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[Gallopocus Seas] The Lost Library - Sinister Sweetness

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The dark blue earth stallion with the sea-green mane stood in the dark kitchen. His flank was marked with a fine chocolate truffle drizzled with white chocolate, which obviously represented a love of eating in the sizable mass of Truffle Shuffle - for that was his name. He was struggling with an ancient box sealed in lead so that not even the slightest crack was open, trying desperately to force it open without making a lot of noise. On the stove before him, a large double-layered boiling pot of chocolate bubbled contentedly away, a spoon dipped into it, splashed with the dark chocolate.

Truffle Shuffle bit and pried at the box, quietly, then started jabbing at it with a cooking knife, making little 'tink tink tink' noises. The box resisted his efforts, and he gave it a solid bang on the counter, then winced, glancing around. When no one came in, he gave it another bang, then another, then dropped it on the floor and kicked it, then picked up the cooking knife and started jabbing at it with loud, ringing noises, snarling. The lead seal finally gave way with a loud crack, and Truffle Shuffle was so surprised he quite dropped the box, which fell open to reveal ... a chocolate bar, subdivided for easy breaking into little rectangles, looking quite ordinary, despite the extreme measures taken to contain it. Truffle Shuffle's eyes lit up, and he glanced around, then quietly, quietly picked up the box and set it onto the counter.

"Shhhh... gotta stay quiet," he whispered to himself. "Finally! I can't believe the old pony had this sort of power ... and she told me not to use it! With this, those judges won't have any choice bsut to declare me the winner! I'll be the finest chocolatier in all of Equestria!" He took up a tongs, lifted the chocolate bar with it cautiously, like it was dangerous, and dropped it into the boiling mass of chocolate. Slowly the chocolate bar sank into the melted mass, deforming as it joined the mass, till it could no longer be distinguished from the rest around it.

"Yes...." whispered Truffle Shuffle. "Yes! YES!" He laughed delightedly, and inhaled the sweet, sweet scent from the pot, drooling at the aroma. "Ugh. Now I want some. Well, I have my stash - I know better than to eat *this* chocolate!" He laughed merrily.

A dark, chocolaty pseudopod lifted itself out of the pot right in front of his eyes. He stared, mouth agape, unmoving at the sheer shock of seeing the chocolate move in front of him. "Wuh..." he said, stunned. It struck, diving into his open mouth, and Truffle Shuffle gagged and struggled, but seemed held in place, unable to pull away. Then his eyes went dull, and he slumped... and then stood up again, placid, calm. The chocolate pulled away, and Truffle Shuffle licked his lips.

"Feed them all," a bubbling, whispered voice came from the bubbling pot. "Bring them into my service..."

"Yes, my delicious master," Truffle Shuffle responded quietly back, his voice distant, his eyes briefly glowing with a deep orange tinge. "They will all enjoy your chocolatey touch, and serve your sweet, sweet will."

His laughter rang throught he kitchen, mixed with the soft, bubbling laughter from the pot. Out the porthole, the vast dark ocean was unconcerned, the stars overhead brilliant and the moon glowing full. Waves washed over the cruise ship, but beyond the cruise shop, there was endless expanses of water, rising and falling, reflecting the stars, and out on the horizon, the sun just starting to light up the sky. The red light of the dawning sky shone over a tiny little cart floating on the endless waves.

Over the edge of the cart popped up a tan stallion's head with dark brown mane all slicked back. He peered around with an excited air to him, and cried out,[colour=#8b4513] "Ah, sunrise! Wonderful! The salty air, the bobbing water, the rush of the wind and the pull of the unknown! Ahhh, I love the sea!"[/colour] He pulled out a three-corner hat and plopped it on his head, then started pulling at the levers and twisting the knobs on the control panel at the front of the cart. When it failed to respond to that, he chuckled, shook his head fondly, and delivered one practiced, solid *kick* at the boiler behind him. It responded with a deep, resounding [colour=#0000cd]BOOM[/colour], and then it started to wheeze, spitting out blue smoke in little puffs. [colour=#0000cd]"vworp... vworp... Vworp...Vworp...VWORP... VWORP..." [/colour] The cart kicked up into gear and started speeding forward over the water, leaving a white wake behind it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7izzUMxDLOE

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The beauties of the tropical ocean, the salty air, the wondrous smells, the lovely waves of light blue that seamlessly melded into the distant cerulean horizon under the warm, relaxing sun. It was in this scene of natural perfection stood proudly the Great and Powerful Trixie! Her forehooves upon the beautiful, lily white railing of the stunning luxury sailboat, her luxurious mane and magnificent cloak billowing in the soft breeze. She held her head up high, eyes closed, smiling as she heard the stunning servant mare, dressed in a pink sarong and flowers in her mane, approach with the tropical fruit cocktail Trixie ordered. Trixie turned to face the lovely mint green unicorn as she prepared to pay..in kisses, once again. Their head's each tilted as muzzles began to touch…

BONG!!! VWORP… VWORP…VWORP!!

Trixie literally jumped up on all fours from the sudden yet annoyingly familiar noise, her fantasy dream shattered in a wake of nauseating blue smoke. Trixie waved her hoof the clear the air about her and was about to make some sarcastic comment when she suddenly remembered, or more accurately, her body reminded her, that she gets seasick.

The azure coloured unicorn quickly galloped to the edge of the floating cart and stuck her head over the side, [colour=#3399cc]"urrrrrrrrrrrgh… whhhy was Trixie awakened from her beautiful dream wurghblaugal!" [/colour]

The cart bobbed up and down in the small waves, though it may as well have been tossed by a hurricane for Trixie's tender stomach. Ugh, they could not get to their destination too soon! [colour=#3399cc]"uuuuuuugh, how much further does the sick and nauseous Trixie have to travel in this dreadful contraption…."[/colour] There was no response, it was unlikely the Doctor heard her with her head over the side and his mysterious engine making its cantankerous noise.

Trixie stood back on all fours as best she could and turned to face Whooves, her normally azure coat a sickly green about her face, [colour=#3399cc]"Ahem!! The Grea-" [/colour] Trixie suddenly felt woozy for a second, [colour=#3399cc]"the Gre- Whooog!"[/colour] Trixie had to work to maintain her footing, "[colour=#3399cc]uhh, I would like to know when we- "[/colour] Trixie's head tilted to the left in confusion and aversion, [colour=#3399cc]"what in all of Equestria do you have on your head!?"[/colour]

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Bon Bon could hardly believe her luck.

Or was it her misfortune?

She couldn't tell half the time. She supposed that you had to have some hardships to have great successes but she didn't think that it would be taken to the extreme that she had allowed it to go. It had started off a few months ago when as part of a business venture she had sent samples of her bonbons to a Canterlot Dining Association. She didn't receive many reviews back- she supposed that bonbons weren't exactly the treats of the rich and famous- but those she had received were pleasant enough for her to to receive certain diplomas of excellence from the Association. That wasn't what she had wanted! She wanted business, not diplomas or plaques or nice letters from adorable foals. She couldn't eat the letters often enough to sustain and the diplomas had a certain acidicness to them.

She kids, she kids!

She just tossed them in the trash.

At least until another venture popped in her head: Chocolatier's Convention! Building a network of like-minded professionals in her field would help her should she fall on hard times, which was a threat as perennial as the sun with Sugarcube Corner and it's legion(when compared to Bon Bon alone) of employees and owners. Well, three, but they got help. With a network she could improve her work, make allies, get some funding, and generally not worry that she and Lyra were going to have join a circus troupe to survive the lean years. They had certainly created enough silliness in the home to support the idea, but she doubted the idea could support two mares.

So, convention it was. She sent the certified plaques and diplomas from the high-class dining association and soon she found one ticket to the convention in return. Not two, or five, or ten, just one. Well, she certainly wasn't going to be on the main stage or getting any special billing but one ticket was better than no ticket. She kissed Lyra goodbye and was off, recipes and bonbons in her saddlebag. And bits, plenty of those. She had arrived swiftly and boarded the vessel. Everything had gone well enough that she should have been jumping for joy. There was only one minor problem.

Undiagnosed and previously unknown sea sickness that had left her hanging off the bow for half of the first day. Hard to make a connection when you were worried about dressing them in a dull shade of green, yellow, and brown. Luckily, she was a mare capable of amazing adaptation. After tossing her body's weight, she was more inured to the horrors of the sea and retired to her cabin. A fitful night's rest came to her, but even adaptation had it's limits. She stumbled out of her cabin and started walking the halls of the cruise ship, wishing desperately she was on solid land. As a child she had once dreamt what it would be like as a pegasus flying in the sky an also wondered what it would be like to be on the high seas as some weird sea pony. Now she thanks all the stars above and rocky crags below that she had solid ground to call home.

As she navigated the infernal paths to fresh air, she noticed something slightly unusual. She would be the first to admit that her first day on board had been a complete dud, but even then, she knew the difference between proper networking and...weirdness. And what she saw was weird, if not so unusual as to demand closer inspection. A hoofull of ponies could be seen staggering about, not in too improper a matter but noticeable. She couldn't blame anything except the finest cider, which gave her another reason to leave the guest quarters for the night. If they were still selling cider that was sending so many ponies into such a state, then she had to get a mug to wash down the churning in her stomach. One or two had muttered some question at her but she had no time to consider nor answer; she had a hot, passionate date with the railing overlooking the ocean and wasn't about to keep it waiting.

She burst out of the guest quarters and made a quick turn, slipping and knocking her chin on the wooden surface before picking herself back up and galloping towards the the railing. Thank Celestia there weren't more ponies around to see her run around like a house trained filly searching for a toilet, the moon hung high over casting it's pale and soothing light that with it's softer rays allowed light to reflect brilliantly. Light, like the lamp held by the pony-

SMACK

- Bon Bon rammed the other pony with considerable speed, tumbling end over end as the lamp went flying and died swiftly in a nearby pool. She connected with the railing, her head poking through like a pony being punished publicly in the stockades like the town drunk. She tried once, twice, thrice to pull herself out, but her legs were too long. Darn her long, fine, wonderfully ensconced in silk socks legs.

[colour=#b22222]"Celestia, why me? What did I do? I just make bonbons! I..."[/colour] She pushed as her voice took on a rather gravelly, Manehattan blessed tone,[colour=#b22222] "ugghhh, why do I have to be sea sick? Not cloud sick? Or even moon sick? Sorry Luna, but your moon screwed me good this time!"[/colour] She barked as she tried to push and pull, pull and push.

Sigh. Her voice returned to normal alongside her attitude.

[colour=#0000cd]"I should have stayed in Ponyville,"[/colour]

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Not everypony possessed the means to take a cruise on one of Equestria’s most luxurious passenger ships on a whim at least two-to-three times a year, let alone afford a room in first class. But for Merlot, gentlecolt archaeologist and wealthy member of the realm’s bourgeoisie, such luxuries were but an everyday part of life. Instead of scraping by with tenure like his fellow colleagues, the idol-flanked stallion lived the high life enjoying the finest food and the finest wine on the high seas.

By a curious chance of fate, a chocolate industry tradeshow had set up shop in the ballroom on this particular voyage. While intended mainly as a networking event for chocolatiers and confectionary sellers, the convention also opened its doors to the other passengers, and Merlot like any other sensible pony in good standing used the opportunity to taste-test chocolate for free. Unfortunately, it looked like the majority of the “trade professionals” on hoof were not the gourmet chocolatiers that the unicorn had come to prize for their exquisite treats. Most of the ballroom booths looked too tacky and unprofessional for Merlot’s tastes, other less-gaudy ones were manned by those who were completely unknown among the upper crust and thus not worth the gentlecolt’s time, and one booth seemed to possess a stallion who was completely zoned out for whatever reason.

Disgusted that nopony worth knowing had been showing their wares at the tradeshow, Merlot didn’t try a single chocolate sample and thus spent the rest of the day mingling with the other well-to-do passengers. After several hours’ worth of conversing about his archaeological endeavors and the latest gossip, the stallion saw fit to retire to his cabin for the rest of the night. Taking out his lantern (a complementary gift provided to all first-class guests), Merlot figured it would be a simple journey in the darkness back to his room. That was, until some clumsy oaf of a pony rammed into him and sent his lamp... and after losing his footing, himself into the nearby icy pool.

It was only a small comfort to the livid Merlot that nopony else had witnessed his humiliation. His precious white suit and accompanying tie were drenched, his fabulous blue mane in waterlogged shambles, and his complementary lamp extinguished. Climbing out of the pool, the gentlecolt telepathically recovered his drifting hat and proceeded to glare at the oafish yellow-coated mare responsible for his predicament. Overhearing the stuck earth pony muttering something about staying in Ponyville, a still-wet Merlot couldn’t help but express his ever-so-righteous fury; [colour=#0000ff]“Well no doubt you should have stayed in that town, imbécile. Do you have any idea what your idiocy has done to my clothes!?”[/colour]

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Doctor Whooves turned happily towards Trixie as he heard her moving around, the wind whipping at the dark brown bangs of his mane hanging low over his eyes, his tan coat rippling in the wind as he happily gave the ship's wheel - for the first time seeming appropriate in the cart - a little half-spin. [colour=#800000] "Ah, good morning, sleepyhead!"[/colour] he chimed cheerfully. He chuckled and turned back to eye the manavane - a tube full of crystals, slowly rotatating left and right, but aimed firmly forward of them, guiding their path.

[colour=#800000]"This? I wear a tri-corner hat, now! Tri-corner hats are cool! Don't quite know, exactly, how long it'll be. Depends on where this points us!"[/colour] He rubbed his hoof lovingly over the control panel. [colour=#800000] "Don't worry, she'll make it there!"[/colour] He ignored the snubs on his beloved cart - Trixie was surely just jealous.

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Trixie just stared at the Doctor as he attempted to pass off his transgression against all sense of fashion and good taste as somehow "cool". The azure coloured unicorn's right eye just twitched as the only movement on her horrified face. No, this will not do at all, just no! That horrific abomination the earth stallion called a "tri-corner hat" must be destroyed for the sake of all that was au courant in Equestria!

Trixie steadied herself as best she could on the bobbing wagon and focused her magic, her horn glowing a bright purple with a matching glow around the obscene headpiece atop Whooves' head. Trixie flicked her head to the right and the cap suddenly flew off in that direction out over the open water; however for Trixie merely tossing the travesty to all that is trendy and in vogue wasn't enough, knowing Whooves, he would have some clever yet overcomplicated way of retrieving that.. Thing. Trixie's horn glowed brightly once again and a purple burst of energy shot out of it right at the hat, blowing it up in a bright cornucopia of colour into several charred pieces. [colour=#6699cc]"And good riddance!"[/colour]

Satisfied at her heroic deed for the welfare of all that was in good taste, Trixie turned to the Doctor as she smiled with great pride, [colour=#6699CC]"now that we have that out of the way, and by the way, never, ever do that again, *ahem* now that we have that out of the way we can..."[/colour] Before Trixie could finish her sentence the manavane they had been using to guide them whatever tropical paradise Trixie was sure they were destined to, suddenly made a sharp turn to the left, almost tipping the cart in that direction and throwing the azure unicorn off balance once again. [colour=#6699cc] “What in Celestia’s name! Is your insane device broken… again! Whooooahhhh!”[/colour] Trixie suddenly lost her balance and tumbled right into Whooves, crashing on top of him.

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Bon Bon knew for certain that she wasn't the most elegant mare in all of Equestria but she also knew that it was rude of somepony to be so, well, rude like the fellow behind her was. Maybe he had good cause, that hat of his was certainly a nice looking fedora after all, but she was the one with sea sickness and her head stuck. If anypony had any reason to be angry at another pony, it was Bon Bon being angry at Bon Bon. Which didn't help matters much, so she decided to focus on better things momentarily. Like how good her hooves felt. And that was it. Everything else sucked. That didn't really help much at all, did it? Well, she may as well work to solve some problems now.

[colour=#0000cd]"Yeah, yeah, whatever. I'm sorry I ran into you, just have a bit of sea-sickness. Never been on the sea before. Could you help me out of this?"[/colour] She asked, emphasizing her situation with another vain attempt of pulling herself out. Luna above, she felt that her life was a puppet show ran by the so-called reformed Discord. Always ten cards short of a deck, always behind the eight ball. She kicked her back hooves out in frustration. Her hopes now rested on some unkind fool behind her more worried about his admittedly cool hat than her also admittedly unlucky rump. Huh. On second thought, this situation made absolutely perfect sense.

[colour=#0000cd]"If you help me, I'll give you some bon bons. They're pretty darned good,"[/colour] She offered, her eyes scanning the ocean for lack of something else to see. Something could be seen off in the distance, something she couldn't quite put together, lights and some sort of sound that she could both hear and not hear. it seemed to be drawing closer, but this realization didn't bring her any closer to solving her problem so it was discarded as useless. She started to panic a little.

"[colour=#0000cd]In fact, I'll give you a wh[/colour][colour=#ff0000]ole[/colour] [colour=#ff0000]flippin' bag of the things if you get me out of this![/colour]"

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Merlot absolutely couldn’t believe the poor excuse the stuck earth pony came up with for her idiocy. The girl rammed into him because she was sea-sick? What kind of foolish rubbish was that? What was she even doing on a ship if she was going to be a gross inconvenience due to sea sickness? How did that even excuse his horrid drenching and the loss of his complimentary lamp?

However, the gentlecolt couldn’t help but pity the young mare as she struggled fruitlessly to escape her embarrassing imprisonment. Ordinarily, Merlot would have trotted away by now and left the poor fool to her own devices. And yet her pitiful offer of bon bons struck a cord in the stallion’s conscience, especially because he had no use for any confectionery that wasn’t made by somepony featured in a top-five listing.

It was the mare’s unexpected screech that finally drove Merlot to action. The last thing he wanted right now was to generate a scene, which the earth pony was in danger of doing if her shouting persisted. Grimacing out loud, the soaked unicorn wordlessly summoned a telekinetic lock on the mare’s tail in an attempt to pull the distressed damsel to freedom.....

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Doctor Whooves let out a [colour=#8b4513]'Whoah![/colour]', as his frantic grab for his hat missed, and he looked upon the scene with big, watery eyes and a little bit of a lip-wibble. An expression that was swiftly wiped away as the cart lurched to the side, and Trixie landed on top of him, their faces terribly close to each other. His eyes lit up with an eager delight, as he grinned broadly to Trixie from an inch away, looking like Hearth's Warming had come early! His breath huffed out over her muzzle, he leaned just a little bit closer ...

[colour=#8b4513]"Did you SEE that?!"[/colour] he cried out delightedly, pushing her off of him and scrambling to his hooves, peering closely at the manavane. [colour=#8b4513] "Blimey! Just like that, WHAM!"[/colour] He tapped lightly at the manavane, and it just wobbled a little, steadfastly affixed to the horizon. [colour=#8b4513] "Can you imagine the rush of magic that we must have just hit? Oh, YEAH! Right out here in the middle of the ocean, too! Wonder how that happened? That'll keep us off course till we clear that up!"[/colour]

He scrambled to his controls, giving the ship's wheel a little spin that swung the humble wooden cart around onto the new heading, gunned the engine to give it more power, then hit a few more toggles and buttons, just for the fun of it. [colour=#8b4513]"ALLON-ZY!"[/colour]

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Trixie blushed in her embarrassment over her clumsy lack of footing that found her splayed over the brown earth pony, face to face,their muzzles almost touching. She just stared right at him for a moment, and uttered not a word, nor moved a single muscle. She noticed he was moving in closer; was he about to try and kiss the Great and Powerful Trixie!? How dare he be so presumptuous!

Suddenly the azure unicorn found herself on her haunches as she was suddenly pushed off, now he was suddenly ignoring such a beautiful mare before him?! How.. Howww..

How dare he not try and kiss the Great and Powerful Trixie! What pony would not wish to have such privilege thrust upon them!

Trixie got up on all four hooves, determined to give the Doctor a piece of mind, when she spotted something in the distance, barely visible but straight on from the direction the strange stallion's manavane was pointing- A ship! Not just any ship, but it looked like a luxury ship - with food, and drinks, and mares, and servants, and most of all, not sloshing about in the water!

Trixie almost climbed onto Whooves' back, his head pushed down by one forehoof as her other pointed towards the distant ship. [colour=#6699cc]"There! The magic must be there! I, The Great and Powerful Trixie, am sure of it! We must go post haste!"[/colour]

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Bon Bon knew for a fact that each and every lesson she had learned as a little foal had come back to bite her in the flank at some point in her life, but on rare occasions they would prove beneficial as an adult. Whining had never really worked back in the day. Her parents didn't really respond to it, the high class friends of hers did the same thing and were thus as immune to it as a vaccinated foal was to a disease, and her low-class friends guilted her by reminding her of what they lacked that she had. But as an adult, it had uses. Mostly with Lyra(though the tables were turned more often than not) and sometimes with others. She was on the verge of starting to whine and moan in order to get this stallion to help her, but luckily, a single screech and her offer of Bonbons were enough to stir him into action. Thank Celestia for chocolate!

She braced herself and pulled, this time with the odd sensation of magic wrapping around her tail. She was used to that, Lyra doing much the same with only a minor difference separating the two. Between his pulling of her tail and her own pushing and pulling, they made progress- slow and painful on both ends for Bon Bon, whose head was being sandwiched and whose tail was being pulled aggressively. After what seemed like an eternity but could have been no more thana few seconds, her head popped thrpough the bars and she went flying a few feet before the magic pull ended and she landed end over end until she slammed into wall. The action caused her eyes to roll around for a few seconds before she shook her still-attached head and confirmed everything was still in it's right place. Happy with the outcome, she smiled wide and shook her tail.

[colour=#0000cd]"There we go, that's much better," [/colour]She took a deep breath, still fighting the seasickness, though having somepony to talk to made it a whole lot easier,[colour=#0000cd] "and thank you. Come with me, we'll snack on some deliciousness,"[/colour] She gestured and started down the hallway with a healthy trot.

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It took plenty of his magical energy to do so, but Merlot managed to successfully free the bothersome mare from her distress. The stallion didn’t relish having to perform this act of “chivalry”, if it could even be called that. But then again, Merlot didn’t care for chivalry at all unless he could impress a fine lady with only little-to-no effort superficial gestures and pleasantries. Having to help out a screeching mare, and one who drenched his clothes at that... well, let’s just say that it would take a lot more than bonbons to placate the gentlecolt.

At least Merlot had a plausible excuse to decline the damsel’s offer. [colour=#0000ff]“I’m sorry to say that I must decline your offer, demoiselle,”[/colour] the unicorn declared, attempting to express faux-politeness to the earth pony in the hopes that it’d allow him to part ways with her faster; [colour=#0000ff]“Right now, I am in a state... unsuitable for appearing in front of anypony. I must retreat to my cabin for the rest of the night. For the time being, I bid you adieu.”[/colour]

Tipping his hat at the light-yellow mare, Merlot attempted to turn away and walk off. Truth be told, the archaeologist was lying when he said that he’d be in his suite for long; once he made himself presentable again, he’d be back at the first-class bar blowing off steam to his fellow first-class cronies. Thus, Merlot wished that this would be the last time the mare behind him would refrain from being a bother for the rest of the voyage. The last pony he needed to know better right now was a potential blundering loon; one similar to that one Daring Do fanatic who kept trespassing on his dig sites.....

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The double-swinging-doors of the ship's expansive kitchen swung open, and Truffle Shuffle pushed a serving cart through. Every shelf of the cart was piled with tray after tray of little chocolate treats. Lumpy, misshapen bon-bons. bite-sized chocolate tidbits in little whimsical shapes that had cracked and were missing bits from when he took them out of the molds. Chocolate figures. Chocolate circles drizzled with white chocolate patterns, or mint syrup patterns, or cherry syrup patterns. All of them seemed inexpertly made, except for Truffle Shuffle's specialty - long, rounded, perfectly oval chocolates with a creamy liquid chocolate center, covered with a smooth and glistening rich chocolate glaze, and topped with little curled shavings of chocolate. These sat in the center of the entire cart, covered in a glass dome - his masterpiece.

It was perhaps a trick of the imagination, but the whole cart seemed briefly to pulse with an orange light, just for a moment, and then no more.

One of the sailors was passing, a scrawny white unicorn stallion with an orange, stripy mane and eruptions all over his face, wearing a little white sailor's cap and a white uniform jacket. The sailor stopped, smiled at the display and licked his lips. [colour=#ff8c00] "Wow!"[/colour] he cried in a cracked and squeaky voice, [colour=#ff8c00]"That looks great, mister!"[/colour]

Truffle Shuffle grinned, and gestured grandiosly to his offerings. [colour=#008000]"Please! By all means, try one! Not one of the center ones, but any of the others!"[/colour]

[colour=#ff8c00]"Gee, thanks, mister!"[/colour] squeaked the young stallion, and floated one of the chocolates up to take a satisfied bite. His eyes opened, and briefly glowed orange, and the colour of his magic shifted to that same orange. [colour=#ff8c00] "Wow,"[/colour] his squeaky voice breathed... [colour=#ff8c00]"Everypony needs to eat these."[/colour]

Truffle Shuffle grinned. [colour=#008000]"Exactly. Here, take a tray up to the captain and the bridge crew. I'm sure they'll LOVE them."[/colour]


Doctor Whooves circled the ship, ignoring Trixie's eager little prancings. He'd managed to convince her that he was NOT wearing a Trixie now - she did not make a suitable replacement hat for the one she'd destroyed. Sure enough, as he made a big loop around the massive luxury cruise ship, the manavane stayed pointed directly at it, rotating around to stay focused on the ship. [colour=#8b4513]"FANtastic!"[/colour] crowed Doctor Whooves, [colour=#8b4513]"What could be causing that? Somewhere towards the back of the ship... not sure which floor... "[/colour] He crowed happily, and piloted his little wooden cart up to the side of the cruise ship, where a long and narrow stairway terminated down down by the water, for the benefit of ponies who had fallen overboard, his tiny conveyance completely dwarfed by the massive cruise ship, a tiny little box of wood next to its powerful elegance.

[colour=#8b4513]"Big clumsy monstrosity,"[/colour] he said, [colour=#8b4513]"We'll hardly be able to feel the sea at all. No more feeling every little wave, every subtle current, every jostle of passing sea monsters... no more comfortable, cozy rocking back and forth, back and forth ..."[/colour]

The side of the cart bumped up against the base of the stairs. He sighed regretfully and patted over the cart's control panel before shutting it down, then turned to lash the cart up to the stairs, to make sure it wouldn't get away. [colour=#8b4513]"All right, Trixie! Time to - ... Trixie?"[/colour] he glanced around. [colour=#8b4513]"Where'd you go?"[/colour]

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Trixie was so relieved - no that wasn't the right word - excited! Yes, excited! She was so excited over spotting the liner, she didn't even notice that the Doctor was no longer holding her up with his body. Gravity inconveniently reminded her as the azure unicorn found herself splayed on the floor. Trixie stood up, dusting herself off, watching the majesty of the ship in awe as the circled it. She even forgot to yell at her erstwhile companion for dropping her!

Except Whooves kept circling. [colour=#6699cc]"The Great and Powerful Trixie would like to know what the hay are you looking for that we cannot scrutinize while onboard that wonderful vessel!?"[/colour] Of course he simply ignored her! Typical! Sometimes she swore these monologues of hid were merely to tease or annoy her for his own twisted amusement - an assessment only confirmed when the brown earth pony hemmed and hawed about the ocean waves, back and forth, back and forth… [colour=#6699cc]"Would you stop your incessant prattl- hrrumph!" [/colour] Trixie's face turned several shades of green, and she leaned overboard once more. She had to get off of this floating outhouse!

Fortunately, Whooves finally came up to board the other craft. She galloped right up that stairway onto the much, much, MUCH more stable deck of the linear. Finally ... stillness. No more wibbly-wobbly. Trixie closed her eyes and sighed in relief, but Whooves' incessant voice pierced even that peacefulness. [colour=#6699cc]"Are you daft? The Great and Powerful Trixie is already aboard! Now come along! Trixie wishes to partake of the luxurious offerings of this fine vessel! Free luxury! Free drinks! Free buffet! Oh, and find your magic ... whatever, too."[/colour]

She turned around, eager to begin enjoying the cruise, only to find a massive blue stallion in the uniform of the ship looming significantly over her.

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Bahh, what a spoil sport.

You always knew his type, the too good for you crowd that mustered in such number in Canterlot's high society. He didn't look like he could hold their harnesses let alone be amongst their company, but he'd fit right in attitude wise, the jerk. Oh well, maybe it was her fault. She had, after all, ran into him and otherwise made a mess of his low-rent outfit. Still, she the sick one and he was the one with an obligation, one he fulfilled in a huffy manner yet still fulfilled. She grew up in Canterlot and knew faux politeness when she saw it, when she heard it, and didn't respect it. The end result was a mare who didn't have the same level of sickness and a room full of delicious bon bons to eat, without nary a pony to share or one who cared. All in all, a decent result, and Bon Bon made her margins on decent results.

[colour=#0000cd]"That's a shame! Oh well. If you wish to take me up on my offer, I'm on deck three, section three, room three-three-three. Bon Bon's Bonbons," [/colour]She allowed her offer to stay with him as he went away. She didn't want to deal with that sort of attitude at that moment, but he had helped her and she had been the cause of his discomfort.

She'd find a way to repay him, snob or not. She made a courteous half bow against the churning of the ship and made her own way back into passenger compartment of the vessel.

The vessel was designed with two distinct passenger compartments. The first was near the stern of the vessel, the other near the bow of the vessel. They shared the same basic design- four decks below, main deck, and four above. The main decks were home to two bars, a grand ballroom, and a few smaller conference rooms.

Kitchens and restaurants were also there They also opened up into the outside of the ship, where one could find pools and games of all sorts. The three decks below that belonged to passengers were meant for 'lower' class passengers, though whether such a classification existed on a leisure cruise was doubtful. They had lounges and such and could call upon the vast majority of the cruise's services, so it wasn't a bad deal. At the lowest level was the crew deck, which she was sure wasn't as luxurious as the passengers would have wanted. The top two decks in each compartment were for increasingly wealthy, true first class passengers, with a unique restaurant and kitchen as well as a few exclusive bars and entertainment lounges. The final two decks were reserved for the bridge, security, and various associated offices and lodgings for the captain. These thoughts occupied her mind enough that she almost bumped into Truffle Shuffle before she saw him, stopping short of the blue stallion as he watched his tray of evil depart with the infested crewmember.

[colour=#0000cd]'Woo, sorry there!"[/colour] Bon Bon said, laughing as she rubbed the back of her head.

[colour=#006400]"It's all right, just fine. Would you like some delicious, delicious chocolate?" [/colour]Truffle offered, the whole cart of treats in front of him seemingly beckoning Bon Bon.

She inspected them all for a few moments, the aroma intoxicating, like something was pulling her muzzle closer and closer. Alas, nothing could stop her eyes.

[colour=#0000cd]"No, of course not! Look at how they look!" [/colour]She moaned in exasperation, hoof to the face- which managed to block her vision long enough for an angry orange burst from the chocolate to go unnoticed. She took the hoof down and looked at Truffle.

[colour=#0000cd]"If your product looks like garbage, nopony with any taste would dare touch it. I mean, everything looks cracked or like a mold. Your bonbons make me angry, like right down to my emotions."[/colour]

[colour=#006400]"...But you must try it at least. It is a taste you will NEVER forget!"[/colour]

[colour=#0000cd]"I'm sure you tried your best and worked really hard, but it looks awful. Here, take my card," [/colour]She closed her eyes and reached somewhere on herself and pulled out a card, [colour=#0000cd]"the name is Bon Bon, and I own Bon Bon's Bonbons. Come by my room later and I'll show you how to make bonbons like you made that dashing little number under the glass. May I have-"[/colour]

[colour=#006400]"NO. No you may not! But you WILL have one of the others!"[/colour]

[colour=#0000cd]"Rarr, cat's got claws I see. I'll eat it when you make them look like something better than garbage. See you in my room later,"[/colour] Bon Bon finished and cantered away, both Truffle and the cart crackling for a few seconds with furious orange energy before it subsided, and they walked away to pursue new targets.

Bon Bon continued to make her way to the passenger compartment when, from across the deck of the ship on the other side, she saw a pony she vaguely remembered the form of triumphantly make her way to the top of the stairs. Bon Bon couldn't place that face at such a distance, so she trotted with some speed towards the pony. After a good fifteen seconds of hard trotting, she could make out the face of the Great and Powerful Trixie. Mostly negative memories flooded in, that show off having embarrassed her friends and then destroyed the town's character for a while while she ruled with an iron hoof. Bon Bon didn't really buy the redemption stories being tossed about liberally, but she was also a pony not given in to judging, and if ponies she trusted like Twilight believed in her, so would Bon Bon. For now. Short leash on that one, which would have been fun to see.

The view was suddenly blocked by a massive crew member, a little bigger than that hunk Big Mac. Trixie was as poor as a rock farmer with more debt to boot and she hadn't been advertised as an act, so she had just snuck on. And, well, advantage big freakin' stallion. It wasn't looking good...and Bon Bon wanted to see if Trixie knew a way to get rid of sea sickness.

Bon Bon ruffled her mane, allowed her inner defenses to fall, and gave in to feeling a wee bit sick again. She approached the crewmember, staggering as she did so, shooting Trixie a nod a wink behind his back before she tapped him.

[colour=#ff33cc]"S-sir, I'm not f-feeling so...good..." [/colour]her voice was soft and fragile, almost barely above a whisper as she stared him in the eyes,[colour=#ff33cc] "s-so I need some...h-help...up the stairs to the doctor..."[/colour] cough cough, [colour=#ff33cc]"and you look big a-and strong enough...oh dear...that sounded..."[/colour] she blushed and stared away, barely keeping her balance. Hey, it was how she had gotten the attention of her first marefriend. Proven methods! Especially on a lonely ol' sailor, poor fellow.

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Doctor Whooves followed Trixie up the stairs, finding themselves being faced down by a quite intimidating stallion ... Probably the fourth biggest stallion he'd ever seen! Good golly gosh, what was a hulking specimen like that doing on a piddly pleasure cruise?

[colour=#8b4513]"Yes, do take care of the good filly,"[/colour] he said reassuringly to the sailor, nuzzling into his saddlebags and pulling out a small black billfold. He flipped it open, showing an indistinct bit of paper with something on it for a fraction of a second, then shutting it again. [colour=#8b4513]"Cruise Inspector Hop Smith, and this is my assistant, Miss Trixie. Good news is - your emergency ramp here is in good repair. But I'm not so sure about a couple of the other things I've seen. Knowing that you take good care of your patrons could go a long way to helping out. Could you direct me to where I might find the Captain? There's a good stallion..."[/colour]

His air dismissed the sailor as if he was unimportant, small as a foal. The stallion made a couple uncertain 'ummm' noises ... then jerked his head up towards the bridge. [colour=#8b4513]"Ah, up there? Good stallion, thank you much!"[/colour]

The massive sailor then corralled Bon Bon with a hoof, nodding silently towards the door heading inside.

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Trixie had no idea what she was going to say as an excuse to the hulking stallion crew member, fortunately the Doctor once again had some hilariously hackneyed excuse for their presence that somehow worked. Just how did he manage to pull that off each and every time?! Still, assistant?! Oh no, no, NO. Last time he said that she ended up in some maid outfit cleaning dusty shelves while he went off and wine and gourmet vegetables with the curator! [colour=#6699cc]"Partner, actually, I am his partner! Full fledged inspector Trixie, er Smith, no relation! My duty is to inspect the food, drink, and entertainment! Now you heard my partner, escort him to the captain, pronto! Chop chop!"[/colour]

That sounded much better!

Trixie turned around and gave the pink and blue maned mare an alluring smile, eyes half closed as she helped steady her new-found delectable consort, [colour=#6699cc]"and now, the kind and lovely inspector Trixie will escort your enchanting self to the infirmary; after all we certainly want you in tip top shape for all the revelry we shall surely partake in tonight, especially the dancing!”[/colour] Trixie stood up right next to the vanilla coloured mare, touching her side[colour=#6699cc], “here… lean on Trixie if you like, there is nothing to worry about, now why don't you tell me your name?"[/colour]

Trixie wasn’t sure what her erstwhile companion had planned up in the captain’s cabin but surely he could handle whatever it is by himself; Trixie deserved some fun after that awful time on the Doc's rickety wagon, and now she had found somepony to have that fun with! Well.. as soon as they got out of the infirmary that is.

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A fast talking yet entirely false 'cruise inspector' ably took the crew-member's attention from Bon Bon, robbing her of some momentary satisfaction. She hadn't acted that well in at least a month, her attempt at trying to sneak into a show for free at the community theater a complete failure. But he was good, convincing the sailor, who probably was not a graduate of a university in any reality himself, through his aura alone that he was somepony worthy of recognition. It was only a few moments before the sailor was convinced, corralling Bon Bon just as she had planned initially. But the topsy turvy tale of Bon Bon's amusing if sickening stay continued throwing curveballs, and Trixie took her instead.

And Celestia above, what a flirt!

Bon Bon liked it, never being above innocent flirtations with decadent temptation and few things fit the bill more than a magician of at best questionable morals and characters. Just like Stunning View, she had a thing for the bad fillies that had been broken only by Lyra's endearing and enduring charms that did the job better than any love spell or potion could. The flirting also made Bon Bon feel a little bit better about herself considering he had been hurling the contents of her stomach a few minutes prior, and heck, they were on a cruise ship. Innocent flirting wouldn't hurt anypony. Well maybe virgin ears, but they should be in bed and not listening to the big ponies discuss their plans for the midnight hour, like Bonnie's mother and father told her repeatedly.

[colour=#cc33cc]"Well, I do appreciate the escort, Inspector Trixie...cough cough..."[/colour] Bon Bon continued in character for the benefit of the sailor who was by now turning his attention to Trixie's companion. The stallion removed his cap, wiping the bangs out of his eyes as he prepared to do what the 'Inspector' asked.

[colour=#cc33cc]"And I so do hope that they can cure me at the infirmary. Celestia knows I love a nice dance,"[/colour] Bon Bon finished barely above a whisper, emphasizing dance with inflection more than force as she half-fell on Trixie, just enough to put some weight on her and play the role without being a burden. If she played her cards right, the flirtatious and bold mare would be her ticket to a sea sickness free cruise. Or crushing disappointment. Considering Trixie, Bon Bon wasn't willing to place money down on either.

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Doctor Whooves nodded his approval. [colour=#8b4513]"Good call, Trixie! You start the inspection at the bottom half, all the nooks and crannies, and I'll start at the top and inspect the upper decks!"[/colour] He turned to follow the large stallion. [colour=#8b4513]"Lead on!"[/colour]

The two of them made their way upwards, passing through a corridor and past dozens of room doors. [colour=#8b4513]"Hold up there!"[/colour] he said to the large stallion, and nosed into his saddlebags, then pulled out a screwdriver. He tapped it against the wall, stepped a few more steps down the corridor, tapped the wall again. He pressed his ear up against the wall, the screwdriver gripped in his teeth, listening intently ... a lil' twist of his head tapped the screwdriver again.

[colour=#8b4513]"Ah!"[/colour] he said brightly, and tucked the screwdriver away. [colour=#8b4513]"All right, continue again!"[/colour] He followed after the large stallion again, his hoofsteps light and merry, his eyes darting around. They passed into the upper-class area, heading towards the bridge.

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Once Merlot returned to his luxurious suite, the stallion took about a quarter of an hour to dry himself out, meticulously recomb his blue mane to perfection, and fetch a suit and fedora identical to the drenched items. All the while, he fumed at the blasted mare that dared be clumsy enough to make HIM have to take time and effort to dress himself up again. When he was done with the cruise, Merlot would have to file a complaint with the cruise line demanding that the earth pony never be allowed to be on one of their ships.

Opening the door outside, Merlot was prepared to walk out when two ponies trotted by in the direction of the bow. One of them was just a sailor, but the other... ugggh, the brown-coated earth pony looked... and smelled like he’d been adrift at sea for a week or more. Honestly now, what self-respecting cruise liner would allow such an utterly unhygienic pony to board back at port, let alone be brought to the first-class section?

Well, Merlot wasn’t having taking any more of this dreadfulness. [colour=#0000ff]“Excuse me mousier,”[/colour] the grimacing gentlecolt loudly addressed the sailor who just walked by; [colour=#0000ff]“If you’re going to bring that... stowaway or whoever he is up here, would it kill you to have him cleaned up before you let him near the rest of us in this section?”[/colour] That sailor may look tough, but he wouldn’t dare risk refusing a first-class passenger's demands and lose his job in the process... or so Merlot hoped anyway.....

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Doctor Whooves was staring closely at the wall when Merlot spoke up, and he turned around, peering curiously at Merlot... then leaned to the side, peering at his cutie mark, then up into Merlot's face again... he looked at the face from the left... from the right... a perplexed, 'what am I seeing?' look on his face. He narrowed his eyes, staring right into Merlot's with a terribly intent expression, as if trying to see the back of his skull.

[colour=#8b4513]"Monsieur, actually,"[/colour] he replied, conversationally, almost absently, and then returned to his examination of the wall. He tapped it with his screwdriver again, shook his head. [colour=#8b4513]"And that actually relates closest to 'my lord', a term used for one above you in status ... you're probably wanting the word 'servitor' or 'matelot'"[/colour]

He stopped then, ears perking up. he tapped the wall there, listened, tapped it again. He brightened considerably. [colour=#8b4513]"Ah!"[/colour] He tucked the screwdriver away. [colour=#8b4513] "Now we're getting somewhere! To the captain!"[/colour] he said to the very large sailor he was accompanying. [colour=#8b4513]"Allon-zy!"[/colour]

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BAH! The nerve of that useless nopony! If there was one saving grace the oafish earth pony mare from earlier possessed, it was that she couldn’t help being an oaf. Merlot with time would have been able to forget about fundamentally-accidental transgression; this however was absolutely unforgivable. How dare that stowaway twerp go out of his way to deliberately insult the gentlecolt! What made an obviously non-Prench stallion think he could get away with lecturing Merlot on the Prench tongue? There was absolutely no way that plebian had the means to look through a glossary in his spare time in search of select random words like Merlot did.

Merlot craved satisfaction, and he would have it right this minute! In pursuit of the plebian and his sailor escort, the fuming archaeologist succeeded in catching up with the brown earth pony. Burying his emotions deep down and bringing forth a twisted smile, Merlot began the process of verbal retribution. [colour=#0000ff]“Out of curiosity,”[/colour] the unicorn mockingly asked, disguising his condescending attitude with a fake eagerness for conversation; [colour=#0000ff]“How do manage to be so well-learned? I never expected a pony of... your caliber to possess knowledge in the art of multiple languages.”[/colour]

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She had to give it to Whooves - that whole inspector front gave them free run of the ship - and with luck, free room and board, too! A break for a day or two from their quest, a little rest and relaxation - that couldn’t hurt! What was the point of travel if you didn't stop to enjoy where you traveled to? The best part, the best part, is that she found a somepony she could have a fling with; that was important after all, traveling so much gets a might bit lonely, and Whooves, well he was only good for so much.

Of course first thing first, getting the lovely miss… It dawned on Trixie she never got the other mare’s name, one should at least know their name if before having a dally with them. [colour=#6699cc]“So the great and perceptive Trixie never caught your name my lovely companion."[/colour]

As she spoke with the mare, inquiring after her name, she led the blue and pink maned bombshell unerringly through the ship corridors. She'd performed enough shows on cruise ships, sure as only a side act and sure it meant she was relegated to steerage, but Trixie still had a fairly good idea where the infirmary was.

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This Trixie was very much the overwhelming personality in the smallest of most confident ways, a fact that betrayed that she was at her core the same shameless showoff she had always been. Bon Bon had dealt with her type more than enough to be able to sniff them out and Trixie had the smell of a cowsitter about her, stinking in the worst way that only a pony full of bluster and lacking in substance had. But she had magic, maybe enough to get the seasickness seapony off of her back, and that was reason enough to be kind and courteous. Besides, she still was a looker, and any mare could be excused a few moments of innocent banter in such a scenario. Trixie wanted to know her name, and Bon Bon smiled.

She looked behind her to make doubly sure that they were free and clear, then looked back to Trixie, slowly pulling herself up and free of the mare and retaining a healthy trot alongside the magician.[colour=#0000cd] "I don't need to see the infirmary, Trixie,"[/colour] Bon Bon;s voice returned to normal as she shot Trixie a sly grin, [colour=#0000cd]"I only put that act on because it looked like you were about to get thrown overboard. As for me,, I'm not surprised you don't remember me. You had bigger ponies to fry, or at least try to fry. The name's Bon Bon of Ponyville,"[/colour] the chocolate mistress laughed cheerfully, shaking her head, [colour=#0000cd]"though I have to say with a chocolatier's convention on board I have more reason than you to be here. What brings a magician like you out to a cold, damp ocean with that 'cruise' inspector?"[/colour] She asked as she started to head for the staircase. They were gonna get some chocolate- she'd gone without it for an hour!

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It didn't take long for Trixie to guide her new found escort to the entrance to the nurse's office, a small metal door with a large red cross painted across the front - but no! The lovely mare blue and pink maned earth pony was feigning her illness! Trixie wasn't entirely taken aback from this revelation, knowing full well the arts of deception; she may not be a con-pony anymore, but traveling with Whooves, one often had to stretch the truth a bit, well quite a bit, well … Maybe outright lie, but not all the time!

Trixie was ready to compliment the clever filly on such a fabrication - especially as she was obviously stricken with the Beautiful and Inspiring Trixie and wished to assist her! So taken by the azure unicorn's magnificent presence that she was ready to lie and scam a stranger on Trixie's behalf! But then Trixie heard that name ...

Ponyville.

Why!? How!? Why does the Great and Powerful Trixie keep running into ponies from that one horse town?! Of course Bon-Bon knew who she was. Trixie cringed - it could only mean the Usra Major incident, or worse, the Alicorn Amulet one, or worse… both. All Trixie could do was give a large, awkward grin. How was she going to possibly save face now?

She could save face the Whooves way, by obfuscation! [colour=#6699cc] "The Great and Flexible Trixie has possessed a great many jobs, in her travels across Equestria! Her diverse background is part of what gives her magical prowess such versatility!"[/colour] That worked, right? Hopefully this Ponyvillian would be as pleasant to be around as Lyra was. [colour=#6699cc]"But while we are here, The Queasy and Storm-tossed Trixie would like to pick up a palliative ... she looks forward to the day when a spell to cure Seasickness is invented!"[/colour]

She opened the door as she said so - revealing a ruddish-brown unicorn with a nurse's cap on and a very blank, emotionless expression on her face. [colour=#6699cc]"Excuse me, I, Trixie, was wondering if you had any Ginger-"[/colour]

The nurse suddenly had an enthusiastic grin as she presented a plate of misshapen chocolate candies right in Trixie's face. [colour=#b22222]"Would you like some chocolate?!"[/colour]

[colour=#6699cc]"Is that supposed to be a bunny?"[/colour] She tilted her head to the side, peering at the odd little shapes. [colour=#6699cc]"Or at this angle, it looks like a duck ... but no! I, Trixie, would like some Ginger Root!"[/colour]

The nurse, unfazed, continued the creepy, lopsided smile as she pushed the plate of weird looking candies closer to Trixie's face,[colour=#b22222] "no, what you need is chocolate ... Try one!!!"[/colour]

Trixie was as irritated as she was confused, and pushed the plate away violently enough to cause the chocolates to spill, [colour=#6699cc]"what is wrong with you?! Trixie isn't interested in chocolates! Now do you have Ginger Root or not?!"[/colour] Spotting a jar of the twisted dark roots up on a shelf, Trixie plucked it up with her magic and floated it down to herself.

The nurse's face showed a horrified panic as she stared down at the bits of chocolate for several long, stunned moments, but Trixie ignored her until she let out a ululating scream, and scrambled to pick up the bits of chocolate as if they were precious gems, [colour=#b22222]"you ... you shall pay-"[/colour]. Before the ruddy coloured unicorn could finished, her face went blank as she looked down the corridor and announced in an emotionless voice,[colour=#b22222] "I must go"[/colour].

[colour=#6699cc]"Now what a minute!" [/colour] Trixie was about to let the nurse have an earful but the other unicorn simply trotted away, floating the chocolates in the air and not uttering another word, not even bothering to close the door. How strange. Trixie had the feeling something was going on ... well, yes! Of course something was going on! She was with Whooves, after all, blast the pony!

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