Ditzy burst through the door of the employee lounge, leapt into the air, and flew straight across the room to the breakfast table. An entire muffin was already in her mouth before her hooves even touched the floor again. The grey pegasus chewed contently for a few moments.
"Hungry today, are we?"
Ditzy snapped out of her muffin trance, and turned to glance at the pony who had addressed her.
"Hi Breeze!" she greeted cheerfully after managing to swallow the large quantity of muffin she had been chewing.
"Hey." Breeze replied, flashing a friendly smile. "So, how'd that first job go yesterday? Did you manage to fulfill your client's request?"
Ditzy nodded enthusiastically and proceeded to tell her co-worker all about the previous day's assignment.
"Well, sounds like an easy one, but I bet Candyfloss planned that, it being your first assignment and all" Breeze answered when her story had concluded. "But still, you had a creative way of handling it. Sounds like it went well."
"Yeah," Ditzy replied, groping for another muffin. "And I got a good price, too! Two-hundred bits!"
Breeze grinned. "Wait till you get a job from Canterlot," he replied. "You can make a lot more than that if you know how to haggle."
"Really?" asked Ditzy, surprised that anypony would be willing to pay that much.
"We work in a rare business, Ditzy," Breeze said. "It's a tough job sometimes, but if you have a few successful jobs a week, any money problems you might have will vanish pretty quickly."
Ditzy imagined her life if she made double what she had made at her old job. She wouldn't be struggling to get by anymore. She could purchase better food, give her cottage the maintenance it needed, and even buy Dinky those expensive dolls she wanted for her birthday.
"Is this your new friend then, Breeze?" came an accented voice. Ditzy and Breeze turned to see another pegasus entering the room. He had a white coat and a dark grey mane, and wore a small beret perched at an angle on his head. He had a raincloud for a cutie mark.
"Morning, Cloudcover," Breeze said. He turned back to Ditzy. "Ditzy, this is Cloudcover," he said. "He's the only other pegasus that works here besides the two of us."
"Pleasure to meet you," Cloudcover said, extending a hoof to Ditzy.
"I know that accent
" Ditzy said as she shook the newcomer's hoof. "You're from Trottingham, aren't you?"
"Right-o!" Cloudcover responded. "I'm surprised you're familiar with the accent; Trottingham isn't exactly next door."
"Oh, I've been around," Ditzy replied. "I used to be a mailmare. There isn't a city in Equestria I haven't visited at some point or another."
"Oh, right!" Cloudcover chuckled. "Breeze told me yesterday that you wound up here somewhat by accident."
"She succeeded on her first assignment, though," Breeze cut in.
"Splendid!" the white pegasus replied. "I'll admit I failed my first task quite badly, but I've gotten a mite better since then."
Ditzy turned back to Breeze as Cloudcover floated over to the table for some coffee. "So, Breeze, how many other ponies work here?"
"Just two," said Breeze. "They should be here any moment actually."
There was a loud crash in the vicinity of the staircase, followed by wild laughter and a muffled, but clearly angry, female voice. "That would be them now," Breeze said.
The lounge door opened and a yellow Earth pony with a brown mane raced into the room. He had an extremely enthusiastic expression on his face; his yellow eyes practically glowed with excitement. Ditzy noticed the energetic pony had a pair of live wires with a spark between them for a cutie mark.
"What's the hold up? You're so slow!" the Earth Pony called down the steps.
"I think you're just too fast, as always," the female voice replied. The owner of this voice, a sky blue unicorn with a teal mane, sauntered into the room. In contrast to the other new arrival, she didn't look particularly enthused; her purple eyes stared in annoyance at the Earth Pony. The unicorn sported a cluster of small stars and a comet as a cutie mark.
"Oh, lighten up," the Earth pony said to his unicorn companion. He glanced over, and his eyes locked on Ditzy. "Oh! There! It's the new employee!"
In an instant, the Earth pony was right in front of Ditzy, shaking her hoof so rapidly that her whole body vibrated.
"Hi! How are ya'! The name's Kilowatt Hour, most people just call me Watt, probably because by the time they say my whole name I'm already gone!" He punctuated his erratic greeting with an annoyingly loud, gleeful laugh. Ditzy had to listen carefully to catch everything the pony said; he talked just as quickly as he moved.
"So anyways, who're you?"
"D-D-Ditzy D-Doo," Ditzy stammered, her body still trembling from Watt's jarring hoofshake.
"Nice to meet ya', Ditzy Doo! I'm positive you and I will get along just fine, even though I don't know anything about you, because I get along well with everypony and hey are those muffins?"
And suddenly, Watt was at the breakfast table, helping himself. Ditzy barely even saw him move.
Breeze met Ditzy's slightly distressed look with a grin. "Don't worry about him," he said. "Watt takes a little getting used to, but he's just about the friendliest pony you'll ever meet."
"He certainly seems
energetic," Ditzy commented.
"That's what happens when you work with electricity!" Watt yelled without turning away from his breakfast. "Once you get shocked enough times, everything around you starts moving real slowly!"
He shoved another pastry into his mouth, and suddenly, he was on the other side of the room, talking to Cloudcover. All Ditzy saw was a blur of yellow fur as he passed by.
Ditzy turned to look at the unicorn, who hadn't spoken to anyone since entering the room. She was now seated in the corner, using her magic to page through a magazine.
Breeze looked over at the unicorn. "That's Cosmic Glow. We just call her Glow. Well, except for Watt; he calls her Cosmo for whatever reason."
"Should I go introduce myself?" Ditzy asked. "She didn't come join us; is she shy or something?"
not the right word," Breeze said. "More like
just plain antisocial."
"Oh, she can't be that bad," Ditzy argued. "She's gotta have some social skills if she's a matchmaker."
Breeze shrugged. "Okay. Don't say I didn't warn you."
"Oh, hush," Ditzy chided. She left the dining area and trotted over to Cosmic Glow. She stood in front of the unicorn for a few moments, but the latter didn't lower her magazine.
"Hello," said Ditzy loudly, determined to get the unicorn to talk to her.
Glow finally put down the magazine and looked up at Ditzy. She stared blankly at the pegasus for a few moments, and then scrunched up her nose as if she had smelled something rotten.
"Ew. What's wrong with your eyes?"
Ditzy was used to the question, but was still taken aback by how rudely the unicorn had phrased it. "They've
been that way for a while
" she replied slowly, not trying to hide her ticked-off expression. "It's an unfortunate medical condition."
She turned the topic away from her disability. "Anyway," she continued, extending her hoof in greeting. "I'm Ditzy Doo. You are
"Glow," the unicorn responded, rudely ignoring Ditzy's offered hoofshake. "I have the best success rate at this company. I suppose you, being a newbie, came to me for some tips?"
really," Ditzy was getting more and more annoyed with this unicorn's personality. "I just figured I'd be friendly and say hello."
"Well then, hello. Now go away, I'm busy," Glow responded, levitating her magazine again. Ditzy snorted indignantly, and turned and trotted back toward the other ponies.
"A real charmer, isn't she?" said Breeze sarcastically as the frustrated pony walked up to him.
she's just a jerk, really," Ditzy said under her breath. "Does she really have the highest shipping success rate of all of you?"
"Unfortunately, yes," Breeze replied. "While she naturally has not one polite bone in her body, she's awfully good at faking it when dealing with clients. And despite her utterly snide attitude, she really gets the workings of relationships, somehow. Her total success number is way higher than any of ours. The only pony with a better record for success is Candyfloss himself, and he's in a whole different category then we are."
"What kind of jobs does Candyfloss do, anyway?" Ditzy asked.
"Nopony knows. All I can tell you is he handles super-complex or very delicate situations; sometimes his plan to get two ponies together can span a month or more. And yet, rumor has it he's never failed a single job he's taken."
Breeze shrugged again. "Like I said, it's all rumors. Hardly anypony knows any real details about what Candyfloss really does. So, as far as proven records go, Glow still holds first place for most successful ships."
Ditzy glanced at everypony around the room. Autumn Breeze, Cloudcover, Kilowatt Hour, and Cosmic Glow; she certainly had some interesting new co-workers.
A loud screech filled the room, followed by Candyfloss's voice on the intercom.
"Ditzy Doo, an assignment has come in for you. Please report to my office."
"Got an early one today?" Breeze asked. "Good luck, as always."
"Thanks Breeze," Ditzy answered as she trotted out the door.
"Meet me in Ponyville Park, under the big oak tree."
Ditzy read her assignment from the slip of paper again to ensure she remembered it as she glided along over the town. She tried to push her thoughts about her new co-workers out of her mind for the time being so she could focus on helping the client when she arrived.
The big oak tree was easy to spot, even with Ditzy's visual impairment. It was far and away the largest tree in the park, throwing shade for dozens of feet in every direction. The pegasus angled her flight toward it.
Unfortunately, a stray branch worked its way into a blind spot in poor Ditzy's vision. There was a sudden loud crack as she struck it, and the pegasus fell to the ground, tangled in a mesh of leaves and broken branches.
Ditzy groaned and rolled over, trying to escape the pile of foliage. She felt another pony's hoof grab her arm and help her get up.
Once Ditzy's head cleared from the crash, she turned to see who had helped her. She found herself face to face with a familiar Earth pony, a mare with a cream colored coat and a purple and blue mane.
"Oh, hi Bon-Bon! Thanks for the help," Ditzy said.
"No problem," Bon-Bon replied. "I guess you didn't see the
"I saw the tree!" Ditzy replied in false indignation. "Just not that particular branch!"
Both mares laughed. Ditzy and Bon-Bon lived relatively near to each other, and had gotten to be good friends over the years. Bon-Bon was used to Ditzy's unfortunate shenanigans, and the two of them joked about it all the time.
"So," said Ditzy after she stopped giggling. "Did you contact Equestria Speedy Shipping Services? I'm supposed to meet a client right here."
"Why, yes," Bon-Bon replied, looking surprised. "I didn't know you were a matchmaker, Ditzy!"
"I think I'm the one who should be surprised," Ditzy said. "What do you need shipping services for, Bon-Bon? Aren't you and Lyra already kind of an item? I mean, I thought everypony knew you two were together."
Bon-Bon looked a little sad. "Well, I guess that's true," she said. "Almost everypony does consider me and Lyra an couple. Everypony except
Ditzy gasped. "Lyra doesn't like you anymore?!"
"No, no, it's not that," Bon-Bon said hastily. "I just think Lyra might not
actually notice that we're a couple. She's been a bit
distracted lately, by her, um, hobby
"Hey, Bon-Bon!" cried a nearby voice. The two mares turned to see Lyra herself galloping toward them, carrying a long, low box of some sort.
"Hi Ditzy," said Lyra, before quickly turning back to Bon-Bon. "Bon, look at this!"
The mint green unicorn levitated the box in front of Bon-Bon, and removed the lid. Inside was a pile of mud, with an unusual oblong pattern imprinted on it.
?" Bon-Bon asked.
"I found it at the edge of the Everfree forest!" Lyra said. "Bon, I think this is a human footprint! From an actual human shoe!"
Lyra squealed with delight at her own discovery, eyeing the shape in the mud as if it was a pile of valuable gems. Bon-Bon just raised an eyebrow.
"I see you're speechless with excitement!" Lyra said after a moment. "I'm going to take this thing back to my place and analyze it further. Come with me, would you Bon?"
"Um, you go ahead, I'll be along in a few minutes," Bon-Bon replied. Lyra nodded and took off. "Oh, and, can Ditzy come too?" Bon-Bon called after her.
"Sure, why not!" cried Lyra as she disappeared around the corner.
Bon-Bon turned back to Ditzy. "And now you see my problem," she said. "Lately, Lyra's been so engrossed in her human studies that I feel more like her lab assistant then her lover." She looked at Ditzy with pleading eyes. "I just want to make sure Lyra still feels about me how I feel about her. Do you think you can do something about that?"
"I will certainly try," said Ditzy, pitying Bon-Bon's plight. "Did you have a price in mind?"
"Oh. Hmm," Bon-Bon thought about it. "I don't know, what do you usually get for a job like this?"
"I don't know; I'm too new at this to have any averages."
a hundred bits sound?"
"Deal," said Ditzy, not really worried about the lower price since, in essence, she had made an entire week's salary yesterday anyway. "Should we head over to Lyra's now?"
"Yeah, she'll be expecting us."
Bon-Bon pushed open the door to Lyra's home, and the two ponies stepped inside. There was no sign of Lyra in the main room, but this didn't seem to concern Bon-Bon. She walked over to a large picture of herself and Lyra hanging on the wall, and then looked over to Ditzy again.
"Lyra would appreciate it if you keep everything you're about to see secret," the Earth Pony said. She pushed the picture aside, reached into an alcove in the wall behind it, and pulled the lever found there. A corner of the floor suddenly fell away, revealing a narrow, dark staircase leading to a subterranean chamber.
"This leads to Lyra's Human Research Laboratory," Bon-Bon said dryly.
hobby of Lyra's
" Ditzy said skeptically. "It's
more of an obsession, isn't it?"
yeah," Bon-Bon deadpanned.
The Earth pony sighed and started down the stairs. Ditzy followed along very slowly; she couldn't see too well and the last thing she needed now was to fall down the stairs on top of Bon-Bon.
At last the two reached the bottom of the steps. Ditzy stared at her surroundings in awe.
The walls were covered with sketches of various creatures, or parts of creatures, that Ditzy didn't recognize. She supposed they were all Lyra's attempts at recreating the theoretical structure of a human. A large bulletin board was completely clogged with a collage of photographs, every single one containing a horribly blurred or distant image of what was apparently some type of bipedal creature. None of them were of good enough quality to make out any details beyond that. A few long tables were littered with Lyra's collected "human artifacts"; all sorts of various odds and ends that certainly didn't appear to be of pony-made origins. One table even held a computer, a device that was horribly rare in Equestria. Ditzy marveled at the fact that anyone in Ponyville was able to afford one.
Over at one lab bench was Lyra, sitting in her usual awkward upright pose, gazing intently at her footprint specimen under a magnifying glass.
" Bon-Bon said quietly. "We're here."
"Oh, good," mumbled Lyra without looking up. "Get me the little dust-brush thingy, would you, Bon?"
Bon-Bon trotted over to one of the desk drawers and retrieved the tool Lyra had requested. She deposited it on the table, and returned to stand next to Ditzy.
"What should I do?" Ditzy whispered. "I think messing with her stuff would only make her upset. How can I distract her from it?"
"I don't know," Bon-Bon replied. "You're the matchmaker here; you must have something up your sleeve."
Ditzy kept quiet for a moment, running ideas through her mind. Suddenly, a crazy thought came to her; a technique she had seen in a movie once seemed applicable to this situation. Ditzy wasn't sure if she could trust the movies, but obviously she had to try something.
"Hey Lyra," Ditzy piped up.
"Yeah?" Lyra's response was slightly delayed; she was now engrossed on creating a detailed sketch of the footprint.
"I thought you might be interested to know
" Ditzy continued. "Yesterday, when I was flying over the Everfree forest, I saw a creature that looked a little like some of these drawings of yours."
Lyra's pencil clattered to the floor as she stared in shock at the pegasus. "You saw a human? Where?!"
"Near those ruins in the forest," Ditzy said. "I wonder if it's still around?"
"We're going to find out!" declared Lyra, leaping from her stool and charging up the steps. "Grab your saddlebags, Bon-Bon! We're going to the Everfree forest!"
Bon-Bon gave Ditzy a shocked look. "What in Equestria are you doing, Ditzy?"
"Working on my plan," Ditzy said. "Go with it for now. And for a little while, it's important that Lyra doesn't know I'm following you guys, alright? Tell Lyra I said I'll meet you two at the ruins."
Bon-Bon looked grave. "I hope you know what you're doing, Ditzy Doo."
"Me too," said Ditzy as she trotted up the stairs.
Ditzy was perched on a cloud, peering down over the edge as she watched Lyra and Bon-Bon walk toward the Everfree Forest. Bon-Bon was expecting to meet her discreetly in the forest in a few minutes. Lyra, on the other hand, believed that Ditzy had flown ahead to the ruins. It was imperative that she wasn't seen by Lyra, or her plan would be ruined. The pegasus waited nervously until both ponies had disappeared into the trees, and then swooped down into the forest herself.
"I can't believe this!" said Lyra excitedly. "Do you think I'll really get to see a human up close today? This could be the culmination of all my work and studies!"
Bon-Bon surpressed a groan. She looked around, and spotted Ditzy peeking out from behind a tree. She beckoned to Bon-Bon.
"Uhh, Lyra," said Bon-Bon. "Why don't you check over that way for a minute, and I'll look over here."
"Okay," said Lyra, trotting off to a nearby clearing and scribbling notes in her notepad.
Bon-Bon waited until she was out of sight, and then darted over to Ditzy. "Okay," she said with visible annoyance. "Will you please tell me what is going on now?"
"Yeah," said Ditzy. "First of all, this is a wild goose chase. There is no human."
"I figured that," Bon-Bon replied. "But how does this expedition make Lyra notice me?"
"I'm going to cause some
inconvenient situations," Ditzy said. "You know, cause minor accidents where it would only be proper for Lyra to help you out. Hopefully that will be enough for her to take her mind of the humans for long enough to treat you like a friend, not an assistant."
"What if she still doesn't notice?" Bon-Bon asked.
"Then you get all dirty and tired for no reason." Ditzy replied bluntly. "But this is the only idea I have right now."
"Fine," Bon-Bon mumbled. "Let's give it a try."
Lyra's hoofsteps could be heard nearby, so Ditzy quickly hid herself again. Lyra reappeared, and the two ponies ventured deeper into the forest, bound for the ruins at the center.
Ditzy, keeping out of sight in the treetops, grabbed a flexible branch and yanked it backwards. She then waited silently for her target. Soon, Lyra trotted by, with Bon-Bon following close behind. The hidden pegasus waited for the right moment, and then released the branch.
The limb whipped forward, knocking into Bon-Bon and sending her careening sideways. She landed with a splat in a pool of sticky black mud.
"Ugh, really?" asked Bon-Bon in annoyance, struggling in the goop. She turned to look at Lyra expectantly, but the unicorn was busy examining a pile of broken twigs, and hadn't even noticed the Earth pony's fall. Grumbling, Bon-Bon managed to stagger to her hooves by herself. She yanked a gob of smelly mud out of her mane, chucked it angrily aside, and followed Lyra again.
A few minutes later, the pair was passing through a narrow path lined thickly with bushes on either side. Ditzy lurked in one of the bushes, holding a vine between her teeth.
"This time, it's gotta work," Ditzy whispered through a mouthful of vine. She spotted the approaching hooves of the target ponies and hunkered down deeper in the bush. Two pairs of hooves belonging to Lyra passed by. Right before Bon-Bon passed, Ditzy yanked the vine with a jerk of her head, pulling it taut.
Bon-Bon cried out as she once again pitched sideways, this time landing in a large bush loaded with burs. The tiny, spiky spheres stuck by the hundreds to Bon-Bon's coat as she climbed back out.
This time, Lyra turned around. "Oh, Bon, you're totally covered in burs. Maybe we should
" Lyra stopped in mid sentence and her eyes lit up; an idea had just come to her.
"Burs! That reminds me! Humans always wear clothes, and burs stick to them just as easily as they do to ponies! I bet if any of the bur bushes around here are disturbed, it could clue us in to where the human is hiding!"
Forgetting completely about Bon-Bon, Lyra quickly began closely examining all the nearby shrubbery. Bon-Bon shook her body profusely, but not a single bur dislodged itself from her fur. With an exasperated groan, she continued to follow Lyra.
"This isn't working!" said a thoroughly dirty, smelly, bur covered Bon-Bon to Ditzy a few minutes later.
"You're right," said Ditzy. "It's time to kick it up a notch."
Ignoring Bon-Bon's look of horror, Ditzy explained her new plan. "What we need to do is fake a life threatening situation! Just up ahead is a rope bridge leading to the ruins. You have to 'accidentally' slip and dangle from the edge, and Lyra will have to save you! Even she can't ignore something like that!"
what if she accidentally fails?" asked Bon-Bon, her shifting her weight nervously.
"Well, that's why I'll be waiting in the crevice to catch you, just in case." Ditzy replied.
"Something tells me this is a bad idea," Bon-Bon said. "But I trust you. Let's try it."
Lyra crossed the bridge without any trouble. "Come on, Bon!" she called. "We're almost there!"
Bon-Bon started across the bridge. It seemed pretty rickety; the Earth pony figured it would be easy to fake an accident on something like this.
However, Bon-Bon wasn't expecting one thing. When she neared the end of the bridge, a few planks actually did break loose. With a cry of surprise, the mare fell halfway, through the gap, barely clutching the wood of the remaining plank with her front hooves.
"Lyra! Lyra! Help!!"
But Lyra, in her uncontainable excitement, had already disappeared into the ruins.
Bon-Bon blinked. "Oh, you have got to be kidding me!" She screeched as she lost her grip and fell through.
"I gotcha'!" yelled Ditzy, hovering beneath the earth pony. Bon-Bon plummeted right onto Ditzy, who unfortunately hadn't been expecting the former to weigh quite as much as she did. Ditzy cried out in terror when she realized she couldn't support the Earth pony alone. The two mares tumbled into the valley.
"I knew this was a bad idea!" Bon-Bon screeched in rage.
The two ponies screamed as the ground rushed up at them. Impact would come at any moment, and it would likely be fatal. Both mares closed their eyes and waited for the inevitable.
But the impact never came. After several seconds, both ponies opened their eyes to see why they hadn't crashed yet.
Lyra grunted with the strain as she used her magic to haul the two frightened mares back up to the safety of the cliffside. Panting, she set them down, and then collapsed on the ground, gasping for breath.
"Lyra," said Bon-Bon after a moment. "You
you just saved our lives."
"Well, duh," said Lyra between gasps. "I'm not gonna just let my marefriend fall to her death now, am I?" Lyra chuckled, but then her expression turned more serious. "I heard you calling, but by the time I got back, you'd already fallen. I'm really sorry; I shouldn't just leave you like that in a dangerous place like this."
"So now you're sorry," said Bon-Bon. "Why did it have to be a life-or-death situation before you remembered your friend, Lyra?"
because I've been way too busy with all this human stuff lately
" Lyra said, finally making the connection. "Oh Bon, I've been acting like a total loser toward you lately, haven't I?"
"Well," said Bon-Bon. "You didn't exactly pay as much attention as you could have
Lyra jumped up and wrapped her arms around her friend. "Bon, I'm so sorry. I promise, I'll tone down my human studies. They almost made me forget what's really most important to me."
Smiling, Bon-Bon returned the hug. Over Lyra's shoulder, she mouthed "I'll pay you later," to Ditzy. Ditzy just nodded and winked.
After the hug broke, Lyra turned to Ditzy. "Ditzy, you can go home. We'll look for the human another time."
"Okay," Ditzy chirped. "See you later!"
Ditzy watched for a moment as the two ponies began the long walk back to Ponyville. "So, really, how can I make it up to you?" Lyra asked her marefriend.
"For starters, you can help me get all the mud and burs off when we get back!" Bon-Bon responded playfully.
The two mares laughed, and Ditzy took to the skies, satisfied with her second successful mission.