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Dart Struck - Love in Equestria(Hearts and Hooves themed:Open - See OOC first please)


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It was a beautiful, and bright sunny day in the town of Ponyville. The sky was clear and Celestia's sun was in full splendor for all her subjects. The streets were decorated with colors of red, white and pink. Arrays of flowers shaped into hearts and various market booths dotted the market squares or alongside the sidewalks each offering various services from Heart and Hooves day cards and gifts, to hugs and kisses. A grand fair to the holiday of love and couples was getting into the swing; with restaurants and cafes bustling or taking reservations for guests, while other ponies got the Town Hall set up for the Hearts and Hooves dance later in the evening, followed by what was said to be a fantastic display of fireworks in the end.

It was sure to be both an exciting and romantic day for many, and for one little gryphlet this day was the best day ever! Little Glimmer giggled as she regarded herself in a small mirror she kept with herself. She wore a bright red bow with a white lace trim today, and she had a sleek cut red dress and skirt. Nothing overly formal, but the colors were suited for the holiday. Beside her sat an armadillo who was also dressed in red, with a pink bow on her head. Of course the "dress" for the armadillo was really nothing more then some well stitched red fabric tied expertly around her shell that made it look more like a cape then a dress.

"I think we are the cutest pair in town." Glimmer said with a giggle. It was probably a stretch, she knew a lot of pretty mares made this town their home, but she couldn't help with a little boasting.

But this was more than just a day to dress pretty, spinning few colts on their heads, and eat lots of chocolate, this was a day of love. And as a Warrior of Love, Glimmer was vowed by sacred oaths to see that love was spread all through the day....well maybe not oaths, but she certainly had a mission.

She was going to make sure that this Hearts and Hooves day, not only did her older brother go out on a date, but it would be by his own actions....with a little help from her. He was hopeless without her after all.

And that was why she had her...secret weapon. Turning to a small case Glimmer scurried into a hiding place with her pet, and opened the case. She then pulled out a blowgun, and several pink darts. These, if that salespony was telling the truth, would be just what her brother needed. A special dart, tipped with a love potion. If that couldn't get him to be brave, nothing would.

'That is of course, he was telling the truth. I may be a kid, but I know my way around the market. Daddy Ironclaw didn't raise no griffons who get conned.' She thought.

So, she decided that the best thing to do first was to obviously test to see if these darts really would work. Sticker her head out slightly from the bushes she hid in, being careful with her dress, Glimmer, with all her stealth, watched the streets. Lets see if she could find a good test subject here.....

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Dusty Skies wandered around the Hearts and Hooves fair with a sigh. It wasn't that she wasn't happy that she was single.... after all, it meant more candy for her on days like this! It was just that... all the hugs and kisses were just too girly for her. But oh well. Nothing she could do about it, right? And as much as the mare wanted to to out and fly, the skies were full of heart shaped clouds and lover pegasi. Ugh.


She sat on a bench with the small box of chocolates she had just bought. Again, more candy for her! She smiled a little, tearing open the box and popping one of the candies into her mouth. Dusty leaned back a little, watching the happy couples stroll by the fair. There's got to be something interesting to do today! she thought to herself as she looked around. Something that doesn't involve hearts and sparkles...hm... 


But she couldn't find anything interesting. Oh well. Maybe something interesting would happen eventually. Maybe it'll come up right behind her and shoot her in the flank, she didn't know Dusty smiled to herself as she continued eating the chocolates.

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"Alright so fuse numbers six and eight are both fifteen inches. That's not good, we can't have them going at the same time that won't be good. Need to replace the eights with the nines, those are twenty inches," Lightout mumbled as he looked over the rows of fireworks. Naturally using the correct fuses would be crucial to the display, otherwise the whole thing would be a disaster. It needed to go just as planned or there was no telling what would happen. Maybe the whole display would just blow up? Now that could be dangerous. Lightout carefully started to remove the fuses from the labelled fireworks. Of course, everything in the cordoned off display area was labelled and numbered and organised in the alchemist's head. Holding it all in was a difficult task that he had to do until he was finished. 


Suffice to say Lightout's thoughts were far from the awful spectacle that was hearts and hooves day. The alchemist had been contracted to do a job handling and providing the firework display and it was paying very well. After all, he was pretty good at organising these displays. The stallion didn't think much of the holiday. If one had a special somepony, why would one need a specific day to show affection? If he had one, he would make it a priority to show affection. But he didn't have one, so here he was.


No, love was a distraction he could ill afford. He needed to work and for that work he needed money, the only reason he had risked going to Ponyville. Once his research bore fruit, then he could bask in the joys of life forever after. He still needed his research though, it was critical to his safety. Unlike the stressful trip to Ponyville. Lightout had arrived and made his way to his accommodation as quickly as possible. The outside world was a dangerous place and he would like nothing more than to be elsewhere. After he was done here he would head back to where he was staying and keep himself safe until he could go back to Canterlot. After all, Canterlot was kept secure under the watchful gaze of the Princesses. That was the safest place in the world. This hearts and hooves day nonsense couldn't end sooner, no doubt there was trouble brewing.

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Pyro sighed as he trotted through the streets of Ponyville. He always liked it here, but this was kind of making him sad. Seeing all the happy couples around while he had nothing like what they had. He was happy for them, but he kinda wished he could share in the experience. Hearts and Hooves day was always like that for him, a sad reminder that he had yet to find any mares that he felt that way about.


He looked around at all the decorations sadly through his typical sunglasses. What was there for him to do around here today? Maybe he should just head home to Canterlot, cause this trip was a lot sadder than he had anticipated. Honestly, he had forgotten that the holiday was coming up. He sighed again, about ready to go back to the train station when he remembered that he had come here in the first place mostly because of the show he had agreed to help with.


Doing pyrotechnics at shows... It was always fun, and strangely relaxing, despite the nature of the music he was doing it for. Maybe it was because his fire tended to fuel itself with his anger, so using his fire in short bursts like that safely made his anger go away. Hmm... That would be something to look into when he needed to calm down, simply use his fire somewhere safe.

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To say Inkbrand had a love-hate relationships with Hearts and Hooves day would be…startlingly accurate.

It was the one day that held special attention for most mares and stallions looking for something deeper, after all. The first red and pink decorations would pop up around town, and soon enough, near every pony, griffon, and juju bean was falling over themselves with hopes and dreams of finding 'The One'. It made fooling around near impossible, what with every mare being extra prone to slipping into dreams of happily ever after, and Inkbrand wasn't about to risk saddling himself with the first love-struck mare he happened across.

But then…well buck, it was Hearts and Hooves day.

It was a little difficult to hate a holiday that centered on love. For all that mares were unwilling to go any further than a look or a flirt, they were much more willing to play the game. Searching for that special pony made most mares that much more willing to let loose and have fun, much more receptive to the tossed wink or flirty comment. On Hearts and Hooves Day, Inkbrand was less likely to be met with a hoof to the face, and more likely to get a kiss on the cheek for his efforts.

Thus, his conundrum, one the grey stallion didn't think too much about as he trot through the decorated streets of Ponyville, tail wagging merrily from side to side.

"Alright babe," the tattoo-clad Earth Pony called out to a passing trio of mares, an appealing dressed purple Unicorn prompting an appropriate wolf-whistle to leave his throat. One of the mares rolled her eyes, but true to form, the other two only giggled where they probably would have scoffed on any other day, and the purple Unicorn blew a cheeky kiss as they passed on by. Inkbrand took a moment to leer at their fabulous backsides before continuing on, whistling lightly under his breath as he took in the sights, sounds, stalls, and celebrations.

"You're a hard rockin' filly," Inkbrand sang out, heedless of the various stares and looks he drew, "so right and so fine, you're a sweet little oooh-a-eee-oooh, and I want to make you mine!"

With the veritable mishmash of red hues splattered all over the town, it was a wonder that any one flash of red caught Inkbrand's attention. This flash shone briefly however, bringing the Earth Pony up short as he slowed his trot down a bit, a quizzical look falling over his features as he took in the light colored Unicorn standing a bit away. It was the sunglasses that really caught his attention, sparking some long forgotten memory in the back of his mind. That, and the fact that the Unicorn was looking like somepony had kicked his puppy to Tartarus and back - far too morose and generally pathetic on a day like today.

"What's the matter," Inkbrand questioned as soon as he was close enough to the other stallion, lips threatening to break into a smirk, "get dumped on Hearts and Hooves Day?" Or perhaps recently, which would explain the stallion's dark mood. Inkbrand could remember a few bad break ups that had left him generally irritable for a few days afterwards, but never enough to suck the enjoyment out of a town-wide party that promised fun under the sun. Until the sun sank and the fireworks went up, of course. Either way, Inkbrand was genuinely curious, half because the sulking stallion stuck out like a sore hoof amidst the hearts that he could almost see springing upwards from passing couples, and half with the hope that the other stallion would unintentionally trigger his memory. Inkbrand was certain he'd seen him around somewhere before, and the not knowing irked him like a particularly annoying fly.


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What a day! The sun was shining, the skies were full of heart-shaped clouds and balloons, and Ponyville was brimming with lovestruck ponies. Sugar Star could hardly contain her excitement! The winged mare had arrived in town just a day before thanks to a job that she had been assigned by the REA. Some stuffy merchant who thought his product was so spectacular that it needed a military escort demanded somepony fly with him to Ponyville. Even though he was just selling fancy stationery, Sugar Star had been put on the job to appease the stallion. He was the son of some well-respected rich pony with ties to the REA and Sugar was the type of mare who was always enthusiastic about her job, so sending her on such a pointless mission was ideal! The silly merchant was happy, she was happy - everypony was happy!

And the best part about all this? It was Hearts and Hooves day and she had the day off! Sugar stepped out of her hotel beaming, her mane styled in a charmingly messy fishtail braid held together with a pink floral bow. The atmosphere in Ponyville today made it impossible for her to frown. For a hopeless romantic waiting for the love of her life to appear before her in a swirl of flower petals (a mental image the mare had an obsession with girly comics to thank), Hearts and Hooves day was the most exciting time of the year. Granted, she had never found love during any Hearts and Hooves day before...still, though, she really really hoped something right out of a story would happen to her today!

Sugar Star hummed as she strolled towards the market, where the smell of chocolates and sweets was so thick the air itself seemed edible. She had her gaze fixed on a pretty pink stall covered in lace and flowers in the distance while she walked, and if not for that perhaps she would have noticed the foolish stallion barreling her way. Said stallion’s very special somepony had just blown him a kiss, and he was making a grand show of chasing it in order to keep it forever. Unfortunately for the pretty little soldier that meant he wasn’t looking where he was going and crashed right into her!

With a yelp, Sugar was sent flying forwards to crash land on her tummy right between two stallions, her legs splayed out on the ground! Oof!

“S-sorry…” she stammered, an embarrassed blush turning her cheeks a bright scarlet, “I...wait, dumped on Hearts and Hooves day? That’s awful! I’m so sorry to hear that! Isn’t there anything we can do to cheer you up?”

She had caught the darker stallion saying those words while she was crashing and all of a sudden was much more concerned for the fate of the poor, heartbroken, sunglasses-wearing colt than she was for herself. Her embarrassment complete shaken off, she pressed a hoof onto the blue-maned stallion’s leg from where she was sprawled on the ground, a compassionate and determined fire in her eyes as she looked up to him. We have to cheer him up! that expression said. Her own goals had to be cast aside for now - it was much more important to help a heartbroken colt to smile again!

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Glimmer could see there were a lot of ponies about, a lot of couples mostly. For a moment she felt that she wouldn't find a good candidate for her test; but her keen eyes picked out several ponies who didn't seem to be with anypony. Two in particular seemed especially sad, one a stallion and the other a Pegasus mare sitting alone at a bench eating chocolates. Glimmer decided the mare on the bench was a prime target to start, as eating candy alone on a holiday like this was assuredly a sign of having no special somepony/griffon.

Glimmer giggled lightly to herself and began to creep about, using bushes and carts for cover till she was in good line of sight for the Pegasus mare. She then took up her dartgun, loaded up a dart and took aim. Then with a heavy puff she fired the dart to the Pegasus mare. The dart flew off with a poof and struck true.

Glimmer gave a squeak of glee. 'Direct hit.' She then watched and waited. The moment of truth was at hand.

'This is soooo exciting.' She thought with a smile. Lula, silently agreed while she ate a few small insects she found on the ground.

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Java... really had hardly ever celebrated Hearts and Hooves day. In the past he had proven to have been quite the anti-social little buck, but adventurous to the one friend he had. That excitable little buck back then had absolutely no worries. His mind was set on exploiting the world's knowledge for the good of all ponies, and going on wild and crazy adventures with his childhood friend! And while yes, that little buck had became more than fond of his best friend... he wasn't really eager to explore that any further. And well, things change when a pony grows older.


Here that buck was now, all grown up as a young adult like many of the other ponies whom were trotting happily along with their special some-ponies. Every year when Hearts and Hooves came, the ole buck would shut himself away, or risk envying those whom past by.... sharing tongues and giddy words in favor of his work. But this was no longer the case! And in fact, Java had even asked his child hood friend if she would like to accompany him to the fair. The same mare whom had caught his eye all those years ago. The same mare whom had been secretly the one whom had gotten away after dating some archeologist. Things were great! She even happily accepted the offer. But there was one small complication.


The engineering stallion had found himself in quite the predicament as he trotted along with his friend, a mare whom he regarded with a beauty that deserved a non-existing adjective. And not just for her outstanding appearance, but for her shared desire of adventure and wonder! There was just one thing he needed to say... and he knew it! But he was so terrified to do so, like many others – as it could lead to a broken heart, or a happy life.


Yes... the stallion whom as a wee foal had adventured with this same very mare when he was young. Nearly got killed by giant crystalline spiders. And she, nearly done in by large plant creatures. And in the present, the two were together once more and still facing a chance of death with violent Vikings, and a horror mystery straight out of “Call of Cthulhu”. So what exactly was the stallion afraid of? If he was no stranger to violence, and adrenaline rushes? Why, it was the mighty and treacherous friend zone. The omnipotent presence that haunts both Stallions and Mares alike, and threatens to doom them into a life of sobbing in a dark corner while their love life walks away with another. And Java's past reclusive nature certainly did not help.

That... and the sight of many happy and sad individual ponies on the trot to the Hearts and Hooves Fair had resulted in a very twitchy and volatile Java.


“W-wha...” Java began in confusion to Presteza, the very mare he had invited to come along with him. Had he heard her comment right? “Well... if you want to spend more time around me, I don't think you have to stay in Canterlot. I can travel you know... and you most certainly don't have to stay in the airship. I got room at my.....” The stallion's tone trailed off when he realized what he was about to say. He tried to continue, but now flustered... his words became a slurred incomprehensible mess. The stallion winced, and quickly shook his head to try and shake out any previous thoughts. He needed to find some time to think, and fast!


Soon the stallion haulted when something... odd came into view. A distraction Java was actually thankful for.


A group of ponies. One... was a stallion whom looked down on his luck, another cruel shot at Java's subconscious. A familiar pony by the name of Inkbrand... whom seemed to be anything else but helpful. And an overly sympathetic mare, who was trying to cheer up the sad buck. Well... at least that sight assured him that should this end horribly for him, he had someone ready to cheer him up and remind him that there is plenty of room on the Janitorial staff. Why? So he could clean up his croppy perforamance! Wait! No no! Don't think about it!

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Dusty looked around, noticing some of the other ponies that were at the fair. There was a lone unicorn nearby, but he seemed to be busy working fusing something. Were those the fireworks for the show tonight? Cool.


But a spark of fire caught the mare's attention, as she noticed another unicorn stallion who was experimenting with some sort of fire magic. Magic has always been a weird concept to her, she never really understood it. But hey, she was a pegasus for a reason. There was also another stallion, one who was covered in tattoos, and a pegasus mare who walked over to see what was going on. Dusty was considering getting off her lazy flank herself and walking over there, when the strangest thing happened.


As if something had shot her, a sharp pain ran through her whole body.


"WHAT THE-" she shouted, more startled than in pain. She nearly fell off the bench she was sitting on. And even weirder, her vision went blurry for a moment. But it was only a moment, and as soon as it cleared, the pain was gone almost as fast as it came. 


Dusty looked around, puzzled. "What the heck was..." her voice trailed off, and that's when she saw him. The unicorn who was working on the fireworks earlier. And holy sweet Celestia, why hadn't she noticed before how cute he was?


She could feel her heart rate increase. She was suddenly in love. Unicorns weren't exactly her type, but the way he was working on those fireworks was so... interesting to her. She had to talk to him.


And then, hardly noticing her legs were moving, Dusty walked up to the stallion, blushing. "U-um... hi," Dusty had never been a shy mare, but now she couldn't help it for some reason. "Are you working on the fireworks for tonight?" she asked with a smile.

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After a few moments the 'eight' fireworks had been deactivated and now all that was needed was to put them to the side. It turned out they were merely copies of the 'six' fireworks that clearly he had brought by mistake. That was sloppy work, and it didn't bode well. Now all he needed to do was to make a mental note. The display now skipped a digit in the display schedule. That was ok though, it was only due to a clerical error. He just needed to set them up and make sure to light them all at the proper intervals. Easy. Just so long as nothing bad happened.


Once that was decided, Lightout sat down and looked at the array of boxes before him. All the rockets were different shapes and sizes but thanks to his clever organisation, he knew exactly which firework produced what effect and when they would be launched. In theory at least. There were at least twenty eight different boxes here and it would be dull work setting them all up. Still, Lightout thought it was best to get to it so that he could go home as quickly as he could. Besides, he had already done eight sets. Only twenty more to go...


Selecting the box labelled 'nine' the unicorn produced a small blue rocket with his magic and promptly shoved it in the ground. A brief check to make sure the angle was right and that was that. The first firework set up from the ninth set... Only a lot more to go. 


That's when he was brought out of his firework obsessed trance by the musings of a brown pegasus. Great, the crowds had started early. That was the problem with setting up a firework display with a crowd nearby. Everypony was interested in what you were doing, which just made the work go slower. If it was foals then that was fine, just give them a sparkler and they were happy. Adult ponies though, that was another problem altogether. 


At any rate, Lightout glanced up from inspecting the firework. There was a somewhat uninterested expression on his face as he greeted her. "Hi, err, yeah," he gestured to the boxes of fireworks as he answered her question. "Yeah I made them so I've got to set them up apparently." Something wasn't right. This pegasus seemed to be a bit unkempt and why did she seem nervous? That wasn't good, unkempt meant she'd be trouble right? Even if her expression was friendly, he was unsure about her motives. Probably best to get her to leave him alone. "Sorry I just want to set this up and go home, do you mind?" Lightout asked, trying to be polite about it. 

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Ah Hearts and Hooves Day...such a special day, to sell his heart shaped, pink creamed filled, wonder donuts of love! Seldom had Joe had a problem with having excess supplies on this day! It was one of those days he could pretty much guarantee himself he would end the day with a profit. The donut and coffee business could be a fickle trade, except with those ponies who considered themselves 'regulars' at Joe's. Today was a day for taking business to the roads however so the regulars would have to follow the sign he had left on the doors of his shop.


"Come find me near town square for your morning coffee and donuts."


He had left this sign out before. It was possible that some coffee fueled ponies might not like to try to find him, but they would come looking anyway. There was just something special about the coffee the cream colored unicorn brewed.


Joe trotted through the streets, looking for potential buyers. He towed his cart behind him which was emitting wonderful smells of rich coffee and sweet treats. Suddenly a small collision happened right in front of him. He slowed to a halt quickly speaking up.


"Are you ok miss?"

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Hearts and Hooves day was no odd event for this mare. Many times on her travels and even as a filly she'd been offered a few gifts and/or confessions. Usually with those pony's or otherwise who had only just gotten to know her and figured they'd offer her a few flowers as a gift... which often resulted in them sent flying my a magically powered sneeze from the young Painter-pony. The stallion who'd been with her for the last one, Merlot, had wound up bringing her to the Opera; that was indeed a fun date, but more often than not, Pressy felt it was more fun to be involved in the arts rather than simply watch others perform them. In fact she was actually hoping to take some acting classes later on after she figured out her deal with magic more in depth. For today though, this heiress was gonna have some fun with somepony she hadn't seen in a long time.


The mare's foalhood friend, Voronoi Fractal had grown into a handsome (if extremely awkward) stallion! She had to admit he was cute when he was a colt too but now he had the added benefits of additional knowledge and a sharpened mind from experiences of inventing gadgets. Now he had his own Airship, a large pet cat, and had some more experience with adventures and exploring. Long ago, Presteza and Java had made a promise to work to use their talents to inspire ponies and other species to lead more awesome lives! Thus far, The young painter was doing good on her end of the promise with her impressive painting that was growing more and more popular to the point individuals were actually seeking her out for her services! Everything was coming up Pressy!


Before she had come to this fair, Presteza had posed her new coltfriend a question; If he would mind if he could move a bit closer to Canterlot or stop by a bit more often. Presteza had a sort of on-again-off-again membership with Spellbound. When She was traveling on her own she would often send letter to the guild to keep them informed on any weird magical events or artifacts she'd caught wind of that might interest them; in some ways she was like Spellbound's scouting agent! Coming back as soon as she could once she was done with her latest adventure was always a priority however, so she could spend time with her favorite guildmates and show off what she'd learned or figured out in her travels. In fact, Java had actually managed to join the guild too! How cool was that?! Now they could spend even more time together!



“W-wha...” Java began in confusion to Presteza, the very mare he had invited to come along with him. Had he heard her comment right? “Well... if you want to spend more time around me, I don't think you have to stay in Canterlot. I can travel you know... and you most certainly don't have to stay in the airship. I got room at my.....” The stallion's tone trailed off when he realized what he was about to say. He tried to continue, but now flustered... his words became a slurred incomprehensible mess.


Soon the stallion haulted when something... odd came into view. A distraction Java was actually thankful for.


A group of ponies. One... was a stallion whom looked down on his luck, another cruel shot at Java's subconscious. A familiar pony by the name of Inkbrand... whom seemed to be anything else but helpful. And an overly sympathetic mare, who was trying to cheer up the sad buck. Well... at least that sight assured him that should this end horribly for him, he had someone ready to cheer him up and remind him that there is plenty of room on the Janitorial staff. Why? So he could clean up his croppy perforamance! Wait! No no! Don't think about it!



Once the stallion was beginning to answer her though, she'd found he was having trouble articulating his thoughts now as his words broke down and blush spread over his face. This was a trait that Presteza was growing more and more familiar with as anytime she flirted with him just a tiny bit he seemed to have trouble forming sentences and resorted to babbling nigh incoherently. In a way, The mare had to admit she found this new shyness very cute. Once the coffee scented pony began shaking his head vigorously as if to dislodge some water from his ears she chuckled, "Sooo... Should I take yer sudden speechlessness as a yes er no?"


Before she could get any further words out of the stallion, she noticed a familiar pony. It seems her old friend InkBrand wasn't having a particularly happy hearts and hooves day. Thankfully one nice mare stopped by to cheer him up... maybe this may lead to a better day. Just as the young artist was brainstorming ways that she might gently nudge the two into spending some time together she was greeted by a very pleasant coffee smell; this time not coming from Java! Before she could turn around to inspect it, the source found her as a pony with a cart had bumped into her backside. The mare simply stepped forwards a bit so she was out of the cart's way and waved to the familiar driver, "Heya Joe!"


The mare stepped forward and sniffed eagerly at the cart and then looked back to Java, "I think he's got yer blend in here!" The silver maned unicorn chuckled softly, turning her big ,bright, blue eyes upon Java, "This smell reminds of how I sniffed ya out in our guild's open house!"

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Pyro wondered what he should do while he was waiting for the show to happen, but he doubted he could go much of anywhere without seeing couples around. Oh well, he supposed he could just go for a walk. 


Before he could set out though, a somewhat familiar stallion came up. He knew he recognized that coloring and those tattoos from somewhere, but where? And what was he even talking about? Getting dumped today?


"Don't I know you from W-" Pyro started to say, getting cut off as a mare landed between them, apparently overhearing the stallion's question. He gave a quiet sigh before looking at the two of them.


"No, I was not dumped today. Or at all. Kinda hard to get dumped when you don't have a marefriend in the first place." He said, dispelling the ideas the two had about why he was sad. He then directed his gaze at the stallion. "And you, I believe we met during Winter Wrap Up, right? I can't seem to remember your name though, so sorry about that." He finished, looking back to the mare before helping her back onto her hooves. "Thank you for your concern, though." He said to her.

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Well, it was always a good sign when a recently dumped stallion didn't immediately lash out with a back hoof. Not too bad of a break-up, then?

Before the fiery-colored Unicorn could get out more than a few words however, a yell that sounded a little too close for comfort caught Inkbrand's attention, just enough for to turn his head and watch, rather bemusedly, as a golden hued Pegasus fell flat on her face right at their hooves. With the abruptness of the event catching near everypony off guard, the tattoo-clad stallion could only stare as the mare looked upwards, expressing concern for the heartbroken Unicorn rather than rubbing dirt off her face or, you know, standing up onto her hooves or anything reasonable like that.

Which, actually, left her limbs spread akimbo rather nicely along the ground, and Inkbrand had never been one to pass up an opportunity - but before he could do more than give her flanks an ogle, the Pegasus was clasping onto his hoof and staring up at him like a kicked puppy, face flushed a rather attractive shade of red. She seemed much more put out that a stallion was feeling lonely and down on his luck on Hearts and Hooves Day than anything else, and Inkbrand really was rather bemused that the pretty mare was latching onto him, rather than the other way 'round. It didn't happen often, with strangers.

Not counting Mystic Flare, who'd all but climbed over him in an attempt to get away from a mouse.

But that was another story, and this was now as Inkbrand wordlessly reached down to offer a gallant hoof for the pretty Pegasus - and by gallant hoof, he meant hooking his own under the Pegasus' elbow and bodily hauling her onto her own hooves, since she seemed disinclined to move from her own position. The fiery Unicorn - who had indeed sparked some sort of memory, bringing forth images of a roaring fire and a rather perplexing feeling of resigned irritation - was helping the Pegasus up on her other side, and Inkbrand stayed quiet long enough for the other stallion to finish speaking, one eyebrow cocked upwards.

"Don't sweat it, can't remember yours either," the tattoo-clad stallion said blithely. "But if we're going to do the whole introductions thing again, call me Inkbrand." This was said more towards the golden-hued Pegasus, along with only a smidgen of a leer, and Inkbrand had to wonder for a moment why he was not currently plastered against her pretty flanks. Something about her larger-than-life puppy dog eyes bemoaning all the sadness in the world, maybe? It was bucking cute, is what it was, and the thought briefly sent a frown across the grey stallion's features.

Mares were hot or sexy - they weren't cute.

It took another distraction to pull Inkbrand from his thoughts however, and his other eyebrow raised upwards to join the first as a rather burly looking stallion - who was pulling a cart along, for Equestria's sake - shoulder into the conversation. It didn't escape Inkbrand's notice how the stallion only addressed the Pegasus and completely ignored the two stallions standing in front of him, either, and he wasn't having that, no sir. Whatever hesitation or reluctance he'd been feeling melted away like it had never been there as Inkbrand swaggered around towards the cart-toting stallion, throwing a haphazard foreleg around the Pegasus' shoulders.

"Oh she's fine," he drawled out loudly, even reaching up to brush a few specks of dust from the mare's foreleg as if they were the best of friends, "we're all fine, can't you see everything's fine?" A sudden strong whiff of coffee caught on the wind, causing Inkbrand to lean slightly away from the Pegasus to better inspect the cart. Were those heart-shaped donuts sitting on display? "Mayoral Mare got 'ya working on Hearts and Hooves Day, huh? Can't catch a break," Inkbrand tutted, mock-sadness coating his voice as he shook his head slightly. He could only assume the stallion had been roped into working during the on-going festivities, though maybe he was simply a local baker looking to make a few bits during the party.







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Whoa! All of a sudden there were a lot of ponies gathering around their little troupe. All of whom had seen her crash. Oh dear… Sugar’s blush came back to life full force, deepening yet again as she was pulled to her hooves by the colt and the stallion she had crashed into. It felt like something straight out of Sailor Mare...she could just see the flower petals swirling around the two ponies lifting her! She wasn’t so sure about the colt, but as for the stallion, she knew right away what his type in any of her girly romance comics would be. He had tattoos, chains, and jewellery, which meant he had to be the bad colt / playcolt type.

Sugar, still feeling sheepish about the fact that all of these ponies had just seen her, a member of the REA, take such a graceless tumble, cast her gaze down a little awkwardly as the unicorn stallion approached and asked if she was okay. She opened her mouth to answer, but the words came out as a kind of squeak, since the stallion who had introduced himself as Inkbrand had just put a foreleg around her shoulders.

“I- I’m fine,” she finally said, beet red, before Inkbrand echoed her statement and then brushed dust from her legs. What was this stallion doing?! She had definitely hit the nail on the head when she guessed at his being a playcolt. If she was observing his behaviour, she probably would have had a tough time deciding if she was turned off by his behaviour or impressed by how bold he was. Seeing as how she was currently pressed to his side, however, she was too nervous to even think about how she felt!

She shook her head a little. She had a purpose just a moment ago, before this Inkbrand character distracted her by being so...so hoovesy. She had to cheer up the colt! He hadn’t been dumped, but he still seemed a little upset over the fact that he didn’t have a marefriend.

“I’ll take one of those donuts, sir!” she piped up, holding out some bits for the unicorn stallion. As soon as she got it she handed it to the cold, offering her biggest, kindest smile, “Here you are! Chin up! You may not have a marefriend now but I’m sure you’ll find somepony wonderful someday soon. My name’s Sugar Star, by the way! Specialist Sugar Star of the Royal Equestrian Army, at your service!”

The winged mare offered a little salute before sticking out her tongue playfully. A soldier she might be, but she certainly wasn’t one of the stiff ones! Not normally, anyhow. She was still a little tense with that stallion’s foreleg around her...eep!

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Well, he had certainly found himself a little hive of activity in this part of town!


"All the better to sell my wares."  Thought Joe as he responded the the bits offered by the sweet looking mare before him. The unicorn's magic glowed about the currency and lifted it from her while replacing it with a sugary heart shaped treat.


We're all fine, can't you see everything's fine?


To this comment Joe lifted and eyebrow. It seemed to him that this particular grey stallion was anything but "fine". He had seen stallions in this mood many times. It usually took hold of ponies right when they woke up in the morning and didn't seem to leave until they had down a mug or two of his special blend at the coffee shop. Yes, Joe had dealt with cranky stallions on many occasions and this fellow seemed to be just that.


"Well, yes things do seem to be fine around here sir. It is however, a common customer courtesy to ask a pretty mare if she is alright if she stumbles. And that looked like it could have been a painful stumble." He eyed the forearm slung around the mare, wondering by the slight odd look of her expression if she was really enjoying the weight of an extra appendage after having tripped and fallen.


Mayoral Mare got 'ya working on Hearts and Hooves Day, huh? Can't catch a break.


Joe cocked his head. Where had this guy been that he hadn't seem Joe and his coffee cart before? He frequented the streets of Ponyville, with most ponies knowing he was selling wares from his famed coffee shop. True it was a small trek from his shop in Canterlot, but the ponies here enjoyed the treats and coffee so much it was well worth the time to stop by. Especially on a busy day like Hearts and Hooves.


"I don't work for the Mayor, I own and operate Joe's Donuts. You new in town?"


My name’s Sugar Star, by the way! Specialist Sugar Star of the Royal Equestrian Army, at your service!


Joe smiled a little as he heard the mare introduce herself to the colt. Sugar Star was a pretty name to go with a very pretty mare!


He turned to the younger stallion, a colt actually. The guy looked fairly downcast for a day such as today. Joe could only guess it had something to do with Hearts and Hooves Day. When he did return to the coffee and donut shop he would keep it open late for fellows looking just like this colt. Nothing like a late night coffee and donut to solve your heart ache. He turned his mouth up in a half smile at him as the mare offered him the donut she had just purchased. "Maybe today won't be as bad as you think buddy."


"I think he's got yer blend in here!"


A silver maned unicorn was now standing at the cart. Hopefully she would buy some treats and coffee. It had been a profitable morning thus far. "I'm sure I do miss!" He smiled helpfully. "What's your pleasure?" Joe spoke to the coffee colored stallion that the mare had been talking to.

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Inkbrand, right. Well, it had been a very brief meeting, so he supposed it wasn't that unlikely they didn't remember each other that well. Well, between the two of them they got the mare to her hooves, only for the conversation to turn towards what seemed to be some kind of vendor, if the cart he was pulling was any indication. Pyro watched as the mare bought a doughnut and immediately handed it to him, introducing herself.

"Thanks." He said, taking the offered pastry in his magic and giving the mare a small smile. "My name's Pyro Blaze, by the way." He added to all the ponies, realizing he had yet to actually introduce himself. With that taken care of, he looked at the doughnut and carefully tore it in two, offering one of the halves back to the mare.

"Here, have some." He said, smiling at her slightly, giving the vendor a friendly nod at his words. "So, you're part of the REA? I want to join up with them after I'm done with school. Protect those I care about. And Equestria, while I'm at it." He finished, taking a bite of his half of the doughnut.

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Glimmer's eyes widened as she saw the Pegasus mare she darted go straight for a stallion. A love struck look in her eyes that made Glimmer giddy with excitement.

'It worked it worked.' She mentally cheered as she skipped around some. She picked up Lula once more and moved onto a better position.

This was so awesome! Her love darts actually worked.

'Now all I need to do is wait for Razor to show up.' She thought with an evil laugh, but until then...

She spotted the unicorn stallion, he had seemed down. Taking steady, gosh but why were so many ponies gathered around in one area. That would make things tricky; hopefully she wouldn't miss.

Loading a dart, Glimmer readied to fire, but as she fired she felt Lula nuzzling her leg. The armadillos nose tickled, causing her to giggle and fidget just so slightly as she fired. The dart flew off toward the group of ponies, but not toward its intended target.

"Shoot." Glimmer whispered and moved Lula, "Don't do that, I need to focus." She whispered to her pet.

Glimmer quickly loaded another dart and fired, this time nailing the unicorn stallion in the flank. Once more, she ducked low and watched. Just to be sure things worked.

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“Wha-” Java began, letting his gaze quickly snap back to the mare. “Oh! Uhm... Y-yes!” The stallion quickly answered. Sure, he might have been nervous, but he wasn't going to turn down the offer to hang out with his old time friend and personal love interest was he? Even if it meant that he'd have to put up with awkward moments in his own home. Or was she staying in his ship? Those arrangements will have to be sorted out later! Under normal circumstance, the stallion might not have minded her staying in the ship! But... that ship hadn't had it's old set of crystals changed out after it's fight in the skies. Sooo... stability might be of question when outside magic is introduced.


None the less, the stallion's attention was drawn away from his inner digressions. It was a wonderful smell that was the culprit. The sweet... savory... and very bitter aroma from a friend of his older than life itself! Metaphorically speaking of course. Coffee! And the bringer himself! A saint to Java! Joe! The owner of his favorite daytime coffee shop.


The stallion quickly followed after the mare with his ears perked at full alert! Oh how it's been so long since he's tasted the bitter bite of good ole hot bean juice! A couple of hours maybe… but it’s still forever, right?

nHehey, Joe! Good ta see ya down here!” The stallion chimed with a grin, as he came to a stop beside the mare. He then turned to look back to the mare, his smile broadening, “Of course he’s got my blend!~ When I don’t brew my own, I usually get my fix from this guy! Well, take that back… usually it’s a daily thing.” He hummed before shrugging, and opening up his coat.


“I’ll go with the usual good sir~,” The stallion hummed while his hoof rummaged through one of his many pockets. While Joe might have hundreds of customers on a daily basis, Java was probably one of his more obsurd customers when it came to his favorite beverage. Now, his usual wasn’t fancy like many of the civilians of Canterlot’s usually are. No… his was actually very simple in design, just straight black right out of the pot! No sugar, No creamer! What made his unusual? Well… the quantity of course! His typical order is Black out of the pot. The entire pot of coffee.


Does the pony believe this is being greedy? Well no, the way Java see’s it it’s a three in one! He’s doing the pickier ponies a favor by allowing a fresh pot to be made, Java leaves happily with a full thermos, and good ole Donut Joe makes his largest sell in coffee for that day.

The stallion frowned as his entire arm seemed to have disappeared in the impossible depths of that one pocket. “I know I put it in here…” The stallion hummed before allowing his eyes to wander back to the cart.

His eyes fell on the cute heart shaped pastries… and pondered it for a moment. He could easily afford two. But what if he bought…. one to share? They seemed large enough for it, and where the stallion failed to be vocal, these heart shaped sweets could possibly deliver the message for him.



And so, by the time the stallion’s entire arm was missing in on tiny little pocket, the stallion quickly added in. “OH! And could I get a large mocha, and one of those hearts too, please?” He asked. Finally, his hoof brushed over what he was looking for and he quickly whipped the entire arm free from the pocket, and dropped the bits onto the counter. Plus a tip!

Once he finished, he spun around to face his companion once more. A grin on his jaw as he opened up to speak once again. Well more like let out a surprised yelp after his face quickly jumped into an epiphany of surprise. Even the pony seemed to jolt upwards in the air, with his rear legs kicking about.

The dart that had gone wild managed to embedded itself into Java’s flank. And funnily enough, right in the center of the cutie mark. Dead in the center of the golden cog’s hole, and right on in the middle of the Darker Gold Sigma.


Confused the stallion quickly whirled around and peered down to his flank. “What the heck….” he began with an inquisitive tone. “I think some hateful….little…. beeeee,” He added but soon found himself slurring as an unusual wave of vertigo began to settle in.


The now dizzy stallion clumsily stumbled around mumbling something intelligible. His senses were heavily distorted. His sense of smell became non-existent. The chattering sounds of ponies were muted. His vision grew hazy while the potion worked it’s magic.


There is one major common misconception with love spells and potions. It’s not that the victim seeks the nearest opposite sex. It seeks the nearest sex it has an attraction for. And… for a stallion like Java, who’s barn door swings both ways, it was nearly any pony that he see’s first.


And that unlucky fellow was not the Mare of his dreams. Oh no… much worse. It was a pony that Java could genuinely say his standing relationship with was unknown. An analogy he would give, is it’s more like trying to put a fire out with gasoline. While it’s possible to do, it’s just generally inconvenient and shouldn’t be considered.


That very pony was Inkbrand.


The moment that the drugged up engineering pony laid his eyes on him when the fog cleared up. His heart throbbed. Fluttered, and began thrashing about in his ribcage like a madpony. Soon Java, in his strange euphoria, had forgotten all past bumps he had with the stallion, and craved for his companionship with an irrationally passionate lust.


His socially awkward tendencies he had once presented to Pressy had quickly absconded to allow a more blunt nature stallion to take it’s place.


Java quickly darted away, leaving pressy behind as he pursued his fictitious dream buck. Once he neared the other stallion, the buck slid to a hault till their chests were nearly brushing upon each other. His hoof raised up to gently lift the tattoo cladded stallion’s chin up, so the two’s noses were nearly touching.

If the sudden action caused the stallion to lean back, then the buck would lean forward… threatening to allow his lips to make contact with the other’s as he gave him a very charismatic smile. A smile that even Java would have believed was impossible for himself. A smile that was soon accented with a gentle gaze into the other’s eyes.

“Well lo there handsome,” The stallion practically purred in a smooth tone. His head tilting off to the side as he leaned in much much closer… to the point where the heat from his lips could be felt on the others. “Say you and me leave this place for a good time,” he cooed out… just before attempting to connect the kiss.

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Dusty heard the stallion talk about the fireworks, but she wasn't really listening. She didn't care, she only wanted him. And she was going to do whatever it took. But then, she knew this was going to be a battle for his love, as the unicorn stated that she should probably leave. She flinched. Dangit! It couldn't be true. The stallion obviously didn't share her same feelings. What now?


Dusty's mind raced. Her last tactics obviously weren't working, so she had to try something different. Impressing him? No, she would save that for later, when she was more desperate. Starting a normal conversation? Wait, she just did that. Hm... going straightforward? Sure, why not.


All the while, there was some voice in the back of her head. It called out to her, saying that she should leave this guy alone, that he was way out of her league, that she should just go back to the chocolates....


But Dusty completely ignored that voice. She was in love, after all. 


The mare's blush went even deeper as she spoke. "Okay...um...wait," she paused, meeting his eyes. "May I ask your name?" she asked in a polite voice. Yes, this was good, she must know this stallion's name. "And also... has any one told you how absolutely handsome you look today?" And then, she went a little further, because she couldn't help it.


"You know, you don't have to go home right after this. Maybe you and me could ditch this place, go get some food. It is Hearts and Hooves day, after all..."


Hopefully that would get the stallion's mind off the fact that he wanted her to leave. And if it did, then maybe he would fall for her... hopefully. Dusty just wanted to kiss him, right there, right then.


But not yet. That would come later.

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“Wha- Oh! Uhm... Y-yes!”



nHehey, Joe! Good ta see ya down here!” The stallion chimed with a grin, as he came to a stop beside the mare. He then turned to look back to the mare, his smile broadening, “Of course he’s got my blend!~ When I don’t brew my own, I usually get my fix from this guy! Well, take that back… usually it’s a daily thing.” He hummed before shrugging, and opening up his coat.


“I’ll go with the usual good sir~,”


“I know I put it in here… OH! And could I get a large mocha, and one of those hearts too, please?” He asked. Finally, his hoof brushed over what he was looking for and he quickly whipped the entire arm free from the pocket, and dropped the bits onto the counter. Plus a tip!


Confused the stallion quickly whirled around and peered down to his flank. “What the heck….” he began with an inquisitive tone. “I think some hateful….little…. beeeee,” He added but soon found himself slurring as an unusual wave of vertigo began to settle in.


“Well lo there handsome,” The stallion practically purred in a smooth tone. His head tilting off to the side as he leaned in much much closer… to the point where the heat from his lips could be felt on the others. “Say you and me leave this place for a good time,” he cooed out… just before attempting to connect the kiss.






A silver maned unicorn was now standing at the cart. Hopefully she would buy some treats and coffee. It had been a profitable morning thus far. "I'm sure I do miss!" He smiled helpfully. "What's your pleasure?" Joe spoke to the coffee colored stallion that the mare had been talking to.





"I dun' know if ya remember me, Joe, but I was at yer Donut shop when Peachy Keen was doin' those portraits o' ponies!" She chuckled softly before gesturing to her new ensemble and more traditional hat shape, "I can't blame ya fer not recognizin' me now though, I've kinda changed up my style recently." Back when Presteza had previously met Pony Joe, she'd been wearing a Daring Do style adventuring coat that her coltfriend of the time had given her. Now she was sporting a much more classy yet practical jacket, a nice shade of royal blue that complimented her eyes very nicely. On her waist she was a medium sized saddlebag that held several different type of paintbrushes and plugged ink and paint pots.


The mare gave her coltfriend the time he needed to order and converse abit with the stallion who through profession clearly had become quite familiar with her foalhood friend. Interestingly, Javasun had decided to order two cups, one was his usual which Presteza had already grown quite accustomed to smelling. The stallion was obviously on his best behavior as well as he managed to order something for his fillyfrienfd as well, "Can ya add five sugar packs to my mocha please?" she asked with a playful chuckle before she noticed the coffee scented pony ordering one more thing; one of those yummy smelling heart shaped pastries! Aww, He'd remembered how much she loved sweets after all these years!


Then, Java made a face like someone had just randomly yanked his tail, "Ya okay, luv'?". The clever earth pony had assumed it was the work of some pesky bee or something, which was weird seeing as bees don't usually sting unless threatened. In the middle of his speculation, Java suddenly trailed off and his face had devolved into a dreamy stare as he stared at Inkbrand. Presteza had quite an interesting history with Inkbrand. They'd met (and gotten into a minor fight) during the unexpected blizzard of the Winter Wrap-up of this year. They'd gotten tangled up in an event where several ponies and a griffin were put under love spells by enchanted perfume being sold by the flim flam brothers... and now this. She had to admit she didn't expect that Java's usual demeanor would dissolve so easily... Even if she flirted with him just a little bit it was easy to turn him into a blushing, stuttering mess, But here he was, Flirting with impressive confidence and acting admittedly suave with a stallion Presteza was sure was not interested. She was about to gallop over to her former coltfriend's side, but stopped to snatch up her coffee and pastry, swiftly nomming the sweet treat down.


"Uhhh... Java. 'lo?" The mare waved her hooves about at the accentric inventor, "Um... Marefriend, right here!" PResteza took a moment to admire the scene and memorized it so she could paint it later... if anything she could tease the now misbehaving stallion later... also she had to admit seeing the two together was slightly cute, but Java was hers and she wasn't about to let him stray from her now!

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Well somepony was riding rather high on himself, unless he really was a big a fixture in Ponyville as he seemed to be implying. For his own part, Inkbrand could honestly say he'd never heard or seen the cart-toting unicorn anywhere in the town - nor anywhere else, for that matter. Personally, he found it a little hard to believe any sort of standard merchandise seller could have enough fame to be heard of throughout a few towns - a smoking hot model with her face plastered against billboards and taxi carts and carriage stops? Yes. But a donut seller?

"Never heard of 'im," is what Inkbrand eventually settled on saying, an expression almost too polite to be sincere plastered on his face. Seeing how the stallion deigned to introduce himself, the tattoo-clad could only assume that the unicorn was named 'Joe'. He didn't bother repeating his name either, instead releasing his hold around the pretty Pegasus - Sugar Star she'd said, and buck, didn't that just explain the cute that seemed to explode from her in waves. He could almost feel himself getting a cavity just listening to the mare - as she gave her hard-earned donut to the colt, subsequently sharing it as said colt tore it in half.

Well wasn't that rich. Inkbrand momentarily contemplated turning wounded cow eyes onto Sugar Star in hopes of getting a shared treat as well, but his brilliant plan was forestalled as, once again, a pair of ponies ambled up to their group, causing one of Inkbrand's eyebrows to raise slightly. They seemed to be attracting a small crowd - attracted to his stunning good looks, obviously - and it was with some surprise that the grey stallion realized he recognized these two.

Enough for his ears to fall backwards onto his head, out of sheer reflex. This time however, it took Inkbrand a moment to realize exactly why the sight annoyed him, and it wasn't exactly a pretty revelation.

'What, Peryton flank not good enough for you?' the tattoo-clad Earth Pony thought almost viciously, a sneer on his face as he took in the writhing mess of JavaSun cozying up to Presteza with coffee and a donut. He hadn't really believed the Earth Pony was interested in his friend, no matter how many appreciative looks and gestures JavaSun had thrown the Peryton's way in the middle of the Pinto Desert - and for buck's sake, it was a relief really, to know that he wasn't going to have to chase the brown pony away from his friend, now that he seemed to have somepony of a decidedly female nature to occupy himself with. In fact, it was rather amusing, and rather disappointing, to see the eccentric and passionate Earth Pony reduced to the stereotypical blushing, stammering, shy-as-buck-all stallion in love. Or lust.

Still, Inkbrand couldn't help the swell of righteous indignation on behalf of his friend, that JavaSun had seen fit to act casual and coy with August while he treated Presteza like she was the most amazing being in Equestria. It was enough to make Inkbrand turn his head away after a dismissive and cold glance over the pair, who were otherwise preoccupied with Joe and his cart of treats and hadn't offered any greeting anyways. The grey stallion honestly had no idea how serious August would have taken any advances from the scientist, but just in case, the Peryton was going to be the very first to hear about this.

Nip that in the bud early on, so to speak, to prevent any necessary eye gauging in the immediate future.

"Now that everypony's got their snacks in hooves," Inkbrand said loudly, pointedly turning back towards Sugar Star and Pyro Blaze, "how 'bout we tour the festival grounds, eh? Getting a little crowded over here." This was directed more towards the golden Pegasus with a toothy grin and roguish wink, though he was sure the mare would automatically include the forlorn - or wait, not forlorn? He hadn't gotten dumped, he'd said. He just…went around with a scowl on his face all day, then? - colt in the group activity. She didn't seem the type to leave anypony stranded by themselves. "Think I saw a pretty nice kissing booth set-up, over by Sugar Cube," the grey Earth Pony cajoled, and turned to toss his head in said direction.

Only to nearly collide it straight against JavaSun's thick skull, summoning forth an immediate scowl.

Seriously, just when he was starting to tolerate this stallion, he had to go insulting August and being…well. Being Java Bucking Sun.

"The buck are you - " Inkbrand snapped, ears flat on his head - before a slight pressure at his chin cut off any further comment, surprise choking up the rest of his tirade as JavaSun tilted his head upwards from where he'd been leaning back to avoid collision. The grey stallion was vaguely aware of his jaw dangling open like he was deliberately attempting to catch flies, confusion giving way to straight up 'what the buck' as the coffee colored Earth Pony leant even closer.

'Bucking rot, he's trying to get under your skin again, IB,' Inkbrand's mind supplied rather annoyingly. 'Trying to rile you up, like that night at his place. He's just…why, is he leaning in so close, like he's going to - '

Inkbrand wasn't even sure what the other stallion was saying, given how his brain decided to short-circuit in an effort to distance itself from whatever the buck was happening at the moment. And in hindsight, he would fully blame his brain-dead cells for his visceral - but completely appropriate - reaction, as without any conscious thought on his own part, his left hoof was flying up and out through the air, landing a solid uppercut on the stallion's chin.

Presteza, the grey stallion was vaguely aware, was waving her hooves around and saying something to the coffee coated Earth Pony, but Inkbrand was too dumfounded to actively listen to anything the mare was saying. Instinct was quick to take over, demanding he keep the threat down and out for the count, and Inkbrand responded the same way he would have in a street fight - in an instant he had one hoof pressing on JavaSun's throat where he had fallen, attempting to keep him pinned to the ground as emotion after disorientated emotion poured through him. Half outrage, and half panicked paranoia that the Earth Pony would simply try again the minute he got onto his hooves, and buck all if he was going to let that happen!

"Nice try," Inkbrand sneered, leaning in close to lowly hiss the words into JavaSun's face - though perhaps not as closely as he normally would on any other given day. "but you should know by now you're never getting a piece of this action. Just try it again, you son of a diamond dog." From any other stallion, especially a friend - Celestia knows August had joked about the two of them often enough - perhaps his reaction wouldn't have been so extreme…but from bucking JavaSun, who Inkbrand knew had a thing for stallions?

Buck, no, he wasn't going to let this punk pull his bucking mind games on him. Inkbrand pressed down on the stallion's windpipe for a moment, before relenting and hastily stepping away from the coffee colored Earth Pony, contempt clear on his face. "Keep your colt on his leash," he shot in Presteza's general direction, backing further away from JavaSun and back towards the relative safety of Sugar Star and Pyro Blaze. Or so he hoped. If the bucking colt started making eyes at him…

Suffice to say, somepony would be losing their eyes.





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When Inkbrand released the specialist from his grip she felt herself relax a little as her blushing finally died down. Nopony had ever been so forward with her before - it was totally foreign territory. The only physical contact she ever really had with a stallion either involved dancing or sparring and training as a soldier.

Just when she thought her blushing for the day was over, however, Sugar couldn’t help but overhear the little exchange between Pony Joe and Inky (as she had dubbed him) while she was talking to the grumpy colt. She did her best to keep her cool, but at the mention of her being a “pretty mare” her ears started to flush red. Pretty? Her? The specialist had been with the REA long enough now that she hadn’t heard a compliment come her way in a long time, leaving her feeling a little caught off guard. Or a lot. Definitely a lot. Her superiors were certainly not about to flatter her, and considering she was usually in her armour outside the barracks most folk treated her like a soldier rather than a “pretty mare.” And she was just fine with that! So she just blinked, struggled not to blush, and did her darndest to pretend that she hadn’t overheard what Pony Joe said. Even though she was standing right next to him.

Pyro came to her rescue, though, when he finally introduced himself and tore the donut in two in order to share it with her. How kind! The winged mare beamed and popped the pastry into her mouth, practically floating away at the sugary taste. It was divine!

“Delicious! Thanks, Pyro!” she piped up cheerfully once she had finished her half of the treat. She ruffled the colt’s mane with her hoof, then, and continued on happily, “You wanna join the REA, hm? Well, I’d certainly be glad to see you in our ranks! You really have to work hard to get there - bootcamp isn’t for the weak of heart. I’m sure you’ve got the right stuff, though!”

She beamed again, then let her gaze drift back to Jojo’s cart. Those donuts were really tasty treats...if she wasn’t careful, she’d have them all eaten in the blink of an eye! Luckily for the innocent sweets, though, two more ponies stepped onto the scene to distract the golden mare. She nearly heaved a sigh of relief! That was until she noticed Inky’s mood take a dive. Clumsy and easily flustered though she might be, Sugar Star was stilled a trained soldier. She could read a scene fairly well when she cared enough to pay attention, and she noticed pretty quickly that the tattooed stallion took a grumpy turn when the new arrivals (a couple, by the way they were interacting) stepped onto the scene. Since Inky didn’t seem like the type to get huffy over romance or anything of the sort, Sugar could only assume he knew those two and wondered what they had done to warrant such a reaction.

Her suspicions were more or less confirmed when Inky suggested she and Pyro join him in touring the festival. He wanted to get away that badly, huh? Of course, the moment he mentioned a kissing booth all of her deductions and cleverness were washed right out of her mind!

“K-kissing booth?” she echoed, blushing once more. Kissing booth? What did that even mean?  The mare’s pink eyes went wide. This was starting to play out like one of her romance comics - with her as the main character! Except that Inky didn’t really fit the role of the love interest very well - not the main love interest at least. Sharp attitude, tattoos, total flirt and playcolt...that was it! He was the secondary love interest, the one who was constantly distracting the main character from her true romantic feelings! How exciting!

“K-kissing booth!” she said again, this time sounding uncharacteristically enthusiastic, her expression determined. But wait! Kissing booth?! There was a major problem hidden amongst all this excitement...Sugar Star had never actually been kissed! Nor done any kissing herself! Was Inky implying that they should kiss at this kissing booth? Could she really give away her first kiss so easily?

Sugar was saved from her worried thoughts yet again! This time by the coffee-coloured pony whom Inky had reacted to so poorly. And he was...trying to kiss him? Oh dear...this couldn’t end well…

And it didn’t. The scene devolved very quickly, with Inky punching the stallion called Java and then putting a hoof to his throat after knocking him to the ground. All of a sudden the sugary-sweet exterior that the specialist wore so well melted away to reveal the soldier beneath. Her posture stiffened, her expression darkened, and she approached the two stallions sporting a withering frown. Thankfully Inky stood down before she had reached them, but not before getting out a few choice words. Sugar cast Java’s marefriend a concerned look before she placed her hoof gently on the tattoed stallion’s shoulder in order to grab his attention.

“Did you still want to check out that kissing booth?” she asked softly, tilting her head to the side a little. She just wanted to separate the two stallions,but quickly after she had spoken she realized what she had said. Sugar did her best to keep her expression unchanged, but a deep, red blush crawled its way up her face until it just about steamed out of her ears.

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Pyro smiled and nodded his thanks to Sugar as she said she thought he would make a good REA member. He would've responded verbally, but his mouth was currently filled with the tasty half of the doughnut he had been eating. He chewed on that as Inkbrand seemed to be put out by something with the two other ponies, one he recognized as Pressy. He wasn't sure who the stallion was, but obviously Inkbrand didn't like how they appeared to be a couple. Inkbrand soon seemed to dismiss the two though, turning back to Sugar and him to suggest they go check out the fairgrounds. Well, it would be better than walking around by himself.


Wait, kissing booth? Pyro raised an eyebrow at that, but said nothing as Sugar seemed to be having a reaction sufficient enough to show his own feelings on the matter. It took him a moment to realize the stallion that had come with Pressy had moved very close to Inkbrand, something he noticed just before the tattooed stallion almost collided head first with the other stallion. What was go-


There was a sharp pain in his flank, though it faded rather quickly, only to be replaced by a sort of dizziness, stumbling a bit as he attempted to keep his balance. He blinked rapidly to try and clear his vision, and he eventually succeeded. He gave a hum as he watched Inkbrand press a hoof to the coffee-colored stallion's throat for a couple seconds before moving off.


"Well, that was a weird wave of-" He said to himself, stopping suddenly as he spotted Sugar, his heart stopping for a moment. How had he not noticed how amazing she looked before? Almost as if in a daze, he walked over to the mare, smiling from the simple proximity of the mare as he stopped behind her. She had just said something, but all he could really focus on was the sound of her voice and the words 'kissing booth'. 


"I'd like to check out the kissing booth with you." He said with a wide smile. "Has anypony told you how beautiful you look? If not, let me be the first." He said, leaning in closer. "You are a beautiful mare, Sugar Star." He finished, practically whispering the last part to her as he gave her a smile.

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The alchemist made the mistake of looking up and meeting her eyes. No, that was never good. Meeting somepony's eyes just showed that you were listening and Lightout just wanted her gone. That was counter-productive, though it did offer him the chance to inspect her more closely. As the mare asked him to wait and asked his name he examined her more closely.


A light blue streak in her hair? That spoke of rebellion and danger while the general messy quality, well that might indicate she was more of a tomboyish mare. Or it could just indicate that she had been recently flying or fighting, or even that she just didn't care about her appearance. Lightout wasn't sure which he disliked more. She was brown, a pegasus and had bright green eyes. Not much to be garnered there. Pegasi were usually the adventurous type, that just made Lightout even more suspicious. She was blushing? Why was she blushing? Better question, why had she just called him handsome? The alchemist shot her a quizzical look. He sure didn't think he was attractive, but he could quite easily make himself seem attractive. After all, it was pretty simple to make a pheromone potion to make him seem pleasing to any mare. It didn't actually make you more attractive, but hey. Beauty was subjective, and maybe he'd accidentally drank one. Though in his entire career, he'd never accidentally drank any of his potions.


Oh wait, he was still staring. She'd probably notice that. Ahh well, if she was uncomfortable then she would go away right? But still, if he put off responding any longer it was going to seem rude. "Lightout," he supplied, turning back to his fireworks. "What's yours?" he asked, somewhat absent-mindedly. Though it would be good if he could refer to her as more than just 'that brown pegasus mare'. The stallion took another from the box and planted it in the ground. Another one bites the dust. 


Wait? What? She wanted to go out and get food. Well why wasn't she doing that? Oh. With him? Right. Well, he had to admit that some part of him wanted a break. He'd been sorting the fireworks for an hour now and it was going to take a while longer to get the whole display set up. He'd made some good progress, would it be ok to take a short break? The stallion glanced up at the mare. There was definitely something off with her, and Lightout sort of wanted her to just go away and leave him to it. Still, she was being polite and hadn't done anything bad yet. Maybe she was just a regular mare? Besides, he was actually a little hungry.


Lightout sighed, "Well I really should get this done. But well, I sort of want a break. Been at it for an hour or more, and I am a little hungry." The fireworks would be fine here right? He stepped away from his work and decided he'd earned a quick break. As she pointed out, it was hearts and hooves day and Lightout wasn't totally against having a good time. "Alright, well. I guess we could get something to eat." Maybe she would prove to be an interesting sort...

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