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If I could put Time in a Bottle... (ATTN: Aisede)


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Ostensibly, Mayor Rich was walking in the Gardens behind the Town Hall to inspect the sues of Ponyville's horticulture fund.  You never knew, with plants.  At least, Spoiled Rich didn't know much; not all earth ponies were gardeners.  But she knew an aesthetically pleasing flowerbed when she saw one, and there wasn't much to complain about here.

But other things... well.  She was a mare that had never lacked for complaints, regardless of whether anypony else thought that she ought to or not.  But with work beginning to separate her from her family, the increasingly cool reception she got at the dinner table was beginning to wear on her.  Which made her work late.  Which meant less time to repair relationships.  And so it went.
She sighed, bringing out a compact to touch herself up.  Really, this stressful situation might well have deteriorated her looks ever further had that alchemist not come to down with those wonderful bottles of hers.  An anti-aging treatment that wasn't a scam?  Why, she'd license her likeness, if Rose thought her face would help sell product.

 

That was one of the things she hoped to discuss with her today.  And it was this discussion that was the real reason for her to take a lunchbreak outside...

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It wasn't often that Rose found herself with leisure time, despite her lack of much legitimate business. Oftentimes she'd simply appear, too excited or too anxious to approach the victims of her attention with anything less than maximum efficiency. Spoiled Rich was different, though.

 

While Rose could sense there was something less overtly... Harmonic about the mare, Spoiled felt more grounded. More practical and pragmatic. 

 

Equestria as a whole sometimes felt like a dream, and she'd wake up one day to realize she was still in Andalusia, pursuing a singular mindless goal until the end of time. The ponies here were nice- if a bit quirky- and their society was ruled over by benevolent immortals, but some ponies didn't quite fit the theme. Ponies that, to her, felt normal.

 

So it was that Rose Compass arrived in the gardens without saddlebags filled with supplies or some sort of agenda. She was just spending time with a close acquaintance and, hopefully soon, a new friend.

 

"Good afternoon, Miss Rich," the seafoam mare greeted with a cordial smile. She gave her a once-over, and her smile grew just a bit. "I see you're in good health."

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Spoiled blink, giving a slight, but genuine smile at the changeling.  Honestly, the Mayor shared quite a few preconceptions on 'normalcy' with Rose, and felt that quite a few of her fellow citizens had a near-terminal case of naivete.  Rose, though outwardly as peppy as all the rest, didn't grate on her as much as the others.  She understood, Spoiled felt.

"Good afternoon!  I'm doing splendidly in terms of health, in no small part thanks to you."  She walked up alongside her, falling into an easy pace.  "How did the meeting with Prince Blueblood go?  I hope you were able to find some way of helping that sphinx of his."

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"Oh yes. Windwright and I are working on the specifics, and we may bring Bevel Gear in for her personal experience. Alchemy is good at change, but it's usually a temperary thing. True transformation takes a little more..." She bobbed her head to the side, waving a hoof in a so-so gesture. "Magic."

 

Rose chuckled, then. "I must apologize for the misunderstanding. Somehow I came to the conclusion that you wished to become a sphinx, before Blueblood cured me of that notion."

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"Ah, transformation?  Yes, I suppose that would make more sense; not expert in magic or alchemy."  She was glad, however, that things were working out.  She counted Niil as a friend, a dear friend who understood and appreciated her.  More than some ponies she could name.  "And, no, I didn't express any desire to be other than what I am... I thought at the time that it would prove too insuperable a barrier between me and my family, but now...."  She waved her hoof in a similar manner to that which Rose had just done, sighing heavily herself.  She was in the mood in which middle-aged mares think fairly lightly of taken vows, and strongly weigh other possibilities and adventures.

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"But now...?" Rose slowed down, giving her full attention to the mare now. "I won't pretend to be a psychiatrist, but I do have a fair amount of experience with creatures. Tell me what's bothering you."

 

She hoped she wasn't overstepping any unspoken boundaries. It was still pretty hit or miss with most ponies- in her own opinion- but she did genuinely care about those that surrounded her. They were, after all, whom she strived to better- in health of body as well as mind. 

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Spoiled sighed deeply, looking from side to side before dropping her voice.  "Can I trust your discretion?"  She asked, clearly wanting to speak, but cautious about the ramifications of loose lips.  "I would appreciate a sympathetic ear, but in my experience, a mare in my position risks getting a hundred unsympathetic ears by accident the moment she decides to open up.  The press was not kind to me during the election, and if they got notice of this, the whole town would never hear the end of it."

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"What was that strange saying again? Cross my heart and hope to die? No, fly." Rose tried to pantamime the motions, but gave up halfway. "Trust me, Miss Spoiled, your secret is safe with me. As of late, I've become the bearer of a lot of secrets, actually."

 

She smiled, Hou and 'Frostbite' coming to mind. 

 

"I'm not very involved in the local politics anyway. They rarely appreciate the values of science and medicine." Although, she supposed, Spoiled was a sort of politician.

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Assured of Rose's discretion, Spoiled took no offense at her remark on Politics.  She wasn't exactly wrong; science and medicine were at best tools and at worst weapons used by the political class for their purposes.  Spoiled put no intrinsic value in them herself, either, but she could appreciate those who did.  Rose was a very valuable changeling to know.

"Well,"  The Mayor began, leading off into a more secluded area of the park.  "Things have not been good in Rich Manor.  For a while now, actually.  I am a mare who put in much effort to secure my daughter's future, and the position of our family as a whole, but lately...."  She sighed again, more wistfully, and with a tinge of regret.  "Lately, it has been made clear to me that my ambitions and hers have diverged, sharply, without me having been aware of it.  I... suppose I could have handled the revelation better.  Words were had, and... we've never really been so close since."  It hurt to admit.  She'd never thought of herself as a bad mother, quite the opposite!  Everything she'd done, from making sure Diamond Tiara kept the right company, to schooling her attitude, to making sure that every opportunity was taken to leverage her married riches into social status for all of them... all for her.  Except, not really.   It was she who desired status and power, but knew that the lifetime of one pony would not be enough to attain what she felt she deserved.  She'd made it a generational project, but Diamond had bailed on it for the sake of her friends...

And now the peak of what she could expect to be was a small-town mayor.  And that was just the start of it.  "Filthy, too, has been growing distant.  He always used to be so doting, I rather got used to his attentions, but now... at first I thought it was because I was losing my looks, but that couldn't be it, because, well, obviously."  She gestured, with some justified arrogance, at her well-preserved visage and figure.  "I think it might be that he feels obligated to take Diamond's side against me.  He's perfectly content to be a bourgeois burgher, and sometimes I feel that he'd rather keep his business relations intact than his marriage these days!"

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Rose listened attentively, and without interruption. A veil of silence surrounded their little pocket of privacy with a flicker of her horn, but they could still hear each other, of course.

 

"Ah, ambitions. They truly can get away from us." She sighed, ears flicking back as she looked off into the distance. "I, too, suffered for a lack of restraint. Let it become the only thing that mattered, and neglected my family."

 

A hoarse, humorless laugh escaped her and she hook her head. "I think my liuetenant treated them better than I did, before she up and left..."

 

She bit her lip, then looked over at Spoiled. 

"Have you tried seeing  things from Diamond's perspective? Sympathizing with her goals?"

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A lack of restraint... was that truly a parallel to Spoiled situation?

*It's not that I haven't been patient, generational projects of course require time.  And as for how high I've reached, well!  I hardly think it's too much to ask that one's family be counted as peers with the Nobility, especially not when that dressmaker Rarity can hobnob with the good and great these days!*

 

No, it was in no way overreach that was her problem, she was sure.  As for ignoring her family, pish!  And tosh, as they said in Trottingham!  Her family was her ambition, and now they were actively failing her!  "If Diamond had shown any sign of long-term thinking or told me of any goals on a grand scale, I might have.  Unfortunately, her interests seem largely to have devolved into 'having a good time with her friends'."  She raised her hooves in air quotes as she sat beside Rose.  "It is a hard thing for a mare, who has less of a future herself each day, to see her legacy being so wasted, cut off at the first."  She huffed, pawing the ground in frustration.

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"Ah," Rose tittered. "More of this 'friendship' stuff Twilight has been telling me all about. The sort of friendship that evidently requires an academic course, and the founding of an entire school."

 

She shook her head, understanding dawning in her eyes.

 

"I'm so sorry to hear that, Miss Rich. So much potential..." She sighed, then reached out a hoof to settle on her shoulder. "But your legacy does not have to end with them. You still have many years ahead of you, my friend, and creatures who may yet support you and your goals... Asides from me, of course," she added with a smirk. 

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Oh, it was such a relief to find someone, anyone else that shared her sympathies with just how absurd this whole "Academy of the Magic of Friendship" was.  It had become unbearable, and not just because the Royal Presence in Ponyville rather eclipsed any projects of the local elite.  It was as if Princess Twilight had no sense of realpolitik, naively relying on personal affection to bail her out of any political or military difficulty she'd encounter over the course of her reign!

 

The most disgusting thing, of course, being the fact that it worked so well so far.  "And she's not even using it curry any kind of favors with anypony that matters."  Heaving a huge sigh, Spoiled shook her head, as if to shake off all consideration of the question.  "Well, I suppose I do have you to thank for having more years than I thought I would.  And I have found myself with more like-minded... supporters lately."  She had almost said 'friends', but that would have been an unprincipled surrender to a rival.

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Rose retracted her hoof with a private laugh. Good to know I've made a new friend

 

"I do believe the actual politics will fall down to us lowly pragmatists," she said with no small amount of humor. "I, for one, have already put into motion the circulation of a particularly potent regeneration potion. Hopefully prosphetics will be a thing of the past soon..." Soon

 

"But that's enough about me. What do you plan to do now?"

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Spoiled snorted in a kind of half-laugh through her turned-up nose.  "So it does.  Does friendship fund the municipal sewer extension?  Balance the school budget?  Perish the thought, there are monsters to kill.  Or rather, bring back to town and swear they've changed and won't do anything bad or disruptive ever again."  She could go on like this, but was mindful of stretching Rose's patience.

 

"Plans....?"  She mused.  Well, there was her mayoral agenda, but having to abandon the major ambition of her life left her feeling adrift.  Like a wandering buoy, her thoughts drifted into a previously-mentioned harbor.  Niilaavin... such a charming creature.  Had spoken well of her, said she would make a good sphinx.  Perhaps if that transformation project got off the ground....

"I might have some ideas.  Quite a few rather depend on your work, actually.  So, if you require a sponsor, or some introduction to potential clients or donors, do let me know, will you?"

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Rose nodded, thankful for her consideration.

 

"Of course, Mayor Rich. I..." Here, she blushed just a little. It was embarrassing to admit, but she was still very much a stranger in a strange land. "I hate to admit it, but despite all the time I spend with the reigning monarch, I'm still quite unfamiliar with the political landscape of Equestria. I've already acquainted myself with S.T.A.R., and the new distant griffon colony, but neither of those will be enough to get my projects into motion."

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Spoiled Rich beamed.  "I will of course be perfectly happy to arrange introductions.  A prominent business family involved in Manehattan politics and infrastructure has a representative in town right now that I can introduce, as a matter of fact."  High Bar would be fairly easy to convince, she was sure, though for the rest... she had more knowledge than social capital, to be frank.  She knew who the important ponies were, though they would not necessarily give her the time of day.

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A representative of a major metropolis? That may work quite well. Perhaps she can find a way to mass produce her potions and distribute them? 

 

"I would appreciate that very much, thank you ~" Rose respectfully inclined her head. 

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Spoiled nodded, satisfied that she could at least do this much for one who had helped her.  She was by no means ungrateful, whatever else you could fairly call her.  "I shall arrange a meeting post-haste."  She smiled, standing up once more.  "Thank you once again, it has been delightful talking with you; a burden has been lifted from my shoulders.  But now, I must return to work.  Keep a lookout for a message when the appointment is arranged, and I'll see you then.  Have a good afternoon."

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Rose, too, Rose to her hooves with a grateful smile and a respectful incline of her head.

 

"It was a pleasure conversing with you as well. Refreshing, even." She was about to make her own departure, but one thing stopped her. "Oh! Before I depart, I must ask if you have experienced any side-effects of the treatment. Nothing unusual, I hope."

 

If all was going right, then the good Mayor Rich would not, in fact, be experiencing any side-effects. Rose's own scans came back clean, at any rate. 

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As confident as Rose was, the mere mention of side-effects had Spoiled briefly do a slightly-paranoid bout of self-reflection.  Any weird feelings or thoughts?  Well, none that couldn't otherwise be accounted for.  "I... feel alright.  Rather better than I was this morning, but I doubt that troubled thoughts are a medical side effect.  In any case, my mind is now clear.  Have a good day, for I really must get back in time for the zoning meeting..."

 

And with that, Mayor Rich returned to her duties.

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