Catch Me If You Can
“But why can’t I go?”
“It’s too dangerous, Spike,” Twilight Sparkle said, closing her saddlebags. “Fully-grown dragons are dangerous. I don’t want you getting hurt. Remember the last time you ran in with a wild dragon?”
“No buts, Spike.” Twilight said. She lowered her head down. “I want you to stay here, and stay safe. We’ll be back once we’ve stopped him. I promise.”
“C’mon, Twi!” shouted Rainbow Dash from the doorway. “We gotta go!”
“Coming, Rainbow,” Twilight said, before turning back to Spike, “You just stay here, clean up a bit, and then get your rest. We’ll be back by tomorrow morning.”
Spike sulked. He never got to do anything exciting with them. He didn’t get to go off against Nightmare Moon with them, he didn’t get to go after that napping dragon... then there was that time they all just ran off at the Gala.
“Twiii” Rainbow said.
“Coming!” Twilight said, exasperated.
“Time to show the dragons that they’re not welcome here!” Rainbow Dash cheered as the door shut.
Spike was left all alone, and with those last few words echoing in his head. He shuffled through the library, the floor of which was strewn with books that Twilight had been reading, looking for ways to stop the dragon.
But he was a dragon, too, right? What did that mean for him?
He picked the books off the floor, putting them back on the shelves. Twilight could do it easily with her magic, but he had to find where they were supposed to go, get the ladder, climb up, and place the book on the shelf.
After about two hours of doing this, his already-low enthusiasm had sunk. He didn’t want to continue shelving books. He was feeling too low to continue. He sat down, thinking.
He felt like running away, but that probably wouldn’t work. Where could he run to? Besides, Twilight would just find him, and he’d probably get grounded.
He sighed. He really wished that Twilight was there right now. He felt very, very alone, almost on the verge of crying. The thought that, no matter how much they claimed he was their friend, he wasn’t one of them. He was a dragon.
The thought continued to eat away at him. He decided he’d just stop with the chores, have a snack, and go to bed. Hopefully Twilight Sparkle would be there in the morning and she could help him.
She wasn’t. Spike woke up and waited at the door for nearly twenty minutes until he started fretting again. She wasn’t back. She promised she’d be back. He needed her to be back. In a way, he was kind of scared - scared of the future.
He paced back and forth, still worried. In his stress, he didn’t notice the books still strewn on the floor, and he tripped over one surprisingly large tome.
Great, he thought, not only am I practically abandoned, but I still have chores. Irritated, he kicked the book, which turned out to be a bad idea, as it hurt his foot.
His mood not improved by both bouts of physical pain, he picked up the book.
He read the title. “The Professor’s Portable Pamphlet Pertaining to Powerful Potions of Particular Potency.”
Spike groaned. Portable pamphlet?, he thought, This book’s as big as I am. Out of curiosity, he decided to crack it open and read some of the contents – just skim it. As his did, he saw two words that made his eyes widen. All his fretting from the previous day seemed to just melt away as he saw an amazing possibility right in front of him. He got an idea. And then, from that idea, he got another idea. An amazing idea.
“Can you believe it? Who would’ve figured that the whole thing was about a lost teddy bear?” Twilight Sparkle said, walking back into the library. “Spike? Oh Spi-iiiike? Sorry I’m late, you would not believe what happened.”
No answer. “Spike?” she asked. “Are you asleep?” she went up to the loft where they usually slept. He wasn’t there. She checked the basement and the laboratory. He wasn’t there.
She got nervous. What if he ran off? What if he was in trouble? She had to find him as soon as possible.
She ran out the door, crashing right into Applejack.
“Oof!” Applejack said. “Watch where yer goin’, ‘k?”
“Applejack, have you seen Spike?” Twilight Sparkle asked.
“No, I don’ think so.” Applejack responded. “But ah’m missin’ somethin’ to. A good chunk of apples is gone from mah cellar.”
“I don’t have time for your apples, I need to find Spike!” Twilight Sparkle said, about to run off.
“I think there’s a connecshin.” Applejack said. “Rarity’s had a break-in over at her place.”
“She has?” Twilight Sparkle asked.
“Yes,” Rarity said, walking up to them.
“What did they take?” Twilight asked.
“That’s the strange thing – they got into my money and my gems, but didn’t seem to take any. The only thing that got stolen was a suit.”
“Why would they break in an’ not take it?” Applejack asked.
Twilight thought about it for a minute. “Maybe just to see if they could.”
The better part of two weeks passed – Rarity was able to replace the suit easily (she was kind of relieved, as the suit had a couple of loose threads that were driving her nuts), and Applejack’s farm wasn’t too dented by the loss of apples (it’s a big orchard, after all), but there was still the unsettling fact that they couldn’t figure out what it was that happened.
Worst of all, Spike was nowhere to be seen.
Twilight Sparkle had been highly distressed – the baby dragon was her responsibility, after all. What would she do if something happened to him? Was he okay? Where was he?
She’d done everything she could think of – she put up “missing” posters all over Ponyville, but nopony had seen them. She asked everypony in town about him, but to no avail. She even ventured into the Everfree Forest, but there was no sign of him.
Twilight wasn’t the only one concerned – they were all close friends of his, though Fluttershy was the most visibly distressed (“he’s just a baby,” she worried).
And then, after those two weeks, something funny happened. As she was at her desk, a scroll appeared. She opened it and read.
Dear Twilight Sparkle,
Hey. It’s me, Spike. Sorry I didn’t send a letter sooner, but, well, you’re a lot smarter than me, and I needed a head start. It’s funny, I almost expected you would’ve found me by now.
I’m really sorry about the stuff I stole. I just kinda needed it. Really badly, so I’d have some place to start from.
But I’m all right. I’m actually having a whole lot of fun. You would not believe what I’ve been up to. Pretty stoked, really. Flying high, so to speak. You wouldn’t approve, though. You definitely wouldn’t. But I’ll be able to pay back Rarity and Applejack back ten times over.
Anyway, just wanted to give you a heads-up. I guess this means you’ll try to come get me. I mean, if you haven’t already, well, you know- maybe you haven’t looked for me…
The next section was a mess of scribbles, as though he’d been trying to come up with the right thing to say.
She put it down, a little at a loss for words. Spike had been missing for two weeks, during which time she wasn’t even assured that he was even alive, and then in comes this letter. This letter, which not only casually brushes aside those two weeks of fretting as nothing, but makes other implications as to Spike’s latest activities. He’d have some explaining to do when she found him.
He’d have some explaining to do when she found him, she knew that for sure. But that wasn’t all. After the crossed-out attempts and writing, there was a small amount of text left.
Well, anyway, I’ll be writing more letters. I don’t know if you’ll be very happy, but I’m gonna go big. Very big. The game’s on now, Twi.
So catch me if you can.
Two weeks prior, a tiny colt found himself in Cloudsdale, the grandest city in the sky. The colt was purple, with a green mane, and with him he had three large suitcases that were on a special platform so they wouldn’t fall through the clouds.
He stepped out of his terminal, and surveyed the city. It was huge, clean, and white, like a blank slate ready for work. A grin came to his face – he’d heard Twilight Sparkle talk about Cloudsdayle, from the time that she’d gone there to see Rainbow Dash in the Young Flier’s Competition, but now it was his turn. He’d take on the world, starting here, with nothing to his name save for his wits and the materials in his trunks.
“Hey, kid,” shouted a stallion, “you okay?”
“Huh?” asked the colt. “Oh, yeah, I’m fine.”
“Where are your parents?” the stallion asked.
Uh-oh, thought the colt. “They, uh, went to the bathroom.” He said quickly.
“Alright. You sure you’re good there?”
“The best I’ve ever been in my life.” Said the colt, turning back to admire the city.
“But… what is he doing?” Rainbow Dash asked. The six ponies were all huddled around a table with the letter in the middle.
“I don’t know, but it isn’t good.” Twilight said. “Turns out he was the thief.”
“But I don’t understand it.” Rarity said. “Why would he want that suit? It’s a suit for a pegasus pony.”
“Are there any, y’know, clues in this thing?” Applejack asked.
“I’m not sure.” Twilight Sparkle said. “I’d think that if he tried to do something, it’d be very-” she stopped. “What did you say?” she asked Rarity.
“About what, dear?”
“The suit.” Twilight Sparkle elaborated. “You said that it was a suit for a pegasus pony.”
“…Yes.” Rarity said, not completely sure what Twilight was getting at.
“He said one thing in the letter that seemed out of place.” Twilight said, holding up the letter. “Flying high. I think there’s some kind of connection.”
“Okay,” said Rainbow Dash. “So… what do we do?”
“Can’t we send him letters?” Fluttershy asked.
“Spike knew where to send them because he knows where I live. We can’t send him a letter if we don’t know his location.” Twilight Sparkle responded.
“Well, first we find out where he sent the letter from.” Twilight said. “After I got the letter, I decided to look up and see if there was any kind of tracking spell. If I’m right, we should know exactly where he sent it from.”
“Ooh! It’s like a mystery!” Pinkie Pie said excitedly.
Twilight closed her eyes, and the horn on her head started glowing. The letter was quickly incinerated in a flash of light, causing the others (Fluttershy, mainly) to leap back, startled.
Twilight opened her eyes. “It… it’s gone.” She said. “And I didn’t make a copy.”
“So…” Rainbow Dash said. “It didn’t work?”
But then, the ashes started to move.
There was another flash of light, and the ashes lept from the table, leaving a trail of light. The six ponies ran out, watching as it flew like a comet, into the sky, ending up in –
“Cloudsdayle,” said Rainbow Dash. “Flying high, huh?”
“I have to find him. Tomorrow I’m taking the balloon up there.” Twilight Sparkle said.
“‘ey, we’re comin’ too.” Applejack said. “Ah think we’d all like an explanation of what he’s up to.”
“Well, everypony pack your saddlebags. We’re going up first thing in the morning.”
“But wait,” Rarity said. “What if he sends another letter? If we aren’t here, we’ll miss it.”
“We’ll come back and check if we can’t find him, but I’ve been worried out of my mind for two weeks and I don’t want to wait any more.” Twilight said firmly.
There was a knock at the door of a mansion belonging to two pegasus ponies. Very rich pegasus ponies. The knock came again. The old pegasus stallion opened the door, looking down he saw a tiny purple pegasus colt with a green mane and three large suitcases.
“Please, sir,” the colt said, “I’m looking for a job. I’ll do anything.”
“Don’t you have parents?”
“No, sir,” the colt said, shaking his head, “they abandoned me. All I have is these suitcases.”
“Dear, who is it?” asked the voice of a mare.
The stallion pulled back into the house. “It seems like an orphan. He wants work.”
“Really?” she asked, looking at the colt, who was, admittedly, very pitiable and adorable. “Let’s let him in.”
“I don’t know if we should-”
“We have a ton of rooms we never use. He can stay in one of them.” She poked her head out the door. “It’s fine.”
“Thank you, ma’am” the colt said, walking in.
“What’s your name?” the stallion asked.
The colt paused for just a second. “Feather.” He said. He instantly regretted that choice.
The two pegasus ponies were very nice to “Feather,” who, as you’ve probably guessed, was actually Spike.
In that giant book of potions, he found these two words: “Transformation Potions.” In other words, he found the recipe for a drink that could transform him into a pegasus pony. However, it had its limitations. It would only last for a few days, so he needed to make more before too long. Also, he was dismayed to find that he was a small colt, no bigger now than he had been as a dragon. A good portion of his plans had hinged upon him being slightly more mature.
When he first found it, he thought that he could just use it to turn into a pegasus. Then it occurred to him that Twilight likely wouldn’t approve, and he’d be forced to change back. Though that wasn’t the most disheartening idea - he liked being a dragon, after all, but then he got another idea. The idea of being a pegasus - he could use it to fool ponies, couldn’t he? And then it was a matter of the questions “what if?” and “why not?” which, for the eccentric or the childish (or those who generally lack good judgement), are the only two questions that really matter.
In the three suitcases he had the book, a few spare flasks of the potion, various ingredients, the stolen apples, and the stolen suit. The suit, unfortunately, was far too large for him.
The couple let him stay in one of their spare rooms, which, to his delight, had a lock on the door. They let him do a few jobs around the house – clean the windows here, stack the bookshelf there, but nothing too strenuous – just basic chores that they only made him do because he was asking, and a much lighter workload than what he’d had to do as Twilight Sparkle’s assistant.
It was an impressive house, made out of clouds, like the rest of the city, as was most of the furniture. Almost everything was white. That took a little getting used too, but it wasn’t unlike anything in the rest of the city.
One thing that the house had was a grand piano. He’d played the piano before, as a dragon, and had accompanied Pinkie Pie on one of her musical numbers. But now he had hooves instead of hands, and wanted to see how different it was.
It was very different. While he had previously been fairly proficient as a dragon, now, as a baby pony, he was utterly inept
“Feather?” the mare asked. Spike jumped. The house was so large that he was accustomed to being alone for most of the day.
“Y-yes?” He responded.
“Are you trying to play the piano?” she asked. Spike was tempted to respond in a sarcastic manner, but he just nodded his head. “Here, let me show you.” She said, sitting down on the bench next to him.
She played a simple tune on the piano. “You hold your hooves like this.” She said, as Spike imitated her motions. They both played out the tune. “That’s good,” she said encouragingly.
So it wasn’t so bad. He just had to learn it again. He would.
The old couple were not surprised that the young colt had a large appetite, always asking for seconds and thirds at meals. After all, it was a growing foal, and who knows what he’d had to live off of? Besides, they were rich, and the colt was so polite that they’d feel mean to turn him down. They didn’t notice, however, that he was sweeping some food off of the table – the various grasses flowers, and other ingredients that he needed for potions. He didn’t need more of the potion just yet, but he would, and in the meantime he needed something else, too.
“Feather” was allowed to accompany the two old pegasi on their outings around the city, as they didn’t quite trust him enough to leave him alone at the house. He’d work on that, however. He did a lot of chores and didn’t take all that much in return.
The city was as incredible as he imagined them. Countless structures, all constructed out of clouds shaped by pegasus magic.
“Never been to the city before?” asked the old stallion.
“No, I haven’t,” said the colt. “It’s incredible.”
“It is, I suppose. I’ve lived here my entire life. Haven’t seen all that much of life outside of Cloudsdayle.”
“We really haven’t,” said the mare. “I think it’s high time we went on holiday.”
“You really think so?”
“What do you think?” the mare asked.
“Huh?” Spike asked. He hadn’t been paying attention.
“Think we could go on a holiday? The three of us?”
“Uhh, sure.” Spike said. He wasn’t sure whether that was what he wanted to do. But his mind was soon sidetracked by something else he saw. His eye caught a sign in a window – “Wingling Bros. Investment Firm: Starting a new business venture? We can help!”
Feather was in his room, the door locked. The potion had worn off, and he was a dragon again. This made it easier for him to write, as he was more comfortable holding a quill in his hand than a pencil in his mouth. Taking a quill and a piece of paper in his hand, he began to write a letter. His first plot was in motion.
It was a formal letter, made out to a new investment firm that he’d spotted while walking through the streets of Cloudsdale. Some ponies with some idle money that they thought they could turn into more money by lending it to the right ponies. Well, Spike had a plan for that.
“Feather?” the mare asked, knocking on the door. “Are you all right in there?”
“Just a minute!” Spike said, throwing open one of the suitcases. There were still more vials of the potion, and he was able to gulp one of them down.
He then remembered the unpleasant process of the transformation – his skeletal structure changing, the skin softening, the wings sprouting out of his back. He shook his head, walking over to the door and unlocking it.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“Yes, I’m fine.” He said, nodding his head. “It’s just… locks on doors. Makes me feel secure. Before now I didn’t even have… doors.”
The mare walked in, concerned. “Have you really been on your own this whole time?”
“Feels like it sometimes,” he said, sulking.
“You’re not really an orphan, are you?” she asked.
Uh-oh. He tried to think fast, make something up, but she was onto him.
“Did you run away from home?” she asked. Her tone was not accusatory – just an honest question.
He nodded guiltily.
“What about your friends and family?”
“What about them?” the colt asked. “They probably don’t even miss me.”
“I’m sure that’s not true,” the old mare said, “they’re probably very worried.”
“I’m sure they love you very much.”
Spike didn’t say anything.
“It’s okay,” she said, “you can stay here as long as you like before you decide to go home.”
“I think I probably shouldn’t go on holiday with you.” He said. “I mean… if I decide I want to go home while it’s happening.”
“Are you sure?” she asked. “Will you be all right?”
“Yeah, pretty sure.” He said.
“Well, if you think so.”
He went down to have breakfast before depositing his letter in the mailbox. He was nervous in doing this – until now he hadn’t really done anything that he couldn’t undo. He could just go back, now, and return the suit and the apples and all that, and he’d probably be grounded for a month, but this was different. This letter was the start of a game that he couldn’t afford to lose.
And yet he felt excited. It was a game where the odds were against him, but if he could keep his wits up, he could win, or at least have one wild ride before getting caught.
The pegasus couple left for their holiday, leaving Feather alone in the house, as per his request. They trusted him enough. Besides, they’d insured everything of value in there. Twice.
Feather, however, would not need any help. After the old couple had gone, he checked the mail. Sure enough, he’d gotten a response. He grinned. They’d be coming to meet just the next day. Everything was perfect so far, but there was still much more work to be done.
He walked to his room and opened one of the suitcases. There were all the apples. Counting them to make sure he had enough, he shut the suitcase and headed down to the kitchen. If there was anything else he needed, it should be there. His hosts wouldn’t mind him using some of their stuff for cooking, right? They expected him to eat, after all?
He had several sheets of paper – recipes. Recipes for apple pies, cakes, crumble, fritters… he was good at cooking – one of the tasks he was supposed to carry out. Even as a pony, he wouldn’t have too much trouble whipping together a few treats. That’d be all he needed. He’d be fine as long as he had apples left over.
Spike stood in front of the mirror. This was the important part. If this didn’t work, he couldn’t do anything. He had a small vial with him. Closing his eyes, he removed the stopper and gulped it down. He felt himself spurt upwards, and when he opened his eyes, he was bigger – he looked like he was the same age as Twilight Sparkle and her friends. That was a relief – exactly what he wanted. Unfortunately, there was one problem: no cutie mark. He didn’t expect to have one, but he was still kind of disappointed. Nevertheless, he had a backup plan: the suit. He quickly put it on (which posed more than a little difficulty, being that he was new to doing this stuff as a pony). He stuck his wings through the holes in the back of the suit, spreading them. Wings. He had wings as a colt, of course, but he didn’t really think of them as being very useful. Here, he could feel like they were actually fully functional limbs. He liked them. As a dragon, he often found himself wishing he had wings like the bigger dragons.
When he was finished, he looked in the mirror. He smiled. The formal suit, combined with his scruffy-looking mane, made him look professional, but kind of edgy. That was something he thought he could have going for him. “Like, I mean business,” he said to himself, “but I’m hip and stuff.” He stopped. His voice was much deeper now. “Sweet.” He said. He winked at the mirror. “Lookin’ good, Spike. Lookin’ good.” He walked out of the room, before walking back in.
“Sorry,” he said to the mirror. “I meant ‘Feather.’” The grin dropped from his face. “I need a better name…” he muttered.
There was a ding-dong! from downstairs. Spike rushed down the staircase and to the front door, wondering how they had doorbells on clouds.
He went to the front door and looked through the peephole. There were two young male pegasi, one blue and one white, standing outside, dressed very formally. These were the ones.
On your marks… thought Spike.
“Welcome!” he said, throwing the door open. “How do you like my place?” he asked, leading them in.
“It’s nice…” said the white one.
“I’m Bloomberg Wingling,” said the blue one, pressing his glasses to his face. “This is Whitacre.”
“Are you Feather?” asked Whitacre, the white one
“Indeed I am.” Feather said. “Follow me, Bloomberg and Whitacre” he said, leading them into the dining room. He’d set up three chairs – one at the head of the table, and two, one on either side. In the middle of the seats there was a bowl of apples. Spike took the seat at the head of the table. He smiled as the other two sat down.
“So,” said Bloomberg, taking out the letter that Spike had written, “I understand that you think we should invest in your… apple business?”
“That’s what I wrote, isn’t it?” Spike responded.
“Obviously,” Bloomberg said, putting it away.
“So, the idea is that you’re planning on starting an orchard?” asked Whitacre, “and you want some starting capital.”
“Correction: I’ve started the orchard,” Spike said, producing a photograph of several apple trees. In reality, he’d merely taken a picture of a small section of Sweet Apple Acres. “It’s already a success – I just thought to myself: ‘What’s the point of all that money if there’s nopony to share it with?’”
“If it’s already a success, why do you want our money?” Bloomberg asked.
Spike paused. He’d imagined himself as a silver-tongued charmer – now it turned out that he wasn’t. “Well, successful for it’s size. But it needs to grow.”
“Seems… fairly mundane, though,” Whitacre said. His voice was a lot softer than Bloomberg’s – Spike took notice of this. “I mean, apples? Everypony has apples.”
“Of course it’s mundane,” Spike said, leaping at Whitacre’s query. “It’s the mundane things that we can be the most sure of. Everypony has apples, you say? Well, it’s simple – everypony wants apples. Everypony needs apples. They’ll always be there,” he grabbed one of the apples from the bowl. “This… this right here is our lifeblood.”
Whitacre backed down a little, but Bloomberg didn’t move. He remained unflappable. Spike looked at him. “Eat it.” He said, holding out the apple. “Just try it.”
“I’m sure that the apple tastes just fine,” said Bloomberg, “I’m just not sure why it needs my money.”
“Misters Wingling,” Spike said, “I am a businesspony looking to expand. If we want the orchard to be bigger, we’ll need a lot of water and employees.”
“Awful young to be an apple tycoon, I think,” Bloomberg said. This was proving to be a lot harder than Spike thought it would be.
“Mr. Whitacre, you don’t get to be in my position at my age without knowing a few things,” Spike said, a confident smile on his face, “and I know a lot of things. And you know one thing I know? Apples.”
He got up from the table. “One moment,” he said, exiting the room.
“Well?” Bloomberg asked Whitacre, “what do you think?”
“He’s confident, at least,” Whitacre said.
“There’s more to running a business than putting on a show.” Bloomberg said.
“Well, like he said, he’s already got the orchard up.” Whitacre said.
The doors flew open, and Spike was pushing a cart through, covered in a white cloth. “Not convinced?” he asked. “Well, how about now?” he whipped off the cloth, revealing all manner of apple treats – cakes, pies, crumble, caramel apples, and so on. “This is just a fraction of what I can make from the orchard. Expand it, and we can put these pies into every shop in Equestria. And then, we can have the pies in every home in Equestria!” he held up one of the pies, that self-assured grin on his face. He looked at them. Bloomberg adjusted his spectacles – he at least looked interested, and from the look on Whitacre’s face, he’d already been won over. Spike placed the pie on the table. “On the house,” he said.
“I thought this was about an orchard,” said Bloomberg, “not a bakery.”
“You’re thinking too small,” said Spike in hushed tones. “Look at Sweet Apple Acres. They sell their own apple goods, too.”
“He’s got a point,” said Whitacre, taking a bite out of the pie, “oh wow!” he said, his mouth full.
“Chew your food properly,” Spike said.
Whitacre swallowed. “It’s really good,” he said to Bloomberg, who had cocked an eyebrow.
“I suppose…” Bloomberg said, “All right.” He pulled out three sheets of paper and a pen from a saddlebag. “We’ll sign on with you.” He gave one sheet of paper to Whitacre and one to Spike, who eagerly read over the paper.
“Oh, wow…” he said, “that’s a lot of money…”
“And we expect to make it back,” Bloomberg said, “Since we are the primary investors, we will have some say in the running of this. Your venture better make a decent amount of money, otherwise we will liquidate it. Is that clear?”
“Crystal.” Spike said, taking a pen and signing his assumed name.
“And here,” said Bloomberg, passing another paper to him. Each of the pegasi signed the papers, and Whitacre wrote out a check.
“We’ll be contacting you,” Bloomberg said as they walked out the door, leaving Spike alone in the room.
Utter silence. Spike ran back upstairs and looked out the window as the two brothers walked away. Quietly, he walked into the living room of the house.
“WOOOOOOOO!” he shouted, followed by bouts of laughter. It was incredible. He couldn’t believe what he had just done. He’d just taken the first step – he’d scammed a sizable amount of money from two investors. Oh, Bloomberg wasn’t stupid – he thought he had his bases covered, what with the whole thing about ownership in the company, but that was the thing – there was no company. They wouldn’t get that money back, and they had no way of finding him. He’d made a scam, and he was going to get away with it.
Humming to himself, he walked the front doors of the mansion, off to cash his check.
There were numerous points where Spike could have easily just turned around and gone back. Back at the beginning, when he saw that page in the book, he could have just closed it. When he was about to break into Applejack’s apple cellar and Rarity’s , he could have just stopped. Even when he did break in, he could’ve just not taken anything. He could have returned the things he took. When writing the letter, he could have just not taken the letter. He could have disappeared when the Wingling Bros showed up. Sure, they’d have been annoyed, but no real harm would be done. He could’ve not taken the check. He could’ve ripped up or incinerated the check right then.
However, with each of these opportunities to turn back, the consequences would be progressively more painful. Now he was going to take another step – he was going to cash the check.
Despite the previous two paragraphs, however, he was not feeling any particular anguish. He was still pleased with himself for tricking those two into giving him a check, and now, wearing his suit, he marched right into the first bank he came across.
“Helloooooo,” he said, walking up to a very bored-looking teller. “I’d like to deposit this check.”
“You have an account?” she asked.
“Uhh, no,” Spike said, “can I have one?”
“Just fill out this paperwork,” said the teller, passing a sheet of paper and a pen.
Basic information – name, age, birthday, address, etc. Obviously, some things he had to make up.
“Thank you,” said the teller, “now, we’ll need to take a picture of you with your cutie mark.”
“Cutie mark?” Spike asked.
The teller looked at him like he was an idiot. “Yes. Your cutie mark.”
The teller nodded her head.
“What, I just… take this suit off?”
“I don’t see what the issue is.”
The teller looked at him disbelievingly. “Sir,” she said, “there are other ponies waiting in line. If you-”
“Hold on, I’ll be back in a few,” Spike said, leaving. Now he had a feeling that resembled anguish. This was a major roadblock, and he probably would’ve given up right then. At least, he would’ve given up if he had better judgment, but he didn’t. Instead, he spotted a very cranky-looking pony who was covered in liquid rainbow.
And he got another idea.
Spike returned to his room, a bag in his mouth. Emptying the contents onto the bed, there was construction paper, pencils, scissors, a ruler, a tarp, and a can of spray paint. Taking the pencil and the ruler, he carefully drew the shape of a feather onto the construction paper. As he was not quite as precise with his mouth as he was with his hands, this took a few tries. Cutting proved to be even more difficult – scissors were fine to handle as a dragon, but it was an immense pain with hooves.
Everything was a pain without his hands – writing, cutting, piano playing…
There it was. Got the shape right this time.
He went to the bathroom and set up the tarp (couldn’t make a mess – it’d take hours to clean up). Carefully taking the construction paper, he placed it on his flank, and with the can in his mouth (which continued to be awkward for him), he sprayed a green feather on one flank, and repeated the process on the other. Taking a pen, he filled in a few black lines to make it look more like an actual feather and less like the green silhouette of one. He admired his work in the mirror.
“Thank you for doing business with us, Mr. Feather,” said the teller, “and here’s your bank statement.”
Spike took the envelope she hooved him, opening it.
“Sir?” she asked, “you might want to wait until you get home to-”
“Wait a minute,” Spike said, “I’m confused – there’s ten bits more here than I put in.”
“That’s just a little transaction the bank does. Checks to make sure it’s working, and a little welcome present.”
Spike stopped and thought about this. “Soooooo… you give me money,” he said slowly, as though trying to sound it out, “for signing up here.”
“Yes, pretty much.”
Spike had what was probably the most brilliant poker face of his entire life. “Thank you,” he said, leaving.
More paint, more construction paper.
The various banks in Cloudsdale had new applicants, but there are some who deserve a bit more recognition.
“Viola Wingling,” said the purple pegasus pony.
“Wingling?” the teller asked.
“Yeah, of the Wingling Bros.” he replied, “it’s kinda funny… my mom wanted a filly.”
“Well.... my parents were fans.”
The teller pressed his glasses closer to his face. There stood a purple pegasus pony with this ridiculous spiked green hair, a torn vest, dark glasses, and a skull as his cutie mark. “You some kind of rock artist?”
“Yeah, you probably haven’t heard of me,” he said, “I’m undercloud.”
“Living Color,” and he certainly lived up to that name – his coat was a mish-mash of every part of the rainbow.
This continued for every bank in the city, and for every new account he opened, he got a little bit of money. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to be a substantial gain, and a poor follow-up to the investment scam from earlier, but it was still a clever little trick, and he was proud of himself for it.
He made his way back to the house. Time to pack up all his stuff and leave, head for someplace else, see what else he could do, and not get caught.
However, as he got to his room, he began to feel woozy. Stumbling, he grabbed onto the side of the bed, and he felt himself shrinking. Guess the growth potion wore off at the end of the day. But then he noticed that his hooves were changing back into hands. Stumbling, he grabbed onto the bedpost.
And then his foot fell through the floor.
“AAH!” he yelled, his grip tightening on the bedpost. He was turning back into a dragon. A dragon that couldn’t walk on clouds.
He clinged to that bedpost for dear life, frantically climbing up to the surface of the bed, breathing heavily.
He almost died. He actually almost died. Kinda like that time with the big green dragon, and that other time with the hydra.
He sat on the bed, shaking. He was scared, and it hit him that he was completely alone. He looked at the nightstand – there was his quill and inkpot. He had to write. He didn’t know what he was going to write, but he had to. He needed some form of contact with Twilight.
Dear Twilight Sparkle, he wrote. Then he stopped. He didn’t know what he was going to say. He couldn’t break down and start crying into the letter. But what to write?
Better than nothing, at least.
Play it casual.
Hey. It’s me, Spike.
He kept the writing vague, just saying that he was okay, and that he was having fun. He wondered what her reaction would be. Maybe it would be funny? Well, he couldn’t see it.
But he got stuck near the end.
But when the going gets tough, the tough get
No. Entirely too cliché.
Tell them how I am defying gravity. And you won’t bring me down.
Ready or not, here I come!
Noooooo, too juvenile. Eventually, he came up with just the right wording. Letter looked a little messy, though. Pleased (for the most part), he rolled up the scroll, and taking a deep breath, sent it on its way.
He sat there for a few minutes, and thought. Well, now what?
He had the suitcase on the bed. There was one more vial. He decided it was time to leave.
The tiny purple colt closed the door and walked away. He only had one suitcase with him. He turned to look at that big house one last time, the house that had been home to that kindly old couple. He’d have to send them some money after his next score. They were nice.
He walked over to the edge of the cloud, and threw down the suitcase. Down, down, down it fell.
Spike realized that was probably a stupid thing to do. He turned his head around. He realized something: he was a pegasus pony – he had wings. He spread them, flexing them a little. They seemed to work, he seemed to be able to hold them out, and he wondered… could he fly? Could he actually fly?
He lifted one foot over the edge, nervous. His breathing was deeper, now that he saw just how high he was. He closed his eyes, and taking one last breath, he dropped off the edge of the cloud.
It’s said that time seems to slow down when someone is scared. This is because the brain’s firing off all the neurons, trying to get the body to react more quickly. Unfortunately, that’s often negated with “deer in the headlights,” but that’s enough trivia (might want to fact-check it).
But falling is fast. Very fast, like being inside a wind tunnel. He might’ve been able to control the wings on the ground (well, cloud), but now with the wind beating against him, it was nearly painful. But then, as though something just clicked, his wings were outstretched, and the wind seemed gentler, like it was a cushion, carrying him upwards.
He was flying. He was genuinely flying, and without the pink balloon.
He couldn’t contain himself.
“WOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Haha!” he laughed, elated as much by his success at flying as he had been with his scams.
He felt invincible.
Big pink balloons aren’t very common in Cloudsdale. The pegasus ponies don’t have any need for them, but this one had been in the city before. The balloon hovered over the surface of the cloud, and out hopped Pinkie Pie, followed by Rarity, Applejack, and Twilight Sparkle. Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash were there already because they didn’t need the balloon.
“So, how’d he get up here?” Rainbow Dash asked, “he didn’t take the balloon, and I don’t know if dragons can walk on clouds.”
“Spike can’t walk on clouds,” Twilight said. She closed her eyes, concentrating, and a trail of light streamed from her horn.
“I take it that tells us where he is?” asked Applejack.
“Not quite,” said Twilight, “it tells us where he sent the letter from. For all we know, he’s probably skipped town.”
“You mean we came all the way up here and he might not even be around?” asked Rainbow Dash, cranky at the revelation.
“It’s the only lead we have,” said Twilight Sparkle, “we find where he sent the letter from, and maybe we have a better idea what he’s been up to.”
A colt in command of a costume carousel saw a petite purple pegasus pony enter.
“Excuse me, sir?” asked the little colt, “I was wondering if you had any mail carrier costumes?”
“I think so…” said the colt in charge, “what for?”
The purple colt found what he was looking for – several sizes too big, “trick or treating.”
“Uhhh, it’s a bit early for that. A bit big, too…”
“I’ll grow into it,” said the purple colt, “how much?”
“Fourteen bits…” the colorful clinking of coins indicated that the suit was paid for.
“Thank you,” said Spike, leaving a confused but contented shopkeeper.
“He’s in there?” asked Applejack, “mighty fancy flat there.”
They were standing in front of the mansion that Spike (under the “Feather” alias) had been staying.
“Well, he’s been here. This is where the letter was sent from,” Twilight Sparkle said as she walked to the front door. She rang the doorbell, and the loud, sonorous chimes sounded.
“I should get a doorbell like that,” said Rarity.
However, nopony answered the door. The old couple was still on their holiday.
“Urghh…” Twilight said, “we come this far and they won’t even answer the door. What do we do now?”
Then, the door opened. It was Pinkie Pie.
“Hi!” she said.
“Pinkie Pie, what are you doing in there?!” Twilight asked, astonished.
“I live here!”
“No you don’t,” said Twilight in a flat tone, her eyes narrowed.
“Ya got me! But come on in!”
“But this isn’t our property!” protested Rarity, “trespassing would be exceedingly impolite.”
“Ah don’t think it’s legal, either,” concurred Applejack.
“So what are we supposed to do?” asked Rainbow Dash, “just wait here until the owners get back? And then we go ‘hey, excuse me, we’re investigating if there’s been a dragon in your house?’”
“But I don’t think we-” said Fluttershy.
“What’s the worst than can happen?” asked Rainbow Dash, walking inside, “as long as we don’t break their stuff, nopony needs to know.”
“Well, I am most certainly not setting hoof anywhere uninvited,” said Rarity, backing away from the door.
“Suit yourself,” said Rainbow Dash, following Pinkie Pie.
Fluttershy, Rarity, and Applejack were not budging. Twilight looked at them, then to the house, where Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash had disappeared.
“Uhh, Twi?” called Rainbow Dash’s voice. “What are we supposed to be looking for?”
It was at this point that Twilight gave up and just went inside.
A grey, blond-maned pegasus pony had received her mailbag, and was ready to begin her mail route. Meanwhile, Spike was now in the form of a fully-grown pegasus pony, and with his costume, he walked into a post office. He looked around at the mail carriers – he needed to find the right one. He saw the grey blond-maned mare, but didn’t think much of her, until he noticed that her eyes seemed to be rather askew.
He kept an eye on her – she seemed a little clumsy, like her head wasn’t all there. Well, this was perfect.
“Hello!” he said, walking up to her.
“Great news!” Spike said, “you’ve been promoted!”
“Yeah! That means you get the day off!”
“Yeah! Now give me your mailbag, please.”
The mare gave her mailbag to the young stallion and left, off to enjoy whatever she had in mind for her day off. Spike was astounded that it actually worked.
“Okay, we find what we need, and we get out,” Twilight said, nervous. She wasn’t keen on breaking and entering. The spell had led them up to a bedroom.
“So, what are we looking for?” Rainbow Dash, “seems very tidy.”
“I don’t know…”
“A clue?” Pinkie Pie asked excitedly.
“More or less,” said Twilight. “But I can’t find anything that-”
“Is this a clue?” Pinkie Pie asked, balancing a broken quill on her nose.
“I don’t think so,” said Rainbow Dash, “I mean, it’s just a quill. Lots of unicorns use them-”
“Wait,” said Twilight, “a quill?”
“I don’t get it, what’s so special about a quill?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Rainbow, have you ever used a quill?” Twilight asked.
“No, I can’t use- ohhhhh,” Rainbow Dash got it.
“So, that means he was here!” said Pinkie Pie.
“Wait,” said Rainbow Dash, “didn’t we already know he was here?”
Then it hit Twilight that they’d really found absolutely nothing. “C’mon, let’s get out of here before we break any more rules.”
Gloomily, they went downstairs and out of the house.
“Didja find anything?” Applejack asked.
“Nothing we didn’t already know,” said Twilight somberly.
“Guess that goes to show it warn’t worth it.”
Rarity spoke up, “I don’t think that’s a word.”
“It is now.”
The doorbell rang at a suburban home. An earth pony answered the door. There was a young purple pegasus stallion, apparently the mail character.
“Good afternoon! I got your mail.”
“Oh, thank you,” said the resident of the house.
“I should tell you, though,” said the purple pegasus pony, “there’s a bit of a new fee.”
“Money times are kinda hard. There’s a delivery fee.”
“Is this a joke?”
“Hey, I don’t make the rules, I just work for them. If you aren’t going to pay for it, though…”
“Wait!” said the earth pony, running inside, “I’ll pay.”
“Thank you kindly,” Spike said, waiting. That was another thing he wasn’t sure would work. Then again, he had their mail, so he seemed legit. And even if it didn’t work on everypony…
“Here you are…”
“Five bits,” said Spike.
“Alright then, here’s your money.”
“And here is your mail,” Spike said, forking over the mail to the earth pony.
This routine continued for every house on the block, and surprisingly, most of the ponies fell for it completely (albeit with some protests).
“You left a note at their house?” Rainbow Dash asked, walking into Twilight’s library.
“I had to,” said Fluttershy, “they should know we-”
“No, they don’t need to. All we did was-”
“We’re not doin’ that again,” said Applejack, “what happened was wrong, and we gotta own up to it.”
“And we’re still don’t know what he’s up to,” said Twilight.
“Well, let’s think,” said Rarity, “what do we know he’s done?”
Twilight took a breath. “Okay,” she began, “so, while we were away stopping that dragon-”
“All over a teddy bear…” Rainbow Dash mumbled.
“Spike left. When he left, he stole some apples and a suit,” Twilight continued, “and he went to Cloudsdale – stayed at the home of a couple of rich ponies. Then he sent a letter indicating that he had been doing very well.”
“Is that all he stole?” Rarity asked.
“Well, not exactly,” Twilight said, “I also found a few things missing – food, mostly.”
“Any books?” Rarity asked. She’d caught something out of the corner of her eye – a gap on the bookshelf.
“Huh?” Twilight walked over to the bookshelf, “I didn’t notice that… hold on,” she ran to the front of the library, pulling several sheets of paper out of a drawer.
“What is that?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“It’s a catalogue of every book in the library. I’ve got them all arranged, now let’s see…” she went down the list, “so the missing book is in the magic section, and it’s alphabetical… Prodigies and Paradigms… found it,” she said, a subtle tone of triumph in her voice, “The Practical Professor’s Portable Pamphlet Pertaining to Powerful Potions of Particular Potency.”
“Say that five times fast,” Applejack mumbled.
“Ooh!” said Pinkie Pie, “so now he’s mixing up brews?”
“I wouldn’t doubt it…” Twilight said, thinking, “I think a lot of potion materials can be made from food, so that would explain that… the suit’s still a mystery.”
“Like, if he made some kind of potion that allowed him to walk on clouds?” Rainbow Dash suggested.
“He could be. I think there’s another copy in the Canterlot library,” Twilight said, “I’ll have to go there.”
“Ooh! Another trip!” Pinkie Pie started dancing excitedly.
“No, Pinkie Pie,” Twilight said (and Pinkie’s excitement deflated like an unhappy balloon), “we can’t all go. If it’s a dead end, then we’ve all wasted time.”
“Fluttershy and I can go back up to Cloudsdale…” suggested Rainbow Dash.
“We could put up missing posters…” Fluttershy added.
“And sleuth around…”
“And apologize to whoever owns that house…”
“Would you forget about the house already?”
“What can we do?” asked Applejack.
“I don’t know,” said Twilight, “you might want to check here to see if any new letters arrive, or if something happens. Always returns to the scene of the crime, as they say, and he stole from you.”
“I still wish we knew why,” Rarity said, “it’s not like him.”
“That’s why we need to find him before he does something foolish,” Twilight said, “well, more foolish.”