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IMAGINE a new Role for Yourself (Skype RP log)

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Rackenhammer: The flyer had gone out to most towns and villages in Equestria:  "IMAGINE a future where war is a thing of the past.  IMAGINE a world where there are none starved or oppressed.  IMAGINE yourself, making this dream come true..."


The opening lines were a fair sample of the content.  There was a little about the history of the organization, how it was founded after a Viking attack on the Crystal Empire, with a blurb on how the scarcity of resources in the Caribou lands bred fighting and war, and how much more reasonable it would be to make their land richer than deal with periodic attacks and death.


That was about it for substance, but it did direct those interested in joining to Blueblood Manor to apply...


Honeywing: Honeywing tapped his chin as he read over the flyer. This was certainly intriguing. He had missed the first few round of these, apparently, due to one of his missions. And of course he was always on the lookout for ways to improve his standing.


The notice lacked substance, but it was a flyer, not a novel. And every Courier in Equestria knew exactly where to find Blueblood Manor. It was something of a hazing tradition to post newbies to the manor to attend the staff's demands. 


One short flight later and Honeywing was knocking on the servants entrance.


Rackenhammer: Answering the door was the kitchen maid, a mare formidably stiff with propriety.  Very few outside of Canterlot knew this, but the higher-ranked servantry had a hierarchy every bit as exact as the nobility itself.  The Kitchen-Maid was ranked under the Cook, but not very much far under.  Say, #4 or #5 overall.


"Here to deliver a message?  The master's-"  And here she hesitated, "A little indisposed."


Honeywing: "Not today, ma'am. I saw this flyer at the headquarters." he said, rolling a wing to shift a satchel forward, out of which he pulled the IMAGINE advertisement. He straightened his shoulders and tossed his mane over to the other side, drawing himself to his full height in the process. It wasn't terribly impressive, really, but he knew how to bear himself, at any rate.


"Honestly, came to this door out of habit, but I'm confident you'll get me where I need to be. You seem a capable mare."



Rackenhammer: The maid peered down at the flyer, suspiciously at first, but then her eyes opened wide in recognition.  "Oh, you're here about that.  Usually recruits come through the front door."


She looked around, thinking.  On the one hand, the Prince had requested no visitors.  On the other hand, recruits were in a different class altogether.  Maybe it wouldn't hurt.  "Look, if you'll go up into the foyer, I'll pass along that you're here, alright?"


Honeywing: Recognising a failed attempt when he saw one, Honeywing bowed his head gracefully and trotted off toward the main foyer. It was another room a courier was usually well acquainted with. He didn't recognise the décor, but that was Blueblood, of course. Honeywing was well aware of the prince's reputation.


The art was usually the most interesting thing about the room, so Honeywing took his time examining it while he waited.



Rackenhammer: The art was... odd.  Not in of itself, no, everything was generally of good taste... but it looked as if someone had stopped halfway through in redecorating.  There were a mixture old family portraits, and classic collectors pieces... with a set of new paintings, all from one artist of growing talent.  Including, oddly enough, a painting that looked like a female version of Prince Blueblood, lying in a bed of roses...


Honeywing: Honeywing lingered on this one. He'd heard of gender-reversing effects, usually in hushed whispers around the headquarters as something that had happened to a friend of a friend of a friend, but generally he discredited those as urban legends, not unlike those that said the zebras could bend the workings of a unicorn's spell mid-cast. Instead, he was assuming the artist was either quite imaginative or had found a near-double who happened to be a mare.


Although given how masculine the prince was, it was odd to think of any mare as being considered a 'near-double'.



Rackenhammer: Indeed, in terms of figure, there was a great contrast between the overall quite masculine sculpted shape of the Prince's body, and the exquisitely feminine curves the painter had captured.  but the eyes... the eyes were the same, along with the cutie mark.  And over all expression, of a habitual haughtiness covering an inward vulnerability...


"Ahem."  Behind him was a soft cough, and turning around, Honeywing would see... the mare from the painting.  "You were here... as a recruit, am I right?"


Honeywing: Nope. Honeywing's brain couldn't accept that. Had to be a trick of the lighting. No, her voice was off, too. Was he having a daydream? No, he wasn't that into mares, and he REALLY wasn't that into Blueblood. Another nightmare? No, he was pretty sure he was awake, and besides, he could track a clear line from the flyer to the foyer.


The stallion closed his eyes, took a deep breath, let it out, then opened them ag-nope, still a mare. Well then. He had just lost sixteen bits on a bet. "Recruit? Yes. My name is Honeywing, I'm a courier with the Diplomatic Courier Corps, your grace."



Rackenhammer: Bluebell had apparently been waiting for ancillary questions.  Things like, "What happened to you?"  Or "How long has this been a thing?" or even "Did you fall in love when you looked in a mirror?"


But no, this stallion seemed to be on point still, and for that, the mare was grateful.  "A messenger?  And with experience in the corps!  Well, we would be glad to have you.  If you'll just follow me to the study, we can go over the details."


Honeywing: Honeywing clicked his hooves professionally and drew himself up behind the prince...ss? ready to follow. How did that happen? How long was that a thing? She probably spent hours in front of the mirror, if she was half the pony her reputation said she was. Then again, maybe being a mare changed her? Was this a voluntary thing? Honeywing's mind raced from one question to the next, but he'd have to wait for a more polite time to find answers, or a more diplomatic one, at any rate.


One did not join a diplomatic corps without learning tact. Leastwise, one did not stay in one for long.



Rackenhammer: However many personal questions the courier may have had, the answers would have to wait, either until the Princess was ready to answer... or until he figured them out for himself.


From the sheen of her coat and mane, Bluebelle certainly took no less care of her appearance, however long it took her to get ready in the morning.  Still, one could hardly blame the royal person from using their main advantage; after all, Blue would have to rely on brains otherwise, and Faust knew the Prince had shown precious little evidence of those before.


In any case, she took a seat behind a desk, looking at Honeywing across it.  "I suppose you might want some more information on what you're getting into, if you came from the flier.  Wordsworth Psmith has a way with fine words, but he packs so many syllables into so few meanings sometimes..."



Honeywing: "I hadn't noticed, your grace." Honeywing lied, blatantly. "But I was curious, yes. Your organisation sounds very philanthropic, but the flyers are sparse on details. Or even the proposed goals or methods, if you'll pardon my bluntness."


He had taken a seat and crossed his legs in a very formal pose. Not perhaps the tense eagerness usually found in a servant, especially in a glorified mailcarrier, but certainly not with any undue familiarity with the mare or the situation.



Rackenhammer: "Well, there aren't many details.  At least, not details set in stone."  The Princess had settled down into a practiced explanation, though she managed to deliver it naturally.  It didn't sound like a mechanical repetition of rote phrases, as sometimes happened when the upper class talked about their philanthropy.


"The three founders, that is, Miss Snowfall of Northern Storm Industries, Countess Frostlace of Stalliongrad, and myself decided to pool our resources and influence to make the world more peaceful.  Essentially, we want to look for non-violent solutions for potential or past conflicts.  Usually this has to do with scarcity, which can be solved with development and trade.  We are currently starting two efforts, one in Whitescar with the caribou, and in Griffonstone, with the, well, griffons."



Honeywing: Honeywing listened intently, nodding every now and again. "So you're establishing trade routes, looking for stable merchant relationships, and developing the regions' own industries?" He asked, organising thoughts in his head.


He did note that she didn't seem to be using rote or that really annoying voice aristocrats liked to use when talking about 'helping the peasantry'. Maybe her reputation had been inflated, or maybe being a mare had actually changed her. Or maybe she was just really good with the political game. Honeywing wasn't sure yet, but he was also willing to play his cards close to the vest, not that he wore one usually, and find out.



Rackenhammer: "More or less.  Essentially, if you can't get oranges, we'll make sure you can."  The off-hoof, and somewhat cryptic remark was followed up by a question.  "Do you know what it takes for you to get an orange in this city?"


This was apparently some kind of test, gauging from the way that the Princess was looking at Honeywing, waiting for the answer..



Honeywing: "Foreign oranges or domestic, your grace? Domestic come by way of the train, with the proper produce procurement papers and licenses, I believe the Orange family owns most of the orchards? Foreign requires an additional set of tariffs and a waiting period while Customs examines them to ensure no foreign parasites or diseases are present. As such they're usually not as fresh when they reach the merchants or buyers, unless great care was taken to preserve them, either magical or through carefully controlled temperatures, and therefore most merchants and suppliers charge a premium for their strains." Honeywing says, offhoof. He then coughs and offers "My father's a restraunteur, your grace."



Rackenhammer: After listening for a bit, Bluebelle nodded.  "So, you have some idea of everything that needs to happen in order for a caribou have orange juice with breakfast.  Well, IMAGINE is meant to facilitate all that.  Setting it up and getting it running, so to speak.  It's a hard task, and we can use all sorts to do it."


She got up, lifting a few papers out of the drawer.  "There are multiple options, depending upon whether you wish to join us part-time or full time.  I can make arrangements with the corps for your transfer, if you wish the latter."



Honeywing: Honeywing paused and considered the offer. He could always use the extra bits, and the prestige, of course. Oh, and...wait, why was he hesitating again..? "Hmm...I'll need to consider that, your Grace. Though I may be able to offer some assistance even within the corps if need be. My primary concern is my coltfriend, honestly, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind having me out from under-hoof for a while at any rate."


He was going to accept one offer or the other, the only question was how much time he could devote to things.



Rackenhammer: "Well, as far as personal considerations go..."  Bluebelle looked down at herself, betraying a consciousness of her transformation for the first time this meeting.  "Well, I can't say we will be any less demanding than your current position.  More so, actually; you'll be applying for hazard pay more often, for one thing."


The Princess sighed, and leaned back, rubbing her eyes.  "I don't want to sound like I'm dissuading you at the last minute, but frankly I didn't know what I was getting into when I started this.  So... I suppose you shouldn't feel frightened if you're unsure yourself."



Honeywing: Honeywing shook his head. "Oh, I'm not afraid of either hard work or hazards. My father is a restrauntuer, I mentioned, so I learned early on how to make myself useful. And my mother's family has been guards since as far back as they can trace records, up until my uncle's passing." he said.


He considered for another moment before adding, "To be quite frank, your grace, I was expecting to work hard for the position. The Diplomatic Corps favours the silver tongue, but you don't get far without learning how to get things done. Even your household typically has a Courier or two running errands, I would wager."



Rackenhammer: "Hm?  Well, yes, I suppose so.  I have ponies that take care of those sorts of details for me..."  Blueblood had been born into a household where there were so many servants that there were servants who managed the servants.  IMAGINE probably represented the first time he, or she, had actually been in charge of other ponies in a real position of leadership.


"In any case, as you seem up for the work, I don't see why we can't sign you on today.  Ah, which sort of shift were you looking for?  We'll have more important things for you to do full-time, setting up appointments with high-ranking Caribou for our first big investment meeting."



Honeywing: "Most likely part-time for a month or so, to get everything in order, and facilitate a transfer. There were a couple of assignments I really should finish myself if only because the recipients are particular about how their documents are handled, and I can train a replacement more easily than the corps can find somepony else to." Honeywing replied.


In truth, he was probably going to spend most of the personal time studying the Caribou, but a good diplomat never let on to either party how long research took. "In the mean time, if there is work that needs doing in the capital, I'm more than willing to do it."



Rackenhammer: "Excellent!  We'll sign you for a month of part-time, and I'll have Psmith talk to his counterpart in the Corps to co-ordinate your out-processing."  Bluebelle selected a few papers from among her stack, and presented them to Honeywing.  In truth, he hadn't committed to the long haul quite yet, but the Princess had an instinct about him.  Or was attempting to manipulate him in a desperate attempt to get sufficient personnel to accomplish her mission.



Honeywing: Honeywing took a few moments to scan through the documents, reading over the finer points and trying to get a sense of the minutiae contained therein. He actually didn't have much of a head for legalese, so tended to overthink contracts, but even still, this one looked fairly straightforward. Salary seemed fair, hazard pay, insurance, everything looked to be in order.


"Is there somepony to ask about budgeting?" He asked without much preamble, "I recall you mentioning facilitating trade and tariffs, and I was curious as to how that was going to work, and whether agents needed to work from their stipends."



Rackenhammer: "Budgeting?"  The question seemed to catch Bluebelle off-guard for a moment, before she heard Honey's explanation.  She blinked a bit.  "Well, I suppose that'd be me, at present, unless you know an accountant with higher ambitions than dying a bean-counter.  At the moment, the founders are funding everything out-of-pocket, pay-as-we-go.  We don't actually know how much money would be needed to do these sorts of things yet, so setting a hard budget would be rather pointless.  Just... don't be extravagant in your expense sheet, and I think you'll be fine."


The Princess let out a whoosh of breath, settling back.  Altogether, that had gone well.  She'd given the information, practically acquired a recruit, all without the elephant in the room being addressed.



Honeywing: Honeywing signed the necessary portions of the application, then separated out his copy and started rolling it up to put in a document tube he had in his saddlebags. Time for the elephant in the room, he supposed. "Your grace, how public is the knowledge of your current condition?" he asked.


It wasn't his personal business, though he was extremely curious, but if he was to be working as an attaché of the Princess's political work, he did need to know if he'd need to deflect questions about it, he reasoned to himself.



Rackenhammer: Well, there it was.  The other hoof, dropping.  It wasn't exactly welcome, but it was expected.  Though, when it did come, it came slantwise.  Bluebell raised an eyebrow at the question itself.  "You don't read the tabloids much, do you?  It was all over them last weekend.  It was as much as I could do, in my position, to let my friends know before the rest of the world."


That was no doubt annoying, but if you were a royal, journalistic attention was just part and parcel with the work and rank.



Honeywing: Honeywing actually didn't. He'd also been out of town though, so even if he normally did read tabloids he probably wouldn't have known. He cleared his throat and deflected the issue by replying, "May I rephrase it then, to 'How would you prefer any questions asked of me be answered?'? It's likely none of my business how you ended up this way, I mean, but if I'll be working for you..."



Rackenhammer: "Change the subject.  If they insist, refer them to my calendar.  If I don't want to see them, I'll tell them.  If they continue to impinge upon my time, I will leave them to what remains of the tender mercies of my butler."  From the flatness of her tone, it sounded like the stories last weekend had been produced at the cost of much irritation.



Honeywing: Honeywing dipped his head in acknowledgement and resumed securing his copy of the offer in the document tube. "Understood, your grace." he said as he popped the cap on and slid it back into his bag. He went through a mental checklist of things to go over with Glitzen as well, aware that he'd pushed rather past the line of propriety already and more than willing to drop a clearly touchy subject.



Rackenhammer: Bluebelle had been, perhaps, a little brusque in dealing with the subject.  Then again, this was not the sort of thing she was prepared to talk about with near strangers just at this very moment.  Perhaps, when the two of them were better acquainted... the whole story could be told.


In any case, once the subject was dropped, her expression softened.  "Welcome aboard, Honeywing.  I promise you, that by the end of this, we'll have made the world at least a little bit better."



Honeywing: Honeywing didn't doubt that, and bowed graciously. "Thank you, your grace. I'll go see to some of my preparations. May I excuse myself, your grace? I can remember the way out." He couldn't, but he was a Pegasus, all he really needed to do was find a balcony no pony was watching and he'd be on his way.



Rackenhammer: Bluebelle nodded assent and smiled at Honeywing.  "Alright then, go ahead.  I'll know where to reach you when we need you.  Good day."  If the Princess knew he was flying out, she didn't care.  She did get up and reach over to shake his hoof.  "Until next time."



Honeywing: Honeywing was unaccustomed to royalty using the gesture, but he took the princess's hoof and shook it, then bowed again and made his way out of the room, out of the building, and off to his possibly last assignments with the Couriers.

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