|Normal| |Adventure| |War|
It had been a week since Pinkie Pie's "Re-Party," and Blitz and Twilight were engaged in a fierce battle of the minds in the upper parlor of the Library. Blitz's gaze was fixed steadily, his head resting on his hooves, which he had propped onto the table. Twilight was fixed similarly, albeit using only one hoof rather than both.
Twilight's eyes shifted about feverishly, searching for something, anything, that would help her. Finally, she saw her opening and took it. Blitz let out a small snort, obviously not happy with her move. This situation had been going on for quite a while now, with each pony spending their fair share of time on each end. But this is what made it so exciting. One mind against another, in the game of kings: chess.
They had originally tried Stratego at first, but Blitz's prowess in military history had allowed him to defeat Twilight easily. Having studied numerous battles, he knew many strategies he could put to use when it came to protecting his flag. Chess, on the other hoof, Twilight had learned they were much more evenly matched with.
Blitz retaliated quickly to his bishop being taken. With one swift move of his queen, he removed one of Twilight's rooks from play. He had taken the upper hoof in the match early, taking out her queen and one of her knights. Twilight let a small grin creep across her face as she moved her bishop, who's clear path to her rook had been disguised by the cluster of other pieces in the center of the board, into Blitz's queen's place.
Blitz let out a small cry as his queen was taken from the board. He leaned back some from the table, Twilight assumed to give himself time to contemplate a new strategy. He absentmindedly kicked at the Stratego box under the table, and rapped on his bowler hat, which he had hung on the left corner of the back of his chair. In the last week Twilight had noticed he had worn his bowler hat everywhere he went, much to the disdain of Rarity.
New strategy in mind, he immediately moved one of his knights to take out one of Twilight's remaining pawns. But Twilight had anticipated this, and countered with a move of her own. This exchange of pieces went on for another ten moves, until finally Twilight had trapped Blitz's king with both her bishops and her remaining rook. With the movement of one of her remaining three pawns, Twilight said one word. "Checkmate."
Blitz let out a small sigh and bowed his head, conceding to defeat. Twilight was smiling, since with this victory, she now pulled ahead in their rounds of chess leading 8-7. She began to place her pieces back in their original spots, while Blitz adjusted the Stratego box underneath the table. She had to admit, Blitz was a formidable opponent, and she enjoyed it every time she beat him.
Blitz sighed as he bowed his head, conceding defeat as he once again let Twilight Sparkle win. Granted, the first two he had genuinely lost, but that was more due to not having a proper understanding of her level of skill, than him being a poor player. Having played fifteen matches against the purple unicorn, it was obvious she played more by the books than thinking of her own strategies.
"We've been at this for a couple of hours, Twilight. I think it's time we stopped for today," Blitz said, noticing the mare once again setting up the board.
Twilight looked at the clock, and her eyes grew slightly with surprise. "I suppose you're right. Besides, Spike will probably be back soon anyways." she said as she began searching for the box that the chess board and pieces went in.
"Yes, he'll probably be wanting to fix lunch. In which case I should probably leave, I don't want to burden you with my presence." Blitz said as he thought about the small dragon. Twilight said she gave him the day off, or something. He hadn't really been paying attention. He only made a visit to assess Twilight, and knowing what sort of shenanigans her assistant was up to wasn't something that he was concerned about.
"Oh, it's alright. I gave him some bits before he left so he could buy something if he ever got hungry." she said simply. "You really like that hat, don't you?" Twilight asked, noticing Blitz flip the black bowler hat he owned onto his head.
"I do, in fact. I'm glad Rarity let me have it for free. I can see why she's the Element of Generosity," Blitz responded, heading down the stairs to leave.
Blitz yawned as he closed the door to his house. It wasn't much past five in the afternoon, but he was dog-tired. His brain was burnt out from the hours of playing chess with Twilight.
She needs much work, Blitz thought, as he looked up at his map. Work suddenly took on a heavier meaning in his head. His deadline was fast approaching, and he'd have to make his decision. And as much as he hated to admit it, that decision most likely wasn't going to be good.
Twilight lost her concentration, and the five books she was levitating crashed into the ground. She turned her head to the direction the loud noise had come from, just as three fillies almost barrelled into her.
"Girls! Be more careful. You can't come running in here. You could break something," Twilight said as she picked up the books and slid them into their appropriate spots on the shelves. She moved to face the group of three fillies that had dubbed themselves the Cutie Mark Crusaders and said, "Now, what is it that has you needing to come to me?"
It was Applebloom, who more often than not took on the role of the leader in the group, that spoke for them. "Well, we was wonderin' if you could help me and the gals here with... Uhmm.. What was th' word again?"
"Towtering!" replied Scootaloo.
"I think it was tooting, Applebloom." chimed in Sweetie Bell
"No, that doesn't make any sense! Why would we need Twilight's help on farting?" came Scootaloo.
"Hey, I'm just trying to help!" said Sweetie Bell.
"Do you mean tutoring?" interrupted Twilight, before the two fillies got into an argument.
"Yeah! We need yer help tutorin' our class!" Applebloom exclaimed, face full of glee and hopefulness.
Twilight got a puzzled look on her face at hearing this. "What? Why would you need to tutor your class? This isn't one of your schemes to try and get your cutie marks, is it?" she said, the tone of her voice indicating a stern scolding if it were the case.
"No!" all three Cutie Mark Crusaders said, simultaneously.
"Well, then why is it?" Twilight asked, unconvinced.
The Crusaders all suddenly looked uncomfortable; they looked at each other, worry on their faces, with Scootaloo shifting slightly on her hooves. Applebloom looked at Twilight, the fillies' mental debate seemingly over.
"Alright, but you gotta promise not to say anything!" Twilight merely nodded her head at the request, a small smile on her face. Applebloom leaned in close to Twilight's ear and whispered, "We think Miss Cheerilee's gonna get fired!"
"What?!" Twilight exclaimed, the suddenness and volume of her voice causing Applebloom to jump back several paces from the unicorn. Her eyes were still wide with surprise when Sweetie Bell spoke.
"We were thinking that if we helped everyone get smarter that Miss Cheerilee wouldn't lose her job!" she said. She was about to continue, but Twilight suddenly picked all three of the fillies up with her magic.
"Come on girls," Twilight said as she trotted towards the door, the three confused fillies floating behind her. "Let's go visit Miss Cheerilee."
Cheerilee was in her classroom preparing for the start of the new school week tomorrow when Twilight came in. The Cutie Mark Crusaders were no longer in her magical grasp, but still following behind the mare as she trotted in.
"Oh, hello Twilight. Hello Applebloom, Sweetie Bell, Scootaloo. Is there something I can do for you?" she asked, moving aside some papers she was grading.
"Cheerilee, what's this I hear about your job being at risk?" Twilight asked, concern and worry plastered across her face.
"W-What?!" Cheerilee stammered, her face paling underneath her coat. "I'm at risk of being fired? Oh, how can that be? How do you know?" Cheerilee's voice was quavering, the idea of her job being taken from her absolutely horrific.
"Well, when the Cutie Mark Crusaders came to me asking for help, I asked them what for, and they said-" Twilight stopped herself after she registered what she had said. She turned her head to the three fillies, who all looked up at her with questioning expressions. "Why is it you think that Miss Cheerilee's going to lose her job?" Twilight asked the small fillies.
"Um... Well, we saw Miss Cheerilee talking to that green pegasus dude and he was asking her questions about the school and stuff. He didn't seem to like what she was saying though, so we thought that she was gonna get fired..." Scootaloo said, her voice trailing off at the end.
"Oh! She's talking about when, oh, what was his name... Blitz? I think that was it. Yes, after school ended for the week Blitz came up to me and asked me some questions. He asked about the literacy rate here in Ponyville, the ratio of ponies who drop out to those who graduate, things like that. Since this is a rural town most students drop out to help with family shops, farms, things like that. He never really did say why he was asking. He just ignored the question when I brought it up." Cheerilee explained, having calmed down with knowing her job wasn't really at risk.
"Hm... Well, thanks Cheerilee. I just wanted to get that cleared up." Twilight said, eyes scolding the Cutie Mark Crusaders for jumping to conclusions.
Her thoughts drifted to Blitz on the walk home. She admitted, it was a little odd of him asking such things. Maybe he just wanted to know a bit about Ponyville since he was going to be living here, she thought. Or maybe he planned on raising foals and wanted them to have a good education.
No, that probably wasn't it, she told herself. He hadn't come here with a mare, and when he went out of his house he really only spent time with hanging out with me- Oh. Twilight was caught midstep as the notion struck her. She blushed a little as she dismissed the absurd thought, focusing on more important matters, such as the best way to organize her to-do lists.
When Twilight got to the clinic, she immediately ran to the front desk. "What room?" she asked hastily. The blue earth pony behind the receptionist's desk quickly gave her the room number, not needing to ask what patient she was visiting. Twilight rushed to the room, only slowing down in order to avoid crashing into the door.
She had been enjoying a nice cup of apple juice and a daisy sandwich for lunch when she heard a knock on her door. She had closed the book she was reading and trotted down the stairs to see who it was. It turned out to be Rarity, who promptly informed her Rainbow Dash was in the clinic. She had been so scared that her friend was severely injured, that she didn't allow Rarity time to explain what Rainbow was there for before she took off towards the clinic.
When she entered the room, she saw her friends Applejack, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie standing around one of the beds. The occupant was sitting on her haunches on the bed, looking lazily in the direction of Nurse Redheart, who was looking over what seemed to be a medical chart.
"What happened?" Twilight asked Rainbow Dash, as Rarity, out of breath from trying to catch up to Twilight, trotted into the room behind her.
Nurse Redheart spoke for her. "She had a mild condition of heat stroke. She'll still need to rest for today, but she should be fine come tomorrow morning. She's lucky your friend Fluttershy brought her here when she did, otherwise it could have been much more serious," she said, and knowing what question was to follow, she added, "it was most likely cause by Rainbow not taking any breaks during long periods of strenuous exercise."
At the last bit, Applejack snickered. "That wouldn't happen t' have anything t'do with that race you an' Blitz had a week ago, would it?" she asked, teasing at her friend's humiliation.
"Ah, shut up." Rainbow Dash responded, glaring at Applejack.
"Oh, are you sure you're feeling alright? You need to remember to take breaks when you're out training! You could have been seriously hurt!" Twilight exclaimed as she walked up to Rainbow Dash, trying to put a hoof to her forehead to check her temperature.
"Yeah, I'm fine! I'm only a little light headed. Sheesh, Twilight, you're worse than my mom!" Rainbow exclaimed in annoyance, waving off Twilight with one of her hooves.
"Aww, you're feeling fine?" Pinkie asked, disappointment in her voice. "That means I can't throw a 'Get Well Soon' party!" she said, before her eyes got wide and she gasped loudly. "But I can throw a 'Congratulations On Getting Well!' party! Oh, it's going to be so much fun!" Pinkie yelled, the bubbly mare bouncing about the room.
"Can I leave now, doc?" Rainbow Dash asked Nurse Redheart, obviously not content with sitting in the bare white room.
"Hm, I suppose. As long as you rest for the remainder of the day. That means no strenuous exercise, and you need to be drinking water often." Nurse Redheart emphasised, to which the group began shuffling out of the room, with Rainbow Dash taking the lead.
Twilight was about to head out of the clinic when she felt the tap of a hoof on her flank. She turned around to see Nurse Redheart standing behind her. "Blitz is that green pegasus Pinkie held a party for a week and a half ago, right?" she asked.
"Yes, why?" Twilight asked, not quite sure why Nurse Redheart would be asking who Blitz was.
"I was just wondering. I figured you knew who he was since I've seen him visit the library often. He's a strange pony. Came in here about half a week ago asking questions about the clinic. Never did figure what that was all about." Nurse Redheart said as she looked over the empty lobby of the clinic.
"Oh, did he now?" Twilight was rather intrigued now. This was the second time she had heard of Blitz asking odd questions to the residents of Ponyville.
"Yeah. Was asking things about mortality rate, birth rate, things like that. Thing is, Ponyville's not exactly the most... stallion-filled town, so we don't actually get that many births happening." she said, glancing back towards the clock above the receptionist's window. "I have to get back to work. I need to fill out some paperwork and clean up Rainbow Dash's room. I'll see you later, Twilight." Nurse Redheart said, waving back to Twilight as she walked down the hall.
As Twilight walked back towards the library, she couldn't help but think of Blitz. He didn't seem any different a few days ago, but now she's suddenly hearing how he's been asking questions about the state of educational and health offices? It was a bit odd, but Twilight figured it was nothing. It was probably just an odd way of getting to know his new town. Right?
"Twilight, are you comin' or what?" Rainbow Dash shouted back to her friend as they were leaving the library.
Twilight shook her head and jolted herself from her trance. "Oh, sorry. I'm coming!" she replied, galloping in order to catch up with her friends. She had zoned out momentarily there; everything sort of faded out of existence around her while her mind kept working. It was an odd feeling that didn't happen too often, but when it did it was normally in rather awkward situations. She was told it was due to her mind thinking faster than her body could respond, which in itself was caused from, well, thinking too much.
It was the time of the week where her and all her friends- well, until two months ago all her friends excluding Rainbow Dash, would get together in the park with their pets and hang out with one another. It also served as good exercise for their pets, who almost always insisted on chasing one another.
Twilight was actually glad Rainbow Dash had a pet now; aside from the obvious fact she could spend more time with the rest of their friends on their weekly outing, the pegasus also took it upon herself to make sure on that one day of the week, the weather was perfect. And that's exactly what the weather was today: perfect. A slight breeze, just the right amount of clouds, and not a grey one in sight.
When Twilight reached the spot in the park they normally gathered at, she found her friends and their pets were already having their fun. Winona had already started chasing Opal, with Rarity complaining to Applejack that her dog was terrorizing her pet. Owlicious (who flew ahead with the rest of the group earlier) seemed to be in a race against Tank in his flying contraption, with Gummy trying to latch onto Rainbow Dash, who was refereeing the race. Pinkie seemed to be arguing with Angel over something incomprehensible to Twilight.
Twilight was in the middle of talking to Fluttershy whilst they overlooked their pets, when a green blur flew just above the treeline (If you could call it one, as there was only one tree in the immediate vicinity) overhead.
"Oh, my." Fluttershy said quietly, as the wind from the object passing above blew her mane back slightly.
"Was that Blitz?" Twilight asked, turning her head in the direction the object flew in.
"Ah think it was." came Applejack's response.
"What's got him in such a hurry?" Rainbow Dash said as she flew over to the rest of the group.
They all sat there for a moment in silence. They were about to resume their activities before Twilight spoke up. "Has anyone thought Blitz has been a bit... strange, lately?"
"Strange? Oh, I think so. Have you seen that hat he's been wearing? Had I known he was actually going to WEAR such a dreadful head piece, I never would have let him have it!" Rarity remarked, visually scoffing the stallion.
"Yeah! I mean, he spends more time inside reading his books than you do, Twilight!" Pinkie chimed in, suddenly appearing in the middle of the group. "And he doesn't like my strudels!"
"I'm being serious, girls!" Twilight exclaimed, scolding her friends.
Her friends shrank back some from her stern look. It was Applejack who spoke next. "Well, he did come t' th' farm a coupl'a days ago askin' some mighty odd questions."
"What sort of questions?" Twilight asked solemnly. She was sure she knew where this was going.
"Well, he was askin' things like how much of our apples were sold t' Ponyville, how much we shipped off t' other cities, and how many apples we grew each year. Figured there weren't no harm in him askin', hay, Ah thought he may even be wantin' t' invest in Sweet Apple Acres." the orange earth pony said. "There somethin' wrong with him askin' stuff like that, Twi?"
"Well, no, it's just... Well, he's been asking questions like that all over town. It's just a little strange, is all." Twilight was once again deep in thought as she tried to piece things together.
"Hey, yeah! I even saw him poking around that field that I practice in! I told you, he's a spy!" Rainbow Dash said proudly, admiring her own ability to sniff out evil-doers.
"Oh, there's plenty of explanations for that. He said his special talent is that he's very knowledgeable in history. Maybe there was a battle or important even that took place there at one time." Twilight countered.
"Hmph, more like he's trying to scout out suitable areas for the enemy to have a battle!" Rainbow Dash gruffed in response.
"If you think he's acting strange, why not just ask him about it?" Fluttershy suggested quietly.
Twilight sat quietly for a moment, trying to think of something wrong with Fluttershy's suggestion. After nothing turned up in her mind, she sighed. "I suppose you're right. I'll stop by his house tonight and ask him about it." she said, as she looked over at her pets. "But for now lets get back to what to what we originally came here for."
"Hey Twilight, it's almost sunset!" Spike called up to Twilight, who was laying on her bed reading a textbook over physics.
"So?" Twilight called back. Spike knew better than to interrupt her when she was reading.
"Well, weren't you gonna go talk to Blitz, or whatever his name was?" he responded, as he started putting away books that were turned in earlier that day.
Twilight looked lazily out the window; it was indeed almost sunset, with Celestia's sun just above the horizon. Luna's moon would be out shortly after, and many ponies would be turning in for the night. If she didn't go talk to Blitz now, chances were she'd have to wait until tomorrow, and if she was to get answers, she'd much prefer it be now than tomorrow.
She got up and levitated the book back into her personal shelf, then trotted down the stairs towards the door. "You're right. I'll be back soon." she said to her assistant, then closed the door behind her.
On the way to Blitz's, she couldn't help but think of what sort of explanation he might give. Was he just trying to learn about his town? Maybe he was documenting some things, he was a historian after all. She couldn't really place one that seemed right. What was she supposed to assume about somepony acting suspicious?
She reached his house on the other side of Ponyville, and stood there for a moment. There were lights on inside the house, so she figured he must be home. She knocked three times, then waited. After a moment of no response, she knocked a little harder. The door opened slightly under the pressure of her hooves.
Twilight peeked her head in the house, checking to see if anyone was home. She couldn't see anyone in the main hallway nor the living room, so she stepped in further.
"Blitz?" she called. No response. She rounded the corner and checked in the kitchen. Nothing. She went around the other side of the living room and into what she assumed was his bedroom. There were books and papers strewn about the room, but no pegasus pony.
"Blitz?" she called again, hoping he would respond if he was there.
After checking a few more rooms, she decided he wasn't here. She walked back into his living room and sighed. The room looked a lot nicer from the last time she saw it. There were no longer any boxes, nor any wildly placed books. The only thing that was the same from her first visit was the couch and the map.
Wait, the map. There was something different about it compared to other maps. It looked like a normal map of Equestria, but it had red writing all over it. As she examined the map, her expression turned from one of questioning, to confusion, then to shock, and finally to horror.
Over every city was one word, and either a circle or an X. Over nearly every major city was a circle and the word 'INDISPENSABLE' while over almost all of the small villages was an X and the word 'DISPENSABLE.' Twilight wasn't sure what she was seeing, but her eyes slowly drifted down to Ponyville, which had fresh red ink written over it.