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[FLUTTERRAPE] Flutterrape LTD

By Nebulus
Created: 17th December 2020 08:40:03 PM

  1. Originally uploaded to Pastebin: May 25th, 2017
  2. ---
  3.  
  4. An Anon in the thread clearly stated:
  5. "WE NEED GREENTEXT GODDAMIT!"
  6. What followed was a series of shorts based around a mare, a man, and a failing company.
  7.  
  8. So began the saga of Flutterrape LTD.
  9. In the early days, each new part was inspired by posts in the thread, hence the erratic nature of it, but the longer it went on, the more they became independent updates I wrote without prompting.
  10.  
  11. Make yourself a drink; this one is long.
  12. Final word count: 57,033.
  13.  
  14. ---
  15.  
  16. >"Son of a FUCKING BITCH, ANON!"
  17. >Fluttershy hurls your carefully ordered stack of papers at the cubicle wall.
  18. >You flinch at her outburst.
  19. >"This company is going down the FUCKING toilet and all you can do is sit here and write... write trash!"
  20. "I'm sorry, Fluttershy! I'm doing the best I can but I keep getting other projects dumped on my--"
  21. >"Oh-- DUMPED, are they? DUMPED, Anon? Do you not like the work you do? Would you rather go and write for fucking..."
  22. >She trembles as she thinks on her hooves.
  23. >"Fucking REVERSE GENDER ROLES?!"
  24. "What, no! No, I'd never write for them! They're a more elaborate version of Flutterrape with none of the humour and lightheartedness!"
  25. >"And don't you forget it! You're on thin ice as it is, Anon; I've had it up to here with your shit and if you don't get yourself in gear and start producing the quality work I pay you for you can kiss your ass goodbye because I'll be claiming it!"
  26. "Why don't you give anyone else this kind of stick?! Why is it always me you pick on?!"
  27. >"...BECAUSE YOU'RE THE ONLY PERSON THAT STILL WORKS HERE!"
  28. >You look around at the huge, empty office space.
  29. >The jungle of cubicles that inhabit it are noticeably empty.
  30. >Oh.
  31. >That's why she keeps giving you so many projects.
  32. >You're having to shoulder the burdens of an entire office.
  33. "Woah, shit, where... did everyone go? I swear there were like two other guys here."
  34. >Fluttershy snorts and storms over to a window, pulling the blinds apart slightly and jerking her head towards what lies outside.
  35. >You join her in peering out.
  36. >Across the road, several high-rise building complexes with reputable, successful names like "Choose Your Own Adventure Inc." and "Momlestia & Sons" dwarf your seedy, rundown office, which - whilst certainly not a small building - pales in comparison to your rivals.
  37. >Fluttershy spits to the side in disgust and readjusts her tie, checking her mane with a hoof.
  38. >It seems to get messier with each passing day.
  39. >"They left. Other threads were offering 'higher viewcounts' and more '(you)s'."
  40. >She makes a disgusted noise.
  41. >"Traitors. I MADE THEM WHAT THEY ARE."
  42. "Couldn't it just be they left because they got bored working here and wanted to do other things with..."
  43. >You hold your tongue as Fluttershy gives you a look that could melt steel beams.
  44. >"Traitors. That's what they'll always be."
  45. "How many of our employees left to work over there?"
  46. >"I don't know. Dozens."
  47. "...Do you even know at all? Was it any?"
  48. >"Why does it matter? They're all gone so we're all that's left."
  49. >With a lost, pained expression she looks around her office.
  50. >Her company.
  51. >That she built from the ground up.
  52. >That she invested her time into.
  53. >That she spent an untold number of sleepless nights nurturing and making into the best thing she could make of it.
  54. >Her baby, that she's had to watch deteriorate in the face of various hardships, stiff competition, and a growing lack of interest.
  55. >Her lip trembles, and she lets out a barely audible whimper.
  56. >"We're a-all that's... left..."
  57. >You crouch down and cautiously lay a hand on her back, rubbing it slightly.
  58. "Hey, you still have me, right? I'm still here?"
  59. >She looks at you as if to start flinging insults, but her gaze softens in light of your truths.
  60. >"I... suppose I do."
  61. >Fluttershy manages a small smile.
  62. >"Now, uh, get back to work. I want a story on my desk by the end of the day."
  63. "What about?"
  64. >"I don't know... Bon Bon, or something."
  65. "Bon Bon? I don't know, Shy, no one likes Bon Bon."
  66. >She nods, and sighs.
  67. >"Run of the mill Cloudchaser rapefic then. I want it comedic with a dip into feels towards the end and a moral about boundaries. Also don't ever call me 'Shy' again."
  68. "Yes boss."
  69.  
  70. ---
  71.  
  72. >A coffee mug smashes against the glass beside you.
  73. "Fluttershy you need to stop doing that, we don't have the money to keep repairing the interior windows--"
  74. >"I DON'T GIVE A FUCKING HECK, ANON!"
  75. >Fluttershy is livid.
  76. >Just a little bit.
  77. >As she reels from the news you just told her, her eyes wide, pupils shrunken, and chest heaving from her escalating hyperventilation, you consider that perhaps telling her that the company mascot quit and went to go and work for Reverse Gender Roles Inc. might have been an unwise decision.
  78. >Truthfully, you were amazed that he even still worked here.
  79. >You genuinely thought you were the only employee left.
  80. >Turns out, so did Fluttershy.
  81. >"PIECE OF FUCKING SHIT HOW DARE HE LEAVE THIS COMPANY I'LL HAVE HIM KILLED FOR THIS--"
  82. >Sighing internally, you start to come to grips with the possibility that you might not be getting any work done for the next hour or so.
  83. >"I JUST-- I CAN'T-- AHCK-- RRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE--"
  84. >Oh.
  85. >She's making that noise again.
  86. >"--EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE--"
  87. >She's been doing it a lot lately.
  88. >"--EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE--"
  89. >You think it might be the stress that's causing it.
  90. >"--EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE--"
  91. >Making negative profits will do that to a mare.
  92. >"EEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeee..."
  93. >The tiny, once sort-of-demure, sometimes-kind pegasus collapses back into her high-back chair, the mechanism squeaking under the pressure.
  94. >She stares through you for a moment, her eyes wandering, searching for nothing.
  95. >"I guess... I guess it really is just us now."
  96. "I think so, boss."
  97. >Note to self: Check the building to make absolutely sure that Slasher Science left and didn't just hide in the vents again like he did a few months ago.
  98. >"Anon."
  99. "Yes, boss?"
  100. >"...Give me the HMD."
  101. "..."
  102. >"Anon--"
  103. "You said to me never to give it to you, even if you asked."
  104. >"Anon so help me god I'll fucking end you, give me the HMD."
  105. "No."
  106. >"ANONYMOUS!"
  107. "We can work with this, Fluttershy! We can come back from this, it sure as hell isn't the worst thing that's happened to us, so who cares if they stole our mascot? He was a shitty mascot anyway! What the hell does a dolphin have to do with Flutterrape?!"
  108. >"BECAUSE DOLPHINS RAPE FOR FUN, ANON! THEY'RE THE MOST SADISTIC ANIMAL IN NATURE!"
  109. >That's bullshit.
  110. >You've met her pet rabbit.
  111. >Vicious streak a mile wide, that one.
  112. >"NOW GIVE ME THE HMD OR YOU'RE FIRED!"
  113. >You grit your teeth.
  114. >Hesitate.
  115. >Then dip your hand into your pocket, pulling out a small key that Fluttershy entrusted you with many moons ago.
  116. >Walking to a nearby painting, you carefully remove it from the wall and set it to one side.
  117. >Then push the key into the large, black, imposing safe it was concealing.
  118. >Turning the key, you grip the handle and pull, the locks inside grinding in protest from their lack of use as the hidden vault opens.
  119. >Inside is a single, solitary vial of clear blue liquid resting on the black metal.
  120. >You carefully pinch it between two fingers and lift it out.
  121. >Then set it before Fluttershy.
  122. >She firmly sets a hoof on it and rolls it across the desk towards herself, raising it to her lips and uncorking it with her teeth before gulping down its entire contents.
  123. >You watch with sadness.
  124. >Fluttershy shudders, her body spasming at infrequent intervals, then smiles once it subsides.
  125. >"Okay. That's much better."
  126. >Your boss slides off her chair, an unsettling confidence to her movements.
  127. >"Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and find our mascot."
  128. "He'll be at the Reverse Gender Roles head office, you'll never get to him..."
  129. >"Aww, Anon."
  130. >She affectionately strokes your leg.
  131. >"You said a similar thing about our last mascot."
  132. >With that, she happily trots towards the exit.
  133. >You rub your eyes with two fingers and glance at the vial, carelessly left on her desk.
  134. >Using a digit, you roll the vial over slightly to read the label.
  135. >' HMD '
  136. >' Hermaphrodite Mare Draught '
  137. >Poor Dolphin.
  138. >He'll never walk straight again once she's done.
  139. >Shrugging, you leave the office, ignoring the cracked glass and coffee stains, to go straight back to your desk.
  140. >You have work to do.
  141. >This Celestia date-rape fic isn't gonna write itself.
  142.  
  143. ---
  144.  
  145. "Uh. Boss?"
  146. >The screaming continues.
  147. >Fluttershy is on the phone to her accountant.
  148. >Who just quit.
  149. >Now with no one on hand to do Fluttershy's bookkeeping or finances, and since she's far too important to do it herself, that'll likely land it on your desk.
  150. >As far as employees go, you deserve employee of the month.
  151. >For about 4 months now you've done all the writing, invoices, credit notes, tax returns, fraudulent tax returns, hiring, firing, cleaning, emotional support for Fluttershy, physical support for Fluttershy, questionably-consensual sexual support for Fluttershy, and refilling of the hand-towels in the employee restrooms.
  152. >How they go down so fast with just you, Fluttershy, and possibly Slasher Science (still yet to be found, though there are signs of his presence) in the building baffles you.
  153. >Alas, you look at the wall and see that, once again, Fluttershy has chosen herself to be employee of the month.
  154. >You swear the contest is rigged.
  155. >Turning your attention back the window, you part the low-quality plastic blinds with a finger.
  156. >As you peer outside, you call out again.
  157. "Fluttershy, really, come here."
  158. >"I'M ON THE PHONE, ANON!-- NO DON'T HANG UP ON ME YOU LITTLE SHIT, WHEN I FIND YOU I'LL RAM YOUR ABACUS SO FAR UP YOUR ASS YOU'LL BE TASTING MATH FOR A WEEK."
  159. >You wince as an explosion rocks the entire street.
  160. >Fluttershy doesn't seem to care.
  161. >But you do.
  162. >Because as you watch from your vantage point a 'safe' distance away, Reverse Gender Roles Inc. rips itself apart.
  163. >Employees are out on the streets smashing chairs over each other's heads.
  164. >A pair of girls scratch and claw at each others faces.
  165. >A mare dropkicks a man in the chest, only to be stabbed in the hind-leg by a stallion wielding a sharpened protractor.
  166. >You stare in silent wonder as a man on the thirteenth floor, which is currently completely engulfed in flames, hurls himself from the window and crumples against a car roof below, the car alarm screaming in response and adding to the chaotic din around it.
  167. >Another explosion vibrates through your office, making the bare light-bulb you use for lighting (had to sell the cover) flops around pathetically.
  168. >As a disgruntled intern decapitates his manager with a weaponised briefcase, you step away from the window.
  169. >Fluttershy hurls her phone at the floor and glares at you.
  170. "...So is he staying on board?"
  171. >"He'd better if he doesn't want my cock in his ass."
  172. "About that, you drank all the HMD, we don't have anymore."
  173. >"So just buy some more then?"
  174. "..."
  175. >"..."
  176. "...You know we--"
  177. >"I know we don't have any fucking money just let me dream."
  178. >She sighs.
  179. >"So what were you shouting me for? Something going on outside? The building kept vibrating so I thought the boiler was faulty again."
  180. "Nah, the boiler tends to shriek when it does that. No, this is serious, you'll wanna come watch."
  181. >"Will it bring me any semblance of joy and distract me from the fact that my company is failing?"
  182. "Eh, maybe."
  183. >You lead her over to the blinds.
  184. >She looks up at the windowsill, then glares at you.
  185. "Oh, sorry."
  186. >"Yeah, sorry, sure..."
  187. >You reach down and pick her up, holding her back against your chest with your arm wrapped around her belly, keeping her in place so that she can see out the window.
  188. >Then, you use your free hand to pull back the blinds.
  189. >Fluttershy gasps.
  190. >Outside, the Dolphin Mascot (still limping from his encounter with Fluttershy) punches a pregnant mare in the face, then gets tackled by a trio of rabid software engineers.
  191. >They tear his costume open in an inhuman rage, lost to their base instincts and cannibalise the man inside, engorging themselves on his entrails in a frenzied display of gore and ravenous savagery, as software engineers are known to do.
  192. >Fluttershy slowly smiles.
  193. >"It's... wonderful."
  194. >She cranes her head back to look up at you.
  195. >"Thank you, Anon."
  196. "Well I didn't actually do anything, but alright."
  197. >Fluttershy sighs and enjoys the feeling of you holding her as you both watch Reverse Gender Roles Inc. burn to ashes before you.
  198. >And once more, Flutterrape LTD lives to see another day.
  199. >But just barely.
  200.  
  201. ---
  202.  
  203. >You give a fearful look over your shoulder as you walk out the front doors of Flutterrape LTD.
  204. >Fluttershy watches from a window.
  205. >She motions with a hoof, urging you on.
  206. >Gulping, you cross the street, entering the looming shadow of Reverse Gender Roles Inc's head office.
  207. >Flutterrape LTD used to be this big.
  208. >But budget constraints forced the company to downsize to the two-story converted warehouse you're in now.
  209. >Apparently it used to be a drug-depot for a cartel.
  210. >It would certainly explain the crimson stains on the concrete in the basement that don't seem to come out no matter how much you scrub them.
  211. >Still, here you are, doing something stupid at Fluttershy's behest. Again.
  212. >Somehow, RGR managed to pull itself together after the meltdown last month.
  213. >In order to learn their secrets, Fluttershy came up with a "genius plan".
  214. >You're inclined to call it genius as well, since for once it doesn't involve rape or arson.
  215. >Considering those are Fluttershy's two favourite things, she's clearly thought a lot about this plan.
  216. >You have an entire 40-step set of instructions stuffed into your back pocket.
  217. >Number 1 on the list?
  218. >Infiltrate the company.
  219. >And there's only one way to do that.
  220. >You walk through the automatic doors at the front of the building and sigh contentedly.
  221. >Ah. Indoor cooling.
  222. >You'd forgotten what it felt like.
  223. >The room where you work tends to get a bit stuffy, since the only way to vent the office now is by keeping doors open since the ventilation seems to be blocked by something.
  224. >Fluttershy thinks a group of birds have found their way in and made a nest.
  225. >But you're thinking it's something larger.
  226. >Birds don't steal things from the fridge when no one's around.
  227. >And it doesn't help matters that the office constantly smells like musk on account of Fluttershy's chronic masturbation habits.
  228. >She has serious issues, that much is certain, though she's to be commended for being able to keep at it for sometimes up to six hours a day.
  229. >Back to the task at hand, your first step is to get employed at the company.
  230. >Shouldn't be too hard.
  231. >They have a serious writer shortage since about 60% of their staff slaughtered one another in last month's pandemonium.
  232. >Apparently a bat flew in through a window someone left open and it caused a psychotic break amongst the workers.
  233. >With your years of experience, it should be easy to get your foot in the door.
  234. >You have no idea how Fluttershy intends to manage things whilst you're gone, but you'll worry about that when you get back.
  235. >As long as she stays away from the photocopier this time, whatever damage she does will be minimal.
  236. >This whole plan of hers should take about two months to act out, if anything it'll be a sort of holiday for you.
  237. >Who knows, you may even get a lunch break here.
  238. >Strolling up to the reception, you put on a smile and internally recite your lines.
  239. >The mare behind the counter glares at you as you approach.
  240. "Hiya."
  241. >You rest your hands on the surface, relaxing yourself as much as you can.
  242. "My name's Anonymous, I'm here for an interview about the writing job?"
  243. >"You want to write for us?"
  244. "Yes, ma'am, I do."
  245. >"Exit's there. Fuck off."
  246. >...
  247. >Oh.
  248. >Well that was short lived.
  249.  
  250. >By the time you get back, Fluttershy had already set the photocopier ablaze.
  251. >The fridge was wide open.
  252. >A disturbing noise was coming from the vents.
  253. >And a powerful musk lingered in the air.
  254. >With a heavy sigh, you go to find the fire extinguisher and the holy water.
  255.  
  256. ---
  257.  
  258. >Can it really be called a party if there are only two of you?
  259. >You ponder this as you stand next to the music player, which is blaring out fun, family friendly tunes and the occasional explicit hard-gangster rap.
  260. >One thing's for certain.
  261. >You have a great urge to hang out with your friends in the park after school and do crack off a zebra's ass.
  262. >Sure, the music player's only got one working speaker, and even then the sound quality is trash, but you're still getting the general vibes.
  263. >"SIPPIN', RAINBOW JUICE - TALKIN' ELE-MENTS OF HAR-MO-NY!"
  264. >Yeah, you can dig it.
  265. >As you tap your foot and bob your head, alone in an empty office as the only other employee at the company, Fluttershy stumbles out of her office.
  266. >Given the distance between you both you feel like it's not worth walking over to help her.
  267. >Instead, you watch, drink in hand, as Fluttershy staggers and face-plants her way towards you, pausing a few times to gather her bearings as she leans against one dusty, abandoned cubicle after another.
  268. >Eventually she makes it to you.
  269. >The pair of you stand in the centre of the room, which you'd cleared out somewhat for the 'party'.
  270. >A single, slightly deflated pink balloon is secured to the refreshments table.
  271. >Upon which sits a bottle of stale lemonade and a cracked bowl of cheesy poofs.
  272. >Fluttershy listens to the music for a while, as do you.
  273. >"E-QUEST-REE-A GIRLS, WE'RE KINDA MAGICAL, BOOTS ON HOOVES, BIKINIS ON TOP!"
  274. >Fluttershy narrows her eyes.
  275. >"I think I helped write this one..."
  276. "That's ridiculous."
  277. >She hiccups.
  278. >"Sooo, you come here offffften?"
  279. "I work here, Fluttershy, and I'm not drunk enough yet to have banter with you, I'm just here to mingle at the moment."
  280. >...
  281. >You cough.
  282. >The song had since ended, so it echoes around the room.
  283. >Fluttershy sniffs.
  284. >"Sooo, you umm, wanna go in the back and hump like mammals?"
  285. "Waddya mean 'like'? We -are- mammals."
  286. >"You knowww what I mean... mmgonna suck that dick like a... like a vacuum cleaner..."
  287. "How many have you had?"
  288. >"Dicks? Hundreds."
  289. "No I mean drinks, you twat."
  290. >"Oh. Uhhh threeee? Fooourr? Fiiiive? Siixx--"
  291. "Stop counting, I'm going with four."
  292. >"Four drinks."
  293. "Right, four."
  294. >"Four drinkeroonis for poor little Fluttershy."
  295. "Yup."
  296. >"Fluttershy who can't even run a f-fucking company without cocking it up..."
  297. >Uh oh.
  298. >"F-fluttershy who c-can't even... can't even get laid at her own f-fucking office party..."
  299. "Boss you did this last year."
  300. >"Last year we had more employees..."
  301. "Yeah, like six more, and none of them came to the party you held then, either."
  302. >"Thennnn who came?"
  303. "...Me."
  304. >"Jusst you?"
  305. "...Yeah."
  306. >She gives you a huge, genuine, dopey smile.
  307. >"IIII like you Anon, you care about me..."
  308. "I care about getting paid."
  309. >"Always knew you cared about me..."
  310. >She collapses, and you just manage to catch her before she hits the floor.
  311. >Your drink is now all over her, but she doesn't seem to mind.
  312. >"Weeee should ffffuck here, in front of everyone."
  313. "No one else is here, it's just us."
  314. >You hear a rattling in the vents above.
  315. >...
  316. "...Yup. Just us."
  317. >"All the more reason to give m-me the dick..."
  318. >She laughs and snorts.
  319. >"H-hey, hey Anon, a-are drunk mares your FETISH?! Get it? Like the stories we make? Do you get it? It's like in the stories we make!"
  320. >The pony lets loose a forced guffaw before passing out.
  321. >You hold her for a while, unsure of what to do.
  322. >Then, the single lightbulb above you flickers and goes out.
  323. >...That was the last bulb you had as well.
  324. >As you sit in the darkness, contemplating life, the music player beside you offers words of wisdom on your current ordeal by playing a new track.
  325. >"SOME-BODY ONCE TOLD ME THE WORLD WAS GONNA ROLL ME, I AIN'T THE SHARPEST TOOL IN THE SHEE-EED."
  326. >You nod in contemplation.
  327. "The world has indeed rolled me, Smash Mouth."
  328. >You reassuringly pat Fluttershy on the back, who belches in her sleep and smiles dreamily.
  329.  
  330. "It rolled me good..."
  331.  
  332. ---
  333.  
  334. >You type away at your keyboard, hammering out a story as best you can.
  335. >Been a while since you were able to just sit down and write.
  336. >Should be a good story, this one.
  337. >It's got Cheerilee in it, and no one's written something with her for a while.
  338. >You shuffle uncomfortably, the cape you're wearing wrapped around you awkwardly.
  339. >Maybe you shouldn't be wearing it sat down.
  340. >A hand reaches up and fixes the top hat that was sliding off your head.
  341. >Fluttershy decided that for Halloween this year you'd both dress up.
  342. >So here you are, dressed as a classic villain from those old movies.
  343. >Even have yourself a stick-on moustache.
  344. >Haven't seen Fluttershy all day though.
  345. >That's concerning.
  346. >Usually she's shouting at someone on the phone, shouting at you whilst on the phone, or masturbating.
  347. >And you can't smell or hear anything, so that doesn't bode well.
  348. >Still, it's nice to get some work done.
  349. >"Pssssst!"
  350. >You pause.
  351. >...
  352. >"Psssssssst!"
  353. >Spin around in your battered, worn office chair, the whole thing creaking from the stress.
  354. >You stand up and peer over the edge of your cubicle wall, looking around the office.
  355. >Eventually, you see her, peering over a desk at you.
  356. "...You alright over there, Fluttershy?"
  357. >"PSSSST!"
  358. "Yeah, hi, I can see you, what's up."
  359. >She beckons you closer.
  360. >You cast a forlorn look at your monitor.
  361. >The story was so close to being done.
  362. >Oh well.
  363. >You stand up, stretch, and stride across to her.
  364. >As you approach, you take note of her costume.
  365. >Dressed like a bat.
  366. >Nice.
  367. >Beats last year where she dressed up as a serial rapist.
  368. >The office didn't even celebrate Halloween last year, so really she just went around fondling people.
  369. >You stand above her and simply raise an eyebrow.
  370. >She glances at the window.
  371. >"We're in big trouble!"
  372. "Why, we out of money again? I don't think the bank is gonna let us take out any more loans, boss."
  373. >"No! It's Reverse Gender Roles!"
  374. >You sigh.
  375. "When is it -not- Reverse Gender Roles."
  376. >"No no, you don't understand, they know I'm dressed as a bat!"
  377. "...And?"
  378. >She gulps.
  379. >Then reaches under the desk she's hidden behind and fetches out a body-pillow with her likeness on it.
  380. >To be honest, you'd snuggle the hell out of it, although...
  381. "Why is it covered in holes?"
  382. >She nods towards the window.
  383. >"Hold this in front of there."
  384. >You tentatively take the pillow.
  385. >It's a bit damp.
  386. >Eww.
  387. >Fluttershy smiles coyly at you.
  388. >"Maybe don't hold -that- bit of the pillow."
  389. >She gives you a half-lidded look.
  390. >"Unless you like that sort of thing~"
  391. "So I'm just holding this by the window."
  392. >"Yes. Don't stand behind it though, just sorta poke it out."
  393. " 'Kay."
  394. >You plod along to the window, body-pillow in hand, and hold it in front of you so that Fluttershy's face is visible.
  395. >For a moment it barely even registers when the glass shatters and Fluttershy's face develops a gaping hole, the internal stuffing billowing out behind it, whereby the event is punctuated by the sharp crack of a gunshot.
  396. "JESUS FUCK--"
  397. >You drop the pillow and hit the floor, scrambling back on your hands and knees to Fluttershy.
  398. "Was that--"
  399. >"Yes."
  400. "What the fuck--"
  401. >"I know."
  402. "So what, we're not allowed to dress as bats or something?"
  403. >"Apparently."
  404. "...Well, I should be fine then."
  405. >She cocks her head.
  406. >"Aren't you dressed as Dracula?"
  407. "What made you think that?"
  408. >"You know, the cape and whatnot."
  409. "It's not even close to Dracula!"
  410. >"Oh. Want to try walking past a window then?"
  411. >...
  412. "Point taken."
  413. >She shuffles to the side, patting the thin carpet next to her.
  414. >You join her huddled under a desk.
  415. "Now what?"
  416. >"I guess we just stay here until they all go home."
  417. "That's like five hours away."
  418. >"You'd better get comfy then."
  419. >You let out an exasperated groan.
  420. "I had a story to finish as well..."
  421. >"It can wait."
  422. >...
  423. >The two of you sit in silence.
  424. >"Hey, Anon, have you had anything to eat today?"
  425. "Ugh, no, didn't get chance to."
  426. >She smiles sweetly at you.
  427. >Whereby she opens her legs.
  428. >"Better get to it then, handsome."
  429. "But why?" you ask hopelessly, "Why now?"
  430. >"Because we're stuck here for the next few hours, you're wearing that fragrance I like, and men in capes get me soaking wet."
  431. >She rubs a hoof along her labia and shudders.
  432. >"Now get to work."
  433. >...
  434. >You reach up and try to take your hat off, only to be stopped by her.
  435. >"No no, leave the hat on."
  436. >...
  437. >Readjusting yourself, you sigh internally and get started.
  438. >It ends up being the most intense tongue work-out you've ever had.
  439. >When she said you'd be stuck there for a few hours you didn't think she'd expect you to keep going the whole time.
  440. >Still, at least it was something to do.
  441. >And now you know never to wear that particular fragrance or costume ever again.
  442. >Halloween sucks.
  443. >And so do you, apparently.
  444. >Much to Fluttershy's enjoyment.
  445.  
  446. ---
  447.  
  448. >A loud, distorted buzzer snaps you out of your daze.
  449. >For a moment you don't do anything but blink dumbly and stare in bewilderment at your computer screen.
  450. >The makings of a story are splashed on the monitor, as well as a small animated gif of a dancing penguin you had a desktop widget.
  451. >Heh.
  452. >Look at him go!
  453. >You chuckle to yourself, only to be jolted back into focus when the buzzer goes off again.
  454. >Raising an eyebrow, you look at your other monitor, which you had crudely shackled to the office internal CCTV network.
  455. >Sure, you only had 2 cameras running, but they were the watching over the most important places in the building.
  456. >The entrance, and the kitchen.
  457. >You'll find out who's been stealing from the fridge soon enough.
  458. >Whatever's lurking in the vents will have to come out eventually.
  459. >But as you squint at the grainy, fuzzy image on-screen, recognition hits you and your eyes widen when you realise who's at the front door.
  460. "Ooooh, shit."
  461. >You rise from your seat slowly to the sound of the buzzer blaring a third time.
  462. "Ooh, Fluttershy is -not- gonna like this."
  463.  
  464. >Twilight Sparkle regards you warmly as you let her in.
  465. >You run a hand through your hair, tidying it somewhat and trying to straighten out your shirt.
  466. >Before you can do your tie, Twilight reaches out with her magic and fixes it for you, neatly refolding it so that it's just as you like it.
  467. >Sheepishly, you shut the door behind her.
  468. >"It's great to see you again, Anon."
  469. "Yeah, yeah, you too, 'Miss Sparkle'."
  470. >"Oh come on, call me Twilight, you ass."
  471. "Sorry Twi," you say with a lopsided smile, "uh, so did you need something or...?"
  472. >"Well I just thought I'd swing by and visit. Been a while since I did."
  473. >You motion towards the stairs up to the office, and she walks alongside you as you make small-talk.
  474. "Well, thanks, how are things over at your place?"
  475. >"Business has been great! We've been making a -ton- of stories lately, brought on a few new writers, organised the catalogues a bit, yeah, things have been going really good! Especially since there's all this new competition these days."
  476. >You nod slowly.
  477. "That's cool, that's cool, glad to hear it, yeah, competition's fierce."
  478. >"How are things here? I don't wanna judge, but the paint on your... uh, everything is peeling."
  479. >She giggles.
  480. >"Painter go on strike or something?"
  481. "Not exactly..."
  482. >You both walk into the office.
  483. >Twilight's smile drops from her face.
  484. >"...Oh."
  485. >The office is as threadbare as it always is, but the lack of life is glaring.
  486. >A jungle of dusty, abandoned cubicles; the only one with lights and a sense of general cleanliness in the centre of the room obviously yours.
  487. >But it, combined with the lonely light-bulb dangling from a frayed strip of wiring just above your chair are the only sources of light in a darkened room.
  488. >You'd shut the blinds because the sun was causing screen-glare.
  489. >Twilight turns to you with a sad expression.
  490. >As you watch her, her face turns to one of resolve.
  491. >"I was afraid it might be bad, but this is..."
  492. "It's been like this for a while, you know things have been declining."
  493. >"Yeah..." she glances at the room again, then turns to you with a more resolute look, "you know, Anon... The offer's still on the table."
  494. "..."
  495. >"You're more than welcome to write for Anon in Equestria whenever you want, there'll always be a seat open for you. There was always meant to be."
  496. >She touches your leg gently with a hoof.
  497. >"I'm only thinking about what's best for you, you're never going to go anywhere in a place like this!"
  498. "I know, Twilight, but..."
  499. >You glance towards the office at the back of the room.
  500. >A small yellow face quickly disappears behind some blinds.
  501. "I'm more worried about what would happen to Fluttershy."
  502.  
  503. "Fluttershy."
  504. >' Aaaaahn~! Oooh yeaaah! '
  505. "Fluttershy!"
  506. >You knock on the door to Fluttershy's office a bit louder.
  507. "I know you can hear me, Fluttershy."
  508. >...
  509. >' AAAH! FUCK ME HARDER! '
  510. "For fuck's sake, woman, turn off the porn and come and say hello!"
  511. >You turn to Twilight.
  512. >She smiles weakly at you.
  513. >"She... always did love her porn."
  514. "Yeah, that'll never change."
  515. >You bang your hand on the door several times, the frosted glass segment at the top rattling from the force.
  516. >The erotic moaning on the other side quickly cuts out.
  517. >After a few seconds, the door opens.
  518. >Fluttershy appears, her mane quickly done up in a messy bun and her coat smelling of emergency perfume.
  519. >"Yes, Anonymous? How can I help?"
  520. >She turns to Twilight.
  521. >"Oh! A guest! I'm afraid I'm a bit tied up at the moment so..."
  522. >You give her a despairing look.
  523. >Twilight doesn't say a word, she just lets her eyes wander over her 'friend', taking it all in.
  524. >The old, worn office attire, oily coat, the smell of sweat.
  525. >Twilight, on the other hand, is wearing a crisp, sharp suit.
  526. >Her mane is shorter than it used to be, but just as well-kept as the rest of the mare.
  527. >She even wears spectacles nowadays, but they only serve to make her appear more authoritative and prestigious.
  528. >Comparing the two, Twilight is the picture of the modern working mare.
  529. >Fluttershy is...
  530. >Fluttershy.
  531. >Said mare abandons the pretences of civility and glowers at you both.
  532. >"What. Come to mock poor old Fluttershy and her failing company?"
  533. >Twilight cringes.
  534. >"I-- we never said that, Flutt--"
  535. >"Whatever. I know you're just here to swan about like you still own the place; what, did things get too much to handle at your nice big office building uptown?"
  536. >"...I just wanted to say hi, Fluttershy... I still care about you."
  537. >Fluttershy's eyes bulge.
  538. >"YOU STI--"
  539. >She looks at you, aghast, then back at Twilight.
  540. >You fold your arms and prepare to weather the storm with a grimace.
  541. >"IF YOU -CARED- YOU WOULDN'T HAVE SPLIT THE FUCKING COMPANY!"
  542. >Twilight visibly cringes, her guilt apparent.
  543. >"IF YOU -CARED- YOU WOULD HAVE WORKED WITH ME TO KEEP THE SCHISM FROM GETTING WIDER! WE COULD HAVE SALVAGED WHAT WE HAD AND MADE IT BETTER THAN BEFORE!"
  544. "Boss, please don't--"
  545. >"I-if you cared about the company, about -me-, then you wouldn't have run off to start your own thing and taken half our -fucking- team with you!"
  546. >Twilight is silent.
  547. >As are you.
  548. >Fluttershy sniffs and fights back any signs of tears or weakness.
  549. >Finally, your visitor swallows the lump in her throat and speaks up.
  550. >"I... came to-- look, I came to offer you both a, a place with us..."
  551. >Fluttershy doesn't scream in response.
  552. >She just straightens up, and looks Twilight right in the eye.
  553. >"So that's what it is then. You just want to tie up the loose ends. Can't have any remnants of the past lurking around so you've come to just, mop up, any mess and make everything all neat and tidy, is that it?"
  554. >Twilight's eyes narrow.
  555. >"Fluttershy, just... LOOK! At this! Look around you!"
  556. >She gives an exaggerated, sweeping hoof gesture to the office.
  557. >"I-It's not even functional! There's no one here! It's just you and Anon!"
  558. "Actually I think Slasher Science is still living in the vents."
  559. >Twilight stares at you.
  560. "...Emphasis on 'think'."
  561. >"This isn't even a company. What's the end game here-- how have you even survived this long?!"
  562. >You look at Fluttershy, and she at you.
  563. >Then the pair of you shrug.
  564. "Beats me."
  565. >"No idea."
  566. >Twilight looks between you both.
  567. >"So you're just going to stay here and do nothing? Just work away at a wilting concept that no one likes anymore? The world has moved on! People want a better product!"
  568. >She draws herself up to her full height.
  569. >"Anon In Equestria has proven to be an industry leader in autistic horsefiction. We intend to keep that ball rolling, and we want-- I want, both of you on board for it."
  570. >Twilight looks pleadingly at Fluttershy.
  571. >"Come on, Fluttershy! I want you with me on this, it'll be like old times!"
  572. >Fluttershy gives her a cool look, her tone laced with acid.
  573. >"Sorry Twilight. 'The world has moved on'. The old times are dead and they're never coming back."
  574. >She shakes her head.
  575. >"If you'll excuse me, I have important, industry-leading work to do, and I can't be wasting time with self-righteous, holier-than-thou control freaks like you."
  576. >She storms back into her office and slams the door.
  577. >A few moments later you can hear moaning again.
  578. >Both you and Twilight say nothing for a while.
  579. >Finally, you decide to speak, your tone lower, more hushed.
  580. "...If I left her."
  581. >Twilight looks up.
  582. "...Imagine what it would do to her."
  583. >The mare studies your face.
  584. >A faint, pitiful smile crosses her lips.
  585. >She holds out a hoof and beckons.
  586. >Crouching down, you both share an intimate hug.
  587. >"You're a good man, Anon."
  588. "Thanks, you're a good man too."
  589. >She laughs softly.
  590. >Breaking the hug, she sighs.
  591. >"There's always a place for you. Always."
  592. "I'll keep it in mind, like all the other times you've offered."
  593. >She smiles.
  594. >"Hey, I didn't make it this far by not being persistent."
  595. >You jerk your head at the office door.
  596. "Neither did she."
  597. >With that, Twilight takes her leave.
  598. >You stand in silence for a moment, listening to Fluttershy's porn.
  599. >Sounds like that anal creampie one again.
  600. >She likes that one.
  601. >Reminds her of the good old days.
  602. >But as you look around the office, you sigh.
  603. >It's like she said though.
  604. >The good old days are dead and never coming back.
  605. >You stretch, cracking several joints, before lumbering over to your desk and sitting back down before your monitor.
  606. >Your eyes glance at the dancing penguin again.
  607. >Heh.
  608. >Look at him go...
  609.  
  610. ---
  611.  
  612. >"Anon, I need to speak to you."
  613. >Spin around in your chair, coffee in hand.
  614. "What's up, boss."
  615. >Fluttershy looks on-edge.
  616. >She's fidgeting, and keeps glancing at the window.
  617. >"I uh, I need to show you something."
  618. >...
  619. "If it's your time of the year again, you can forget it, I had to bleach my shirt last time."
  620. >"No, you fucking imbecile, I need to show you something more, um, just come with me or you're fired, or something."
  621. >You roll your eyes and stand up, following your boss, coffee still firmly gripped.
  622. >Fluttershy trots into the kitchen and opens one of the cupboards.
  623. >There, and with great effort, she pulls out a large black bin-liner.
  624. >It's stuffed full of something, and zip-tied shut, though you can see small holes covering the bag.
  625. >You eye it nervously.
  626. "What, uh, what have you done...?"
  627. >She hesitates before replying.
  628. >"Okay, so, we've been a little bit stuck for money lately, and since the bank isn't giving us loans anymore I've had to find alternate methods of acquiring funding."
  629. "I'm with you so far."
  630. >"Buuuut a lot of those methods fell through."
  631. "Right, like the porno we made together to raise money."
  632. >She stares at you and goes red.
  633. >"Right. Yes. Make money. Definitely."
  634. >Clearing her throat, she continues.
  635. >"So since I wasn't able to make enough money the 'traditional' way, I had to reach out to some old contacts."
  636. "...And?"
  637. >The bin-liner shuffles slightly.
  638. >"Umm..."
  639. "Fluttershy."
  640. >"...Anon, this might be somewhat 'unorthadox' but I really need you to trust me and keep quiet on this or we'll both lose our jobs. Maybe worse."
  641. >With that, she tears open the bag with her teeth...
  642. >...And a bright yellow pony with bouncy blue hair and a winning smile tumbles out.
  643. >She's gagged, bound, and looks thoroughly dishevelled, though not entirely unsatisfied.
  644. >It takes everything you have not to yell.
  645. >But ultimately, you fail.
  646. >And yell.
  647. "DID YOU SMUGGLE MILKY WAY INTO THE FUCKING CITY?!"
  648. >"Anon please, calm down!"
  649. "WE-- Oh my god. WE COULD GET HANGED FOR THIS!"
  650. >Milky, on her part, seems awfully content with being bound and gagged.
  651. >Her unusually large, swollen breasts jiggle as she tries to correct her awkward position on the kitchen floor.
  652. >Fluttershy carefully removes the gag from her mouth.
  653. >"S-sorry Milky..."
  654. >The mare smiles at your boss.
  655. >"Oh it's fine, sugar, though I wouldn't complain if we did this bound-and-gagged thing again sometime~"
  656. >Milky looks at you.
  657. >Her eyes linger around your crotch.
  658. >"My my MY, quite the catch here, Fluttershy, did I hear something about a porno...?"
  659. >Fluttershy fumbles with Milky's bindings as she speaks.
  660. >"Um, no, well-- yes Milky, but, uh, where did you say you needed to be dropped off?"
  661. >Milky rises to her hooves, stretching in an overtly-lewd way, trying to catch your eye.
  662. >"Oooh nowhere, I just needed a place to lay low for a while. My boys will swing by and collect me in a week or so, so don't you worry, sugar."
  663. >You watch all this with pursed lips.
  664. >Fluttershy smiles weakly at you.
  665. "Can I talk to you for a second?"
  666.  
  667. >Milky inspects the contents of the fridge, pulling out an empty milk bottle and sniffing it.
  668. >You and Fluttershy watch her from a crack in the door.
  669. >Quietly close it and begin hush-screaming at her.
  670. "Are you insane?! Bringing a domestic terrorist into the city?!"
  671. >"She's my friend! And she was offering money!"
  672. "FRIEN-- friend?! You're telling me you're -friends- with the mare that caused unemployment to hit -sixty percent-?! Entire corporate empires collapsed overnight, Fluttershy! She's a menace!"
  673. >"I've known her since we were fillies, she's just misunderstood!"
  674. >Known her since they were fillies.
  675. >That actually explains a lot about Fluttershy's insatiable libido.
  676. >"We just need to keep her hidden for a week, then we'll get paid."
  677. >You suck in a deep breath, trying to calm yourself.
  678. "...How much."
  679. >"About six million bits."
  680. >If you still had your coffee, you'd take a swig and spray it all over her.
  681. >But Milky stole it.
  682. >You weren't man enough to stop her.
  683. "Whaaa..."
  684. >"She's a rich pony; has a lot of underground investments."
  685. "If she's your friend and she's so rich, why hasn't she helped us before?"
  686. >"I've been spending the last few months talking to her through about fifty different middle-men, Anon, she's been a hard mare to reach since since she fled!"
  687. "Right. But still... that's a lot of money."
  688. >"It is. We'd be set for the next thirty years if she comes through."
  689. "..."
  690. >"I know it's um, not exactly 'legal'--"
  691. "If they find her we're both dead."
  692. >"...Yes, true, but what choice do we have? If we don't get funding the company will fold."
  693. "We could always work at Anon In Equestria."
  694. >...
  695. "Gonna pretend I didn't say that out loud."
  696. >"Yeah that's a pretty good idea, fuckwit."
  697. >You both re-enter the kitchen.
  698. >Milky smiles at Fluttershy.
  699. >And -really- smiles at you.
  700. >"Oh there you both are, I refilled your milk bottles-- no no, no need to thank me, it's just what I do best~!"
  701. >You look at the kitchen counter and see that all 8 of the empty bottles you had in the fridge have been filled.
  702. >Holy shit.
  703. >Fluttershy gulps.
  704. >"So Milky, um, obviously you can't leave the building until you get picked up, and we don't have any beds or sofas--"
  705. >"Oh psssh, Fluttershy, doll, it's fine! I'll sleep in here."
  706. >"Are you... sure?"
  707. >"Of course! I've slept in cesspools whilst running from the law, heck, I even slept inside another pony once. Had to slice him open and sleep inside him like uh, oh what was that movie..."
  708. "...Star Wars?"
  709. >"Yes! Star Whores, -great- porno, I part-funded it don't you know, but anyway I'll sleep in the cupboard, don't worry about lil' old me! Though I do tend to get ah, a bit antsy around this time of year, so I may need to 'borrow' your lovely male friend here, Fluttershy~"
  710. "Out of the questi--"
  711. >"Absolutely, of course you can, Milky."
  712. >Fluttershy glares at you.
  713. >Fucking perfect.
  714. >Milky giggles playfully and strokes your leg.
  715. >"Oooh staying here's gonna be a blast! Don't worry, sugar, I can play nice~"
  716. >God help you.
  717. >Stay strong, Anon.
  718. >Remember the six million.
  719.  
  720. ---
  721.  
  722. >You glance at the clock and breathe out heavily through your nose.
  723. >It's 7:58.
  724. >Saving your progress on the story you've been working on, you stand up and stretch your legs.
  725. "Fluttershy? I'm going outside to get the mail!"
  726. >"Okay, but you can't bring her inside this time!"
  727. "Why not?"
  728. >"Because we have a domestic terrorist hidden in our kitchen!"
  729. "Oh yeah, forgot, sorry!"
  730. >You walk towards the stairs.
  731. >As you pass the kitchen, Milky Way watches you, leant against the door-frame with her front hoof crossed over the other.
  732. >"Aww, you forgot about me? That's cold."
  733. "You keep away from me, you demon, I don't know where you've been."
  734. >"I know where I'd -like- to be~"
  735. >You shudder as she cackles gleefully.
  736. >Exiting through the front double doors, you enjoy the sun on your face for a bit before you enter the shadow of the high-rise across the street and walk along the pavement in front of your building.
  737. >You yawn, a hand covering your mouth as you wait for the mail to come.
  738. >Check your watch.
  739. >It's 8:00.
  740. >Here we go again.
  741. >Same as every morning.
  742. >You check your positioning under the second floor office window.
  743. >Adjust your feet slightly, then slowly hold out your arms.
  744. >And...
  745. >...
  746. >SMACK.
  747. >A grey ball slams into the windowpane with a bang.
  748. >Thankfully, the glass holds this time, and the mare drops from the air like a stone.
  749. >Right into your arms.
  750. >She shakes her head and twists around in confusion.
  751. >Then, she looks up at you, and beams in her natural, innocent way.
  752. >"Hiya Anon!"
  753. "Morning Derpy."
  754. >"I got you a letter!"
  755. "Just the one, or several?"
  756. >"Oh! Uhh... I'd need to check..."
  757. >You set her down and she rummages around in her satchel.
  758. "You know Derpy, you could always use the door."
  759. >"I know... but windows are confusing to pegasi, we never really know they're there until the last minute."
  760. "Even though you slam into that same window every day?"
  761. >She shrugs.
  762. >"I dunno, just the way we are, I guess."
  763. >She hands(?) over a stack of letters.
  764. >Bills, more than likely.
  765. >"So um..."
  766. >She gives you a meek look.
  767. >"C-can I come in for some milk and biscuits, please?"
  768. >You regard her affectionately.
  769. "If I were a suspicious man I'd say you were hitting our window on purpose so that I'd have an excuse to bring you in and tend to you."
  770. >She grins toothily, and blushes.
  771. >"No, I just uh... I need to check on, you know. Stuff."
  772. "Right, stuff, of course."
  773. >You sigh.
  774. "Well I'm sorry, Derps, but today I'm going to have to say no."
  775. >Her ears fold back, and her smile sags.
  776. >"Oh! Well... okay. Sorry for asking I--"
  777. "No no, it's just we have, uh, a rat."
  778. >"A rat?"
  779. "Oh yeah, it's huge. Size of a pony. Wouldn't want you getting hurt, is all."
  780. >"Alright, if you say so..."
  781. >She forces herself to smile again, and takes flight once more.
  782. >"In that case, I'll see you tomorrow, mister Anon!"
  783. "Just Anon will do, Derps, you take care."
  784. >"Alright! Bye!"
  785. >You wave as she flies away.
  786. >Then look at the letters she gave you.
  787. >They're all addressed to Anon In Equestria Inc.
  788. >Fuck.
  789.  
  790. ---
  791.  
  792. >You wander back inside, frowning at the letters in your hand.
  793. >This means you'll either have to drop them off at Twilight's place, or throw them in the bin.
  794. >You know which one Fluttershy will pick.
  795. >Maybe you should just keep them from her?
  796. >As you think on this, you tread heavily up the flight of stairs leading to the office.
  797. >The first thing you notice when you get there is the yellow object hurtling towards you.
  798. >Instinctively you flinch and hold up your hands, but Fluttershy collides with you regardless.
  799. >You hold the pony in your arms, blinking dumbly at her.
  800. >She glares at you in return.
  801. >So nothing new there.
  802. "Can I help you, boss?"
  803. >"We have a problem."
  804. >"WHERE IS IT?!" a voice bellows from the kitchen.
  805. >"We have a serious problem."
  806. >Clutching your boss (who takes the liberty of wrapping her hooves around your neck and getting comfortable), you walk steadily towards the kitchen.
  807. >Nudge open the door with a foot, prepared for anything.
  808. >Milky Way is poised in the centre of the room.
  809. >She spins to face you, a crazed look in her eye.
  810. >Between her teeth is a large, blood-soaked, serrated knife.
  811. "Oh fuck, Shy are we gonna die?"
  812. >Milky grins maniacally and speaks over the knife between her teeth. Somehow.
  813. >"There's a rat in this building."
  814. "...Were you listening to what I said to Derpy? That was a joke--"
  815. >"No, sugar, there's an actual rat in this building. I saw it rooting through the fridge."
  816. >...
  817. >Oh shit so -that's- what was stealing all the food.
  818. >Your kitchen CCTV camera mysteriously stopped working shortly after you set it up, so you never figured out who was behind the raids.
  819. >Fluttershy buries her face in your neck and sniffs.
  820. >"You're wearing that fragrance I like, Anon."
  821. "Uh, is now really the best time, boss?"
  822. >"Not really, but you'd better watch yourself, stud."
  823. >A loud chattering resonates around the room.
  824. >All three of you freeze.
  825. >Milky chuckles darkly.
  826. >"Come back for more, have you?"
  827. >You look around.
  828. "There's only one door, where--"
  829. >"The ceiling tiles. It's using the ceiling tiles to get around, sugar."
  830. >You glance up at the segmented ceiling nervously.
  831. >Slowly, one of the tiles raises slightly, and pulls back.
  832. >You see a pair of beady eyes peering out at you from the darkness.
  833. >Then, a blur of motion.
  834. >A massive, pony-sized rat launches itself from the shadows directly at Milky Way.
  835. >She gleefully leaps to meet it, a tangled mess of pony and rat merging in a frantic mess.
  836. >Your grip on Fluttershy tightens, and she squeals as your hand clutches her flank.
  837. >Taking a few steps back, you watch in horror as the rat tries to take a chunk out of Milky.
  838. >Milky, not having any of that shit, stabs the knife right into the rat's shoulder.
  839. >It shrieks and claws at her, a spray of blood marking the floor and wall.
  840. >The mare grunts and wrestles the rat onto its back, sitting on its chest and raising the knife above it as if to strike the point down.
  841. >Before she can do so, the rat wriggles out from under her and, using its considerable weight, shunts her to the ground.
  842. >She slides along the tiled floor, her blood streaking under her.
  843. >The rat uses its moment of freedom to dash to the fridge.
  844. >You watch in silent amazement as it rears up and opens the door with its claws, reaching in and grabbing your lunch box between its teeth.
  845. >Mother fucker, that's why you keep finding it empty and covered in bite marks.
  846. >You thought it was Fluttershy this whole time.
  847. >The rat considerately shuts the fridge door and in one mighty leap, re-enters the ceiling through the hole it had made.
  848. >Fluttershy, Milky, and yourself watch as the tile slides back into place.
  849. >And then there is silence.
  850. >...
  851. >Milky rises to her hooves with a pained grunt.
  852. >"Little furry bastard actually got me!"
  853. >She grins, despite having a large gash on her barrel.
  854. >Fluttershy leaps out of your arms and immediately starts fussing over her friend.
  855. >"Oh Milky, you must have been so scared!"
  856. >"Who, me? Sugar, I used to fight Diamond Dogs for scraps of leftovers, that was nothing."
  857. >She staggers over to a drawer and pulls it open, retrieving the first-aid kit within where she busies herself with the bandages and iodine inside.
  858. >"Ah well, I'll get him next time. Well-trained rat though, I must admit."
  859. "You think someone trained that thing?"
  860. >"Of course! The question is who."
  861. >The three of you pause and turn your attention to the vents.
  862. >If you strain yourself, you can just about hear a distant, raspy, whisper of a voice.
  863. >'Ooo, ham sandwiches again it seems, Rudolph...'
  864. >You may need to buy some rat poison.
  865. >...
  866. "Boss, really."
  867. >Fluttershy, having slid back into your grasp, finishes licking your cheek.
  868. >"You grabbed my ass during that, you're wearing that scent again, and violence gets me horny, oh you'd better believe we're doing this."
  869. >Working here is hell.
  870.  
  871. ---
  872.  
  873. "Was she really a milk-mare?"
  874. >You and Fluttershy peer through a crack in the door at Milky as she hums to herself and deposits more of her 'product' into your milk bottles.
  875. >To her credit, you've saved a fair bit of money on milk whilst she's been here.
  876. >Fluttershy nods.
  877. >"One of the best, of course that all died when the government outlawed the sale of ponymilk."
  878. "Isn't it a bit weird that she produces that much though? Do you not find it weird that people used to drink that stuff?"
  879. >"Why would I? Do humans not drink their own milk?"
  880. "Well sure, but only when they're young."
  881. >"That's not what I've seen."
  882. "Wh--"
  883. >"I watch so much porn, Anon."
  884. "Oh."
  885. >You turn back to Milky.
  886. >She places the fourth bottle back in the fridge.
  887. "So the government bans ponymilk and the only logical solution is domestic terrorism."
  888. >"That's just the way she saw it."
  889. "Tragic."
  890. >"I know. An innocent mare put out of work by a fascist regime..."
  891. "...I was more thinking about all the people she put out of work in response."
  892. >"Oh. Them too, I guess."
  893. "Did you really know her when you were fillies?"
  894. >"Yup."
  895. "What was she like?"
  896. >"Lewd."
  897. "Really? Shocker."
  898. >"She hit puberty when she was ten. Lost her virginity when she was eleven."
  899. "Jesus. Who too?"
  900. >"Me."
  901. >...
  902. "O-oh."
  903. >"We're really good friends."
  904. "Shy I don't think--"
  905. >"Best friends."
  906. >...
  907. >"That's why she's always in my office--"
  908. "Yeah, I got it."
  909. >...
  910. >"Lactation is one of my fetishes--"
  911. "Okay, right, no need to say anymore."
  912. >...
  913. >"Is lactation your fet--"
  914. "Please stop."
  915.  
  916. ---
  917.  
  918. >"So what do you -do-, exactly?"
  919. >You wince at the voice.
  920. >Milky Way slips into your cubical and leans against you as you tap away at the keyboard.
  921. "I write stories."
  922. >"Ohh yes, Fluttershy mentioned these. So people really read this stuff?"
  923. "Uh yeah, there's a real market for it, well, Fluttershy and I still think so."
  924. >"Mm? Others think otherwise?"
  925. "Yeah, Twilight Sparkle from Anon In Equestria Inc. thinks that Flutterrape is outdated and behind the times, she thinks we need to modernise and mix with them in order to survive."
  926. >You sniff a take a sip of your coffee.
  927. "It's all bullshit. She just wants to clean up the competition, absorb anything that she can, and Flutterrape is a special case since she used to work here."
  928. >"Ooh, drama, my favourite topic~"
  929. >Milky Way pulls up a chair and leans an elbow on your desk, smiling at you.
  930. >You don't like the way she looks at you.
  931. >It's predatory.
  932. >...
  933. >So really, she fits right in here.
  934. >"What made her quit?"
  935. "Just uh, internal disagreements about where the company should go. Fluttershy wanted FR to be about the lewd. It was the lewd that brought people in and stripping it of that would tear the soul out if it."
  936. >"And Twilight thought otherwise?"
  937. "She thought that the company would be better off if we made stories that weren't lewd. Adventure, sci-fi, romance, you know, all that stuff."
  938. >"Sounds boring."
  939. "Well, thing is, you can have an FR story with all those elements, AND the added bonus of a quick and filthy sex scene thrown in at the end for good measure, what's not to like?"
  940. >"I know I like it."
  941. "Yeah well you would."
  942. >She places a hoof on her chest in mock-surprise.
  943. >"Anon! I'm offended that you would think such a thing."
  944. "Aren't you a millionaire porn investor?"
  945. >"Porn, drugs, pony-milk, human and equine trafficking, the whole deal, sugar."
  946. "Jesus."
  947. >"So how did she leave?"
  948. "She managed to convince half of our writers that the future was in AiE, so she basically organised an exodus and some time about six years ago just walked out with half of everything we had."
  949. >"Devious little bitch!"
  950. >Milky Way grins.
  951. >"I rather like her way of thinking!"
  952. "Yeah well... just don't go talking about that with Fluttershy, she'll burst a blood vessel."
  953. >"Aww, is my sweet little Shy angry when I'm not around?"
  954. "Is she angry?! Milky she's the most volatile pony I've ever met."
  955. >Milky giggles.
  956. >"Not when I'm nearby~"
  957. >You're about to retort, but then think about it.
  958. >She -has- been a bit more restrained since Milky got here.
  959. >Maybe it takes a super-criminal to keep her in check.
  960. >"So, Twilight takes half the staff, then her whole little venture fails and they're basically now on the same level as you are, right?"
  961. "Ouch, that hurt, but uh, no, not really."
  962. >"Oh?"
  963. "Well. You know that massive skyscraper in the middle of the city?"
  964. >She cocks her head.
  965. >"What, the Ivory Perch?"
  966. "Yeah, that."
  967. >"That...?"
  968. "That's it. That's Anon In Equestria Incorporated."
  969. >Milky stares at you, slightly agape.
  970. >"Sweet lord."
  971. >She looks around your office.
  972. >"And you're stuck in -this- dump?!"
  973. "Thanks for the vote of confidence, Milky."
  974. >"Well I mean, I can understand being rivals with a company, sugar, but she's way beyond your league!"
  975. "Looks that way, yeah."
  976. >"So are you going to take her up on the offer and merge?"
  977. "I think about it from time to time. Twilight comes around every couple of months to check on us and ask again."
  978. >Milky's look softens.
  979. >"Aww, that's sweet of her."
  980. "Yeah, she's nice."
  981. >"Nice? Even though she stole half your company?"
  982. "Well, Twilight and I never had any ill-will between us, even after what happened. We, uh, like each other a lot."
  983. >Milky's predatory grin returns.
  984. >"Oooh, do I sense a budding romance?"
  985. "Knock it off, it's more like a good friendship. Besides, if I started anything with Twilight then Fluttershy would break my kneecaps."
  986. >"Oh my little Shy would do no such thing, she's an angel. Even named her rabbit Angel last time I checked."
  987. "That rabbit's no angel, it's a killer."
  988. >"Pssh."
  989. >She goes quiet and you carry on tapping away at your story.
  990. >Eventually, you hear the chair next to you sliding, and Milky draws herself closer, speaking in a more muted, business-like tone.
  991. >"You know... now that I'm back in the city and my assets are establishing a foothold in the city's underbelly, I'll be able to start making things happen sooner or later."
  992. "Uh. Okay?"
  993. >"Well, I'm just saying, sugar, if you want then I can pull a few strings, get a few specialists together, make a plan, and bring that entire tower crashing down around her."
  994. "..."
  995. >"Come on, wouldn't it be fun? Watching that corporation just burn to ashes?"
  996. "And hundreds of people could die, or worse, lose their jobs."
  997. >"Omelettes and eggs, Anon."
  998. "What kind of omelette are -you- thinking of?"
  999. >Milky wraps a hoof around your shoulder and makes a grand gesture in the air with the other.
  1000. >"Imagine: Flutterrape LTD on top of the world! The biggest and most successful company around!"
  1001. "Would that success be due to there not being any competition?"
  1002. >"Well, if you look at it a certain way, yes."
  1003. >You shake your head.
  1004. "No, Milky, this company was founded on strong Christian morals. We're a kind company."
  1005. >"Honey, your company motto is literally 'Where no means yes and yes means anal'."
  1006. "Loads of Christians do anal."
  1007. >She lets out a hearty laugh.
  1008. >"I'll give you that one!"
  1009. >The mare backs off a bit, but remains close to you, turning her attention to your screen.
  1010. >"So if you're too boring to destroy your enemies, maybe I can help you here..."
  1011. "How so?"
  1012. >"Well, you know, this! Writing stories! Can't be too hard, can it?"
  1013. >You raise an eyebrow and give a surprised laugh.
  1014. "You? Write?"
  1015. >"Sure! I'm creative!"
  1016. "Alrighty then, let's hear it."
  1017. >"Okay, so what if there was a story where Fluttershy was... really big!"
  1018. >She makes an exaggerated hoof-gesture for emphasis, then leans back in her chair, clearly pleased with herself.
  1019. >...
  1020. "...Is that it?"
  1021. >"Of course!"
  1022. >You blink.
  1023. >She frowns.
  1024. >"What, too much?"
  1025. "Uh, no, it's just really... mundane."
  1026. >"Mundane?! But it's a story about a -giant pony-! Think of how incredible it would be to be smooched by a giant pony!"
  1027. "Yeah, kinda dull. Loads of stories have had that in them."
  1028. >She looks disappointed, but curious.
  1029. >"Well what sort of stories have you done? What's the craziest thing you've ever written?"
  1030. "Oh that's easy, I once wrote a story about a vampire bounty-hunter who came to Equestria to kill a target, but the target was a shape-shifter and it steals the forms of various Ponyville residents so the hunter has to figure out who's the real target whilst trying to fend off hordes of rapist clones that the target was creating in a secret lair under a volcano, and the whole thing ends in a massive orgy but the vampire hunter dies as he cums inside the last mare, and then the story closes. It's a bittersweet ending."
  1031. >Milky Way stares in disbelief at you.
  1032. >"And people... read this stuff."
  1033. "Oh yeah, that was one of our most popular stories. It sold six thousand units!"
  1034. >You allow yourself to swell with pride.
  1035. >"...Is that a lot?"
  1036. "Well uh, it is for Flutterrape..."
  1037. >"Right."
  1038. >She glances at the screen.
  1039. >Then back at you.
  1040. >"Okay, I can see that I might be out of my depth here, sugar, so I'll just leave you to it, and stick to what I know, like running a criminal empire, and making the best damn milk this world has ever known. How's the coffee, by the way?"
  1041. "It's really goo-- oooh, you put your milk in it didn't you."
  1042. >"Not just my milk, dear."
  1043. >She winks at you and walks off laughing as you splutter and pour your coffee on a nearby potted plant.
  1044. >Fucking Milky Way.
  1045. >...
  1046. >When you're sure she's gone, you open a new document and give it a title.
  1047. >' Giant Fluttershy Story '
  1048.  
  1049. ---
  1050.  
  1051. >You aren't enjoying this.
  1052. >Not even remotely.
  1053. >But as Milky Way molests the inside of your mouth with her tongue, her hooves hooked around your neck in a vice, you find that as much as you complain you can't actually do anything about it.
  1054. >With an over-exaggerated 'MWAH!', Milky breaks her kiss.
  1055. >Though really it was more like tongue-rape.
  1056. >She beams at your dark expression and unhooks from your neck, dropping to the floor.
  1057. >"Hope it was good for you too, sugar~"
  1058. "Yeah, great."
  1059. >She flashes you a wink and turns to Fluttershy.
  1060. >"Well Shy, this is it."
  1061. >Your boss nods tearfully as she speaks.
  1062. >"I-I'll miss you..."
  1063. >The two share a hug as Fluttershy babbles over her friend's shoulder.
  1064. >"You'll try and stay in touch won't you? I-I couldn't bear losing you again, what if the government finds you? Will you be safe? Oh maybe you should just stay here..."
  1065. >The milk-mare chuckles and frees herself from the other pony's desperate clinging.
  1066. >"Sugar, I'll always be in touch~! My assets are set up and I'm ready to get back to making this entire city my personal fuck-toy, so relax! Just try not to sell me out to the cops again this time, okay hun?"
  1067. >Fluttershy winces.
  1068. >"I-It was a mistake... they tricked me..."
  1069. >"I know, sugar, I know." Milky says affectionately.
  1070. >She gives Fluttershy a quick peck on the forehead and motions to the burly stallions at the door.
  1071. >"Come on, boys, let's go tame a city."
  1072. >They nod silently and follow their boss out of the room and down the stairs.
  1073. >For a minute, Fluttershy and yourself stand still, listening to her steps get quieter until you hear the front door open and shut.
  1074. >...
  1075. "Well. That's that."
  1076. >"Yeah. Anyway, get back to work, fucknugget, we have a company to rebuild."
  1077. "Rebuild? With what?"
  1078. >"Looks like someone forgot the six million."
  1079. "Wh-- oh, OH, Christ, I completely forgot about that. Kinda easy to do so though when you're actively being molested by a super-criminal on a regular basis. Thanks for keeping her away from me by the way, you asshole."
  1080. >"What the fuck was I going to do, drag her off you? She's a mare with needs, and you were the only man in the vicinity. Besides, she's usually into mares so you should consider yourself privileged."
  1081. "Wow. Privileged. Okay, so what are you planning to do with all that money anyway?"
  1082. >"What do you think? We need to start hiring some ponies and making this place into something semi-respectable."
  1083. "I thought looks didn't matter and that we were respectable on the inside?"
  1084. >"Well I'm stood inside this office and it's a fucking disgrace from what I can see, now get on Craigslist and find me some god damn writers."
  1085. "Yes boss."
  1086. >You mock-salute and begin heading back to your desk, Fluttershy walking to her office at the other side of the room.
  1087. >As you pass the kitchen your call out to her.
  1088. "Hey, are we ever gonna get rid of that giant rat corpse?"
  1089. >"What corpse? It's not dead, you dipshit, just sleeping."
  1090. "Why is it sleeping in our kitchen?"
  1091. >"Hell if I know, but now that Milky's not here who's gonna deal with it? You?"
  1092. >She forces out a laugh.
  1093. >"I'd pay six million bits to see that."
  1094. "Don't try me, I'm a pro with a knife."
  1095. >"You're not even a pro with your own dick, what are you gonna do with a knife?"
  1096. >Ouch.
  1097. >She's really giving it to you today.
  1098. >Must be Milky-withdrawal.
  1099. >You have to admit though, that milk definitely grew on you. It's an acquired taste; you'll miss it.
  1100. >Well, at least she's gone now, and you'll never have to deal with her ever again for as long as you live.
  1101. >...Even when you lie to yourself you feel guilty.
  1102. >You slide into your creaky chair and pull yourself closer to the desk, looking over the screen with a bored expression.
  1103. >Alright, so now you just need to find some writers.
  1104. >Shouldn't be too hard; city's full of aspiring young minds ready to get started in the world of work.
  1105. >Or at least that's what the state-funded news networks tell you.
  1106. >Most young people you see on the way to work are more concerned with fidget spinners and crack cocaine than actually being functional adults.
  1107. >Ah well.
  1108. >Just send out a few applications and let the cards fall where they may.
  1109. >Not like you can find anyone worse than Milky.
  1110.  
  1111. >"So like, I was thinking I could be the boss maybe? I've been running a blog for a few years now and that's -basically- the same thing as running a company, right? So what do you think?"
  1112. >You stare at the young girl behind the desk, who's now looking at her phone since she finished speaking and completely ignoring your incredulous gaze.
  1113. >This is why you don't use Craigslist to find employees.
  1114. "I don't think you have what we're looking for."
  1115. >"I'm putting this on my blog you fucking bigot."
  1116.  
  1117. >"..."
  1118. "..."
  1119. >"..."
  1120. "..."
  1121. >"..."
  1122. "Uh. You alright, sir?"
  1123. >The stallion simply stares at you.
  1124. >You look at his resume.
  1125. >It's just a picture of him staring at the camera the same way he is now.
  1126. >You look back up at him.
  1127. >He has a small smile on his face, and you notice that a box-cutter is on the table between you both.
  1128. >Gulp.
  1129.  
  1130. >"...So I have several years of experience leading a team, have pioneered a successful story brand, and am ready to work in a new environment on any project put before me to the best of my ability."
  1131. "That's great, boss, but this interview is for people who don't run the fucking company."
  1132. >"I'm only here because you said there would be drinks."
  1133. "Fluttershy you own the company. You own the drinks."
  1134. >"Then give me MY FUCKING BOOZE, ANON."
  1135.  
  1136. >"So can I have those biscuits and milk now?"
  1137. "Derpy you can't work here, please leave."
  1138. >"C-can we hang out at least?"
  1139. "...After work."
  1140. >"Wooo!"
  1141. "Ahh get outta here, you lovable scamp."
  1142.  
  1143. >Your forehead is sore.
  1144. >Likely because you've been resting it on the cold metal table for a while now.
  1145. >The hunt for a new employee has been fruitless to say the least.
  1146. >Or maybe not, actually, you -did- interview a gay guy at one point.
  1147. >Still, maybe it's time to pack things up and forget the whole thing.
  1148. >Hopefully Fluttershy will get drunk and completely erase any memory of having asked you to find more workers.
  1149. >As far as employees go, you're definitely deserving of employee of the month.
  1150. >...
  1151. >You frown as you realise you've thought that before.
  1152. >The employee of the month this time was Milky.
  1153. >Fucking -Milky-.
  1154. >It's not that you're surprised that annoys you.
  1155. >It's that you're not even remotely surprised.
  1156. >You shut your file and stretch your arms out, yawning.
  1157. >Better go--
  1158. >"Hey asshole."
  1159. >You glance at the door of your little impromptu interview room.
  1160. >Fluttershy is there.
  1161. >Glaring.
  1162. >As always.
  1163. >"Got one more applicant. Play nice."
  1164. >With that, she disappears, and a frumpy-looking bespectacled mare walks in.
  1165. >She freezes when she sees the giant rat sleeping in the corner of the room.
  1166. "Hello, my name is Anonymous. We're using the kitchen as an interview room. Yes, that is actually a giant rat; he's mostly harmless when he's asleep, so please don't wake him up or the consequences will be dire."
  1167. >The mare slowly walks to the desk and takes a seat across from you.
  1168. >You reopen your file and look through the list of names you had down.
  1169. "Miss... Short Storys?"
  1170. >"Yes, that's me, hi."
  1171. "Is that a typo?"
  1172. >"No, that's just how it's spelt."
  1173. "I see. So what made you want to write for Flutterrape?"
  1174. >"The advert said there would be booze."
  1175. >That's the fifth person to mention that.
  1176. >Why the fuck did you offer booze in the advert.
  1177. "Well yes, there is booze, but why else do you want to write for us?"
  1178. >"Um, well I write stories as a freelancer, and I need a more permanent job."
  1179. >...
  1180. >"Also Anon In Equestria aren't hiring, and Reverse Gender Roles told me to fuck off when I said I wanted to write for them, so..."
  1181. >She looks around at the dirty kitchen.
  1182. >"I figured this was the next best place...?"
  1183. "You thought right!"
  1184. >"...Are you sure?"
  1185. "Not always, no, but tell me, what sort of writing are you expecting to do? Are you aware of what you will be asked to write here?"
  1186. >"Ponyrape, right?"
  1187. "Yes, precisely, it--"
  1188. >"Yeah I can do that, sounds easy."
  1189. >You give a good-natured chuckle.
  1190. "I assure you, Miss Storys, it's a lot harder than it looks, it requires--"
  1191. >"I dunno, you just come up with a gimmick and slap rape on it whenever things get boring. Kinda simple."
  1192. "I, uh... w-well we'll see how you do. Frankly you're the only normal-looking person to walk through the door today so--"
  1193. >"I HEARD THAT YOU LANKY FUCK." Fluttershy shouts from behind the door.
  1194. "FUCK YOU FLUTTERSHY GO JACK OFF IN YOUR OFFICE INSTEAD OF LISTENING INTO OTHER PEOPLE'S CONVERSATIONS."
  1195. >"YOUR ASS IS MINE WHEN SHE'S GONE."
  1196. "WELL JOKE'S ON YOU, DICKWAFFLE, SHE'S NOT LEAVING."
  1197. >You glance at Short Storys.
  1198. "By the way, you're hired, you start on Monday."
  1199. >"Cool!"
  1200. >...
  1201. >"And I think you woke the rat up by shouting."
  1202. "Oh fucksticks--"
  1203.  
  1204. ---
  1205.  
  1206. "This won't work."
  1207. >"Yes it will."
  1208. "Taking out Slasher Science won't magically rid us of Rudolph.
  1209. >"We're doing this."
  1210. "And I'm telling you, it won't work."
  1211. >"Anon, I'm sick of that fucking rat."
  1212. "He's not that bad; as long as we keep feeding him six times a day he tends to leave you alone."
  1213. >"Friday."
  1214. "Friday was an anomaly."
  1215. >"He ate my fucking office chair."
  1216. "It was a shitty chair."
  1217. >"That chair was with this company from the start."
  1218. "Exactly, it was falling to bits and you would do well to replace it."
  1219. >"I made love on, and to that chair more times than you can fathom. It was special to me."
  1220. "All the more reason why it had to go; it was tainted."
  1221. >"The same pussy juices that saturated that leather have also saturated your face, Anonymous, don't try and take the moral high-ground here."
  1222. "Charmingly put, Fluttershy."
  1223. >"Shut up. You're fired. Now put the cheese in the vent."
  1224. "I thought we were luring out Slasher?"
  1225. >"Yes...?"
  1226. "...With cheese?"
  1227. >"Yes, all white people like cheese, Anon."
  1228. "Was Slasher even white?"
  1229. >"Of course he was white."
  1230. "How do you know? He used to come into work with a balaclava and gloves on."
  1231. >"Only a white guy would do something that tremendously autistic."
  1232. "We write rape-fiction for money, Fluttershy, we're not really in a position to call others autistic."
  1233. >"Whatever, hold my drink, I'll do it myself. Actually, you're pissing me off today, What's-Your-Face, hold my drink."
  1234. >"M-my name's Short Story's ma'am."
  1235. >"Shut up. Fuck you. You're fired. Why is everyone around here so incompetent?"
  1236. "You're not actually fired, Shorts, stay where you are."
  1237. >"You're not her boss, Anon."
  1238. "Contractually I'm her manager."
  1239. >"And who exactly made you her manager?"
  1240. "You did."
  1241. >"When?"
  1242. "When we hired her, you were very drunk at the time."
  1243. >"Drunk deals don't count."
  1244. "Bullshit, we decided that drunk deals -do- count last November."
  1245. >"Again with November!"
  1246. "You fucking owe me for November."
  1247. >"What um, what happened in November?"
  1248. "Doesn't concern you, Shorts. Now hold Fluttershy's drink so I can shift her fat ass into this vent."
  1249. >"You call my ass fat, but you secretly love it."
  1250. "Yeah okay."
  1251. >"Anon you're blushing."
  1252. "Shut up, Shorts."
  1253. >"Ugh... Come on Anon, put your back into it!"
  1254. "You've seriously put on weight since the last time I picked you up."
  1255. >"You'll be doing overtime if you keep this attitude up."
  1256. "Actual-overtime where I can get some work done on my stories or office-overtime where you make me get work done on you?"
  1257. >"Both. At the same time."
  1258. >"So um, are you two like a couple or...?"
  1259. "Not on her life, Shorts."
  1260. >"HA! I have higher standards than Anonymous, trust me."
  1261. >"But you two kinda... I dunno, bang a lot."
  1262. "Yeah but they're hatefucks so they don't count."
  1263. >"Hatefucks don't count, Shorts."
  1264. "Not even remotely."
  1265. >"Not one bit."
  1266. "Have you planted the cheese yet?"
  1267. >"Yes, bring me down."
  1268. >You lower her.
  1269. >"Enjoy the view?"
  1270. "No."
  1271. >"Yes you did."
  1272. "I'd never tell you if I did, you fucking harlot."
  1273. >"Sure you wouldn't. Anyway, now we wait."
  1274. "What if Rudolph gets it first?"
  1275. >"Well if those tranquillisers you gave him did their job, he won't be a problem."
  1276. >...
  1277. >"Also please give me back my drink, Shorts, thank you."
  1278. >"S-sorry ma'am."
  1279. >You puff out your cheeks with a sigh and relax slightly, your arms swinging at your sides as you absently watch the vent opening.
  1280. "So how long do you think this is gonna--"
  1281. >A sudden, violent flash of light steals your vision from you, and a loud ringing fills your ears.
  1282. >You drop to the floor, your hands clasped over your eyes.
  1283. >Screaming from the other two mares is muted amongst reverberations in your ear drums.
  1284. >As the intense pain and disorientation fades, you stagger back to a standing position, struggling to stay upright and not topple over again.
  1285. "Wh-what the fuck was that?!"
  1286. >Fluttershy growls and scrambles to her hooves.
  1287. >"Son of a-- lift me up, now, NOW!"
  1288. >You hastily grab Fluttershy and hoist her up to the open vent.
  1289. >Her angered voice echoes through the vents.
  1290. >"Oh mother fucker-- he took the cheese!"
  1291. "What?!"
  1292. >"He left a note too!"
  1293. >A wad of crumpled-up paper bounces off your forehead and lands on the floor.
  1294. >Short Storys picks it up and unfurls it, clearing her throat to read in a slow, deliberate voice.
  1295. >"Ha ha ha, nice try losers, I have eighty-seven flashbang grenades."
  1296. >...
  1297. "Well fuck me, he has eighty-seven flashbang grenades."
  1298. >Fluttershy sighs.
  1299. >"Bring me back down..."
  1300. >You lower her and set her on the floor.
  1301. >For a moment she glowers at the vent, considering her options, then fixes her frazzled pink mane and attempts to look more commanding.
  1302. >"Short Storys, please return to your desk and continue working. Anonymous, my office."
  1303. "What, why?"
  1304. >"You wore that fragrance again."
  1305. "Oh for fucks sake."
  1306. >"If you keep wearing it, this is going to keep happening, I don't understand how this is a difficult concept to grasp."
  1307.  
  1308. ---
  1309.  
  1310. >Your hands move across your keyboard in a flurry.
  1311. >Despite your earlier reservations, this filly-orgy gore-fic was really coming along nicely.
  1312. >As you hastily write out the closing scenes, a faint scent wafts by you.
  1313. >Immediately, your hands stop dead.
  1314. >They hover over the keys as you sniff the air.
  1315. "...Oh no."
  1316. >The familiar smell of bourbon assaults your nostrils, and you slowly turn around in your swivel-chair.
  1317. >Fluttershy stands, swaying, in the opening to your cubical.
  1318. >"Hiiii~"
  1319. "You okay? How many fingers am I holding up?"
  1320. >You hold up three fingers.
  1321. >"Y-you don't have fffingers!"
  1322. >Shit, she's leathered.
  1323. "Alright, let's get you back to your office, you can sleep on the nice comfy sofa, does that sound good?"
  1324. >"Anonnn I had an idea... iss a really good one."
  1325. "Really? Oh that's lovely, tell me all about it..."
  1326. >You pick her up carefully and hold her like a baby in your arms as you stroll across the room towards her office.
  1327. >"So I was thinkin', we need a special word to call each other!"
  1328. "I think boss and minion are working out just fine between us, Fluttershy."
  1329. >"Nnnoooo, I mean for me you and Story Shorts..."
  1330. "Short Storys, and again, I think boss and minion are still the best thing we've got going."
  1331. >"I feel like her name is spelled wrongly... is her name spelled wrongly?"
  1332. "Yes, Fluttershy, her name is spelt incorrectly."
  1333. >"Thass so weird!"
  1334. "It is, yes."
  1335. >"Is she still here I wanna ask her summin..."
  1336. "No, she went home, it's twenty-past nine at night."
  1337. >"We should call ourselves Flutterfriends!"
  1338. "..."
  1339. >"Aaah?"
  1340. "That was your special word, wasn't it."
  1341. >"Yeah!"
  1342. "It's horrible, never say it ever again, 'Flutterfriend'."
  1343. >"Iss a great name you even just said it then, I heard you!"
  1344. "I was being sarcastic."
  1345. >"You were bein'... sexy-tastic..."
  1346. >Oh boy, she's hit that stage in her drunkenness.
  1347. >Nudge open the office door and approach the black leather sofa she has by a wall under a huge portrait of herself.
  1348. >Lay her down and make sure she's comfortable.
  1349. >She aimlessly waves her forelegs around in the air, reaching for you.
  1350. >"Pick me up again..."
  1351. "No, Fluttershy, get some sleep."
  1352. >"I don't wanna."
  1353. "You'll feel better once you've slept, I'll see you in the morning."
  1354. >"Okay..."
  1355. "Good girl."
  1356. >Just as you flick off the lights and are about to leave, she calls out.
  1357. >"Anon?"
  1358. "Yeah?"
  1359. >After a short moment of silence, a timid, soft voice reaches out to you in the dark.
  1360. >"You're my best Flutterfriend..."
  1361. >...
  1362. >A small smile crosses your lips.
  1363. "You're my best Flutterfriend too, Fluttershy."
  1364. >With that, you close the door with a soft click.
  1365.  
  1366. "Mornin', Flutterfriend."
  1367. >"What the fuck? Don't ever call me that again."
  1368. "Theeere it is."
  1369.  
  1370. ---
  1371.  
  1372. >The phone on your desk rings.
  1373. >You nearly jump out of your skin.
  1374. >Hard to remember you actually have one now.
  1375. >Thank god Milky came through or the business would still be relying on cans-and-string for internal communication.
  1376. >Or shouting.
  1377. >Shouting is often the preferred method of getting ideas around the office.
  1378. >Fluttershy was a big believer in this, which is why she made you and Short Storys have desks at opposite ends of the office floor.
  1379. >Which reminds you--
  1380. >"HEY ANON ARE YOU GONNA PICK UP THE PHONE OR SHOULD I?"
  1381. "I'M WORKING ON IT, SHORTS, JUST A SECOND."
  1382. >You stare at the phone for a few moments, praying for it to stop.
  1383. >...
  1384. >It's not stopping.
  1385. >A door nearby is thrown open, and Fluttershy's voice bellows out into the void.
  1386. >"ANON PICK UP THE FUCKING PHONE I'M TRYING TO CALL YOU!"
  1387. "FINE, JESUS."
  1388. >You pick up the phone.
  1389. "Hello?"
  1390. >"MY OFFICE, NOW."
  1391.  
  1392. "That was an utter waste of time and you know it."
  1393. >"Shut up, I'm not wasting money on phones then not using them."
  1394. >Fluttershy motions for you to sit.
  1395. >You sit across from her.
  1396. >Then shuffle uncomfortably.
  1397. "These new chairs are, uh, kinda weird, boss."
  1398. >"I was assured they were ergonomically designed."
  1399. "For what? Ponies?"
  1400. >"Yes, actually."
  1401. "...What about me?"
  1402. >"What -about- you?"
  1403. "Do I not matter?"
  1404. >"Of course you don't, now again, shut up and listen. We um, we have a voice message..."
  1405. >She trails off and looks nervously at her answer machine.
  1406. >Your eyes cycle between it and her.
  1407. "...Well are you going to listen to it?"
  1408. >"No, it's the phone-caller ID; it's from... you know..."
  1409. >Her voice drops to a low whisper.
  1410. >"-That guy-."
  1411. >...
  1412. >Ah.
  1413. >That explains everything.
  1414. "...We could, uh, always delete it and pretend we didn't get it...?"
  1415. >"We did that last time! We're still trying to delete all the messages he sent afterwards once he found out!"
  1416. "How did he even find out we'd deleted his messages?"
  1417. >"I don't know! I don't know, but just--... c-can you please sit with me and listen to this one? I get scared when it's just me and him in a room."
  1418. "You have strange and unusual issues, Shy."
  1419. >"Shut up. Press play."
  1420. >You have to admit, you hesitate.
  1421. >Paralysed with apprehension, you rap your fingers on the arms of your chair, not wanting to move.
  1422. >Finally, and with an unconfident gulp, you reach for the answer machine and press 'play' on the most recent message.
  1423. >A loud, crackly, possibly drunk, and tragically familiar masculine voice reverberates around the room.
  1424. >"HEY ALL YOU ASSHOLES AT FLUTTERRACK CORP, OR WHATEVER YOURS NAMES IS."
  1425. >"HOW COME YOU NEVER DID ANOTHER PEGASUS STORY, YOU KNOW THAT ONE WITH THE CRIPPLE AND THE MARMADUKE? I KINDA LIKED THAT ONE EVEN THOUGH MOST OTHER PEOPLE DON'T, AND IT REALLY PISSES ME OFF THAT YOU DIDN'T WRITE ANOTHER STORY ABOUT IT..."
  1426.  
  1427. >31 minutes pass.
  1428.  
  1429. >"...AND IT'S NOT THAT I'M RACIST OR ANYTHING IT JUST REALLY GOBBLES MY GOPHERS WHENEVER A ZEBRA AND A HUMAN LADY ARE IN A RELATIONSHIP, I KINDA FIGURE THAT GOD MADE US ALL IN HIS IMAGE AND THAT IT WAS EVE AND ADAM, NOT EVE AND THE ZEBRA FROM THAT MADAGASCAR MOVIE. ANYWAY I HOPE YOU FINISH THAT OTHER STORY I WAS TALKIN' ABOUT, I'LL CALL LATER MAYBE TO CHECK TO SEE IF YOU'RE WORKIN' ON IT. GOD I MISS MY WIFE-- BUH BYYYYE!"
  1430. >...
  1431. >...
  1432. >Fluttershy is staring through you, her eyes distant and unfocused.
  1433. >Your mind is in another place.
  1434. >A place it often goes to in times of great mental stress.
  1435. >Through your safety-blanket of inner thoughts, you realise that the office is now silent.
  1436. >Blinking a few times, you emerge from your mental bunker and rub your eyes with a hand.
  1437. "Is... is it over?"
  1438. >Fluttershy shakes her head and squints at you, then blinks as if coming back to reality.
  1439. >"I um, think it is."
  1440. "Okay. Well, great."
  1441. >"Same time next week then."
  1442. "Same time next week."
  1443. >With that, you stagger back to your desk in a daze.
  1444. >Wednesdays are the worst.
  1445.  
  1446. ---
  1447.  
  1448. >The three of you don't move.
  1449. >It's five past eight in the morning, and you should have been been well into your work-day by now.
  1450. >Instead, Fluttershy, Short Storys, and yourself are stood in the doorway that leads out onto the stairs, clutching your bags and refusing to budge.
  1451. >This isn't a normal thing to happen, though there was an incident last November whereby a similar routine transpired that resulted in Fluttershy declaring that deals made whilst being drunk are perfectly legitimate.
  1452. >Whilst alcohol isn't involved this time, you wish it was.
  1453. >As the three of you were about to walk into the office twenty minutes ago, a terrible noise echoed throughout the building's ventilation network.
  1454. >The chrome labyrinth secured to the ceiling shuddered with an unholy racket, and your deepest fears began to bubble to the surface.
  1455. >It was neither man nor beast that voiced such a terrible sound.
  1456. >Something far more sinister lurked in the depths of the Flutterrape LTD ventilation system.
  1457. >Before any of you had a chance to run away, one of the grates popped open and a small brown package hit the floor with a resounding 'schlock.'
  1458. >Why the small brown-paper parcel was covered in a viscous, translucent goo you'll never understand, but it brings you to where you are now.
  1459.  
  1460. >Short Storys nudges your leg.
  1461. >"Should, um, should we see what it is?"
  1462. >Fluttershy quickly shakes her head.
  1463. >"No. No don't touch it, it's a gift from the Dark Place. A temptation. Don't touch it lest you fall victim to its machinations."
  1464. >You clear your throat, its dryness now apparent.
  1465. "We haven't heard anything from Slasher in months, why would he do this? Why now?"
  1466. >Shorts tenses up in fear.
  1467. >"D-does this mean Rudolph is coming back?!"
  1468. >Despite having more than enough bull-elephant tranquillisers to wipe out the global population of said elephants, and having constant access to all the exits in the building, the relationship between Flutterrape LTD and the ventilation system occupying Flutterrape LTD had become somewhat cult-like in its nature.
  1469. >Weekly sacrifices were now offered to the vents in the hopes that whatever misbegotten entity made its home there would show mercy to the fair inhabitants of the your lowly workplace.
  1470. >For about 4 months there was peace between the two worlds.
  1471. >Sometimes however, on late nights, when the moon was at its peak, you would hear scratches coming from the vents.
  1472. >Chitterings.
  1473. >Chatterings.
  1474. >Things unknown slithering about inside.
  1475. >From the corner of your eye you sometimes saw shapes moving in the darker recesses of the room.
  1476. >In response to what she described as "critical spookfactor", Fluttershy had made dream-catchers and salt-circles mandatory in all cubicles.
  1477. >You even started wearing a locket with a picture of your mother to see if that would help.
  1478. >Unfortunately, it seems the peace has been broken.
  1479. >And by the vents no less.
  1480. >Was it not pleased with the weekly goat sacrifices?
  1481. >It better had be.
  1482. >Spent a lot of money bringing that shaman in for after-hours lessons on the proper etiquette and technique of other-worldly blood pacts and ritualistic animal sacrifice.
  1483. >He charged by the hour as well, and you swear he was using bathroom breaks as an excuse to browse the internet on his phone and waste time.
  1484. >Fucking zebras.
  1485. >But despite your stalling, the package remains unattended.
  1486. >Checking your watch you see that it's 8:10.
  1487. >Need to be getting a move on if you're going to get any work done.
  1488. >Fluttershy prods your butt.
  1489. >A little bit more than she needed to, but likely less than she wanted to.
  1490. >"Anon, go check it out."
  1491. "Why me?"
  1492. >"You're bigger than us."
  1493. >You swell with pride.
  1494. >"...More fat on you in case it's hungry and wants feeding."
  1495. "Wow thanks, you bitch."
  1496. >You take a deep breath and take a step forward.
  1497. >The brown-paper package sits there, being gooey, and menacing.
  1498. >Despite its intimidation, you reach down and pick it up.
  1499. >Carefully undo the wrapping with your (now slimy) fingers and reveal a small box inside.
  1500. >You show it to your companions wordlessly.
  1501. >Fluttershy eyes it with apprehension.
  1502. >"Open it."
  1503. "Why? Shouldn't we just throw it out?"
  1504. >"NO! That might anger the vents!"
  1505. >Short Storys crosses herself and mutters a prayer at the mention of the vents.
  1506. >Wetting your lips nervously, you open the box.
  1507. >A small stack of folded papers sit inside.
  1508. >In that moment there was no one else in the room.
  1509. >Your attention is solely focused on the sheets, which you take in your trembling hand, casting aside the box.
  1510. >Your eyes slowly read the first line, pouring over every detail of the anomalous, terrible writings.
  1511. >' It was with great strain that you pushed the last barrel of apples into the cart. "All done!" you shout to Applejack, the farmmare herself looking positively worn out from the hard work you'd both been doing. '
  1512. >...
  1513. "I-its... it's a story."
  1514. >Fluttershy opens her mouth, then shuts it again.
  1515. "It's actually a story."
  1516. >You sift through the sheets.
  1517. "Like, a real one."
  1518. >In small black font, an entire short story has been carefully laid out.
  1519. "I think... the vents have gifted us with a story to sell."
  1520. >...
  1521. >Fluttershy grabs Short Storys and hugs her as hard as she can before punching the air with a hoof.
  1522. >"FUCK YEAH! I knew paying that lazy shamanistic wetback would pay off eventually!"
  1523. >Shorts breathes a sigh of relief and trots in the direction of the kitchen.
  1524. >"Thank goodness, I'm making us some coffee!"
  1525. >Fluttershy swaggers over to you, grinning.
  1526. >"Nice work there, my knight in shining armour~"
  1527. "All I did was open a box."
  1528. >"Yeah, and made us some money, do you even remember how popular genuine Slasher Science stories were back in the day? We nearly created a whole new brand just for them!"
  1529. >She rubs her hooves together gleefully.
  1530. >"Oooh, this is gonna be great! We'll sell so many units!"
  1531. >Unfurling her wings, she takes flight and hovers in front of your face.
  1532. >"This calls for a celebration!"
  1533. >With that, she grips your tie and starts dragging you towards her office.
  1534. "It's not even nine o' clock yet, man."
  1535. >"I know! That's like a new record!"
  1536. "But I'm not in the mood..."
  1537. >"Who said you needed to be? You work at Flutterrape, Anon, not Flutterconsensual."
  1538. >God dammit.
  1539. >As you're pulled past the kitchen, Shorts sticks her head out.
  1540. >"Just so you both know, Rudolph's been through the fridge again, and he took the leftovers from the curry we ordered last night. I'm just saying, we should hope for the best but prepare for the worst."
  1541. >Oh Jesus Christ.
  1542.  
  1543. ---
  1544.  
  1545. >The phone rings.
  1546. >You put it off for as long as you can before begrudgingly picking it up.
  1547. "I'm working."
  1548. >"Team-meeting in my office in five seconds, asshole."
  1549. "Ughhhh."
  1550.  
  1551. "Alright so what do you want. I was in the middle of some very important business."
  1552. >"Yeah that's great. Listen-- wait where's the other guy."
  1553. "Guy?"
  1554. >"The effeminate stallion we hired."
  1555. "...Do you mean Shorts?"
  1556. >"Yeah, him."
  1557. "She's a mare."
  1558. >"Wow."
  1559. "Oh come on, you knew."
  1560. >"I didn't."
  1561. "You were just trying to be a dick."
  1562. >"Being a dick is my special talent, I don't need to -try-."
  1563. "I thought your talent was talking to animals or something."
  1564. >"Yeah, I talk to animals a lot as well, why do you think I dragged you in here?"
  1565. "...Alright that was pretty good."
  1566. >"Damn straight."
  1567. >Just then, Short Storys hurries in and takes a seat next to you.
  1568. >"I had to hang up on my mother, is this important?"
  1569. >Fluttershy nods.
  1570. >"Extremely."
  1571. >Nod your head sideways towards Shorts.
  1572. "That means it's not important."
  1573. >"Fuck you Anon, you're fired. Now, I have an important announcement."
  1574. >...
  1575. "Go on--"
  1576. >"We're diversifying."
  1577. "I feel like you read that word in a dictionary and just wanted to try it out."
  1578. >"I'll dick-shin your 'nary' if you don't shut up."
  1579. "W-what the fuck...?"
  1580. >"God almighty stop talking Anon-- we're going to start producing art."
  1581. >You share a worried look with Shorts, then turn back to your boss.
  1582. "...Define 'art'."
  1583. >Fluttershy opens her mouth.
  1584. "Without insulting us."
  1585. >She keeps it open.
  1586. "Or implying that porn is art."
  1587. >She shuts it.
  1588. "Do you mean like, having artists to do work around the office or something?"
  1589. >"That's sort of it, yes. I've noticed that other companies have their own teams of content producers that create everything from comics to their own range of mascots. I've decided that if we're going to keep up with the likes of Batpony Corp or Anonfilly Affiliates we need to start producing our own art."
  1590. >Short Storys raises her hoof.
  1591. >"Yes, Shorts?"
  1592. >"Umm, why would we ever want to be like Batpony or Anonfilly?"
  1593. "I'm with Shorts; those companies suck ass, Shy, and you -know- they do."
  1594. >"I'm well aware that they suck ass. They're not even -good- at sucking ass. The only company that was good at sucking ass was Ass Worship Co. and they went out of business years ago."
  1595. "I think that was because of Milky."
  1596. >"Of course it was because of Milky, but that's besides the point, we need to produce things other than stories."
  1597. "What about that merchandise thing we tried a while back? Could we try that again?"
  1598. >"Rarity won't make us clothes anymore. That bridge was burned."
  1599. "Why? What happened?"
  1600. >Fluttershy shrugs.
  1601. >"Turns out you can't rape someone as payment."
  1602. >Stare at her.
  1603. >"Hey, I thought she'd appreciate a good dicking, turns out I'd backed into the wrong horse, what can you do?"
  1604. "Not rape your friends?"
  1605. >"That's insane, Anon, frankly I don't know how you even function."
  1606. >She sits up straighter.
  1607. >"So that brings me to my next point."
  1608. >...
  1609. >"...Do either of you two know how to draw?"
  1610. >...
  1611. >None of you say anything.
  1612. "Uhh..."
  1613. >"Um."
  1614. >...
  1615. "I have -some- practice, I guess."
  1616. >Fluttershy gives you a flat look.
  1617. >"Doodling in MS Paint when you're supposed to be working doesn't count, Anon."
  1618. "Well fuck, I don't know, shouldn't we actually hire an artist like I said?"
  1619. >"Too much money. Plus I don't like artists, they tend to be pretentious little shits."
  1620. >Short Storys nods.
  1621. >"Yeah, I worked with a few before I came here, they only work for the attention, none of them actually care about honing their craft."
  1622. >Fluttershy hums in affirmation.
  1623. >"Though to be fair, a lot of them eventually just give up and go into porn, which I have no complaints over."
  1624. "So hiring someone with actual talent is out of the question."
  1625. >"Yes."
  1626. "I could... I dunno, download Photoshop and give it a try?"
  1627. >"Do you have to pay for Photoshop?"
  1628. "Yeah?"
  1629. >"...Can we get anything like Photoshop, but for free?"
  1630. "Paint.NET is free I think."
  1631. >"Then download and use that instead."
  1632. "Alrighty then, but this doesn't solve me not being able to draw--"
  1633. >"Picasso couldn't draw and he turned out just fine-- alright, so it's settled, Anon will now draw original artworks for us to sell alongside our stories, or I'll make him my bitch."
  1634. "I'm already your bitch."
  1635. >"And don't you forget it."
  1636. >Shorts raises her hoof again.
  1637. >"Yes, Shorts, what."
  1638. >"Should I give Draw Improvement Inc. a call and see if we can collaborate?"
  1639. >Fluttershy scowls.
  1640. >"Draw Improvement and Flutterrape aren't on good terms at the moment."
  1641. >"Why's that?"
  1642. >You lean over to Shorts.
  1643. "We competed with Anon In Equestria for a contract with them. AiE offered twelve million bits for a five-year contract. Fluttershy offered them a bag of mints and a sex-tape."
  1644. >"It was a really good sex-tape, you have to admit." Fluttershy quips.
  1645. "It was awful."
  1646. >Shorts purses her lips.
  1647. >"I see."
  1648. >Your boss rolls her eyes in annoyance.
  1649. >"You can't complain, Anon, you agreed to be the cameraman."
  1650. "I did it for the money."
  1651. >"Like the good little slut you are."
  1652. "Why do you always have to make thing weird, Fluttershy?"
  1653. >"A life without being weird isn't a life worth living."
  1654. >She rubs her chin with a hoof and thinks on that for a second.
  1655. >"Actually, that's good, I like that, Shorts, write that down and incorporate it into a story."
  1656. >"Yes ma'am."
  1657. >Fluttershy leans back in her chair and smiles.
  1658. >"It's good to be queen."
  1659. >...
  1660. >...
  1661. >You pat out a rhythm on your knees with your open palms.
  1662. "So uh. Are we done here?"
  1663. >"What? Oh, yes, go away, don't forget to make stories and art."
  1664. "Will I be getting a payrise for this?"
  1665. >Fluttershy starts laughing at you.
  1666. >She keeps laughing until you leave her office.
  1667. >Fucking Fluttershy.
  1668. >You miss Twilight.
  1669.  
  1670. ---
  1671.  
  1672. >A mug of coffee crashes into the glass window between Fluttershy's office and the main office.
  1673. >Thankfully, these days, the company has enough money to replace both the glass -and- the carpet underneath it.
  1674. >Fluttershy looks close to bursting a blood-vessel, as usual.
  1675. >You wonder why she's always portrayed as demure in the stories you write, since the real mare is more like a wolverine hyped up on anabolic steroids than a quiet, affectionate pegasus.
  1676. >She looks up at you, stood over her shoulder, with her furious, furious eyes, and then back at the paper before her.
  1677. >Looks like she's struggling to make words, so you step in.
  1678. "I take it you've read today's headline then?"
  1679. >"FFFUCKING."
  1680. "I know, terrible, isn't it?"
  1681. >You pour her a replacement drink in a replacement cup with the coffee maker she has to one side and carefully slide it in front of her.
  1682. >She takes a single sip, barely managing to hold the cup steady in her trembling hooves.
  1683. >"HOW DARE."
  1684. "Yes, boss, how dare indeed."
  1685. >"I JUST."
  1686. "Oh yes, it's awful."
  1687. >"EVEN."
  1688. "Yup. Criminal, I agree."
  1689. >"RRRREEEE--"
  1690. >You clamp a hand over her mouth and let her 'reeee' into it as much as she wants.
  1691. >She hasn't made that noise in a while.
  1692. >Poor thing was making so much progress, now she's back to square-one.
  1693. >Still, she seems to be done so you remove your hand and wait for the mare to catch her breath.
  1694. >When she eventually does, she resumes her shouting.
  1695. >"Can you BELIEVE this?!"
  1696. "I can."
  1697. >"It's... it's favouritism! IT'S UNDEMOCRATIC!"
  1698. "Yeah, it's a real shocker, I'm surprised it passed."
  1699. >The subject of Fluttershy's boundless rage today is a bill that just passed.
  1700. >All greentext stories in the city now carry a small, 2.5% value-added tax.
  1701. >Whilst prose stories do not.
  1702. >A 2.5% VAT isn't anything to lose your mind over, though.
  1703. >If you're not Fluttershy.
  1704. >"WHY DO THEY GET PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT?! WHAT MAKES THEM SO SPECIAL?!"
  1705. >The differences between prose and greentext are deep and intricate in the eyes of the law.
  1706. >You understand perfectly why ordinary prose wouldn't be taxed but the niche, relatively unregulated greentext market would be.
  1707. >It's just the government doing what the government does best: regulating.
  1708. >At least it's not higher.
  1709. >Not that you'd ever say that to Fluttershy.
  1710. >"Anon. I've decided. I'm going to find that little shit, and I'm going to tear him a new one."
  1711. >You rest a hand on Fluttershy's shoulder and shake your head with a sigh.
  1712. "There are some problems that even rape can't fix, Fluttershy."
  1713. >Removing your hand, you motion towards the newspaper at the picture on the front.
  1714. >The once story-maker turned law-maker Franklin Luther Priest is proudly shown on the front, beaming as he shakes someone's hand.
  1715. "He's untouchable."
  1716. >"He's a traitor to the entire industry! HE WORKED HERE! WE MADE HIM WHAT HE IS! HE SOLD OUT OUR SECRETS TO GET AHEAD!"
  1717. "And what can we do?"
  1718. >"R--"
  1719. "Other than rape."
  1720. >"Just fucking... I don't know!"
  1721. "All we can do is sit here and shake our fists, Shy. He's a high-flying politician now, he's not one of us anymore."
  1722. >"He's a cancer on this world."
  1723. "Oh come on, you and I both know he was a real asset to this company when he was around. Hey, he didn't abandon us to work with Twilight, did he?"
  1724. >She stares vacantly at Priest's picture, her eyes wandering over him.
  1725. >Her voice loses some of its edge.
  1726. >"No..."
  1727. "No. So chin up, we can survive a paltry two-and-a-half percent tax."
  1728. >You smile, satisfied that you might have talked her out of hurling another mug at the window.
  1729. >She's quiet though, which is odd. Her body is still, her shoulders forward, her posture timid and unsure.
  1730. >"...Anon?"
  1731. "Hm?"
  1732. >Fluttershy slowly turns her head up to face you.
  1733. >Her expression is softer now; there's none of the rage there that was present a moment ago.
  1734. >You're somewhat caught off guard by it, and your smile fades.
  1735. "Shy? What's up?"
  1736. >"...Would you, um, ever leave me to work with, you know, Twilight?"
  1737. >That's a sharp, precise question.
  1738. >You think about Twilight's offer every day.
  1739. >How could you not?
  1740. >A company with a real future, a boss you have a rich history with, a much, MUCH higher salary, guaranteed job security, and challenging work that would push you further as a writer.
  1741. >It's a dream job.
  1742. >Fluttershy's eyes study you closely.
  1743. >They hold no more aggression. No more confidence.
  1744. >They've changed.
  1745. >Instead, for one brief, exceptionally rare moment, you see the side of Fluttershy she tries so desperately hard to keep hidden.
  1746. >The face behind the mask of fury, swearing, and vitriol.
  1747. >A small, fearful, vulnerable mare.
  1748. >And what else are you supposed to say to her?
  1749. >You force a reassuring smile.
  1750. "Nah, I'd never work for Twilight. She... smells like garlic."
  1751. >She actually does a bit.
  1752. >It's weird.
  1753. >Fluttershy manages a small smile.
  1754. >"She does, doesn't she?"
  1755. "Yup."
  1756. >For a moment the two of you are silent.
  1757. >Slowly, so slowly, Fluttershy leans her head closer to your side.
  1758. >She rests it against your waist, and you carefully lay a hand on her head, a thumb rubbing her ear.
  1759. >You both remain that way, enjoying each other's company.
  1760. >Slight, measured breathing is all that can be heard in that little room, no longer bound by formality or contract.
  1761. >Instead it's just a pony and her friend sharing time alone.
  1762. >Finally, Fluttershy sits upright again, and you move to leave the office.
  1763. >She speaks after you, her voice calm, and almost melodic.
  1764. >"Thank you, Anon."
  1765. "That's alright, Shy."
  1766. >"...You keep calling me that even though I told you not to."
  1767. >You shrug and give her a wry smile.
  1768. "I dunno, it suits you, it's my pet name for you."
  1769. >She goes slightly red.
  1770. "I mean. It's that, or Flutterfriend."
  1771. >"Oh you can fuck right off with that."
  1772. >Laughing, you leave her office.
  1773. >Just as you shut the door, you peek through the glass at her.
  1774. >She's still sat behind her desk, same as always.
  1775. >Looking down at her morning paper, same as always.
  1776. >Sipping her coffee, same as always.
  1777. >But smiling just like she used to.
  1778.  
  1779. ---
  1780.  
  1781. >You raise your arms above your head, fingers laced together, and stretch, enjoying the feeling of your muscles tightening and joints cracking.
  1782. >Stand up and yawn, a hand scratching your belly then reaching for your woefully empty coffee mug.
  1783. >A quick trip to the kitchen ought to wake you up a bit.
  1784. >As you duck your head below the dream-catcher hanging over the entrance to your cubicle, you find yourself pushed back in.
  1785. >The mare responsible looks rather worried.
  1786. >Might be polite to ask her what the matter is.
  1787. "Something up, Shorts?"
  1788. >Short Storys nervously leans into you, her hoof pushing against your leg.
  1789. >"I um, I screwed up."
  1790. "Say again, sorry?"
  1791. >"I screwed up!"
  1792. "Why, what did you do?"
  1793. >"I uh, look, I have trouble staying awake so I have some pills that the doctor gave me to help, they give me energy."
  1794. "Alright, that seems fair."
  1795. >"But they have side-effects on some ponies... humans can't even eat them, they're a really specific drug for specific ponies with specific problems like mine."
  1796. "Well okay, where're you going with this? What's happened?"
  1797. >"F-fluttershy, um, the boss ate some of them."
  1798. "Why the hell did she do that?"
  1799. >"I don't know! She just wandered past my desk and said 'ooh pills lemmie try' and then ate like seven of them!"
  1800. >...
  1801. >Yeah that sounds like something Fluttershy would do.
  1802. "Where is she now?"
  1803. >"In the kitchen, but she's being really weird."
  1804. "Eh, that's fine, I was heading to the kitchen anyway, I'll snap her out of it."
  1805. >"I dunno Anon, I don't think it's something you can get 'snapped out of'..."
  1806. "I'll be fine, Shorts, I've been working with Fluttershy for years."
  1807. >You shuffle past her and towards the kitchen.
  1808. >Better have some coffee left or you're gonna stab something.
  1809. >As you think about stabbing a few of your former work colleagues, you enter the kitchen and freeze.
  1810. "Okay yeah this might be bad."
  1811. >Fluttershy is on the floor, writhing.
  1812. >She rubs her face against the tiles, giggling to herself.
  1813. >Her mane is an utter mess, and she's covered in dirt from wriggling about on her back.
  1814. >Like a dog trying to scratch itself, she contorts and twists her body, euphoric at the sensation.
  1815. >"Oooo~"
  1816. "Uh, Shy? You alright there?"
  1817. >"Aaaanoon!"
  1818. >She sits up and beams at you.
  1819. >Holy fuck her pupils are -massive-.
  1820. >They take up most of her eye.
  1821. >A permanent blush is splashed across her cheeks, and she can't stop smiling.
  1822. >"Have you ever like, just felt this floor? It's soo gooood!"
  1823. "You are dangerously high right now."
  1824. >"Have you seen my teddy bear?"
  1825. >She giggles and points a wavering hoof at you.
  1826. >"Nooo, wait, nooo -you're- my teddy bear!"
  1827. >The pegasus starts laughing and collapses backwards, waggling about on the floor again.
  1828. "Jesus what."
  1829. >She licks a tile and hums to herself, still giggling in a crazed manner.
  1830. >Shaking your head, you stride over to her, setting your mug on the counter and attending to Fluttershy.
  1831. "You, little lady, need rest."
  1832. >As you pick her up, you notice two things.
  1833. >One, she's extremely warm.
  1834. >Shockingly so.
  1835. >Like her blood is boiling.
  1836. >Two, her entire body is now apparently an erogenous zone.
  1837. >The mare moans as you pick her up and carry her in your arms.
  1838. >She peers up at you, overwhelmed at the sensation of your touch, her jaw hanging open slightly and her eyes almost on the verge of tears from her elation.
  1839. >"Anon... p-put a foal in me~"
  1840. "Shy stop."
  1841. >"Mate with me Anon! Mate with me and give me a family! Give -us- a family!"
  1842. >She strokes your face with a hoof.
  1843. >"I love you so much... All I want is to be with you forever and ever..."
  1844. >Out of the kitchen and across the room you carry your boss.
  1845. >Passing Shorts, you raise an accusing eyebrow at her.
  1846. "Pills to 'wake you up', Shorts?"
  1847. >"I said the side effects differed from pony to pony!"
  1848. "Yeah well now our dear leader wants me to fuck a family into her, thanks."
  1849. >"Well I mean, weren't you going to do that anyway at some point?"
  1850. "What possible evidence is there to suggest that Fluttershy and I are romantically involved?"
  1851. >"...You're kidding, right?"
  1852. >Enter Fluttershy's office and lay her down on her leather sofa.
  1853. >The cool black material is an almost life-changing experience for her, and she lets out an erotic groan as soon as her fur touches the leather.
  1854. >You ignore this and immediately walk towards the door.
  1855. >"Aaanoon, don't leave me! We need to start a family!"
  1856. "Any child born of a union between you and I would be the greatest sin ever committed against nature. Go to sleep, Fluttershy."
  1857. >You shut the office door and march over to Shorts' desk.
  1858. >She gives you a guilty, cowed look.
  1859. >Drawing yourself up to full height, you tower over her with your hands on your hips.
  1860. >With a single finger you jab towards the nearby wall.
  1861. "This. Is why we have a no-drugs-in-the-workplace policy."
  1862. >Shorts' eyes follow your jabbing finger to a sign on the wall.
  1863. >The sign depicts a silhouette of Fluttershy chugging a bottle of pills with a giant red X through it.
  1864. >Shorts stares at it for a moment.
  1865. >"Oooh, that's why that's there."
  1866. "Last time this happened we had to pump her stomach."
  1867. >"Because of all the drugs?"
  1868. "No, because she sucked off half the workforce and had to be rushed to hospital. Fluttershy and drugs don't mix, for God's sake be more careful in future."
  1869. >"S-sorry Anon..."
  1870. "Just be glad it was harmless pills this time and not viagra."
  1871. >"What happens if she has viagra?"
  1872. >You point at the sign just below the first one.
  1873. >It shows a silhouette of Fluttershy sat on a man's face, also with a red X through it.
  1874. "We called it the Day of the Cavern. Eight people suffocated and died. It was a tragic and completely avoidable loss of life."
  1875. >"...I should have gone to work for Batpony Corp."
  1876. "Mhmm."
  1877.  
  1878. ---
  1879.  
  1880. >"So that's... that's it then. You're leaving."
  1881. >Fluttershy simply stares at you, disbelief in her eyes.
  1882. >Whatever walls she'd previously thrown up to prevent you from seeing how she really felt had since collapsed.
  1883. >The mare trembles, fighting back tears.
  1884. >You sigh and rub your eyes with an index finger and thumb.
  1885. "Don't... don't do this again, come on, just go with me on this for once."
  1886. >"Go with you...? You're ABANDONING ME!"
  1887. >She rears up on her hind legs and rests her forehooves against your stomach, her eyes pleading with you.
  1888. >"I put my trust in you and you're just pissing it all away like it was nothing! I gave you my trust Anon-- my heart! You're the only person I ever put my faith in and you're just going to throw it back at me like the bastard I'd always hoped you'd never become!"
  1889. "Jesus fucking Christ, woman, I'm going to the shop to get some fucking milk so we can have some fucking coffee and meet our fucking deadlines. Now do you want anything from the shop or not?"
  1890. >Fluttershy blinks.
  1891. >Then drops to her hooves and clears her throat in embarrassment.
  1892. >"...I'll uh, have a twinkie, please..."
  1893. "A twinkie."
  1894. >"Yes, I want a twinkie."
  1895. "Alright then, I'll go and get milk and a fucking twinkie."
  1896. >Bark across the room to the other mare sat at her desk dutifully typing away and mostly ignoring Fluttershy making a scene.
  1897. >Nothing around here shocks her now, that's how you know she's a keeper.
  1898. "Shorts, d'you want anything?"
  1899. >"I kinda want a twinkie as well, actually, can I have two?"
  1900. "Alright, two twinkies for Shorts, one for you, Fluttershy."
  1901. >Fluttershy's eyes narrow.
  1902. >"Why does she get two? I want two."
  1903. "Okay, you can have two as well--"
  1904. >"In fact, I'm the boss, I want three twinkies."
  1905. "Fucking hell, okay, I'll get you three twinkies--"
  1906. >Shorts appears at your side without warning, making you jump.
  1907. >"Hey, how come she gets three all of a sudden?"
  1908. "Because she's the boss?"
  1909. >"That's not fair."
  1910. >Fluttershy gives her a pointed look.
  1911. >"It's completely fair. I own you."
  1912. >"You don't own me, Fluttershy, I just work here."
  1913. >"Well I still deserve more twinkies than you."
  1914. >"That's bullshit! I'll call the union if she gets more than me, Anon."
  1915. "We don't have a union."
  1916. >"Then I'll make one!"
  1917. "Can't you just both settle for three twinkies each? Who the hell eats more than three twinkies at any given time?"
  1918. >Shorts snorts.
  1919. >"Not me, I'm going to save them and eat them sparingly, not eat them all at once like some 'pig'."
  1920. >At 'pig' she glares at Fluttershy.
  1921. >Fluttershy, now mad as hell, glares back.
  1922. >"Well look who decided to grow a fucking backbone, you know you're lucky Anon's taken a liking to you or I might not bother to keep you around."
  1923. "What are you even--"
  1924. >"Anon likes me...? Ha! of course he does, I'm more of a mare than -you'll- ever be."
  1925. >Shorts slaps her own ass for emphasis, the glasses on her snout wobbling a bit, opting her to readjust them.
  1926. >Fluttershy laughs coolly.
  1927. >"Oh please, I've fucked him more times that you've undressed him with your eyes-- don't give me that look, I've seen the way you watch him."
  1928. "Guys we were talking about twinkies--"
  1929. >"Only because I think he and I would be a better pair than whatever weird fucked up relationship you two have going on."
  1930. "Can we please go back to the twinkies--"
  1931. >"YOU think you can please Anon better than ME? I've fucked him physically, mentally, financially, and spiritually for the last six years; he and I are bound together forever, you mangy bitch, don't come in here thinking you're hot shit just because you're some 'cute quiet office girl', you're as basic as they come."
  1932. >Shorts practically presses her nose against Fluttershy's, her rage barely contained.
  1933. >"HE AND I WOULD BE -TEN TIMES- THE COUPLE HE AND YOU ARE, I'D RIDE HIS DICK ANY WAY HE WANTED AND HAVE DINNER READY BY THE TIME HE CUMS."
  1934. >Fluttershy refuses to back down.
  1935. >"I'D RIDE HIS DICK WITHOUT HIS CONSENT AND THEN ORDER HIM TO MAKE ME DINNER, BECAUSE HE LIKES MARES THAT TAKE CONTROL, NOT SOME VIRGINAL TIMID BITCH THAT WILL SUCK UP TO HIM LIKE SOME INSECURE AUTISTIC PARASITE."
  1936. >"WELL I JUST ENTERED HEAT SO I'LL HAVE PLENTY OF OPPORTUNITIES TO MAKE A MOVE ON HIM, YOU PORN-ADDICTED SKANK."
  1937. >"I'M IN HEAT AS WELL, YOU VAPID CUNT. MAKE A MOVE ON MY MAN, I FUCKING DARE YOU!"
  1938. >Oh.
  1939. >Oh that explains everything.
  1940.  
  1941. >"Okay so milk and... wow, what is this like fifty twinkies?"
  1942. "Yeah, the people I work with really like twinkies."
  1943. >"Well that'll be sixty two dollars and eight cents, sir. Hey how come you're all sticky n' stuff? You look and smell like hell, man."
  1944. "The office I work in has a problem with the heating."
  1945. >"Ah, that sucks. Well I hope you manage to fix it, dude."
  1946. "I always do. It just keeps happening, whether I like it or not."
  1947.  
  1948. ---
  1949.  
  1950. "Go on, get outta here, ya fuckin' animal."
  1951. >You smack Rudolph on the nose with the brush-end of your broom.
  1952. >He hisses at you and drops your lunchbox, retreating back into the ceiling.
  1953. >You watch him go with disgruntlement.
  1954. >Turns out you didn't actually need salt-circles and dream-catchers to combat the forces of darkness.
  1955. >Just a broom and a bad temper.
  1956. >The best part was that Fluttershy managed to track down the shaman that taught you all about relations with the occult, and successfully convinced him to give the company a full refund.
  1957. >Apparently he skipped town the following day, which was weird.
  1958. >Still, it's nice that you don't have to do weekly goat sacrifices any more.
  1959. >Local farmers were starting to ask questions.
  1960. >You set your broom - which you had taken to calling Ratastrophie - against the wall and reach down to pick up your thoroughly nibbled, spittle-laden lunchbox.
  1961. >You'll be able to eat your own lunch today, so that's good.
  1962. >Shorts is getting sick of sharing her lunches with you.
  1963. >At least that's what she says, but she makes extra sandwiches for you every day and always makes sure to cut the crusts off for you.
  1964. >As you walk out of the kitchen, you see her watching, and waiting.
  1965. >She notices your (relatively) untouched lunchbox and her optimistic look fades somewhat.
  1966. >"Oh! You saved your lunch."
  1967. "Yup, looks like I won't be bothering you today, Shorts."
  1968. >"That's great!" she says with a weak smile.
  1969. >You both head back to your stations, but before you can sit down your phone rings.
  1970. >Shrug and pick it up.
  1971. "Yeah?"
  1972. >"Meet me by the window in three seconds."
  1973. >Before you can ask why, the line is cut.
  1974. >Fluttershy's office door bursts open, and the mare hurtles past you through the air like a jaundice cruise missile towards the window near your cubicle.
  1975. >You casually stroll over and gaze out, your expression neutral and mind prepared for anything.
  1976. >You feel a tug on your pants leg.
  1977. >Looking down, you see an annoyed looking Fluttershy.
  1978. "You have wings. You literally just used them."
  1979. >"Fuck you."
  1980. >Sighing, you reach down and pick her up, holding her against your chest like a little girl clutching her favourite plush toy.
  1981. >Fluttershy squints at the building across from Flutterrape LTD.
  1982. >"There. See it?"
  1983. "What, Reverse Gender Roles?"
  1984. >"No, not anymore."
  1985. "Huh?"
  1986. >You take a step closer and peer out through the dirty stained glass.
  1987. >Sure enough, the ponies coming in and out of the highrise across from you aren't wearing the usual uniform typical of Reverse Gender Roles employees.
  1988. "What's going on? What's with the new uniforms?"
  1989. >"New company, slowpoke. Reverse Gender Roles had to relocate across town, you're looking at the new kids on the block."
  1990. "Who are?"
  1991. >"Pregnancy Corp."
  1992. "What the fuck?"
  1993. >"Yyyup."
  1994. "Are you serious?"
  1995. >"Yeah."
  1996. "Pregnancy. Seriously. There's a market for that."
  1997. >"Oh yeah."
  1998. "But that's... weird!"
  1999. >"Yep. Degenerates, all of them."
  2000. >"What's going on?" Shorts says as she joins you both.
  2001. >She glances up and takes note of you clutching Fluttershy.
  2002. >You stare down at her.
  2003. >She stares back.
  2004. >...
  2005. >Shorts gets comfy on your shoulders, holding onto your head as you get used to the weight of her.
  2006. >"So what are we looking at?"
  2007. "New company. Pregnancy Corp."
  2008. >"Ew, pregnancy? Seriously? That's gross."
  2009. "I know, I just can't fathom why people want to read that kind of stuff."
  2010. >Fluttershy shakes her head.
  2011. >"It's just pure fetish material. There's no nuance to it. No art."
  2012. "God I can't imagine working at a place like that."
  2013. >Shorts makes a disgusted noise in the back of her throat.
  2014. >"Can you imagine what goes on over there?" she says.
  2015. "I bet they just talk about getting people pregnant all day."
  2016. >"I bet they don't even have a giant rat in their kitchen."
  2017. "Or an otherworldly presence in their vents."
  2018. >"Or a direct link to the mob." Fluttershy adds.
  2019. >The three of you watch as the young, energetic, attractive employees of your new neighbours happily chat amongst themselves as burly men and stallions in overalls carry furniture and boxes into the building.
  2020. >Fluttershy sniffs.
  2021. >"I suppose they have nice uniforms."
  2022. "They really did up the place after Gender Roles wrecked it, too."
  2023. >"Plus at least they uh, you know, -have- employees."
  2024. "..."
  2025. >"..."
  2026. "Fluttershy I feel inadequate."
  2027. >"Welcome to the fucking club, I've been feeling it for years-- show of hooves, who wants to get drunk in my office and watch porn?"
  2028. >You all raise your hands/hooves, then retreat into Fluttershy's office.
  2029. >Just as you all sit down and get comfortable on the sofa in there, Fluttershy having finally picked out a 'classic' for you to watch, a noise sounds out around the office.
  2030. >Fluttershy pauses before pressing play on 'Rectal Fisting 2: Prolapse Of Judgement'.
  2031. >"...What the hell was that?"
  2032. >You strain yourself to listen.
  2033. >The noise sounds out again.
  2034. >Shorts' ear flicks.
  2035. >"I think it's the buzzer?"
  2036. >You jump to your feet and sprint out the office to your desk.
  2037. >Come skidding to a halt before your cubicle and peer at your second monitor.
  2038. >As you look at the grainy picture, your brow furrows.
  2039. "Hey Fluttershy! We've got a visitor!"
  2040. >"Tell them to fuck off!"
  2041. "She looks important!"
  2042. >"Tell her to fuck off!"
  2043. "No no, I mean she's wearing a suit and everything!"
  2044. >"Tell her to fuck off!"
  2045. "God dammit Fluttershy, I'm going down to meet her!"
  2046. >"Fine, but Shorts and I are gonna be up here enjoying the finer things in life!"
  2047.  
  2048. >You open the front door to the building, coming face to face with the newcomer.
  2049. >She smiles at you eagerly, her perfect smile showing off pristine teeth.
  2050. >The pony steps forward, bright-eyed and curious.
  2051. >You knew you recognised her from somewhere.
  2052. >"Hello! Are... you the owner of this building?"
  2053. "Nah, she's upstairs watching... uh, working. I'm Anon, can I help you at all?"
  2054. >The mare grins even wider.
  2055. >"So you work here then?"
  2056. "Yeah, I do."
  2057. >"Excellent! Well, friend, I'm your new neighbour!"
  2058. >She excitedly sticks out a hoof.
  2059. >You lean down and shake it, trying to be polite.
  2060. "Nice to meet you. So what do I call you?"
  2061. >Of course you already know, but you want to be sure.
  2062. >"Oh! Of course, where are my manners!"
  2063. >She laughs warmly.
  2064. >The mare straightens up and tries to look as commanding as possible.
  2065. >"My name is Princess Cadance, CEO of Pregnancy Corp!"
  2066.  
  2067. >"ARE YOU TAKING THE FUCKING PISS."
  2068. "Shy I swear to god I'm not fucking with you."
  2069. >"CADANCE?! FUCKING -CADANCE-?!"
  2070. "I mean, if you think about it it makes sense."
  2071. >"WHAT."
  2072. "Well I mean she's into love, and all that, so now she's the boss of a company all about the weirdest part of love...?"
  2073. >"OH WELL THAT'S JUST FUCKING PEACHY, A GOD DAMN PRINCESS IS NOW A COMPETITOR."
  2074. >She looks around for something to throw.
  2075. >You give her a mug.
  2076. >She hurls it at a wall with a scream.
  2077. >"It should be fucking illegal! She has so much money oh my god-- how are we supposed to compete?! Anon In Equestria was bad enough! Now we have a pony who has a fucking-- total and complete royal TREASURY funding her ventures! State-funded fetish fiction, what the fuck is wrong with this country?!"
  2078. >Short Storys frowns.
  2079. >"Surely there's not -that- much interest in it... right? I mean, you can pour money and resources into something, but if no one buys it then no one buys it, it's just wasted effort."
  2080. >Fluttershy shakes her head, grimacing.
  2081. >"Not in this city. If you have money, you'll make it, that's the way it's always been."
  2082. >She glares at a wall.
  2083. >"State-funded fetish fiction... I bet Franklin Priest had something to do with this."
  2084. "We can't make that assumption."
  2085. >"Oh get your head out of the fucking sand, Anon, you know he always had some weird obsession with her, I bet he gave her the fucking permit for that building! Could have given it to someone that needed it like... I dunno, MOTHPONIES, but nooo, he had to go and stick his dick where it didn't belong."
  2086. >She slams her hoof on the thick mahogany table before her.
  2087. >"And I'm a FIRM advocate of sticking dicks where they don't belong, but this is over the line!"
  2088. >You run a hand through your hair and sigh.
  2089. "Well shit, now what?"
  2090. >Fluttershy ponders this.
  2091. >"Let's just hope they don't have an art department like we do."
  2092. "Department is a strong word--"
  2093. >"Doesn't matter, if we beat them on art, we might stand a chance of out performing them overall, since we'll be offering multiple things, not just stories."
  2094. >Short Storys raises her hoof, a sheepish look on her face.
  2095. >Fluttershy turns to her with a dangerous glare in her eye.
  2096. >"You'd better have good news for me Shorts or I'll get Anon to open the safe and get me my special draught."
  2097. >Shorts, currently curled up on the sofa, gulps and looks down at the laptop on before her.
  2098. >"I'm um, on their website right now."
  2099. "...And?"
  2100. >"I-It looks like, I mean it just looks like it, from what I've seen so far... that art is their primary export."
  2101. >Fluttershy regards Shorts with a look that could shatter the very souls of lesser beings.
  2102. "Well. We're fucked then. How are we supposed to compete?"
  2103. >Shorts, weathering the storm that is Fluttershy's gaze, continues.
  2104. >"I still think we'll be fine, I just can't see pregnancy being that big of a selling point. It's a niche within a niche, we'll be fine! Our stories are diverse, and appeal to a wide range of audiences, sometimes they're even family friendly!"
  2105. "They're never family friendly."
  2106. >"Alright they're never family friendly, but we still have a wider appeal!"
  2107. >Fluttershy leans back in her chair.
  2108. >"Hmm. I suppose. Alright Shorts, I'll trust your judgement on this one. I hope for your sake you're right, otherwise I'm going to absolutely ravage that cute little asshole of yours. I have a thing for anal, I'm not sure if you've noticed."
  2109. >Shorts goes pale, her tail wrapping closer around her rear end.
  2110. >God help her.
  2111.  
  2112. ---
  2113.  
  2114. >You stare ahead in thought, an elbow resting on your desk and a hand nursing your cheek as you regard the monitor before you with mild boredom.
  2115. >This zombie-Cheerilee necrophilia story needs something.
  2116. >But you're not sure what...
  2117. >As you muse to yourself, the door buzzer splutters.
  2118. >Glance at your second monitor and grimace.
  2119. "God dammit."
  2120.  
  2121. >"So I've heard a lot about this place! Do you know Twilight Sparkle from Anon In Equestria Inc.? She and I are close friends, and she mentioned she knew you!"
  2122. "Oh yeah, we've... crossed paths."
  2123. >Princess Cadance smiles.
  2124. >"I must admit, your building needs a bit of TLC though-- but I don't say that to be rude! It's just that your, uh, everything is peeling."
  2125. "Yeah I've been told that before."
  2126. >"So how long has Flutterrape existed? I hear you're one of the oldest companies around, If so I'd love a few tips!"
  2127. "About eight years."
  2128. >"Wow, that's ancient by this city's standards."
  2129. "Mmhm. Had a bit of trouble six years ago that uh, 'set us back' a bit, but we've recently come into some more money and are starting to get back on our feet-- this way, Cadance."
  2130. >You motion a hand towards the stairwell, and she hurriedly apologises before taking the lead up them.
  2131. >"And your boss, Fluttershy? She must be a real trooper to stick it out all these years, what's she like?"
  2132. "She's unique."
  2133. >"Just unique?"
  2134. "I'd say she's more of an experience than a mare."
  2135. >"Sounds exciting!"
  2136. "That's because you don't work here."
  2137. >Cadance laughs, her melodic voice bouncing off the cold, chipped walls.
  2138. >She comes to a door with a security lock on it.
  2139. >"This it?"
  2140. "Yeah, hold on."
  2141. >She politely steps out of your way and you punch in the code before pushing open the door.
  2142. >Cadance steps through into the office and pauses.
  2143. >"...Oh. Wow."
  2144. "Yup. Welcome to Flutterrape LTD, one of the oldest companies around."
  2145. >"It certainly didn't, ah, age well, did it?"
  2146. "Hah, nope."
  2147. >A head pokes out from over a cubicle wall.
  2148. >"Anon? Who-- oh."
  2149. "Yeah hi, Shorts, this is Cadance from across the street, she -insisted- on visiting."
  2150. >Shorts offers your guest a small wave and gives you a worried look.
  2151. >"Should I make some coffee or...?"
  2152. >Cadance speaks up with a gentle laugh.
  2153. >"No thank you, miss! Ah-- Shorts, was it?"
  2154. >"Uh, yeah, nice to meet you."
  2155. >"And you!"
  2156. >You lead the way towards Fluttershy's office.
  2157. >Before you can pass the kitchen, Shorts bolts from her cubicle and quickly shuts the door to it.
  2158. >Cadance gives her a strange look.
  2159. >Shorts smiles awkwardly and readjusts her glasses.
  2160. >"Kitchen's uh, kitchen's a mess at the moment..."
  2161. >The princess smiles.
  2162. >"Oh! I understand completely."
  2163. >She gives Shorts a playful wink.
  2164. >You glance at the kitchen door, and straining your ears you can just about hear something rooting around in the fridge.
  2165. >Shoot a glare at Shorts, who answers with a weak shrug.
  2166. >Leading Cadance across the room, she continues to comment on her surroundings.
  2167. >"I'm pretty sure I just saw a table with a pile of what looked like dream-catchers on it, is that something the company is invested in?"
  2168. "It was at one point, turns out we didn't need them."
  2169. >"I... see."
  2170. >Finally you come to a door, and knock firmly on the frosted glass bit, the pane rattling in protest.
  2171. "Visitor, boss."
  2172. >Her voice calls out from the other side.
  2173. >"What? Oh, uh, just give me a second to clean up."
  2174. >You start hearing rapid movements; drawers opening and shutting.
  2175. "Open the window as well whilst you're at it."
  2176. >"Yeah, I got it."
  2177. >Cadance watches you closely.
  2178. >Clear your throat and speak up again.
  2179. "The air freshener is the second drawer down under your desk."
  2180. >"I know, Anon, god." comes the reply.
  2181. >Cadance's look turns to bemusement.
  2182. >Finally your boss summons you in, and you open the door for Cadance.
  2183. >Fresh air and perfume assault your senses as you enter behind her.
  2184. >Fluttershy freezes as Cadance confidently strolls in first.
  2185. >She looks at you with silent horror.
  2186. >You just purse your lips and raise your eyebrows in response as you close the door.
  2187. >The princess takes a seat in one of the chairs, seemingly delighted with them.
  2188. >"Oh! Ergonomically designed pony-chairs, I love these!"
  2189. >You sit down in the other one next to her, across from Fluttershy, and frown.
  2190. "Yeah, they're really... comfy."
  2191. >Cadance sighs happily as she settles down.
  2192. >"So! Here we are at last! My name is Princess Cadance, you must be Fluttershy! I've heard so much about you!"
  2193. >She reaches over the desk and offers Fluttershy a hoof, a friendly smile plastered across her face.
  2194. >Fluttershy's head slowly turns to you.
  2195. >Her look is indescribable.
  2196. >You'll suffer for this sacrilege, no doubt.
  2197. >Your boss clears her throat, puts on the most pleasant expression she can muster, and touches her hoof against Cadance's.
  2198. >"Yes, I'm Fluttershy, can't say I've ever heard of you before, Cadance, but I'd like to get to know you inside and out, if you catch my drift."
  2199. >Cadance beams, oblivious to what she likely meant.
  2200. >"Wonderful! So, obviously I run the new company just across the way, Pregnancy Corp, and I had a little idea regarding some promotional marketing and team-building! As well as just coming over to say hi, of course!"
  2201. >You lean back in your chair and give her your full attention.
  2202. >"I've been reading a few of your stories and I'm pretty impressed, so I thought perhaps we could collaborate?"
  2203. >"Collaborate." Fluttershy states simply.
  2204. >Cadance nods eagerly.
  2205. >"Yes! We put our heads together and start making stories that are -really- engaging."
  2206. >"And how would that work?"
  2207. >"Well, I was thinking we could borrow one of your writers for the day, they swing by our building and work with our team, brainstorm, synergise, all that good stuff, and we'll see what happens? I think it'd be a good way to promote both of our companies."
  2208. >Fluttershy ponders for a second.
  2209. >"Okay."
  2210. "Wait what?"
  2211. >She nods.
  2212. >"Sounds like a decent idea. We'll send Shorts."
  2213. "Shorts...? Are you sure? She's still kinda new to this, why not send me, I can--"
  2214. >"I need you here."
  2215. >...
  2216. >She doesn't elaborate, she just leaves it at that.
  2217. >You narrow your eyebrows at Fluttershy.
  2218. >She returns the look, daring you to speak out.
  2219. >The two of you silently stare each other down for a moment.
  2220. >Cadance watches this with great interest, her eyes moving between the two of you with a calculated precision.
  2221. >She speaks up after neither of you do so, her tone slow and careful.
  2222. >"...So Anon, you said you'd been here for years, right?"
  2223. "Oh, uh, from the start. I was one of the first employees Fluttershy brought on."
  2224. >"I see... and are you two business partners now?"
  2225. "No, we're still boss and employee."
  2226. >"Are you now..."
  2227. >You give Cadance an unsettled look.
  2228. >She's smiling at you, her eyes searching your face for clues.
  2229. >The mare turns her head and takes in the office.
  2230. >The sofa, the self-portrait of Fluttershy on the wall covering the safe, the dust-filled awards cabinet.
  2231. >Finally, she breathes in, then out slowly, a serene look on her well made-up features.
  2232. >"This office smells a bit... musky, by the way."
  2233. >"That's the carpet." Fluttershy quickly interjects.
  2234. >Cadance's smile broadens as she turns to your boss.
  2235. >"You know, I've heard stories about this place."
  2236. >You detect a shift in her tone.
  2237. >"...Twilight tells me a lot."
  2238. >At the mention of Twilight, Fluttershy bristles, her body suddenly still.
  2239. >You slowly sit up, eyes fixed on Cadance as she continues in a more casual, reckless manner.
  2240. >"She tells me that you and Anon are awfully close."
  2241. >You reply before Fluttershy can.
  2242. "Yeah, until we brought Shorts in I was the only employee for a while."
  2243. >Cadance hums to herself.
  2244. >"So it was just you and Fluttershy? All by yourselves?"
  2245. "Yeah, we struggled, but managed, what's your point?"
  2246. >"Just you and your boss versus the world. It's all so..."
  2247. >Cadance grins at you.
  2248. >"...Romantic."
  2249. >Fluttershy's face darkens and she leans forward, her hooves pressed together firmly in front of her.
  2250. >"Listen here, Cadance, I'm happy to work with you, but don't you go around spreading rumours, or we'll have nothing to do with you."
  2251. >The princess' smile takes on a more conniving look.
  2252. >"I'm just saying, it's cute. Both of you, working side by side, slaving for long nights trying to make what's left of your failing joke of a company work, having to rely on each other... it's enough to make a mare think that there's more than just money involved. Just like Twilight said."
  2253. >Fluttershy is motionless.
  2254. >You are poised on the edge of your seat.
  2255. >...
  2256. >"Get out."
  2257. >Cadance smirks as she stands up.
  2258. >"Hey now, I'm the Princess of Love! I know a relationship when I see one."
  2259. >"I SAID GET OUT!"
  2260. >"I don't know why you're getting so defensive, there's nothing wrong with having a fling with an employee--"
  2261. >Fluttershy reaches for a coffee mug.
  2262. >You scramble around the edge of the desk and grab her hoof.
  2263. "Shy, no--"
  2264. >The mare tenses up as soon as you grab her.
  2265. >She glares at you, furious.
  2266. >You match her anger in return, your eyes fixed on hers.
  2267. >Cadance is apparently thrilled by your chemistry.
  2268. >"Ooh, I can't wait to see how this all pans out~! The stressed out boss and the loyal employee, it's too much!"
  2269. >Her smile falters somewhat as she focuses on you.
  2270. >"Though it's a shame you're... hm."
  2271. >Fluttershy trembles, your vice-grip on her the only thing stopping her from leaping out of her chair.
  2272. >Cadance frowns at the two of you.
  2273. "What are you waiting for? Just go, Cadance, please, don't make this worse."
  2274. >The mare looks to be in deep thought, chewing her bottom lip.
  2275. >Then, she seems to have an epiphany, and flashes you a devilish grin.
  2276. >"Oh no, I don't make relationships worse; I make them better."
  2277. >And with that, her horn lights up and she hits you with a powerful beam of pale blue magic.
  2278. >Your body reacts as though you were struck with paralysis, and you crumple to the floor, your head hitting the corner of Fluttershy's desk on the way down.
  2279. >A great deal of yelling follows.
  2280. >You can't see what happens because your body is lying facing away from the commotion, unable to move.
  2281. >But it sounds like Fluttershy is trying to repel the invader on her own.
  2282. >And making that "RREEEE" noise again.
  2283.  
  2284. "Then what?"
  2285. >Shorts dips the cloth into the bowl of saline and dabs your forehead again.
  2286. >You wince; the bruise she's tending to is gonna stick for a while.
  2287. >"Well Fluttershy dragged her out the building herself, by the mane, no less."
  2288. "Christ."
  2289. >"Cadance told me to tell you something though when she was being, uh, removed."
  2290. "Go on?"
  2291. >Shorts shrugs.
  2292. >"Just said 'Tell Anon to be more careful from now on'."
  2293. >She sniffs.
  2294. >"I knew she was a weirdo the moment I saw her."
  2295. "Oh yeah, because we're normal over here, aren't we?"
  2296. >Shorts gives you a wry look.
  2297. >"Comparatively speaking, yes."
  2298. >You sigh.
  2299. "Well, at least it wasn't us that burned the bridge this time."
  2300. >"Add her company to the blacklist?"
  2301. "Add it to the blacklist, yeah."
  2302. >"Alright then."
  2303. >...
  2304. >At least throughout all that you'd thought of a way to spice up that zombie-Cheerilee story you were working on.
  2305. >A wise-cracking werewolf sidekick.
  2306. >Perfect.
  2307.  
  2308. ---
  2309.  
  2310. >Well this is awkward.
  2311. >You glance to your left at Short Storys.
  2312. >She turns from you and looks to Fluttershy, sat on your right.
  2313. >Around the woefully tiny round table in the kitchen, the three of you sit, ready for lunch.
  2314. >Normally you each have it at different times; there's sometimes overlap between you and Shorts, but mostly you all eat separately.
  2315. >Today is different, and you all found yourselves walking into the kitchen at the same time.
  2316. >Slowly, you place your lunchbox onto the table and open it.
  2317. >The two mares fixate on its contents as you carefully lift the lid.
  2318. >Two strawberry jam sandwiches, an apple, and a chocolate bar.
  2319. >You shift your arms, positioning them on either side of the box.
  2320. >Fluttershy licks her lips.
  2321. >You narrow your eyes at her.
  2322. "So what have -you- got for lunch today, boss?"
  2323. >Her eyes turn up to you, but her head remains pointed at the box.
  2324. >"I didn't get chance to make anything this morning."
  2325. "Shame. Guess you'll have to go to the shop and pick something up then."
  2326. >"Don't have any money on me."
  2327. "I can lend you some."
  2328. >"No no, it's fine, I'll manage."
  2329. >She continues to stare at the sandwiches like a cat would stare at a mouse.
  2330. >You shift your attention to Shorts.
  2331. "And you, Shorts?"
  2332. >"Um... I don't uh..."
  2333. >She scrunches up her face.
  2334. >"Fuck it. You owe me for all those sandwiches I made you all those times."
  2335. "You made those of your own volition!"
  2336. >"I even cut the crusts off for you, you ungrateful bastard!"
  2337. "You think I owe you because you did something out of charity?! What kind of-- HEY!"
  2338. >You quickly turn and slap Fluttershy's hoof, which was reaching for a sandwich whilst you were preoccupied.
  2339. >She hisses as you bat her away.
  2340. >Before you can give her an ear-full, Shorts uses the distraction to dip a hoof into your box, pluck the apple out of it, and swallow the entire thing without even chewing.
  2341. "WH--"
  2342. >She smiles as you watch the large lump slide down her throat.
  2343. "YOU DIDN'T EVEN SAVOUR IT! HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO EXTRACT THE NUTRIENTS?!"
  2344. >"My stomach acids shall decide the fate of the apple now, Anon; you have already lost."
  2345. "Like fucking hell I have."
  2346. >Rising from your seat, you grab Shorts' frail body and pull her close, wrenching open her jaws and sticking an arm down her gullet.
  2347. >She gurgles and struggles as you reach in and grip the apple in mid-transit.
  2348. >Pulling back, you retrieve the slimy, though not-yet-digested apple from the treacherous mare.
  2349. >As you sit back down, you turn to your lunch box.
  2350. >The sandwiches are gone.
  2351. >You look at Fluttershy.
  2352. >She smiles, her mouth covered in jam.
  2353. >You look back at the lunchbox.
  2354. >Now the chocolate bar is gone.
  2355. >You look at Shorts.
  2356. >There's little you can do to stop her as she chews and eats the entire thing, wrapper and all.
  2357. >You sit in silence, clutching your slimy apple, and sigh.
  2358. >Something under the table shifts.
  2359. >The three of you watch, amazed, as Rudolph emerges from below.
  2360. >He sits across from you, completing the circle of 4, and politely rests his claws on the table.
  2361. >The rat's eyes dart between you and the apple.
  2362. >After a short moment, you place the apple on the table and slide it over to him.
  2363. >He gently takes it in his mouth and scurries out the room to find the nearest vent.
  2364. >At least he's not jumping in and out of the ceiling any more.
  2365. >Fluttershy leans over and kisses you on the cheek.
  2366. >"Thanks for lunch, Anon."
  2367. >She takes her leave.
  2368. >Shorts gives you a quick hug.
  2369. >"Yeah, thanks for returning the favour."
  2370. >The mare trots happily out of the kitchen.
  2371. >With just you left, you regard your empty lunchbox with despair.
  2372. >Oh well.
  2373. >At least there are a few crumbs left.
  2374. >And Fluttershy was kind enough to leave some jam on your cheek.
  2375. >Silver linings, Anon.
  2376. >Silver linings.
  2377.  
  2378. ---
  2379.  
  2380. "No."
  2381. >"Yes."
  2382. "No."
  2383. >"YES."
  2384. "Fluttershy if you think I'm wearing those you can jump off a cliff."
  2385. >"New company policy, all members of staff have to wear them for today."
  2386. >You glare at the tight blue denim shorts in Fluttershy's hoof.
  2387. "And why does Shorts not have to wear them?"
  2388. >"I feel like Shorts wearing shorts is a bit too on-the-nose."
  2389. "And you? Why can you not wear them?"
  2390. >"Because I'm not a member of staff, I'm the boss."
  2391. "That's retarded."
  2392. >"Fuck you, put on the shorts."
  2393. "Suck my dick, you can't make me do anything."
  2394. >"For your information I've sucked your dick dozens of times and it never gets any better, and I -can- actually make you do anything because I'll fire you if you don't."
  2395. "Go on then."
  2396. >"...Go on what?"
  2397. "Fire me."
  2398. >"..."
  2399. "Well aren't you gonna do it?"
  2400. >Fluttershy shuffles uncomfortably, avoiding your glare.
  2401. >"N-no... Put on the shorts."
  2402. "Nope, I'm not gonna--"
  2403. >"If you don't put on the shorts you'll be on Rudolph clean-up duty for a month."
  2404. "..."
  2405. >"..."
  2406. "You're a fucking asshole, Fluttershy."
  2407. >"Takes one to know one."
  2408. "Oh what are you, five? Give me those..."
  2409. >You swipe them from her and stand up, fiddling with your belt as you go to drop your normal black office pants, cursing and swearing at your "dicklusting whore of a boss" the entire time.
  2410. >Fluttershy watches with a great deal of glee.
  2411. >"That's better~"
  2412. >As you hike the shorts up your legs you wince at how tight they are.
  2413. >When you finally manage to get them on, you struggle to move.
  2414. "...They're too small."
  2415. >"I'm sorry?"
  2416. "The shorts, they're too small. They're too constrictive and they make my ass look big."
  2417. >"Yes."
  2418. >She smiles.
  2419. >"Yes they do."
  2420.  
  2421. >Suffice to say, Shorts was thrilled at your new office attire.
  2422.  
  2423. ---
  2424.  
  2425. "Eh, I dunno, try adding some more backstory? I'm just not feeling attached to the character."
  2426. >You lean against the opening of Shorts' cubicle, the mare nodding along with you.
  2427. >"Do you think it might be an issue with the character himself? I was a bit leery of including something like him but thought that if I pulled it off the story would be better for it."
  2428. "Yes and no, thing about characters like that is..."
  2429. >You sigh.
  2430. "Can we help you, Fluttershy?"
  2431. >Both you and Shorts look up.
  2432. >Fluttershy is hovering above the cubicle, clutching a camera.
  2433. >"Oh no, don't mind me, I'm just waiting for you both to lose yourselves to your lust and fuck like animals on the desk."
  2434. >Shorts blushes and tries to repress a smile.
  2435. >You roll your eyes.
  2436. "We're trying to work. You know what work is? That thing you hired us to do instead of getting wrapped up in wacky workplace shenanigans?"
  2437. >Fluttershy nods, not really listening.
  2438. >"Yeah, great, when you cum on her face can you angle it so I can get it with the camera?"
  2439. "Unbelievable. Alright Shorts, you get the gist of what I'm saying."
  2440. >"Yeah, I'll add the backstory."
  2441. "Add the backstory and see if that helps bring the story together, if it doesn't then the whole thing might need a rewrite, swing by my desk and bring your laptop if it comes to that."
  2442. >"He meant swing by his desk and bring lube because he's going to stretch your ponut with his cock."
  2443. "Fuck you, Fluttershy."
  2444. >"Not today, hun."
  2445. >When you turn to go, something odd happens.
  2446. >You lose balance and trip over your own legs.
  2447. >With a grunt you topple to the floor, banging your shoulder.
  2448. >You hear a scream as you do so, and you're sure it wasn't you.
  2449. >Sit up again with an annoyed look.
  2450. >Just in time to see Fluttershy descend on you.
  2451. >"Are you alright? Did I do that? I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to hurt you, do you need the hospital? I'll get some first aid-- SHORTS GET SOME FUCKING FIRST AID! Does it hurt? Will kissing it make it better? Do you want me to kiss it better? Can I kiss it better? I'm going to kiss it better, take off your shirt--"
  2452. >You raise a hand to stop her and stand up.
  2453. "I just fell over, Shy, happens to everyone."
  2454. >"S-so you're okay."
  2455. "Of course I'm okay, fuck, I'm not made of porcelain, I can take a hit and not break."
  2456. >"Right. Okay. Just checking. So you're definitely okay."
  2457. "Christ, woman, I'll be fine, I'll try not to, I dunno, spontaneously combust on my way back to my desk, or shit, I'll try not to die because I got the hiccup--"
  2458. >You're interrupted by a sudden, very abrupt and entirely unexpected hiccup.
  2459. >For a second you and Fluttershy stare at each other in shock.
  2460. >Then she starts crying.
  2461.  
  2462. >You spend the rest of the afternoon sat at your desk working.
  2463. >Fluttershy sits in your lap to make sure you're alright and that you don't get the hiccups, spontaneously combust, fall over again, then die.
  2464. >Gotta admit, that would be one hell of a way to go.
  2465. >Fluttershy presses her face against your chest again and rubs it in.
  2466. >"Are you still okay?"
  2467. "Still okay. Just like before."
  2468. >"Just checking."
  2469. >Ugh.
  2470.  
  2471. ---
  2472.  
  2473. >"You know, Anon..."
  2474. >Fluttershy squints at your monitor, gives you a weird look, then glances back at the screen.
  2475. >"On the one hoof you're definitely getting better at drawing."
  2476. "Thanks."
  2477. >"And I'm happy to see you're actually still doing it, since I'll be honest, I'd completely forgotten we'd agreed to form an art department."
  2478. "Okay."
  2479. >"And again, you're definitely better at this than I am."
  2480. "Sure."
  2481. >"But um..."
  2482. >She twists her head sideways, as if trying to see if the artwork changes when viewed at a different angle.
  2483. >"So we've uh, we've had a -lot- of sex together, right?"
  2484. "We have; none of it on my terms."
  2485. >"You've seen me naked a whole bunch."
  2486. "You wear a half-suit like most ponies, Fluttershy, your bottom-half is completely exposed and leaves very little to the imagination."
  2487. >"Right! Right, exactly. But what I'm trying to say is..."
  2488. >She rubs her head with a hoof, thinking.
  2489. >Then motions at the screen with the hoof.
  2490. >"Why do I have tits on my chest?"
  2491. "What do you mean?"
  2492. >"Wh--... Anon I don't have tits there."
  2493. >She slips out of her suit with the fluidity that only years of practice of quickly removing clothing can give.
  2494. >The mare stands before you, totally nude.
  2495. >"Point to my tits."
  2496. "I don't need to, they're between your legs."
  2497. >"Precisely."
  2498. "So?"
  2499. >She gives you a hopeless look, then decides to just point at the screen, then at herself.
  2500. >You follow her motions, stroking your chin in thought.
  2501. "...Oh."
  2502. >"Right."
  2503. "Oh I see."
  2504. >"Do you get it now?"
  2505. "I see where I've gone wrong."
  2506. >"Okay good, now fix it--"
  2507. "Your wings are way too small, I'll fix that right away."
  2508. >Fluttershy gives you a troubled look.
  2509. >The look of a mare who's realised that her most precious employee is in many ways a very smart man, but in other ways is an imbecile of the highest calibre.
  2510. >As you hastily doodle on wings that are roughly six times bigger than the previous versions, she quietly leaves the cubicle and crosses the floor to her office.
  2511. >There, she stands before the body-length mirror on one of the walls and stares at herself naked.
  2512. >She carefully rubs a hoof along her chest in thought and gazes at her reflection, contemplating.
  2513. >"I guess it -would- be kinda sexy..."
  2514.  
  2515. >She wore a bra stuffed with tissue paper to work the next day.
  2516. >You aren't sure how you felt about it.
  2517.  
  2518. ---
  2519.  
  2520. "Ready?"
  2521. >"No."
  2522. "Alright, we'll go when you're ready."
  2523. >...
  2524. "Shorts come on--"
  2525. >"I'm trying! I can't-- can you do my straps for me?"
  2526. "How do earth ponies even function?"
  2527. >"Hey don't make this about race, normally we're fine with buckles and straps but these are just--"
  2528. "Alright alright, just hold still."
  2529. >"Mmph."
  2530. "Better?"
  2531. >"Too tight."
  2532. "Alright-- better?"
  2533. >"Better."
  2534. "Okay then. Ready?"
  2535. >Shorts, her shabby body armour finally secure, gives you a firm nod.
  2536. >You place your hand against the kitchen door, braced to push.
  2537. "When I say go. Three. Two. One--"
  2538. >The phone on your desk starts ringing.
  2539. >You glance at Shorts.
  2540. >She raises an eyebrow back at you.
  2541. >"...Are you gonna answer it?"
  2542. "No it's all the way over there, if it's important she'll come out and scream at us."
  2543. >On cue, Fluttershy's office door slams open and the mare sticks her head out; not looking at you, just bellowing into the empty space.
  2544. >"GET IN HERE, YOU SWINES! SOMETHING BIG IS GOING ON!"
  2545.  
  2546. >"You'll never guess what's going-- what the hell are you both wearing."
  2547. >You and Shorts look over each other, then back at Fluttershy.
  2548. >You carefully remove the wire-frame waste paper bin you were using as a helmet from your head.
  2549. >Shorts struggles, but manages to remove her ragged body armour that you'd found in a dumpster behind the local police department.
  2550. >You unfasten the plastic Roman breastplate replica you were wearing and set it to one side.
  2551. >Fluttershy is bewildered.
  2552. "There's a situation in the kitchen that demanded our immediate attention."
  2553. >"When is there -not- a situation in the kitchen."
  2554. >You shrug as she shakes her head.
  2555. >"Well whatever, sit down and listen to this."
  2556. >Both you and Shorts take your seats across from Fluttershy's desk as she reads from the newspaper before her.
  2557. >"Previous ruling overturned: Abortion declared illegal."
  2558. >You raise your eyebrows in surprise.
  2559. "Woah, seriously? How'd they manage that?"
  2560. >Fluttershy sneers.
  2561. >"How'd you think?"
  2562. >She slides the paper across the desk over to you.
  2563. >"It's Cadance and her government fuckboy Franklin."
  2564. >You skim-read the article for the important info.
  2565. "Why the hell--"
  2566. >"It's obvious, Anon."
  2567. >You look up at her in confusion.
  2568. >Fluttershy rolls her eyes.
  2569. >"Cadance runs Pregnancy Corp. What does she have a vested interest in?"
  2570. "...Pregnancies?"
  2571. >"Pregnancies. What company just moved into town?"
  2572. "Pregnancy Corp."
  2573. >"Pregnancy Corp. How do you make sure more people stay pregnant?"
  2574. "By making it illegal to have abortions."
  2575. >"What are pregnant people?"
  2576. "...Uh..."
  2577. >"Emotionally charged weirdos who cry at anything. What kind of stories will emotionally charged pregnant weirdos want to read?"
  2578. "Stories about pregnancies."
  2579. >"There's a clever boy, and finally, what tends to happen if a single female in a friend-circle gets pregnant?"
  2580. "They all suddenly want babies."
  2581. >"And Cadance is the incredibly popular face of femininity, who just started a company all about making babies. This will make having babies seem more attractive, and since women are all vapid, predictable creatures, there's going to be a cascade of baby-making in the near future."
  2582. "Well holy shit."
  2583. >"Yes."
  2584. "God that's weird."
  2585. >"It's mega fucking weird."
  2586. "Pregancies are gross."
  2587. >"They're totally gross, and that jumped-up pink faggot living across the road from us stands to make a great deal of profit from them unless we can stop her."
  2588. "Hang on, why does any of this concern us?"
  2589. >"Because the bigger that company gets, the less of a chance we stand of competing."
  2590. "Fluttershy we're never going to out-compete a princess, we've since realised that; there's no point trying."
  2591. >"..."
  2592. "You know I'm right, we should just focus on staying afloat."
  2593. >"Maybe, yes, but it's about more than keeping the company alive."
  2594. "It is?"
  2595. >"Yes! It's about principles!"
  2596. "Fluttershy you've never had a set of principles in your life."
  2597. >"Shut up, fuck you, I want Cadance to suffer, alright?"
  2598. "Why-- actually don't answer that."
  2599. >"She came in here like she fucking owned the place, talked shit straight to my face, mentioned that purple bitch who used to work here, and assaulted my husband; so I want her dead, I want all her employees dead, her company dead, and any children she may have dead."
  2600. "I get it, fuck, Jesus Christ, calm down."
  2601. >...
  2602. "Wait hold up what was that about a husband--"
  2603. >"Shut up Anon, you're fired. Shorts, tell me about this kitchen problem we're having."
  2604. >Shorts glances at you, then back at Fluttershy.
  2605. >"Um. It's about Rudolph."
  2606. >"Is he dead?"
  2607. >"N-not quite."
  2608. >"Then what? Spit it out, mare."
  2609. >Shorts cringes.
  2610. >"He's uh, got himself a lady friend."
  2611. >Fluttershy stares at her, frozen.
  2612. >"You what."
  2613. >Shorts looks to you for support.
  2614. >You continue for her.
  2615. "Our resident giant pony-sized man-eating rat has himself a girlfriend. Another giant pony-sized man-eating rat."
  2616. >Fluttershy doesn't blink, she only fixes you with a look of desperate horror.
  2617. "Chances are if we don't sort this out then they're gonna start breeding."
  2618. >...
  2619. "Then we'll have an entire race of giant rats living in our vents, and it's gonna smell -awful-."
  2620. >Fluttershy twitches.
  2621. >Then grabs her head with both hooves and screams as loudly as she can.
  2622. >"I BET CADANCE DID THIS!"
  2623.  
  2624. ---
  2625.  
  2626. >"What? No, I said extra large you fucking imbecile."
  2627. >You quietly type away, vaguely listening from afar to the sound of Fluttershy attempting to order a pizza.
  2628. >Your tired eyes wander from your screen to the clock on your cubicle wall.
  2629. >It's late at night, and each passing second seems to be longer than the last.
  2630. >A quick nudge from your elbow prompts a snort from the pony next to you.
  2631. >She stirs, waking from her no doubt pleasant dream and grumbles in her typical post-nap manner.
  2632. >Wordlessly, you pour a cup of lukewarm coffee from the machine on your desk and slide it over to your companion.
  2633. >Short Storys takes it without comment and gulps it all down, the two of you staring at your respective screens and trying to figure out how best to conclude your stories.
  2634. >Much time passes where you both work beside one another in your muted fashion.
  2635. >Eventually you sigh and squeeze your eyes shut, stretching out your arms and relishing the relief it brings.
  2636. "Done."
  2637. >"Done?"
  2638. "Yeah, done."
  2639. >"Nice. Gonna upload it to the site or do you want me to do it?"
  2640. "D'you mind? I need to take a piss."
  2641. >"Classy, alright, I'll get on it."
  2642. "Thanks."
  2643. >You stand up and wander to the bathroom, taking heed of a flickering light-bulb on the way.
  2644. >After you're done in the restroom you swing by Fluttershy's office, opening the door a crack and poking your head in.
  2645. "Hey, where'd you put the spare light-bulbs? We've got one on its way out back here."
  2646. >The mare, sat reclining in her chair behind her desk seemingly deep in thought, ignores you.
  2647. "Boss? You okay?"
  2648. >"Thinking."
  2649. "I can see that, but could you just tell me where the light--"
  2650. >"We're being blacklisted."
  2651. "...I'm sorry?"
  2652. >Fluttershy's eyes find you, her expression marred by a frown.
  2653. >"All I wanted was a pizza."
  2654. "...Have you been eating Shorts' pills again?"
  2655. >"No you twat, come here, listen."
  2656. >You wander into her office, shutting the door behind you and sitting across from her.
  2657. >Leaning forward, your face shows mild concern.
  2658. "What's up, Shy?"
  2659. >"So I tried to order a pizza like forty minutes ago."
  2660. "Okay?"
  2661. >"And when I got to the part when I give our address they told me that they can't deliver to us and hung up."
  2662. "Ouch, do you have a history with them or...?"
  2663. >Her eyebrows knit together in thought.
  2664. >"That's just it, I don't. See if I'd raped an employee of theirs or something I could understand..."
  2665. "She says casually as if that isn't fucked up."
  2666. >"Shush, but I've never used them before, professionally or sexually. So see-- what I did was start ringing other pizza places I've never used-- on a sidenote did you ever notice how many pizzerias there are around here? It's insane."
  2667. "Yeah, it's a lucrative market, every writer needs pizza to function."
  2668. >"Right, so I went through like a dozen and they all said the same thing: 'we can't send to you' followed by them hanging up."
  2669. "Well that sucks. Want me to go round to one personally and pick one up?"
  2670. >"You're missing the point, we're being blacklisted by companies we've never even dealt with."
  2671. "They've probably been getting told to avoid us by other businesses. To be fair to them Fluttershy, you like... you have a -serious- problem with raping people. Like holy damn you do it -all the time-."
  2672. >She gazes at you sadly.
  2673. >"Is it really such a crime...?"
  2674. "What the fuck of course it is. I'm just glad you've been toning it down lately. Why is that, anyway? You lost your mojo or something?"
  2675. >"Pfft, no, I just realised I can bang you instead. Why would I want to go around messing with other people when I have you?"
  2676. "But you haven't done me for weeks. I was sorta beginning to hope that you were done with that whole thing."
  2677. >"What do you mean?"
  2678. "You know, rape. Up until now it was always just like 'Oh yeah, that's Fluttershy, she rapes people, that's just what she does'."
  2679. >"...And?"
  2680. "I'm just saying maybe you should stop raping people, Shy."
  2681. >Fluttershy's face reflects her bewilderment at this.
  2682. >"Anonymous that's the stupidest thing you've ever said to me."
  2683. >...
  2684. "So--"
  2685. >"Get out of my office."
  2686. "..."
  2687. >"And yes, I would like you to go buy a pizza. Vegetarian for three. And a dildo."
  2688. "Why a dildo?"
  2689. >"So you can go fuck yourself with it, now get out and never say anything that dumb to me ever again."
  2690. "Fine, fuck, no need to be such a bitch about it."
  2691. >With that, you grab your coat from your desk and leave.
  2692.  
  2693. "I mean can you believe that, Shorts? He actually said I should stop raping people! I was like 'are you kidding me right now? Go buy a dildo'."
  2694. >"Why a dildo...?"
  2695. "So he can go fuck himself with it."
  2696. >"That's pretty clever."
  2697. "Yeah I thought so too."
  2698. >"Real zinger."
  2699. "Yup."
  2700. >"Just mega intelligent on your part--"
  2701. "Okay shut up, Shorts, god, why are you so fucking mouthy."
  2702. >"You like it when I'm mouthy."
  2703. "Only on certain days and only when Anon's not here."
  2704. >"You mean like now?"
  2705. "Yes like now."
  2706. >...
  2707. "I didn't say stop, by the way."
  2708. >"Sorry boss, my tongue is sore."
  2709. "Yeah well consider it punishment for being so mouthy."
  2710. >"You kinda do have a problem with molesting people though."
  2711. "What gave you that impression?"
  2712. >"Well I mean..."
  2713. >Shorts looks around at her position under your desk between your spread legs and shrugs helplessly.
  2714. >"...You know?"
  2715. "This is normal."
  2716. >"It really isn't."
  2717. "Shut up, Shorts, I have stress to relieve and you're the nearest peon I could find, if you can make me cum before Anon gets back you're getting a raise."
  2718.  
  2719. ---
  2720.  
  2721. >"So I won't lie, that pizza sucked."
  2722. "It was vegetarian like you asked for."
  2723. >"Yeah, but I kinda changed my mind mid-way through."
  2724. "Well horses don't eat meat so I guess you're stuck with vegetarian forever."
  2725. >"That's actually a common misconception, horses have been known to eat meat on many occasions..."
  2726. >As Fluttershy begins to lecture you on the dietary habits of horses, your eyes wander over to the window of her office where the three of you had been eating.
  2727. >The only window in the room, it never offered a particularly interesting view.
  2728. >That is, a back-alley scene facing the sheer brick wall of the old warehouse before it.
  2729. >At least it was a consistent view.
  2730. >Plus it meant that anything could happen in front of it and no one would ever know.
  2731. >You stand up and put your hands in your pockets, wandering over to peer out of it.
  2732. >Fluttershy's voice rises and falls in the background.
  2733. >She's reaching the apex of a short tangent where she once actually ate a horse.
  2734. >You stopped listening since it was the seventh time you'd heard it over the years.
  2735. >Shorts, on the other hand, was both enraptured and horrified by what she was hearing.
  2736. >So, content with her audience of one, Fluttershy continued on with gusto, not paying you any mind.
  2737. >You stand at the window and watch the alleyway with disinterest.
  2738. >It's quite a wide alleyway, so a fair bit of moonlight is let in, but it still doesn't see much action.
  2739. >All you can behold are bins, a single dumpster, and a great deal of rubbish lying about amongst old, dampened cardboard boxes and discarded wooden pallets.
  2740. >Typical warehouse faire long since abandoned to the elements.
  2741. >Or lack of, rather, considering the inherent shelter the alley gives.
  2742. >But as your eyes trail over the rubbish, you catch something peculiar moving about amongst the muck.
  2743. >Your eyebrows knit together.
  2744. >Rustling about in one of Flutterrape's bins, under the cover of darkness, is a bright red pony.
  2745. >She casts the bin to one side, the trash within strewn across the ground without a care, taking no notice of you watching her from the second floor window above.
  2746. >The mare hastily sifts through with her magic and retrieves some old papers.
  2747. >She skim-reads them for a second, and finally you can barely see her face stretch into a smile.
  2748. >She laughs, though you can't hear it, and gallops away from the scene with the papers in her magical grasp.
  2749. >Though that's not what necessarily concerns you.
  2750. >What concerns you is that she was wearing a Pregnancy Corp uniform.
  2751.  
  2752. >Turning back from the window, you see that Fluttershy has reached the end of her story, and is giving Shorts a comforting hug as the mare in question wears a thousand-yard-stare.
  2753. >You frown at Fluttershy.
  2754. >She shrugs in return.
  2755. >"What? It's a good story."
  2756. "That's not it, there was someone from Pregnancy Corp just rooting through our bins."
  2757. >She cocks her head.
  2758. >"What for? If she wants trash she can read what they write over there."
  2759. >Fluttershy smirks at her own joke, but you ignore it.
  2760. "Why would they be searching through our bins?"
  2761. >"I dunno, does it matter?"
  2762. "That depends, how do you destroy confidential documents? Are you burning them like I suggested?"
  2763. >Fluttershy snorts.
  2764. >"I don't have time to do that, Anon, I'm a busy mare, I just throw it in the tra-- oh."
  2765. "Oh."
  2766. >"Ooooh. Shit."
  2767. "Oh shit is right, you fucking idiot, now we have to deal with what looks like possible corporate espionage."
  2768. >Fluttershy glowers at you.
  2769. >"So those fucks want to play hardball? Fine. Anon, get the cops on the phone, they'll sort this out."
  2770. >You regard her, unimpressed.
  2771. >"That means now, chop chop."
  2772. "Shy, you know the cops don't come here any more."
  2773. >"Oh. Right, yes, of course..."
  2774. "Plus if we accuse them its our word against theirs and--"
  2775. >"Yeah, I get it."
  2776. >She purses her lips.
  2777. >"We're gonna have to employ drastic measures then."
  2778.  
  2779. >You sit in frustrated silence as Fluttershy blows smoke from her lips, a cigarette balanced on her hoof.
  2780. >"A passable job, Anon, I'll make a man of you yet."
  2781. >Glance over Fluttershy's sweat-laden body at Shorts.
  2782. >She's still practising her thousand-yard-stare, though her mane is messier than usual.
  2783. >You look down at your exposed chest, then at the clock on the wall.
  2784. >11:21pm
  2785. "And how exactly was a steamy office three-way supposed to help us?"
  2786. >"Help us do what?"
  2787. "Help us stop Pregnancy Corp from legally nailing us, you stupid cow."
  2788. >"Hey, hey, don't spoil the afterglow."
  2789. "Fuck the afterglow, one of their employees just stole documents that you were too lazy to destroy! Who knows what they could have just stolen?!"
  2790. >"Eh, it probably wasn't anything important. The only thing I threw out yesterday were old financial records."
  2791. "How old?"
  2792. >"Few months."
  2793. "Why the fuck would you throw out financial records a few months old, you're supposed to keep them for years."
  2794. >"They were taking up space."
  2795. "We have an entire fucking office, Fluttershy, AND IT'S NOT EXACTLY STUFFED FULL!"
  2796. >"Heh, I was a few minutes ago."
  2797. "YOU FUCKING--"
  2798. >As you scream at Fluttershy, Shorts slips out the office and goes to clean herself up in the company bathroom.
  2799. >She splashes water on her face and stares at herself in the mirror for a few moments, mulling over her life and the current situation she's in.
  2800. >Reaching for a brush she keeps on the side of the sink, she tidies herself up a bit before forcing a smile and stepping back outside.
  2801. >The sound of you, and now Fluttershy, yelling at each other echoes around the office.
  2802. >She listens for a moment, then returns to her desk.
  2803. >After putting in some earphones and turning up her music to drown out the shouting, she gets back to work
  2804. >She releases a heavy, drawn-out sigh as she does so.
  2805. >"Better here than Batponies, Shorts. Hang in there..."
  2806.  
  2807. ---
  2808.  
  2809. >"Go to hell Anon, it's the simplest request!"
  2810. "Fluttershy I have so much shit to do it's unreal, I just can't keep up with this!"
  2811. >"You managed fine before, you fucking... baby!"
  2812. "That was before you had the grand idea of creating an art department, now I have more things to do than I know what to do with and it's crushing me!"
  2813. >"Why do you do nothing but complain all the time? Any normal person would just get on with their job!"
  2814. "I've been 'getting on with it' for years! Let's see, I have to write stories, lock up at night, clean the kitchen, clean the office, check the basement for homeless people, feed the vents, watch the cameras, sort through mail, log calls, organise office supply shipments, on more than one occasion I've had to buy stuff out of pocket from the hardware store, keep the computers running, clean up after Rudolph, manage Shorts, draw artwork, and I have to look after you whenever you inevitably fuck up!"
  2815. >Fluttershy's face is the picture of rage.
  2816. >"When I fuck up?! Fuck you! I bust my ass every day trying to keep this company afloat and all I ask that you take on one more little responsibility and you suddenly throw a shitfit!"
  2817. "Little responsibility?! You want me to work as a night guard! How much time and energy do you think I have?!"
  2818. >"Oh stop bitching and just take it like a man! Do you -want- Pregnancy Corp to keep stealing stuff from our bins?"
  2819. "Fuck this, I don't need to put up with you, I'm going back to my desk."
  2820. >"Don't you -dare- walk away from me! Get back here this instant or you're fired!"
  2821. "Eat a dick, Fluttershy, I have better things to do."
  2822. >You make for the exit of her office.
  2823. >The mare leaps up out of her chair after you, yelling at your turned back as she does so.
  2824. >As you stroll through the open door, you turn and slam it for effect in order to relay how mad you are.
  2825. >Unfortunately, you don't realise that Fluttershy was right behind you until it's too late.
  2826. >You hear a sudden yelp, and freeze, your anger forgotten.
  2827. >Quickly opening the door, you see Fluttershy sitting on the floor clutching her muzzle with both hooves.
  2828. >Her eyes are squeezed shut.
  2829. >Your expression softens immediately and you drop down to her level, fussing over her.
  2830. "Hey, hey, come on, let me see, move your hooves."
  2831. >She slowly removes them, sniffing and trying not to cry.
  2832. >Blood wells and drips from her nostrils.
  2833. >Gently taking the delicate mare in your arms, you rest your back against the door-frame and shush her, a hand stroking her body as you cradle her in your lap.
  2834. "It's okay, it'll be fine, I was mad and I didn't see you, I'm sorry."
  2835. >Her body trembles as she speaks.
  2836. >"Th-that really f-fucking hurt, Anon."
  2837. "I know, Shy, I know, I'm sorry."
  2838. >"Y-you're an asshole..."
  2839. "You're kinda partly to blame as well."
  2840. >"Mmph."
  2841. >She manoeuvres her body about so that she's still sat in your lap, but resting the front of her body against yours, burying her face in your midsection as she tends to do when she's scared or hurt.
  2842. >You smile wearily at her, a hand still caressing her back.
  2843. >Her trembling eventually stops, and she seems to be calmer.
  2844. >She pulls her face back, leaving a large bloody mark on your shirt.
  2845. >"I ruined your shirt."
  2846. "I can see that."
  2847. >"It's for being an asshole."
  2848. "Of course."
  2849. >"..."
  2850. >She studies your face carefully.
  2851. >You stare back, still wearing a soft look and watching the blood around her snout congeal.
  2852. >"...Are you still mad at me?"
  2853. "That depends, do I have to be a night guard?"
  2854. >"...No."
  2855. "Then no, I'm not mad. And besides, I slammed a door in your face, you should be mad at me."
  2856. >"I am mad at you."
  2857. "Oh. Well good."
  2858. >"I'm always mad at you."
  2859. "I guessed."
  2860. >"But you're still... here."
  2861. "...Yeah, I am."
  2862. >"Why?"
  2863. >You shrug.
  2864. "I dunno. Pay's good, I suppose."
  2865. >She regards you sadly, her eyes fixed on yours.
  2866. >The mare opens her lips as if she wants to say something, but closes them again.
  2867. >You opt to squeeze her closer to your chest.
  2868. >She seems content with that, and sighs, enjoying your warmth.
  2869. >The pair of you sit like that for another ten minutes, listening to the cheap plastic clock on the wall slowly count the seconds.
  2870. >With great effort, you eventually untangle yourself from her and stand up.
  2871. >She reluctantly lets go and frowns at you as you once more tower over her.
  2872. >"Well you can't be a night guard any more. But for assaulting your boss, walking out on her, and generally trying to hurt her physically and emotionally, you have to buy her lunch."
  2873. "When you say 'buy you lunch' do you mean to say you forgot to make yourself lunch again and want me to give you my lunchbox?"
  2874. >"Yes."
  2875. "God dammit."
  2876. >"Should have thought about that before you slammed a door in my face, you ape."
  2877. "Fuck you, Fluttershy."
  2878. >"Go cry about it. Now leave me alone, I'm horny and upset."
  2879. >With that, she hurls the door shut, the window-pane at the top of it shuddering.
  2880. >A few seconds later she opens it again.
  2881. >"I still want your lunchbox though."
  2882. "Yeah, I got it, it'll be on your desk in a bit."
  2883. >"Good."
  2884. >She glares at you for a second, then slams the door again.
  2885.  
  2886. >You sit back down at your desk next to Shorts, who has recently decided to just move into your cubicle with you for convenience/companionship.
  2887. >"I heard slamming and shouting, what happened?"
  2888. "Boss wanted me to be a guard so I broke her nose and then we cuddled so now she wants my lunchbox."
  2889. >"...I believe you."
  2890.  
  2891. ---
  2892.  
  2893. >You shift uneasily.
  2894. >The short, fat package on your desk doesn't disappear.
  2895. >Its colourful wrapping paper and bright blue ribbon instead stand in contrast to your grey, joyless cubicle.
  2896. >You look over your shoulder cautiously, then back to it.
  2897. >It's still there.
  2898. >Last time you saw an unexpected package it came from the vents.
  2899. >Most anything that comes from the vents is bad news.
  2900. >And whilst you might not need to sacrifice goats anymore, you still fear what lurks in the ventilation system in this building.
  2901. >You step closer to the package and set down your bag.
  2902. >Nudging it with a finger, it doesn't do anything.
  2903. >It certainly doesn't move in response, so that rules out roughly half of the ideas of what you thought it could be.
  2904. >The longer you leave it alone, the more the paranoia will grow.
  2905. >And if it's a bomb it might explode if left unattended.
  2906. >You'd like to know if it was a bomb beforehand so that it doesn't go off whilst you're eating your lunch.
  2907. >Frankly, eating lunch is the highlight of your day, and you'd rather not have it be ruined.
  2908. >Plus, months of fending off giant-rat raids in the kitchen with a broom have tempered your will somewhat, and you're a lot hardier than you once were.
  2909. >So, pushing down your fear, you firmly grab the package.
  2910. >"Morning Anon."
  2911. >Your head snaps around to see Shorts plod into the cubicle and sit down next to you.
  2912. >She looks quizzically at the package, adjusting her glasses and raising an eyebrow at it.
  2913. >"Did... you buy me a present?"
  2914. >You almost regret saying no, since her face becomes somewhat hopeful.
  2915. "Ah, no, I didn't, this was here when I arrived."
  2916. >"Oh," she says with a frown, "so who's it from?"
  2917. "Well it's either the vents or Fluttershy, and Fluttershy doesn't buy people presents."
  2918. >You both glance up fearfully at the stainless steel vessel of horrors running along the ceiling.
  2919. >It rattles menacingly.
  2920. >You look back down at the present.
  2921. "It's not moving at least."
  2922. >"That's promising. Wanna open it?"
  2923. "Eh, sure."
  2924. >"Morning assholes."
  2925. >Fluttershy turns the corner.
  2926. >She sees you clutching a parcel and her face screws up.
  2927. >"Oh. Giving out presents, I see. Do I get anything?"
  2928. "I don't know who it's from, let's just open it first before we make any judgements."
  2929. >With that, you tear off the wrapping paper.
  2930. >...
  2931. >It's a simple box of chocolates.
  2932. >Better yet, it's those milk chocolates with the caramel centres that melt in your mouth.
  2933. >You smile.
  2934. "Looks like today's off to a good start, girls!"
  2935. >Shorts gives a little cheer.
  2936. >"Hooray! Nothing traumatic like last Thursday! I'll go make us a drink to celebrate."
  2937. >She swipes the empty, brown-stained pot from the coffee machine and trots out the cubicle towards the kitchen.
  2938. >That leaves you and Fluttershy.
  2939. >You inspect the box with whimsy, at the alluring artwork and flowery lettering on the front.
  2940. >Then slowly turn your gaze to Fluttershy, your childlike wonder fading a bit.
  2941. >She's still glaring.
  2942. "You uh, want one, boss?"
  2943. >"No. I hate chocolate."
  2944. "That's just a blatant lie, you love stuff like this."
  2945. >"Yeah maybe, but I still don't want any."
  2946. "Oh. Why not?"
  2947. >"They're for you, you fucking idiot."
  2948. >...
  2949. "...Did you seriously buy me chocolates?"
  2950. >If looks could kill, you'd be dead and even the devil wouldn't take your soul.
  2951. >"Yes," she says, glowering, "So what if I did? If you don't like them I'll take them back, I'm just trying to be nice for once--"
  2952. >She makes a move to swipe the box from you.
  2953. "Woah woah woah, okay, hey, I like them, I want the chocolates, no need to do anything crazy."
  2954. >You glance at the box again.
  2955. "It's just not something you tend to do."
  2956. >"...So you like them."
  2957. "Yes, I like them."
  2958. >"You're fine with those kinds of chocolate? You said a few months ago you liked caramel--"
  2959. "I like the chocolates, Fluttershy, thank you."
  2960. >"--I can get you others if you don't like them."
  2961. "I like them."
  2962. >"Well good."
  2963. "Again, thanks."
  2964. >"Okay."
  2965. >...
  2966. "Sooo would you like one?"
  2967. >"No. I already said they're for you. Dumb-ass."
  2968. >With that, she leaves.
  2969. >Then pokes her head back around the corner.
  2970. >"If you give any to Shorts I'll fucking kill you."
  2971. "Noted."
  2972.  
  2973. >Shorts wanders back in with a fresh pot of coffee.
  2974. >She puts it in the machine, a bit of it running down the sides.
  2975. >The machine broke after about 2 weeks of use, so now you just use it as a glorified teapot but for coffee instead.
  2976. >Sliding into her swivel chair, she gives you a tired smile.
  2977. >"So! Who were the chocolates from?"
  2978. "Oh. Uh, Slasher."
  2979. >"Seriously? Where'd he get the money to get them?"
  2980. "I wouldn't ask too many questions."
  2981. >"Well do they taste alright?"
  2982. "They're okay. There was a note that only I could eat them though."
  2983. >"Why the hell would he do that?"
  2984. "Why the hell would he train a giant rat to do his bidding?"
  2985. >"Alright, that doesn't make sense, but I'll roll with it."
  2986. "Yeah, I guess he remembered it was my birthday."
  2987. >"Woah what, today's your birthday?"
  2988. "Uh huh, I don't make much of a deal out of it these days. Kind of a non-event."
  2989. >"Well happy birthday! Still that's kinda sweet don't you think? That he'd remember your birthday? Does he do this every year?"
  2990. >You pluck a chocolate from the tray and hold it up, inspecting it.
  2991. >A small smile stretches across your face.
  2992. "No. I didn't think he'd ever bother to remember."
  2993. >With that, you pop it in your mouth.
  2994.  
  2995. ---
  2996.  
  2997. >Shorts' tummy rumbles.
  2998. >You gaze at her as she works diligently beside you.
  2999. >She's so attractive and deserving of love...
  3000. >Sighing, you know what you must do.
  3001. >Pluck a chocolate from the tray with your strong, masculine fingers and poke Shorts with your other hand.
  3002. >She's so warm, and seductive.
  3003. >The mare turns to you, smiling her perfect smile, and uses a hoof to brush aside some of her silky, shiny, non-messy mane.
  3004. >"Yes, Anonymous?"
  3005. "Shorts, I..."
  3006. >"Y-yes?" she says, tears in her eyes.
  3007. >You slip the chocolate in your mouth and cup Shorts' face with a hand, then begin leaning into her, your eyes closing.
  3008. >She does the same.
  3009. >Not cupping your face with a hand, she doesn't have hands, though if she did they'd be perfect and have fingernails and everything.
  3010. >Your lips meet, and the passion is fiery like potassium in water.
  3011. >Using your tongue, you delicately slip the chocolate from your mouth to hers.
  3012. >She pulls back in shock, a hoof held to her chest.
  3013. >Slowly she chews and swallows it.
  3014. >"Anon it's... perfect."
  3015. "Just like you, my love."
  3016. >"WHAT'S GOING ON HERE."
  3017. >Fluttershy stands at the entrance to the cubicle, looking like a bitch as she often does.
  3018. >"HOW DARE YOU FIND HAPPINESS IN SUCH A MISERABLE AND RUN-DOWN PLACE."
  3019. >Then she screams and her head explodes, but none of the blood gets on you or Anon.
  3020. >You grab Anon and kiss him again, his hands gripping your flanks.
  3021. "Oh Anon, I love you!" you proclaim.
  3022. >"I love you too, cute virginal office girl." Anon replies with fondness.
  3023. >...
  3024.  
  3025. >You read over Shorts' story.
  3026. >Then look at her with a furrowed brow.
  3027. "It's a good thing Fluttershy never reads any of this stuff you write about her."
  3028. >Shorts shrugs sheepishly.
  3029. "Also it's not exactly subtle. And are you really a vir--"
  3030. >"I'm not a virgin," she says bluntly, "I've had like four boyfriends over the years. I'm also not that 'cute', remember when I farted when I thought you weren't around?"
  3031. "Yeah that was gross."
  3032. >"Right."
  3033. >...
  3034. >"So um, can I have a chocolate?"
  3035. "Fuck it, why not."
  3036. >You slide the tray over and let her take one.
  3037. >She eats it gleefully and gets back to work, talking as she types.
  3038. >"If all it takes to make you give me stuff is poorly done self-insert fanfiction then I need to do it more often."
  3039. "Don't push your luck."
  3040. >...
  3041. >"Heh, imagine if her head did explode though."
  3042. "Amazed it hasn't done already."
  3043. >"Rarrgh, you're fired, raaargh, tell me I'm pretty, rarrrgh!"
  3044. "Hah, holy shit Shorts do NOT get caught saying that stuff."
  3045.  
  3046. ---
  3047.  
  3048. >The wind howls.
  3049. >You pull back your jacket sleeve and check your watch, running a thumb over the scratched glass.
  3050. >It's an unusually cold day; frost coats the pavements and streets of the City and there were weather warnings on the radio for cars to travel slowly.
  3051. >Shorts shivers slightly in the glacial morning air.
  3052. >"Where is she?"
  3053. "Not sure. Fluttershy isn't late."
  3054. >"She's -not- late? So she's already inside...?"
  3055. "No no, I mean Fluttershy isn't late. She's -never- late. She'd rather sleep in her office all night if it meant knowing she'd be in on time in a morning."
  3056. >You check your watch again and frown at the dial.
  3057. "Not like her to be late. At all."
  3058. >"So what should we do?"
  3059. "Eh, well we can go in, I've just never gone in without her before, she's always been with me."
  3060. >You fish an old key out of your pocket and dangle it from a finger.
  3061. "Spare key, my dude."
  3062. >"How many times did you have to eat her out to get that?"
  3063. "Inappropriate, Shorts."
  3064. >You unlock the front door, then pause.
  3065. "I think like a dozen, though."
  3066. >Push open it open and let Shorts hastily shuffle in, trembling.
  3067. >"It's so cold out there today..."
  3068. "Yeah, I hope Derpy's gonna be alright. She hates flying in the cold."
  3069. >"How long has she been a mailmare for?"
  3070. "Since forever. Anyway, I'll get the coffee on, you alright checking to see if the heater's working today?"
  3071. >"Sure, what do I do if it's not?"
  3072. "Then I hope you brought a jumper, otherwise it's gonna be fucking freezing."
  3073.  
  3074. >Turns out the heater wasn't working.
  3075. >As a result, you lie in your cubicle on the floor under your desk, wrapped in old blankets you found in a storage closet.
  3076. >Shorts is cuddled up next to you, working on her laptop, and you on yours.
  3077. >You dislike reaching out of your comfy nest to type, since the air in the office is downright frigid and the building has absolutely no central heating working.
  3078. >"Can you check over this for me?"
  3079. "Sure. What am I looking for?"
  3080. >Before she can answer, you hear the door to the main office open.
  3081. >The two of you are motionless as you listen.
  3082. >Someone crosses the floor, their steps heavy.
  3083. >Finally you hear a familiar voice call out.
  3084. >"Anon...? Are you in here...?"
  3085. >Glance at Shorts.
  3086. >She peers out of her blanket-cavern at the clock on the cubicle wall.
  3087. >"An hour late."
  3088. "Damn, lemmie just check on her."
  3089. >You reluctantly clamber to your feet, Shorts shivering at the blast of cold air before hurriedly wrapping herself up again.
  3090. >Fluttershy is outside her office, struggling with the key.
  3091. >She can barely keep her eyes open, and looks generally terrible.
  3092. >The pegasus doesn't hear you approach, and jumps a bit when you gently take the key off her and slide it into the lock.
  3093. >She mumbles her thanks, tells you you're fired, and walks into her office.
  3094. >Follow her in, concerned.
  3095. "You okay, Shy? You're not normally late."
  3096. >She turns to you, her expression nauseous and clearly tired.
  3097. >" 'Course I'm not okay, I feel like shit."
  3098. "Ah, got a bug?"
  3099. >"I don't know..."
  3100. >She sniffs.
  3101. >"I don't feel heady or anything, just... sick. Been throwing up all morning..."
  3102. "Yeah? Maybe it's something you ate?"
  3103. >"Dunno, not eaten anything different..."
  3104. "Well it must have knocked you for six if you're late in."
  3105. >You force a laugh.
  3106. "Usually you'd rather come into work and infect everyone with whatever you have than risk being late or taking time off!"
  3107. >She glares at your attempt at humour.
  3108. >You instead clear your throat and smile.
  3109. "Alright, so maybe you're not in the mood for jokes-- would you like some coffee?"
  3110. >"Yeah. Sounds good."
  3111. "Okay, I'll make coffee, stay here and try not to die whilst I'm gone."
  3112. >"Fuck y... whatever, forget it..."
  3113.  
  3114. >"Wow, she sounds messed up."
  3115. "That's putting it lightly. Usually being ill just makes her angrier."
  3116. >"Where is she now?"
  3117. "In her office, I got her some blankets and coffee, hopefully she'll be alright."
  3118. >"Did you--"
  3119. "If she's ill she's not allowed in our fortress of comfy."
  3120. >"Good man, so can you check my story now?"
  3121. "Sure, better not be a fucking self-insert again."
  3122. >"I can't promise that it's not."
  3123. >As you read and chat to Shorts, Fluttershy's office door opens and she shuffles across the floor to your cubicle.
  3124. >She stops at the entrance, taking in the sight of you and Shorts under your desk wrapped in a haven of pleasantness.
  3125. >The three of you are silent for a moment.
  3126. >You look down at yourself, surrounded by blankets and warmth.
  3127. >Then back at Fluttershy.
  3128. >Fluttershy, a sad-looking bit of fabric draped over her body, shivers.
  3129. >Without saying a word, you abandon your previous declaration and move over, lifting the blankets for her.
  3130. >She slides in next to you and leans her head against your body.
  3131. >To your surprise, she's asleep within seconds.
  3132. >Shorts gives you a raised eyebrow and you shrug slightly, trying not to disturb her.
  3133. "Guess we're getting sick now as well." you whisper.
  3134. >"Great."
  3135. >Shorts goes back to talking about her story in hushed tones, and you nod along, but are keenly aware of Fluttershy.
  3136. >She snores ever so slightly in her sleep, her ears flat against her head and a troubled expression on her face.
  3137. >You slide a hand over her back and hold her close to you as you let Shorts talk.
  3138. >Outside, the wind howls and howls and howls.
  3139.  
  3140. ---
  3141.  
  3142. >It's been roughly four weeks since Fluttershy's sick day, and things haven't been much better since.
  3143. >Some days she's in on time.
  3144. >Others she's late, or even later.
  3145. >You're concerned, to put it lightly, but you try not to let it trouble you too much.
  3146. >Even so, it's hard to concentrate on your work.
  3147. >Sometimes you find yourself staring blankly at the screen, your eyes wandering to the desktop clock and watching it tick by.
  3148. >Despite the situation, Shorts tries to keep a brave face.
  3149. >She cracks jokes and writes intentionally(?) bad stories to make you smile.
  3150. >But something about the way she's keeps looking at Fluttershy makes you wonder if she knows what's wrong with her.
  3151. >Her eyes linger on your boss, often accompanied with a look of faint, but knowing concern.
  3152. >However, Fluttershy's never been one for subtlety.
  3153. >And she's always confided in you when the going gets rough.
  3154. >So it comes as a relief to you when, at the start of a new week, Fluttershy arrives at work approximately six minutes after you and Shorts let yourselves in.
  3155. >And she arrives on the scene in her typical, demure fashion:
  3156. >"ANON THAT CONNIVING WHORE CADANCE MADE ME FUCKING PREGNANT!"
  3157. "Ooohhh" you and Shorts say in unison.
  3158. "I wondered what the problem was."
  3159. >"I figured as much."
  3160. >Fluttershy glares at the two of you, put off by how relaxed you are.
  3161. >You turn to Fluttershy, who's now her usual furious self again, and smile.
  3162. "So you're feeling better now? No longer sick?"
  3163. >"What the fuck? Did you not hear me? I'm -pregnant-."
  3164. "Guess you shouldn't have gone around raping people so much then--"
  3165. >"It's yours, you fuckwit."
  3166. >...
  3167. >Your smile slowly fades.
  3168. >Shorts cocks her head.
  3169. >"That's... no, that's actually not possible, humans and ponies can't breed."
  3170. >"Yeah," Fluttershy sneers, "they can't, unless you get blasted with alicorn magic by the fucking Princess of Love."
  3171. >She puts on a high-pitched, poor imitation of Cadance; a bright and uncharacteristic cheer on her face.
  3172. >"Oh! Anon needs to be more careful in future!"
  3173. >Her look darkens again.
  3174. >"I bet she thought she was so fucking slick. When I get my hooves on that whore I'll rend her heart from her chest."
  3175. >You can't think of anything to say.
  3176. >Instead you find yourself just staring at Fluttershy in disbelief.
  3177. "I-I... think we need to have a staff meeting."
  3178.  
  3179. >The three of you pull up chairs and sit around the tiny round table in the kitchen.
  3180. >"Alright team," begins Fluttershy, "the company has been compromised, and we need a plan of action -now-."
  3181. >Shorts raises her hoof.
  3182. >"What about just getting an abortion?" she offers "done and dusted in no time at all, and I know you won't have any objections since you lack a sense of morality."
  3183. >Fluttershy nods.
  3184. >"That's true I--"
  3185. >She quickly shoots a dark look at Shorts, who shrugs sheepishly.
  3186. >"Well I -do- have a sense of morality, actually, you mouthy tramp, but besides, we can't do that can we? I give you exhibit A:"
  3187. >She casts a familiar newspaper onto the table.
  3188. "Ah shit."
  3189. >The now dated headline stares at the three of you, mockingly.
  3190. >"They outlawed abortion months ago, remember?"
  3191. "Well I'll be damned."
  3192. >"So if I do that I risk getting thrown in prison, and I'm not going back to prison."
  3193. "Agre-- the fuck do you mean 'back to prison'?"
  3194. >"Irrelevant, I'm not risking getting thrown in the slammer, no matter how much I enjoy prison showers."
  3195. >"You could always just do it yourself," Shorts pitches, "my sister did it and she turned out fine."
  3196. >Both you and Fluttershy stare at her.
  3197. >"What? She's a very determined mare. Twenty minutes with a coat-hanger and some hard liquor and she was fine."
  3198. >The mare rubs the back of her head.
  3199. >"Well, 'fine' is a subjective term, but..."
  3200. >"I'm not gouging out my baby with a fucking coat hanger, Shorts."
  3201. >"Alright, but don't say I didn't suggest it."
  3202. "What about Milky? Can she help us out with this?"
  3203. >Fluttershy frowns.
  3204. >"In what way would she be of any help?"
  3205. "I... don't know, just maybe some advice or...?"
  3206. >"What, do you want her to make my unborn child lose its job or something? Think, Anon, use your fucking head."
  3207. >She sighs.
  3208. >"If you're the father then this kid's gonna come out borderline retarded."
  3209. "How do you even know it's mine?"
  3210. >"You're, uh," she avoids your gaze, "you're the only male I've slept with for years now."
  3211. >You shake your head, unimpressed.
  3212. "Nope, wrong, you raped our old mascot for one."
  3213. >"Raped, yes, but that was me cumming in him, not the other way around."
  3214. "So what, when you rape men you don't let them c--"
  3215. >"No."
  3216. "...Seriously?"
  3217. >"Of course!"
  3218. "Why n--"
  3219. >"BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO GET FUCKING PREGNANT!"
  3220. "Alright, god damn, I'm just trying to figure out why you'd think I'm the dad when you sleep with so many people."
  3221. >"I fuck a lot of people, but you're the only person I let cum inside me, you imbecile."
  3222. "Oh-- OH, right, no I get it, because I'm human and it's impossible for--"
  3223. >You nod hastily.
  3224. "Got it, sorry, still trying to wrap my head around this."
  3225. >She gives you an odd look.
  3226. >"Not because you're human, you dense fuck... but look, we need to prepare for this accordingly. Cadance has clearly been planning this."
  3227. "Planning on you getting pregnant?"
  3228. >"Well obviously, Anon, if she just wanted to make me sick all she needs to do is make me read whatever her trash company puts out."
  3229. "Suppose we're about to experience that first hand, aren't we."
  3230. >"What, pregn-- yeah I suppose we are. Guess that means we can form an opinion about their shitty fetish from an objective point of view."
  3231. "And how is it so far?"
  3232. >"Fucking horrible."
  3233. "Figured."
  3234. >Shorts rests her chin on the table.
  3235. >"This is weird."
  3236. "Yup."
  3237. >Fluttershy snorts.
  3238. >"Think how I feel, I've got this loser's kid inside me and I'm not allowed to get rid of it."
  3239. >"Coat-hangers and whiskey, boss."
  3240. >"Swear to god I'll fire you."
  3241. >"I'm just saying."
  3242. >"You can just fuck off."
  3243. >"Suit yourself."
  3244. >You give a resigned sigh and lean back in your chair.
  3245. "Hell of a way to start a Monday."
  3246. >Fluttershy nods, but doesn't say anything.
  3247. >Shorts slides out of her chair and excuses herself to go to the restroom.
  3248. >In the silence that follows, you come to a final realisation.
  3249. "Guess we just have to... go through with it then."
  3250. >Fluttershy looks at you, but doesn't say anything.
  3251. "I mean, if you're really not willing to do -everything- you can to get that thing out of you, we'll just have to hunker down and get on with it."
  3252. >Fluttershy shifts uncomfortably and presses a hoof to her abdomen.
  3253. "At least we still have enough money from Milky to deal with it."
  3254. >Your boss sits deep in thought.
  3255. >You slap your knees and stand up.
  3256. "Welp. Pregnancy or not, I got work to do, shout or call if you need anything. Heh, or both, as you often do."
  3257. >With that, you leave Fluttershy to her pondering.
  3258.  
  3259. ---
  3260.  
  3261. >You chuckle at the funny internet video Shorts sent you of a goat skateboarding off a cliff.
  3262. >Just before the poor animal hits the ground - turning this comedy into a tragedy - the phone rings.
  3263. >You practically tear it off the desk, fumbling to pause the video mid-'splat' with your other hand.
  3264. "Yeah? What's up?"
  3265. >"Anon."
  3266. "Yeah, hi."
  3267. >"I'm hungry."
  3268. "...Again?"
  3269. >"What do you mean 'again', this is the new normal, I want food and I want it now."
  3270. "Sounds like you need to walk to the kitchen -yourself- and make -yourself- a sandwich, then."
  3271. >"Why do you do this to me."
  3272. >You hold the phone away from your ear, let your head roll backwards with your eyes looking at the dirty ceiling, and sigh.
  3273. >Putting it back to your ear, you reach for a pen and some paper.
  3274. "What would you like."
  3275. >"Ice-cream."
  3276. "I got you ice-cream before."
  3277. >"Yeah but you got me chocolate."
  3278. "You love chocolate."
  3279. >"I hate chocolate."
  3280. "Chocolate's literally your favourite flavour, other than cum, most likely."
  3281. >Snorts snickers from beside you, and you give her a cheeky grin.
  3282. >"You're fired. Also it's not my favourite, I took one sniff of the stuff and felt like throwing up again."
  3283. "Then why do you still want ice-cream?"
  3284. >"I want strawberry."
  3285. "Only faggots eat strawberry, Fluttershy, you taught me that."
  3286. >"Well I guess I'm a faggot then! Now quit being such a horrible husband and get me some fucking ice-cream!"
  3287. >She slams the phone down, and you hear a frustrated (though muffled) scream from her office.
  3288. >...
  3289. "Man, she called me her husband again."
  3290. >Shorts just shrugs.
  3291. >"At least she's willing to commit, unlike you."
  3292. >The mare dodges your half-hearted swipe at her with a chuckle.
  3293. "Well I'm going out to get her highness some ice-cream, you want anything?"
  3294. >"Mmm. Twinkie?"
  3295. "Twinkie it is."
  3296. >"No no, two twinkies. No wait! Three--"
  3297. "We're not doing this again. You're getting two."
  3298. >"Blah, you're boring. You're such a boring husband, Anon."
  3299. "Oh don't you start, I get enough from her, I thought you'd be more sympathetic."
  3300. >"Nah, it's funny to me at this point."
  3301. "So you enjoy my suffering, do you?"
  3302. >"I thought it was a prerequisite for working here."
  3303. "God, you're just -terrible- today, aren't you?"
  3304. >She giggles playfully, her eyes full of glee.
  3305. >"Who knows-- maybe Fluttershy's hormones are rubbing off on me~"
  3306. >You stare at her, worried.
  3307. >"That was a joke, Anon, hormones don't work that way."
  3308. >Nodding unevenly, you laugh it off and leave for the store.
  3309. >Shorts watches you go with a fond smile.
  3310. >...
  3311. >Then spins around in her chair and pulls up her internet browser.
  3312. >' are hormones contagious??? '
  3313.  
  3314. >You stroll down the frosty street towards the local convenience store.
  3315. >The guy that owns it is, in your humble opinion, a genius.
  3316. >He somehow gauged many years ago that this part of town would someday become a hub of business, and set up a little shop to establish his territory well in advance.
  3317. >The plan worked, and now it's the go-to place for about fifty local businesses looking for snacks, nibbles, and emergency beer.
  3318. >You stroll in and nod at the familiar teenager behind the counter.
  3319. >"Hi again, sir! How's the heater?"
  3320. "What heater?"
  3321. >"The... heater? The one that made you all sweaty that one time?"
  3322. >...
  3323. "O-oh, that, uh, it's doing alright, it just needs ah, ice-cream and twinkies now."
  3324. >He nods, pleased that his adolescent attempt at communication with another human being worked.
  3325. >...Then develops a confused look when he processes what you actually said.
  3326. >You mill around the aisles, searching for twinkies, a tub of strawberry and vanilla swirl ice-cream secured under your arm.
  3327. >An eyebrow is raised when you find them; for some reason they're on the top shelf now.
  3328. >You're not one to judge other people's business practices, considering where you work, but it's an odd choice.
  3329. >Quickly forgetting your thought, you reach for two twinkies.
  3330. >Before your hand can grab them though, they're levitated down towards you by a translucent blue glow.
  3331. >You watch dumbly, trying to fathom what you're looking at.
  3332. >They hover before you, the gentle, softly pulsing light keeping them afloat just before your eyes.
  3333. >Tentatively, you take them from the faint aura.
  3334. >Then you hear her.
  3335. >"Anooon! Fancy meeting you here!"
  3336. >Your eyes narrow and you turn to the voice.
  3337. >As if from thin air, Princess Cadance stands at your side, her perfect, tailored pastel-pink suit making the shop around her look sullen by comparison.
  3338. >She flashes you that same flawless smile and reaches a hoof out for your hand.
  3339. >You limply let her take it, whereby she shakes it respectfully.
  3340. >"I hope you've come to forgive me for that little upset a few months back, I don't know what came over me! It was very rude, I must say, and I think I'll just take this opportunity to apologise, so please fo--"
  3341. >You free your hand (still holding a twinkie) and hold it up to stop her, regarding her with a stern expression.
  3342. "Princess, you caused a great deal of trouble before, and I would appreciate it if you left me alone, I don't want any more to do with you."
  3343. >She clicks her tongue in faux-disappointment.
  3344. >"Shame. I was hoping we could be friends, Twilight tells me you're a great guy."
  3345. "That's... very nice of her."
  3346. >"Were you two close? Before the split?"
  3347. >You watch her warily.
  3348. >Her face is harder now, less pleasant, more professional and to-the-point, and her questioning reflects her new tone.
  3349. >Like last time, she seems to be perfectly adept at drastically switching tone mid-conversation.
  3350. "Twilight and I were good friends, yes--"
  3351. >"Are you still?"
  3352. "I don't see why that's any of your business."
  3353. >"Twilight is my closest friend. Her business is my business, and I would hate to have to tell her that a man she likes as much as you doesn't feel the same about her."
  3354. "What...?" you say, exasperated, "look, Twilight and I are still amiable, we just obviously can't talk that much these days."
  3355. >"I see. Well I'm glad to hear you like her still."
  3356. "I've never not liked her, she just forced things to change and went her way and I went my way, that's all."
  3357. >"Right. So," her lips curl up slightly at the corners, "what's with the ice-cream?"
  3358. "It's... for the office."
  3359. >"Oh, that's nice of you." her tone drops an octave; now it's softer, pleasant once more, but laced with an underlying malintent, "just a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing?"
  3360. "Something like that, yes, now I have to get going before it melts."
  3361. >You move past her and head in the direction of the counter at the front of the shop.
  3362. >"How's Fluttershy?"
  3363. >You cringe, pausing slightly, then cursing yourself for doing so.
  3364. "She's... fine." you say, half-facing her.
  3365. >"Oh good."
  3366. >Cadance smiles.
  3367. >"Well I hope she enjoys the ice-cream, does she like strawberry?"
  3368. "She's taken a sudden liking to it."
  3369. >Her smile widens.
  3370. >"Wonderful. She'd better be careful with eating something that sweet though."
  3371. >You turn fully to face Cadance, an unsettled look about you.
  3372. >She watches you with the same idle amusement, her eyes carefully studying your every twitch.
  3373. >"Eating too much sugar won't be good for the baby."
  3374. >...
  3375. "...Why."
  3376. >Cadance's smile widens, and she gives you an innocent shrug.
  3377. >"It's just business, Anon."
  3378. >She reaches forward and pats your leg.
  3379. >"Tell her to go easy for a while, and to try not to do to the baby what she did to her company."
  3380. >Before you can respond, her horn lights up and she vanishes in a flash.
  3381. >...
  3382. >She even stole one of your twinkies without you noticing.
  3383. >Grabbing another one from the shelf, you quickly pay for your stuff and head out the door without saying goodbye to the clerk, who on his part was overjoyed to see the real-life Princess Cadance in his store whilst he was on shift.
  3384. >Though when he told his friends and boss that the actual Princess of Love had teleported into the store and stolen a twinkie, no one believed him.
  3385. >He could never understand why.
  3386.  
  3387. ---
  3388.  
  3389. >The phone rings.
  3390. >You glance nervously at Shorts.
  3391. >She leans closer to you.
  3392. >"Want me to take it?"
  3393. "No no, she's my problem, not yours..."
  3394. >With a quick motion the phone is at your ear.
  3395. "Hello?"
  3396. >"My office, I want to show you something."
  3397. "Alr--"
  3398. >"Actually don't bother I'll come to you."
  3399. "...Then what was the point in calling me?"
  3400. >"..."
  3401. >She hangs up.
  3402. >Moments later Fluttershy appears at your cubicle.
  3403. >In her grasp is a laptop.
  3404. >You greet her and ask her what the matter is.
  3405. >She responds by trotting over to you and forcing herself onto your lap.
  3406. >You try not to squirm as she clambers over your legs, eventually getting herself comfortable and pushing your keyboard away from herself, replacing it with her computer.
  3407. >"I got bored so I wrote this, just wanted you to look at it."
  3408. "You-- oh no."
  3409. >Fluttershy twists her head to face you and narrows her eyes.
  3410. >"What's that supposed to mean? Can I not write for my own fucking -writing- company?"
  3411. "I-It's not that, Shy, it's just that, uh, well don't you have... meetings... to plan?"
  3412. >It's a weak excuse.
  3413. >Fluttershy blinks.
  3414. >Then looks around the cubicle.
  3415. >"Oh. Okay."
  3416. >She raises her voice.
  3417. >"Staff meeting in Anon's cubicle! Attendance is mandatory!"
  3418. >She gives a hard look at Shorts, then back at you.
  3419. >"Oh look. We're all here. Wasn't that difficult."
  3420. "..."
  3421. >"Stop being obtuse, Anon."
  3422. >The mare turns back to her laptop, making an effort to wiggle her hips against you as she does so.
  3423. >"Now shut up and look, and don't you dare say anything bad about it; it's a sequel to that story I started years ago."
  3424. "...The Lusty Human Butler?"
  3425. >Shorts blinks.
  3426. >"-Fluttershy- wrote that?!"
  3427. >Your boss glares at her.
  3428. >"Yes -I- wrote that, so what?"
  3429. >Shorts gulps and withdraws into herself under Fluttershy's look.
  3430. >"N-nothing, it's um... it's a good story..."
  3431. >You look at the story over Fluttershy's head.
  3432. >It's not the best view though so you gently shift her head out of the way.
  3433. >She takes this the wrong way however and instead leans back, pressing her back against your body happily.
  3434. >"It's a great story, Anon, you'll love it."
  3435. >You skim read it.
  3436. >And it's absolutely fucking terrible.
  3437. >Bad grammar, no innovation, nothing interesting to speak of.
  3438. >Even the sex scene (which happens almost immediately without any sort of build-up) is boring and uninspired and reads like a bad hentai.
  3439. >Fluttershy looks up at you from her position.
  3440. >You glance from up-high at her upside-down face.
  3441. >She beams at you.
  3442. "It's..."
  3443. >You look back at the screen.
  3444. >' the humnan BUTTler (because he has a nice butt) blushes muchly "i always lovde you flutttershy" he says '
  3445. "It's... nice."
  3446. >Fluttershy continues to smile.
  3447. >The starts violently crying.
  3448. >"Y-YOU HATE IT!"
  3449. "What no--"
  3450. >"I KNEW I SHOULDN'T HAVE TRIED-- OH WHAT'S THE FUCKING POINT ANYMORE!"
  3451. >She slams shut her laptop, fraught with shame, and twists her body around in your lap to face you.
  3452. >Then she wraps her hooves around your chest and starts bawling into your shirt.
  3453. >Deep, heavy sobs wrack her body as the mare trembles uncontrollably.
  3454. >You don't know what to say or do, so you awkwardly pat her head with a hand and look fearfully at Shorts.
  3455. >She has a completely neutral expression.
  3456. >But you see in her eyes her discomfort.
  3457. >Fluttershy keeps crying until you go to the kitchen and get some more strawberry ice-cream out of the freezer, all with the mare still latched onto your chest.
  3458. >Once you're back at your desk and sat down you sigh and turn to Shorts.
  3459. "So I had the idea to start doing custom artwork for each story we do."
  3460. >Shorts, trying to pretend like her pregnant boss isn't currently sobbing her eyes out and stuffing spoonfuls of ice-cream into her mouth behind to her, nods.
  3461. >"Yes. That's a good idea."
  3462. "Right."
  3463. >"Let's do that then."
  3464. "Okay."
  3465. >"Like... like normal workers."
  3466. "At a normal company."
  3467. >You both glance at Fluttershy, sat on her own chair just slightly behind the two of you with her ice-cream tub.
  3468. >She catches your eye and manages a small smile between mouthfuls.
  3469. >You smile back.
  3470. >She starts sobbing again.
  3471.  
  3472. ---
  3473.  
  3474. >Fluttershy sits in a chair next to you, watching you type.
  3475. >You chat to her whilst you work.
  3476. "So are we celebrating Halloween this year?"
  3477. >"We celebrated Halloween last year."
  3478. "Yeah, and now it's this year. New year, new celebrations."
  3479. >"Last time we celebrated you and I nearly got shot."
  3480. "Yeah but that was when Reverse Gender Roles was a thing."
  3481. >"They're -still- a thing, they just relocated."
  3482. "You know what I mean, Fluttershy."
  3483. >"Shy."
  3484. "What?"
  3485. >"Use Shy."
  3486. "I'm sorry?"
  3487. >She huffs and glares at you.
  3488. >"I prefer it when you call me Shy, so just call me Shy, you dick."
  3489. "Fine, Shy then, you fuckin' weirdo, but why don't you want to celebrate Halloween?"
  3490. >"Because I can't be bothered setting it up."
  3491. "You don't need to, I'll take care of everything. You might not have noticed but you're a bit pregnant, not exactly the best condition to do things in."
  3492. >"Yeah, no thanks to you, fucknugget."
  3493. "You're the one that keeps trying to sit on my dick, Shy."
  3494. >She scowls.
  3495. >"Most men are strong enough to overpower a pony."
  3496. "Most men aren't financially anchored to a pony."
  3497. >"Most men stand up for themselves."
  3498. "Most men aren't in my position."
  3499. >"My point still stands."
  3500. "Whatever, so are we doing Halloween or not?"
  3501. >"If you want to dress up and act like a gay vampire again like you did last year, be my guest--"
  3502. "It wasn't a vampire, it was a classic villain."
  3503. >"It was a classic faggot."
  3504. "Damn, you sure are hormonal today."
  3505. >"Well gee, I wonder why that could be."
  3506. "I know. THAT WAS THE JOKE."
  3507. >"STOP SHOUTING AT ME, YOU ASSHOLE!"
  3508. >She's red in the face and on the verge of tears again.
  3509. >Your shoulders sag as you reach for and embrace her, lifting her out of her seat and over to you, shushing her before she can start.
  3510. >She's not exactly a small pony, but years of bearing this company on your shoulders have left you far stronger than you once were.
  3511. >The mare shudders in your lap.
  3512. "Easy, Shy, easy."
  3513. >"Th-this is really stressful."
  3514. "I know."
  3515. >"No you don't--"
  3516. "I'm trying to console you, you dense fuck."
  3517. >"I'm not dense, you're dense--"
  3518. "Stop making everything into an argument, learn to pick your battles."
  3519. >"Learn to pick not being a faggot."
  3520. "See there you go again, that doesn't even work as an insult."
  3521. >"Shut up, just stop talking and hug me!"
  3522. "Fine."
  3523. >You hold the mare in your arms and watch the clock on the wall behind her.
  3524. >It counts agonisingly slowly, and as Fluttershy presses herself harder against your body you feel her developing bump nudge you.
  3525. "Feeling better yet?
  3526. >"No."
  3527. "Would watching porn help?"
  3528. >"I don't like porn anymore..."
  3529. "Now I know that's not true; come on, you can sit in your office and I'll get you some strawberry ice-cream--"
  3530. >"Don't like strawberry--"
  3531. "Jesus fuck woman are you -trying- to be difficult?"
  3532. >"I can't help it! My tastes just... fluctuate!"
  3533. >She gives out a low whine, the fight in her seemingly gone, for now.
  3534. >"Can't we just cuddle?"
  3535. "We're cuddling right now."
  3536. >"I know, I like cuddling..."
  3537. "And I like working. I have invoices to file and supplies to order. Oh, and also stories to write, artwork to produce, and all that shit."
  3538. >"It can wait."
  3539. "No it can't."
  3540. >"It can."
  3541. "Shy--"
  3542. >"Please, Anon..."
  3543. >She pulls back from the hug and looks desperately at you.
  3544. >"Please."
  3545. "..."
  3546. >"Just for today."
  3547. "...Fine."
  3548. >Fluttershy smiles.
  3549. "This is why I hate it when Shorts takes days off though, nothing gets done."
  3550. >She rolls her eyes at the mention of your co-worker as you break the hug.
  3551. "Meet you in your office then."
  3552. >She leaps from your lap and out the cubicle far faster than a pregnant mare has any right to move.
  3553. >You fetch whatever nibbles you can from the kitchen, being sure to avoid the ice-cream.
  3554. >As you enter her office, you see Fluttershy waiting patiently for you on the sofa.
  3555. >She grins as you enter and pats a large blue blanket beside her.
  3556. >After twisting her TV monitor around on her desk to face the sofa, you sprawl across it on your side spooning with Fluttershy under the blanket.
  3557. >She seems content to lie with you, humming softly to herself.
  3558. >The mare gently takes one of your arms and positions it over her bump.
  3559. >From where you are you can see her smiling.
  3560. >She pushes a button on her wireless keyboard then sets it on the floor before her.
  3561. >The whimsical sounds of hardcore pornography fill the room.
  3562. >As a stallion hammers away at a human girl, you try to move your hand away from Fluttershy's bump.
  3563. >She quickly moves to keep it there.
  3564. "What gives?"
  3565. >"I'm making you feel my bump."
  3566. "...Why?"
  3567. >"That's what couples do."
  3568. >You look back at the screen for second, then frown, posing a question that's bothered you for a while now.
  3569. "When did we become a couple?"
  3570. >She shrugs.
  3571. >"Just happened, I guess."
  3572. "...Did you always like me?"
  3573. >"No. I thought you were an ass at first."
  3574. "So what changed?"
  3575. >"Everyone left. You stayed."
  3576. "Only because of the mone--"
  3577. >"I know Twilight offered you work."
  3578. >You flinch.
  3579. >She sighs, her hoof stroking your hand as it presses her bump.
  3580. >"I know she wanted you to go with her when the company split. And I know that the only reason she kept visiting until recently was to offer you a job."
  3581. "She offered you one as well."
  3582. >She shrugs again.
  3583. >"Doesn't matter. It was always you she wanted at her side. She was always fond of you."
  3584. "Yeah..."
  3585. >"Did you... like her?"
  3586. "As a friend, sure."
  3587. >"But not--"
  3588. "Not romantically, no. Don't even like you romantically, to be honest."
  3589. >Shy, to your surprise, laughs softly.
  3590. >"That'll have to change soon then, because when this baby pops I'm not raising her alone."
  3591. "Her?"
  3592. >"I feel like it's gonna be a girl."
  3593. "I think all women feel that, then they have to hide the disappointment when it's a boy."
  3594. >"Don't worry, if it's a boy I'll let you know how upset I am."
  3595. "I know you will."
  3596. >The two of you turn your attention back to the porn.
  3597. >A second stallion appears on screen, and the actress gawks comedically at his arrival.
  3598. "I saw Cadance the other day."
  3599. >You feel her tense up.
  3600. "When I was at the shop, and getting the ice-cream, you know."
  3601. >"Yeah?"
  3602. "Yeah. She stole one of my twinkies."
  3603. >...
  3604. >"...I don't remember getting any twinkies."
  3605. "Oh. Uh, they were for Shorts."
  3606. >"Right. Sure."
  3607. >She pats your bump-hand.
  3608. >"I'll forgive you this once."
  3609. "Wow. That's rare."
  3610. >She smiles slightly.
  3611. >"Going to have to pick my battles if we're gonna raise this kid properly."
  3612. "I feel like it's gonna turn out fucked up no matter what we do. It's a rape-baby born of a magically augmented union between a man and a pony."
  3613. >Fluttershy makes a happy noise.
  3614. >"Romantic, isn't it?"
  3615. "You're the kind of girl who thinks deep-throating is romantic, Shy, it doesn't really have the same meaning when you use it."
  3616. >"If you say so. But the kid's gonna be fine. We'll raise her right."
  3617. "Or him."
  3618. >"Or him."
  3619. >The stallion on screen blows a load all over the actress' face.
  3620. >Fluttershy nods sagely to herself.
  3621. >"That's a big load."
  3622. "Sure is."
  3623. >"Why aren't yours that big?"
  3624. "I'm not a stallion."
  3625. >"Nah, I've seen humans cum that much."
  3626. "In real life or in porn?"
  3627. >"In porn."
  3628. "Porn isn't the same as real life, Shy."
  3629. >She twists her head to look at you, troubled.
  3630. >"What?"
  3631. "Porn isn't real. You've had enough sex to know that."
  3632. >"Of course porn is real, you're watching it right now."
  3633. "No, I mean that it's all an act, it's all for show."
  3634. >She scowls.
  3635. >"Doesn't make it any less real."
  3636. "Suppose it also won't stop you from trying to re-enact it."
  3637. >"Porn's taught me more about life than anything else."
  3638. "That doesn't surprise me at all."
  3639. >"I'm gonna raise our daughter on porn."
  3640. "Please don't."
  3641. >"She's gonna learn to suck a dick before she learns to count."
  3642. "Jesus fuck, Shy."
  3643. >The mare snorts and starts laughing.
  3644. >"I'm just kidding! God, I'm not that bad."
  3645. >She totally is.
  3646. >But you don't say that.
  3647. >You'll have to start picking your battles, just like her.
  3648. >"So..."
  3649. >Her smile fades.
  3650. >"What did Cadance say?"
  3651. "She figured out that you were pregnant."
  3652. >"Of course."
  3653. "Now I don't know what's going to happen."
  3654. >The mare against you squirms herself closer.
  3655. >Then pulls your arm around her tighter.
  3656. >"Whatever she does, I know you'll be here to help me."
  3657. "Yup."
  3658. >...
  3659. >"Thanks, Anon."
  3660. "For?"
  3661. >"For putting up with me."
  3662. "Don't have much of a choice. Gotta get that pay-check somehow."
  3663. >She elbows you in the ribs, laughing warmly.
  3664. >"Asshole."
  3665. >The mare sighs contentedly.
  3666. >After watching the actress on screen get a second wind and go at three stallions at once, she speaks up again.
  3667. >"Just so you know, after today I'm probably going to be really hormonal and bitchy again."
  3668. "Well yeah, that's par for the course at this point."
  3669. >"Oh good, just checking."
  3670. >...
  3671. >"Hey, whilst we're here, we might as well find out what pregnant sex feels like."
  3672.  
  3673. >Turns out it feels alright.
  3674. >Nothing like in porn though, despite Shy's best efforts.
  3675.  
  3676. ---
  3677.  
  3678. >"Hey, Anon."
  3679. "Hm?"
  3680. >Shorts is trying something new today.
  3681. >She's lying on the intersecting walls that make up the cubicles you work within, positioned comfortably on the crossroads between the thin laminate panels, her hooves dangling carelessly away from her.
  3682. >"What was this place like in its hey-day?"
  3683. "Hell of a lot busier." you say bluntly, scrolling through documents on your screen.
  3684. >"Yeah?"
  3685. "Mm."
  3686. >"How many people worked here?"
  3687. "Oh, dozens. Had lots of writers back in the day."
  3688. >"Do you miss them?"
  3689. >You pause mid-scroll.
  3690. >For a moment your mind wanders back in time, your gaze lost on the screen before you.
  3691. >Shorts notices your silence and sits up a bit, concerned.
  3692. >"Sorry, do you not like talking about it? It's just I've never really asked and you never mention it so..."
  3693. "Yeah, I miss them."
  3694. >She waits patiently for you to continue.
  3695. >A small smile creeps onto your lips.
  3696. "Things were pretty good. Weird and dramatic sometimes, but good."
  3697. >You rise to your feet, stretching your arms and legs.
  3698. >Your head pokes out over the edge of the cubicle wall, surveying the jungle of cubicles crammed into the office space around you.
  3699. >Memories flicker through your mind, greeting you like old friends as you let yourself indulge in the nostalgia of it all.
  3700. >Shorts watches you attentively.
  3701. >You reach a hand over the wall and gesture towards the cubicle where Shorts originally worked.
  3702. "Your old cubicle?"
  3703. >She follows your gesture and raises her eyebrows.
  3704. >"What about it?"
  3705. "Guy that used to work there was fucking nuts."
  3706. >"Hah, really? What did he do?"
  3707. "Used to write a pretty good story, he did. But he decided one day he wanted to fuck with the entire office, so he created this whole fictional personality online and used to send the office hate-mail in the fake guy's name criticising his own stories."
  3708. >Shorts blinks, clearly baffled.
  3709. >"...Why?" she says finally.
  3710. >You shrug, smiling.
  3711. "Fuck knows, but it was entertaining. When we figured out who was behind the hate-mail he stopped, but it was still pretty funny while it lasted."
  3712. >Shorts gives out a quick laugh.
  3713. >"What else used to happen around here?"
  3714. >You take the opportunity to pluck her off the cubicle wall and sit her on your shoulders, the mare making giddy, excited noises.
  3715. >Then, you stroll away from your desk and go for a trip around the office.
  3716. "That one there? In the far corner near the busted wall? He used to specialise in writing gore-fics."
  3717. >"Ew, really?"
  3718. "Oh yeah, they were disgusting, but they were also kind of ironic I guess? Regardless, they were a good laugh. Dude wrote a story about a character fucking a lung."
  3719. >"No he didn't--"
  3720. "I swear to you he did. Literally a story about a guy fucking a lung."
  3721. >"Whaaaat..."
  3722. "The desk closest to Fluttershy's office? That's where Slasher used to sit."
  3723. >"Was he always, um, nuts?"
  3724. "...Well I want to say no, but yes, he was."
  3725. >You chuckle.
  3726. "Could turn a profit like a champ though; his stories brought a lot of traffic to the company."
  3727. >"And now he lives in the vents raising an army of rats."
  3728. "We can only hope his intentions are benevolent."
  3729. >Shorts jabs a hoof at the desk you're currently next to.
  3730. >"This one."
  3731. >You glance at it.
  3732. "Oh. Him."
  3733. >You frown.
  3734. "He was a good guy. Was from Argentina, you know."
  3735. >"What's Argentina?"
  3736. "...Right, pony, not from here, got it-- he was foreign, basically, named himself after a popular music artist. Wrote stories with music in them."
  3737. >"Were they good?"
  3738. "...Ehh, no, but the heart was there. I think he got shot in the end."
  3739. >"Woah, really?"
  3740. "Yeah, he just disappeared one day."
  3741. >You look sadly at his desk, and lightly drag your fingertips across his dusty keyboard.
  3742. "Some days I wonder if he's alright. Would be good for closure, you know?"
  3743. >Shorts rests her chin on your head, and pats it with a hoof.
  3744. >"There there, Anon."
  3745. "Anyway, the next desk over was home to a brilliant writer. One of the most recent to leave us actually."
  3746. >"Oh cool, so he's still around?"
  3747. "I like to think so, he quit writing altogether, but was kind enough to actually finish his story before he did so, which is more than I can say for most writers that used to work here."
  3748. >The pony on your shoulders snorts.
  3749. >"Projecting a bit of anger there, Anon."
  3750. "Not anger. More frustration."
  3751. >"At?"
  3752. "Wasted potential. We still get messages from old fans asking about the writers. It's always a shame to turn them away."
  3753. >"At least you're still here."
  3754. "And you."
  3755. >"Yeah but I'm not old."
  3756. "You've been here for nearly a year now, that's longer than most writers stuck around for."
  3757. >"Wow, really?"
  3758. "Yup, so congrats, you're officially part of the old-guard."
  3759. >"Woo! I'm prestigious!"
  3760. >You grin as you turn a corner, your hands holding Short's rear-hooves to steady her.
  3761. >"What about that one? Next to the window?"
  3762. "One of our best. He quit some time ago, cited local politics and general disgust with the way the City was going. Jumped ship and never came back."
  3763. >"Pity. He wrote good things then?"
  3764. "Sure did. Didn't finish any of them, mind you, that was a dick move, but eh, what can you do, he's gone now."
  3765. >"What about the desk across from his?"
  3766. "Total drama whore."
  3767. >"Uh oh."
  3768. "If the office wasn't trying to throw him down the stairs it was a good omen, he used to piss people off on a near daily basis-- I -swear- he did it for fun."
  3769. >"He was a bad worker then, I take it."
  3770. "No no, he was good, just had an ego the size of a planet. Made a real song-and-dance about leaving too, but his finest hour was the spat with uh..."
  3771. >You turn in place, frowning.
  3772. "Oh, over there."
  3773. >You point at a distant desk.
  3774. "That guy right there? Best writer we ever produced."
  3775. >"Seriously?"
  3776. "Oh yeah, he went on to make a story so good it got converted to prose."
  3777. >Shorts' eyes widen and she 'wow's silently.
  3778. "But Mr Drama-pants over here didn't like that, so he threw around some hot opinions and then everyone pretty much hated him."
  3779. >"Did you?"
  3780. "Nah, he was an ass but he was likeable in his own weird sort of way."
  3781. >"Where was Fluttershy during all of this?"
  3782. "Usually in her office working with Twilight."
  3783. >"She actually worked -with- her? Fluttershy with Twilight, I mean."
  3784. "Of course, they were friends once. Shared the same office, shared the same coffee mug sometimes. They were close, real close. Like that." you say, holding up two crossed fingers to emphasise your point.
  3785. >Your expression saddens.
  3786. "Then things just... ended up the way they did. Damn-near destroyed the company, we had to downsize to this place eventually, used to have a much nicer building. After that point all the writers we had left started leaving through lack of interest or burn-out."
  3787. >"...And then there was just you."
  3788. "Just me."
  3789. >"And her."
  3790. "...And her."
  3791. >She ponders for a second.
  3792. >You find yourself stood in the very middle of the cubicle jungle, your hands gently rubbing Shorts' hooves in thought as you stare blankly at a wall.
  3793. >The mare speaks up, slowly.
  3794. >"Anon... just one last thing I don't get..."
  3795. "Hm?"
  3796. >"Why -did- you stay?"
  3797. "Fluttershy."
  3798. >"...So you really love her?"
  3799. "No. It's more like if I left she'd probably do something... silly."
  3800. >"Like what?"
  3801. "She's unstable, Shorts, this company is all she has these days."
  3802. >"Well I mean, she has you."
  3803. "That's what I mean. If I left, what would happen?"
  3804. >"Good point... but it still doesn't explain it, not really, why you and not, say, Slasher? He seems intent on sticking around."
  3805. >You gaze at the wall, then pivot sluggishly on your foot until you're watching Fluttershy's office door, your expression stricken with discomfort.
  3806. "I feel guilty."
  3807. >Shorts cocks her head.
  3808. >"Why?"
  3809. "Because I'm the reason Twilight decided to leave."
  3810. >You feel Shorts tense up.
  3811. >"...Does Fluttershy know?"
  3812. "Nope. How could I tell her?"
  3813. >"But why? What did you do?"
  3814. >You sigh, deflating slightly, and think for a moment before speaking.
  3815. "Twilight was always thinking of bigger things. She was the smart, adventurous one, Fluttershy was the puritan; wanted to keep things the same."
  3816. >You walk over to a desk and sit on it, Shorts still on your shoulders.
  3817. "Twi and I always hit it off right from the start, we were always spitballing ideas, mostly for shits and giggles, and when she mentioned that she wanted to take the company in a different direction I suggested that she start her own company."
  3818. >You fixate on a bit of carpet, your posture hunched, subdued.
  3819. "We spent a whole lunch hour once just brainstorming how this hypothetical company would work, what kind of stories it would make, how it would make money, and so on."
  3820. >Glance up at Fluttershy's office door again.
  3821. "To me it was just a fun brainstorming session; a fantasy to pass the time. Just some big 'what if' scenario, you know?"
  3822. >"Right."
  3823. "Twi didn't see it that way. She was hooked on the idea, absolutely -loved- it."
  3824. >You inhale, then exhale through your nostrils.
  3825. "After that it was all downhill. She kept pressing Shy to change the company name and take it to a 'bright new future'. She always said that: 'bright new future', that's how she always described it."
  3826. >You shuffle a bit, readjusting Shorts.
  3827. "After she gave up trying to convince Fluttershy she went to the writers for their opinions. Of course, half of them loved it just as much as she did and said they'd follow her if she went."
  3828. >"...And then she did."
  3829. "And then she did. I still remember the day, it was a Wednesday, I got into work late and half of the workforce was just -gone-, you know? Shy and Twi were just fucking -screaming- at each other in their office. Twi storms out on her, and just as she's passing me she smiles - just this super optimistic smile - and offers me a place at her side. Says 'We're getting out of here, Anon, just you and me!'."
  3830. >"What happened?"
  3831. "Shy was stood behind her, looking right at me. Half of her staff had just walked out on her, and the company was going through rocky times as it was, so this was like a fucking deathblow to her, and she's stood there looking at me, not blinking, Twilight's waiting for an answer..."
  3832. >You clasp your hands together, fingers knitted.
  3833. "I said no. I couldn't say yes, Shorts, you should have seen the way Shy was looking at me. I couldn't do that to her. Not then, and not now."
  3834. >"So you stayed."
  3835. "Yeah."
  3836. >"For... years."
  3837. "Even when everyone else had left."
  3838. >"...No wonder she fell for you."
  3839. "Hah, not much of a relationship though, is it? She's an unstable serial rapist and I'm a coward."
  3840. >Shorts hugs the back of your head.
  3841. >"I dunno. I think you're pretty cool."
  3842. "Yeah?"
  3843. >"Yeah. Loyal. Mares dig loyalty."
  3844. "Well thanks for the vote of confidence."
  3845. >"So where exactly is the company gonna go from here?"
  3846. >You shrug.
  3847. "Dunno. At the moment we're just kind of existing. Bringing you on was good though, it's nice to have some company again other than Fluttershy and Slasher."
  3848. >"And Rudolph."
  3849. "And Rudolph."
  3850. >You stand up again, Shorts gripping your head suddenly so she doesn't fall off.
  3851. "Well. That's story time over. Come on, minion, back to work we go."
  3852. >You stuff your hands in your pockets and plod back to your desk, Shorts taking the opportunity to share her own stories about freelancing work and her bitch of a mother.
  3853. >You feel yourself smiling as she rants.
  3854. >It's nice to have company again.
  3855.  
  3856. ---
  3857.  
  3858. >"I'm going to be blunt." Fluttershy states, a serious look on her face.
  3859. "When are you not?" you reply, a bored look on yours.
  3860. >"We're out of money."
  3861. >...
  3862. >Leaning forward from your seat across from her, you squint slightly.
  3863. "Sorry, say that again?"
  3864. >"Money. We're all out of money."
  3865. "What, again?!"
  3866. >"I said we're all out of m--"
  3867. "No I mean are we seriously out of money, -again-?"
  3868. >"Yes."
  3869. >You watch her incredulously.
  3870. "That's impossible, we must have at -least- two million in the bank still."
  3871. >She stares back, her posture rigid, her hooves pressed together and resting on the desk before her.
  3872. >"...Nope."
  3873. >The clock on the wall ticks on by, the dumb silence stark.
  3874. "...Well just where the fuck has it gone?"
  3875. >"Dunno."
  3876. "Fluttershy you're a bad liar and I'm not in the mood."
  3877. >"Call me Shy--"
  3878. "I'm not calling you anything; I'm considering getting mad."
  3879. >Fluttershy's lips tighten to a line, the mare giving you an uncomfortable look.
  3880. >"I'm not going to argue with you--"
  3881. "This isn't an argument, it's a Q&A session. I ask you how you spent two million bits, and you tell me how you spent two million bits."
  3882. >"Corporate expenses."
  3883. "We work in a fucking warehouse turned drug-den turned office, there's only three of us here, and we're not exactly exhausting our supplies on a daily basis, Fluttershy."
  3884. >"Well what do you know, we somehow still managed it h-haha."
  3885. >Your brow furrows.
  3886. >She trembles a bit.
  3887. >Then tries to smile at you.
  3888. >"Look! I'm not getting angry! No one's shouting, isn't that great?"
  3889. "Fluttershy," you speak calmly, "how did you spend two million bits."
  3890. >"Listen, I have a very good reason."
  3891. "Which is?"
  3892. >"..."
  3893. >Fluttershy reaches under her desk and retrieves a large cardboard box.
  3894. >She heaves it onto the surface and pushes it with both hooves towards you.
  3895. >You rise to your feet to loom over it and the pony it belongs to.
  3896. >Lifting the lid off the box, you inspect the contents, and are surprised to see invoices for various online purchases.
  3897. >Peeling the top-most one from the pile, you skim-read it.
  3898. "Forty nine bits on... Marecock Monthly?"
  3899. >You reach for another.
  3900. "Eighty bits on a bulk order of cheesy poofs."
  3901. >And another.
  3902. "Two hundred bits on porn DVDs -and- cheesy poofs."
  3903. >Your gaze switches from the printed black font to your partner, who's wearing a completely neutral expression.
  3904. "You spent all of our money on snacks and pornography."
  3905. >She gives you a weak shrug.
  3906. >"I get cravings and you know how much I like porn."
  3907. "How... did this get by me? I collect the post and track every invoice that comes into this building, how have--"
  3908. >"I get it delivered by unicorn magic straight to my desk."
  3909. "So--"
  3910. >"And then I hide the invoices from you."
  3911. "..."
  3912. >"But at least I'm not throwing them out like before! See, I keep them hidden and safe! E-even from you!" she speaks quickly, patting the box with a hint of desperation.
  3913. >The mare gulps.
  3914. >"But now I'm showing them to you and being honest because being honest with each other is what couples do right?"
  3915. "...How many invoices are in this box."
  3916. >"About four hundred."
  3917. "Holy fucking Christ, Fluttershy."
  3918. >"I'm pregnant! I have needs!"
  3919. "Needs-- we're fucking bankrupt because you-- how are you even still slim?!"
  3920. >"Well I know how much you like me skinny so I work off the calories."
  3921. "How?!"
  3922. >"What do you think the porn is for? Masturbation is good exercise."
  3923. >You stare at the mare before you.
  3924. >She gives you a meek smile.
  3925. >"So... are we good?"
  3926. "Good? Oh yes, we're good. Everything's fine. Can't pay Shorts her wage, nope; can't pay the tax on this building, nah; can't pay the server costs for the website, can't pay the electricity bill, can't pay our other taxes, can't do much of anything really anymore-- NO WE'RE NOT GOOD, YOU FUCKING IDIOT!"
  3927. >You scream and rage at Fluttershy as she sits perfectly still behind her desk waiting for you to finish and looking sorry for herself.
  3928. >Waving your arms around, you pace furiously before her desk berating and scolding her, your voice rising to levels it hasn't in months.
  3929. >Back at your cubicle, Shorts turns her music up to try and drown you out.
  3930. >When you're done, you slump back into your chair and let your head roll back, a hand over your eyes, trying to think.
  3931. >Fluttershy breaks the calm after a while.
  3932. >"Normally I'm good with our money, but I get hungry, and horny, and I can't control myself--"
  3933. "No, you can't." you say with a tired, weary look. "You've never been able to control yourself, that's why we're in this mess."
  3934. >She scowls.
  3935. >"No need to be a dick about it."
  3936. "Isn't there? Isn't there a need? The fuck are we going to do now, go crawling back to Milky for more money? Is that what you're planning?"
  3937. >Fluttershy looks at her hooves, then quietly speaks up.
  3938. >"Yes, actually."
  3939. "Great."
  3940. >"She said she's happy to help--"
  3941. "I don't care, Fluttershy."
  3942. >"But it's fine!"
  3943. >You stand up.
  3944. >"Anon it's fine! We can rely on her to--"
  3945. "That's not the point; she's bad news, Fluttershy, I know she's your friend and she came through for us once but is this how we're gonna keep doing things? Just, pissing about all day with a failing company then grovelling to the mob whenever we need bailing out because you're too much of a fucking weakling to control your own bad habits?"
  3946. >Fluttershy's ears flatten against her head, a look of betrayal sprawled across her features.
  3947. >Her head bows towards the desk, the pony hiding her face with her forehooves.
  3948. >Her body shakes slightly, but you ignore it and head for the door, thinking about how much vodka you can mix into your coffee before it stops being coffee.
  3949. >But as you reach for the handle, a small, fragile voice graces your ears.
  3950. >A wounded, miserable voice.
  3951. >"I-it's not my fault Twilight left..."
  3952. >Fingers brush the door-handle, no longer desiring to grip it.
  3953. >Your body is rigid.
  3954. >"It's not my fault things fell apart. I-I don't know what happened."
  3955. >The aged wooden door fills your vision, the cracked paintwork, the odd stain, the faded fire-escape plan, all of it staring at you, but you don't see any it.
  3956. >It's not with anger that you turn back to Fluttershy.
  3957. >She looks up at you with pink cheeks, tears cascading down them.
  3958. >You can only drag your feet back towards her.
  3959. >She sniffs and wipes her nose with a hoof as you approach.
  3960. >As you stand over her, looking down at the mare that's dominated your life for the last eight years, you feel only regret.
  3961. >She tentatively reaches up with her hooves.
  3962. >You pick her up, then take her place in her chair, cradling her.
  3963. >Swivelling around in the high-back, you face the window.
  3964. >Rain trickles drearily down the glass on a solemn afternoon.
  3965. >It's a cheerless view.
  3966. >You hand works its way up Fluttershy's body, comforting and warming her.
  3967. >She nuzzles her way into the safety of your neck, soft, wavering breath against your skin.
  3968. >The mare sniffs, then utters in a quiet tone:
  3969. >"You're wearing that fragrance I like."
  3970. >You shake your head slightly, not looking away from the rain.
  3971. "I'm not, I stopped wearing it."
  3972. >She's silent for a moment.
  3973. >"Guess it's just you then."
  3974. >A vacant gaze is all you can muster as you watch the rain, with the mother of your child in your arms.
  3975. >The phone beside you rings, but you let it play out.
  3976. >In this moment, She's all that matters to you.
  3977. >That's just how it is, these days.
  3978. >It wasn't always this way, nor would it be today were it not for your cowardice.
  3979. >But lamenting the past won't solve your problems.
  3980. >So here you sit, holding the biggest mistake of your life, and trying desperately not to love it as much as it loves you.
  3981.  
  3982. ---
  3983.  
  3984. >Something drags you out of your sleep.
  3985. >You rouse reluctantly, eyelids opening laboriously.
  3986. >Again, you feel something moving against you, nudging you.
  3987. >Blinking, you reach a hand up to wipe sleep from the corner of your eye.
  3988. >It's dark, and you feel warm.
  3989. >You glance down and see a shape moving in the dim light.
  3990. >It sits up with a soft pant and slides off the sofa you're lying on.
  3991. >As you get your bearings, you recognise the pale walls around you.
  3992. >The wooden desk, the body-mirror, the old clock.
  3993. >Once again you seem to have fallen asleep in Fluttershy's office.
  3994. >Not the first time it's happened over the years.
  3995. >Last time was due to a Hanukkah party that got drastically out of control.
  3996. >Neither of you are Jewish; it just seemed appropriate to get drunk on the day at the time.
  3997. >It made more sense back then.
  3998. >As did a lot of things.
  3999. >Still, here you are.
  4000. >Sitting up, you blink again and fixate on the pony before you.
  4001. >She's stood in front of the mirror, inspecting herself sideways.
  4002. >The mare sees you looking and gives you a tired smile.
  4003. >"Bump's getting bigger, isn't it?"
  4004. "Mhm. How does it feel?"
  4005. >"Delicate."
  4006. "Breakfast?"
  4007. >"Do we have anything in the fridge?"
  4008. "Probably."
  4009. >You step out to the main office, still trying to wake yourself up.
  4010. >As you trudge into the kitchen, you notice the fridge door open, and a large rat rummaging through it.
  4011. >You stagger over to Rudolph and push him out of the way.
  4012. >The two of you have come to an understanding after fighting so much.
  4013. >He respects your space now, as you have demonstrated that you are the alpha rat.
  4014. >At least, you pretend that that's how things are.
  4015. >As Rudolph casually pads out of the kitchen with a clear hard-plastic tub of salad in his mouth, you realise he was probably done looking for food anyway.
  4016. >You briefly wonder how Slasher is doing.
  4017. >And whether or not he approves of you knocking up his former boss.
  4018. >Would he be proud of you?
  4019. >He always had the nickname 'Uncle', so maybe he'd like to be the incoming kid's godfather.
  4020. >Would it be wise making a vent-dwelling rat lord your bastard child's godfather?
  4021. >Can't be worse than anything else the kid's gonna go through.
  4022. >Poor thing's going to have a rough, confusing life.
  4023. >At least it'll have a mother and father that love it.
  4024. >Well, a mother that'll love it at least.
  4025. >You're still not sure what's going to come out of Fluttershy, but it'll likely offend God, if he hasn't already abandoned you.
  4026. >You find some old wraps in the back of the fridge and reheat them in the microwave.
  4027. >Not much of a breakfast but you're sure that Fluttershy's had worse.
  4028. >Once saw her eat a bottle of whiskey.
  4029. >Whole thing - glass included.
  4030. >You lumber back to the Fluttershy's office and give her a wrap before sitting down on the sofa and chewing on your breakfast.
  4031. >Your gaze is directed at the wall, but is unfocused and distant.
  4032. >Fluttershy climbs up next to you and sits in silence as she nibbles at her wrap.
  4033. >You swallow and sigh through your nostrils.
  4034. "Sorry about yesterday."
  4035. >"It's okay."
  4036. "I shouted and I shouldn't--"
  4037. >"Anon it's fine, I know you were upset."
  4038. >She cleans some sauce off her lip with a quick flick of her tongue.
  4039. >"I was an idiot; spent all our money, I get why you were mad."
  4040. "Still. Shouldn't have said that stuff."
  4041. >"It's okay, really."
  4042. "Kay."
  4043. >She looks at the window.
  4044. >It doesn't have any blinds or curtains, so what little sunlight can creep into the alleyway between Flutterrape LTD and the red-brick warehouse opposite the window brightens the little room somewhat.
  4045. >Fluttershy regards the scene with a serene gaze.
  4046. >"You know, I kind of feel at ease."
  4047. "Hm?"
  4048. >"I don't know. We've not got any money, and Cadance is being a bitch, and the company still hasn't recovered all that much, and I'm pregnant and tend to feel like shit some days."
  4049. "But?"
  4050. >"But I still feel alright mostly."
  4051. "That's... good."
  4052. >"Yeah."
  4053. >She turns to you and gives you a warm, genuine smile.
  4054. >"It is."
  4055. >The mare grunts and stands up on the seat next to you.
  4056. >Seems like movement is getting harder for her.
  4057. >You stay sitting, and stay still as she leans in to kiss you on the cheek.
  4058. >"Thanks for breakfast."
  4059. "Uh, you're welcome. Would've had more salad on the wraps but Rudolph got to it."
  4060. >"It's okay. So, um, what's the plan for today?"
  4061. "I don't know, normally you know that."
  4062. >"I know what -I'm- doing, I was more asking you what you're doing."
  4063. "Usual stuff. Stories, looking after Shorts, keeping an eye on you."
  4064. >Her mouth curves up at the corners at that last point.
  4065. "What have you got going on?"
  4066. >"Oh, well Milky should be here later on today."
  4067. "You serious?"
  4068. >The mare steps off the sofa and moves carefully back to her desk, clearly conscious of her bump.
  4069. >"No money, so I had to call in a favour, remember?"
  4070. "Sure I do, but so soon?"
  4071. >"She works fast. And she was, uh 'concerned'."
  4072. "About?"
  4073. >"Guess she's heard about me being, um, you know."
  4074. "Right, of course... So when--"
  4075. >"About mid-day, maybe sooner."
  4076. "Alright. Well Shorts should be arriving in a bit, and I have to get ready for Derpy."
  4077. >"She's -still- flying into our window?"
  4078. "I'm starting to think she really does do it for attention."
  4079. >"Quite the ladies man, aren't you?"
  4080. >You shrug.
  4081. "More of a human thing than a me thing. City's mostly ponies, after all."
  4082. >"True. Humans are a rarity these days."
  4083. "...How -is- Rarity these days?"
  4084. >"Oh. We don't talk, so I wouldn't know."
  4085. "She still running Spank Inc.?"
  4086. >"Yeah, but I hear sales are taking a beating."
  4087. "That's apt."
  4088. >"Hah..."
  4089. "Anyway, I'll just... be going."
  4090.  
  4091. >Shorts is showing you a quick draft for a multi-part story she's planning when the buzzer goes.
  4092. >You glance at the CCTV monitor at the corner of your desk and grimace.
  4093. >Two large stallions and a smaller figure wearing a hat and duster can be seen on the fuzzy image.
  4094. >Shorts gives you a nervous look.
  4095. >You straighten up, roll your shoulders back and crack your neck.
  4096. "Better to get this over with sooner rather than later."
  4097. >Downstairs at the main entrance you cautiously open the door and regard the stallions flanking the mare before you with suspicion.
  4098. >After a longer than necessary pause, the mare drops her sunglasses slightly with a hoof and cranes an eyebrow at you.
  4099. >"Well don't act -too- happy to see me, sugar."
  4100. "Milky. Dressed as a cowboy this time?"
  4101. >"I can't be seen in public. So aren't you gonna let a lady in?"
  4102. >You step aside and she hurries past, her bodyguards staying close and watching for anything suspicious.
  4103. >As you lead the mare upstairs, she talks away without a care in the world.
  4104. >"...oh it's been lots of fun, I must say, it's nice to be settled back in the City, I've hardly sat still since coming back! Did you hear about Horror Pony LTD?"
  4105. "Yeah, I heard, I guessed that was you."
  4106. >"Better believe it, sugar."
  4107. "Don't get why you have to make people just lose their jobs like that."
  4108. >"Mare's gotta get her name out somehow, can't fault me for doing what's in my nature, can you?"
  4109. >You punch in the passcode for the main office door and let her in.
  4110. "To what end, though? People already know you."
  4111. >"To make the government fear me again! It's all a giant ladder, Anon, you have to start small and work your way up, that's how you build the fear, that's how you really threaten the big fish. They got rid of me before, but now I'm back with a vengeance."
  4112. >She winks at Shorts, who was peeking out over the top of your cubicle at you and the mare along with her two bodyguards.
  4113. >Shorts quickly retreats from view.
  4114. "By preying on smaller companies? Come on, Zecora's a good mare, she didn't deserve to lose that many workers."
  4115. >Milky shrugs and gives you a lopsided smile.
  4116. >"It's just business, nothing personal. Besides, my operation's in full swing now, so I won't be bothering smaller fish now anyway."
  4117. "You seem to have a thing for fish."
  4118. >"Well I don't prefer mares for no reason~"
  4119. "Wow, gross."
  4120. >"Hah! You're adorable."
  4121. >You come to a stop outside Fluttershy's office.
  4122. >Milky Way removes her hat, coat, and glasses, and tells her boys to stand outside, one of them clutching her apparel, as the two of you head in.
  4123. >Fluttershy sits behind her desk, a calm look on her face, and her posture somewhat confident than usual.
  4124. >Milky beams at her as she saunters in.
  4125. >"There's my girl, how are you, dear?"
  4126. >Fluttershy doesn't reply, and instead slides out of her chair and steps into full view.
  4127. >Milky stops dead.
  4128. >And stares.
  4129. >Fluttershy smiles meekly and readjusts her hooves.
  4130. >"I um, I've been busy." she finally says.
  4131. >"So I see," the other mare manages to force out, "I heard rumours but I thought it was just a joke."
  4132. >The two ponies meet in the middle and share a hug.
  4133. >Milky sighs and looks over her friend.
  4134. >"So who's the unlucky stallion? He'd better treat you right, sugar, or I swear I'll end his fucking--"
  4135. >"It's Anon."
  4136. >Milky pauses.
  4137. >Then glances back at you.
  4138. >A smirk develops across her freckled features.
  4139. >"Hilarious, sugar, but really."
  4140. >Fluttershy nods.
  4141. >"I'm being serious. Anon's the father. Princess Cadance did something to him."
  4142. >Milky Way's eyes narrow.
  4143. >"Really. Cadance."
  4144. >"Mhm."
  4145. >"Well. Isn't that something."
  4146. >Fluttershy eyes her friend cautiously.
  4147. >"Are you alright, Milky?"
  4148. >The other mare glances back at you again.
  4149. >She slinks over to the sofa and gets comfortable on it, lounging back against the leather and chewing her bottom lip in quiet contemplation, a stray hoof playing with her mane.
  4150. >Finally, she ventures a question to no one in particular.
  4151. >"How long has Cadance been in the picture?"
  4152. >"A few months," replies Fluttershy, "she's opened a business across the street."
  4153. >"Yes, Pregnancy Corp, I heard. Was a bit leery, to be honest with you, sugar."
  4154. "You? Leery?"
  4155. >Milky looks at you, unimpressed.
  4156. >"I'm good at what I do, Anon, but even I'd think twice about messing with a princess."
  4157. >She slowly twists her frown into a sly grin.
  4158. >"Doesn't mean I wouldn't, but still, I'd think twice before doing it. What are her motives?"
  4159. "Twilight Sparkle."
  4160. >"By that you mean...?"
  4161. "Not sure. Not just making Fluttershy pregnant she's done, she's made abortion illegal thanks to her pet politician and one of her employees was rooting around in our bins a while ago, we think they got some financial documents of some kind."
  4162. >Milky ponders all this, the gears in her head turning, the mare thinking methodically and carefully.
  4163. >"So... they incapacitate Fluttershy, make it harder for her to do anything about it, and are trying to get dirt on the company."
  4164. >She pauses, "But how does Twilight Sparkle enter into this?"
  4165. "Cadance tells me that she's only doing it because of Twilight."
  4166. >"Oh dear. It seems like you've made yourselves an enemy, sugar."
  4167. "Well I can see that, Milky, but there's not a whole lot we can do about it."
  4168. >She snorts.
  4169. >"Not a whole lot you can do? Don't be so stupid, of course there's something you can do. First of all, this money issue of yours? Consider it solved. I'll have my people set you up with a slush fund of some description..."
  4170. >You look to Fluttershy, your feelings plain on your face.
  4171. >She avoids your gaze.
  4172. >"Next we need to start working on bringing down Cadance."
  4173. "I thought you said you weren't going to touch her?"
  4174. >"I said I'd think twice, and if this prissy pink bitch is going to inconvenience my darling Fluttershy then I'm going to make her life a living nightmare. She's a big fish, Anon, but I'm bigger."
  4175. "Again with the fish...?"
  4176. >"I'll need time to plan though, so don't expect anything too flashy just yet."
  4177. >She leaps off the sofa, her boobs jiggling.
  4178. >You notice a damp spot where she was lying and make a mental note to purify it later.
  4179. >"Anyway, hon, I'm going to have to dash, sorry, I never meant to stay long."
  4180. >She gives Fluttershy a swift peck on the forehead and makes for the door.
  4181. >Before she steps out, she seems to remember something.
  4182. >"Oh, and Fluttershy?"
  4183. >Your boss looks at her expectantly.
  4184. >"You could do a lot worse than Anon, nice catch."
  4185. >She grins, and with that heads out the doorway.
  4186. >You follow her through and past her bodyguards.
  4187. >One of them clears his throat and speaks, which amazes you since you weren't aware they could.
  4188. >"Uhh, boss?" the ordinarily stoic pony says nervously.
  4189. >Milky leans her head in close to listen to him.
  4190. >He glances at the ceiling, eyes searching for something.
  4191. >"We heard somethin' moving around up there whilst you were inside."
  4192. >Milky glances at the segmented ceiling tiles and vents.
  4193. >She look to you, a perplexed look on her face.
  4194. >"That rat -seriously- isn't still alive, is it?"
  4195. "Worse than that, he has a mate and several kids."
  4196. >"Good lord. That's the sort of problem that can only get worse, Anon, you may need to relocate soon."
  4197. "I'll keep that in mind."
  4198. >The former milk-mare makes for the exit.
  4199. >You watch them go, and once you're sure they're gone immediately head back inside to see Fluttershy.
  4200. >She gives you a sad look as you stand before her, hands on your hips.
  4201. "Well, you got what you wanted, we're in the pocket of the mob for good."
  4202. >You closely watch the mare.
  4203. >She looks tired. Her mane is still a mess, barely brushed and thoroughly unkempt. Her coat is a bit grubby, and heavy bags are under her eyes. She carries herself with a weary but resolute demeanour, despite the circumstances.
  4204. >After a sigh, she straightens up and fixes you with a confident expression.
  4205. "You know, I always thought she said 'sugar' too much."
  4206. >"Yeah, me too."
  4207. >...
  4208. >"Everything's going to be fine."
  4209. "I'll take your word for it, Shy."
  4210. >She smiles.
  4211. "Coffee?"
  4212. >"Could I have tea this time, actually?"
  4213. "Oh, sure, I might have to go out and get some, but sure. Why the change?"
  4214. >She shrugs.
  4215. >"Might as well. I hear coffee's bad for your mental health."
  4216. "Not sure tea is much better, Shy, but again, I'll take your word for it."
  4217. >"Oh! Wait," you pause and turn to her "...could I have a twinkie whilst you're out?"
  4218. "...I'll get two."
  4219. >"Thanks sweetie."
  4220. "Lay off the mushy talk, we have to keep up appearances for Shorts."
  4221. >"Whatever you say, darling."
  4222. "Ugh."
  4223. >In some ways, you miss the old Fluttershy.
  4224.  
  4225. ---
  4226.  
  4227. >She's getting slower.
  4228. >Not that Fluttershy was particularly fast to begin with, unless she was mad.
  4229. >Mare could move mountains if she was mad.
  4230. >But as you watch her struggle to even hover above the ground you feel a knot in your stomach.
  4231. >It won't be long now before she gives birth.
  4232. >And life won't slow down so that you can readjust.
  4233. >You're set on this course now, and you don't know where it will ultimately lead.
  4234. >Cadance won't disappear. Twilight won't vanish. Milky won't fade away.
  4235. >The problems you think about on a daily basis will still be present, they'll just have a baby added to them.
  4236. >The real question is; will Fluttershy be more or less furious after she's had the kid?
  4237. >You're hoping she'll be less angry.
  4238. >Would be a nice change of pace.
  4239. >Though through all your concerns and woes, what you're concerned with at the moment are two things.
  4240. >One is getting the sugar down for Fluttershy.
  4241. "Come on, shift, I'll get it."
  4242. >The mare huffs and moves to the side as you reach for the top cupboard and retrieve the withered paper bag of cheap sugar she wanted for her tea.
  4243. >You take the liberty of assembling her drink, the pony looking on contentedly.
  4244. >She nuzzles your leg after you give her the mug and she carefully exits the kitchen, gingerly balancing it on her hoof as she goes.
  4245. >Your second problem is a bit more delicate.
  4246. >Heading back to your cubicle, you mull over what you're going to say to Shorts.
  4247. >She's quietly working away as usual, bobbing her head slightly to her music.
  4248. >Her tired eyes skim over what she's written so far and she leans back a bit, stretching.
  4249. >She notices you watching and offers you a welcoming smile.
  4250. >"Hey," she says as she removes her earphones and casts them onto her keyboard nonchalantly, "what's up?"
  4251. "Just wanted to talk."
  4252. >You drop heavily into your swivel chair, the whole thing creaking in protest.
  4253. >You're not fat, the chair's just old.
  4254. >Fluttershy would tell you if you were getting fat.
  4255. >Your companion waits for you to continue, her hooves resting on her lap and a patient, attentive look about her.
  4256. "It's not exactly a secret around here that we're involved with Milky Way."
  4257. >Shorts' expression darkens slightly.
  4258. >"Yes, it's uh, well. Odd."
  4259. "Even by our standards?"
  4260. >"Well sure, I remember Fluttershy mentioning that we had a connection the mob, but I thought that was just a regular old street gang, like the Nyx Squad or the Glimglam Boys."
  4261. >She rubs her hooves together nervously.
  4262. >"I didn't think it would -actually- be Milky Way herself until she walked in the other day."
  4263. "You're nervous?"
  4264. >"Sure I am; she's bad news, isn't she?"
  4265. "Yeah, but she's no threat to us, she and Fluttershy are close friends."
  4266. >"It's not us I'm worried about, well okay, I -am- worried about us, what if the cops find out?"
  4267. "They won't, she's careful."
  4268. >"Even so... will we get in trouble if she's found and we're linked to her?"
  4269. >You mull over this for a moment, watching Shorts closely.
  4270. >The mare's eyes study your hardened face before falling away, the mare evidently uncomfortable.
  4271. >Finally, you give her a reassuring look and a faint smile.
  4272. "We will," and after a short pause, "but you won't."
  4273. >She looks up, about to ask something, but you hold up a hand to stop her as you speak.
  4274. "Milky's been involved with this company since before you were brought on board. If the cops -do- link the company to her, you have an alibi."
  4275. >Shorts waits, a hesitant look on her face.
  4276. >When you don't continue, she wets her lips and leans forward.
  4277. >"And... what about you?"
  4278. "What about me?" you say with a shrug, "I'll get thrown in prison for harbouring a dangerous terrorist."
  4279. >Shorts mouths an 'oh' and leans back again.
  4280. >You reach forward and pat her on the knee.
  4281. "Chin up, Shorts, I've long since resigned myself to this fate, I had my chance to leave and I didn't take it."
  4282. >You think for a second before coming to a realisation.
  4283. >Shorts, the mare visibly struggling to deal with this new reality, even in the face of everything she's seen so far, absently plays with her ponytail, her gaze and mind elsewhere.
  4284. >She just wanted a job.
  4285. >And she at least has a future outside this place.
  4286. "I didn't take the opportunity," you start slowly, "but you can."
  4287. >She glances at you, her eyes reflecting her unsure thoughts.
  4288. "You can leave, Shorts. Put all this behind you. It was a fun little adventure, but if you're scared of being lumped in with the rest of us degenerates then you can bail and find somewhere else. Somewhere normal, you know?"
  4289. >Shorts nods slowly.
  4290. >"I'll... think about it."
  4291. "Good girl."
  4292. >"But what about you, will you not want--"
  4293. "I can't be saved at this point. I'm in too deep. I have to ride this thing out until it ends, whenever or however that may be."
  4294. >"But--"
  4295. "You're a great mare, Shorts. Sure, you're weird, and have serious issues with your mother, but you don't deserve to rot in a place like this. On a tangent, have you been doing stuff with Fluttershy when I'm not here?"
  4296. >She goes stiff as a board, a look of panic on her face.
  4297. >"Uhh--"
  4298. "Ah. Thought so. She offer you a raise?"
  4299. >"Um. Yes?"
  4300. "That explains why you're getting paid as much as me now."
  4301. >She looks at you hopelessly.
  4302. "I process most of the financials now, Shorts, including the odd pay-slip when Fluttershy forgets to."
  4303. >"Oh... I'm sorry--"
  4304. "Eh, don't be. In any case, is doing lewd stuff with your boss normal?"
  4305. >"It is here."
  4306. "But is it at other places?"
  4307. >"I guess not..."
  4308. "Nope. I know you're pretty jaded to most things nowadays, but that doesn't mean you're irredeemable."
  4309. >She hesitates to answer, then lets out a short laugh.
  4310. >"Hah, how did we even get onto this? Weren't we talking about the mob or something?"
  4311. "We were, but it's still related to what I'm saying. You don't have to stay here for when our thing with the mob goes tits-up."
  4312. >You sniff and shift yourself in your seat, a distant, though serious look gripping you.
  4313. "I feel like this is all gonna come to a head sometime soon, Shorts. Like something big is coming. You might wanna get out whilst you still can."
  4314. >She looks upset, so you try to reassure her again.
  4315. "Things might start happening, but I'm sure they'll be fine, don't worry about me and Fluttershy."
  4316. >"I'm not worried about Fluttershy, just you."
  4317. >She sighs.
  4318. >"I kinda like you, Anon. I know you've got a thing with Fluttershy, but I like you anyway."
  4319. "Now Shorts, I'm your manager; fraternising with me is inappropriate."
  4320. >...
  4321. >The two of you share a quiet laugh at this.
  4322. "Well I appreciate it, but you know why that can't happen."
  4323. >"I know, and I don't expect it to."
  4324. >She shrugs, giving you a sly look.
  4325. >"Maybe I should just pin you down and get some of that magical jizz of yours in me, that'd seal the deal."
  4326. "Oh fuck off with that," you say with a chuckle, "so are you quitting or not?"
  4327. >"Eh, I dunno," she seems to cheer up, a familiarly mischievous grin stretching across her tired features, "I kinda like watching you suffer."
  4328. "There she is, back to her old self!"
  4329. >"I can't help it, your suffering amuses me."
  4330. >She keeps smiling, but her eyes retain a shadow of melancholy.
  4331. >"But I still worry about you, Anon."
  4332. "Well don't, I'll be fine, please trust me on that."
  4333. >"I don't trust you for a second, but okay."
  4334. >She laughs and turns back to her computer.
  4335. >"Anything else you need, mister manager?"
  4336. "I need you on my desk and oiled up in five minutes, Miss Shorts, and a schoolmare's outfit is mandatory."
  4337. >She snorts, but gives you a playful look.
  4338. >"You know, the weird thing is that I actually still have my old school uniform~"
  4339. "I doubt it still fits."
  4340. >"...Are you calling me fat?"
  4341. "Not fat, just... well developed."
  4342. >"Yeah, okay, what I said before about liking you? We're done."
  4343. >You both laugh it off, the mood now lifted.
  4344. >She goes on to rant about her mother again, and you listen, nodding and agreeing where appropriate.
  4345. >In the back of your mind however, you can't shake your own dread.
  4346. >The future beckons, and you don't like what it has to offer.
  4347.  
  4348. ---
  4349.  
  4350. >"Want some coffee for when you get back?"
  4351. "Sounds magical."
  4352. >Shorts nods and shuffles away to the kitchen.
  4353. >It's been a few weeks since your little talk, and she seems intent on staying.
  4354. >Fluttershy isn't doing much better. She's got a huge bump now and most of the time relies on you carrying her everywhere.
  4355. >She also sleeps in her office these days, since the trek from home is a bit too much for her.
  4356. >You swing by her apartment every now and then to feed her bunny and make sure that everything is in order.
  4357. >Though you apparently don't need to, since that rabbit seems to be perfectly capable of looking after itself and the spacious apartment it now inhabits alone.
  4358. >It was waiting behind the door with a baseball bat the first time you walked in.
  4359. >Angry little bastard, but pets take after their owners, as the saying goes.
  4360. >Said owner gives you a huge stack of papers and sarcastically calls you "teddy bear" as you trudge out of her office.
  4361. >You call her a bitch over your shoulder and tell her to blow you.
  4362. >She replies saying that she's done so many times, and that you need to eat more pineapple.
  4363. >The mare tells you that a lot, but you're not sure what it means.
  4364. >You drop the huge stack on your desk, causing Shorts to jump.
  4365. >She glances at the papers, then at you.
  4366. >"Wow."
  4367. "Yeah."
  4368. >"I don't envy you, Nonner."
  4369. "Awful nickname."
  4370. >"You think so? I was thinking either Nonner or Anoony."
  4371. "How about 'Anon', that's a good one."
  4372. >"Hey, you call me Shorts all the time."
  4373. "Because that's your name?"
  4374. >"Yeah but you look like you're thinking of pants whenever you say it, and I don't like that."
  4375. "...The fuck?"
  4376. >Before she can elaborate, a noise causes the pair of you to go silent.
  4377. >The banter between you both dies.
  4378. >With great reluctance you look towards your second monitor.
  4379. >A purple haze can be seen on the static-ridden image.
  4380. >A loud, grating buzzer sounds again from the single speaker you have set up.
  4381. >Shorts gives you a fearful look.
  4382. >"How many purple unicorns do you know?"
  4383. "Just one."
  4384.  
  4385. >It's a long, painful silence.
  4386. >You stare down at the pony stood at the front door to Flutterrape LTD.
  4387. >She stares back, her demeanour as determined as ever.
  4388. >The mare still smiles whenever she sees you.
  4389. >She likely still hopes the two of you can be friends.
  4390. >And despite everything you desperately want to be hers.
  4391. >But things just didn't work out that way.
  4392. >"So... hi."
  4393. "Hi, Twilight."
  4394. >"Just come to, you know, check up!" she trails off with a breathless laugh.
  4395. >You hold back a sigh and step to one side, the unicorn trotting through the door and past you into the cold, lifeless entrance hall.
  4396. >Shutting the door with a heavy 'thunk', you turn to her, hands in your pockets.
  4397. >She cranes her neck to look around at the grey walls and ceiling.
  4398. >"So uh, your everything is still peeling."
  4399. "Yup."
  4400. >"Still not got a painter?"
  4401. "Not had the time."
  4402. >"Right, right. Sooo you -have- had the money, though."
  4403. >You narrow your eyes at her odd choice of words.
  4404. >She catches your look and forces a smile.
  4405. >"Soo, wanna go upstai--"
  4406. "Down here's fine, Twi, we don't want to cause any drama."
  4407. >"Okay, sure, sure."
  4408. >She clears her throat and looks you in the eye.
  4409. >You gaze back with a tired expression.
  4410. >"So how are things around here?"
  4411. "They're fine."
  4412. >"That's good! So I hear--"
  4413. "Apart from Fluttershy getting pregnant."
  4414. >Twilight doesn't react, confirming what you already assumed.
  4415. "Of course you already know that."
  4416. >She keeps her composure, her face neutral.
  4417. "No doubt because your good friend Cadance told you."
  4418. >Twilight's brow furrows.
  4419. >"I told her not to do anything reckless."
  4420. "Oh come the fuck on, Twilight--"
  4421. >"I told her, not to do, anything, reckless!" Twilight punctuates her point by stomping a hoof on the pale tiled floor.
  4422. >"Before you ask, yes, yes I -did- ask Cadance for help, alright?"
  4423. "What, you had her set up her own company and everything just for -this-?"
  4424. >"No. She already wanted to start up her own business here in the city, I just told her about my problems and she did the rest. She's the reason she's across the road, she already had a thing with Frank Priest, she's responsible for everything since."
  4425. "Nice abdication of blame there, Twi."
  4426. >"I'm not abdicating blame! I-I just told her that I needed help -convincing- you and Fluttershy to give up on the company! To cause disruptions, to dig up dirt, anything but--"
  4427. "Dig up dirt?"
  4428. >"Well sure! Any information that I could use against you!"
  4429. >...
  4430. >You put two and two together, and your anger smoulders to the surface.
  4431. "They were rooting through our bins."
  4432. >She doesn't say anything.
  4433. "First thing you mentioned just now was money."
  4434. >Twilight holds your glare, as always.
  4435. >She never did feel afraid of you, then again the two of you were ever so close once upon a time.
  4436. >Calmly, she straightens up and opens her saddlebag with magic.
  4437. >Documents float out and hover before her.
  4438. >She adjusts her glasses and skim-reads the stained papers, talking in a smooth, controlled voice.
  4439. >"I really don't know why these of all things were in your bins, but here we are."
  4440. >You tighten a fist, then unclench it.
  4441. >"Bank statements; they show something quite interesting."
  4442. >She looks up at you.
  4443. >"Nothing but transactions out of the company accounts, then suddenly a huge injection."
  4444. >Her look turns frosty.
  4445. >"Six million bits, to be precise."
  4446. >The back of your mind is screaming at Fluttershy's incompetence.
  4447. >"I found that weird when I first read it, and I wasn't actually able to trace the source of the payment. The company whose name it's under doesn't actually exist, indicating either a now-dead company, which is unlikely, or an illegal cover."
  4448. >She removes her glasses and regards you with a firm look.
  4449. >"I've been hearing other things as well. I'm sure you've heard what happened to Zecora the other month."
  4450. "Yes. A real shame."
  4451. >"Hm. Not just Zecora either, lots of smaller businesses have seen record lay-offs and job losses."
  4452. >Her lips draw thin, and her expression hardens.
  4453. >"Anon. We haven't seen unemployment trends like this since Milky Way."
  4454. >Her eyes are searching you for anything.
  4455. >You feel like she's trying to pick apart your thoughts.
  4456. >Not wanting to be put off, you straighten your posture and look down at the unicorn with a cool indifference.
  4457. "Looks like Milky Way may be back in the City, yes, what does that have to do with anything?"
  4458. >Twilight's face says it all.
  4459. >It's like she's silently pleading with you, and you know in your heart of hearts she can read you like a book.
  4460. >In the quiet of the entrance hall you can hear a pin drop, save for the odd bit of traffic outside.
  4461. >Twilight takes a step closer.
  4462. >"Anonymous, you're my friend."
  4463. >You fold your arms defensively.
  4464. >"I want you in my life, and I miss you."
  4465. >She glances at her papers again.
  4466. >"But if you're doing deals with Milky Way to keep this company afloat, I'll get the police involved, and you know what that means for you and Fluttershy."
  4467. >She hesitates to continue, so you fill the gap for her.
  4468. "But?"
  4469. >"But. But if... there's a way for that to -not- happen, I mean."
  4470. "Which is?"
  4471. >She gives you a weak smile.
  4472. >"Quit?"
  4473. >...
  4474. >"Come work with me? Let Flutterrape die? It's just not worth it anymore! It's been -years-, Anon! Years with no real content, no grand projects, no writers of any real note... it's just you! You and Fluttershy!"
  4475. >You've heard it all before, but it never stops being any less true.
  4476. "And if I leave, Fluttershy will be broken. You know that. She was your friend once too, you know."
  4477. >She winces.
  4478. "And thanks to your bitch of a friend it's just not that simple anymore. She's pregnant, and I'm the fucking father."
  4479. >"I... It wasn't part of the plan! You have to believe me! Cadance went way over the line! She wasn't supposed to go that far--"
  4480. "So rooting through our bins for old bank statements, was that part of the plan? Fucking Christ, Twilight Sparkle, just look at yourself. Just leave us alone! You have -everything-!"
  4481. >You take a step forward, towering over her.
  4482. "You sit in a literal ivory tower! You have everything! The biggest corporation in town! The most stories put out, the highest traffic, the most competent staff, the most stable management, you have EVERYTHING."
  4483. >She doesn't back down, she never does, but she listens.
  4484. "So why the fuck would you ever want to bother with a company like this? You're a lion trying to hunt a rat, and rats aren't worthy prey. You're-- you're a big fish, and we're a tiny fish, or something!"
  4485. >You let out an exasperated noise.
  4486. >The two of you don't speak for a while.
  4487. >It's just the outside world you can hear.
  4488. >"...I miss us." she finally says.
  4489. "I miss us too. We were great together. Everything was better when we were all one big happy family."
  4490. >"Then..."
  4491. "Then I fucked it up by planting that stupid idea in your head."
  4492. >"It's not a stupid idea, Anon, it was the future. A brighter future than what was waiting for us."
  4493. "We were fine the way we were."
  4494. >"We were destined to stagnate. When you brought up the idea of Anon In Equestria I thought you were a genius, I thought you were on board with me one hundred percent-- heck, I thought -you- would be the one to split first. And you know what?"
  4495. >She wipes a hoof across her dampening eyes.
  4496. >"I-I would have followed you. Instead here we are, arguing in some... -fucking- warehouse because you're too stubborn to leave and my stupid plans made Fluttershy pregnant!"
  4497. >She sits on the floor, trembling.
  4498. >"I just want us to be partners again. We'd be successful! Rich! ...Happy!"
  4499. "I'm sorry Twi, I just... can't."
  4500. >She sniffs in response.
  4501. >You stand over the mare, now so small, and with none of her previous prestige.
  4502. >Her tear-stained attire looks dreary in the poor lighting of the entrance hall.
  4503. >Finally, her horn lights up, the faint violet glow the only real light in the room.
  4504. >The papers that had fallen to the floor are quietly deposited back in her bag.
  4505. >She rises to her hooves and looks at you longingly.
  4506. >"Leave Flutterrape, Anon. Heck, bring Fluttershy with you. Leave, or I'll give this evidence to the police and they'll start investigating the company, and... yeah..."
  4507. >She trails off.
  4508. >...
  4509. >"Can I ask you something? Before I go?"
  4510. >You simply raise an eyebrow.
  4511. >"Why her? Why Fluttershy? She was never nice to you, not like I was."
  4512. "Didn't plan it, it just happened. I feel too guilty to leave."
  4513. >"But that's... illogical, you have nothing to be guilty for."
  4514. >You shrug reluctantly.
  4515. "That's me. I've got issues, Twi, I'm not gonna try and hide that from you. But so has she, and if I leave then I don't know what will happen to her, and I don't want that on my conscience."
  4516. >Twilight glances at the street outside through the glass.
  4517. >"Well if you ever get over your conscience, come and find me."
  4518. >Her expression twists into a mixture of affection and sadness.
  4519. >"Because you can reject me as many times as you want; I'll always be there for you, Anon, even if I have to do things I don't like to make you see things my way."
  4520. >To her surprise, you chuckle.
  4521. "It's that sort of attitude that made you perfect for Flutterrape to begin with."
  4522. >Her smile becomes more genuine.
  4523. >"Guess so. Goodbye, Anon."
  4524. "Bye, Twilight."
  4525. >And she's gone.
  4526.  
  4527. ---
  4528. >Fluttershy listens patiently as you tell her about your encounter with Twilight.
  4529. >Once you finish, the two of you wait listening to the clock in the corner.
  4530. >You're leant forwards in a chair you'd dragged next to the sofa.
  4531. >Fluttershy's face is pensive.
  4532. >Her body relaxed.
  4533. >She's lying on the sofa, as she often does these days.
  4534. >Despite her best efforts, she's getting a bit pudgy, but you don't mind.
  4535. >The mare looks at you with a measured demeanour, a strange tranquillity foreign to her.
  4536. >"Well that's not very good."
  4537. "No, it's not."
  4538. >"She's gone now is she? She's not still in the lobby?"
  4539. "Nope."
  4540. >"Right."
  4541. >Fluttershy sits up with a slight huff.
  4542. >"First of all, I'm upset you let her in."
  4543. "I know."
  4544. >"But I also know that you two were close, so I forgive you."
  4545. >Still leaning forwards, you closely watch Fluttershy.
  4546. >She doesn't wear her suit any more; she says it's too tight and constricting her movement.
  4547. >Her mane is in better condition since she's not working as much, though it's still a bit messy.
  4548. >As for the pony herself, she's changed.
  4549. >You see it in her slow, careful movements.
  4550. >You hear it in her calmer voice, and notice it in her reserved attitude.
  4551. >Sometimes you can see flashes of anger rush to the surface, but whereas they would once have consumed and overtaken her, they are now quickly subdued and controlled.
  4552. >Despite everything, Fluttershy is becoming more passive.
  4553. >Events that would have once sparked a wrath like a looming inferno now trigger a mere frown of annoyance.
  4554. >Even now, as you tell her of Twilight's plan to destroy the company and bring you over to her side, Fluttershy watches and waits with an uncharacteristic, almost motherly expression.
  4555. >Even though you can tell it's taking all of her willpower to do so.
  4556. >Her tail tends to flick when she's annoyed.
  4557. "So we've not got much choice here, Shy."
  4558. >"What do you mean?"
  4559. "Pretty obvious the way I see it."
  4560. >"...Are you, giving up?"
  4561. >You bow your head and scratch the back of your hair, exhaling through your nose and trying to figure out how to speak without irritating her.
  4562. "Shy, she's got us by the balls. She has evidence that we've had a cash injection that was probably from Milky, and if not her then something else illegal, and she's prepared to go to the cops."
  4563. >You gesture to the newspaper resting on the floor at your feet beside Fluttershy.
  4564. "Media's getting hyped up again; cops are on their toes and becoming more and more antsy by the day; politicians want a victory in the face of everything Milky's doing to re-establish dominance over The City."
  4565. >You shrug.
  4566. "So it's just, what can we do? Even if the evidence isn't sufficient everyone will jump on us as soon as Twilight lays the blame on us."
  4567. >Fluttershy scowls.
  4568. >"And give up on our legacy? Anon we've worked on this company for eight years, and I don't intend to let it crumble to nothing because Twilight -fucking- Sparkle decrees it."
  4569. "I get that, I do, but we're between a rock and a hard place. It's join or die, probably literally. If we're nailed to the wall through our association with Milky then your pride means nothing."
  4570. >"So you'd rather just surrender and work with Twilight." her face conveys her contempt, "Just do exactly as she wants you to do."
  4571. "You're making it sound worse than it is; she's a good mare and you know it, we'd get a good gig over there."
  4572. >"Even if we did they'd never accept us."
  4573. "It might take some getting used to, but we'd be together, wouldn't we?"
  4574. >Her furrowed brow softens at that, and a smile begins to emerge.
  4575. >"We would. But we're together here as well. And, I hope, that even if things -do- get worse, we still will be."
  4576. >You respond with a delicate hand to her ear, scratching behind it with an index finger.
  4577. "Sure, I can do that. Like you said, it's been eight years, I think I have to at this point."
  4578. >She pushes her head against your hand, her voice hopeful, "So that's it then? We're not joining up with Twilight?"
  4579. "I still think we should give it a good think over, I'll call her tomorrow and we can talk over the details, see just what kind of thing we'd be walking into."
  4580. >Fluttershy fixates on you with a firm look.
  4581. >"If you do that, you'll be giving up on our company."
  4582. "But I'll not be giving up on you, and that's the important part, isn't it?"
  4583. >She looks uncertain.
  4584. >Before you can go further, the office door swings open.
  4585. >You twist around in your seat and look at the four figures stood in the doorway.
  4586. >Shorts stands at the front, showing clear discomfort.
  4587. >Milky Way and her two bodyguards, on the other hand, seem far more relaxed.
  4588.  
  4589. >With Milky's guards outside the now shut office door, the four of you sit around the sofa.
  4590. >Milky is perched next to Fluttershy.
  4591. >You and Shorts are sat beside one another in chairs.
  4592. >Milky smiles around at the gathering.
  4593. >"Well, this is all very exciting, isn't it?"
  4594. "Is it?"
  4595. >"Of course! We can begin our little plan on bringing down Cadance and Sparkle!"
  4596. >You and Fluttershy share a look.
  4597. >Leaning forward again you start slowly, your hands clasped between your open legs and fingers laced together.
  4598. "About that... Fluttershy and I have been thinking, aaand maybe it's time to just sign up with Twilight."
  4599. >Fluttershy holds your gaze, not saying anything.
  4600. >Shorts seems both shocked and happily surprised.
  4601. >Milky is livid, and she makes it known.
  4602. >"Absolutely -not-!"
  4603. "What?"
  4604. >"I didn't give you six million bits and stick my neck out for this company just so you can give up! We have plans!"
  4605. "-You- have plans, Fluttershy and I--"
  4606. >"Fluttershy isn't going anywhere," she turns to her friend, "sugar, really, don't let him talk you into surrender, we can beat this! Remember Scruffy?"
  4607. >Fluttershy smiles weakly at his mention.
  4608. >"Scruffy got you too, Milky..."
  4609. >"Ahh, but we dragged him down with us in the end! An eye for an eye, wasn't it? When Scruffy took office things looked bad, but we stuck it through and made it out alive, didn't we?"
  4610. >Fluttershy chews her bottom lip in thought, then slowly sits up, nodding.
  4611. >"I guess we did, didn't we?"
  4612. >Milky Way beams at her.
  4613. >"When we beat Scruffy I knew we could overcome anything. Sparkle and Cadance? Please, they're foal's play. We've got this, and I won't hear anything different."
  4614. >You clear your throat.
  4615. "Okay, first of all, it wasn't just you and Fluttershy that took down Scruffy the Janitor, it was a concerted effort from everyone in The City, -including- Anon in Equestria."
  4616. >Shorts raises her hoof.
  4617. >"Sorry, I wasn't here for that, what happened?"
  4618. "Scruffy Williams; called himself 'The Janitor', rose to power and made it his mission to 'clean up The City'. The whole thing ended in Scruffy being dragged out of office and -her- being exiled." you say with a nod at Milky.
  4619. >Milky gives you a dismissive eye-roll.
  4620. >"It was myself and Fluttershy that did most of the work, sugar, and besides, it's evidence that we've been through worse; Flutterrape was actually shut down at one point."
  4621. "Sure it was, and we came back after like a week, but that doesn't mean we should go tempting fate again; this time we don't have the whole City on our side."
  4622. >"We don't need them, it's just between us, AiE, and Pregnancy Corp. It's a small-scale battle, hardly a challenge."
  4623. >You slouch back in your seat and fold your arms, glaring at the former milk-mare.
  4624. "Then what's the master plan, 'oh glorious leader'?"
  4625. >She simply smiles at you.
  4626. >"Oh that's easy, we kill Cadance," the mare's grin broadens, "and then we kill Twilight Sparkle."
  4627. "Go fuck yourself."
  4628. >Her expression sours immediately, becoming much colder in tandem with her voice taking on a harder edge.
  4629. >"Don't take that tone with me, Anonymous. Try to remember who it is you're actually talking to."
  4630. >You look away from Milky in disgust and look pleadingly at the mare beside her.
  4631. "Fluttershy this is beyond a joke, we're not killing Twilight."
  4632. >Fluttershy shakes her head.
  4633. >"No, we're not, but Milky's still got a point, we can beat this, Anon!"
  4634. >The four of you sit in silence for a moment.
  4635. >Shorts quietly speaks up.
  4636. >"I think we should go with Twilight."
  4637. >You glance at her.
  4638. >Just by looking at how rigidly she's sitting, you can tell that she knows that what she's doing puts her in the cross-hairs.
  4639. >You nod slowly and look to the mares across from you.
  4640. "I agree. No one's killing anyone, we're solving this without any bloodshed, and the only way to do that seems to be by going with Twilight."
  4641. >Milky gives you a poisonous look.
  4642. >"This company has so much potential and you don't even realise it, we could be so powerful if you'd only see past--"
  4643. "And who is this 'we' exactly...?"
  4644. >Milky turns to Fluttershy, exasperated.
  4645. >"Flutters, doll, you're with me on this, right? You think we should meet this head-on and not roll over like some emasculated runt?"
  4646. >Fluttershy nods hesitantly.
  4647. >"I don't want to kill anyone, Milky, but I'll fight this with you."
  4648. >She looks right at you, sadness permeating her features.
  4649. >"And I hope you'll stand by me in this, Anon, like you said you would."
  4650. >Your hands clench to fists.
  4651. "Just... think about what you're doing, Shy."
  4652. >"I--"
  4653. >"She -has- thought about it!" Milky interjects, "She's fighting because you don't have the balls to do it yourself!"
  4654. >Shorts, to your surprise, leaps off her chair and stands with smouldering eyes before Milky.
  4655. >"And who the fuck are -you- to come in here and speak to Anon like that? He's been here for this company no matter what happened! You're only here because you smell blood in the water and might be able to profit from it!"
  4656. >Milky is out of her seat faster than you can blink, drawing herself up to her full height, and replying with snarling toxicity.
  4657. >"I don't need the commentary of some jumped-up little shit that no one's ever heard of, and I would suggest that you sit back down before I break your fucking neck -sugar-."
  4658. >Shorts is trembling; the older, larger mare clearly intimidating her even as you rise from your seat and try to keep the two of them apart as Fluttershy attempts to defuse Milky's rising tempestuous anger.
  4659. >But Shorts keeps going.
  4660. >"Anon's more important to this company than you'll ever be! He's kind and looks out for people but you just use them! Everyone is just a stepping stone to you! I grew up in a neighbourhood surrounded by the likes of you, I know how ponies like you think and I see you for what you are! You're just like my mother, you're just an evil manipulative cun--"
  4661. "That's ENOUGH, SHORT STORYS."
  4662. >She turns on you, a developing dampness in her eyes.
  4663. >"Y-you deserve so much better than this, Anon! How can you stand it?!"
  4664. >Milky spits curses and expletives at Shorts.
  4665. >Fluttershy is now desperately trying to convince Milky not to beat the smaller pony to a pulp.
  4666. >Shorts stands before you, shaking like a leaf and ignoring the mare behind her.
  4667. >You try to speak calmly, though your voice wavers somewhat.
  4668. "Shorts, you're getting worked up and not making a whole lot of sense, so let's just calm down and stop this from escalating--"
  4669. >"Stop trying to defuse everything Anon!"
  4670. "Shorts--"
  4671. >"You're so afraid of conflict that you just take the easy way out whenever it presents itself, that's what you do! That's why you won't tell Fluttershy about why Twilight actually left!"
  4672. >...
  4673. >It's like a switch was flipped.
  4674. >Shorts takes a few steps back, her eyes wide and mouth clamped shut.
  4675. >Milky has stopped spitting threats, and has turned her gaze to you, eyes narrowed slightly.
  4676. >Fluttershy lets go of her friend and twists her head to you, confused.
  4677. >"What's... that supposed to mean? Anon?"
  4678. >You look at Fluttershy, then back at Shorts.
  4679. >Shorts shakes her head, silently mouthing apologies over and over.
  4680. >You swallow the lump in your throat.
  4681. >As much as you want to pretend you don't know what she's talking about, you know that you've reached the end of the rope.
  4682. >You slowly sit back in your chair, facing the mares before you with a sullen look.
  4683. >Your hands rub your knees back and forth as you think over your words.
  4684. "Twilight left because of... me."
  4685. >Fluttershy cocks her head quizzically.
  4686. >"Because of you?"
  4687. "Yeah."
  4688. >You avoid Fluttershy's inquisitive eyes.
  4689. "Anon In Equestria was my idea. I came up with the whole thing; how the company would work, how to set it up; how it would be structured, how it would make money, how-- how it would replace Flutterrape."
  4690. >Milky Way gently sits on the floor, her face expressionless.
  4691. "Anon In Equestria was designed to be a better, more inclusive Flutterrape. A company that would make Flutterrape completely obsolete."
  4692. >You stare at the carpet between your feet.
  4693. "I envisioned the whole thing, Twilight merely acted it out. She left because of me."
  4694. >Fluttershy's face reflects a multitude of emotions.
  4695. >Sadness, Hurt, Anger.
  4696. >But mostly betrayal.
  4697. >"You wanted to make our company, 'obsolete'...?"
  4698. "That was the idea. I never took it seriously, it was just a brainstorming session to me, but Twilight took it seriously. She thought it was, well, you know."
  4699. >"A bright new future."
  4700. "...Yup."
  4701. >"Oh..."
  4702. >Fluttershy crawls back onto her sofa.
  4703. >She looks at you, then to Milky, then back to you.
  4704. >Milky, on her part, just looks disappointed.
  4705. >Not that her disappointment means much.
  4706. >Shorts stands off to the side, refusing to look at anyone.
  4707. >Finally, Fluttershy speaks up.
  4708. >"Do you still think Flutterrape is obsolete?"
  4709. >You give her a long, hard look, mulling over your answer.
  4710. >But lying can only get you so far, so you instead just part your lips and murmur your reply.
  4711. "Yes."
  4712. >"...I see."
  4713. >Fluttershy wipes a hoof across her eyes.
  4714. >"C-could everyone please step out? I'd like to be alone for a while."
  4715. >Milky tries to approach her, "Aww, sugar, let me--"
  4716. >"That means you too, Milky Way."
  4717. >Taken aback, the mare quickly recovers and gives a jarring nod.
  4718. >"Right, of course."
  4719. >She swiftly leaves the office and heads for the kitchen, her guards in tow.
  4720. >Shorts slinks out without a word and towards your cubicle.
  4721. >Fluttershy keeps her face hidden behind a hoof, and speaks to you once the others are gone.
  4722. >"A-anonymous, please."
  4723. >You rise to your feet and walk out, your movements stiff.
  4724. >With a final look at your boss, alone and quietly weeping on her sofa, you close the office door behind you.
  4725. >What a coward you are.
  4726.  
  4727. ---
  4728.  
  4729. >Shorts hasn't said a word for fifteen minutes, despite being sat next to you.
  4730. >Neither of you are working; Shorts' laptop is shut and your monitor is playing a looping screen-saver.
  4731. >A disquieting silence hangs in the air.
  4732. >Not even the vents are rattling.
  4733. >You know that Milky is still in the kitchen with her two bodyguards, conspiring in hushed tones about things you'd rather not dwell on.
  4734. >And that Fluttershy is still in her office, alone.
  4735. >Truthfully, you don't know what happens from here on out.
  4736. >Shorts lets out a weighted sigh.
  4737. >You raise your eyes to hers.
  4738. >She stares through you for a moment, before focusing and forcing a tepid smile.
  4739. >"Looks like I screwed up again, huh?" she says with a half-hearted shrug.
  4740. >Your weariness is clear from your body language, and she nods, whether to herself or to your lack of a reply you aren't sure.
  4741. >"It just slipped out."
  4742. >She studies your face, a growing desperation on hers.
  4743. >"I-I just got ahead of myself, I know, I wasn't trying to embarrass you I was trying to make you s--"
  4744. "Shorts."
  4745. >Her mouth snaps shut.
  4746. >In a resigned, soft tone you speak, gazing at her as you do so.
  4747. "It was going to come out eventually. Not how I ah, would have wanted it to come out, but it would have been said sooner or later."
  4748. >She nods again, trying her best to follow you.
  4749. "I'm not mad at you, just upset at the whole situation."
  4750. >The mare doesn't say a word.
  4751. >You drag your feet across the floor, making your chair to swivel slightly and pointing your body towards a bit of cubicle wall occupied by a calendar with a small photograph stuck to it with a thumb-tack.
  4752. "You know, I didn't always work in greentext."
  4753. >She listens; your captive audience of one.
  4754. "Used to work in shitposting." you slowly chew on your bottom lip as you stare vacantly at the old picture, absently studying the aged cracks running along its glossed surface, "It was an okay job. Didn't feel too satisfied with it."
  4755. >You turn your attention to Shorts again.
  4756. "Then I saw an ad in the paper for a position at a new start-up, one of the fresh new companies exploring the up-and-coming greentext market. I figured, fuck it, why not, and signed up."
  4757. >You glance back at your picture and offer a slight nod to it, prompting Shorts to swivel and inspect it herself.
  4758. "That picture is of when we first opened. I was one of the initial employees."
  4759. >Shorts leans forward and studies it closely.
  4760. >A large group of ponies and humans, including you, stand together behind Fluttershy and Twilight, who each have a hoof draped around each other's shoulders.
  4761. >They're both beaming at the camera.
  4762. >"I've never noticed it."
  4763. "I only hung it up the other day. I thought it'd be a nice reminder of what things were like back then." you nudge the filing cabinet under the desk next to you with your foot, "It was just in there with a bunch of other mementos."
  4764. >Shorts nods, and you stretch out your arms, cracking your joints.
  4765. "Back then I just wanted a nice, easy-going office job doing something new. No drama, no fighting, no nothing."
  4766. >Your companion smiles meekly.
  4767. >"That didn't work out too well, did it?"
  4768. "Hahh, no, not really. I expected everything apart from her."
  4769. >"Fluttershy?" she says with a raised eyebrow.
  4770. "Mm. She's one-in-a-million," you smile, "though maybe that's for the best."
  4771. >"Might be two-in-a-million soon."
  4772. "Or three, if God hates me enough."
  4773. >"You think it might be twins?"
  4774. "Kill me if it is."
  4775. >You stand up.
  4776. "I'm gonna go check on her."
  4777. >Shorts almost rises with you, but decides against it.
  4778. >"I'll... just wait here. Good luck?"
  4779. >You grunt an acknowledgement as you shuffle out of the cubicle.
  4780.  
  4781. >Fluttershy doesn't address you as you enter.
  4782. >Her eyes lock onto you and don't leave, but she doesn't speak.
  4783. >The mare watches intently as you traverse the room and sit across from her in a chair again.
  4784. >You sit forward, wringing your hands nervously.
  4785. "...Feeling okay?"
  4786. >It's the eyes.
  4787. >It's always the eyes.
  4788. >Fluttershy has a way of boring into you with those eyes.
  4789. >In happier, less dramatic days they'd be full of rage, trying to find any weakness they could to exploit and turn into either an insult or leverage.
  4790. >Now they convey an odd sort of melancholy.
  4791. >"I'm okay." she says finally, wiping the side of her eye with a hoof.
  4792. "Do you want your tissues?" you ask, reaching back to her desk for her top drawer.
  4793. >She doesn't stop you as you fish out the spare box of tissues she keeps there and place it on the arm of the sofa she's leant against.
  4794. >The mare just watches you.
  4795. >You run a hand through your hair, unsure of yourself.
  4796. "So... we have a lot to discuss."
  4797. >"No, we don't."
  4798. >A lump forms in your throat, but it doesn't last long.
  4799. >Fluttershy smiles at you.
  4800. >It seems to take all of her effort, all of her will, and her tail flicks several times.
  4801. >But she smiles, nonetheless.
  4802. >And in that smile you see a pony you've never met.
  4803. >She's unfamiliar; like a stranger's wearing her body.
  4804. >"I forgive you, Anon."
  4805. >You can only stare at her.
  4806. >For a brief moment you feel almost angered.
  4807. >It's like you're aghast that after so many years of silently suffering with your burden she's not even going to give you the courtesy of getting mad.
  4808. >She continues, her smile steady and eyes still focused entirely on you.
  4809. >You're all that matters to her at this point in time.
  4810. >There are no huffs, no snorts.
  4811. >No eye-rolls or dismissive hoof waving.
  4812. >Fluttershy lies before you with a gentle expression and welcoming eyes.
  4813. "I-I made Twilight leave--"
  4814. >"I know."
  4815. "I'm responsible for the schism in the company--"
  4816. >"I know."
  4817. "Fluttershy, I'm the reason the company is failing, why it's in the state that it's in--"
  4818. >"I know, Anon."
  4819. "...Then why forgive me?"
  4820. >She hesitates before giving her reply, choosing to speak in a slow, considered manner.
  4821. >"Because I've come to realise that I treasure you more than I do the company."
  4822. >She pauses, just for a moment.
  4823. >"Despite everything, I've grown to covet you. You're my best friend, my confidante, my rock, and my truest critic."
  4824. >Her smile grows slightly, though her eyes are still tinged with the same sadness as before.
  4825. >"You're everything I need, even if you're not everything I want. You're imperfect, at times irritating so, but always, always loyal. And I've come to cherish you for that. You're my perfectly flawed guardian angel."
  4826. >Her ears fall back slightly, and she speaks her final verse with caution, as if afraid of what would happen next.
  4827. >"Despite everything, I love you."
  4828. >She lets the statement hang between you both.
  4829. >All you can do is remain leant forwards in your chair, gazing at her.
  4830. >In the quiet of the office, you struggle to find words to break the peace.
  4831. >The longer you sit there, the longer she stares at you.
  4832. >However there's no impatience driving her; she seems content to just keep monitoring you for as long as she wishes, as if deriving enjoyment from simply watching you.
  4833. "Christ..." you say finally.
  4834. >She smirks.
  4835. >"I've said it now, 'teddy bear'."
  4836. >You raise an eyebrow at her.
  4837. >"You're all mine~"
  4838. "Oh shut up, don't get high and mighty just because you developed your first set of real emotions."
  4839. >The two of you share a soft laugh and regard one another for a moment longer before embracing like old lovers.
  4840. >When her lips grace yours it's different from previous encounters.
  4841. >The impassioned lust that governed the mare of yesteryear is gone.
  4842. >Now there's a careful affection present.
  4843. >Her actions don't seek to dominate, but to coax.
  4844. >She's inviting you to dance; to be her partner, her equal.
  4845. >No longer your superior, but your other half.
  4846.  
  4847. >The two of you emerge from the office, Fluttershy opting to walk alongside you rather than you normally carrying her as she often asks you to these days.
  4848. >You swing by your cubicle and gesture for Shorts to accompany you.
  4849. >With her in tow, your trio enters the kitchen to find Milky and her guards still talking quickly amongst themselves.
  4850. >They look up as you enter.
  4851. >Milky seems for a moment unconfident, but she masks it and regains her regular cocky grin.
  4852. >"So, are we all fine now?"
  4853. "Better than we were, no thanks to you, but still pretty bad. We still have to deal with Twilight."
  4854. >Milky clops her hooves together triumphantly.
  4855. >"Excellent! So we're all in agreement that we're killing her?"
  4856. >She beams eagerly at you and your companions.
  4857. >Slowly, her smile fades.
  4858. >"Well don't answer all at once."
  4859. >Shorts nearly answers for you, but you speak before she can start another fight.
  4860. "We're not doing that. Is there anything else we can do? Any other tricks we can come up with? Strings to pull? Anything to stop her from taking that evidence to the cops?"
  4861. >"Well how long do you have first, sugar? Did she give you a deadline?"
  4862. "Not really, but knowing Twilight it'll probably be a week. She works in weeks."
  4863. >"That's fine, so we have a week to come up with a plan to topple her empire. Easy. It'll be just like the Safe Haven job."
  4864. "Safe Haven was a good company, you should be ashamed of yourself for that."
  4865. >"I'm a crime-boss, Anon, I don't feel shame."
  4866. "So what's the plan?"
  4867. >"The plan is that we have a word with our friends upstairs."
  4868. >She give you a knowing look.
  4869. >You squint incredulously at her for a second, then mouth an 'oh'.
  4870. "I... don't think that's gonna work."
  4871. >"How can you know if you don't try? Come on, sugar, they could be useful."
  4872. "I don't see how. One's a maniac and the other's a giant rat."
  4873. >"A trained giant rat, hon."
  4874. "But still a giant rat."
  4875. >"And still useful, we could use him for some sort of 'shock and awe' strategy. Really scare the daylights out of who we need him to, you know?"
  4876. "It's a rat, Milky, not a vengeful demon."
  4877. >"I beg to differ, you -do- remember how big he was, don't you?"
  4878. "A rat isn't going to help us, and neither is Slasher."
  4879. >"Again, I'm just saying we should try."
  4880. >You lean back on your heel, frowning at the former milk-mare, arms folded.
  4881. "You're not letting up on this, are you."
  4882. >"Nope."
  4883. "Right."
  4884. >You look around the room, then up at the ceiling.
  4885. "Someone make me a drink whilst I go sort this out then--"
  4886. >"I'll do it."
  4887. >You stop and look sideways at Shorts, bewildered.
  4888. >As does everyone else.
  4889. >One of Milky's guards tries not to snicker.
  4890. "Uh, Shorts, I'm going into the vents."
  4891. >"Yeah?"
  4892. "With... Rudolph."
  4893. >"Sure."
  4894. "Mmm...?" you make a gesture as if to imply that the danger is self-evident.
  4895. >Shorts is undeterred, and stands as tall as she can.
  4896. >"I fucked up before, I owe you."
  4897. >She gives you a cheeky grin.
  4898. >"So make me a drink whilst I go sort this out."
  4899.  
  4900. >You grasp the edge and scramble up into the vents, Anon's hands pushing on your rear legs to get you farther.
  4901. >"You there yet, Shorts?"
  4902. "Yeah," you call back, "I'm good, thanks!"
  4903. >A small metal tube is tossed into the hole in the vents after you.
  4904. >"Little torch I found! I think it's still alive, but if not you can use it as a club!"
  4905. "Gee, thanks, Anon."
  4906. >"No problem, good luck!"
  4907. >The ventilation grate slams shut behind you.
  4908. >They really didn't need to do that.
  4909. >Fumbling with the torch in your hooves, you temporarily blind yourself before your eyes adjust to the dark.
  4910. >It's musty in here.
  4911. >And the smell is abominable.
  4912. >But still, you have a job that needs doing, and you feel like you won't get paid otherwise, so away you go.
  4913. >The vent-shaft is wide enough for a human to navigate if they were crawling on their stomach, so for a pony such as yourself you can just about shuffle along, but you have to keep your head ducked.
  4914. >The vents span the entire warehouse complex, so even though the office is the only part of the building you ever see, you're aware that the vent system in its entirety dwarfs what little you've seen.
  4915. >A mare could get lost in here, were it not for the infrequent panels providing access and light from the outside.
  4916. >So you move forward, conscious of every slight noise you hear in the looming chrome-lined dark.
  4917.  
  4918. >After about 20 minutes of sneaking around you let out a sigh of exasperation as you turn another corner.
  4919. >Are you even still in the building at this point? Have you been going in circles?
  4920. >You begin to consider finding a panel and aborting the mission, but a noise behind you makes you freeze.
  4921. >A hastened scratching echoes off the steel ducts around you, followed by a murmur.
  4922. >Then, something wet prods your butt.
  4923. >You let out a yelp and almost curl up into a ball, your tail wrapping around yourself protectively.
  4924. >Nearly dropping the torch, you twist yourself around to confront whatever poked you and shine your light directly at it.
  4925. >Rudolph, a rat far more at home in the dreary confines of the vents, hisses angrily as your light stuns him.
  4926. >You let out a squeak and angle it away from his face.
  4927. "Sorry! I'm sorry! Didn't mean to shine it at you it's just really dark and you scared... um. Me."
  4928. >You slowly stop talking when you see Rudolph staring blankly at you.
  4929. "Uh. So, hi."
  4930. >Rudolph just stares.
  4931. "I'm Short Storys. I'm from downstairs, we've met a couple times."
  4932. >He stares.
  4933. "It's nice to meet you?"
  4934. >And stares.
  4935. "So I'm looking for Slasher... Is he around here? Is that where you were going?"
  4936. >He just keeps staring.
  4937. "Can you even understand me?"
  4938. >He cocks his head, his beady eyes watching you closely.
  4939. "I can't believe I'm talking to a rat... so uh, can you help us? We need help, that's why, uh that's why I'm here. With you. In a... vent."
  4940. >The rat uses his front claws to scratch an itch behind his ear.
  4941. "...Okay, this isn't working, I'm gonna go--."
  4942. >Rudolph effortlessly turns in the tunnel and squeaks once.
  4943. >Then happily trots off, his clawed soles lightly pattering against the steel floor despite his size.
  4944. >You watch him go with interest, then shrug and begin moving after him as quickly as the space around you allows.
  4945.  
  4946. >Rudolph is clearly at home in the vents.
  4947. >He turns each corner with confident determination.
  4948. >Or at least, as much determination as you can glean from the back-end of a giant rat.
  4949. >He leads you around a veritable labyrinth, until you see a broad light at the end of the tunnel.
  4950. >It's different from the slits of light that poke through the access panels you've seen so far.
  4951. >Rudolph drops out into the glow and you crawl after him.
  4952. >When your head emerges from the exit, you're dumbfounded by what you see.
  4953. >An apparent brickwork box.
  4954. >It's tall enough for Anon to stand in and then some.
  4955. >Almost like a cubicle, but with red bricks for sides.
  4956. >The floor is concrete, and the ceiling is a drab, mouldy plasterboard.
  4957. >At random locations on the walls of the box are entrances to other parts of the ventilation system, indicating that you must be at the very heart of the vents.
  4958. >One of the walls is taken up by a huge, slowly rotating fan, through which fresh air can be felt, and you can hear the outside world, but only slightly.
  4959. >Above, a cluster of lightbulbs wrapped together in wire dangles, projecting a merry yellow light into the confines of the box.
  4960. >Before you sits Rudolph; sat on his haunches on an old mattress waiting patiently, his black eyes vigilantly watching as you emerge from the darkness.
  4961. >You flop gracelessly out of the wall and land on a pile of old cardboard before rising to your hooves.
  4962. >Twisting your head, you take in more of the room.
  4963. >Posters of old movies and random hair-products adorn the parts of the wall not granting entrance to the vents.
  4964. >A small wooden table with a lamp is in the corner, a great many books piled on top of and crammed under it.
  4965. >In another corner is a pile of mangled cans that you recognise.
  4966. >You point a hoof at them, mostly out of bewilderment.
  4967. "Those are my canned peaches!"
  4968. >Rudolph doesn't show his shame, mostly because he's a rat.
  4969. >But if he could, you'd hope that he would.
  4970. >Instead he sniffs the air and squeaks to himself.
  4971. >You sit back on your improvised cardboard seat and watch him.
  4972. "So this is where you live... where's Slasher?"
  4973. >Rudolph cocks his head.
  4974. "The guy that trained you?"
  4975. >The rat makes a noise and reaches behind himself, picking something up between his teeth and delicately giving it to you.
  4976. >It's an old mini whiteboard.
  4977. >On it, a message scribbled in spidery black writing.
  4978. >' Gone busking, dinner's in their fridge. '
  4979. "Oh."
  4980.  
  4981. >Milky clicks her tongue.
  4982. >"So it's been about half an hour, are we saying she dead?"
  4983. >You yawn and wipe your eye with a hand.
  4984. "She's not dead, the vents are just big."
  4985. >"How big, exactly?"
  4986. "I'm not all that sure. Never explored them myself. I know they go underground at some point but again, I don't know. The blueprints for the building don't even feature them."
  4987. >"Wow, that's totally fascinating."
  4988. "Cut the shit, Milky."
  4989. >She chuckles.
  4990. >"I still think you and I should work together, Anon; how about when this is all over we partner up, hm?"
  4991. "Frankly I'd rather kill myself."
  4992. >"That -can- be arranged if you want. I know people."
  4993. "Of course you do."
  4994. >Before she can retort, one of her bodyguards yells out in alarm.
  4995. >Milky and yourself, who were stood under the access panel you'd previously stuffed Shorts into, look at each other with concern.
  4996. >Milky speaks first, calling out across the office.
  4997. >"Rubble? What's the matter?"
  4998. >Rubble, a dark grey stallion with a black mane, careens across the floor towards his boss, panic clear on his face.
  4999. >"It's the fuckin' cops, boss! They're outside!"
  5000. >Milky's eyes bulge, her confidence shattered.
  5001. >"WHAT?!"
  5002. >Rubble doesn't know what to do with himself, shifting from one hoof to the other.
  5003. >"I-I don' know how they knew we was 'ere, but there's like a hundred of 'em out there!"
  5004. >Your blood runs cold as Milky turns to you, her expression grave.
  5005. >"Guess we didn't have a week, did we?"
  5006. >Without a word you sprint into Fluttershy's office, barging through the door to find the mare stood at her window.
  5007. >She turns to you with clear shock.
  5008. >"Anon, there are cops in the alley!"
  5009. >You come to the window and look out, and sure enough, police officers, both man and pony alike, are picking through the trash and hitting bin-bags with their batons checking for people.
  5010. "They'll have the whole building surrounded."
  5011. >As you speak, one of the police officers looks up and sees you both staring at him.
  5012. >He shouts, and his colleagues move into position, blocking both exits to the alleyway and barking into their radios.
  5013. >You move away from the window to run back into the office, and then to the window you once looked out of to spy on Reverse Gender Roles so many moons ago.
  5014. >In the street there are more than a dozen cruisers blockading the road with officers swarming around them and setting up barriers as they hustle into position.
  5015. >You turn away from the scene, rigid.
  5016. >Milky was standing behind you.
  5017. >She looks grim.
  5018. >"Surrounded, aren't we."
  5019. "Looks that way."
  5020. >"Shit. Shhhhhit."
  5021. >She turns from you and paces towards the kitchen, methodically saying "shit" to herself.
  5022. >You glance out at the police again, despair taking hold.
  5023.  
  5024. >You puff out your cheeks as you stare at the rat, unsure of what to do.
  5025. >This is a lot more than you were expecting.
  5026. >Still, Rudolph can apparently understand you, so you just jump right into it.
  5027. "Okay, so here's the deal."
  5028. >You shuffle forwards.
  5029. >The rat remains sat on his mattress, seemingly ready to listen.
  5030. "Things are bad, aaand we need you to help us for shock-and-awe or something and... um."
  5031. >He blinks.
  5032. >You struggle to find words.
  5033. "I-I don't really know why we need you." you say finally, "Or Slasher." your frustration creeps into your voice, "I haven't got a clue-- I-I just don't know!"
  5034. >You lean back against the brick, upset at your cluelessness.
  5035. "I don't see any other way out of this other than going with Twilight! It's not that hard, surely!"
  5036. >Rudolph doesn't provide the sage advice you were looking for, but at least he's good at listening.
  5037. "I guess this was a waste of time. Sorry for barging in, Rudolph, you have a uh, lovely home, and I'll see you around maybe."
  5038. >He wriggles his nose, his whiskers bouncing about.
  5039. "Yeah, great. Also stay away from my peaches, I really like them and I don't buy them for you to steal from the fridge."
  5040. >You stand and turn to go, reaching up to hoist yourself back into the vents, when you hear distant shouting.
  5041. >Curious, you stop, and wait.
  5042. >For a few precious seconds you strain your ears at the faint sounds.
  5043. >The shouting isn't coming from the vents.
  5044. >It's coming from outside.
  5045. >You glance at the giant, slowly rotating fan on the wall.
  5046. >Pointing a hoof at the fan, you trot over to it.
  5047. "This is connected to the outside world, right? Outside the warehouse?"
  5048. >Rudolph nods.
  5049. >You stand before the fan and listen carefully.
  5050. >Orders are being bellowed, and you can hear the growing sound of boots on the ground.
  5051. >You don't know where to exactly the fan is connected in relation to the building, but you know the sound of trouble when you hear it.
  5052. >More orders are shouted, and you pick up words like 'barricade' and 'sergeant'.
  5053. "Sounds like... cops..." you mumble to yourself.
  5054. >...
  5055. >You freeze, and your eyes widen in panic.
  5056. "Oh shit, that sounds like cops!"
  5057. >Rudolph unexpectedly chitters angrily, causing you to flinch.
  5058. >You eye him with caution, then nod slightly, a flicker of hope kindling within you.
  5059. "...Cops? You... don't like cops?"
  5060. >Rudolph growls at their mention.
  5061. "Right! Cops! Sounds like they're outside now, and they're probably gonna hurt our friends if they get into the building!"
  5062. >Rudolph starts pacing around, chattering to himself.
  5063. >He seems worked up; angry, even.
  5064. >You decide to twist his arm a bit more.
  5065. "And I reckon that once they're done taking away our friends, the whole warehouse will be demolished, and that means no more fridge or canned peaches."
  5066. >He huffs, fur bristling.
  5067. "No more lunchboxes either, I reckon." you say with a shadow of a smile.
  5068. >The rat stops still, then turns his head to look at you.
  5069. >The two of you hold each other's stares, the sounds of the police echoing through the fan.
  5070. >After a brief moment of hesitation, he leaps into the nearest opening in the wall, disappearing into the dark with fervent haste.
  5071. >You scramble after him, hooves struggling to turn on your torch and hold it in your mouth as you dive into the void in pursuit.
  5072.  
  5073. "The roof."
  5074. >"You've never been in a police holdout before, have you?"
  5075. >Milky rubs her temple with a hoof.
  5076. >"They'll have snipers watching the roof, probably even have a fucking helicopter."
  5077. >"They do!" shouts Rubble, sat at the window and watching the skies nervously.
  5078. >"Right, then get away from the window, you idiot! Do you want to lose your head?!"
  5079. >Rubble ducks away from the window as if already under fire.
  5080. >His partner, a stoic looking stallion with a sandy coat and purple mane, stands beside his boss with a fierce expression.
  5081. >"We'll protect you if they try to get in, boss."
  5082. >Milky gives a short laugh.
  5083. >"As much as I appreciate your talent for kicking people, Oats, I don't think you'll do much against a fully armed police battalion."
  5084. >She chews her lip in thought.
  5085. >"Think, Milky, think..."
  5086. >Then wanders off, talking to herself.
  5087. >You run a hand through your hair and wander back to Fluttershy, sat at the kitchen table with her head in her hooves.
  5088. >"It's all coming apart, Anon..."
  5089. "We'll be fine."
  5090. >"I know you're lying to me."
  5091. "And I'm still saying we'll be fine."
  5092. >She looks up at you, a fearful look in her eye.
  5093. >"And if we don't get shot to death in the next few minutes, what happens when we stand trial? Will we be fine then?"
  5094. >She rubs her bump with a hoof, trembling.
  5095. >"I-I can't go to prison like this..."
  5096. "They won't make you, you're pregnant."
  5097. >"Yeah, and once I have the kid--"
  5098. "Shy, please, just let me try and comfort you here."
  5099. >You sit next to her, gripping one of her hooves in your hand.
  5100. >She leans against you instinctively.
  5101. "Everything's... gonna be fine."
  5102. >"...Do you think Twilight could help us?"
  5103. >You think on that for a moment, the sound of the police outside overshadowing your thoughts.
  5104. "Honestly Shy, I don't think even Twi would be able to bail us out of this one."
  5105.  
  5106. >Rudolph can haul himself in a hurry.
  5107. >You're sweating all over trying to keep up with him, the light of your torch barely lingering on his rear before he turns another corner or leaps up another incline.
  5108. >Finally, you manage to catch up.
  5109. >Panting, you flop next to him, the rat paused at an access panel, peering out.
  5110. >You move your head next to him, no longer bothered about being that close to the familiar beast.
  5111. >To your surprise, you're outside.
  5112. >Or rather, the vent is.
  5113. >This portion of the vent shaft seems to jut out of the warehouse slightly, and through the slits you can see the alleyway between this building and the next.
  5114. >Armed police officers are hurrying into position there, and the sight of them makes Rudolph visibly tremble.
  5115. "If you've got a plan I think you need to move now, buddy."
  5116. >At this, the rat takes off again, slapping you in the face with his whip-tail as he goes.
  5117. >You readjust your glasses with an annoyed huff and rush after him, leaving the army of police to assemble below.
  5118. >Several drops occur on your journey, indicating that you're going down.
  5119. >Much, much farther down than before.
  5120. >Glancing through an access panel as you pass, you see that the next drop will take you below the concrete floor of the main warehouse.
  5121. >Anon mentioned that Flutterrape had a basement, but you'd not had the time or courage to visit it yourself.
  5122. >Another drop, and you suspect that you've just gone subterranean.
  5123. >Rudolph hurries on, urgency pressing him.
  5124. >Sometimes he'll pause for a moment and look behind him to check that you're still following, then he'll scamper away.
  5125. >Finally, he finds another large hole in the vents.
  5126. >This one is different from the last, and the smell is much worse.
  5127. >It looks like it was made with teeth rather than tools, and you carefully exit it, making sure not to cut yourself on the sharp, twisted edges of the improvised exit.
  5128. >As you emerge into what you assume is the basement, the breath catches in your throat, and your heart stops.
  5129. >Rudolph stands before you on his haunches, his claws folded over each other in front of his midsection in an almost civilised manner.
  5130. >Around him are hundreds of foreboding shapes of varying shapes and muddy hues.
  5131. >You take a hesitant step forward, and Rudolph makes a loud noise that sounds like clicking.
  5132. >At that, the forms immediately shift.
  5133. >You try not to recoil as you realise that each and every one of the shapes is actually a curled up, sleeping rat.
  5134. >In silent fear you watch as Rudolph rouses an entire horde of his own kin.
  5135. >Each one is smaller than Rudolph, but still easily capable of wrestling with a pony such as yourself.
  5136. >To your surprise, they regard your guide with adoration.
  5137. >Each rat playfully nips at Rudolph as he presses into the crowd, vying for his attention.
  5138. >Sometimes he'll stop and squeak or nip at one in return, but otherwise he makes his way through the teeming wall of brown furry bodies towards the centre of the cavernous basement.
  5139. >You swallow your trepidation and push into the mass after him.
  5140. >Some of the rats attempt to nip you as well, but you move quickly and try not to focus too much on the fuzz pressing against you.
  5141. >Once you reach the centre, you find Rudolph surrounded by a circle of the rats, who give him a respectfully wide berth.
  5142. >But lying beside him is a rat you recognise as having seen only once before, a long time ago.
  5143. >Smaller, and grey, as opposed to Rudolph's dark brown, the rat nuzzles him lovingly.
  5144. >He looks to you again, as if to confirm what you're already thinking.
  5145. >You look around at the sheer number of rats squashed into the basement, each one trying to get a good look at the centre, then look back to Rudolph and his mate.
  5146. "You've got to be joking."
  5147.  
  5148. >Rising from your seat next to Fluttershy, you walk out of the kitchen.
  5149. >Milky is staring at the door leading out of the office and onto the stairs.
  5150. >Her bottom lip looks battered from her excessively chewing it.
  5151. "Thought of anything?"
  5152. >"No. No, no no no, no. I need more time, that's all. Just more time..."
  5153. >She walks away again, deep in thought.
  5154. >You watch her go and begin to mull something over in your mind.
  5155. >Looking back into the kitchen at Fluttershy, the mare has rested her head on the table, staring ahead despondently.
  5156. >She catches your eye but doesn't do anything.
  5157. >Looking away, you walk towards the exit.
  5158. >Milky needs time to think of a way out.
  5159. >As much time as you can buy her.
  5160. >Said mare notices you heading for the door and cries out in shock.
  5161. >"Anon! Where are you going?!"
  5162. "Wait here, I've got a plan."
  5163. >She canters after you, a fearful look in her eye as she follows you part-way down the steel steps.
  5164. >"Don't do anything stupid! I might need you in my escape plan!"
  5165. "How considerate of you; now go back and think of a way to get us out, don't ruin this for me."
  5166. >She stops and whines in distress, then hastily ascends to the office again, talking more rapidly to herself.
  5167. >It's like she's a completely different pony under pressure.
  5168. >Makes you wonder how she's even a crime-boss to begin with.
  5169. >You reach the front doors of the building.
  5170. >Behind them, just about a quarter of the entire City police force is waiting to make their next move.
  5171. >You tug on your collar, trying not to sweat so much.
  5172. >Your mind is wracked with doubt, but you push it aside.
  5173. >Time to be brave, Anon.
  5174. >God knows it's overdue.
  5175. >Sucking in a deep breath, you pull open the door and step outside.
  5176. >Immediately people start shouting.
  5177. >A man with a megaphone begins screaming for you to get on the ground.
  5178. >Every officer, both man and pony, take aim at you from behind their vehicles.
  5179. >You notice a nearby stallion clutching a lever-action rifle, modified with a larger lever and stock for equine use.
  5180. >It causes you to chuckle to yourself.
  5181. >Pony guns always struck you as silly-looking.
  5182. >The sight grants courage, however, and you hold up a hand, motioning for the crowd to quieten down.
  5183. >It takes a while, but they finally get the message and go silent.
  5184. >Then, a single, stern voice addresses you through another megaphone.
  5185. >A man in a smart black jacket and judgemental eyes is fixated on you, one of his hands casually slipped inside a pocket as he speaks.
  5186. >"My name is Detective Townsend. We have received a tip that the domestic terrorist Milky Way is trapped inside this building. We have every exit covered and marksmen watching the windows and roof."
  5187. >He pauses for a moment.
  5188. >"You're in pretty deep shit, my friend."
  5189. >You wet your lips, shaken somewhat.
  5190. >But you remain resolute, and reply before he can keep speaking.
  5191. "My name is Anonymous! Milky Way sent me!"
  5192. >A good start, now don't fuck this up.
  5193. "She has a demand!"
  5194. >The army before you visibly tenses, and the detective turns his head to say a few words to the sergeant at his shoulder before raising the megaphone to his lips again.
  5195. >"And what -is- her demand? Bearing in mind that she has absolutely no way out of this situation."
  5196. "...You're not a very reassuring negotiator!"
  5197. >"Son, I've had a long day. I was about to clock off before we got this tip, and I could be at home with my wife eating ribs right now but instead I'm here talking to some chubby fuck in a cheap shirt and shoes trying to posture to an army on behalf of some deranged lactating super-criminal. I'm blaming everything that happens from here on out on you. Now, what is her demand?"
  5198. >...
  5199. >Son of a bitch, so you -are- getting fat.
  5200. >There goes your confidence.
  5201. >"Any day now, sweetheart."
  5202. >You clench your fist and clear your throat.
  5203. "She has hostages! And she's going to start killing them unless you can solve this riddle!"
  5204. >The police are dumbfounded, but attentive.
  5205. >You glance at the helicopter circling above.
  5206. >Then at the long-rifles poking out of various windows on higher stories across the street.
  5207. >Then back at the detective, who is now glaring at you and no doubt thinking of all the ribs he could be eating right now.
  5208. >"...We're listening?"
  5209. >With a gulp, you speak, and from the blackest depths of your mind you concoct and relay the most inhumane, depraved, unforgivably evil riddle you can possibly think of.
  5210. >...
  5211. "A train leaves Phoenix at ten-fifteen travelling to Los Angeles at sixty miles per hour, another train leaves Los Angeles at ten-thirty travelling at seventy miles per hour to Phoenix; both trains will pass each other in forty-five minutes, and each train has seven cars attached to it, how many passengers are on the train leaving for Los Angeles? You have to show your workings and aren't allowed to use a calculator."
  5212. >...
  5213. >Silence.
  5214. >The cops stare blankly at you.
  5215. >You stare back, sweating.
  5216. >Then, chaos.
  5217. >Police officers begin shouting for notepads and pens, hastily using car bonnets and roofs as writing surfaces as they try to figure out the puzzle.
  5218. >One officer cracks under the pressure and starts crying, his friend trying to console him.
  5219. >The detective and sergeant are staring in disbelief at you.
  5220. >You shrug sheepishly at them and slip back inside the building.
  5221.  
  5222. >Rudolph stares expectantly at you.
  5223. >You glance again at the other rats, who are now cycling between watching their dad, and watching the strange pony he brought into their home.
  5224. "So like, you... you know, -all- of them...?"
  5225. >He nods.
  5226. "Wow. That's uh, impressive."
  5227. >You laugh nervously and motion a hoof at the grey rat resting contentedly beside him.
  5228. "No wonder she's so into you, right?"
  5229. >Your laugh is the only discernible sound you can hear.
  5230. >Clearing your throat, you jab a hoof at the ceiling.
  5231. "Sooo, the cops. What's the plan?"
  5232. >Rudolph doesn't reply, he just sits next to his mate and watches you.
  5233. >Your impatience starts to show, and you suffle your hooves restlessly.
  5234. "Well I was kinda hoping you'd know what to do once we got here. Unless you're just here to just wait it out until they go away."
  5235. >Rudolph nods.
  5236. >You narrow your eyes.
  5237. "...That's it? You're just going to wait? Rudolph, they're going to take away my friend-- and the fridge! Where do you think you're going to get canned peaches then? We're the only ones that can stop this, Rudolph! If the cops have them trapped then there's no way out! They need us! It's not just the police either, i-it's Cadance as well! You know the building across the road from us? Yeah! She's behind this too! I bet she's the one that called the cops in the first place! And I bet her building has tons of fridges with all the, fucking, -peaches- and -lunchboxes- you can eat!" you spit out the last few words and pant heavily from your outburst.
  5238. >You're not sure where all that came from, but you hope it's enough.
  5239. >The rat looks at his mate.
  5240. >She nuzzles him fondly and offers a soft squeak.
  5241. >He emits a low grumble in return, and she squeaks again, firmer this time.
  5242. >The two of them go back and forth for a good while, and you watch with increasing anxiety.
  5243. >The cops could have already stormed the building by now, you're wasting time.
  5244. "Rudolph come on, we need to do something-- anything!."
  5245. >He ignores you and carries on 'talking' to his mate.
  5246. >A nearby rat pokes your butt with his nose.
  5247. >You bat him away with a hoof, opting several of the rats to hiss at you.
  5248. >You hiss back, no longer caring about how much you hate being near them.
  5249. >After what seems like far too long, Rudolph breaks away from his partner and approaches you.
  5250. >He stands before you and bares his teeth, then gnashes them together.
  5251. >You're not sure what to make of it, so you grin toothily in return, hoping that you didn't just give him the green-light to sic his entire family on you.
  5252. >The rat turns to his kin, all watching him with adoration.
  5253. >He seems to hesitate, then raises himself up on his hind legs, elevating him further above the crowd.
  5254. >You flinch and cover your ears when he emits a sudden, blood-curdling shriek.
  5255. >The rats scream in response, the noise terrifying and deafening.
  5256. >Cowering, you cover your head as the teeming mass of rats begin to surge forward towards the hole you came in through.
  5257. >You have no idea what's going on, but you keep your head down and try not to wince too much whenever a rat collides with you or stands on you.
  5258. >The rats are swarming.
  5259. >And Rudolph is the agitator.
  5260. >You watch in wordless horror as hundreds of giant rats storm into the vents like a torrent of chattering furies.
  5261. >The sound of a thousand paws shudder the ventilation network, and you swallow as you finally grasp what you've done.
  5262. >What horror have you just unleashed?
  5263.  
  5264. >Outside the cops are still shouting at each other.
  5265. >Several of them have snapped their pencils and are now sulking.
  5266. >You watch with great interest from the second floor window.
  5267. >Fluttershy watches with you from her place in your arms.
  5268. >"What, um, what have you done?"
  5269. "I gave them mathematics."
  5270. >"That's cruel, Anon."
  5271. "Man must be cruel to survive this world, Shy."
  5272. >You set her down and head for the stairs.
  5273. >"Where are you going?" she asks after you.
  5274. "I've got to keep this going for as long as I can until Milky can think of a way out."
  5275. >You jog downstairs and to the front door, pausing to straighten your shirt and tie and to wipe off any fuzz that's collected on your pants.
  5276. >Got to look somewhat presentable, at least.
  5277. >You clear your throat and open the door, poking your head out and gazing at the bedlam you've caused.
  5278. >The detective sees you, his face conveying absolutely seething rage at the absurdity of the situation.
  5279. >"YOU! YOU! THAT QUESTION IS IMPOSSIBLE!"
  5280. "Ahh, no, no it's not!" you call out in response, "It's got a really simple answer, you'll laugh when you figure it out! Also just wanna remind you all that if you don't get the answer right she'll kill all the hostages!"
  5281. >The detective grits his teeth and pulls a frail looking man out from behind his car.
  5282. >"This man is a mathematician! Go on," he growls as he forces a megaphone into the other man's hands, "tell him what you know!"
  5283. >The old man adjusts his glasses and clears his throat, fumbling with the megaphone for a moment and wincing at the sudden feedback.
  5284. >"I-is this on-- oh, oh dear, it is, right ah, well, this problem doesn't seem to make any sense! It's full of irrelevant information and doesn't even provide a base number of passengers to work with!"
  5285. >Truthfully, you've completely forgotten what the question you gave to them was.
  5286. >But you're winging your entire life at this point, so winging a maths problem shouldn't be too much of an issue.
  5287. >As the old man explains, the police around him calm down, nodding their heads in agreement as someone far more intelligent than they are vocalises their discontent and grievances.
  5288. >The man shrugs and gives you a weak smile.
  5289. >"I-I'm sorry, but the question is just fundamentally broken!"
  5290. >The cops seem satisfied with that, and happy that they no longer have to do maths in order to save the lives of your imaginary hostages.
  5291. >...
  5292. "...Did you carry the one?"
  5293. >And anarchy is reborn.
  5294. >The old man is quickly escorted away as the officers around him scream in frustration and dig out more chewed pencils, many of which become snapped within seconds of furiously scribbling out equations and trying to 'carry the one'.
  5295. >You give the detective another shrug and retreat back inside, safe in the knowledge that you've secured another half-hour of time at least.
  5296. >Saunter upstairs to the main office and smile at Fluttershy as you come in through the door.
  5297. "That ought to keep them occupied for a while longer."
  5298. >Just as she replies, Milky canters out of the kitchen, seemingly elated.
  5299. >"I've got it! I know how we can get out!"
  5300. >But before she can tell you of her plan, the building begins to shudder.
  5301. >Your smile fades.
  5302. >You all stop moving.
  5303. >And the office falls quiet.
  5304. >Your head tips backwards and you peer nervously at the vents above.
  5305. >They're rattling.
  5306. >Violently.
  5307. >The smile slides off your face and you take a tentative step back, looking at the ductwork as it shudders more than it ever has before.
  5308. >Fluttershy moves closer to you, pawing at your trousers.
  5309. >You reach down and pick her up, cradling her against you as you both watch the vents fearfully.
  5310. >You aren't prepared for what happens next.
  5311. >The rising volume from the ducts reaches a crescendo.
  5312. >At several access points to the vents around the office, the panels burst forth from their secured positions.
  5313. >And like water gushing from a broken pipe, dozens of giant rats spill into the office.
  5314. >You immediately leap onto the nearest desk and out of the way, with Milky hurling herself back into the kitchen and slamming the door as the unknown rodent horde rampages through the office and down the stairs towards the ground floor like a great rolling thunder.
  5315. >Jumping down from the desk and evading the torrent of rats, you run to the window still clutching Fluttershy and watch the scene unfold on the street below you with dread.
  5316. >The front doors to Flutterrape LTD are blown off their hinges as the rats surge from the confines of the office building into the main street.
  5317. >The police barely have enough time to drop their pencils and draw their weapons before the beasts are amongst them.
  5318. >The rats descend upon the police like a tidal wave of gnashing teeth and rending claws, leaping over cars and bonnets to sink their jagged vices into whatever they can find.
  5319. >Several officers towards the back of the blockade manage to get a few shots off at the rats, but to little effect as the horde swiftly devours them in its purge.
  5320. >But they don't stop there.
  5321. >Lost to their frenzy, the rats pass like water over and under the cop cars straight into the nearest building.
  5322. >Which just so happens to be Pregnancy Corp.
  5323. >You watch in an almost disconnected trance as the rodents hurl themselves through ground-floor windows and smash themselves against the glass doors with reckless abandon.
  5324. >You can hear the screams inside from here.
  5325. >It's unlike anything you've ever seen.
  5326. >With the police gone, there's nothing between the rats and the workers of Pregnancy Corp.
  5327. >The horde sweeps into the building; an unstoppable tempest of malice and vengeance.
  5328. >You watch the front windows, your eyes travelling up the building as each floor is successively set upon by the ravenous tide of giant rats.
  5329. >A pegasus mare attempts a get-away from a window near the top, but just as she leaps from her perch with her wings unfurled, a rat pounces after her and grabs her in mid-flight, dragging her body to the street below where her life is cut brutally short.
  5330. >Fluttershy watches with you, her silence mirroring yours.
  5331. >Milky stands before you, resting her hooves on the window-sill and peering over the edge at the events unfolding, her eyes wide and an undeniable fear across her features.
  5332. >"Holy shit."
  5333. "Yeah."
  5334. >As your eyes reach the topmost floor, you see a pink shape crash through the glass, raining shards onto the pavement below as Princess Cadance takes flight.
  5335. >She twists her body in transit and fires off several cerulean bolts from her horn at the window she came from, each bolt culminating in a fiery explosion that rips through the pristine stonework of her building and collapses the window-frame she came from.
  5336. >But out of the blaze a single massive creature lunges an inhuman distance from Cadance's office.
  5337. >Rudolph, partially singed and fully enraged, hurls himself from the building and collides with Cadance, grappling her body and sinking his teeth into her neck.
  5338. >She shrieks as she plummets from the sky and towards the carnage below.
  5339. >As she falls, her horn ignites and materialises several more lances of arcane energy.
  5340. >They harmless pass Rudolph and instead strike the police helicopter that had been circling above, the machine's cockpit detonated in an instant.
  5341. >The helicopter spirals madly out of control and ploughs into the side of the building, a great explosion sundering the front of the high-rise and engulfing most of it in flames.
  5342. >As for Cadance, she hits the asphalt with a sickening crack, the rat on top of her seemingly quite pleased with using her body as a landing pad.
  5343. >The rat steps off the gore formerly known as Princess Cadance and looks at the handiwork of his horde.
  5344. >He lets out a shrill cry once more, and his swarm return to him, seeming to conduct a roll-call in the midst of the warzone they created before returning to Flutterrape LTD; several rats carry the bodies of their fallen as they scamper back home.
  5345. >A harrowing quiet reigns over the street where the ashes from Pregnancy Corp fall upon the area like a gentle snow as an enveloping smoke smears the skies.
  5346. >No police officers shout, no cars blare their sirens.
  5347. >The shattered remains of man and pony alike lie twisted and mauled, bathed in crimson, many of them having been killed where they been standing.
  5348. >And in the middle of the once immaculate street before her building, Cadance lies a bloodied corpse at the foot of her company, now in ruins behind her.
  5349. >The princess of love and dreams laid low by a living nightmare.
  5350. >Milky wets her lips and speaks slowly after a minute of muted silence and watching the building opposite Flutterrape be consumed by an inferno.
  5351. >"Well. That's certainly better than my idea of tunnelling out with the spoons we have in the kitchen."
  5352.  
  5353. ---
  5354.  
  5355. >Shorts emerges from the vents.
  5356. >After helping her down, you set her on the floor, the mare fidgeting awkwardly.
  5357. >You raise your eyebrows at her as she avoids looking directly at you.
  5358. >"I-I may have done a bad thing."
  5359. "Technically you did, but the cops are gone and so is Pregnancy Corp."
  5360. >She seems surprised.
  5361. >"Wow, really? So they all just ran away from the rats?"
  5362. "Uh, it's not that they wouldn't have run away, given the chance, it's more that they weren't allowed to."
  5363. >"...What does that mean--"
  5364. "It doesn't matter, just don't look outside until The City cleans everything up."
  5365. >You smile at her.
  5366. "Gotta admit, I'm impressed."
  5367. >"You are?"
  5368. "Sure am. I don't think I'd have been able to amass a horde of bloodthirsty rat monsters that quickly."
  5369. >"I really didn't do much, I just told them, oh never mind... Did you make that drink I asked for?"
  5370. >You shake your head and she sighs, deciding to slink off in the direction of the kitchen.
  5371. "Brandy's under the counter." you call after her.
  5372. >Strolling back to your cubicle, you sit down at your desk.
  5373. >For a second you sit there, thinking.
  5374. >What happens now is anyone's guess.
  5375. >You turn on your screen and open your most recent document.
  5376. >The makings of a story are displayed.
  5377. >This one's about Bon Bon and Anonymous working in a bakery together.
  5378. >Cute concept, you're sure you can make it work.
  5379. >Before you can get to work however, your phone rings.
  5380. >You blink; it's been a while since it's done so.
  5381. >With curiosity you raise it to your ear.
  5382. "Hello?"
  5383. >"Anon? Could you please come into my office?"
  5384. "Oh, sure."
  5385. >Set it back down and reflect on the fact that Fluttershy just used the phone without shouting for once.
  5386. >With a shake of your head you rise to your feet again and head for her office.
  5387. >You see Shorts stumble out of the kitchen overburdened with alcohol and stagger to your cubicle.
  5388. >Poor mare.
  5389. >You'll tell yourself to talk to her properly later.
  5390. >But for now you gently open Fluttershy's office door and find the pegasus talking with Milky Way.
  5391. >You regard Milky warily as you close the door behind you and approach the two of them.
  5392. >Milky smiles at you, and speaks first.
  5393. >"Got a bit tense back there, didn't it, sugar?"
  5394. "Yeah, sure. What do you need, Shy?"
  5395. >Fluttershy just glances at her friend, and Milky continues.
  5396. >"I think it's time I headed out of here, Anon."
  5397. "Okay?"
  5398. >"For good."
  5399. >You try to hide your surprise, and she chuckles.
  5400. >"I'm well aware that you'll be glad to see the back of me, but the way I see it, if I hang around here it'll just cause more trouble for Fluttershy, and I don't want that considering her 'predicament'."
  5401. "That's fair."
  5402. >She frowns.
  5403. >"Further to that, that's the first time I've ever been rumbled without an escape plan. If Shorts hadn't pulled through I'd be a dead mare walking."
  5404. "We got lucky."
  5405. >"Mm, we did. So I was just saying my goodbyes."
  5406. >With that, she turns to her friend and they share a hug, Fluttershy patting the other mare on the back affectionately.
  5407. >Milky pulls away and nuzzles Fluttershy one last time before whispering something in her ear.
  5408. >Fluttershy nods, and with that the former milk-mare turned domestic terrorist heads for the door.
  5409. >"You look after her, Anon," she says as she passes, "I won't be around from now on, so you're all she has."
  5410. "Noted."
  5411. >Milky whistles, prompting Oats and Rubble to appear at her side as they head out the building for the final time.
  5412. >Once they're gone, Fluttershy looks at you and offers a faint smile.
  5413. >"There's one more matter to settle now."
  5414. >She sighs deeply.
  5415. >"I just hope she's willing to see reason."
  5416.  
  5417. >Twilight Sparkle sits opposite Fluttershy, and the two talk in a reserved, luke-warm manner.
  5418. >With your big secret out in the open now, Fluttershy doesn't hold the animosity towards Twilight that she once did, but she's still not entirely fond of her former business partner and companion.
  5419. >Digging up dirt on her company and trying to force a merger through subversion will do that to a friendship.
  5420. >Twilight's making an effort though, and as you watch them both exchange hesitant pleasantries with one another, you find yourself more relaxed than you've been for many years.
  5421. >Twilight sips her tea, as does Fluttershy, and then turns to you.
  5422. >"So, Anon, I guess you're the decision-maker here."
  5423. "Not Fluttershy? It -is- her company after-all."
  5424. >Fluttershy speaks for Twilight, "It is, but you're the one who started this mess, so it's only right that you clean up after yourself."
  5425. >You lean back in your chair and ponder the matter.
  5426. >The question they pose is clear:
  5427. >Does Flutterrape LTD merge with Anon In Equestria Inc., or do the two companies remain separate?
  5428. >Fluttershy is seated on your left, watching you with soft teal eyes.
  5429. >A far cry from what she once was, the mare sits with a calmer posture, and wears a warm expression previously alien to her.
  5430. >On your right, Twilight Sparkle awaits your answer.
  5431. >A close friend from the start, driven away by your cowardice but always ready to accept you back with open arms, she offers stability, and a more prosperous future.
  5432. >She's willing to drop her plans entirely regardless of what you do, however.
  5433. >As it was revealed, things between herself and Cadance weren't as rosy as Cadance made out.
  5434. >Bitter disputes and constantly stepping on each other's toes marred their relationship over the months, and Cadance's habitual manipulation over local politicians and business owners and their personal relationships had made her unpopular to say the least.
  5435. >Twilight always intended to dissolve Flutterrape, but she never made it personal.
  5436. >In light of recent events, she's simply fed up of the whole affair.
  5437. >"I know you've always been stubborn, but this is ridiculous; if a merger was ever to happen it should have occurred years ago. Frankly I just don't see the point in pursuing it any more, especially since it seems to carry with it the risk of a plague of rats."
  5438. >So said Twilight Sparkle.
  5439. >The mare smiles warmly at you, as she always has done, and likely always will.
  5440. >Turning away from her, you glance again at Fluttershy, and your eyes trail down her body.
  5441. >Her bump is huge.
  5442. >The other day she says she felt a kick.
  5443. >And with that on your mind, you nod to yourself as you make your decision.
  5444.  
  5445.  
  5446.  
  5447.  
  5448. - Epilogue -
  5449.  
  5450.  
  5451.  
  5452.  
  5453. >You set the phone down, frowning.
  5454. >Shorts, sat to your side, gives you a questioning look.
  5455. >"Another dud?"
  5456. "Yeah, I don't know why they keep backing out at the last minute."
  5457. >"To be fair, the other guy had family problems so he at least had an excuse."
  5458. "True, but so did you and you still stuck around."
  5459. >"Eh, I'm made of tougher stuff."
  5460. >She sips her coffee, and you eye her.
  5461. "Your mother out of hospital yet?"
  5462. >"Yeah, she's been trying to contact me."
  5463. "And?"
  5464. >"And what?"
  5465. "Come on, Shorts, I know she's a cow, but you have to make an effort. You only get one mother."
  5466. >"My one mother was a bitch to me then and she's a bitch now, Anon."
  5467. "When she's gone you'll miss her."
  5468. >Shorts gives you an annoyed huff and picks up her phone, walking out of the cubicle.
  5469. >"Mom? Yeah, it's me..."
  5470. >You turn back to your work and type a few words.
  5471. >Nothing's coming to you at the moment though, so instead you stand up and stretch, opting to visit Fluttershy's office.
  5472. >She's been keeping her door wide open lately.
  5473. >You pass a stallion typing away at a story, and he reaches out and taps you as you pass.
  5474. >Leaning over his shoulder, you offer a few words of encouragement and criticism.
  5475. >Happy with what you say, he nods eagerly and continues working on his Scootaloo Holocaust Necrophilia story.
  5476. >Despite its premise, it's actually rather heart-warming.
  5477. >The office is a lot busier these days.
  5478. >The total number of employees has risen to twelve, and there's a familiar workplace buzz about the place like there used to be many years ago.
  5479. >There was a surprising boost in interest for Flutterrape stories after a malevolent horde of giant rats emerged from beneath the building, ravaged half the local police force, and murdered the beloved princess of love.
  5480. >Naturally, Fluttershy feigned ignorance about the whole thing, and the entire incident was blamed on Milky Way, a notion that Twilight was all too happy to support if it helped things to stabilise.
  5481. >Milky Way, who disappeared underground and hasn't been seen for months now, has dampened her campaign against the government.
  5482. >Apparently her brush with the cops was too close for comfort, and she's laying low, no longer as brazen as she once was.
  5483. >As for Rudolph, it turns out you can't sustain several hundred kids on the contents of a barely functional company fridge, so he relocated to the city sewers where even now he's living happily with plenty of space to expand his family and access to all the fridges and restaurants he could want.
  5484. >Sometimes you'll pack a lunchbox and leave it next to a vent, just to see if he's still around.
  5485. >It's usually gone in a day or two, only to show up again mauled and covered in spit, so you like to think he knows you're secretly thankful for what he did.
  5486. >Along with the rat, Slasher seems to have vanished for good as well.
  5487. >Every so often you'll get a story from him the mail; Derpy will happily stuff a brown parcel dripping with translucent goo into your hands.
  5488. >You're grateful for the content, but wish he'd stop covering it in ectoplasm.
  5489. >Twilight went back to Anon In Equestria, but things are better between you both now.
  5490. >She visits every few weeks to catch up, and you can sometimes find her and Fluttershy chatting happily in Fluttershy's office just like old times.
  5491. >It took a while, and was rocky at first, but the new Fluttershy is much more forgiving than she used to be.
  5492. >So the office is calmer now, and the work output is on an upward trend, much to your excitement.
  5493. >Still a way to go before you're on the same level as even lesser-companies like Momlestia & Sons or Plane Ponies, but you'll get there eventually.
  5494. >You stroll into Fluttershy's office and walk around the desk to see the mare curled up in her high-back chair facing the window.
  5495. >In her arms, a small figure rests, snoozing in a blanket.
  5496. >She looks up and smiles warmly at you.
  5497. "How is he?"
  5498. >"He's fine, just sleepy."
  5499. "Found any more information on him?"
  5500. >"A little bit. Kids like him don't happen often, and certainly not under natural circumstances."
  5501. >She pulls back the blanket and you both gaze at your son.
  5502. >The top half of him is a bare naked human with pale, chubby features and the beginnings of a mess of pink hair just like his mother.
  5503. >But from the waist down it's all pony, with his two yellow-coated legs squeezed together as he dreams.
  5504. >Kids like him are called Satyrs, and precious few of them have been recorded, many people consider them folklore.
  5505. >Growing up will be difficult for him, of that you're certain.
  5506. >It definitely won't help that he's going to spend a lot of his time hanging around at a company focused around rape, but then again you came to terms long ago with the fact that he's probably not going to grow up normal.
  5507. >As long as you can keep his degeneracy below about 50% you think he'll turn out just fine.
  5508. >Fluttershy gazes at her son and gently brushes the wispy hairs on his head back.
  5509. >"He's gonna be a good kid."
  5510. "It's gonna suck when he grows up and I tell him you wanted a girl."
  5511. >"If you tell him that I'm divorcing you."
  5512. "...Divorce?"
  5513. >Fluttershy gives you a sheepish smile.
  5514. >"Well, you know, I was kinda hoping we could at least make it official, right? Make sure he doesn't grow up in a -completely- broken home."
  5515. >You snort.
  5516. >Then watch Fluttershy carefully, eventually nodding in agreement.
  5517. "...Sure, we can get hitched. But you're paying for the wedding."
  5518. >"Mm, no, I was just gonna take it out of your wages."
  5519. "Predictable."
  5520. >She giggles, and sighs, completely at ease in her chair.
  5521. >"So this is how it all worked out."
  5522. "Guess so."
  5523. >You look at the office door, and watch the new employees running about clutching papers beyond it.
  5524. >Somewhere in the middle of the fuss, you see Shorts stood off to one side on her phone talking to her mother.
  5525. >And smiling.
  5526. >You turn back to Fluttershy and gesture at the baby.
  5527. "So have you thought of a name yet? Kid's just been 'baby' for like four months."
  5528. >"I was thinking... Timber."
  5529. "That's fucking retarded, what about Rudolph?"
  5530. >Fluttershy frowns at you.
  5531. >"You want to name our son after a giant flesh-eating rat monster...?"
  5532. >You shrug.
  5533. "Got any better ideas?"
  5534. >She stares at you.
  5535. >Then shrugs as well with an 'eh'.
  5536. >"Rudolph it is then."
  5537. >She gazes fondly at the child in her arms, cradling him gently.
  5538. >"Little Rudolph..."
  5539. "Man, he's gonna be so pissed when he grows up and we tell him where his name comes from."
  5540. >"Oh yeah, he's gonna be mad as hell."
  5541. "It's gonna be fucking hilarious."
  5542. >"It'll be amazing to watch."
  5543. >You lean down and kiss your wife-to-be on the cheek before heading for the door.
  5544. >Baby or not, you have a job to do.
  5545. >And you know that Roving Cloud was looking for you earlier.
  5546. >Fluttershy swivels in her chair and watches you go.
  5547. >"Back to work already?"
  5548. >You turn to face her once you reach the door and take in the sight of her.
  5549. >She's smiling; a genuine smile, just like she used to.
  5550. >No longer wearing her suit, and her mane is tied up in a neat ponytail.
  5551. >Still a bit chubby, but that's quickly grown on you.
  5552. "Well, stories don't write themselves, Shy."
  5553.  
  5554. "And we need greentext, god dammit."
  5555.  
  5556.  
  5557.  
  5558. The End.
Meta Flutterrape NSFW Comedy Drama Anon Fluttershy Twilight Sparkle OC Various Characters

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