By the way you're doing it wrong."
  525. >"What?"
  526. "The polishing, you do it like-- look, just give it here."
  527. >Quick a flash, you swipe the cloth and knife from her.
  528. >You work your way around the metal with the cloth, the silver gleaming in the morning sun.
  529. >As you do so, Lyra watches in silence.
  530. >You finish up and give her the knife back.
  531. "There. All cleaned."
  532. >"...That took you like twenty seconds."
  533. "Yeah?"
  534. >"I-I've been here for an hour."
  535. "Jesus, Lyra."
  536. >"I don't have hands! I only have magic!"
  537. "Magic's more precise than hands, isn't it?"
  538. >"No! It's not! It's not even-- polish my knives!"
  539. "Whuh?"
  540. >Lyra scrambles over her counter, along to yours, and dumps all her knives and polish before you.
  541. >"Cleeeean iiiit!"
  542. "What's in it for me?"
  543. >"...Quick blowjob?"
  544. "No."
  545. >"You sure?"
  546. "Quite sure. It's unprofessional to offer your business partner sex in exchange for services."
  547. >"Anon please I need this."
  548. >You push her away with a hand, her soft pony body sliding across the polished surface of the counter.
  549. "Fine, but only if you leave me alo-- ah fuck who am I kidding."
  550. >You grumble as you get to work on the knives.
  551. >As you polish away, Lyra babbles on about how she's thinking opening a school for business since she's clearly a prodigy.
  552. >She always did like to over-exaggerate.
  553. >By several orders of magnitude.
  554. >Still, it's nice to have someone to talk to, you suppose.
  555. >Also she's clearly going to start bribing you with pastries, as evidenced by the pastry you're currently eating, courtesy of your ex-wife.
  556. >You glance at your poster of Luna.
  557. >Her face has been scratched out and shoddily replaced with an old photo of Lyra back when she wasn't crazy.
  558. >You pause mid-polish.
  559. >She was never not crazy.
  560. >...
  561. >You realise now that you've got a terrible taste in women.
  562.  
  563. 15/?
  564.  
  565. >Dismayed by this, you vent your woes by making the butter-knife between your fingers gleam like a diamond in the sun.
  566. >You're so engrossed in your task, you fail to notice the mare trying to get your attention.
  567. >Mercifully, it isn't Lyra.
  568. >...
  569. >Wait hang on--
  570. >You look up.
  571. >"Hello again!"
  572. "Yearning Sunrise?"
  573. >"Oh good, you remembered my name!"
  574. >She gives you a cheeky wink.
  575. >You can't help but develop a dumb grin.
  576. >Out of the corner of your eye, Lyra is scrunching her face up.
  577. >"Well, I cleared out the trolls. It was quite the scrap, I'll tell you that much!"
  578. >She passes her form to you.
  579. >It's got specks of black blood on it now.
  580. >You think back as hard as you can to the employee handbook.
  581. >Then slowly tick the 'Completed' box.
  582. >Yearning gives you a weary smile.
  583. >"Another job done. Being a hero is rather hard, you know?"
  584. "Yeah I can imagine, just a sec I'll get your reward."
  585. >You fumble around looking for the safe key.
  586. >Having never actually used it, it proves quite a challenge.
  587. >You find it stuffed at the back of a pigeonhole next to your head, covered in cobwebs and dead spiders.
  588. >Opening the safe, you see sacks upon sacks of gold bits.
  589. >Holy Christ.
  590. >No wonder people do this hero stuff for a living.
  591. >Checking the form again, you pull out three sizable sacks of gold and give it to Yearning Sunrise.
  592. >Her eyes bulge.
  593. >"All this?!"
  594. "Well it was a dangerous job, and due to its severity you're given an increased reward."
  595. >She beams at you.
  596. >"Ohh happy days!~ Well, not the for trolls, mind you."
  597. >With a cute giggle, she gratefully accepts the gold.
  598. >You smile and watch as she puts it away in her bags.
  599. "So what will you do now?"
  600. >"Well, I suppose I'll find a hotel or somewhere to sleep, then I'll..."
  601. >She gives you a lopsided, toothy grin.
  602. >"Come back for more."
  603. >Oh dear.
  604. >You might have to put in a request for more safe money.
  605. >"I'll see you later then... sorry, what do I call you?"
  606. "Anonymous."
  607.  
  608. 16/?
  609.  
  610. >"Anonymous! Strange name, I like it!"
  611. "Thanks."
  612. >Your name's not really Anonymous.
  613. >It's Gayelord Hasselhoff.
  614. >But no one has to know that.
  615. >After lingering for a bit too long, Yearning nods and starts moving.
  616. >"Yes! Well, goodbye Anonymous!"
  617. "Catch you later."
  618. >And with that, she's gone.
  619. >Out of the corner of your eye, Lyra is still scrunching hard.
  620. >Turn to her, and gesture at her with an open hand.
  621. "Proceed."
  622. >"God she's a bitch, coming in here and acting like she owns the place, who does she think she is?! 'oh i'll come back for more!' haha, yeah right I'll give her more of my hoof up her ass if she comes here again stupid helmet-wearing sack of--"
  623. >Lyra can come off as overbearing at times.
  624. >But having lived with her - hell, married her - you've come to learn that she's actually -extremely overbearing- at -all times-.
  625. >You smile and nod as your partner rants on about what she's going to do to Yearning Sunrise when she stops on by next time.
  626. >Lyra won't do really anything, you know her that well.
  627. >She wouldn't make a move on a mare like Yearning. She'd probably die.
  628. >Thinking about this, you really hope Lyra makes a move.
  629. >You have to spend the rest of the day listening to her rave, so you instead just zone out and think about ducks.
  630. >Funny creatures, ducks.
  631. >They have spiral shaped dicks, you know.
  632.  
  633. "Mornin' Lyra."
  634. >"Uuugh..."
  635. "Hell's up with you?"
  636. >"I ate something weird last night I think..."
  637. >Your intrepid business partner is slumped over her counter, looking green in the face.
  638. >Hard to tell, since she's actually green.
  639. "Oh dear. Maybe you should go home?"
  640. >"No... I need to be here to support you..."
  641. "Mm, nope, I'm good, you go home."
  642. >"No..."
  643. "Lyra go home."
  644. >"Nnn..."
  645. "GO HOME LY--"
  646. >"Hello? Is this the Hero Help Desk?"
  647. >You turn and raise an eyebrow.
  648. >A young stallion wearing a basic copper breastplate and sporting a notched shortsword regards you with curiosity.
  649. >"Are... are you a monster?"
  650.  
  651. 17/?
  652.  
  653. "No no, I'm the guy working the help desk, what do you need?"
  654. >"Oh, um, I'm looking for a quest? Something uh..."
  655. >He blushes.
  656. >"Maybe a bit easier than hunting demons or anything..."
  657. "Hey now, I can respect that, everyone's gotta start somewhere kiddo."
  658. >You look under your desk for something easy.
  659. >' EVERFREE WEREPONY RANKS SWELLING DUE TO LOW-QUALITY HEROES FAILING - NEEDS URGENT HELP FROM EXPERIENCED HEROES! '
  660. >Nah.
  661. >' KRAKEN IN PONYVILLE LAKE - HAS TASTE FOR ORPHAN BLOOD '
  662. >Eh.
  663. >' ADORABLE KITTEN THAT DOESN'T PRESENT ANY SORT OF THREAT ESCAPED PLAY-PEN, NEEDS BRINGING HOME! '
  664. >Sheesh, these are just brutal today.
  665. >' ESCAPED CONVICT LURKING COUNTRYSIDE - NEEDS BRINGING TO JUSTICE DEAD OR ALIVE. '
  666. >Ah, that'll do.
  667. "Try this on for size."
  668. >You slap the form before him.
  669. >He reads through it and gulps.
  670. >"What uh, what's the convict... you know, done?"
  671. >You look at the additional information provided by the agency that only you are allowed to see.
  672. >' Homicidal maniac; dabbled in cannibalism. '
  673. "...Identity theft. You'll be fine. Just stab him in the kidney and drag him back to the police station here in Ponyville."
  674. >"O-oh, okay!"
  675. >You stare at the young adventurer.
  676. >Then remember that if you want to get paid, he needs to come back alive.
  677. >Gotta start kicking these habits if you want to eat.
  678. >The stallion rereads the form before him, and gulps.
  679. >You puff out your cheeks and scratch your stubble.
  680. "Tell you what, kid... I uh, I think I saw something a bit better suited for you."
  681. >Reaching under the counter, you fish out a non-urgent form.
  682. "It's a delivery job, you gotta take uh... -this- package to Trottingham. Bit of a journey, yes, but the reward is pretty good. Waddya say?"
  683. >He brightens up immediately.
  684. >"That sounds perfect! Oh that's wonderful, thank you!"
  685. >The kid laughs nervously.
  686. >"I-I was pretty worried about having to fight a criminal... I'm not too good at fighting."
  687. "Me neither kiddo, me neither."
  688.  
  689. 18/?
  690.  
  691. >You get him to fill out the details he needs to, then hand him the form neatly folded up.
  692. >He places it in his saddlebags and smiles at you, the package - a simple brown parcel - on his back.
  693. >"Off I go--"
  694. >"HOOOOLD UP."
  695. >He almost leaps out of his skin.
  696. >Lyra leans over her desk, looking like she's about to do something shady.
  697. >That is, looking completely normal.
  698. >"You travelling to Trottingham? I hear there are demons that way."
  699. >He goes white.
  700. >You roll you eyes and ignore what's about to happen.
  701. >Instead you read through you guidebook again on how to actually do your job properly.
  702. >Oh wow, you get 20 days holiday a year.
  703. >Recruiter told you you only get 1.
  704. >Bastard.
  705. >Glance over at Lyra and her customer.
  706. >He's wearing a pan on his head and his copper breastplate is now covered in tin-foil.
  707. >She's in the process of convincing him that the very same knife she threatened your old neighbours with is in fact the legendary sabre of Sombra.
  708. >Judging by his face, he's totally buying it.
  709. >Literally.
  710. >He leaves, wearing the contents of Lyra's apartment kitchen on his body.
  711. >She gazes happily at the small pile of bits on her desk.
  712. >"Hm? What's that Anon? How am I doing? Oooh you know, just making bank, what about you?"
  713. "I'm trying to figure out how I can kill you and make it look like an accident."
  714. >"Oh shush, these bits go towards your pastries."
  715. >Fuck.
  716. >"Saaaay... I always seem to be buying nice things for you, why don't you do something nice for me for once?"
  717. "Didn't I polish all your stuff the other day?"
  718. >"Yeah, yeah, but other than that."
  719. "I don't like where this is going."
  720. >"Well I'm just saying, we're both pretty alone out here... And I don't know about you, but I've been pretty 'pent up' lately..."
  721. "Lyra..."
  722. >You glare at her.
  723. "I'm not rubbing your fucking belly."
  724. >"OH COME ON!"
  725. "Nah pal, not happening."
  726. >"It's been forever!"
  727. "You only loved me because of my hands."
  728.  
  729. 19/?
  730.  
  731. >"That's only half-true!"
  732. "Are we really going to bicker about this? I have work to do."
  733. >You quickly check to see if anyone's coming up the road.
  734. >No one.
  735. >Not helping your case, really.
  736. >Lyra scrambles over to your stand.
  737. "Hey- HEY! Off the counter, I just cleaned it."
  738. >Lyra lies flat on her back, staring up at you, her hooves clasped together and pleading.
  739. >"Rub me! I'll give you anything!"
  740. "You're a god damn mess, Lyra, pull yourself together."
  741. >"Just do it! I promise I'll..."
  742. >She trails off.
  743. "What, you forget your own promise now? Gee, that's a new one, NEVER HEARD THAT ONE BEFORE."
  744. >Lyra squints at the sky from her place on her back, peering towards the clouds.
  745. >"Um, sweetie?"
  746. "Don't call me that."
  747. >She sits up, a look of concern on her face.
  748. >"I think a pegasus is about to land on us."
  749. >You look up.
  750. "Oh balls."
  751. >A pegasus slams into your stand at near terminal velocity.
  752. >Because the structure was built by superior human techniques, it takes the hit like a champ.
  753. >The pony bounces off the wood like a sack full of spanners, crumpling onto the dirt road and staying motionless.
  754. >Lyra uses a very large stick to poke its body from where she's sat on your desk.
  755. >You swipe the stick from her and chastise the mare.
  756. "Hooves off, that's -my- investigation rod."
  757. >...
  758. >You also poke at the pony.
  759. "Hey, you alright? Are you alive?"
  760. >What was the protocol for dead bodies?
  761. >With a series of dull cracks, the pony moves.
  762. >You take note of its features.
  763. >A grey-blue coat, and a curious rainbow mane, the coloured streaks almost appearing desaturated.
  764. >You realise that the pegasus is a mare, and as she stirs, you get a good look at her face.
  765. >Her black, soulless eyes, like bottomless pits, regard you with an unnerving intensity.
  766. >Cracked lips peel back to reveal dull yellowed teeth, and her expression warps into a parody of recognition.
  767. >"Hello Anon."
  768. >Slowly, you turn your head to look at Lyra.
  769.  
  770. 20/?
  771.  
  772. >She carefully takes the poking stick from you again, without any resistance from your part, and steadily pokes it right into the mare's eye.
  773. >She doesn't seem to mind as the stick passes straight through and back out again.
  774. >After a bit of hesitation, your companion pokes the other eye.
  775. >Then the face a few times.
  776. >Then delicately plays with the mare's lower lip with the tip of the stick, causing an involuntary "blib-blib-blib" noise from the decrepit horror before you.
  777. >Lyra gulps.
  778. >"I don't think she's dead, Anon."
  779. "Um, welcome to the hero help desk?"
  780. >The mare before you is silent for a while.
  781. >Then steps forward.
  782. >"Hello. Anon."
  783. "Yes, hi."
  784. >...
  785. >"...Do you really not recognise me?"
  786. "Uh, no?"
  787. >The pony frowns, her decomposing and thoroughly prodded face reflecting her annoyance.
  788. >"Blue coat, rainbow mane, can fly, knows who you are...?"
  789. "Mmm, nope, nothing. Lyra?"
  790. >"Not a clue, sorry, are you related to Roseluck?"
  791. >The pony grits her teeth together.
  792. >"It's Rainbow Dash."
  793. "Oooh!"
  794. >You smile.
  795. "Hiya Rainbow! Love the new look, how'd the quest go?"
  796. >Hell yeah, another one came back, your payday is going to be legendary.
  797. >"Oh it went very well. I guess you could say the experience was TO DIE FOR!"
  798. >You maintain a polite smile.
  799. "Excellent! Well, if you just want to sign this form here to say you've completed your quest, I'll just tick it off and that's a job well done!"
  800. >You pull her job from out of the "deceased" tray and read it again.
  801. >Slowly, the smile drops off your face.
  802. >Slowly, the realisation sets in.
  803. >You look again at the sunken, decaying face of the mare formerly know as Rainbow Dash.
  804. "Oh."
  805. >Rainbow grins.
  806. "Oh dear."
  807. >"The Lich-God rises, Anon. I have seen what power he has, and he has such gifts to share with the world! Join us, and find peace through death."
  808. "Yeah, nah, that sounds a bit shit."
  809.  
  810. 21/?
  811.  
  812. >You grab a bottle of holy water from your emergency supplies and hurl it at Rainbow Dash.
  813. >It explodes over her, the tonic instantly burning her flesh.
  814. >She screams an unnatural, blood-curdling scream.
  815. >Then begins to melt onto the road.
  816. >The mare curses your name as she shakes her hoof at you before joining the rest of the gore-sludge now occupying the road.
  817. >And then, silence.
  818. >...
  819. >Lyra coughs.
  820. >"Sooo uh, that was..."
  821. "Uh huh."
  822. >You look at Rainbow Dash's form.
  823. >Then at the gore-pile formerly known as Rainbow Dash.
  824. >...
  825. >' Completed [✓] '
  826. >Filing it away, you turn back to Lyra.
  827. "Anyway, I'm not rubbing your fucking belly!"
  828. >"Pleeeease?"
  829.  
  830. >"What do you think is gonna happen at the end of all this?"
  831. >You look up from your magazine.
  832. "Whuh?"
  833. >Lyra is, against your wishes, laid on your counter again.
  834. >Her hooves behind her head, she casually watches a lazy cloud moving across the sky.
  835. >"You know, this help desk thing."
  836. "Oh, I dunno, might get a job in a post office maybe?"
  837. >"No you idiot, I mean in general, do you think this whole initiative works?"
  838. "I dunno, maybe? Why do you care?"
  839. >She shrugs.
  840. >"I don't, just making conversation."
  841. "Well Luna and Celestia will think of something. Can't keep doing this forever."
  842. >You look at 'Rainbow Dash', still on the road and now attracting flies.
  843. "Gonna run out of ponies at this rate."
  844. >"Yup."
  845. >Lyra smiles.
  846. >"I totally made that kid wear a pan as a helmet the other day."
  847. "I saw. Same pan as the one from Bon Bon's birthday?"
  848. >"Oooh yeah."
  849. "Shame, lot of memories with that pan."
  850. >"It's in good hooves now. Also convinced him that tin-foil reflects magic."
  851. "Doesn't it?"
  852. >"Pfft, no."
  853. >She smirks, still staring at the clear blue sky.
  854. >"Yes, I was lying about it that one time."
  855. "Mother fucker, I thought you were serious."
  856. >"Heh."
  857. >You listen to the birds twittering away nearby, and a gentle breeze keeps you from overheating.
  858. >Lyra just keeps watching the sky.
  859.  
  860. 22/?
  861.  
  862. >"So when do you wanna move back in together?"
  863. "I think... never?"
  864. >The mare chortles.
  865. >"You can't deny we had something special."
  866. "'Something special' doesn't necessarily mean 'something good'."
  867. >"That's a matter of opinion."
  868. "Derpy will tell you it's a matter of fact."
  869. >"I didn't even stab her anywhere bad!"
  870. "In the fucking ribs, Lyra."
  871. >"Whatever, she didn't die."
  872. "You have issues, Lyra."
  873. >"My only issue at the moment is having no loving monkey husband to cuddle me at night."
  874. >She looks you dead in the eye.
  875. >"My right hoof is stronger than it's ever been, Anon."
  876. "I really didn't need to know that."
  877. >"Just take me home and fuck me raw, like you did on our third date! No wait, even better, just screw me here on the counter! Yearning Sunrise can watch!"
  878. >"O-oh, my..."
  879. >You blink a few times and crane your head past Lyra.
  880. >She realises what she just said and twists her own head to look.
  881. >Yearning Sunrise stands watching the pair of you, a huge blush on her face.
  882. >"I ah, had no idea you two were an item."
  883. "We're not."
  884. >Lyra gives you a coy look.
  885. >"We could be~"
  886. "Get the hell outta here, I got a job to do."
  887. >You push her off your counter and straighten up.
  888. >Lyra drags herself back to her own stand as Yearning steps forward.
  889. >"Well, I'm back!... what's with the uh, gore-pile?"
  890. "Former element of harmony. Not important. You all rested up?"
  891. >She blinks a few times, but decides not to pursue it, instead putting on her usual warm smile.
  892. >"Quite rested, thank you, and ready for more adventure!"
  893. "Great, let me check what I have."
  894. >Pick up a few forms and sift through them.
  895. "How do you feel about dragons?"
  896. >"I'm not -that- good."
  897. "Minotaurs?"
  898. >"I'm allergic."
  899. "Kraken in Ponyville lake?"
  900. >"Oh, drat, I already killed that when I first came to town."
  901. >You screw up the form and throw it in the bin.
  902. "Cultists?"
  903. >"What sort?"
  904. "End-of-days sort. Real blood rituals and everything. Lots of child murder, it'll be right up your alley."
  905.  
  906. 23/?
  907.  
  908. >"What kind of mare do you take me for?!"
  909. "Uhh, the righteous kind?"
  910. >She purses her lips.
  911. >"Oh alright, where are they?"
  912. "According to this..."
  913. >You squint at the form.
  914. >Then at Ponyville just down the road.
  915. >Then back at the form.
  916. >Then at Yearning.
  917. "See that house over there?"
  918. >She turns around to look at a normal looking house on the edge of a row of thatched roofed cottages.
  919. >"Yes?"
  920. "That one."
  921. >She blinks.
  922. >"I... really?"
  923. "Yup. That's the place. Seventy one Sunny Brook Avenue."
  924. >"That has a..."
  925. "Death-cult hell-bent on raising their dark master from the depths of the umbral plane, yes. As I said, lotta child murder."
  926. >You scratch your chin.
  927. "That'll explain why they set up shop next to a school..."
  928. >Yearning Sunrise shrugs.
  929. >"Well, at least it's local."
  930. >She takes the form off you and readjusts her helmet.
  931. >It only gets more skewed.
  932. "Here--"
  933. >You reach over the counter and carefully adjust it, tightening the faux-leather chinstrap.
  934. "Much better, go get 'em, hotshot."
  935. >She blushes fiercely.
  936. >"Well well well, look who's being forward. I'll be back in an hour, cutie~"
  937. >She turns and leaves, flicking her tail about as she struts away from you.
  938. >You wipe your forehead.
  939. >Then look left to see Lyra's face almost pressed against yours.
  940. >She looks...
  941. >Well...
  942. >"OH. WELL WASN'T THAT CUTE."
  943. "Personal space, partner."
  944. >"DON'T 'PARTNER' ME, YOU TREACHEROUS BASTARD."
  945. "Volume as well, you're literally shouting at my face."
  946. >Your ex-wife leans back a bit, clearly frustrated.
  947. >"I can't believe you, we've only just broken up and you're making moves on other mares? Are you kidding me?"
  948. "Lyra we've been split up for two and a half years."
  949. >"I KNOW WE HAVE. I SAID I'M OVER IT!"
  950. >You glance at your Luna poster.
  951. >It's now just a framed photo of Lyra smiling innocently and wearing a festive sweater.
  952. >This is getting a bit worrying.
  953.  
  954. 24/?
  955.  
  956. "Look, I was just fixing her helmet so she doesn't die, it's my job, I work at a Hero Help Desk, Lyra."
  957. >"More like a brothel."
  958. "Oh grow up, haven't you met any nice guys since we broke up?"
  959. >She tries to calm down, attempting to stay cool and collected.
  960. >"I've been around the block a few times, yes."
  961. "Your hoof doesn't count."
  962. >"...I've met a few guys."
  963. "Define 'met'."
  964. >"...Stalked a few guys."
  965. "A few?"
  966. >"...One."
  967. "One?"
  968. >"You."
  969. "Oh so it was you stealing my washing."
  970. >"We were perfect together! I just don't see why we had to break up!"
  971. >A dark cloud forms over the house you just sent Yearning Sunrise to.
  972. "For the last time, we broke up because you can't control yourself, you're destructive and reckless and a danger to yourself and everyone around you!"
  973. >"Ooooh that's rich, let me guess, it's about the mailmare again isn't it?"
  974. "Lyra you literally fucking stabbed her! Then sold the same knife to some stallion a few days ago!"
  975. >"It was field-tested hardware! What was I gonna do, turn down potential profit?!"
  976. "See this is it, you're completely devoid of moral standards! You'll do anything to get ahead, remember the racketeering you pulled?"
  977. >Ominous lights begin glowing in the house's windows.
  978. >"Racketeering my tail dock, I was providing a public service!"
  979. "You threatened that poor old stallion with violence and arson if he didn't pay you to protect him from Ufflesnouts!"
  980. >"A perfectly valid threat, might I say!"
  981. "Ufflesnouts don't even exist, they're a made up creature to scare kids!"
  982. >"Said like someone who's never seen an Ufflesnout!"
  983. "You're so full of shit it's unreal, I'm amazed I didn't divorce you sooner."
  984. >Distant, otherworldly screams can be heard on the breeze.
  985. >"Oh you know what, Anon? I'm sick of this. I'm sick of putting an effort into making you happy, all you ever do is throw my hard work back in my face. Well I did it for you, Anon! I did it all for you!"
  986. "You stabbed the fucking mailpony for me?!"
  987.  
  988. 25/?
  989.  
  990. >"Love blinds us, Anon!"
  991. "Your total failure to grasp reality blinds you."
  992. >"Right! That's it! I'm taking my shop and I'm leaving! Consider this partnership over!"
  993. "Good!"
  994. >"Y-yeah!"
  995. "Leave then!"
  996. >"...Well I mean can't we at least talk this out a bit more?"
  997. "OH COME ON."
  998. >Before you can tear into Lyra, the roof of the thatched cottage containing the aforementioned cult explodes with an abrupt roar.
  999. >Charred wood and cinders rush into the sky followed by a daunting black shape.
  1000. >Great leathery wings unfurl from the being, and a scream shatters the relative silence of the morning air.
  1001. >You watch in dumbfounded horror as a terrible beast from beyond the veil circles the skies of Ponyville, its entire form covered in salivating mouths, each one letting loose shrieks that chill you to the core.
  1002. >A creature indescribable in its form, a shifting mass of flesh and ever screaming mouths, teeth gnashing, tasting the air of the world it now finds itself in.
  1003. >Your very soul shakes at the mere sight of the creature, a deep primal fear and unshakable feeling that what you are witnessing is not supposed to exist in this realm.
  1004. >Lyra nudges you.
  1005. >"I think your new girlfriend screwed up."
  1006. "Neither time nor place, Lyra."
  1007. >The horror lands on the Town Hall, its many appendages gripping the wooden structure for balance, its barbed tail lashing around in excitement and anticipation for the imminent culling of Ponyville.
  1008. >You quickly start sifting through the employee handbook for tips.
  1009. >Lyra dons a pan-helmet.
  1010. >"So if we die, can we bang in the afterlife?"
  1011. "We need to deal with this before it starts destroying everything, also no we can't."
  1012. >You slide a large sword out from your emergency supply kit, as well as a baseball cap that reads "Help Desk".
  1013. >Pull on the cap and slide over the counter.
  1014. >Lyra seems shocked.
  1015. >"Where are you going?!"
  1016.  
  1017. 26/?
  1018.  
  1019. "Says in the handbook that I may have to battle elder-gods from time to time. Plus I get paid a commission for each one I kill."
  1020. >Lyra blinks.
  1021. >"...If I help do I get a cut?"
  1022. "Sure, why not."
  1023. >She leaps off the desk and starts running into town.
  1024. >You follow suit, trying to figure out which end of the sword to grip.
  1025. >As you approach town, you study the creature.
  1026. >It looks almost like a dragon.
  1027. >A black dragon covered in mouths and tentacles.
  1028. >You're gonna be -rich- after this.
  1029. >Citizens of Ponyville are running around doing what citizens do in a crisis.
  1030. >Looting and screaming.
  1031. >You duck and weave around panicked mares and stallions, pausing to dodge the odd flying brick heading for a shop window.
  1032. >The beast at Town Hall screeches again.
  1033. >Your eardrums pop, and you feel funny, but continue anyway.
  1034. >Lyra is keeping pace with you, hastily wrapping herself in tin-foil as she runs.
  1035. >Finally, you both stand at the foot of the hall, the great black beast above slowly crushing the thing just by sitting on it.
  1036. >You rub your chin and sigh.
  1037. "Well uh, where are we supposed to start? Do we just start stabbing its tail?"
  1038. >Lyra shrugs.
  1039. >"I dunno, doesn't your book tell you how to fight things like this?"
  1040. "Uh..."
  1041. >You take a moment to consult the handbook.
  1042. >As you're fixated on it, the beast opens its main jaws and releases a beam of terrible black energy.
  1043. >The beam thunders through the air and obliterates an entire block of houses.
  1044. >You ignore it.
  1045. >Lyra finishes wrapping herself in foil.
  1046. >She looks like a silver mummy wearing a pan on her head.
  1047. "Says here we should remove the eyes to blind the creature."
  1048. >Lyra looks up.
  1049. >"This thing doesn't have eyes, sweetie."
  1050. "Then we have to remove the heart."
  1051. >"How are we supposed to do that?"
  1052. "I guess... get up onto the roof first?"
  1053. >She shrugs.
  1054. >"Sounds good, I guess."
  1055. >You stroll up the steps towards the front door.
  1056.  
  1057. 27/?
  1058.  
  1059. >Hold it open for Lyra as she briskly trots past you, her tail stroking your leg as she does so.
  1060. >The pair of you begin to ascend to the top of the hall, not really paying much attention to the wanton carnage happening outside.
  1061. >Another scream and explosion signifies a second block of houses being erased from existence.
  1062. >You pass a window and glance outside as you pass.
  1063. >Ponyville is burning.
  1064. >This is gonna look terrible on your yearly report.
  1065. >A pair of ladders and a trapdoor leads you and your ex-wife onto the roof of the building.
  1066. "Woah, watch your step, the whole thing's shaking."
  1067. >"Mm, carry me?"
  1068. >Roll your eyes.
  1069. >Lyra squeals with joy as you place her on your shoulders.
  1070. >She grips your head and giggles like a schoolfilly, unaware of the world-ending bedlam taking place around her.
  1071. >You reach a massive black spined claw belonging to the beast.
  1072. >Passing your sword up to Lyra, she holds it as you start to climb up the creature's leg.
  1073. >She watches curiously.
  1074. >"Are you like, related to a monkey or something?"
  1075. "Shut up. We evolved from monkeys millions of years ago."
  1076. >Lyra stares into space.
  1077. >"...I had sex with a monkey...?"
  1078. >You stop and wince as the horror you're climbing lets loose yet another eldritch shriek.
  1079. >Your head is ringing from the constant cacophony.
  1080. >Lyra doesn't seem to mind, instead content to wave your Standard Issue Employee Self Defense Sword around.
  1081. >You almost put a hand into one of the beast's many body-mouths, but move it at the last second.
  1082. >The mouths are gnashing angrily, as if they know you're climbing over them.
  1083. >Eventually, you reach the creature's back.
  1084. >How it hasn't noticed you yet is a miracle.
  1085. >Lyra admires the view.
  1086. >"Hey! We can see our stands from here!"
  1087. >She sighs happily.
  1088. >"You know, I really feel like we've bonded here, Anon."
  1089. "Shut up, lemmie think."
  1090. >You scratch the back of your head.
  1091. "Dragon hearts are located on their backs, right...?"
  1092. >She gives you a deadpan look.
  1093.  
  1094. 28/?
  1095.  
  1096. "Well shit, the only thing I can think of is to get eaten by this thing and figure out where the heart is from the inside."
  1097. >"Or we could just, you know, stab that bit."
  1098. >She jabs a hoof at something.
  1099. >You follow where she's pointing.
  1100. >A huge red pulsating area can be seen on the back of the beast's head.
  1101. "The hell is that?"
  1102. >"Looks like a weak point. Try stabbing it for massive damage."
  1103. >You shrug and walk up to it.
  1104. >Then poke it with your sword.
  1105. >The beast freezes.
  1106. >Lets out a squwark like a startled chicken.
  1107. >And slumps over, dead.
  1108. >...
  1109. >...
  1110. "Oh."
  1111. >Lyra hugs your leg, her tin foil armour crinkling as she does so.
  1112. >"Anon you did it! You saved Ponyville!"
  1113. "I guess, yeah."
  1114. >You peer over the edge from your place on the creature's back.
  1115. "Um, how are we gonna get down?"
  1116.  
  1117. >"Sure does suck that Yearning Sunrise died."
  1118. "You don't think that at all."
  1119. >"Heh, I don't."
  1120. "You're awful."
  1121. >"I can afford to be now, I'm rich."
  1122. "Thanks to me."
  1123. >"I told you where to stab."
  1124. "I climbed the dragon."
  1125. >Lyra, once again relaxing on your counter as you count your money, flutters her eyelids at you.
  1126. >"See? We make a great team~"
  1127. "Nyugh..."
  1128. >You look again at your letter from the agency.
  1129. >' To Employee #442 '
  1130. >' The Agency is thankful for your handling of the Ponyville incident. Please find enclosed 400 bits and a coupon for 20% off at Rarity For You - the hottest new fashion outlet in Manehattan! '
  1131. >' Regards, Princess Luna - CEO of HeroCorp. '
  1132. >You fold it up again and look happily at your massive pile of gold.
  1133. >Lyra rubs a hoof on your cheek as you do so.
  1134. >"I looove you Aaaanoooon~"
  1135. "I don't care. I really really don't."
  1136. >She giggles.
  1137. >"Come on, lets celebrate."
  1138. "We already had victory sex on top of the dragon. Something I already regret immensely."
  1139. >"No you don't, you missed this~"
  1140. >She starts rubbing her flank and giving you a seductive look.
  1141.  
  1142. 29/?
  1143.  
  1144. "You're intolerable."
  1145. >"Come on baby, gimmie some sugar, afterwards we could go out and kill another dragon~"
  1146. "Kill another dragon."
  1147. >"Oh yeah, then we can try anal again."
  1148. "Kill another dragon..."
  1149. >"Uh, yes."
  1150. >You look around at your stand.
  1151. >Your framed picture of Lyra.
  1152. >Your dusty pigeonholes full of documents and forms.
  1153. >Your ever-growing pile of jobs.
  1154. >As you look, you think back to Yearning Sunrise.
  1155. >She seemed like she was having a good time.
  1156. >Meanwhile you just sort of sit here all day.
  1157. >You lose yourself to your thoughts, completely ignoring Lyra as she babbles on about inane topics.
  1158. >Maybe it's time for a change of pace?
  1159. >Perhaps this is a good opportunity to try something new.
  1160. >You look at your Standard Issue Employee Self Defense Sword.
  1161. >And smile.
  1162.  
  1163. >"Hey there, friend! Welcome to the Stalliongrad Hero Help Desk, how may I help you?"
  1164. "Hi there. Heard there were problems with a death cult?"
  1165. >"Oh yes, terrible business, I'm afraid it was all cleared up a few days ago though."
  1166. "Oh, damn, you got anything else for us?"
  1167. >The stallion purses his lips.
  1168. >"Hm, I might have something..."
  1169. >He ducks behind the counter and returns with a form.
  1170. >"One... or two ghouls and maybe a bear-warlock were sighted in the catacombs under the city, only stragglers, nothing, uh, major. They need clearing out. Shouldn't be too much trouble. Nothing to worry about. Promise."
  1171. >He glances nervously at his form.
  1172. "Well that sounds perfect, I'll take it."
  1173. >The stallion at the stand gives you a broad smile.
  1174. >"Wonderful! Are you..."
  1175. >He gestures towards you.
  1176. >"...Both questing together?"
  1177. >You look down at your companion.
  1178. >Lyra winks at you.
  1179. >Roll your eyes.
  1180. "Regrettably, yes."
  1181. >He beams.
  1182. >"Great! Sign here, here, and here, and I'll need your next of kin."
  1183. >You fill out the details as Lyra adjusts her pan-helmet.
  1184. >"Fabulous, so you'll need this copy of the form, I'll keep this other one. Happy hunting!"
  1185.  
  1186. 30/?
  1187.  
  1188. >The pair of you turn to leave, an argument starting within seconds about how best to approach the situation.
  1189. >As you go, the stallion watches you with a smile.
  1190. >He nods to himself.
  1191. >"They'll be fine."
  1192. >...
  1193. >"Theeey'll be fine."
  1194. >...
  1195. >He puts your form in the 'deceased' tray.
  1196.  
  1197. 31/31
  1198. The End.
AiE NSFW Comedy Anon Lyra Heartstrings OC Various Characters

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