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[A Cosmic Coincidence] The First Wave


Aisede
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Aisede

"Hmph!" She could still regain her honor, Kara thought as she followed along, idly observing her surroundings.

 

"So, what's your favorite color?" She asked about a nanosecond after she was done being mad, reverting to her usual bubbly self as she pranced over to Reflection's side, nudging her with a grin. "Betcha can't guess what mine is ~"

 

Cubbage

"My favorite color... Hm... I'd probably say blue. Like the sky!" she thought a moment more before answering Kara's. "Is it gold, like treasure?"

 

Aisede

"Nope!" She chriped, giggling with mirth. Although gold was a nice color, it wasn't her fav-or-iiite ~ "try again!"

 

Cubbage

"Hm... I've got nothing. What's your favorite color?"

 

Aisede

"GREEN!" she shouted loud enough to wake everything within a mile radius. If she were bubbly before, she was a pot about to boil over with laughter now.

 

"Green like luck! Clovers. A pony has to have a little luck to make it in an adventure, right?" She pointed the question as her travelling companion, eager to hear her opinion.

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Reflection laughed. She seemed to be relaxing a bit as they departed from the center of what she was certain was armageddon. "I suppose you're right. I know we're going to need plenty ourselves..."

 

By the end of the day, their hooves were sore, but they had finally wandered their way into a small town, which looked to be more of an outpost for travelers than an actual town. There was a small inn, a tavern, a general store and stable, and one or two houses, but for the most part, that was it. "Well, I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I have the bits for cider before bed. Unless we want to try our luck at a gambling table, I say we find a room and turn in for the night. What do you think?"

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And therein lied her first mistake: she issued a challenge.

 

The stars practically exploded in her eyes at the very prospect of testing their luck against the very best, bouncing up into her face with a nigh-manic grin etched across her muzzle. "YES! We should totally do that, then strike it RICH!" She could see it now, the two fillies swimming in bits. Laying a hoof on her shoulder, she toned it down a bit, but still retained her enthusiastic energy. "With your wits and my luck, there's no way we can lose!"

 

Rather unsurprisingly, Karakusa still had plenty of energy to spare. She'd been travelling the road far longer than Reflection had, and was accustomed to the aches and pains that come with it. Unlike her companion, it seemed. 

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Reflection seemed hesitant. "I don't know, Kara..." she started, "I don't have a ton of bits left, and even if I did, they're not from this world. They're Equestrian bits. I was counting on the barkeep in Iron Town to not look too closely at them before we left, but I'm sure ponies at a gambling table will be much more perceptive. Unless you have bits of your own to spare, I think it'd be safer to just lay low..."

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After a brief rifle though her saddlebags, Karakusa produced 3 silver coins, setting them down between the two fillies and looking down at them with this small sort of half-frown.

 

"... It's enough, right?" She asked without looking at her new friend. It probably wasn't. 

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"Hm..." the other filly thought aloud. "Maybe it will be! At least for 24 hours!" Her horn glowed, and an aura appeared around the coins. After a moment, their shapes blurred, and they divided like cells into six. "There! Now we have six silver bits! Half of them will disappear tomorrow, though, so we'll have to get back on the road pretty quickly."

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Kara gasped, looking wide-eye'd at the unicorn. Although whether she was scandalized or amazed was up for debate. "That's such a rogue move, Reflection! A true hero doesn't cheat good ponies out of bits for personal gain...'

 

"... But maybe just this one. We can pay them back when we get rich." So, scooping up the duplicated bits, she made her way over to one of the taverns- the one with the most raucous cheering, at least.

 

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Reflection was actually a little surprised at Karakusa's desire to be honest. She had taken her for the kind of pony who would do anything to get in an extra bit. She supposed, however, that Kara was still a filly, however, and probably still carried with her the innocence of youth.

 

As they entered the tavern, they found many of the same ponies who had fled Iron town, presumably stopping here either on their way to larger settlements or to try to take up a new life now that their home had succumbed to the forces of chaos. Reflection only hoped this village wouldn't soon fall to the same fate...

 

Their immediate greeting was from the barkeep, who shouted, "Turn your flanks around, fillies! This is a place for stallions and mares! We don't serve hard cider to foals!" Reflection sighed. Being reminded of her juvenile body was not only annoying, at times it could be downright depressing to remember that she had years to gain back before anyone would treat her like an adult again.

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Karakusa was the very definition of impenetrable in that moment, smirking with her head held high as she marched into the establishment. After getting rained on by sodapop, she wasn't exactly the image of orderly, but she sure put on an air of pride- if not in her appearance, then in her attitude.

 

"I've already tried that and it was nasty, thank you ~" she said, aiming the words at the stallion who dared to try and turn away two hard working ponies simply because they were foals. Hopping up onto an empty barstool, she leaned her forelegs against the edge of the counter and beckoned Reflection over with a wave. "C'mon, silly filly! These bits aren't going to make themselves!"

 

Then, with all the fierceness of a twelve-year-old, she turned a vicious grin on the older pony. "We're here to gamble!"

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The barkeep did not look to be in a very patient mood. "Not at any of my tables, you aren't. You look barely old enough for cutie marks, now skedaddle!" At a table behind them, however, another stallion spoke up. "Aww, c'mon Marukas! Let 'em have their fun! They can't learn gamblin's bad if they don' ever try it!" 

 

The two stallions argued a bit. It was clear the barkeep was firm in his stance, and that the other stallion was seeking some kind of amusement by advocating for the fillies.

 

"A tavern isn't a place for fillies!"

 

"It ain't like we're givin' 'em hard cider or takin' 'em upstairs! Relax! They just wanna play some cards! Heck, I'll let 'em use some of my bits if it makes ya feel better!"

 

Finally, the bartender caved, but only on the condition that the two fillies keep their own bits to themselves, and that any they won stayed with them. He also refused to serve anything harder than water to the table where they sat until after they left. "And I'm keeping my eye on you, Dartmouth. You make one backwards comment while those two are over there, and you'll never set hoof in this tavern again! Y'hear?" The other stallion agreed, keeping his cool and escorting the fillies over to his table.

 

"Now, you foals ever play blackjack?" he asked as he sat them down. Several other stallions and one mare laughed a bit as the two joined their table.

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Ponies sure do fight a lot, but hey, they got a table! Kara bounced in her seat as watched the exchange, then perked up when the stallion- Dartmouth- addressed them directly. "Nope!" She cheerily replied. "But I've seen ponies play it before! It's about numbers, right?" Numbers numbers numbers. One, two, three, four- four was her favorite number! It was the number of leaves on a four-leafed clover.

 

She didn't really see how gambling could be bad. Lots of ponies did it, and they seemed to have a blast with it! She expected this game to go well too, because even if she lost, it was an adventure on its own.

 

"I'm Kara, by the way. Karakusa the Adventurer! And this is Reflection. She can be really grumpy." She held a hoof up to her mouth and whispered that last part conspiratorially, even though she wasn't nearly quiet enough to prevent anyone with ears from hearing. 

 

 

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"Sure is, kid! The number 21, to be specific." He proceeded to explain the intricacies of the game to the two fillies, and by the time he was done, even Reflection looked at least mildly interested. "I'll letcha play a few rounds free, and if ya haven't gotten anything by then, I'll lend ya a few bits to getcha started," he said, eyeing the barkeep. He shook their hands as Kara introduced the two of them, chuckling a bit at her self-title and description of Reflection, who muttered something at the comment about her attitude. 

 

Dartmouth dealt the cards out, and the other ponies placed their bits in the center. He then went around the table, asking who was going to hit and who was going to stay (everypony started with a hit) until he got to the two fillies. "What'll it be, foals?" he asked. Reflection thought for a moment, possibly calculating odds, and then decided for a hit. "And for the adventurer?" he asked.

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"Hit me!" She shouted, perhaps the strangest thing an adventurer who faced constant peril could say. But she wasn't asking to get slapped around by a monster, she wanted the winning card! Or the card that would let her win. 

 

She was pretty confident about her chances since all she had to do was not go over 21. 

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Dartmouth chuckled once again at her enthusiasm, but proceeded to deal her another card.

On the second time around, one of the other ponies busted, but the others managed to stay below the critical number, with one older gentlecolt even landing on a perfect 20. With a four and a seven, Reflection asked for a hit. A six. Now it was once again Kara's turn.

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Kara carefully studied the table, eyeing the guy who lost, and the one who was probably going to win. It seemed this was a good time to hold out and wait to see what happens. She hated waiting, but she also really wanted to see where this game lead to. "Hold!"

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"Playin' it safe, eh little filly?" Dartmouth responded. "Probably a good call." He flipped over a card for himself. An ace, which, when he played it with a value of one, gave him a perfect 21. "Well well well, looks like a perfect score for me! Hope you ponies can tie it up as neatly as me, or that's another win for ol' Dartmouth." He smirked, satisfied with his hand, and then went around the table again. Reflection asked for another, hit figuring there was nothing to lose, and was right. Her card was a six, causing her to bust. Kara's turn once again. 

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She'd already drawn an 8, a 7, and a 2. She got the feeling that probably meant she should stop, but she as an adventurous soul and scoffed in the face of danger! (The danger of losing, at least.) "Hit me!" She cheered, and wound up with another 2 by sheer chance.

 

She didn't feel like getting hit anymore after that, and simply observed the table with those wide, wonder struck eyes of hers. Playing games was fun, especially when it got her heart pumping like this. The chance that she could fail by sheer luck of the draw. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

"Well done, little fillies! Unfortunately, looks like Dartmouth takes all again. So now that you're familiar, you fillies wanna put a little skin in the game? Put some bits on the table?" he asked smoothly as he gathered the bets and cards from each player, shuffling as he waited for their response.

 

"The bartender said we're not allowed to play with our own bits," Reflection chimed in. Dartmouth looked a little disappointed by this remark, clearly having hoped the two fillies would have forgotten that by now.

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It would seem Kara, coincadentally, omitted that small fact from memory, excitedly withdrawing the only three morsels of currency they possessed and slapping them down on the table.

 

"I do! It's all or nothin', right 'Flection?" She grinned emphatically at her friend, bouncing in her seat. If they lost this round, they lost everything. But if they won, they get DOUBLE what they had before! Then she can get some food, and a drink that's not horribly bitter and unusually hit. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Upon seeing their only bits hit the table, Reflection looked at Kara with a panicked expression. "Karakusa, the bartender said --" but she was cut off by Dartmouth as he swiped the bits up and put them into the pile with the other ponies' bits.

 

"Come now, little filly! Your friend here has the spirit! All or nothin'! Good motto to live by!" A couple of the other stallions chuckled at his remark, and one of them looked nervously over at the bar, where Marukas appeared to be occupied for the moment with another customer. Dartmouth dealt the cards, and Reflection looked rather sour, especially after looking at hers. The dealer then began going around the circle, dealing where requested until he got to Karakusa.

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Ignorant  of the monetary perils she just put her and her friend in, she practically vibrated in her seat, swiping up her cards with a grin that absolutely did not mask any of her excitement.

 

A 7 of Hearts and a 6 of... Shovels? Upsidedown Heart? She knew it had something to do with gardening. So that added up to a whopping 13 right off the bat! The only way she could lose is if she got an 8 or above, so...

 

"Hit me!" She simply won't lose, as easy as that! No way her luck is so bad she'd draw the wrong cards. For good measure, she elbowed her friend with a wink. "Hey, 'Flection! Don't look so down. Have some fun!"

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How could Reflection have fun when they were gambling with the only bits they had?? She just had to pray that she was dealt a good hand.

 

Ten of hearts and three of spades. Not bad... anything below and 8 would be perfect. As Dartmouth went around the table again, she considered her next move. Another pony already had 19, so it was just a matter of getting closer than that without busting. She took a chance. "Hit me," she said, apprehension audible in her voice. Dartmouth smirked as he passed her her card. She could barely look. She flipped it over slowly, just enough to see the number....

 

A miracle! It was an 8 of diamonds! She let out an excited squeal that turned a few heads in the tavern, and immediately calmed down, embarrassed. They were keeping their bits!

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Kara, meanwhile, shared in her joy, although she didn't cheat or anything and look at her cards (too much.) Her hand was a bust, but that was okay. She had fun, and that's all that mattered!

 

Well, that and keeping their bits. Keeping their bits mattered quite a lot, and it sounded like they were going to get even more bits! 

 

"Yay!" She cheered, beaming at 'Flection. "Did we win!?" 

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Reflection smirked at Dartmouth and then at Karakusa. "We certainly did!" Then she whispered, "Now let's quit while we're ahead. A cardshark like him is going to try to clean us out!" She scooped the bits into Kara's bag and rose from the table. "Thanks for letting us play, but I think it's time we head out! Got a long way to travel tomorrow, and we fillies need our sleep!" She turned, a smug look on her face, and began walking towards the exit.

 

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"Um... 'Flection?" Kara raised a hoof as the filly began to make her exit, a single brow inquisitively raised. "Isn't this where the beds are? It is a tavern." Silly pony, she must have gotten so caught up in all the excitement that she forgot where she was. But that was okay, Karakusa was there to correct her path!

 

Smiling wide, she trotted over to Reflection's side, threw a foreleg over her withers, and turned her around, guiding her towards the nice pony that told them not to gamble their bits right before they gambled their bits. And won!

 

Oh wait, will he be more mad or less mad when he realizes they broke his rules but came out with more money? More silver . Shiny... Precious... Oh they have to get back on the road soon so they can grab them some treasure and LOOT

 

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