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Scales and Comics. (Attn: Steeleagle) [Open]

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Canterlot; home to the mystical princesses of the west, well... two of them. Rin had long heard stories of the great princesses who held sway over the celestial bodies in the sky, bringing about the day and night. She'd heard of that event where strange bug ponies sneakily invaded a wedding and managed to beat one of the most feared monarch's in the land by absorbing love from a stallion she couldn't quite remember the name of... Well it probably wasn't all that important. 

 

While tales of the trials and tribulations of royalty might interest some ryuma like herself... Not all ryuma were quite like this one. This mare had made a long and arduous journey to the west for many reasons. While her primary reason was to find someone to offer her services to she had other goals and wishes that brought her to this (usually) bright and cheery country. Now, one of those goals stood directly before her. Rin's exuberant smile stretched from ear to ear as she let her eyes roam over the sign of the large building in front of her; Heroes and Ogres. THE biggest and best gaming and comics shop in all of Equestria! If her heart suddenly gave out from the immense thumping in her chest, she could pass onto the next world happy with the knowledge she'd made it to the front door. 

 

As soon as she stepped forward through the front door, her eyes grew wide as saucers and her jaw practically hit the ground. Here eyes zeroed in on a certain comic on the display case, "By the dragons..." The mare broke out into a gallop over to the glass sales-case. Her muzzle almost flattened against the glass as she stared in Disbelief, "Mister, Mister! Is that a real copy of the first issue of Jennet Hex?!" The mare blinked as she noticed she'd king of wedged herself between two other ponies at the desk, reflexively she stepped back. "Gomenas-- Ah I mean, I'm sorry." in her excitement she'd managed to poke one of them with her prosthetic wing and then sat down on her haunches looking up at the stallion behind the desk, her visage still plastered in that look of pure fanatical glee as she kept finding herself unable to keep her eyes from drifting right back down the book for a few seconds.

 

Spoiler

Stallion behind the counter is steel's Gaffer. Feel free to drop someone in! 

 

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Manehattan might be called a city of exiles; ponies and others who, if not forcibly ejected from their homeland, were at least not as welcome as they felt they should be.  And yet, could never adjust to the new surroundings, having less fascination with the local culture than, say, Rin.  They clung to small circles of friends, stayed in blocks and enclaves of their kind, and only slowly did the osmosis of city life absorb them.

 

But for one Might Batsman, not even this limited comfort was available to him.  As a colt, he'd been sent away to boarding school here, away from any cricket teams.  Parental reasoning was that his grades had dropped dangerously low because of all the attention and effort he was putting into the sport rather than academics.  His counter-argument was that Cricket was his Special Talent, and that it was jolly well more important that he train to be a professional in that than wrap his head around useless things like trigonometry.  Parental counter-counter-argument was that no professional cricket player ever failed school, and Might wasn't going to be the first.  Might's rebuttal would have been that no professional cricket player could afford to lose a season of training for any reason, but the conversation had ended by fiat before then.

He'd been packed off to St. Mareson's in a foul and despondent mood, relieved only by meeting his first friend in the city, one Wordsworth Psmith.  A fellow exile, together they had managed to make a good time of it, with Might even finding a scratch team to play with.  Unfortunately, Psmith had graduated earlier than Might had, once again due to grades.  Stuck back a semester, and now without his friend, the earth pony was back in his despondency, wandering the streets after taking what he hoped was actually his final final.  It would be a close-run thing.

He'd come into the shop with no particular aim, save perhaps picking up a comic book or two.  They were something of a relief after textbooks.  He didn't expect to be jabbed in the rear by a metal wing, and in his current mood... he didn't take it exactly well.  "Oy!  Watch where you're goin' with that blasted thing!"  He yelled, rubbing his flank, before seeing that the offender was actually a mare.  He'd been raised by his mother not to talk that way to mares... even to mares with dragon scales and iron wings.  "Uh, er... sorry.  But that jolly well hurt!"

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Gaffer was happy to have his job, but there were occasions where the busywork could be overwhelming. As the owner and only full time employee of Equestria's largest comic and gaming store- sure there were larger comic stores and larger gaming stores, but not combined!- it fell to him to do all the ordering. For games it was easy enough. He had the inside line on the biggest games and knew the market exceptionally well, and knew what he wanted to do months before he needed to make the final decision. He could adjust and change but found that he knew it all very well and rarely had to make a huge leap.

 

Comics were different because you never knew what was going to catch fire and what wasn't, and what would fail when it had no reason to fail. It didn't hurt that competition between the big publishing houses could be fierce, with competing events and incentives to both customers and retailers. He dealt with reps from both companies who tried to get him to order less of the other for deals on their stuff. Technically illegal so such calls would cease- for a while. The smaller companies had banded together under their own distribution deal. 

 

The result was that on ordering ays, he had charts and charts of data behind the counter as he wrote up his orders for two months from now. If somepony had been written down for something, it was easy enough. The rest was guesswork, and guess what stood in the way of his guesswork work? Customers. He didn't mind stopping for them! It was a busy day as usual and he went about it as normal, with the order in the back of is head. He had helped a customer find some back issues of Captain Equestria volume three and was about to ring him up when a new pony entered the arena.

 

BY enter he meant push aside customers to look at the notable back issues he cycled up front. There were many expensive or notable issues of comics he had. Most of them were kept under lock and key in the basement, but every week he took a few dozen and displayed them in the store in secure areas. Ponies could buy them, but they were mostly here to let them know that Gaffer could get just about anything.  In this case, the mare looked rather excitedly at the Hex comic, first issue, first edition. Not one of the biggest comics ever but everything had its start. She realized what she had done and pulled back, leaving Gaffer with a smile. "Thank you and have a great day," he said to the customer who got his stuff and left. A pregnant pause.

 

"So, I am guessing she is one of your favorites?" He asked, making sure that the subject was changed quickly. He didn't want the two- her and the colt she had hit along with the customer- to come to blows. Yet.

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The ryuma retracted her wing and coughed, "I apologize. I let my excitemen--" The mare was taken a back by the strange stallion's own apology. It wasn't often you ran into a pony who took being poked by a metal wing as well as he did... well, at least not in Rin's experience. The Mare looked over him, "No need for you to apologize! It was my fault. My wing didn't prick you anywhere did it?" 

 

Rin's face practically lit up in her excitement at Gaffer's question, "She's probably at the top of the list! I think the next one down Bat lashes! Y'know the bat pony gambler who used her silver tongue to out-think the crooks she always managed beat in all of those crazy gambling games! Oh that one where she managed to beat out that griffin in that game where made a gamble to see who would break the surface tension of a glass of cider by dropping coins into it! So. Cool!" The more the traveler from the east spoke the further she rose up in to the air, her wings fueled by her excitement. Then, she blinked and realized that she was now a few feet above the ponies she was trying to socialize with and carefully landed again with an awkward laugh. 

 

"Er, Anyway! How much does a copy of that issue go for..." the mare's voiced trailed off a moment while she scanned over the stallion's body in search of a nametag, "Um..." Thankfully she did manage to find one, "Gaffer-san!" 

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There was never any real danger of Might and Rin coming to blows.  It would take more than a simple poke to provoke the young stallion to anything like a violent response.  He'd take at least three metallic jabs to the flank before retaliating in kind, more if he were certain that they were accidental.  "Eh, don't bunch up over it.  I'm rather surprised I can still feel anything back there, after all the time the headmaster forced me to sit over the bloody exam papers."  The brown pony huffed in frustration, blowing a strand of yellow mane out of his eyes.

Still, it wouldn't do to dwell on such things.  Remembering his manners once more, he stuck out a hoof.  "I'm Might Batsman.  And you?"  For the first time, he stopped to take a really good look at the exotic figure before him, and his eyes grew wide.  And a little bit protuberant.  She was half-pegasus, half-dragon, with a little bit of robot mixed in!  Good grief, why was she browsing comics?  She should be starring in them!

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It was always interesting to see what heroes thrived in far away lands. Both heroes this Ryuma seemed invested in had, at best, relatively minor success in Equestria proper. They weren't big stars. They weren't disliked by any large segment of the readership, but they were definite C tiers at most. Jennet Hex was a superheroine from a wild west frontier section of the EC universe, a mix of old west, supernatural, and even some time travel shenanigans. She was fine and all, but most ponies preferred their heroes a bit more modern and with a better rogue's gallery. Same could be said for Bat Lashes- there was a nice following for a character like that, but he ordered less than ten issues of that particular comic per month for a reason.

 

Either way, nice to see the young ponies into comics. "I'm glad you like her, little missy. As for that particular issue, it goes for a fine twenty bits- near mint condition, by the way," he said, levitating it onto the counter but keeping it in its cover. No need to remove that and reduce value even further. "You can find newer issues of Jennet and Bat Lash over with the EC books, if you're interested in their more current series, and we have some trade paperbacks if you're interested in collections of stories. It is my pleasure to help, Miss...?" He asked, wanting to return name with name. As he waited, he turned to the colt. "Is there anything I could help you find?"

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Rin chuckles slightly at the stallion's response, "Sounds like your school was almost as harsh with punishments as mine was." She looked at he offered hoof and bowed a moment before taking it her own, cloven variation. "Shiori Rin, Doozo yorushiku! I'm sorry, your words are.... It's nice to meet you." Once the hoof fell she tilted her head a bit at his name, "Batsman? Not Batsmare? That's a curious name... Erm, No offense, Maito-san."

 

Rin's smiled went wider than ever and she began digging around in her bags. The excitable dragonpony's actions rustled her kimono a bit, the fabric ruslting a moment to reveal her cutie mark... some sorta of four pointed petal flower with smoky wisps coming off it. Maybe it was her fate to be a EEEEEVILL Florist... or maybe it meant something else. Who knows? Finally she fished several bits from her bags; the amount the stallion requested for the first issue!

 

"My Name is Rin! And it's nice to meet you, Gaffa-sama. I wish I could buy more... but I need to pay for my lodgings and food... and all that stuff tomorrow too. I'd love to take a look around your store though!"

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"Oh, er, I wouldn't know about that."  Might shrugged, sheepishly.  He wasn't the sort that prized prominence off of the cricket field; and to swallow harsh punishment was almost a badge of honor amongst colts.  "I mean, I heard the old school used to take a willow switch to us back in the day; it doesn't do rot like that anymore.  Though I've seen one or two headmasters who might, if you stuck on side too much."  That last bit of trottingham slang referred to what others would call 'acting out,' 'showing off,' or 'talking back.'  A lot of his hometown's famous reserve might be explained by the equivalence assigned to all those actions.

 

Rin's last question had to make him chuckle, though.  "Well, it'd be pretty jolly silly to call me Batsmare, don't you know."  And indeed, no one could mistake Might for a mare.  The older colt was built like a typical country earth pony, which made him look strangely out of place in a city.  Truth be told, Canterlot wasn't the first place he'd pick to go on school vacation, but he wanted to delay coming back to his parents as long as possible, which meant lingering on the way...

 

Speaking of lingering, the shop owner seemed to want to know what he wanted.  Startled a bit, and unsure, he shrugged and said, "Um, if you have tradebound issues of what she was talking about? I'd like to check them out."

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Gaffer was always ready to make a sale, and Rin had the bits that made his bottom line sing sweet songs of surrender. She gave him twenty bits and he used his magic to retrieve the book and carefully lay it in a bag, then put it on the table for her. He didn't want to crease it. There were two types of customer that he had to service. The first was a collector who wanted pristine copies with no flaws and either had read the issue before or was simply more interested in the collecting aspect of the hobby. The second were readers, who didn't care at all about the collecting aspect and just wanted the stories. You had enough people who were a mix, but those two categories covered the majority of opinions. "Here you go! A rare copy of her very first issue, just for you. Feel free to look around the store- if you ave any questions I'd be pleased to answer them!" He replied, happy she was having fun. Back to the colt.

 

A rather well-built one at that. Reminded Gaffer- older target mind you, nopony near this young even when he was a colt- of his last coltfriend. He had been a bit of a goof, but Gaffer doubted anypony could have done the feats of strength he could! But there were many types of ponies out there, and it wasn't that unusual to see a well built pony in the city. It wasn't what made the city famous or what stood as their model but you could find them just about anywhere outside of the high society areas. They tended to be workers- and in a city, you never saw but a fraction of those at work. "Oh sure! They're all over there!" he said with a wave of the hoof towards three giant bookcases, which he illuminated for better view. "Second bookcase for her! Third row, six or seventh will be volume three. Volume one is out of srtock but I can order it, and volume two is out of print until early next year."

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Rin thought for a moment. It kinda would be a bit weird to call him 'batsmare' with him being a stallion and all but she'd never heard of a 'man' before. Thoughts darted about in head as she tried to picture something that could accurately carry such a name... and came up with nothing. "Sudesu ka, sodesu ka." A blush crept over Rin's face as she caught herself staring at this pony's impressive build, "Where do you come from again? You are very well spoken."

 

The mare's eyes went wide at the salespony's movements. A subdued smile grew into a grin as the book was laid on the counter and bagged carefully in plastic. A swiped of the hoof and the comic was at her chest, being held carefully so as not to damage it. The Eastern visitor flew up a few feet and twirled once in the air while speaking aloud in her native tongue, "Kore wa, ima made ni nai saiko no hidesu!" 

 

Rin coughed and gently descended again, "I mean, Thank you very much, sir!  Oh um... do you have an issues of the Esquestrian? I heard her latest issue was opening up a really interesting story arc!"

 

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"Um..."  Might wasn't sure if he wanted to start the story in the middle, but he wasn't going to be staying in the city long enough to wait for any orders or reprints.  And hey, they were just comic books; it wasn't as if the big story was all that important, right?  "Right-o then, jolly good.  I think I'll probably pick the one you've got up."  He nodded at Gaffer.  "Thanks awfully, I've needed bucking up after the past few months I've had."

 

Back to Rin, Might gave her something of a nervous smile.  The earth pony couldn't pretend that he understood any of the foreign words that came out of her mouth, and besides which, he still was at the age when pretty mares kept him feeling off-guard.  "Oh, I'm from Trottingham, originally.  I'd guess you're from further out, what?"  While the longma was busy making her purchase, the colt nipped back to pick up the trade issue from the shelves, bringing it the counter.  Bringing out a small coin bag, he carefully counted out all the bits he had to spare.  Phew, just enough!

 

"Er, this might sound like an odd question," Might Batsman began as the shopkeep turned towards him for the transaction.  "But my friend Psmith wouldn't happen to have stopped by this shop?  Skinnier unicorn, about my age, lavender coat, speech bubble cutie mark, jaws as much as all get out?  Dunno if this is his sort of place, but he gets into all sorts of odd company.  Takes pride in it, I think."

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He spoke very little of her language, but he had read enough through the years to follow what she said. It was always an honor to serve his customers and it was all worth it whe you saw how happy some of them got! She was thrilled and it was awesome to see the younger ponies as excited about comics as he was when he was younger. It was easy to get cynical as somepony who had been reading for a very long time, but watching the younger generation get excited told him he had been right all along. On to the subject of The Equestrian: Intensely popular in Equestria, not popular in the slightest outside of it. A strange request to hear from a transplant, but who was he to deny the good, flank-kicking fun of The Equestrian? "The answer is yes! And no. But mostly yes!" He laughed, "the story arc actually started in the previous issue. This latest issue is more of a recap that is explaining the shocking revelation at the end of the issue," he levitated both issues to her. "I'd definitely read one before the other!"

 

Speaking of one before the other, his other guest wondered if he had seen another friend of his. Hmm, well, the description wasn't- it wasn't bad, but that could fit a few dozen ponies. Oh there- the cutie mark. Hmm. Hmm. Gaffer's eyes narrowed...Oh! "I think so! I could be wrong- is he a fan of Oubliettes and Ogres, bychance? I think a beastiary to him just the other day," he said, levitating both volumes into a bag and accepting the bits, "and he...yeah, he talks a lot. A lot-lot. Now that I think of it, I've seen him at least two other times. Well-cut clothing style, still in school...ringing a bell, yep," he nodded, then finished the transaction. "You have fun reading those volumes. Luckily, volume one is really just the origin story that we all know and the second volume..." he shrugged, "Eh. In my opinion, you aren't missing much. Of course I've read it all a thousand times while helping out the folks create O&O so I might be biased. Speaking of, do either of you play?"

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